Showing posts tagged Google

Apple Keeps Top Spot on Fortune’s ‘Most Admired Company’ List

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Apple secured the top spot for the sixth year in a row in _Fortune’s_ Top 50 World’s Most Admired Companies list.

The company beat out Google and Amazon, which came in second and third on the international list. The top ten positions are all held by American companies, with businesses like Coca-Cola, Starbucks and Walt Disney joining the ranks.

Apple was voted number one by 3,800 company directors and executives. _Fortune_ explains that though Apple had a rough time with its stock price and the failure of its Maps feature, the company was the most profitable in the world last quarter, boasting $13 billion in net income.

"The company has its fanatical customer base, and it still refuses…
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More About: amazon, apple, Business, Google, Media, most admired companies, Tech @suryaray

Google Shows ‘How Search Works’ With New Site

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Ever wondered how Google’s search works? The company launched a new website Friday, appropriately called _How Search Works_, to give you a behind-the-scenes look at the process from start to finish.

“Here you can follow the entire life of a search query, from the web, to crawling and indexing, to algorithmic ranking and serving, to fighting webspam,” Google Product Manager Jake Hubert said in a blog post announcing the page.

“The site complements existing resources, including this blog [Google’s Inside Search blog], the help center, user forums, Webmaster Tools, and in-depth research papers. We hope the site helps to illuminate the split-second journey from algorithms to answe…
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More About: Google, Search @suryaray

Google mulls spicing up Google Maps Engine with Google Earth Engine imaging

#SuryaRay #Surya Google is looking into upgrading its Google Maps Engine with the large supply of satellite images available on Google Earth Engine, according to a company engineer. The move would enable businesses to perform comparative mapping analytics and show changes over time on the fly, without having to build out new infrastructure.

After giving a talk about Google Earth Engine at the Strata conference in Santa Clara, Calif., on Thursday, Louis Perrochon, a Google engineering director, said engineers are working on the project, although there is no planned release date and it’s quite possible such capabilities are never released. A Google spokesman said he could not confirm the plans or provide a timeline for implementation.

Every day Google downloads terabytes of satellite images from the U.S. Geological Survey and maintains the files on spinning disks in data centers. With so much data, Google Earth Engine “allows you to do a lot more fancy stuff” than Google Maps Engine, Perrochon said during his talk. He demonstrated his point by using Google Earth Engine to show which San Francisco parks lie closest to BART stations, which parks are new to the city and which parts of the Sahara desert had gotten new roads.

The Google Earth Engine data sets, which span more than 25 years, have been available to researchers for a few years now. One use case is for a government to locate areas of deforestation and conduct investigations. As Perrochon demonstrated during his talk, users can quickly see where some areas have gotten new vegetation and other areas have been stripped of their trees.

It might sound obvious, but because Google has so many data sets, Google Earth Engine can also do things like offer maps devoid of clouds and lines on satellite images. To get a sense of the cloud problem, try zooming in on Northern Ireland. With Google Earth Engine data sets, users can quickly cycle through images from many days.

Plenty of enterprises could benefit from having heaps of satellite images available for fast analysis on the web, as opposed to Google Earth. (Take media outlets, for starters.) If Google does roll out the expanded data sets to Google Maps Engine, it might cost enterprises less to get and analyze the data themselves. And it could once again demonstrate that Google Maps is well ahead of competitive efforts to map the planet and give people easy ways to access that data.

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Germany wants Google to pay for news citations, passes re-printing bill

#SuryaRay #Surya Google can re-publish “short excerpts” freely—but what that means, nobody knows. @suryaray

German parliament passes ‘Google tax’ law, forcing royalty payments for news snippets

#SuryaRay #Surya The German parliament has passed a controversial law that will force search engines and news aggregators to pay publishers royalties for providing short snippets of their articles in results.

The Bundestag passed the _Leistungsschutzrecht für Presseverleger_ (LSR), or “ancillary copyright for press publishers” law, on Friday by 293 votes to 243. The coalition government was the driver behind the law, and the main opposition, the SPD, now says it will try to defeat the law in the country’s second legislative chamber, the Bundesrat.

The text that got passed in the Bundestag apparently exempts “small text snippets”, although it does not state how short a text snippet has to be to be royalty-free – if it is less than headline-short, this will probably mean the wholesale removal of all German news publications from Google’s search results.

Google has been a vocal opponent of the law, for obvious reasons. In France and Belgium the company has settled related disputes with publishers in deals that many have seen as tantamount to a payoff. However, it looks like the German situation is now beyond settlement.

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Can a mobile game help find the cure for cancer? Amazon, Google and Facebook hope so

#SuryaRay #Surya We already know that data is integral to finding the cure for cancer, but some of that data needs the attention of human rather than machine eyes in order to be properly interpreted. To that end, the charity Cancer Research UK has teamed up with Amazon, Facebook and Google to create a mobile game for analysing genetic mutations.

