google

Last we checked there are 31 days in the month of October, which means 31 opportunities to schedule press events. And if you were feeling randy, we hear that November has 30 more occasions.

So we can’t help but cast astonishment at Google’s insistence on having a big reveal on the very same day that Microsoft is holding its Windows Phone 8 announcement. With Microsoft on the West coast (San Francisco), Google has opted for New York City giving tech blogs a headache for travel plans.

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Suppliers in Asia have apparently spilled the beans on Microsoft's production line plans for its coming Surface devices.

If the information is to be believed, MS have put in component orders to ensure they are able to produce 3 to 5 million of the devices for the fourth quarter. With such an order Microsoft looks set to go into mass production rather than just produce a limited run as some speculated on.

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Look at the shiny shiny...

According to latest data released by comScore, Microsoft remains comfortable in fourth position (behind RIM) with only a .4% reduction in US marketshare. This was expected with the upcoming launch of Windows Phone 8, especially with new hardware unveiled for consumers to hold out on making a purchase.

Sat at 3.6%, Microsoft continues to witness the downfall of RIM which was hit by a sizeable 3.1% drop in US shares as the company continues to battle through the tough period until it releases Blackberry 10. Falling to just 8.3% of the market, unless RIM can slow down the descent of the platform's fall, Microsoft may well find itself in third position - dependant on the imminent Windows Phone 8 launch.

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Windows Phone App Short Take: MetroG

For those who prefer Google over Bing, MetroG is a Windows Phone app may be an app worth giving a try. MetroG is a search app for your Windows Phone that reaches out through Google to search the web for all your keywords.

MetroG is a nice looking app with a conservative appearance. The main page has your keyword search field up top and three button search options (news, web and images) down below. On paper, MetroG isn't a bad search application but its performance seemed to fall a little short.

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Google is getting bold, telling OEMs 'no' on other OSs

Update: Google's Andy Rubin finally responds. See after the break...

A bit of a controversy is slowly erupting over Acer’s widely publicized plan to use the Aliyun OS in a new line of low-cost smartphones, mostly destined for the Chinese market. Aliyun OS is a Linux-based system developed by the Chinese company Alibaba Group and offered a way for OEMs like Acer to diversify.

Acer has now abruptly canceled plans after Google “expressed concerns” over the announcement.  Though Acer still wants to use the Aliyun OS, the move by Google is being interpreted as a hostile action to block competition. Reportedly Google threatened to cancel Acer’s license to make Android devices, which many consider playing hardball.

The question is, how far is Google willing to go to maintain dominance?

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BYOSE - 'Bing' Your Own Search Engine

Microsoft has kick-started the ‘Bing it on’ challenge, which puts Bing against Google to see which search engine can provide more relevant results. Google has been regarded as the most accurate search engine with Bing still claiming grounds and improving algorithms to catch up to the #1. Has Microsoft really achieved wonders with Bing?

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Nokia hoping to dine on jellybeans today

As we all sit here on tenterhooks awaiting the coming announcement from Nokia and Microsoft, Nokia’s twitter account just posted something strange. In what appears to be a little knock directed at Google’s Android OS, Nokia say “Today we dine on Jellybeans”.

Nokia appears to be stepping up their PR antics in the run up to the announcement with placards at Samsung’s recent event and of course the teaser trailers. Considering how well regarded Jellybean is, Nokia must be feeling confident they have the goods on this fine day.

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We're already aware of the result for the Apple versus Samsung US patent battle, which left Samsung with a $1 billion bill. It really couldn't have gone worse for the smartphone manufacturer who has interest in both Android and Windows Phone (the penalty phase returns on September 20th though). Google remained fairly quiet on the front, but has released a statement that details an expected stance on the court results.

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Sync, damn you, sync!

Syncing multiple calendars is never fun. It’s even less fun across various services, like Gmail to Outlook.com for instance, which is the focus of this tutorial.

We recently had to solve this problem for ourselves because although like you we primarily use our Hotmail/Live Mail/Outlook.com calendar for all events, we sometimes need to have our external Google calendar sync to our phone too.

