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2015 technology industry graveyard

2015 technology industry graveyard

Cisco, Microsoft, Google and others bury outdated technologies to move ahead with new ones.

The Technology Industry Graveyard is pretty darn full in 2015, and we’re not even including the near-dead such as RadioShack and Microsoft’s IE browser. Pay your respects here…

The self-described “World’s Music Library” is no more after shutting down in April in the wake of serious legal pressure by music companies whose songs GrooveShark allowed to be shared but had never licensed. Apple and Google had each kicked GrooveShark out of their app stores years ago due to complaints from music labels. Much more sadly than the 9-year-old company’s demise, however, was the death of co-founder Josh Greenberg in July at the age of just 28.

Typo iPhone keyboard
Not even the glamor of being co-founded by American Idol host Ryan Seacrest could help Typo Innovations save its iPhone keyboard, which BlackBerry said infringed on its patents. So instead, Typo bailed on the iPhone model and settled for selling ones for devices with screens 7.9-inches or larger (like iPads).

Amazon Fire Phone
With a product name like Fire, you’re just asking for colorful headlines if it bombs. And indeed, Amazon has stopped making its Fire Phone about a year after introducing it and media outlets were quick to highlight the company “extinguishing” it or remarking on the phone being “burnt out.” Amazon has had some success on the hardware front, namely with its Kindle line, but the Fire just didn’t distinguish itself and was going for free with a carrier contract by the end.

Interop New York
Interop Las Vegas carries on as one of the network industry’s top trade shows next May, but little sibling Interop New York is no more this year. The Fall show, traditionally held at the Javits Center since 2005, was always smaller and was discontinued for 2015 despite lively marketing material last year touting “More Than 30 Interop New York Exhibitors and Sponsors to Make Announcements in Anticipation of the Event.”

Google ditched so many things in 2015 that we devoted an entire slideshow to Google’s Graveyard. So to choose just one representative item here, we remember Google Talk, which had a good run, starting up in 2005. But it’s never good when Google pulls out the term “deprecated” as it did in February in reference to this chat service’s Windows App. Google said it was pulling the plug on GTalk in part to focus on Google Hangouts in a world where people have plenty of other ways to chat online. However, Google Talk does live on via third-party apps.

Cisco Invicta storage products
Cisco has a good touch when it comes to acquisitions, but its $415 mlllion WHIPTAIL buyout from 2013 didn’t work out. The company in July revealed it had pulled the plug on its Invicta flash storage appliances acquired via that deal. It’s not unthinkable though that Cisco could go after another storage company, especially in light of the Dell-EMC union.

The once-popular file hosting system, begun in 2002, couldn’t withstand the onslaught of competition from all sides, including Google and Dropbox. Back in 2009, the Switzerland-based operation ran one of the Internet’s 20 most visited websites, according to Wikipedia. It shut down on March 31, and users’ leftover files went away with it.

Windows RT devices
This locked-down Microsoft OS for tablets and convertible laptops fared about as well as Windows 8, after being introduced as a prototype in 2011 at the big CES event in Las Vegas. Microsoft’s software for the 32-bit ARM architecture was intended to enable devices to exploit that architecture’s power efficiency, but overall, the offering proved to be a funky fit with existing Windows software. Production of RT devices stopped earlier in 2015 as Microsoft focuses on Win10 and more professional-focused Surface devices.

OpenStack vendor Nebula
As Network World’s Brandon Butler wrote in April, Nebula became one of the first casualties of the open source OpenStack cloud computing movement when it shuttered its doors. The company, whose founder was CIO for IT at NASA before starting Nebula in 2011, suggested in its farewell letter that it was a bit ahead of its time, unable to convert its $38 million in funding and hardware/software appliances into a sustainable business.

Facebook bought this social news and information feed aggregator in 2009, two years after the smaller business started, and then killed it off in April. People have moved on to other means of gathering and discovering info online, so FriendFeed died from lack of use. It did inspire the very singular website, Is FriendFeed Dead Yet, however, so its legacy lives on.

