Google may be one of the world’s biggest Internet companies, but if you want to talk to a real human being when you run into an issue with Google, you’re generally out of luck. While Google offers customer support through email for some services, the company’s online FAQs and help pages are generally the only means to get official information about a product. Google’s dislike for offering phone support was also on display when it launched its Nexus One smartphone without offering any phone support and only launched a phone support line after lots of complaints from its users. Maybe things are changing in Mountain View, however. Today, Google announced that it will offer free phone support for its AdWords advertising platform in the U.S. and Canada.
Google just launched Google +1, a "like" button for its search results pages and ads, later today. This new feature will allow users to share sites right from within the search results page. These sites will then be shared with a user's social circle on Google and publicly, on their newly enhanced public Google Profile pages. This new feature will roll out slowly to all users, but to start using it today, just head over to Google Labs and activate the "+1 button."
Last year, Google announced that it would bring ultra high-speed broadband Internet to one community in the United States. After a long decision process, the search giant today finally announced which community will be the first to enjoy Google-sponsored Internet access that's more than 100 times faster than the U.S. average. Out of the 1,100 cities that applied for Google's so-called "Fibre for Communities program, Topka, Kansas probably went the furthest in attracting Google's attention by renaming itself Google, Kansas. That was not enough, though, and Google today announced that it chose Kansas City, Kansas instead.
With the launch of a new version of virtually every major browser in the last few weeks, the discussion around how many downloads each one of them got is unavoidable and, as Microsoft's senior director of its Internet Explorer business and marketing group, Ryan Gavin calls it, "a natural temptation." In comparison with Mozilla, which just launched Firefox 4 last week, just about a week after Microsoft launched its own Internet Explorer 9, Microsoft's download numbers didn't look too good. Mozilla saw about twice as many downloads as IE9 during the first 24 hours of Firefox 4's general availability.
Microsoft wants to change this, however, and is partnering with LivingSocial, Netflix, LinkedIn, Monster and Posterous to bring interactive elements to their emails when they appear in Microsoft’s Windows Live Hotmail service.
Just a week after the general release of Firefox 4 for the desktop, Mozilla just released the latest mobile version of its browser for Android and the Maemo-powered Nokia N900. Mozilla was relatively late in embracing mobile platforms with Firefox, but this latest release brings it up to par with other mobile browsers from company's like Opera.
Amazon just launched its rumored online music locker project. Dubbed the Amazon Cloud Drive, the service will actually do more than just store your music. Besides supporting music – which is clearly the main focus here – the 5GB of free storage space on Amazon’s servers that come with every Cloud Drive account can also be used for documents, pictures and videos.
The New York Times will activate its paywall at 2pm ET (11am PT) today. While the word "paywall" evokes the idea of an impermeable wall that you will only be able to breach by getting out your credit card, the reality is far more complicated. Indeed, according to the New York Times' own estimates, only about 20% of its readers will ever encounter the paywall at all.
Echoecho is one of the most useful location-based apps on the market today. When you hear the word “location-based app,” chances are you are thinking about services like Foursquare and Gowalla. While these can be fun, their utility is rather limited (unless you really feel the need to collect virtual badges). Echoecho, on the other hand, was built from the ground up to solve a simple problem: finding where your friends are. The service lets you ask your friends where they are and then decide on a place to meet up if you feel like doing so.
The minds behind Lala, the ingenious online music service that Apple bought and immediately shut down, just launched their newest project tonight: Color.
Color is a photo-sharing app for iOS (iTunes link) and Android with $41 million in backing from major venture capital firms. Forbes calls it “a new photo app that could change the way you interact with people,” but leaving aside the question why an app like this needs $41 million, my main problem with the service is that I can’t quite figure out why I would want to use it.
We hear a lot about Google’s relationship with publishers, but this week the search giant also quietly launched it’s own publication in the UK. Think Quarterly, which calls itself a “a breathing space in a busy world” is, as the name implies, a quarterly online magazine. The design almost feels somewhat reminiscent of of Wired, with a strong focus on infographics and large photos. The articles themselves come both from writers inside of Google and freelancers. The first edition focuses on “data,” but the articles run the gamut from a discussion of Near Field Communication to an interview with “data superstar” Hans Rosling. The bias is obviously towards Google products, though some of the interviews could easily stand on their own in other publications.
Yahoo just launched some interesting updates to its search product. Even though Yahoo's search backend is now powered by Microsoft's Bing, Yahoo remains in charge of how it presents this data. The new Yahoo Search somewhat resembles Google Instant, but is actually, in some way, a cleverer solution that brings together Bing's "Bing boxes" and Google Instant.
Android users already know about this, but with the latest update to the Google Search app for iOS, Apple users now also get to enjoy this feature.
When Google realizes that you have an upcoming trip on your schedule, it will show you info about your destination, including weather and some tourist info.