Early in the morning today, Google rolled out its much awaited Music store for Android users in the United States. The Music store from Google has some nice features, instead of just being another music store from a giant, lilke the ability to share music with your Google+ friends, Free song of the day and Music Hub for Indie artists.
The Google Music store will be available to all Android 2.2+ handset owners living in the United States. Android users need to make sure they have the latest version of the Android Market (v3.3.11), otherwise they need to wait until the market update hits their phone.
Users also need to update the Google Music app from the Android Market, before they can fully enjoy the Music store from the big G. The new version of the Google Music brings an Ice Cream Sandwich like UI (Read: MUCH better), and integration with the Android Market.
Readers can either wait for the update to show up on their handset, or they can alternatively download the latest version of the Android Market and Google Music APK from here and here, respectively.
Google has just announced its much rumored and talked about Music store, here at an event in States.
The Google Music service from the giant will be available for its Android users to enjoy directly from the Android Market. All major labels including Universal, EMI and Sony along with many Indie artists are on-board, except for Warner Music group.
All the music will be hosted on the cloud at 320Kbps MP3 file format, without any DRM. Users also get a 90-second preview of the song, before purchasing it. Google Music will also offer its users access to some exclusive tracks from many popular artists like Coldplay, Pear Jam and Rolling Stones. Busta Rhymes will be releasing his new album exclusively on Google Music.
The most interesting part about Google Music is its Song Sharing feature. After purchasing a particular song or album from the Google Music store, users can share that song or album with their friends via Google+. Your friends will get to listen to the full song or album which you shared only once. Like earlier rumored, there will also be a free song of the day thing on store, similar to Amazon’s App Store.
The service will be available for all Android 2.2+ handset owners in the United States, only! Google did not mention anything about bringing the service to any other region of the world.
Without any doubt, Google Plus is heavily influenced from Facebook in every nook and cranny. I might sound rude to all Google fans, but there is no denying in the fact that every feature in Google Plus has been lifted directly from Facebook. I have this feeling that Google deliberately handpicked all the features Facebook provides so that existing socialusers can feel at home.
Unlike their previous failed attempts on getting into the social business, Google decided to go blindfold this time. There is nothing Newin Google Plus, lets do some fact checking first:
In their own words
Facebook helps you connect and share with the people in your life.
Google+ aims to make sharing on the web more like sharing in real life.
The Plus One Button
Sharing content from third party apps/sites: YES
Partially implemented.. Work in Progress
Google Plus Stream
Interactive conversations, comments: YES
Interactive conversations, comments: YES
Facebook video chat
Google Plus Hangouts
Google Plus chat with Gmail contacts
No Fancy name here but you can use Group chat in Facebook
Google Plus Huddles
Facebook Fan Pages
Google Plus Brand Pages
Both have similar layouts
Not as big but Yes.
Sure there are minor differences in the layout and usability but the similarities in core features are quite striking.
In an interview to acclaimed interviewer and broadcast journalist, Charlie Rose, Mark Zuckerberg said that Google is trying to build their little version of Facebook. Here is a brief preview of the Interview from Charlie Rose’s YouTube channel:
In the next 10 years, will we witness a blatant war between major Tech companies in Silicon valley?, Charlie begins the interview session.
There are a lot of ways in which these companies act together, I don’t think that this is going to be the type of situation where there’s one company that wins all the stuff, Zuckerberg remarks.
One company that wins all the stuff.
Which is that one company which has spread its empire to everyone’s life in the past decade? Which is that one company which has a diverse range of FREEproducts, used by millions of people every single day, no matter what languages they speak, what technologies they use and which geographical region they are currently living. (I am not taking any names)
Further down the interview, Charlie says you’re already getting in each other’s businesses.
Well, you can’t really blame him. Facebook is not getting into “search” any sooner,they are still doing what they were doing 8 years ago – connecting the people.
