DailyTech – Google Teases at Android 4.4 “KitKat”, Device Giveaway

Google says too few people knew how Key Lime Pie tasted to name it thatfp__Android_KitKat_Thumb

After being stuck on “Jelly Bean” (Android 4.1, 4.2, and 4.3) for over a year, people were starting to wonder when the next major name change might land for the world’s most used mobile operating system.

I. Android 4.4 is Android “KitKat”

Well the wait is over, with Google Inc.’s (GOOG) Android chief Sundar Pichai posting a picture on Twitter that confirms that the next version of Android will be dubbed “KitKat” and will have the version number Android 4.4.
KitKats are popular chocolate bars with a crunchy biscuit inside stick shaped pieces. The confection is made by Swiss candy and beverage company Nestle SA (VTX:NESN). The announcement took many by surprise as the rumor was that Google was going to adopt the more brand agnostic dessert “Key Lime Pie“.  Google was also rumored to bump the version number to 5.0.

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II. No Key Lime Pie For You

John Lagerling — Google’s director of Android global partnerships — told BBC News in an interview today that the branding was indeed a corporate tieup, but that Google was not paid to use the name.  He says that the decision was meant to be “fun and unexpected”, remarking, “This is not a money-changing-hands kind of deal.”
Source: DailyTech.

Google reportedly wants to launch its own online pay TV service — paidContent

Google is talking to media companies about licensing live TV programming and streaming it on the internet, the WSJ reported Tuesday afternoon, citing unidentified sources.
The article doesn’t say how far the discussions have gotten or which networks Google is talking with, but “in at least one case, Google has provided a demonstration of the product.”
Google already has Google TV, a product that provides access to apps like Pandora and Redbox Instant and is powering certain smart TVs as well as a separate set-top boxes. But Google TV is largely meant to be complementary to an existing pay TV subscription, whereas this new offering would compete directly with subscriptions offered by cable and satellite TV companies.
Other companies also want to compete with cable providers and transmit TV over the internet. Intel plans to launch its own service, OnCue, this yearSony, Apple andFanhattan are also working on such services, but have had difficulty getting them off the ground. Apple, for instance, has pursued a piecemeal strategy to get networks to stream their content through apps on Apple TV, but is also reportedly working on a live TV product that would allow ad-skipping.
Google reportedly wants to launch its own online pay TV service — paidContent.

Google Chromekey may be a $35 HDMI stick PC | Android | Geek.com

Google may be working on an inexpensive HDMI stick PC of its very own called the Chromekey. It’s going to be quite a bit different than Dell’s Project Ophelia or the innumerable Android sticks you may have read about.

There’s some debate about what kind of software the Chromekey will ship with. If the name is accurate, you’d expect Google to go withChrome OS. Then again, Google has an OS that’s built specifically the kinds of displays that feature HDMI ports — Google TV. Android’s a pretty good fit on those screens, too.

But Chrome OS might make the most sense if Google’s intent here is to capture a chunk of the desktop computing market. An inexpensive Chrome OS stick that offers decent performance could be an excellent fit for schools and shared computers (like those in hotels and libraries). It’d even fit the bill for homes where web surfing is pretty much the only computing that’s going on.

Droid Life has received other information, however. Their source says that the Chromekey will act as a sort of wireless receiver and will work in conjunction with Google’s apps on existing (and future) devices. You may, for example, be able to queue up a YouTube playlist on your phone and beam it to the Chromekey for big screen viewing.

Read more @ Geek.com.

Google H840 Media Player Spotted In FCC Testing

Google H480 FCC EUT

Earlier this year, Google decided to discontinue the social streaming media player known as the Nexus Q.  However, a new Google media player gadget has been spotted in FCC testing documents with the product name H840.  The product code is the H2G2-42, which is a play on the The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

The wireless report confirms that the device “functions as a media player.”  Some of the specs of the device includes a 2.4GHz WiFi b/g/n connectivity.  The FCC report does not contain test photos so we do not know what the device looks like.  It is likely that the H840 will support Google Play Music All Access and will have similar functionality as a Sonos media player that can be connected to external speakers.

The Google H840 will likely have a much more friendly user interface than the Nexus Q with more features.  The Nexus Q was essentially a way to play YouTube videos, music, and other content to a TV using Android-powered phones and tablets.  Essentially, the Nexus Q was Google’s own Apple TV.  Earlier this month, Google Play stopped supporting the Nexus Q after the All Access subscription music services was integrated into the marketplace.  Another disadvantage of the Google Nexus Q is that it was manufactured in the U.S., causing it to have a high price.  The Apple TV retails for around $99 currently and the Nexus Q was priced at $299 when it was launched.

