Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Google India launches driving direction on Google Maps

Google India has launched driving directions for users of Google Maps. Users can now navigate around locations using Google Maps on their

desktops and mobile phones using landmarks like petrol stations, banks, schools, railway stations, bus stops, local businesses & traffic circles and signals. India is the first country globally to get this feature on Google Maps.
Indians are more comfortable finding way on the streets using landmarks. Typically many roads in India are not marked with road signs and even if they are, the signs are not visible. In some cases people do not even know the road names. For instance, a friend asks you for directions to your house for a new year party, or to that nice picnic spot you recommended to celebrate a new year’s eve, you scribble some lines on a piece of paper or explain that they should take a turn from a petrol pump or a bus stop or a grocery shop! Google today enables this activity online and share with friends and family.
In India, Google has collected good landmark data through user-created "Points of Interest" in Google Map Maker. Google’s new algorithm determines which of these landmarks are most useful for navigation, based on importance, and closeness to the turns that the user is making and other available signals. With this launch, Google will now combine landmark data, counted turns ("the 2nd right"), intersection names, and road names, and try to use whatever information is most relevant and useful.
Google is providing two kinds of landmarks, to identify where users need to turn, and to provide confirmation that they're on the right track. Google also encourages users to help make directions even better for millions of users in India by enriching landmarks data via Google Map Maker.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Googlephone Is Alive And Kicking Says Google

In a move apparently aimed at mounting an even bigger challenge to the iPhone Google has confirmed that it is working on an own brand smartphone, one that might bear the name Nexus-one, and could go on sale as early as next month.
In a post on Google's official mobile blog, Mario Queiroz, Vice President, Product Management at the company said that the software giant had started a "dogfooding" process (i.e. using their own employees as guinea pigs) for a particular device.

He mentions a concept of a mobile lab which is essentially a device that "combines innovative hardware from a partner with software that runs on Android to experiment with new mobile features and capabilities".

Although Google has not officially confirmed that it will sell the smartphone, the Wall Street Journal wrote that it could go on sale as early as next year. HTC is rumoured to have been lined up to produce it.

However, like Microsoft in the case of the Toshiba-produced Zune, Google is likely to put its brand on the phone. Google is also said to have designed the phone from ground up, maintaining control on its exact configuration.

Analysts suspect that Google could be vying to become a major force in the mobile segment, not unlike Apple although that would put it on a collision course with many of its own partners including Verizon Wireless and Motorola.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Google Goggles' visual search headed for Chrome

It appears that the Google Goggles search-by-sight tool could soon work not just with mobile phones, but through Google's Chrome browser, too.

"I am working on a 20 percent project to facilitate the input of Web image searching," Google programmer Xiuduan Fang said in a post Tuesday to the Chrome Extensions mailing list titled "Chrome extension for Web Goggles. The 20 percent figure refers to a Google program that permits engineers to devote a fifth of their time to projects of their own choosing.

"We would like to have some browser extensions so that the user can drag a Web image and drop it in an input box on the toolbar...The search results of the image will be shown," Fang said, then asking for advice on how to write it up for Chrome. The original message isn't online, though a response with some pointers is.

Google Goggles currently is available as an application for phones running Google's Android operating system, but Google is working to release other versions, too. A Web browser interface would expand the service's availability beyond phones. Though there are plenty of situations where you might want to point your phone at a subject while out and about, there also are plenty of images on the Web that might provoke further inquiry.

The Goggles feature works by comparing an uploaded image to a database of billions Google has collected and analyzed. It can recognize landmarks and read the text of wine labels, among other things, but until Google works out privacy controls it doesn't make use of its ability to recognize faces. The effort is part of Google's unending effort to expand the scope and utility of its search service.

The new beta version of Google's Chrome browser adds support for extensions, though at present with some limits on user interface choices for programmers.

Vic Gundotra, Google's vice president of engineering, takes a photo of the Itsukushima Shrine in Japan. The Google Goggles feature successfully identified it.

Vic Gundotra, Google's vice president of engineering, takes a photo of the Itsukushima Shrine in Japan. The Google Goggles feature successfully identified it during the Dec. 7 demonstration that was the feature's debut.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Google Brings Real Time Search Results

Results will include items from recently updated blogs, news articles and tweets.

Starting today, Google has made some changes to its search engine by "officially" adding support for real-time search results. This new addition comes in the wake of sites like Twitter and Facebook that are updated with posts and tweets, by the second.

The service will be introduced gradually to all Google users and over the next few days, you will be able to see "new" updates that have been posted seconds ago, in Google Search results. The search results will include items from recently updated blogs, news articles and of course tweets and status updates. This is a step up from Google's earlier option where news and articles from only "a few minutes" ago only appeared in search results by default. The new option will work in a way that is similar to Twitter's existing search feature - albeit on a larger and broader scale. Twitter and Facebook, both have confirmed that they have signed a deal with Google to make real time results a reality. Earlier, Twitter had also struck a separate deal with Microsoft to make live updates available in the Bing search engine.

The power of real time search results was observed in emergency situations like the Mumbai Terror attacks last year and during the Obama elections. Real time search results will prove useful during situations when people need updated information constantly, and aggregate them from various sources.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Powered by Google: The Public DNS

So, I’m currently using Google’s newest service called “Public DNS“. This experimental service was created with the intention of making the internet faster — and you know what? Unless it’s psychological, my internet seems to be a bit zippier.

DNS is what makes using domain names  possible. When you type in into your browser, DNS is what is responsible for translating it into an IP address — you can think of an IP address as a physical address that everything hooked up to a network needs in order to be connected.

I’m not exactly sure what makes this faster than my local DNS cache — but it’s not just that. This service is also an easy way to protect yourself from malicious hackers looking to serve up invalid DNS responses. Using Public DNS virtually guarantees that you will not fall victim to such an attack.

But what about privacy? Google is no doubt going to store, and use those DNS translation requests — now they can get some impressive aggregate data about almost anything that requires the internet. Does that worry me? Not really — you don’t need to log into anything to use this service, so the data they are collecting is relatively anonymous.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Google Testing a Permanent Search Sidebar

According to Marissa Mayer, Google’s vice president of search product and user experience, Google is looking to streamline its search experience. Using a jazz metaphor, Mayer explains that customers aren’t happy with the fact that Google’s search interface is too unpredictable (much like jazz, especially if you aren’t into it) at times.

To rectify this, GoogleGoogle is testing an overhauled interface for its main product, Google Search. The new interface, that’ll soon become available to a small portion of users, will contain a sidebar on the left side, somewhat similar to the one you get when you clicked on “Show options” after conducting a search, but far more polished.

The sidebar, pictured below (courtesy of Search Engine Land), lets you narrow your search to various types of content (images, books, news, maps etc.), includes various options (such as time frame for the results) and gives you suggestions for related searches.


It’s a big change for Google, a company that’s notoriously shy when it comes to changing its tried and true less-is-more approach, so don’t expect this to roll out for everyone very soon. However, as the number of Google’s various services grows and its search results start to vary more and more based on factors such as your geolocation, we like Google’s idea of adding some order and discipline into its search experience.

Google machine-generated automatic captions for Youtube

Google Auto-caps YouTube

Remember Google’s captions for Google Video and YouTube? Yes those that considerably aided the deaf and hearing impaired. These were later incorporated with multiple caption tracks, improved search functionality and even automatic translation. Stepping it up with yet another milestone, the official Google blog makes public machine-generated automatic captions.

Ever since captions were originally launched in Google products, the company claims to have witnessed a surge in the number of videos that have been captioned. The company alludes that a growing number of users are now becoming aware of the usefulness of captions. Now with machine translation, the company hopes that besides the deaf and hearing impaired even people around can benefit from this service.

The machine translation permits users to gain access to video content in any of 51 languages. Besides, captions could also help to enhance search along with allowing users to jump to precise parts of the videos that they could be looking for. Automatic captions address the issue of scaling faced by YouTube users. Google’s automatic speech recognition (ARS) technology has been combined with the YouTube caption system for this very purpose.

Taking maximum advantage of both Google and YouTube functions, automatic captions or auto-caps for short use the same voice recognition algorithms in Google Voice to render automatic captions for video. Though the captions may not always be perfect the company hopes that they are as helpful when they’re off.

Besides, automatic captions, Google is also releasing automatic caption timing, or auto-timing that should make it significantly effortless for users to generate captions manually. With this novel feature, users no longer require a special expertise to create their own captions in YouTube. To go about it, users simply have to create a text file with all the words in the video. Google will then utilize its ASR technology to figure out when the words are spoken and create captions for the video. This attribute should also prove beneficial to video owners who may be short of time or resources when creating professional caption tracks.