You know, Google, I think, in some ways, is more competitive and certainly is trying to build their own little version of Facebook. When I look at Amazon and Apple and I see companies who are extremely aligned with us, right? And we have a lot of conversations with people at both companies, just trying to figure out ways that we can do more together, and there is just a lot of reception there. If you are Amazon, one of the key strategies is to sell kindles, so that you can sell more things. If you’re Apple, a big part of your strategy is to sell devices because that’s how you make money. If you’re Google, they want to get Android as widely adopted as possible.
Zuckerberg continues, Our goal is to make sure people can connect with each other, no matter what devices they are using. At this point Sheryl Sandberg intervenes We are focused on doing one thing incredibly well. If you look at other companies, they are doing lots of different things but we’re still, as we grow, doing exactly one thing.
40 Million global users within 3 months of its launch is no joke. Everyone, including Facebook, is aware of the fact that this is a numbers game. When you have all the top players on one side of the fence, the crowdwill switch in no time.
Remember MySpace? They used to be popular just like Facebook. But then, someone came, took the idea, developed it and released an advanced prototype. The social revolution, happened.
Now someone else is coming to unite the power of algorithms and the power of people, together under one umbrella. Only time will tell the outcome; we will remain spectators of the game we are seldom a part of.
Meanwhile, the following comic makes sense?
Thank you Liz Gannes for sharing the full transcript of the above interview
The right sidebar on Google search is not that useful, it is either loaded with Adwords advertisements or houses an instant preview pane. Google decides whether you should be served an advertisement, local results, maps, or the general preview” pane and it appears that one more player is joining the team soon.
SearchEngineLand reports an observation from CyrusShephard, which confirms that Google is testing a brand new right pane on search result pages. The new pane, called sources, provides more in depth information about brands, celebrities and popular figures. Here is an example:
Analyzing the above query and the results on the sourcespane, we can observe a few things:
A brief bio, a visual identification and notable events are reported.
Links to popular pages like Wikipedia are referenced at the bottom.
No cluster of links, recent news stories or blog posts are shown on the right pane. It appears as a simple box of basic information about the query, so that the user instantly knows the person/service/company he used in his query.
It is too early to jump into conclusions, as this feature is still under testing and not available for everyone. It is interesting to note that few months back, Google did released Google Related a chrome extension which offers suggestions to content you might find interesting. While the extension is meant for just about any webpage, the sourcespane is an in-house Google feature.
Cyrus Shepard, the person who took the above screenshot says that the results were a little awkward. He clicked the Twitter logo from sourcespane and arrived on a random blog post, instead of the main Twitter website. This is kinda odd, why would Google link an image to a random blog post which is only partially close to his query?
Here is another screenshot Cyrus shared on his Google Plus account:
For a really simple query as Twitter, Google is showing a lot of background details e.g name of current CEO, the programming language used, headquarters and so forth. I am not sure how this content module will shape up but it surely adds up to the noise in search results.
Google search is no longer simpleas it used to be, but then, change is the only constant.
Some good news for Indian small businesses who have always wanted to create a web presence for their business but never really found the right time or resources of doing the same.
Google India and Hostgator have joined hands to get Indian businesses online through their India Get Your Business Onlineprogram. The program offers free domain name registrations (.in TLD only) for one year and allows small businesses to launch their website, powered by Hostgator web hosting.
Google has also launched a website at Indiagetonline.in with tips, tools and resources for Indian small businesses so that they can create their websites for free and attract more customers.
Although majority of consumers look online for local products and services, small businesses do not have a website or online presence. This makes them invisible to many potential customers. India Get Your Business Online provides companies with a free website and online tools so that they can run their businesses efficiently. says Google.
To get started, head over to the Indiagetonline.in website, click the get Startedlink and complete the domain registration process. You will mandatorily need your PAN card, which acts as a national identity proof that you are an Indian citizen.
Some points to consider before you rush in and register a domain name:
Only 1 domain registration is possible for every unique PAN card. You can not register dozens of .in domains with different email addresses.
Your free .in domain will be managed by Hostgator.
At this moment, you cannot use existing domains with the program. To be precise, you can not claim the 1 year free web hosting without registering a domain in the first place.
