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02 Jun 12 Chrome OS Grows Up


The first version of Google’s Chrome OS wasn’t much more than a Chrome browser window with a few apps. It felt more like a statement — “Who needs local storage?” — than an operating system you could rely on.

A year and a half later, the latest version of the Chrome OS adds some of the features of a more traditional OS: a file manager (hooray!), a desktop and the ability to use storage connected through a USB port. Google’s Cloud Print system even makes it fairly easy to print.

The only thing that’s missing is the ability to keep writing, working on a spreadsheet or reading email when you’re offline. We used to have that capability through Google Gears, but since Google shut down that project last winter, services like GMail and Google Drive work only when you have a connection. (Google Senior Vice President of Chrome Apps Sundar Pichai reportedly told the audience at All Things D this week that Google Drive offline is coming in five weeks.)

The advantages of the Chrome OS remain the same. The new Samsung Series 5 550 Chromebook I tested shuts down in less than 5 seconds and starts up again in less than 10. When you log in, there’s no waiting for programs to load. You go right back to the last browser window you were working in, with all the same tabs you had open before you shut down. Jumping from window to window (that’s right — now you can have more than one) is instantaneous. And while all new machines are fast, it’s hard to imagine what would slow down a Chromebook over time — there’s no registry to get junked up and no local software to leave debris on your hard drive. Battery life is great, too. I was able to work a full day on a single charge.

And, unlike previous incarnations, you now get a significant price break for buying a Chromebook: The machine I tried, with a 12.1-inch display, costs $449. The Samsung Series 5 13.3-inch Windows model costs about $400 more.

Chrome’s new file manager is rudimentary, but its very existence is a big deal. It comes up as a browser tab that shows the different storage devices on your machine. There’s Downloads, which sits on the 16GB SSD drive. You can also store files on a USB drive or a memory card. You can move files from one storage device to another, though you don’t have the drag-and-drop convenience of most operating systems — you have to copy and paste them.

Chrome OS Grows UpThe very basic file manager in Chrome OS.

Printing through Google Cloud Print was simple, even though I didn’t have access to an official Cloud printer. I set up cloud printing on my desktop at work (it’s a setting within the Chrome browser), then the Chromebook could use any printer my desktop could access, including printers on the PCWorld network.

Chrome OS now has a desktop, though you likely won’t spend much time there. There’s a taskbar, where you can put shortcuts to apps you use frequently, and a status area that reports things like Wi-Fi connection status and battery life. But I couldn’t find a way to put a shortcut to an app or file on the desktop itself — it’s really just a pretty picture.

Chrome OS Grows UpThe Chrome OS desktop looks pretty, but doesn’t do a lot.

You can now use multiple windows in Chrome, though they’re all just separate browser windows. Still, that can be helpful — you can jump from one window to another with Alt-Tab or with a special function button. Each window has something that looks like a Windows maximize button, but it operates four ways through gestures. If you click on it and drag down, the window minimizes. Drag up and it goes full screen. Drag to the left or right and the window docks on either side, taking up half the screen. It’s a fun innovation.

Chrome OS Grows UpYou can now work with multiple windows in Chrome OS.

The Chromebook still features its quirky keyboard. The biggest quirk is the lack of a Caps Lock key — that’s replaced with a pretty unnecessary search button. All the search button does is open a new tab, something that’s easily done with Ctrl-T. If you miss Caps Lock, you can restore it through the Chromebook’s settings. Other unconventional keyboard choices work better. I like the function button for switching between windows and one for toggling between full screen and normal mode. There are also dedicated forward, back and reload buttons, which make lots of sense for a notebook built for the web. Hit Ctrl and the Search button and you’ll go to an smartphone-like grid of shortcuts to your apps. And if you have a better memory than I do, you can learn the dozens of keyboard shortcuts — hit Ctrl+Alt+? for a full list.

Chrome OS Grows UpHit a keyboard shortcut and you see links to your apps in a smartphone-like grid.

As much as I liked the Chromebook I tested, it had one fatal flaw. I’ve left it to the end of this review because I hope that it’s just a failing of my particular test machine and not one that’s endemic to the Samsung Chromebooks. The problem: My Chromebook would regularly lose its connection to the web — kind of a big deal for a notebook built to work almost entirely online.

I noticed the problem both at work and at home. In both cases, I had other systems on the same Wi-Fi network at the same time and they never seemed to lose their connection. I tried using a mobile hotspot and experienced the same problems. In some cases when I had connection problems, the status area would report that it was trying to reconnect to my Wi-Fi network. In other instances, it would report it was firmly on my Wi-Fi network, even though the browser was unable to reach the web. When I tried surfing from my other system on the same network at the same time, I had no problem. A Samsung representative said she hadn’t heard about similar problems with other test machines. I’ll work with the company to troubleshoot the problem and update this story with what I find out.

