Babel Stories February 26, 2014

Sundar Pichai

Sundar Pichai at D: All Things Digital conference

Despite widespread reporting that Google bid and failed to purchase WhatsApp ahead of Facebook’s $19 billion acquisition of the messaging platform company, Google SVP Sundar Pichai went on the record during a panel discussion at Mobile World Congress to put that claim to bed, The Telegraph reports.

“Whatsapp was definitely an exciting product,” he said. “We never made an offer to acquire them. Press reports to the contrary are simply untrue.”

The source of the reports that Google attempted to pick up WhatsApp for $10 billion source back to a report by Fortune citing “two separate sources” claiming Google had previously underbid Facebook. expand full story

Babel Stories May 16, 2013

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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. expand full story

Babel Stories May 15, 2013

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Google+ will receive a card-based interface redesign featuring a new three column view. The new interface is responsive to the user’s display size. The new multi-column view is customizable meaning you can toggle back to the previous single column view if you prefer.

Google+ will also begin rolling out intelligent hashtags for photos, meaning if you post a photo of the Eiffel Tower, Google+ can automatically recognize the subject and appropriately tag it for you.

Users will now be able to view related photos by clicking on the current photo and seeing related hashtags on the flip side of the photo. A video below highlighting the related hashtag feature is below.

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Update: The apps are now live on Google Play and the App Store.

Google today launched its much rumored messaging service live on stage at its I/O keynote and announced the service would be coming to multiple platforms today. While some thought the service would be dubbed “Babel,” Google instead rolled out a standalone app called simply “Hangouts” that will be coming to iOS, Android and desktop later today.

Google execs provided a demo of the app running on Android today, but also gave us a glimpse of the iOS version as pictured above. The demo mostly focused on showing a list of conversations (not contacts) as well as one-on-one and group messaging, photo albums stored in the cloud, and the ability to start text conversations and video calls with contacts in one tap.

As for Gmail:

What does this mean for your Gmail? You now have the option to switch from the current version of chat to Hangouts. Simply click “Try it out” next to your chat list to switch to Hangouts and give your chat an instant facelift (literally!). You’ll now see the profile photos in the order of your most recent conversations. With Hangouts, you’ll also be able to quickly send messages, have video calls with up to ten people at once, and share photos. You can start a conversation with just one friend or even a whole group.

Google made a point of noting that conversations are stored and saved in the cloud, allowing users to have long-lasting conversations and browse a full history that dates back months or years. The app will unify and replace the Google Talk, Google+ Messenger, and the Google+ Hangout apps that currently make up Google’s messaging services.

The service will be launching as a new standalone app called Hangouts for iOS devices, Android, and on the desktop some time today.

Google today announced a new service called Google Play for Education that allows schools to easier find and distribute Google Play content to Android devices in schools.

The Google Play Education store will allow schools to search for content by subject matter and grade level and provide content that has been recommended by other educators. Google is teaming up with partners such as NASA and PBS for content but it will also begin accepting app submissions from developers this summer before the education store launches this fall.

Rather than using credit cards in an education environment, teachers will be able to purchase bulk quantities of apps and charge licenses against a balance from the school’s purchase order. The Google Play for Education service will also allow school’s that use Google Apps to instantly distribute an app to multiple devices in a school by setting up a Google Group

Google Play for Education will be launching this fall. You can learn more at https://developers.google.com/edu/.

Google: Chrome is the most used browser with 750+ million active users

At its I/O keynote taking place right now, Google is going over improvements it’s made to Chrome and to kick things off the company announced that the browser is now home to over 750 million active users across all platforms. That’s means the company has added over 300 million users since it announced 450 million active users at its I/O event last year.

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It isn’t a Nexus but it might as well be. Google announced a special version of the Samsung Galaxy S4 that will run stock Android, has an open boot loader and get updates straight from Google. You can buy 16GB (with open SD card slot) for AT&T and T-Mobile at the Play Store for $649 starting on June 25th.

Yay? expand full story

Google just announced its much rumored new music service that it is calling Google Play Music “All Access” live on stage at its Google I/O event keynote presentation.

