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YouTube’s new fan funding feature lets you donate to your favorite channel owners

YouTube is strongly rumored to be launching a subscription-based music service soon, but the Google-owned video site has quietly introduced a new (and far lower-key) payment service that lets viewers send donations to YouTube channel owners.

First noticed by the astute folks at Android Police, the fan funding feature in initially available in four countries: the US, Australia, Japan, and Mexico. If you live in any of these places, then you may notice the below pop up appear inside Youtube.com or the service’s mobile apps if the channel owner has turned it on.

Screenshot 2014 09 02 12.38.25 YouTubes new fan funding feature lets you donate to your favorite channel owners

A ‘tips jar’ is not going to replace revenue from advertising, but YouTubers who enjoy a close relationship with their fans may be able to augment their ad revenue without upsetting their viewers. For what it’s worth, Google’s cut is 5 percent and a small fee ($0.21 in the US) — for example, a $10 dollar donation will see $9.29 passed on to the artist directly.

We’ve asked Google for more details of the fan funding program. We’ll update this post if we hear more.

Update: A YouTube spokesperson told TNW that “there are a handful of creators testing it out at the moment, and the plan is to bring this to more creators and countries in the future.”

There are more details on fan funding at this YouTube webpage.

YouTube Now Offers Fan Funding In Four Countries – Here’s A Look At How It Works [Android Police]

Related: How YouTube is changing the media landscape in Asia

Thumbnail image via Rego Kosiri / Flickr, screenshot via Android Police

Google sends invites for ‘exciting new announcement’ in India on September 15

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Uber Slapped With Nationwide Injunction In Germany

Last month on-demand ride-hailing service Uber faced a ban in Berlin on passenger safety grounds. That ban was suspended days later while the court in question rules on the legality of the move. But Uber is now facing another injunction in the country — this time a district court in Frankfurt has issued a temporary ban against its service which applies nationwide.

The Frankfurt injunction, which was issued late last week, is reported to be enforceable until the start of any hearing appealing the ban — so is very likely to be lifted soon.

The civil action has been brought by the German taxi industry. At issue is the lack of an official permit for Uber to operate in Germany under its Passenger Transport Act. The court accuses Uber of unfair competition vs regulated taxi industries, given that its undercutting price model, which relies on drivers using their own cars to offer a ride-hailing service, could mean corners are being cut on areas such as insurance.

A report in Spiegel Online notes the Frankfurt injunction carries a penalty fine of €250,000/$330,000 per violation, and the threat of jail time against Uber’s directors.

Dr Arne Hasse, of the Frankfurt court, confirmed the details of the injunction to TechCrunch — noting via email: “The Uber App violates German unfair competition law. In Germany, commercial passanger transport is only allowed with a permission by the local authorities which the Uber drivers don’t have. The injunction was brought by a taxi drivers’ union which also operates a taxi app. A hearing will only take place if Uber applies for it. The injunction is immediately enforceable; Uber can apply for a suspension of the immediately enforceability.”

In a statement provided to the FT, Dieter Schlenker, chairman of taxi companies’ co-operative Taxi Deutschland, accused Uber of disingenuous behaviour, given how well funded the company is. “The Passenger Transport Act regulates the protection of drivers and consumers. That can’t easily be overturned no matter how neoliberal the company. Uber operates with billions in cash from Goldman Sachs and Google, wraps itself in a Startup-Look and sells itself as a New Economy saviour,” he said.

Uber has a $17bn valuation, huge funding muscle and a swathe of big name backers, including the aforementioned Google and Goldman Sachs, fueling its expansion.

In this latest bump in the ride-sharing road, Uber is able to — and doubtless will — object to the Franfurt injunction and ask for an annulment of the court’s decision. It certainly has the overflowing coffers to lean in to lengthy legal battles. The company filed an objection to the earlier ban in Berlin, and has been able to continue operating there in the legal interim. It has also previously faced a ban in Hamburg, and recently was able to have that overturned.

At the time of writing Uber had not responded to a request for comment but the company told Spiegel Online it will fight the latest injunction in Germany.

We’ll update this story with any statement from the company.

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Pandora launches Google Glass app for streaming internet radio

Pandora today released its official app for Google Glass, letting owners access their personalized radio stations on the go. The service supports listening in three ways: built-in speaker and bone conduction (no headphones required), single earbud included in the Explorer kit, and the
Double earbud accessory (micro-USB).