All in all, the Chrome OS and Chromebooks seem to have made vast strides forward. It’ll never be a good solution for people who are often away from a web connection (though it does have a built-in Verizon wireless broadband connection — you get 100MB per month free and can pay for more) or depend on sophisticated desktop software. Or for those who don’t want to have their whole life wrapped up in the Google solar system of Gmail, Google Drive, Google Calendar, etc.

But if much of what you do happens in the cloud anyway, a Chromebook has a lot of advantages — it’s cheaper, fast, simple to operate and gets great battery life. Google’s other OS has grown up a lot in the past year and a half. Chromebooks are already a good option for many people. If Google can add the ability to do significant work offline, all laptop buyers should give them serious consideration.

Article source: http://www.pcworld.com/article/256684/chrome_os_grows_up.html

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31 May 12 Samsung to launch new Chromebooks as Google updates open source Chrome OS


Samsung will launch two new Chrome OS-based computers this week, a laptop and a desktop that have been designed to be significantly faster and more versatile than previous models.

Along with the new Samsung machines, Google is announcing enhancements to Chrome OS and Google Apps, including tight integration with Google Drive and the ability to edit Google Docs documents offline.

Chrome OS-based machines began shipping commercially about a year ago from Samsung and Acer. Although the machines haven’t exactly taken the PC market by storm, Google is satisfied with the progress so far.

“We’re very happy with where we are. We strongly believe in the vision we articulated last year,” said Caesar Sengupta, product management director, Chrome OS.

Referred to generically as “Chromebooks,” these machines and the Chrome OS were designed to be used primarily while connected to the internet and for online applications.

According to Sengupta, Google and its partners haven’t pushed Chromebooks aggressively, so they have been bought primarily by early adopters, whose feedback has been closely listened to.

“We’re at a point where, from the user-experience point of view, we’re starting to be happy with it and we’re now ready to take the next step in this journey,” he said.

That next step includes broadening the roster of hardware partners, as well as making the machines more widely available. The new Samsung models will be available online today in the UK, and they will be for sale also at select Best Buy stores in the US in June.

Samsung Series 5 Wireless Chromebook

At the software level, the new machines will feature what Google calls an “apps-centric user interface” that will feature, for example, a simplified app launcher, the ability to have multiple windows open for multitasking and support for screen sizes ranging from 11 inches to 30 inches.

Coming later will be a tight integration with the Google Drive cloud storage service, as well as the ability to edit Google Docs documents when the machine is offline. When available, this Google Docs offline editing feature will be available to all Google Docs users, not just people who buy these new Samsung machines.

Other new features include a more sophisticated media player, as well as a native photo editor and uploader, and enhanced video streaming options for YouTube, Netflix and other such sites.

Forrester analyst Frank Gillett said the combination of the Chrome OS update, the improved devices from Samsung and the integration with Google Drive amounts to “a credible basic computing offering”.

“The new Chromebook and Chromebox are now capable enough to meet the needs of individuals and employees that need access to browser-based services and applications for use cases such as schools, retail, call centre, and temporary field sites in range of mobile data or Wifi,” Gillett said.

The Chrome OS machines will not displace existing computers quickly, but they will gain increasing consideration from individuals and businesses as they make their next buying decisions, he said.

“With Apple and Microsoft both delivering new operating system versions this year, buyers face more choice in PC OS experiences than ever. The simplicity and low costs of Chrome OS devices will be appealing to enough buyers with narrow needs that Google will continue to develop and invest in Chrome OS,” Gillett said.

An open question is whether hardware manufacturers will be happy with producing relatively low-priced products that probably deliver thin margins, he said, speculating that Google is likely to be providing some kind of financial guarantees to ensure the OEMs are happy with revenues and profits on these devices.

Samsung’s Chromebook Series 5 550 laptop has a 12.1-inch display (1280×800) and weighs 3.3 pounds, and its battery lasts for six hours of continuous usage, or six-and-a-half days in standby mode. It has an Intel Celeron 867 dual-core processor running at a clock speed of 1.3GHz, 4G bytes of RAM and a built-in, dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n antenna and a Gigabit Ethernet port. A 3G modem is optional.

The machine, which will also have two USB 2.0 ports, a 4-in-1 memory card slot and a DisplayPort++ Output compatible with HDMI, DVI and VGA, will cost $449 (£289) for the Wi-Fi-only version and $549 (£353) for the 3G models.

Meanwhile, the desktop, called Samsung Chromebox Series 3, has an Intel Celeron B840 dual-core processor running at a clock speed of 1.9GHz, 4G bytes of RAM, a built-in, dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n antenna and a Gigabit Ethernet port. It also features six USB 2.0 ports, a DVI single link output, a 2x DisplayPort++ Output compatible with HDMI, DVI and VGA, and compatibility with Bluetooth 3.0 technology. It costs $329 (£211) and doesn’t include a monitor, keyboard or mouse.

