After being introduced in August, Google just announced improvements to its Gmail offline Chrome app. The first improvement, which the Chrome team called their favorite, is the ability to choose whether you want to synchronize 7, 14 or 31 days worth of mail. The second improvement includes attachment support, keyboard shortcuts, and enhancements when it comes to performance. You can download the Gmail offline Chrome application in the Chrome Web Store.
When Steve Jobs told his biographer Walter Isaacson that he finally “cracked the code” to building an integrated television set that is user-friendly and seamlessly syncs with all of your devices, Samsung Australia’s Director of Audiovisual Philip Newton told the Sydney Morning Herald that Jobs’ was talking about connectivity.
He laughed off the mythical iTV and dissed Jobs’ TV brain wave as “nothing new,” saying the future is now and it is his company’s Smart TVs:
When Steve Jobs talked about he’s ‘cracked it’, he’s talking about connectivity – so we’ve had that in the market already for 12 months, it’s nothing new, it was new for them because they didn’t play in the space. It’s old news as far as the traditional players are concerned and we have broadened that with things like voice control and touch control; the remote control for these TVs has a touch pad.
Samsung is promoting Smart TVs left and right at the CES show that is underway this week in Las Vegas. The company is showing off apps and games such as Angry Birds running smoothly on Smart TVs. Feature-wise, Samsung Smart TVs is also beating Google TVs to the punch with capabilities such as voice interaction, facial recognition, integrated camera controls for multi-video conferencing and multitasking. Samsung covered all aspects of the Smart TV market at its latest CES press conference held Jan. 9, and it seems Google TV —at this point— is certainly lagging in terms of adequate competition.
Sony, Panasonic and LG are also pushing integrated television sets built around the Smart TV platform. While not officially an exhibitor, Apple reportedly dispatched 250 employees to attend the show and monitor what competition is doing; among them is the head of iOS product marketing Greg Joswiak. Apple has been rumored for months to launch 32- and 37-inch television sets in the summer of 2012. Does Samsung see Apple as a threat?
The specifics of the agreement are not being disclosed at this time, but it is likely Microsoft’s latest license agreement with LG is similar to those signed with just about every other major Android vendor including Samsung, HTC, Huawei, Acer, and over 10 others. Microsoft is already collecting millions from Android vendors in patent agreements stemming from an original deal to collect a $5 royalty per device from HTC in May, and will now begin to profit off LG’s line of Android-based tablets, smartphones, and televisions as well.
Microsoft’s Corporate Vice President and Deputy General Counsel of Intellectual Property Group Horacio Gutierrez made the announcement on the company’s website:
If you are a blogger and you are using Google’s blogging service called “Blogger,” you are probably aware of its many limitations compared to WordPress— the de facto blogging standard. Google has been slow to address the many concerns Bloggers users have and has been neglecting the service lately. One of the glaring issues has always been Blogger’s commenting system that leaves a lot to be desired.
Today, the Blogger team announced that threaded commenting is now live in Blogger. Previously, there was no way of telling whether posters put up a new comment or responded to another comment on the thread. Threaded commenting, which is a norm on the vast majority of other blogging platforms, solves this problem elegantly with indentation. A small, but welcome fix. Here is to hoping the team is working on bigger issues as Blogger is definitely crying for some love.
Google introduced a new feature called “Search plus Your World” yesterday that includes both public results with privately shared posts and profiles from your Google+ account meshed within Google search results. Obviously, this has raised some concern among users, but also clutters search results. Luckily, Lifehacker posted a nice guide on how to turn off personalized search results, and it only takes two steps.
- Select “Search settings” on Google.com.
- Navigate to the “Personal results” section and select the option “Do not use personal results.”
As Lifehacker pointed out, this setting does not actually disable personal results, but rather makes it the default to have them not be displayed. If there is ever a brief second you want to go back, you can quickly toggle the setting within your search result.
Google is continuing to push Google+, whether you like it or not.
Google announced in a blog post on its Mobile Blog an update to the Google Search app for pre-Android 4.0 devices. The update brings faster performance, grouped suggestions as you search, the ability to delete search history by long pressing, and country specific search suggestions. Ice Cream Sandwich users are already experiencing these features, but for those of you who do not fall under that category can download the updated application from the Android Market. Google shares a few other tips:
- Tap the arrow to the right of a search suggestion or history item to add it to your search term before searching.
- Get suggestions from other apps on your phone – check out searchable items in Search settings.
- Long press on home screen to add the Google Search widget, if you don’t have it already, to access search faster.
The search giant today introduced a couple enhancements to Hangouts, the group video chat feature of the Google+ social service. The new look of the Hangouts interface follows the design language used across Google’s many properties on the web. Thanks to the optimized layout, there is now more real estate for the actual live video feed, leading to a better and more immersive user experience.
