Turner Looks to Google TV for Next Wave of TV Everywhere Initiative

  • Turner is working with Google TV to launch apps giving users who authenticate they are pay TV subscribers access to full-length episodes of TBS and TNT shows.
  • Turner is already doing this on the Web and through iPad and iPhone apps. The broadcaster confirmed it will offer the new apps, but did not say when they’d be available.
  • The next version of Google TV is expected in a few weeks. “The second iteration of the platform will be based on Android 3.1 (a.k.a. Honeycomb) and have access to the Android Market,” reports GigaOM. “Dedicated apps as well as authentication features could possibly convince other TV networks to embrace the platform as well, but it’s unclear how this would be received by consumers.”
  • Consumer interest in Google TV had been initially tepid but is showing some signs of improvement. Logitech, for example, was forced to drop the price of its Revue set-top box from $250 to $99 in July, but then the companion box to Google TV “made a brief appearance in Amazon’s list of the ten best-selling gadgets last month,” indicates the article.

Yelp CEO Speaks Out on Google Monopoly: We Had No Choice

  • This week’s Senate hearings on “The Power of Google: Serving Customers or Threatening Competition?” barely scratched the surface, suggests CNNMoney.
  • “What Google did to Apple — copying Apple’s touchscreen operating system and offering it to Apple’s competitors for free — never came up,” indicates the article. “Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY) used much of their time to suck up to Google chairman Eric Schmidt, practically begging him to bring Google’s fiber-to-the-home experiment to their states.”
  • However, testimony from Jeremy Stoppelman, CEO of Yelp, was compelling, especially in regards to his take on the search giant’s apparent new mission.
  • “Let’s be clear. Google is no longer in the business of sending users to the best sources of information on the Web,” explained Stoppelman. “It now hopes to become a destination site itself for one vertical market after another, including news, shopping, travel, and now, local business reviews. It would be one thing if these efforts were conducted on a level playing field, but the reality is they’re not.”
  • “The experience in my industry is telling,” he added. “Google forces review websites to provide their content for free to benefit Google’s own competing product, not consumers. Google then gives its own product preferential treatment in Google search results.”
  • Stoppelman suggested the company’s actions were essentially part of an ultimatum: “Google first began taking our content without permission a year ago. Despite public and private protests, Google gave the ultimatum that only a monopolist can give: In order to appear in Web search, you must allow us to use your content to compete against you. As everyone in this room knows, not being in Google is equivalent to not existing on the Internet. We had no choice.”

Google+ Passes 43 Million Users: Will It Compete with Facebook?

  • Paul Allen, the unofficial statistician for Google+, believes that the three month-old social network has reached a new milestone with 43.4 million users. (Google+ opened to the public on Tuesday and announced a number of new features for mobile and the Web.)
  • Using his model that examines uncommon surnames, Allen suggests there has been a dramatic 30 percent growth in the two days since the public has been able to access the service without an invitation.
  • “The stats leave me to question exactly what keeps drawing people in at such a rapid rate,” comments Brad McCarty, North American editor for The Next Web. “Are people really backlashing against Facebook? A reported 800 million users seem to be just fine on the site, especially after recent changes to privacy. But maybe it’s a combination of just wanting a change, and Google’s rollout of comprehensive new features for its own network that has spurred momentum.”

NFC App Review: Katie Boehret Offers Her Two Cents on Google Wallet

  • As reported on ETCentric yesterday, Google Wallet rolled out this week. The technology allows you to pay for products and services by merely swiping your phone over a “tap payment” terminal (only MasterCard PayPass-enabled terminals right now). While only the Nexus S 4G phone is currently supported, there will be more phones coming soon that include the NFC (near field communication) chip.
  • Reporting for All Things D, Katie Boehret took the mobile app for a test drive. “I’ve been trying Google Wallet in Washington, DC, and Palo Alto, California, and I find it delightfully easy to use,” she writes. “Though still in its infancy, it isn’t hard to imagine digital payments catching on and becoming commonplace.”
  • Boehret points out that only the Citi MasterCard can be added to Google Wallet for now, but a Google Prepaid Card can accept other credit cards, and Google says other cards are coming (the company is working with Visa, Discover and American Express).
  • PayPal and Square are working on their own digital-payment systems, both of which do not require the NFC chip, so they will work on many phones.
  • Beyond payment, Google Wallet will let you register your store loyalty and gift cards (expect to see this from the likes of CVS, Macy’s and American Outfitters); however, you cannot register forms of ID, suggesting that despite its ease-of-use, the app is not a replacement for your wallet.
  • “Google Wallet can’t hold your driver’s license or other official forms of identification, so even if it takes off and works everywhere, you’ll still have to carry your license with you,” concludes Boehret.

