Saturday, October 23, 2010

Google launched Bollywood music search

Google has launched a online music service ( in India that enables users to search for legal music streams and downloads.

Google has partnered with, Saregama and Saavn. These digital music providers, hold rights to hundreds of thousands of Indian tracks - ranging from old and new Bollywood hits to Indian classical music. Users can search for a particular song, an album or even for artists. The songs played on a pop-up window linking to the service provider site.  The music search service currently is officially limited to only Hindi songs. However search gave results to other language songs also.

The service is similar to the one launched by few years back.

The Google India music search is still a part of Google Labs, where Google experiments and demonstrates new products before integrating them as a standard feature on its services.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Rumor: Google to launch Facebook-like competitor

Rumours that Google is set to launch a Facebook-style social network called "Google Me" have gained traction over the weekend.

Digg's Kevin Rose fuelled the rumour pyre with a tweet that simply read:

"Ok, umm, huge rumour: Google to launch facebook competitor very soon "Google Me", very credible source."

​Google Me vs Facebook?

SF Weekly suggests that "Google Me" is some kind of of upgrade to the already existent Google Profiles, noting that Rick Klau, the developer responsible for Google Buzz, was recently taken on to develop Google Profiles.

What with the relative failures of services such as Google Buzz or Google Wave to gain mass traction, is Google testing out a more 'mass market friendly' service?

For the time being, this is all still pure rumour and speculation, although the mere fact that the rumour has emerged from Digg founder Kevin Rose is enough to warrant further investigation.

We have reached out to Google UK for further background on this story.

You can read TechRadar's review of Google Buzz to find out more about what we thought about the aims and limitations of that particular service

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Google code hints at Chrome OS Dellbook

It looks like Dell will join Acer and HP in offering netbooks based on Google's Chrome OS sometime this fall.

Dell isn't among the official Chrome OS partners [1] named by Google, but as noticed by Download Squad [2], the code repository for Chromium OS — the open source incarnation of Chrome OS — includes some rather conspicuous bits that point to Dell as an early manufacturer.

The repository includes three "overlay" files for configuring hardware support during the build process. One carries the Dell name, while the other two say Acer and HP.

Asked to comment, Dell said it's looking into the matter. And in the meantime, the company pointed out that just after Google released its first snapshot of code to the Chromium OS project, Dell engineer Doug Anson put out his own unofficial Chrome OS build for the Dell Mini, the company's 10-inch netbook. "We weren’t announcing anything formal, just sharing that the landscape is getting interesting," a company spokeswoman says of Anson's release.

But Anson continues to turn out new builds. He released the latest on June 8 here [3]. "I really enjoy popping out these images every few weeks," Anson said recently on the Chromium discussion mailing list. "I can say that the images themselves seem to be getting better and better with each iteration."

Chrome OS is essentially Google's Chrome web browser running atop a Goobuntu flavor of Linux. It will not run local applications other than the browser itself. All other apps will be accessed inside the browser, and it now seems that this will include applications running on remote machines: Google is developing something it calls "Chromoting [4]," a kind of browser -based remote access tool.

The OS will print via a new online service Google calls Cloud Print [5], and HP has already introduced printers that will work with the service. Essentially, Cloud Print will send jobs from Chrome OS to Google servers and back down to network-connected printers like HP's or to printers plugged into network-connected desktops that actually include print drivers.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Google Adds Caffeine To Search

The new search indexing system is faster and provides 50% fresher results, according to Google.

Google has switched to a new search indexing system that the company claims is faster than the previous technology and provides 50% fresher results.

Google announced last August that it was overhauling its search technology. Dubbed "Caffeine," the new architecture was introduced a month after Microsoft upped the ante in the search war by extending its new Bing search engine to all of Yahoo's Web properties. The Yahoo Web portal is the number two player in search.

Google said Wednesday it built Caffeine to bring users more up-to-date, relevant search results from the fast-growing Web.

To better understand how Caffeine works, a person must first know that Google doesn't search the entire Web to answer user queries, but rather its index of the Web. The quality of results depends on how well a search engine can keep its index up-to-date.

Under the old system, Google would crawl the entire Web to update large batches of Web pages in its index. Updates of individual pages in a batch could not be made available until the entire batch was updated, which meant there was a significant delay between when Google found or updated a page and made it available to the user.

With Caffeine, Google crawls the Web in smaller portions and updates its index on a continuous basis.

"As we find new pages, or new information on existing pages, we can add these straight to the index," Google engineer Carrie Grimes said in the company's blog.

Caffeine analyzes hundreds of thousands of Web pages each second in parallel and adds new information to the index at a rate of hundreds of thousands of gigabytes per day, according to Google. Caffeine takes up nearly 100 million GB of storage in one database.

"You would need 625,000 of the largest iPods to store that much information; if these were stacked end-to-end they would go for more than 40 miles," Grimes said.

Early testers of Caffeine gave the search platform rave reviews shortly after the new system was first introduced. Testers said it yielded more results with better accuracy than the existing technology.

Google remains the dominant search engine, accounting for 71.4% of Web searches in May, according to Experian Hitwise. Yahoo is a distant second with a 14.96%, followed by Bing, 9.43%.

However, Microsoft in May made significant strides in four major categories, a reflection of the company's focus on vertical markets. The number of searches on Bing related to automotive, health, shopping, and travel soared by 95%, 105%, 100%, and 71%, respectively, compared to the same month a year ago, Hitwise said.

In March, Microsoft announced that it would release a number of enhancements to Bing. Most notably, Microsoft improved Bing's Quick Tabs feature, which delivers results based on what the search engine believes is the intent of the user's query.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Google Chrome OS to be released this September

At the on-going Computex 2010 Expo, Google announced that Chrome OS would be released in Fall (September) this year.
Google's vice president of product management, Sundar Pichai said, "We are working on bringing the device later this fall." So now, we have a fixed time frame when Chrome OS will finally be made available on notebooks and desktops. It was in July 2009 that Google had announced Linux kernel based Chrome OS for desktops and notebooks. This open source operating system is based on Google's Chrome browser and is designed to work seamlessly with web applications.
Pichai added, "It's something which we are very excited by ... We expect it to reach millions of users on day one." Untill we come across and use a Chrome OS based device, we cannot say whether Google will beat Microsoft or not. Google Chrome OS would be available on notebooks and desktops from partners like Acer, Asus, HP and Lenovo.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Google launches smart TV service

Search giant Google has launched a TV service that unites live television with the web.

The "smart TV" service allows people to search both live channels as well as content from websites such as YouTube.

Special TV sets - or normal TVs connected to a Google box - will also allow people to access the web and download applications.

The first TV sets will be produced by Sony and should be available in the Autumn.

"Video should be consumed on the biggest, brightest, best screen in your house - the television," said Rishi Chandra of the firm. "That's not the PC, or mobile."

He said that there were currently 4bn TV users worldwide and that around $70bn (£50bn) was spent annually on adverts in the US alone.

"There is no better medium to reach a wider and broader audience than TV," he said.

Continue reading the main story

Google is great at organising information, both legal and illegal

Dan Cryan

Google generates the lion's share of its revenue from selling web ads and many analysts speculate that its move into television is an extension of the business.

