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google-glass-ebay.jpgLooking to get in on the Google Glass futuristic headset wearing craze earlier than the rest of the gadget-loving pack? Then head over to eBay where, if you've got the dough, you can bid on a live auction for one of the pairs of augmented reality specs.

Google have been sharing the Glass glasses with only select developers and evangelists, but opened the pre-release user base a little wider recently with the #ifihadglass Twitter competition, asking for inventive uses for their Glass gear (and $1,500) in exchange for access to a limited number of Explorer Edition headsets.

The eBayer responsible for the current auction, raenblow, claims to have been one of the lucky competition winners, stating in the auction description:

"I was selected to try Google Glass. I was contacted via twitter and can send a screen shot. I will get details in a few weeks to pick them up!"

So far the auction has hit $90,100 (just over £59,000), with 28 bids and over 3 days until the auction closes. Click here to check it out.

With no firm release date for the launch of Google Glass in place, it seems there are many keen to pay top dollar to get early access to the Robocop-like gear, or at least a lot of eBay pranksters with no intention of ever coughing up the cash.

Either way, it's unlikely that the final transaction will be allowed to be completed. Google explicitly state that the Google Glass competition winners cannot resell or even gift the Google Glass headsets they get, so expect Google to intervene here some point soon.

Yesterday saw the first firm specifications for Google Glass revealed, including 16GB of storage, 720p video recording and an all-day battery life.

google-glass-blonde-lady.jpgThe official specifications for the futuristic Google Glass augmented reality headsets have been revealed.

Spotted by 9to5Google on an official support page, the Google-authored document reveals exactly what to expect from the head-mounted computers.

A 5MP camera with 720p recording capabilities is built in, alongside 16GB of storage (12GB useable), alongside Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity.

The specs will pair with Android devices running versions 4.0.3 Ice Cream Sandwich or higher through an app called MyGlass, which will let Glass piggyback a phone or tablet's GPS for mapping info. iPhone compatibility has previously been hinted at too.

Rather than using earphones, the Glass headsets will use bone conduction, vibrating bones in your ear through your head, which despite the description is a pain-free way of getting crystal clear audio far more impressive than most earbuds.

The screen technology works by by using a tiny projector in the headset, which bounces light off a prism in the glasses directly into your eyes, allowing graphics to be overlaid onto your normal vision and allowing you to see the world around you fairly clearly. It will feel as though looking at a 25-inch screen from a distance of 2 metres.

As for the frames adjustable nosepads and durable materials are used, allowing the Glass to fit all face sizes. A microUSB charger is used to top up the battery, which should last a day's use, though activities like Google Hangouts or video recording will drain that a bit quickly.

Excited, or terrified? Regardless of your stance on the privacy concerns raised by the technology, there's no denying that the Google Glass headsets sound very futuristic, particularly that light prism system.

google-play-logo.jpgGoogle have removed 60,000 spam apps from the Google Play store over the course of February, the company's largest ever app cull.

Whereas Apple's App Store has strict guidelines as to what is suitable for its software marketplace, and an approval process that vets all apps before distribution, Google's Play Store is more lax in its app approval process, leading to the need for such a cull.

Uncovered by TechCrunch via "a company in the mobile app industry which has insight into changes like this," it's thought that improvements to Google's spam-detecting algorithms are as much the reason for the higher number as any concerted effort from the company.

The move follows a redesign of the Google Play store, intended to make navigation of the store and browsing of the growing number of applications available through it simpler. It's gradually rolling out to all Android users over the coming days.

It's likely that with the launch of the new version of Android, Key Lime Pie, expected to launch before the end of the summer, Google are looking to get their house in order. Sprucing up the app store and cutting the crap will definitely help pull the operating system into fighting-fit shape ahead of the launch.

Thumbnail image for nexus-7-tablet.jpgWe're pretty sure that Apple have a Retina display-packing iPad Mini 2 waiting in the wings in their Cupertino R&D labs, and now there's suggestion that Google may be lining up a high resolution tablet of their own.