There are a few ways to go about this but we’re going to show you the more unified approach that we prefer. It’s a bit tricky and nearly caused us to punch our wall a few times to figure it out. But for you, it will be dead simple and should literally take you no more than 5 minutes.

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With the re-launch of Hotmail as Outlook.com Microsoft has garnered a lot of adoration from the media and the public, especially when Google just announced the indefinite delay of their Nexus Q orb. As far as PR this week: Microsoft 1, Google 0.

One of the main features that Microsoft is touting with Outlook.com is that they won’t scan your email to deliver personalized ads—a clear shot at Google’s Gmail ad-machine. They have even set up a simple ‘how to’ on switching from Gmail to Outlook.

But with no personalized ads based on the contents of your email, how is Microsoft making money?

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SoundGecko is coming to Windows Phone soon

With today's busy world, sometimes finding time to read you favorite article or keep up with the news can be difficult. Luckily, there may be a solution for some of you on the horizon. 

SoundGecko is a new, amazing service where you find any article, email it to them, and they will send you back an MP3 file of that article. The service can connect up with your SkyDrive or DropBox service to automatically deposit audio files of new articles, allowing to you to pull them down on-the-go. The smartphone app is simply a method to flag articles for the service for conversion.

Currently, the app is only available on the iPhone and Chrome browser (via an extension) but fear not, a Windows Phone version is in the works and we'll have some information on that coming soon...

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In last decade there have been many great rivaleries: Tyson Vs. Hollifield, Baggy pants vs Skinny Jeans, Alien VS. Predator - the list just goes on and on. Now a new fight is brewing: Google's Nexus Q and Microsoft's Xbox 360.

Google has recently announced their new form of media consumption for their users. It's small, round, glows like Tron, and  looks a bit like the Death Star. This sphere will go head to head with the Xbox 360. Microsoft has been rebranding the Xbox 360 for the last few years, turning it from an exclusive gaming system to your main media device. More and more people have been using the console to watch movies, stream music, and to video chat. With Smart Glass coming out hopefully in the fall, Microsoft will be integrating your phone or tablet as both a second screen and remote control.

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The Nokia Lumia 800: Trend setter

We’ve had discussions before, sometimes heated, about what should be the proper name for Windows Phone and whether it’s catchy, unique enough or even hampered by the “Windows” name. But one thing is for sure, Nokia seems to have a hit with the 'Lumia' brand.

Using Google’s Trends function to compare searches for 'Windows Phones' against 'Lumia' you get an interesting result. Since about November 2011, 'Lumia' has been searched for much more often than 'Windows Phone' which is curious only because Nokia’s handsets are a subset of Windows Phone, yet they’re clearly leading in terms of brand awareness and consumer curiosity.

Last 12 months of Google searches for 'Lumia' vs 'Windows Phone' vs 'Windows Mobile'

Going further, looking at “news reference volume” which details how often Lumia is cited in the media, we can see that although it trails Windows Phone, it often follows the same pattern of interest and is near the same level.

Perhaps just as interesting is if you compare ‘Windows Mobile’ versus ‘Windows Phone’ you can see a slow downward trend for the former but it still trends quite high. That reinforces the belief that many are still confusing the two brands and Microsoft still has a naming problem, which is slowly being overcome. 

There should be little doubt that Nokia with their branding and ability to make headlines has raised awareness a lot for Microsoft’s mobile OS, so much so that they’re in fact leading the interest, often getting ahead of “Windows Phone” itself. That’s impressive work and is a good sign that Nokia is resonating with users out there and backs up what many of us have been saying, which is Nokia is the key to Windows Phone success now and in the future.

Source: Google Trends; via TNW; Thanks, piaqt, for the heads up

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Android is currently the thorn in everyone's side—from Apple to Microsoft to RIM—the “free” mobile OS is continuing to dominate and today they added just a little bit more.