Apple Aperture
Apple put the final nails in its Aperture photo editing app in 2015, ending the professional-quality post-production app’s 10-year run at Version 3.6. In its place, Apple introduced its Photos app for users of both its OS X Mac and iOS devices.

One of the co-founders of anonymous sharing app shared this in April: The company was shutting down and returning whatever part of its $35 million in funding was left. The company’s reality was just not going to meet up with his vision for it, said co-founder David Byttow. The company faced criticism that it, like other anonymous apps such as Yik Yak, allowed for cyberbullying.

Amazon Wallet
Amazon started the year by announcing its Wallet app, the company’s 6-month-old attempt to get into mobile payments, was a bust. The app, which had been in beta, allowed users to store their gift/loyalty/rewards cards, but not debit or credit cards as they can with Apple and Google mobile payment services.

Circa News app
Expired apps could easily fill an entire tech graveyard, so we won’t document all of their deaths here. But among them not making it through 2015 was Circa, which reportedly garnered some $4 million in venture funding since starting in 2012 but didn’t get enough takers for its app-y brand of journalism.


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Google Graveyard: What Google has killed off in 2015

Six feet deep
Google is truly a company that has more technology and products than it can handle sometimes, and in 2015 the company with the recent name change shed a host of tools and products to enable it to focus on more pressing needs. Here’s a look back at what Google this year has offed or announced plans to off (To go back even further, check out 2014’s Google Graveyard.)

Google Code
Google in March said it would be axing its Google Code platform in January 2016, acknowledging increased adoption of alternatives like GitHub and Bitbucket. “As developers migrated away from Google Code, a growing share of the remaining projects were spam or abuse. Lately, the administrative load has consisted almost exclusively of abuse management,” wrote Google open-source director Chris DiBona. Google Code launched in 2006.

Chrome extensions
At the risk of making itself look controlling, Google has been taking steps for years to protect Google Chrome users of extensions that inject ads and malware. In May it really put the kibosh on such software coming from any Windows channel, specifying that all extensions now need to original in the Chrome Web Store. Extensions for Chrome for OS X got the same treatment in July. “Extending this protection is one more step to ensure that users of Chrome can enjoy all the web has to offer without the need to worry as they browse,” a Google product manager wrote in announcing the changes.

Pwnium hacking contest
Google’s big one-day hacking contest at the CanSecWest event, under which it doled out hundreds of thousands of dollars since 2012, has been shuttered in favor of year-long opportunities for hackers to snag bounties for uncovering flaws in its Chrome technology. Among other things, Google was concerned that hackers were hoarding bugs until the contest came around.

Bookmarks Manager
Technicaly, Google didn’t kill the Bookmarks Manager in June, but it did relent to widespread hatred of the free Chrome extension and revert to including the old bookmark tool with its browser. Those few who did cotton to the new UI are still able to access the Bookmarks Manager if they know where to look. Meanwhile, Google’s Sarah Dee blogged: “Our team will continue to explore other ways to improve the bookmarks experience. ”

Google alerted users of its PageSpeed Service for making websites zippier that it would be killing off the tools as of Aug. 3. Google had pitched its 4.5-year-old hosted PageSpeed optimizing proxy as a way to improve website performance without having to know any code.

Google TV
Google kicked off 2015 by announcing it would ditch the Google TV brand that few probably knew existed and focus its living-room entertainment efforts instead on Android TV and Google Cast. The company said Google TV libraries would no longer be available, but Google TV devices would continue to work.

Google logo
Google nixed its colorful longtime serif typeface logo, around since 1999, in favor of a new sans serif colorful logo with a typeface dubbed Product Sans. With the emergence of the Alphabet parent company came a new look for its Google business.

