Google+ launches new ‘Communities’ feature with public & private groups, discussion categories

Google announced a new Google+ feature today, dubbed “Communities”, in a post on the Official Google Blog that aims to bring people of common interests together in discussions on the network. The new Google+ Communities will be made up of both private and public groups, discussion categories for finding conversations that meet your interest, hangouts, and sharing through +1 integration. You can activate the new feature by clicking the “Communities” icon to join or create a new community.

From photography to astronomy (and everything in between), Google+ has always been a place to crowd around common interests and meet new people. What’s been missing, however, are more permanent homes for all the stuff you love: the wonderful, the weird, and yes, even the things that are waaay out there. With Google+ Communities there’s now a gathering place for your passions

Google Play begins selling books and movies in Brazil as Kindle also expands books into the country

filme-play1

According to several reader tips that we have received, Google has begun selling books and movies in its Google Play store in Brazil. TecnoBlog has verified this and provided some screenshots (via TNW) of the Brazil Play store.

Simultaneously, Amazon has announced that it has opened up a version of its Kindle book store in Brazil.

Amazon today launched the Brazil Kindle Store (www.amazon.com.br) with the largest selection of the most popular books, including the most Veja best sellers and lowest prices of any eBookstore in Brazil. The Brazil Kindle Store offers over 1.4 million books, now available to Brazilian customers priced in Brazilian Reais (R$), including more than 13,000 Portuguese-language books, 49 of 60 Veja best sellers—the most of any digital bookstore—and the most free books in Portuguese. In addition, Amazon announced that Kindle—the world’s #1 best-selling e-reader for five years running—will go on sale in Brazil in the coming weeks with a suggested retail price of R$299. For more information, and to begin shopping in the Kindle Store, visit www.amazon.com.br.

Thanks, PC! 

Google has activated half a billion Plus users, 235M active on a daily basis, and 135M read their streams

Google released some Plus numbers today for the first time in a while. While Facebook has surpassed 1 billion active users, Google said its users number about half that and that is only for activations. Meanwhile, less than half of those people (235 million) are actually using the service (+1′ing apps in Google Play, hanging out in Gmail, writing reviews in Maps, etc.). Who is using the stream? Just 135 million— or 27 percent of the people Google has activated.

More than 500 million people have upgraded, 235 million are active across Google (+1′ing apps in Google Play, hanging out in Gmail, writing reviews in Maps…), and 135 million are active in just the stream.

I have to say from a personal standpoint that there was a lot of excitement and new features surrounding the launch of Google Plus, but it feels like the excitement is stagnating somewhat as Google struggles to bring itself up to feature parity with Facebook. Of particular interest is getting websites integrated into Google Plus like Facebook and Twitter with automatic feeds.

Still, 135 million users is a pretty high number for such a young service. Read more

Google Search for Android app update brings Passbook-like, QR code check-ins and more

Google Now - Travel Cards Update3

Google just updated the Google Search app for Android today, and the most notable new feature is very Passbook-eque, as it can now pull up boarding passes via email and use QR codes for checking into airport terminals.

The check-in feature will apparently launch shortly for United Airlines, with more to come soon. Meanwhile, the updated app also includes more recommendations for things nearby, as well as weather data, summaries for walking and biking activity, etc. It even features new voice actions for posting to Google+, finding music, or scanning barcodes.

According to Google on the official Android blog, the update is especially useful when traveling during the holiday season:

Before you even leave your house, Google Now will tell you what the weather will be like at your destination (just in time to make sure you remember to pack those mittens). At the airport, your boarding pass is automatically pulled up, helping you breeze through to the gate (launching shortly for United Airlines, with more to come). And once you’ve arrived at your destination, Google Now can help you uncover some great activities, by showing you events happening around you, suggesting websites for you to explore as you research things to do, or allowing you to learn more about specific pieces while you’re at a museum (using Google Goggles).

The update is available now for devices running Android 4.1 Jelly Bean or up. Check out the full changelog from Google Play below:

Read more

Google and Samsung dominate ‘Top 10 Most Viral Tech Ads of 2012′ list (Videos)

Visible Measures: The Top 10 Most Viral Tech Ads of 2012

Visible Measures: The Top 10 Most Viral Tech Ads of 2012

Google and Samsung grabbed six out of 10 spots in a new top 10 list by video analytics firm Visible Measures that named the most viral tech ads of 2012.

Visible Measures compiled the list using its “True Reach methodology,” which appears to simply count views. Samsung debuted at No. 1 with over 71 million views for “Galaxy S III”. Visible Measures called the video “a satirical campaign mocking Apple and its fans.” Meanwhile, Google scored roughly 21 million views at No. 5 for its “Project Glass” teaser ad.

According Visible Measures, Samsung generated over 240 million views from campaign launches in 2012:

[For Samsung—] A 580% increase over 2011, and averaged 9.2 million views per campaign, a jump of nearly 400%. Google and Microsoft also saw triple digit increases in overall brand performance in video in 2012.

