Tag Archives: google

5 Things You Have to See in the New Google Maps

map

Google Maps has a whole new look and several new features that are downright fun to explore. Thenew Google Maps was officially announced earlier this month May at Google I/O, the company annual conference for developers, and has been rolling out to users ever since.

If you see a prompt to try the new Google Maps, take it! This article highlights some of the new elements and features you really have to try out for yourself once you get access to the new Maps.

Some big disclaimers: Your operating system and browser need to meet a bunch of requirements for the features to work. First, the full new version of Google Maps only works on the Windows or Mac desktop browser for Google Chrome and Firefox. It does not work on mobile devices. You also need to have Mac OS X 10.8.3 or later; Windows Vista, 7, or 8; or the Chrome OS. You also need to have generally up-to-date video card hardware and drivers.

You can see a number of the new features in “Lite mode” with Safari 6 or later or Internet Explorer 10. Lite mode also works on Windows XP (but not in Firefox), and for earlier versions of the Mac OS. Google says that other browser and operating systems “may work, but are not officially supported.”

1. Google Earth, now seamlessly on the Web. The new Google Maps treats Google Earth like it’s part of the whole kit and caboodle, similar to how Maps has long treated the street view feature.

You can jump out to the Google Earth view by simply clicking a box in the lower left corner.

2. Flights integrated with directions. Google Flights, a flights-for-purchase search engine, is now knitted into Google Maps when you look up directions for longer journeys.

Say you pull up directions between Washington D.C. and Asheville, NC. You can find directions and estimated travel time for driving, as you could before, as well as public transit, walking, and bicycling when they exist for your route). And now there’s a fifth option: flights. Click the airplane icon, and you’ll see some estimated flight times and sample prices for flights a few weeks from the present time. You can then click through to Google Flights to adjust the options and actually find airline tickets to buy.

3. Photo tour. When Google knows of a landmark that many people have photographed (and posted publicly on Google), there might be a photo tour of that site. It’s not always available, but when it is, it appears along the bottom of the page with other photos with an icon of a “play” (triangle) button instead of a camera icon. Google Maps then stitches together some of the best photos it has of the landmark to show you how it looks from many angles, at different times of day, as shot by different people.

4. Photo sphere. Another feature you’ll see for frequently photographed sites is the photo sphere. This icon is hard to make out, but it resembles an overly oblong globe, and it too is positioned over a photograph on the bottom of the screen. Click it, and you’ll can then click and drag the cursor to rotate through a 360-degree shot of the location.

5. Dive inside a business. This last feature I want to highlight is little more than an animation, but it looks good and adds to the fresh feeling of the new Maps. The catch is: Your browser and OS have to meet a bunch of requirements for it to work (actually, that’s true of many of the new features in Maps). Nonetheless, search out a venue or business on Google Maps that has interior photos—you can tell it does from the small preview card that appears in the upper left side—and click on any interior image to be whisked inside.

Google Glass not to allow face recognition for now

glass

Google will not allow face recognition on its Glass wearable computer for now, until there are strong privacy protections.

“We’ve been listening closely to you, and many have expressed both interest and concern around the possibilities of facial recognition in Glass,” the company’s Project Glass wrote in a post on Google+ on Saturday.

The Project added that in line with Google’s policy for several years, it won’t add facial recognition features to its products “without having strong privacy protections in place.” The company said it won’t be approving any facial recognition Glassware at this time. Glassware are Web-based services that interact with Google Glass.

Google Glass has already come in for criticism on privacy and other issues. Eight members of the U.S. Congress wrote to Google CEO Larry Page last month, asking for information on the privacy protections Google plans for the wearable computer. It reminded Google that in 2010 it was discovered that the company was collecting information across the world from unencrypted wireless networks. “When using Google Glass, is it true that this product would be able to use Facial Recognition Technology to unveil personal information about whomever and even some inanimate objects that the user is viewing ?” the members of the Congressional Bipartisan Privacy Caucus asked.

A bill was also introduced in the West Virginia Legislature to make it an offense to operate a motor vehicle using a wearable computer with a head-mounted display. Casinos in Las Vegas and some bars are also considering banning the devices due to privacy concerns, according to reports. Lambda Labs, a startup in San Francisco, has offered a face-recognition application programming interface for Glass.

Google has modified its platform developer policies to prohibit the use of the camera or microphone “to cross-reference and immediately present personal information identifying anyone other than the user, including use cases such as facial recognition and voice print.”

In response to concerns that Glass users may take video without the people around them knowing about it, Google has also told users not to turn off or disable the display when using the camera. “The display must become active when taking a picture and stay active during a video recording as part of your application,” it added.

 

Google said to deploy Wi-Fi blimps in Africa and Asia

How can the Internet be brought to areas that have no infrastructure for high-speed wireless? Beam the Wi-Fi networks down from flying objects, of course.

Google is reportedly working on creating wireless networks for more remote parts of the world, such as countries in sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia, with sky-bound balloons and blimps, according to Wired.

Dubbed “high-altitude platforms,” these mechanisms will reportedly be able to connect roughly a billion more people to the Internet worldwide, according to Wired. The blimps signals are said to be able to reach people in areas that are hundreds of square miles.