For those who weren’t aware, Google I/O kicked off today. It’s their BUILD, their MIX, their random secret Apple announcement where they show off their big plans for Android over the next few months. Here’s the recap of the big news today which will surely keep Redmond on their toes:

Google Nexus 7 – A 7” tablet that is branded by Google themselves. Analogous to their Nexus line of phones, the mini tablet will set the standard for Android going forward and boy, do they need it. Android tablets are currently fairly terrible (we speak from personal experience with the lauded Samsung 10.1) and Google really needs to get their act together here before Microsoft takes a swing with the Surface.

While a 7” tablet is quite meager and far from ideal, Google did win in a couple of areas. For one, they announced the specifications—we mean all the nitty gritty. It has a 1280x800 display, quad-processor, 9 hours of video playback, WiFi, NFC, GPS and Bluetooth.  It also got a price tag at $199 with pre-orders starting today for a mid-July release.

And that’s where Microsoft lost everyone last week—no price and no date on availability. That $199 will guarantee this device gets into a lot of hands. Will it be enough to keep Surface from taking off? We doubt it but it’s not helping either. Think Kindle Fire though as Google’s main target though as opposed to an iPad or Surface. Check out our pal Phil's hands on with the tablet here.

Android 4.1 ‘Jelly Bean’ – Ah yes, the ridiculous names of Android continues and Android 4.1 was shown off today. What’s more, the SDK is now out and available for download too.  Some of the new features include offline voice-to-text dictation, new notifications which expand upon the current model, improved voice search akin to Apple’s Siri, redesigned camera app and a new service that uses your Google data to recommend things.

Is 4.1 killer? No, as the 0.1 bump indicates this is a minor revision and it’s nothing compared to what Microsoft is doing with Windows Phone 8 and the NT kernel. Still, like iOS 6, Android is continuing to build off of their foundation, adding new, somewhat interesting and useful features for consumers.

Jelly Bean 4.1 will be available by mid-July for their Nexus devices but the big question is what about everyone else?  Android has a terrible update record and 4.0 is barely on 10% of devices. In other words, Microsoft has some breathing room here for the fall and its new Windows Phone 8 devices (see, it would have been easier to say “Windows 8 Phones”).

Oh and their unlocked, Galaxy Nexus phone dropped to $350 for those in the US

Google Maps with offline caching – Like the Nokia-Microsoft mapping announcement for Windows Phone 8, users can grab the brand new Google Maps now with offline caching. Powerful stuff

Chrome for Android out of beta – While it’s no IE10, Google took the beta off of Chrome for it’s new Android browser. It should be interesting to see how it compares to Microsoft’s Windows Phone 8 in the fall.

Nexus Q - Think of it as Google's answer to Nokia's Play 360. A device to stream your music too but price higher. It will fetch for $299 with preorders starting today.

All in all, Google did not announce any game changers, nothing disruptive except for the 7” tablet. That Nexus 7 will do a lot to drop prices on mini-tablets and force Apple and Microsoft to rethink some options in the future but we're not sure it's going to fix Google's problems here.

Google doesn’t  win because it’s better, it wins through market saturation. Read more I/O 2012 coverage at Android Central.

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A few weeks ago, at Google's request, gMaps Pro was pulled from the Windows Phone Marketplace due to a copyright infringement request.

According to the developer Alexey Strakh, gMaps Pro was originally to be hidden from the open Marketplace while the app was re-branded. For some reason (Alexey notes a problem with Microsoft)  the app wasn't hidden and eventually pulled. Gmaps was flagged for violating Google's trademarks, something we reported on earlier as other apps had the same problem.

The skinny of it all is that gMaps Pro v1.23 is now available on the Marketplace but upgrades from previous versions are not possible without paying for the updated version. Because it was pulled or deleted from the Marketplace, v1.23 is considered a new app creation and updates to the old versions not possible.

Strakh has suggested for those who had already purchased gMaps Pro before the re-branding complain to Microsoft about having to pay for the app a second time. It's not the best of situations but on has to wonder if Google could offered the new version of gMaps Pro for a limited time as a free app to allow previous owners to upgrade for free?

