Google Offers To Sponsor White Spaces Project For Five Years

White Spaces is a project that was launched by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) as a way to open up the unused part the television broadcast spectrum for unlicensed use which can help in offering wireless broadband at much higher speeds.

Google joined this project back in February of last year and has been working with the FCC in actively pushing the project through. The company has now urged the FCC to assign it the role of managing the database. In a proposal sent to the FCC yesterday, the company claims that their experience with such projects can be put to great use by taking part in an initiative that can help bring “WiFi on steroids”.

Also part of the proposal, the company has offered to sponsor the project for a full five year term if given the opportunity. The company writes

“Google is a large public company whose financial statements are a matter of public record.  Google has sufficient funds and access to capital to develop and operate the proposed Database for a full five-year term. We intend to operate the Database for a minimum of five years after being designated an administrator, as contemplated by the Commission’s rules.

In the event we do not complete a five-year term, we will transfer to a successor entity the Database, the IP addresses and URLs used to access the Database, and the list of registered Fixed WSDs, as required by the rules.”
Elaborating on the need for the company to participate in this program, Google writes
“We continue to be big believers in the potential for this spectrum to revolutionize wireless broadband, and we think it’s important for us to step forward and offer our assistance to make that vision a reality.”
The FCC response to the proposal is not yet known.

What’s In A Name? The Secret Behind Nexus One

The big day is finally here. In a few hours from now, Google will finally be unveiling the device that has gripped the attention of people worldwide for quite some time now.

While that happens, one thing that has forever intrigued me is, Why the name Nexus One? What did the folks at Google brainstorm about before agreeing upon this name? Wasn’t it supposed to be gPhone all along?

As a matter of fact, what does seem to be like an inncuous question can carry the secret behind the very driving force of the phone. Naysayers have questioned the value in buying an unlocked Nexus One for $530 when other alternatives are much cheaper. What is so special about the device that will help Google outdo the Apple in the smartphone war?

FT apparently has an answer to it. In an article on his column yesterday, Richard Waters goes delves deeper into the “secrets” behind the name Nexus One. One plausible reason which could eventually also turn to be Google’s genius stroke could be to market a subsidized device to the users who need not have to worry about the network.

With the iPhone, users in USA have complained about the AT&T network all along. Google probably sees a gap here that the Nexus One can fill. With the Nexus One, users may buy a device with SIM from any of the major carriers locked to it. In essence, it is not an unlocked device, but locked to the network of your choice. Allowing a Nexus of mobile phone operators to offer subsidized device can not only provide a choice to the consumers but can also competitively manage the subsidy offered by various players.

Of course, this alone is not enough. The consumers will have to find the device interesting. The answer to that, we will know later in the day at Mountain View. Remain glued to the monitors until then!

[via FT]

Nexus One To Come With Native Spotify Application

Google might have found an answer to the iPhone, but the company still does not have a warrior to take on iTunes. It is probably that argument that has made Google strike a deal with Spotify, an European startup that lets you stream music.

This is what we know for now – A Spotify app built for Android 2.1 will be provided along with the Nexus One that goes on sale from January 5 (That’s tomorrow!).

Spotify isn’t presently available in the US since the company is in discussions with the various labels over pricing. But from what TechCrunch reports, Google might be shelling out the monthly cost of $3-$4 per Nexus One user. We are not sure why Google is that desperate, but apparently that is how it is.

TechCrunch writes

“Google wanted Spotify badly enough that they were willing to cover the label costs for every user of $3 – $4 per month. Spotify would add advertising on top of it, as they do with the free version in Europe, to make additional revenue. Without Google paying those label fees there was no way Spotify could handle the costs of the user flow that 2.1 would provide. Currently, European users must pay for Spotify Premium to use the mobile versions of the service.”

The deal is still unconfirmed. It is either that this deal was made several days ago but was kept in the dark or that late minute discussions have not yielded any results. Otherwise, it is unlikely that such a last minute inclusion could be made to the handsets.

What do you think?

[via TechCrunch]

Why I Love Google

Having started GoRumors – a website dedicated to news around Google Inc., it should come as no surprise that we guys here love Google. What makes Google special – Well, for a long time it was simply the simplicity they brought to the world of internet.

Remember Google launched at a time when flashing banners were the order of the day. It is so easy to create a simple and elegant looking text site today. Back then, you had to have one of those flashy banners in order to make any money. And Google has been a terrific influence in introducing simplicity to web design.

But over the years, it has simply been their open culture, business strategies and despite all the criticism, their ‘do no evil’ policies. Yes, there have been many a time when Google was accused of doing no evil only when they had nothing at stake. Possibly true, but it still is one of the better companies that takes the ethical aspects of business into question before making a decision and that makes them wonderful.

