Tag Archives: Google News

Google Says: Happy Birthday Jules Verne!

Today when I fired up Google for my first search, I was greeted with this cool looking interactive Google Doodle. You can see a video of the Verne doodle in action here.

verne-doodle

Naturally, I was curious and after clicking on the doodle, I found out that it’s the 183rd birthday of Jules Verne. As most of you know, Verne is a famous French science fiction writer who died in 1905, at the age of 77.

Verne’s stories are so entertaining, that he’s listed as the third most translated individual author in the world. Even though some the gizmos in his books were unbelievable, many of them later became fact instead of fiction. Here’s a list of 8 Jules Verne inventions that came true. (courtesy of National Geographic)

  1. Electric Submarines
  2. Newscasts
  3. Solar Sails
  4. Lunar Modules
  5. Skywriting
  6. Videoconferencing
  7. Taser
  8. Splashdown Spaceship

Here are a few of the books that he has written. I bet you’ll recognize at least one.

The Mysterious Island

A Journey to the Center of the Earth

Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Seas

From the Earth to the Moon, and a Trip Around It

Around the World in Eighty Days

The Lighthouse at the End of the World

I’ve read one or two of his books, but I think most of you are probably more familiar with the dozens of movies that have been made, based on his novels.

Here’s a trailer for one of the most famous movies.

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954) Trailer

You can find many of Verne’s books online (for free!) at Project Gutenberg. You can also watch several clips from movies based on Verne’s novels, at Youtube.


Bharti To Get $5M Grant From Google For Upgrading Schools

As a part of it’s global philanthropic program, Google has announced that it will giving a grant of US$ 5 Million to Bharti Foundation in order to set up elementary education schools in India. Bharti Foundation happens to be the philanthropic unit of Bharti Enterprises Ltd which is the parent company of Bharti Airtel – One of India’s largest telecom companies.

Bharti Foundation will set up new schools and upgrade the existing schools in Northern part of India in the states: Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. The schools will be named Satya Elemantary Schools. Bharti Foundation also plans to use these funds for setting up middle schools and upgrade the existing primary schools to support elementary level education.

Currently Bharti Foundation facilitates provision of basic education to poor children, especially girls, with the help of its 236 primary schools in villages and one senior secondary school. Starting from June, the foundation has plans of building 15 more primary schools and four senior secondary schools.

Google and Twiter Get Back to Egypt, Tweet without an Internet Connection Now

The Internet kill switch in Egypt has worked well towards shutting down any form of communication. The Internet is blocked and SMS networks are down. In short, you just cannot get any form of message out to anyone.

saynow

Google had probably foreseen this event and acquired SayNow on 25 January this year. The SayNow about page describes the service as,
Founded in 2005, SayNow set out to build voice-based experiences that are fun and social. Along the way, we reinvented the way phone calls are made today. Voice is engaging, authentic, and an emotional form of communication, yet is largely ignored on social media and smartphone platforms.

Google has put their skills to good use by building a service that allows users to tweet without an Internet connection and through voice calls. The new service allows you to speak a tweet and this eliminates the need for an Internet connection, as all you need is make a call, speak your message and add a #egypt hashtag along with the message.

Ujjwal Singh, the co-founder of SayNow has said in a blog post,
We hope that this will go some way to helping people in Egypt stay connected at this very difficult time.

The numbers you need to call are +16504194196, +390662207294, or +97316199855 and follow the above procedure. All tweets sent to this number will be posted in the speak2tweet account. Egypt has gone completely dark now as the last standing Noor group ISP went down this Monday. This service should bring some hopes to Egyptians.

Google Offers: Groupon and LivingSocial Clone And Future Competitor

A few months back Google had made a spirited offer to buy out Groupon, a website which offered group discounts and send more foot traffic to businesses across the world. Groupon was a runaway success which led to them declining Google’s rumored $6 billion buy out deal. Today Groupon is valued at around $15 billion.

Google Offers

Groupon’s competitor Living Social also has a huge clout in the market. The recent success of selling over 1 million Amazon coupons goes on to show that. So in all, both Groupon and Living Social are huge runaway successes. Google on the other hand is sitting on a huge pile of local advertisers who they want to tap in to, after all there is so much money in the offing.

So would Google just sit around and lurk till they found another sound investment like Groupon? Well, the answer is no. Recently, Mashable uncovered some confidential documents about Google’s new venture called "Google Offers".

Google Offers in a nutshell is similar to what Groupon and Living Social does. It will be offering customers a deal for a limited amount of time at a discounted price. Unlike free local listings for Google search, Google Offers will take a cut of the pie while driving foot traffic to small businesses.

So is this a Groupon Killer? Well not exactly. As Brad from TNW puts it, the offers market is huge. One day you will find a better deal on Groupon, the next on Living Social and the next on Google Offers. So no one is going to kill anyone here, it all depends on how good a deal each of these competitors can offer.

Google has confirmed to Mashable and Search Engine Land that Google Offers is for real and that they are currently talking to small business to test out the product. So you might not see Google Offers deal for the next few months.