Last week, the Wall Street Journal reported that Google is going into the cellular business in Africa and Asia in an effort to connect more people to the Internet. Citing anonymous sources, the news source reported that the networks would be available outside of big cities, where service is spotty or not available.

Besides the Wi-Fi blimps, Google is reportedly also considering a satellite-based wireless system, along with testing other kinds of wireless frequencies, according to the Wall Street Journal. “There’s not going to be one technology that will be the silver bullet,” an anonymous source told the Journal.

It appears that Google has been working on high-altitude platforms for quite some time. In 2000, the company filed a patent application for a “High altitude platform control system,” which involved creating an “aerospace vehicle” that could “improve the reliability of a communications system.”

Also, Google isn’t the only company that has been working on creating communication networks via blimps and balloons. Lockheed Martin and GlobeTel Communications have also been working on such inventions. And, the company Space Data already operates a network of high-altitude, balloon-borne transceivers known as SkySite Platforms, which serve as wireless towers.

How to set a default view for Google Calendar

Google offers lots of useful, and free, Web tools that you can use from anywhere — with Internet access being required at only some points to save data to the cloud. The best part about these services is that you can customize many of them to your preferences, like Google Calendar.

Suppose you don’t want to load your calendar to the monthly view every time you open it. What if you want to only look at the next two to three days at a time, and not the whole week? If you find yourself resetting your calendar view every time you log in, you can save yourself a little time by adjusting a quick setting to make your preference stick. Here’s how.

Before you leave the page, make sure you click Save or your changes will be lost.

What other adjustments have you made to Google Calendar to make it perform to your liking? Also, you might be interested in seeing how to add a birthday calendar to Google Calendar or, alternatively, learning how to import Facebook birthdays to Google Calendar.

Google’s Chrome browser to be available on Apple’s iPad,iPhone

 

Google Inc’s Chrome, the world’s top Internet browser, is now available on the iPhone and iPad, as Apple Inc  finally granted access to its arch-foe’s more popular Web-surfing app.

At Google’s annual I/O developer conference in San Francisco on Thursday, company executives announced the development as well as a limited launch of a cloud-computing and hosting service to take on Amazon.com’s thriving Web services arm.

Both moves underscore how Google is moving quickly to safeguard its dominant Internet presence.

Launched in 2008, Google’s browser overtook Microsoft Corp’s  Internet Explorer in May as the world’s most popular, according to analytics company StatCounter.

“No matter which device you’re using, we are working really hard across all important software platforms,” Google Senior Vice President Sundar Pichai said. “We want to make sure it’s about the user.”

Chrome has 310 million “active” users, Pichai said. Google’s browser, along with Google Drive, the cloud storage service, will begin appearing in Apple’s App Store for download later on Thursday, Google said.

Apple, which closely manages its App Store offerings, is making the concessions to its heated competitor even though it is seeking to lessen its dependency on Google’s Web services within its products. Earlier this month, the phone and tablet manufacturer said it would load its own home-built mapping service, instead of Google Maps, in the next version of its mobile operating system.

The move heightened competition with Google, which has made inroads in making hardware that could challenge Apple products.

Earlier this week, Google unveiled its own tablet, the Nexus 7, which will ship with Chrome as its default browser. Google is hoping the tablet, priced at $199, will directly challenge Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablet and undercut Apple’s popular iPad.

Google also unveiled a cloud infrastructure service that will compete with Amazon’s Web Service. Called Google Compute Engine, the new service will provide hosting for Web companies on Google’s datacenters.

Google did not announce the pricing on Compute Engine. But in an oblique reference to Amazon, Google executives promised “up to 50 percent more computing power for your dollar than competing cloud services.”

Google said Thursday it would make Compute Engine available on a “limited preview” basis.

Google’s New Cloud Service Said To Be Imminent

There’s speculation that the Web giant may launch its cloud service during Google I/O — putting it in competition with Amazon’s existing service and Microsoft’s rumored upcoming service.

Talk has been circulating recently about Google building an Infrastructure as a Service cloud computing platform in the near future. Now, GigaOM is reporting that it’s possible the Web giant could be launching this service as soon as next week during the Google I/O developers’ conference in San Francisco.

The tech news site is also saying that several people familiar with Google’s plans have confirmed that Google will offer its current App Engine and storage with its forthcoming service.

The Web giant’s platform will most likely compete with Amazon’s EC2 cloud service, but it could also be up against a similar infrastructure as a service (IaaS, in industry jargon) cloud computing offering that Microsoft is supposedly building.

Both Microsoft and Google already have software suites in the cloud, Microsoft with Office 365 and Google with Apps for Business; moving into infrastructure as a service territory could be a financial boost for both companies.

According to GigaOM, Google’s main target is actually Microsoft and its developer community. “The enterprise developer community is also one of Microsoft’s biggest strengths, and Google wants to go after them,” GigaOM writes. “In order to lure these enterprise developers, the company has focused heavily on making it easier to write, deploy and manage applications on its platform.”

When CNET contacted Google for comment, its spokesperson said the company is not commenting on rumor or speculation.