You can control the app with the touchpad (thumb-up and thumb-down tracks, and standard controls like pause, skip, stop) or via voice commands (just two: select an existing station and create a new one).

pandora googleglass mock final plain1 730x292 Pandora launches Google Glass app for streaming internet radio

If you own the Glass headset, you can install Pandora by following these steps:

  1. Go to google.com/myglass on your computer or device.
  2. Go to the Glassware page and find Pandora.
  3. On the detail page, turn ON Pandora and sign in.
  4. Give permission to access basic information.
  5. Pandora will be added automatically over the air.

The app was first birthed this past spring at Pandora’s semi-annual 72-hour hackathon. “It was such a hit that we decided to show it to Google,” Pandora said, and the two worked to get it out as official glassware.

See alsoPandora cuts its first deal with artists by partnering with indie record label group Merlin and Pandora raises One price to $4.99 per month for new subscribers and scraps annual option, blames royalty rates

Thumbnail image credit: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

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Google’s Security Compliance Audit Report Is Now Public

Google today announced that its cloud platform has received both a new ISO 27001 certificate and that it has completed its latest SOC 2 and SOC 3 Type II audits. Before you start yawning, it’s worth remembering that these reports certify Google’s compliance with standard security practices that are meant to keep the data on its Cloud Platform safe. That includes products like Cloud Platform, but also Google Apps for Business and Education.

The new reports and certificates now cover Google+ and Hangouts, which is nice, but the real news here is that Google is making both its ISO 27001 certificate and SOC 3 audit report easily available to anybody who wants to take a look. The SOC 3 report is about a 10-page document that summarizes the audit’s finding and lists the services that the auditors inspected. By default, this report is meant to be made public. The SOC 2 report is significantly more in-depth and runs a few hundred pages, but sadly Google isn’t making that one public.

As Google’s director of security for Google Apps Eran Feigenbaum told me, this is all about transparency and gaining trust. “Security, privacy and ultimately trust is one of the key points people still have with the cloud,” he said. “When you give your data to a vendor in the cloud, you want to understand what they do with it. A key point for gaining that trust is transparency.”

Until now, you could only get your hands on these reports after you went through a number of formalities and signed an non-disclosure agreement. Even with all of this bureaucracy, Google handed out “hundreds” of copies of its SOC 2 report every year — but only to its own customers.

Still, as Feigenbaum noted, that meant that if you were using App Engine for your product, you couldn’t give the report to any of your own customers because you were under NDA and your customers couldn’t get it because they didn’t work with Google directly.

It’s worth noting that Google isn’t the only company to make these documents public. Amazon publishes its SOC 3 report, for example, as does Microsoft (though I was only able to track down a copy from 2012).

IMAGE BY Flickr USER David Goehring UNDER CC BY 2.0 LICENSE (IMAGE HAS BEEN MODIFIED)

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Amazon Opens Up Its Enterprise Cloud Storage Service Zocalo To All

Amazon today announced that it’s making Zocalo, its secure document storage and sharing service designed for enterprise use, generally available. The news comes, not coincidentally, on a day when cloud storage competitor Dropbox announced lowered pricing and storage increases for its Pro customers.

Zocalo, which is Spanish for town square, launched into a limited preview just last month, along with very aggressive price points. For $5 per user per month, end users would receive 200 GB of storage. They can then use that service to store all manner of files, comment on and within files, share them with others, upload new versions and more, all from any device, including PCs and Macs, as well as Android and iOS devices.

Meanwhile, IT admins are able to manage Zocalo, integrating it with existing corporate directories, including Active Directory, which allows users to sign in with their existing Active Directory credentials. IT can also apply the appropriate permissions for users, making sure they only have access to the documents they’re meant to see.

The Zocalo service is now open to all AWS customers, says Amazon this morning in a blog post, and includes a 30-day free trial, as previously announced.

While Zocalo is aimed at the enterprise crowd, many of whom are still paying for legacy, on-premise solutions, it is to some extent a competitor with consumer-first services like Dropbox, which is now trying to stretch itself further into the “Pro” and business markets where it’s up against other cloud storage rivals like Box and Google Drive.

It’s also not the first cloud storage service from Amazon – the company offers a consumer-grade service called Amazon Cloud Drive, a Google Drive competitor whose biggest advantage may be its integration with the company’s own Fire phone. (Fire phone users have unlimited photo storage for their smartphone photos in Cloud Drive.)

Along with today’s public launch, Amazon notes that AWS CloudTrail, a web service that records AWS API calls and delivers log files to you, is also now integrated with Zocalo. CloudTrail will now record calls made with the Zocalo API, which is currently internal, but is planned to be made public in the future, says Amazon.

