San Francisco Stories April 27, 2016

 Samsung-Dev-Conference-2016

Samsung is starting its Developer Conference 2016 with live streams of the keynote addresses including the opening keynote scheduled to kick things off today at 9:30am PST/12:30pm EST.

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San Francisco Stories February 24, 2016

Google Fiber is coming to certain apartments and condos in San Francisco

Google is on a role with their Fiber deployment. This Monday, they announced Fiber service is coming to Huntsville, Alabama. Today, they’ve announced that Fiber will be coming to certain properties in San Francisco.

San Francisco Stories June 25, 2015

Beta public roads edit

According to a recent post on Google+, Google’s new cute self-driving car prototypes are now driving the roads of Mountain View. As was mentioned previously, they’re taking some cues from how the company’s previous line of Lexus self-driving vehicles. This first run of a few of the new ‘Koala’ prototype will have a safety driver on board with a “removable” steering wheel, accelerator, and brake — just in case…

These prototype vehicles are designed from the ground up to be fully self-driving. They’re ultimately designed to work without a steering wheel or pedals, but during this phase of our project we’ll have safety drivers aboard with a removable steering wheel, accelerator pedal, and brake pedal that allow them to take over driving if needed. The prototypes’ speed is capped at a neighborhood-friendly 25mph, and they’ll drive using the same software that our existing Lexus vehicles use—the same fleet that has self-driven over 1 million miles since we started the project.

According to Google, the speed of the cars is currently capped at a pretty conservative 25 miles per hour, and they’re driving around at that “neighborhood-friendly” speed using the same software that powered the Lexus line. Ultimately, the goal is for them to be completely autonomous, but it would make sense that Google wants to take that slow to avoid any more sensationalized stories about their safety… expand full story

San Francisco Stories February 12, 2015

Xiaomi-Mi3

As we told you earlier this month, Xiaomi is holding an event in San Francisco today. While we aren’t expecting any new products to be announced, the company definitely has some interesting information to share with us as those of us stateside get an opportunity “to get to know the company and leadership a bit more.​” expand full story

San Francisco Stories February 5, 2015

xiaomi-mi2s

Xiaomi is known as being the rising star in the smartphone arena, making its way past LG last year to become the third-largest manufacturer of smartphones in the world. The success of the company is to be blamed largely on its Chinese reception, as it hasn’t launched a single device on this side of the Pacific.

That said, Xiaomi is going to hold a press conference in San Francisco, California later this month (via Android Police), but don’t get too excited if you’re hoping to hear about a North American launch, as the company has already confirmed that that’s not happening…

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San Francisco Stories January 13, 2015

Contract drivers for Silicon Valley tech companies vote to unionize in quest for better conditions

Contract workers driving shuttle buses for a range of Silicon Valley companies have voted to unionize, reports USA Today.

A majority of the 120 full-time and part-time drivers who transport those companies’ employees have signed authorization cards with the union, said Rome Aloise, International vice president and secretary-treasurer of Teamsters Local 853.

The drivers are employed by South San Francisco-based Compass Transportation, which has contracts with Apple and the other firms to transport its workers to and from work.

Although the hourly rates for the drivers range from $18-20, they argue that high living costs make it difficult to live close to work, and working further out does not allow them to return home between split shifts in the morning and evening–meaning they are effectively at work for far longer than their paid hours.

William Gould, a professor at Stanford Law School said: “These workers, as a practical matter, have to wait in certain areas to do their work (and) they are not compensated for that wait.”

Facebook shuttle bus drivers joined the Teamsters union in November. Although Google is not specifically named by the Teamsters, it’s believed that Google drivers will also be invited to vote on joining a union.

Google has faced criticism over its impact on the housing market in San Francisco as a result of well-paid employees being able to buy and rent property in the area, partly as a result of the wifi-equipped shuttle buses–with protestors blocking the buses.  The company responded by donating $6.8M to a program offering free transit to low income kids, and funding four electric shuttle buses for use by the local community in Mountain View.

Photo: wired.com

San Francisco Stories December 11, 2014

Europe Antitrust Google

The city of San Francisco announced today that Google has made a $2 million donation to three charities benefiting the homeless. The money will go to Larkin Street Youth Services, Hamilton Family Center, and HandUp, according to a report from Mashable.

A full $1 million will go to the Hamilton Family Center, which locates homeless families through the public school system and helps them find a place to live.

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San Francisco Stories November 7, 2014

Second Google barge mystery solved: the reason they were scrapped …

First we had the mystery about why Google was building floating structures on a set of barges based in San Francisco and Portland, before Google finally revealed that they were to become “interactive spaces where people can learn about new technology.”