Dan Cryan, an analyst at Research Firm Screen Digest, said that television was a "very natural space" for Google.

"Its stated ambition is to organise the World's information, so why not move into it," he told BBC News.

He said that there had been several attempts to connect televisions to the internet in the past but none had been "terribly successful".

"Things have changed recently with an increasing number of higher quality web TV services available on TV sets."

'Mobile impact'

Google showed off the service at a launch event in San Francisco that was plagued by technical glitches.

So many people in the 5,000-strong audience were using the conference wi-fi that the demo ran into repeated problems.

Google finally had to ask people to disconnect their phones from the wireless network to free-up enough bandwidth.

The service is built around an onscreen search box, similar to Google's web offering, that allows people to search for content on live channels or the web.

Man walks past Google signGoogle have announced several products at the conference

Mr Chandra showed how searching for the television programme House brought up results from live channels as well as web services such as Hulu and Amazon.

"The TV becomes a natural extension of the web," he said. "You spend less time finding your favourite content and more time watching it."

The service streams shows from the web using Google's Chrome browser.

Mr Cryan said the approach opened up an "interesting question" about whether people would use the service to watch pirated content.

"Google is great at organising information, both legal and illegal," he said.

The browser also allows people to search non-video content from the web.

"We can make your TV into a games console, a photo viewer or a music player," Mr Chandra said.

The first television sets will be built by Sony, who will also build the service into a Blu-Ray DVD player. Set top boxes and peripherals will be built by Logitech, although the service can also be controlled from a mobile phone running Google's Android operating system.

The TVs and boxes will also use Android and will rely on an Intel microprocessor.

"We want to have the same impact on TV that the smartphone had on the mobile experience," said Mr Chandra.

Future battle

The firm has also used the conference to launch various initiatives, including an update to its Android operating system and an open source video project called WebM.

The WebM project will make the VP8 video codec, which it acquired when it bought On2 for $133m (£92m), open source.

Codecs are used to encode and decode web video. Various formats are currently competing to become the default standard for web video in the future.

Several web browser makers, including Mozilla, which makes Firefox, and Opera, have agreed to support Google's new format, which will be offered for free.

Another codec called H.264 has the support of Apple and Microsoft.

Whilst it will be free for the next five years, it is encumbered by patents and its owners MPEG LA plan to charge for its use.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Use Google Chrome to Drag Images into e-mails

Google now lets you add images directly to emails and Buzz in Gmail by a simple drag-and-drop function. This new feature makes it easy for you to add images to an email instead of adding them as attachments. This way you get to see the image pasted and also check if it was the correct image. Unfortunately, this feature works only in Google Chrome browser.

Gmail had introduced the new drag-and-drop attachments last month. Now extending that feature a bit more, users can add images directly into their messages. The best part is that you don't have to enable any setting. Just use Google Chrome's latest build, which can be downloaded from

But there's one problem with this feature. People may start sending chain emails with those funny, bizarre, and terrifying images.
Folks, please make the best of this feature but don't abuse it.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Google Goggles turns cameraphone into translation tool



Google has announced an update to its Google Goggles phone app which translates foreign words found in the pictures you take.

The service, which is available for Android devices running Android 1.6 and above, allows for automatic text translation, whether it be words on a street sign, menu or poster.

Once a user takes a picture of the word or phrase, Goggles will ask the user whether they want the information translated.

Currently the languages the app supports are: English, French, Italian, German and Spanish.

Google is hoping to add more languages to its recognition capabilities in time.


This isn't the only updated feature on the new Goggles app. Google has informed us that the app now has a bigger database – so it will recognise more objects – and the UI of the program has been improved.

Google Goggle's launched back in December 2009, heralding a new area for the company – visual search.

Although it is still very much in its infancy, Google has been ramping up its efforts to improve the software

In April of this year, Google bought up visual search app Plink and swiftly moved the creators of the app on to its Goggles project.

Google also told TechRadar recently that it is looking to open up the platformto other developers.

With this in mind, expect some more big things from the app in the coming months.

Google Editions Confirmed, due Next Month

Google confirmed that Google Editions is ready for launch this summer. This is a 'buy anywhere, read anywhere' eBooks service that allows users to download eBooks on mobile phones, eBook readers and PC. Announced last year at the Frankfurt Book Fair, Google Editions will have about half a million eBooks available for purchase and download by late June or July.
Chris Palma, Google's manager of strategic-partner development, announced the time-table for Google's plans at the publishing-industry panel in New York yesterday, reported The Wall Street Journal. Google Editions will be an Amazon-like eBook store that will offer about 5,00,000 eBooks to users. Publishers get to keep 63 percent of income from the eBooks sold while Google retains 37 percent.
Users can also buy eBooks from Amazon as well as Barnes & Nobles through Google Editions. In that case, the publisher gets just 45 percent while Google gets to retain 55 percent of income. Apart from that, even independent book retailers would be allowed to sell Google Editions at their own sites.
Just when Apple is anticipating high growth of its iBook Store, Google is getting ready to roll out Google Editions. However, Google's idea is to access Google Editions from any browser and thus create an "open ecosystem" in the eBook market. Publishers will have a greater control over how their books are being sold.
Google has chosen the right time to launch Google Editions service with variety of tablets and mobile Internet devices emerging in the market. However, with Android on its side, we're sure Google will ensure something is packed in for Android OS phone based users.
For more on Google Editions, we'll have to wait till the end of June or July.

Google acquires 3D software pioneer to take on Apple

A 3D artist plays on an NVIDIA 3D Vision. Photo: AP

Google Monday snapped up a top Canadian startup which pioneered a 3D interface technology for Mac and Windows PCs.

Called Canada's hottest software startup, Toronto-based BumpTop has been acquired by the search engine for reportedly between $30 and $45 million, according to reports. However, there were no details of the deal by the two sides.

Set up just three years ago, BumpTop has pioneered touch-screen software that allows use of multiple fingers at a time on a multiple touch screen.

Called ‘desktop workspace,’ the software allows users to organise pictures, documents and videos much more intuitively. Users can perform many functions with their fingers, including dragging of items into docks, and playing around with photos on desktop.

Though Google has not specified how its will use this pioneering technology, it is certain that it will use touch-screen software in its smart phones based on its Android operating system.

Since its Android operating system is basically geared for touch-screen technology, rather than keyboard technology, Google's mobile market strategy is aimed at taking on Apple's iPhone and iPad that use touch screen technology.

The acquired Toronto company will no longer sell its software independently after May 7.

In a statement on its website Monday, it said, “Today, we have a big announcement to make: we're excited to announce that we’ve been acquired by Google! This means that BumpTop (for both Windows and Mac) will no longer be available for sale. Additionally, no updates to the products are planned.”

The acquisition of BumpTop is the fifth such deal by the Mountain View-based Google within a month as part of its strategy to take on Apple.

Just last week, it had acquired Labpixies that develops social games for mobile services and Facebook. Agnilux, Plink, and Episodic are the other three acquisitions made by Google within a month.

Google Revamps Logo, Amps Up Search-Engine Competition

Mountain View, California -- Google did not invent search, but it is one of the most valuable terminus a quo for more than 1 billion Google searches a day, is getting its most substantial renovation in years. The Mountain View, Calif.,search engine leader is rolling out a major redesign for its search results on Wednesday, indicating the start of what promises to be a period of intensified competition with rival Microsoft Bing.