Google execs focused on showing off curated playlists but also made a note of pointing out a “radio” feature that will automatically create an endless radio station based on the song you’re currently listening to. The service will also allow users to search for a particular song or view the “playlist” of a radio station to remove unwanted songs.

The service also includes a feature called “Listen Now” that will provide quick access to recently listened to songs, customized radio stations based on your preferences, and recommendations for new releases from artists you like.

The service will be available on the web, tablets, and phones and cost users $9.99 per month with a 30 day free trial in the US. Those that sign up before the end of June will be able to get the subscription for just $7.99/month and Google said the service will land in other countries soon.

Babel Stories May 14, 2013

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Microsoft is rolling out Google Talk integration to its online email service Outlook, which is something that could tempt Gmail users try out the less popular competing service.

Microsoft, which owns its own chat service by way of its Skype purchase, is using Google’s public API to include Google Talk integration on Outlook.com. The timing is interesting as we expect Google to announce its new messaging service at Google I/O this week. expand full story

Babel Stories April 10, 2013

Report shares more details on Google’s rumored Babel messaging service

We have been seeing more leaks surrounding Google’s much rumored unified chat service that most are calling “Babel”. On Monday we got a look at some pretty legit looking screenshots of Babel inside of Gmail that apparently came straight from a Google engineer testing the service, and today we get even more details about Babel.

A new report from Droid-life claims to have additional details about the service including a feature list from sources close to the project.

Google Babel as a product is a collaboration of work by the Google+, Android, Chrome and Apps teams. Through their combined efforts, as was previously reported by us, we’ll see this unified service launch in Gmail and as Android, iOS, and Chrome apps. What’s particularly interesting, is that Google is talking about the iOS app as being the first time they have built a “first class iOS experience” when it comes to a messaging service.

On top of a “first class iOS experience,” the report also says that Google Voice will eventually be integrated alongside Talk, Hangouts, and Messenger, but not initially at launch. Other features apparently coming to the yet to launch service include: notification syncing across devices, an updated messaging UI, group conversations, 800+ emoji, and some other expected features. Head below for the full list:

  • Brand new UI. We’ve designed a new UI that’s applied across all clients and promotes conversations.
  • Stay in sync.  With just one conversation list and experience across mobile and desktop, everything is always in sync. Install the Chrome app, the Android app, and iOS app.
  • Desktop app.  Stop laying whack a mole across blinking browser tabs. With the new Chrome app your conversations continue outside of the browser.
  • Keep a group conversation going to coordinate with your team, and start a Hangout with a single tap whenever you need to talk face-to-face.
  • Be notified…just once.  Get notifications on your two phones, tablet, laptop, and desktop. Open it on one and watch the others disappear. If you’re actively using your computer or phone we’ll even intelligently notify you on just one of those endpoints. Magic!
  • Message more than just text.  Add a photo to the conversation and/or send some of the 800+ emoji to your coworkers. Kittens and poop are particularly helpful in explaining complex issues.
  • Get nostalgic.  Scroll back in time and relive any (on-the-record) conversation, on any device.
  • More ways to talk.  For the first time we are building a first class iOS experience. Try out our very early preview on your iPhone or iPod Touch.

Babel Stories April 8, 2013

WhatsApp says it’s not holding sales talks with Google despite earlier rumor

This past weekend, a rumor had claimed that Google is holding talks with WhatsApp to acquire the messaging service for around $1 billion. Tonight, WhatsApp has told AllThingsD that it is not holding sales talks with Google. Meanwhile, Google is rumored to soon be launching its own “Babel” messaging service.

Rumors of an upcoming messaging service from Google dubbed “Babel” have been steadily popping up in recent months. We first heard back in March that the service would unify Google’s chat services such as Google Talk, Chat for Drive, Google+ Hangouts, etc, and since got a look at two different sets of screenshots showing variations of what tipsters both alleged were an Android app for the rumored service.

After a small hint at Gmail integration for Babel this morning, we now get yet another set of photos, this time reportedly showing what the service will look like inside of Gmail. TechRadar posted the images above that apparently come from an anonymous Google employee currently testing Babel.

From the screenshots we see a slightly tweaked text layout, new emoticons and the expected Google+ integration, but not much else.  expand full story

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