monopoly city streetsWhat do you get when the biggest games company in the world teams up with the biggest Internet company? You get Monopoly City Streets.

Hasbro, one of the biggest toy manufacturers in the world, and Google have teamed up for a new version of the classic game of Monopoly.  Using Google Maps, you will be able to play Monopoly in a global version that merges the game with the world that Google has created with its mapping service.

What this means is that you will play Monopoly on an overlay of the actual planet Earth where you can purchase properties all across the planet and then start building various objects on them from houses to sports stadiums.  If someone beats you to a property you want, you can make an offer to buy it from them, and if they do not respond within seven days, the transaction will go through by default.

You can follow the development of the game on the official blog, and as a total Monopoly nut, you better believe I will be playin coming September 9th when the game launches!

Categories: Google   
 

gmail logoFor all the fabulous features Google has put in to Gmail over the years, there has been one that has been missing that seemed like a no-brainer to most: importing mail and contacts from your old account.

When I switched to Gmail, one of the biggest issues for me, and just about everyone else that took up with the service, was that there was no easy way for us to bring our old email with us from other accounts we had used previous to it.  Some time in the recent past, people who were signing up for Gmail were given the choice to import from their old accounts, but those of us where had been around for a while were still left out in the cold.

Well, Google has ginally taken pity on us.  Simply go in to your account, click on “Settings” and then to “Accounts and Import” and start entering the information about the old email account you wish to import.  Just be careful with the number of contacts you decided to import… as I am not spending my evening deleting hundreds of useless contacts.

FINALLY!  I can at long last get rid of my AOL account.  (no, I’m not joking, I still have one)

Categories: Google   
 

google mapsGoogle is continuing its quest to map every corner of the Earth, and now that includes going inside attractions such as amusement parks.

Up until now, Google Street View has been restricted to public city streets all over the world, but thanks to a new Partnership program, Google is now shooting Street View pictures of attraction locations.  The first group of places includes Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca,Thunderhill Raceway Park, San Diego State University and LEGOLAND California.

Depending on the location, Google is switching to a tricycle bike system to shoot the images as opposed to the usual cars they use.  Who knows what other locations they will be hitting, but it almost makes you wonder if you’ll ever need to leave your home again to go on a “vacation”.

Check out LEGOLAND below, this is just too cool.


View Larger Map

Categories: Google   
 

igoogleIf you’re already using iGoogle as your home page, get ready for some changes that are going to make it a lot more social.

While Google has dipped its collective toe in to social networking before, it seems they are going for a more full-on assault this time with new tools being added to its iGoogle start page.

googlesocial

While there seems to be a definite focus on “social” with the widgets they’ve announced so far, this does have a lot of potential for other uses.  Since you can choose who you share each widget with, you could theoretically set up a replacement for FriendFeed, which will probably be killed off soon by new owner Facebook.  All you would need is a widget that allows you to import your activities from other services and you’re done, you’ve got your own FriendFeed that would go much wider than the original based on the brand name alone.  Someone get on developing that, would ya?

If you want to see what is available so far, just head over to google.com/igsocial and check it out.  In the meantime, here is a video they released which ecplains it a bit more in-depth.


Categories: Google, Social Networking   
 

google checkoutEver wanted to have your own online store, but had absolutely no clue how to do it?  Leave it to Google to come up with possible one the simpliest, and cheapest, solutions ever.

According to an announcement on the Google Docs blog, there is now a system to use a simple spreadsheet in Google Docs to tie in with Google Checkout and create your own online store in three steps, or just a matter of minutes.

1. Sign up for Google Checkout
2. List products you want to sell in a Google spreadsheet
3. Place the Google Checkout store gadget on your website. (Also supported: Google Sites, Blogger, and iGoogle).

Seeing as this can be used with sites such as Blogger, which is a free blogging service from Google, every one under the sun now has the ability to open their own online store completely for free.

If you haven’t heard of Google Checkout, don’t feel bad, this is exactly why Google created this system.  This online payment system was supposed to be Google’s answer to PayPal, but it has failed to gain much traction over the past few years of its existence.  Since one of the biggest barriers to starting an online store is figuring out accepting credit cards, Google handles all of that for you without a whole lot of hassle.

While this is not a solution for people with hundreds or thousands of products to sell, it is perfect for your smaller sellers who make handmade items, have only a few items related to their blog or site and so on.  This could also be a good avenue for the ever growing number of people disenchanted with with eBay.

We here at StarterTech plan on creating a small store with this ner service for another site very soon, and once we do we will post a full review here for everyone to check out.

Categories: Google, Shopping   
 

google maps 3.2Google has updated Google Maps for mobiles to add new layers that will bring even more functionality to the popular mobile application.

According to the Google Mobile blog, starting with the new  version 3.2 of Google Maps for mobile devices, you can add locations to a route from your desktop and then access them from you mobile device so you have the information on the go.  Make notes of places to stop along a route you take driving, walking, running or whatever and you’ll never forget it.