However, there is no need to be concerned about: The company is only changing the function, look and feel of its search and results pages -- even one of the world's most familiar logos is about to look a bit different.

Nevertheless, there will be real changes coming to its results pages, offering new navigational tools that will automatically customize themselves to individual searches, enlarging its search box, and following the lead of other search engine s that display their results in three vertical columns.

Consumers can just relax now and reap the rewards. “Only two search-engine players are spending heavily right now, Google and Microsoft,” says Kevin Lee, CEO of search consultancy firm “The end users will be the beneficiaries of this highly competitive landscape.”

Citing the modification a “spring transformation” in its official blog, Google is even tweaking the look of its colorful logo -- the first considerable alteration since 1999 in the bouncy blue, red, yellow and green logo originally designed by co-founder Sergey Brin.

“We want Google to maintain its simple appearance,” Patrick Riley, technical lead for Web search at the Mountain View search engine company, said of the changes to the results page, which will be gradually phased in globally this week. “We were trying to focus on a clean and simple and modern look. That is what many of the changes on the results page were about.”

The important part about this new development is that Google now considers it knows what sort of thing you are looking for -- so the options change according to the particular search.

Of course, under the hood, Google is anything but simple, and the most significant changes are functional. Rather than a crisp list of pages related to a user's query ranged against the left-hand side of the screen, now a new bar has appeared. At first glance it appears to simply offer some simple options to limit which search results are visible -- so if you searching for “string theory,” it will offer “images,” “news,” “video” and more.

Google's new search results page offers options on the left based on search topics.

Another new tool, “Something Different” offers a selection of related subjects — a search for “Rolling Stones,” for example, offers a “Something Different” result of aging rockers Aerosmith, Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin. But search, say, for shoes, and you will find that “shopping” appears as an option, as does the opportunity to limit results by colour.

On the left-hand panel of results, users will now see a toolbar that enables them to select results for news, blogs, images and other categories, Google wrote in a post on its official blog. Besides, the modifications to the logo are crafty, and include dropping the “TM” from the tail of “Google,” a change Riley said was made to better emphasize its simplicity of design. Google also removed shading around the logo's six letters, brightening them into simpler shapes with “softer gradients.”

The refurbishment comes in the wake of Microsoft's successful launch last June of Bing, a revamped version of its Windows Live search service. Few expected Bing to succeed as well as it has. Bing is now used for 11.7% of U.S. searches, up nearly 4 percentage points since its launch, according to comScore. Google continues to dominate with a 65% share.

“They are positively responding to the competition,” added Ray Valdes, an analyst with Gartner. “It is necessary; in fact, one might even say it is overdue.”

Part of the goal, Riley said, is to make Google feel easier to use by having more uniformity in the look of the results page across different kinds of searches. “When people end up on blog search for the first time, they are not going to have to figure out how this thing works, because it is going to work like Google,” Riley said.

“I feel like it has made Google a bit more contemporary -- a bit more 2010-ish if you will,” said Danny Sullivan, editor of Search Engine Land, a website that follows the search business. Like other observers, he praised the utility of the new navigational tools.

Here is a video of Googlers explaining the new design:

Google Chrome 5 Beta: The Top Five Features

Google recently launched the beta version of Google Chrome 5 , the next iteration of the search giant's Web browser. New features include HTML 5 specifications like Geolocation and file drag-and-drop; expanded cloud sync capabilities; Flash integration; and JavaScript engine speed boosts.

There's a lot to love about the new trial version of Google Chrome. Here are the highlights:

Expanded Sync

Google introduced bookmark sync for Chrome last year, which allows you to store your Chrome bookmarks in the cloud and access them from any computer running Chrome. The latest beta version of Chrome expands the browser's syncing capabilities to include sync for visual "themes, homepage and startup settings, Web content settings, and language ."

To get started with Chrome beta's expanded sync, click on the wrench icon on the far right of your browser window and select 'Set up sync.' Just login to you Google account through the pop-up window that appears, and Chrome will save all your settings to your Google Docs account. (Note, though, that you cannot change your Chrome settings directly from Google Docs.)

If you don't like Google Chrome, Opera also offers a wide variety of browser syncing capabilities through its Opera Link service .

Run extensions in Incognito Mode

Chrome's Incognito Mode allows you to browse the Web without recording your browsing or search history and blocks Web site cookies. But Incognito Mode also prevents any of your Chrome extensions from running in the Incognito window. Chrome 5 beta now allows you to use your extensions in Incognito Mode, but you have to manually re-enable them.

To re-enable your extensions, you can either click on the 'extensions manager' link at the bottom of the Incognito Mode start page or go directly to the extensions manager page by clicking on the wrench icon on the far right of your browser window. For every extension you want to run in Incognito Mode, click the "Allow this extension to run in incognito" check box, and click "Authorize" if a pop-up window appears. But keep in mind that browser extensions will be able to record your browsing data in Incognito Mode, which kind of defeats the whole purpose of using the feature. Nevertheless, if you want to save some of those Playboy articles to Instapaper to read later, enabling extensions in Incognito Mode might be worth it for you.


HTML 5, the new programming standard for Web pages, may not be officially ready yet, but that hasn't stopped Google from implementing some of its new and exciting features. Google Chrome 5 beta introduces file drag-and-drop capabilities, Geolocation (such asGoogle's MyLocation feature), and offline application caching (Google Gears replacement ). The new version of Chrome beta also offers Web sockets, which make it easier and faster for Web-based applications to communicate with their host servers.

Adobe Flash Plugs In

Apple may be trying to kill Flash in favor of the HTML 5 video standard, but Google just threw a big old bear hug around the popular Web video format by integrating Flash Player right into Chrome. This means you no longer have to worry about updating or downloading the latest version of Flash. Just open up Chrome beta 5 and start watching online videos from YouTube, Hulu, and Megavideo. Google says integration with Chrome will make Flash more secure for users, and all Flash Player updates will be delivered through Chrome's automatic update feature.

If you're running a Flash blocking extension in Chrome like Flash Block don't worry, your Flash blocker will still work with the new integrated Flash plug-in.


Although Google is touting Chrome's latest speed benchmarks as the best new feature in Google Chrome 5, I left this feature for last since the browser hasn't been independently scrutinized by independent tests.

Google says Chrome 5 beta improves the speeds of the browser's JavaScript engine as measured by the V8 and SunSpider JavaScript benchmarks. JavaScript is a popular programming language used to build interactive Web pages and Web applications. Browser makers most often focus on improving rendering speeds of JavaScript to boost browser performance.

Google says Chrome 5 beta is faster by 30 and 35 percent respectively for each benchmark compared to the previous beta version of Chrome. The new browser is also 213 and 305 percent faster than the original Chrome release, according to Google. While that all sounds impressive, I'm waiting for independent testing before I believe Google's claims.

So those are the top features in the latest version of Google Chrome beta. If you want to give Google Chrome 5 beta a try, you can sign up to get Chrome beta updates . But remember, beta releases can be buggy and may crash more often than the stable versions of Chrome, so don't count on a worry-free browsing experience. Google Chrome beta 5 is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux.

