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  1. geeteam

    Hidden Android Secret Codes

    How well do you know your Android device? Here are some of the hidden Android secret codes. Since most hidden menus are manufacturer specific, there’s no guarantee that they’ll work across all Android smartphones, but you can try them out nevertheless on your Samsung, HTC, Motorola, Sony and other devices. Be advised, though, that some of these can cause serious changes to your device’s configuration, so don’t play with something that you don’t fully understand. You can find more of these spread across the internet, and they’re usually very handy to have, even if just to show off your geekiness to your social circle. Update x1: More codes! Source : Redmondpie
  2. The Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act, passed by Congress late last week, was signed into law by President Obama on Friday, making it fully legal to unlock mobile phones in the United States. The new law undoes a decision made by the Library of Congress in 2012 to not renew an exemption in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), and thusly made it illegal for consumers to arbitrarily unlock mobile devices. Almost immediately, petitions and new bills started to get drafted and indeed, a bill was proposed over a year ago to “fix” the DMCA, but nothing happened despite broad bi-partisan support. Undaunted, a new bill, sponsored by Congressman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), was written and it pretty much flew through both houses of Congress late last week. President Obama’s signature makes it the law of the land, although, arguably only temporarily, as the “unlocking” law does not remove the obligation or power of the Library of Congress to examine if the reinstatement of this legal exemption shall remain, well, legal. That next review will happen sometime in 2015 which means the Copyright Office could make it illegal, again. While it will not likely see any visibility during the current session of Congress, there are bills being prepared that would make the unlocking provision permanent. Expect this issue to make the news again in 2015. Source
  3. geeteam

    50 Google Now Voice Commands

    When most people think about voice assistants, Apple’s Siri is usually the first thing that comes to mind. But for the past few years, Google has been (quietly) working hard at improving their own voice assistant and what it is now capable of doing may surprise you. In the video below, I go over 50 voice commands using Google Now. Now, 50 voice commands may be too many to remember after watching a single video, so for you’re convenience I’ve create a written list of the commands (in order) below for you to try out. Enjoy! What does my schedule look like? Where is my package? Text [contact name], [your message]. Remind me to [what you want to be reminded of]at [desired location to be reminded]. E-mail [e-mail address], [your message]. How are the [your favorite sports team]doing? What is the definition of [word you want defined]? What is the capital of [state or country]? What time is it in [state or country]? What are some attractions in [state or country]? Show me some pictures of [what you want to see pictures of]. Post to Twitter, [your tweet]. Open [app you want opened]. How much is [person]worth? How old is [person]? What’s the theme song to [show or movie]? Who is the cast on [show or movie]? What channel is [show]on? How long is ? What is [movie's] rating? What are showtimes for ? Do a barrel roll! How old do you have to be to [your question]? What’s the weather like in [city, state, or country]? Go to [website]. Note to self, [your note]. Make me a sandwich! How many calories are in [food]? [Food] vs [food]. What are some restaurants nearby? What are the hours to [restaurant]? Give me directions to [location]. What’s a [percent]tip on [dollar amount]? What is the loneliest number?! What’s the population of [city, state, or country]? What’s the minimum wage in [city, state, or country]? Tilt! What’s [company's] stock price? When is [holiday]? Call [contact]. What’s the status of flight [flight number]? What’s the traffic to [location]. How do you say [word or phrase]in [language to translate in]? What is [currency]in [another currency]? How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood? What is [measurement]in [other measurement]? What song is this [play song]? Play the [song or album]. Wake me up at [time to set alarm]. What is the answer to life, the universe, and everything? Source
  4. When shopping for a new smartphone, we tend to have our own ideas regarding what specific features and assets will lure us into making the purchase, and an interesting piece of research on smartphone buyers has shown that while, generally speaking, men and women look for the same kinds of features and functions, there are some notable differences. The survey, compiled by Nielsen, found that while, perhaps unsurprisingly, the male population sampled looked at things like processor speed, display size and operating system, female subjects were rather more considerate of finer details, such as contract terms and pricing. But even though, as cynical men and women would argue, it seems like the two genders are of different species at times, certain, staple features seem to unite smartphone purchasers of both the male and female variety. Battery life, for example, is a big deal, and although, as the Nielsen survey across more than 58 countries found, less than half of men and women considered battery performance to be essential, it was, behind price and features, still an important factor to assess when going out and buying a new smartphone. The fact that features – only by a slight margin – were of higher consideration than battery life, is telling of the times. Often, we’re so consumed by what a smartphone can offer us that we forget about the battery that needs to keep everything ticking over, and even though, with any new handset purchase, we spend that initial honeymoon period enjoying the great features packed therein, we normally pay the price for this immediate gratification with a waning, poor battery retention rate through the remainder of the contractual agreement. In other findings, it turns out that men and women are fairly united when it comes to the camera and carrier, although females seemingly pay more attention to the small-print of the contract. Despite what this research may tell us about men and women’s specific requirements when purchasing a smartphone, though, it’s clear that, for the most part, we all want the same things; a good runner that can hold its battery life, for a price that we can afford, and some of the latest and greatest features included. Source