Both features will be available in English by the end of the week. As part of the initial launch, auto-caps are only visible on a handful of partner channels including UC Berkeley, Stanford, MIT, Yale, UCLA, Duke, UCTV, Columbia, PBS, National Geographic, Demand Media, UNSW and most Google & YouTube channels. Auto-timing is however rolling out globally for all English-language videos on YouTube.

Google Chrome OS: Everything You Need to Know

Unless you live in a cave, don't care at all about technology or have been distracted by Sarah Palin's publicity tour, you've probably heard that Google showed its Linux-based Chrome operating system to the world yesterday.

Google, a company born and bred on the Web, has a mighty challenge ahead of it getting into the PC business. Aware of this, Google does not have grand ambitions to take over PCs with Chrome. It's a browser and cloud-based OS for netbooks designed to be fast, simple and secure. Chrome will not support hard drives, only solid-state storage, and it will only run Web-based applications. There will be no desktop-type software programs allowed.

As for security, if any application is in danger of being corrupted by malware, Chrome has been designed to reboot itself, after which a clean version of the OS is downloaded. Nearly all user data will be stored in the Google's cloud computing service and will be encrypted and sychronized constantly between the netbook and the cloud.

Creating a cloud OS for netbooks that will run only Web apps through a speedy Google browser makes sense for a company that has been at the forefront of Web-based computing since its inception.

But with Chrome OS's availability pushed until the end of 2010 and Google conceding that Chrome OS netbooks are secondary devices to conventional PCs, is Google's focus too narrow and its development too slow? and its sister publications covered the Chrome OS unveiling from every angle, with some news analysis and opinion articles calling Chrome revolutionary and others declaring it a disaster, and everything in between.

Here's a round up of this week's Chrome OS stories.

Google released its Chrome operating system to the open-source community on Thursday and said it has designed the netbook OS to be faster, simpler and more secure than existing ones.

Google's Chrome OS doesn't signal the apocalypse for Apple and Microsoft, but that doesn't mean the operating system won't succeed. Just like the Chrome Web browser, Google's carving out a small slice of the market for people who want the company's buzzwords of speed, security and simplicity.

The excitement around the Chrome operating system has led to rampant rumors and speculation, but PCWorld's Tony Bradley questions whether the Chrome OS is really worth any of this hype.

With Google working on its upcoming browser-based Chrome operating system, the company is intensifying its grudge match with rival Microsoft.

Microsoft was, predictably, not all that impressed by Google's demonstration of its upcoming Chrome OS today, while other potential rivals were split.

Chrome OS is lauded by Google as a completely new method of personal computing and it does have a number of features that are intriguing. On the other hand, a Chrome OS device is really another incarnation of a thin client mobile Internet device.

Watching Google's Chrome OS event made PCWorld's David Coursey realize that there is a lot in Google's OS that can benefit Microsoft — like giving it a completely new platform and one it needs. If Google is really true to its open source promises, Microsoft should join the fun.

Google has unveiled Chrome OS, an exciting new platform for Web computing that is aimed squarely at consumer netbooks, and has little relevance to businesses today other than as a companion PC.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Google 'happy' to be part of UID if asked by the govt

Internet search giant Google today said it will be "happy to help" India in implementing a project to provide unique identity numbers to citizens, if asked.
"It would be very arrogant for us to say that we can help in the project. If the UID authorities feel that Google can add value to it, then we will be very happy to help. But we are not proactively approaching the government to be a part of it. It's up to them to decide how we can help," Google India MD Shailesh Rao told reporters here.
Google's rival Yahoo had yesterday offered to be part of the project headed by Nandan Nilekani.
Talking about the expertise Google can bring to the table, Rao said, "At Google, we are good at software development, hosting data and language technologies. We run our product on more than eight regional languages in India.
"If the project has a mobile dimension then also we can help. At Google, we have developed voice-based search capabilities," Rao added.
The UID project aims to provide a unique identification numbers to

Google to enter Indian wireless space?

The US fans of Google may have been disappointed when rumours of a Google-branded phone turned out to be false, but those in Delhi and Mumbai may be luckier.

click here

According to industry rumours, the US firm has had several rounds of talks with the state-owned telecom operator of Delhi and Mumbai --- Mahanagar Telecom Nigam (MTNL) on the possible launch of a Google branded Wimax wireless internet service.

MTNL, one of the pioneers in introducing new technologies and Google did not comment on the story, but industry insiders said the two are trying to work out the joint project.
"What we got to know is that they have not been able to agree on the finite details such as branding and the extent of Google's involvement," said an industry official who does business with the telco.

Another source said Google is mainly interested in pushing web-cum-phone devices built on its Android operating system. "They have a plan focused on devices running Android which will take their web-services to the airwaves," he said, requesting anonymity.
The talks, according to this person, have been on for months.

Worldwide, Google has a policy of supporting projects that allow it to extend reach to the wireless market.

Primarily an online player, it is battling operators, hardware makers and other software makers such as Microsoft in its efforts to ensure that its market-leadership extends onto the mobile platform.

Operators and hardware makers can potentially throw a spanner into Google's ambitions to be present wherever the web is by herding the consumers onto their own mobile services and portals.

Phonemaker Apple, for example, has successfully managed to make its phone-based software store the most popular service in its category through its control over the hugely successful iPhone.

A potential alliance with MTNL will not only give Google access to two of the top three markets for wireless data in the country, it will also give it a platform to experiment with offering more voice-based services.

It is currently restricted to search, online content and software as far as the mobile platform is concerned, while it also offers voice-calling on the regular internet.

While rumours have abounded that Google will bid for spectrum and offer its own wireless services, the company has steadfastly refused to issue clarifications on the subject.

Speculation has, in the past, included so-called gPhones that will be free of charge to the user and will be supported by Google Ads

Google Offers Free Airport Wi-Fi Over Holiday Season

Google Tuesday announced that it is working with a number of U.S. airports, as well as Boingo Wireless, Advanced Wireless Group, Airport Marketing Income and others to provide free Wi-Fi during the holiday season through Jan. 15, 2010. The service currently includes 47 airports, including Las Vegas, San Jose, Boston, Baltimore, Burbank, Houston, Indianapolis, Seattle, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, St. Louis and Charlotte. Additionally, as a result of the project, Burbank and Seattle airports will begin offering airport-wide free Wi-Fi indefinitely, the Google said.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Google launches Go programming language

Google has just released a new experimental programming language to the open source community.

Go is an attempt by the web giant to mix the dynamic, web-friendly attributes of scripting languages like Python with the performance and security benefits of compiled languages like C++.

The move follows similar attempts to gain a foothold in the world of core IT infrastructure, which include the creation of the Android mobile operating system (OS), the Chrome PC browser and the as yet unreleased Chrome OS.

Work on Go was started two years ago, but it was assigned a dedicated development team to work on it full time about a year ago. Team members include industry heavyweights Ken Thompson and Rob Pike, two of the creators of the Unix operating system, and Robert Thompson, who developed the Java HotSpot compiler.

Google said in a blog posting that Go is intended to be a systems programming language for building software such as web servers and databases. Its concurrent programming model is optimised for multi-processing and multi-core-based machines.

Described by the vendor as a “fresh and lightweight take on object-oriented design”, the language is intended to improve the handling of dependencies between reusable software components such as libraries.

"Here at Google, we believe programming should be fast, productive, and most importantly, fun. That's why we're excited to open source an experimental new language called Go," read the blog.

"Typical builds feel instantaneous; even large binaries compile in just a few seconds. And the compiled code runs close to the speed of C. Go lets you move fast."

Google said it has already tested the language internally, but is not currently using it to build user-facing applications itself as it is considered too immature. The firm hopes that releasing Go to the open source community wil l provide it with help in terms of future development.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Google launching free videoconferencing

Google is all set to strengthen its voice and video chat capabilities. The voice and video chat feature in the company's the email se rvice, Gmail, is currently limited to one-to-one communication, however, Google wants to broaden this capability to more than two participants.
The Google Apps product manager Rishi Chandra told SFGate that Google is set to roll out its first update in a long line of updates that will include multi-user video conferencing.
Chandra told the web site, “This (current Gmail capability) is the first step in a much broader set of features we hope to roll out over the next six to 12 months around video (and voice) chat capabilities.” He added, "It’s a great opportunity for us to push that space along."
Google acquired Web and video conferencing software in 2007 from Swedish company Marratech.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Google opens up its JavaScript development toolbox to all

Google opens up its JavaScript development toolbox to allGoogle is providing the web development community with an intriguing glimpse under the hood at some of the fundamental building blocks of the company's most popular web applications. The search giant has opened the source code of its comprehensive JavaScript library collection and is making it available to third-party developers for widespread adoption. Google also opened the source code of its own JavaScript compression tools.