Google Talk had a good run, starting up in 2005, but it’s never good when Google pulls out the term “deprecated” as it did in February in reference to this chat service’s Windows App. Google said it was pulling the plug on GTalk in part to focus on Google Hangouts in a world where people have plenty of other ways to chat online. However, Google Talk does live on via third-party apps.

Maps Coordinate for mobile workforces
Google in January emailed users of its mobile enterprise workforce management offering, which debuted in 2012, that the service would be shutting down come January 2016. Google has been folding various mapping-related products into one another in recent years, and is putting focus on its mapping APIs in its Maps for Work project going forward.

Google Moderator
This tool, launched in 2008, was used to “create a meaningful conversation from many different people’s questions, ideas, and suggestions.” The White House, among others, used it to organize feedback for online and offline events during the 2012 elections. But Google gave up on the tools in July due to its overall lack of use.

There’s no more helping Google Helpouts, which was discontinued in April. This online collaboration service was short-lived, launching in November 2013. While alive, it allowed users to share their expertise – for free or a fee — through live video and provide real-time help from their computers or mobile devices. It exploited Google Hangouts technology, but was largely redundant with so many help videos found on Google’s very own YouTube.

Eclipse developer tools
Google informed developers over the summer that it was time for them to switch over to Android Studio, now firmed up at Version 1.0, as the company would be “ending development and official support for the Android Developer Tools (ADT) in Eclipse at the end of the year. This specifically includes the Eclipse ADT plugin and Android Ant build system.”

Flu Trends
Google in August said it was discontinuing its Flu and Dengue Trends, which were estimates of flu and Dengue fever based on search patterns. Flu Trends launched in 2008 as an early example of “nowcasting” and Google is now leaving the data publishing on diseases to health organizations that it will work with. Historical data remains available from Google.

Google+ ?
Google’s social networking technology has never had much life in the first place and isn’t “really most sincerely dead” like the Wicked Witch, but Google keeps messing around with it, such as extracting the Google Photos app from it, as announced at Google I/O this year, while adding a feature called Collections. Google also has stopped requiring people to have Google+ accounts to tap into other services, such as YouTube channel creation.



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Good-bye, Google as we know it. Hello, Alphabet

The company originally known for its search engine officially becomes Alphabet at the market close on Friday

This is the last day that Google is operating without a parent company.

After the close of markets Friday, the company officially will become Alphabet and will trade as such on Monday. Google will become a business unit running under the Alphabet umbrella and will focus on core Internet-related businesses, including search, YouTube and Android.

The company announced the official change on its investor relations page.

“Long-term, this could be a big deal, but it must be more than a name change,” said Patrick Moorhead, an analyst with Moor Insights & Strategy. “Non-Google companies under Alphabet need to show a few things – like they need to enable innovation and autonomy.”

Google announced in August that it was creating a parent company and that Google would become one of its wholly owned subsidiaries.

Alphabet is set to replace Google as the publicly traded entity and shares of Google will be the same number of shares of Alphabet. The company will still trade under the ticker symbol GOOG.

Google won’t be the only subsidiary under the Alphabet umbrella.

Google X, the company’s secretive research arm that came up with the autonomous car, will become its own business, as will Capital and Ventures, which will concentrate on funding startups.

Before the reorganization, everything the company was working on – search, Android, Chrome, Google Glass, robotics, driverless cars, drones and even smart contact lenses fell under the Google corporate umbrella. With this move, Google will shed all of its research projects, which aren’t money makers, and will concentrate on its Internet-based businesses, like search, which is a huge money maker.

Similarly, the company, which has become known for its “moon shots” or outrageous-sounding research, should be able to put even more muscle behind new projects.

Google’s research projects, like smart contact lenses that can read blood sugar levels for diabetics, will have its own executives overseeing the work.

With less attention split between money makers and big dreams, Alphabet is expected to be able to do a better job at both.

“This is a big deal because if they can accomplish what they’re looking to… this puts in place a future operating model for a large company to truly innovate,” said Moorhead. “I think this puts a meaningful separation between businesses generating cash, and research and science projects. For the company, it could mean they can keep driving profits today and invest in the far future.”



