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Google+ has a lot of catching up to do against Facebook, especially in one key metric: time spent.

According to Nielsen’s latest study, Google+ visitors hung around for 6 minutes and 47 seconds on average in March, while Facebook visitors spent 6 hours and 44 minutes on average during the same period.

The average time spent on Facebook, the world’s largest social networking site with more than one billion members, is down from the average 7 hours and 9 minutes visitors spent in March last year.

Time spent on Google+ was a significant increase of about 3.3 minutes on average from February last year based on comScore’s findings. Take note that the numbers do not include traffic from Android apps.

A representative for Google told Mashable that Nielsen’s figures are nowhere near the search giant’s internal data.

Nielsen gathered information only from direct visits to plus.google.com, not from any other Google domains such Gmail and YouTube, the Google rep added.

google+ visitors

In terms of visits from mobile devices, Nielsen said that 20 million unique visitors in the United States accessed Google+ through its Android and iPhone apps. The number of visits in March is 238 percent higher than the figure from the same period last year.

The number of Google+ visitors from desktop computers leaped 63 percent from last year, or 28 million unique visitors in the U.S. market.

The analytics firm did not release a combined figure for traffic from desktop and mobile devices to Mashable. And it’s highly likely that many visitors visit the social network through both desktop computers and mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets.

Meanwhile 99 million people used their mobile devices to visit Facebook in March this year, and 142.1 million unique visitors used their desktop computers to socialize on the website.

In comparison, microblogging site Twitter had 34 million unique visitors from the desktop during the same period, and 29 million unique visitors from its official mobile app on supported platforms.

GlobalWebIndex reported in February that Google+ was the second most actively used social network online during the last quarter of 2012. It outpaced Twitter, but still looks up to first placer Facebook.

The Q4 2012 study revealed that 51 percent of Internet users logged in to Facebook at least once a month, followed by 25 percent for Google+, and 21 percent for both Twitter and Google-owned video streaming site YouTube.

Social media marketers should take note of the latest Google+ figures if they want to rank high in search engine results, especially the social network’s namesake and provider Google.

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Google has announced its second spring of cleaning under CEO and co-founder Larry Page. And it sadly includes RSS feed organizer Google Reader.

The rapid change rate in Google products and services is unprecedented for the company, wrote Google Fellow and SVP of Technical Infrastructure Urs Hölzle as he unveiled the bad news in a post on the company’s official blog.

He said changes in the computing environment, with almost everyone owning at least one device, triggered the company to capitalize on the opportunities these devices present.

Google must drop some products and services to focus and improve the more popular ones, Hölzle added in the blog post.

The search giant has now decided to shutter 70 features since the start of its spring cleaning two years ago. And it added Google Reader to the list.

google reader
Featured image by Byrion Smith / Flickr (CC)

Here is the list of the latest closures in alphabetical order:

1. Apps Script will drop GUI Builder and five UiApp widgets in a shift to Html Service. But other parts of the Ui Service will remain intact. The GUI Builder will only be available until September 16 this year.

2. CalDAV API will exclusively be available for “whitelisted” developers, and will exclude other developers starting September 16. Google recommends the use of Google Calendar API to most developers’ use cases.

3. Google Building Maker made 3D building models for Google Earth and Maps, but Google will withdraw support for it on June 1. Users can still access and export building models from 3D Warehouse. The company said it will continue to expand the availability of new 3D imagery on Google Earth. People can still use Google Map Maker to add information on buildings, such as heights and outlines to Maps.

4. Google Cloud Connect plug-in will withdraw from its automated file-saving system for Microsoft Office files on Windows PCs in Google Drive. Google said Google Drive on the desktop is more effective for the same thing. Drive also works across multiple platforms, such as Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS. Existing users should expect Cloud Connect to work only until April 30.

5. Google Reader started in 2005 as a free and easy way for people to find and keep updated on content published from websites. Google said Reader usage has dropped despite its loyal following. It will retire Reader on July 1. And those who are interested in other RSS readers can export the data and subscriptions through Google Takeout before the deadline.

6. Google Voice App for Blackberry will no longer be available starting next week. Blackberry users who still want to use Google Voice are recommended to use the HTML5 app. Google said it is safer, and easier for the company to update. The HTML5 site is compatible with devices that run onBlackBerry 6 and later.

7. Search API for Shopping will also exit. Google said it has helped developers to make shopping apps using Product Search, but the company wants to shift focus on creating for users of Google Shopping. The API will go down on September 16.

8. Snapseed Desktop for Macintosh and Windows will no longer have updates starting today. Google said existing customers can still download the software and contact the company for support. The Snapseed mobile app on iOS and Android will still be free.

News media and journalists have taken the online world abuzz on the company’s decision to pull out the RSS feed aggregator. Some people even started an online petition for Google to recant its decision before the July 1 closure date arrives. And some power users of Reader refuted that usage of the service has not declined.

 

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Google has spilled the beans about a private meeting between governments and organizations at the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) that could limit online freedom for Internet users.

The search giant has forked its official website to create a website arm called Take Action to warn about world governments and establishments who convened to talk about tightening control of the Internet, raise censorship, and endanger innovation.

“The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) is bringing together regulators from around the world to re-negotiate a decades-old communications treaty,” said Google in protest against the ITU meeting on December 3.

“Some proposals could permit governments to censor legitimate speech – or even allow them to cut off Internet access. Other proposals would require services like YouTube, Facebook, and Skype to pay new tolls in order to reach people across borders. This could limit access to information – particularly in emerging markets.”

Google has been an advocate against web censorship, and its recent efforts include protests to abolish the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the U.S.