The library, called Closure, includes an extraordinarily diverse assortment of capabilities with functionality ranging from JSON serialization to standard user interface widgets. All of the features are cross-browser compatible and can be readily adopted without marginalizing any users. The library consists primarily of helper functions and user interface widgets, many of which are recognizable from popular Google applications.

The library fills some of the gaps in JavaScript and has features that ameliorate a number of the language's historical weaknesses. For example, it has a mechanism that brings conventional object-oriented inheritance to JavaScript. It also provides a namespace system and support for module loading with dependency resolution. The source code is distributed under the Apache License and is available for download from the Google Code web site. The company has published API reference documentation and some introductory tutorials to help prospective adopters get started with the library.

In addition to opening the library, Google has also announced the availability of the Closure Compiler, a JavaScript compression and optimization tool with a number of advanced features. In addition to optimization and compression, the compiler can also conduct basic code analysis to help identify certain kinds of programming errors. Like the library, the compiler is open source and distributed under the Apache License.

It is built with the Java programming language and can be used from the command line or through a web interface provided by Google. The web interface allows developers to simply paste their JavaScript code into a text field in their browser, click a button, and get a downloadable compressed version of their script. A REST API is also available for programmatically automated use of the hosted compiler. A special Firebug plugin called the Closure Inspector is provided to help debug the compressed code. It will map expressions in the compressed code to the relevant line in the original code.

The release of the Closure library and compiler were announced today at the Google Code blog.

"[Closure] started as 20% projects and hundreds of Googlers have contributed thousands of patches. Today, each Closure Tool has grown to be a key part of the JavaScript infrastructure behind web apps at Google," the Closure team wrote. "That's why we're particularly excited (and humbled) to open source them to encourage and support web development outside Google. We want to hear what you think, but more importantly, we want to see what you make."

There is obviously a lot of overlap between Closure and other popular JavaScript libraries such as Dojo, but it still offers a lot of unique value. Closure Compiler is also compelling and appears to be competitive with other JavaScript compression solutions.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Google centralises privacy control

Google Dashboard with banker

Google Dashboard: makes the search engine's strong position transparent

With the new Google Dashboard, the personal data and product settings of different Google products are combined on one side to make it simpler for users to deal with them. The feature, which has just been launched,looks like a console for your personal data. Now you can do what Google can do too, as it links from one place to the data stored on different Google sites. And yes, it does make it easier to manage your personal data.

Users can change their privacy settings, delete data on the dashboard, or read the privacy policies from various accounts instead of looking for them everywhere. "We think of this as a great step, and we hope this helps shape the way the industry thinks about data transparency and control," said Alma Whitten, the Google software engineer for security and privacy.

Because Google is one of the most important gateways to information, with the new feature the frenemy is obviously answering the growing public discomfort about its dominance of the internet. Most internet searches are passing on the servers of the quasi-monopoly, and a growing number of people are using more and more Google products as YouTube, Gmail, Google Maps and Google Docs become more and more popular.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Google Maps' appearance takes new direction

Google is notoriously slow and calculating about changing it the user interface of its services.

In fact, Google hasn't made any major changes to the look and feel of Google Maps since its launch in 2005.

On Friday, the company launched several refinements to Maps--the biggest changes to its look since launch. While you might not notice these changes immediately--unless you are a hardcore Google Maps user--they are designed to enhance the readability of the maps.

Notice how roads and names are called out more effectively in the new version.

As seen above, the thick street outlines that can make maps harder to read have been eliminated.

Google describes the update here:

(L)ocal and arterial roads have been narrowed at medium zooms to improve legibility, and the overall colors have been optimized to be easier on the eye and conflict less with other things (such as traffic, transit lines and search results) that we overlay onto the map. Hybrid roads have gained a crisp outline to make them easier to follow, and the overall look is now closer to an augmented satellite view instead of a simple overlay.

Google adds more personalization to Reader

Google has added new personalization features to Reader, its RSS feed aggregator, the company wrote in a blog post Thursday.

One new feature is dubbed Popular Items. Using algorithms, Reader will "find top-rising images, videos and pages from anywhere (not just your subscriptions)." From there, the app will lump all those pieces in the new Popular Items section. Based on a user's subscriptions and what someone is reading, Reader orders those stories by what it thinks a person likes best.

Reader's recommendations have been moved to the app's Explore section. Google also renamed it Recommended Sources. Like before, that feature will employ the user's Reader Trends and Web History to find a list of feeds he or she might like.

To make it easier for users to find the information they're most likely to care about, all Reader feeds now feature a sort option called Magic. According to Google, Magic "reorders items in the feed based on your personal usage, and overall activity in Reader, instead of default chronological order." Google said that the ranking is tailored to the user. The more the user clicks the "like" and "share" buttons on stories, the better the Magic sort will be.

Here is the Magic setting in action:

Google Reader

Google Talks Up Chrome Operating System as Windows 7 Launches

Web applications such as Gmail and Google Wave are paving the way for major adoption of the Google Chrome Web browser and fueling the forthcoming Chrome Operating System, says Sundar Pichai, vice president of product management at Google, speaking at the Web 2.0 Summit Oct. 22. In fact, Web apps made it imperative for Google to create Chrome. Pichai's points about Chrome OS and managing user data in the cloud are interesting in relation to Microsoft's launch of Windows 7 in New York.
SAN FRANCISCO—A Google executive said complex Web applications such as Gmail and Google Wave are paving the way for major adoption of the Google Chrome Web browser, which has racked up more than 30 million active users since its launch in September 2008.

Rich Web applications are also fueling the forthcoming Chrome Operating System, said Sundar Pichai, vice president of product management at Google, speaking at the Web 2.0 Summit here Oct. 22.

Pichai called the Chrome browser the modern operating system for those Web applications, powered by the Chrome OS platform, which is essentially Chrome on top of Linux with a new windowing system. The idea is that users of netbooks and other devices running Chrome OS won't need to install, tune or maintain the software on PCs.

"In our model ... they don't manage software, they don't manage data, everything is in the cloud," Pichai said. You should be able to take a Chrome OS netbook, get back your windows, get back your state and go.

Resource Library:
This talking point about Chrome OS managing user data in the cloud took on an interesting light in relation to Microsoft's launch of Windows 7 in New York today, Oct. 22. Windows 7, the latest iteration of the on-premises operating system, is being roundly praised and is considered a vast improvement over Windows Vista.

Web 2.0 Summit co-host Tim O'Reilly asked Pichai whether Chrome OS was on a collision course with Windows, as both seek for more placement on netbooks, those smaller notebook computers that specialize in running Web applications. Windows XP is the leading operating system on netbooks.

Pichai laughed, but didn't take the bait, answering that the industry is seeing "tremendous innovation in personal computing once again." Browsers and operating systems, fueled by Chrome and the Google Android mobile operating system, are becoming modernized, he said.

"Today, a browser is a bolted-on icon on top of the operating system," Pichai said. "We really want to flip that around ... When I look at my behavior—and it's true for a lot of users out here—we spend most of our time on the Web today and the amount of time is going to increase. Within Google, since we use a lot of Google Apps, I never, ever open anything around my browser."

Pichai also said he foresaw Chrome OS appearing on other clamshell devices with a keyboard and touchpad, but declined to be more specific.

Despite allusions to Chrome-related news from show co-host John Battelle, Pichai had nothing new to announce about Chrome or Chrome OS. He didn't even bother to mention the new Chrome artist themes launched today.

In fact, the latest on Chrome OS came during Google's third-quarter earnings call Oct. 15: Schmidt said Chrome OS was being tweaked for a developer release for later in 2009.

Chrome OS-based netbooks are expected in 2010, when they will have to challenge Microsoft's claim of 96 percent share of the netbook market via Windows XP. 

This disparity is even greater than the gulf between the Chrome browser, which has a 3.2 percent market share, and Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser, which is losing share but is still easily the leader at 65.7 percent.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Free WiFi from Google - On airplanes

For a couple months, Google is set to give away wireless internet access on Virgin Airlines in the United States beginning November 10th.