The aim of the game is simply to harness more eyes – cancer researchers already trawl through genetic data to try to pick up on subtle irregularities, but the task would be a lot easier if more people were involved. The charity has already created a web-based game called Cell Slider for looking through archived tissue samples, but the new game is supposed to make the search for a cure more fun, and more suitable for on-the-go usage.

Cancer Research UK is holding a hackathon called GameJam this weekend, through which 40 coders – including Facebook engineers — gamers, graphic designers and “other specialists” will hopefully come up with a suitable format (the goal is a game that can be played for just 5 minutes at a time). The result will be hosted on Amazon Web Services, and Google is hosting the event and providing financial support for the scheme.

“We’re making great progress in understanding the genetic reasons cancer develops. But the clues to why some drugs will work and some won’t, are held in data which need to be analysed by the human eye – and this could take years,” Professor Carlos Caldas, senior group leader at Cancer Research UK’s University of Cambridge facility, said in a statement.

“By harnessing the collective power of citizen scientists we’ll accelerate the discovery of new ways to diagnose and treat cancer much more precisely.”

According to Cancer Research UK, Cell Slider has already reduced the analysis time for _some_ clinical trial data from 18 to 3 months – and that’s with tens of thousands of users. The hope is that this new mobile game would pick up hundreds of thousands of users.

The game will launch this summer. If the participants pull it off, it would probably qualify as the most useful application of the “gamification” trend in history.

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Google Launches Zopfli To Compress Data More Densely And Make Web Pages Load Faster

#SuryaRay #Surya Google just launched Zopfli, a new open source compression algorithm that can compress web content about three to eight percent more densely (PDF) than the standard zlib library. Because Zopfli is compatible with the decompression algorithms that are already part of all modern web browser. Using Google’s new algorithm and library on a server could lead to faster data transmission speeds and lower web page latencies, which would ultimately make the web a little bit faster. @suryaray

#youdidntgetglass Google Has Closed Registrations For Their #ifihadglass Pre-Order Ploy

#SuryaRay #Surya Google has officially shut down registrations for its #ifihadglass round of Google Glass pre-orders/applications. The competition was first announced on February 20, asking perspective Google Glass buyers to take to Twitter or Google+ using the #ifihadglass hashtag to explain why they deserve one of the first-ever Google Glass Explorer Editions. Along with the social post, users also filled out an application here. Today, however, the window has closed. @suryaray

Online Radio Service TuneIn Adds Recommendation Engine And Google+ Sign-In Integration

#SuryaRay #Surya TuneIn, the popular online radio service that lets users listen to over 70,000 radio stations from around the world, just announced the launch of TuneIn Live, the company’s new service for helping listeners discover new audio content. Using the data it gathers from its over 40 million monthly users, TuneIn is now able to provide its users with personalized recommendations based on the stations, songs and artists they listen to. This, TuneIn’s Director of Product Kristin George tells us, means the service can now ” recommend stations that just started playing something new in each genre every few seconds.” George also stressed that “this is just the beginning.” It took TuneIn about seven months to build this new technology into its service and ” it is now allowing discovery to happen on a level we only dreamed about.” Having 70,000 stations and more than 2 million on-demand programs in its directory, TuneIn CEO John Donham wrote in a statement today, meant that the company’s “biggest opportunity has been discovery,” but the large amount of content was also “a lot for anyone to digest.” The new discovery engine is now available on the company’s website and in its iPad app. It will arrive on the other major mobile platforms later this year. TuneIn was also a launch partner for Google’s Google+ sign-in launch yesterday. Now that it has integrated the new Google+ login system, TuneIn will allow its users to set reminders for upcoming live events in Google Calendar (I’m not sure how much demand for appointment radio listening there really is, but I could imagine sports fans may want to make sure they tune in to the right station when their team is playing, for example). @suryaray

Google+ Sign-In and Other News You Need to Know

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Welcome to this morning’s edition of “First To Know,” a series in which we keep you in the know on what’s happening in the digital world. Here are the top stories today.

The world’s largest social network has Facebook Connect, and now Google’s fledgling network has its response: Google+ Sign-In. It lets you use your Google identity to log in to third-party apps on mobile and desktop. In other news, Adobe announced Photoshop Touch designed specifically for smartphones, and the Academy Awards on Sunday saw a huge boost in social media engagement compared to last year’s event.

Watch the video above for more on these stories.

_Image courtesy of Google _

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Tour Google’s Swanky New Headquarters

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Google is building a new headquarters. Located near its current HQ, the 1.1 million square foot “Bay View” complex is being built in Mountain View, Calif., and it’s like nothing you’ve ever seen before.

A watercolor drawing created by the architects at nbbj shows off Google’s plans for the building, which include a place to jog, bike, and ride scooters — all on the roof. Rooftop yoga is also an option at the new headquarters, as is working outdoors in one of the company’s numerous outdoor seating areas.