  5. A new Remote Administration Tool for Google’s Android platform has become available in the darkest corners of the Internet. This particular type of tool is bundled into a malware package that has the ability to claim control of the devices of those who use an app that has been infected, effectively turning the unwitting smartphone or tablet into a spyware zombie. The latest addition to the arsenal of the unscrupulous goes by the name of “Dendroid” and is being sold on the underground market for as little as $300. A tool like this would normally pass by unnoticed, but Dendroid differs from others in the fact that it offers unlimited usage for the relatively small amount of money an individual has to part with. It also comes bundled with the unnerving ability to hide amongst legitimate apps on the Play Store without being detected by Google’s malware scanning abilities. The scary stuff begins when a user – who is none the wiser – installs an infected app onto their Android smartphone or tablet. The individual(s) responsible for infecting the app in the first place has the ability to gain remote access to the installed device and effectively take control of the hardware. This level of remote access would allow undetected access to photographs, stored data and message archives that are on the device. Perhaps more terrifying, it would also grant access to the microphone and camera modules. A number of researchers from Lookout Security have taken the time to look into Dendroid, and are surprised by the methods its developers have implemented purely just to evade detecting by Bouncer, Google’s malware detection software. It looks as if Dendroid was designed with evading Play Store security in mind. Amongst its numerous features, Dendroid features some relatively simple — yet unusual — anti-emulation detection code that helps it evade detection by Bouncer, Google’s anti-malware screening system for the play store. The introduction and availability of this latest sophisticated Remote Administration Tool further brings attention to the fact that the Android platform is relatively easy pickings for malicious types who are serious about embarking on malware activity. It seems that the market for these types of tools is so lucrative, and is becoming such a commonplace that security researchers involved in the field have furnished the software with the abbreviated name “RAT”. The Android platform is now responsible for a staggering 92% of all known malware on mobile platforms, which has risen from 47% two years ago. The question is, what will Google do about this, if anything? Source
  6. Love or loathe Google Glass, the search giant’s intriguing project continues to get the lion’s share of the media’s coverage, but whilst the tech world remains fascinated by this new technology, many start-ups have sought to compete against the might of Google with their very own attempts at building a face computer. KAIST, which stands for the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, has just taken the wraps off its K-Glass prototype, which it claims is 30 times faster than Google Glass, as well as 3x to 12x more efficient. The Explorer Edition of Glass has been distributed out to creative folks in order to get the ball rolling with regards to building great apps and such, but while the Big G has plenty of developers on board already, there has also been a notable spike in the number of companies trying to forge their own niche in this emerging market of head-mounted tech. The K-Glass is the brainchild of one Yoo Hoi-Jun, currently the Professor of Electrical Engineering at KAIST, and along with a dedicated team of expert researchers, he has come up with an augmented reality device boasting a superior performance not only to Glass, but most other alternatives plying their trade. The fact that it is very efficient with its energy use is also a plus, with K-Glass purportedly able to last 3 to 12 times longer than Google Glass. Sure, Glass has the benefit of being in the spotlight, but it still has its limitations, including the fact that the battery doesn’t seem to last for a great deal of time. K-Glass, like any good competitor, attempts to fill in the blanks, and with 24 hours of battery life in standard, everyday use, it certainly presents itself as a more marketable product both at consumer and enterprise / industry level. K-Glass runs on a small-but-powerful AR chip capable of processing up to 1012 operations per second, and by, as noted by one researcher, “ruling out the unnecessary computation,” the processor can operate more quickly when dealing with complicated algorithms. Just where K-Glass will go, or whether it will even compete with the likes of Glass, remains to be seen. Nevertheless, with companies and institutions making a concerted effort to improve and evolve this fledgling technology, it’s not going to be the one-man show we might have presumed it to be back when Project Glass was first announced. We’ve seen a bunch of smartglasses already, some of the most notable ones being the Lumus, Vuzix Smart Glass, GlassUp etc. But the thing that excites us the most is which one will make the biggest impact when all of these will actually go mainstream. Source
  7. If you think poking fun at others is something we get over when we grow up, well, tech companies beg to disagree with you. Be it Apple, Samsung, Nokia, HTC, or any other OEM, these companies don’t miss a chance of making fun of competitors. The latest one being Nokia, which we thought was done for this month after pointing a finger at Samsung’s blurry images, but it has now taken on Android and iOS. In a new self-appraisal video, Nokia talks about the number of apps that Windows Phone has snagged in the last one year. While it acknowledges iOS and Android’s jam-packed app stores, at the same time it makes fun of the redundancy among their apps. “Do I really need a thousand apps to turn on my flashlight?” asks the video narrator. Over the last few years, Nokia has managed to bring about 200,000 apps to the Windows Store. While it isn’t close to what Android and iOS have to offer, it sure has a reasonably good amount of alternatives, if not the same apps that most people actually care about. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=iJbz1NZMCzI Now, for the big fail in its advert. Apparently, Nokia didn’t run a fact check before handing over the script to its over confident presenter. According to the video, you can’t tweak a PowerPoint presentation on Android and iOS. Well, actually you can, on iOS you have Apple Keynote that lets you create and edit PowerPoint files; whereas for Android, QuickOffice suffices such needs, though Office Mobile from Microsoft is also available, but requires a 365 subscription. Coming to the second part, Nokia thinks that Android and iOS users can’t control Xbox, when in fact they can. The irony is that Microsoft itself has developed an app for that, called Smartglass. Furthermore, while Nokia does have so many cool apps, Instagram isn't really well-made, Internet Explorer leaves a lot to be desired, and the time it takes for an app to reach the Windows Phone Store is ridiculous. While Nokia may have bragged a bit here and there, overall the advertisement is a win. Nokia and Windows Phone have grown pretty strong recently, and the video puts that point across quite brilliantly. Just to point out a few things, the video was found on the Nokia Canada channel, which isn't verified. Source