Whether it’s using Gmail to confirm an airport pick up time with your brother, doing some last minute gift shopping for your niece on Google Product Search or searching for a good sweet potato pie recipe before touchdown — we hope this makes it a bit easier to stay connected with family and friends while you’re up in the air. — Google Blog

Free internet on planes is one thing that I’m sure people at one time have wished existed. Not only do most flights have no internet, but opening your computer with WiFi turned on is a huge mistake if you listen to the warnings they give you pre-flight. Now that I think about it, does this type of thing actually interfere with airplane communications still?

Google to Offer Music with search results

Google Inc. will soon let users buy songs or listen to them for free, right on its main results page, as part of a broader push to enhance the offerings on the leading search engine, according to several people familiar with the matter.

The music offerings, from four online music services, are to be packaged in what Google calls a "one box" at the top of a results page, similar to the site's presentation of weather and financial results.

Listeners will be able to stream an entire song via a link from La La Media Inc.'s, or a sample from Users who want to purchase songs will be given the option to do so from either of those services, or from Apple Inc.'s iTunes Store or Inc. The music one box may also include an artist's image, lyrics and reviews or other "editorial" content.

The four major record labels—Warner Music Group Corp., EMI Group Ltd., Sony Corp.'s Sony Music Entertainment and Vivendi SA's Universal Music Group—have all licensed their catalogs for the initiative, which is expected to launch next week. Many independent labels also are expected to participate.

People familiar with the matter said revenue from sales would be split between the music services and the record labels. Google views the initiative as a way of improving its search system in order to retain users, not as a direct source of revenue.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A First Glimpse Of Chrome OS In The Flesh

yesterday, it looks like those wily folks at Google have removed the “chromeos” folder from the Chromium build folder. Too bad. But luckily, before they did, TechCrunch reader and Linux user, Jonathan Frederickson, was able to grab the code and managed to install it. He has posted some results in our comments section and even more on his blog.

It would seem that the result is the browser aspect of Chrome OS running inside of Linux. As you can see in the screenshots below, it looks very similar to Chrome, the browser, on Windows (still the only officially released version of Chrome), but there are some key differences.

First of all, it looks like there is a new logo of some kind. If you look in the upper left hand corner, you’ll see a a colorful circle with a white center. This is obviously different from the Chrome browser logo, which looks like the children’s game, Simon.

According to Frederickson, clicking on this logo opens a Google Short Links window. Unfortunately, you need a domain (which he obviously didn’t have) to go any further. It seems reasonable to assume that this page houses a simple link page to all the major Google Apps. But what’s odd is the wording that reads, “Google is not affiliated with the contents of Google Short Links or its owners.” No clue what that means, but maybe that’s just placeholder text.

Meanwhile, on the opposite side of the window, the far right side, you’ll notice a clock, a network status indicator (the “X”), and a battery level indicator. Of these, only the clock appears to be working at the moment. But all of those things are in line with what has been found in the code for Chrome OS so far.

There is also a drop down menu button. Here, you’ll find the options that will be familiar to users of the browser version of Chrome. But you’ll also notice the new “Chrome OS” tab. Here, you’ll find Network options, as well as Touchpad settings. Okay, this is the point where I’ll admit it was silly to think the “touchpad” may have been some sort of device, rather than simply a notebook trackpad. I noted that was probably the case yesterday, but I also let my imagination get a little carried away.

Too bad we scared Google’s “chromeos” folder off, this is getting interesting!

Click on the images for larger versions (obviously, pay no attention to the Linux OS (Ubuntu) in the background of the pics)





Update: Another reader, Adam Shannon, took the image below. He also had this info to share:

Also, some basic facts.
– Frequent Crashes
– HTML5 works
– only supports .ogg (No H.264 love)

Browser Info:

Internal Code Name: Mozilla
Browser’s Name: Netscape
Browser Version: 5.0 (X11; U; CrOS i686 9.4.0; en-US)
AppleWebKit/532.2 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/ Safari/532.2
User Agent String: Mozilla/5.0 (X11; U; CrOS i686 9.4.0; en-US)
AppleWebKit/532.2 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/ Safari/532.2
Browser Language: en-US
Computer Platform: Linux i686


Update 2: But wait, there’s more. Frederickson was able to get a slightly newer build(with the “compact nav bar”) before it was taken down. More pics below.



12 Gmail Labs add-ons every Gmailer needs


Google has made plenty of add-ons available for Gmail. Here are some of the best

Google is famed for its experimentation. One of the most fertile grounds for such testing is the Labs section of Gmail (or Google Mail depending on where you live) and it's possible to completely customise the way you use the service.

Gmail Labs is, in Google's own words, "a testing ground for experimental features that aren't quite ready for primetime".

As such, the items here aren't always the most reliable of add-ons, but these 12 are definitely worth a look. Some are extremely clever or help you avoid email faux pas, while others are simple productivity tweaks. You can turn on any of these features from the Labs tab under Settings in Gmail, or click the green conical flask icon in the top-right of your Inbox window.

1. Don't forget Bob and Got the wrong Bob?
The two strangest-named Gmail labs add-ons are also one of the cleverest. "Forget" will let Gmail suggest other contacts you might want to include on an email based on those people you email most often. Better still "Wrong Bob?" will check if you meant to include Bob Smith rather than Bob Jones – useful for making sure you don't email your boss with NSFW material. Not that you email that kind of stuff, obviously.

2. Clever previews
We've gathered together a few add-ons here, but Labs enables you to preview YouTube, Picasa, Flickr, and Yelp content directly within Gmail. Each is a separate add-on you'll need to enable. So if somebody sends you a YouTube video, you can view it directly from within your email. Lucky enough to live somewhere with Google Voice? You can play messages back directly from the notification email as well.

Gmail labs add-ons

3. Message translation
Turn on this clever new add-on and Gmail will translate any email you receive in a language other than your own. We wonder if it'll work for Americans trying to understand Brit-speak?

4. Title bar tweaks
This is the kind of simple but oh so useful tweak we love Google to provide. It changes the browser title bar from "Google Mail - Inbox (20) –" to "Inbox (20) - - Google Mail". Eh? Well, it means that even if your browser window is minimised (or you have a lot of tabs open), you'll still be able to tell how many new emails you've got.

5. Tasks
Probably Gmail Labs' most essential add-on, Tasks shares a to-do list that's common with Gmail, Google Calendar, iGoogle and on on your phone. If only it would sync with our corporate Microsoft Outlook tasks (sigh). Tasks has actually been so successful that it has now graduated from the Labs to become a Gmail feature proper.

Gmail labs add-ons

6. Undo send
Really? Yep. If you've sent sexy speak to someone you shouldn't have, this add-on prevents divorce/unemployment/being taken to a tribunal. It's a failsafe that can stop messages from being sent for a few seconds after you hit the send button (a little "cancel" appears alongside the "sending" message). One of those things that you hope you'll never need, but it could save your life if you have a little "issue".

Gmail labs add-ons

7. Search autocomplete
A small but potentially extremely handy add-on. Search autocomplete provides search suggestions for contacts as you type in the search box - very useful to find emails from a particular contact quick smart.

Gmail labs add-ons

8. Quick links
This affixes an extra box to the left-hand column in Gmail that gives you a single-click access to a variety of bookmarked URLs. This is most useful for frequently-used searches, though you could use it for other resources you might commonly use.

Gmail labs add-ons

9. Forgotten attachment detector
We've all done it, we've all been annoyed by it. This tool stops you from forgetting attachments by checking your mails for mentions of files in emails with no attachment. Save that face!

10. Create a document
If you've enabled Gmail keyboard shortcuts, you can create a Google Document automatically from an email conversation. Simply press "g" then "w".

11. Multiple inboxes
This clever tool enables you to add multiple lists of emails in your inbox. That means you can show a saved search, or messages with a certain label or starred messages - all at a glance.

Gmail labs add-ons

12. Mouse gestures
We like this a lot. Enable this add-on and you can use your mouse to navigate with gestures. Holding right-click and moving the mouse left takes you to a previous conversation, while an up movement will take you back to the inbox.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Google Docs Gets Shared Folders

Google Docs received an overhaul this week that makes it easier for users to share items, upload documents, and stay organized. The new tweaks also brought a slight change to the Google Docs homepage with a more uniform and simpler look.

Shared Folders

One of Google Docs best features is its ability to let you share and collaborate on documents with other users. In the past, if you had multiple documents you needed to share with one workgroup, Google Docs required you to send out multiple sharing notices for each document.

