The Big Daddy of Search Just Got Better with Knowledge Graph

Google has just rolled out the new Knowledge Graph that is expected to make your search experience more engaging. Until now, search was all about queries matching keywords. The new technology is designed to deliver a more human approach to the search results rather than just a list of links. With Knowledge Graph, Google can now shed light on people, places, books and many other such things that are correlated to the query. Google presents you with 500 million objects along with 3.5 billion facts that relates those objects. That’s an impressive count to start with. Let us take a closer look at what it promises to do.

Pinpointing The Search:

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Every time you search for something that may have different interpretations, you are presented with a list of possible things that relate to the search. For instance, a search for the term Taj Mahal will now show Shahjahan’s monument, a musician whose stage name was Taj Mahal and even a casino likewise with a same name. Click any of those and links having matching keywords or relevant information will show up.

Summary and Related Information:

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The search for the term Frank Lloyd Wright will now show a summary about the versatile architect with information such as date of birth, education, projects etc. In addition to these, Google will also show people and data that may be of importance or concern to the user. A similar search about Marie Curie, the Noble winning erudite, will portray her as a person and not just a search term, thus depicting her as a mother(name of children) and a wife(name of spouse) as well apart from showcasing her achievements in the field of radioactivity.

Delving Deeper:

The another side of search that intrigues a user apart from the information he/she was looking for is something that he/she found out of the blue. The new search is capable of doing that(as the press release publicizes). Web seemed great so far, however, at times the pool of information seems overwhelming. The new search feature will perhaps be better enjoyed for consuming information easily.

The Knowledge Graph was rumored to change the search experience altogether and with the official launch, the response so far from the media bigwigs are quite pleasant to summarize. The feature is yet to be available for all but will soon be rolled out globally. Since Google has already implemented social search with Google+ search integration, the new technology is expected to provide better results based on facts from knowledge bases like Wikipedia, Freebase or CIA World Factbook which with time will be augmented by the search habits and shared information not only by any user but his/her network as well. Although Google predicts Google+ to be the next step, the improvement to the core product is a welcome change. To put it in a line, “I’m feeling luckier”, are you?

[via Google Blog, Forbes]

With Pinstagram You Can Enjoy Instagram In A Pinterest Style Layout

Instagram, the most popular smartphone app for photophiles, offers a great medium to capture, edit and share otherwise ordinary images in an extraordinary manner. Pinterest on the other hand has pioneered a great way to share images from various web sources and present them in a unique eye catchy web interface. Ever wondered how would it be to mash up two of the most popular image sharing services? Pinstagram offers a similar experience.

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Login with your Instagram account and you’ll be presented with a Pinterest alike floating grid interface with images shared by your Instagram connections. You can like, pin and comment on them the same way you do on Pinterest. The interface is quite appealing akin to Pinterest.

Much like Facebook, Twitter or any popular social medium, Instagram is gradually growing into a platform developers can build upon. Before Pinstagram, there were a plethora of apps which had already provided ways to use Instagram from web, while the service(Instagram) is yet to launch its own web based platform. Notable mentions are Webstagram(Instagram on the web), Statigram(Instagram stats and browsing), Snapwidget(for showcasing Instagram images on a web page).

Contrary to buzz, the credit for even the very specific mashup idea, i.e Pinterest and Instagram, doesn’t go to Pinstagram. Pingram, an exactly similar startup, was there for quite long and hopefully is the first of its kind. Unlike Webstagram and Pinstagram, Pingram offers open access even to those without an Instagram account who can also share images to Facebook. Not to mention Instagram users can also enjoy their Instagram profile with Pingram. Pingram also offers an added advantage of browsing content using geospatial data, which undoubtedly is a great way to connect. Pinstagram, however, presents a much polished look for the users, which compliments the brilliant Instagram images.

Since the time Instagram’s or Pinterest’s popularity soared high, plenty of services have tried to ride on the wave. Leaving apart an initial surge in users, not many have made it big enough to get compared to the parent startups. Pinstagram is new and has been in news for some time now. There’s no question to the fact that it addresses a need and does so with usability in mind, yet, we’ll have to wait to see if Instagram community accepts it or not.

Try Product Ads with Expert Opinions Powered By inPowered Stories

in-powered-ad-thumbAre you looking to buy a new smart device or that ultrabook you saw last day on a TV commercial? You are most likely to look out for reviews from industry experts or ask for opinion from people you trust unless you are too obsessed to buy something specific. Study reveals buyer’s are more influenced by word of mouth than just by brilliantly crafted ads.