Flash Player 11 and AIR 3: For HD Video and 3D Gaming on Multiple Platforms

  • Adobe announced this week Adobe Flash Player 11 and Adobe AIR 3 software to enable “console quality” 2D and 3D games and scientific visualizations for multiple platforms including Android, Apple iOS (via AIR), BlackBerry Tablet OS, Mac OS, Windows, connected TVs and others.
  • Adobe touts 1,000 times faster rendering performance over Flash 10 and AIR 2 enabling 60 frames per second rendering and console-quality games on Mac OS, Windows and connected TVs. A production release for mobile is coming.
  • Content protection is available using Adobe Flash Access 3 on supported platforms — “including support for mobile platforms,” explains the press release — with support for rental and subscription options “to more than 80 percent of the U.S. pay TV subscribers.”
  • HD full frame video quality can be displayed on iOS devices using H.264 hardware decoding to deliver 7.1 channel surround sound.

Google+ Social Network Now Open to Public: Just Follow the Blue Arrow

  • Google+ opened to the public this week, two days prior to the annual F8 developer’s conference of rival Facebook.
  • “Google+ lets people share comments, articles, photos and videos with various ‘circles’ of friends or contacts, or they can share content publicly with any user who wants to view their posts,” reports The Wall Street Journal.
  • Vic Gundotra, a Google senior vice president, explained via a post on the company’s blog that Google+ is still in its infancy, but that the latest features bring the total number of improvements to 100 since the site’s launch three months ago.
  • In addition to the ability to search for information on topics, see related posts from other Google+ users and relevant content from the Web, Android users with front-facing cameras on their mobile devices can now have a multi-person “hangout” (as compared to Apple’s Facetime which supports only two for face-to-face video chats).
  • According to the article: “Google+ lets as many as 10 people communicate simultaneously in a video ‘hangout.’ On Tuesday, Google said people can broadcast a ‘hangout’ to the public, similar to how Google’s YouTube video site lets some partners broadcast a live event.”
  • Focusing on video may give Google an advantage over Facebook. “Google+, which launched in late June and which up till now had only been open by invitation to users, is also putting a heavier emphasis on video, one of its main technology advantages over Facebook,” reports WSJ. “Facebook, which has more than 750 million active monthly users, recently inked a deal with Skype SA to allow its users to communicate with each other through their computer’s built-in video cameras.”
  • For those who may be interested in registering for Google+, simply follow the blue arrow prominently featured on the Google.com page.

Get Ready to Tap Away: Google Wallet NFC App now Live in Limited Locations

  • Google’s long-awaited Wallet app, which works via near-field communication (NFC) technology, is now officially live in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago and Washington, DC.
  • The service allows users with a current Paypass-enabled Citi Mastercard to pay at retail stores (and any other businesses with a contactless payment — or “tap payment” terminal) simply by waving their NFC-enabled phone.
  • “In the app, users will be able to link their Citi card with Google Wallet,” explains TG Daily. “That is, when they go to a drug store or fast food restaurant, or take a cab, or anywhere else that has a contactless payment terminal, all users will need to do is open the app on their phone, tap it to the credit card terminal, and that’s it.”
  • While there are still many limitations — users must also have a Sprint Nexus S phone (for now) — this is the first step toward a mobile payment system for which Google has big plans.
  • “For those of you worried about security, Google tells us that your card information will be stored in a single place, on a chip,” reports The Next Web. “That means that it should be at least somewhat firewalled from unauthorized software access. However, there is another failsafe that limits new cards to $100 until the owner releases the limitation so that should help to quell any fears.”
  • Google explained in May that the system was ready for action at over 300,000 merchants, with another 120,000 possible. And additional credit card companies will be joining the effort soon. According to a Google blog post: “We appreciate Citi and MasterCard for being our launch partners. And today, Visa, Discover and American Express have made available their NFC specifications that could enable their cards to be added to future versions of Google Wallet.”

Will Sony Streaming Player Have the Juice to Take on Roku and Apple TV?

