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2012 in Review: Google

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Join Current Editorials as we take a look back at the top trends, gadgets, and companies of 2012 in our year-end series “2012 in Review.”

Google enjoyed what I would call a blockbuster year in 2012. They made a few major acquisitions, released a successful line of new Android products, bolstered their internet services, and introduced their vision for the future of computing. In 2012, Google cemented their position as an unstoppable internet behemoth, and they’re showing no signs of slowing down.

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Not Getting Jelly Bean? Motorola Will Give You A Hundred Bucks

Motorola just announced at their On Display event that customers using devices that won’t be upgraded to Jelly Bean will receive a one hundred credit towards the purchase of a new Motorola phone. The committment to keeping users on the latest version of Google’s operating system contrasts starkly with the behavior of other Android OEMs, like Samsung and HTC, who do a poor job of updating their devices. Here’s hoping others follow Motorola’s shining example and do their best to keep their customers on up to date software.

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Google announces Android 4.1 Jelly Bean at I/O 2012

Google has just announced Android 4.1 Jelly Bean at Google I/O 2012. As the version number suggests, Jelly Bean marks an incremental update to Ice Cream Sandwich, but it includes a lot of new end-user features.

Jelly Bean features a number of UI enhancements that Google calls “Project Butter”. Project Butter aims to make Android a faster, more responsive operating system by introducing features like triple buffering in graphics to ensure smooth animations. Google demoed these new enhancements by comparing two Galaxy Nexus devices side-by-side; one running ICS, the other running Jelly Bean. The Jelly Bean device displayed animations much quicker and smoother than the ICS phone.

Jelly Bean is bringing some changes to home screen icons and widgets. Widgets will now automatically resize to fit the available space on a home screen. In addition, app shortcuts will automatically reflow to fit around a widget. The Notification Shade has also seen some updates; it’s got a sleek new design, and now features “expandable, actionable notifications”. Users will be able to expand notifications with a two-finger pinch gesture to see additional details, and some notifications will allow an action to be taken such as calling back a missed call, or quick replying to a group email.

Google has also transformed the Google Search experience on Android, and they’ve made it a lot like Siri. Using the Voice Search button, users can now ask questions like “Who is the President of China?” or “What is a robot” and Google Search will respond with a Siri-like card interface, and “she” will even respond vocally.

Some new features are coming to text-input as well. The Android dictionaries are now “more accurate and more relevant” according to Google. Even more editing: Google has managed to “shrink down” the voice recognition technology that runs on their cloud servers to fit on the phone itself, allowing for Offline Voice Typing.

Google has also introduced a new personal organizer called Google Now, which can be accessed with a quick swipe-up from the bottom of the screen. Through daily use of your phone, Google Now learns where you live, your daily commute, your favourite sports teams, even when and where you go to the gym. Now then displays “Cards” populated with useful information tailored for you, and these cards will change throughout the day; traffic information for your commute to work will be displayed in the morning, while information about your favourite restaurant may appear around lunch time. It is a very unique feature, though some may find the automatic information collection a bit creepy.

Jelly Bean is rolling out OTA to Galaxy Nexus, Motorola Xoom, and Nexus S starting in mid-July. The Jelly Bean SDK launches for Developers today. Google is also releasing the Android Platform Developer Kit for OEM’s, to make it easier for them to port new versions of Android to their hardware. The Android PDK will be available to OEM’s 2-3 months before the public launch of all future Android versions.

Check out Google’s Android website for the full rundown on Jelly Bean!

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Stalked By Google: At What Point Do We Jump Out of the Van?

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There are some people in our lives who give me the creeps.

We see them as friends. They give us really nice gifts for free, and always seem to have just what we need right when we need it. When we first met them, they seemed so kind, helpful, and innocent that we all just kind of fell in love with them, and welcomed them into our lives. We gave them a spare key to the house so that they could come and go as they pleased. After all, it was the least we could do after they had been so kind to us. They were like family to us, but almost without notice, something changed. They installed a sophisticated system to spy on our every move. We noticed that they started to rifle through our email, figure out who our friends were, find out where we were going and follow us until we got there, see who we were calling, see who we were messaging, watch our video chats, find out which blogs we subscribed to, and which ones we read and at what time. Now they know what questions we ask, what medical symptoms we have, where we plan to go on vacation, how much time we spend online, where we shop, what we buy, how we manage our finances, what our house looks like, what we type into documents, what videos we watch, what videos we make, what services we subscribe to, and

every.

single.

thing we do online.

If real people were doing all of these things to us, we would freak out, call the cops, change the locks, and reevaluate our online security strategy. We would feel that our identity had been compromised and that our privacy had been violated.

How could we let this happen? It’s as if some overly friendly robot is dishing out ice cream sandwiches and jelly beans while we gobble them up and beg to go for a ride in his pretty white van with child like primary colored letters painted on the side, which oddly enough, has no windows.

It’s all good at first – you’re riding in the van eating jelly beans and ice cream sandwiches…high-fiving the robot and acting all sugar drunk, when suddenly the van stops. The side door slides open with an eery rolling rumble, and a weird guy in a suit grunts and climbs in the van. He smiles and then proceeds to Schmidt all over you. That’s right, I said he Schmidt all over you. Not like that, you weirdo… I mean that he Schmidt all over you just like he Schmidt all over Steve Jobs. Yep, I’m talking about a guy named Schmidt. He drives you around town and Schmidts you out to total strangers for money. He doesn’t give you any of the money though. He just flips you an ice cream sandwich or a jelly bean every once in a while, so you eat it and smile. You convince yourself that it’s not so bad. After all, you get to ride in this weird van and kick it with a robot, so you decide to let this guy Schmidt you out for the rest of your life. Solid plan, bro.

I guess by now you’ve figured out that I’m talking about Google. I can’t possibly be the only one who finds their business strategy of quietly mining and selling your data big brother style while presenting themselves as Neverland Ranch 2.0 to be disturbing.

Our lives are online. We have become our data, and our data has become us. If you own the data, you have captured the life. According to their terms of service, Google basically owns whatever data you enter into its services. A fair question to ask is, “At what point does Google own you?”.

Oh Wait.

Sent from my Gmail account

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