Better late than never: After a 8-year wait, Google brings free WiFi to San Francisco parks


It was almost eight years ago when Google (s goog) toyed with the idea of launching free Wi-Fi in San Francisco public spaces. Google’s radical idea — championed by angel investor Chris Sacca, who at that time was a Google employee — came under criticism and even cellular pioneer Marty Cooper worried about its cost. For political reasons, that deal fell through. Google moved on, offered free Wi-Fi in other cities, started building fiber networks and also launched balloon-based broadband.

It seems we have come a full circle. The company is finally ready to launch free (rather, Google ad-supported) Wi-Fi networks in at least 31 parks in San Francisco. These parks include iconic locations such as the Mission Dolores Park and Alamo Square. The need for Wi-Fi networks has escalated since the launch of the iPhone. Wi-Fi has become crucial part of our state of connectedness.

“Google has…

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Google bets on Glasses for the masses, buys a 6.3% stake in display supplier


Google(s goog) now owns a small portion of Himax(s himx), the supplier that makes the tiny display in Google Glass. On Monday, Himax announced the deal with Google buying 6.3 percent of the company’s stock. Google also has a one-year option to purchase more shares at the same price; if it exercises that option in full, Google would own 14.8 percent of the Taiwan-based manufacturer.

TechCrunch spotted the news release and says the company plans to use the added investment to boost production. The display component is key to Google Glass, which puts web searches, notifications and other information on a small screen in the glasses. While the glasses don’t have a dedicated connection to the internet, they can use a smartphone’s mobile broadband radio to send and receive data. An integrated camera is used for capturing video or still images with the device.

Google Glass ElizaGoogle has said previously…

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A snapshot of Google’s uphill battle getting Android into schools


In May at its annual developer conference, Google (s GOOG) announced plans to launch a new Android app store, called Google Play for Education, for teachers this fall. But there’s some new evidence that it’s in for a tough battle with Apple (s AAPL).

According to a new survey, iPads are far and away the most desired mobile device among educators. When asked which devices their districts had adopted or planned to adopt in the next one or two years, 81 percent of educators said the iPad, compared with just 31 percent for a Google Chromebook (and 20 percent for an iPod Touch).

That’s not surprising given Apple’s aggressive push in education – last year, it sold 4.5 million iPads to schools and reported one billion downloads for iTunes U. But it gives an indication of just how big a gap Google may have to close. The survey involved…

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Wish you could get Google Maps for iOS offline? Now you can


Google’s(s GOOG) new native iPad Maps app arrived earlier this week. But there’s a very useful new feature that hasn’t gotten much coverage: the ability to download maps to use offline. This is new to Google’s iOS(s AAPL) app, but has been a feature of its Android maps app already.

The Digital Inspiration blog has a really handy demonstration video showing how simple it is to download small areas of a Google map that you need to use when you’re not on an internet connection.

You search for the area you want, zoom in to the detail level that you need, type a command (“ok maps”) into the search bar and tap search on the virtual keyboard. The map will download to your device for later use. It works for iPad and for iPhone.

Handy, right? I definitely plan to use this instead next time I travel abroad or am…

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