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Google looks for content makers to test its Jump VR video camera

Google may have a strong interest in applicants who have creative backgrounds, like film making and directing

If you’re an aspiring virtual reality content producer, Google wants to give you a chance to test the Jump camera system it developed for recording video to be used in VR environments.

People interested in trying their hand at capturing 360-degree video with Jump can fill out a form Google posted on Monday that asks basic biographical questions as well as details on how they would use the system.

Google didn’t say how many “select creators” it would chose, but those who are picked will be able to start using the 16-camera rig this summer.

Google seems especially interested in people with creative backgrounds. The jobs that people can select in the form’s occupation section include filmmaker, director, artist and production staff — but there is an “other” section that allows write-ins if none of the above apply.

There’s also a section where applicants can explain why they want to test Jump — and “awesome answers might put you at the top of the list,” Google said.

Google worked with GoPro to build Jump, which has 16 of the company’s Hero4 cameras attached to a circular frame. Jump’s price and availability weren’t provided when the rig was shown at Google’s I/O developer’s conference in May. However, given that a Hero4 camera retails for approximately US$500, initial Jump buyers will likely have deep pockets.

The first videos created with Jump will appear on YouTube this summer, Google said at I/O. People will be able to experience them via the Google Cardboard viewer.


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Google Now adds data from Lyft, Airbnb and other apps

The content could give a lift to Google in mobile search

Google Now just got a lot smarter, adding data from dozens of outside apps to help people get more things done as they go about their day.

Google Now is a search tool and digital assistant built into Android devices and the Chrome browser, and included as part of the Google search app for iOS. Until now it’s served up information about the weather, restaurant reservations, shipping notifications and nearby events based on people’s past Google searches and reading their Gmail messages. The content is presented as “cards” that users can swipe through and dismiss as they please. The idea is to present helpful information, sometimes before people know they need it.

Now, a much wider variety of cards will be incorporated into the Android version of the app, including for the first time information from third-party apps like Pandora, Airbnb, Lyft, and real estate database Zillow — provided a user has those apps installed. Adding more of those cards will make it faster to get information from the other apps, and perhaps make them more useful.

Take this example for Airbnb: A person uses Google search to plan a trip but can’t decide right away where to book. Later, after opening the Google Now app, a card from Airbnb appears for the location and dates researched, helping the person choose a place to stay. Or if a person who uses Lyft lands at an airport, Google Now can offer to order them a ride.

The integrations could lead to more use of Google Now, provided the suggestions are useful and not annoying. And they could address a mounting challenge for Google — that people are getting more and more information from apps rather than searching the web.

Google’s share of U.S. mobile search ad spending could fall to 64 percent this year, research company eMarketer said in a report last June, down from 83 percent in 2012, while Yelp’s share was expected to grow.

The more than two dozen new cards will roll out over the next few weeks, Google said, with more on the way. Plans for bringing the new cards to iOS were not announced.


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10 signs Google Glass is disrupting the enterprise

Google Glass, the tech giant’s connected eye-worn computing device, has generated plenty of buzz and controversy in consumer markets, where people seem just as excited about its apps as they are concerned about its potential threat to privacy. Although many questions remain to be answered for consumer wearable technology in general, Google Glass is already making inroads to several enterprise markets, while inviting competitors looking to capitalize on the businesses that could put it to use. Here are 10 signs that Google Glass is already making an impact on the enterprise.

It’s already being used in healthcare
Hands-free access to information while multi-tasking makes Glass a perfect fit for healthcare, where the risk of contamination or clerical errors could spell disaster. That’s why the healthcare industry has already started to integrate Glass into its operations. Physicians in one Boston hospital are using the devices during routine checkups and examinations, while surgeons have put them to use for operations. Medical students at Stanford are using Glass to connect with instructors for feedback during operations, and a surgeon at Duke Medical Center in North Carolina is using it to record and archive his operations.

