Google

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Google today announced a wide-reaching update to its search ranking algorithm that will impact about 35% of all search queries. This improved algorithm will put a stronger emphasis on how recently a page was posted or updated. As Google puts it, “Search results, like warm cookies right out of the oven or cool refreshing fruit on a hot summer’s...

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Today, Google launched the largest update to Google Reader in a long time. While it brings some new features (especially integration with Google+), it also does away with a number of useful tools that many users came to rely on in the past. Reader’s social features, for example, are now almost completely gone. You also can’t bundle a set of feeds and share them with friends anymore, just like you can’t share comments about stories with your friends in Google Reader. Given all of these changes – and a new design that isn’t everybody’s cup of team – here are three alternatives that are worth checking out. Most of them don’t recreate the social features that Google Reader used to have, though, but given that those aren't coming back as Google is moving to Google+, now may just be the best time to switch to a new feed reader anyway.

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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.

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With Google TV, Google hoped to make a push into its users' living rooms. It’s launch in October 2011, though, was marred by an overcomplicated interface and a lack of content, as the TV networks and companies like Hulu quickly barred Google TV users from accessing their sites. Now, just about a year later, Google is giving it another try

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It's a busy day for the Google+ team. Not only did Google just open its social network to all Google Apps users, but the team also rolled out a number of interesting new features. These include the ability to see what the most talked about posts on Google+ are right now, a very cool visualization tool to see how a story was shared and discussed on the service and the Google+ Creative Kit, which adds some basic photo editing features to the service.

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After a long period of rumors and denials, Google officially announced its Google Business Photos (a.k.a. indoor Streetview) earlier this year. While Google put the first set of businesses online soon after the announcement, we didn't hear much about this project since, Now, however, it looks as if more and more of these indoor, Streetview-like images are going online. You can find some examples here and here.

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Starting today, Mozilla will offer a custom version of Firefox with Bing to its users. This custom version uses Bing as the default search engine in both the search box and the "AwesomeBar." Bing.com will also be the default homepage and chances are that Microsoft and Mozilla have worked out a way to split revenue from this venture, though the official announcement doesn't make any mention of this.

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Google today updated the stable version of Chrome and introduced its redesigned New Tab page to those mainstream users who are not using the more cutting-edge release channels Google offers for its browser. In addition, Google also launched a redesigned app store for Chrome, which now features large images instead of the small icons that previously dominated the homepage.

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Google today updated its biannual Transparency Report that aims to provide greater transparency around the government requests for user data or the removal of content from the company's servers. While this new report does not greatly diverge from earlier ones, the company did add one new data point: the number of user accounts that are specified in the requests the company receives.

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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+.

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Google just announced that it will soon redirect all of its users who are signed in to their Google Accounts to https://www.google.com. Over the last few months and years, Google has slowly moved towards making more of its services, including Gmail, available through the secure and encrypted SSL protocol. In mid-2010, Google also made https://encrypted.google.com available for users who...