Besides the revamped look, Hangouts now support screen sharing, which Google said, “Has graduated from Hangouts with Extras.” Hangouts screen sharing is designed to enable anyone to easily share what is on his or her computer screen with everyone in the hangout. Google noted that many other extras would soon graduate to Hangouts.
OnLive’s Founder and CEO Steve Perlman just announced on the official Google TV Blog that his cloud-gaming platform is launching on Google TV as an application.
The OnLive Viewer app is available now in limited form. It will let users watch other gamers play and engage in a few of OnLive’s social features.
“Cheer (click thumbs-up) if you like what you see,” wrote Perlman. “Try friending and striking up some chat. And, definitely watch some Brag Clip® videos, showing the best (and worst!) of OnLive gaming.”
OnLive is “working closely” with Google to enable full game play with worldwide gamers on Google TV, and more devices with OnLive already built-in will debut soon…
Executive Chairman of Google Eric Schmidt and Vice President Product Innovations and Process Technologies at Daimler Eike Böhm. (Image via 3d-car-shows.com.)
Today at CES 2012 Google and Daimler AG announced a new strategic partnership that will provide the car manufacturer with early access to APIs for building services like Google Maps and Places into automotive-specific applications.
The collaboration will enable Daimler to use Google Maps for their in-car map displays, and significantly improve their ability to quickly and seamlessly integrate useful Google services into Mercedes-Benz passenger vehicles. By making innovative Google products available directly within its cars, Mercedes-Benz is able to accelerate the adoption of cutting edge technologies.
This is not the first partnership announced with Daimler and Google. As the press released noted, Daimler was originally the first carmaker to implement Google Maps’ “Send-to-Car” feature in 2007. Daimler’s Mercedes-Benz vehicles now provide COMAND Online, “a telematics system with cloud-based Mercedes-Benz apps that brings Google Street View, Panoramio and local search.”
The company was also the first to offer individualized routes sent from Google Maps to a vehicle, and plan on making all of these new Google services available to Mercedes-Benz customers in the United States through the mbrace2 infotainment solution in 2012’s second quarter. The full press release is available below:
Google just signed its biggest deal yet with a single company to offer cloud services with 110,000 employees in 26 countries of Spanish bank BBVA switching to Google apps. The bank will use apps like Gmail, Calendar, Chat, Docs, and it will have employees’ access video chats and other collaboration tools. According to BBVA, the deal is the “largest global agreement for the adoption of Google Apps, Google Enterprise suite.”
Through this solution, BBVA seeks to increase its efficiency by providing employees the tools of advanced communication and collaboration. In addition, Google Apps will facilitate collaboration among professionals from the bank, regardless of geographic area in which they are. This is essential to drive innovation in a financial group as global as BBVA.
According to a report from BBC, who talked with BBVA, the move was largely driven by an increasing number of the bank’s staff utilizing smartphones and tablets as their main computer. The bank already moved 35,000 employees to Google Apps and it expects it to roll out to 110,000 staff members during 2012.
Director of innovation for BBVA Carmen Herranz confirmed to BBC that all customer data would remain on the bank’s servers with the move to Google services only applying to communication among staff. The bank had previously rolled out a successful pilot project with around 7,000 staff, and plans to “closely monitor for any increases in network load.” Herranz said their biggest concern is video conferencing.
Vice President of Google Enterprise EMEA Sebastien Marotte gave a statement in BBVA’s press release highlighting the importance of the announcement and growth of Google Apps:
A smartphone reference design by Intel.
Handset maker Motorola Mobility, which was acquired by Google, and is subject to approval from regulators in the United States and Europe, said at CES 2012 yesterday that it would release fewer phones in 2012. The company also announced a multi-year strategic mobile partnership with Intel to make Android smartphones powered by the chipmaker’s struggling Atom platform.
According to Motorola CEO Sanjay Jha’s roundtable meeting with reporters at CES yesterday, Motorola no longer sees value in dispersing its efforts by flooding the market with countless devices:
A lot of products that are roughly the same doesn’t drive the market to a new place. [...] I made this decision independent of what the others will. We’re doing what we think is the right thing.
Motorola issued a warning last week on fourth-quarter results, and the company said numbers would come in below the $3.9 billion that most analysts expected. As for the Motorola-Intel partnership…
Google Maps is making headlines in a variety of ways this week.
A Jan. 10 update to the Android application made noise at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show yesterday. The Google Maps upgrade claimed to increase battery life while improving location tracking within Google Latitude.
The latest version Google Maps also improved Transit Navigation and more closely estimates location position when GPS signal is lost. The update even increased the number of possible transit routes from three to four.
The final update includes indoor maps that can —well— navigate around various indoor venues in the United States. In this particular update, maps for CES in the Las Vegas area were included (hence all the commotion).
“We hope that these indoor maps will come in handy when finding your way through the slots and to the shops,” announced Google on its LatLong blog. “And for those of you who catch gadget-fever with CES in town, we’ve also partnered with a number of Best Buy stores in the Las Vegas area.”
More information on the updates are available below.