First venture financing went to medical Glass developer
In March, a startup called Augmedix that develops Glass applications targeted for use in hospitals and doctors’ offices received $3.2 million in venture funding. The Dow Jones called it “the first publicly announced round of venture financing for a developer working exclusively on Google Glass,” highlighting the potential for Glass in the healthcare field.

Manufacturing apps are in the works
Another market that places a premium on easy access to information for workers is manufacturing, and many developers have begun to accommodate Glass for them. Last July, Indiana Technology and Manufacturing Companies released a free Glass app called MTConnect, which Automation World called “a manufacturing industry standard for the organized retrieval of process informaiton from numerically controlled machine tools.” Even GE is working with Glass apps for manufacturing. In December, Barry Lynch, GE Intelligent Platform’s global marketing director for automation hardware, published a company blog post predicting that Glass “will become a common sight on the manufacturing shop floor of tomorrow.”

Glass is being adapted for the oil and gas industry
In May, Automation World reported on a Google Glass project at Wearadyne, a company working on wearable technology specified for use in the oil and gas industry. David Vaucher, a company co-founder and a petroleum engineer himself, told Automation World that the company envisions Glass applications that allow engineers to access templates and other information hands-free while in the field, then ultimately send the data back to the network.

Competitors are targeting enterprise markets
One company with a serious Glass competitor for the enterprise is Vuzix, whose connected eyewear system looks strikingly similar to Glass and actually runs an Android-based operating system. The Vuzix system has its own SDK for developing custom apps, and offers separate models for about $1,000, undercutting Glass’s price point by $500. Whether intentional or not, the approach to the market – capitalizing on Google Glass buzz with its own product – is already paying off. In the first quarter of this year, Vuzix reported an 8% year-over-year increase in gross sales, more than half of which stemmed from sales of its new eyewear.

Some see enterprise as a gateway to consumer market
Atheer Labs, a successfully crowdfunded Glass competitor that initially billed itself as a consumer device, has since taken aim on the enterprise as its gateway to consumers. In an interview with Business Insider, company co-founder and chief scientist Soulaiman Itani pointed to the enterprise-first route the PC and smartphone took before gradually moving into consumer markets. Itani told Business Insider that the company would rather design a product for specific use cases, be it for healthcare or factory workers, before trying to guess which features consumers will use.

Others are trying to usher Glass into the workplace
APX Labs, a company with experience developing smart glasses for the military, is crafting its Skylight software to make it easier for developers to create enterprise-focused apps for both Glass and Epson’s smart glasses. In July, the company announced that it had hired Eric Johnsen, a member of the Google X team, to serve as its vice president of development. At the time, Johnsen told Forbes that the active interest in smart glasses in the enterprise is what drew him to the company. Similarly to Atheer Labs, the company said Google’s efforts to make Glass a consumer device created new opportunities in the enterprise.

Citrix is developing enterprise Glass apps
In May, Citrix vice president of mobility Chris Fleck told PC Pro that the company has been working with Google on enterprise apps for the workplace. He clarified that the work is still in the prototype stage, but detailed the company’s interest in integrating its ShareFile and GoToAssist software products into Glass.

Business is an easier sell for smartglasses
In November, Gartner predicted that smartglasses could save the field service industry as much as $1 billion annually by 2017, even though Gartner only expects 10% of U.S. companies will adopt them in the next five years. It will likely be easier to convince a business to buy smartglasses by showing them real cost savings and better efficiency than it will be to convince consumers to buy a $1,500 Glass unit, especially while consumers wearing Glass are being kicked out of restaurants and attacked on the streets.

Google has launched a Glass at Work campaign
Earlier this year, Google teamed with several companies (some of which were mentioned in this list) for the Glass at Work initiative to help foster a large community of enterprise-focused developers for Glass. The program didn’t receive as much attention as much of the more controversial Glass news, but it’s an open invitation from Google to help adapt Glass for the enterprise.