  8. For what seems like the millionth time, this year alone, I've seen someone post an "I lost my phone" status update on Facebook. Clearly the millionth time reference is an exaggeration, but seriously, how can you lose your phone these days. Keep in mind, we're not talking about a cheap flip phone from back in the day, but modern Android (and iOS) smartphones. Here is a hint -- these devices have built in tracking. That sort of makes it impossible to lose. But having said that, we also realize that not everyone is quite as geeky, and often do nothing to their shiny new smartphones aside from figure out how to transfer their contacts so they can make calls and send text messages. So here is the deal, we here at Android Community are assigning some homework. Or as homework sort of sucks, how about we think of this as a game. We could simply tell you to share this post with everyone you know, but that would make it seem like we're simply going after the hits. We really just want people to stop losing their phones. After all, they are expensive to buy, and even more expensive to replace. So here is the deal, everyone reading this needs to set up the Android Device Manager (ADM) for their friends and family members. And also make sure they know how to use it (so they don't call you when they lose their phone). Yes, we are intentionally staying away from the privacy argument here. As for the game aspect, how about we give it a point system. You get 1 point every time you set up the ADM for someone else (after making sure you have it done on your personal devices). You then lose 5 points every time someone you know actually loses their phone. And keep in mind, this isn't misplacing and finding, but full on losing to the point they have to replace it. See if you can come out ahead. Lastly, just in case you need some help to get started -- first, make note of the Android Device Manager website located here, and also the Android Device Manager app found in the Play Store. After that, grab your phone, tablet or other Android device and head into the settings. Once in the settings go to Security -> Device administrators and make sure the box next to Android Device Manager is checked. That will allow you to not only track that lost device, but also ring the device, lock the screen and erase the device. Source
  9. Unsurprisingly, Google and LG are reportedly partnering to build the next-generation Nexus smartphone. According to a report by Gizmodo Germany, the phone makers will once again join forces to develop the Nexus 6. LG manufactured Google's last two handsets—the Nexus 4 and 5. The latter hit the market in late October, equipped with the latest version of Android, KitKat. In fact, a bright red version of the Nexus 5 just hit the Google Play store a month ago, joining its black and white counterparts in 16GB and 34GB versions.With that in mind, Android Senior Vice President Sundar Pichai recently said the next Nexus will not reach the public any time soon. "I can assure you it will not be released in the first half of the year," he told a French blog during last month's Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. But that hasn't stopped the rumor mill from spinning. Details are scarce, but the German tech blog suggested that the Nexus 6 will actually be a stripped-down version of the yet-to-be-unveiled LG G3, which CNET suggested will sport a 5.5-inch, 2,560-by-1,440 Quad HD screen, a 64-bit processor, and a 16-megapixel rear camera. With Google's annual I/O developer conference scheduled for June 25-26, it's possible the search giant will reveal its next-generation Nexus then. Neither Google nor LG immediately responded to PCMag's request for comment. LG has been working on its own lineup of handsets, including the world's first curved smartphone, the 6-inch G Flex, which launched nationwide on Feb. 5.For more, see PCMag's review of the Google Nexus 5 and the slideshow above, as well as our review of the LG G Flex. The German site also tipped the release of a Google Nexus smartwatch from LG, but offered no further details about the wearable tech. Source
  10. Two consumer groups today filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission that asks the agency to investigate Facebook's pending acquisition of WhatsApp. According to the Electronic Privacy and Information Center (EPIC) and the Center for Digital Democracy (CDD), Facebook is likely to use WhatsApp user data to its advantage, which is not what WhatsApp users expected when they signed up for the messaging app. "Acting in reliance on WhatsApp representations, Internet users provided detailed personal information to the company, including private text to close friends," the complaint said. "Facebook routinely makes use of user information for advertising purposes and has made clear that it intends to incorporate the data of WhatsApp users into the use profiling business model." EPIC and CDD said the move violates WhatsApp users' understanding of their exposure to online advertising and constitutes an unfair and deceptive trade practice, which the FTC should investigate. Facebook disagreed. "Facebook's goal is to bring more connectivity and utility to the world by delivering core Internet services efficiently and affordably – this partnership will help make that happen," a Facebook spokeswoman said in a statement. "As we have said repeatedly, WhatsApp will operate as a separate company and will honor its commitments to privacy and security." Facebook announced plans to acquire WhatsApp for a stunning $16 billion last month, a deal that could be worth as much as $19 billion if certain targets are met. Facebook has said that WhatsApp will remain an independent company, like Instagram, which the social network also owns. But according to Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg, WhatsApp is on its way to 1 billion users, and any Internet service that tops that milestone is extremely valuable, according to Zuckerberg. Going forward, WhatsApp will help Facebook toward its goal of connecting the world, he said. Source
  11. This story was published: 1 day ago January 22, 2014 8:22AM Yahoo websites logged just shy of 195.2 million unique visitors in December while second-place Google saw about 192.3 million unique visitors. Yahoo was the most popular online venue visited from US desktop computers in December as modern lives increasingly revolve around using mobile devices to connect with the internet. Yahoo continued to hold a crown it claimed in August of last year after edging past Google in a ComScore ranking of online properties most frequently visited from desktop computers in the United States. Freshly released figures from the industry tracker show that Yahoo websites logged just shy of 195.2 million unique visitors in December while second-place Google saw about 192.3 million unique visitors. ComScore pegged the overall US desktop internet explorers at 224,057 million people. The lead ranking continued to be good news for Yahoo chief executive Marissa Mayer, who moved from Google in mid-2012. But Yahoo still trails Google in revenues and advertising, particularly in the key search segment. More visits translate into the potential to bring in more money from online ads. Mayer has made improving Yahoo's popularity on smartphones and tablets a priority as the faded internet search pioneer is reinvented as a "premier digital media" company. Yahoo shares were down more than two per cent to $39.06 in afternoon trading on the Nasdaq exchange in New York City. http://www.news.com.au/finance/business/yahoo-beats-google-in-us-desktop-visits-in-december/story-fn5lic6c-1226807335763