According to new research by industry analysts DisplaySearch, Google are working on a HD revamp of their popular (and cheap!) Google Nexus 7 line. The seven-inch tablet would sport a resolution of 1920x1200, making it slightly higher resolution than a full HD 1080p slate.

If true, it'd be a screen to match the Retina Display said to be coming to the iPad Mini 2. Apple's Retina screen would be a 2048x1563 panel with a pixel density of 324 pixels per inch (ppi), replacing the current 1024x768 iPad Mini. Given the Nexus 7's smaller screen size, its rumoured HD screen would offer a sharpness of 323 ppi, putting it on a par with the iPad Mini.

If true, it'll certainly make choosing between the two new tablets a challenge. Filed in the rumour category for now, we'll be keeping a close eye on the smaller tablets in the coming months. We'll be sure to keepy ou posted with any new developments.

RSS inventor won't miss Google Reader

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google-reader-top.jpgThe internet may be weeping at the news that Google Reader may be about to close, but one person of note won't be shedding a tear. Dave Winer, an instrumental figure in both the invention of RSS feeds and blogs, couldn't give a hoot.

Posting on his blog, he admitted:

"I won't miss it. Never used the damn thing. Didn't trust the idea of a big company like Google's interests being so aligned with mine that I could trust them to get all my news.

"And besides, I didn't think the mailbox approach to news was right. Who cares how many unread items there are. I like the river of news approach and I have a very fine set of rivers that keep me well supplied with news and podcasts."

If anything, Winer believes there's potential for this to be a great period of growth for RSS.

"It's possible to use RSS without being dependent on Google Reader. And since GR is going away, that should probably be seen as good news, not bad.

"People will be well-served by a newly revitalized market for RSS products, now that the dominant product, the 800-pound gorilla, is withdrawing."

Winer's main fears lie with Google controlling exactly what news we're presented with, and the commercial interests behind that. Though he praises the interface of Google Now, which he sees as Reader's natural successor, he's also weary of it:

"It's creepy in two ways. One way most people see is that it's snooping on what you do to figure out what you want to read. The second way: It's also deciding what you don't see.

"The content of my (news) river is not determined by any tech company. Do I think it will stay that way? It's possible that it might not."

x-phone-tease.jpgAll eyes may this week be on the Samsung Galaxy S4 launch, set to break cover this Thursday, but there's another Android phone we should all be keeping our eyes on: Google's rumoured Motorola X Phone.

Set to be the first real fruits of the Motorola/Google partnership, Android World have got their mitts on what they claim to be the handsets specs list.

If accurate, the X Phone will land not only with the latest Key Lime Pie Android build, but also eye-tracking for scrolling web pages, a feature expected to be headlining the Galaxy S4 launch this week. Could the Galaxy S4's most intriguing rumoured feature be about to become baked into stock Android anyway? With the X Phone posed to be the device to showcase the latest Android innovations, it certainly seems so.

On the hardware front, the X Phone is said to have a 4.7-inch Full HD 1080p screen, a quad-core NVIDIA Tegra 4i processor, a 16MP rear camera and a 5MP one handling the eye-tracking up front.

It'll even manage to shave a few millimetres off the slim RAZR MAXX HD chassis, measuring 131.2 x 66.7 x 7.9 mm.

Of course, take the rumoured specs here with a pinch of salt. But with the HTC One launch wrapped up, the Sony Xperia Z and the forthcoming launch of the Galaxy S4, it's looking quite the year for Android.

Remember MC Hammer's shoes in his "Hammerman" cartoon? Then you're going to love this; Google have been showing off a pair of talking shoes at this year's South by Southwest festival.

Google, YesYesNo, ad agency 72andSunny, and Adidas have paired up to make the chatty trainers, which use an accelerometer, a gyroscope, Bluetooth and a speaker to have the shoes shout commands and information at you as you walk around.