If you end up in a new area unexpectedly, you can access the Wikipedia information for the area to find interesting place to go.  If you prefer you can just search for types of places you are looking for, or just browse various categories to try to narrow your results.

So far the new version is only available for Symbian S60 phones and Windows Mobile devices.  There are plans to roll it out to other platforms, but no release dates were announced, or even what platforms they will be doing for sure.

Categories: Google, gps, Mobile Phones   
 

gmail logoGoogle has added yet another feature to its popular Gmail application, and this may be one of the most welcome ones yet.

Everyone has ended up on a mailing that seems to be impossible to get off of.  For me it was a Major League Baseball list when I helped a friend vote for her team in the All-Star game a few years back.  No matter how many times I have gone through the unsubscribe process, it has never taken.  Well, now Gmail is going to handle all of that for me.

Lifehacker got a reader tip about an Auto-unsubscribe feature that just showed up in the help pages of Gmail with no fanfare.  The description of the feature is pretty straight forward:

We don’t think you should be burdened with managing messages you don’t want to receive. We do our best to put messages in Spam when we’re pretty sure you won’t want or need them. But everyone has different preferences about the mail they want to see. You may not want to read any messages sent by a certain company or mailing list, while another Gmail user finds these same messages to be valuable.

To help solve this problem, we’re providing you with an unsubscribe tool for some messages. You’ll see the unsubscribe tool when you mark a message from particular types of mailing lists as spam. If the particular message is a misuse of a mailing list you like to receive, you can Report spam as usual. But if you never want to receive another message or newsletter from that list again, click Unsubscribe instead. We’ll send a request to the sender that your email address be removed from the list. It’s that simple!

This is a feature that has been needed for years in email programs everywhere, and I can’t wait to try it out

gmail unsubscribe

Categories: Google   
 

google voice logoFor what continues to be a free service, Google sure is putting a lot of work into Google Voice.

Just last month Google opened up  Google Voice to more users, and now they are back less then a month later with applications to bring the service to both Android and BlackBerry phones.  Now you can access your oice mail from anywhere and a whole lote more.  Here are the highlights of the service:

  • Access your voicemail: read message transcripts, follow along with “karaoke-style” playback of messages, read SMS messages sent to your Google Voice number (even if your phone doesn’t receive SMS messages) and access your call history
  • Place calls that display your Google Voice number from your address book, the app dialer (Blackberry) or the native dialer (Android)
  • Send SMS messages that display your Google Voice number
  • Place international calls at low rates

Android users can find the application in the Marketplace, and BlackBerry users need to go to m.google.com/voice to download the program.

I have already used the service today on my BlackBerry 8830, and while there was a short lag time in the number dialing from when I entered it, it seemed fairly seamless.  The caller ID on the end did indeed display my Google Voice number instead of my cell phone number.  Very interesting and makes the whole service feel a bit more tangiable and real.

You can learn more about the new service in the video below.

Categories: Google, Mobile Phones   
 

google chrome logoAfter years of speculation, it has finally happened: Google is launching its own operating system.

Late last night on the Official Google Blog, the company announced that the Google Chrome name will no longer apply to just its web browser, but to an upcoming operaring system (OS) that will be directed primairly at the netbook computer market.  That isn’t to say that it couldn’t later expand out to other markets, but that is where it is going to begin.

For now the goal of the new OS is run on top of a Linux kernel (i.e. Linux will be like its heart), and that it will be quick to power up and get you going.  It will of course have a heavy emphasis on doing work online as it is made by Google and is built for computers that cater to that activitiy primarily.

Google had a pretty good quote about what exactly they are looking for from this project:

Speed, simplicity and security are the key aspects of Google Chrome OS. We’re designing the OS to be fast and lightweight, to start up and get you onto the web in a few seconds. The user interface is minimal to stay out of your way, and most of the user experience takes place on the web. And as we did for the Google Chrome browser, we are going back to the basics and completely redesigning the underlying security architecture of the OS so that users don’t have to deal with viruses, malware and security updates. It should just work.

The Chrome OS is due to be available as an open source project that anyone can work on by the end of this year, and availability on certain models of low end computers in the later half of 2010.

This is going to be certainly interesting to watch develop, and to see how traditional software companies react.

Categories: Google, News   
 

Gmail betaWell, that only took five years for no apparent reason.

Google finally removed the “Beta” label off of Gmail today, and while the entire tech blogosphere seemed to dance a collective jig, does it really matter to your average user?

Not really.

When Gmail launched on March 21st, 2004, it was called a “Beta” which is computer jargon for “if something doesn’t work correctly, you can’t yell at us because it’s in Beta.”  It’s like an immediate escape hatch for any computer program or service.

While the removal of the label doesn’t really mean anything to your every day user, it does make a difference to corporations as they are immediately leery of anything with the “Beta” label.  Considering Google removed the label at the same time from its Google Aps division, the corporate version of Gmail, this frees up the service to used by many more corporations.  Will they actually use it is the question, but now they have the option.

In short, no more “Beta” on Gmail, but like I said, to your average user it never even mattered so… enjoy the non-event?

Categories: Google   
 
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