Google Chrome 5 Beta: Released

The fact that Google is making steady inroads into the fiercely competitive browser is now a known fact. The browser has managed to clinch in close to 5 percent of the browser market share in a little over a year and a half since it was first released back in October 2008.
Over the years, the browser has seen many versions with which came various new features and optimisations. Google has now released the 5th version of the browser for beta testers with new claims of a speed bump and other feature additions. Now, we're wondering how fast could an already zippy browser go?
Anyway, while the speeds might not be noticeable for laymen, on paper, it does sound and look quite good with Google claiming a speed jump of up to 30 percent and 35 percent on the V8 and SunSpider benchmarks respectively over the previous beta channel release. Now, if we compare this to the speed of the original Chrome browser, the very first version launched back in 2008, this is a phenomenal 213 percent to 305 percent increase on these benchmarks.
As for the new features in the browser, it now includes browser preference sync, using which you can store your themes, bookmarks, history, and settings to your Google account. It also comes with native Adobe Flash support. No more downloading it separately.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Google invests in payment processor, Corduro

Google updated its Ventures page last night to reveal several new investments in technology companies.  One such investment is in online payment services company, Corduro.

Corduro's website advertises its expertise in: "Payment solutions for retail stores, teams & clubs, education costs, property management, mobile solutions, healthcare cost, fraternities & sororities, collections, and any where else transactions are made."

Robert Ziegler, CEO of Corduro was unsurprisingly smitten with Google Ventures' help.  "We were blown away by the enthusiasm, talent, and opportunities that Google (GOOG) Ventures has brought to Corduro; all entrepreneurs should be afforded such passion and engagement from their capital partner,” said Ziegler.

Cordero helps Google enter the credit card transaction space above and beyond Google's own Checkout product.  Competitors in this space are obviously eBay-owned Paypal (EBAY) and possibly  Apple (AAPL), who've "been eyeing Vivotech", a competing firm.

EBay is down 5 points this morning.

Developers such as Square have developed systems that turn the iPhone and iPad into PoS systems.

Corduro also lists FutureX hardware data encryption and security solutions as a partner

Google buys BumpTop, could target 3D interface at iPad

After the US launch of the 3G/Wi-Fi version of the Apple iPad, the tablet has passed the one million sales mark, prompting the firm's co-founder Steve Wozniak to say the PC-Mac war was over as the new formats took Apple well beyond its traditional user base.

But other players will bid for the upper hand in the hybrid PC/mobile space too, with Hewlett-Packard and Nokia among those readying products based on new platforms. And of course, in its escalating war with Apple, Google is unlikely to stand still. It is putting the finishing touches to its new Chrome OS, geared to tablets, smartbooks and the cloud, and has acquired its latest start-up, BumpTop, maker of a 3D user interface.

BumpTop's technology will be incorporated into Chrome OS, bringing an advanced user experience to future tablets, whether this is licensed to third party device makers, or Google decides to repeat its Nexus One gamble with an own-branded 'cloudbook'.

Canadian BumpTop makes a desktop environment that currently runs on PCs. It supports 3D and multitouch, allowing users to make stacks of files to drop into other applications or upload. The price of Google's fourth acquisition in a month was undisclosed, though informed estimates said $35m to $40m.

The start-up, which was founded in February 2007, was set up with $1.65m in funding from angel investors and venture capitalists GrowthWorks and Xtreme Venture Partners. It describes its product as a "desktop workspace with a visually intuitive way to organize and access pictures, video, and documents".

Back at Apple, analysts at Piper Jaffray estimated that 300,000 of the new 3G/Wi-Fi iPads were sold between Friday and Sunday, about the same as the first weekend sales for the Wi-Fi-only model. This may worry AT&T, the exclusive carrier for the cellular version, which seems to have been banking on most users going for the cheaper Wi-Fi gadget. iPad sign-ups are good for AT&T's customer numbers and data revenues, but could put a further strain on its HSPA network.

So far, Apple says, iPad users have downloaded 12 million apps, developers have created 5,000 programs specifically for the device and the new iBookstore has sold 1.5 million ebooks, although games were the dominant category, at 32 per cent of all apps downloaded. According to FierceMobileContent, about 80 per cent of the apps were paid-for, with an average price of $4.67, which is good news for developers and for the positioning of the iPad as a premium software device. By contrast, 73 per cent of iPhone or iPod Touch apps are paid-for, with an average tag of $3.82.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Sony To Launch Google TV In May

Earlier we have already reported about rumors that Sony is set to launch a Google TV. And now, Bloomberg has reported that Sony corporation is all set to launch the Google TV in May 2010. The televisions will be powered with Intel chips and Google software. Intel is contributing a customized version of its Atom processor that will be running a customized version of Android Operating System known as “Dragonpoint”. Sony is desperately trying to use Intel and Google to produce televisions and Blue-ray DVD players with Internet access.

Google TV

Google TV

The report says that, Sony and Google have planned to discuss the new products at the conference sponsored by Google in San Francisco on May 19th and 20th.

The three companies involved in it have also picked in Logitech to design the remote control for the set-top box and a tiny keyboard for navigation.

As quoted in the report:

Intel has said that Atom, a scaled-down version of its computer processors, will create an experience called “Smart TV” — where the Internet access will be integrated with advanced television guides, personal content libraries and search. The Santa Clara, California-based company also had its software engineers create programs that will better take advantage of its chips.

Want Google TV? Your Wait May Soon Be Over

Google is hinting it may debut a Google TV software platform in May that could link your home theater to the Internet.

Want Google TV?  Your Wait May Soon Be Over

We've been hearing about the rumored Google TV for more than two months now, and it appears that May could bring an official unveiling of sorts. The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Google plans to debut its Web-meets-television software to some 3,000 developers at the Google I/O conference, which runs May 19-20 in San Francisco.

Google TV is an Android-based technology designed to bring Internet-style content, including Web search, apps, and of course video entertainment, to the bigger screen in your livingroom. And Google TV software could come embedded in a new generation of Internet-ready TVs, game consoles, set-top boxes, and Blu-ray players. Or it could bomb miserably like Google Wave and other half-baked Google science projects.

Assuming it does succeed, Google TV could very well expedite the metamorphosis of your big-screen HDTV into a giant Web terminal, perhaps with smartphone-style apps that pull in cloud-based content to perform a myriad of tasks.

For Google, the potential upside is simple: More eyeballs to view its Web-based ads, which provide nearly all of the search giant's ever-growing revenues. For you the consumer, Google TV, as well as up-and-coming Internet streaming services from Netflix, VUDU, Apple, and others, might provide an affordable alternative to the traditional cable/satellite bundle. Hey, if you don't want the Siberian Sewing Channel, why pay for it?

Powerful Friends

Google is reportedly partnering with fellow tech leaders Intel, Sony, and Logitech in its TV initiative. A likely first-gen consumer product is Google TV-branded set-top box powered by Intel's Atom processor. The device would run the Android OS and use a Logitech-built remote. Given the Web app-oriented nature of the initiative, a touchscreen or physical keyboard would be included. As for Sony, it may add Google TV software to its lineup of Internet-ready TVs, as well as set-top box, the Journal reports.