  • Sony will offer its SMP-N200 set-top box next month in the U.S. for $99. The player, introduced at IFA in Berlin, is the successor to the company’s Netbox.
  • The device has been upgraded to support 3D and live content streaming. It can be controlled with an iOS or Android smartphone.
  • “The original featured then-impressive support for local media playback and streaming, but does the Blu-ray-less wonder does it have what it takes in 2011?” asks Engadget. “If it has a UI refresh and access to comparable sources thanks to Sony’s now streamlined Video Unlimited/Music Unlimited media approach then this could play well as a one-two punch with a connected PC, phone or tablet.”
  • The SMP-N200 features DLNA capability and an array of connection options including composite, component, HDMI and Wi-Fi.
  • “The Streaming Player is ideal for consumers who want to upgrade to a connected television, but are happy with the TV they currently have,” said Charles Speidel, vice president of Sony’s Home Audio and Video Group. “Whether using it in the family room or on a secondary television in the house this new set-top-box offers access to the full complement of streaming content available from Sony, without committing to the cost of a new Bravia.”

Google Releases Chrome 14 with Native Client and OS X Lion Support

  • Google recently announced that Chrome 14 offers a number of interesting new updates as well as 32 bug fixes. The new revision to Chrome went out to users of the Web browser just before the weekend.
  • “One such update adapts Chrome to the Mac OS X Lion scroll bar style that appears when scrolling up and down the page,” explains Digital Trends. “Chrome is also now compatible with Lion’s full-screen mode.”
  • Among the other new features: browser updates that automatically download and install, a new Web Audio API that allows developers to mix sound sources within a three dimensional space, and Native Client support that allows developers to run C and C++ Web apps within a secure part of the browser.
  • And Digital Trends reports additional changes are on the way: “While testers in the Chromium channel are already playing with Chrome 16, the next version of the popular Web browser will bring more end-user upgrades than Chrome 14. The most significant upgrade within Chrome 15 are three options at the bottom of a new tab. When a new tab is launched, users can switch between most visited sites, apps and bookmarks.”

The Flipinator: Google Propeller Sets its Sights on Flipboard and Facebook

  • Google is working on a social and news reader designed to rival Flipboard, according to numerous sources close to the project. Dubbed “Propeller,” the “souped-up version of similar reader apps” will reportedly allow users to navigate multiple social media feeds through a polished interface.
  • “I heard from someone working with Google that Google is working on a Flipboard competitor for both Android and iPad,” posted Robert Scoble on his Google + social feed. “My source says that the versions he’s seen so far are mind-blowing good.”
  • Flipboard is currently the most prominent company offering this type of service, and even turned down an offer from Google last year to buy the company. (Flipboard is available only for the iPad, although an iPhone version is in development.) Similar apps include AOL’s Editions, Yahoo’s Livestand, Zite and Pulse. Facebook is also creating social versions of publications that enable personalized, reformatted content when users access a pub’s page through Facebook.
  • “All these apps are part of the drastically changing habits of media consumers, helping them better navigate numerous social and media feeds — such as Facebook and Twitter, as well as news sites and more — using handsome interfaces and touch technologies,” reports Kara Swisher in All Things D.

Google Acquires More Patents from IBM in Shopping Spree to Defend Android

  • Google has purchased another 1,023 patents from IBM as part of what Digital Trends describes as Google’s Android defense strategy against smartphone lawsuits from Apple and other companies.
  • The article indicates that the transfers were recorded by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office last week, and reminds us that Google also acquired 1,030 IBM patents in July and picked up 17,000 additional patents in its recent acquisition of Motorola.
  • “Indicative of how the patents are being put to use,” reports Digital Trends, “Google recently sold a batch of newly acquired patents to HTC — including some formerly owned by Motorola — in order to allow HTC to sue Apple.”
  • “Google is building an arsenal of patents that the company has said is largely designed to counter a ‘hostile, organized campaign’ by companies including Apple Inc. and Microsoft Corp. against the Android operating system for mobile devices,” adds Bloomberg.

Will Sony Tablet S Set itself Apart from iPad Wannabes?

