The terrible repercussions of the earthquake in Nepal and the aftershocks continue to be felt. With thousands of people yet to be accounted for, Google and Facebook have already launched services to help connect with people in the affected areas.
Now Microsoft has entered the fray, offering free Skype calls to both landlines and mobiles in Nepal. Starting immediately, Skype users can make calls from within Nepal, or place them to the country regardless of whether they have any credit.
Got a spare patent or two lying around, gathering dust and cluttering the place up? Google might be interested in taking those patents off your hands in return for cold, hard cash. Today the search giant announces details of the Patent Purchase Promotion which will run for two weeks in May.
The move is an attempt to "remove friction from the patent market", with the added benefit for Google that it will help the company to expand its patent portfolio. The online patent-selling portal will run from May 8 to May 22 and has been designed to be accessible to smaller players.
When disaster strikes, technology can often be put to good use. Following the devastating earthquake that struck Nepal this week, Google and Facebook are among the companies helping those in the area, as well as people looking for friends and relatives.
Google's People Finder does very much what it says on the tin. It's a very simple website that enables people to publish requests for information about loved ones, as well as giving those with information somewhere to share it. Facebook's Nepal Earthquake Safety Check provides a similar feature.
Avoiding online ads can be fairly easily achieved by installing a tool such as AdBlockPlus, but it's a different matter when it comes to ads in mobile apps. Security researchers at Doctor Web have discovered that a number of Android apps found in Google Play are plagued with aggressive ad modules.
Advertising is considered aggressive if it appears on top of other windows, interferes with the use of applications, and makes normal use of a smartphone or tablet difficult.
Google hides lots of Easter eggs in its products and services. Usually fun little extras designed to amuse. However, the latest one discovered in Google Maps is of questionable taste.
Tucked away in Pakistan, close to the New Islamabad International Airport, is a cartoon image of Google’s Android urinating on an Apple logo. Nice.
Dedicated satnav units are less popular than they used to be, and this can be attributed in part to the rise of direction-providing smartphone apps like Google Maps and Waze. If you are invested in Google Maps, you may well check out directions on your desktop computer and then have to get them set up on your phone as well.
Today that changes. Google has unveiled a feature that makes it possible to push directions from your desktop computer or laptop to your phone. This eliminates a step and makes the whole process of getting from A to B much easier.
Google’s video service celebrates a very special milestone today -- it’s ten years to the day since the first video was uploaded to the site. "Me at the Zoo", in all its 240p glory, has racked up close to 20 million views, which isn’t bad (especially as it wasn’t made public initially), although it pales into insignificance when compared with the likes of "Charlie Bit My Finger -- Again", with its 817 million views.
A lot has happened to YouTube in that time. It officially launched in May 2005 (so expect another birthday post next month) and was acquired by Google in 2006. It has spread across a wide range of platforms, batted off numerous legal challenges, and become a massive part of our lives.
It is no secret that Nokia is pondering the sale of its HERE division. The Finnish company wants to focus on the telecommunications market, and HERE, which offers location services, mapping and navigation software, seems to be nothing but extra weight to lug around. Seeing as a sale is inevitable, the question is, who is going to buy it?
A rumor that's floating around now suggests that Nokia has pitched the sale of HERE to Apple, among other companies. The Cupertino, Calif.-based corporation would certainly stand to benefit from acquiring the technology that powers HERE, as its own attempt at offering navigation software to iOS users has not gone particularly well. Such a purchase, while extremely interesting for Apple, would have deep implications for HERE's current clients, which will most certainly not be favored by it. Here's what it could entail.
The waiting begins. This afternoon I asked the great Google god to bless me with an invite. If my homage is accepted, someday soon I can pay for the privilege of using the company's new piggyback cellular phone service. The thing is so exclusive, only one smartphone is supported. It's Nexus 6, or nothing, baby. I own one, so happens.
Project Fi switches between Sprint and T-Mobile cellular networks for core connectivity alongside wireless hotspots. That's why I call it a piggyback service; Google is not building out its own infrastructure. Fi is contextually conceived and consumed. Nexus 6 switches networks based on location and availability. Your phone number traverses devices, providing access on laptops and tablets, too. Context is what differentiates this service from every other.
Google’s dominance of the web is best illustrated by Mobilegeddon. The search giant has made changes to its algorithm, prioritizing sites that are "mobile friendly" and demoting those that aren’t. Google says that mobile-friendliness is just one of 200 signals that it uses to determine the ranking of results and that sites which don’t have mobile versions won’t disappear as a result of this change. That said, the truth is if Google says you need a mobile site -- that it approves of -- then you need a mobile site.
But while Google is forcing sites to offer mobile friendly versions or suffer the consequences, it’s Apple’s browser that the majority of people are using to access the web while on the go.
When Google announced changes to its mobile search rankings, the industry gave it the nickname of "Mobilegeddon". A play on the word Armageddon, this moniker signaled the end of the world for websites that did not have a mobile-optimized site. While that is an extreme exaggeration, some websites did risk losing traffic as a result. Many webmasters found themselves in a panic.
Google, however, wants you to know that this concern is misplaced. Rather than it being a bad thing, it is a good thing, called "Mobiletopia". Even if Google's intention was to create a utopia for mobile devices, some argue that this demonstrates the search-giant is too strong and has too much control over the web. What do you think?
YouTube has stopped supporting devices that make use of the second version of its Data API. In practice the move, which was announced more than a year ago, is forcing users to look into alternative ways of watching YouTube videos, and likely also taking many by surprise.
For those who are not familiar with it, YouTube's Data API allows developers to implement YouTube functionality into their apps. The second version is mostly used on older devices, with the list including TVs, smartphones, tablets, Blu-Ray disc players and more. Here's what you should do, if you're affected.
Google collects a lot of data about its users -- a lot of data. Much of this data is used for advertising purposes but there's also a lot of data that you might want to make use of yourself... even if it's only for entertainment.
All those searches you performed when you were drunk? These are now available to download! Brace yourself for what could turn into hours of amusement -- or possibly sphincter tightening embarrassment -- as a new addition to Google History means you can grab a copy of this history for posterity, and gain some interesting stats into the bargain.
A smartwatch by any other name is compromise. The question: How much are you willing to pay, if anything, for the privilege? No matter what any manufacturer promises, battery life will never be enough, particularly when daily recharging is the minimum requirement. If you use the wristwear as prescribed, no less is demanded, regardless of the device maker. None delivers daily use without sacrificing something.
Nearly all these mini-computers on the wrist aren't smart enough. You need a phone, too. Is two of one and half-dozen of the other worth the trouble? The answer depends much on your lifestyle. If you text and drive, and can't break the habit, a smartwatch could save your life or others. If your mobile handset feels like a ball and chain, adopting glance-and-go lifestyle can liberate you. But if your smartphone is practically surgically attached, for its frequent use, you shouldn't add another tech accessory. If your phone battery often runs out, because you forget to plug in, don't multiply your troubles. If you don't wear a watch now, and haven't for years, don't bother.
Much as Apple would like you to think otherwise, Apple Watch is yet to blow other wearables out of the water. Smartwatches are still something of an emerging technology, but Google has managed to carve out yet another niche for itself with Android Wear. Today the company unleashes an update that aims to make Android-powered watches easier to use.
The first major addition is support for always-on apps. Most Android Wear watches included support for displaying the time round the clock (sorry!) but this feature has now been expanded to other apps. If you're using your watch to get directions or follow a shopping list, you can opt to keep the relevant app active at all times. The update has more to offer too.