When Mozilla announced that Yahoo would be replacing Google as the default search choice in Firefox in the US, there were raised eyebrows everywhere. After all, Google has been baked into Firefox for the past decade, and Yahoo’s days as a top search engine are long gone. Or were long gone at least.
Yahoo’s inclusion in Firefox has given the ailing search engine a major boost, helping it achieve its highest US search share since 2009. Unsurprisingly, this share increase came at the expense of Google.
Microsoft has offered its Office suite to other mobile platforms for sometime now, but Android tablet support is fairly recent. It was in Preview form and there were hoops to be jumped through in order to get access. No matter, the response was still overwhelming, or at least the company claims that is the case.
Now things are opening up as the Redmond-based company announces the expansion of this program to all users. This update to the "testing" allows all users to get access -- no more requests, or begging, through the Google Plus account.
In 2014 Google debuted Android TV, using Nexus Player as a sort of reference device. The new entry into the crowded market replaced the previous Google TV, which had been around for a while but never really took off. Google hopes the new platform will change the company's fortunes, as it desperately wants to be in your living room.
At the big Consumer Electronics Show taking place in Las Vegas, the search giant delivered more information about its new platform. Google arrived with announcements of new partners in the way of TV manufacturers offering sets powered by Android TV.
We're all familiar with Chromecast, Google's nifty media streaming dongle that makes light work of chucking a video from your computer, phone or tablet to your TV. Fancy doing something similar with audio? Google must have been listening to you because the company has just launched Google Cast for audio.
The idea is virtually the same as Chromecast -- in fact it's based on exactly the same technology -- and it's just as simple to use. Start listening to music on your Android phone or tablet, iPod, iPhone, iPad, Mac, Windows computer or Chromebook and you can throw it to a set of compatible speakers without the need for wires.
Google Chrome and I had a really great thing going. It is available for most operating systems (not Windows Phone, sadly) and allows me to easily sync my activity across systems. Whenever I install Windows or a new Linux distribution, the first thing I would do is install Chrome. True, Chrome is not entirely open source, and using it is a major faux pas for many Linux users, but I didn't care -- open source be damned, I wanted the ease of use. Not to mention, Google Chrome is technically the only way to get a modern version of Adobe flash working on Linux, thanks to its pepper flash implementation (damn you Adobe, for ending Linux development).
Unfortunately, Google's browser has been putting on some weight lately; hey, I'm a fat guy, I didn't mind too much at first, but things have gotten out of hand. Chrome eats through RAM like a termite at a lumber factory. Sure, RAM is relatively cheap, but not everyone wants to upgrade so a web browser can perform better. Hell, Chrome OS even runs like ass with less than 4GB of memory, and that is unacceptable. System resources are not the only way it is bloated, though. Instead, I am going back to my old girlfriend, Firefox. Mozilla's browser isn't perfect, but it better meets my needs right now.
When Google released the $35 Chromecast, it became wildly popular. While it was initially a very limited device, the low price made it attractive anyway. Many early adopters saw the potential of the dongle; if developers embraced it, it could be an insane value. Well, that is exactly what happened, as it now has a plethora of uses in the home.
While home-use is all well and good, why can't the technology also work in the enterprise? If you have ever worked in a corporate setting, connecting a projector to a computer or device is a challenging affair for many. People get confused by the cables, which port to use and ultimately, how to make Windows transmit to the projector. Acer has announced the H7550ST Projector, with the worlds-first internal Chromecast compatibility!
The mobile market is a four horse race... if we're being polite, that is. Really it's a battle between Apple's iOS and Google's Android. BlackBerry desperately neighs about its importance to the enterprise market, while Windows Phone stamps its hooves trying to gain attention as it's hauled off to the glue factory via the knacker's yard.
Microsoft's mobile OS may have gained ground in some parts of the world, but the reality is that it's struggling. Whenever we talk about Windows Phone it feels like the same topic comes up again and again, forcing us to re-tread old ground, bang the same drum. The app situation is dire; it's all but impossible to paint it any other way. But could opening up the ecosystem to Android apps save it from a slow and painful death?
