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Posts from the ‘google’ Category


Confirmed: Google broke App Store rules with iPhone app

Okay, any talk that consistency in Apple’s approval process for the App Store has improved definitely has to be put on hold at this point; first we had that BdEmailer situation that duplicates functionality (albeit shoddily) of the iPhone’s own email capabilities, and now we have official confirmation that Google did a no-no when it slipped its voice-powered search through the checkpoint. The problem is that enabling the automatic voice detection requires use of an undocumented API call for the proximity sensor that Apple neither guarantees nor approves use of, meaning firmware updates can break it at will. In and of itself, that’s not a huge indiscretion on Google’s part since they’re probably committed to keeping it up-to-date, but the real issue is that this violates an explicit rule of the App Store that bans the use of undocumented calls. Apple, guys, seriously: if you want to be jerks about what gets through and what doesn’t, fine — but at least do it consistently so it doesn’t look like you’re favoring companies run by members of your own executive board (or in the case of BdEmailer, companies that are doing a bang-up job of making your own products look better). Read

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YouTube Goes 16:9 Wide

YouTube has apparently changed all videos on its site to play in widescreen format. Because most videos on the site were originally uploaded in a ratio closer to 4:3 (the standard size used on non-HD televisions), most videos are playing with horizontal black bars on the side. Some videos (like this one ) are taking advantage of the full space, but are shrunk down to the normal size when they’re embedded elsewhere.
It seems that YouTube is either doing A/B testing or that the changes haven’t propagated to all servers (if that’s even possible) – hard refreshing on videos seems to alternate between the standard video player and the widescreen one. But it’s a widespread change, as hundreds of tweets are pouring in in about the switch to widescreen.
Widescreen YouTube videos have been spotted before now and could be enabled using a tag in the video’s URL, but this seems to be the first time that the feature is activated by default. The change may be related to YouTube’s recent announcement of full-length films from MGM, which pits it directly against Hulu.

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Google Sync for BlackBerry gets into your contacts

If you’re a BlackBerry user or a prospective user, and also happen to be a Gmail enthusiast, you’re going to be a lot happier than you were yesterday, because Google’s just added over-the-air contact syncing to its Google Sync application. Previously, the app was only able to sync up calendars between the cloud and RIM devices every two hours. Now you can get your names and numbers in the mix, so it looks like the nightmare days of having one list of contacts in Gmail and another, totally different one in your ‘Berry are apparently at an end. Sure, Google’s timing on this seems a little convenient to us, coming as it does just before the BlackBerry Storm launch, but we’re not going to complain about something that makes ours lives easier, okay? Read 

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Gmail Themes. Sweet!

Yes, lucky Gmail users, including me, have access to a “Themes” tab in their Gmail settings. No more Greasemonkey scripts! See my “Mountain” theme below. Like selected iGoogle themes, the theme image can change according to the time of the day, which it askes where your current location is before applying it.

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China’s Android-powered Sciphone Dream G2

An Andriod phone? And by the ways, this isn’t the successor to the T-Mobile G1. They copied the name. And then added a 2 just because they thought it’ll sound cooler and more advanced than the G1. It’s coming November 28th, in China only presumably. It’ll feature EDGE data, WiFi, 4-megapixel cam with autofocus, 50MB of internal memory, microSD expansion to 16GB, FM radio, a QVGA display, and “the most advanced software ever engineered.” (I thought OS X was..)

Keyboard? What keyboard?
Yes, as far as we can see, there’s no keyboard at all. And Andriod doesn’t have a on screen keyboard yet within the OS, so I wonder, how can you text and write emails? Hmm, we’ll see in 10 days time.

Josh’s Verdict: Stick to your T-Mobile G1 for now, as least you can type on it. 