The new shared folders feature solves this problem, by allowing you to set up sharing permissions for one folder. Just drag and drop the files you need to share into a folder, and then click "share this folder" and invite members of your workgroup. The people in your workgroup will get an e-mail notifying them you've shared this folder. Once they've logged on to Google Docs, members of your workgroup can see the files you've added to the folder, and also drop files into your folder to share with the same group.

The new feature is handy, but there is one few quirk you should keep in mind. Even though a document is in a shared folder, the access permissions for that document are attached to the folder--not the file. So if you pull a document that you own (i.e. you created it) out of the shared folder, your workgroup will no longer be able to access the document.

Managing Your Workflow

Back by popular demand is the "Items Not In Folders" filter that allows you to see any documents you have that are not organized into folders. Google brought back the feature because some people were using this as a workflow tool.

One way to take advantage of this filter is to use it as a tool for tracking documents in draft stage. Then you can move a document into a folder once it's ready for prime time.

There is one detail you should be aware of when using this feature: Let's say John shares a report directly with Mary, but John doesn't have that report in a folder. If Mary puts it into one of her folders, John will see the report has a folder tag, but it will still show up when John filters his documents by "Items Not In Folders." That way, Mary's actions don't interrupt John's workflow. The "Items Not In Folders" filter can be accessed under the "More Searches" menu in the left hand navigation pane.

Google Docs will also let you upload multiple files at once. Just select all the files you want using the "shift" or "ctrl" ("command" on a Mac) keys, and then start your upload.

The new layout of Google Docs.

Google Docs' old layout.

You'll also notice Google Docs has a slightly different look. The new layout is a little boxier, and the visual icons (like starred, share, upload and delete) have been removed in favor of a text-only look.

Sharing Alternative

If Google Docs isn't for you, Microsoft also has two document sharing options. Live Mesh, launched last year, allows you to create a network of devices and sync folders between them. Live Mesh also gives you your own online desktop, called Live Desktop, where you can share folders with people outside of your network or Mesh. To use Live Mesh you have to download a small program, but people you share items with only need to sign up for the Live Desktop. Live Mesh works on both PC and Mac systems.

Microsoft's other alternative is its online storage space called Skydrive. However, Skydrive's sharing permissions are a little too complicated, so I recommend going with Live Desktop and Live Mesh if you are a Windows Live user.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Real time content in Gmail inbox

Gmail added a feature that lets you interact with the messages sent by some companies without opening a new page. It's called "sponsored mail with enhanced content" and here's the description:

If you're subscribed to receive email from certain senders, the messages you receive from them will be enhanced with an interactive gadget that has up-to-date content from their website (you'll also see an icon in your inbox identifying these messages).
For example, if you receive a Pregnancy Bulletin newsletter from Babycenter, you'll be able to view up-to-date content, including the baby name of the day, and browse though the current top 100 baby names within the message. Aside from the convenience of being able to interact with certain websites from inside Gmail, the branded content will help identify that your messages are legitimate and not spoofed (we'll only show branded content when the sender authenticates their mail). We're currently testing this with a small number of senders and will decide whether to make it widely available based on user and partner feedback.

One of these partners is Netflix. "A Netflix email showed up in my Gmail inbox today, and it looked different than I had ever seen- a little Netflix logo showed up right in the inbox view, and when I clicked on it, there was a whole fancy pane below the email containing movie recommendations I could add directly to my queue," noticed Dan McGee.

Google Adds More Features To Counter Bing Threat

According to technology experts, Google is adding several new features to compete Bing’s popularity. Though there has been steady popularity in Bing search engine, but this week, the internet giant, Google has added several new features and gadgets to its already popular service.

Earlier, Google had released ‘instant translation’ service on the International Translation Day. It will be a useful tool for the translation of the websites to 51 different languages.

Now on Thursday, Google made a smart move inducting a new ‘show options’ link near the top of the result page, which would help the searchers to help in an advanced filtration.

Though analysts have differed in their opinions about the users’ response, still they opted for wait and watch policy.

According to Ken Saunders, president of Search Engine Experts, the actual figure will be out within the next three months and only then they can say whether the users want it or not.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Google Chrome Frame ... Chrome performance for IE users!

Google is now offering Internet Explorer users the chance to experience Chrome levels of speed when it comes to JavaScript execution. Is this a clever way to poach users or little more than a tech experiment?

The technology, known as Chrome Frame, is, in the words of Google, “an early-stage open source plug-in that seamlessly brings Google Chrome’s open web technologies and speedy JavaScript engine to Internet Explorer.” It helps make the Microsoft browser better in two respects:

  • Start using open web technologies - like the HTML5 canvas tag - right away, even technologies that aren’t yet supported in Internet Explorer 6, 7, or 8.
  • Take advantage of JavaScript performance improvements to make your apps faster and more responsive.

In other words, Chrome Frame is a plug-in for Internet Explorer 6, 7, and 8 (to those still using IE 6, shame on you or your IT department) that makes Internet Explorer a better browser.

Clear so far? Good.

But there’s a gotcha. It involves web masters adding tags to their web pages:

Enabling Google Chrome Frame is simple. For most web pages, all you have to do is add a single tag to your pages and detect whether your users have installed Google Chrome Frame.

So if you go out and install Chrome Frame today, chances are you won’t notice any difference whatsoever. Google hasn’t published a list of sites that see a performance boost thanks to Chrome Frame.

Now, on the face of it Chrome Frame seems like interesting technology. After all, it allows users to get a better browser without actually updating their browsers. There’s a fair bit of hassle associated with changing browsers, and for the new browser to “stick” the user has to change old habits, and as we all know, old habits die hard.

It’s also interesting that Google has chosen to target IE. By releasing a plug-in that in effect makes Internet Explorer better, Google is in effect making a very bold statement - “if you can’t fix IE, we will!”

Which leads me on to the next question - why is IE the worst browser in terms of performance and compatibility? I’m having a hard time believing that the IE dev team isn’t populated with the same level of talented, geeky high achievers that Google has working on the Chrome team. The issue has to be down to management.

But is Chrome Frame anything more than just political play between Google and Microsoft? Well, I’m having a hard time seeing the plug-in gaining much traction amongst IE users unless Google can really stir web developers and get them to start tagging pages. Maybe if users start seeing download links to Chrome Frame on popular sites then users might start getting hooked.

The truth is that Internet Explorer needs to improve independent of plug-ins. There’s no real reason why the most popular browser, one developed by a multi-billion dollar company, lags far behind the rest in almost every test of benchmark you throw at it. I’m not sure if Microsoft has been deliberately crippling Internet Explorer in order to keep us hooked onto desktop apps rather than move to the cloud, or whether the project is simply bogged down by internal issues, but it’s something needs to be done now. A plug-in like Chrome Frame might be just what’s needed.

Can we have a Chrome Frame plug-in for Firefox next, please?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Google unveils Google Fast Flip

If you are a online geek and would like to get to know latest happenings around the world with a click of a button through online media agencies, you may come across that a rich media file takes lot of time to download, which can be frustrating.

To address the needs of above said problems. Google has new solution which enables to flip through articles really fast without unnatural delays, just as we can in print.

This new solution for iPhone and Android powered devices would let you seamlessly and  rapidly flip forward to the content you like, without the constant wait for things to load. Imagine taking 10 seconds to turn the page of a print magazine!

"Today we're adding a new experiment to Google Labs: Google Fast Flip, a new reading experience that combines the best elements of print and online articles. Like a print magazine, Fast Flip lets you browse sequentially through bundles of recent news, headlines and popular topics, as well as feeds from individual top publishers," said a blog post at Google.

Post added, "As the name suggests, flipping through content is very fast, so you can quickly look through a lot of pages until you find something interesting. At the same time, we provide aggregation and search over many top newspapers and magazines, and the ability to share content with your friends and community."

It further said that the new tool offers end users with fast browsing, natural magazine-style navigation, recommendations from friends and other members of the community and a personalized selection of content.

Google Buys reCAPTCHA

Google has acquired reCAPTCHA, a company that provides visual security codes for protecting more than million websites from spam and fraud. Yes, reCAPTCHA are the ones who make those boxes with squiggly letters that are required to be entered.

In its official blog, Google said that the acquisition was intended to use ReCaptcha's technology as a security measure in Google entities. Apart from that, ReCaptcha's expertise will also be used for Optical Character Recognition technique for their book-scanning project.