Then we had the equally mysterious apparent cancellation of the project, with one of the barges sold for scrap and another sitting unused on the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.

The WSJ used Freedom of Information Act requests to get hold of documents which seem to provide an explanation: email correspondence suggests that Google was unable to satisfy the Coast Guard’s fire-safety concerns.

“These vessels will have over 5,000 gallons of fuel on the main deck and a substantial amount of combustible material on board,” warned Robert Gauvin, the Coast Guard’s acting chief of commercial vessel compliance, in a March 27, 2013 email to the contractor, Foss Maritime Co.

Google argued that the barges would have no more than 150 people on board at any one time, despite estimating a total of 1200 visitors a day, but the Coast Guard was unimpressed.

“I am unaware of any measures you plan to use to actually limit the number of passengers,” Mr. Gauvin wrote in the March 27 email about fire safety. He criticized the effort by Google and Foss to seek quick approvals. “While I understand there is a sense of urgency, I am concerned that significant work has already been performed without full consent of the Coast Guard.”

San Francisco Stories September 4, 2014

Airbnb providing select hosts with Nest smart thermostats in new partnership

Speaking of Nest, lodge booking service Airbnb announced a new partnership with the Google-owned company today. As part of the partnership, Airbnb will be providing some Airbnb hosts with the Nest smart thermostat for use in locations available on the booking service.

We provided selected Airbnb hosts in the US with the Nest Learning Thermostat with features such as Auto-Away which turns down the heat when a host or guest is not home, and can be controlled from anywhere in the world with a mobile app – perfect for travelers! And with Nest’s MyEnergy service, hosts can easily track their energy consumption and improve their home’s efficiency.

Our community is passionate about environmental sustainability. In a recent study on the environmental impacts of home sharing, we found that Airbnb guests in North America use 63 percent less energy than hotel guests. This partnership with Nest gives our hosts more control over their home’s energy consumption, with technology that is both beautiful in design and good for the planet.

The partnership focuses on the Nest thermostat’s ability to be controlled remotely and save energy. Nest says it already has a list of some homes using the Nest Learning Thermostat for potential bookers to browse.

San Francisco Stories August 1, 2014

barge

Well, that was an anti-climax. After all kinds of speculation about why Google was building floating structures on a set of barges based in San Francisco and Portland, with Google finally revealing in not too much detail that they were to become “interactive spaces where people can learn about new technology,” it turns out that at least one of them is being sold for scrap.

The Portland Press Herald reports that the 250-foot Google barge that has been sitting in Portland Harbour since last October is now being sold and the container building sitting on it will be scrapped …  expand full story

San Francisco Stories July 23, 2014

Samsung_Developers_Conference-Moscone-West

Samsung announced today that its official Developers Conference is returning again this year and will kick off November 11 at Moscone West in San Francisco. Last year, Samsung held its first developer conference in San Francisco in October and showed off a number of new features for developers across its product lineups. That includes its Mobile SDK for Android, Smart TV SDK 5.0 Multiscreen Gaming SDK, Multiscreen SDK, and its KNOX Enterprise SDK beta that’s arriving this year natively in Android. This year Samsung makes a venue change to the Moscone West Center used by both Apple and Google for their developer conferences that took place earlier this year. expand full story

San Francisco Stories July 7, 2014

shop

Re/code piece on Google’s Shopping Express service says that the company is investing $500M to expand the service beyond San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York City and roll it out nationally.

The service lets shoppers buy things from local retail stores through Google, which then delivers them to consumers from the physical retail store on the same or next day.

A source familiar with the company’s plans says senior Google execs have set aside as much as $500 million to expand the service nationwide …

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San Francisco Stories June 30, 2014

googlestreetviewcar_subaru_impreza_at_google_campus

The US Supreme Court rejected Google’s attempt to appeal a class-action lawsuit claiming the search giant violated federal wiretap laws when its Street View vehicles collected data from private WiFi networks. In 2010, Google said that it accidentally recorded data from unencrypted WiFi networks, stating it immediately grounded its cars and reached out to regulators to find out how to properly dispose of the information that it collected.

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San Francisco Stories June 25, 2014

Celebrate San Francisco with 20 free tracks from Google Play

Amid protests, Google tries to make nice with the city of San Francisco both with a showing of local bands and some San Francisco related tracks (20) on Google Play available for free. Rumor has it there will also be lots of San Francisco beers at the event this evening.

San Francisco Stories June 2, 2014

z

About a year later than first expected, Samsung has finally announced its first smartphone running Tizen instead of Android, the Samsung Z.