Nonetheless, gMaps Pro is back on the Marketplace with a free trail version available to let you try things out before buying. The full version is running $1.99 and previous versions are not upgradeable.

You can find gMaps Pro here at the Windows Phone Marketplace.

Source: gMaps Pro (Facebook)

Update: We've just learned that Alexey Strakh is working on offering gMaps Pro v1.23 for free this Friday.  We aren't sure if it will be a midnight to midnight offer and once we get all the details, we'll pass them on.  If you are a current gMaps Pro user, it may be worth the wait to hold off on updating for a few days.

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Just when we thought the patent wars were over, Google has announced yesterday that they've filed an antitrust complaint in Europe, pointing a finger at Nokia and Microsoft regarding patents. The search giant is arguing that both companies are using third-party agencies (which are internally branded "patent trolls") to increase the costs for mobile devices, which would in-turn provide a strong advantage to the Microsoft ecosystem. An example is provided by Google, where the company states that Nokia and Microsoft have entered into revenue-based agreements with the likes of Mosaid Technologies.

Last year the two companies in question transferred a total of 2,000 patents to Mosaid, as well as Nokia selling 450 to IP Bulldog. Google views a threat on the horizon where more fees placed on OEMs may force manufacturers to look elsewhere, Windows Phone in this case, for cheaper production costs. While details of the filing has not been published, a statement from Google has been provided:

"Nokia and Microsoft are colluding to raise the costs of mobile devices for consumers, creating patent trolls that sidestep promises both companies have made. They should be held accountable, and we hope our complaint spurs others to look into these practices."

By colluding with both Microsoft and Mosaid, Google alleges that Nokia has betrayed its previous open-source commitments. A Microsoft representative has responded to these claims with the following comment:

"Google is complaining about patents when it won't respond to growing concerns by regulators, elected officials and judges about its abuse of standard-essential patents, and it is complaining about antitrust in the smartphone industry when it controls more than 95% of mobile search and advertising. This seems like a desperate tactic on their part."

Nokia has also publicly responded to the filing:

"Though we have not yet seen the complaint, Google's suggestion that Nokia and Microsoft are colluding on IPR is wrong. Both companies have their own IPR portfolios and strategies and operate independently.

Nokia has made regular patent divestments over the last five years. In each case, any commitments made for standards essential patents transfer to the acquirer and existing licenses for the patents continue. Had Google asked us, we would have been happy to confirm this, which could then have avoided them wasting the commission's time and resources on such a frivolous complaint.

We agree with Google that Android devices have significant IP infringement issues, and would welcome constructive efforts to stop unauthorised use of Nokia intellectual property.

Nokia has an active licensing program with more than 40 licensees. Companies who are not yet licensed under our standard essential patents should simply approach us and sign up for a license."

We'll have to see how these complaints progress through the European regulators. We'll never get tired of patent news.

Source: Wall Street Journal; via: AllAboutWindowsPhone

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Microsoft is developing a cross-platform service that will enable users to migrate from competitor platforms (or Windows Phone) to Windows Phone, according to a patent filed back in 2010. The service will allow apps to be detected on the legacy handset, which will then be listed on the new Windows Phone for convenient downloading, providing users with peace of mind when it comes to installed apps.

According to the filed patent, the company is planning to provide functionality within the service that would analyse installed apps on the legacy handset (eg.: Android). The service would then search for identical or similar apps in the Windows Phone Marketplace. The user would be presented with popular third-party suggestions should official apps not be available.

If there's no third-party app present on the Marketplace, the service will notify the user in the future once a similar app is published. Is that more than enough? Not according to the company. Microsoft is reported to be wanting to take things further with actually creating a complete solution where app data would be stored and transferred across to new Windows Phones or from other platforms, preventing data loss. Of course, little detail is available and we're yet to see how this service could work with the likes of Android and iOS

Another question on mind is if apps will have to be repurchased for Windows Phone when migrating from another platform, or would the software giant subsidize the costs? Microsoft has clearly been serious about Windows Phone since the off, and this reaffirms the company's commitment to take part in the smartphone marathon. How would you like to see such a service implemented?