  12. By Cade Metz 01.22.14 2:30 PM Facebook is now delivering online advertisements directly to mobile software apps that operate outside the popular social network, a move meant to improve the relevance of ads on mobile devices and give app developers a better way of making money. The company has long indicated it would one day launch an online ad network akin to Google’s AdSense service — a network that delivers ads across countless third-party websites — but this new project leapfrogs that idea to create the same kind of network on mobile devices. It’s yet another challenge to Google, whose Android mobile operating system has given the company an effective means of spreading ads across smartphones and tablets. A company spokeswoman says Facebook is working with a small group of advertisers and app developers on the project, which Facebook calls a test. This is the first time, she says, that Facebook is delivering ads directly to mobile apps, as opposed to using someone else’s ad network. ‘We’ll be extending Facebook’s rich targeting to improve the relevancy of the ads people see, provide even greater reach for Facebook advertisers, and help developers better monetize their apps’ — Sriram Krishnan The company declined to discuss the project further, but Sriram Krishnan, who works on Facebook’s mobile and ads platform, says in a blog post that Facebook is looking to target ads on outside mobile apps in much the same way it does inside its own mobile app. “We faced some unique challenges when we first integrated ads into the Facebook mobile experience,” Krishnan says, “and we believe we’re now well positioned to help other mobile apps.” In short, because it collects so much information about you and your web habits, Facebook can more effectively show you ads that you want to see, and it hopes to offer this ability to other businesses and software coders. “In this test, we’ll be extending Facebook’s rich targeting to improve the relevancy of the ads people see, provide even greater reach for Facebook advertisers, and help developers better monetize their apps.” As recounted in The Facebook Effect, David Kirkpatrick’s inside look at the social network’s rise, a 2005 pitch to potential Facebook investors discussed something called “AdSeed,” billed as “Google AdSense for social networks.” The AdSeed name was never adopted, but the notion of a Facebook AdSense challenger has remained with the company ever since. It appears to be on the verge of happening, but on the mobile frontier, not the web. Zuckerberg and company were slow to embrace the mobile world and lost ground to Google and Apple, but it has in recent months been striking back. Facebook has overhauled its own mobile app, and it has acquired Parse, a company focused on helping people build other mobile apps — a move than not only provides Facebook with a means of selling ads to developers, but allows them to more closely track how the world uses mobile software. That, in turn, can help target ads. Because at Facebook, it all comes back to the ads. http://www.wired.com/business/2014/01/facebook-mobile-ad-test
  13. Google has been hit by a patent troll. A company that's gone after Apple, Microsoft, Motorola, and Samsung — among other tech companies — has proven in court that Android's push notification services infringe on one of its patents, and it's now seeking damages of $125 million or more. The infringed patent covers certain aspects of messaging services, and it's in fact the same patent that Apple agreed to a settlement over in 2012. The plaintiff, SimpleAir, now boasts on its website that its patent portfolio is licensed to Apple. The case comes out of the Eastern District of Texas, a jurisdiction that's been notoriously friendly to patent trolls. Though it's often simpler and cheaper for companies to settle cases like this, Google may have been hoping to take a stand here if it truly believed that it didn't infringe on the patent from SimpleAir, a company that licenses a small number of patents but doesn't actually make its own products. SimpleAir's lawsuit is representative of the type of patent issues that some major tech companies — Google included — have complained about and would like to see reformed. The House of Representatives actually passed legislation late last year that would help to combat patent trolls, but it'll need to see companion legislation in the Senate before moving forward. Google now faces a second trial against SimpleAir to determine damages, with a new jury being called in for the coming case. Though the money itself may not be a huge concern to Google, it may end up as the next big name noted as a licensee on SimpleAir's website. Source
  14. By exploiting bugs in Google Chrome, malicious sites can activate your microphone, and listen in on anything said around your computer, even after you’ve left those sites. Even while not using your computer - conversations, meetings and phone calls next to your computer may be recorded and compromised. While we’ve all grown accustomed to chatting with Siri, talking to our cars, and soon maybe even asking our glasses for directions, talking to our computers still feels weird. But now, Google is putting their full weight behind changing this. There’s no clearer evidence to this, than visiting Google.com, and seeing a speech recognition button right there inside Google’s most sacred real estate - the search box. Yet all this effort may now be compromised by a new exploit which lets malicious sites turn Google Chrome into a listening device, one that can record anything said in your office or your home, as long as Chrome is still running. Check out the video, to see the exploit in action Google’s Response I discovered this exploit while working on annyang, a popular JavaScript Speech Recognition library. My work has allowed me the insight to find multiple bugs in Chrome, and to come up with this exploit which combines all of them together. Wanting speech recognition to succeed, I of course decided to do the right thing… I reported this exploit to Google’s security team in private on September 13. By September 19, their engineers have identified the bugs and suggested fixes. On September 24, a patch which fixes the exploit was ready, and three days later my find was nominated