Posts tagged Google
Google’s online e-mail and file storage service are having some access problems, according to Google’s status page — and lots of frustrated users. Google Drive and Gmail are both experiencing service disruptions today. Google’s Apps Status Dashboard says that Google is investigating reports of issues with both services and will provide more information shortly. The issue seems to be sporadic. Web siteIsItDownRightNow says that its test of Google Drive passed without any errors, but numerous users have reported problems in the last few hours, including some of us here. Frustrated users have also taken to Twitter to complain that Gmail and Drive are both inaccessible.
Google releases its policies for third-party Google Glass developers. In the fine print: they can’t display ads or charge for the software. Google, which relies on advertising for some 95 percent of its revenue, doesn’t want ads on its hotly anticipated Google Glass eyewear. The blanket prohibition came in the fine print of a policy made public this evening, which says “Glassware” developers may not “serve or include any advertisements” and they “may not charge” users to download apps for the device.
Today’s announcement, which coincided with news that Google Glass Explorer Edition prototypes were about to ship, indicates that the Mountain View company is proceeding carefully, even slowly, when allowing third-party developers access to the head mounted display’s full capabilities. It also means that developers won’t have an obvious way of making money from their apps. ”We know a lot of you are eager to learn more about it, and I have some great news,” Google developer programs engineer Jenny Murphy wrote in a post on Google+ this evening. “Today we’re releasing the API documentation and a bunch of example code, so even though the API is in a limited developer preview, you can start dreaming with us.”
Google has taken a different approach than other platforms have, including Apple, Microsoft, BlackBerry, and even Android: instead of encouraging native code that tends to be faster and more flexible, that approach is not permitted. The new Google Mirror API suggests that the intelligence behind Glassware will, at least for now, reside on third party servers and communicate with the eyewear through encrypted links, much like Web apps do today.
That should reduce the likelihood of crashes, malware, and unexpected battery drain from buggy software — at the expense of limiting developers’ ability to take full advantage of Glass. Voice input, for instance, is not currently accessible to developers. User interaction with Glassware is limited, and more advanced hardware features like real-time image recognition that would lead to augmented reality applications are also not accessible. (So much for the makers of Adblock Plus’ jest about the Glassware they want to build.)
The documentation does say that Glassware will be able to share “photos taken by the built-in camera,” display images, and with permission access the user’s current location. Google representatives did not immediately respond to queries about allowing advertising or creating a Glassware store. It’s possible, of course, that advertisements from third-party developers or Google itself will eventually appear on the eyewear. Project Glass lead Babak Parviz left open that possibility in an interview in the January issue of IEEE Spectrum. “At the moment, there are no plans for advertising on this device,” he said. Also released today are the tech specs for Google Glass: a 5 megapixel camera, a bone conduction transducer for audio, Bluetooth, WiFi, and 12 GB of usable memory. Disclosure: McCullagh is married to a Google employee not involved in this project.
In an elaborate ruse, the world’s most popular video site announces it’s been nothing but a contest site this whole time and says it’s going dark for the next decade. The best April Fool’s pranks are absurd but also have a kernel of believability at their core just big enough to reel people in. While the notion that YouTube has been a 8-year-long contest and Google is finally choosing a winner and shutting the site down tonight is pretty hard to swallow on its face, Google did shock many people by announcing the shutdown of Google Reader recently. Perhaps Larry and Sergey are beginning to go all Howard Hughes on us?
That’s how the below video just put out by YouTube operates. The basic premise is that YouTube has been nothing but a contest to find the best video, and the 8-year-long submission period is finally closing tonight. As YouTube’s “competition director” Tim Liston — a person who appears to be as fictional as his title — tells us, YouTube will go dark for a decade to give thousands of judges 10 years to go through all the uploaded videos and declare one winner, which will be the only video on the site when YouTube relaunches in 2023.
What’s even more hilarious in the video than the basic gag behind it is some great cameos by YouTube celebrities like Matt Harding, iJustine, the (now much older) kids from “Charlie Bit My Finger” and that “Evolution of Dance” guy. ”I encourage everybody to watch as many videos as possible before YouTube deletes everything tonight,” Antoine Dodson warns. Check the whole thing below, and hope along with me that this isn’t the only April Fool’s gag Google is pulling. Announcing the resurrection of Google Reader could be part of the joke, right? Right?