While this particular handset is only launching in Russia initially (sometime in Q3), it’s notable in a couple of ways. First, the spec – while not cutting edge – is pretty decent. Powered by a 2.3GHz quad-core processor and 2GB RAM, it has a 4.8-inch HD Super AMOLED display (though only in 1280×720 resolution) and the fingerprint sensor that has so far been exclusive to the S5. It’s not the low-end spec many had expected from Tizen …  expand full story

San Francisco Stories April 15, 2014

Screen Shot 2014-04-15 at 3.33.34 PM

Registration for Google I/O is officially open. The registration window will be available through April 18th, 2014 at 2:00 p.m. PDT. The event is scheduled to take place June 25th – 26th at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, CA.

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San Francisco Stories April 11, 2014

s5

Samsung has announced that the Samsung Galaxy S5 goes on sale today in 125 countries, along with the new Gear smartwatches. It was already known that it would be launched today in the USA.

The new Galaxy S5 and the Samsung Gear devices – Samsung Gear 2, Samsung Gear 2 Neo, and Samsung Gear Fit – are ready to hit the market in 125 countries in Europe, Middle East, North America, Latin America, and most of Asia.

The S5 has a 5.1-inch full HD display which was declared “the best smartphone display ever tested” by DisplayMate. Other key features include a fingerprint sensor and heartrate monitor. Reviewers considered it an excellent phone, albeit lacking in excitement …  expand full story

San Francisco Stories April 8, 2014

io

Registration for Google’s I/O developer’s conference, originally due to open today, has been pushed back by a week, now opening on 15th April.

Google hasn’t offered any explanation, though its brief statement suggests that a problem in the registration process has been spotted at the last minute …  expand full story

San Francisco Stories April 4, 2014

Screen Shot 2014-04-04 at 8.58.30 PM

Amazon, just days after announcing its FireTV set-top box, has now announced a new home accessory dubbed the “Dash.” The Dash is a wand-sized device that has built in Wi-Fi, a barcode scanner and a microphone. The goal of Dash, according to Amazon, is to make shopping and remembering things you need even easier.

Simply hold down the microphone button and say the name of an item, like “orange juice”, and Dash will automatically add it to your shopping list. You can also scan the barcode of any item with the built in LED scanner to add items to your shopping list.

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San Francisco Stories February 19, 2014

Sundar-Pichai

Google’s Android and Chrome chief Sundar Pichai just announced the official dates for Google’s upcoming 7th annual Google I/O developer conference in San Francisco. While last year’s even took place in May, this year Google is moving up the conference to June 25-26. Pichai also noted that Google will implement a new registration system that will avoid tickets selling out within minutes like last year: expand full story

San Francisco Stories February 3, 2014

barge

We’ve heard quite a bit about Google’s mysterious barge projects over the last few months, but it wasn’t until November that the company confirmed their existence. The SF Examiner now reports that Google is facing some regulatory issues in San Francisco and must move the construction site for its barge from its current island in the middle of the Bay to one of the fully permitted construction facilities in the Bay.

The request was made the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission, which noticed that neither Treasure Island Development Authority nor the city of San Francisco had the correct permits to allow for Google to be constructing the barge at its current location.

“Obviously the bay is a valuable resource to everybody,” Flanders, program director at San Francisco Baykeeper said. “Requiring people and companies large and small to pass all environmental regulations before using the bay is essential.”

Google says it will use these barges as “an interactive space where people can learn about new technology.” The barges will be able to move around and dock in different cities, as well. Check out a video of the tentative design of the barges after the jump:

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San Francisco Stories December 10, 2013

Google-Floating-barge-Maine

 

Google’s Barge projects have apparently been put on hold according a new CNET report this morning. The report indicates that Google is definitely planning on completing the project, but at this point it looks to be well into 2014 before it sees the light of day.

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San Francisco Stories November 18, 2013

Google Shopping Express adds same-day deliveries for Costco in San Fran Bay Area

After expanding its same-day delivery service to the entire Bay Area back in September alongside new mobile apps, Google today announced the latest update to Google Shopping Express. The service is now officially available to Costco shoppers in the San Francisco Bay Area, allowing them to get same-day deliveries for items ordered online or through the Google Shopping Express mobile apps.

Google is also still offering six months of free same-delivery until the end of the year and $5 off your first order.

The Google Shopping Express mobile app is available for Android or iPhone.

San Francisco Stories November 1, 2013

google_barge_map_103113

The mysterious barge that appeared in San Francisco Bay has been confirmed by multiple sources to be Google’s first foray into retail space, reports CBS.

