Watchmaker Fossil is no stranger to intermingling technology with timepieces — it’s done both Palm OS and MSN Direct models in the past few years — but the company’s latest venture is targeted squarely at the developer community, which makes Google I/O a great place to show it off. The new wristwatches are basically blank canvases that will be shipping to hackers in July, sold under the Meta Watch sub-brand and bundled with an SDK and everything you need to write apps that can communicate with other devices (namely, phones) over Bluetooth.
We spent a fun two hours this morning liveblogging the US Senate’s hearing on the AT&T / T-Mobile merger, and while there weren’t any major revelations, it’s obvious that lawmakers aren’t just going to rubberstamp this thing and let it happen — hell, the hearing was titled “Is Humpy-Dumpty Being Put Back Together Again?” in clear reference to AT&T’s previous monopoly status. Senators Herb Kohl (D-WI), Michael Lee (R-Utah), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Al Franken (D-MN), John Cornyn (R-TX), and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) pushed AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson and T-Mobile CEO Phillipp Humm to defend the merger, demanding to know why it was necessary, and both Stephenson and Humm both did their best to duck hard questions while repeating the arguments AT&T put forth to the FCC: that combining spectrum resources would allow AT&T to lower costs and better serve customers, particularly those in rural areas. One particularly testy exchange occurred when Senator Kohl asked both Stephenson and Humm if AT&T and T-Mobile were competitors: when both delivered non-committal answers, Kohl shot back with “Come on. You guys are competitors. Please.”
It wasn’t all just Chrome OS and Chromebooks today at Google I/O — the company also quietly introduced a new version of Android Market for the web and phones that’s designed to greatly improve app discovery. The top apps charts are new fresher and country-specific, and Google’s added top grossing, top new free, and top new paid lists so users can see the newest and most popular apps. There’s also a new Editor’s Choice list that’s picked by the Android Market staff and a new Top Developers list, both of which feel like they’re designed to compete with the curated experiences of the Amazon Appstore and Apple’s iPhone App Store. There’s also better related apps algorithm that shows you both apps others have browsed and apps others have installed, and lastly there’s a new trending apps list which shows apps that are quickly growing in popularity. Oh, and on top of all this, the Market app for phones has a refreshed UI. Not bad for flying under the radar here at I/O.
The new features are available now on market.android.com and the new Market app should hit phones soon – but alas, there’s no word on whether these improvements will come to Honeycomb tablets or when we’ll see Market launch for the Google TV. But hey, we’ll take what we can get. We’re angling for a hands-on so check back soon.
In addition to the pair of Chromebooks Google is launching today, Google says it’s also working on a “Chromebox” desktop. It’s going to be primarily targeted at the enterprise (like Google’s own engineers), where folks might want to use multiple displays, or don’t have any use for the portability of a laptop. Of course, the idea of a “nettop” is hardly a new one, but it makes a lot of sense with Chrome OS, and hopefully Google offers this to us lowly consumers as well. No word on price or release date, but with the stock components inside of this thing it can’t be far off — or cost more than a couple hundies.
Stay tuned to our Google I/O 2011 day two keynote liveblog for up-to-the-microsecond coverage.
Looks like Chrome OS is getting some big updates at Google I/O ahead of the expected hardware announcements. First, there are new file management features, including document type recognition that can upload things straight to various cloud services from USB devices, and new live previews for audio and video files in a new media player. The live preview opens in a paneled window, so you can multitask, but it can also go full screen. Google’s also plugging support for online media services like its new Google Music Beta, YouTube HD movie rentals, Hulu, Mog, and Pandora. Google also says it’s been working closely with Netflix, which would be a big deal, as Netflix’s web player traditionally relies on Microsoft’s Silverlight. Google’s also beefing up Chrome OS’s offline capabilities, and apps like Angry Birds can run offline.
We’ve been checking our Cr-48 and the update hasn’t hit yet — we’re guessing it’ll come closer to that June 15 launch date for the new Acer and Samsung Chromebooks.
Developing. Stay tuned to our Google I/O 2011 day two keynote liveblog for up-to-the-microsecond coverage.
Forget Google’s pilot Cr-48, the real Chromebooks are coming! Google has just announced that both Acer and Samsung will be launching their own Chrome OS-powered laptops next month. The two are virtually the same in the sense that they both are powered by dual-core Intel Atom processors, promise “all day computing,” boast large Synaptics touchpads, and run the latest version of Chrome OS. However, there are some important differences between the two. The Samsung Series 5 Chromebook has a 12.1-inch display, while the Acer has a 11.6-inch panel and obviously, a smaller footprint.