Compared with the first-generation Chromebooks, the Samsung laptop is two-and-a-half times faster, while the desktop is three-and-a-half times faster, according to Google. They boot up in seven seconds and five seconds, respectively. First-generation Chromebooks use Intel Atom chips.

Beyond the consumer market, Google and its partners also pitch Chrome machines to businesses and educational institutions. So far, more than 500 schools have bought Chromebooks, while business customers include retailer Dillard’s and Mollen Clinics.

In their first iteration, these machines have been sold to schools and businesses using per user/per month pricing, but now they will be sold under the more conventional per-machine, one-time payment model, plus a one-time fee for the online IT management console, around-the-clock phone technical support and hardware warranty that are provided to these customers.

Thus, business and education customers will pay the suggested retail price for each machine, plus a one-time fee of $150 (businesses) or $30 (schools) per machine for the management console, support and warranty. The IT management controls have been enhanced with new features like auto-update controls and new reporting capabilities.

Article source: http://rss.feedsportal.com/c/270/f/470440/s/1fd7750e/l/0Lnews0Btechworld0N0Cpersonal0Etech0C3360A8920Csamsung0Elaunch0Enew0Echromebooks0Eas0Egoogle0Eupdates0Eopen0Esource0Echrome0Eos0C0Dolo0Frss/story01.htm

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30 May 12 Google Chrome OS, Take Two: New Software And Chromebooks


New Chromebook
(click image for larger view)

In conjunction with a Chrome OS update that incorporates a more traditional desktop user interface, Google and its hardware partner Samsung on Tuesday plan to introduce two Chrome OS devices, the Samsung Chromebook Series 5 550 and the Samsung Chromebox 3.

The Series 5 550 is an improved Chrome OS notebook. The Chromebox, first mentioned at CES in January and revealed through a TigerDirect online store listing on Friday, is a small desktop Chrome OS computer that requires a separate keyboard, mouse, and display.

“We’re focused a lot on speed because that was one of the things we were not very happy with last year,” said Caesar Sengupta, director of Chrome OS at Google, in a phone interview.

The Series 5 550 ($449/$549 w/3G) features an Intel Core processor, a step up in terms of processing power from the Intel Atom chips in last year’s models. It’s 2.5 times faster on the v8 benchmark than the old Series 5, according to Sengupta.

With a 12.1-inch, 1280 x 800 display, the Series 5 550 weighs 3.3 lbs. and boasts 6 hours of battery life, or 6.5 days in standby mode. It includes 4 GB of RAM, built-in dual band Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, Gigabit Ethernet, and a 3G modem option. There’s an HD camera, two USB 2.0 ports, a 4-in-1 memory card slot, and a DisplayPort++ connector that can accommodate HDMI, DVI, or VGA monitors.

[ How big are the stakes for Google? Read Google's Chromebook Gamble. ]

The Series 3 Chromebox ($329) is a small computer akin to the Mac Mini. It scores 3.5x faster than last year’s Chromebook on the v8 benchmark and sports six USB 2.0 ports, 2 DisplayPort++ connectors, DVI single link output, and support for Bluetooth 3.0. Both the Chromebox and Series 5 550 Chromebook now support hardware accelerated graphics, which makes Web page scrolling much quicker and makes the Chrome OS devices more suitable for Web-based games.

The new hardware will be running the latest version of Chrome OS, R19, which offers a much more traditional desktop user interface. Previously, the Chrome browser was locked in place and could not be moved to reveal a desktop below it. Version R19 restores the desktop metaphor by allowing browser windows to be moved and by adding a new app launch and the ability to customize desktop images. It also includes the ability to view Office files, stored locally or on Google Drive. So much for talk that computer users no longer need files.

This shift to a more familiar interface will soon be accompanied by Google Drive integration. Now available through the Chrome OS beta channel, Sengupta says this feature will reach general release in June, around the time of Google IO, the company’s annual developer conference. Google Drive will effectively be the file system for Google’s hardware. It will run offline and online and sync files across other computers, like Macs and PCs, so that the user’s files can be accessed across multiple devices.

In addition, Google plans to release a beta version of Chrome Remote Desktop, which will allow users of Google’s Chrome browser to access remote OS X or Windows computers from any device with Chrome installed.

Sengupta also said that offline editing will be coming to Google Docs in a matter of weeks. He said the feature is presently being tested internally at Google and will be rolled out as soon as it’s ready.

A year ago, Google, Samsung, and Acer launched the first hardware running Chrome OS in an effort to improve the computing experience. While these Chromebooks were available through online retailers, they didn’t sell very much to consumers.

Sengupta didn’t offer specifics about Chromebook usage metrics but made it clear that Google didn’t expect cloud-based computing to become the norm immediately. “Our goal is a fairly long-term one,” he said. “We’re trying to change the world of computing.”

Google plans to expand its Chromebook marketing outreach: In June, expect to start seeing Chrome Zones in select Best Buy stores, where potential customers can test Chrome OS hardware.

