Google and On2 Revise Merger Agreements

Video solutions provider, On2 has announced that their merger with Google has been modified with revised merger agreements. According to a report on TechCrunch, On2 shareholders now get an additional $0.15 in cash for every share that they hold.

The merger deal between Google and On2 that was announced in August of last year got into trouble when On2 shareholders sued the management for selling the company at a lower valuation. Back then, Google had agreed to offer 0.0010 share of Class A common stock in exchange for every share of On2.

Following the revised agreements, Google has said that their stock valuation has significantly increased since the agreement was made and also with an additional 15 cents per stock, the deal should be satisfactory to the shareholders.

The new shareholder meeting is expected to happen next month.

[via TechCrunch]

Patent Reveals Upcoming Interface Design For Google Chrome OS

Google Chrome OS is one of the hottest and most awaited products for 2010. Demos of the product have already been made by Google executives. While, we do already have an idea of the basic user interfaces, a recently filed patent reveals a much deeper insight into the upcoming Google Chrome OS.

The patent which is titled “Web based user interface for selecting options” talks specifically about icon display and selection. In the patent, Google talks about the ‘cons’ of the competitor operating systems like Windows XP and Apple OS X. About Apple, Google writes

“One shortcoming is that jsdock uses inefficient algorithms for discovering that an icon is indicated or not indicated and for scaling icons. Another shortcoming is that jsdock displays each icon by scaling a single image to the appropriate size. Yet another shortcoming is that jsdock is limited to image scaling effects.”

Google claims to do away with inefficiencies in the previous Operating systems display mechanisms with their own algorithm that helps to scale image sizes differently while user works on them.

Google’s patent also reveals a minimalist UI of the Google Chrome OS window. Here is a screenshot of the same

The image is interesting because this is significantly different from the Chrome OS prototypes we have seen till now. Here is Google’s earlier demonstration of how Chrome OS will look like

What do you think? Is it possible that Google has changed their UI design? Tell us your thoughts in the comments

“Popular Items” on Google Reader No Longer Popular

There has not been much news nor developments when it comes to the RSS readers of late – even with the one popular Google Reader. But looks like at least the cosmetic changes are still happening.

In a tweet posted today, Google has announced that the “Popular Items” list on the ‘Explore’ section in Google Reader has been renamed as ‘Recommended Items’. Well, there is no explanation for why it was done. Google’s tweet reads

“We recently re-named the “Popular Items” link to “Recommended Items” in the “explore” section. The content of the feed is still the same.”

Why do you think this change was done? Do you even know someone who uses the Explore section? Please tell us in the comments.

Google Launching ‘Pay Per Call’ Advertising This Month

In a communication sent to Adwords advertisers, Google has noted that the rumored Pay Per Call feature for Adwords listings for mobile phones will go live from this month. An official statement regarding this is awaited.

So how will this work? Hereon, advertisers who wish to talk to prospective clients in the location of their interest shall be displayed phone numbers alongside the ads and shall be prompted to call the advertiser. Users making such calls shall be connected to the advertiser who will pay for the lead in as much the same way as ‘Pay Per Click’. The feature is expected to be popular among the smartphone users who are known to surf the web a lot more than feature phone users.

What do you think about this feature? Can this be more effective, considering that you get to talk to a prospective lead or will this lead to a lot of junk calls thus spilling advertising costs for the advertisers? Please tell us in the comments.

[via SearchEngineLand]

Move Over Smartphones, It is SuperPhones Now

By now, you must be aware of all the tech specifications of the Google Nexus One. Well, it did not have anything different from what was speculated. However, one thing that has interested everyone is the integration of voice capabilities into all the applications – email, text messaging, maps, etc. That means you can simply dictate away instead of navigating through. How effective is it to the various accents, we are still not very sure, but the software is known to train itself and so you should be able to dictate much easier with more usage.

Google calls it a “superphone“. We would tend to disagree with this. Despite the gigahertz processors, it can still be called yet another smartphone. It was a needless extension of a category that is still in its formative years.

But one thing that the Nexus One has revolutionized is the distribution. As we had mentioned earlier in our article on the secret behind the Nexus One name, Nexus One shall be coming up with a lot of operators (available with just T-Mobile currently). Like the Google executive said during the briefing, the idea is for you to get the phone and then choose an operator rather than the other way round.

What do you think of this new strategy and will you be going for it? Do tell us. And yes, if you are, check out Google Phone page to order right away.

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.