Archive for the 'google' Category

Why Twitter launched Fabric, in 5 devastating charts

Thursday 23 October 2014 @ 3:45 pm
Why Twitter launched Fabric, in 5 devastating charts
Image Credit: Illustration by VentureBeat / Eric Blattberg

Yesterday Twitter unveiled Fabric, a semi-integrated suite of tools for mobile app developers. The company somewhat grandiosely refers to it as a “modular mobile platform,” but while it’s definitely modular and certainly focused on mobile, it’s not a platform in any commonly understood sense of the term.

twitter flightUnless, of course, Twitter was referring to its own platform.

Because, while Fabric offers some significant goodies to developers, the real reason Twitter is launching this suite is first of all to boost its own core platform reach, and secondly to make more money via its mobile advertising subsidiary, MoPub.

Because make no mistake, when it comes to the incredibly lucrative mobile app user acquisition market that Facebook dominates — with a few key exceptions — Twitter has almost completely failed on the promises it made when unveiling mobile app promotion capabilities in Twitter Cards. And that’s no doubt had serious implications for Twitter’s revenue which, while showing growth and pockets of strength, caused the company’s shares to dip recently.

The goodies that Twitter is offering

  • Crash analytics (available from multiple other vendors)
  • A “Twitter kit”
    1. native tweet embedding (good for Twitter)
    2. native tweet composing (also good for Twitter)
    3. Twitter sign-in (good for Twitter; social sign-in is widely available from the usual suspects)
  • MoPub mobile advertising engine (good for Twitter; there are many, many monetization options for mobile publishers)
  • Digits, an identity system based on phone numbers (good for Twitter, as it’s built on Twitter infrastructure and therefore associates potentially hundreds of millions of people with Twitter; not easily available elsewhere)

This peace offering to developers, who Twitter has alienated in the recent past, was so necessary because Twitter is failing so badly.

Here’s the situation — based on data from our VB Insight Mobile User Acquisition and Mobile Game Monetization reports:

1) Facebook kills Twitter in mobile monetization.


This chart show which social solutions mobile developers think are most effective at helping them monetize their apps. That big blue chunk is Facebook, and the so-much-smaller brown slice is Twitter.


But it gets worse …

2) Big developers avoid Twitter.


When you look at the kinds of developers and publishers who use Facebook to help monetize their mobile apps, there’s a wide range from small to mid-range to very, very high-volume. The kinds of developers who use Twitter/MoPub, in contrast, are almost all small developers, with fewer large publishers than YouTube — at half the volume.

3) Big developers don’t acquire users via Twitter.

When you segment mobile publishers by size and then identify their preferred user acquisition companies, it not only becomes clear that Facebook, Google, AdColony, YouTube, and NativeX have more volume than Twitter, but also that the bigger and more successful a publisher you are, the less likely you are to use Twitter.


4) Twitter doesn’t monetize well.


When mobile developers force-ranked the top monetization companies for their mobile apps in our Mobile User Acquisition study, Twitter doesn’t come out well. Google is the king — although, not without warts — followed by Chartboost, AdColony, Flurry, Upsight (Playhaven/Kontagent), NativeX, Tapjoy, Vungle, Apple’s iAd, “Other,” and SponsorPay.

In other words, kind of an also-ran.

5) Four percent of mobile developers think Twitter is best.


Just 4 percent of the mobile developers we surveyed said that MoPub was the best partner in monetizing their mobile apps. Many more said Google or Chartboost or AdColony, plus a litany of other mobile user acquisition and monetization companies.

The goodies, however, are very good.

While Twitter’s new offerings are certainly centered on promoting Twitter’s platform, Twitter’s reach, and Twitter’s monetization capabilities, they do include some very neat goodies for mobile developers and publishers.

Crash analytics is a good thing to have. Native Twitter functionality can be a good thing for certain kinds of apps. And another monetization possibility is not a bad thing, and could work very well for certain kinds of apps.

But the big kahuna here is Digits, which will simultaneously allow almost frictionless accounts to users, and the ability to know formerly anonymous apps users — and then be able to engage and monetize them more effectively — for developers. Both are valuable, and both are a reason for developers to at least consider the new offerings.

Time will tell if they also improve Twitter’s standing in the mobile user acquisition and mobile monetization hierarchy.

