Google today announced that it will start personalizing your Google Maps experience with your ratings and personalized recommendations. For now, Google is keeping these new features very subtle. Indeed, unless you look very closely, you may just overlook the new symbols. Places you have already rated will now appear with a number of dots underneath their respective symbols, corresponding to the star rating you gave them. Recommended places now feature a slight orange glow around their symbols.
Google just acquired Katango, a service that can automatically organize your friends on social networks into groups. Katango only launch its first product, a Facebook-focused iPhone application, this July. At the time, I already thought that Katango was really more of a feature than a product and that “I wouldn’t be surprised if somebody like Twitter, Google or Facebook would take an interest in buying the company.” Clearly, Google thought so to. Indeed, when I first talked to Katango’s VP of product Yee Lee, he pointed out that his company was already talking to the “big two” players in the social networking space.
Just a few days after the launch of its business and brand pages for Google+, Google today announced the availability of a set of dynamic badges. These new badges allow publishers and brands to allow their readers and users to subscribe to their new pages directly from their own websites without sending them to Google+ first. For now, this is a limited release, however. Only users who are part of the Google+ Platform Preview group can create these interactive badges for now.
Ever since the launch of Google+, businesses have been wondering when they could finally open up their own outposts on Google+. After a long delay, Google finally pulled back the curtains from its product for brands today. These new so-called Google+ Pages look pretty much exactly like regular Google+ profiles, but with a ‘page’ icon next to the page’s name, a +1 button and the ability to share a page with your friends. While Google isn’t ready to just let any brand onto the service yet, it is launching a number of pages with well-known brands like H&M, Toyota and Pepsi.
I guess there are three ways to approach Halloween: you can go for cute, scary or sexy. Every year, both Google and Microsoft like to produce something Halloween-themed and this year is no exception. As in so many other areas of their competing businesses, he difference between their attemps’ attempts to bring some Halloween fun to the Internet couldn’t be more different: Google produced a family-friendly video-doodle of its employees carving pumpkins and Microsoft went all out to produce a short horror video featuring its Kinect controller.
Microsoft’s Bing has been aggregating daily deals from Groupon, LivingSocial and the plethora of their high- and low-end niche clones for month now. It looks as if Google, which runs its own Google Offers service, too, is moving more towards aggregation now, too. Starting in San Francisco, Google Offers now aggregates deals from Dealfind, DoodleDeals, Gilt City, GolfNow, HomeRun, Juice in the City, kgbdeals, Mamapedia,Plum District, PopSugar Shop, ReachDeals, Active.com Schwaggle, TIPPR and zozi. This, according to Google, will allow its users to easily purchase deals from all of these services with just one account (using Google Checkout, of course). Google plans to roll this service out to more cities “in the months to come.”
Google Reader, the company’s popular feed reader, long looked like the forgotten stepchild of Google+ and other more recent products at Google. As the company continued to update the look and feel of many of its products in the last few months, Reader looked like it would be left behind. Today, however, Google announced that Reader will soon get a facelift as well. At the same time, though, it looks as if Reader will also lose some features, as Google is moving all of its social efforts to Google+.
Just about a year and a half ago, most of Google’s productivity apps in the Google Docs suite received major overhauls that brought real-time collaboration and a number of other new features to Google’s online document, spreadsheet and drawing tools. One tools that was left out of that refresh at the time was Presentations, Google’s online PowerPoint rival. Today, Google is changing this by bringing real-time collaboration, animations, rich tables and about 50 more new features to Presentations.
Earlier this year, at Google I/O, Ford and Google announced a new project that would use Google’s cloud-based tools to make vehicles smarter. Later this week, at the 18th World Congress on Intelligent Transport Systems, Ford will give its first public demonstrations of the fruits of this work. The idea behind this work is to use Google’s Prediction API to “predict driver behavior in order to optimize vehicle control systems and improve vehicle performance attributes such as fuel or hybrid-electric efficiency.”
Between 1947 and 1956, after a chance discovery by a Bedouin shepherd, archaeologist found hundreds of ancient texts written between the third and first century BC in caves near an old settlement not too far away from the Dead Sea. These so-called “Dead Sea Scrolls” feature, among other texts, some of the oldest surviving copies of numerous biblical texts. Written in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek, they are preserved in a highly secure building in Jerusalem where only a few of the scrolls are ever exhibited at the same time. Now, however, Google, in cooperation with the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, is putting some of the rolls online.
Google just announced that it plans to crowdsource a large part of the review process that currently brings user-generated map edits to Google Maps and related products. Thanks to Google Map Maker and the ability to suggest edits and notify Google of mistakes in Google Maps, the number of potential edits was apparently threatening to overwhelm Google's internal reviewers. Instead of expanding its internal team, though, Google has decided to give "distinguished mappers" from around the world the ability to review and approve edits.
Google+ just added a bit of nuance to its blocking function. Instead of just having to cut off people completely and ensure that they will never see any of your posts, you can now also choose to just “ignore” people.
I'm a jaded tech blogger, but Microsoft's HoloLens project is without doubt the most exciting project to come out of Redmond in years. After years of talk about augmented reality, this may be the first project that actually lives up to the hype.