Case in point – the recent introduction of extensions to Chrome. Unlike Apple, which is so annoyingly closed and where a mere mention of app approval policies will have app developers seething with anger, Google has no hesitation in allowing developers to make products that can likely threaten their very existence.

Recently, the company allowed Chrome users access to Ad blocking extensions like AdThwart and AdBlock. Considering that advertising has been the prime bread-winner for Google all along, this move appears so refreshing.

So, how come the company let the developers make these apps? Linus Upson, Engineering director at Google says

“It’s unlikely ad blockers are going to get to the level where they imperil the advertising market, because if advertising is so annoying that a large segment of the population wants to block it, then advertising should get less annoying.”

Of course, one might argue that Google has no problem letting the extension in because Chrome is still not very popular today. But as a company, Google should be looking at strategies to increase Chrome penetration and with extensions as these, the number of adblocking users should increase. But the company’s line of thought is to get ready for an evolution in case a majority of users want to.

And this is exactly something that makes Google extra special.

How Good Is The Nexus One Camera?

One of the things that Motorola Droid claimed to be better than the iPhone was in its camera. With a 5 megapixel camera, the Droid tried to out-do the iPhone in this category.

Now, we also know that the Nexus One has a 5 megapixel camera. But looking into a few patents filed by Google throws a few more interesting points that we may expect in the Nexus One.

One of the patent filed is titled “Reducing Flare in a Lens Having a Dichroic Filter“. In this patent, Google writes

“In order to obtain an image with high color fidelity, in an environment with a bright source in a field of view, flare must be minimized. In an embodiment of the present invention, an apparatus for reducing flare in an image device may include an absorptive UV cut filter positioned in an integrated optical system and a dichroic IR cut filter disposed on a lens in the optical system. The dichroic IR cut filter receives light reflected from one or more surfaces in the optical system at an angle of incidence larger than an angle of incidence of image light (e.g., a chief ray) entering the dichroic IR cut filter. The absorptive UV cut filter may be used to reduce a reflection of UV-wavelength light from reaching an image sensor of the image device. Further, the dichroic IR cut filter may be used to reduce a reflection of IR-wavelength light as an angle of incidence of the reflection of the IR-wavelength light striking the dichroic IR cut filter increases with respect to the angle of incidence of image light striking the dichroic cut filter.

A couple of other patents filed by Google have revealed that the company is working on newer technologies that will offer wide-angled and panoramic images using the camera. Here are some quotes from the patents that will give you an idea of what Google is actually up to

Panoramic Camera With Multiple Image Sensors Using Timed Shutters (Patent link)

The present invention relates to the field of panoramic still and motion photography. In a first embodiment, a camera apparatus for panoramic photography includes a first image sensor positioned to capture a first image. The first image sensor has a rolling-shutter readout arranged in portrait orientation. The camera apparatus also includes second image sensor positioned to capture a second image. The second image sensor has a rolling-shutter readout arranged in portrait orientation. Finally, the camera apparatus includes a controller configured to signal the second image sensor to start capturing the second image before the first image sensor finishes capturing the first image. At least a portion of the first image is in front of the second image relative to a forward direction of the camera apparatus.

Using Image Content to Facilitate Navigation in Panoramic Image Data (Patent link)

The present invention relates to using image content to facilitate navigation in panoramic image data. In an embodiment, a computer-implemented method for navigating in panoramic image data includes: (1) determining an intersection of a ray and a virtual model, wherein the ray extends from a camera viewport of an image and the virtual model comprises a plurality of facade planes; (2) retrieving a panoramic image; (3) orienting the panoramic image to the intersection; and (4) displaying the oriented panoramic image.

Ok, these technologies do not look exactly revolutionary. But they help to look deeper into how good the Nexus One camera can be. From the look of it, it does seem like it’s going to be a good deal.

Nexus One To Be Available On AT&T 3G

Consider this as one of the several unsubstantiated rumors that appear every time a high profile product is making a launch. Boy Genius Report is claiming that one of its sources have told them that a Nexus One handset shall also be made available on the AT&T 3G network.

This appears contrary to more established rumors that surfaced last week where we were shown pictures of what will be Google’s online store for purchasing Nexus One. Personally, I would tend to believe that rumor over this one.

Nevertheless, knowing Google, you’ll never get to know until they happen. So as for now, it’s fingers crossed.

Given a choice between T-Mobile and AT&T, which one will you go for? Do let us know in the comments.

[via Boy Genius  Report]

Google To Launch Apple Tablet Competitor?

The Google Nexus One is all set to make its debut this week and is touted to be the iPhone killer. Now, even as rumors of an Apple tablet launch is doing the rounds across both traditional media and blogosphere alike comes a rumor that Google could be launching its own version of the Tablet very soon.