Nevertheless, in case of group deal offers, the more the merrier for the customer, since they will have more offers and deals to choose from. This will also be good for businesses too since they will have options and negotiation power since every deal site would want their money. In the end it is a win-win deal for everyone.

So let the competition begin. If you are interested you can view the Google Offers Fact Sheet uploaded by Mashable on Scribd.

Google Android Market Policy Puts Amazon App Store Future in Jeopardy

Amazon has declared its plan for an Android app store long back. However, it seems that Google does not want any app store to be available (for download from Android Market) to Android users other than its own Android Market. This is the very reason why, it pulled another app store: the Kongregate Arcade, even though it catered only to flash games.

amazon-android-app-store

A lot of development and planning goes on behind the making of an app store and Google pulling off app stores proves fatal for developers who work on this. If this is true, next in the line of fire is the Amazon Android app store. This store would act as a marketplace where apps could be bought and sold by interested parties. Amazon has already urged developers to submit their apps and if Google pulls the Amazon app store app too, it has to be installed separately.

Though, the Android market had already laid the trap when its terms says,

You may not use the Market to distribute or make available any Product whose primary purpose is to facilitate the distribution of Products outside of the Market.

The alternate route app stores can take is to make themselves available pre-installed on devices like the Samsung devices do. Another approach can be simply providing another portal for apps like Getjar does. Either way, they are missing the advantage of a wider reach through the Android Market.

(Image Via: Android Community)

Google Chrome Now Includes Down For Everyone Or Me Notifications

Have you ever visited a website on a browser to be shown a message that the website cannot be loaded? Well, I have been through that several times. It could be due to a DDoS attack or due to a website suffering from heavy user traffic. However, the browser message is not always useful to end users.

That said, if you are a user (dev version for now), there is some cloud intelligence being used to determine why a website is down, whilst providing users with an option to still surf the webpage through a Cached copy available on Google.

Google Chrome Down for Everyone or Just M

Here is a recent page not loaded message displayed to me on the Chrome developer version when I visited Dropbox forums to take part in their treasure hunt.

As you can see from the screenshot above, Google Chrome is now including a message saying that "Other users are also experiencing difficulties connecting to this site, so you may have to wait a few minutes". I found this message to be quite useful since I usually rush to http://www.downforeveryoneorjustme.com/ to figure out whether a website is just down for me or everyone else too.

Kudos to the Google Chrome team for creating such informative messages for error pages. It always helps because people usually want to know what is wrong, rather than having to deal with a stupid error page.

*This feature is currently only available in dev builds of Google Chrome, you might not see it in the stable build.

Android Overtakes iOS in Terms of Mobile Ad Impressions

Android Beats iPhone - Millenial AdsAndroid has had a very good year. It had already surpassed the iPhone and RIM in terms of US smartphone shipments in November 2010, and according to a recent Comscore report, it also beat Apple in terms of total US smartphone subscribers that month.

With RIM’s growth being negative, and Android having the highest growth among other platforms, we should see Android leading the US smartphone market by the end of Q1 2011. Today, Millenial Media, the third largest mobile ad network after Admob and iAd, released mobile ad impression stats for December 2010.

According to its report, Android now has the highest share of mobile ad impressions on its network. 46% of all mobile ads on Millennial’s network are served on Android devices. 32% of the total ads are served on iPhones while RIM accounts for 16% of the impressions.

Google gives away Android for free, in the hope that more users will use smartphones, connect to the mobile web and click on ads served by Google. Most developers on the Android platform have realized that the best way to monetize Android apps is by releasing them for free and then plastering them with ads. The paid app model just doesn’t work on Android the way it does on the iOS. Google acquired AdMob in 2009 and is now the leading mobile ad network. If the stats by Millennial are any indication, Android is likely the biggest platform for mobile advertising already.

via Techcrunch

Android Beats iPhone in Terms of US Smartphone Users

According to the latest Comscore report, Android has overtaken iOS in terms of US smartphone subscribers. In the quarter ending November 2010, there were a total of 61.5 million smartphone users in the US, of which 26% were Android users and 25% were iPhone users.

Both of them are still way behind RIM which holds the lead with 33.5% of the total smartphone users. These numbers are about a month old though, and at this rate, Android should displace RIM as the top smartphone platform by the time the next Comscore report comes out in February 2011.

Android Beats iOS - Comscore

Even Microsoft lost 1.8% share in that quarter, but with the sales of Windows Phone 7 picking up, it could regain some of it.

Samsung is the top handset manufacturer overall, with a 24.5% share of the mobile phone market.

via Comscore

Google Security Engineer Blogs About “Rooting”

Nick Kralveich, an Android Security Team engineer, has posted up (via Tim Bray, Android Developer Advocate) his thoughts and concerns about the current state of security on the Android platform. As the amount of Android handsets on the market increases, many users have been rootingtheir devices in order to install customizations, cooked ROMs and unlock third party software and repositories. Nick says that while Google does provide an easy modification to allowing personal boot images by unlocking the bootloader via simple commands (fastboot_oem_unlock), that it is not an indication of lax security. Google developers do aggressively fix known security holes, including those that can be used for rootingand Adobe has given credit to how Android uses a sandbox for application segregation. Google is also known for sending security of relevant patches back upstream to a project, yet many simply don’t know that rooting is an active exploitation of a known security holesays Nick. He says it is possible to design unlocking techniques that protect the integrity of the mobile network, the rights of the content providers, and the rights of the application developers, while at the same time giving users choice. Users should demand no less.and he is absolutely right.