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Google Android roundup: Why did JBQ leave AOSP?

Android news/rumors: The end of an era, plus giant robots annoyed as LG removes “optimus” title from latest release, Android’s continued domination and why people think it’s doomed, and a Moto X engineer hates back on critics

The Android realm is not a physical place, else we would have seen flags flying at half-mast and heard announcements made over school loudspeakers – Jean-Baptiste Quéru, godfather of the Android Open Source Project and one of the most influential figures in the ongoing development of the platform, abruptly stepped down from his position as AOSP maintainer this week.

Though JBQ, as he’s generally known, didn’t give explicit reasons for the move, the clever people over at Android Police quickly connected the dots from some of his recent Twitter activity, which bemoaned legal interference in the AOSP release process. Specifically, Quéru’s frustrations about being barred from releasing critical binaries for the new-model Nexus 7 tablet appear to have boiled over.

What’s strongly implied by the Android Police analysis is that Qualcomm, which makes the chipset for the new Nexus 7, has been making it impossible to get fully open-source versions of the software to work properly, withholding code essential for hardware support.

In a subsequent Google+ post, Quéru more or less confirmed this.

“Well, I see that people have figured out why I’m quitting AOSP,” he wrote. “There’s no point being the maintainer of an Operating System that can’t boot to the home screen on its flagship device for lack of GPU support, especially when I’m getting the blame for something that I don’t have authority to fix myself and that I had anticipated and escalated more than 6 months ahead.”

The reaction from the community has been generalized dismay, with sorrowful posts highlighting JBQ’s importance to AOSP and Android in general, as well as widespread rancor directed at Qualcomm.

AOSP’s curiously bifurcated nature – the underlying OS is open-source, but Google can’t distribute the fully open version for a given device unless the OEM gives permission to distribute its proprietary binaries – always makes this sort of issue a bit hazy and complex, but it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that Quéru had every right to be upset. Given that anyone can simply grab the closed-source binaries from the device itself, refusing to give AOSP permission to distribute is puzzling, to say the least.

While the usual caveats about unconfirmed information apply – Quéru himself seems to have some legal obligations that prevent him from speaking explicitly on the subject – it certainly seems as though JBQ’s exit should have been avoidable, and it’s a shame that it wasn’t. Android Authority says it’s “unlikely” that he’ll actually leave Google, but AOSP has nonetheless lost a father figure.

* Speaking of Qualcomm, their latest Snapdragon 800 is powering the just-announced LG G2, according to the many tech blogs that got an early hands-on with the device. In contrast to the recently released Moto X, the G2 is a much more traditional Android flagship – an outsized, feature-packed whopper of a phone, with as many megapixels, GB and GHz as can possibly be crammed into its considerable frame.

From a design perspective, the G2’s big innovations are having lost LG’s well-worn “Optimus” moniker and putting some of the controls – including the power and volume keys – on the back of the phone instead of somewhere on the side. I have no idea if this is a silly gimmick or a revolutionary answer to the problem of oversized smartphones – and I won’t until I actually get my hands on one – but it’s at least a creative attempt.

* The latest smartphone market share report from IDC says that Android’s global smartphone market share has risen to nearly 80% – up from just below 70% a year before. Sound like great news for Android, right?

Not so fast, says comScore. In the U.S., at least, Android subscriber numbers were flat during 2013’s second quarter, while Apple’s rose slightly. The Guardian also cites a Yankee Group study as saying that Android’s market dynamics indicate that Apple will retake the lead next year.

While they’ve obviously done their homework more assiduously than I have – which is to say, they’ve done some homework – I still have a hard time seeing Android losing too much ground back to That Other Smartphone absent a massively successful launch of the next-gen iPhone. Given that the last couple of iterations haven’t quite matched the stratospheric heights reached by their predecessors, that’s far from a guarantee.

