Another Thanksgiving is upon us, as Americans stuff their bellies with turkey and vittles, before falling asleep during the afternoon football game. It's the day of family feuds, too much food, and setting the mood for the holiday season ahead.
We also count our blessings and give thanks for the year behind. I got to wondering what Google can be grateful for and compiled a short list for you. Perhaps you would like to add to it in comments or lash out at my lack of sensitivity on this special day. Please do. With that brief introduction, I present 5 things for which Google can give thanks, served in no particular order of importance.
Microsoft’s Cortana is now officially available on Android. The company announced earlier this year that it would release its digital voice assistant to Android and iOS later this year. Prior to the official release, a private Android beta of Cortana leaked this July. Today the company releases a public beta client of Cortana for devices powered by Google's mobile operating system.
In case you’ve used Cortana on a Windows Phone handset before, it wouldn’t take much time to get settled with it on Android. It maintains the same interface and functionalities. In case you haven't used it before, Cortana is Microsoft's answer to Google's Google Now assistant. You can use Cortana to ask for directions, and get your queries answered, among other things.
This week, I had opportunity to use Apple Watch, making it third of the modern smart variety that I have experienced (the others being LG Urbane and Moto 360). The differences between the platforms are quite startling and worth highlighting. They begin with diverging design ethics derived from the fruit-logo company's app-centric heritage and Google's place in the cloud.
For people who use either Android handset or iPhone, existing device really determines what watch platform you choose, if any—that is for now. Down the path you go. But where it leads is somewhere else, not the same destination. One platform is more responsive to you in varying contextual situations. The other requires more direct interaction, but gives other benefits.
Google's implementation of the PageRank algorithm was a transformational moment for the desktop web. In the pre-PageRank era, scouring search directories for relevant websites and manually typing long URLs into a browser's address bar was common. Google's use of links as a "voting" system for discovering websites changed online discovery forever. The app interaction and discovery model prevalent today bears many similarities with the pre-PageRank era of the web, with apps listed under numerous app store categories. Google's Now on Tap may usher in the very "PageRank for Apps" era we have been waiting for.
Before diving into the importance of Now on Tap, let's take a look at how Google describes the service:
I have some advice for the European Union Competition Commission: Lay off. You don't need to reign in the Google monopoly. Apple will correct the market around search and mobile. That's one of two related takeaways from Monday's WWDC 2015 keynote. iOS 9 and OS X El Capitan up Apple's push into search and proactively-delivered information in big ways. That is if delivery is as good as the company promises.
The other takeaway harkens back to what I told you last week about Tim Cook's piracy rant against unnamed Facebook and Google alongside the friggin U.S. government -- plural if thinking beyond the Feds: It's BS marketing. Apple prepares a major competitive assault against Big G, hitting where damage can be severe: Perception and profits. I cannot overstate Google's vulnerability, which ironically is where the search and information giant exploited Microsoft during this Century.
When isn't a cell phone too big? The Motorola-made, Google-branded phablet answers that question for me, and may very well for you. From Samsung's introduction of the original Note, I scoffed at large-screen smartphones—and, honestly, the seemingly stereotypical gadget geeks using them. But big is better, and my arrogant attitude about phablets and the people buying them was unwarranted.
Simply stated: Nexus 6 is the best handset I have ever used. The experience is so fresh and delightful, the emotional reaction reminds of using the original iPhone that I purchased on launch day in June 2007. N6 shatters my negative preconception about phablets, particularly unwieldiness when used daily. That said, I made some lifestyle changes, including choice of clothing, to accommodate the mobile's massive size.
Google has long been devising new ways to boost engagement on its services. In its latest move, the Mountain View-based technology giant updates Google Now, its contextual search trump card, to add support for third-party apps.
In a blog post, the company notes that it has partnered with more than 40 popular apps including Ebay, Pandora, Runtastic, Ford, ICICI Bank, Shazam, and others to feed information from them on to the Google Now dashboard. You can check the full-list of apps and services here.
Three weeks ago I asked "What tech changed your life in 2014?" You answered here and on Google+. As the new year starts, I wonder what will make all our lives better. Apple Watch? I doubt it. Shake me awake from the nightmare if the wearable isn't the most successful flop of 2015. Windows 10? Skipping nine is a good sign, but is giving users more of what they don't want to let go life changing? Eh, no.