VentureBeat is studying mobile marketing automation. Chime in, and we’ll share the data.

Facebook is the world’s largest social network, with over 1.15 billion monthly active users. Facebook was founded by Mark Zuckerberg in February 2004, initially as an exclusive network for Harvard students. It was a huge hit: in 2 w... read more »

Twitter is a real-time information network that connects you to the latest information about what you find interesting. Simply find the public streams you find most compelling and follow the conversations. At the heart of Twitter ar... read more »

Google's innovative search technologies connect millions of people around the world with information every day. Founded in 1998 by Stanford Ph.D. students Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Google today is a top web property in all major glob... read more »

Chartboost is the largest revenue platform powering the business of mobile games. Chartboost empowers developers to find new players and monetize their games, by providing them with the tools and analytics to make smarter decisions. Th... read more »

AdColony is a mobile video advertising company whose proprietary Instant-Play™ technology serves razor sharp, full-screen video ads instantly in HD across its network of iOS and Android apps, eliminating the biggest pain points in mo... read more »

Google search finally adds information about video games

Thursday 23 October 2014 @ 10:17 am
Google search finally adds information about video games

Google has expanded its search engine with the ability to recognize video games. If your query references a game, a new Knowledge Graph panel on the right-hand side will show up and offer more information, including the series it belongs to, initial release date, supported platforms, developers, publishers, designers, and even review scores.

For those who don’t know, Knowledge Graph is the company’s project for mapping out the real-world, from physical objects, to important landmarks, to famous people. It doesn’t just power Web search; mobile and voice search tap into it too:


Since the above only shows the Play Store, we searched for “Candy Crush” on the Web and saw that it listed Apple’s App Store as well. We also contacted Google to find out whether it was only keeping track of mobile games. Nope.

“We always want to help people find the best answers to their questions – fast,” a Google spokesperson told VentureBeat. “With today’s update, you can ask questions about video games, and (while there will be ones we don’t cover) you’ll get answers for console and PC games as well as the most popular mobile apps.”

Indeed, searching for my favorite shooter yields this result:


You should also note the “People also search for” section is included just like on other Knowledge Graph panels. In this case, there’s a related game, a game from the series, and three other popular shooters for PC.

Furthermore, it’s worth noting that this feature doesn’t seem to be US-only. Unlike Microsoft, which unnecessarily limits new features stateside, Google has rolled out this feature to multiple countries.

While we did confirm it works in North America and many European countries, we did notice it’s not available everywhere just yet. Google Poland, for example, does not yet detect video games when you search for them. We expect Google will eventually add support for all its regions, but it’s not quite there yet.

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Google's innovative search technologies connect millions of people around the world with information every day. Founded in 1998 by Stanford Ph.D. students Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Google today is a top web property in all major glob... read more »

Why Google’s Inbox is my new favorite email app

Wednesday 22 October 2014 @ 1:15 pm
Why Google’s Inbox is my new favorite email app
Image Credit: Google

Email is a real pain in the neck, but Google’s upcoming email application, Inbox, could dramatically cut the time wasted on the task. VentureBeat got an early hands-on with the application, and Inbox instantly became my favorite new email application, despite a few glitches and missing features (below is a promo video of what it looks like).

Inbox seems to be built around Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt’s No. 1 email rule: Be responsive. Inbox allows me to respond quickly and set reminders so that I follow up in a timely manner.

Below are three major reasons I’m a big fan of Google Inbox:

It’s blazing fast to send, archive, and set reminder messages

Until I got my hands on Inbox, the Mailbox app was my favorite mobile app. The main feature in both apps allows users to archive emails with a quick swipe right. Most importantly, swiping left brings up a dialog box that will send an email back to the inbox if it isn’t responded to by a certain time.

google inbox

I use the reminder feature constantly; it ensures I don’t forget about emails and allows me to efficiently schedule emails throughout the coming weeks and months. For time-sensitive emails, I can even have it boomerang back in a few hours if I don’t receive a response.