ReCaptcha is a company from Carnegie Mellon University's School of Computer Science that works towards twisting two words in order to confuse spam bots and scripts from spamming websites. ReCaptcha uses anOCR Software that can read passages from news clips, old books and articles which make Google much interested. Hackers use the same software to get through CAPTCHAs.

However, the reCAPTCHA software itself isn't perfect and a hacker group dubbed Anonymous had used brute forcing/guessing algorithm to crack it.

Currently, ReCaptcha is helping in digitization of old New York Times issues, which is what, we think, got Google interested.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

New Google Skype phone: Perfect for ISD

If your rising international phone calls’ bill has been giving you sleepless nights, try Belkin’s new Google Skype phone. All you need is a

Google Skype phone

wireless router (which comes for just Rs 1,500) installed in your home or office.
Detecting a Wi-Fi environment, the phone automatically logs into your Skype account.
With Skype logged in, dial either a Skype number or a mobile number of a person overseas or in India. Calls rates are as cheap as Rs 1 per minute via Skype to other mobile phones overseas. However, making STD calls via Skype phone to other mobiles are not feasible, as its expensive. But if you have friends who are always logged in on Skype, the phone can be of excellent use.
The paucity of Wi-Fi zones in India, however, does pose a handicap. In comparison, GSM wi-fi phones can log on to Skype from anywhere. But the drawback of GSM phones is that a Skype call will get disrupted as soon as you receive a GSM call. The voice clarity is, however, much higher in the Skype phone.
The drawback for the phone is its inability to work on other VoIP platforms and its low battery power. Even though the company claims a talktime of two hours and a standby time of 30 hours, the phone’s battery gets discharged earlier.
The landline Belkin Skype phone is priced in India at Rs 7,300, the cordless Skype phone is much more handy and priced at Rs 9,712.
While there are other VoIP phones in the market, Belkin’s cordless skype phone comes with 30 minutes of free Skype calling to any number in India or overseas.
The phone is excellent for people who want the comfort of mobility from a VoIP phone. So, if you have to conduct a business meeting, over ISD, chose a mobile VoIP phone. With touch and feel of a regular mobile phone, its also easier to handle for the elderly.
Price: Rs 9,712

Friday, August 14, 2009

Google Adds Social Networking To Personalized Home Page

Google is giving people the option of adding social-networking capabilities to iGoogle, potentially expanding the personalized home page's reach into such popular sites as MySpace, Friendster and others.
Google on Wednesday launched 19 "social gadgets"developed by the search engine or third parties. The mini-applications included multi-player games, such as Scrabble and chess; joint to-do lists and video-sharing on YouTube.

In addition, Google is giving iGoogle users the option of adding a "friends" section comprising people selected from the users' Google contacts list. iGoogle users can share social gadget activities with these people. Google also has added a chat feature for messaging contacts directly from iGoogle.
Before the new social features, iGoogle primarily offered a single location for search and accessing applications, such as Gmail, and content, including syndicated feeds, weather information and news articles. Users can choose to leave out the new features, which are meant to keep people on iGoogle longer by eventually making it a hub for social-networking activities.

Third-party developers will be able build iGoogle gadgets using the Google-backed OpenSocial API. The application programming interface is used to make applications interoperable with with any supporting social network, such as MySpace, which developed the API with Google, Friendster,,, Ning and Google's Orkut.

However, Facebook, the Web's largest social network, does not support OpenSocial. Instead, the site offers its own APIs called Facebook Connect, which provides users with the opportunity to share content created at a third-party Web site on Facebook.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Google unveils new 'Caffeine' search engine

Google has lifted the lid on a new version of its search engine, upping the ante as rivals attempt to close the gap on the search giant.

The new engine, codenamed Caffeine by Google, is aimed at delivering faster, more accurate and more comprehensive results.

The engine, available for testing at a separate web address, has been launched with Google asking developers and businesses for feedback. The website "front end" of the technology looks the same, but Google said the infrastructure was updated to index new content on the web faster.

The surge in popularity of the "real-time" web of Twitter postings and social networks such as Facebook make it important that search engines can quickly find and deliver such content in the search results for consumers.

The public testing of the new Google engine comes two weeks after Microsoft struck a deal to replace Yahoo!'s search engine with its own, called Bing. Bing has gained a percentage point or two of market share since its launch earlier this year as a "decision engine" by Microsoft, backed by extensive advertising, but Google still gets about two-thirds of US search queries, according to comScore.

Yahoo! handled about a fifth of US searches in June, and Microsoft fielded less than half of that. The partnership would bring the two companies' combined share to nearly 30 per cent, still less than half of Google's total. In the rest of the world, Google is even further ahead.

In a blog post, Matt Cutts, a principal engineer at Google and Sitaram Iyer, a staff software engineer, said: "For the last several months, a large team of Googlers has been working on a secret project: a next-generation architecture for Google's web search. It's the first step in a process that will let us push the envelope on size, indexing speed, accuracy, comprehensiveness and other dimensions.

"The new infrastructure sits 'under the hood' of Google's search engine, which means that most users won't notice a difference in search results. But web developers and power searchers might notice a few differences, so we're opening up a web developer preview to collect feedback."

In a personal blog post, Mr Cutts said that Caffeine was not specifically a response to Bing: "I love competition in search and want lots of it, but this change has been in the works for months. I think the best way for Google to do well in search is to continue what we’ve done for the last decade or so: focus relentlessly on pushing our search quality forward. Nobody cares more about search than Google, and I don’t think we’ll ever stop trying to improve."

Monday, August 10, 2009

Google Adds “Prices From The Page” Search Option

It was noticed that Google added an additional search option feature, named “prices from the page.” When you select this option, Google will try to pull out prices from the web page results, for the query you entered.

Here is an example, please note that I cropped the screen shot to highlight the prices snippets area:

Google Show Prices Search Option

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Chrome 3 Beta gets Themes

Features that Google brought to its developer preview version of Chrome--themes, a revamped new-tab page, a tweaked Omnibox for searching and entering Web addresses, and support for HTML 5 video--have now arrived on the browser's better tested beta version intended for broader use.

Individually, these features in Chrome (download) are niceties. Collectively, they show Google is steadily moving ahead with its browser project, which was ambitious even before Chrome OS arrived on the scene. Fighting for a piece of the browser market is tough, but offering an operating system solely for Web-based applications is a lot tougher.

Chrome themes, such as this one called Grass, are in the new Chrome beta.

Chrome themes, such as this one called Grass, are in the new Chrome beta.

After some on-again, off-again wavering, I've gone back to Chrome as my default browser. I like its interface and a handful of features, but the main advantage is its priority on speed. Google's Chrome ambition is to improve the Web as a foundation for applications and more generally to get people to do more online, and speed is of the essence.

That's why the shiny new features such as Chrome themes actually are less interesting to me than some of the fine print in Google's announcement of the new beta:

Beyond the improvements in JavaScript execution in this latest beta, there are a host of other improvements that should help Google Chrome make the most of your network connection. For example, when you open a new Web page while other Web pages are still loading, Google Chrome is now smarter about prioritizing the requests for the new page--for instance, fetching text, images, and video for your new page--ahead of the requests from the older pages. Loading pages on this beta release should also be faster than ever with DNS caching, more efficient DOM bindings, and using V8 for proxy auto-config.

OK, so that gets deep in the weeds at the end there, but suffice it to say that Google is tackling browser speed in a number of areas, not just its V8 engine for executing Web programs written in JavaScript.

Google gets dinged with some justification for moving sluggishly with Chrome. The Mac OS X and Linux versions are only now beginning to come into their own, for example. But there's a subtext to that criticism that bears mentioning.

Specifically, it looks to me as if some perceptions are shifting from "Why should I bother with Chrome?" to "Google isn't moving fast enough with Chrome." That shows expectations are shifting in Google's favor. It positions the company better to win over converts through the gradual delivery of extensions and other high-demand features.

Of course, a lot of my feedback is from change-embracing early adopters who care, sometimes passionately, about browsers. Getting Chrome to appeal to mainstream folks will be another, harder challenge for Google.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Google releases Wave protocol implementation source code

Google has opened the source code of several key components of Wave, the company's new collaborative messaging platform. The code, which is available under the Apache Software License, will allow third-party developers to start experimentally bringing Wave-compatible federated messaging to their own software.

Google releases Wave protocol implementation source code

At the Google I/O conference earlier this year, the search giant revealed an intriguing new communication service called Wave that aims to deliver concurrent messaging and collaborative editing in a single cohesive environment. The underlying Wave Federation Protocol is designed to make it possible for third parties to host their own interoperable Wave instances.

