Tag Archives: Google

Google, Twitter and Facebook assemble 2015’s trending topics

Ring in the New Year by taking a step back and reviewing what has come to pass over the past year. It’s about appreciating the good times and mourning loss. It’s about evaluating missteps, learning from mistakes, and broadening the brighter road ahead. Search giant Google and social networks Twitter and Facebook are here to provide retrospective, analytical, and all-encompassing telescopes looking back at the year 2015; let the good, the bad, and everything in-between comes into focus.

Posted above is Google’s Year in Search video and it brings to life the queries we searched and the questions and answers they brought forth. The Paris attacks, Star Wars, water on Mars, Cecil the Lion; all of the major crises and celebrations are accounted for in this clip and beyond. Google’s A Year in Search portal is an interactive way to explore what went down in 2015 around the world. There’s even a Top Charts section that breaks down the top searches across a wide range of categories. The top 10 U.S. searches in 2015? Lamar Odom, Jurassic World, American Sniper, Caitlyn Jenner, Ronda Rousey, Paris, Agar.io, Chris Kyle, Fallout 4, and Straight Outta Compton. In chaotic times, we sure do enjoy our entertainment, don’t we?

Jump after the break to see what Twitter and Facebook have to offer. READ MORE Google, Twitter and Facebook assemble 2015’s trending topics

“G is for Google,” says Alphabet in company restructuring

Google is now just a letter of the Alphabet. Let me explain…

In a letter to investors and the public at large, Google co-founder Larry Page made a major announcement about his company. Which is no longer called Google, it’s called Alphabet. But don’t worry! Google is still a thing–one of the world’s biggest, most recognizable brands, of course–and you won’t have tell your brain to “Alphabet” keywords. What’s happening is that Google is becoming a wholly-owned subsidiary of Alphabet. In other words, Alphabet is a big umbrella that houses Google and many other current and future innovations from Page and other Google co-founder Sergey Brin.

Alphabet is mostly a collection of companies. The largest of which, of course, is Google,” says Page in his letter. “This newer Google is a bit slimmed down, with the companies that are pretty far afield of our main Internet products contained in Alphabet instead.”

Page doesn’t break down all of Alphabet’s subsidiaries in the note, but he gives honorable mentions to “Life Sciences (that works on the glucose-sensing contact lens), and Calico (focused on longevity).” Alphabet also includes “X lab, which incubates new efforts like Wing, our drone delivery effort. We are also stoked about growing our investment arms, Ventures and Capital, as part of this new structure.”

All in all, Page thinks that such segregation will offer his team “more management scale, as we can run things independently that aren’t very related.”

He goes on to lay the groundwork for how Alphabet will be structured. Page is CEO, Brin is President, and CEOs will be picked to run each business, with the Google co-founders “in service to them as needed.” So far, they’ve appointed Google’s SVP of Products Sundar Pichai to be the CEO of Google. They also note that unlike Google, they “are not intending for [Alphabet] to be a big consumer brand with related products–the whole point is that Alphabet companies should have independence and develop their own brands.” Like Google!

Page and Brin will implement segment reporting when fourth quarter financial reports come out; this means that Google financials will be reported separately from other Alphabet businesses. As far as the stock market is concerned, Google will continue to trade on Nasdaq as GOOGL and GOOG. In related news, the market responded positively to this announcement; Google shares were up around five percent after-hours on the day Page posted the letter, and the next day shares increased by another four-and-a-half percent.

Why Alphabet? I’ll let Page explain: “We liked the name Alphabet because it means a collection of letters that represent language, one of humanity’s most important innovations, and is the core of how we index with Google search! We also like that it means alpha-bet (Alpha is investment return above benchmark), which we strive for!”

In the beginning (circa 1997), Google was simply a search engine. Today, it has sprouted myriad limbs: Google Maps, YouTube, Chrome, Android, and so on. From the desktop to mobile, Google’s services have matured and spread to help people quickly look up information, watch and share video, navigate the world, and communicate with one another. These are all things that Page says “seemed crazy at the time” of their inception. “We are still trying to do things other people think are crazy but we are super excited about,” he continues and this is where Alphabet comes in. It didn’t take long for Google the company to outgrow its roots in search. Alphabet allows Google to continue to grow and breath, while other teams continue developing other innovations such as self-driving cars and the aforementioned delivery drones. The shift to Alphabet and Alphabet-owned subsidiaries won’t affect consumers (at least initially); what it will do, however, is make Google a stronger brand to live amongst a flock of more to come.

