Google Now will alert you when nearby shops have products you’ve been searching for

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If you find yourself constantly searching the web for new toys, you’re really gonna dig Google Now’s newest trick. As a follow up to a recent update that helps you locate stores while cruising the mall, this new software push takes things to another level. Starting today, Google Now will display a product information card whenever you’re near a shop that carries an item that you’ve been searching for online.

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Here’s a look at Google Stars in action (video)

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A couple of weeks ago, an ambitious software developer by the name of Florian Kiersch uncovered an unannounced Google platform known as Stars. From the looks of things, this new product is Google’s next-gen take on bookmarking content from the web. Up until now, we’ve only seen still shots of the forthcoming software, however thanks to a recent Javascript module update, Kiersch was able to gain access to parts of Stars’ web-based UI.

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Google Drive to drop document editing in favor of standalone apps

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Google’s new take on Docs and Sheets might be the first of many changes for the company’s Drive platform. The folks at Android Police managed to get their hands on a new, unreleased version of Drive and it appears to be missing editing functionality for sheets and documents. If you attempt to open a document while in Drive, it’ll display a view-only version of the item and will prompt you to install Google’s new standalone word processing app. We understand that this change might be frustrating for some users, but unbundling these apps lets people pick and choose the software that they want to use. It also gives Google a chance to focus on each app individually, which will hopefully result in a better user experience for each platform. Our fingers are crossed.

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Google ‘Stars’ might change the way you bookmark the web

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Google is currently testing a new Chrome feature called “Stars” that will let users take just about any piece of content from the web and save it to a personalized library. This unannounced tool was uncovered by by Florian Kiersch, a German software developer who was exploring some of Google’s code. Several messages within Stars source code suggests that this new feature is still being reviewed internally by Google.

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Google celebrates Earth Day by using Glass to protect rhinos and Bengal tigers (video)

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Today being Earth Day, Google has placed the spotlight on Sabita Malla, a senior research officer at the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) who spends her days in Nepal’s Chitwan National Park fighting to protect Bengal tigers and rhinos from poachers. Aided by Glass, Malla tracks and monitors these endangered creatures using Google’s famed wearable to take pictures, notes and measurements — something she originally did with a pencil and paper.

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Google plans to kill Google Voice in coming months, integrate features into Hangouts

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We’ve heard that Google Voice is getting dragged to the trash can and most of its functionality will be incorporated into the G+ Hangouts apps on both Android and iOS. This has already happened to an extent with the ability to phone friends on Hangouts, but we’re hearing the full shuttering and depreciation of the app is the next step.

What’s interesting here is that VoIP-to-phones is expected to be integrated into the Hangouts iOS and Android apps so that, just like with the Web version, you could be able to actually make (and receive) VoIP calls directly from your Google phone number. Whether the carriers and Apple are okay with this isn’t certain, and the thought is that it could be enabled by carrier like Apple’s FaceTime (or could be scrapped altogether) depending on the global market and the carrier. Read more

Google and Viacom finally settle legal battle over YouTube copyright issues

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In a legal fight which has stretched over seven years, Google seems to have finally resolved their issues with Viacom over copyright violations of videos uploaded to YouTube. Information on the details of the settlement have not been publicly released.

Re/code received this rather bland statement from the two companies.

Google and Viacom today jointly announced the resolution of the Viacom vs. YouTube copyright litigation. This settlement reflects the growing collaborative dialogue between our two companies on important opportunities, and we look forward to working more closely together.

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Google introduces add-on features for Google Docs & Sheets

Announced today, Google is introducing a new layer of features to its Google Docs and Google Sheets productivity web apps. The word processor and spreadsheet editor will now support additional features through user-installed add-ons developed by select partners.

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The add-ons are accessible through a menu in the tool bar when editing a document or spreadsheet and include a number of partners like Mail Chimp and Avery. Once prompted from the tool bar, Docs and Sheets will present a store-like interface laying out the various supported add-ons allowing you to install them to your apps.

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Google Apps paying $15 to acquire each new customer through new referral program

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Google announced today on its Enterprise blog that it’s introducing a new Google apps referral program that will see the company payout $15 for each new customer referred through the program.

Many of the millions of Google Apps customers learned about tools like Hangouts, Drive and Gmail for business from their customers, friends and networks. To help continue the momentum, we’re launching the Google Apps Referral Program. The referral program makes it easy to share Google Apps with your network and show them how they too can use these tools at work. To show our appreciation, we’re offering a $15 referral bonus for each new Google Apps user you refer.

Those interested in joining the referral program will need a valid taxpayer ID number and bank account for direct deposits. Google also says it will provide email and website templates that can be used to send a unique referral link to potential customers.Google Apps users in the US and Canada that are interested in joining the referral program can do so here.

Update: We had a quick Q&A with Google pasted below:

  • Are you phasing out the $5/user/year you guys give to IT service providers or is that staying? This program does not impact the amount provided to Google Apps Resellers.
  • Is it an affilaite program?   After joining the program, members will receive $15 for every user that signs up from their recommendations. In order to receive the incentive, referrals must be Google Apps customers for at least 4 months. Then we’ll make a direct deposit to the referee’s bank account every month for the amount they’ve earned. 
  • How long do people have to stay in the program for a payout? I’m assuming the $15 comes with a year program signup. In order to receive the incentive, referrals must be Google Apps customers for at least 4 months. Then we’ll make a direct deposit to the referee’s bank account every month for the amount they’ve earned. 
  • Will Google be expanding this to include $ on apps or Android apps or hardware/Nexus products? (Hope so!) We’re excited about today’s launch of the Google Apps Referral Program, but have nothing else to announce.

The fine print from Google is below: Read more

How-to: Setup and Use Chromecast to stream your content from a Mac and Android device

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The Chromecast, Google’s streaming HDMI dongle came out last summer. It is compatible with any Android device running 2.3 or later, iOS devices with iOS 6 or 7, and any Mac or PC. Initially, users were able to stream Netflix or Youtube from an iOS device and Android device, Google Play on Android, or stream websites to a TV using the Chrome browser on a computer. The Chromecast works differently from Apple’s AirPlay system in that you can multitask and do other tasks on the device or you can let it go to sleep while streaming.

Very quickly after its release, Chromecast has received support for Hulu +, Pandora, and HBO GO. Last month a major update added ten new apps including Plex, Vevo, Songza, Red Bull TV, Post TV from the Washington Post, Viki, RealPlayer Cloud, Avia, Revision3 Internet Television, and BeyondPod. The most recent update the Chromecast received allowed users to stream Google Play movies and music directly from the Chrome browser on a computer.

In this How-to, we’ll discuss how to setup the Chromecast, use it with a Mac and Android device, and explore its gaming potentials.

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Gmail now lets you send emails to Google+ profiles

Continuing its integration of Google+ into just about everyone of its other products, today Google announced a nice improvement to Gmail that will auto suggest Google+ contacts. Gmail already displayed Google+ information next to emails, allowed you to search for emails by Circles, and keep your contacts up to date using Google+ data, but up until now you couldn’t select a Google+ contact as a recipient when composing an email. While Gmail will now auto suggest Google+ contacts when composing a new email, it also has a new setting to control who can reach you and see your email address: Read more