It seems, the rumors of Google+’s death have been greatly exaggerated. According to new data from Hitwise, Google just recorded its 3rd biggest week since launch. Traffic is up 25% from last month and 5% from last week. Unsurprisingly, Google+’s best weeks with regard to overall visits came right after the site opened up its door to all users at the end of September.
After repeated rumors, based on notoriously unreliable data from online traffic analytics companies, Digg had to actually post its Google Analytics numbers on its blog yesterday. These numbers show that the site still gets about 17 million unique visitors a month. While Digg has to be defensive about these numbers, though, its competitors at Reddit – which used to be much smaller before Digg’s missteps last year – now celebrate 28 million uniques in October. Digg argues that because close to 50% of its visitors come to the site directly, monitoring firms like Quantcast and Compete can’t accurately measure its traffic.
Google just announced that Google+ now offers developers a way to get photos and videos out of Google+ and into their apps. As Google is slowly opening up the APIs for its new social network, it makes sense for the company to tackle photos and videos first. These, after all, are one of the backbones of Google+ (though I could do without the support for animated GIFs). Not only do its users get virtually unlimited space for their photos, but a number of professional photographers like Trey Radcliff and Thomas Hawk are using the new network to their fullest advantage.
Until earlier this year, you could do a Google search and use the ‘+’ operator in front of any word to make sure that Google would search for this specific term. Now that Google is moving towards using ‘+’ as a way to find Google+ profiles, though, this option is gone. Instead, Google asked users to use double quotes to ensure that none of Google’s usual corrections, personalizations or other changes are applied to this term. Now, however, after some vocal opposition against the disappearance of the ‘+’ search operator, Google is introducing a new tool that brings some of this functionality back: verbatim search.
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.
Apple just launched iTunes Match, its cloud-based music backup and streaming service for iOS, Mac and PC. With iTunes Match, users can store up to 25,000 of their own songs from iTunes in the cloud. Unlike others music locker services (including Google Music and Amazon’s music locker), Apple managed to get a license from the music labels that allows it to just check whether it offers a certain song you have in your library in its store and then make that copy available for you
Until now, Google Apps for Business users who pay a monthly or annual per-user fee to use the business versions of Gmail, Google Docs and similar services under their own domain names had one problem: the only real support option was over email. While that may work for most problems, quite a few users actually prefer to get an immediate answer and to talk to somebody knowledgeable over the phone. Starting today, Google now provides 24x7 phone support for Google Apps for Business users for all issues related to the product’s core services. These include Gmail, Google Docs and Google Calendar, among others.
Here is a fun little poll that I wouldn’t put too much stock into, but that will likely spur some interesting discussions in both the tech and political blogospheres today. According to a new survey commissioned by Poll Position (PDF), 20% of Republicans consider AOL to be the best email provider. Only 5.3% of Democrats think so.
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.
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.