Google Launches iPad App for Catalogs

Google has brought catalogs to the iPad with an expected release for Android later. The app, Google Catalogs, adds an “interactive layer” of features such as buying items from the virtual catalog, creating a collage of products and viewing extra information related to products.

Kinnari Jhaveri of the Google Commerce team said “for years, shoppers have enjoyed flipping through glossy print catalogs to be inspired, discover new trends and find great products. Today, mobile technologies can make catalog shopping more engaging, social and creative”, in a Google announcement.

Google has 50 partners and more than 100 catalogs available though say they are continuously looking for more and are willing to accept submissions which are viewed by the editorial team.

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Google Buys Motorola Mobility for $12.5bn to Bolster Mobile Business

Motorola Defy+
New Motorola Defy+ running Andriod

Google has announced that it would buy Motorola Mobility, formerly the mobile division of Motorola, for $40.00 per share amounting to a total of $12.5 billion with a large 63% premium from August 12 shares. Google say that the acquisition would to bolster its patent profile to prevent patent litigation and would help expand Google’s mobile business into new areas.

Larry Page, CEO at Google, said in a blog post that the purchase would “not only supercharge Android, but will also enhance competition and offer consumers accelerating innovation, greater choice, and wonderful user experiences.”

Larry Page mentioned that Microsoft and Apple were working together to purchase patents, he hopes that Android would be better protected from the “anti-competitive threats from Microsoft, Apple and other companies.” Google previously criticized Microsoft of imposing a “tax” for Android buyers by making companies pay licensing fees for each device sold.

The acquisition would not effect the open-source Android operating system which would remain open. The two sections of Google’s mobile business would be run separately, Google said “many hardware partners have contributed to Android’s success and we look forward to continuing to work with all of them to deliver outstanding user experiences.”

Both companies iterated the benefits for shareholders with Sanjay Jha, CEO of Motorola Mobility, saying “this transaction offers significant value for Motorola Mobility’s stockholders”.

Motorola Mobility also yesterday announced a new edition of their “water resistant, scratch resistant and dust proof” Defy+ phone featuring Android.

Google+ Games Breakdown [Screenshots]

Wondering what the Google+ Games looks like? Here are some screenshots from the new Google+ games feature which can be seen in selected profiles. The feature is now being rolled out and is accessible from the top buttons in Google+.

Click on each image for a description of the feature in Google+ games, which looks into the social aspects the games have built in and some game-play.

Meanwhile, Facebook has started to revamp its own offering for games with new interface updates such as full-screen for certain games, dedicated feed and a “most used apps” section.

Casual Games Arrive at Google+

Google Games Homepage
New Google Games dashboard. Image via Google.

Google has started to release an initial set of games with testing starting for selected users on the private Google+ Games homepage. The selection of games includes large developers such as Rovio (Angry Birds), Zynga and PopCap Games with many other games available also on Facebook.

Vic Gundotra, Senior Vice President, wrote on the Google blog and told users “We want to make playing games online just as fun, and just as meaningful, as playing in real life.” Users also have total control if they want the games section to be visible in their Google+ stream saying “Games in Google+ are there when you want them and gone when you don’t.”

Web developers should soon be able to use the Google+ platform with the creation of a new blog by Google. The use of the platform is only slowly being rolled out. Google explaining “we chose to start with a small number of partners so that we could experiment, get the kinks out of our APIs, and get real end-user feedback before opening up to the world. ”

The current game selection is:

  1. Angry Birds (Rovio)
  2. Bejeweled Blitz (PopCap Games)
  3. Bubble Island (Wooga)
  4. City of Wonder (Playdom)
  5. Collapse! Blast (GameHouse)
  6. Crime City
  7. Diamond Dash (Wooga)
  8. Dragon Age Legends (Electronic Arts)
  9. Dragons of Atlantis (Kabam Games)
  10. Edge World
  11. Flood-It! (Lab Pixies)
  12. Monster World (Wooga)
  13. Sudoku
  14. Wild Ones (PlayDom)
  15. Zombie Lane (Digital Chocolate)
  16. Zynga Poker (Zynga)

Google Docs to Get New Look

New Google Docs Look

Google Docs has started to allow users to test out the new look that integrates the user interface with the rest of the redesigned Google websites. More padding to given to the document list and a move towards the new Google color scheme of grey text and orange highlights for the buttons.