Unlike Mailbox, however, replies are all handled on a single screen. It just opens up some space at the bottom of the reply. This may seem trivial, but every additional screen adds effort — which can total many minutes per day of wasted time.

photo (8)

Reminders by place

Inbox has a cool feature that sends messages and reminders back to the inbox when users arrive at a location. So, for instance, say I set a reminder to mail my absentee ballot on my way to the 16th St. Bart station. Inbox tracks location in the background and sends the email back to my inbox (and, if I choose, will buzz me with a reminder) when I get to the right spot.

photo (9)

I attempt to set email reminders all the time for meetings. I’ll try to schedule emails to return to my inbox around the time I’m supposed to have a dinner meeting with someone. This way, I can just schedule all my previous emails to return when I arrive at the restaurant.

Unfortunately, in practice, Inbox’s feature is a little clunky. I scheduled two location-based reminders, each one at restaurants I regularly go to in San Francisco’s Mission District, West of Pecos and Samovar Tea. Unfortunately, when I walked up to West of Pecos, it only worked for one of the reminders. So far, location-based reminders are an unreliable feature — but it’ll be great when the bugs are worked out.

It works with Gmail Priority Inbox

Gmail Priority Inbox is absolutely the best feature I use for email. It’s an algorithm for Gmail users that automatically categorizes messages as “important” and “everything else.” After a few weeks of training, Gmail’s artificial intelligence is almost perfect at knowing which messages are actually important, and which ones are promotional or low-priority. Inbox sorts my messages for me and lets me skip over low-priority ones.

A handful of nice features, annoyances, and features I wish it had

Let’s start with the extra things I like. I like that users can select multiple messages at a time to either archive or set for reminders. Second, I really dig that searching for certain topics or people brings up their contact info and all the recent emails.

photo (10)

The one big missing feature that I like from Mailbox is preset reminders. I often set reminder emails for the weekend or the beginning of the next week. Mailbox allows me to efficiently schedule these. There is no similar feature in Google’s Inbox.

Second, Inbox needs better alert settings. Sometimes I want to be buzzed, but, right now, its push notifications are way too frequent. I’ll be turning it off until I get better control of what email messages buzz me.

Finally, neither Inbox nor Mailbox are good at adding or removing recipients to and from the cc: field. On the desktop, I can easily drop and add recipients to different parts of an email, depending on who should be in the conversation going forward. Inbox is slightly better at this than Mailbox, since it allows users to copy and paste an email in a different field. But it’s not a efficient at all.

Other than these gripes, Google Inbox is a fantastic email application. Hopefully, the public will have access to it soon. We’ll update readers as more details come in.

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Google Play Music gets revitalized with Songza integration

Tuesday 21 October 2014 @ 8:00 am
Google Play Music gets revitalized with Songza integration

Above: Google Play Music's new "Listen Now" recommendation page.

Image Credit: Google

Three months after acquiring streaming music service Songza, Google Play Music has finally learned some new tricks.

Today Google announced that it’s rolling out an updated version of its Google Play Music “All Access” service with Google’s new material design, better song recommendations, and an improved “lean back” experience to complement its library of over 30 million on-demand tracks.

Play Music's new "material design" as show on mobile devices.

Above: Play Music’s new “material design” as shown on mobile devices.

Undoubtedly the biggest change in this update is the improved recommendation features, many of which are borrowed (or improved upon) from Songza, which help to curate playlists of songs based on your mood, location, the weather, activity, and more. These Songza features — as well as the “concierge” recommendation feature that tries to predict your mood with a mix of songs — are available in the updated All Access, with 65 music experts crafting thousands of new playlists for you every day.

However, All Access is a bit different from Songza in how you’re able to grab those playlists and interact with them. You can search for one using nearly any set of criteria via the search box at the top of the Google Play Music home page. And while every music mix is curated based on a variety of factors, you can always refresh a playlist you aren’t feeling to get a fresh set of songs without having to change your search criteria. Google Play Music also lets you reorder the tracks within a playlist to fit your needs, or download them for offline listening if you plan to be in an area with a spotty Internet connection.

On top of those recommendations, there are also some suggestions based on what you’ve already told the service you like by clicking a “thumbs up” button on a song or artist. These appear as part of a revamped “Listen Now” experience, which will let you create a station from one of the songs displayed. (You can also do this on any track within a playlist.) And while I’ve yet to play with the updated service, this does seem like a pretty nice balance between actively seeking music and just letting it play in the background (aka “leaning back”).