First rumored to be a data centerCBS first suggested a week ago that it could be the retail space we’ve been predicting since February, and is now stating this as fact – though suggesting it may be aimed at an exclusive clientele.

Google’s mysterious floating barge on San Francisco Bay will feature luxury showrooms and a party deck for the tech giant to market Google Glass and other gadgets to invitation-only clients, multiple sources told KPIX 5.

It’s not clear whether it’s just the upper entertainment deck that is reserved for VIP guests or the whole structure, but it appears the structure isn’t fixed: it’s a giant Transformer …  expand full story

San Francisco Stories September 30, 2013

bufferbox

After first acquiring the Waterloo, Ontario self-serve package pickup startup Buffer Box last year, Google today announced plans to expand the service. The company has been making its self-serve pick up boxes (pictured above) available for deliveries in the Toronto area close to its home, but today Google announced the BufferBox service is coming to San Francisco for online purchases:

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San Francisco Stories August 26, 2013

Samsung officially opens registration for first Developer Conference, will unveil new SDKs & S Pen features

Samsung originally planned to open up registration for its first developer conference earlier this month, but after a short delay, the company has finally announced today that it’s accepting sign-ups for the event. This will be the first time Samsung comes to San Francisco to host a developer conference, something Google and Apple have been doing for years and commonly use to introduce new products and upcoming developer facing features. Samsung too plans to unveil some new services and features for developers:

Samsung’s event will feature over 40 technical sessions and industry sessions from leading influencers in the mobile, consumer electronics and digital content industries. Samsung will also unveil a number of new SDKs and tools that will help developers maximize the latest innovations, features and capabilities found in Samsung devices.

Registration is open now on Samsung’s website for the event scheduled to take place on October 27-29 at Westin St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco. Tickets cost $299 and will provide access to all keynotes and developer sessions.

We still don’t know what exactly we’ll be seeing at the conference, but Samsung does plan to show off some new tools and APIs for developers, including:

* First-look at new Samsung SDKs and tools including S Pen and new features

* Deep dive into Samsung Service Platform and services APIs including ChatON, Group Play,

Samsung AdHub, Context Aware and much more

* Best practices for developing Smart TV application in multi-screen environments spanning,

mobile, tablet and TV

* Cross-platform development case including HTML5, Web app and more

* Special sessions for B2B developers which cover the Samsung mobile partnership program,

building certified applications, KNOX, Enterprise SDK, and more

* Development opportunities in emerging categories such as gaming and much more

San Francisco Stories August 23, 2013

Report: Google Ventures invests $250M in Uber private car service

According to a report from AllThingsD, Google’s investment arm, Google Ventures, just invested around $250 million into Uber, the private car delivery service that lets users order vehicles through mobile apps. The investment comes as Uber raises $360 million at a valuation of around $3.5B:

Though pricey, the latest scramble to be in the Uber funding round was apparently very competitive. Sources said Google won the investment because of direct intervention by CEO Larry Page, who met with Uber CEO Travis Kalanick.

While it would be a bit stretch to guess what plans Google might have for Uber down the road, there are a few Google services in development that could benefit. Some have speculated that Uber could help power a future driverless car service from Google, but perhaps more realistic for the short term would be deliveries. Since last year Google has been testing a same-day delivery service in and around San Francisco, and it reportedly planned to use driverless cars to do so.

San Francisco Stories August 7, 2013

Registration for Samsung’s first Developer Conference opens Aug. 16

Last month Samsung announced that it would be hosting its first ever Samsung Developers Conference this year in San Francisco, following in the footsteps of Apple and Google who host similar events in the city each year. Today the company is contacting those who signed up to find out more to announce that registration for the event will officially open next week on Friday, August 16 at 6 AM PT/ 9 AM ET.

We haven’t heard any specifics on whether or not the event might include a keynote like address similar to what Apple and Google have done in the past, but Samsung is planning on showing off the latest for developers across all of its product lines during the two day event scheduled for October 27-29. You’ll be able to register through the SamsungDevCon website next Friday.

San Francisco Stories July 22, 2013

Samsung-Dev-Conference

Samsung has just announced that it will be hosting its first developer conference later this year in San Francisco. While we assume that the event would include typical developer sessions for Samsung’s Android/TouchWiz devices, it looks like we’ll also be getting a look at the latest from across the company’s other product lines as well. Samsung isn’t saying much, but it is teasing “what’s next” for developers, hinting that we’ll be seeing at least some new developments with its SDK and developer tools.

The event is scheduled to take place at Westin St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco from October 27-29. Registration isn’t yet open, and no specific details on what we’ll be seeing at the event, but you can sign up on Samsung’s website now to get notified when more information becomes available.

