Think about how to send money electronically and it’s probably PayPal that springs to mind first. But if Google gets its way, Google Wallet is about to become much more popular. For anyone in the US, Google Wallet is now integrated into Gmail meaning that it is possible to send money as easily as sending an email.
Sending money works in much the same way as attaching a file to a message -- you can attach payment to an email just as you would an image or other file. You may not see it just yet -- Google plans to roll the feature out over the next few months -- but once activated you’ll see a $ button at the bottom of the Compose window. It’s clear that Google is making electronic payments as simple as possible to help the company take a bigger share of the electronic payment pie.
Music Piracy is now dead. Apple iTunes is now obsolete. Spotify, Pandora, Slacker -- yesterday’s news. This is all because of Google Play Music All Access. It will change the way you listen to music. It will change your life. You will subscribe. Resistance is futile. This is the future of music.
The idea of a music streaming service is not new. However, a music streaming service by the most important and influential tech company is. On May 15, 2013, Google unveiled its new music streaming service, named Google Play Music All Access. Other than the ridiculously long name (I will just call it All Access for the rest of the article), the service is near-perfect.
There were a lot of big unveilings at Google I/O -- an overhaul of Google+, updated maps, an on-demand music streaming service, and much more. But perhaps one of the most intriguing revelations was Hangouts.
This name may well seem familiar, but it now refers to a unified messaging system that caters for iOS, Android and Chrome users. There are apps and extensions available for each of these platforms, and the idea is to bring all Google related communication into one place.
This comes as little surprise, with rumors and leaks being rampant, but Google today unveils a new version of its popular Maps application at its I/O conference. A sign-up page had briefly been available earlier in the day, allowing users a glimpse at the new features. Then of course, there is a listing for "Google Maps: Into the Future" right on the conference site. Now we receive confirmation.
The new update brings a number of features that do, in fact, bring the service "into the future". The updates are for both mobile (tablet and smartphone) and browser -- some for each.
The Google I/O keynote has revealed some major changes to Google+. Highlights include a new multi-column stream aimed not only at providing a cleaner design but also at offering greater depth to the user experience.
The columns are customizable so that you can organize them to show the things that are most important to you. Tiles of information can be flipped to show alternative details and thanks to clever landmark recognition technology you can click on a picture to find more information about the location.
One thing that surrounds Google I/O is rumors -- almost as much as an Apple event. We have heard of an X phone from Motorola, we have seen a possible Nexus 5 from LG, and the latest is a Google branded version of the new Samsung Galaxy S4. So which one is the winner in this strange sweepstakes?
The latest rumor turns out to be the most accurate, as Google unveils its own flavor of the Samsung Galaxy S4. The Android maker is taking the new darling of the smartphone market and making it a Nexus phone, just not in name.
Google has just announced a new on-demand subscription music service called Google Play Music All Access. The service, which is available on Android and the web, gives users access to a massive library of millions of tracks. Google’s Chris Yerga calls it "radio without rules".
It allows you to explore songs from all of the major record labels, listen to it like a radio station, provides Google-powered recommendations, charts and playlists, and blends your personal library with Google's. Everything from your Google Music locker is pulled into the new service.
Google has added numerous languages to its Google Translate for Android app. A week ago it added 16 more choices, but sadly Klingon wasn't among them. In fact one of our readers, blindwanderer, even observed: "You won't ever see Klingon, Klingon as a language is more tightly controlled by its creators than De Beers controls diamonds". Which is particularly interesting given what language Bing can now speak.
The Microsoft service announces that it has partnered with Marc Okrand and Paramount Pictures to bring Klingon to the translation table. "Now in a few simple clicks you can translate text from English to Klingon (and vice versa!) Available via the web here and also as an update to Bing Translator for Windows Phone 8, regardless of whether you’re new to the Star Trek universe or fresh from a convention, we’ve got you covered," the search team promises.
After nearly two months of using Microsoft’s services almost exclusively, I made the painful decision to switch back to Google for most of my web needs. I say "most" because I’m still using, and enjoying, Outlook.com.