What's particularly interesting about the Internet-to-TV niche is that it's uncharted territory. No one's sure how it'll evolve. Consumers are still learning about Internet streaming--what's a Roku again?--and the technology is rife with glitches, particularly when Wi-Fi is involved. Google TV could help drive end-user adoption, especially if there's some sort of cost savings or other advantage associated with Web-to-TV integration.

Google has made a name for itself as the Great Disrupter. Will its Google TV change television as we know it?

Friday, April 30, 2010

Google reportedly preparing to intro TV software next month

The Google TV—or rather, Google's software for set-top boxes—is one step closer to reality, according to sources speaking to the Wall Street Journal. Google is reportedly preparing to announce the software at next month's Google I/O conference, where developers may be able to get their feet wet writing applications for the platform, though the sources cautioned that Google might back off on the announcement if it's not quite ready by then.

Google's TV plans have yet to be officially confirmed, though they have been rumored for at least a month now. Consistent with the company's strategy in other areas, Google isn't expected to be involved in manufacturing set-top boxes; rather, the company is supposedly developing a version of Android that would be especially conducive to the big screen. Third-party developers would then be able to write their own apps for the devices, giving more openness and flexibility to people's TV watching habits.

According to the WSJ, hardware makers like Sony, Intel, and Logitech are interested in rolling out devices that work with Google's software. On top of that, Google is reportedly in the process of testing a sort of "television search" with the Dish Network, which allows users to search for content on the Internet and from Dish's programming.

We're still left a little unsure of how well the Google TV project will succeed, given the fact that there are already a handful of other set-top boxes available (and some of them for pretty cheap). However, if the UI is good and the developer community gets on board, there's potential for this device (or, more likely: devices) to fill a small gap in the market. After all, there are few set-top boxes right now that aren't full-blown HTPCs, but still give developers the freedom to develop their own apps, and their growing familiarity with Android—thanks to the mobile world—would certainly help.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The 10 best Google Android phones

10. T-Mobile G2 Touch
The G1 was the first of all the Google Android handsets, and with its slide-out keyboard and bricklike design, it was hard to see that the phone would ever challenge Apple. This second generation model is a lot better, having ditched the keyboard for a straightforward touch screen. There’s a five megapixel camera and eight hours of talk time – but beware: as this is simply a rebadged HTC Hero, buying one on T-Mobile limits your options.

T-Mobile G2

T-Mobile G2

9. LG InTouch Max GW620
The GW620 is very nearly a fantastic Android phone. But there are too many niggles for it to be perfect. On a petty note; what's the point of a camera timer if the phone's sides are curved so you can't stand the phone up on its own? Sony Ericcson is much better at camera phone design. And when it comes to interface design, HTC are much better. Again, it’s got a five megapixel camera and eight hours of talktime. So there’s not much to complain about, but consumers can do better than this for the money.

LG InTouch Max GW620

LG InTouch Max GW620

8. Motorola Milestone
When it was launched in America, as the Droid, the Milestone sold almost as many units in its first two and half months as the iPhone. It did not – quite – live up to the expectations, but this is an impressive phone. It’s got a slide out keyboard, which for once feels genuinely useful without being clunky. And it has also got Motorola’s navigation built-in. Add in the car holder, and this is a pretty compelling handset, and probably one of your best options if you want an inexpensive Android phone with a keyboard.

Motorola Droid (US) Motorola Milestone (UK)

Motorola Milestone Photo: Motorola

7. Samsung Galaxy Portal
As a budget handset, the Galaxy Portal is impressive – a three-megapixel camera is a small fly in the ointment, but it produces adequate images. It offers all the usual video-recording, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth capabilities and claims up to about seven hours of talk time. The build quality simply isn’t as high as some of HTC’s premium products, but considering that it’s available from free on some very inexpensive tariffs, the Galaxy Portal is impressive.

Samsung Galaxy Portal

Samsung Galaxy Portal

6. HTC Hero
The Hero was, when it was first launched, heralded as the first breakthrough handset for Android. Forgive this device the ridiculous chin that makes any man carrying it in a suit’s breast pocket appear to be either packing a holster or wearing a truss. This is a slick handset with a decent interface. It’s only unfortunate because it has not yet been upgraded to the version of Android that will allow it to run satnav-style navigation in Google Maps.

HTC Hero

HTC Hero

5. Xperia X10
Sony Ericsson’s flagship Android handset is a fine phone – with an eight megapixel camera and a 10 hours battery life, the Sony Ericsson interface adds a level of depth to the Google experience that rivals HTC’s Sense skin.

Sony Ericsson Xperia X10

Sony Ericsson Xperia X10

4. HTC Legend
Perhaps the most stylish Android handset on the market at the moment, the HTC Legend is made from a single piece of aluminium. Similar in shape to the HTC Hero, it uses the same kind of manufacturing process used by Apple to make its unibody Mac computers. The Legend has a 3.2in AMOLED screen, which produces pin-sharp images and bright, crisp colours, and combines a touch-screen interface with an optical trackpad for easier menu navigation.

HTC Legend

3. Xperia X10 Mini Pro
The startling thing about the X10 Mini Pro is simply how mini it is – this is a phone that is almost too small to be a convincing handset. But with a slide out keyboard, it’s usable even for those with fairly podgy fingers. There’s a five-megapixel camera, a built-in radio – and room for plenty more space in even the smallest handbag.

Sony Ericsson X10 Mini Pro

Sony Ericsson X10 Mini Pro

2. Nexus One
The first phone designed by Google (in association with HTC) was, on its release, a superb handset – its only weakness is that it has now been overtaken by others. It is, however, still a satisfying thing to hold, well-weighted and very small. It’s also one of a few phones that is, in conjunction with, for instance the Amazon MP3 Store, an acceptable replacement for an iPhone. It’s got a perfectly adequate five megapixel camera, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi of course, and it’s fast enough to run a decent number of apps or Google’s navigation at a usable speed.

Google Nexus One

Google Nexus One

1. HTC Desire
The HTC Desire is the best Google phone yet made, and one of the first handsets that is not only better on paper than an iPhone but also as good to use. A range of widgets that fix on the devices various homescreens make multitasking really easy, and Google’s mapping software is superb because of the phone’s impressive hardware, too. The only downside is that the battery life has yet to catch up with the processor’s capacity to run software.

HTC Desire

HTC Desire

Google brings 3D Earth view to the web

Google has announced that it has finally taken off the training wheels of its Google Earth plug-in and merged the application with its Maps service.

Released originally as a standalone app, Google Earth brings a 3D view to the world, allowing you to zoom across countries and see famous landmarks and terrain close up and personal.

Google has now launched Google Earth as a plug-in to its Maps service, offering a more detailed view of the world around us.

Earth view

In a blog post, Google said about the new plug-in: "If you're one of the hundreds of millions of people who use Maps worldwide, you can now explore the world in luxuriantly-detailed, data-rich 3D imagery and terrain from Google Earth.

"If you've already downloaded the Google Earth Plug-in, you should be able to see Earth view in Maps right away. Otherwise, you can just install the Plug-in to enjoy a Maps experience that includes angled Earth views, 3D buildings, smooth panning and zooming and a great introductory showcase of places to visit and things to see."

To make the service as easy as possible to access, Google has integrated an Earth button on its Maps page, so you can toggle between the satellite, Maps and 3D view.