But the Chromebook value proposition–easier, more affordable computer management and administration–wasn’t really tailored to appeal to consumers; it was designed to ease the suffering of IT managers by automating chores like system patching.

“We think there’s a lot of promise for Chrome OS in businesses,” said Rajen Sheth, group product manager for Chrome for Business. “We’ve seen a lot of interest in retail for systems in stores, or call centers.”

How much interest? Not enough to disclose sales figures, but enough to have a few noteworthy business customers lined up to test a new way of working. Retailer Dillard’s intends to deploy hundreds of Chromeboxes in about half of its 304 U.S. stores. Education company Kaplan, in conjunction with call center company Genesys, intends to move its New York City call center to online real-time communication protocol WebRTC and Chromeboxes. Mollen Clinics expects to use 4,500 Chromebooks in its mobile immunization clinics in Wal-Mart and Sam’s Clubs locations. And the California State Library intends to distribute 1,000 Chromebooks to libraries around the state for patrons to borrow.

Sheth says that the updated version of Chrome OS and the new Chrome hardware solve a lot of issues that businesses had with the first release. He cites the ability to view Office files and Google Drive integration as examples of changes that will make Chrome OS more palatable to businesses.

The updated hardware also comes with improved features for administrators, such as auto-update controls, auto-enrollment, open-network configuration and additional reporting features.

“When the user get the Chromebooks and logs in, that device knows it’s part of the organization and will automatically configure itself,” said Sheth, adding that this should make Chrome OS devices even more compelling to organizations concerned about total cost of ownership.

“Our biggest goal with the new management functionality is to make it so you can grab a Chromebook of a delivery truck and hand it to a user without the involvement of IT,” said Sheth. “With a PC, that’s not possible. It has to be imaged.”

Perhaps the most compelling feature for businesses is a new pricing model. Google initially offered Chromebooks to businesses under a subscription model. That’s no longer being offered.

“The major feedback we heard from businesses is that they want to be able to purchase once and be done with it,” said Sheth.

The new plan works as follows: After purchasing the hardware, businesses and schools can buy lifetime management and support for $150 and $30, respectively.

The second coming of Chrome OS might just be enough to turn Google’s experiment into a real market. But if not, there’s always next year. “We’re deeply committed to this,” said Sengupta. “It’s a step in the journey.”

At this year’s InformationWeek 500 Conference C-level execs will gather to discuss how they’re rewriting the old IT rulebook and accelerating business execution. At the St. Regis Monarch Beach, Dana Point, Calif., Sept. 9-11.

05/29/2012: Corrected education pricing.

Article source: http://www.informationweek.com/news/hardware/desktop/240000980

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29 May 12 Samsung preps two new Chromebooks as Google updates Chrome OS, Apps


IDG News Service - Samsung will launch this week two new Chrome OS-based computers, a laptop and desktop that have been designed to be significantly faster and more versatile than previous models.

Along with the new Samsung machines, Google is announcing enhancements to Chrome OS and Google Apps, including tight integration with Google Drive and the ability to edit Google Docs documents offline.

Chrome OS-based machines began shipping commercially about a year ago from Samsung and Acer. Although the machines haven’t exactly taken the PC market by storm, Google is satisfied with the progress so far.

“We’re very happy with where we are. We strongly believe in the vision we articulated last year,” said Caesar Sengupta, product management director, Chrome OS.

Referred to generically as “Chromebooks,” these machines and the Chrome OS were designed to be used primarily while connected to the Internet and for online applications.

According to Sengupta, Google and its partners haven’t pushed Chromebooks aggressively, so they have been bought primarily by early adopters, whose feedback has been closely listened to.

“We’re at a point where from the user experience point of view we’re starting to be happy with it and we’re now ready to take next step in this journey,” he said.

That next step includes broadening the roster of hardware partners, as well as making the machines more widely available. The new Samsung models will be available online today in the U.S. and May 30 in the U.K., and they will be for sale also at select Best Buy stores in the U.S. in June.

At the software level, the new machines will feature what Google calls an “apps-centric user interface” that will feature, for example, a simplified app launcher, the ability to have multiple windows open for multitasking and support for screen sizes ranging from 11 inches to 30 inches.

Coming later will be a tight integration with the Google Drive cloud storage service, as well as the ability to edit Google Docs documents when the machine is offline. When available, this Google Docs offline editing feature will be available to all Google Docs users, not just people who buy these new Samsung machines.

Other new features include a new, more sophisticated media player, as well as a native photo editor and uploader, and enhanced video streaming options for YouTube, Netflix and other such sites.

Samsung’s Chromebook Series 5 550 laptop has a 12.1-inch display (1280×800), weighs 3.3 pounds and its battery lasts for six hours of continuous usage or six and a half days in standby mode. It has an Intel Celeron 867 dual-core processor running at a clock speed of 1.3GHz, 4G bytes of RAM and a built-in, dual band Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n antenna and a Gigabit Ethernet port. A 3G modem is optional.