My colleague Alan Buckingham has already listed his favorite tech of the past year, and now it’s my turn. I’ve taken all sorts of new products for a spin over the past 12 months, so narrowing the selection down is actually pretty tricky. Apple disappointed me a little this year -- as the owner of an iPhone 5s I needed a big reason to upgrade to the iPhone 6, and a larger screen and Apple Pay wasn’t it. The iPhone 6 is an excellent phone, but I think I’ll hang on to the 5s for another year. Similarly, the iPad Air 2 just wasn’t different enough for me to consider that either. Thinner is a feature, not a benefit for me.
But fortunately, there was plenty of other new tech around that I did love, and here’s my top selection, in no particular order.
China is one of the more 'interesting' counties when it comes to its attitude to allowing unfettered access to the internet. The Great Firewall of China is famed for the restrictions it places on the online activities of Chinese citizens. New data seems to suggest that Google's Gmail is currently blocked in the country.
Dyn Research, a web traffic research company, reports that Gmail traffic is being blocked at the IP level rendering Google's email service inaccessible within most of China. The disruption appears to have started late on Christmas day and is still on-going.
There are few films that have caused as much controversy -- justified or not -- in recent times as The Interview. The Seth Rogen and James Franco movie upset North Korea, was shunned by major cinemas, and earned itself poor reviews when it was screened online and in independent cinemas. Now Apple has announced that the movie can be bought or rented from iTunes.
Apple spokesman Tom Neumayr said simply, "We're pleased to offer The Interview for rental or purchase on the iTunes Store." Anyone who wants to see the movie and doesn't fancy opting for one of the numerous versions available through BitTorrent or other sources, can rent it for $5.99 or buy it for $14.99 -- in the US and Canada, at least.
Google Chromecast is the perfect stocking filler -- it’s small, affordable, and guaranteed to be a hit with anyone who receives it as a gift this holiday season. Google is continuing to bolt on features (most recently it added a guest mode), so you’ll be able to do even more with it throughout the coming year.
The tiny powered dongle plugs into your TV set and lets you watch streaming video from the likes of YouTube, Hulu Plus, HBO Go, BBC iPlayer, Netflix, and Google Play. You can even 'cast' content from your Chrome browser on to the big screen, and play your own videos.
"Marley was dead: to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that"…. Oh wait you want some happier news. Well, there is some -- you can track the progress of Santa tonight, just so you know where the big guy in the red suit is at all times.
Google Maps is once again providing the data on the sleigh ride. You can follow the progress around the world using the GPS equipped on the vehicle. There's more to it than just tracking though. You can open all sorts of options.
Hotels are keen to extract money from guests, and in a bid to try to force them into paying for internet access, the industry is trying to gain permission to block personal Wi-Fi hotspots. Microsoft and Google are usually rivals, but the two companies are putting up a united front to fight these plans.
The American Hospitality & Lodging Association and Marriott International has asked the Federal Communications Commission for permission to use network management hardware that could prevent guests from creating and sharing their own private hotspots. The argument against this is that hotels are essentially requesting permission to block access to unlicensed parts of the wireless spectrum.
It’s that time of the year again when news sites and search engines look back at the stories and events that shaped the year. The top stories on BetaNews are obviously going to be different -- mostly -- from the top stories on other sites because we focus on technology. So in other words don’t expect Kim Kardashian "breaking" the internet to appear anywhere in our list. Although that’s not to say she won’t make an appearance somewhere…
Because BetaNews offers a mix of content, we’ve put together three top 10 lists -- News, Opinion/Editorial, and Guides. With news, it's not necessarily the biggest stories of year that make the list, but rather the content that was viewed the most. All three lists are presented, as ever, in reverse order.
After Edward Snowden blew the whistle on the surveillance activities of the NSA, there has been greater public interest in what data governments are obtaining from technology companies, and what data was subject to censorship and removal. Back in 2010 Google started something of a trend with its first transparency report, and today sees the launch of the latest edition.
Covering the six months from July to December 2013, the latest Transparency Report shows that while there were more requests than the same period in 2012, there has been a drop when compared to the first half of 2013. In all, Google received 3,105 requests to remove 14,637 items, compared to 3,846 requests and 24,737 items in H1 2013, and 2,289 requests and 24,191 items in H2 2012.