Google is deeply entrenched in the Web, and it has its claws in the mobile device market, but are you ready to see it on your TV?
According to The New York Times, Google is teaming up with Intel and Sony to come out with a new product called Google TV. Planned as either a set top box, or as software and parts built into certain TV sets, Google TV will be an open source platform that uses a version of the Google Android mobile operating system platform and the Google Chrome browser to allow users to browse various Internet applications directly from their televisions.
While some services such as this already exist, they have been limited in what Web services they deliver; the new Google TV platform will be open to any developer that wishes to work on it which means it would be like an application store for mobile devices. You could see things such as YouTube or Hulu being delivered to your television, as well as being able to check your Twitter stream and Facebook wall with just a few clicks directly from your couch without needing a laptop or tablet computer.
Logitech has also been tapped to develop a remote control with a miniature keyboard that will allow users to type out messages without clicking some form of online screen.
There is no word when we might see this hitting the market place, but sources familiar with the situation say that the project has been under development for several months now, and this appears to be a high priority project for all the parties involved. If I was a betting man, I would say this holiday season might see the first releases, and at the latest I would say the technology will debut to the public at the Consumer Electronics Show in Jan. 2011.
Virtual marketplaces are becoming all the rage, and now Google is jumping into the game with their business services arm, Google Apps.
Google Apps is a product of Google that allows companies to use the popular Gmail and Google Docs tools under their own company banner for an annual fee per user. It can also be used for free by smaller companies or Web sites as a way to to route their e-mail into a Gmail interface while using their own domain name. (i.e. email@example.com would route to a Gmail account as opposed to your standard e-mail account)
Now Google has teamed up with multiple services to launch the Google Apps Marketplace. For a separate fee per service you can add services such as Dimdim Web Conferencing, eFax, SurveyMonkey and many more to your current account, so that you can use all of them from one interface as opposed to going out to multiple sites and having to log in to each separately.
From a security perspective we can see the benefit, but each of the ones we looked at has some sort of cost associated with it. If you’re a small company there are numerous free alternatives out there for just about everything we looked at. In these tough economic times, weight convenience VS. cost, and you may not see the benefits of this immediately. If you’re a big company, known yourselves out.
These have been some of the most useful features in the Lab, and now you won’t have to do anything extra to use them.
At the same time, five features are being cut:
Fixed Width Font
Location in Signature
None of these were that terribly useful, so not too sad to see them go.
Enjoy the new features if you hadn’t already added them via Labs to your account (like I had done with most of them). I particularly like the YouTube Previews as it saves you having to go out to the site.
Labs have long been a way for Google to add new features it is still testing out to existing products. The most notable version has been in Gmail that has constantly released new tools to the Labs system before pushing them out to the live version of the site. Well, now Google Maps is joining in the fun with at least one feature it should have always had.
Google announced today that the Maps system finally has a Labs area with some nifty new features for you to try out. (click the image for a larger view)
To get to the new tools, log into your Google account, go to the Maps page, and towards the top right you will see a green lab beaker, click on that and you will get your selections. While some seem silly, like adding “Beta” under the page name, the Drag ‘n’ Zoom is something I have wanted in Maps for ages. Once enabled, click on the Zoom icon and then simply click and drag a box around the area you want to zoom in on. I’m already in love, and this has been needed for ages.
There are some nifty other new features worth checking out, but Drag ‘n’ Zoom is a must have.
Google has always had an obsession with how fast the Internet moves, and now it has decided to do something about it in a physical sense by bringing out its own Gigabit Internet connections.
Currently, if you have a 50 Mbs fiber connection to your home, your paying an outrageous fee for it, and you are one of the lucky few. Google wants to change all that, and its putting its money where its mouth is. The company announced today that it will be launching a trial program to bring 1 Gbps (approx. 125 Mbs) to cities around the United States.
Called Google Fiber for Communities, the new program is accepting applications now from government officials, but if you are a citizen, you can also nominate your town. The video below explains it in greater detail, but we could be looking at a major game changer in the way Internet is delivered to our homes.
Google announced its newest social media service today, Google Buzz, and it might just be the social service Google was always meant to create.
Google has had two problems historically with social media services. The first being they bought a service such as Jaiku (a Twitter clone) or Dodgeball that just didn’t quite fit into their corporate image correctly. The second problem has been with services such as Orkut, which, while popular in several countries, just never caught in the United States.
Google Buzz may very well change all of that because it is built from the ground up by Google, and it integrates with pre-existing services that the company has had success with such as Gmail, Google Reader, Google Maps, YouTube and so on.
The new service is a part of your Gmail account, and by simply clicking on the link in your sidebar, you get a social lifestream service not unlike what you find at FriendFeed. The difference is that Google already knows you so well, it can auto populate your friends for you with those you talk to the most in Google Talk and Gmail. (click the images for a larger view)
Once in you can start adding your information from various social sites. The number of services is limited at this time, but there are sure to be more added.
Once you’ve got your services imported, you can begin sharing things with your friends, and seeing what it is they have to share with you. Comments can be left on any item, so the service becomes social onto itself.