My decision to stick with Microsoft’s webmail service seems well founded, as the company is adding more features all the time. It introduced Skype support two weeks ago, and from today is rolling out the ability to directly message your Gmail-using contacts. Or "friends stuck on Gmail" as Microsoft amusingly phrases it.
I am long done with rattling on about Google's decision to kill Reader. I get it. RSS is popular with our crowd -- the tech writers and those who follow multiple blogs and wish for an easy way to keep up. That is where the service excels. But, let's face it -- the vast majority of people do not use this technology. My wife and kids, savvy computer users, would not know what RSS was if I asked.
However, the software has a niche, and sometimes a niche is all that is needed for a successful business. We have alternatives in Feedly, The Old Reader, Feedspot and Digg, which has bun in the oven. There are lesser-known options as well, but most users seem to be destined for one of these already established programs. Several have had to beef up server capacity and bandwidth to cope with new-found popularity.
Despite the almost laughable nature of the Scroogled campaign, Microsoft continues to push it. The company slams Gmail, but that is not enough. Jake Zborowski, senior product manager for Microsoft Office, releases not one, but two blog posts that attack Google Docs. Both are accompanied by ads -- low resolution videos that view like someone pulled them from the cutting-room floor.
"Converting Office files into Google Apps is a gamble" Zborowski claims in one post. "Why take the gamble on converting your Office files to Google Docs when you can use Microsoft Office and the Microsoft Office Web Apps to create, share and edit your Office files with your content intact", he explains. A new casino-themed ad accompanies the post and features B-list celebrities Rob Schneider and Pete Rose.
Google Fonts is an excellent resource for web designers, with hundreds of top quality open source fonts freely available for anyone to use.
Now, though, you can also easily access and use the same fonts on the desktop, Windows or Mac, just by installing the SkyFonts client. The program requires you to first create a fonts.com account. But with that out the way, SkyFonts adds an icon to your system tray and is ready for use.
YouTube opened to the public in November 2005, and Google paid $1.6 billion for the service 11 months later. The video-sharing site is the quintessential freebee. No longer. Today Google announced the launch of the first pay-for channels, which is rather strange coming from the company which business model is about profiting from valuable content given away free wrapped with search keywords and advertising. Welcome to the new Internet, with paywalls rising everywhere. To play, you must pay.
In a statement Google says there are "1 million channels generating revenue on YouTube, and one of the most frequent requests we hear from these creators behind them is for more flexibility in monetizing and distributing content". That revenue largely comes from the in-video advertisements. Now you'll pay, too -- as little as 99 cents per month. Here's something: From the sampling I made today, subscription liberates you from advertising, which is something to cheer about.
Just yesterday, I suggested that Gmail for iOS, which new version links to Google apps rather than Safari, might be a bigger deal. Sure enough, is it ever. The search and information giant is hellbent on co-opting Apple's mobile platform by offering superior apps tightly tied to web services. But the strategy depends on Chrome.
Contrary to popular tech convention, Android isn't the future of Google platforms, neither is Chrome OS, nor is an amalgamation of the two. The browser is the go-forward platform of choice. Android and Chrome stand apart, competing with operating systems like iOS and Windows. Chrome can co-opt them and others. The browser is more natural fit for Google services and anchors them anywhere. This is the lesson from March's corporate shake-up that put Android under Sundar Pichai, who leads Chrome and Apps.
After introducing Android and iOS apps, enterprise social network Unison has shifted its focus from mobile handsets to large team collaboration, introducing the ability to voice chat with up to 250 users straight from the browser. The feature is currently available only through the official Chrome app.
Compared to the traditional way of doing things on Unison -- text chatting -- the latest feature allows users and members of large teams to interact in a more personal way. Voice is also more immediate than writing and can trigger a faster response, something which can be helpful when dealing with fast-approaching deadlines or other critical scenarios. In some cases, businesses can also replace the traditional phone conference and, therefore, rely less on other services for basic but essential tasks.