"By connecting a pair of sneakers to the web, we're creating unique opportunities between physical objects and digitalt ad spaces. Every move the user makes generates data that's captured using an accelerometer, gyroscope and pressure sensors," reads a statement on the project's website.

"That data then gets pushed to a web app on your mobile phone and translated in real-time into funny and motivating commentary."

The advertising element is most interesting - with an ad-agency on board with the shoes, this could be the first step (every pun intended) towards wearable technologies with geo-aware ad-serving capabilities.

Though its unlikely the sneakers will be leaving the concept stage anytime soon, Google are heavily invested in wearable computing. They're currently running trials of their Google Glass headsets, web-connected augmented reality glasses that overlay digital information onto your surroundings.

razr-hd.jpgMore job cuts are on the way over at Motorola, with parent company Google looking to slash the Moto workforce by 10%, according to the Wall Street Journal.

In an email seen by one of the publication's reporters, it read that the company believes that "costs are too high, we're operating in markets where we're not competitive, and we're losing money," adding, "while we're very optimistic about the new products in our pipeline, we still face challenges."

The cuts will lead to 1,200 members of Motorola staff across the US, China and India losing their jobs.

According to a Motorola spokesperson:

"These cuts are a continuation of the reductions we announced last summer. It's obviously very hard for the employees concerned, and we are committed to helping them through this difficult transition."

Behind closed doors it must have been a really difficult week for the Google/Motorola relationship. Just a few days ago, Google CFO Patrick Pichette, speaking at Morgan Stanley's Technology Conference, really twisted the knife in.

Pichette described Motorola's upcoming products as being "not really to the standards that what Google would say is wow -- innovative, transformative."

Might be best to hold off buying Motorola's new gear then until Google give it their blessing.

google+-web-update-top.jpgGoogle has updated its Google+ social networking site, adding a new tab for local user generated reviews and the ability to upload larger cover photos.

Added to the left hand panel, the Local Reviews tab lets users discuss and share their favourite local restaurants, amenities and places of interest. While it's not yet confirmed, expect to see these reviews eventually find their way onto Google's over services, such as Maps.google+-web-update-mid.jpgNext, Google has added the ability to upload larger cover photos to the site, supposedly at the request of its users. When maximised, users can now pop a 16x9 widescreen image at the top of their personal pages, whilst the About tab has also been given a makeover, split now into colour coded block sections.

The Google Hangout feature also gets a revamp, with a full dialler now present for when calling another user's phone. It's currently limited to users in the US and Canada however.

Expect to see the features roll out gradually in the next few weeks.

Google-Play-Gift-cards-land-top.jpgRemember those Google Play store gift cards we wrote about that looked set to land in the UK soon? Well they've now arrived.

Available in shops and supermarkets including Tesco and Morrisons, they come in £10, £25, and £50 values.

You can click here and enter your postcode to find the nearest retailer selling the cards, and its worth remembering that retailers often put deals out on gift cards, meaning in time you might find some cheap Google Play credit bargains waiting at the till after your supermarket "big shop".

GOOGLE-CARDS.jpgThe US has been enjoying pre-paid Android Play app store gift cards for some time now, but UK Android owners have only been given a whiff of a useless "redeem" page to date, with no actual gift cards to redeem on it.

It looks however as though that's about to change. Android Authority has been trawling the Google support pages, where they've found mention of UK prices.

It seems that we'll soon be able to buy £10, £25 and £50 gift cards for the Android Play store, which can be redeemed on app, music, eBook and movie purchases.

Though there's still no set release date, the launch can't come soon enough. Apple's App Store and iTunes gift cards have been littering the gift card racks of supermarkets for years. Gift cards would be another great way that Google could assert Android as a mainstream, app-centric platform to casual UK users, as well as nabbing a few quid from less tech-savvy grannies out to buy birthday gifts for the grandkids.