Google wants it to be a “nonissue” when Google Docs and Chrome OS users run into Microsoft Office files. I’m a cloud-computing, Chrome OS fanboy for the most part. But today was one of of those days I was glad to have old-school Windows and MacPCs lying around my home office. I’m no power user, but Google Docs suits me for word processing hours each a day while Google Sheets likewise is fine for my spreadsheets. However, when it comes to importing and editing files from the incumbent power, Microsoft Office, Google is just not meeting even my low-end needs.
Google handles such documents, in either the older .doc and .xls formats and the newer .docs and .xlsx formats, in a variety of ways. With browsers in general, Gmail offers two choices besides downloading an attached document. First is a viewer that provides a noninteractive glimpse of the document’s contents. Second is the option to open it as a Google document. On Chrome OS, there’s a third option, the QuickOffice software Google acquired to let its browser-based operating system handle files. That software, written atop Google’s Native Client programming foundation, lets you view Office files today. And in coming weeks, coming in the next three monthsQuickOffice will let you edit Word and Excel documents, too, according to Sundar Pichai, leader of Chrome (and now Android, too. ”We want to make it a nonissue if you run into Office files,” Pichai told me in February, giving the example of his daughter’s teacher sending a spreadsheet and him filling it out and sending it back.
This morning, I encountered that exact situation while trying to make a hotel reservation. I can understand if Google Sheets or QuickOffice can’t handle a complicated Excel spreadsheet with lots of pivot tables and other complicated factors, but in this case, neither could handle a spreadsheet with fairly basic formatting. The online viewer that Gmail offered gave a good idea what was intended, but in the end I wound up bypassing Google’s software altogether. Below are screenshots of the Google Sheets translation, the QuickOffice view, and the Gmail viewer so you can see how bad it is:
I trimmed off the acres of space squandered by the ribbon, of course, but that’s a different complaint. The QuickOffice version was a lot closer to the original than the Google Sheets version, which take as a good sign only to the extent that it shows Google technology might someday be able up to the task of importing spreadsheets. The reason I’m pessimistic: Google obviously wants people to live their productivity lives in Google Sheets, not some pale reflection of Microsoft Office.
I fear that the reason the Google Sheets import is so inferior (and I’ve had other ugly Excel imports, too) is that the file format for it is fundamentally to pared down to handle Excel fully. In the long run, this might make sense, since Google no doubt is gradually increasing the number of natively Google Sheets documents and building its own corner of the productivity world. But with so many coming in from Office, and even worse maintaining a presence both there and in Google Apps, Google really should do better. And don’t get me started about Google Slides coping with PowerPoint files.
In 2010, former Apple CEO Steve Jobs said that the iPad mini was just a rumor and that the whole 7-inch tablet industry would be “dead on arrival.” Little did he know that 7-inch tablets, and the iPad mini specifically, would blow the doors off the market. Today, Google’s executive chairman, Eric Schmidt tried to put the tablet market back three years by saying that the iPad mini is “too small.”
Before the iPad mini hit store shelves, there was a lot of discussion about whether the smaller tablet would even make a dent in the industry. By the beginning of this month, Apple’s 7.9-inch tablet was on par to oversell its larger counterpart by the end of 2013.
It seems strange that Schmidt would be quoted as saying the iPad mini is too small when Google has its own 7-inch tablet that, technically is smaller than Apple’s tablet. If you take into account the slimmer bezel on the iPad mini, the active screen is larger than any other tablet in the small-sized market.
Maybe Schmidt is on to something. When Apple launches the fifth-generation iPad, it will definitely regenerate interest in the larger-screened tablet. Maybe it will push the mini to the back seat where it will go the way of the dinosaur.
[Via: Guardian UK]
Google’s chairman admits in an interview that he is still addicted to his BlackBerry, because he just loves, loves the keyboard. Sadly, we never got to see the headline: “Steve Jobs: Why I love my Nexus 7.” Nor are we likely to be soon struck by the words: “Steve Ballmer: Why I use my iPhone in the bath.” Yet in a candid and refreshing interview, Google Chairman Eric Schmidt cheerily admitted that his own company had yet to drag his dextrous fingers away from his precious BlackBerry.