San Francisco Stories June 5, 2013

Schneiderma-01After sending a letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook, Google, and others questioning if the companies could be doing more to prevent increasing thefts of smartphones, State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has now scheduled a face to face meeting with the companies to discuss the issue.

NYDailyNews reports Schneiderman and San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon will meet with representatives from Apple, Google, Motorola, Samsung and Microsoft at a June 13 “smartphone summit” in New York.

Schneiderman wants the same thing that San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón has been pushing device makers on in recent months– a ‘kill switch’ that would render a device inoperable and discourage thefts of devices: expand full story

San Francisco Stories April 11, 2013

Google has been hiring a group of individuals on one year contracts to help the Glass explorers with their upcoming Glasswear we’ve learned.  The employees would be based in New York or San Francisco but travel to events throughout the US and eventually overseas. These people will also be manning the retail presence that Google hopes to have in New York, San Francisco and possibly LA by the end of the year.

Glass explorer editions are to begin shipping next month after an initial run of a few thousand.

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San Francisco Stories December 4, 2012

IO13

Google just announced Google I/O 2013 would kick off in 162 days from May 15 to May 17 at the Moscone Center West in San Francisco. Google is not accepting registrations yet, but it will announce more details in February.

It might only be December, but Google I/O 2013 is set and is just 162 days away! We’ll be returning to Moscone Center West in San Francisco on May 15-17, 2013, and sharing the experience beyond via Google Developers Live and I/O Extended viewing parties. We’ll announce registration details in February 2013. expand full story

San Francisco Stories October 15, 2012

 

Google is sponsoring an upcoming hackathon by Hattery Labs that is awarding two grand prizes to innovators using Google Maps API.

The “Reroute/sf” hackathon runs from Oct. 19 to Oct. 21 at The Hattery, according to its Facebook page, and it aims to “improve transportation in San Francisco with technological innovation, and work with the City to make it real.” The three-day event essentially invites engineers, designers, and entrepreneurs to “make San Francisco a better place.”

The hackathon will host three challenges, i.e., “Collect the right data,” “Plan a trip anywhere – on-time,” “See what’s broken and watch it get fixed,” while senior representatives from the City of San Francisco and the technology community will determine who wins the following four prizes:

  • Best Innovation using Google Maps API | $7,500 Grant
  • Runner-up Innovation using Google Maps API | $2,500 Grant
  • Best Public Transit Innovation | $500 Clipper Card credit
  • Best Collaboration | 3 free General Assembly classes per team member

Aside from Google, the Hattery, the San Francisco Mayor’s Office, San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, Waze, Google Maps, and the General Assembly sponsor the hackathon. The Hattery is a collection of experts ranging from designers and engineers to investors and brand marketers, and some of their most notable collaborative work under Hattery Labs includes giving people clean water and helping Haitians rebuild schools through WellDone and Haiti School Project, respectively.

Registration details below.

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San Francisco Stories October 11, 2012

Google begins nixing Zagat scores for more common rating system

Product Marketing Manager Megan Stevenson revealed on her Google+ profile yesterday that Google is beginning to downplay the Zagat rating system on Google+ Local and other Google products in favor of a more simplified, standard metric.

“Today it’s easier than ever to write accurate, useful reviews on Google+ Local, thanks to the updated rating scale we rolled out,” explained Stevenson. “If you want to rate the food at a restaurant, or the quality of a mechanic, just choose “poor – fair,” “good,” “very good,” or “excellent”. Behind the scenes, we will convert your ratings into numbers and factor them into the business’ precise 30-point score that shows up in Google+, Search and Maps. ”

SearchEngineLand’s Matt McGee said the change is “a good thing,” because “no one understands” Zagat scores. I beg to differ. The Zagat Survey once included over 70 cities, with roughly 250,000 reviewers since it began in 1979. In Manhattan, for example, practically every restaurant, nightclub, and business features a Zagat rating sticker out front next to its required health-grade notice. They primarily act as a guide-to-life for metro-dwellers, so I had mixed emotions when Google plucked up the revered company in 2011.

McGee said Google took “a big risk when it converted its entire local search/review system to a largely unfamiliar 30-point rating scale,” as  “consumers are familiar with five-point (or five-star) rating scales.” I will agree the five-point scale is more common; however, I do not think McGee should write off the entire world when he claims nobody understands the Zagat scoring system.

With that said, Google’s use of phrases—like “Very Good” or “Excellent”—to describe a business is very fool-proof. It requires less thinking and gets to the point rather quickly. So, while I do not wish to see Google ditch Zagat scores all together, I will concede that the new direction seems like a more user-friendly approach.

