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.
Thanksgiving is rolling around in the US, kicking off the holiday season. Of course this also means shopping, but at the moment minds are mostly geared towards food. To perhaps nobody's surprise cooking is a hot topic, after all it's what the holiday is all about -- well that and football.
Google has released the top search topics leading up to the big day. At the top of the list is, of course, turkey, the bird that was, at one time, nominated for the national bird though it lost out to the bald eagle.
It's now a few weeks since Google announced Accelerated Mobile Pages. When the project was unveiled, there were just 30 or so partners on board and no indication of when AMP would be made available to everyone. Today Google reveals that the acceleration program will start to roll out early next year.
There are now, according to Google, thousands of publishers who have expressed interest in AMP. With many of these representing a large number of newspapers, TV and radio stations, the range of content is looking promising. As this is Google, a focus on ads should be expected, and now Outbrain, AOL, OpenX, DoubleClick, and AdSense are adopting the AMP spec.
Charity is something everyone should be concerned with, providing they have the means to contribute. Of course each place donated to needs a bit of investigation to see where the money is really going. Most aren't an issue, but there is the occasional shady operator, some of which we've seen outed in the past.
Depending on your opinion Google is a reliable source for such things. The company pumps a lot of money into supporting movements and clean energy and now it is aiming at special education.
A common recommendation for securing a mobile device is to set up a passcode. Having a PIN or password will make it harder for a third-party to have access to personal information, which lowers the chances of data theft or loss but also incrimination or blackmail.
But, when that third-party is a government agency looking to retrieve data from someone's Android device, it might be easier than you think to get in. On top of all the resources they have at their disposal, government agencies can also turn to Google to have the passcode remotely reset.
Big businesses are increasingly recognizing the potential of data science and machine learning. Until recently, however, it hasn't been readily available to smaller organizations and individuals.
But now companies like Amazon and Google are beginning to make machine learning available more widely. Is this the start of a new trend? What will it mean for businesses, and will we see the rise of a new generation of ‘citizen data scientists’?
Even if you're not a fan, it can't have escaped your attention that there's a new Star Wars movie coming out soon. Google is as excited as millions of fans are, and to celebrate Star Wars: Episode VII The Force Awakens it is giving you the chance to give Google apps and services a Star Wars makeover.
Choose to join the light side or the dark side, and Gmail, Google search, and more will be customized in a Star Wars style. Like the idea of being shown how to get to your destination by an X-Wing flying down the streets in Google Maps? Consider it done! But there's a lot more to look out for...
After the slightly disappointing launch of Windows 10 -- at least in terms of reception, if not in terms of numbers (well, it was free) -- Microsoft is now switching its focus to Windows 10 Mobile. The aim now is to try to capture Android and iPhone users, convincing them that a Windows-based smartphone is a smart move.
But there's the problem of apps. It's something that crops up time and time again. Microsoft simply doesn't have the support of mobile developers in the same way that other platforms do. Not that Microsoft would admit this of course. To try to convince people that the 'app gap' no longer exists, the company has released AppComparison for Android to show off how many of the apps you use are available for Windows 10 Mobile. The problem is, there are still lots that simply don't exist.
The use of other people's copyright material on YouTube is permitted in certain circumstances. Fair use rules allow for the use of copyright material for the purposes of review, parody, and more -- but this doesn't stop copyright holders from issuing DMCA takedown notices.
YouTube is a natural breeding ground for copyright violations, but there are also countless examples of fair use that end up in court. This is something that many people are scared of, and rather than fighting back, will tend to cave in. Now Google has said that it is willing to stand up for users and will defend them in court.
There are many problems with the censoring of online content, not least that it can limit free speech. But there is also the question of transparency. By the very nature of censorship, unless you have been kept in the loop you would simply not know that anything had been censored.
This is something the Electronic Frontier Foundation wants to change, and today the digital rights organization launches Onlinecensorship.org to blow the lid off online censorship. The site, run by EFF and Visualizing Impact, aims to reveal the content that is censored on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Instagram, Flickr, and YouTube -- not just the 'what' but the 'why'. If you find yourself the subject of censorship, the site also explains how to lodge an appeal.
At the moment, developers looking to see their apps listed in the all-important Designed for Families category in Google Play have to clearly indicate whether the apps are ad-supported. Following on from the earlier introduction of an 'In-App purchases' warning label, Google is now going further with a mandatory 'ad-supported' label.
Starting 11 January next year, an app that includes ads must show the new label in its store listing. This will make it clear to downloaders what to expect from anything they install, and Google's definition of ads is wide-ranging so a lot of apps will be affected.
Google Apps for Work and Microsoft Office 365 are the two big beasts stalking the cloud software world, but there are differences in approach between independent software vendors (ISVs) for the two.
This summer the Cloud Technology Alliance surveyed 39 independent software vendors (ISVs) and channel partners about their market strategies for their cloud solutions in both Google and Microsoft environments.
I'm a Gmail user. You are probably a Gmail user. Hell, I bet your dog uses Gmail. Here's the thing though -- unless you are really young, you probably didn't use Gmail as your first-ever email account, right? Right.
If you are like me, you probably pre-date web-based email, and got your messages from an email client. In fact, many people -- especially in businesses -- still do, using such software as Thunderbird, Outlook or Evolution. The unfortunate thing, you see, is that those old emails aren't available and searchable in your Gmail account. But what if they were? What if you could import your archaic email archives (if you were smart enough to save them), saved on zip disks in a closet, into Gmail? That would be neat, right? Well, with the power of open source, you actually can -- maybe.
Google+ is a big joke, right? No one uses it, right? Wrong and wrong. The search-giant's social network is actually quite good and has many active users. I would argue that it is the best such network, superior to both Facebook and Twitter, but I digress. True, it does not have as many active users as the aforementioned competitors, but its focused purpose arguably makes it a better resource. It is brilliant for meeting like-minded individuals by using the "Communities" feature.
With all of that said, the Google+ interface was a bit clunky and confusing. Heck, it was very heavy too, causing web browsers -- in my experience -- to use a lot of resources. Today, Google announces that it is refreshing the service -- a new coat of paint and improved interface. Will this lead to increased usage?
Voice control is becoming increasingly common with the eager adoption of Siri and Cortana. Google has been in the game for some time as well, and today announces that the Google app is growing in intelligence, enabling it to 'understand' ever more complex questions.
Google's ability to recognize the context in which questions are asked is not new, but it has now evolved even further. Rather than just doing simple searches based on keywords, Google believes that it is "starting to truly understand the meaning of what you're asking".