for Chromium’s Reward Panel (where prizes can go as high as $30,000.) Google’s engineers, who’ve proven themselves to be just as talented as I imagined, were able to identify the problem and fix it in less than 2 weeks from my initial report. I was ecstatic. The system works. But then time passed, and the fix didn’t make it to users’ desktops. A month and a half later, I asked the team why the fix wasn’t released. Their answer was that there was an ongoing discussion within the Standards group, to agree on the correct behaviour - “Nothing is decided yet.” As of today, almost four months after learning about this issue, Google is still waiting for the Standards group to agree on the best course of action, and your browser is still vulnerable. By the way, the web’s standards organization, the W3C, has already defined the correct behaviour which would’ve prevented this… This was done in their specification for the Web Speech API, back in October 2012. How Does it Work? A user visits a site, that uses speech recognition to offer some cool new functionality. The site asks the user for permission to use his mic, the user accepts, and can now control the site with his voice. Chrome shows a clear indication in the browser that speech recognition is on, and once the user turns it off, or leaves that site, Chrome stops listening. So far, so good. But what if that site is run by someone with malicious intentions? Most sites using Speech Recognition, choose to use secure HTTPS connections. This doesn’t mean the site is safe, just that the owner bought a $5 security certificate. When you grant an HTTPS site permission to use your mic, Chrome will remember your choice, and allow the site to start listening in the future, without asking for permission again. This is perfectly fine, as long as Chrome gives you clear indication that you are being listened to, and that the site can’t start listening to you in background windows that are hidden to you. When you click the button to start or stop the speech recognition on the site, what you won’t notice is that the site may have also opened another hidden popunder window. This window can wait until the main site is closed, and then start listening in without asking for permission. This can be done in a window that you never saw, never interacted with, and probably didn’t even know was there. To make matters worse, even if you do notice that window (which can be disguised as a common banner), Chrome does not show any visual indication that Speech Recognition is turned on in such windows - only in regular Chrome tabs. You can see the full source code for this exploit on GitHub. Speech Recognition's Future Speech recognition has huge potential for launching the web forward. Developers are creating amazing things, making sites better, easier to use, friendlier for people with disabilities, and just plain cool… As the maintainer of a popular speech recognition library, it may seem that I shot myself in the foot by exposing this. But I have no doubt that by exposing this, we can ensure that these issues will be resolved soon, and we can all go back to feeling very silly talking to our computers… A year from now, it will feel as natural as any of the other wonders of this age. http://talater.com/chrome-is-listening
  15. Motorola caught the tech media’s attention when it unveiled the surprisingly capable Moto G smartphone for just $179 off contract. That comparatively tiny fee brings buyers a 4.5-inch display with 720p HD resolution, a 1.2GHz quad-core processor, 8GB of storage and a 5-megapixel camera, all wrapped in a reasonably attractive case. But $179 is still a bit pricey in emerging markets where industry watchers are still expecting growth, so Motorola plans to limbo even lower. “In much of the world $179 is a lot of money so there’s a big market at a price point of less than $179,” Motorola CEO Dennis Woodside told TrustedReviews. “We’re going to look at that and just delivering on that value promise is super important. I mean why can’t these devices be $50? There’s no reason that can’t happen so we’re going to push that.” Woodside didn’t provide any additional details on the company’s future budget lineup, though he did assure the blog that the low end won’t be Motorola’s only focus. “On the more premium side we’re pushing more customisation,” he said. “Today you have colours and beginning of materials but you don’t have screen size and you don’t have functionality and we’re going to bring all that in in [sic] the next year or so.” Source
  16. Google is launching an initiative it hopes will help consumers better understand the kind of service its Internet Service Provider (ISP) offers while at the same time encouraging the ISPs to provide the best possible connection speeds, and is using YouTube streaming as the basis of its project. Aware that for Web users there are few things more frustrating than a video that freezes mid-play, or a picture that crumbles into a mass of unwatchable fuzziness, Google will measure the video streaming quality of ISPs and rate them according to “the video streaming quality you can expect (at least 90% of the time) when you watch YouTube on an ISP in a specific area.” On its new Video Quality Report site highlighting the initiative, Google explains that YouTube quality, as well as Internet speeds in general, can also be affected by other factors, including how your Wi-Fi is set up, the number of connected devices, and the level of congestion along any part of the content’s end-to-end path, a factor that can vary widely throughout the day. With this in mind, the Mountain View company aims to produce accurate results by drawing its data from billions of YouTube videos watched across thousands of ISPs during a 30-day period, starting with Canada, a country that in Google’s eyes already has plenty of ISPs offering a high level of service. Results will be made available for viewing region by region, though the Web company’s timetable for taking its research to other countries isn’t currently known. Ratings Once Google has evaluated the data, it’ll rate the ISPs in the following way: A ‘YouTube HD Verified‘ rating, for example, means watching HD videos (720p or 1080p) should be a breeze the vast majority of the time, with fast load times and no annoying hiccups in performance. A ‘Standard Definition‘ rating means standard definition videos (at least 360p) should be watchable with “moderate” load times. The ‘Lower Definition‘ rating – one that all ISPs will certainly want to avoid – means low resolution videos load slowly and could freeze from time to time. Speaking to the Financial Post about the project, YouTube’s Shiva Rajaraman said it’s designed to offer Web users a clear and simple measure of performance, while at the same time giving ISPs the chance to more easily describe their various products and price points. He added that the ISPs would be welcome to use its video quality ratings in their marketing campaigns to help consumers better understand the kind of service they can expect to receive. Source