Whether or not this turns out to be a good idea in the long-run, Page is confident that the unconventional decision will drive his company to do better today. “We’ve long believed that over time companies tend to get comfortable doing the same thing, just making incremental changes. But in the technology industry, where revolutionary ideas drive the next big growth areas, you need to be a bit uncomfortable to stay relevant.”

[Via Google]

The future of contactless payments, wearable technology and more from Google I/O 2015

Google developer’s conference, dubbed Google I/O, took place last week and a number of intriguing, erm, developments came out of it. Before discussing the bulk of major announcements made on stage at San Fransisco’s Moscone Center West, let’s focus on two of the most interesting and “out there” concepts the G-Men are working to bring to life.

The first is called Hands Free. Thanks to Apple and its simple, secure, and private Apple Pay system, contactless payments are making waves across the nation. People with iPhones and Apple Watches need simply wave their device in front of an NFC payment terminal and in seconds goods are purchased and a digital receipt is collected. With Hands Free, Google is looking to make that simple way to pay even easier.

Imagine paying for things without lifting a finger. No digging around for cash, credit cards, or loose change. Just tell the cashier you’d like to pay with Google, and you’re good to go.

That’s it. With the Hands Free app installed on your phone, to purchase goods at a participating store, all you need to do is walk up to the cashier, say the phrase “I’d like to pay with Google,” and voila–you’re good to go. Though Google is being shy in providing details in how this will all work, Engadget says that when customers utter that phrase, the cashier will see a picture of the customer on their point-of-sale machine to authenticate the purchase. Hands Free will likely tie into Android Pay, Google’s version of Apple Pay that collects and securely stores credit and debit cards.

When can you expect this futuristic concept to make its way into reality? Sooner than you think: Google plans to slowly roll it out later this year in the San Fransisco Bay Area at early participating merchants McDonalds and Papa Johns. Watch the magic happen in the video above.

Jump after the break to learn about Google’s other super cool initiative. READ MORE The future of contactless payments, wearable technology and more from Google I/O 2015

Google, Twitter and Facebook mark the highlights of 2014

As we close out the year, let’s journey back in time and explore the high points and the lows that made up the last 365 days. Google, Twitter, and Facebook gather our searches and publicly shared posts to make it super simple to do just that with dedicated portals, trending lists, and flashy videos. Let’s start with Google, as is tradition.

For 2014, Google is foregoing its “Zeitgeist” terminology for something simpler. The search giant is calling its retrospective portal “A Year in Search.” That’s got a nice ring to it. First, there’s the hopeful and inspirational video embedded above that summarizes the major events and discoveries that unfolded all around the world this year. And then there’s the Top Charts that show what we all searched for most across a myriad of categories including People, Cars, Beer, and Memes. Of course, it’s the top trending Searches of 2014 you’re likely most interested in knowing right off the bat and they are: Robin Williams, World Cup, Ebola, Maylaysia Airlines, Flappy Bird, ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, ISIS, Ferguson, Frozen, and Ukraine.

For Twitter and Facebook’s stamp on history, jump after the break. READ MORE Google, Twitter and Facebook mark the highlights of 2014

Google names latest Android OS Lollipop, loads it on new Nexus devices

On Wednesday Google finally revealed the name of the next version of its mobile operating system almost four months after teasing “Android L” at the tech company’s I/O developer conference. Android Lollipop and its consistent look called Material Design will make its debut this fall on two new Nexus devices: the tablet Nexus 9 and the phablet Nexus 6. And “in the coming weeks” it will land on Nexus 4, 5, 7, 10 and Google Play edition devices.

