What To Expect This Week At Google I/O

Google I/O Google is "gearing up" for its annual developer conference this week, Google I/O. On Wednesday, there will be a two-hour keynote to be delivered or emceed by Android and Chrome SVP Sundar Pichai. We'll be there. Based on an array of rumors, we expect to see and hear a number of hardware and software announcements. Here's a non-exhaustive roundup of what some of those might include. Android Wear Smartwatches Android Wear was previously announced, but we expect to see a number of watches finally on display. Devices from Motorola and LG should be among those being shown off at the event, [...]

Google Brings Its Nexus “Launcher” To Other Android Devices

Google Launcher Google Nexus devices (i.e., Nexus 5) have featured Google Now prominently as well as "OK Google" hands free voice search. But now the company is rolling that experience out to a slightly broader array of devices. Google Play devices can now get these same features by installing the "Google Launcher" (app).  Below are the "new" features (as represented in the Google Play store): Google Now on your home screen Say "Ok Google" - when you're on your home screen, just say "Ok Google" to trigger voice input. Then say your search query. Or tell your phone what to do, like send a text messag [...]

Walking In A Winter WonderLab: Google Opens Retail Shops In Time For Holiday Season

Google Winter Wonderlab logo Google is trying out a new retail experience this holiday season, launching six Google Winter WonderLab locations across the country.  Opening in New York City, Washington DC, Chicago, Los Angeles, New Jersey and Sacramento, Google says the Winter Wonderlab shops will offer customers a chance to try out Google products like the Nexus tablet, Chromebook and Google Chromecast. According to the Winter Wonderlab website, customers are invited to, "check out new gadgets like the Nexus 7, make a slow-motion video in the giant snow globe, or just escape the holiday hustle with endless games, mus [...]

Life With Google’s Other Flagship Phone, The Moto X

moto x Google has never made its own phones. The various "Nexus" flagship phones that carry the Google name have all been done in partnership with various handset manufacturers. Google's purchase of Motorola last year changed that. The recently launched Moto X is an Android phone designed and built by Google. How is it? For me, there's nothing revolutionary. It's a good phone but one bested by others, such as the iPhone, the Galaxy S4 and even Google's LG-built Nexus 4. Good Phone, But Is "Good" Still Good Enough? I've been using a review unit of the Moto X for about a month, alongside some of m [...]

Tricky Treat: Google Smartwatch Rumored For Halloween

Galaxy Gear The site 9to5Google yesterday reported a rumor that a Google smartwatch will be announced on October 31 this year. Well before this, Google was rumored to be working on a smartwatch. Not long ago, the company acquired WIMM labs, builder of smartwatches. I have no doubt that Google will introduce an Android-based watch. But will it be a treat or a disappointing "1.0" product? Here are the relevant questions: What will the design look like? How much will it cost? What will be its core functions/capabilities? How will it interact with Android devices (and iPhones)? Will it become [...]

Study: Nexus 7 Usage Flat, Kindle Up Following Discounts

Amazon Original Kindle Fire Ad network Chitika has released data on the comparative traffic being driven by the Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire, prompted by the introduction of the new Nexus 7 in July. Chitika looked at North American tablet-based web traffic between June and August of this year. While Nexus 7 web traffic remained remarkably consistent during the period, Kindle's traffic increased, based largely on Amazon discounting to move devices ahead of the anticipated roll out of the next generation of Amazon tablets. What's the lesson? Price matters. In order to generate this report, Chitika examined "tens of [...]

Samsung Announces Galaxy Gear, Apple iWatch Next Week

gear As expected, Samsung has announced its Galaxy Gear smartwatch at the IFA conference in Berlin. Danny Sullivan live-blogged the event, which also saw a number of other announcements, including the Galaxy Note 3 and a new 10-inch Galaxy tablet. Earlier today Sony introduced its new and improved smartwatch at IFA. The new Samsung smartwatch comes with a camera (+ video) and a speaker. The camera is 1.9 megapixels. I'm sure the quality will improve over time. Gear can be used as a phone, but it's not a phone. It relies on a bluetooth connection to a Samsung smartphone: The built-in speak [...]

Moto X: Google’s Real Answer To The iPhone

Moto X At an event in New York today, Google and Motorola unveiled the long-anticipated Motorola Moto X. You can read about specs and first hands-on reviews on Techmeme. The phone is getting a generally enthusiastic response from those that have received early demo units. (We don't have one.) From an overall design standpoint, it's a giant leap ahead of the previous Motorola "Droid" handsets. That's partly because it's the first phone designed following the $12.5 billion Google acquisition of Motorola. The phone has a 4.7 inch display and a 10 MP camera. The design generally reminds one of the [...]

Android Tablet Shipments Soar, Usage Hasn’t Shown Up Yet

Image Credit: Gizmodo Strategy Analytics came out with Q2 shipment estimates for tablets -- which are supposed to exceed PC sales by the end of this year on a global basis. It's now a critical market segment. The data show Android tablets with a solid "shipments share" lead over the iPad. What the numbers appear to reflect is two-thirds Android market share vs. iOS. However that's not reflected in actual usage, at least in North America, where the iPad has increased its share of Web traffic over Q1. Collectively, according to Chitika, non-iPad tablets (essentially Android) are driving roughly 16 percent o [...]

New Google Nexus 7 Goes Live Early On Best Buy Site

New Nexus 7 We're waiting here in San Francisco for the Google Chrome/Android/Nexus event to start (see Danny's live blog). But Best Buy has already put up preorder pages for the new Nexus 7 ahead of this morning's announcement. The 16GB version is priced at $229. Versions with more memory cost more, up to $269. It's interesting that Google is raising prices on the device at a time of intensifying tablet competition. The original Nexus 7 was priced at $199 and above. Perhaps the "classic" version will continue to be sold at the lower price point, in the same way that Apple sells the iPhone 4 and [...]