Netshelter is trying to put the fact in use with inPowered Stories which have expert reviews embedded within product ads to convince buyers. The reviews are selected based on their reputation, performance and social influence. inPowered Stories, along with normal ads, will also show titles and excerpts from thoughtful stories that shed light on the products. Brands willing to use the inPowered Stories will only have to pay if any article is read and not just for impressions.

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Looking for those advertorials? You can find a demo on these pages.

The influencer network is comprised with some of most trusted names in the tech industry. Brad Linder(liliputing.com), Suzanne Kantra(techlicious.com), Scott Webster(androidguys.com), Paul Strauss(technabob.com), Judie Stanford(geardiary.com), Rob Jackson(phandroid.com) are only a few of the 4500+ famed reviewers included in this network.

Google and Facebook have already provided us with ads based on our personal data, friend recommendations and behavioral data. However, that needed us to use an account with them for the best results. There were no way to collect personal data otherwise(apart from random browser, OS data etc). With inPowered Stories employing the word of mouth advertising with editorials, that is proved to have impact in general, brands can do better without needing to collect personal data. The idea provides a good balance between user privacy and business interests.

The idea of ads with opinion is nothing new, whereas, it’s one of the most primitive methods. Your favorite movie star featuring in a TV commercial endorsing a brand used to do the trick on the targeted mass. Nowadays, people are more intelligent buyers who, although are still impressed with that kind of ads, are less likely to choose a product only because of people(who are rarely considered an expert about the product) endorsing it. Netshelter with inPowered Stories is only the intelligent variant of the concept.

So far, the chosen influencers are independent and trusted ones for their unbiased reviews with valuable insights. However, this has a high potential for bloggers to earn revenue, there is a high chance of biased evangelism and more specially if this idea is turned into an open platform for reviewers. Until then, it’s a brilliant medium for brands and buyers.

Starting Today Your Not-So Smartphones Too Can Enjoy Twitter

Twitter is one of the leading social networks and unlike Facebook a much cleaner media to interact. You can find almost every soul you ever wished to follow. The minimalist interface and the 140 words keeps sharing simple and more engaging. The native clients for Android and iOS platforms has been great to keep up with the main web interface. Although, until today, the web interface that is still being used by a lot of cellphone users who don’t own an Android/iOS mobile was a step behind. Twitter has finally responded and rolled out the new spiffy mobile web interface which resembles the smartphone iterations. Let’s take a quick look.

Twitter for Android Vs Twitter Mobile Web

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Home: The home screen looks the exact same on both the interface and also similar in how it works . Long pressing or swipe any update gives you choices(reply, retweet, favorite, profile and share) in the native client whereas on the web client for mobile you need a swipe to do that. The “Pull down to refresh” also works on both.

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Connect: The Connect tab is a great way to track replies which also offers a quasi-similar interface on both with a little rearrangement of items. Functionality remains same for both.

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Discover: The most intriguing section about Twitter to keep a tab on the latest and greatest stories, finding people who matter and many more. The interfaces are an exact match and also the way they behave.

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Me: The features and interface remains same here too.

Overall(refer screenshots) the mobile interface seems to work the way it is meant to. Although the screenshots(on Twitter’s official announcement) refer that the top bar exists (and a refresh button is also there) I found it missing(refer screenshot below) while using Dolphin browser which means you may miss out on the search option. . The update button is still there and is clubbed into the top bar along with the other four major options. The elements on the profile viewing screen also remains the same on both the web and native clients. The web client is also quite low on bandwidth demands.

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The timing isn’t so great considering the competition. Facebook has a equally interesting (and Android/iOS equivalent) mobile web interface for a long time now (and perhaps the best way to avoid the app nuisance ). Nonetheless the new interface is an adaptation much awaited.

The New Way of 4D Storytelling with Meograph

Photo tours around the globe is a great pastime with Google Earth and Google Street View. The brilliant imagery in a spiffy interface is indeed a great way to kill time. Now add to that a little bit of geospatial data in form of videos, audio and images. You get Meograph. So far telling a story that covered a wide time span and lots of places was hard or was in pieces. Meograph combines them into a single experience.

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Developed by Misha Leybovich, the new tool lets you navigate through places and annotate them with relevant videos, images and audio thereby creating an illustration akin to presentations. Take a look at the demo where the life of the celebrated music artist Whitney Houston is illustrated dexterously using clips from her music videos, movies she featured, songs that she sang and snaps relating to her. The entire sequence of events is narrated to present a more lively storytelling.

Meograph is in the making now and all you can do is watch the demo videos to get an idea of what can be achieved with the new app. You can also request for an invite. The new concept also brings in a new type of media which is kind of a blend between video and presentations. An experience that you witness when a company executive presents a quarterly growth report, only this one’s more enjoyable. Interesting part is this can be a brilliant way to imitate what Facebook so affectionately refers to as Timeline and can be embedded on any webpage. Hopefully the service will open doors this summer.