Speaking with the Guardian’s editor in chief, Alan Rusbridger, at the Activate conference in India, Schmidt explained: “Look, I’ve tried to go cold turkey. I’ve tried to wear gloves all day. I’ve even tried screaming at Larry and Sergey that they should move to Canada. But nothing works. I’m addicted.” Actually, I cannot quite guarantee that those were his words. However, he did explain that he just adored the BlackBerry’s keyboard.
It seems that the mere touch of that flirty QWERTY just gets him giddy every time — even though there are other possibilities available, some with the glorious Android inside. The Samsung Replenish is one highly affordable example. Google hasn’t previously been entirely draconian about what machines its employees must use. The Googleplex is famous for the open-minded articulation of its inhabitants. Yet there will be the curmudgeonly who will sniff that Schmidt, a man who represents the company all over the world, should show an example. (New campaign from Canada: “BlackBerry. It’s the Schmidt!”)
What must Kim Jong-un have thought if he’d seen Google’s chairman with the slightly passe phone on Schmidt’s recent visit? I can just see him turning to new best friend Dennis Rodman and guffawing: “He pulled out a BlackBerry. My people get solitary for that.” I prefer to think that Schmidt is simply a man who takes deep persuasion. In the Guardian interview, for example, he also said that he thought the iPad Mini and Google’s ownNexus 10 were “too small.” So who cannot admire a man who knows what he likes and doesn’t care who knows what he likes?
Of course, it might well be — though he has always denied it — that Schmidt still sees himself in politics one day. Perhaps the most famous BlackBerry user is President Obama. One of the first steps toward becoming president is to, as the experts have it, “act presidential.” I am not sure how good Schmidt is at basketball.
Like some of you, I was once a power user of Google Reader. I needed it to do my job. But as Twitter started to gain steam, I started checking it less and less. It was less a pleasure and more a chore. And then suddenly, I just stopped. I created a Twitter account to track tech news, and I never looked back.
I’m fascinated by the outcry resulting from the news that Google is shutting down Reader. The backlashshouldn’t surprise anybody: Reader’s power users consist primarily of hard-core bloggers, who were obviously going to complain (publicly) about the loss of their precious reader. I feel your pain. I really do. But Google’s right: it’s time to rip off the Band-Aid and abandon RSS.
RSS, while incredible for power users, suffers from three major problems:
- Usability issues: Your mom may be able to use a Facebook or Twitter account, but she probably never was able to get into RSS. “Following” your favorite blogs required going to hundreds of different sites and importing them into an RSS reader, which didn’t always work. Then it required looking at content in an unformatted, e-mail-like interface. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to check another e-mail in-box.
- Lack of mainstream adoption: Twitter acquired mainstream adoption because following was a simple as typing in a username and clicking “follow.” Once Twitter took off, it was game over for RSS. All that remain are power users, and that doesn’t constitute a business.
- Rise of better alternatives: All of your favorite publications are on Twitter and Facebook. And in case that wasn’t enough, apps like Flipboard (which relies more on social feeds than RSS) are simply a better experience for consuming content.
I actually think Twitter is a more effective way to consume content in a world that produced 1.93 trillion gigabytes of data in 2011 and is expected to hit 7.9 trillion gigabytes in 2015. RSS readers work when trying to consume 20 to 30 blogs, but try sticking 300 in Google Reader and you’ll cry yourself to sleep.
Twitter and Facebook, by contrast, are built for modern consumption habits. It’s OK to miss content, because the most important stuff will bubble to the top, thanks to retweets and News Feed’s algorithms. And some of the world’s best content no longer appears in blog posts — it is instead encapsulated in witty 140-character comments. With RSS readers, you felt like you were missing out if you clicked “Marked as Read.”
I suspect RSS will continue to experience a slow death. Yes, people are going to complain and alternatives will be set up. But in the end there is no place for RSS in the modern world. Google realized this.
I suspect that sites will begin to abandon their RSS feeds over the next few years, especially as RSS providers like Google’s FeedBurner are put to pasture. It can be painful to lose an old friend, but I suggest abandoning RSS sooner rather than later because Google Reader’s demise is the beginning of the end.
The end of Google Reader marks the end of an era, but the start of a tirade of complaints from its loyal users. Low Latency is a weekly comic on Crave blog written by editor and podcast host Jeff Bakalar and illustrated by Blake Stevenson. Be sure to check Crave every Friday at 8 a.m. PT for new panels! Want more? Here’s every Low Latency comic so far.
