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Google sells Motorola phone business, keeps patent portfolio
January 30, 2014 | 3:23 am

Motorola_logo26Well, there’s an example of comedic timing for you. Just the other day, Gizmodo speculated that Google might kill off the Nexus line of tablets and phones in favor of “Google Play Edition” devices from other hardware manufacturers—including, notably, Motorola, who Google owns. But today, news came out that had Gizmodo saying, “What?!” Turns out Google is selling Motorola Mobility to Lenovo for $2.91 billion. The deal includes all Motorola’s phone hardware, but Google is keeping most of Motorola’s patents. Google already sold Motorola’s set-top box unit to Arris for $2.35 billion. It only just bought Motorola in 2011...

Wearing Google Glass to a movie theater leads to interrogation by federal agents
January 21, 2014 | 2:23 pm

google-glass-prescription-lenses-900-80Here’s an article that points out a problem that will only become more common as wearables do. A member of the Google Glass program had prescription lenses on his Glass, and wore them everywhere as his regular glasses. He didn’t have any other prescription glasses, so he wore them to a movie, with the Google Glass part turned off. He’d been to an AMC theater with the Glass three times, but this particular time (watching the new Jack Ryan movie, no less) a federal agent came in, plucked the glasses off his head, and proceeded to accuse him of...

Facial recognition for random strangers, coming soon to Google Glass and your smartphone
January 8, 2014 | 9:39 pm

nametag_1Smartphones might be good for e-reading, but soon they’ll be able to read your face, too. Remember the uproar when Facebook announced plans to add face recognition identity tagging to its photos? It turned out only to be meant to tag people who you’d friended already, but to hear most people you’d have thought they were going to have their identities revealed to total strangers. Well, CNET Australia now reports on a forthcoming app for Android, iOS, and Google Glass that could reveal your identity to total strangers. Called NameTag, the app will allow users to snap photos...

Review: Dogfight: How Apple and Google Went to War and Started a Revolution
December 22, 2013 | 11:11 am

coverI finished reading Fred Vogelstein’s book Dogfight: How Apple and Google Went to War and Started a Revolution, which I mentioned in my post yesterday. I quite enjoyed it. Even though I read the news reports of the events it describes as they happened, you don’t get the big picture until you read a book like this, that looks back and puts everything together in the proper context. The book covers the development of the iPhone and Android phones, touches on the iPad and what it meant, goes over the Apple vs. Samsung patent lawsuit, and then wraps up...

Office Max store closings offer bargain tablet, e-reader opportunities
December 22, 2013 | 7:35 am

CAM00515[Bumped due to factual correction.] Looking for a good tablet bargain? Check out your local Office Max or Office Depot store—it’s possible you might find one that’s going out of business. Offices Max and Depot merged this year, and my local Office Max store is closing. (Probably because it’s right down the street from an Office Depot.) An employee at the store told me this closure was due to the merger. I have since been contacted by a representative of Office Depot who said that no closures have been announced and any closures are “part of the...

The iPhone made Google rethink Android
December 21, 2013 | 10:12 pm

The Atlantic is carrying an excerpt from Fred Vogelstein’s book Dogfight: How Apple and Google Went to War and Started a Revolution. I found it interesting enough that I actually bought the book and have been reading through it, and will probably have more to say on that in a day or so. This except, from Chapter 2, talks about Google’s reaction to Apple’s iPhone launch. Essentially, they were poleaxed by Jobs’s demonstration. (How little they knew—Chapter 1 covered how that first iPhone demonstration was carefully stage-managed to disguise the fact that their demonstrator phone was half-baked with a...

Google has a new reason for you to use Google Plus
December 17, 2013 | 12:15 pm

google plusGoogle has been doing everything they can to get users to sign up for Google Plus. They require customers who want to leave a review in Google Play to join, they make it difficult to leave YouTube comments, and every time I have set up an Android device Google has pestered me to sign up for their social network. So far none of these tricks have worked on me, but Google's next program just might. College Humor has posted a new video for Google Blackmail. You may think that no one knows all of your dirty secrets, but Google does. And if...

Deal alert! 2013 Nexus 7 tablets, $40-$50 off
December 12, 2013 | 7:30 pm

Here’s a great deal on the 2013 Nexus 7. Office Depot has the 16 GB version for $180, $50 off list (sold out online; in-store pickup only), and the 32 GB version for $230, $40 off the $270 list (currently available both on-line and in-store). Sale ends 12/21. Of course, sales tax will apply to those purchases if you’re in a state where Office Depot has stores. (Amazon at one point listed the 32 GB 7 for $239 with free shipping, which would be better than $230 + tax, but the price and stock seem to fluctuate throughout the day...

Google Play Books adds from-device uploading in impending update
December 11, 2013 | 11:16 am

Android Police notes that Google Play Books has gotten an update that allows you to upload e-books into its cloud directly from your device, rather than being restricted to doing it only via the web site. I hadn’t realized Google Books could do cloud storage of your own e-books at all, but given that Google Play Music does cloud storage of your MP3s, I suppose I should have guessed. Need to see about trying that out. There are a few other improvements, too, like landscape mode, lower brightness settings for low-light reading, and so on. The update probably won’t...

Google Auto Awesome may be a bit too automatic
December 9, 2013 | 7:40 pm

Screenshot_2013-12-09-16-14-32How far is going too far to get consumers interested in your services? It’s a question Google must have to ask itself repeatedly. Sometimes, as with the Google+ privacy debacle of a couple years back, they get it wrong. And I ran into another possible case of it this morning. I’ve been trying out the Nexus 7 that my brother got for his 3-year-old daughter to play with. It’s a nice little machine, has Android 4.4 Kit Kat on it, and makes my Nook HD look like my Nook HD made my Zeepad look in terms of speed. I might just...

Review: Google Chromecast
December 5, 2013 | 6:11 pm

CAM00395-1I’ve had my Google Chromecast for a couple of days now. I’ve unboxed it for YouTube, and I’ve written up a lengthy review for Answers.com. To summarize, by and large, it’s a great little device. In some ways not as useful as the Roku yet (in particular, no Amazon Prime or local media streaming), in other ways it blows the little black box right out of the water. One of the Chromecast’s biggest advantages is when it comes to searching media. With the Roku, and many other devices like it, you have to plink your title into the search...

Booklamp and discoverability: Nice try, but still has serious shortcomings
November 30, 2013 | 12:14 pm

A random comment on an IRC channel today recalled my attention to Booklamp, and the Book Genome Project, which we’ve mentioned a few times in years gone by. It’s been a couple of years since it was introduced, and I decided to take another look at the site and see what it looks like. Booklamp is a means of tackling the discoverability problem: how do you find a book you might want to read in the modern world, when you might not often visit a library or even bestir yourself away from your computer? I certainly can’t fault it...