Android straddles the fine line of providing users with a polished device with a booming application ecosystem and a highly customizable interface with open source software. With each iteration and release of Android, these lines are being blurred and Android is quickly climbing to the top.

Create Embeddable Map For Your Website In Less Than a Minute

Among tens of map tools out there, Tixik probably focuses the most on simplicity and ease-of-use. It doesn’t have a whole lot of features but if all you are looking to do is generate a map for your website, it is worth a try. Simply enter the location that you want to pin point to in your map, then choose settings such as width and height of your map and the level of zoom you desire.

Click Create a map and Tixik would generate your map along with the HTML code that you can paste anywhere to embed your map. You can also add other graphics and effects such as borders, rounded corners, shadow, description bubble and even add a certain degree of rotation to your map. The map generated using Tixik can be used for free for any commercial or non-commercial purposes.

If you are looking for a Google Maps tool that can be more customized by adding drawings, texts and icons to it, do check out ScribbleMaps.

[Via GoogleMapsMania]

Facebook is Now Worth $56 Billion

According to the latest auction on the private secondary marketplace SharesPost, Facebook stock sold at $25 a pop, which takes Facebook’s valuation to an all time high of $56 billion.

The total amount of outstanding Facebook shares is 2.24 billion. The recent SharesPost auction sold 165,000 shares at a price of $25. This is significantly higher, almost 77%, than the price of Facebook stock just 3 months ago.

The actual valuation of Facebook might be much lower if its stock were being traded on the open market. Apparently, many investors still think that Facebook is worth much more, and SharesPost is going to conduct another auction soon, because this auction was “significantly oversubscribed”.

At this rate, Facebook could be worth more than Google ($190 billion) by as early as 2015.

Facebook

via Business Insider

Google Pushes Out Android 2.3 Source Code To Repositories

With the recent availability of Android 2.3 aka Gingerbread on official Google handsets such as the Nexus S, Google has also gone ahead and pushed out the 2.3 source code to their repositories. Jean-Baptiste, one of the software engineers with the Android Open-Source Project, has stated that once the development branch that Google engineers use is mirrored, Gingerbread is going to merge with master and will be out there for the taking. Expect to see many more customizations and home-cooked ROMs that feature Android 2.3 and all the new updates and software, once developers pull down their copy and start hacking on it.

Google Nexus S Now Available at Best Buy for $529

The Google Nexus S, the official successor to the Google Nexus One is now available at Best Buy. It was unveiled by Google on December 6 and has had Android fans salivating since.

It will retail for $529 at Best Buy for the unlocked version and $199 with a 2 year T-Mobile contract. It is one of the best Android phones yet, and is very similar to the Samsung Galaxy S, the most popular Android phone of 2010.

It comes with a 4 inch Super AMOLED display and a 1 GHz processor with 512 MB RAM and 16 GB internal storage. It also sports a 5 MP camera as well as a secondary camera for video calls. It also has all the usual connectivity options – GPRS, EDGE, 3G HSDPA, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n and GPS. It is the first phone to run the new version of the Android OS – Android 2.3 Gingerbread.

Head over to Best Buy to get it now!

Google Nexus S

300,000 Android Devices Activated Every Day

If there was any doubt that was not a force, a simple tweet from the founder of Android should quench your doubts. According to Andy Quinn’s tweet, over 300,000 Android devices are activated each day.

andy_rubin_android_stats_tweet

That is an enormous number of phones and goes on to show that Android has finally arrived and is taking over iOS big time. Android has surely inched a lot since it was started out. In the past 6 months itself, Android has almost doubled it’s daily activation, back in July they were doing about 160,000 a day.

Android Apps Stats

Android is also quickly gaining on iOS in another department, apps. According to the Android Apps watchdog Android Lib, over 23 Billion Android apps have been downloaded till date, and the count just goes up every second. In addition to that there are currently around 20K+ apps being added each month. In the past 8 days itself, 7131 apps were added to the Android market.

So is Android slowly inching towards gaining over ? Also Apple does have the which gives them an added advantage over Android currently, but considering the number of Android based tablets being launched by next year, Apple has Google breathing down their throats.

(Source: Fortune and Techmeme)

Google Patches XSS Vulnerability in Website Optimizer

If you are a Website Optimizer issue, you should immediately update the code on your website with the new one provided by Google. Google has fixed a Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) bug in their control script which can allow an attacker to execute malicious code on your site.

However, according to Google this attack is only possible if your website or browser has been compromised by a separate attack. Google has sent out notes to all users about the issue with instructions on how to update your code. Make sure to do the changes immediately.

Website Optimizer is a part of Google Analytics, however, no other services in Analytics seem to have been affected by this.