The Nexus 9, manufactured in collaboration with HTC, sports a 8.9-inch 2048 x 1536 LCD display with a 4:3 aspect ratio and reinforced with Gorilla Glass 3. It’s powered by the 64-bit NVIDIA Tegra K1 Dual Denver processor at 2.3GHz and 192-core Kepler GPU. It’s got 2GB RAM and offers 16GB and 32GB storage options. 802.11ac WiFi and Bluetooth 4.1 are inside. An 8-megapixel camera sits on the back with auto-focus and LED flash, and around front there’s a 1.6-megapixel shooter. Dual front-facing speakers with HTC BoomSound technology are also included. Sold separately is a keyboard that attaches to the tablet magnetically that allows you to type at different angles. The 9 will be able available for preorder this Friday, October 17. When it releases November 9 it will start at $399 for the 16GB WiFi-only model. A $479 32GB WiFi-only and a $599 32GB WiFi plus LTE model will also be offered. Colors include Indigo Black, Lunar White, and Sand.

The Nexus 6, with hardware by Motorola, has a 5.96-inch 2560 x 1440 QHD AMOLED display with a 16:9 aspect ratio and Gorilla Glass 3. Humming inside is Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 805 SOC at 2.7GHz and the Adreno 420 GPU. The rear cam is a 13MP shooter with optical image stabilization and dual LED ring flash, and it can capture 4K video at 30fps. The front-facing 2MP camera can do HD video conferencing. WiFi, Bluetooth, and NFC inside. 32GB and 64GB storage options are offered. Hardware shades include Midnight Blue and Cloud White. You can preorder the Nexus 6 starting October 29. It will go on sale in November starting at $649 with no contract. AT&T, Verizon Wireless, T-Mobile, Sprint, and US Cellular will sell the handset at an undisclosed discounted price.

In addition to announcing the Android Lollipop powered Nexus 9 and 6, Google also outed a new set-top box called Nexus Player. Made with Asus, the Player runs Android TV and is primed to rival Apple TV and Amazon’s Fire TV as it will provide a one-stop destination for entertainment and gaming needs. The Google Play store is fully integrated to stream movies and TV shows, and apps such as Netflix, Hulu Plus, and YouTube are accessible, too. The box comes with a voice-activated remote to enhance navigation and search, and sold separately is a gamepad for those who wish to play their Android games on the big screen with a video game console-like controller. Also, the Player is Google Cast-ready, meaning it acts very much like Google’s Chromecast dongle allowing you to wirelessly stream media content from your phone or tablet to the big screen. Preordering begins October 17, and the Nexus Player releases on November 3 for $99. The Gamepad will go for $39.

Jump after the break to meet the sleek new Nexus family.

[Via Google 1, 2] READ MORE Google names latest Android OS Lollipop, loads it on new Nexus devices

Google makes watches “smart” with Android Wear

Google is making a big play when it comes to wearables. First, of course, there’s Google Glass, those high-tech spectacles still be tested in the field before being unleashed to the mass market. And while we wait for that, Google wants to get consumers hyped with another wearable powered by Android: the watch.

Smartwatches have been a thing for years; Samsung, in fact, has been working on their own “Galaxy Gear” watches recently and does anyone remember Motorola’s MOTOACTV? Anyway, those smartwatches failed to make it big and Google hopes to make a splash in the wearables market with their latest software initiative Android Wear.

Simply put, Google is developing a new version of Android suited for watches that various manufacturers–from big industry players like Motorola and Samsung to fashion brands like Fossil–can use to power their hardware. Like Android on Google Glass, Android Wear aims to make wearables like watches “understand the context of the world around you, and you can interact with them simply and efficiently, with just a glance or a spoken word.” In other words, a smartwatch powered by Android Wear will provide you with contextual updates depending on your location and daily schedule. For example, when you arrive at the airport your smartwatch will automatically recognize where you are and pull up relevant information such as flight details and even your boarding pass. Now of course, you’re smartphone can likely do the same thing (think Google Now or Apple’s PassBook app), but having this kind of quick, glance-and-go information on your wrist instead of inside your pocket makes things more convenient and efficient.