That said, Nan, if you're reading, I'd still just prefer the cash, thanks.

google-moto-buy-banner.jpgWhen Google bought out smartphone hardware manufacturers Motorola, many thought we were about to enter into a golden age for Android hardware. With Google providing the latest Android innovations to Motorola's always-solid hardware, it was thought to be the start of a flourishing, mutually beneficial relationship for both companies.

That appears to not be the case currently though. While we're still waiting for the first fruits of the partnership to land, it seems Google don't think much of the next batch of Motorola phones. And Google CFO Patrick Pichette, speaking at Morgan Stanley's Technology Conference, has really twisted the knife in.

According to The Verge, Pichette described Motorola's upcoming products as being "not really to the standards that what Google would say is wow -- innovative, transformative."

Ouch.

Apparently, as part of the sale, Google also inherited a 12-18 month product roadmap with Motorola, something that the Mountain View company has little influence over, and obviously doesn't care for. With Google's confidence in the next line of Motorola goods obviously not riding high, it may be wise to hold fire on a purchase until the parent company actually, you know, likes what Motorola are doing.

In its defence, the recent batch of Motorola phones has been pretty consistently good, with the Motorola RAZR HD in particular picking up praise. Still, despite plenty of hype, the rumoured Motorola X Phone may be one to steer clear of going by what Pichette is saying.

google_nexus_4_vs_samsung_galaxy_s3Google, makers of the Android mobile operating system, and Samsung, makers of the most successful Android smartphone range with their Galaxy line. You'd think the two would be best buddies, each helping to fill the coffers of the other. But in reality, it seems the two companies are becoming increasingly cautious of the other.

A report from the Wall Street Journal and highlighted by The Verge suggests that Google is beginning to fear that Samsung's mobile might could eventually make them a competitor, not a partner.

The WSJ points to a meeting held in 2012 in which Andy Rubin, head of Android, on one hand praised Samsung's success on the platform, but also warned that Google may find itself on the back foot if Samsung's Android popularity continued to grow unrivalled.

With Samsung accounting for 39.6% of the global smartphone market and the majority of that made up from Android sales, Rubin is said to have cautioned that Samsung may soon feel themselves in a position to make increasingly difficult demands from Google. This could be in the shape of feature exclusivity, with Samsung's smartphone popularity growing to such a point that they could threaten to launch a custom operating system that borrows heavily from Google's own, in much the same way that Amazon did with their Kindle Fire line.

As it stands, even Samsung's closest Android competitor HTC is flailing.

Google's defence? The purchase of Motorola Mobility, an asset that Rubin called a hedge against Samsung's growing popularity. With it, Google may be able to make their Nexus line the most highly sought after Android devices. The Nexus 4 set the ball rolling well in this direction, while the rumoured X Phone could capitalise on that momentum, improving Google's position against Samsung.

google-headphones.pngGoogle are said to be planning to launch their own music streaming service in Q3 2013 to rival Spotify, according to new reports from both the Financial Times and Bloomberg.

Google may beat both Apple and Amazon to the punch with a streaming service that offers a "library of millions of songs" to subscribers. Both Amazon and Apple have been rumoured to be launching similar services, though none have materialised.

Google's streaming service would be in addition to the Google Play music store already open for business from the Mountain View company, allowing for MP3 downloads, as well as cloud-locker storage for previously-bought songs.

Bloomberg tip the service to launch in Q3 of this year, but do not share any details on pricing, nor cross-platform compatibility. It may be in Google's interests to lock any such streaming service to their Android devices and Chrome OS, though record company's may be less keen to see the already-slim revenue from streams locked into a single platform.

Indeed, Google have been popping out more and more iOS apps in recent months, and the opportunity to further monetize users of a rival platform will likely be tempting.