Source: Unwired View

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YouTube Pro in disguise as SuperTube for Windows Phone

We reported last week that with Microsoft's new Marketplace policy enforcement, trademark complaints will be acted upon more quickly than before. As a result, all things Google are being pulled due to their use of terms like "YouTube", "Google", etc.

One of those apps was YouTube Pro made by Fast Code.

YouTube Pro was actually a re-launch of SuperTube, one of the original third party YouTube apps and one of the first to do HD and HQ video playback on Windows Phone. YouTube Pro superseded SuperTube, though Fast Code kept both up to date (each had a "pay" version in addition to free).

Now in a funny twist, YouTube Pro is gone from the Marketplace so the old SuperTube is back as their main app for video streaming. The app itself though looks exactly like YouTube Pro including the very Metro inspired UI.

There was a paid, ad-free version of the app but due to the YouTube Pro/Google complaint situation, developer Fast Code is now offering the paid version of SuperTube for free for a limited time. That means you can get some of the best YouTube features on Windows Phone not even for a nickel. Those features include some new stuff in version 2.3:

  • Lift restrictions of trial version on downloading and syncing videos
  • New Metro design
  • New channels page
  • New channel and message live tile. The front of channel tile will show the numbers of new videos. The back will show thumbnail of the newest video.
  • Add the subscription page after sign in on the main page
  • Fix bugs

That's on top of video downloading, video uploading to your account, HD and HQ video playback, comments, like/dislike and a Live Tile. What's not to like about this offer?

Go get SuperTube v2.3 for free here in the Marketplace. Remember, this is the paid version marked-down, so lock it in now for future updates.

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Recently, Microsoft announced some recent changes to the Windows Phone Marketplace for developers that would also affect consumers. The changes were divided into four areas, including trademarks, bulk publishing, keywords and content policy. What concerns us here is the trademarks section.

In short, apps that violate trademarks of other companies are now subject to more restrictive oversight in the Marketplace. Microsoft had this to say on the matter, which is a fair position:

"When a trademark or copyright owner contacts us about a suspected violation, we investigate and pull apps when the complaint is valid. Lately we’ve been doing more of this, especially for trademark misuse. Sometimes the requests come from the owners of big, well-known brands. Other times they come from new brands. Either way, we often find trademark violations are unintentional: some developers just aren’t clear on what constitutes a violation. But these investigations—and the time and money they can cost—can be avoided by doing a little homework before submitting or updating your app."

A few curious examples of this actually do exist in the Windows Phone Marketplace, some of which you'll be familiar with including YouTube Pro, gMaps, YouTube Live and YouTube Downloader.

Did you notice anything in common with those? If you said those sound like Google names, you would be right and evidently Google are rightly flexing their muscle on the matter, sending out copyright infringement complaints to numerous developers over their use of their trademarked names.

The developer of YouTube Live, which we've covered before, just received such a notice which is partially re-printed below:

"This message is to notify you that Microsoft has received Content Infringement Complaint (“Complaint”) regarding your application Youtube Live. A copy of the Complaint is attached for your review.

Remove Application Access Immediately

You must remove access to the application from the Marketplace within one business day.  If your application is still available for download after one business day,Microsoft may remove the application without further notice.  Please note that under certain circumstances Microsoft may remove your app immediately without providing you the opportunity to remove it."

While this is certainly a blow to many of our favorite developers on the platform, it should not come too much as a surprise that these apps infringe on Google's ownership of those names. Of course, being as we're more of a Microsoft site and Google is not on good terms with Windows Phone this will certainly rub people the wrong way. Especially since Google has not bothered to support Windows Phone at all with their services.

Having said that, Google is technically in the right here and we don't begrudge them for taking action. We also want to let devs know that Microsoft is serious about this copyright stuff so give some thought to your app's name before Marketplace submission, m'kay?

We hope to see these outstanding apps back in the Marketplace soon but under new names.

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