Google to shut down Google Sync ActiveSync support for new consumer devices, Calendar features, and more

Google-cleaningGoogle announced on its official blog today that it would do some “winter cleaning” by discontinuing a number of services in the near future. Among the services shutting down as of Jan. 30 is Google Sync, which allowed users to get access to Gmail, Calendar, and Contacts using the Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync protocol. As an alternative, Google recommended IMAP for mail and the recently launched CardDAV and CalDAV protocols. Google also confirmed it would continue offering the service to existing consumers and Google Apps for Business, Government, and Education customers.

Google also said it would shut down some of its less-popular Calendar features starting Jan. 4:

You’ll be unable to create new reservable times on your Calendar through Appointment slots, but existing Appointment slots will continue working for one year. In addition, we’ll discontinue two Calendar Labs—Smart Rescheduler (we recommend Find a time view or Suggested times as alternatives) and Add gadget by URL. Finally, Check your calendar via smsand Create event via sms (GVENT)—U.S.-only features for creating and checking meetings by texting information to Google—will be discontinued today, as most users prefer mobile Calendar apps.

Another victim of the winter cleaning is the Punchd app for Android and iOS that will officially shut down on June 7, 2013. At that time, retailers will no longer accept the service’s loyalty cards. Google’s full list of apps and features on the way out is below: Read more

Google rolls out improved video sharing for YouTube & Google+, adds public YouTube videos to Google+ profiles

Custom-Text-YouTube-upload

Google announced today on the YouTube Creator blog that it is today rolling out new features for sharing videos on YouTube, Google+, and elsewhere. Now, when uploading a video to YouTube and sharing it directly with social networks, YouTube will allow you to customize the message displayed alongside your video, as highlighted in the image above. Google explained:

Now, when you upload your videos to YouTube, you can write your own post to your fans… Where will this post appear? In YouTube feeds, the text will be merged into the upload feed item (exactly the same as if you were to upload a video, then make a channel post about the same video, but without the extra effort).  This also works with the scheduled publishing feature, offering you even greater convenience… As the video and post will be shared to your other connected social accounts as well, you no longer have go to each site to manually customize a post for each video.

Google also noted that it would add users’ public YouTube videos to the Videos tab on their Google+ page if they have opted in to connect the two accounts: Read more

Google pushes out 18 new Google+ treats: enhanced Android app, better Events management, low-bandwidth connection for Hangouts, and more

Google+ app

Everyone finds a holiday angle during this time of year, and after launching 18 new features, dubbed as “treats” wrapped together “in one holiday package,” Google+ is one of the many.

On the mobile side, according to the official Gplusproject blog, Google+ announced it added new Android features that include on-the-go profile editing
, streamlined ways to author content, a notice when there’s new content to read, and the ability to subscribe to mobile notifications from favorite circles and interact with Google+ Communities. Google+ also launched full-sized backups of photos, with up to 5GB free (turn on Instant Upload to start), and photospheres now appear in the mobile stream (Android 4.2 required to snap 360-degree panoramas, but Froyo or later users can enjoy them now).

As for connecting, Google+ pushed out extra features to make event planning easier that include the ability to message specific guests, view opened invitations, and invite people through Google+ by sending an event URL via email or IM. Guests can also now RSVP with the number of people they want to bring, and a new duplication feature allows event makers to copy their original event as Google+ pulls all the important details.

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Verizon’s Samsung Galaxy S III gets 4.1 Jelly Bean update starting Dec. 14

samsung-galaxy-s-III-android-jelly-bean-366x251

Verizon confirmed today on its website that its variant of Samsung’s Galaxy S III would begin getting access to the latest 4.1 Jelly Bean update starting Dec. 14. While not all users will get access to the update right away, the carrier said it would roll out 4.1 in phases starting tomorrow and users that wish to download the update manually will be able to do so from the Settings menu within a week.

Facebook launches much faster Android app with quicker launching, photo loading

Facebook has launched version 2.0 of its official Android application. The new application has be re-written for speed. 1_feed_phoneFacebook says that tasks will now be twice as fast. They will be most noticeable when launching the application and loading up photos within the app. The update will be available from the Google Play Store.

Earlier this year, Facebook launched a new iOS application that relies on native code. Much like this new Android app. Facebook’s engineering team explains some of the process on the company’s blog:

Over the last year, we’ve been retooling our mobile apps to make them faster, more reliable, and easier to use. Several months ago, we embarked on a major step change for iOS and shipped a native re-write of Facebook for iOS. With Android, we’ve moved to a fixed-date release cycle and have been steadily making improvements over time so that Facebook performs consistently across multiple platforms.  

Today, we’re releasing a new version of Facebook for Android that’s been rebuilt in native code to improve speed and performance. To support the unique complexity of Facebook stories across devices, we’re moving from a hybrid native/webview to pure native code, allowing us to optimize the Facebook experience for faster loading, new user interfaces, disk cache, and so on.

We rebuilt several of Facebook for Android’s core features in native code, including news feed and timeline, to create a faster experience whether you’re opening the Facebook app, looking at photos, or interacting with friends. Now, you can comment and like a story more quickly, and photo loading is optimized to be much faster. We also built a new, automatically updated story banner to bubble up the newest stories, no matter where you are in news feed.

Facebook says that the new faster app provides a foundation for future feature additions.

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Schmidt: We are very proud of our tax avoidance structure, ‘It’s called capitalism’

Executive Chairman of Google Eric Schmidt testifies before a Senate Judiciary Subcommittee hearing in WashingtonGoogle’s Eric Schmidt appears to be continuing his media tour in New York this week. Yesterday, we posted a video of Schmidt sitting down one-on-one with The Economist’s Daniel Franklin, but today several U.K. publications are reporting on comments made by the Google Chairman at another one of his media stops last night. According to reports from both Daily Mail and The Independent, Schmidt defended the company’s controversial tax avoidance schemes by stating he is “‘proudly capitalistic”:

‘We pay lots of taxes; we pay them in the legally prescribed ways… ‘I am very proud of the structure that we set up. We did it based on the incentives that the governments offered us to operate…. ‘It’s called capitalism….‘We are proudly capitalistic. I’m not confused about this.’

The U.K.’s chairman of the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee Margaret Hodge said Schmidt and Google should be ashamed:

For Eric Schmidt to say that he is ‘proud’ of his company’s approach to paying tax is arrogant, out of touch and an insult to his customers here in the UK,” she said.

“Ordinary people who pay their taxes unquestioningly are sick and tired of seeing hugely profitable global companies like Google use every trick in the book to get out of contributing their fair share… Google should recognise its obligations to countries like the UK from which it derives such huge benefits, and pay proper corporation tax on the profits it makes from economic activity here. It should be ashamed, not proud, to do anything less. ”

Schmdit continued: Read more