Article source: http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9227554/Samsung_preps_two_new_Chromebooks_as_Google_updates_Chrome_OS_Apps?taxonomyId=66

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26 May 12 Business Apps Are Becoming Integrated with Google Drive


Business Apps Are Becoming Integrated with Google Drive

by Sam Dean – May. 25, 2012Comments (0)

Recently, Google introduced its Google Drive cloud storage service, and with it you can sign up for 5GB of free cloud storage, and use it efficiently with your Android device. We’ve also made the point that Google Drive will provide a form of rescue for Google’s Chrome OS, which has been criticized by some for its cloud-centric focus and inflexibility with standard kinds of storage. By filling the storage gap in Chrome OS, Google can appeal to enterprise users with incentives for free Google Drive storage in the cloud in combination with Chrome OS. And now, it’s clear from the ecosystem that is taking shape around Google Drive that that is a point of focus for Google.

Already, partnerships focused on business users are cropping up around Google Drive. For example, RightSignature, which offers ways to get documents completed and signed online, has announced an integration with Google Drive. The integration with RightSignature means users can send documents stored in Google Drive for an e-signature with a few clicks. When the online signature is completed, signed documents are automatically saved in Google Drive. This is clearly aimed at business users. Think of how a real estate agent might use the service.

Syncdocs is another service that has announced integration with Google Drive, where business users are the target market. With Syncdocs, users can right click on any file or folder and have it synced online. Sharing files and folders to other Google Drive users is a one-step process. Syncdocs is free, but if you sync a large number of files, as business users might, then fees kick in. 

It’s inevitable that Google Drive will become integrated with more business utilities and that these integrated offerings will help Google appeal to enterprises with the combination of Chrome OS and Google Drive. 

Sure enough, Sundar Pichai, the Googler who manages development of Chrome OS as well as the Google Apps online services, has confirmed that Google will closely integrate Google Drive online storage with an upcoming version of the Chrome OS operating system. Wired reports this:

“Basically, Google Drive — a service that operates on the web — will perform as if it was the local file system. If you open the ‘save file’ dialog box on Chrome OS, for instance, the system will take you straight to Google Drive. “We’ll…effectively integrate [Google] Drive into the native file system of Chrome OS,” says Scott Johnson, Google’s Google Drive product manager. “All the core OS functionality will use [Google] Drive as a place to store data — if that’s what you opt in to.”

Many people who have written Chromebooks off, and many people who think Google Drive is just an entertainment play, should take note of this, as well as the new business-focused services taking shape around Google Drive. One of the barriers to adoption for Chrome OS so far has been that it is not designed to work with locally stored data and apps. Instead, it concentrates everything on the cloud. But with Google Drive, users have a free and obvious way–and a way provided by Google–to marry storage, data and applications with use of Google’s operating system.

Look for Google and the companies integrating their utilities and applications with Google Drive to start offering incentives to enterprises that want free Google Drive storage and might be willing to use Chrome OS, Chromebooks and more. The storage will be free, but the whole bundle won’t necessarily be so.

  • cloud computing
  • Chrome OS
  • chromebooks
  • Google Drive
  • Syncdocs
  • RightSignature

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Article source: http://ostatic.com/blog/business-apps-are-becoming-integrated-with-google-drive

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20 May 12 China to Google: Android must remain open


In giving the thumbs-up to Google’s acquisition of Motorola, regulators in China stipulated that Google must make
Android free and open for five years, a source with knowledge of the situation confirmed with CNET today.

The stipulation would seem to be designed to keep Google from denying Motorola’s handset competitors access to the mobile operating system, or from giving Motorola an advantage of some sort — such as integration between its handsets and Android that’s tighter than connections between rival phones and the OS.

From the beginning, Google has taken an open approach with Android, making it free and available to any hardware manufacturer — a strategy that’s helped to quickly make Android the No. 1 mobile OS globally.

“Many hardware partners have contributed to Android’s success and we look forward to continuing our work with all of them on an equal basis to deliver outstanding user experiences,” Google CEO Larry Page said during a conference call last August, at the time the intended acquisition was announced. “We built Android as an open-source platform and it will stay that way.”

Still, despite the offering of such olive branches, and despite Android’s great success as an open OS, Motorola rivals may well have been nervous. “Any way (Google) tries to couch this, there’s no doubt Motorola is the most favored player,” Gartner analyst Michael Gartenberg told CNET’s Roger Cheng in August. “If I’m a third-party vendor, I have some real concerns here.”

That’s in part because it could have at least crossed Google’s mind to integrate its software and services more tightly with the Motorola hardware, following Apple’s end-to-end approach with its own hardware and services.

Apple uses the sale of its iPhones and iPads to drive sales of iTunes, the App store, iCloud, and other offerings. Google, of course, has its own services — Google Drive, Google+, and so on — and a Google-focused Android device could further push subscribers to them. Ultimately, it’s these services that are the money-makers for Google. Fragmentation of Android is another concern, and a dominant, tightly integrated Android handset might help to address that.