Originally posted here: Amazon Opens Up Its Enterprise Cloud Storage Service Zocalo To All

New Restrictions On Online Billing In India May Impact International E-Commerce Companies

New restrictions on online billing in India may affect international e-commerce businesses, including Google Play, Amazon India, and Uber.

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said last week that online transactions using credit cards for the purchase of items and services within India must be done through a bank within the country and be transacted in rupees. As the Indian Express explains, this may hurt online businesses, including Google Play, Amazon, and Uber, that route credit card transactions through an international payment gateway, bypassing the two-step verification required by the RBI.

In a statement, the RBI said:

“It has come to our notice that despite the above clarifications there are instances of card not present transactions being effected without the mandated additional authentication/validation even where the underlying transactions are essentially taking place between two residents in India. It is also observed that these entities are evading the mandate of additional authentication/validation by following business/payment models which are resulting in foreign exchange outflow.”

The RBI added that even though its new restrictions are effective immediately, it will give businesses until October 31, 2014, to comply.

Indian news analysis site Medianama notes that it is still unclear whether the RBI’s restrictions affect purchases only made in India, or if they will impact all purchases made using Indian cards in India.

Though the restrictions will negatively impact foreign online business operating in India, Medianama notes that it will result in more business for Indian payment gateways and banks, because all merchants will have route transactions through Indian payment gateways.

India recently became Uber’s largest market outside of the U.S. The car calling app is now available in 10 Indian cities, the same as rival Olacabs, which is headquartered in Mumbai and may therefore have an easier time dealing with the RBI’s new restrictions.

Amazon, meanwhile, sees India as one of its most important growth markets. It recently announced that it plans to invest $2 billion in its Indian marketplace, just one day after rival Flipkart, which is headquartered in Bangalore, announced that it had received a massive $1 billion in new funding led by Tiger Global Management and Naspers.

TechCrunch has contacted Uber, Amazon, and Google for comment and will update this post if we hear back from them.

Image by Flickr user Gopal Vijayaraghavan used under a Creative Commons 2.0 license

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Google adds some of Iceland’s breathtaking waterfalls and geysers to Street View

Google has added yet more awe-inspiring imagery to its Street View repository. The latest batch of high-resolution photos were captured in Iceland, a beautiful island known for its gushing waterfalls, icy glaciers and explosive geysers.

The new panoramic, 360-degree photos cover the raging Gullfoss Waterfall, located on the Hvítá river, as well as the Haukadalur Geothermal Area, known locally as the “Geysir.” The latter is notable for what’s been coined the Srokkur, a powerful geyser that erupts like clockwork every five to 10 minutes.

Screen Shot 2014 08 18 at 8.59.32 AM Google adds some of Icelands breathtaking waterfalls and geysers to Street View

Google’s Street View team also ventured to the Vatnajökulsþjóðgarður national park (try pronouncing that one after a few drinks), which is full of rolling hills and winding, stony footpaths. The UNESCO site Þingvellir, which translates to “Parliament Plains,” has also been documented for its historical significance and natural beauty. Until 1798, the site was used as a meeting point for the Alþing general assembly, and is still respected by Icelanders to this day.

Rounding out the new additions is another beautiful waterfall called the Dettifoss, situated in the idyllic Vatnajökull National Park, as well as the volcanic crater lake Kerið. You can easily explore the whole set via Google Views.

Screen Shot 2014 08 18 at 9.01.48 AM Google adds some of Icelands breathtaking waterfalls and geysers to Street View

If you can’t venture to Iceland yourself, Google Street View is probably your next best alternative. Most recently, the company has also uploaded photos for 36 university campuses in America, new historical sites in India, and Laos.

Read Next: ‘Sounds of Street View’ adds ambient noise to Google’s 360-degree photo landscapes

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Top image credit: EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images

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Originally posted here: Google adds some of Iceland’s breathtaking waterfalls and geysers to Street View

Mesosphere Comes To The Google Cloud Platform, Integrates Google’s Open Source Kubernetes Project

Google and Mesosphere today announced a partnership that brings support for Mesos clusters to Google’s Compute Engine platform. While the Mesos project and Mesosphere aren’t quite household names yet, they are quickly becoming important tools for companies that want to be able to easily scale their applications, no matter whether that’s in their own data centers, in a public cloud service, or as a hybrid deployment.

With this collaboration between Google and Mesosphere, Cloud Platform users will now be able to set up a Mesosphere cluster on Google’s servers in less than 10 minutes. Developers get to choose between two basic installs: a development cluster with four instances, eight virtual CPUs and 30GB of memory for prototyping their applications, or  a production-ready install with 18 instances, 36 virtual CPUs and 136GB of memory. If those two options don’t fit, they can also create their own custom clusters.