Google-Pixel-chromebook.jpgThe Chromebook just got serious: Google have revealed the Chromebook Pixel, a high-resolution notebook using their Chrome OS, following weeks of speculation and leaks.

Packing in a 2560x1700, 239ppi touchscreen display 12.85 inches in size, it's bigger than Chromebook's from Google's partners, with its anodized aluminum body clearly looking to court those who'd otherwise look towards purchasing an Apple MacBook Air. Indeed, it's got 19 more pixels per inch than even Apple's might MacBook Pro with Retina display.

Interestingly, the Chromebook Pixel sports a 3:2 ratio display. Google executives state this is due to its web-centric nature - websites use more vertical designs than standard applications, and this unusual screen size will accommodate it by meaning you won't have to scroll around them as much to view them. The screen also boasts a 400 nit brightness and 178-degree wide viewing angle.Though using the web-only Chrome OS (the Pixel will come in both Wi-Fi only and a Wi-Fi and 4G variant in the States), the machine is fairly well spec'd compared to the standard low-powered Chromebooks on the market. Though storage space remains low, with only 32GB and 64GB SSD variants available (Chrome OS encourages you to save all your files in the Cloud through Google's Drive storage service, and 1TB of free storage for three years is offered with the Pixel), under the hood also sits a decent 1.8GHz Intel Core i5 processor and 4GB RAM. Don't expect to do any serious gaming on the device though; its only Intel's integrated Graphics 4000 card on offer here.

Other features include a backlit keyboard, glass touchpad, two mics with noise cancelling tech, a 720p webcam, two USB 2.0 ports, a mini-display port and a two-in-one SD and MMC card reader.

It wont come cheap though. Expect to pay $1,299/£1,049 for the Wi-Fi only version, while the LTE build will cost $1,449 in the States. So far, no 4G version is slated for release in the UK. Cost taks into account onboard storage capacities; 32GB for Wi-Fi only, while there's 64GB in the LTE model.

nexus-4-camera.pngGoogle's future ranges of Nexus devices will have "insanely great cameras", according to a Google+ posting by a senior Google executive.

Vic Gundotra, head of Google+, was fielding questions about his photography habits on his Google+ page. One question was in regards to the Nexus device's image capturing capabilities, with one man hoping to be able to ditch his dedicated camera altogether in favour of a souped-up smartphone snapper, to which Gundotra replied, "We are committed to making Nexus phones insanely great cameras. Just you wait and see."

Though Google's Nexus phone and tablet ranges have proved remarkably popular, they've still only managed to include passable camera tech (with the camera in the otherwise-superb LG Nexus 4 being one of its few merely average features).

With every smartphone worth its salt now a quad-core monster, it seems that the fight is moving away from processors and towards camera capabilities. HTC's One handset, expected to launch today, has been teased as offering "ultra-pixel" still shots and new ZOE camera tech (neither of which we're entirely sure of what they mean), and it seems Google is ready to stand its ground in this new arena too.

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google-maps-wii-u_top.jpgWii U owners now have access to Google Maps through their console, along with GamePad support and Street View features.

Called "Wii Street U", it's a free download from the console's eShop if grabbed now, though it'll cost an unspecified amount once the limited-time freebie offer ends. It's not yet clear how much this will be, or when the freebie offer will end, though considering Google Maps is free of charge on pretty much every web-connected platform available, this seems a bit rich.

In its defence, the app does come with a host of platform-specific features, including Street View navigation through the Wii U's second-screen GamePad, allowing an overhead map to be shown on the TV screen while a worms-eye-view is displayed on the tablet-like controller.

There's also a Panorama View that allows Wii U owners to explore a range of locations with the controllers gyroscope and accelerometer functions, letting users navigate 360-degree videos of world-famous landmarks. A tour guide feature rounds off the list of Wii U specific features, offering up a number of recommended destinations complete with information and images for families to interact with.