With Google Reader on its way out, many users will be in need of a replacement for their RSS subscriptions. Here’s a roundup of what we think are the best alternatives available. Hear that? That’s the sound of millions of news junkies on the Web scrambling to find an alternative to Google Reader. As you may have heard, Google Reader will soon be no more. The search giant has announced that it will shutter its much-maligned — though still widely used — RSS reader, which will, no doubt, leave many users in a tizzy, searching for other ways to subscribe to their favorite RSS feeds. Sure, Google Reader may not have been the most beautifully designed product to come out of Mountain View, Calif., but it sure was convenient. And now that it’s going away, it’s evident just how valuable it has been.
With that in mind, we’ve put together a list of what we think are the best replacements for the soon-to-be-late Google Reader. Plugged-in types won’t want to miss a beat once Google Reader sees its sunset, so getting familiar with these alternatives now could be key. Ideally, an RSS reader should be available on both mobile devices and desktop computers, so we tried our best to focus on this type of service. That said, we also thought it important to mention a couple of services (at the bottom) that are only available on Android and iOS, simply because we know that they’re viable alternatives, and more people than ever are reading on mobile devices these days anyway. Finally, when you’re ready to make the jump, be sure to check out the Data Liberation Front’s primer on exporting your Reader data using Google Takeout.
iOS | Android | Web
One of Feedly’s most popular features is that it can sync with Google Reader. But since that feature will soon be useless, we need to focus on the rest of what the app brings to the table. Fortunately, Feedly brings a lot. When you first launch Feedly, it offers up a menu of featured sites from all around the Web. These sites cover categories from Design to Android to Apple to Business. You can go through and subscribe to any of these featured sites individually, or you can even subscribe to entire categories of sites with a single click. And of course, you can always search for specific URLs, site names, or topics from within Feedly and subscribe that way, just as you would with Google Reader.
More than just an RSS reader, though, Feedly comes with a built-in “Save for Later” feature and a History function, so you can go back and see what you recently read. It even lets you share items via Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. Overall, Feedly is one of the best RSS readers out there. It performs well and looks slick on both iOS and Android. And for desktops, it is available via Firefox or Chrome browser plug-ins.
iOS | Android | Web
Taptu gives you a visual interface for browsing news feeds, a lot like Pulse (see below), and also lets you add your personal Twitter and Facebook feeds for easy access. But the DJ aspect of the app is that you can customize your feeds exactly the way you want them. The app comes with several premade Taptu-curated news categories, but it’s just as easy to strike out on your own with the feeds you already love. Build a stream from scratch using the Add Streams button, where you’ll find tons of feeds from popular publications. You also can search by category, or simply perform a search to gather all the feeds that relate to a specific keyword. In our experience, Taptu was a little laggy when scrolling through stories from within the app, but you have the option to switch to a Web version of a story that is much smoother. At any rate, Taptu is great for finding and tuning your feeds and makes for a great way to tailor your news to your specs.
iOS | Android | Web
Pulse News gives you all the news from your favorite feeds with an intuitive interface for touch screens. News sites are laid out vertically so you can swipe up and down to the latest news from all sites quickly, or you can swipe horizontally to read more stories from the same site. If you want to switch categories, you can touch the menu button and choose from a list or you can use a search field to find sites by keyword. The app comes preloaded with several popular Web sites you can add to your Pulse home screen.
The layout of this app is especially intuitive, making it easy for people unfamiliar with newsreaders to get started quickly. Your Pulse home screen is completely customizable, so you can reorder your feed list to show your most-read sites first. You can also add Facebook to your feed if you want to see the latest stories from your friends. If you want a slick and elegant way to quickly read news stories from all your favorite Web sites, Pulse takes only a little bit of setup to have the latest headlines laid out for you when you launch.
iOS | Android
Flipboard is already an immensely popular newsreader and social-network hub, but it has no desktop or browser-based component. Still, if you have an iOS or Android device, Flipboard is an excellent option because you can organize the info you want to look at and then flip through it like a magazine. All you need to do is create an account with Flipboard, then sign in to your Facebook, Google+, and Twitter accounts to be fully socially connected.