Apple, LG, Microsoft, Intel/Toshiba also made the cut. The entire list is above, and the Google and Samsung videos are embedded below.

Read more

Google now allows Google Apps customers to distribute internal apps via Google Play

framed_play_store_domainGoogle is now allowing customers of the Google Apps service to distribute internal applications via a new channel in the Google Play store to employees. Google says that this new feature makes it easier than ever to distribute apps to employees. Employees are said to simply have to login to the Play channel with their Google Apps login information and the company apps will be ready to download.

Read more

Google tackles invalid activity to keep Adsense strong (Video)

Bad, bad, bad, bad, bad.

“Bad” is the main word that stands out in the latest post by Google on the official AdSense blog, and the Internet giant repeats it that exact amount of times, too. But, why? Invalid activity, that’s why.

Google wants its publishing partners to keep AdSense strong, and, as it stated, that means “keeping good publishers’ accounts in good standing, while also protecting advertisers and users from fraudulent activity.” So, Google is making changes and adding tools to pinpoint bad actors (a.k.a. inactive/fraudulent publishers), stop bad ads, prevent bad clicks, and keep bad sites and bad traffic out of the network.

The video above gives a brief summary of what Google is talking about, while it’s blog post further details all the changes, which include:

— Considering tenure more actively when responding to detected invalid activity.
— Allotting publishers tools to submit more informative appeals via a new form.
— Providing more details on invalid activity’s causes via  an email or a notification.

More changes below.

Read more

Amazon offering HTC Droid DNA for $149.99, $50 off

Droid_DNA

We loved it. You might too. Today, Amazon is offering the HTC DROID DNA for only $149.99—down from the regular price of $199.99. For those who need a spec refresh, the DNA features a 5-inch, 1080p 441PPI display, which seemed a little “too good” to be true, 8-megapixel rear-camera, 2.1-megapixel front-camera, embedded Beats audio, and Android 4.1 Jelly Bean with Sense 4. Check out our review for more.

[Amazon]

Google adds horizontal carousel for web based iPad searches about local places

ipad-local-search-google

Google updated its web experience for U.S. iPad users who search for local places, such as bars and restaurants, on Google Search. The Mountain View-based company called the new feature a “horizontal carousel” of results that will display at the top of page, while normal search results will display below. Tapping on a business in the carousel, as seen in the image above, will display quick information about the location, including: address, Zagat rating, phone number, location on a Map, and a link to the website—accompanied with pictures. There’s also a new map link in the upper-right hand corner that shows you nearby places on a map.

Google has always shown its support for tablets and smartphones on its mobile Search page, and today’s update is definitely beneficial. When calling a restaurant to place an order or make a reservation, I’ve found Google to be the quickest way to find the needed information (definitely beating apps like Yellow Pages to get the same information).

Source: Google Read more

Google I/O 2013 developer conference slated for May 15 to May 17 in San Francisco

IO13

Google just announced Google I/O 2013 would kick off in 162 days from May 15 to May 17 at the Moscone Center West in San Francisco. Google is not accepting registrations yet, but it will announce more details in February.

It might only be December, but Google I/O 2013 is set and is just 162 days away! We’ll be returning to Moscone Center West in San Francisco on May 15-17, 2013, and sharing the experience beyond via Google Developers Live and I/O Extended viewing parties. We’ll announce registration details in February 2013. Read more

Google rolls out Gmail 2.0 for iPhone and iPad

Gmail iOS 2.0

Gmail version 2.0: Google just released a major update to its Gmail iOS app,  introducing multiple account support, a new look that appears to be partly inspired by its Sparrow acquisition, search predictions, and much more. The update also brings interactive Google+ posts support, an infinite scroll inbox, new welcome screen, and the ability to respond to Google Calendar invites. Google walked through some of the new features of the overhauled Gmail app in a blog post, and it noted the app was six months in the works:

Six months ago, our team set out to completely rebuild the Gmail app for iPhone and iPad to give you you a faster, sleeker, and easier experience on iOS. The result? Version 2.0. With version 2.0 of the app, you’ll get a totally new look and feel, plus a bunch of improvements like profile pictures in messages, numerous new animations from swivels to transitions and infinite scrolling in the message lists.

Nexus 4 goes on sale in Germany and UK at 5 pm

Screen Shot 2012-12-04 at 10.28.24 AM

As noted in The Verge forums, images posted online show Google is informing customers in at least Germany and the United Kingdom that sales of the Nexus 4 will go live starting at 5 p.m. Sales in Germany will kick in at 5 p.m. CET, while sales in the U.K. start at 5 p.m. GMT. Yesterday, Google resumed sales of the device in Canada, selling out of the 8GB model within the first half an hour and the 16GB model shortly after. In the U.S., Google is currently listing the 8GB model of the device as sold out and shipping the 16GB model in “5-6 weeks”. Some customers, at least in Canada, have received shipping estimates of “6-7 weeks” for orders placed yesterday.