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Android app development might have just got a whole lot smoother with Android Studio 1.0
December 12, 2014 | 3:00 am

Google might have taken a critical step towards closing the proverbial time and cost gap between app development for its platform and for the Apple App Store, with the release of Android Studio 1.0, a stable Integrated Development Environment (IDE) available for free download for Windows, Mac, and Linux. One of the attractions for the developer community is supposed to be that this IDE is built on the IntelliJ IDEA, and "in a report by Infoworld in 2010, IntelliJ received the highest test center score out of the 4 Top Java Programming Tools." In any case, Android developers now have a...

Groupon offers 16 GB 2013 Nexus 7 for $150
December 9, 2014 | 7:38 pm

If you were disappointed when Google stopped selling the Nexus 7, this deal on Groupon might make you feel a little better. Groupon is offering a new, not-refurbished 16 GB 2013 Nexus 7 for $149.99. That’s $50 less than Amazon’s price. That’s the generation 2 model, with a quad-core Snapdragon S4 Pro CPU, 2 gigs of RAM, and a full 1080P display, capable of running Android 5.0 Lollipop without breaking a sweat. Made by Asus, branded by Google. The high-resolution, 323 pixels-per-inch display is one of the best you can get for e-reading short of an e-ink display. ...

Break up Google?
December 2, 2014 | 6:26 pm

European Union flagHeadlines got duly grabbed by the non-binding vote in the European Parliament calling on the European Commission, currently still in a long-running anti-trust investigation against Google, to demand the separation of the search giant's commercial businesses from its web search engines. The proposal was formulated by two MEPs, Andreas Schwab, from Germany's conservative Christian Democrats, and Ramon Tremosa i Balcells, of Spain's Convergència Democràtica de Catalunya, and passed by 384 votes to 174, but immediately ran into opposition from Guenther Oettinger, the EU’s digital economy commissioner, who declared that there would be "no breaking up of Google." Special interests behind the parliamentarians'...

Vsenn can stand against Project Ara as a modular platform?
November 7, 2014 | 4:31 pm

A new modular smartphone project - albeit one based on vanilla Android - has emerged with the advent of Finnish startup Vsenn, whose mission statement is "to give everyone the power to create their perfect smartphone by using modular and upgradable hardware." How far this stands a chance against Google's own homegrown Project Ara, or even how far it is differentiated from it, remains to be seen, though it does also claim to be "co-founded by a former Nokia Android X program manager." "We use only the best and fastest hardware in our modules," states the Vsenn introductory material. "There are...

Opening the Inbox: Google’s new paradigm for reading email
November 5, 2014 | 5:20 pm

Screenshot_2014-11-05-17-12-58If you’ve heard about Google’s new “Inbox” system for reading GMail, you’re just about to have your chance to request an invitation. Between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. Eastern (3 p.m. and 4 p.m. Pacific) today (starting just about 40 minutes from now), Google will send invitations to everyone who requests one. Just send an email to inbox@google.com between 6 and 7 and you’ll get your invitation by 8 p.m. (5 p.m. Pacific). I requested an invitation the day it launched and got it the very next day. I’ve been using it since then, on my PC, tablet, and...

Mobile game Ingress has implications straight out of science-fiction
August 26, 2014 | 7:11 pm

braceletSo, this past weekend I took part in my first ever “Anomaly,” a big local event for players of the Ingress game (which I wrote about for Answers here) by Niantic Labs, a subsidiary of Google. In these events, players in certain towns gather together and fight over specific virtual bits of real territory, needing to hold as much of it as they can at specific time points when the score is counted. It was a great deal of fun, and very involved. The Resistance (the faction I play) is very well-organized around these parts. We met at 10:30...

Staples offers 2013 Nexus 7 for $99 with clearance coupon
August 25, 2014 | 5:22 pm

If you’re in the USA, you have a Staples in your area, and they still have 2013 Nexuses in stock, you might be able to get a really good deal. Android Authority has the details on a coupon good for $100 off the 16 GB and 32 GB Nexus 7 tablets. This would cut their price down to $99 and $159, respectively. For a tablet as good as the N7 ‘13, that’s a steal. They’re already out of stock online, so you’d have to go into a store to get the deal. On a related note, Nate at The...

Google uses transfer pricing to avoid paying European taxes
July 27, 2014 | 9:25 am

One of the most commonly-heard complaints about Amazon, at least in Europe, is that it sells e-books from a division based in Luxembourg so that it can charge a much lower VAT (Value-Added Tax, the European equivalent of sales tax) rate on its e-books than UK law allows. The unspoken implication is that everyone else must surely pay all the taxes they owe like good little corporate boys and girls. But Ars Technica reports that Google uses a practice called “transfer pricing” to assign most of its European revenues to an offshore subsidiary in Bermuda and avoid paying taxes...

Amazon Prime Streaming Music is terrific for Prime subscribers
June 17, 2014 | 3:41 pm

Juli gave her review of Amazon Prime Music yesterday. Now I’ll have my say. First of all, as Slate and the Verge point out in their reviews, Amazon Prime Streaming Music is not a Pandora or Spotify killer, and it’s not meant to be. It really isn’t even a new service at all, so much as an extension of an old one. Amazon has offered cloud music storage since 2011, after all. You can already upload music to Amazon’s cloud and stream it, or stream mp3s you buy from Amazon’s mp3 store. Prime Streaming Music just lets you stream...

App Review: Google Play Books for Android
June 17, 2014 | 12:19 pm

Screenshot_2014-06-17-10-57-52I hadn’t paid much attention to Google Play Books before. I’d installed and even paid for readers like Aldiko and Moon+ (TeleRead review), and snagged a couple freeish ones like UB Reader, but Play Books just sat in my app drawer, unused, like most of the pack-in Google apps. But when I came across this Lifehacker piece calling it “the best e-reader for Android,” I figured it was worth trying out. And darned if I don’t by and large agree. Offering a simple and easy-to-use reading interface and cloud reading-position sync with all books, Google Play Books is...

Ars Technica exhaustively documents all Android versions
June 16, 2014 | 2:37 am

its-been-quite-a-journey1-980x439In the interest of documenting it for the historical record, Ars Technica has just posted an immense 40,000-word retrospective on all versions of Android to date, with as many screen shots and as much information as they can gather. It’s possibly the biggest article I’ve seen on their site, at 26 separate pages; Ars Technica premier subscribers can view it in single page form on the site or download a PDF. Those folks who don’t pay for a subscription may want to use an aggregator like Instapaper to view it in a more manageable form. It might even...

Appeals court rules HathiTrust book scanning is fair use
June 10, 2014 | 3:43 pm

Ars Technica reports that the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled on the HathiTrust case, the legal sibling to the Google Books lawsuit. HathiTrust is the organization of university libraries that provided books to Google for scanning purposes in return for receiving copies for themselves. A Federal judge ruled HathiTrust to be fair use in October, 2012, and now the appeals court has upheld that ruling (PDF). The court found that, in scanning the books but not making their full text available (save to handicapped users, who have a special exemption under copyright law), the libraries were...