Google’s Fight Against FBI’s NSL Takes an Interesting Turn

As a company, Google has always worked towards protecting the privacy rights of its users from the prying eyes of various government branches. However, at times, it is cornered pretty badly by the judiciary and this is one such case. Google has been ordered by a district court judge in California to comply with FBI’s warrantless data requests, or as they call it- a National Security Letter (NSL). The provision of this request forbids Google from disclosing the fact that such a request was made in the first place. This translates to plain and simple bullying, and the way things move in this case will lay the foundation for future secret requests by the FBI.


Declan McCullagh at CNET points out the evil in NSLs, saying,

They allow FBI officials to send secret requests to Web and telecommunications companies requesting “name, address, length of service,” and other account information about users as long as it’s relevant to a national security investigation.

Not just that, the FBI does not require a court approval for making the request, and neither is the company holding the data allowed to disclose that such a request was made. This puts the company in a perfect catch-22 situation.

However, it will be wrong to accuse the judge Susan Illston (if that name sounds familiar to you, Illston is also the presiding judge in the Sony vs. George Hotz case) of passing a biased verdict in this case. Her argument in this case was that Google went after the premises of issuing an NSL; instead of preparing a defense against the 19 NSL that were the real problem.

Illston has invited Google to try the case again. She also ruled earlier this year that NSLs are unconstitutional, and this proves that she has been quite fair in her verdict. However, the disheartening news is that Illston is stepping down form the case this July, and will not be the one passing the final verdict.

HTC One Google Edition Announced; Coming Next Month For $599

Earlier this month, Samsung unveiled the Google Edition of Galaxy S4 which was packed with the stock Android, instead of the ugly TouchWiz UI and its gimmicky features. Following the footsteps of Samsung, HTC went ahead and announced a similar variant of its extremely popular HTC One smartphone. You heard it right! The HTC One Google Edition will be shipped with the stock version of the most recent build of Android Operating System.

“A special edition of the new HTC One running stock Android will be exclusively available through the Google Play store in the United States starting on June 26th. This edition pairs the all-metal unibody design, low-light capabilities of the UltraPixel camera and dual front-facing stereo speakers of the new HTC One with the stock version of the latest Android software, Jelly Bean 4.2.2,” HTC said in a statement.


There are no major changes in the specs of this device. It comes with the usual 4.7 inch full HD display, sporting a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels, 1.7 GHz Snapdragon 600 quad-core processor, Android 4.2.2 (Jelly Bean) Operating System, 4 megapixel/ultrapixel rear-facing camera, 2.1 megapixel front-facing camera, 2 GB RAM, 32 GB internal memory, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, 3G/4G Connectivity, NFC (Near Field Communication), HDMI-out, Bluetooth 4.0, DLNA and 2300 mAh battery.

HTC One Google Edition will go on sale from June 26 via Play Store in the US. This handset comes with a price tag of $599, while the Galaxy S4 Google Edition will be available for $649. Which handset are you planning to buy? Let us know in the comments section below.

Gmail Tries to Tackle Inbox Clutter with Tabs

AOL isn’t exactly a hotbed for innovation, but its Alto mail did introduce a few neat concepts. The chief among them is the idea of stacks and automatic categorization. Unfortunately, Alto also had too many inconveniences to ever become a mainstream product. However, the good news is that Google is taking a leaf out of Alto’s book. Yes, Gmail is taking inspiration from an AOL email product.

Google has annoucned a new tabbed inbox for Gmail that builds on the automatic categorization concept featured in Alto to reduce your inbox clutter. Gmail already has Priority Inbox, which surfaces mails that matter to you. Now, it will be grouping mails further, depending upon its source of origination. For example, one can tuck away all notifications from Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn under the Social category. Similarly mails from Groupon and its likes can be put under the Promotions category. You can setup custom categories and customize how you want your mails to be categorized.


Google will also be updating its Android and iOS apps (for iPhone and iPad) to add support for a categorized inbox. You will see your uncategorized mail by default when you open the Gmail app. You’ll be able to navigate to your categories from the left menu, as shown in the above screenshot. The updated Gmail app will be released within a few weeks, while the desktop version will be rolled out gradually.