Create A Photo Gallery With Your Dropbox or Amazon Storage

Dropbox is great way to keep your files in sync or have a backup. Google Drive is out and perhaps you are planning to switch sides. Most surely you wouldn’t be willing to let go of your “hard earned” storage with Dropbox referrals. If you are looking for an alternative use for Dropbox, try using it as a private web gallery for your photos. Wondering how? Well you can always create a public(or selectively shared) folder and put some designed web pages in it and create a website to show off those images. Well if you find the task daunting, Openphoto will do all the hard work for you. All you need to do is use your Dropbox or Amazon S3 account to sign up.openphoto-intro

Sign up for Openphoto by entering your email, opting for a unique URL and granting permission to your Dropbox or Amazon S3 storage. Once you are into it, go to the upload page and upload some of your favorite snaps. You can just drag and drop files to upload them. The upload is powered by Plupload a file uploading service. As the files are listed hit the “Start uploading” to initiate uploading.

Use the Menu at top left corner to go to the gallery or manage photos. You can create groups to add people to share photos with, which is good for creating a private network for buddies. You can also edit uploaded photos to share them with group or add tags to them for better chances of finding them.

Sadly uploading via the Dropbox desktop client is not possible which means if you add an image to the OpenPhoto folder within the Apps folder in Dropbox will not add it to your gallery. Also you cannot use Dropbox and Amazon S3 storage at the same time. The app is somewhat similar to Lightbox only Lightbox can be handled with both mobile and web interface. An app for iOS and Android for Openphoto is wanting in and would have been better to get users more willing to join.

However the network being closed, lets you create a more private page for people you choose to share with. Also the core concept behind this app is to create a social experience without letting others control your data. Your data stays with you and you have sole ownership of the photos on Dropbox(or Amazon S3) and you can take them down anytime you choose. The idea deserves credit in an age where almost every other social network is more concerned about feeding off your data or information you generate. Photo sharing being the latest startup trend, and privacy a major concern, the idea might work for people who want a network for sharing their images without the notion of being chewed for the last bit of data. I just loved it for the second choice alone. Take a look at my album if you wanna get started with how it looks.

ConveyThis Helps You Offer Your Customers A Feedback Form in their Language

The internet has opened a window for everyone. From buyers to sellers, everybody from all over the world is into it. English is the language it speaks or is best at. However, there is no denying of the fact that any individual is more comfortable with his/her mother tongue. The all-encompassing WWW however faces a great challenge to bridge the language barrier between two users who speaks in two different languages. As the global market is growing more and more dependent on the web this specific problem needs to be addressed.

The feedback form any company uses to improve its services based on user notes is a key area that ConveyThis, a multi-lingual feedback form creator (and also a website translator), wishes to reform. As per the developers’ words,

ConveyThis can be used just for its Feedback Form in one language if wanted, but the real difference is how it helps solve the language gap online. Over 90% of people are more likely to buy products from websites that are localized into their own language. And more than 80% said they wouldn’t even consider a product which didn’t have localized marketing materials.  With more and more users of other languages logging onto the internet, it is becoming more and more necessary to cater to those users, and not just English-speaking ones. Our goal is to provide people with a free, all inclusive solution to localizing their websites for other language viewers.

As inferred, the form is targeted towards businesses who wishes to value feedback from its non-English speaking customers/users. Now the whole discussion boils down to the credibility, efficiency and ease of use offered by the product.

conveythis-sample-form

Sign up for a free account and you are good to go. Create a form and tune it to your preferences. You can show the form in 13 popular languages (Chinese Simplified, Chinese Traditional, Dutch, English, French, German, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish) depending on the language of majority among your site’s users. You have choice to tie a form to any domain and also let the translated feedbacks be sent to your email. Simple and straight.

ConveyThis comes from Translation Services USA, known for its innovation in translation services and popular services like Ackuna Cloud Translator, Translation Cloud etc. The efficiency commanded by Translation Services USA can hardly be denied once you take a look at the clientele that includes heavyweights like Merrill Lynch, McDonalds, Barclays, Walmart, Disney to name a few. Considering that and the ease at which the feedback form can be created (and embedded) anyone can hardly say no to ConveyThis. True, it’s not one of the feedback forms out there packed with features, but it does what it promises to.

FriendCaller Launches Cross-Platform Skype Alternative; Offers SMS, Calls, Group Video Chat

friendcaller-logoHave you heard of FriendCaller? Well some have while most haven’t . Previously an iPhone only app, Friendcaller has relaunched as an alternative to Skype. FriendCaller is a service from C2Call(Click-to-Call) GmbH. It has funding from Michael Brehm (former executive director of StudiVZ , a European social networking site) and Tapesh Sinha (founder of Acctel Group of companies).

