Google apparently working on fitness APIs for future Android releases

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With rumors of Apple’s upcoming iWatch and its focus on fitness, it’s not a stretch to think that Google couldn’t also be exploring a similar use for its own devices. Now, as spotted by the unofficial Google Operating System blog, it seems we have our first glimpse at a fitness API for Android.

Whether this API will become available in a future Android update or will require new hardware or sensors to fully operate is not yet known. The company has already included some fitness sensors with its Nexus 5, but there’s currently no way for other devices to take advantage of similar data natively. A system fitness API could open up new doors, not just for Google’s own software, but for third-party developers like Nike.

Dropbox lets third-party devs sync app data w/ new API, now at 175M users

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Dropbox kicked off its developer conference in San Francisco today and with it came a few updates including new tools for devs and the announcement that the service now has 175 million users. That’s up about 75 million users from just last November.

The developer conference also included some announcements about new tools coming to let third-party app and website developers easier integrate Dropbox. The company is introducing a platform for developers that includes a new API called Datastores, allowing app devs to store and sync data from their apps across multiple devices and platforms. It’s something developers have been doing on their own for a while (for example 1Password), but now Dropbox is making easy for all:

The Datastore API provides developers a new way to sync data beyond files across a variety of devices and platforms. The Datastore API allows developers to save their app’s structured data (e.g. contacts, to-do items, and game state) on Dropbox and handles all the magic necessary to sync it quickly and reliably. Users of a Datastore-enabled app can be sure their data will be up-to-date across all their devices whether online or offline.

It also showed off new “Drop-ins” that will let devs easily integrate the ability to open and save from Dropbox within their apps: Read more

Feedly launches new cloud backend & web interface, hits 12M users ahead of Google Reader demise

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Following Google’s announcement that its RSS Reader product would be retired on July 1st, apps like Feedly that relied on the Google Reader backend announced big plans to help itself and other apps through the transition. Feedly has been preparing its move to its own “feedly cloud” back end since the announcement, and earlier this month transitioned its own iOS client to the platform. Today, Feedly is officially launching the new back end and API, as well as a brand new web interface and the first apps to integrate the feedly cloud platform:

As of today, feedly cloud is now live, providing a fast and scalable infrastructure that serves as the backbone to feedly, as well as a number of connected applications. Feedly cloud is open today to all users visiting http://feedly.com, providing a simple one-click migration path from Google Reader.  And thanks to the great developer community that has gathered around it, providing multiple safe and sound alternatives to Google Reader.  With the release of feedly cloud, feedly today transitions from a product to a platform. We are also today delivering a new, completely stand-alone Web version of feedly.

On top of the new API and feedly cloud back end, the company is also delivering on one of the most requested features for the service: a standalone new web interface that doesn’t require any plugins or browser extensions. Read more

Nuance launches ‘Voice Ads’ platform to bring voice recognition tech to mobile advertising

If Nuance gets its way with the just announced ‘Voice Ads’ mobile advertising platform, soon every mobile ad could include Siri-like functionality that lets you communicate with and ask questions about the product being advertised.

Nuance, the company behind the voice recognition module now used in Apple’s Siri, today announced a new project to bring its voice recognition technology to the mobile advertising world. The basic concept of the new platform, which Nuance made available through an SDK for advertising companies, is to bring a two-way, interactive conversation to mobile ads. As highlighted by Nuance in the video above, ads that implement the Voice Ads platform will allow users to engage in a Siri-like conversation with an advertisement:

Nuance Voice Ads gives mobile advertisers and creative agencies an opportunity to go beyond the limitations of the four-inch mobile device screen and create a conversation with consumers through the power of voice recognition. Voice Ads finally creates an opportunity for brands to deepen the relationship with their consumers, with targeted interactive ads that deeply engage their core audience – much in the way that the world’s most popular mobile personal assistants have deepened consumers’ relationship with their mobile phones.

In the demo above, Nuance shows an advertisement for a fictional deodorant brand that uses a magic 8-ball theme to answer any question that users might have. The ad of course ends in a pitch for the product in question, as you might expect. Other ads could allow users to ask specific questions about a product’s release date or specs…

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Google Consumer Surveys help to analyze voter preferences, while Google products serve up voter-information queries

Google just gave itself a pat on the back by detailing how Google Consumer Surveys efficiently polls anonymous web users and helps to analyze voter preferences.

“So how’d you all do in your first election with us?” wrote Googler Brett Slatkin on the official Google Politics blog, “Pretty spectacularly.”

FiveThiryEight’s Nate Silver, a media-dubbed “high priest” of polling, called Google Consumer Surveys the “No. 1 most accurate poll online and the No. 2 most accurate poll overall,” according to Slatkin, while the Pew Research Center said Google’s surveys will “likely be an important addition to the research tool kit available to pollsters.”

The surveys run across the web and subsequently earn websites money for showing them, and web surfers can then anonymously submit their responses, and the cropped data gives publishers, such as Texas Tribune, Denver Post, etc., as well as political campaigns, academics, start-ups, and marketers, detailed research to better improve their products.

In related news, Google does more than collect data; the Internet giant also supplies it. Eric Hysen, of the Google Politics and Elections team, said the search engine saw “unprecedented digital engagement in this election on Google and across the web” during the 2012 U.S. Elections.

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