U.S. Thanksgiving Day comes late this year for retailers, but makes more time for Google to count its blessings and to offer gratitude for them. Oh, they are bountiful, and there is still another month of them to come. The year 2013 will be remembered as one of the finest in Google history. The company has so much to be thankful for, I could have trebled the list.
But for succinctness, I whittle down to those things that mean more than others or that otherwise would be overlooked in the typical yearly review. The list goes from that for which Google should be least thankful to most. Gobble. Gobble.
Whoa, twice now in less than seven days, I defend Microsoft's "Scroogled" advertising campaign. Seriously, someone deserves a fat Holiday bonus for hitting homers out of the marketing park. As good as anti-Google logo mugs and Tees are, the followup is better.
The Scroogled commercial featuring Rick Harrison and his dad from "Pawn Stars" is so effective that BetaNews has three posts debating the merits -- and there are loads more across social networks. Colleague Brian Fagioli calls the commercial the "best Scroogled ad yet", while Alan Buckingham says it's an "embarrassment". Hehe, they're both correct.
While the staff here at BetaNews is a fairly close knit bunch, that doesn't always mean we agree on everything. In fact, debate is a part of daily life. To that end, earlier today my colleague Brian Fagioli took it upon himself to call the latest Scroogled ad, this one against the Chromebook, the "best Scroogled ad yet".
He seems to think all of this behavior is acceptable, even amusing and honest. I suppose if you are a fan of the show Pawn Stars, then you may find it of mild interest. However, what it also turns out to be is utterly untrue.
Despite summer being viewed as 'vacation season', the holidays are a popular travel time, with families reuniting from far-flung locations. Travel, especially at the holidays, can be tricky, with added crowds and delays. In fact, this year it could be complicated on the US east coast, thanks to inclimate weather expected over the long Thanksgiving weekend.
Google Street View, which seems fearless in its roamings, is looking to help out the wayward traveler. The search giant unveils new travel maps that encompass various depots, such as airports and train stations.
Sony PlayStation 4 hit the stores and Brian not only took a look at the brand new console, but also cracked open the case and slipped a larger hard drive inside. Brian wasn't alone in his love of the PS4, more than a million people also bought a console on the day of launch. But not everyone was happy as many units were found to suffer from a Blue Light of Death problem that rendered them unusable. Raspberry Pi was also celebrating its sales figures as more than two million were shifted since its launch last year.
In a rare show of unity, Microsoft and Google joined forces to help tackle the problem of online child pornography. At the same time, Microsoft took its Scroogled campaign to a new level by releasing merchandise (although Joe was impressed). Elsewhere online, Twitter introduced Twitter alerts to the UK and Ireland to help provide people with critical information in an emergency.
One of the great British icons, Doctor Who, is celebrating a milestone birthday this weekend -- it’s 50 years since the eccentric Time Lord first took television viewers across space and time in his battered blue police box.
To mark the Doctor’s half a century of adventures, Google has created a special playable homepage doodle which will keep you busy for a while. To begin with it was only available on the New Zealand search page, but has since materialized (with a wheezing sound) everywhere.
Google has merged two of its reading apps into one with the release of Google Play Newsstand 3.0. The app brings together the magazine subscriptions from its old Google Play Magazines app with the news-aggregating Currents app, retiring both in the process.
The new app aims to provide a one-stop shop not just for magazines and newspapers -- over 1,900 different publications are currently supported -- but also allows users to add their own news sources too using RSS feeds.
Take a look at your wallet. How many debit cards, credit cards and loyalty cards do you have? If it's anything like mine it is probably bursting at the seams with an inch or more of plastic cards. Reach the checkout in a store and you may well have ended up red-faced as you rummage for the right payment and loyalty card. With Coin, all of this could come to an end. The idea of a catch-all replacement that combines multiple cards into one is not new, but thus far solutions have taken the form of mobile apps. Coin is different -- this is a real card that acts as many.
Coins have a tendency to weigh down your pockets, but this Coin is a single lightweight unit. The card features an integrated display which you can use to view the last four digits of a stored card along with the expiration data and CVV so you, and the person you hand the card to, knows which of your stored cards you are using. You may well have used a mobile app that replaces loyalty cards, and Coin is taking this idea to the next level.