  • Walt Mossberg suggests that one reason Apple’s iPad dominates the market is that most other tablet offerings come across as imitations that do not ultimately provide the same superior experience.
  • Sony aspires to change that perception with the release of its 9.4-inch Sony Tablet S, which Mossberg describes as a “handsome tablet with an unusual, asymmetrical design and some software tweaks and content services it hopes can set it apart from the pack.”
  • Sony’s new device, launched over the weekend, uses Google’s Android OS and costs the same as the Wi-Fi-only iPads ($500 for the 16GB version and $600 for the 32GB model).
  • The Tablet S has no cellular data option and tested weaker than the iPad in terms of battery life, but has a design like no other competitor: “One of the long sides of its rectangular, plastic body has a thick, rounded edge that makes the device look like a folded-back magazine.”
  • Mossberg sees this as a positive, even suggesting the device feels lighter than the iPad (it isn’t), based on how the weight rests on your palm. “While this design makes the Tablet S much thicker than many competitors, it has several advantages. When you hold the device one-handed in portrait, or vertical, mode, it feels much more comfortable and balanced than any other tablet I’ve tested. When you lay it on a flat surface in landscape, or horizontal, mode, the rounded edge creates a natural angle for typing, without a case or stand.”
  • Additionally setting it apart is an SD memory card slot (useful for transferring media), a customizable row of frequently used app icons, a Favorites feature (ideal for recently accessed media and Web bookmarks), and a universal remote control app with built-in infrared transmitter. “Sony also is bundling services for buying music, TV shows and movies, e-books and games to create a content ecosystem like Apple’s,” writes Mossberg.
  • We’ll see if these new features and unique design will be enough to attract consumers. If not, another tablet is on its way: “Sony is planning a second, even more radical tablet for later this fall, called the Tablet P. It’s a much smaller and lighter device that has no visible screen until you unfold it to reveal twin 5.5-inch displays that can either be used as one large screen or can have separate content in each.”

YouTube Unveils New Video Editor: Skateboarding Dogs Rejoice

  • YouTube introduced a new video editing tool this week that allows users to make basic changes to uploaded video content without losing the video’s URL, view count and comments.
  • In addition to basic trim edits to make up for shaky camerawork, the new editor includes features such as picture rotation, contrast and color adjustment, and image stabilization. There is also an option for reverting back to the original video at a later date.
  • “YouTube has joined up with photo-editing website Picnik, both Google owned, to offer some striking color treatments of videos, including Lomo-ish, cross process and thermal,” reports Digital Trends. “Whether YouTube will later offer Picnik’s premium color treatments, for a fee, remains to be seen, although no doubt it’s something they’re looking into.”
  • The post includes an interesting video introduction to the new editing options.

The Real Motivation Behind the Motorola Mobility Acquisition

  • An intellectual property analyst makes the case that the reason Google acquired Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion last month was not to provide patent protection for Android as most believe. It was to prevent Motorola Mobility from making one or more key moves that would have weakened Android’s patent situation even more.
  • For example, Motorola Mobility could have taken a patent license from Microsoft signaling a surrender that would have affected every other Android licensee.
  • It could have started work on a Windows Phone as a way to help it deal with a Microsoft infringement case, suggests the FOSS Patents blog. It also could have attacked other Android licensees to collect royalties.
  • And finally, it could have sold off its patent portfolio to one of Google’s competitors.

Darwin Award: How the FBI Discovered an Actor Uploading Movie Screeners

  • In April, the FBI raided the apartment of Screen Actors Guild member Wes DeSoto who was suspected of uploading Hollywood pre-release screeners to The Pirate Bay.
  • DeSoto had reportedly uploaded torrents including “The King’s Speech,” “Rabbit Hole,” “127 Hours,” “The Fighter” and “Black Swan” (the actor had access to DVD-quality screeners via the use of special codes on iTunes).
  • According to reports, DeSoto has now agreed to plead guilty to breaching the Family Entertainment and Copyright Act of 2005 (for “Black Swan”) and possibly faces three years in prison.
  • The actor’s IP address was apparently discovered by Deluxe Webwatch using Google after DeSoto responded to criticism in The Pirate Bay’s comments section. According to Torrent Freak: “After several users questioned the authenticity of the file, mf34inc weighed in with ‘SAG now send out iTunes download codes for screeners’ and the utterly priceless ‘I’m a SAG member and thought i’d share these.'”
  • The article describes in detail how “an almost unbelievable series of amateurish mistakes” helped the FBI work its way from Deluxe Webwatch’s initial discovery to DeSoto’s apartment.