“Songza has always been really good at the lean back [experience], so we tried to bring that to Google Play Music without calling it out,” said Songza founder and Google Play project manager Elias Roman in an interview with VentureBeat. “So if you want to ‘lean forward,’ we can accommodate.”

“But there aren’t two kinds of people — those that sit back to let the music play… and those that are constantly engaged in discovering new stuff — just one. We didn’t want people to tell the difference,” he said, adding that Google Play Music is attempting to be a complete streaming music that involves less thinking and provides more entertainment regardless of how much you engage with it.

The updated Google Play Music concierge feature is only available to those who subscribe to the $10 monthly All Access service, but the new Listen Now feature will be available starting today to everyone with a Google Play Music account across 45 countries where the service is available.

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Google's innovative search technologies connect millions of people around the world with information every day. Founded in 1998 by Stanford Ph.D. students Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Google today is a top web property in all major glob... read more »

Songza is a free streaming music service that has expert-made playlists for every occasion and makes it easy to find the right one, at the right time. Headquartered in Long Island City, NY, Songza is built by the team that founded cro... read more »

Google beefs up 2-step verification with physical USB Security Key option in Chrome

Tuesday 21 October 2014 @ 5:14 am
Google beefs up 2-step verification with physical USB Security Key option in Chrome

Google today announced it is beefing up its 2-Step Verification feature with Security Key, a physical USB second factor that only works after verifying the login site is truly a Google website. The feature is available in Chrome: instead of typing a code, you can simply insert Security Key into your computer’s USB port and tap it when prompted by Google’s browser.

“When you sign into your Google Account using Chrome and Security Key, you can be sure that the cryptographic signature cannot be phished,” Google promises. While Security Key works with Google Accounts at no charge, you’ll naturally need to go out and buy a compatible USB device directly from a Universal 2nd Factor (U2F) participating vendor.

Since Security Key in Chrome incorporates the open U2F protocol from the FIDO Alliance, other websites with account login systems can use the feature as well. If security is your priority, and you use both Google services and Chrome, Security Key is probably worth your consideration. If you use Chrome but don’t login via Google Account, it’s worth checking to see if your site supports Security Key.

Google says it hopes other browsers will add FIDO U2F support soon. The end goal is be for FIDO U2F support to go mainstream, so security-sensitive users can carry a single Security Key that works everywhere.

More to follow.

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Google's innovative search technologies connect millions of people around the world with information every day. Founded in 1998 by Stanford Ph.D. students Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Google today is a top web property in all major glob... read more »

Apple’s Huge Q4: $42.1 Billion In Revenue, $8.5 Billion In Profit

Monday 20 October 2014 @ 12:37 pm
apple-earnings-green Today after the bell, Apple reported its fiscal fourth quarter financial performance, including revenue of $42.1 billion, and earnings per share of $1.42. Analysts had expected Apple to report profit of $1.31 per share, on revenue for the period of $39.85 billion. During the fiscal quarter, Apple had net profit of $8.5 billion, up 13.3% from the $7.5 Billion it say in the same quarter last year. Read More

Self-driving cars will be safer than us. How long until human drivers are banned?

Saturday 18 October 2014 @ 5:15 pm


Self-driving cars will be safer than us. How long until human drivers are banned?
Image Credit: Wikipedia

My prediction is that in fewer than 15 years, we will be debating whether human beings should be allowed to drive on highways.

After all, we are prone to road rage; rush headlong into traffic jams; break rules; get distracted; and crash into each other. That is why our automobiles need tank-like bumper bars and military-grade crumple zones. And it is why we need speed limits and traffic police.

Self-driving cars won’t have our limitations. They will prevent tens of thousands of fatalities every year and better our lifestyles. They will do to human drivers what the horseless carriage did to the horse and buggy.

Tesla’s announcement of an autopilot feature in its next-generation Model S takes us much closer to this future. Yes, there are still technical and logistical hurdles; some academics believe it will take decades for robotic cars to learn to navigate the complexities of the “urban jungle;” and policy makers are undecided about the rules and regulations.