Once you’re all signed in, Flipboard presents you with an intuitive layout of your social networks and some default news categories to browse. Touching a panel lets you browse through any of the default categories; touching and holding a panel lets you delete it and replace it with whatever RSS feed you might want. You can customize your Flipboard by browsing through several categories like News, Technology, Business, and Entertainment, then adding popular sites to your Flipboard like BBC News, the Guardian, The Economist, and Salon. Flipboard’s strength is in its magazine-like layout, but there’s an enormous amount of content to choose from, making it possible to customize it with exactly the types of stories you want.
Google Currents (free)
iOS | Android
Never heard of this one? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Google Currents was officially unveiled in December 2011 on both Android and iOS, and was framed as a sort of hybrid magazine viewer and RSS reader in one. Relatively few people jumped on its bandwagon then, and still today it has yet to gain widespread traction on either mobile platform. Regardless of its usage statistics, though, Google Currents is still useful, especially now that Google Reader will be going away.
Similar to Flipboard, Google Currents employs a magazine-style interface with large images and paginated posts. It may not be most intuitive app in the world, but it looks sleek and works well. It lets you subscribe to and download app-optimized editions of publications like Forbes and CNET, and you can subscribe to any RSS-enabled sites you like, just like with Google Reader. There’s even a Breaking News feature that instantly pulls up the latest news stories within a given category. While Google Currents may not be the biggest name on our list (even though it is, in fact, made by Google), there’s no doubt that this app has potential. And with its sibling Google Reader soon biting the dust, it may even be poised for a huge upswing in popularity.
Bursting With Color. Vibrant new visuals bring your News Feed to life.
Facebook Takes a Bite Out of Twitter. How do you know when the news feed revolution is over? Putting added emphasis on news, the refreshed Facebook goes after a core feature of its biggest competitors. Today, Facebook promised to put the news back in its News Feed. At a press event at headquarters, Mark Zuckerberg repeatedly used the phrase “personalized newspaper” to describe the direction of the site’s core feature. And the Feed’s new features arguably make Facebook a better way to stay on top of current events than ever before.
With a dedicated tab for everyone you’re following and a renewed focus on photos, Facebook is aiming to create the kind of real-time information network that has made Twitter the top destination for news junkies. That hasn’t been possible before, not least because of Facebook’s opaque, algorithmic way of showing you stories. As Nick Bilton detailed this week in The New York Times, reaching followers has become more difficult in recent months as Facebook has started encouraging publishers to pay to “promote” their posts. The result is that anyone who follows a publisher lik might not see the majority of its posts, even though they’ve asked to.
Contrast that with Twitter, which displays every tweet from everyone a user follows. That can make the stream difficult to keep up with, particularly if you follow more than a couple hundred people. But at least a user can trust that tweets will appear in the stream as they are written — and not after an algorithm decides they are worthy of being delivered. And so the biggest change Facebook announced today, from the perspective of publishers and the people who want to read them on Facebook, is the “following” tab. According to executives at the event, the tab will show “every single post” from the people and publishers you subscribe to. If true, that will go a long way toward building trust in Facebook as a home for breaking news.
Meanwhile, news should look better on Facebook than it ever has, thanks to larger photos, expanded snippets of text from the articles that are shared, and their more prominent presentation on the page. Publishers have suffered through Facebook’s algorithmic changes because the site can still drive significant traffic to their pages — far more than the average post on Twitter or other social networks. If Facebook’s changes make it easier for them to reach their fans, they may develop a new appreciation for what the network can offer. But competitors are gunning for their attention, too. Facebook’s changes come as Twitter has moved to make its own stream more visual. Tweets have transformed from a simple string of 140 characters to “envelopes” for all sorts of things, including photos, music, and article snippets.
And while it far lags both of them in mind share, Google+ continues to polish its design in a way that puts photos at the forefront. Yesterday, the company rolled out a new look that includes larger cover photos, enhanced profiles, and a new tab of its own (for place reviews). Many readers remarked on the updated News Feed’s resemblance to Google+, which also features a narrow left rail with big icons and huge photos in the central feed. So yes, Facebook is trying to become “the best personalized newspaper.” But it’s not the only one. News is a major pillar of all the main social networks, and its role on each of them is only expanding. Facebook, Twitter, and Google started their social networks for very different reasons. But as the months go on, they’re looking more and more alike.
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