Another reason why the Nexus Q had low demand is because it was linked exclusively to Google Play content.  There were no options to connect to Netflix, Hulu Plus, or Amazon Instant Video.  This is why I suspect that the upcoming H840 will have options to connect to these other video services.

FCC Sample Label:

Google H480 FCC Sample Label

Read more @ Pulse 2.0.

Bruce Lawson’s personal site  : Save bandwidth with webP – soon with fallback!

A long time ago, “responsive” didn’t mean “resize your browser window repeatedly while fellow designers orgasm until they resemble a moleskin atop a puddle”. It simply meant “Reacting quickly and positively”, meaning that the page loaded fast and you could interact with it immediately.

One way to do this is to reduce the weight of the page by serving images that have a smaller file-size, thereby consuming less bandwidth and taking less time to download a page. In the last year, web pages download approximately the same number of images, but their total size has increased from about 600K to 812K, making images about 60% of the total page size.

One way to reduce this amount is to encode images in a new(ish) format called webP. It’s developed by Google and is basically a still version of their webM video codec. Google says

WebP is a new image format that provides lossless and lossy compression for images on the web. WebP lossless images are 26% smaller in size compared to PNGs. WebP lossy images are 25-34% smaller in size compared to JPEG images at equivalent SSIM index. WebP supports lossless transparency (also known as alpha channel) with just 22% additional bytes. Transparency is also supported with lossy compression and typically provides 3x smaller file sizes compared to PNG when lossy compression is acceptable for the red/green/blue color channels.

Opera uses it precisely for this compression; it’s used in Opera Turbo, which can be enabled in Opera desktop, Opera Mobile and the Chromium-based Yandex browser. This transcodes images on-the-fly to webP before squirting them down the wire and, on slower connections, it’s still faster.

In tests, Yoav Weiss reported that “Using WebP would increase the savings to 61% of image data”.

WebP is currently supported only in Opera (Presto), Google Chrome, Yandex and Android Browser on Ice Cream Sandwich, which makes it difficult to deploy on the Web. new confidence about technologies in the VP8 video codec on which it’s based might make them feel better about it?)

However, there’s some handy new CSS coming to the rescue soon (when browser vendors implement it). We’ve long been able to specify CSS background images using background-image: url(foo.png);, but now say hello to CSS Image Values and Replaced Content Module Level 4′s Image Fallbacks, which uses this syntax:

background-image: image("wavy.webp", "wavy.png", "wavy.gif");

(Note image rather than url before the list of images.)

The spec says “Multiple ‘image -srcs’ can be given separated by commas, in which case the function represents the first image that’s not an invalid image.”

Simply: go through the list of images and grab the first you can use. If it 404s, continue going through the list until you find one you can use. Note that this isn’t supported anywhere yet, but I hope to see it soon.

Read more @ Bruce Lawson’s personal site.

VentureBeat: Google announces its third Google Fiber city: Provo, Utah (aka Silicon Slopes)

Just weeks after officially revealing that Google Fiber would expand into Austin, Tex., Google is announcing its third U.S. Fiber city — Provo, Utah.

Google Fiber offers download and upload speeds that are 100 times faster than the average consumer broadband Internet connection, and at a much cheaper price. The service launched in the Kansas City area back in July, which instantly prompted competing services from Time Warner Cable to boost their own offerings. The announcement of Google Fiber coming to Provo validates Google chairman Eric Schmidt’s  previously statement that this is not a side project for the company.

So why Provo? Google Fiber general manager Kevin Lo explains:

“Utah is already home to hundreds of tech companies and startups, and many of them are based in Provo. In fact, the Provo area ranks second in the nation in patent growth, and is consistently ranked as one of the top places to live and do business in the U.S. We believe the future of the Internet will be built on gigabit speeds, and we’re sure the businesses and residents of Provo already have some good ideas for what they’d build with a gig”

Read more at VentureBeat

AnandTech: Google Announces Glass Specs, Developer SDK, Shipment to Glass Explorers in Waves

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Google dropped a bunch of Glass related news today. First up are some high level specifications which posted in an FAQ document. There’s still no word about SoC or platform beyond the rumors we’ve heard in the past that Glass is like a WiFi-only Galaxy Nexus. This is the first time we’ve seen official disclosure of some level of specifications however. From the spec page we get the following, which I’ve put in a table.