Google is actually a little late to the party with its 3D plug-in – Microsoft has been has been offering the same sort of functionality for over a month now on its Bing Maps service.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Google Launches Online Video Rental Service

Google's popular online video streaming service, YouTube, has launched its very own online video rental service.

The scheme, which was released on a 10-day trial basis earlier this year, allows users to rent Hollywood movies and episodes of popular TV programmes for periods ranging from 24 to 72 hours.

Videos cost from 99 cents up to $3.99. At present, the service is only available to US users and Google hasn't said whether the service will be available in the UK.

A YouTube spokesperson told blog site NewTeeVee: “When we announced YouTube Rentals in January, we said we would be creating a destination after more partners joined the program. To date... nearly 500 partners have joined our Rental program.”

Earlier this year, the New York Times reported the scheme made $10,709 during its 10-day trial by renting out movies from the Sundance film festival.

Armed with a wider roster of film titles and an improved business model, industry pundits believe the service will do wonders for both Google and the US TV and film industry.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Hubble Telescope at 20: Images now on Google Earth

I have a special affinity for the Hubble Space Telescope. Run by the Space Telescope Science Institute on the Johns Hopkins University campus and developed in part by scientists at the JHU Applied Physics Laboratory, Hubble is closely tied to my alma mater. It also launched in 1990 and, to a 14-year old geeky kid who had just gotten his own telescope for Christmas, Hubble was incredibly cool. Now 20 years old, the telescope is on its last legs with just four more years of life expected before it is replaced by the infrared James Webb Space Telescope. Even at the ripe old age of 20, though, Hubble continues to amaze, and its galleries are well worth exploring on Google Earth.
Although Hubble images have been available in Google Earth for some time, a new tour of the available images is available from Google in honor of the 20th anniversary. The zooming capabilities are pretty remarkable and each part of the tour links to the relevant areas of The Cat’s Eye Nebula, for example, shown below, 
is linked to information about its formation, high-resolution photos, video (shown below embedded form YouTube, but available as high-resolution downloads on Hubblesite), and additional resource links online.

The integration with Google Earth allows Hubble’s major discoveries to be located on star charts and put in the context of constellations that we can identify. A quick double-click takes us many light years away, flying past intermediate stars to features as diverse as Galaxy M87 where we can zoom in on “a black-hole-powered jet of electrons and other sub-atomic particles traveling at nearly the speed of light.”
While you’re at it, this isn’t a bad time to check out the other “sky database” features of Google Earth. The current sky events layer is particularly interesting, including both a visual of (not surprisingly) what objects you can see from a given location, but also links to podcasts and extra educational information. There are also links to Stardate broadcasts from the University of Texas which are quite accessible for most audiences.
Say what you will about Google and its privacy issues, but like the company or not, Google Earth remains one of the cooler educational resources for geography, oceanography, and, in this case, astronomy.

Android 2.2 (Froyo) features

It sounds like a beta version of Android 2.2 (Froyo) is out in the wild for testing — and it has some interesting features that I’m sure Android users will find interesting. The new version of the operating system will be available on the Nexus One, and quite possibly Verizon phones in late May — my guess will be on the same day as Google I/O (May 19).
This version of Android will feature lots of bug fixes, as well as some great additions. The new features will include:
JIT Compiler
This is huge. With JIT enabled (Just-in-time compilation), applications will run a lot faster — like 3x faster. In addition to speed improvements, it has a positive effect on battery life. This feature is all but confirmed by thesession list at Google I/O.
Automatic App Updates
For both application developers, and users, this feature will make a big difference. As a developer, you want your entire user base to be on the latest version of your software if possible — it gives you a tighter grip on the user experience, and makes supporting your software a bit easier.
As a user, it takes more effort than needed to keep your applications up to date. If you’ve got 50 great apps with lots of active development, you would spend a good portion of your day updating your software. Ok, that may be an exaggeration, but it’s definitely better to have the operating system do the heavy lifting if possible.
FM Radio
This one is cool. It’s one thing to have a giant collection of MP3s that you listen to on the way to work — but what if you wanted to hear the morning show, or your local community radio station for the latest in the local independent music scene? You would have to pull out your Walkman.
Well, it sounds like Google will be enabling FM radio in the latest version of Android.
New Linux kernel
New versions of things like this are good for several reasons — Security, stability, performance, etc. This latest version of the kernel actually uses less RAM — freeing it up for applications to use. This will have an all-around positive impact on your phone.
OpenGL improvements
Gaming graphics and performance should be improved with the update to OpenGL that is planned for Froyo.
Flash 10.1 Support
Apple has been ignoring flash like it doesn’t exist. Google is taking another approach, and giving users what they actually want here. People have been clamoring for Flash support on their mobile devices, and thanks to Froyo, they will have it.
Color Trackball
Well, it’s not exactly a feature that was needed, but Google will be enabling color on the trackball. I don’t know anybody that uses the trackball on their android device — but I think people may be looking at it the wrong way. It actually is useful — it serves as a great notifier for things. I use it all the time without even thinking about it — when it’s flashing, it means i have a work email waiting for me.
With color added, it can serve a multitude of different purposes, limited only to developers imaginations.
I’m really looking forward to the newest version of Android — so bring it on Google!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Google Expands “Search Suggest” Feature On Google Maps

oogle recently introduced “Search Suggest” for Google Maps in several countries, and now it has expanded the feature to ten more countries, including the U.S., simplifying it for users to find places in a nearby location, the search giant announcedThursday.
The feature, as the name implies, automatically furnishes with suggestions whenever a person searches for a particular locale in Google Maps, users will now find suggestions in a drop-down box below the search box related to your query as you type along. But rather than offering suggestions based solely on the words the user is typing, the items in the drop-down will be based on the location they are viewing at the time.
According to Google, if a person is glancing the map of San Francisco and types in “Mandela” into the search box, (as shown in the image above) they will find related items to that keyword that are in and around San Francisco.
The improved feature will propose different output according to your current location. For example, if a user types in a query “Mandela” into Google Maps while glancing at it from London, different results in and around London will be displayed, (as shown in the image below).
The suggestions in Google Maps now include additional information like the address of the business or the district that a place is in. “This extra information helps you find and select the exact business or location you are seeking,” say Engineer Steffen Meschkat and Product Manager Peter Lidwell.
“As our team stationed in our Z├╝rich office, we understand the importance of getting information that is locally relevant,” the pair says. “We have built this capability into Suggest for Google Maps so that you get the most useful suggestions depending on where you are zoomed into on the map.”
Also, if a user is logged into their Google accounts and have their web history enabled can also find their personalized suggestions, based on past searches. This will definitely improve the overall Maps experience and allow you to find the places your a looking for even faster.
The service was previously only available in Germany, China, Hong Kong and Taiwan, but from now onwards that list has been expanded to include 10 new markets including Brazil, Canada, Czech Republic, France, Italy, Netherlands, Russia, Spain, United States, and the United Kingdom. Additionally, it will be available in 8 more languages from now on.
It is already available on many of Google products and services. However, Google Maps was kind left behind until now. Google says it is looking to expand it worldwide soon.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Chrome OS brings printing to the cloud

The developers behind Google Chrome OS, the forthcoming cloud-enabled operating system from the internet giant, have explained how they are dealing with a key need for any computer - how well it plays with the printer.
With Chrome OS on course for arrival at the end of 2010, the details of how the operating system, which is all about cloud computing, will do familiar computing tasks are an increasingly important factor.
The Chrome OS developers are mindful of the interest and the latest blog post from Mike Jazayeri, group product manager for Chrome OS, explains the detail.