  17. By Darren Murph on Jan 21, 2014 at 11:00 AM I’ve been fortunate enough to use Google Glass in some form or another for months now, but just recently procured a pair of my own. Wired’s Mat Honan penned my favorite Glass review, and his words so similarly mirror my own overarching viewpoint that I’ll simply redirect you there if you’re looking to spend a hefty chunk of time reading. For the purposes of this article, however, I’m going to focus on brevity. I’ve just recently returned from a week at CES, where I used Glass during some portion of each day there, and I’ve reached a point where I feel comfortable opining on the unit’s strengths, its shortcomings, and my hopes for its future. What Google Glass is awesome at: •Turn-by-turn navigation. This is Glass’ current “killer app.” Flashing photos and email cards in front of someone using Glass for the first time is cool, but dial up a map of a nearby street corner and you’ll almost certainly hear a positive adjective uttered by the wearer. •Being sunglasses. I ordered the Charcoal color a bid to be as understated as possible, and that decision proved doubly great once I realized that it shipped with a tinted sunglass add-on. Rocking these as sunglasses in the desert proved to weird people out much less than when using them sans shades. •Enabling spontaneous captures. I was boarding a relatively small aircraft a week ago, and the sun flare striking the plane’s body was perfect as I approached the boarding door. Thanks to Glass, I tapped the camera capture button and secured that moment. In the middle of nowhere in Nevada, three donkeys decided to wander out and cross the street that I was driving on; due to having Glass on, I captured a memorable 10 second video of the weirdness. It’s the little things, you know? •Notifications. When it’s synced up properly, hearing a gentle “ding” to signify an incoming notification is quite useful. You can choose to look up at it immediately, or just wait. We need more notification customization options, but the crux of it is ace. •Being a Bluetooth headset. I’ll never wear a conventional Bluetooth headset, but I loved having phone conversations on Glass. The only downside here is that it doesn’t get loud enough — in airports and on noisy roads, you’ll struggle to hear the person on the other end. •Being comfortable. Amazingly, Glass is super light, and you barely notice them on your cranium. Every person who tried my set on commented on how much more comfortable they were than they had anticipated. What Google Glass is not awesome at: •Organization. There’s no (current) way to dismiss notification cards permanently. There’s no way for users to customize the order of their cards. You can’t change the “home screen.” There is essentially no flexibility whatsoever in the user interface, which at least means that Google has a huge opportunity for improvement. •Being used while playing sport. Try running with Glass and taking a photo mid-stride. You can’t. Google is aware of the issue, however, and will hopefully remedy this in a future software update. •Lasting longer than four hours. Seriously, the battery life on Glass is abysmal. It gives me all sorts of anxiety to use Glass for more than two hours without being near a charger. •Capturing great images. The camera sensor in the Glass headset is fairly poor. It’s at least three or four generations behind whatever is in the top-end iPhone, which — like it or not — is going to remain the benchmark that Google will absolutely need to match. •Collapsing. Astonisinghly, you can’t fold Glass’ side bars in as you can with bona fide glasses, so they take up a comical amount of space in one’s backpack. •Being useful in sunlight. Shocker — projector-based displays are awful outside — but you really need something of a solid backdrop, and to be indoors, to really see what’s going on on Glass’ module. •Being comfortable long-term. I have the same issue with watches, but most “normal” humans won’t have an issue wearing a watch for their waking hours. Wearing something on your face for 12+ hours is going to take some getting used to. (Yes, those who’ve worn glasses for years won’t have much issue adjusting.) •Maintaining a connection. Not a day went by where Glass didn’t disconnect from my iPhone’s Bluetooth signal at least once. You’ll need Bluetooth for using Glass as a headset, but you’ll also tether Glass to receive data — it often requires a full power down + power on to reconnect fully, which is annoying (and unacceptable for mainstream users). •Transcribing the human voice. So, so much of Glass’ utility revolves around the headset’s ability to ingest and transcribe the spoken word. Quick email replies, Twitter messages, etc. The harsh reality is that it’s simply poor. It frequently gets words wrong, even if I make myself look like an idiot in public by speaking slowly and deliberately to a glass cube above my eye. When swipes and vocal cords are the only input choices, they have to be flawless. The latter is still heavily flawed. Nothing will make you swear off wearables faster than this. If Glass borks up even a couple of spoken emails, I’ll bet you that the majority of mainstream consumers will say: “You know what, typing on my phone is more private, less embarrassing, and more accurate. Screw Glass.” What I hope Google Glass gains before it’s widely available to consumers: •True phone connectivity. I need to be able to capture a photo with Glass and instantly import than into Snapseed (a Google product, no less) on my phone for further editing and sharing. Period. •Easier settings. It’s stupidly difficult to connect Glass to a Wi-Fi network. Seriously, it’s a 3-4 minute process, and it usually involves the scanning of a QR code. Just… no. •A better display. The resolution is too low, viewing angles are poor, and it barely works in sunlight. That’s a recipe for mass rejection if it’s not resolved. •A relocated micro-USB port. The charging port is directly beneath the power button, which caused me to inadvertently turn Glass off while trying to shove a power cable in. •Collapsible arms. Really, that’s all that needs to be said. •Some amount of ruggedness. Glass is ideal for adventuring, hiking, etc. It needs to be able to resist a bit of water and take small beatings. •Support for all apps. The ecosystem has to grow tremendously, or — like Pebble — it should simply tap into a phone’s existing notification system. Being able to receive Gmail notifications, but not Mail notifications, is frustrating. •A better battery. This needs to be an all-day device, at least. •Speed. The menu transitions are too slow, and in general, the user interface needs to be snappier. Sorry, but if your product isn’t as snappy as the latest iPad or iPhone, people aren’t going to use it. The bar has been set, and continues to be reset on a yearly basis. •Functionality. The list of things that Glass can do is painfully short, and nearly every trick it can play can also be played on a smartwatch. Google has to take better advantage of the form