Want to spend the night? The artist’s rendering also shows some pitched tents on the roof, presumably where Googlers could take a little siesta.

The project is expected…
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A plea to HP: make your mobile products pop

#SuryaRay #Surya HP’s Slate7 is the company’s return to the reasonably-priced consumer tablet space, following the failure of its webOS-based TouchPad. I’ve had a hands-on play with it a couple of times at Mobile World Congress, and spoken to HP mobile chief Alberto Torres about it, and I’m still unconvinced.

I do think the tablet will sell — not magnificently, but not poorly either. Its outward styling is attractive enough, and some people find Beats Audio to be a killer feature (I’m a bit too much of an audio purist to enjoy the bass overload that it represents, but that’s me). It has a slightly feeble camera when its key rivals around its price — $169 — have none.


However, if I were in the market for a small tablet — I’m not, as I own both an iPad mini and a Nexus 7 — I would steer clear for one reason: the screen.

The resolution isn’t the problem; it’s fine for the size. What I can’t get past is how washed-out it is compared to both the devices I own. More than any other kind of computer, a tablet is essentially a screen with trimmings. It has to convince.

The upside with relatively low-contrast screens is that they can be easier to view in sunlight, and according to Torres this was a conscious choice.

“We really have emphasised readability, particularly outdoors readability,” he told me. “It provides quite a good experience for video and gaming, but we decided to emphasise readability.” Why so? “We were looking at a worldwide product. We thought this product will play well in America, but also when looking at emerging markets outdoor readability is quite important.”

You may wonder why I’m obsessing over this contrast point. Part of that’s down to the splendid metaphor it presents. But it’s also because, even after conversing with Torres on the subject, I am none the wiser as to HP’s mobile strategy. So the tablet has what many potential customers will consider an unsuitable screen, because HP wants to address emerging markets? Why then is the Slate7 priced for the U.S., not for the emerging markets, where you really want to strike below the $100 mark if you want to make an impact?

More blandness

And why has HP chosen to barely skin the Slate7′s Android interface? “It’s not final — there will be a bit more [before release],” Torres said, but he confirmed that HP is trying to leave the Android user experience as close as possible to its stock origins.

I’m an Android user, and I opt for the Nexus line (I also have a Nexus 4 phone), which does use pure stock Android, but that’s not why I buy Nexus: I buy Nexus so I always get the latest OS updates as soon as possible. I used to have an HTC phone, and I kind of miss some of the Sense gimmicks that HTC throws into its devices. Stock Android is fine, but HP is missing an opportunity to really differentiate what it’s offering here.

And that’s the fundamental problem with the Slate7: it’s too “meh.” In my opinion, HP rushed it — you must bear in mind that the company only set up its new mobile division last September, less than six months ago. It feels like the Slate7 was timed to come out at Mobile World Congress, as opposed to coming out when it was ready to turn heads on its own merits.

Hoping for greater contrast

“We are the number one PC manufacturer in the word and we intend to be a leader on tablets as well,” Torres told me. But HP’s leadership strategy is to have as broad a portfolio as possible — some Google and some Microsoft in each segment, a bit of something for everyone.

That’s not enough. Samsung also plays that game, but it can get away with it because some of its products have been real head-turners; the Galaxy Note, which was unlike anything else out there when it launched, springs to mind.

The Note was a risk. Half the world laughed when it came out, scorning its excessive size, by smartphone standards, and its reintroduction of the much-maligned mobile device stylus. But it was a hit, and no one’s laughing now.

It’s not too late, HP. You still have it in you to release something extraordinary. Take your time, take a risk, and make the next one a killer.

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Google+ Sign-In Is Your New Key to Apps and the Web

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Google’s new API will let developers build some of the Google+ experience right inside apps, and let you share app activities to the social network.

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Google Launches Google+ Sign-In For Mobile And Web With New Selective And Interactive Sharing, One-Click Android App Installs

#SuryaRay #Surya Google just announced a major update to its Google+ platform that aims to replace today’s ubiquitous Google sign-ins on third-party sites with Google+ logins. The new Google+ account-based logins, Google argues, offer far more features than the current Google authentication system, though the older version will continue to be available and function. The new sign-in features will allow users to sign in to web and mobile apps with their Google accounts and bring their Google+ profile info with them so they don’t have to create a new username and password when they sign in to a third-party application. @suryaray

Google Anxiety, Samsung’s Long Shadow And The Motorola Hedge

#SuryaRay #Surya Android got a late start compared to Apple’s iOS in the worldwide smartphone battle, but it eventually grew to accomplish a larger worldwide market share, and it did so largely on the back of a single champion: Samsung. Samsung’s Galaxy line has become to Android what the iPhone is to iOS, despite hardware and software coming from completely distinct companies. But Google very specifically didn’t sign up to be a one horse kind of cowboy, and as such it makes sense for the search giant to be somewhat fearful of Samsung’s growing influence, as the WSJ reports. @suryaray