Both will be hitting Best Buy and Amazon on June 15th. The WiFi version of the Series 5 will go for $400 and the 3G version for $500. (According to Samsung’s press release, the 3G model includes 100MB of data per month on Verizon’s network.) Acer hasn’t officially announced a price or name for its device, but Google Chrome king Sundar Pichi said it would ring up at $350. Regardless, those are some mighty high price tags when you consider that the average Windows 7 netbook can be had for around $299. That said, maybe some hands-on impressions could change our pessimistic minds. Stay tuned for that, but in the meantime hit the break for the full specs and a few more shots of the very first Chromebooks.
Update: Oh, and in case you missed it in the liveblog, Google also announced special monthly, pricing rates for students and businesses. Those lucky individuals will have the option to pay just a recurring monthly subscription fee, which includes software / hardware upgrades and support. Oh yes, that’s all they pay, and yes, we just said hardware upgrades! There will be a $28 option for businesses and $20 student / government plan. Pretty crazy stuff.
Check out our Google I/O 2011 day two keynote liveblog for the skinny on all today’s announcements.
We covered the Senate hearing on mobile privacy yesterday, and we’re back on the Hill today for the Senate hearing on the AT&T / T-Mobile merger. It’s being held by the Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy, and Consumer Rights, and they’re not screwing around — the hearing is titled “Is Humpty Dumpty Being Put Back Together Again?” It’s starting at 10:15AM — click below to check it out.
If you thought what happened on day one was a big deal… just wait for tomorrow. Google will be back at it again in the morning, and we’ll be there bringing you the hits as they happen!
Just tune your browsers here at the appropriate time (it starts at 9:30AM on the west coast) on Wednesday (tomorrow), and enjoy the best liveblog in the business.
Google promised I/O attendees invites to Music Beta today — and sure enough, mine rolled in a couple hours ago, so I thought I’d take it for a quick spin.
In a nutshell, the beta label is well-deserved at this point. On both Chrome and on my phone, I was really pleased with how quickly and effortlessly tracks started streaming over 3G… but the setup process isn’t without its hiccups. Using the companion Music Manager app that you use to boost tracks from your PC into the cloud, Josh and I both noticed that it’s pretty easy to upload more content than you mean to. Granted, it’s a rookie mistake that you’ll only make the first time you use it, but here’s the kicker: once the app starts the “scanning” process on your content, there’s no way to cancel and go back without quitting Music Manager altogether — and it takes quite a while to scan (about 10 minutes for 6.6GB, I found).
Once I had some content uploaded and I picked up my phone, the new Music app gave me a little trouble, too. I cut the nonsense out of the video, but basically, I wasn’t able to see any of my cloud content at first; Google’s only advice is to make sure that you’re running an Android 2.2 or higher device (which I am) and that you’ve got your Google account set for auto-sync (which I do), but no dice. I ended up rebooting and it worked fine after that, so I’m not sure if it was a one-time problem, a symptom of the fact that I’ve got two Google accounts synced to the phone (one with Music Beta access and one without), or something else entirely — but at any rate, it’s working now. All’s well that ends well, right? You can see the full walkthrough after the break.
Facebook removes API bug allowing third party access to personal data — change your password to be safe
The strange bedfellows known as Facebook and privacy concerns are once again entangled. I’ll spare you the nitty-gritty details, but it goes something like this: according to Symantec, apps that still used certain bits of legacy code would send access tokens — literally, a string of code that would allow access to your profile — through the URL to the app host. Which could, in term, be sent to third-party advertisers (or anyone, for that matter) and grant them access to user information or even let them perform actions (e.g. wall posts) on behalf of the user. Symantec estimates almost 100,000 of these apps exist and that “over the years, hundreds of thousands of applications may have inadvertently leaked millions of access tokens to third parties.”
When asked for comment, Facebook told me that the company conducted a thorough investigation that showed no evidence of this private information being shared with unauthorized third parties. The spokesperson also wanted to stress the “contractual obligations of advertisers and developers which prohibit them from obtaining or sharing user information.” The company announced on its developer blog today the offending API has been removed and outlined some details on its transition to the more secure OAuth 2.0.
So there’s no reports of misuse, but all the same, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to change your Facebook password — that should invalidate the older tokens, just in case.