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?