After 1 year, you have to pay for the domain renewal fee and the web hosting fees for the coming year. You can certainly move your website to a different hosting provider anytime you may please.
Free tech support from Hostgator support team will be provided 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
This is indeed a win-win situation for small businesses, Google and Hostgator. Small business owners who are clueless of all the technical details involved behind launching and maintaining a website, will get a solid platform for launching their own customized website. As a result of the Buzz, Hostgator will get tons of customers and there is a high chance that a fraction of them will convert as paid ones after the 1 year time span retires.
Google on the other hand, might crack a good deal by converting free Google Apps users to the paid edition of Google Apps for businesses. Not to forget Google Adwords, which is a one of the proven ways to promote an online business towards a targeted audience.
The Online Potential of SMB’s In Indian Market
India is a huge market for small businesses but there are two major problems in the promotion and prosperity of their online presence.
The first problem is directly related with Internet penetration and reach. Using the internetis not a second naturefor most Indian customers who want to buy something. The crowdstill hesitates to buy something online but thanks to online shopping portals e.g Flipkart, Letsbuy and eBay, the situation is improving.
The second problem is lack of proper knowledge, technical expertise and the drive within business owners. Out of 8 million small/medium businesses, only about 5% have a website. Most of these business owners largely depend on local customers and never explore options outside the window.
I know a couple of good garment producers close to my location who don’t have any web presence at all. It is not that people don’t Google for their business. They do, but due to the lack of conversions, SMB’s are hesitant on taking the plunge and raise awareness about their business in the market.
Why would anyone from Germany be interested in buying Indian garments?says the owner of a garment factory.
Well not from Germany but people in your city are Googling for garment names, brands and they badly want to buy the latest designs
Is it? Well, then it makes sense to advertise in newspapers and billboard banners.
All right, but then the customers have to travel a hundred kilometers and buy the product themselves. You can accept the payments through your shopping cart website and courier him the product within a week. You reach a national audience in just a few mouse clicks. Makes sense, right?
That would cost us a thousand dollars to create the website in the first place. We have to hire someone to manage the website, staff people, buy computers, set up an office…it’s so cumbersome. Besides that, we are not sure whether it would click or not
Thanks to Google, small business owners now have the option to test a dry run and see if online presence helps. Here are a couple of success stories already:
A new version of Android Market has made its way on the Internet. The new Market (v3.3.11) contains lots of minor but noticeable changes.
First and foremost, apps now automatically auto-update mode. Previously, users had to specify which all apps will auto-update themselves.In this new version, auto-update is enabled by default for all apps. While many users will appreciate this change, some users might not like it. Thankfully, users can specify the update to happen over Wi-Fi only.
Other minor changes include a smaller font, new app drawer icon, voice search capability in search menu, and minor UI tweaks. Like the previous Honeycomb market, users also have the option to create a shortcut of the recently installed app on their homescreen.
Google will automiatically push this new build of Android Market to your phone after a few weeks or so. For the impatient, here is the download link of the APK.
If after installing the new APK, you get continuous FC’s, then clear the Market data once. To do so, go to Settings->Application->Market, and press the ‘Clear Data’ button.
After Google search, Google reader will soon get into the swag of Google Plus magic.
The search giant is preparing a complete design overhaul of Google Reader, one of the most popular online RSS reading hubs on the web. Google reader will follow the footsteps of Gmail, Google Maps, Blogger and other Google products which were recently redesigned on the idea that every Google product must work closely to push their latest gig Google Plus.
Google emphasizes on the social aspect by quoting the statement making Google reader more social in the coming days. Well, Google reader already has a semi-social feature labeled Follow peoplewhich is not used so widely. Shared items, bundles, friending other readers and following stories inside Google reader is possible but I doubt how many of us use them actually.
