Motorola expects global profits with its 4G smartphone plans for demand-driven India: Rick Osterloh

Motorola Mobility is planning to bring affordable  4G smartphones to India in 2015, one of its priority markets along with Brazil, which according to the world’s third-largest smartphone maker will be critical for its global charge to become market leader.

After being acquired by China’s Lenovo Group Ltd., the US-based smartphone maker aims to lead their global smartphone business while trying to rise to position 3 from position 4 in India due to the strong demand, said Rick Osterloh, president and COO at Motorola Mobility, to the Economic Times in an interview.

“The transition to 4G (in India) will come quickly,” Osterloh said. “Next year, we are going to be very aggressive in the 4G value proposition for end user.”

Continue reading Motorola expects global profits with its 4G smartphone plans for demand-driven India: Rick Osterloh

Google to shut down its Google News service in Spain

Google is set to shut down its Google News service in Spain on 16th December.

The move comes as a response to a new intellectual property law set to be introduced in the country. According to the law, Google News and other news aggregating services will have to pay the Spanish publishers for showing their content or part(s) thereof.

The head of Google News, Richard Gingras, explained the decision in a blog post earlier today, which reads in part:

Sadly, as a result of a new Spanish law, we’ll shortly have to close Google News in Spain. Let me explain why. This new legislation requires every Spanish publication to charge services like Google News for showing even the smallest snippet from their publications, whether they want to or not. As Google News itself makes no money (we do not show any advertising on the site) this new approach is simply not sustainable. So it’s with real sadness that on 16 December (before the new law comes into effect in January) we’ll remove Spanish publishers from Google News, and close Google News in Spain.

The Spanish law, nicknamed the “Google Tax”, did not specify how much the tech giant would have to pay publisher but it did allow for a hefty fine of more than $750,000 if found violated.

These Spanish “Google Tax” efforts come shortly after the proceedings in Germany, in 2013. Germany passed legislation last year that allows publishers to charge search engines and aggregators for using any content beyond headlines, but Google asked publishers to opt-in without requiring the fee, which some did. After a two-week experiment, German news giant Axel Springer dismissed a plan last month to restrict Google access to some of its content when its sites’ traffic decreased considerably, according to Reuters.

Xiaomi giving away free Micro SIM card trays to ‘legit’ Mi3 owners

Xiaomi India (popularly know as Mi India) has posted on their Facebook about a new program for all the owners of their amazing Mi3 device.

Under this program all the owners of the Mi3 who bought the smartphone from Flipkart.com will be provided with a free Micro SIM Card Tray. This will allow owners of the phone to use their relatively more modern microSIM cards in it. The Mi3 came with the relatively bigger “Mini” SIM card tray.

Here’s an image to show th difference between the different SIM card sizes:

Full-Mini-Micro-Nano-SIM-Card-Comparisony

Interested users can access the promotion at this link.

After putting in the relevant information such as name, address and Flipkart Order ID, the user is shown a message which tells them that the new tray will be delivered in 14 days (below).

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Meet the first Android One smartphones from Spice, Micromax and Karbonn

Fulfilling its I/O 2014 promise, Google, yesterday, unveiled the first three Android One handsets – the Karbonn Sparkle V, Micromax Canvas A1, and Spice Dream Uno – all priced sub-₹7,000.

All the three manufactures have adhered to the minimum specification requirements set by Google. The phones have a 4.5-inch display (845 x 480 pixels), dual SIM support and run a stock version of Android 4.4. Hardware specifications include a quad-core Mediatek processor, 1GB RAM, 4GB storage, microSD card for expansion (up to 32GB supported) and dual cameras. This specification set ensures a fluid experience for the user, as opposed to many cheaper Android phones that are already.

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The Karbonn Sparkle V will be available in Magnum Blue, Mild Grey, Wild Red and Pearl White colour variants exclusively via Snapdeal at ₹ 6,399.

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The Spice Dream Uno will be available in Black and White colour variants exclusively via at Flipkart at Rs. 6,299.

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The Micromax Canvas A1 will be available in Black and White colour variants exclusively via Amazon, priced at Rs. 6,499.

All these devices also “features particularly important to Indians” – dual SIM card slots, a FM radio tuner, and a microSD card slot for additional storage. Google apps such as Gmail, Google Maps, YouTube, Google Search, and Google Translate will come pre-loaded on the phones.

Google has also partnered with Airtel users will get free OTA Android software updates over 3G as well as 200MB worth of apps per month for six months at no cost.

The search giant also announced that in the coming weeks the YouTube app will get offline video playback in India, allowing users to store videos via Wi-Fi on their Android device, and watch them later without data connectivity.

Sundar Pichai, Google Senior Vice President of Android, Chrome & Apps, announced at the event an expanded set of hardware partners for the Android One initiative, including Acer, Alcatel Onetouch, Asus, HTC, Intex, Lava, Lenovo, Panasonic, and Xolo, as well as chipmaker Qualcomm.