To activate the new look click on ‘Try the new look’ near the gear icon in the top-left of the screen. Google staff said that the new look would be rolled out to “users over the next few days”.

The redesign will also include keyboard shortcuts which will make it possible to browse the Google Docs interface without a mouse. Pressing the question mark key will bring up and list of the new shortcuts including Shift+t to start a new text document, this changes for the starting letter of each file-type, for example a presentation is Shift+p.

Google has also started a feedback form for submitting comments. The dense view can decrease the padding by clicking on the gear icon then selecting document settings.

Google Says Patents Used to Tax Android

T-Mobile's G1 phone (HTC Dream), using Google'...
Image via Wikipedia

Google has publicly criticized the use of “bogus patents”, saying that patents are being used to unfairly attack Google’s Android operating system for mobile devices. Google believes the consortium that purchased Nortel’s patents for $4.5 billion including Research In Motion, Apple, Microsoft, Ericsson, EMC and Sony as well as a bid for Novell’s old patents was done “to make sure Google didn’t get them.”

Google’s Chief Legal Officer David Drummond wrote in a Google blog post that patents were being used to wage “a hostile, organized campaign against Android by Microsoft, Oracle, Apple and other companies, waged through bogus patents.” They pointed out that Microsoft demanded a $15 licensing fee for every Android phone produced and that Android manufacturers including Barnes & Noble, HTC, Motorola and Samsung were been targeted.

“Patents were meant to encourage innovation, but lately they are being used as a weapon to stop it” and Google would extend its own patent profile to prevent litigation and to allow Android products to remain competitive.  Drummond continued saying “unless we act, consumers could face rising costs for Android devices — and fewer choices for their next phone.”

Ken Walker, general counsel for Google, also argued that patents were unfairly been used saying “the patent system should reward those who create the most useful innovations for society, not those who stake bogus claims or file dubious lawsuits”, in another Google blog post from April this year.

Meanwhile, Microsoft’s general counsel, Brad Smith, told Twitter followers “Google says we bought Novell patents to keep them from Google. Really? We asked them to bid jointly with us. They said no.”

Google Purchases 1030 IBM patents

United States Patent Cover from a real patent ...
Image via Wikipedia

Google has purchased 1030 patents from IBM to bolster its defensive patent holdings. The patents are broad with some details from SEO by the Sea who broke the story.

Last year during August, Google was sued for infringement on seven Java patents in the Android phone operating system by Oracle after acquiring Sun Microsystems in 2009. According to The Seattle Times, HTC is paying Microsoft $5 for each Android phone it produces with HTC open to discussion with Apple after been sued by Apple. A handful of other phone manufacturers of Android also face legal action from Apple and Microsoft.

Google and many other technology companies are playing catch-up to prevent software patent ligation. Kent Walker, general counsel at Google, wrote on the Google blog that “the tech world has recently seen an explosion in patent litigation, often involving low-quality software patents, which threatens to stifle innovation.”

Earlier this year Google lost to a consortium of Apple, EMC, Ericsson, Microsoft, Sony and Research in Motion to buy the patents from the defunct Nortel Networks. The consortium paid $4.5 billion while Google offered to pay $3.14159 billion, the same number as pi. Nortel Networks had a patent profile of more than 6,000 patent and applications for patents. The U.S. Department of Justice has opened an investigation into the deal.

Rumors that Google and Apple are in talks of buying InterDigital, a wireless technology company who say their technology is used in every mobile phone, would further increase Google’s patent profile if successful. The company has “8,800 U.S. and foreign issued patents combined” and “almost 10,000 patent applications in process around the world.”

