Millions of Google search page views will soon promote Google services under revamped trial design

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Google launched a revamped homepage, but it is still in the trial phase and only a limited number of users have access to the new design. Meanwhile, some experts and lawmakers are claiming Google’s recent face lift intends to promote more of the company’s businesses without cluttering the homepage.

The website’s redesign has undergone various changes since its initial debut over a month ago. The current version omits the black menu bar that runs horizontal along the top of the website, and it is now replaced by a gray Google logo. Upon clicking the new graphic, seven services under the search engine appear with an option to view 13 more services.

The core seven services in the trial design are Google Plus, Search, Images, Maps, YouTube, News, Gmail and Documents. The “More” tab below the vertical menu reveals options for Calendar, Translator, Mobile, Books, Music, Offers, Wallet, Shopping, Blogger, Reader, Finance, Photos, and Videos.

Google users can also change the background image of their homepage with the trial design, and they can access iGoogle or their Google Plus notification center and Settings options from the main search page.

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Google launches US edition of ‘Politics & Elections’ resource for 2012 elections

Previously only available to Egyptian users, Google launched (via Mashable) a new “Politics & Elections” landing page today for the United States – a day ahead of the Iowa Caucuses at Media Filing Center on Tuesday. The website acts as a hub to information on the 2012 elections, providing the ability to filter news articles and video by candidate or specific issues like the economy, immigration, or healthcare.

Along the right side of the page are links to resources like the Google+ Politics & Elections page, the YouTube Politics channel, and the 2012 Political Calendar on PBS. Also available are two interactive tools: “Trends” and “On the Ground”.

Clicking Trends gives you an interactive graph and timeline that charts trends for each candidate based on search volume, mentions in Google News articles, and views on YouTube channels. Clicking Play will let you watch how trends have changed for each candidate through the days, month, or years. The On the Ground tool provides a Google Map with links to election related events as shot by YouTube users.

According to Mashable, Google will also display content from the new website on large screens at the Iowa Caucuses on Tuesday. They will also be holding Google Plus hangouts live from the event.

Google Canada hits 10-year mark: Doubles in size, looks to expand features and headcount in 2012

Google celebrated its 1oth anniversary in Canada by doubling its staff and indicating hopes to have an even larger presence in 2012.

The company currently has 300 employees in four Canadian offices, in Toronto, Waterloo, Ottawa, and Montreal. Google’s global headcount was listed at 32, 353 in the third quarter of 2011.

The Mountain View, Calif.-based search engine first moved north in 2001, and Head of Mobile Advertising Eric Morris was one of the first Google Canada employees to start work for the  North American sect.

“Canada is one of the fastest growing markets for Google and it’s one of our big bets corporately,” said Morris. “It’s a market that Google is very committed to and investing in heavily in terms of resources and growing very, very quickly.”

In 2002, according to Morris, Google projected that 70 percent of Canada’s population would be online by 2017. Canada reached 79 percent in 2010.

“In 2010, 93 percent of households with three or more people, as well as those with at least one member under the age of 18, had home Internet access,” reported a recent Canadian Internet Use Survey. “By contrast, 58 percent of one-person households had home Internet access.”

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British Telecom sues Google over six US patents

British Telecom is suing Google over  six alleged infringements that affect its services in a plethora of areas, including Android Market, Google Maps, Google Search, Google Music, Google Places, Google Offers, Google Plus and location-based advertising.

According to Florian Mueller’s news blog Foss Patents, the lawsuit was reportedly filed in the U.S. district court for Delaware.

BT is seeking damages and an injunction, and its complaint indicates Google refuses to pay. The second sentence of paragraph 21 in the action states: “BT brings this action to recover the just compensation it is owed and to prevent Google from continuing to benefit from BT’s inventions without authorization.”

Google contacted the Wall Street Journal Dec. 19 and issued a statement regarding the recent patent infringement allegations.

“We believe these claims are groundless and we will vigorously defend ourselves against them,” said Google to WSJ.

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Google Plus implements ‘a few big improvements’ for the New Year

Google Plus announced a “goodie basket” of functional features and big improvements for the upcoming New Year on its Official Google Blog today.

Bradley Horowitz, vice president of Google Plus product, posted the blog and claimed the new features were on everyone’s wish list.

The first feature mentioned is “Pump up (or down) the volume,” and through the addition, Google will enable users to fine-tune their streams.

“When viewing the stream for a particular circle, you’ll now see a slider at the top that lets you adjust how posts from that circle should be blended into the main stream,” wrote Horowitz in the blog post. “That way you’ll never miss a post from that special someone, and you can tweak these settings to form your own ‘perfect stream.’”

