As expected, EU rejects Google’s proposed changes to anti-trust complaint in search

European Union Competition Commissioner Almunia addresses a news conference on state aid rules for airports and airlines in Brussels

European Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia (photo: Reuters)

Google’s proposed changes to its search results don’t go far enough to address claims that it is using its dominant position to freeze out competitors, says the EU (via Reuters).

The decision comes as no surprise after EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said back in May that he was “almost 100 percent certain” to reject the proposals, in which Google’s key offers were to clearly separate organic results from sponsored links and to provide links to at least three rival search services in its results …  Read more

Google adds Gmail contacts to Search Field Trial, Google+ profiles coming soon

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Those currently singed up for Google’s Search Field Trial, a program that lets users test out new, yet-to-be-released features of search, will now have the ability to search for Gmail contacts. Google announced on its Google+ page that the feature is available now and will also work with its new Voice Search functionality. Asking for a person’s address or phone number will display any relevant Gmail contact results directly within Google’s search results.

The Contact results will include maps with built-in turn-by-turn directions, as well as links to phone numbers allowing users to place calls with a single tap: Read more

Google Search for Android updated with TV show information, new voice actions

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Google has released an update for its Google Search app for Android that adds a host of new features purely for Jelly Bean users. First off, the app will now show you information about show you are watching via an internet connected TV. This feature is only available in the United States, however, and Google wouldn’t say when it is going to roll it out to other nations. Your device also has to be connected to the same network as your TV, which means you won’t be able to get show information while on the go.

The update also adds the ability to control your music via a voice actions and new voice action tips.

The full change log is below:

For Android 4.1+ (Jelly Bean):

  • Information about shows you’re watching on your internet-connected TV (US only)*
  • Saved offers when nearby a redemption location
  • New voice action: play music from your phone or the Play Store
  • Voice actions tips

Read more

FTC cautions search engine companies that they aren’t properly distinguishing ads in search results

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The Federal Trade Commission has sent out a letter to 20 search engines informing them that they are not properly distinguishing the ads in search results from the actual results themselves. Back in 2002, the FTC doubled down on paid listings in search results, forcing search engines to clearly show a difference between the two, but the firm believes that since 2002,  companies have fallen back into their old habits. “We have observed a decline in compliance with the letter’s guidance,” the agency said in the letter.

The FTC has now issued new guidelines for search result ads, saying that things such as borders, shading, and text labels must be different when compared to true search results. The agency pointed a finger at Facebook’s new Graph Search feature, saying that “Regardless of the precise form search may take in the future, the long-standing principle of making advertising distinguishable from natural results will remain applicable.” Read more

Google search adds interactive carousel for restaurants & local places on desktop

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Google announced today that it is rolling out a new interactive carousel for restaurants and other local places directly in search results on the desktop. Users will be able to click on thumbnails in the carousel to quickly get more info on a specific place, including: “overall review-based score, address and photos.” The feature was previously available to some Nexus tablet and iPad users since rolling out back in December, but today it’s rolling out to everyone through Google search on the desktop: Read more

Google announces Waze acquisition, plans to enhance Google Maps w/ traffic update features & integrate Google Search in Waze

waze_logo2The rumors were true: Google just officially confirmed in a blog post that it has acquired mapping company Waze with some big plans to integrate the Israel-based company’s traffic related features into Google Maps.

WazeGoogle confirmed in the announcement that it has acquired the company but didn’t provide any financial details related to the deal. Waze for now will continue to operate in Israel separate from the Google Maps team, but Google also has plans to integrate its search technology into Waze products.

We’ll also work closely with the vibrant Waze community, who are the DNA of this app, to ensure they have what’s needed to grow and prosper.

As for what specific traffic features you might see come to Google Maps, Google’s Vice President of Geo Brian McClendon notes “The Waze community and its dedicated team have created a great source of timely road corrections and updates.”

Google had been rumored several times in recent weeks to be acquiring the company with the latest reports claiming the deal would be somewhere in the $1B range. Read more

What effect will Apple’s choice of Bing for Siri in iOS 7 have on Google?

Microsoft must be pretty happy with Apple’s decision to include Bing as the default search engine powered web results in Apple’s revamped Siri application heading to iOS 7 this fall. However, what does this all mean for Google? It could very well signal Apple’s increasing desire to cut its reliance on services powered by its biggest competitor in the smartphone space.

Before iOS 7, searching for something with Siri would often turn up the option to search for web results. Doing so would give you results through Safari using your default search engine (which by default is set to Google). Now, in iOS 7, web results will be displayed right in the Siri app, however, they will be powered by Microsoft’s Bing– and not Google.  Read more

Google rolling out nutritional information in search results

As noted by Droid Life , Google is rolling out nutritional information from the Knowledge Graph into its search results for users in the U.S. over the next ten days.

Google Now will be able to take advantage of these results across various platforms including Android and its iOS application:

From the basics of potatoes and carrots to more complex dishes like burritos and chow mein, you can simply ask, “How much protein is in a banana?” or “How many calories are in an avocado?” and get your answer right away. You’ll hear the answer to your specific question, see relevant nutrition information under an expansion, and be able to switch to other related foods or serving sizes.

Many consumers will value this information as caloric intake and personal fitness trends more and more popular. Even fast food restaurants are starting to report nutritional information for its products. Good on Google’s part for making this information more accessible for everyone. Read more

Google adds ability to view Google+ photos in search results

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Google is carrying on with its integration of Google+ across the rest of its services by today opening up the ability to search for photos from the service directly in Google search. Starting today, not only will Google search be able to display photos from friends and events in results, it will also be “using computer vision and machine learning to help recognize more general concepts in your photos such as sunsets, food and flowers.”

Here’s how it works: Read more

Google changes ‘Palestinian Territories’ to Palestine in Search, not yet in Maps

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From the Beeb:

In a statement given to the BBC on Friday, Google spokesman Nathan Tyler said: “We’re changing the name ‘Palestinian Territories’ to ‘Palestine’ across our products. We consult a number of sources and authorities when naming countries. “In this case, we are following the lead of the UN, Icann [the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers], ISO [International Organisation for Standardisation] and other international organisations.”

The Palestinian Authority (PA) welcomed Google’s decision.

“This is a step in the right direction, a timely step and one that encourages others to join in and give the right definition and name for Palestine instead of Palestinian territories,” Dr Sabri Saidam, advisor to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, told the BBC.”Most of the traffic that happens now happens in the virtual world and this means putting Palestine on the virtual map as well as on the geographic maps,” he added.

Agree this is a bigger deal than it would immediately appear…for Palestinians especially. The Google Maps folks aren’t yet on the same page:

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