When Google Plus launched earlier this year, the company made it a point to let us know that the service was still available only to personal profiles and that brands and businesses who want to build a Google Plus page of their own will have to wait. In an interview to VentureBeat, a Google spokesman had said at that point,
“There will be a product very soon that has businesses’ interests in mind… We want to give them the features businesses expect and the features that can improve the sharing experience both for consumers and businesses. You can expect to see a level of analytics and measurement that you’d typically find in Google products as well as a nuanced approach to how things are shared. It encourages and enhances conversation, it doesn’t just put things in the stream.”
With business profiles expected to be announced soon, speculations are rife on what this new feature could mean to the business of social media. As we have seen in the past year or so, Google has been consolidating their properties – at least the utility part of it. We now have just one universal social property (barring Orkut for Brazil and pockets of India) from Google. Google Buzz and Wave are shutting down. Google Reader is losing its ‘Share’ option. And all of these are being replaced by Google Plus. Similarly, Google Videos is being phased out as users are now being encouraged to share videos via YouTube alone. Most Google properties now have the uniform profile bar at the top of the page that lets users connect to the different Google properties at one place.
So, does this consolidation provide us with a direction that this new Google Plus for Brands will take? One of the most likely possibilities is that Google could integrate the “RSS reader” functionality right into the service. A significant number of ‘Brands’ on Google Plus are likely to be blogs and other news media websites. At present, these websites have separate buttons to let users subscribe to RSS and newsletter feeds. In addition to this, these websites also carry a +1 button for independent posts as well as the website as a whole.
The next step in Google’s consolidation strategy could be to integrate these different elements so that users may follow their RSS feeds, newsletter subscriptions and brand postings on Google+ right from the notifications section on the top of their Google window. What this means is that users no longer have to independently follow the brand pages on Google+ and re-read the same posts on their Google Reader. Instead, Google could be moving towards making Reader and Feedburner redundant by providing these features on Google Plus.
Why should they be cannibalizing their own properties? For one, Google does not monetize Reader or Feedburner and the only reason these properties have existed is to keep competition in the segment at bay. By moving towards one property that will fulfill all these requirements, Google would not only be keeping the interests of its users intact, but also establish a larger active base of users for Google Plus who will help the company beat its nemesis Facebook in the social networking segment.
Unlike traditional computing devices, internet browsing on mobile devices are different – you only zoom and view sections of a webpage that you want to see. While that works fine for most part, advertisers who pay ad networks on an impression basis may lose out considering that the mobile phone user may have skipped the advertisement section altogether.
So how should it work? A Google patent application made public last week tells us how. In the application, the engineers explain the process of using “display thresholds” as a metric to ascertain if an advertiser should be charged for an impression or not. The application reads,
“An impression is determined to have occurred if a display of an advertisement in the viewport exceeds certain display thresholds so that the advertisement is likely to be discernible to a user of the device. These display thresholds can include, for example, the percentage of the advertisement displayed in the viewport of the device and the zoom level of the viewport (or scale of the viewport). The display thresholds can also include the duration with which the advertisement is displayed in the viewport.”
It is not clear if Google already makes use of this metric on their advertisements. Nevertheless, this is an interesting exercise that should make mobile-advertising all the more attractive to advertisers.
If you are in the United States, you might be glad to know that Google has recently announced a number porting facility for Google Voice users. What this means is that you will now be able to access all features of Google Voice with you existing mobile phone number. That’s an easy way to let friends and family contact you on Google Voice without having to change from your existing contact number. In a recent blog post on their official Google Voice blog, the company has noted,
“Today, we’re excited to announce that Number Porting is available for all existing Google Voice users. This means you can make the mobile number you’ve always used your Google Voice number, so it can ring any phone you want—or even your computer.”
Google has also released an official video demo of how the process will work. Do note that you may have to pay an early termination fee to your carrier if you are still in a contract period. So this facility may not be entirely free technically. Check out the demo below.
Google is learned to be working on a new Groupon-style pre-paid offers service called ‘Google Offers‘. The service, which is said to be currently in its testing phase, will let customers get a daily email of best deals in their neighborhood. Customers may then choose to sign up for the deal within a prescribed time. If enough customers sign up within this time period, the deal will be activated.
According to sources, Google is working with businesses to release 80% of a business’ revenue share three days after the deal runs. The remaining 20% shall be held for up to 60 days to cover for refunds.
The Groupon model has generated tremendous interest in recent times and although there are concerns that such a business is not viable in the long term, we have been seeing a lot of acitivity in this space in terms of new entrants and consolidation. Google is known to have recently made an offer to acquire Groupon that was rejected by the management. Now, with Google’s entry, the segment is sure to see some interesting activity.