The company also announced that Android One program will be expanded to Indonesia, the Philippines, Bangladesh, and additional countries in South Asia by the end of the year.

Google’s cheap Android One smartphones go on sale today

At Google I/O, this June, the Android maker announced that it will partner with smartphone manufacturers around the world to create smartphones which will give existing and first time smartphone buyers, and, new and existing mobile internet users, a high-end internet experience on smartphones, without burning a hole through their pockets.

Android One is a program announced by Google’s head of Android, Chrome web browser and apps Sundar Pichai back in June which promised rich smartphone experience on low-cost devices as Google will set minimum standards on hardware and software to be used by handset makers.

android-one1

In a few hours from now, Google will launch in India the first set of these Android One smartphones.

Google aims to bring user experience found on high-end smartphones to the affordable end of the device spectrum by controlling the hardware and the software, kind of like what Apple does.

Micromax, Karbonn and Spice will be the first three handset makers to sell these devices to customers, as Google aims to extend the reach of Android into emerging markets, especially India where only 29% of about 920 million mobile phone users own smartphones, offering a far higher potential than markets like China or the US where smartphone penetration is nearing its peak.

With Android One’s adoption in India, where smartphone market doubled to 44 million last year and has touched 36 million devices in the first half of 2014, Google will be able to deliver latest OS updates faster, reduce variations of the OS, which in turn will help them to update apps.

The smartphones are expected to be be priced under $100 or roughly ₹6100.

“It will be interesting to watch if they are able to maintain that Rs 6,000 price band or whether it will go to Rs 7,000 – Rs 7,500 since Google is also specifying the hardware,” said Karan Thakkar, senior market analyst- mobile phones and tablets at research firm IDC.

Online retailer Flipkart had briefly put a listing of one such Android One phone by Spice – Spice Android One Dream UNO Mi-498.

spiceone
Along with the obvious latest version of Android, 4.4.4, the smartphone sports a 5MP rear camera with LED flash, a 2MP front camera,is powered by MediaTek SoC with 1.3GHz quad-core CPU and Mali 400 GPU, a gig of RAM, and 4GB of built-in memory with microSD card slot. It features a 4.5” FWGA IPS display, 1700 mAh battery and dual-SIM support.

The offerings by Karbonn and Micromax are supposed to carry the same feature set as the Spice smartphones.

With high stakes riding on the launch, Google is said to have set aside more than ₹100 crore with its partners on advertising and marketing.

“What they (Google) need to look at is having a tie-up with the telco providers, so that internet also comes to them,” said Vishal Tripathi, principal analyst at Gartner.

Reports suggest that Google has tied up with India’s leading carrier Airtel to offer bundled internet usage.

Motorola sending invites to September 4th Launch event for the Moto 360, smartphones and accessories

Since yesterday, Motorola has been sending out invitations to a media event in Chicago which will be held on the 4th of September. The not so subtle invite displays a picture of a watch (Moto 360), a smartphone with an X (maybe the Moto X+1?), a smartphone with a G ( probably the Moto G2) and a headset that’s likely some type of new wireless accessory(maybe  Whisper Successor).

We’ve also heard about new devices rumoured to be coming out of Motorola for several months now and the latest claim has been that the company is working on a new Nexus device for Google. While we do have a good idea what we might see in a few short weeks in Chi-Town, we’ll try our best to keep an open mind.

Apple reports Google to the FTC regarding in-app purchases by kids

It seems Apple isn’t too happy that it was singled out for a FTC investigation into “making it too easy for children to make in-app purchases”: following its own settlement back in January, the company’s general counsel Bruce Sewell promptly reported Google for the same thing, according to Politico.

“I thought this article might be of some interest, particularly if you have not already seen it,” Apple general counsel Bruce Sewell wrote to FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez and Democratic Commissioner Julie Brill, pointing to a report that criticized Google’s app store over the same issue of unauthorised in-app purchases …

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Tim Cook said at the time of the settlement, in January, that it felt unfair to face FTC sanctions after a Federal judge had already approved Apple’s response of contacting all 28 million customers who might have been affected in order to reimburse them.

It doesn’t feel right for the FTC to sue over a case that had already been settled. To us, it smacked of double jeopardy. However, the consent decree the FTC proposed does not require us to do anything we weren’t already going to do, so we decided to accept it rather than take on a long and distracting legal fight.

Apple’s lead lawyer apparently contacted the FTC less than a week after its own settlement.

Behind the scenes, Apple sought to convince regulators it shouldn’t be singled out for blame. Sewell, the company’s general counsel, shared with Ramirez and Brill a Consumer Reports story that faulted Google for allowing your “kid to spend like a drunken sailor” for 30 minutes after an adult initially entered a password.