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The story behind the fake Google Switch

For this story I’m taking you back to an age long long ago, before the release of the SamsungOmnia, Blackberry Bold, T-Mobile G1 and iPhone 3G, even before the release of the Nokia N95 or the iPod Touch. Let me take you back to August 2006…

Philosophizing about a school project

Around this time students Egbert VeenstraSytse-Jan Kooistra and Sam Baas were philosophizing about a new school project they had to work on. And as they were having a drink and a laugh in the summer sun they came up with the perfect idea for their project. They realized that the phone as we knew it back in 2006 could be so much more and wanted to develop a new revolutionary phone. Well, develop…they obviously did not have the resources to actually build a new phone, but they were armed with a much bigger weapon: their creative minds. And as they put their minds to work they developed a concept of the ultimate new phone.

The ultimate new phone

Gmail - Scoop voor The Next Web? - ejpfauth@gmail.comIt had a touch screen that didn’t require a stylus, service-side processor power (whatever that is, but sounds really cool) and some ingenious ways for finger-touch text input. So they developed a concept phone by using some 3D designing software they used for their study and by making a picture of a table and a screenshot of their own phone’s screen they pulled together a nice mock-up. Now they only had to come up with a name and given the total switch their phone would make in people’s perception of a mobile phone they decided that it had to be named Switch. But while they were working on their project, they were also thinking of sending their concept phone to some leading tech blogs to see how hard it was to fool those guys. They only needed to associate their concept with a big company. Apple? Google? Microsoft?

Cupertino, California

Around the same time, but in a slightly different setting, Apple HQ in Cupertino, California, the research and development department of Apple was working on a new phone as well. A revolutionary phone. A phone that would totally change the way people thought about phones. Nearly six months later they finished it, not very surprising it was called the iPhone and CEO Steve Jobs was able to startle the world with a whole new concept. The world of mobile would never be the same again.

Get attention

Around this time, January 2007, the three Dutch students were watching Steve Jobs’ keynote as well. And as you can imagine they were stunned when they saw a real phone that was much like the idea they had been working on for the last six months. They were dedicated to get at least a bit of the attention and as soon as the rumors about Google creating a phone came around, they knew exactly what to do: leak their Google Switch to the biggest gadget blogs by sending some fake blurry pictures.
Gmail - Scoop voor The Next Web? - ejpfauth@gmail.comGmail - Scoop voor The Next Web? -

The hype they wanted

Now take a moment to Google “google switch”, do both an image search and a text search and have a glance at the results. The guys got what they wanted and created a hype in which all big gadget blogs were involved.

Ideas are open knowledge

But what’s the main takeaway of this story? It actually reminded me of a passage from my bible. My bible is written by marketing god Paul Arden, who was creative director at Saatchi&Saatchi and passed away earlier this year. His book is titled: It’s not how good you are, it’s how good you want to be. Allow me to cite a passage which is completely in line with this story:
“Ideas are open knowledge. Don’t claim ownership. They’re not your ideas anyway, they’re someone else’s. They are out there floating by on the ether. You just have to put yourself in a frame of mind to pick them up.”

Work ethic

I truly believe that finding an idea is by far the easiest part of innovation. Because 99% of every idea is about stuff that is already out there. If your idea isn’t based on a lot of stuff that’s already around, nobody would understand you. So if you look at this story from that perspective, it is not very surprising that three young Dutch guys and Apple had the same ideas around the same time. It’s all about what comes after the idea, about having the will, the believe, the drive, the energy, to make your idea happen. And if you have those qualities, and if you’re lucky, you might just become very very rich.
You can read the full story from the students themselves here.

Google Chat now offers Video, Audio Chat

It’s been over two years since Google brought text-only Chat to the Gmail web interface: and whilst the feature has certainly seen a number of small additions in that time, I think it’s fairly safe to say that the efforts with Chat to date will pale into insignificance withGoogle’s announcement on the Gmail blogthat Video and Audio chat will shortly be arriving in an inbox near you.

The features, which require a plugin [available for both PC and Mac OS X] allow you to initiate video and audio chats from within the web browser. You can even expand the size of the video chat, and thanks to the feature being based on a number of widely used standards, you should in theory be able to chat with a fairly large number of contacts who don’t need to be using the web interface [it’s also worth noting that one-way video and audio chat is also possible].

Unfortunately, the feature isn’t available just yet: the Googlers say the feature has only just begun rollout – however you can visit the Gmail videochat page to download the browser plugin and get ready for your account to be enabled in the next few days.