The magic of Google Buzz happens in your Gmail inbox, though. As opposed to other services that require you to go out to their site to see if follow-up comments have been posted, or e-mail you a link to tell you there are new comments, the actual Buzz is delivered to your inbox and you can interact with it from there. A Buzz icon will be displayed next to the mail so you will be able to easily discern what is normal mail and what is a Buzz.
When out and about, you will also be able to use a mobile version of Buzz by simply going to the Google home page from your browser, click the Buzz icon and the service will locate you via your phone’s GPS. Once logged in, you can see what friends have buzzed about that is near you on an improved version of Google Maps.
Google has a history of posting short videos that expertly describe its new products, so here is the one for the main part of Google Buzz.
And the one for the mobile aspects.
So there you have it. Will it succeed? Who knows, but I personally think Buzz has the best shot of any Google social service yet of gaining some traction.
Big thanks to Jo from Jo’s Cafe for the screenshots!
Google has a very mixed history with attempting to make its services more social, but if the company was to integrate directly into its popular Gmail service, would that help things along?
Google may be the master of Web searches, and popular with the e-mail crowd, but one thing it has never mastered is social media. How many of you are even familiar with its full-fledged social network, Orkut? It’s been around since 2004, but over 80 percent of its traffic come from Brazil and India, it has failed miserably just about everywhere else. What about Latitude? It’s still around, and you can see which friends and family are near you, but it is like the forgotten child of the Google family of services.
Even with its failures to get anything serious going with social media, that doesn’t mean that Google won’t keep trying, and according to The Wall Street Journal, the company is about to try it again, but this time it will be part of Gmail. Following in the footsteps of Facebook and Twitter, the new feature is said to be a status update system that will allow you to update your status for selected friends to see, and they will be able to do likewise. You will also be able to view a timeline of their status updates, ala Twitter.
The question is if people will use it, but it probably has a higher probability of use due to the fact people leave their Gmail accounts open all day long in a browser tab. You won’t have to go to a special page to interact with it, and that could be a key to getting more people to use it. Will it draw in new users? Unlikely, because if all they are looking for is that kind of interactivity, then they will go to a site that specializes in it.
It might be a fun distraction, but I doubt you will ever see this supplanting Facebook and Twitter as the kings of status updates.
In what is turning into a seemingly never ending war between Web sites and the Internet Explorer 6 Web browser, Google has just struck a major blow that may help hasten its death.
Google has announced that as of March 1, 2010, portions of the Google empire such as Google Docs will no longer be supported for Internet Explorer 6 (IE6). As this comes from the Google Enterprise Blog, this is squarely directed at all of those IT departments that have simply refused to upgrade their companies browsing options out of laziness. Yes, they will tell you it’s all about security, but honestly, that’s total malarkey.
The minimum required versions of browsers that Google will now support include:
If you are unfamiliar with the problems with IE6, it was released in 2001 and uses old Web standards. The Internet has now been held hostage for nine years by this browser due its proliferation amongst corporations. Sites have to be designed in such a way that they remain compatible with this antiquated piece of software.
Last July, popular social media site Digg even asked its users why they continued to use the browser. While there were some who said they preferred the browser (while no proof was ever given, we do believe those people were visiting from an insane asylum), the majority said they can’t upgrade or were told they couldn’t. The IE6 No More movement has also formed around sites that are pledging to no longer support the browser.
Web browsers are free, there is absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t change from IE6 if you have the option. And if you are in a corporation where the IT department says it can’t be done, go above their heads and complain. This browser must die if the Internet is to thrive.
In a move that is sure to leave Apple less than happy, Google has brought Google Voice back to the iPhone, it just isn’t as an application this time.
What can only be described as a schoolyard smack down has been happening between Google and Apple since last September when it was announced that Apple would not allow the Google Voice application to stay on the iPhone. What followed was a he said/she said fight between Google, Apple and AT&T over who said what and when, but in the end it did look like it was Apple’s call as the two companies are now finding all sorts of ways to annoy the other one.
Well, in what is sure to annoy the living heck out of Apple now is that Google has brought the Google Voice service back to the iPhone in a way that Apple can do nothing about realistically: they put it on the Web.
If you go to m.google.com/voice with your iPhone (and even an iPod Touch for texts) or web OS based devices you will have access to your Google Voice contacts, saved voice mails and have the ability to place calls & texts all through the browser. It isn’t clear how this will impact your minutes on your phone plan, but the texts do appear to be completely free. You can watch the video below for more details, or visit the Google Voice blog.
At long last, Chrome now supports extensions! For those of you unfamiliar with the concept, extensions enable your browser to do extra little jobs like the Google Voice extension we described the other day. Currently Google is offering over 1,500 extensions in its extension gallery, but we do highly recommend you limit how many you install because the more you add, the slower your browser may run. That being said, there are some really useful ones out there, so you should at least give them a look and see if any of them will ease your online life.
Chrome now comes with a built-in ability to synchronize your bookmarks across all of your computers running Chrome. So if you have a laptop and a desktop in your life, set up the sync and your bookmarks will be the same on both machines. It can be done on as many machines as you have, so the headaches this will relieve for people with multiple computers in their lives will truly be welcome.
Here is a video explaining more of the features
If you’ve resisted trying out Google Chrome, now would be the time, we think you’ll be pleased.