The first big improvement discussed in the blog is “More useful and attractive notifications,” and with it, Google offers sneak previews to allow users efficient social content navigation… Read more

Google tests Hotel Finder comparison ads above search results

In July Google launched an experimental Hotel Finder tool, which allows users to search specifically for the most relevant hotel related results. The service allows users to find places to stay in select areas, get price comparisons in one convenient location, and compile a shortlist of potential destinations. According to Search Engine Land, Google is now testing rather large “Comparison ads” at the top of hotel related search results that display links to the Hotel Finder tool. The move apparently has the hotel industry concerned…
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Google search gets enhanced movie and theater results on Android and iPhone

Google is rolling out a nice new movie related feature to search on Android and iPhone. Now, when searching for “movies”, the first result will be a swipeable row of movie posters with descriptions, ratings, and the closest theatres and showtimes for the selected film. Tapping the title of any given movie will provide you with details on the cast and a full summary. Some movie posters will also have a play button letting you watch the film’s trailer, and selecting one of the showtimes will link you to where you can purchase tickets. This is obviously Google’s way of making it easier to find what’s playing at your local theatre when on the go.

You can also type “theaters” or the name of a specific movie theatre or movie for more refined results. Try it now by visiting Google.com on your iPhone or Android device.
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Eric Schmidt to meet European antitrust chief over accusations of search abuse

Google chairman Eric Schmidt is set to face the European competition commission this week to address potential antirust issues concerning their dominant position in the search business, according to a report from The Guardian. The meeting will be held by the commission’s antitrust chief, Joaquin Almunia, following initial talks held in January stemming from complaints by several search companies including Microsoft’s own Ciao.

Almunia is expected to present Google with a 400-page “statement of objections” that documents the commission’s research regarding “allegations that Google Inc has abused a dominant position in online search, in violation of European Union rules”.

The antitrust investigation started as far back as November 30, 2010, after claims from several search related companies including 1PlusV, Euro-Cities, and German organizations representing publishers filed complaints. The complaints themselves range from Google displaying there own services in search results to unfairly using content from publishers.

If Google is found guilty of abusing its dominant position in the market they could face fines up to 10% of the company’s annual turnover in Europe, or be forced to make changes to the way it runs its search business in the region. While some reported that during initial negotiations in January Almunia told Schmidt he would have a chance to offer up a solution, Almunia had this to say late last week about the upcoming meeting:
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Google launches redesigned Google Bar

Google has officially rolled out the next stage of their redesign with the an all new Google bar enabling users to quickly switch between services using Google menu, a drop-down list of Google services baked into the Google logo. The new bar, which replaces the old black toolbar, will also provide access to search and Google+ tools as highlighted in the video above. As part of the update, the new Google Menu will also be accessible when not signed into your account, providing quick links to Google services for everyone. Goog breaks it down:

Above each of Google’s products, the gray bar has three main regions. On the left, the Google logo contains a drop-down menu with links to Google services that displays when you hover over or click on it. The central area contains a search box for the Google service you are currently using. The right side features a share box and notifications to participate on Google+ from any Google page.

The roll out is happening now, but it might take a bit of time to reach all users. Until then, you can learn everything you need to know about the new Google bar here.

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The Evolution of Search: The history and future of search in six minutes

As a follow-up to the under the hood of search video detailing the “methodology behind search ranking and evaluation”, Google today released “The Evolution of Search” walking us through the history and evolution of search in six minutes. The video aims to highlight key milestones of search over the past decade, specifically Universal Results and Quick Answers, but also touches on the future of search with Google Instant and Voice Search.

Our goal is to get you to the answer you’re looking for faster and faster, creating a nearly seamless connection between your questions and the information you seek. That means you don’t generally need to know about the latest search feature in order to take advantage of it— simply type into the box as usual and find the answers you’re looking for.

In addition to the above video, Google put together the timeline below of search features they’ve added since the service first launched. Click for high-res.
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Google Search iOS app updated with overhauled iPad UI and full-screen mode for iPhone

Google has just released an update to their Google Search iOS app bringing with it a brand new design for iPad and full-screen mode for search results and pages on iPhone.

The new iPad interface is noticeably inspired by the design recently rolled out across the majority of Google’s web services. The main search page now has four grey icons as shortcuts to History, Applications, Voice Search, and Goggles, while a new side-by-side view allows you to browse webpages and search results simultaneously. Also included in the update in a full-screen browsing mode for images and a new visual UI for history allowing you to  thumb through results as pages. Instant Previews and Google Instant are now also baked into the iPad version.

As for the iPhone, the update only lists the usual minor bug fixes along with the full-screen mode mentioned above. As always, you can grab the updated Google Search app as a universal download now (iTunes link).  More screenshots below:
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Google testing new ‘sources’ section inside of Search results

Google has confirmed with Search Engine Land that the company is currently testing new a ‘sources’ display inside of Search. As you can see above, the sources section pulls in information, in this case about Rihanna, that has appeared on Wikipedia and various other sources. The section also pulls in song information, in Rihanna’s case.

In most instances while searching on Google you want to find definite information — fast. Google has implemented similar features inside of Search for weather, sports, math calculations, and more. Keep ‘em coming!