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So what’s so unique about FriendCaller? Well, its cutting-edge cloud hosted Java based VoIP technology turns any web browser into a phone instantly. Calls can be made directly from any browser without the installation of proprietary software such as Adobe Flash, or other plug-ins. Isn’t that fantastic?

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FriendCaller has been launched its new web and mobile apps which supports up to 7-way group video chats or 20 participants in voice only chat at once. The services are free for FriendCaller members, but one has to pay for calling external phones. Moreover, its new algorithms require significantly low resources on both the mobile client and cloud server side which makes it fast at the same time.

The new mobile chat app has features like text/SMS support(free for a limited time), caller ID, support for calling “real” phone numbers over Wi-Fi, 3G and 4G.

The new app appears as a completely separate download as compared to the previously available app. The web app is available here online. However, the Android version of the new caller app is freshly launched. Here again you can use Facebook to sign up for a new account. Notably the app also has a Facebook app for using Friendcaller from within it.

If one doesn’t want to pay for credits, FriendCaller offers “offer wall”, a pay-per-download scheme. This allows non paying members to watch videos or download apps to earn those credits. The app also runs a banner ad to assist in monetization efforts.

About two years ago, the company had about 1.4 million subscribers but today, that number has reached about 6.5 million. The application is available for desktop environments of Linux, Windows, Mac apart from most popular web browsers as well as iOS and Android-based devices.

Be it the feature set, the plethora of platform that the app supports or the monetization model, Skype has reasons to panic. And hopefully users are going to gain as the contest heats up. So why not give it a shot now? I’m sure you won’t regret.

[via TechCrunch]

Share Your Smartphone Screen on MyColorScreen

mycolorscreen_iconImage sharing is of essence. Pinterest and Instagram have proven that and the Instagram acquisition by Facebook has made the startup trend even more legit. MyColorScreen is a new startup that opens up a network of people who love sharing the screenshots of home screen on their smartphones.

Smartphones are something which are a strictly personalized device be it the apps or how it looks. Now if you are passionate enough to show off how your homescreen looks like, the new startup is a great place to start. The app has already housed more than 11000 homescreens from the Android and iOS. It’s a nice idea and is quite addictive as you keep on looking at those stunningly customized homescreens.

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Once you choose to jump into the new app, sign up. After that, go to the upload screen and after a couple of selections (OS choice, phone template, homescreen screenshot) you will be able to share the screen. You can upload multiple screens at a time too. Once you have uploaded the screen you will also be able to tag apps and wallpapers in the screenshot to tell what apps you used or are visible on the screenshot.

mycolorscreen-app-tags

As we have seen how Pinterest has grown into a referral site and publishers and developers are sincerely using it as a promotional tool even though it is nothing but an image sharing service. Considering that MyColorScreen can also be a great place to promote your Android and iOS apps by tagging them to the screenshots and showing off your app (multiple) screenshots too. The striking similarity to Pinterest grid layout also goes with the recent trend of grid based UI.

The frustrating fact about the app is that you do not have a native app for the smartphones to take/share screens directly from the phone. Otherwise the site is a visually pleasing gallery of homescreens worth a watch. All said, we still have to wait to see if this app turns into a successful marketing tool or just an image sharing app. Whatever be the fate of this app, the developers did employ a brilliant concept.

TwitPolls: Engage Your Twitter Community With Polls

twitpolls-mascotTwitpolls is the latest offering from WayIn, a startup from the Sun Microsystems co-founder Scott McNealy. The polling service recently got funded and extended its service to provide a polling system meant for Twitter. A startup trend unexploited for so long and with great chances to be another popular service that has grown around Twitter.

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You have a question to ask to your followers, click the Create Poll button and you are taken to a page where you can type in the question and then the answers which will be added to the tweet as hashtags. Plain and simple, the tweet can then be replied to by any of your followers with the hashtag as an answer. Since your community does not need to leave the comfort of Twitter, it increases the chances of getting an answer to your question. This is also quite mobile-friendly which undoubtedly is the need of the day.

The new tool opens up an opportunity for brands to gauge real user insights about their brand, products or happenings. This in turn will help them get into their customers’ shoes and get a view of what they adore and what they detest. The seamless integration with Twitter makes it better to respond for any Twitter user.

There are other tools that serves a similar purpose but they aren’t as end-to-end tied with Twitter. The service developers are working with the Twitter hashtags to track the answers and so far the polls are working just fine. However the service has the even bigger task of making it useful for big brands before it can make the term a regular in daily Twitter buzz. So are you going to use the new Twitpolls next time you wish to ask a question to your Twitter community.