Google intends to open the source code of its own implementation in order to encourage widespread adoption of the protocol. The company took its first major steps in that direction on Friday by releasing the source code of its Operational Transform (OT) code and a simple client/server reference implementation that is built on top of the protocol. This code, which is available under the open source Apache Software License, will give developers a way to start experimenting with the protocol and potentially even building their own Wave-compatible services.

"To kickoff Federation Day, we open sourced two components: 1) the Operational Transform (OT) code and the underlying wave model, and 2) a basic client/server prototype that uses the wave protocol," says an announcement in the official Google Wave developer blog. "The OT code is the heart and soul of the collaborative experience in Google Wave and we plan that code will evolve into the production-quality reference implementation,"

One of the most sophisticated characteristics of Wave is its deep support for concurrent communication. Multiple users can be manipulating the same content at the same time and user activity is immediately visible to other participants. This means that each individual character appears on the screen of all active users as it is being typed. Providing that level of concurrency in a seamless way and making it scale to accommodate a significant number of users is an extremely difficult problem to solve, especially in a highly diverse and extensible medium that can support rich media and other kinds of content.

The architecture of Google Wave is largely built around the concept of Operational Transformation. In Wave, individual operations are immediately performed locally and then get transmitted to the server, where all of the operations will converge. Then, the updated operational state history will be propagated back out to the individual clients. Applying the user's actions immediately in the local user interface rather than first propagating all events and rendering them linearly in true chronological order will help to ameliorate the perception of lag. Google refers to this behavior as "optimistic" user interaction.

Because of the complexity of Wave's concurrency model, Google is concerned that third-party implementations of the underlying OT framework will not be able to interoperate correctly with each other. Google aims to provide a standard production-quality reference implementation that all adopters will be able to use in order to minimize the risk of inconsistent behavior. The company says that it will also provide comprehensive testing frameworks to help guarantee the compatibility of third-party implementations.

"In a federated system, it is critical that each wave provider manage the operation stream consistently, otherwise convergence cannot be guaranteed," wrote Google's Jochen Bekmann in a message posted to the Wave Protocol Google Group. "This means it is highly recommended that anyone attempting to federate waves should exactly match the [concurrency control] functionality of every other wave server. We believe this is easiest if our released code is used."

The OT code that Google has released to the public is more recent than the version that is running today in the company's Wave Sandbox developer prototype. This reflects the rapid pace at which the protocol and its specification are evolving. Google is working on updating its sandbox version and bringing it into alignment with the latest OT code. At that point, the company hopes to enable federated messaging on the sandbox, giving third-party developers a working Wave instance with which to test the interoperability of their own.

Wave is highly exciting technology with enormous potential. As the platform opens further, it's likely that we will see Google's Wave protocol reference implementation code repurposed in innovative ways and integrated with other independent services.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Google Docs, Slowly Morphing into Google Drive

The new interface of Google Docs, which is slowly rolled out to all users, brings the service one step closer to an online storage service. The "items by type" menu replaced "PDFs" with "Files", suggesting that Google Docs will allow users to upload any type of files.

Google Docs also added the advanced search options that are available in Gmail:
* exact phrase matching ("todo list")
* negative matching (summer -trip)
* disjunctive matching (budget OR invoice)
* built-in labels (is:starred, is:hidden)
* collaborators: to find the documents shared by Michael Robinson, you need to search for:, assuming that's his email address. The problem is that you need to know the email address, since the operator doesn't support (partial) names.
At some point in the near future, Google Docs will allow you to upload any type of files. Some of the files can be edited, other files can be previewed online, while the rest of them are only stored online. For example, PDF files can't be edited online, but you can view them and share them.

It will be interesting to see how Google Drive integrates with other Google services that store files (Gmail, Picasa Web Albums, YouTube) and to find the free quota limits.
Tony Ruscoe found in January an internal Google document about Cosmo, described as an upgrade from GDrive, a service that was only available to Google's employees. "We're in the process of migrating all Google Doc accounts to Cosmo," mentioned the document.
Update: Kevin Mohr found an interesting image referenced in Google Docs' code: . It's a folder icon that includes Google Chrome's logo, so it could be related to Google Chrome OS, a browser-centric operating system that will probably use Google Drive to store files online. There's also an icon for videos which suggests that videos will be uploaded to YouTube.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Google Docs Makeover Coming

The Google Docs guys are making changes to the word processing application and have promised to roll them out over the next few weeks.

Some bloggers think the Docs guys are knee-jerking from the accolades Microsoft has been getting over the software maker's Office Web answer to Google Apps.

I agree, but it's also high time for a mini-makeover for the app. Google Docs Product Manager Vijay Bangaru, who also promised a new interface for Docs, wrote:

    We're always looking for ways to make it easier to find what you're looking for in Google Docs, which is why we're taking some time to do a bit of remodeling to the Docs list. Over the next few weeks you'll see a number of small changes, culminating in a brand new shiny interface.

For starters, Google said it will do away with the "Shared with..." list in the left hand pane. Instead, the company is recommending users use search to do the same thing by clicking "Search Options" and typing the user's name into the "Shared with:" box. Users can also save this search to make it accessible in "Saved Searches."

I'm not sure how users will feel about this. When you take away a list that people can use to decide with whom they want to share documents and replace it by telling users to type the names of people to share documents with, you're creating more work. But I ask you Docs users: will you like this change?

There will also be a new Sharing Menu that moves all of our sharing functionality into one box so that users can manage sharing without having to leave the Docs list. That sounds like a grand plan to me. Consolidated management is the kind of sharing we want.

There is also new search options, to let users search by:

    * exact phase matching, by using quotes: ["match this phrase exactly"]
    * Or: ["tacos" OR "nachos"]
    * Negation: [salsa -dancing]. This will include items with salsa recipes, but not items about dancing
    * Who the doc is shared from or to: [] or []
    * Star or Hidden state: [is:starred] or [is:hidden]

Overall, I love the consolidated sharing box and approve of the search operators, but I'm leery of the requirement to manually search for contacts with whom to share items.

Google Watchers protested loud and clear when the Gmail Labs team took away right-side labels. I wonder if we can expect the same protest when Google takes away our "Shared With" lists option.

Google India launches mobile voice search engine

Google India launches mobile voice search engineThe mobile voice search engine, custom-built by Google India has been launched by Google India, free for mobile services subscribers in India. However, the voice-based search engine services are currently limited to BlackBerry users. 

The mobile voice search engine is another big achievement of Google India on the mobile front. Earlier, Google India launched a SMS-based search engine services.

Google India’s mobile voice search engine is a Beta launch. It is only available on Blackberry. Presently, it reaches 400,000 people.

According to reports, In its voice-based search engine, Google India is having a number of problem because of different accent and pronunciation ways of the people of India.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

AdSense for Mobile Apps being tested

Google announced a new beta AdSense program that allows developers of mobile applications for iPhone and Android. Now, approved applications can make on-going revenue with advertisements through AdSense.

Currently, it’s not open to just any developer — you have to have an application that gets over 100,000 page views per day. In addition to that, the new program is available only for free applications — thankfully double dipping isn’t allowed.

Applications accepted into the program are also locked into a 3 month contract, and must be implemented withing 4 weeks.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Google Flipper Is About To Jump Out Of The Water

Google is about to launch a new Google Labs project it calls Flipper, we’ve learned. No, it’s not a dolphin. As you can see in the screenshot, it looks like the project is a more visual way to read Google News, or to “flip through it,” as it were.

While we have yet to use it, what looks nice about it is that you can not only browse by sections, but also by sources, keywords, and most importantly by elements such as “most popular” and “recommended.” The visual representation probably won’t revolutionize Google News’ often sub-par performance, but the better filters could.

The URL currently takes you to a Google log-in page, but when you sign-in you’re greeted with:

Please visit this page from any computer on the corporate network to automatically enable access for your account.

Which means this remains internal to Google right now. But look for it soon. Click on the image below for a slightly larger version.

Google Voice is close to launch

Google had announced earlier this year their new service named Google Voice.

Google Voice is based on the GrandCentral service that they acquired a couple of years ago.

The company has apparently already reserved 1 million phone numbers with Level 3 as they are nearing the public launch of the service.

Google Voice has been designed to provide users with a single unified number which can be used to divert calls to multiple phones.

The beta testers are pretty happy with the service.