Last year, IBM received more than 5,000 patents, IBM believes this is due to their annual $6 billion spent on research and development (R&D). IBM said “IBM’s 2010 patent total nearly quadrupled Hewlett-Packard’s and exceeded the combined issuances of Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard, Oracle, EMC, and Google.”

Google Buys PittPatt for Pattern Recognition Technology

Google has acquired PittPatt also known as Pittsburgh Pattern Recognition, an off-spin from a 2004 Carnegie Mellon University project which dealt with object recognition. PittPatt can be used for finding faces in images, categorizing faces by recognizing if the faces are the same person, finding faces in video and finding points of interest on a face (eg. eyes and base of nose).

PittPatt told website visitors that “at Google, computer vision technology is already at the core of many existing products (such as Image Search, YouTube, Picasa, and Goggles), so it’s a natural fit to join Google and bring the benefits of our research and technology to a wider audience.” They said that the PittPatt technology could be used in mobile applications, video and images.

It is likely that the technology will be added to Google+. Google has previously stopped a plan to include facial recognition in Google Googles after privacy concerns. Facial recognition is already available in Google Picasa software.

In 2006, PittPatt was selected as a contractor for the U.S. Disruptive Technologies Office as part of Phase III of the Video Analysis and Content Extraction (VACE) program. PittPatt received over $2.1 million for “object recognition and tracking in video, particularly robust recognition of faces in low resolution, low quality video” according to archived news information and stopped in 2009. In 2007, PittPatt was issued a patent for an “object finder for two-dimensional images, and system for determining a set of sub-classifiers composing an object finder.”

PittPatt have said that “given our face mining output, it took a person less than five minutes to assign names to all the main characters (Kirk, Spock, Mccoy, Uhura, Scotty, Sulu and Chekov) and a couple of minor ones (Janice, Nurse Chapel) across all 67 episodes”, in a now removed webpage about the capabilities of PittPatt’s face mining technology tested over three seasons of Star Trek.

Google Labs Shuts Down To Focus on Other Products

Google Labs Flask
Based on Lab Icon 3 by Pitr (Open Clipart Library)

Google has decided to close down Google Labs, a public prototype testing ground. Projects which have ‘graduated’ from Google Labs over the past years include Google Maps, Google Docs, Google Trends and Google Reader which all have become standard Google products though Google said in a blog post that “we’ll continue to push speed and innovation—the driving forces behind Google Labs—across all our products.”

Google’s current lab projects are likely to be integrated into current services. However, where services such as Aardvark (a question and answer service purchased by Google) will go is still an open question. Whether these types of services eventually become part of Google+ is unknown, though there is some speculation that Aardvark will become part of a social Q&A feature for Google+.

The closure will not effect Gmail and Google Maps Labs which are run separately or the famous 20% time policy which lets Google staff spend 20% of their time on other projects. It is likely that innovative 20% projects will stay away from the public eye until a stable release or are created for current Google products.

Lady Gaga Suspended from YouTube After Copyright Violation

Lady Gaga faced a YouTube channel suspension, which was later overturned by Google after ‘multiple or severe violations of YouTube’s copyright policy.’ The copyright suspension occurred after Fuji TV’s SMAP X SMAP television program footage was put online this Thursday.

Lady Gaga was singing some of her  latest songs including Born This Way, You & I and The Edge of Glory. The medley included SMAP, a Japanese boy band which are featured in the SMAP X SMAP show. After the account was restored, SMAP did not appear on the channel though other YouTube channels are still hosting the footage.

Google’s policy is to take-down accounts which have more than three copyright violations. Techdirt wrote that Media Interactive Inc. issued the take-down. Techdirt saying that that Media Interactive Inc. had ‘quite the reputation (search the YouTube help forums) for issuing somewhat questionable takedown claims.’

Lady Gaga has also taken part in the Google Chrome advertisements which shows Lady Gaga using the internet to reach out to her fans.