In addition to providing contextual information, Android timepieces can give you straight answers to spoken questions. Speak aloud “Ok Google” and pose a question to receive an answer on the fly. Want the score to the Knicks game? Ask your watch and it’ll bring to the surface the information you’re looking for. You can also use this spoken service to request things like taxis, make restaurant reservations, and even send a text. Android Wear also promises to serve as a helpful way to monitor your health and fitness, as well as stream content such as music and movies to your phone and TV.

Google hopes that developers will jump on the Android Wear bandwagon and start tailoring their apps for the wearable OS; a Developer Preview is available today. To date, Google is working with Asus, HTC, LG, Motorola, and Samsung, chip makers Broadcom, Imagination, Intel, Mediatek, and Qualcomm, and fashion brands like the Fossil Group to create new and intuitive smartwatches. They’re not giving a very specific timeframe as to when consumers can expect to their hands on Android Wear watches, but they tease they’re coming “later this year.” In fact, Motorola and LG are already starting to show off what they’ve got up their sleeves with Moto 360 and G Watch, respectively.

Jump after the break to watch a couple clips showing off these new watches. And brace yourselves–Google says this is just the beginning for Android Wear: “we’ve barely scratched the surface of what’s possible with mobile technology.” Glasses, watches, what’s next? Apple, ahem, your move.

[Via Google] READ MORE Google makes watches “smart” with Android Wear

Google, Twitter and Facebook mark the highlights of 2013

Google’s year-end Zeitgeist, or “spirit of the times,” continues to impress with its far-reaching grasp on what we searched for and talked about over the course of the year that was 2013. The search giant calls it their “most global Zeitgeist to date” as it includes over 1,000 top 10 lists spanning 72 countries. Their “Here’s to 2013” retrospective video highlights the people, places, and moments that captured the world’s attention throughout the year. Of all the lists the one you’re most likely to want to see first is the top 10 global searches of 2013. Falling in line with years past, the list includes celebrity/world leader deaths, hot technology, and a viral video to boot.:

  1. Nelson Mandela
  2. Paul Walker
  3. iPhone 5s
  4. Cory Monteith
  5. Harlem Shake
  6. Boston Marathon
  7. Royal Baby
  8. Samsung Galaxy s4
  9. PlayStation 4
  10. North Korea

Head over to the Zeitgeist homepage to explore the myriad trending lists. There, for the first time, you’ll also find an interactive Trends Globe that allows you to play around with a 3D global map showcasing the top search trends of the year by day in cities around the world. Like I said, impressive stuff here.

Jump after the break to see how Twitter and Facebook are celebrating the big two-oh-one-three. READ MORE Google, Twitter and Facebook mark the highlights of 2013

Meet Moto X, the smartphone designed by you and assembled in the USA

On top of the three new Droids detailed last week, Motorola–a Google company!–dropped another new smartphone into consumers’ laps. While the 2013 Droids are Verizon Wireless exclusives, the newly announced Moto X is coming to all major U.S. carriers. What also sets the Moto X apart from its cousins is that it’s highly customizable in the looks department. Motorola is developing a website called Moto Maker that will allow customers to personalize their handsets before ordering them. Specifically, prospective buyers will be able to select from a wide range of colors to paint the back plate and accents of the phone; Moto claims over 2,000 combinations are possible. The front plate, meanwhile, can be made black or white. Additionally you can add a signature to the back of the device. Internally, you can customize the memory (16GB or 32GB) and even set a personal wake-up message and wallpaper before it ships to your door. Before checkout, you can also choose a case, matching headphones by Sol Republic, and a wall charger featuring two USB ports to boot.

Sadly, yes, there is one catch. All of this exciting customization (as well as the option to upgrade memory to 32GB) through Moto Maker is exclusive to AT&T customers. Verizon Wireless, Sprint, T-Mobile, and US Cellular customers will have to choose from a stock black or white handset. Lame! Since Moto X’s specs and Android functionalities are so similar to that of the 2013 Droids’, the Moto Maker personalization is this device’s major selling point. The fact that it won’t be available to all carriers is downright disappointing.