San Francisco Stories October 8, 2012

Sprint says ‘accidental dual fibercut’ on network causing nationwide outages, attempting to fix issues

A widespread network outage on Sprint’s network started at 7:30 a.m. PST today and hit Portland, Ore., Seattle and Tacoma Wash., Minneapolis, Minn., and San Francisco and Sacramento, Calif. Sprint just confirmed it is working diligently to fix the issue.

Sprint’s statement to 9to5Mac:

“Earlier this morning, an accidental dual fibercut occurred on Sprint’s network causing a disruption in data and voice services for some Sprint customers in parts of Portland, Oregon; Seattle and Tacoma Washington; Minneapolis, Minnesota; and San Francisco and Sacramento, California. Sprint network technicians are working aggressively to resolve this issue and we hope to have service restored soon.”

This article is cross-posted on 9to5Mac.

San Francisco Stories September 14, 2012

Google-related ‘The Internship’ movie now calling for extras in San Francisco area

We first reported in July about an upcoming movie called “The Internship,” starring Hollywood actors Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson as two 40-something Google interns attempting to find success.

BetaBeat (via AllThingsD) noted today that the film posted casting calls recently for extras and a stand-in for Wilson. According to Casting Networks, the stand-in gig calls for a 25- to 45-year-old Wilson look-a-like in the San Francisco area, and whoever lands the gig, whether SAG or non-union, will get $160.

OnLocationVacation further reported that the flick is filming at Stanford University today, while the final weeks of shooting wrap up in San Francisco.

According to IMDb, as seen in the image atop, Vaughn wrote the movie’s screenplay. Director Shawn Levy is also signed-on, while Vaughn, Wilson, and Rose Byrne take up the top three roles. Oh, and 21 Laps Entertainment, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, and Wild West Picture Show Productions are just a few of the production houses on board.

“The Internship” is currently slated for a June 2013 premiere.

San Francisco Stories September 7, 2012

Google’s map offerings build in the human intelligence on the front end, and that’s what allows its computers to tell you the best route from San Francisco to Boston.

In an exclusive story by the Senior Editor at The Atlantic, Alexis C. Madrigal, Google for the first time gives us a look at “Ground Truth”. It is a project described by Madrigal as a secretive, complex internal map that contains data, such as “no-left-turns and freeway on-ramps, speed limits and traffic conditions,” necessary to help users navigate through Google Maps:

I was slated to meet with Gupta and the engineering ringleader on his team, former NASA engineer Michael Weiss-Malik, who’d spent his 20 percent time working on Google Mars, and Nick Volmar, an “operator” who actually massages map data. 

“So you want to make a map,” Weiss-Malik tells me as we sit down in front of a massive monitor. “There are a couple of steps. You acquire data through partners. You do a bunch of engineering on that data to get it into the right format and conflate it with other sources of data, and then you do a bunch of operations, which is what this tool is about, to hand massage the data. And out the other end pops something that is higher quality than the sum of its parts.”

Describing Ground Truth to be an elaborate internal Map Maker of sorts, perhaps the most interesting aspect of the story is just how much human input goes into making the Google Maps experience accurate. In the story, Madrigal noted the Ground Truth Geo team aims to address most of the fixable problems reported by users (thousands daily) within minutes: expand full story

San Francisco Stories July 18, 2012

Verizon extends 4G LTE to 33 new markets, touts more coverage than competitors combined

Verizon Wireless plans to expand its 4G LTE coverage tomorrow to 33 new U.S. markets. The carrier will then boast 337 LTE markets, which places it ahead of competitors by a wide margin, and it hopes to reach 400 total by the end of 2012. Verizon also announced it is broadening coverage in 32 existing markets.

Check out the list below (via Verizon Wireless): 

