Google gives more control to Android, Chrome chief Sundar Pichai
Google chief executive officer Larry Page has made India-born Sundar Pichai in charge of some of the internet company’s key products and services. Pichai will have oversight over products such as search, maps, Google+, commerce, advertising and infrastructure, according to a Google spokesman. Six executives who previously reported to Page, including the heads of research, social media and search, will now report to Pichai, according to a report.
The move is reportedly expected to free Page from having as many direct reports and product units to oversee and allow him to better focus on “the bigger picture”.
Pichai, who has risen rapidly through the ranks since joining Google in 2004, is viewed by many industry insiders as potential CEO material. In addition to his duties overseeing the various products, Pichai will continue to lead Google’s Android and Chrome software operating systems as well as Google’s Apps business.
Google launches new email service dubbed ‘Inbox’
Google Inc has launched a new email service called ‘Inbox’ that aims to better organize emails and display information such as appointments, flight bookings and package deliveries in a more user-friendly way.
The company is believed to be sending out invitations to selected Gmail users to try out the new service. Users can also email the company at firstname.lastname@example.org to get an invitation.
For now the new service will run alongside Gmail, which was launched in 2004. It will be available on the web as well as on Android smartphones and iPhones.
According to Google, Inbox enhances features that are already available in Gmail. It displays real-time updates to emails — for example, showing the delivery status of items bought online. It also shows reminders in a more accessible way that allows users to more easily keep track of chores and appointments.
Google has also revamped its Gmail app for Android. The app, which traditionally supported Google’s own services, will now also support Yahoo and Outlook accounts.
Microsoft officially replaces Nokia name with Lumia
It’s official, Microsoft has started the process of replacing the Nokia brandname with Microsoft Lumia. The rebranding exercise will start with France, with the company’s regional social network accounts set to being renamed from Nokia to Microsoft Lumia.
The move comes shortly after Microsoft rebranded Nokia’s native apps to Lumia and launched new Microsoft Mobile Devices site redirecting users from the Nokia.com mobile website.
In an interview, Tuula Rytila, senior vice president marketing for phones at Microsoft, said that Microsoft Lumia devices will soon see the light of the day. Rytila, however, did not specify a timeline for the launch.
The rebranding would be extended to devices, packaging and retail, which means Nokia stores would soon be rebranded to Lumia outlets. She also clarified that Microsoft will continue to sell and support the Nokia Lumia phones that are out in the market and will continue to honour customer warranties.
Also, Microsoft will continue to sell feature phones under the Nokia brand.
Facebook unveils anonymous chat app ‘Rooms’
Social networking giant Facebook has launched an application that lets people create virtual “rooms” to chat about whatever they wish using any name they would like. The application puts a smartphone spin on chat forums that were popular venues for online discourse in early Internet days. Initially, the app has been introduced only in US and UK and restricted on iPhone and restricted to users in the US and UK. So, for now Android users will have to wait.
Meanwhile, on a visit to China this week, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg delighted students at a prestigious Beijing university by giving a 30-minute interview completely in Mandarin.
Apple releases iOS 8.1 with Apple Pay
The week saw Apple officially roll out iOS 8.1 update. The biggest addition to the new iOS update is support for Apple Pay on the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus models. Apple Pay is a new feature that allows you to make payments with your iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus.
Apple Pay is a new feature that allows you to make payments with your iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus.
Other than Apple Pay support, iOS 8.1 fixes a handful of bugs that pertain to Wi-Fi connectivity among other issues. The update also allows iPhones and iPads to communicate with your Mac through a feature known as Handoff, which is new to iOS 8.1 and OS X Yosemite.
The company also posted a new security warning for users of its iCloud online storage service amid reports of a concerted effort to steal passwords and other data from people who use the popular service in China.
‘Android One facing tough competition from Android devices’
Google’s Android One devices have so far failed to take off in a big way in the Indian market, according to market analysts. Just over a month after Google launched smartphones under the Android One initiative in partnership with local handset makers Micromax, Karbonn and Spice, trade watchers suggest that sales haven’t been encouraging.
Interestingly, the phones are facing tough competition from Android phones in the same price bracket.
Android One is a programme that promises a rich smartphone experience on low-cost devices. Google sets the minimum standards on hardware and software to be used by handset makers.
Twitter announces Digits, an alternative to password
At its first-ever developer conference, called Flight, Twitter announced a new service called Digits that aims to allow users to log into apps on their mobile devices without user ID and passwords.
Instead of the traditional email ID, Digits uses a text message to sign into an app, much like WhatsApp. When users sign up or log into an app, they will get a message with an authentication code on their phone. This code will be used by the app to confirm the user’s identity.
Digits has already been rolled out in 216 countries and 28 languages and is available for Android, iOS and web platforms. The company said apps like McDonald’s Alarm Clock, OneFootball, Resy and FitStar have already implemented Digits on their platform.
Microsoft is reportedly all set to launch smartwatch Software giant Microsoft is reportedly all set to join the smartwatch race. According to a report in Forbes, Microsoft is preparing to launch a smartwatch within the next few weeks that will passively track a user’s heart rate and work across different mobile platforms. The wearable gadget’s battery life will exceed two days of regular use.
Twitter ‘fills’ your timeline with unasked-for tweets
After months of speculations, Twitter this week officially started reconfiguring users’ timelines with ‘relevant’ messages from people they haven’t bothered to follow at the service.
Twitter said the plan, which has drawn resistance from some users, remained a ‘timeline experiment’ and might not make it to 100% of users. It said, however, that for now, users would not be able to opt out of the feature.
US court bans Indian-American Chet Kanojia’s Aereo from streaming live TV to devices
Indian American Chet Kanojia’s startup Aereo has suffered another legal setback. New York federal judge has barred embattled video streaming company from transmitting the programmes of television broadcasters live, blocking its bid to operate like a traditional cable system.
The ruling is another win for major broadcasters, whose copyrights the US Supreme Court said Aereo, violated in retransmitting the programming to subscribers’ devices via the internet.
Aereo shuttered its service days after the high court’s decision and has since been pushing the courts and regulators to see it as analogous to cable, eligible for a license under the Copyright Act.
Aereo’s future became imperiled when the Supreme Court ruled on June 25 that the company had infringed broadcasters’ copyrights by capturing live and recorded programmes through antennas and transmitting them to subscribers who paid $8 to $12 a month.
In an emergency plea to court in August, Aereo request that it be allowed to operate like a cable system. However, the request was denied.