By default, those clusters include the Mesos kernel, Zookeeper, Marathon and OpenVPN. Once the cluster is up and running, Mesosphere offers a straightforward web-based dashboard for managing these clusters that can be accessed right from the Google dashboard.

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As Florian Leibert, the co-founder and CEO of Mesosphere told me earlier this week, the main idea behind Mesosphere has always been to allow developers to treat a data center like a single computer — with Mesos and other software packages abstracting much of the basic devops work away. Some companies that currently use Mesos are Leibert’s former employers Twitter and Airbnb, which he introduced to the open-source Mesos project.

Mesosphere essentially creates a layer on top of your hardware that handles all of the servers, virtual machines and cloud instances in the background and lets an application draw from a single pool of resources like CPU power and memory. By default, Mesosphere’s service does not really care what operating system you run or what cloud you are using. The team tells me, however, that it worked with Google to optimize its offerings for its cloud to take full advantage of the environment (you can read a bit more about Mesosphere and its tools here).

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As part of the partnership with Google, Mesosphere also today announced that it is integrating Google’s recently launched open source Kubernetes service for managing Docker containers right into Mesopshere. The company says this will make it easier to manage the deployments of Docker workloads. It’s worth noting that this is not just for running Mesosphere on the Google Cloud Platform. As Leibert notes in today’s announcement, “our combined compute fabric can run anywhere, whether on Google Cloud Platform, your own datacenter, or another cloud provider.”

Google’s Craig McLuckie, its lead product manager for next generation cloud computing products like Kubernetes, also told me that what Google wanted to do with Kubernetes was to bring many of the core concepts that it has developed for managing its own datacenters to users outside the company. He believes that what Mesosphere and Google are working on is “very complimentary” and that he believes that the company can bring some of the concepts it developed into Mesos, too.

As Mesosphere’s senior VP Matt Trifiro (and former Heroku CMO) told me, he believes that projects like Kubernetes and Mesos can bring some of these “rarefied air concepts” behind these technologies to everybody. What happened so far, he argues, is that “the tooling hasn’t kept up with being accessible for companies that need to get to web scale.” But now with the expertise from Google and Mesos, the company can make these concepts consumable for developers to that they can operate at a new abstraction level that frees them from directly dealing with much of the infrastructure that powers their applications.

“We look forward to working with Google to make Cloud Platform the best place to run traditional Mesosphere workloads, such as Marathon, Chronos, Hadoop, or Spark—or newer Kubernetes workloads,” Leibert writes today.

It’s probably not too early to start thinking about whether Mesosphere could become an acquisition target for Google given how close the two companies worked together on this project. For now that’s just speculation, of course, but if it ever happens, remember you read it here first.

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Lenovo is now selling more smartphones than PCs for the first time ever

Lenovo is gradually becoming becoming more of a mobile firm, as it revealed today that it is selling more smartphones than PCs for the first time ever. The company’s earnings for the first fiscal quarter ending June 30 2014 showed that it chalked up a “record volume” of 15.8 million units, up 39 percent from the year before. Comparatively, PC shipments rose 15 percent year-on-year to reach 14.5 million units.

In fiscal Q1 2013, Lenovo’s combined sales of smartphones and tablets surpassed PCs for the first time ever — and now smartphones alone are outselling PCs. According to the latest figures from market research firm IDC, Lenovo was the fourth-largest smartphone vendor globally in the second quarter of 2014 after a “record quarter” in China. Notably, IDC also noted that the company’s share of shipments outside of China was almost triple that of the 5 percent share recorded in Q2 2013.

Early this year, Lenovo cemented its commitment to smartphones, especially in the West, by agreeing to acquire Motorola from Google for $2.91 billion. Its momentum in smartphones looks set to pick up once the acquisition is officially closed, pending regulatory approval.

Thumbnail image via Philippe Lopez/AFP/Getty Images

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Microsoft’s CEO Dares Google, Amazon Execs In Ice Bucket Challenge

The current meme of dumping really cold water on your head to raise awareness for ALS is spreading quickly.

Today, Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella allowed the winning team from his company’s internal hackathon to pour a large amount of chilly dihydrogen monoxide onto his expecting pate.

Then, Nadella challenged Google and Amazon CEOs Larry Page and Jeff Bezos to do the same. Bezos, like Nadella, doesn’t keep much on top. Page, on the other hand, has a more natural defense.

Soak the rich!

Jokes aside, the campaign is driving a huge spike in donations to combat ALS. 

Read this article: Microsoft’s CEO Dares Google, Amazon Execs In Ice Bucket Challenge