The buzz comes from an Australian publication called SmartHouse that says their sources reveal that HTC has been working “very closely” with Apple to launch this Tablet device. Among several models that the company is working on, one of them even is assumed to be running on the much acclaimed Google Chrome OS.

We have no clue about whether this is true or not. The article is pretty vague on what the sources have said and at this moment, we would tend to believe that this is a false alarm.

Nevertheless, it would be fun if Google were to launch their own Tablet device. What do you think? Will that sell? Please tell us in the comments.

[via SmartHouse]

SideWiki About To Take Center-Stage

Remember Google’s Sidewiki project – The Google toolbar extension that let users to collaboratively provide reviews, ratings and further discussion on existing webpages? Well, if rumors are true, the Sidewiki project could soon be taking center stage on your webpages and not just be relegated to a side of the browser.

A patent filed by Google back in mid-2008 and published recently shows Google’s plans to make Sidewiki something similar to Youtube’s annotations.

According to this, Google has been working on a technology that will help users make annotations, highlight parts of the webpage and load these annotations every time they visit the page.

Google explains the technology thus

Among other things, a computer-implemented method for annotating webpage content includes accessing a webpage in a browser, the webpage under control of a third party. A collection of annotations stored at a storage location is retrieved, the annotations collection associated with the webpage and an annotations author. The webpage is displayed with the retrieved annotations collection overlaid on the accessed webpage.

For now, it is still not clear if this patent seeks to extend the functionlity of Sidewiki or the more forgotten Google Notebook. Google Notebook, as you might remember is a personal note-taking tool which let users copy, paste text from different sources on to a single place. Sidewiki is just a social extension of Notebook and going by the patent description above, this looks like taking Sidewiki a step further rather than Notebook.

The idea does look cool, though it can make things a bit spammy. I have personally not been a fan of Youtube annotations, and if this were to be something similar, I don’t think I would ever choose to see this.

New Google Patent Reveals Better Contextual Targeting of Image And Video Ads

Google is apparently working on a technology that will help in improving the contextual relevance of image and video ads. A recently published patent explains how the newly developed technology works.

Google explains the need for such a technology with the following example

“However, providing ads and other documents based on user-related content does not ensure the propriety of that content for a particular audience. For instance, a beer advertisement may not be appropriate on a website for recovering alcoholics, even though the ad and the content of the website are related by subject matter.”

The newly developed technology will scan through images and videos for appropriateness as well as contextual relevance.  An extract from the patent reads

“An embodiment of the present invention provides for uploading a document such as a graphical advertisement and comparing the document to other documents. The document can be compared to other documents by a document processor (e.g., automatically by an image processor). The processor may process images, sound files, and other data to identify text and images (as well as spoken words and other data) in the image ad. For instance, text may be identified in an image using optical character recognition (OCR) technology. By comparing the document to other documents, content can be identified in and associated with the document, and the document can be accordingly rated and approved based on this content and the status of the ratings of the comparison documents. The document can also be associated with content-based concepts (e.g., keywords, subject matter, etc.) that relate to a service or product associated with the documents.”

This definitely sounds a very interesting way to expedite the process of approving image and video ads as well as while delivering them contextually. You may view the patent abstract by clicking here (temporary link)

Google In Subpoena Trouble Once Again [Updated]

The Transportation Security Administration in US had recently issued a directive to many airline companies around the world requiring them of carrying out additional screening procedures of passengers. This, expected to be a high security directive was seen as breached when two bloggers who claim to have received information about this from an anonymous source blogged about them.

Late December 30th, the bloggers’ were interrogated by TSA officials to know about the anonymous source who sent them the mail. Apparently, these emails were sent from a Gmail account.

This makes it likely for Google to have received Subpoena orders once again. You might remember that back in 2006, there was a lot of debate over whether or not Google should give in to directives to reveal their users information to security officials looking for information on the spread of child pornography. Google took the US Justice Department to Court and won the case.

However, the company is apparently looking to keep the current case low profile. On contacted, the company spokesperson said

“We don’t talk about individual cases to help protect all our users. Obviously, we follow the law like any other company. When we receive a subpoena or court order, we check to see if it meets both the letter and the spirit of the law before complying. And if doesn’t we can object or ask that the request is narrowed. We have a track record of advocating on behalf of our users.”

While it is not clear about whether or not Google complied in this case, it looks like a wasted attempt by TSA authorities. The directive was sent to hundreds of airliners and possibly reached thousands of people all the world over. As Steven Frischling, one of the bloggers involved the case says

“It was sent to Islamabad, to Riyadh and to Nigeria. So they’re looking for information about a security document sent to 10,000-plus people internationally. You can’t have a right to expect privacy after that.”

Update: Following the public outcry, the subpoena against the two bloggers have been withdrawn. The case about Google still remains.

[via Search Engine Land]