At the precipice of looking ahead, this is a last look behind. Once Consumer Electronics Show leaks and early announcements rush the InterWebs, all eyes will turn forward -- blind to what many people have, focusing on what they want instead. That's because "aspiration" is the defining word of the technology era, and the promise if you buy newfangled This or That your life will be better for it. Sometimes the promise is true, but too often not, which is why I asked the important question three weeks ago.
Google voice search is awesome; I use it every day in the car or at home. If I want to know the weather, I just ask and it tells me. It helps me find the phone numbers for my favorite pizzerias and Chinese food restaurants, and when I am lost, I just say "take me home" and it does!
Like I said, it is awesome, but apparently, teens are using it more than adults. According to a new Google study, 55 percent of teens in the USA are using voice search; these young people are often the barometers of the next big thing. The search giant should be elated that this important demographic is embracing voice search; however, the study does not only include Google, but also Apple's Siri and Microsoft's Cortana.
U.S. Thanksgiving Day comes late this year for retailers, but makes more time for Google to count its blessings and to offer gratitude for them. Oh, they are bountiful, and there is still another month of them to come. The year 2013 will be remembered as one of the finest in Google history. The company has so much to be thankful for, I could have trebled the list.
But for succinctness, I whittle down to those things that mean more than others or that otherwise would be overlooked in the typical yearly review. The list goes from that for which Google should be least thankful to most. Gobble. Gobble.
Steve Ballmer's departure from Microsoft will be a series of epitaphs written over the coming months. Many arm-chair pundits and analysts will scrutinize his 13-year tenure as chief executive, and you can expect him to be the scapegoat for all things wrong with Microsoft. Most assuredly, Ballmer could have done many things better, but he also contended with forces out of his control: government oversight for anti-competitive practices conducted under predecessor Bill Gates' leadership; maturing PC software market; and rise of the Internet as the new computing hub, among others.
For all Microsoft's CEO might have done wrong, he was right about something dismissed by many -- and I among them: Google. Ballmer started treating the search and information company as a competitive threat about a decade ago. Google as Microsoft competitor seemed simply nuts in 2003. How could search threaten Windows, particularly when anyone could type a new web address to change providers? Ballmer was obsessed, chasing every Google maneuver, often to a fault. Execution could have been better, but his perception was right.
Rest in peace, iPad mini. Google killed you. The question then: Is it murder or manslaughter -- or justified homicide, putting the Apple tablet out of our misery?
Three days using the new Nexus 7, I can't imagine why Apple let Google, and partner ASUS, seize back-to-school buying with the tablet. I don't refer just to the instrument of destruction but the means. The 2013 edition is widely available through major US retailers, including Amazon and Best Buy. By all indications there is inventory to meet demand, not the typical supply shortages, although the 32GB WiFi model is unavailable this weekend from many retailers -- but Google Play is stocked.
During the 1980s and 90s, Microsoft embarked on what the U.S. Justice Department refers to as an "embrace, extend and extinguish" strategy. Google revises the approach for the new century, but out of necessity. Many of its products or services entered categories where others dominated, such as email, operating systems, productivity suites and web browsers. The company's business is long about co-opting other platforms, everything from desktop search app for Windows to Google Frame for Internet Explorer, and more.
But there's nothing quite like Google's recent invasion of iOS, where many of the apps are even better than Apple's. Today, a new search app brings one of Android's best features, Google Now, to iPad and iPhone. There's irony here, too. On Android, the feature is only available on Jelly Bean, which makes up about 25 percent of the install base. The majority of Apple mobile device users are on iOS 6, and the app supports version 5, too. In short order then, depending on installations, a greater percentage of iPads and iPhones than Androids may have Google Now.
Google may be a company of many personalities -- browser and operating system developer, connected-device manufacturer, fiber-optic Internet servicer, search giant and social network, among many others. But the core business is still about one thing: Advertising, as calendar first quarter results, delivered today after the closing bell, show.
Revenue rose 31 percent to $$13.97 billion, year over year; operating income, excluding Traffic Acquisition Costs, was $3.48 billion, up from $3.39 billion. Net income climbed to 3.35 billion up from $2.89 billion. That's $9.94 earnings per share, including costs associated with discontinued operations.
Back in March, which was not so long ago, we learned that the Android feature that is all the rage would likely come to Chrome the browser and operating system. François Beaufort uncovered code that seemed to confirm the coming inclusion of Google Now, as Beaufort seems to uncover everything -- to the point where the search ginat recently threw up its proverbial hands in frustration and finally hired the man.
That day has arrived...in a manner of speaking. The latest build of Chrome Canary, the developer channel version of the browser, has hit the streets and version 28 comes with the initial framework for Now integration.