But just as Tesla produced an electric vehicle that I liken to a spaceship that travels on land, so too will it keep adding software upgrades until its autopilot doesn’t need a human operator at the steering wheel. I expect this to happen within a decade — despite the obstacles. I have already placed an order for the new model so that I can be part of this evolution.

Tesla isn’t alone in developing semi-automated driving assistants. Most car manufacturers now offer options in their high-end vehicles to keep them within their lane, adjust speed, warn of pedestrians, and stop in the event of an impending accident. These technologies work well. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety tested the automating braking systems of 24 vehicles and gave 21 a ranking of “superior” or “advanced.”

The new Tesla will be better than all of these. It will have sensors for image recognition, a 360-degree sonar system that can “see” its surroundings, and long-range radar to recognize signs and pedestrians. It will be able to change lanes on its own, obey speed-limit signs, avoid accidents, and even park itself. It will be able also to pick us up at our front doors in the morning after driving itself out of the garage. Because Tesla controls practically everything with software — including the driving, suspension and climate — it can keep adding new features. Its cars are Internet-connected, and software updates are downloaded automatically, usually every month.

Google is far ahead of Tesla in the race to build robotic cars. It already has several on the roads in California and says that they have logged 700,000 autonomous miles. But Google is going for all or nothing. Its new prototype vehicles don’t even have a steering wheel.

The challenge this creates — and a problem that Tesla and the other carmakers will also face — is that the driving system has to be perfect before it can be allowed on the road without a human co-pilot. This also creates many legal and ethical issues. Who is responsible, for example, when a fully autonomous car has an accident?

The liability issues regarding fully driverless cars will be easy: The car’s manufacturer or software maker will be responsible for any accident unless it can be shown that a human driver was at fault.

But the hard part is what Ryan Calo, University of Washington law professor, calls the “social meaning” of technology. He observes that a driverless car may always be better at avoiding a shopping cart. And it may always be better than a human at avoiding at stroller. But what if the car confronts a shopping cart and a stroller at the same time? A human would plough into the shopping car to avoid the stroller; a driverless car might not. Meanwhile, the headline would read: “Robot Car Kills Baby to Avoid Groceries.” This could end autonomous driving in America.

There will be many difficult choices and endless debates about ethics. But we can work these out. The numbers of fatalities caused by robotic cars will be a tiny fraction of the millions that humans have caused, after all. And if political leaders and lawyers in the United States try to stop progress, other countries will still adopt the new technologies; they are unstoppable. We may just end up playing catch-up with the rest of the world.

The big advantage that self-driving cars will have is that they don’t need the safeguards and controls that humans do. They can communicate with each other to negotiate right of way and speed, warn each other of traffic hazards, and see in the dark, so they don’t need blinding high-beams.

The real risks for robotic cars are the hazards that unpredictable humans create. That is why we will need to get humans out of the drivers’ seats.

I am looking forward to having my wasted driving time turned into work and leisure. Robotic cars will enable major fuel savings because they won’t need the bumpers or steel cages and so will be lighter. We won’t have to worry about parking spots, because our cars will be able to drop us where we need to go to and pick us up when we are ready.

We won’t even need to own our own cars, because transportation will be available on demand through our smartphones.

I can’t wait for the traffic jams to disappear because our cars won’t rush headlong into traffic as mindlessly as we do.

Vivek Wadhwa is a fellow at the Rock Center for Corporate Governance at Stanford University, director of research at the Center for Entrepreneurship and Research Commercialization at Duke’s engineering school and distinguished scholar at Singularity and Emory universities. His past appointments include Harvard Law School and University of California Berkeley.

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Tesla's goal is to accelerate the world's transition to electric mobility with a full range of increasingly affordable electric cars. Palo Alto, California-based Tesla designs and manufactures EVs and EV powertrain components. Tesla ha... read more »

Google's innovative search technologies connect millions of people around the world with information every day. Founded in 1998 by Stanford Ph.D. students Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Google today is a top web property in all major glob... read more »

Google suspends pre-orders for Nexus Player pending FCC approval

Saturday 18 October 2014 @ 12:03 pm
Google suspends pre-orders for Nexus Player pending FCC approval

Above: Google's Nexus Player is a slim puck-like disc, and comes with a game controller made by Asus.

Image Credit: Google

After announcing its new Nexus Player, a set-top box and Android video game console, Google initially started accepting pre-orders via its web site.