The service would include some really useful features like call transfer between a user’s devices, multi-party conferencing, conversion of voice calls to text messages, cut-rate international calling, and call transcription.

It is also going to be integrated with the user’s contact list on Gmail for a unified address book.

Google has officially declined to reveal any launch date. But it is pretty clear that they are pretty close to the launch in the US market.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Google announces Google Apps Sync for Microsoft Outlook

Google Apps Sync for Microsoft Outlook, announced on Tuesday, is a plug-in that lets companies adopt Google Apps mail infrastructure as the back-end for their email and personal information management systems while still using Outlook as the desktop interface. The Gmail interface can also then be used for web-based access.

Google has designed the plug-in for use by companies making the transition from Outlook to Google Apps. Robert Whiteside, head of Google Enterprise UK, told ZDNet UK on Monday that the plug-in "allows an organisation that's moving from Microsoft [to Google] to swap the back end very quickly and take some huge cost advantages".

"[Companies] can phase the roll-out to users over time and give users the choice of where they want to stop," Whiteside said. He added that users could, for example, move only their contacts functionality across, if they preferred.

A 'two-click' migration tool is also being introduced to let employees copy existing data from Exchange or Outlook into Google Apps, Google said.

The plug-in uses the offline Gmail protocol for synchronisation, which Google says is faster than Internet Message Access Protocol (Imap), a standard protocol for email retrieval. The company said meeting-invitation and global address-book functionality would work across both systems, so companies can move one department across to Google Apps while keeping another on Outlook.

Whiteside pointed out that Google Apps and Outlook have been partially interoperable for some time through the use of Imap synchronisation, but the new plug-in made synchronisation faster and added the ability to see whether someone was free or busy at a certain time.

Asked how the Outlook front-end would be able to handle the capacity of a Google Apps back-end — Gmail, for example, allows for a 25GB inbox but Outlook struggles with such volumes — Whiteside said Google "would expect most people to use the Google Apps interface" outside particularly large deployments.

Google has not yet said whether archiving and folder rules set by the user in Outlook will work across a Google Apps-Outlook hybrid deployment.

Google Apps Sync for Microsoft Outlook is available now for subscribers to the Premier and Education editions of Google Apps.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Google Plans Significant Improvements to Docs Suite

Google Docs, a hosted suite of office productivity applications, still has a ways to go in its development, but users can expect dramatic changes in the next 12 months.

So said Dave Girouard, president of Google's Enterprise unit, at the Bank of America and Merrill Lynch 2009 U.S. Technology Conference on Thursday.

After acknowledging that Google has "a lot of work to do" to improve Docs, and that the suite isn't yet a "full on" replacement for Microsoft Office, nor the open-source OpenOffice, Girouard said big improvements are coming.

"In a year, those products will be night and day from what they are today," he said, referring to the word-processing, spreadsheet and presentation software in Docs.

While Google has always acknowledged that Docs doesn't match all of the Microsoft Office features, it also has pointed out that, as Web-hosted software, it offers collaboration capabilities its PC-based competitor can't.

Girouard wasn't specific about what Docs features need to improve, but his comments sounded like a general acknowledgement that, even with its collaboration advantages, Docs has to improve its user experience to get people to view it as a more credible alternative to other office suites.

Girouard, whose presentation was webcast, said that Gmail and Calendar are much more mature products and thus drive the decisions of most businesses to adopt the Appscollaboration and communication suite, which also includes Docs.

Apps customers will also see more effort by Google to attract enterprise developers to its App Engine hosted application development environment, which recently gained Java support and became generally available, after a period of limited release.

Google will also continue enhancing the Gmail and Calendar components with improvements aimed at CIOs and IT managers, including the upcoming Apps Connector for BlackBerry Enterprise Server, he said.

Ironically, the economic downturn and the ensuing reductions in IT budgets have caused a spike in interest in the Premier version of Apps, which can cost between five and 20 times less than Microsoft's Office and Exchange, he said.

Apps Premier costs US$50 per user, per year and, as the most sophisticated version of the suite, is geared toward businesses with more than 50 end-users, which is the maximum for the Standard version, which carries ads in Gmail and is free. There is also a free Education edition designed for schools and universities. Most Apps users are small businesses.

While happy with the gradual but steady growth of Apps' adoption by large enterprises, Girouard acknowledged that security concerns about Web-hosted software remain a big obstacle.

"We're very early in this thing and most CIOs are still scared to death with the idea of their data being outside of their firewall in someone else's data centers," said Girouard, who answered questions from a financial analyst and from audience members.

Google maintains that those concerns are unwarranted, saying data is more secure in one of its data centers than in an organization's data center.

Another challenge for Apps' adoption is CIOs' reluctance to change software that tens of thousands of employees use, Girouard said. "The thought of moving 50,000 end-users to an entirely new experience for something they use every day is very daunting," he said.

Every few weeks, a large enterprise with 10,000 end-users or more migrates to Apps, and every time that happens, momentum continues to build, as well as confidence in the suite itself, as well as in the SaaS (software-as-a-service) model, he said.

One thing that doesn't help CIOs understand SaaS specifically and cloud computing in general is the sudden appropriation of the terms by myriad vendors in order to benefit their marketing efforts, he said.

"It's interesting that everybody is in cloud computing now. In most cases, I view it as a re-labeling of what they were doing five years ago," he said.

Girouard has a particular beef with the term "private clouds" to refer to customer data centers that have been optimized through the use of virtualization technology.

"By no means would I describe that as cloud computing. I'd call that more efficient data centers and getting more out of the servers you buy," he said.

Among the few vendors doing true cloud computing at scale are Google, and, he said.

"If you're still selling large up-front buildouts of X, Y or Z, regardless of what virtualization is involved, that's not in my mind cloud computing," he said.

Google's Enterprise unit generates "a few hundred million dollars" in revenue, is profitable and is growing, Girouard said.

Its revenue is just a small fraction of Google's total revenue, which mostly comes from online advertising, but growing that percentage isn't his focus.

"I'm not competing with the rest of Google. I'm looking to build a very large business over a long period of time," he said.

The opportunities in IT enterprise search and Web-hosted business software are big. "We can be a first-tier player in IT," he said.

"We're not driving Google's top or bottom line in 2009, and probably not in 2010, for that matter. Having said that, we can grow for many years in this business and build a very large business over time," he said.

Google Tests Scripting Feature for Online Apps

Google will add scripting capabilities to Google Docs, allowing organizations to customize its online applications and automate tasks, the company said Wednesday.

Google plans to sign up about 1,000 customers over the next few weeks to test the feature, called Google Apps Script. It isn't saying yet when Apps Script will be widely available. Google Docs users can apply here to try it out.

It will be tested initially in Google Spreadsheets and extended to other Google Docs applications over time, said Jonathan Rochelle, product manager for Google Docs, in a press briefing at the Google I/O conference.

The scripting will allow organizations to build custom functions in spreadsheets, like translating figures from inches to millimeters, or translating text from one language to another. It will also enable applications to be linked together, allowing a user to send an email from within a spreadsheet, for example, or access a calendar from a list of addresses.

The company posted a video and some information about Apps Script in its Enterprise Blog.

The scripting should help Google to compete better with Microsoft's widely used Excel spreadsheet software, but it will also open a new front for security attacks and other potential issues.

"The nature of scripting is such that it could be easily abused," Rochelle acknowledged. "We want to make sure people can't make a mistake [such as] they coded something they don't know is happening."

Google will work to make it "bulletproof" before it's released to the public, he said. The company described it as "a puppy who's still in training," suggesting it has more work to do on it.

Google Apps Script is based on JavaScript, with object-based extensions added by Google, making it easy to learn, according to Rochelle. "It really is JavaScript, except there are certain things we don't let you do," he said.

There is not currently a way to import Excel macros, he said, but Google is considering that for the future. It expects Apps Script to appeal especially to systems integrators, who have been asking for it, he said.

Excel still has many more features and capabilities than Google Spreadsheets, but Rochelle argued that "user satisfaction" is a better measure by which to compare the products. "If 80 percent of people don't use the features then it doesn't matter" he said.

Several partners are at the show who offer integration services and develop add-on tools for Google Docs. Ed Laczynski, CTO of LTech, said his company has migrated "hundreds of thousands" of users from on-premise software to Google Apps. The company just released a tool that lets users download and backup their documents to a local disk.

Oracle is also in on the act. The company is about to release a beta tool that will let users of its Siebel customer relationship management software import and export data from Google Docs, said Dipock Das, a senior director with Oracle's CRM group.