95% of Total Android Smartphone Profit Goes to Samsung

SamsungIt is hardly a secret that Samsung is absolutely killing it with its Android smartphones. However, exactly how dominant the South Korean conglomerate is might still come as a surprise to most. Strategy Analytics believes that the Android smartphone industry generated a profit of $5.3 billion during Q1 2013, out of which Samsung’s share was $5.1 billion.

Samsung managed to collect an astonishing 95% of the total Android smartphone profit during the first quarter of this year. And, this is before the Galaxy SIV was released. On the other hand, Android smartphones as a whole managed to accumulate 43% of the total profit in the smartphone segment. Besides showing Samsung’s domination in the smartphone segment, these statistics also paint a sorry picture about its rivals. Android smartphones might be a big hit, but Samsung appears to be the only one who is raking in the dough. In fact, the only other manufacturer to even make an appearance in Strategy Analytics’ list is LG with a profit share of 2.5%. The past few months have been good for LG thanks to strong performers like the Optimus G and Nexus 4. Receiving Google’s blessings to launch the flagship model for Jellybean (Android 4.2) must have also helped Samsung’s Korean rival. The remaining OEMs contribute a combined operating profit of only $0.1 billion.

While Samsung has undoubtedly played a crucial role in the success of the Android ecosystem, its dominance is sure to make Google uncomfortable. Strategy Analytics believes that Samsung generates more revenue and profit from the Android platform than Google does. With its massive market share, Samsung is in a position to wield considerable influence over the Android ecosystem. Worse still, there is the possibility that one day Samsung might become confident enough in its software prowess to ditch Google and Google apps. In fact, rumors suggest that Samsung might test the water with Tizen as soon as end of this year.

Google Nexus 4 Launched In India For Rs.25,999

The wait is finally over! LG recently launched the much-awaited Nexus 4 smartphone in India. For the first time, LG has partnered with Google to manufacture the Nexus smartphone. This handset is the successor of the Galaxy Nexus, which was made by Samsung. The Google Nexus 4 packs a 4.7 inch display, 1.5 GHz quad-core processor, 8 megapixel camera and more. This handset will be shipped in india with the latest Android 4.2.2 (Jelly Bean) Operating System.

Mr. Soon Kwon, Managing Director, LG Electronics India, said,
“LG Electronics is pleased to partner Google on the release of the Nexus 4 in India. With LG Nexus 4, consumers would be delighted by the perfectly balanced combination of style, function and power. The smartphone encourages consumers to explore a world of possibilities and also helps them balance between business and entertainment”


Google Nexus 4 features a 4.7 inch WXGA display, sporting a resolution of 1280 x 768 pixels, Corning Gorilla Glass 2, 1.5 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro quad-core processor, Android 4.2.2 (Jelly Bean) OS, 8 megapixel rear-facing camera with auto-focus and LED flash, Full HD (1080p) video recording and playback, 1.3 megapixel front-facing HD camera for video calls, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, 3G Connectivity and much more.

It also comes with a 3.5 mm audio jack, FM radio with RDS, 16 GB internal memory, no MicroSD card support, 2 GB RAM, Google Play Store, GPS with A-GPS, Bluetooth 3.0, DLNA Certified, HDMI support, Micro USB, USB 2.0, NFC (Near Field Communication), Wi-Fi Hotspot functionality, up to 12 hrs of talk-time, up to 565 hrs of stand-by time and a 2100 mAh Li-ion battery.

This handset measures 133.9 x 68.7 x 9.1 mm and weighs 139 grams. The 16 GB variant of Nexus 4 is available in the US Play Store for just $349 (approx. Rs.19,000), however LG is selling the Nexus 4 in India with a price tag of Rs.25,999 (approx. $475). This handset will be available at selected LG exclusive brand shops, Multi brand outlets and speciality stores across India.