The launch was revealed in today's Nintendo Direct conference, Nintendo's regular video newsletter to fans. It also showed off a slew of 3DS games set for release in the near future, including Fire Emblem, Animal Crossing, Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D and Mario & Luigi: Dream Team. You can view all the news in the official video below:

google-plus-stats.jpgHow much do you use Google+, Google's social network? More than Facebook? Almost certainly not we'd imagine, unless you call Google's Mountain View HQ home. How about more than Twitter though? Again unlikely, but that's what's being suggested by new stats published by a company called GlobalWebIndex.

The company's data appears to show Google+ grew by 27% over December 2012, seeing it overtake the global user base numbers of both Twitter and YouTube with 343 million users.

Even more interestingly, these figures relate to active users - not simply those who signed up for Google+ to give it a go and then gave up on it.

It seems mad, given the popularity and user retention of Twitter, but when you consider just how many Google products Google+ is baked into, it begins to sound more plausible. Whether you're using Gmail or Calendar or any other Google service, you're bombarded with opportunities to check or interact with your Google+ network, not to mention the fact that any ratings or reviews of Android apps purchased through the Google Play store pass through your Google+ account first. Perhaps we've underestimated just how much we passively use Google+ these days, though we'd still take these figures with a pinch of salt.

Click here for an in-depth look at the stats.

google-nexus-7-vs-new-ipad.jpgGoogle's Nexus 7 tablet is now outselling Apple's iPad devices in Japan.

And, rather than just outselling Apple's own 7-inch iPad Mini model, Google's Nexus 7 tablet is beating all versions of the iPad in Japanese sales figures.

The figures come from Japanese business daily Nikkei, who surveyed 2,400 electronics stores on sales figures over the Christmas holiday period. During that time, the Nexus 7 snagged 44.4% of the market, compared to a 40.1% share of all iPad sales combined.

So what's caused the shift? Obviously, price is a big factor. In Japan, the Nexus 7 and iPad Mini (the cheapest iPad) cost 9,800 Japanese yen (£138) and 28,800 yen (£200) respectively; a significant difference.

Also, stock issues may have came into play, with the iPad Mini in short supply over the Christmas period after a sales rush immediately following its launch. The Japanese love miniature items, especially in tech, which may have came into play when consumers were faced with a choice between a full-size iPad or Google's smaller unit.

Not that the iPad sales were slowing during this period. Compared to the year before, the entire tablet market had swelled to "2.8 times the size" of twelve months prior, meaning iPad sales had increased overall, just failing to overtake Google's Nexus 7 in the process.

Via: Nikkei

google-glass-blonde-lady.jpgSmart glasses such as Google's Project Glass and other wearable smart devices including health and fitness trackers could hit 70 million sales by 2017, a new report by Juniper Research has found.

Referring to the period between 2013 and 2017, Juniper predict a steady rise in adoption of wearable devices, reasoning that sales will rise from 15 million devices sold to 70 million by 2017 as prices fall and consumer familiarity and confidence in the new hi-tech market increases.

As well as Google's Glass, Juniper predict similar smart devices to land from Microsoft and Apple, with sports and healthcare devices the most likely launches as they are expected to dominate with a combined share 80% market share by 2017.

Part of the success of smart glasses and wearable devices will be dependent on building a popular app eco system adds the report, preferably one that interacts and integrates with stores that are already established and familiar to consumers.

"The development of the smartphone/app store model has opened up new avenues for other segments within the market, such as the wearable device market, by combining mobility with an efficient method of software delivery," said report author Nitin Bhas.

"The simultaneous development of app-ecosystem and wearable devices will integrate technologies, such as augmented reality, into human life more seamlessly."

Overall, the market is expected to be worth $1.5 billion by 2017, with consumers in North America and western Europe making up 60% of the global market for wearable devices.

However, it's still early days for wearable devices and augmented reality headsets. Just today Google announced a pair of conferences to help budding Glass developers get up to speed.

Click here to read the full report.

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