Facebook launches ‘Graph Search’ feature in limited beta with Bing-powered Web searches

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Facebook’s mysterious press event is underway, and the company just unveiled a new graph search feature on stage that aggregates granular results based on user engagement and interest and provides Bing-powered Web results.

Many rumors indicated Facebook would unveil a new search function that would rival Google and likely introduce a better way to browse through the social network. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg revealed graph search is not just web search, though.

According to The Verge, Zuckerberg said graph search would show the answer and not just links to answers: “We are not indexing the web. We are indexing our map of the graph, which is really big and constantly changing.”

People in a user’s friend network apparently rank results, while mutual friends and various “signals” sort other results in the Facebook network. There is even a “refine this search” option on the right that lets folks further narrow their results. The graph search is in beta, Zuckerberg noted, and people, photos, places, and interests form the foundation.

In today’s showcasing of graph search, a demonstration of Maps, refined by likes and location tags, was shown off, as well as an example of Places search, akin to Yelp, which showed a better way to find places via where friends have been and what they’ve liked, and Photos search. Engagement, likes, and comments apparently organize images, places, interests, and other searchable items.

Meanwhile, a Search box serves as a “title for the page,” Zuckerberg added, and the content appears below it. He demo-searched for “Friends of friends who are single men in San Francisco and who are from India,” and a listing of related men and their Facebook profiles filled the search results.

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Which Google service will Facebook try to disrupt: Android or Search?

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Facebook plans to hold a press event today that—if rumors are factored in—could launch a new search feature, ad platform, improved apps, or even a smartphone that would bring it up to speed with, or at least give it an edge against, its primary foe, Google.

Facebook will kick things off at 10 a.m. PST at its headquarters in California, but the company hasn’t given any hints about what is in store other than inviting the media to “come see what we’re building.”

The Wall Street Journal, via the Associated Press, said a new search function, if unveiled, would likely introduce “a better way to sift through Facebook for people, businesses, events and everything else available on the vast online network.”

Pocket-lint.com said definitively that Facebook would launch its own search engine soon. The website claimed it heard from sources that Facebook plans to take on Google “at its own game.” Although exact details as to how are unclear for now, the website said Facebook’s new search feature would “shake everything up.”

Business Insider, however, asserted a new mobile ad product is in the works. Advertisers can only buy display ads on the desktop version of Facebook at the moment, but a new mobile strategy will soon, according to the website’s unnamed sources, “allow advertisers to buy mobile ad inventory through FBX.”

PCMag tossed rumors to the wayside and called for better mobile apps. It referred to the existing apps as “often sluggish and unstable,” but it also admitted the native apps work better than the HTML5 versions. Still, the website said, Facebook “needs to announce” an overhauled offering.

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Google opens 6th annual US Doodle 4 Google competition with the ‘My Best Day Ever…’ theme (Video)

Google announced its sixth-annual U.S. Doodle 4 Google competition yesterday and invited children to illustrate their best day ever as part of the theme.

Google often features its traditional logo in various modifications for special events or competitions, and the creative logos have since become known as Google Doodles. Google celebrated a multitude of holidays and anniversaries in 2012, for instance, and a few of the more notable Google Doodles included the 200th Anniversary of Grimm’s Fairy Tales, 161st Anniversary of Moby Dick’s First Publishing, and 107th Anniversary of Little Nemo in Slumberland.

The Internet Giant started a competition six years ago to have students from across the United States design a clever doodle based on a theme. The winning student earns many valuable prizes and a spot on Google’s homepage. Google gave a few doodle examples for this year’s competition theme via the official Google blog:

“Today we’re announcing our 6th annual U.S. Doodle 4 Google competition, inviting K-12 students around the country to create their own “doodle” (one of the special Google logos you see on our homepage on various occasions). This year’s theme: “My Best Day Ever…” Breakdancing with aliens? Sure! Building a fortress of candy? Okay by us! Riding to school on a brontosaurus? You get the idea (…)”

Last year’s winner, Dylan Hoffman of Caledonia, Wisc., drew a Treasure Island-like doodle for the “If I could travel in time I’d visit…” theme and won a treasure chest of prizes. His awards included a $30,000 college scholarship, a Chromebook computer, and a $50,000 technology grant for Prairie School. His doodle also appeared on the Crayola 64-crayon special edition box last fall, as well as the Google homepage.

This year’s winning artist will get a $30,000 college scholarship and $50,000 technology grant for his or her school, while the winning doodle will land on the Google homepage for a day. In addition, all State Winners will have their artwork on display at the American Museum of Natural History from May 22 to July 14.

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Google releases Chrome 25 Beta with Web Speech API

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Google launched Chrome 24 for Windows, Mac, and Linux just last week, and now it has already released Chrome 25 Beta with a Web Speech API.

The Web Speech API will let users have “new, interactive experiences with web apps,” according to the official Google Chrome blog. The JavaScript API will further allow developers to “integrate speech recognition into their web apps.”

Google has pushed voice recognition and dictation on Android devices as of late and is clearly trying to bring desktop capabilities up to speed with today’s Chrome Beta release.

Chrome 25 Beta will also auto-disable some silently added, third-party extensions on Windows, but a notification will allow users to re-enable such extensions.

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FTC’s Jon Leibowitz says antitrust settlement with Google was about ‘doing the right thing’

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FTC’s Jon Leibowitz

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission ended its probe against Google last week, and now the agency’s chairperson, Jon Leibowitz, is discussing the controversial decision with TPM.

“We did what were paid to do and what the law requires,” Leibowitz told TPM. “We went after a company [Google] where the law required us to do so, and forwent bringing a case where the law required us not to bring one.”

The FTC investigated claims as to whether Google gave itself an unfair advantage in search results and blocked sales in America of competing mobile devices. Leibowitz said all five commissioners, from both ends of the political spectrum, agreed that the evidence “militated” against an antitrust case.

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Google’s Eric Schmidt encourages North Korea to end Internet-access barriers (Video)

Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt encouraged North Korean officials to let go of Internet-access barriers if they wish to continue developing their country, he told reporters today in Beijing after concluding his three-day trip to North Korea.

“As the world becomes increasingly connected, their decision to be virtually isolated is very much going to affect their physical world,” Schmidt said, according to The Wall Street Journal. He also noted it would “make it harder for them to catch up economically. We made that alternative very, very clear.”

Schmidt and former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson led a nine-person American delegation in North Korea this week. Their group included Jared Cohen, a former State Department official who founded Google Ideas, and Tony Namkung, an adviser to Richardson.

Schmidt called the trip “a private visit to North Korea to talk about the free and open Internet,” but the U.S. State Department said earlier on that the timing of their visit was “unhelpful.”

Richardson announced when leaving for Pyongyang on Tuesday that the delegation trip was not a Google trip, but rather a “humanitarian private visit.” He told reporters today that talks with officials on technology were “the most productive talks of the trip.”

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