  • The 33 new markets: El Dorado/Magnolia and Russellville, Ark.; New London County, Conn.; Fort Pierce/Vero Beach and Melbourne/Titusville, Fla.; Columbus and Rome, Ga.; Burley, Idaho; Mattoon, Ill.; Anderson and Muncie, Ind.; Manhattan/Junction City and McPherson, Kan.; Lafayette/New Iberia, La.; St. Joseph, Mo.; Bozeman/Livingston, Kalispell and Missoula, Mont.; Goldsboro/Kinston, Roanoke Rapids and Rocky Mount/Wilson, N.C.; Zanesville, Ohio; Meadville and Punxsutawney/DuBois/Clearfield, Pa.; Orangeburg, S.C.; Sherman/Denison, Texas; Cedar City and Logan, Utah; Rutland/Bennington, Vt.; Lynchburg and Winchester, Va.; Bellingham, Wash.; and Beckley, W.Va.
  • The 32 expanded markets: Mobile, Ala.; Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco, Calif.; Washington, D.C.; Fort Lauderdale, Miami and Sarasota/Bradenton, Fla.; Hilo, Honolulu and Kahului/Wailuku/Maui County, Hawaii; Blackfoot/Idaho Falls/Rexburg, Idaho; Peoria, Ill.; Indianapolis, Ind.; Wichita, Kan.; Baton Rouge, La.; Baltimore, Md.; Kansas City and Springfield, Mo.; Akron, Cleveland, Columbus and Toledo, Ohio; Allentown/Bethlehem, Harrisburg and Scranton/Wilkes Barre, Pa.; Columbia and Greenville/Spartanburg, S.C.; Provo/Orem and Salt Lake City/Ogden, Utah; Fredericksburg, Va.; and Seattle, Wash.

“With more markets than all other U.S. wireless providers combined, our customers are the first to learn of the great advantages of the Verizon Wireless 4G LTE network for streaming video, downloading files, uploading pictures and so much more, at consistently reliable fast data speeds,” said Verizon Wireless’ Chief Technical Officer Nicola Palmer.

This article is cross-posted on 9to5Mac.

San Francisco Stories June 29, 2012

Google is once-again touting support for the LGBT community by participating in worldwide Pride events and expanding company-wide benefits.

According to “Gaygler” Randy Reyes on the official Google blog

We encourage people to bring their whole selves to work. And this month Googlers, Gayglers (gay Googlers), and their families and friends took this spirit to the streets in Pride parades and celebrations around the globe. In Sao Paulo, a group of 50 marched as a Google contingent for the first time ever. In San Francisco, more than 1,000 Googlers and allies marched (nearly doubling the number of people we had in 2011!). In New York, more than 700 of our friends and colleagues took over 5th Avenue marching alongside our double-decker Pride bus. And this weekend in Singapore, we’re sponsoring the Pink Dot celebration for the second consecutive year.

Reyes further revealed action-based plans to celebrate World Pride in London this year. The Mountain View, Calif.-based Company will host a “Legalise Love” Conference at Google London, with hopes to “eliminate homophobia” and “decriminalize homosexuality.”

Google also significantly increased coverage of transgender health care for its U.S. employees. Transgender-inclusive benefits, such as “transitioning procedures and treatment in accordance with the World Professional Association for Transgender Health’s Standards of Care,” now receive a lifetime maximum coverage of $75,000.

“Next month we’ll carry the energy of Pride into our fourth annual company Diversity & Inclusion celebration, the Sum of Google. The Sum is an opportunity to celebrate and engage in a discussion about diversity and inclusion across our offices around the world,” Reyes concluded.

A picture gallery is below.

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San Francisco Stories June 28, 2012

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You already saw a replay of the skydiving stunt if you watched today, but here is the rest. expand full story

San Francisco Stories June 27, 2012

Google’s Chris Yerga is on-stage now to announce Google Play numbers: The marketplace boasts over 600,000 apps and games, roughly 1.5 billion installs every month, and 20 billion total app installs to date.

The executive also said magazine subscriptions and television rental options are coming to Google Play. The magazine-reading experience is premium, Yerga touted, while explaining new interactive aspects to magazine thumbing on the newly unveiled Nexus 7. Television viewing is also exceptional due to download options for offline access. A few of the big television partnerships, Yerga said, include Disney, ABC, Sony, and Paramount.

The 2012 Google I/O Developers Conference starts today at the Moscone Center West in San Francisco, Calif., with events continuing until June 29 at 4:30 p.m. PST.

A picture gallery is below. 

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The above leaked image is of the widely rumored Nexus 7.

Reports about the Google tablet have circulated for months, but now we have solid evidence of its existence through a first look on Google’s Play Store servers. The live image surfaced just ahead of Google I/O this morning, and it only begs more questions to be answered.

The 2012 Google I/O Developers Conference starts today at the Moscone Center West in San Francisco, Calif., with events continuing until June 29 at 4:30 p.m. PST. We should have some more information about the Nexus 7 within the next hour during the event’s opening keynote.

The Asus-branded Nexus 7 tablet might run Jelly Bean, which is the latest version of Android expected to unveil at some point today. The user-interface in the leak resembles a tweaked Ice Cream Sandwich layout. The dock looks familiar, but notice it houses six apps now instead of four.