Samsung Galaxy S4 Google Edition Announced At I/O 2013

There are a large number of users, who are willing to buy the Galaxy S4 but hate the age-old TouchWiz UI. To solve this problem, Google recently announced the new Galaxy S4 Google Edition at the company’s I/O 2013 event in Moscone Center, San Francisco. This device is nothing but the immensely popular Galaxy S4 smartphone sans the ugly TouchWiz UI.

The Samsung Galaxy S4 Google Edition will be shipped with a stock version of the most recent build of Android Operating System. Apart from that, it will directly receive updates from Google, instead of Samsung. Similar to the previous Nexus smartphones, the Galaxy S4 Google Edition will be SIM and bootloader unlocked. There are no changes on the hardware front.


Samsung Galaxy S4 Google Edition features the same 5 inch Super-AMOLED display with 1080 x 1920 pixels resolution, 1.9 GHz quad-core processor, Android 4.2.2 (Jelly Bean) OS, 13 megapixel rear-facing camera, 2 megapixel front-facing camera 16 GB internal memory, DLNA, HDMI out, Bluetooth 4.0 with EDR, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, 3G/4G Connectivity, 2 GB RAM, Wi-Fi Direct and a 2600 mAh Lithium-ion battery.

The Galaxy S4 Google Edition will come with a price tag of $649 for the 16 GB variant. This device supports LTE Connectivity and it is compatible with both AT&T and T-Mobile. You’ll have to wait until June 26 to get your hands on this device. If you hated the original Galaxy S4 for its gimmicky features, then the S4 Google Edition is what you have been waiting for!

[ Image Credit ]

Sony Working On Bringing AOSP Support To Xperia Z

Showing its support for developers and love for stock Android, Sony has created an AOSP project for its latest flagship – the Xperia Z. The Xperia S started the trend of AOSP project from Sony, and the Z takes it a step further.

The AOSP project will be maintained by two senior developers at Sony, Johan Redestig and Bjorn Andersson. The AOSP project is Sony’s way to supporting the open source community, and allowing developers to run stock Android on their handset.

Below is a video of AOSP running on the Xperia Z -:

Currently, AOSP on the Xperia Z is still not good enough for day-to-day use because of the reliance on some binaries that Sony is not allowed to share. In its current form, Sony has managed to get SD-Card, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, Notification LED and partial sensors to work under AOSP on the Xperia Z. While the radio and camera also work, they require some binaries that Sony cannot share with the general public.

The good news is that going forward Sony will work on replacing the binaries with their open-source drivers and make the NFC binaries available as well. If you are a developer, you can help Sony in making the Xperia Z supported by AOSP by contributing your own code. Head over to the AOSP for Xperia Z project on Github for the issues list, and to get yourself familiar with the code.

AOSP stands for Android Open Source Project, and is what the Nexus 4, Galaxy Nexus and other Nexus devices from Google run when combined with a few proprietary binaries. AOSP always contains the latest version of Android, which in this case is Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean. The Xperia Z runs on Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean out-of-the-box.

Via – Sony Developer World

Chrome Beta For Android Updated — Fixes Graphical Corruption And Crashes

Last night, the Chrome team updated the beta version of Chrome for Android to v27.0.1453.60 that includes some bug-fixes and includes some new bugs as well.


The list of bugs that have been squashed are as follows -:

  • 226691: Graphical corruption and blank tabs in tab switcher mode
  • 222805: Most Visited section thumbnails are misaligned in landscape mode for RTL languages
  • 228883: Search is still performed via Google when re-submitting omnibox query after switching search engine
  • Flicker while opening new tabs
  • Fixes for some frequently occurring crashes
  • chrome://history sometimes show duplicate items

However, being a beta some bugs are still present in this update including page flickering during navigation, and Chrome lagging when opening a new tab.

On my Nexus 4 and the Galaxy S3, Chrome and Chorme Beta are completely unusable for me. They both lag and stutter while loading slightly heavy websites, and even general zooming and panning around is not satisfactory. Given that both the phones in question here have quad-core CPUs, this is completely unacceptable.