Gmail Adds Drag & Drop Attachments & Calendar Invitations

Gmail, Gmail, you have won our hearts over the years and a constantly improving feature set has been firmly behind that, but finally, finally, finally, finally you've added two basics that have been lacking for far too long...

In a double announcement Google has revealed Gmail now has drag and drop support for attachments and the ability to insert calendar invitations into emails. 
The first couldn't be simpler - and thankfully after so much thinking time is very gracefully done: just drag a file, or files, onto the subject line area and Gmail will switch layout to display a 'Drop files here to add them as attachments' message. Do that and voila! Easy, elegant and long overdue (though currently supported only by Firefox and Chrome browsers for now).

As for calendar invitations, the option to 'Insert: Invitation' has been added alongside 'Attach a file' and once clicked creates a invitation box which looks much like that seen in Google Calendar. If shared calendars are present they can show when fellow recipients are/aren't busy, though once sent the invitations are simply added automatically into all parties' calendars rather than relying on a yes/no reply which is a disappointment. 
Both drag & drop and invitations have gone live immediately and it is noticeable Google hasn't messed around by putting them in Labs, they are hardwired into all Gmail and Google Apps accounts. 

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Google Rolls Out Two New Twitter Tools

One tool heps you see a term's popularity on Twitter over time; the other is a is fairly typical tool of the "find people to follow" variety.

Google announced two new Twitter projects yesterday, presumably to coincide with Twitter's Chirp conference which began yesterday and runs through today.

The first is the ability to see a term's popularity on Twitter over time, and even 'replay' tweets that include that term. You search on a term in Google, click the Show Options link and then choose Updates (this part works now, in case you haven't tried it – I hadn't). You'll start seeing tweets in real time, or very nearly so. Above the search results you'll see a timeline that indicates visually how often your search term is being tweeted. You can drag a cursor back and forth along the timeline and the search results will change to show tweets from that period of time. You can scale the timeline to show the current year, current month, or current 24 hour period. It's easier experienced than described, and to that end Google has set up a test page where you can try it now.

Searching Twitter from Google already seems a lot "cleaner" than searching Twitter from Twitter and as a bonus, "Promoted Tweets" don't show up in Google (though I suppose that may change). The timeline will improve the experience even more.

The second Twitter feature Google added is called Google Follow Finder. This is fairly typical twitter tool of the "find people to follow" variety. Enter your twitter name, hit submit and you get two columns of twitter users. One is "Tweeps you might like" and the other is "Tweeps with similar followers." I didn't find this tool to be all that useful. Most of the suggested users weren't of interest to me; the tool seemed to think I was a Mac fan since quite a few of the highest-ranked suggestions were people from MacBreak Weekly. Boy, when Google gets it wrong, Google really gets it wrong. Beyond the first handful, there were people I am interested in...but I'm already Following them! Clearly the tool needs some fine tuning and some filters, but if you're just getting started it might be of some help. When you do find someone to Follow, you're supposed to be able to Follow them right from the site (the UI for this is currently in place but I got an error when I tried to use it).

Monday, April 12, 2010

Google Documents get an upgrade

In a challenge to Microsoft's dominant position in office productivity software, Google on Monday began offering an array of upgrades to its Internet-based office applications, including the ability to have as many as 50 people work simultaneously on a piece of writing or a spreadsheet.

The upgrade to Google Documents comes just weeks before Microsoft begins rolling out its Office 2010 software to businesses, a crucial release for the Redmond, Wash., software giant, when it will introduce new versions of its Office and SharePoint products that also will allow workers to do real-time collaboration.

The Google Docs upgrades will roll out to users over the next few days. They are designed to make the company's Internet-based word-processing and spreadsheet products faster and more functional, adding basic writing features like automatic spell-complete and tab stops. But perhaps the most significant addition is to allow a large group of people to cooperatively draft a contract, or to analyze a sales problem with a spreadsheet, in real-time.

"It's a little bit of an in your face to Microsoft, because Microsoft is adding co-authoring into its 2010 package," said Melissa Webster, an analyst with the research firm IDC. "Google is upping the ante in an area where they are particularly strong, right before Microsoft's launch."

Google Docs has long allowed for the sharing of documents among multiple users, but there was a limited ability to have two or more people work together on the same thing at the same time. In the new version, everyone sees the changes as they are typed in. The feature will include an instant messenger component, identifying who is doing what action and allowing collaborators to comment on revisions.

"You all know you're working on the same version of the document," said Jonathan Rochelle, a group product manager for Google who said Docs offers a superior platform for collaboration than Microsoft's package.

A Microsoft executive countered that the company's collaborative features would offer a key feature Google doesn't — the ability to run its software either within an organization's network, or on the Internet "cloud."

"If you're the CIA, you don't want to use our data center; you want to run this yourself," Microsoft senior vice president Chris Capossela said in an interview. In terms of the privacy and security of their data, "many people still have questions about the cloud."

Microsoft also said it would offer many functions, like the ability to cut and paste across applications, that Google Docs does not.

Microsoft's Office software has the dominant position among business users, with about 100 million licenses, and its office and related business software comprises almost one third of the company's sales. Microsoft plans to begin rolling out Office 2010 to businesses in mid-May. In terms of importance, it's "the biggest release we've ever done," Capossela said.

Ted Schadler, an analyst with the research firm Forrester, said that for most people, choosing between basic software tools like word processing, spreadsheets and calendars won't be an either-or decision between the two companies.

"We're all comfortable using multiple tools," Schadler said. "My personal feeling is this is not going to be as much as a displacement strategy for Google, as it's going to become an extension strategy."

Webster said the intense competition is sure to benefit one group — users.

"It's a really interesting battle here," she said. "Competition always fosters great products."

Friday, April 9, 2010

Google adds site speed to search mix

Google's famous recipe for determining how sites get ranked in search results has a new ingredient: site speed.

Two of Google's top search engineers--Google Fellow Amit Singhal and principal engineer Matt Cutts--announced the addition Friday, after hinting it would be coming for several months. It's actually been live for a few weeks, they said in a blog post Friday, and Google is using a variety of components to ascertain how much faster one Web page responds compared to another.

In general, one of Google's operating philosophies is that faster is better. It's not just them, either: the increased demand for real-time information shows just how much people want sites and pages to load quickly, and the world's attention spans certainly aren't getting any longer.

Still, speed will not trump relevancy in search rankings. Search Engine Land noted that Google employs over 200 factors in considering where to rank a search result, and Google said the change should affect fewer than 1 percent of search query results.

Site owners can use a wide variety of tools from Google, Yahoo, and third-party developers to measure the speed of their Web pages.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Google purchases DocVerse, validates Microsoft's cloud focus

You know how Steve Ballmer spent his Thursday talk at the RSA conference touting Microsoft’s commitment to (and leadership in) cloud computing? AsZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley put it, “there was no news,” just posturing and remessaging. The next day, though, Google certainly made some news and spent $25 million on DocVerse to bring Microsoft documents more easily into Google’s cloud environment.