factor here. Funnily enough, I never had any strange stares while wearing Glass in airports, in Las Vegas, in ghost towns in California, and at a resort in Mexico. I think Glass has been on CNN enough at this point that most humans understand what’s going on. I firmly believe that society is well on their way to accepting face worn wearables — that’s not going to be Google’s primary challenge. The challenge is going to be price and functionality. As we saw with 3D HDTVs, you have to have a killer — killer — pitch to convince a customer to strap something onto their face. And, it’ll need to be priced like a smartwatch. If an eventual iWatch hits at $349, Glass will need to be immediately, obviously, and unarguably superior in the functionality department to stand a chance. Google’s biggest issue with Glass today is that I have no good answer to why anyone should buy one. I prefer a watch for raw notifications and I prefer my phone for input. I also prefer traveling with as few things as possible, so the company still has some persuading as to why Glass should make the carry-on cut. The upside, however, is that the potential for Glass far exceeds its present state. Much like the original iOS — the one that shipped without an App Store — Glass could be morphed into a game-changing device for the masses. I’m also completely in love with Google’s investment on the Glass Guide side of things; there’s an entire stable of Glass professionals who are scouring message boards for complaints and suggestions, which gives me hope that they’re working tirelessly to make sure that the consumer edition of Glass is impossible to resist. For the sake of a wilder, crazier future, join me in hoping so. http://bgr.com/2014/01/21/google-glass-review
  18. Having just wrapped up a robot shopping spree, you'd be forgiven for thinking that Google might want to give those robots some brains. However, that might not be the primary goal of the company's purchase of AI company DeepMind Technologies yesterday. According to Re/code, which first broke the news of the acqusition, the new talent will actually be reporting to Google search guru Jeff Dean, not the company's robot boss Andy Rubin. Moreover, the publication reports that at least two of DeepMind's former projects might have been up that alley: "a smarter recommendation system for online commerce, and something to do with images." Jeff Dean was recently seen training a 16,000 core neural network how to recognize cats on YouTube. According to The Information, DeepMind required that Google create a joint Google / DeepMind ethics board as a condition of the deal, which would create rules for what Google could do with the technology. If true that DeepMind talent will focus on search, it paints that idea in a different light. The ethical considerations could be more about privacy, and less about making sure robots don't rise up against humankind. Source
  19. Have you ever dreamed of having full-on multi-window productivity on Android? Some already have it - Samsung devices come with multi-window functionality so that you can see two apps open on the screen at the same time. You can, say, watch a YouTube video while surfing the web, and that's neat, but the function only works with select apps. Could it work with all core Android applications? This is exactly what the following video conceptualizes on: a world where stock Android has multi-window built-in the stock system and perfected. It is all supposed to work by splitting the screen in two and stacking up apps in both the top and bottom parts. Then, you should be able to easily switch between apps in the top and bottom parts with a two-finger swipe. It’s all a concept, of course, a vision of a graphic design student with no technical background. Can it be implemented? Probably, but there are obviously technical limitations that have to be overcome. What we are curious to learn is your opinion on this: would you like multiwindow functionality baked in Android? It probably won’t make a lot of sense for smartphones, but what about tablets? Can the platform one day use this concept to go into even more desktop and laptop computers? Source
  20. No, Windows Phone won’t be catching up to Android in terms of market share anytime soon. However, there is one key area where Windows Phone may at last surpass Android: It might soon generate more revenue for Microsoft than Android does. Beyond Devices takes a look at some of the latest numbers for Windows Phone revenues in Microsoft’s latest earnings report and finds that revenue generated from Windows Phone licensing has narrowed the gap with licensing revenue collected from Android handset manufacturers. In all, 42% of licensing revenues came from Windows Phone vendors on the quarter while 58% came from Android vendors, Beyond Devices estimates. If Windows Phone keeps showing impressive sales growth over the next few quarters then it could soon generate more revenue for Microsoft than Android does within the next year. “Given the overall growth rate of Windows Phone relative to Android, and the higher fee per device for Windows Phone licensing, it’s likely that the percentage of revenue from Windows Phone licensing will continue to grow over time, such that it may well account for the majority of revenue in the overall ‘Windows Phone’ bucket sometime in late 2014 or early 2015,” writes Beyond Devices. “I’d estimate that it will be another billion-dollar business for Microsoft within the first couple of quarters of 2014.” A graph showing estimates of Microsoft’s Windows Phone and Android revenue shares follows below. Source
  21. By Liz Gannes January 27, 2014, 9:01 PM PST You might say the first technology people wore on their face was eyeglasses. That likely started more than 700 years ago. About nine months after Google first started shipping its wearable computer Google Glass, it is melding the old technology with the new by offering eyeglass frames as a $225 upgrade to the $1,500 device (which is still yet not widely available). Google’s frames have a techie chic aesthetic and are made of titanium, with four different styles of varying thickness and shape, and eight different colors. They should work for most prescriptions — except perhaps for people who need especially thick frames — and can be fulfilled through VSP and partially reimbursed through insurance. Adding support for people who need corrective vision was the plan all along and the most common Glass feature request, according to product director Steve Lee. Though Glass owners are a small market — there are about 30,000 of them — outside providers had unofficially made prescription lenses before Google was able to get its own version out the door. The Google frames, which are screwed into a standard Glass unit, have the added effect of making the device a bit more incognito. Sure, it still sticks out a bit, but it blends into the familiar curves of the technology we’re used to seeing on people’s faces. If Glass owners have the device integrated into their eyeglasses, they might also