What, then, would rival phone makers do? There aren’t many alternatives to Android. Windows Phone might become a more attractive option, but then, Microsoft has a cozy relationship with Nokia, so it could be deja vu all over again. Here’s what CNET’s Maggie Reardon had to say back in August, in a discussion of the merger’s possible impact on consumers:

What is likely to happen is that HTC, LG, Sony Ericsson, and Samsung will remain Android partners, but they may have to find new ways to differentiate their products from Motorola’s more Google-centric hardware. This may mean that HTC offers more advancements for its Sense software, which rides on top of the Android software. And Samsung may develop more TouchWiz customizations.

For consumers this could either be a good thing or a bad thing. If executed well, it will offer consumers more variety in device capabilities as well as look and feel. But if it’s not executed well, it could just mean more fragmentation in the Android ecosystem.

Reardon also wrote that the merger would probably lead to more-advanced devices from Google, a good thing for consumers.

With the stipulation from China’s regulators (which was reported earlier today by several media outlets), all this may have become moot. And if Google is to be believed, it may not have been an issue anyway.

A company representative told CNET today that Google’s “stance since we agreed to acquire Motorola has not changed and we look forward to closing the deal.”

So, had it crossed Google’s mind to tie Android tightly to Motorola handsets? We might have to wait five years to find out. And who knows what the landscape will look like then?

We have an e-mail out to Motorola for comment and will update this post if we hear back.

Article source: http://news.cnet.com/8301-32969_3-57437774-300/china-to-google-android-must-remain-open/

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01 May 12 Chrome OS gets first taste of Google Drive integration


When they first first took the wraps off Google Drive, Google had only Android, Windows, and Mac software available for us to sync our files. Chrome OS wouldn’t be far behind, said senior VP Sundar Pichai — and he wasn’t kidding.

Just days later, Google Drive integration surfaced in the Developer channel build of Chrome OS. After an update and a reboot, the file manager finally displayed something other than the Downloads folder. There sits Google Drive, albeit in a very nascent and unfinished state.

My Samsung Chromebook had some trouble pulling up the contents of my Google Drive at first, which appeared to be a conflict with my corporate firewall. As it struggled to connect, I noticed something that made it quite obvious that Google has been working on this type of integration for a while: the loading animation reads Google Docs instead of Google Drive. Once I was connected to my home Wi-Fi network, the Drive tab loaded up just fine.

There’s a long way to go before Drive integration is ready for the Stable channel of Chrome OS, but what’s already there is a very good start. Chrome’s save as dialog can write directly to Google Drive, and it’s easy enough to upload via the file manager — just copy a file from your downloads folder and paste it where you want it to go on Google Drive. Within seconds, it’s up in the cloud and heading for your other Google-synced computers.

Extensions that support saving content to a disk — like media grabbers and downloaders — don’t work too well at this point. Several of the extensions I tried became unresponsive after I’d clicked save, though Webcam Toy was able to capture an image from the Chromebook’s camera and save it directly to Google Drive without issue.

Another feature that isn’t working yet is offline support — but that’s coming, too. Google Docs offline access works just fine on Chrome OS if you’ve got the app installed, so it’s likely just a matter of retooling things — though some controls will need to be added. Now that Google Drive is hoovering up files from Windows and Mac systems and Android devices, Google will need to make sure that we can select individual folders and files to push to our Chromebooks’ minimal internal storage.

With a window manager, taskbar, and flexible access to Google Drive coming together, Chrome OS is steadily evolving into more than just a bootable web browser.


Article source: http://www.geek.com/articles/news/chrome-os-gets-first-taste-of-google-drive-integration-20120430/

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30 Apr 12 Chrome OS gets first taste of Google Drive integration


When they first first took the wraps off Google Drive, Google had only Android, Windows, and Mac software available for us to sync our files. Chrome OS wouldn’t be far behind, said senior VP Sundar Pichai — and he wasn’t kidding.

Just days later, Google Drive integration surfaced in the Developer channel build of Chrome OS. After an update and a reboot, the file manager finally displayed something other than the Downloads folder. There sits Google Drive, albeit in a very nascent and unfinished state.

My Samsung Chromebook had some trouble pulling up the contents of my Google Drive at first, which appeared to be a conflict with my corporate firewall. As it struggled to connect, I noticed something that made it quite obvious that Google has been working on this type of integration for a while: the loading animation reads Google Docs instead of Google Drive. Once I was connected to my home Wi-Fi network, the Drive tab loaded up just fine.

There’s a long way to go before Drive integration is ready for the Stable channel of Chrome OS, but what’s already there is a very good start. Chrome’s save as dialog can write directly to Google Drive, and it’s easy enough to upload via the file manager — just copy a file from your downloads folder and paste it where you want it to go on Google Drive. Within seconds, it’s up in the cloud and heading for your other Google-synced computers.