Google Glass Specs
Google Glass
SoC Unknown
Display 640×360 “Equivalent of a 25 inch high definition screen from eight feet away”
Camera 5 MP forward facing, with 720p video
Audio Bone Conduction Transducer
Connectivity 802.11b/g WiFi, Bluetooth
Storage 16 GB NAND total, 12 GB free
Battery Unknown mAh, “1 full day of typical use”
I/O microUSB
Requirements Android 4.0.3 or Higher with My Glass app

Google is very light on detail here, and doesn’t give resolution directly although it’s obvious looking at the UI Guidelines from the SDK that 640×360 is the native resolution of the projection system. There’s no explicit callout of what SoC is inside (although OMAP4 continues to be a persistent rumor) or battery size in milliamp hours or watt-hours. In addition we see the inclusion of 802.11b/g and no 802.11n, which is a bit curious, although I suspect most of the time Google Glass will be tethered to a smartphone over Bluetooth for connectivity with the companion application. Google also released the Mirror API documentation and a few sample applications alongside.

Read the full article @ AnandTech

Engadget: HBO and Cinemax come to Google Fiber, cable companies shaking in their boots

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Google Fiber has a lot going for it, both as an ISP and a pay-TV platform. There was was one gaping hole in the service though: no HBO. Lets be honest with ourselves, its the big geeks that are looking to hop on that 1Gbps service first. And what do geeks love almost as much as blazing-fast Google-branded internet? Game of Thrones. Now Kansas City (and soon Austin) based nerds will be able to watch Joffrey become an even bigger monster live, rather than wait for some torrent site to get an illegal copy of it up (or, if they’re smart, mooch off of someone’s HBO GO account). Alongside HBO, Google Fiber has also added Cinemax: Home Box Office’s less cool sibling. The branded families of channels are both available today for $20 a month or $10 a month respectively. Or, if you’re a real premium TV fan, you can get both, plus STARZ and Showtime for $40 a month. Hit up the source for a few more details.

Source: Engadget

Why you want Google Fiber

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(CNN) — This week, tech giant Google made it official: Google Fiber is coming to Austin. Residents of the hip Texas city will be the beneficiaries of Internet speeds of 1-gigabit, roughly 100 times faster than current speeds.

In Kansas City, where the service launched last fall, 1-gigabit service costs $70 per month. For $120 per month, consumers get Google’s TV service in addition to gigabit speeds. The company also offers seven years of free Internet service at current (5 mbps) speeds, after a $300 installation fee.

It’s entirely possible that Google Fiber could cost more in the future, but for now Google says it expects prices in Austin to be “roughly similar to Kansas City.”

Here are five reasons why you should want Google Fiber to come to your city as well.

Goodbye buffering: It’s the bane of Internet users everywhere. How many times have you been watching a video on YouTube or elsewhere on the Web, only to have the stream freeze up, forcing you to sit there like a chump while you wait for the video to resume?

Slate’s Farhad Manjoo describes a Google Fiber demonstration in which a company official played five high-definition YouTube videos simultaneously without a hitch. Most users are unlikely to watch five videos at the same time, but the point stands: With Google Fiber’s gigabit speeds, say goodbye to buffering.

And it’s not just YouTube: Imagine being able to download a full-length high-definition movie in a matter of seconds.
(MORE: Report: Google Fiber heading to Austin as cities race to boost Web speeds)

The price is right: It’s hard to beat free. Let’s say you’re content with your current broadband speeds and if you don’t want to pay for a gigabit. Google is offering at least seven years of free Internet service at current national average broadband speeds of 5 mbps, after a one-time $300 installation fee.
Now, suppose you pay $60 per month for your current broadband service. That’s $720 per year, or more than $5,000 over the course of seven years. With Google Fiber’s basic service, you’re saving more than $4,700.

Needless to say, this could go a long way toward making broadband service affordable in low-income communities, which, in turn, could help close the digital divide.

Read more @ CNN

New Google tool divvies up your digital estate after you die

Google is offering up a new tool that helps you sort out your online dealings automatically when you finally shuffle off this mortal coil. Think of it as a sort of post-mortem Google Takeout.

All you’ve got to do to get the ball rolling is visit Google’s Inactive Account Manager and set up your preferences. The timeout feature lets you specify the period after which action is taken — from three months to a full year. You’re free to change this whenever you want, so don’t feel like your plans to spend six months offline can’t go ahead if you decide to flip the switch.

Google also sends an alert to you a month before an action is taken in case you’ve changed your mind.

Next, you can choose to add a trusted contact. Google will notify him or her when your account is shut down, and even share your data with that person if you allow it.

Not sure you want to share all your digital dealings with anyone? You don’t have to. You can set your account to self-destruct, too. Once time expires, your Google profile data is deleted — digital dust to digital dust, as it were.

You don’t have to turn on the Inactive Account Manager, but this is a real convenience for anyone who is a heavy user of Google’s services. Estate planning is enough of a pain when it only involves things like the contents of your piggy bank and the deed to your car. When you have to lay out the particulars of your online existence and decide who has control in your absence, it’s enough to make anyone want to wear a hug jacket.

Read more @ Geek.com