Google Announces New Nexus 7, Android 4.3 & ChromeCast

google-nexus-chromecast-featured There's a new Nexus 7 in town. Smaller and lighter than before, and also packing Android 4.3. It's joined by Google's latest TV effort, the Chromecast. Below, all the news out of Google's press event today. For our more formal coverage, see: Chromecast: The Rebirth Of Google TV New Google Nexus 7 Goes Live Early On Best Buy Site Our live blogging is below: [...]

New Google Maps App Offers More Search Functionality, Navigation Features & Dedicated Tablet Design

Google Maps logo Google is rolling out a new Google Maps app for Android devices starting today, with iPhone and iPad versions on the way. The new app will include more search functionality, updated navigation features, Zagat reviews and discount offers for specific destinations. Among the new app features, users will be able to find locations without typing by tapping the search box to see cards displaying eat, drink and shopping options. There are also two new navigation features, including one that reports road problems along with incident details, and another that lets users know if a better route is a [...]

Android To Become Dominant Platform, US iPad Share Grows

mobile youtube On Monday, Gartner put out some new hardware forecast figures that try to capture the future of devices and operating systems. The firm says the market is "being driven by sales in tablets, smartphones, and to a lesser extent, ultramobiles, as PC shipments are on the decline." Below is Gartner's global prediction for device share by operating system in 2014. Even if it's not entirely accurate, what's incredible is the gap between Android and Windows in the forecast. Source: Gartner (6/13) If we look only at the PC market, it's a different story, of course. But one no longer can in [...]

Pew: 34 Percent Of Americans Now Own Tablets

ipad This morning, the Pew Internet & Life Project is releasing telephone survey data showing that 34 percent of American adults now own tablets. Among better educated and more affluent households, the penetration rates are 50 percent or higher. Households earning at least $75,000 per year show tablet ownership rates of 56 percent, according to the survey. Among US adults between 35 and 44 years old, tablet ownership is 49 percent. That's also true for college graduates (49 percent). These findings were based on more than 2,200 telephone interviews conducted in April and May of this y [...]

Report: Google’s Next Nexus 7 Drops Price To $149

nexus_7_banner_002 A new report from Reuters, citing anonymous sources, says that Google's new Nexus 7 tablet will be released in July and could be priced at the low-low price of $149. This would be $50 better than the current version, which was the best small tablet until the arrival of the iPad Mini. It's still the best for its price point and better generally than Amazon's Kindle line of tablets. Reducing the price by $50 for the entry level Nexus 7 would not only drive more sales but put enormous pressure on Google rival Amazon, which has generally been selling Kindle Fires at break even. The repor [...]

Samsung Introduces Galaxy S4 With Nary A Mention Of Android Or Google

samsung-galaxy-s4-featured At a Broadway-style premiere this evening at New York's Radio City Musical Hall, Samsung unveiled its heavily anticipated Galaxy S4 handset. The event had the hype and production values of an Apple product launch. But, what barely seemed in attendance was any idea that the S4 is an Android phone or contains Google services. Samsung obviously spent a great deal of money on the show. Parts of it were awkward and many of the scripted jokes fell flat. But, the phone is sure to be a hit. The new S4 looks very much like the Galaxy S III (I watched the live stream and haven't held it in my hand [...]

Report: Google Now Coming To Chrome & Chromebooks?

Google Now graphic The Verge is now reporting that Google's virtual assistant Google Now is coming to the Chrome browser and Chromebooks. Google Now will apparently be part of a new notification center in the Chrome OS. There's no question that Google Now is a compelling product. Whether we call it a "virtual assistant" or "predictive search" or "ambient search," it is to Android what Siri is to the iPhone -- a differentiator. Last year, it won the "innovation of the year" award from Popular Science. It's not entirely clear how Google Now on PCs would manifest, perhaps a notification box or pop-up i [...]

WSJ: Google Developing Touchscreen Chromebooks [Updated]

Chromebook Here's more stuff for Google to sell through its forthcoming retail stores: touchscreen Chromebooks. The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Google and unnamed hardware partners are developing new Chromebooks with touchscreens: Google Inc. has developed the first touchscreen laptops powered by its Chrome operating system to be sold later this year, according to people familiar with the matter, as the Internet giant tries to go toe-to-toe with Microsoft Corp.'s Windows operating system. Interestingly, the new Chrome devices also would compete with devices powered by Google's other operati [...]

Report: Google To Open Stand-Alone Retail Stores In Major Metros

google-store-featured Google has been inching closer to opening its own retail stores for the past three years. It opened a Google schwag store on its own Mountain View campus in 2010. Then it tested a “store within a store” or "pop up store" concept in London, called “The Chromezone,” to sell Chromebooks for holiday 2011. In 2012, Google sent a supply of Chromebooks to BestBuy in the US and Dixon's in the UK to create an offline retail presence for the product. In addition, last year, Google was running a novel promotion with Virgin America at several US airports. Users got to try out Chromebooks on Vir [...]

Demand Raging For Google Nexus 4 Android Handset

Except for the lack of LTE support there's no question that the LG-made Google Nexus 4 is the best Android phone on the market. It kicks the Samsung Galaxy's proverbial posterior. And at $299 for the unlocked 8GB version it frees you from the tyranny of carrier two-year contracts at a terrific price. It's simply a great phone. Others appear to agree. The Nexus 4 is proving to be so popular Google is having a tough time keeping it in stock. The 16GB version is still available for $349 but the $299 8GB Nexus 4 is sold out again -- apparently. This is according to messages on the Google Pla [...]

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