Have you ever felt the need to ask for directions in a foreign country where nobody speaks in your tongue? Google has just introduced an interesting new ‘Conversation Mode‘ on their Translate app for Android that will make such conversations simple.
Using the conversation mode, users can speak in their native tongue that will then be translated and read out aloud in the chosen language. The app will further take voice inputs from the person you are speaking with and translate it back in your native tongue.
The feature is still in the alpha mode and only available with English-Spanish mode for the moment. However, expect all the bugs and the number of supported languages to increase soon enough.
Apart from being used as an ‘interpreter‘, this feature also has several other use-cases. Writes one commenter on the Google blog,
“This could be an awesome tool for deaf people. As someone who is deaf and speaks/lipreads, I’ve long dreamed of having a handheld device that would convert all spoken conversations around me into text.
I just tried this in English to English mode with one person, and it worked! The only issue is that it’s not continuous; you have to keep hitting the “reply” button to keep the conversation going.”
So it was only yesterday that we had written about the possibility for the next generation Android OS version to be named ‘Ice Cream‘. It turns out that Google may actually have a longer name for Android 2.4. According to a new report, the next version of the Android operating system shall be called ‘Ice Cream Sandwich‘. The complete name was seemingly mentioned by Google VP Andy Rubin in a recent conversation with TechCrunch.
So why ‘Ice Cream Sandwich’ and why not simply ‘Ice Cream’? Apparently, it is to make it easy for people to differentiate the ‘Ice cream sandwich’ sculpture from the Frozen Yoghurt sculpture that is placed in front of the Android headquarters. This could be a pretty pointless issue, but is something Google might not want to spend more time on. So there you have it – Ice Cream Sandwich.
A new bug on the Android operating system seems to be affecting a number of Google Nexus S users. According to complaints posted on the Google support forum, the bug on Nexus S causes the phone to reboot randomly while making a phone call. Some users have been experiencing this every other time while others have been facing the issue only once in a while.
Fortunately though, unlike the Android random SMS recipient bug, Google seems to have rounded upon the possible root-causes early enough and have reported that they are now trying to reproduce the bug and consequently find a fix for the same. Samsung is noted to be working with Google on this issue.
We will let you know when a fix is released. Have you experienced similar issues on your Nexus S? Tell us in the comments.
According to a recent article on the Wall Street Journal, Google is seriously wooing old media publishers looking to reach out to their readers on digital media with a new “digital newsstand” subscription service that will let these publishers make money from their readers on Android platform.
While the proposal may sound pretty similar to what Apple has been trying to do with the iOS platform, Google appears to be more aggressive. The company has offered additional benefits to publishers that include sharing valuable demographic data of what kind of users download the apps. This information is likely to help the publishers plan their marketing efforts in a better way. Also, Google has proposed to take a smaller cut on revenues compared to the 30% that Apple has traditionally charged publishers.
For what it’s worth, Apple too is learned to be gearing up for the challenges. The company has also offered to share user information to publishers though at the moment, this feature is likely to be opt-in instead of the opt-out functionality that publishers demand.
Google introduced the highly disruptive free voice calling feature on Gmail to customers in the United States and Canada earlier this year. The service lets users to simply pick a contact or dial a number to start talking to them like they would with any regular phone. In addition to voice calling, the feature also allowed for video chatting and international calling at nominal rates.
The deal breaker was though that the free service was expected to expire by the end of this year. No longer. Google has revealed that they planned to extend the free voice calling functionality until the end of next year. In a recently published blog post, a Google spokesperson has written,
“When we launched calling in Gmail back in August, we wanted it to be easy and affordable, so we made calls to the U.S. and Canada free for the rest of 2010. In the spirit of holiday giving and to help people keep in touch in the new year, we’re extending free calling for all of 2011.”
Google Nexus S launches in the UK today and you should already know, this will be the first smartphone to sport the new Android 2.3 Gingerbread OS. If you haven’t purchased a Nexus S and are contemplating a buy, you should do it soon.
Carphone Warehouse, Google’s retail partner in the UK has announced that they are dropping the price of the Nexus S. The phone, which was earlier available SIM-free at a price of £549.99 can now be purchased for just £429.99. Also, if you are one looking for contracts, you still get it for free as you did earlier. However, the minimum data package plan that one required to sign up with has been changed from the £35 package to the £30 plan.
But do remember that new purchases shall be back-ordered which means it can take them a little while before the device is shipped to your address. In any case, if you are interested to make a purchase, head over to the Carphone website and pre-order now.