be more likely to wear them all day long. “It changes the psychology of Glass,” Lee said. “I get a lot less attention in public.” Google is also now offering three options for sunglass shades that can be twisted onto Glass (it already had one). But there are two limitations of the new frames that seem like more than a small annoyance. First, it might be more than a little inconvenient to have to charge your eyeglasses when they run out of batteries. Lee’s response: Glass lasts much longer than it used to — a full day if you don’t use too much video. And second, the sunglasses can’t be layered on top of the eyeglass frames. If you attach frames to your Glass, you’d have to use a screwdriver to take them off, so it will be hard to switch between sunglasses and regular glasses. Lee’s response: If that’s important to them, people can get prescription lenses that adapt to daylight. Google isn’t the only company making a device with a face-mounted display. Samsung is reportedly planning to launch a competitor as soon as this fall, according to a report this week in the Korea Times. http://recode.net/2014/01/27/google-glass-now-works-with-actual-glasses
  22. Russian blogger Eldar Murtazin said on Twitter that the Nexus line of devices will be discontinued in 2015, replaced instead with a new brand spawned from the current Play Edition family. Google has launched various Play Edition devices this year, including the HTC One, the Samsung Galaxy S4, the LG G Pad 8.3, the Sony Z Ultra and the Motorola Moto G. Essentially these devices run a pure version of Android, with no OEM user interface and bloatware on top. However, these devices aren’t updated directly by Google, but by OEMs, meaning that new Android OS versions first reach Nexus devices, and only later Google Play Edition devices. Murtazin has not detailed where he received his information from but said in following tweets that new Nexus devices are expected for this year. While the blogger has been accurate with mobile predictions in the past, he has also been wrong before. Interestingly though, Nexus smartphones and tablets may be on a name collision course for 2015, when a Nexus 7 (2015) tablet may be simultaneously launched with a Nexus 7 smartphone – that’s assuming Google’s current naming patterns for its Nexus smartphones and tablets would be kept in place, and that the company would continue to make 7-inch tablets of its own. In addition to talking about the death of the Nexus family life, Murtazin has tweeted several other bits of information, most of them related to the newly inked Google Samsung cross-licensing patent deal. The blogger said that Samsung will not only get patents for Google, but it will also secure hardware development, hinting that more Google Play Edition Samsung handsets may hit the Google Play Store in the future. Furthermore, he added that Samsung will stop developing Tizen for smartphones in the future, a decision that it has reportedly taken without being influenced by Google. The blogger also said that TouchWiz will evolve in extra features, that will “be an integral part of future Android versions,” which “others” will pay for – it’s not clear whether he meant that other OEMs will pay to use Samsung TouchWiz features or whether users will have to pay to access some of these features. Murtazin also said that Google will not be competing against Samsung or any other brand in hardware, and that the company is considering reprofiling Motorola in the future. Finally, Android will be somewhat restricted from use by some companies including Microsoft, which may mean that even if other companies will fork Android, they may not get access to Google’s apps including Google Play Store. Just like with the Nexus tweet, the blogger did not reveal where he got his information regarding the Google Samsung deal. Source
  23. By Liz Gannes January 26, 2014, 4:25 PM PST Google is shelling out $400 million to buy a secretive artificial intelligence company called DeepMind. After Re/code inquired about the deal, Google confirmed that it was happening but declined to specify the price. Based in London, DeepMind was founded by games prodigy and neuroscientist Demis Hassabis, Shane Leg and Mustafa Suleyman. This is in large part an artificial intelligence talent acquisition, and Google CEO Larry Page led the deal himself, sources said. According to online bios, Hassabis in particular is quite the brain, a child prodigy in chess who was later called probably the best games player in history by the Mind Sports Olympiad. DeepMind has just a landing page for a website, on which says it builds learning algorithms for simulations, e-commerce and games. Profiles on LinkedIn indicate the company is about three years old. Sources said Founders Fund is a major investor in DeepMind, along with Horizons Ventures. Skype and Kazaa developer Jaan Tallin was an investor and advisor (not a founder, as we initially described him). Other Google AI experts include Jeff Dean and Anna Patterson, and the company also recently hired Geoffrey Hinton part-time. http://recode.net/2014/01/26/exclusive-google-to-buy-artificial-intelligence-startup-deepmind-for-400m
  24. Samsung and Google have signed a sweeping deal to license their patent portfolios to each other, covering both existing intellectual property in addition to patents filed over the next ten years. United under Android, the two companies haven't really been seen as litigation threats to one another — but with this deal, the threat drops considerably more. Samsung's Seungho Ahn says "Samsung and Google are showing the rest of the industry that there is more to gain from cooperating than engaging in unnecessary patent disputes," a pretty clear shot at Apple, which has been locked in patent suits for years with Samsung and Motorola Mobility (predating Google's acquisition of the manufacturer). Google's Allen Lo takes the same tone: "By working together on agreements like this, companies can reduce the potential for litigation and focus instead on innovation." For Google, the deal could have particularly broad implications considering its ever-growing reach into hardware: Glass is expected to move to wider availability at a lower price soon, Chromecast has been a hot seller, and rumors of a Nexus set-top persist. Clearly, Samsung has a slew of helpful hardware patents on-hand. Source
  25. Who would have thunk it: A company that installs slides into its office buildings is a fun place to work? Fortune this week has released its annual list of the best companies to work for, and Google has once again taken the top slot. Fortune says that 2013 was particularly sweet for Google employees because they all own shares in the company’s stock, which saw its price rise to well over $1,000 per share by the end of the year. Google also topped Fortune’s list of best places to work last year due to its extensive employee perks that include free massages, shuffle ball courts and horseshoe pits among many, many others. Source
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