Google has decided to retire these features from Google reader and integrate Google Plus sharing activity right within Google Reader, so you can quickly share content with specific friends (read circles) over at Google Plus. If you don’t want to lose your starred items, likes, friends, subscriptions and shared stuff, you should export them from Google Reader settings as an OPML file. Google isn’t saying when the new Google Reader will be debuted but looking at the speed of overhauling their products, I think it should arrive within next week or so.
One Feature In Google Reader I am Dying To See
Save me, and save those thousands of news junkies out there!
Keyword filter in Google reader is the need of the hour. The web is already exploding with huge amount of information and following news sources becomes impossible after some time, thanks to 16 Bin Laden stories being published within 30 minutes. Most bloggers and reporters re-blog the samething, there should be a way to cut through the noise and filter items that I really want to read.
Example: The other day iPhone 4S came out and my Google reader was exploding with rehashed copies of the same story. iPhone 4S getting released, press release notes, specifications and so on. I don’t want to read it at all and there is no way I can filter items surrounding iPhone 4S and mark all of them as read. There is a handy Greasemonkey script for the same but it is just a workaround and not out of the box. An option to automatically ignore stories based on keywords will save more than 30 minutes of my reading time. Every single day!
Actually, I am more than happy that they are not hammering down the product, just like other Google services.
Along with the Galaxy Nexus, Google also announced the next major version of Android, Ice Cream Sandwich. This new version of Android includes lots of new features, and also comes with a redesigned UI.
Android 4.0 carries over the same blue Tron like style as found on Android 3.o Honeycomb. However, it has been toned down to make it more pleasing.
Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich comes with ROBOTO, a font tailor made for Ice Cream Sandwich and Galaxy Nexus. The UI has a new magazine like style to it, and comes with subtle animations all over.
Ice Cream Sandwich and Galaxy Nexus also come with virtual buttons, instead of the typical 3 or 4 buttons layout found on all other Android phones. The virtual buttons rotate as the phone is rotated the phone, and even automatically hides itself when playing back video. The multi-tasking UI has also been revamped, and looks similar to the UI found in Honeycomb. Unlike the previous versions of Android, users can simply swipe an app to remove/stop it right from the multi-tasking UI in ICS. The swipe gesture is also being used throughout Android 4.0, and even across system apps.
Google has also revamped notifications in Android 4.0, and users can now dismiss individual notifications via just a simple swipe. The notification bar is now directly accessible from the lock screen as well. The notification bar also comes with a new music player control. The keyboard has also been revamped, and is now much better at suggesting you words. Ice Cream Sandwich also includes Facial recognition, which unlocks your phone upon detecting your lovely face.
The new web browser allows easy switching between multiple tabs, and also comes with an option to change the user agent. Users can also sync their Chrome bookmarks, and can also save a page for offline reading as well.
Other goodies of Ice Cream Sandwich include Folders, re sizable widgets, new scrollable widgets for GMail, Youtube and many other apps, a new launcher, and the ability to take screenshots, inline text editing, improved and consistent copy and paste functionality. The new GMail app comes with a revamped UI, and much more importantly comes with offline search capability. All other core Google apps have also been updated with a new UI and features.
Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich also comes with a data usage monitor, which monitors your data usage. It can also warn you when a user is nearing his monthly data usage, and will even allow users to kill mobile data access to individual apps.
The new lock screen on the phone allows instant access to the camera app, which now comes with a revamped UI. The camera app also has touch-focus, face detection, panorama mode and an improved share menu. The new camera app also has continuous focus, zoom while recording, and a time lapse feature.
Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich also includes a new photo and video editing features. Both these features are available inside the Gallery app, which has a new magazine like style to it.
Google has also revamped the Contacts app, which required a much needed update. The Contacts app has been renamed to Peoples app, and comes with a brand new and bright UI. The new Peoples app shows all the relevant info about a contact, including his social network updates and pictures. The new call screen now shows a high screen resolution of the contact, and it looks sexy! The Phone app has also been updated with a Magazine like UI, and also supports visual voicemail along with support for fast-forwarding the voicemail in real-time.