By acquiring DocVerse, Google brought technology onboard that specifically enables high-fidelity editing of Microsoft Office documents in the cloud. In this case, it’s clear that Google Apps just got itself a shot in the arm of Office compatibility. While Apps had certainly been able to import and export Microsoft Office formats in the past, formatting and the richness enabled by a desktop application were often lost in translation.

According to Jonathan Rochelle, group product manager with the Google Apps team (via InformationWeek),

Google isn’t buying into Microsoft; rather it’s buying a bridge from Microsoft Office to the world of cloud computing. There are, after all, some 600 million Office users out there, according to DocVerse, and getting them to migrate to Google Apps won’t happen overnight.

The DocVerse software is actually a plugin to Office that allows the same sort of real-time collaboration and synchronous editing that can happen in Google Docs and, to a large extent, Microsoft’s Sharepoint Server. All changes get saved to the cloud (what will now presumably be Google Docs since this service supports saving of any file type without conversion to Docs formats) and reconciled in real time, even as users continue to work within their desktop Office applications.

DocVerse also allows at least commenting and review of high-fidelity documents online from any web browser, even if the user doesn’t have Office installed on the computer.

The real coup here, though, is that groups who are considering a move to Google Apps but are hesitant about losing the power of their desktop applications have no reason not to move. They can avoid setting up expensive Sharepoint infrastructures and use Office applications where appropriate while exploring the cloud-based utility of Apps. With Google’s promise of increased fidelity within Apps this year as well, it seems as though this positions them quite handily to take Apps adoption to the next level. Apps becomes everything from an automatic online backup to an extension of Office that enables collaboration to a full-blown replacement, depending upon a group’s requirements.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Google Transit makes your metro commute easier

Anyone who’s commuted in Delhi knows it’s nothing to blink at. Hour long traffic jams, choking fumes and an endless sea of cyclists, pedestrians, motorbikes, panhandlers, buses, cows, cars and carts make getting around India’s sprawling capital a challenge for even the best equipped. So when the first section of the Delhi metro opened in December 2002, it was hailed by residents as a welcome step towards a pleasant commute.

That being said, even with the construction of the metro, a city as big and ever changing as Delhi makes figuring out how to get from point A to B without asking several passersby (most of whom are likely to be as confused as you are) a challenge – particularly for tourists or those new to the city. That’s why Google Transit, a partnership between Google and Delhi Metro comes as a welcome announcement.

Google Maps will now provide not just driving directions, but also metro schedules and routes, offering detailed information on which metro lines to take, what time trains leave, where to switch, what the cost of the commute is, how long it the trip will take, and what services – whether these be ATMs, coffee shops or bars – are near a designated metro station. Google Transit will be available for free on data enabled mobile phones.

The service will continue to be updated as the Delhi Metro updates its information. The Google/DMRC partnership comes at a good time, given that Delhi expects a surge of tourism surrounding the Commonwealth Games in October.

Google has also launched the service in an experimental manner in Kolkata, as well as parts of Chennai and Hyderabad and has expressed an interest in partnering with multiple agencies in various regions. “If there are agencies out there who feel this service is useful, all they need to do is contact us and give us their data about routes and schedules,” says to Manik Gupta, product manager for Google Maps in India.

To get a sense of how commuters can use Google Transit, Mint asked Gupta to walk us through the service.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Google acquires Picnik: Perfect fit for Chrome OS

Today Google announced the acquisition of a company called Picnik. The service is actually quite impressive — it’s got all the basic photo editing stuff you would need for your photos, and a plethora of filters that can give you some pretty wild effects. On top of that, the guys who made this site have a really good sense of humor — try it out and you will see what I mean.

I remember back in the olden days when I used Photoshop just for the effects. Yeah, I know, why would you want to ruin your pictures by making them all blurry or making it look like your eyeballs are twice the size? Well, after playing around with Picnik on images that are in my Picasa Web Albums (extremely easy to integrate btw), I couldn’t help but be reminded of why you would do that — because it’s fun.

This tool is going to be a huge win for Chrome OS. Every netbook that uses the operating system will have full access to a really good photo editor — something you traditionally needed a desktop client for. Hopefully Google makes all the features Picnik has completely free like they have in the past with previous acquisitions.

Have you had a chance to play with it yet? What do you think?

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Google introduces Goggles software

Here’s quite an interesting piece of software coming from Google. As mentioned in the official Google Blog, the Mobile World Congress at Barcelona bore witness to a prototype version of Google Goggles. This software displayed the possibility of incorporating Google’s machine translation and image recognition technologies.

A video was provided in the blog to explain the mechanism further. In the video, the way to use Goggles was shown. A picture of a text of German menu was instantly translated into English text, via this software. The technology works by connecting the handset’s camera to an optical character recognition (OCR) engine. It identifies the picture as text and then translates that text into English by means of Google Translate.

Presently, this technology can function just for German-English translations. It is not fully equipped to face all the languages yet. Nevertheless, this software can hold a lot of potential in the future. Mobile phones incorporated with this software will be able to translate signs, posters and other foreign text immediately into the users’ language.

Ultimately, Google is planning to come with a version of Google Goggles that can translate all the 52 languages presently compatible with Google Translate. But for this to happen, viewers will have to wait for some more time.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Google unveils virtual glass elevator that lets you fly around the world

Google has unveiled a virtual glass elevator that lets a person fly around the world.

The Liquid Galaxy project is an interactive booth with wraparound LCD screens.Screens show synchronised views via Google Earth and you can use a six-axis mouse to move your way through air and water.

The video was taken by Mashable staff at a live demo by creator Jason Holt at TED.

"With the Liquid Galaxy, we could fly through the Grand Canyon, leap into low-Earth orbit, and come back down to perch on the Great Pyramid of Giza without even breaking a sweat." -Holt on the Google Lat Long Blog.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Google Joins HTC to Create Chrome Based Google Tablet PC

Re: Googletab1In their constant strive to outperform and eclipse Apple's gadgets, Googlehas provided a possible peek at what their rivaltablet computer may look like. To develop the tablet, Google is reportedly teaming up with Taiwan-basedHTC, the same company it worked with to create its Nexus One phone.

The images, which popped up this week on their Chromium site, reveal a glimpse at how Google's OS would work on the tablet. The photos were reported to be developed by Glen Murphy, the company's UI lead on its OS and browser. It features a configurable keyboard, zooming functionality, and resizable windows that can be altered by dragging your fingers across the screen.

The Google Chrome tablet concept designs showcases a range of touchscreen tablet PC features, including:

  • A range of touch-screen keypad configurations, including a split keyboard with keys assigned to left and right hands
  • Different methods of launching Google Chrome applications
  • Tabs presented along the side of the screen of the Google Chrome interface
  • Creating multiple Chrome web browsers on screen using a launcher

Although intended to show off the OS, these images could suggest how the tablet itself will look and function.

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This video of Google's tablet shows the use of hand gestures with the Chrome OS. Click on the link above to see how the user interacts with the multi-touch touchscreen in a way, similar to the Apple iPad, using similar gestures to resize and interact with windows and launch applications. It is rumored that the device would possibly include a 5 to 10-inch screenand an on-screen keyboard.