Posts Tagged ‘Google’

Google Plus

Saturday, July 9th, 2011

The idea of Google releasing a social network to compete with Facebook has been floating around for a while, but they hit us by surprise with the soft launch of Google Plus. This was also used to facilitate a redesign of other Google products – namely Gmail, Google Search, and the service-wide top bar.

Let’s circle back around later

When first setting up your account, you’re encouraged to set up “circles”: groups of people that you can use to control who sees what. A really cool UI powers the dragging and dropping of people into different circles…it feels familiar, but I can’t quite place it. You can add people to your circles and they can add you to their circles, but the person on the receiving end can’t see which circle they’ve been added to. It took me a while to fully grasp the level of mutualism; in this sense, it’s a lot more like Twitter than Facebook. It’s not zero sum – adding someone to a circle doesn’t require them to do the same with you.

Once circles are set up, entering profile information is pretty straightforward. Integration with your existing Google Profile is nice, and from here on out it’s essentially what would be expected of a standard social network.

Similarity to Facebook

It’s tough to describe functionality without using the word “Facebook”. The core of the app, especially the news feed, is very reminiscent of Facebook, but there are a few differences. With Facebook, segmentation of your friends is a hard-to-find afterthought, but in Plus, it’s one of the first things you do. Collaborative video chats (“Hangouts”) are something that Zuckerberg has yet to fully implement, but that’ll be changing soon, likely as a response to Plus. The user interface, although a little cleaned up, mimics Facebook in many ways, from the layout of a sidebar on the left to the indented format of comments. It almost reminds me of the Microsoft Store to Apple Store comparison.

A lot of things are awesome

Based on search queries and the potential for data collection with +1′ing, Google can have a much better idea of who someone is than Facebook does, and it’d be really cool to see some integration of that into how you’re connected to people. The fact that the Google header follows you around in Gmail, search, maps, etc. is also helpful.

But why could this be better?

Google does have a few advantages in terms of a userbase and ties with existing products, and is definitely better positioned to have a social network. But the timing’s way off. They’re putting up a brand-new silo right next to Facebook, and I’m not sure the segmentation will be a good thing. Photos are especially an issue – the inconvenience could be huge to have some photos on Facebook, some photos on Flickr, and now some photos on Plus.

And although it’s a small problem that’ll likely be taken care of in the future, there’s a significant delay between when you get a notification in Plus and when the email is sent. Not a huge deal, but it does throw you off when getting an email that’s notifying you of something that happened a few hours ago.

The bottom line

It’s a cool webapp. But when it comes down to the sandpaper, they’re not solving a real problem or filling a real need – they’re just trying to keep up with everyone else.

Tech Trends: Week of 3/7/11

Sunday, March 13th, 2011

Adobe’s Flash to HTML5 tool released

In a battle that’s been brewing longer than my coffee, Adobe’s finally starting to capitulate in Apple’s crusade against Flash. They’ve released an AIR tool, “Wallaby”, that lets developers convert Flash content to HTML5. I’m glad to see them try to make things work – it’s pretty obvious that Apple’s not going to change their mind anytime soon, and the more content available on iOS, the better. And although it’s still in very early stages, the tool seems to work decently well.

 

HP promises WebOS across all their PCs

I’ve heard some rumors before that HP might try to push WebOS out on PCs in the future, but certainly didn’t expect to see an announcement any time soon. But in from official announcement, from 2012 onwards, all HP computers will be dual-bootable with Windows and WebOS. I appreciate and understand the mentality of providing a unified experience across all devices, but don’t quite grasp how they think the mobile operating system will be useful on a traditional PC. No complaints from a consumer’s perspective – I’m all for more options. I’m just not sure the effort’s worth it on HP’s part; hopefully they’ll prove me wrong.

Android’s number one

We all knew this was coming, but Android’s formally secured the spot as the most popular mobile OS in the United States. Given the insane number of Android devices on the market, the 31.2% market share makes plenty of sense. Granted, at a 30.4% share, BlackBerry could easily rise to the top – but in the long term, I don’t see things changing too much.

iOS 4.3 drops

In preparation for the iPad 2 launch, iOS 4.3 went up for download on the 9th. There’s nothing mind-blowing here, just some small tweaks and updates: Personal Hotspot functionality on the iPhone 4, better JavaScript support, Home Sharing, and some AirPlay fixes. And sadly enough, support for the iPhone 3G was dropped.

iPad 2!

Apple’s iPad 2 was finally released to anxious lines of nerds at malls nationwide. 1 GHz A5. 1024×1768 resolution. Two cameras. 10 hour battery. Enough said.

 

Do you go crazy thinking about WebOS on a PC? Wait in line for an iPad 2? Any other thoughts about the last week’s news? Drop a comment!

Tech Trends: Week of 1/31/11

Tuesday, February 8th, 2011

Last week’s been full of previously whispered happenings coming to life…here’s a few of the high points.

Verizon iPhone drops

After what seems like a lifetime of waiting and thousands of blog posts, it’s finally here. The Verizon iPhone. And it broke all kinds of records, including Verizon’s first-day sales within two hours; further investigation also shows that it could have been compatible with both GSM and CDMA carriers. Now let’s stop talking about it.

iPad 2 buzz builds

Just as with the iPhone 5, it’s pretty obvious that the iPad 2 will be coming sooner rather than later. Some recent spy shots from China show a lighter display, although most of us are still in the dark in terms of what resolution the device will have. A Retina Display is all but discarded at this point; 2048 x 1536 is the current popular consensus.

The Daily finally unveiled

The Daily, News Corp’s attempt to push their content to a digital audience, launched on the 2nd. For $.99 per week or $39.99 per year, it’s not an awful price, but from what I’ve seen of the app, it doesn’t seem to be worth it. Especially with the existence of free apps among the likes of Flipboard (which also seems to be a smoother experience), I doubt most technically inclined iPad users will bite.

Bing steals from Google

Couldn’t help but chuckle at this one. After a hefty quarrel at Farsight 2011, Google’s now pointing fingers at Bing for stealing search results. Apparently they’ve been suspicious for a while, and set up a random keyword association (hiybbprqag) to a page that Bing indeed also miraculously happened to have in their database. Gasp.

IPcalypse!

Hide yo’ kids, hide yo’ wife…we’re out of IPv4 addresses. Not strictly speaking, that is – millions are still in reserve and available for ISPs to distribute. But at some point in the near future when those are exhausted, the switch to IPv6 will be inevitable.

Drop any cash for the Verizon iPhone? Thoughts on The Daily? Building an underground bunker for when IPv4 is no more?