With ICS, Google is also introducing Android Beam which allows users to share information among different Android phones using NFC. Users can simply share a web page or a Maps location and much more by simply tapping the two devices together.
On the developer front, Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich comes with a bunch of new APIs for developers to take advantage of. The new SDK is now also available for download.
Less than 24 hours are left for the highly anticipated and much-awaited Google and Samsung’s Ice Cream Sandwich and the next Nexus handset announcement. Droid lovers all over the world must be filled with excitement and curiosity as to what the next iteration of Android will feature.
The ICS event is being held in Hong Kong at Google’s office. The event is scheduled to start at 10AM HKT time on October 19, which converts into 6:30PM PDT/9:30PM EDT.
Sadly, its not possible for every Droid lover to be physically present at the event, and keeping this in mind, Google will be live streaming the event on YouTube. The link for the live stream is youtube.com/android.
It will be interesting to see how the next Nexus handset stacks against the iPhone 4S and the Samsung Galaxy S2. Also, whether ICS will have a sophisticated in-built voice recognition feature like Siri, or facial recognition is also yet to be seen.
The expectations from ICS are pretty high, after Windows Phone Mango and iOS5. Hopefully, post the event we will be more than impressed with ICS and the next Nexus handset.
In the very beginning, there were only text ads. Blue links, ugly fonts, irregular font sizes lets catch the attention. That was 2001.
Then came rich media ads which are targeted to catch the attention of the user whose eyeballs are rolling like crazy. Video advertisements and Flash ads were incorporated because a particular type of audience engages with it, who on the other hand will completely ignore text advertisements.
According to some reports, Google is experimenting with new extra wide ad formats which will mimic the look and feel of newspaper circulars. You have probably seen those extra large ad blocks on deeper pages of a Sunday newspaper and Google calls this Probably the best ads are just answers. Google is in talks with advertisers such as Best Buy and Macy’s Inc; the newer circular ad format is most likely to be rolled out for a selected group of advertisers in coming weeks.
Here is how the new circular ads on Google will work. (Sorry, no screenshots yet as the circular ads are due to be revealed).
Instead of taking you to the landing page of the advertiser’s website, the circular advertisement will open up a menu, filled up with photos, videos, text and other multimedia content, as defined by the advertiser. The service will automatically craft the promotions based on factors such as query topics, recency of search query, location of search, search history amongst other factors. This is nothing but a more visually appealing system which shows relevant content to the user, depending upon his search query, location and other data Google has about him.
Lets take an example.
Suppose you are searching for Chinese restaurantsin Google and Google knows that you are quite interested in Food. So instead of showing you a plain text ad, Google might show you a circular ad which has more engaging content embedded within it. This can be the Google Maps location of a Chinese restaurant nearest to your location, a Places review from a Google Plus friend, a video of a famous Chinese dish or just plain text content. This depends on what filters have been specified by the advertiser and there is no way a user can control whether he sees just a plain text advertisement or a circular ad, which is still a work in progress.
After Google integrated the Plus one button with Adsense ads, their strategies have taken a steep turn. Ads are more social these days and instead of machine driven algorithms, Google is largely depending on human signals. The circular ads connects the dots.
This approach increases click- through rates from 15 percent to more than 50 percentsays Google.
And here is an example of a product ad, where the advertiser is bidding a high amount to buy the entire ad inventory and replace it with a video review of his product. A user can play the video directly from the advertisement and does not have to go the landing page of the advertiser. Clever!
When it comes to Internet advertising, Google has always ruled this game. From text ads to rich media, Google has just the right ad format for every advertiser who wants to drive targeted traffic to their landing pages. But don’t you think, a 50% click through rate is way too high. Imagine a scenario when 50% of your visitors click away from your site because of circular ads being displayed on the advertising space of your blog, monetized using Google Adsense. Then they have Panda Algorithmic updates which determines the quality of your site, remember?
Check out the following introductory video and head over to the new search ads page to learn more.
By the way, circular ads on Google has nothing to do with Google Plus circles. Actually, it’s good to know they are not considering pop ups or exit pop-ups.