Still, the U.S. market is more heavily Apple-centric than that of the world in general – more like 52% to 40%, according to the aforementioned numbers from comScore, so Apple’s still within striking distance.

* After the Moto X took some lumps on Twitter about its slightly-less-than-cutting-edge specs, Motorola designer Iqbal Arshad slammed critics in an interview with ZDNet.

He said that comparing raw specs misses the point, asserting that the Moto X is architected so differently that such measurements are meaningless.

“So it’s hard to understand because you’re comparing architectures that are fundamentally different. It’s kind of like people who are looking at a Tesla electric car and expecting it to have a V-8 engine. When you talk about an electric motor, it’s hard for people who are used to comparing specs on traditional cars to understand how it truly compares, because it’s completely different,” he said.

He would say that, of course, given that his company is the one charging the same price for less powerful hardware, but he has a point – the Moto X’s voice command and power-saving technologies are a bit more compelling than the avalanche of goofy camera modes. Still, if you’re just in it for pure performance, the ability to say “OK Google, advise me on purchasing decisions” or whatever probable doesn’t cut it for you.

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Google unveils second-generation Nexus 7 tablet running Android 4.3

The device will be available starting next week via Google’s Play Store

Google is rolling out a second-generation Nexus 7 tablet designed for improved performance and portability, featuring the company’s just-announced mobile operating system, Android Jelly Bean 4.3.

The device offers numerous enhancements over the original Nexus 7 tablet that Google released last year. It is also the first device to ship with Android Jelly Bean 4.3, the latest version of Google’s mobile OS, the company announced Wednesday.

The product was introduced by several Google executives during a meeting hosted by Sundar Pichai, head of Android, Chrome and apps at Google.

Improved portability, speed and graphics comprise the major enhancements to the Nexus 7 tablet. The device will be available in three models: a 16GB Wi-Fi version for US$229, a 32GB Wi-Fi model for $269, and a 32GB 4G LTE version for $349. The Wi-Fi models will be available starting Tuesday at the Google Play store, while the 4G model will be available in the coming weeks through T-Mobile, AT&T and Verizon, the company said.

Besides the U.S., the new Nexus 7 will be available in Canada, the U.K., Spain, Korea and Australia, with more countries to follow very soon, Google said.

In terms of portability, the new Nexus 7 is almost 2 millimeters thinner than the original and about 50 grams lighter. The device features a 7-inch display, the same size as its predecessor, but packs in more pixels, Google said, going from 1280 x 800 to true 1080 HD at 1920 x 1200 pixels in the new model. It also can show a 30 percent wider range of colors and has dual stereo speakers for virtual surround sound.

The first partner to take advantage of the new 1080 HD video feature is Netflix, which supports video streaming in the high-quality format.

The tablet also sports dual cameras, with a 1.2-megapixel camera in the front and a 5-megapixel lens in the rear.

Internally, the Nexus 7 features a 1.5Ghz Snapdragon S4 Pro processor, giving it a four-times-more-powerful graphics processing unit than the original Nexus 7, Google said. The CPU is also 1.8 times faster, Google said, and the system memory has been doubled to support 2GB of RAM.

Specs also include dual-band Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 for powering peripheral low-energy devices.

The Android 4.3 software on the Nexus 7 also includes a new restricted profiles feature to give users more controls over who else can access certain content and apps on the device.

Since its launch last year, Google’s Nexus 7 has accounted for more than 10 percent of all Android-based tablets sold, Google’s Pichai said.

“Nexus 7 has been a big hit, and we’re going to try to follow up with another one,” said Hugo Barra, product manager at Google.

In recent years Google’s product portfolio has expanded significantly beyond its bread-and-butter search technology. In recent months there has even been talk of Google opening brick-and-mortar retail stores to boost its efforts in selling hardware like tablets and also laptop computers with its Chromebooks.



