Google’s head of social reiterates Google+ is not going away, ‘very happy’ with progress

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Re/code has posted an interview with Google’s ‘new’ head of social at the company, David Besbris, after taking over from Vic Gundotra. The interview ranges in scope, but most notably it opens with a direct question about the future of Google+ with many rumors circulating that Google intends to kill off the ‘failure’.

Unsurprisingly, Besbris denies the claims and says that Google made a long-term bet. It has no intentions to drop Google+ from its offerings.

Is Google+ going away anytime soon?

We’re actually very happy with the progress of Google+, [CEO Larry Page] said this at the time that Vic transitioned that he’s going to continue working on building this stuff, that he’s very happy with it. The company is behind it. I have no idea where these rumors come from to be honest with you.

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Skype says free group video calling coming in the future to more platforms

Earlier this month, Microsoft-owned Skype rolled out a group video calling feature to Windows tablets. The free video calling allows for calls with up to ten people, and integrates with Skype on the desktop, which has supported group video calling since April.

Today, Skype tells us that the group video calling feature will be coming to all of its mobile platforms in the future:

We’re excited about Skype group video calling and are working to bring it to more of our platforms. In the future, we’ll be enabling group video calling for all our users across more platforms – at no cost

Unfortunately, the company could not yet provide a more specific rollout timeframe. Skype has been rapidly releasing new products over the past several months, with a major redesign of the Skype iPhone app arriving a couple of months ago.

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Google testing new Gmail for Android app that lets you pin and snooze emails

Google might be preparing to release a new Gmail app for at least Android devices that will introduce a few new notable features.

Geek.com got its hands on the screenshots above that is apparently a version of Gmail for Android that Google is currently testing. It includes new Travel, Purchases, and Finance categories in addition to the Social, Promotions, Updates and Forums categories currently available. Also present is a pinning feature for making emails of your choosing remain at the top of your inbox as well as a “snoozing” feature that allows you to delay an email for a set amount of time much like hitting snooze on your alarm clock. Within a slightly tweaked UI you’ll also notice a new toggle at the top of your inbox that allows you to switch between showing pinned emails and haven them return to chronological order.

There’s always a chance the features above will never make it out of testing, but there’s also a possibility Google could be planning to roll them out to users in a future update. As always, we’ll keep you updated as we learn more.  Read more

Twitter announces photo tagging, multiple photo uploads per tweet rolling out to Android users

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Twitter has announced a few new features for its Android app today. Users with the latest update to the Twitter for Android app will soon see the ability to select up to four photos at a time to upload when composing a tweet. These photos will be displayed as a collage on the tweet’s detail screen.

Along with the multi-photo support, users are also now able to tag other people in their photos. A new “who’s in these photos?” button allows you to add the username of other people in the picture. Photo tags won’t take up any characters in the body of the tweet, so the full character count will be available for composing a message.

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Leaked screenshots show redesigned Gmail with ‘Categories’ feature to sort emails by content

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The image above is being passed around by an anonymous tipster this evening that claims to have screenshots alongside some new information about an upcoming version of Gmail for both the web and mobile devices.

According to the tipster, the update Gmail for web will have new Category tabs that organize emails into separate inboxes based on the content within (as pictured above). Examples given include Main (for family, friends and everything that doesn’t belong in another category), ‘Social’ for emails related to social networks, ‘Offers’ for promotional material, ‘Notifications’ for reservations, bills, etc, and ‘Forums’ for mailing lists and forums.

We have no way of verifying the legitimacy of the tip, but it’s an interesting concept nonetheless and it will apparently also be hitting the new Gmail mobile apps when it begins rolling out this Wednesday… Read more

Google+ Hangouts will soon include SMS integration

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Google announced its new cross-platform messaging service called Hangouts at Google I/O yesterday, which prompted many users to wonder if Google had plans to bring SMS and messaging unification to the Hangouts inbox.

Droid Life points us to comments by Dori Storbeck, who manages the Hangouts and Chat Google+ community, which confirm integration with SMS is highly requested and coming soon.

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We expect SMS integration will only be available on Android as iOS doesn’t allow the necessary hooks to pull off the feature, which makes the platform that much more appealing for fans of the Hangouts service.