Today, it stopped accepting pre-orders and added a note to the bottom of its Nexus Player page stating:

This device has not been approved by the Federal Communications Commission.
It is not for sale until approval of the FCC has been obtained.

We’re not sure if the FCC spotted Google’s for-sale notice and insisted to the company that it cease sales, or if there was just some miscommunication within Google and the company realized on its own that it hadn’t taken care of everything it needed to.

Either way, it’s a holdup. Companies in the U.S. are not permitted to sell electronic devices without FCC approval, especially if they use wireless technologies like Wi-Fi (which the Nexus Player does).

We’ve reached out to Google to find out what happened, and when you can expect orders to resume. We’ll update this post when we hear back.

Via: Android Police

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Google's innovative search technologies connect millions of people around the world with information every day. Founded in 1998 by Stanford Ph.D. students Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Google today is a top web property in all major glob... read more »

Nvidia’s Tegra K1 brings 64-bit computing to Google’s Nexus 9 tablet

Friday 17 October 2014 @ 9:30 am
Nvidia’s Tegra K1 brings 64-bit computing to Google’s Nexus 9 tablet

Above: Nvidia Tegra K1

Image Credit: Nvidia

Nvidia scored a point for its Tegra K1 “superchip” by getting into Google’s Nexus 9 tablet. With that, Google is is the first to bring out a 64-bit Android device.

Google Nexus 9

Above: Google Nexus 9

Image Credit: Google

The Nvidia Tegra K1 is an all-in-one processor for mobile devices, but it has desktop-like features thanks to its 192 processing cores for both computing and graphics. The device is the first tablet to feature the latest version of the Android operating system, Android 5.0 Lollipop. No doubt, this makes the device great for tablet games.

Google is selling the device for $399, and it is available for pre-order today. The deal marks the second time that Nvidia has gotten a Tegra processor into a Google device. The earlier Nexus 7 also used Tegra when it debuted a couple of years ago.

The Tegra K1 is the first ARM processor for Android to take advantage of Lollipop support for 64-bit CPU architectures. Earlier known as Project Denver, the ARMv8-A-based custom central processing unit (CPU) is designed for both high-performance and low-power consumption. It supports all major graphics standards and is based on Nvidia’s previous graphic processing unit (GPU) architecture, Kepler, which is used in a lot of fast gaming PCs and supercomputers.

That processing power helps deliver PC-like performance, higher battery life, and faster web browsing.

The Nexus 9 comes with front-facing stereo speakers and HTC’s BoomSound technology. It has a 8.9-inch display, with a 2048×1536 resolution, and an 8 megapixel rear and 1.6 megapixel front cameras.

Mobile developer or publisher? VentureBeat is studying mobile marketing automation. Fill out our 5-minute survey, and we'll share the data with you.

Nvidia specializes in the manufacture of graphics-processor technologies for workstations, desktop computers, and mobile devices. The company, based in Santa Clara, California, is a major supplier of integrated circuits used for person... read more »

Google's innovative search technologies connect millions of people around the world with information every day. Founded in 1998 by Stanford Ph.D. students Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Google today is a top web property in all major glob... read more »

Google debuts new ‘Nexus Player’ Android TV set-top box & gamepad from Asus

Wednesday 15 October 2014 @ 8:43 am
Google debuts new ‘Nexus Player’ Android TV set-top box & gamepad from Asus
Image Credit: Google

Google today announced a new set-top box called the Nexus Player, the first device available to consumers running Android TV operating system.

The Nexus Player, which was announced today along with a slew of other gadgets to help kick off Android 5.0 (aka Lollipop), is manufactured by Asus in partnership with Google. The device itself is actually more of a circle than a “box,” as you can see from the photo above. I’m guessing this is a nice throwback to the design of the pretty, TRON bowling ball-shaped Nexus Q that the company wisely decided against shipping to retail shelves last year.

Google also describes the Nexus Player as “a first-of-its-kind Android gaming device,” complete with its own gamepad. This is more than likely a response to Amazon’s Fire TV streaming device, which is part of Amazon’s strategy for climbing into the booming mobile gaming industry.

Nexus Player's gamepad.

Above: Nexus Player’s gamepad.

Image Credit: Google


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