Amazon is already under investigation by the FTC for the same issue, despite having since changed its policies in line with those adopted by Apple, so it seems likely that Google might find itself next in line even though it has ,too, addressed the problem in a similar way.

Motorola rolling out Android KitKat 4.4.4 for Moto E, G and X in India

Motorola India has announced on Twitter (below) that it is rolling out the latest Android update 4.4.4 for its most recent Moto lines including the flagship X, the budget G and the ultra-low budget E. The update will be available OTA soon.

The Android 4.4.4 KitKat update for the Moto E, Moto G and Moto X will include several stability, framework and security fixes as well as a new phone dialer and OpenSSL-related fixes, according to Motorola.

Just last month, Motorola had rolled out the Android 4.4.3 KitKat update for its Moto E, Moto G and Moto X handsets globally.

Steve Horowitz, SVP, Software Engineering, Motorola had said, “We are excited to announce some icing on top of the, well, KitKat. Starting today [June 3], we are rolling out Android 4.4.3, KitKat, which was just released by Google.”

 

Nest to acquire IP camera company, Dropcam, for US$555 million

Nest has announced, two days ago, that it’ll be purchasing IP camera company Dropcam for $555 million. According to Re/code, Nest is acquiring the firm on its own without the assistance of Google, its parent company, and will be incorporating Dropcam into the Nest brand. Engadget has also corroborated with Nest that it has indeed purchased Dropcam  outside of Google.

Dropcam makes one of the more popular WiFi surveillance cameras on the market and most recently released an advanced Pro version for $199 late last year. Along with the hardware, Dropcam also provides a service that lets you view what the camera’s seeing via the web or a dedicated Android or iOS app. There’s an optional subscription plan that’ll give you access to Dropcam’s Cloud Recording service that records video as well. Engadget has also corroborated with Nest that it has indeed purchased Dropcam  outside of Google.

 

“The teams are very well-aligned and we love the product,” Rogers said. “We both think about the entire user experience from the unboxing on. We both care deeply about helping people stay connected with their homes when they’re not there.”

 

We’re not entirely sure yet on how Dropcam will work in concert with Nest’s smart thermostats and smoke alarms, but we imagine it’ll open more possibilities for the connected home.

Nest itself was just purchased by Google just four months ago for $3.2 billion.

 

SwiftKey Android keyboard app changes its business model, goes Freemium

SwiftKey, the popular third-party Android keyboard app that uses text prediction to enable super-fast typing, is moving from a paid model to a fermium one. SwiftKey, on Wednesday, updated its Android app to v5.0, and also announced the launch of the SwiftKey Store. The app, which has been one of the best-selling paid apps in Google Play since its launch in 2012, was previously $3.99.

Notably, just last week at WWDC, Apple announced system-wide support for third-party keyboard apps, and SwiftKey quickly announced it was bringing its app to the platform. Perhaps in a reaction to its upcoming growth user base via Apple’s iOS ecosystem, SwiftKey has shifted to the freemium model on Android.

The change is a significant shift for the company, which has always charged for its app. Now, Swiftkey is taking the freemium route; the app is free to download, but users can pay to purchase new themes for their keyboard.

Themes have long been one of the most-requested features for Swiftkey, according to Joe Braidwood, the company’s chief marketing officer.

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Most of the features in SwiftKey v5.0 were a part of the SwiftKey beta app for Android. SwiftKey for Android devices was first launched in beta in July, 2010 while the company behind the app was founded in 2008 by Jon Reynolds and Dr. Ben Medlock. The app uses a blend of artificial intelligence that learns from previous SMS messages and enables it to predict the next word the user intends to type.

“We can now engage much more with the requests that we get and build out all this great content,” Braidwood told Mashable. “This has been one of the biggest requests for the longest time: ‘I love your core technology, but I want to change this thing about the keyboard.’ Having the SwiftKey store inside of the app allows us to do that.”

The store added 30 new themes,like Nickel and Cobalt, which include both free and paid options. Users can also purchase packs of themes. Those who have already paid for the app will automatically get the “Premier Pack” of 10 themes when they download the update.

The update also adds an optional number row at the top of the keyboard, brings predictions for emojis (which are now part of database of more than 800 symbols supported on Android 4.1 or higher devices), and wider language support including Belarusian, Mongolian, Tatar, Uzbek and Welsh. SwiftKey is also touting the improved prediction engine and ‘Flow’ accuracy, as well as improved Flow trails.

Behind the scenes, Swiftkey improved its prediction engine, which enables the app to learn from users’ patterns to predict what they will type before they type it. The company also revamped its flow-trail feature, which lets users type by swiping their finger across the keyboard (similar to Samsung’s Swype keyboard).

SOURCE: SwiftKey Blog