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.