Extensions that support saving content to a disk — like media grabbers and downloaders — don’t work too well at this point. Several of the extensions I tried became unresponsive after I’d clicked save, though Webcam Toy was able to capture an image from the Chromebook’s camera and save it directly to Google Drive without issue.

Another feature that isn’t working yet is offline support — but that’s coming, too. Google Docs offline access works just fine on Chrome OS if you’ve got the app installed, so it’s likely just a matter of retooling things — though some controls will need to be added. Now that Google Drive is hoovering up files from Windows and Mac systems and Android devices, Google will need to make sure that we can select individual folders and files to push to our Chromebooks’ minimal internal storage.

With a window manager, taskbar, and flexible access to Google Drive coming together, Chrome OS is steadily evolving into more than just a bootable web browser.


Article source: http://www.geek.com/articles/news/chrome-os-gets-first-taste-of-google-drive-integration-20120430/

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28 Apr 12 Google Drive’s Six Substantial Slip-ups


The dust on the Drive has settled — Google Drive, that is — and users finally have the chance to play around with the company’s new cloud storage system, one that’s designed to, “work seamlessly with your overall Google experience.”

Seamless, perhaps. But perfect? Google’s arrived a bit late to the cloud storage game and, like a pinch hitter facing a run deficit in the seventh inning, the company needs to knock one out of the park to pull people’s loyalties away from their favorite cloud storage services.

It feels as if general reactions to Google Drive have been good, but not great: That Google’s service is a fine player among its peers, but not noteworthy enough to generate a massive, digital rush to Google’s servers. We’ve rounded up some of the larger criticisms that might be keeping Drive from dominating, all areas that Google could stand to work on if it wants the prettiest cloud in the sky.

 

1. Size

How many of you have ever run out of space on your Gmail account? We’re willing to bet that it’s a rare occurrence for all but the most popular of Gmail users, makes one wonder why Google is so generous with its email capacity (10GB) and so seemingly stingy with its Drive storage (5GB).

“For cheapskates or freebirds like me, you’ll be better off turning to (or remaining with) Microsoft’s SkyDrive, which offers 7GB of free storage; Google Drive offers five. (SugarSync, which I’ve also used, does as well.) Microsoft also gave existing SkyDrive users 25GB of free storage. Google, however, would like you to pay them for the privilege of mining your files,” writes PCMag.com’s Mark Hachman.

 

2. Cross-Platform Support

And the mobile war continues: Google Drive is fully supported on the Android platform with a native application (go figure). Windows, OS X, and Chrome OS systems can all download a dedicated Google Drive app as well — in fact, it’s the only way you can access your cloud. As for iOS, Blackberry, and Windows Phone owners…

“GDrive, meanwhile, includes an app for Android. Everything else must use a browser to connect to Google Drive, although there are reports that Google will be releasing iOS apps for GDrive at some point. Other mobile devices will have to continue to use their respective browsers, but it’s worth noting that not all browsers will work. According to Google’s information for GDrive, some older versions of Android won’t work with the Drive, even using the browser.” — eWeek’s Wayne Rash

Of course, it would also be nice to be able to edit non-Google-Docs files or move anything around in one’s Google Drive via the corresponding mobile app, but step one is acquiring working mobile apps in the first place.

 

3. Offline Editing

Throw a typical Microsoft Word document into your Google Drive and you’ll be able to edit it online, right? Wrong — you can only view it online. You have to convert the file to a Google Document in order to edit it via Google’s Web app. But here’s the rub: You can’t edit Google Docs in your Drive cloud from an offline computer; you can only view them. For novice cloud users, the relationship between Google Documents and offline documents can be pretty confusing.

“There are a couple of ways to work around this issue. First, you can configure your Google Docs for offline access, and you can use Google Chrome browser extensions to enable you to edit Google Docs files offline. Another solution would be to save the file back to its original format after editing it online so that it will open locally in its native application as mentioned above.

That brings us to the other potential issue–file fidelity. Google has gone to great lengths to maintain formatting when converting from Microsoft Office formats to Google Docs and back again, but it still leaves a lot to be desired. For basic documents that just have text, with maybe some bold, italics, and underlining, or simple bullets, it may not be an issue. However complex documents that include things like a table of contents, footers, headers, and footnotes are likely to get mangled and require a lot of manual repair when switched back to their native format.” — PCWorld’s Tony Bradley.

 

4. File Hosting

“Files hosted publicly in Google Drive should be usable anywhere on the Web.

Anyone can already download the files manually. Google Drive could have a huge advantage over its competitors if you could permalink to those files. If Imgur can host images for other sites, why can’t Google? And Google Drive can understand over 30 file types. Why not PDFs and audio files, too?” — ReadWriteWeb’s Jon Mitchell

Makes sense to us!