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Sergey Brin walks around Google I/O wearing Google Glasses

[tweet https://twitter.com/stroughtonsmith/status/217751034037141505]

Twitter is abuzz with folks spotting Sergey Brin donning a pair of Google Glasses at Google I/O this morning. There are no pictures of the Google co-founder with the headset yet—but stay tuned.

The 2012 Google I/O Developers Conference starts today at the Moscone Center West in San Francisco, Calif., with events continuing until June 29 at 4:30 p.m. PST.

San Francisco Stories June 6, 2012

Google just revealed a backpack-like Street View capture device called “Trekker” that snaps images in areas impossible to navigate by vehicle (above).

“It’s 40 pounds and includes two batteries that’ll last you all day. It’s Android-powered…. We intend to take it to National Parks, the Grand Canyon, castles, etc.,”explained Google’s Engineering Director of Street View Luc Vincent at the “Next Dimension” Google Maps event in San Francisco.

The director further said street level data “could be” useful for users, and then he showed off an original Street View van (below). It is a Chevy Astro and definitely does not compare to newer Street View cars.

It is worth mentioning that Google announced it drove over 5 million unique miles to collect 20 petabytes of imagery for Street View.

More information about today’s event as at the Official Google Blog.

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San Francisco Stories June 5, 2012

Google sought consumer feedback on its highly anticipated Google Glasses product today while set up in a street fair booth in the San Francisco area.

According to GottaBeMobile’s Xavier Lanier, who also posted the picture above, the Google Research booth on Union Street screened “qualified” passerbys with an insights survey:

I found the Google booth to be out of place amongst the other booths, most of which were selling handicrafts and food. I asked a Google employee what the booth was all about and she said they had something to show people that hadn’t been released yet. I asked to see it, but was told I couldn’t see it unless I “qualified.”

Outside the booth is a table where research candidates are screened with a survey. The Google Docs survey, which can be completed on either a Google-supplied MacBook Pro or Vizio Android tablet, is designed to identify physically active smartphone users that are parents and at least somewhat interested in new technology products. The survey is also used to screen for those who actively use social media.

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San Francisco Stories May 15, 2012

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=cxY9q_4mmIY#!]

In the video above, you are seeing the Tizen operating system. It is an open source project backed by Intel and Samsung, which runs Android apps thanks to a little help from OpenMobile. The video above comes from The Handheld Blog (via GigaOM). Tizen, which Samsung now plans to merge with its Bada platform, just launched version 1.0 this month and it recently received support from Sprint. In the demo video below, we see what might be our first look at the Tizen platform running on an Android device; although, the integration with OpenMobile to run Android apps is not an official feature of the OS yet.

GigaOM suggested Samsung could buy OpenMobile outright to integrate the technology and enable the roughly 400,000 existing Android apps to run on the up-and-coming platform. Go past the break for a the video of Tizen running on a Samsung Galaxy SII HD from the recent Tizen Developer Conference in San Francisco (via Engadget).

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San Francisco Stories April 17, 2012

According to a report from Foss Patents (and confirmed by Reuters), Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook and Samsung Chief Executive Officer Gee-Sung Choi will meet within the next 90 days for settlement talks over ongoing patent disputes. Judge Lucy Koh, who is presiding over the two cases in California, initiated the meeting after ordering the companies to submit their CEOs and legal counsels to an Alternative Dispute Resolution.

“As directed by the Court, Apple and Samsung are both willing to participate in a Magistrate Judge Settlement Conference with Judge Spero as mediator. At Apple, the chief executive officer and general counsel are the appropriate decision-makers, and they will represent Apple during the upcoming settlement discussions. At Samsung, the chief executive officer and general counsel are also the appropriate decision-makers, and they will represent Samsung during these settlement discussions.”

The report called the talks “semi-voluntary,” because the companies did not have to submit to the Alternative Dispute Resolution. However, as pointed out by Foss Patents, “if only one of them had made the CEO available, the other one would have appeared to be less than constructive.” Apple and Samsung executives will meet in San Francisco with U.S. Magistrate Judge Joseph C. Spero sometime over the next three months: expand full story

San Francisco Stories April 16, 2012

Photographer Scott Kelby is gathering 15 world-renowned photographers together for an unofficial Google+ Photographer’s Conference.

“On May 22-23, fifteen of the biggest photographers, instructors, and social media magnates on Google+ are gathering in San Francisco for the first-ever Google+ Photographer’s Conference at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (in San Francisco), “announced the Google+ Photographer’s Conference page.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=NcX9V86JB4Y]

The official Google+ page later reposted the conference’s announcement, but the social network clarified: “This is not an official Google event, but we are excited to see this launch! Hope you can attend.”

Registration information is below.

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