Articles about Google

Hello, Chromebook!

HP Chromebook 11 Keyboard

Today Mihaita Bamburic bids "Goodbye, Windows XP!" Meanwhile, Wayne Williams walks down eXPerience memory lane. For good reason: This week, Microsoft pulls the life support plug -- following many, many, many delays. Henceforth, you use XP at your own risk, or forcibly march forward into the second decade of the 21st Century. You could follow Microsoft to Windows 8.1, or be truly courageous. Mac or Linux laptop are options, or you could go Chromebook. Yeah, you read right.

Here in the United States, Best Buy will trade in your XP clunker and give "minimum of $100 toward the purchase of a new Windows computer, Apple computer or Chromebook". The offer ends April 19, so hurry. The cash back will practically pay for a new Chromebook, which costs so little and does so much -- surely more than your XP wheezer. Someone from the Windows division once told me that O2, as in Oxygen, was one of the runner-up names for XP. How fitting. Your old machine has been living off oxygen for far too long. Pull the plug. I'll give you some reasons why Chromebook.

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Microsoft and Google bring improved YouTube experience to Xbox One

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Microsoft and Google are unlikely partners nowadays. After all, they are direct competitors on many fronts. There is Bing vs. Google Search, Windows vs. Chrome OS and Office vs Google Docs. Let us not forget that Google has been blocking Microsoft's YouTube app on Windows Phone. Heck, Google has essentially ruined Windows Phone for many, by not bringing its services to the platform.

Surprisingly, despite all the bad blood, Google has embraced Microsoft's Xbox One game console. Today, both companies announce that you can now upload Xbox One gameplay footage directly to YouTube or watch a YouTube video while simultaneously playing a game.

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will.i.am has a self-designed smart watch ready to launch soon

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Rapper, producer, Black Eye Pea and all round tech-loving futurist tech-head will.i.am has designed his own smart watch which will be ready for launch in the coming months. The music titan has, apparently, self-designed and self-funded a project which should lead to a release in July. Very little is known about the device at the moment, but it has made a few appearances on TV screens that give an intriguing glimpse of what's to come. Unlike other wearables, this one looks like it will not require tethering to a smartphone -- it will stand on its own two feet.

It's worth pointing out for non-UK residents that product placement (endorsements, 'support from', 'promotional consideration' or however you want to view it) does not really exist in the UK in the same way as in the US and some other countries. But that said, will.i.am has been spotted on more than one occasion, "subtly" interacting with a device strapped to his wrist. Viewers of The Voice in the UK (yeah, sorry, I've been known to dip into it from time to time) will probably have noticed him fiddling with his wrist, and reference has been made to his actions on a couple of occasions.

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The fat lady sings for Microsoft, thanks to Google Apps

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The office suite battle is really starting to heat up. Last week, Microsoft released Word, Excel and PowerPoint for the iPad, signaling a sea change in the company's focus. However, Google is still pushing forward with its attempt to sway users with its web apps. While both are good, no one can deny that Microsoft's offers more features.

With that said, more features does not always equate to better. In other words, if Google's offering meets a user's or business' needs, then it may be more cost effective. Quite frankly, too many features can be seen as noise when unused. One such company, the Glyndebourne opera house, switched from Microsoft to Google with great results.

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Shelfies turn into custom themes as Gmail stops pranking users

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Yesterday was April Fool's Day -- a celebration of hijinks that are enjoyed by readers and somewhat feared by media outlets. Every story requires extra attention, as it is combed for signs of a prank. However, like the readers, the writers mostly enjoy the day as well -- there are notable exceptions, mostly those who managed to get bit by a joke.

One of the popular memes for this year was Gmail Shelfies which, if you were not careful, changed your email theme to a lovely picture of Katy Perry.

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Stop Google+ broadcasting the number of profile views you've received

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It has often been said that making use of any social network is an exercise in vanity or narcissism. The likes of Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and other similar tools give anyone a platform to voice their views, concerns, complaints and anything else they feel inclined to get off their chest. But what matters about each of these social networks -- for the vane narcissist, at least -- is the number of people who are actually reading the words that are published. Unburdening online can be a wonderfully cathartic experience, but all the better if it is read by tens of thousands of people rather than just hundreds.

Each network gives you its own way to keep track of your potential audience. On Facebook, it's easy to keep track of the number of friends you have, while on Twitter it's the number of followers that's important -- as well, of course, as the coveted blue verified badge. Similarly on LinkedIn, it is easy to see how many people you’re connected to, and in the case of Google+ you can check how many people have circled you. But then there is the matter of how these figures translate into actual views.

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LinkedIn 'hacking' tool Sell Hack no longer exposes user email addresses

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One of the great things about social networks is that it is possible to connect with people without the need to share email addresses. This means that you can remain "friends" with someone on Facebook, but not get to the point where you're handing out your email address and worrying about checking your inbox. The same is true of LinkedIn, but the difference with this "professional network" is that you're probably connecting with a larger number of people you would rather didn’t have your personal contact details. This comforting level of security was wiped out by Sell Hack.

This free browser extension -- available for Firefox, Chrome and Safari -- could be used to expose the email address associated with any LinkedIn account, regardless of whether you are connected to the person you are, essentially, spying on. Perhaps understandably, this caused a degree of upset and resulted in LinkedIn sending a cease and desist notice to the extension's developers. Sell Hack adds a "Hack In" button to social network pages which, when clicked, reveals the email address used by the account owner to create their page.

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Happy 10th birthday Gmail -- Google's greatest ever April Fools' Day surprise

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Whether you love or hate them, Google’s April Fools' Day announcements are something we’ve come to expect, and they’re usually pretty creative, even if they don’t fool many people. Some of this year’s pranks include Google+ Auto Awesome Photobombs with The Hoff, Gmail Shelfie and Google Maps: Pokémon Challenge.