My colleague Wayne Williams calls Microsoft Scroogled gear "pathetic" and a "new low". I agree that the anti-Google hat, hoodie, mug and Tees are more crass than class but they tap fanboy sentiments. The Scroogled product line is brilliant marketing, I say.
Look at the amount of attention generated across blogs, news sites and social networks today. Scroogled is everywhere. Microsoft rarely gets such viral uptake, and any advertising consultant will tell you that all news is good news. Controversy is sweet marketing, and here pointed. Scroogled isn't just anti-Google, it's pro-discussion -- as fanboys from both sides and everyone between them argue about one company against the other. Microsoft marketers want flaming debate about Google search.
I like a joke as much as the next person -- maybe more, seeing as I’ve had a couple of humor books published in the UK -- but I prefer my jokes to be funny, rather than pathetic, which is why I’m not laughing at the news that Microsoft is now selling anti-Google clothing and other merchandise.
If it was April 1, and the Scroogled product line -- comprising of a mug, hat, T-shirts, and a hoodie -- had appeared on the web, I would have smiled at the silliness of it. Maybe even applauded the gag. But the fact that it’s a real thing, just makes me shrug in an unsurprised fashion at the new low to which the software giant has sunk.
Orcs, trolls, balrogs, ring wraiths, dark lords -- it's a dangerous world out there, especially if you are a hobbit. Despite these dangers, Google has elected to brave Middle Earth, taking its cross-platform browser along for protection. The company does so in the name of improving the web experience, specifically for mobile devices.
Chrome for Android now supports technologies ranging from WebGL and WebRT to Web Audio, and Google is anxious to show this off. It's doing so through a new interactive experience, based on the timeless J.R.R. Tolkien books and award-winning Peter Jackson movies -- The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit.
Google's Android platform is on fire these days, with a new operating system, a latest and greatest smartphone, in the form of the Nexus 5 and rumors of an updated 10-inch tablet coming soon. However, the company is also known for killing off products, which makes today's announcement of a newsreader for Android all the more interesting.
Newsstand, according to the search giant, "puts the news you care about most front and center and presents stories that interest you based on your tastes". However, before you jump the gun and think this is Reader reincarnated, know that the service is a bit different.
After launching Android 4.4 KitKat alongside the Nexus 5, Google released the latest version of the mobile OS for the Nexus 4, Nexus 7 and Nexus 10. The roll-out of the OTA upgrade kicked off on November 13 and the factory images arrived a couple of days later. Since I have already explained how to use the OTA files to get KitKat up and running, in this article I will show you how to do the same by leveraging the factory images.
Aside from allowing users to install Android 4.4, the KitKat factory images also come in handy for those who wish to upgrade, return their Nexus device to stock before selling it, and install various bits (the radios, the bootloader, etc.) to use with custom Android distributions. As you can tell, the factory images have a broader scope and, therefore, I will also cover the other most important ways you can benefit.
To help fight the problem of child pornography online, Google and Microsoft are joining forces to block access to illegal content in the UK and then globally. Writing in the Daily Mail, Google's Eric Scmidt explains how new search filtering techniques now prevent more than 100,000 search terms relating to child pornography from returning any results. The filtering is starting in English speaking countries, but will soon roll out to more than 150 languages.
He explains that Google and Microsoft have worked with law enforcement agencies for many years and are proactively involved in the removal of illegal images. More than 200 extra employees have been assigned the tasks of developing new technologies over the last three months. This is very much a joint venture between the two companies, and Schmidt recognizes the input of Microsoft, saying that the company "deserves a lot of credit for developing and sharing its picture detection technology".
Fancy getting your hands on a Nexus 7 without having to part with any cash? If you've been on the lookout for a 7-inch Android tablet, Google has a contest that may well be of interest. Providing you live in the US, you can take part in a photo competition to bag yourself either a free Nexus 7 or a $50 Google Play gift card. Sound tempting? All you need to do is take a photo of an arrangement of things that matter to you -- that's all there is to it!
The competition is not actually new as three draws have already taken place -- but there are only a couple of days left to try your luck with the final one. A reminder was issued on Google+ and while the introduction on the main competition page suggests that photos need to include an Android device, read on a little and you will discover that this is not actually a requirement for entry -- but make sure you don’t include a rival product in the shot though, as "non-Nexus or Android devices (phones/tablets) may not be shown in entry".