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Google’s latest Penguin update lets you squeal on spammy websites — as well as anyone else

Penguin 2.0 makes large-scale algorithm changes, affecting 2.3% of U.S.-English results

The latest version of Google’s sophisticated anti-spam algorithm, dubbed Penguin 2.0, was announced yesterday in an official blog post from the company’s well-known webspam czar, Mike Cutts.

The 2.0 label was applied, according to Cutts, because the update is a major one — it includes changes to the underlying algorithms used to evaluate whether a website is spammy or not, not just the dataset Google uses. About 2.3% of queries in U.S. English will be visibly affected by the changes.
Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Felipe Micaroni Lalli

Cutts also posted a link to a webspam report page, where anyone can flag sites they consider spam for the attentions of Google’s engineers. The form doesn’t ask for any identification by the reporting party, requiring only a copy/pasted URL.

While this appears to present a golden opportunity for abuse — as several Twitter responses to the announcement noted — Cutts noted on Twitter that Google has always had an extensive array of options in place to report spammy sites, and that “we’ll listen to feedback and look for ways to improve results.”

Search Engine Land Editor Barry Schwartz wrote that this is actually the fourth major generation of Google’s current anti-spam algorithm. However, its effects have been wider-ranging than all but the initial release of Penguin, which reached 3.1% of queries.

Cutts didn’t discuss the algorithm changes in detail, so as not to provide too much information to black hat search engine optimization practitioners, but laid out some broad goals that Google is working toward in a video released earlier this month.

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Google, Microsoft and Yahoo are secret backers behind European Privacy Association

The privacy organization has hidden its ties to corporate backers

After being accused of a lack of transparency by an independent watchdog, the European Privacy Association (EPA) has confirmed that Google, Microsoft and Yahoo are backers.

The Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO), which works to expose privileged access in E.U. policy making, said in a complaint Thursday that the European Privacy Association is working to represent industry interests in the debate on data protection in Europe, even though it has not listed any corporate backers on the E.U.’s “Transparency Register.”

The register, which is operated by the European Parliament and European Commission, requires all signatories to disclose their interests, objectives or aims and, where applicable, the clients they represent.

The EPA is listed in the category of think tanks, research and academic institutions and claims to have only 10 private (non-corporate) members. However, EPA managing director Pietro Paganini confirmed to the IDG News Service that Google, Yahoo and Microsoft are members.

CEO campaign coordinator Olivier Hoedeman was not surprised. “A look at EPA’s activities with regard to the ongoing debate on the overhaul of the European Data Protection rules shows that it favors a lighter regulatory touch and until recently the EPA advertised business membership at a cost of a!10,000 per year on its website,” Hoedeman said.

He said that the name of the organization, with its pro-privacy connotations, conflicted with its very pro-industry stance, creating “a confusing, a mismatch.” CEO has described the EPA as an “astroturf organization,” or front group, defending the interests of large IT corporations.

Paganini refuted these allegations, saying that although the EPA listens to its members ideas and concerns, the reports it produces are independent. He claimed the failure to list the companies on the Transparency Register was an oversight.

Joe McNamee of EDRi (the European digital rights organization) said he had brought the issue to EPA’s attention four months ago in January of this year but that nothing had been done. Paganini said that EPA did not know it was supposed to list any corporate members on the transparency register. was unfamiliar with the procedure in Brussels. However, EPA chairwoman Karin Riis Jorgensen is a former elected member of the European Parliament.

CEO says there is also evidence that the EPA has close relationships with two lobbyist consultancy firms, Competere Geopolitical Management and DCI Group, and is working to promote industry-friendly legislation in the new Data Protection Regulation that digital rights organizations say will undermine fundamental civil liberties online.

The CEO has laid out its allegations in a complaint to the secretariat overseeing the transparency register. The secretariat says it will examine the evidence put forward by CEO and by June 7 will announce a decision whether to impose sanctions or require the company to update its entry.

Google had no comment on the issue. Microsoft did not have an immediate comment and Yahoo officials were not available for comment.


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