Ten years ago though, Google made what was easily its greatest April Fools' announcement ever -- introducing the world to Gmail, a new free webmail service. Few people fell for it though, as the 1GB of free storage being offered was too fantastical. Hotmail, the market leading service at the time, gave its free users just 2MB and had a policy of ruthlessly deleting new messages once that limit was reached. If you wanted to increase the size of your inbox to 10MB you could, but at the cost of $19.95 a year. And here was a search engine promising 500 times as much storage, for free? Yeah, right. Nice try Google!

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Hey Google, grow up -- enough with the April Fools pranks already

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Email is a means of communication. Sure, it can be used for personal means; having fun or whatever. But many people, including myself, use it for business too. And so, I expect my email provider to be professional and reliable.

Imagine my shock when I logged in to Gmail today and was alerted to a new feature called "Shelfie". Now, I'm just trying to read my email, but instead I get presented with an alert, so I assume it is serious. But no, it turns out that is was an April Fool's prank that sets a picture of Katy Perry as my theme. Funny right? Heck, no. This nonsense really needs to stop.

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Turkish ISPs intercept Google Public DNS

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Freedom of speech is not free and it is not a right in every country. The blocking of Twitter and YouTube in Turkey is well-documented, but the question of right and wrong is more up in the air. After all, not all countries have to follow the lead of the USA, although it is hard to argue with giving citizens the right to express themselves. However, that is an argument and a fight of which the Turkish people must take ownership.

With that said, blocking is one thing, but intercepting is another thing altogether. Today, Google announces that Turkish ISPs have been intercepting the search-giant's Public DNS service. That is super uncool.

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The most popular stories on BetaNews this past week March 23 -- 29

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Microsoft has flirted with Apple's iPad on a couple of occasions this week. Early on in the week there was the case of a 12-year-old girl who wanted nothing more than an iPad Mini. Microsoft stepped in and managed to convince her that the Surface 2 was the way ahead. Way to spin! But this was not the big Microsoft-iPad news. In a move that many saw as almost sacrilegious -- but one that was welcomed by just about the same number -- Microsoft Office, finally, made its way onto iPad. This wasn't the only release from Microsoft this week -- the source code for early versions of MS-DOS and Word for Windows was made publicly available. Having faced criticism for the way it approached a recent investigation, Microsoft pledged that it would no longer read customer emails during the course of an investigation without getting law enforcement involved.

Windows XP may be in its death throes, but this isn't going to stop people from using it. To help keep these hardy fellows safe, Malwarebytes announced that it would keep its users protected for life. It's not just XP that Microsoft is lowering into the grave, Office 2003 also finds itself six feet under. As the door on XP closes, another one opens -- or closes, depending on how you look at it. The purchase of Nokia's Devices and Services division is due to close in April after initially facing some delays.

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Beware of third-party Google-branded Windows Phone apps

Beware

The official launch of major Google apps on Windows Phone would qualify as the biggest news of the week, next to the release of Office for iPads. Such an event seems highly unlikely, as the search giant is focusing its mobile development efforts on the more popular platforms, namely Android and iOS.

Imagine my surprise when, only moments earlier, in group chat my colleague Alan Buckingham mentions these five Google apps, that seem legit at first glance: Hangouts, Voice, Maps, Search and Google+. They are now available in the US Windows Phone Store. Did the search giant just have a change of heart? The answer appears to be negative, as, first-off, Google does not sell such apps for $1.99 a pop, it makes them available for free. But, what is so special about them anyway? It is not like these are the only third-party Google apps in Store.

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I gave up the Ghost

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I spent time with the Ghost blogging platform today. I am intrigued by the visuals and promised simplicity. But I don't see the latter. At this stage, I just see complexity. Yet the whole premise is stripping back to basic blogging, rather than managing content as WordPress increasingly demands.

This month I put up a website for my personal independent publishing brand, and there are few posts, making it a good test case for migration. I easily used the WordPress plugin for exporting posts in Ghost format and imported them just fine. But I see too much trouble adapting themes, most of which look fabulous, BTW, or prepping other basic features.

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Government requests at Google increase 120 percent -- your privacy is under attack

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When you choose to establish a relationship with a company, there is a certain level of trust. You hope that the company "has your back". However, you can never be 100 percent sure. After all, companies are run by real people and human beings are not infallible. Things get muddied further when governments get involved. Quite often, a company may be forced to do something against its users' wishes, due to a government order. Even worse, the same government may ban the company from speaking about it.

Google is a company that many users trust. Nowadays, you almost have to, as the company's tentacles expand to the furthest reaches of the Internet. While Google allegedly participated in the NSA Prism program, it still seems to have its users' privacy in mind. To showcase its commitment, the search-giant began publishing a transparency report in 2009, which highlighted the number of government requests. Today, the company announces that those types of requests have skyrocketed a staggering 120 percent since the report began.

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Spam emails just not quite annoying enough? Google has the solution!

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Spam's great, isn't it? I know I just can’t get enough of it. I particularly love the in-your-face, unavoidable stuff that grabs my attention and ultimately has nothing to offer. Love it. This is one of the reasons I was indescribably happy when Gmail introduced its tabbed inbox feature. While some people saw it as a way of keeping their inbox clear, I saw it rather differently. Now I can see all of that level spam -- sorry, I mean "promotional emails" -- in one place: the handily named Promotions tab.

But there are too many emails that are just too subtle. They don’t grab my eyeballs and try to wrestle them from my head. Well, let joy be unbounded, Google has come up with the solution I've been looking for! It's like the company has been reading my mind! I've lost count of the number of times I've thought, "you know what's missing? Really big, graphic versions of my emails. If that was implemented, my spammy desires could be so much more effectively sated!"

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