Hopefully, the move to a new rendering engine in Chrome – Blink – will solve all the lag and rendering issues of Chrome for Android. A blink engine based Chrome version for Android, however, at best, is still more than a couple of months away.

Google Announces Blink, a New WebKit Fork That Will Power Chrome

Google-ChromeIn a surprising move, Google has decided to fork WebKit and create its own rendering engine called Blink. Since its inception, Google’s Chrome browser has been powered by the WebKit rendering engine, which itself was forked by Apple from KHTML in 2001. For the past five years, Google has been collaborating with Apple and numerous other Webkit users to develop and maintain the Webkit ecosystem. However, going forward, Google will be developing its own rendering engine that will be based on Webkit, but will gradually diverge over time.

The decision was apparently prompted by the growing complexities of remaining within the Webkit ecosystem. “Chromium uses a different multi-process architecture than other WebKit-based browsers, and supporting multiple architectures over the years has led to increasing complexity for both the WebKit and Chromium projects”, explained Adam Barth, a Software Engineer at Google. By making this change, Google expects to be able to remove 7 build systems and delete more than 7,000 files — comprising more than 4.5 million lines of code — right off the bat.

The core focus of Blink will be speed and simplicity. Google is also promising to strive for an open and inter-operable web by discouraging vendor prefixes and encouraging cross-browser compliant feature additions. Blink’s mission statement is “to improve the open web through technical innovation and good citizenship”.

List of Google’s April Fool Jokes for 2013

Every year the first of April is celebrated as April Fools’ Day across many countries. It is widely recognized and celebrated as a day where people play practical jokes and hoaxes on each other. Google is perhaps best known for playing such pranks on the Internet on this day and today is no exception.

Here’s a list of Google’s April Fool Jokes for 2013:

Google Maps Treasure Hunt Mode

Google has created a new treasure map mode on Google Maps. Google announced in a blog post about finding a treasure map belonging to the infamous pirate William “Captain” Kidd. The map was found on a recent expedition in the Indian Ocean to expand its underwater Street View collection. It is said that the map contains a variety of encrypted symbols, which are not easy to decipher:

Google Maps Treasure Hunt Mode

To access Captain Kidd’s treasure map, click here or on the “Treasure” button in the top right corner of Google Maps.


Google Australia blog announced Google SCHMICK — Simple Complete House Makeover Internet Conversion Kit. It definitely is a joke, but according to the post, the Street View service enables users to decorate their houses with any of “hundreds of themes or features.” You can find out more about the launch of SCHMICK here ;)


YouTube Shutting Down

Not sure about the others, but this is one of the best pranks played. Google posted a video on YouTube stating that the company is going to shut down the world’s popular video sharing site YouTube. On that note, the tech giant also announced that YouTube was an eight-year competition to find the best video that was ever uploaded.

YouTube will re-launch in 2023 when a winner is announced. There’s even a video stream where all nominees will be announced starting tomorrow.

Google Nose – Smelling is Believing

Go beyond type, talk, and touch for a new notation of sensation. This is probably something that you will notice when you visit Google’s homepage. A link at the bottom of the search bar says, “What’s that smell? Find out with Google Nose.” The idea behind Google Nose is “smell-based” search.

Here’s the video explaining Google Nose search:

Google+ Photos +Emotion

The Google+ team too has come with a joke called as the “Google+ Photos +Emotion.” The tool lets you add emoticons to your uploaded images. That because “when it comes to expressing yourself, nothing beats the richness and elegance of a few properly placed colons, parentheses, letters and hyphens.”

Google+ +Emotion

Go to your uploaded photos on Google+ and open one of your pictures in the lightbox, click the “Add emotion” button at the top left of the screen, and then watch how Google figures out everyone’s emotion in the photo and adds an “emotion icon” to each.

Gmail Blue

The entire Gmail interface has been made blue in color. All buttons, menus, characters are blue now. Watch the video to learn more:

We’ll continue to update this roundup as the day goes along. Feel free to check back.