Hangouts launched on the Play Store for Android and App Store for iOS yesterday, as well as Google+ or Gmail on the desktop. Read more

Google updates Hangouts On Air: Rewind & autoplay live broadcasts, higher quality video & faster YouTube uploads

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Google has updated Google+ today with a couple notable and highly requested new features for Hangouts on Air users. The first big new feature is the ability to rewind live broadcasts, allowing users to navigate back to the beginning of a broadcast regardless of when they started watching. Other improvements include higher quality video for those joining Hangouts on Air from a mobile device, as well new auto-playing broadcasts that don’t require users to refresh the page when aHangout starts.

Google did note that “it may take longer to set up your Hangout On Air. For example: the ‘Start broadcasting’ button may be grayed out for a bit, before it turns red.” That change is to provide users with enough time to get everything in place before starting the Hangout.

Google appears to have been able to implement the changes by now processing the video in real-time rather than after the fact, which also means it’s promising Hangouts will be instantly uploaded and ready to watch on YouTube the second you go off air:
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Google Plus now aims its sights at Quora

Google is adamant on accelerating work on its Google+ social network. By doing so, the company has already stepped on people’s toes. An upcoming Q&A feature from Google does not seem to be aimed squarely at Quora, a popular question-and-answer website, but the Quora people understandably cann0t be too happy about this development. See, according to VentureBeat, the search company is trying out a new capability called “Ask on Google+” allowing you to ask friends about the topics you are searching for. It is akin to Facebook Questions, with one huge advantage: One accesses it easily at the bottom of one’s search results:

Click the link to ask your friends any question related to restaurants, movies, how to make friends on Google+, or other topics. Your question will automatically be posted to your Google+ stream for your friends to answer.

Granted, it is nowhere near as complete as Quora and it lacks the basic component, a Q&A engine. In its current implementation, asking stuff on Google+ from your search results simply puts up an overlay window with a pre-populated Google+ post related to your search query. For example, if I were searching for “2012 Android smartphones,” clicking the “Ask on Google+” link would create the “Hi there! I have a question about 2012 Android smartphones…” message. You can edit the message, select your audience, or add a location, photo, video or URL. The folks with whom you shared the message will not be able to select from custom choices like with Facebook Answers. Still, it certainly does not mean crowd-sourcing answers from your Google+ friends will not take some allure off Quora and similar services— quite the contrary.

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Google homepage now points to Google Plus, so you don’t quite miss it (literally)

No, we did not photoshop that arrow in. In an effort to push Google Plus, which just went into public beta today, Google is now literally pointing to the Plus link with an arrow. Also, below the search box you will find a link to signup. With Google’s 1,100,000,000 pageviews a day (according to Website Outlook, so we’re not sure how accurate that really is) they’re bound to bring in some traffic. What are you waiting for; sign up!

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Google+ now open to everyone: Live broadcasts, hangouts on your phone, search

Google rolled out nine new features pertained to its social thing dubbed Google+. Per the official blog post by Google’s head of engineering Vic Gundotra, the service is no longer in limited beta. Beginning today, everyone can join the party at google.com/+ – no invitation required. Yes, Facebook’s worst nightmare comes true just three months following the service’s introduction.

Next up, Google’s search expertise comes to Google+. The big search box now returns relevant people, posts and web content. The popular Hangout feature has gotten lots of enhancements. For example, developers can now take advantage of the new Google+ Hangouts APIs to write more integrated, immersive apps. Google-created Hangout extras (still rough around the edges) include screensharing, sketchpad, Google Docs integration and named hangouts. Give it a try by clicking the “Try Hangouts with extras” link in the green room.

Even more interesting, it is now possible to broadcast a hangout for the world wide web to see. They call it Hangouts on Air and even though you can broadcast and record your session, there’s still that nagging nine-per-hangout limit. Of course, an unlimited number of people can be spectators of your live broadcast.

Another cool addition: You can join a hangout from your mobile phone, by finding an active hangout in the Stream of the Google+ app and tapping “Join”. This works on Android 2.3+ phones with front-facing cameras, but Google said iOS support is “coming soon”. The aforementioned features will be rolling out globally over the next day (not days, per usual), Google said.

Google released the Hangout API for developers as well.

Last,  but not the least, Dave Girouard, a Google Apps guy, announced on Twitter that Google+ is coming to business and education customers soon, indicating that Google+ will be rolled out to Google Apps users. “New stuff on G+ today that biz/edu will love! Working hard to bring G+ to Google Apps in the very near future!”, his tweet reads. In our opinion, this could be a game-changer in the social media landscape, probably putting Facebook on the defensive – especially when Google begins selling and promoting Google+ apps on the Apps Marketplace.

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