The Moto X sports a 4.7 inch AMOLED 720p (316 ppi) display and is powered by Android 4.2.2 running on Motorola’s X8 mobile computing system. There’s a 10MP shooter on the rear and a 2MP front-facing one and they both support 1080p video capture. A 2200mAh battery promises “mixed usage” up to 24 hours. The most fascinating bit about the Moto X’s design is that it’s the first smartphone to be wholly manufactured in the United States. After you customize your phone through Moto Maker, it will be shipped to you within four days direct from an assembly line in Ft. Worth, Texas.

Software-wise, the latest version of Android Jelly Bean brings the following to Moto X: Touchless Control (say “Ok Google Now…” to wake up the device and perform a function), Active Display (the device will intermittently reveal important information (i.e. the time, new notifications) without you having to press to the wake up button), and Quick Capture (with two twists of your wrist you can access the camera to shoot stills or video).

Moto X is coming to the US, Canada, and Latin America in late August/early September at $199. AT&T subscribers can upgrade to a 32GB model for an extra $50. Click after the break to watch the Moto Maker experience and see the Moto X in action. READ MORE Meet Moto X, the smartphone designed by you and assembled in the USA

Google’s Chromecast makes streaming affordable, portable (also, Nexus 7 tablet refresh)

On Wednesday Google made a couple product announcements and what we’re doing now, we’re diving right in.

First up is Chromecast, a new way to wirelessly stream content from your personal devices to your big screen TV. The hardware itself resembles a small USB stick, except inside of plugging into a USB port it goes into an HDMI port located on your HDTV. After being plugged in, Chromecast requires two things to function: it needs power (using included cables you can either plug it into a standard wall socket or a USB port on your TV) and WiFi. Land on the correct TV input and blam, you’re connected and ready to go.

Chromecast doesn’t actually boast a user interface. Everything is streamed and controlled by your personal device. For example, if you want to stream an episode of Arrested Development from Netflix, you’d open the Netflix app on your computer, smartphone, or tablet and click the “cast” button to wirelessly stream the video content to your TV. Once the content is projected to the TV, the device you’re streaming it from becomes the remote control allowing you to play, pause, and scrub through whatever you’re watching.

In addition to Netflix, YouTube, Google Play Movies & TV, Google Play Music, and Chrome are currently compatible with Chromecast. In addition to streaming video and music with those apps, the inclusion of Chrome allows you to stream Tabs so you can browse the Internet on your TV. Google is letting developers get their hands on a Google Cast SDK preview so that more apps can become compatible with Chromecast. In the pipeline already is a new version of Pandora that will work with Chromecast with more promised on the way. And Chromecast works across a variety of devices; in addition to Android phones and tablets it also functions with Apple products like the iPhone and iPad, as well as Macs and PCs.

So why buy Chromecast, especially if you already own an Apple TV or Roku or the like? I can think of two reasons right off the bat: one, it costs $35. Yeah, that’s it. You’ll want to own this thing just because you can. And then there’s ease of portability. Sure, you can unplug your Roku and bring it around the house, TV to TV, whenever you like. But can’t you imagine how simpler it’d be to transport something as small as a USB stick to get the job done? The only issue here, of course, is that Chromecast doesn’t support Hulu and Amazon Instant Video and all the other video streaming services out there. Yet. But once it does, Chromecast has the potential to shake things up in the entertainment space. For now, though, see it as an extremely portable and affordable way to bring Netflix, YouTube, and other Google services with you provided an HDMI slot is available to play.

Chromecast is sold at Google Play, Amazon, and BestBuy.com.

Hop after the break to learn about Google’s other product announcement, if you dare. READ MORE Google’s Chromecast makes streaming affordable, portable (also, Nexus 7 tablet refresh)

A Google Glass tutorial shows off the stock UI

Google Glass is starting to ship out to key members of the press who attended last year’s Google I/O, developers, and winners of the #IfIHadGlass contest. If you aren’t included in any of these precious categories, here’s a little something to keep you occupied. Google has released a how-to video for their futuristic wearable technology and it brings you closer to the sleek hardware and the Android-powered user interface. Memorize the “getting started” clip above so that you’ll be ready to interact with your Glass when Google eventually decides to open its new product category to the masses.