 

5. More Security

As Discovery News’ Rob Pegoraro points out, your files within Google Drive are only as secure as your Google password. That’s not only a great plug for enabling two-way authentication on one’s Google Account, but it also highlights a key difference between Google’s cloud service and that of one of the company’s chief cloud rivals.

“Like SkyDrive but unlike Dropbox, [Google Drive] doesn’t encrypt files stored on its servers; you can use third-party tools like the open-source TrueCrypt to scramble files before uploading, but that’s more work,” Pegoraro writes.

That said, Google execs have said that encrypting files on Google’s servers would prevent features like Google Drive’s OCR engine from being able to scan them. Worse, users would also lose out on being able to preview files within Drive’s Web app.

 

6. The Dreaded ToS

Much has been written about Google’s Terms of Service for Drive. But you shouldn’t be as concerned about Google “stealing” your information or displaying your publicly available content in a Google Drive advertisement (or what-have-you). Rather, you should be more annoyed if you’re one of the users ponying up additional cash for expanded Drive storage.

“Google Drive creates a new relationship with users. As a service provider, Google should be my advocate, but a profile of me can be built from my data and sold to advertisers like it is with Gmail. A paid service should exclude users from this.” — InformationWeek’s Dino Londis

 

For more tech tidbits from David Murphy, follow him on Facebook or Twitter (@thedavidmurphy).

For the top stories in tech, follow us on Twitter at @PCMag.

Article source: http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2403713,00.asp

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28 Apr 12 Google Drive comes to Chrome OS


Google Drive has come to Chrome OS, the browser-based operating system that arguably needs it more than the average PC.

Google Drive has come to Chrome OS, the browser-based operating system that arguably needs it more than the average PC.

(Credit:
screenshot by Stephen Shankland/CNET)

Google Drive is handy for mobile devices and conventional computers, but it’s just arrived on another class of devices where it’s potentially a lot more transformative: Chrome OS.

Google built Google Drive into the latest developer release of Chrome OS version 20.0.1116.0, said Chrome team member Danielle Drew in a blog post today.

Google Drive synchronizes files across multiple devices and with Google’s own servers; a file copied or saved into the folder on a personal computer or uploaded to the Google Drive Web site is then accessible on other devices. It’s tightly integrated with Google Docs, Google’s online service for word processing, presentations, and spreadsheets.

On personal computers, Google Drive or competing services such as Dropbox or SkyDrive can be useful. But on Chrome OS, Google’s browser-based operating system, it’s a big step up. That’s because its file management interface is rudimentary, and when you use it to store files, they aren’t available elsewhere unless you export them somehow — uploading photos to Picasa or e-mailing PDFs to yourself, for example.

With Drive, though, files stored with this supposedly cloud-computing operating system are actually integrated directly with the cloud. You could already get your Google Docs, of course, but now you can see all the other files you’ve stored much more easily. And services like Dropbox don’t work easily on Chrome OS the way they do on Windows or
Mac OS X.

“Think of it as your drive for Chrome OS,” said Scott Johnston, the product manager in charge of Google Drive, in an earlier interview this week. “It’s as if you have a local disk, but it happens to be stored in the cloud.”

That’s potentially important for another reason: unlike even low-end laptops, the Chrome OS laptops Google calls Chromebooks today have only 16GB. That’ll change with later models, said Sundar Pichai, senior vice president for Chrome and Apps at Google.

But it seems unlikely that it’ll ever match the much larger capacities needed for a less network-centric device, and Pichai said people will keep only what they most need on Chromebooks.

“People will have a way of choosing important files,” Pichai said. “I think of Chromebook as a cache of important data and not all your stuff.”

It’s clearly an early version of Google Drive, though. For example, I couldn’t drag and drop a file in Chrome OS’s download folder into Google Drive, though copy and paste worked to move it. And as with Google Drive in general, I find it slower than Dropbox to synchronize new files across different devices. Reloading the page doesn’t actually fetch updated data, but for me going back to a parent folder then reopening the one I wanted refreshed it.

There were some resizing issues, with thumbnails flowing awkwardly as I shrank the window. And for whatever reason, the thumbnail images were bigger and at least for me more useful using the Web interface rather than the Chrome OS file manager interface.

Those who want to try it out will have to use the developer channel of Chrome OS, which can be choppy going sometimes since it’s got newer features that haven’t been tested as well. To use the file manager interface on Chrome OS, type Ctrl-M.

Chromebooks so far haven’t made much of an impression on an industry fixated more with
tablets, mobile phones, and ever-slimmer Mac laptops. Google is beavering away on the project, though, most recently adding a new, more traditional interface to Chrome OS. That initially was available only for the Acer- and Samsung-built Chromebooks, but now it’s available on Google’s Cr-48 Chromebook prototypes, too.

Google also has said faster Chromebooks are on the way.

Article source: http://news.cnet.com/8301-17939_109-57423364-2/google-drive-comes-to-chrome-os/

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