Google 'Take Action' Backs the Free and Open Internet

When voting for SOPA came up, Google blacked out its name on its search page results and redirected users to a brief line: “Tell Congress: Please don’t censor the web! End piracy, not liberty.”

MoreGoogle to Join Wednesday Protest Against SOPA

The new move intends to circulate and uphold talks in the open to keep people aware and make all involved governments and organizations to include all relevant parties. Google said the closed-door ITU meeting is not the proper place of discussion on Internet management.

It said, “Only governments have a voice at the ITU. This includes governments that do not support a free and open Internet. Engineers, companies, and people that build and use the web have no vote. The ITU is also secretive. The treaty conference and proposals are confidential.”

“Governments alone should not determine the future of the Internet. The billions of people around the globe that use the Internet, and the experts that build and maintain it, should be included.”

Google is now asking Internet users to sign up for more details and include their voice in support of the free and open Internet.

““A free and open world depends on a free and open Internet. Governments alone, working behind closed doors, should not direct its future. The billions of people around the globe who use the Internet should have a voice,” said the search giant.

A spokesperson for Google said, “More than 100 organizations from 50+ countries have raised concerns about an upcoming closed-door meeting in December in Dubai, where governments will consider proposals to increase regulation and censorship of the Internet.”

“People can learn more about the issue on our website – and if they choose to do so, can pledge their support for a free and open Internet.”

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z-lwA9GJ1e0

On December 2010, Google Chief Internet Evangelist Vinton Cerf strongly disapproved the United Nation’s decision to create a Working Group on Internet Governance (WGIG), which only consists of government officials from member countries, enforcing its efforts in improving the powerful Internet Governance Forum (IGF).

MoreGoogle’s Vinton Cerf Disapproves Complete Government Control of the Internet

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Google has silently updated the way Gmail users search for messages on the emailing service to include size, date, and more advanced search options.

“We’re always looking for ways to make it faster and easier for you to find your messages using search in Gmail. So starting today, you can now search emails by size, more flexible date options, exact match and more,” said Google software engineer Christian Kurmann in a blog post.

The update means users can now search emails according to size, such that looking for emails larger than 5MB means typing ‘size:5m’ or ‘larger:5m’ (‘size:’ and ‘larger:’ are called operators), and looking for emails sent more than a year ago means typing ‘older_than:1y’. These three operators are only three of the new additions to Gmail’s advanced search options.

Gmail Now Searches Emails By Size, Date Brackets And More

“These changes go hand in hand with other recent enhancements to search such as the improved autocomplete predictions and a field trial for instant results from Gmail, Google Drive and more as you type,” said Kurmann.

On November 4, Google updated the way Gmail users create messages with a hovering composition window. It allowed users to access other messages and content in the background. Users are now untethered to writing a single email, and the new appearance allows simultaneous composition of two or more emails.

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Google has fine-tuned Gmail for users to refer easily old messages when composing a new one.

Previous implementations of the search giant’s email service restricted users who wanted to create a new email from the rest of the inbox’s contents. Gmail users had to close the compose box – automatically saving the message as draft – to dig into other email messages for some details.

New emails now open in a floating window hovering above the Gmail page, allowing access to all other messages and content. Users are now untethered to writing a single email, and the new appearance will allow simultaneous composition of two or more emails.

Google still supports both methods, but it plans to shutter the old mode of email composition.

Google Refreshes The Way Gmail Messages Are Created

According to a blog post introducing the update, the company is refocusing on the message – rather than the medium – to emphasize power, simplicity, and speed.

“You can now write messages in a cleaner, simpler experience that puts the focus on your message itself, not all the features around it,” said Google.

The new look looks cleaner and less cluttered, and icons are now hidden but easy to find. The new composition method comes with popup walk-throughs, and can easily revert to the old way of Gmail email composition.

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Google services went pitch black for six minutes on Thursday morning, November 1 (UTC+8), as the search giant experienced some undisclosed difficulties, throwing about 10 percent of its users into utter bewilderment and panic.

Google users who logged into Gmail exposed the problem after they were welcomed with a temporary message on desktop and laptop computers, while iPhone users encountered a message about either a wrong username or password. A multitude of confused, panicky users vented their frustrations on the widespread problem through micro-blogging site Twitter.

Google’s App Status dashboard later showed a “service disruption” dot on several products: Gmail, Calendar, Talk, Drive, Documents, Spreadsheets, Presentations, Drawings, Sites, Video for business, Groups, Admin control panel / API, and Postini services.

Google Services Pitch-Black For Six Minutes; Baffles Users

At the time, Google posted similar messages for users of each affected service: “We believe about 10 [percent] of Google users experienced difficulties reaching Google for six minutes this afternoon starting at approximately 2:41pm PT. We apologize to everyone affected and have worked hard to get our services back to normal as quickly as possible.”

It took only six minutes for Google to fix the problem, showing a “no issues” dot and saying, “The problem with [name of affected Google service] should be resolved. We apologize for the inconvenience and thank you for your patience and continued support. Please rest assured that system reliability is a top priority at Google, and we are making continuous improvements to make our systems better.”

It has been more than two days since the disruption so it is safe to say that everything is back to normal.

 

Image: feliperivera, via Flickr (CC)

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Google+ now has more than 400 million users, announces Google SVP Vic Gundotra.

The Googler unveiled the figures in a post on the search giant’s social network and added that about 25 percent of them are active users.

In the post, Gundotra seemed struck at the number of users Google managed to rack up in a very short time.

“This week we also hit an important milestone – over 400,000,000 people have upgraded to Google+. It was only a year ago that we opened public sign-up, and we couldn’t have imagined that so many people would join in just 12 months,” said Gundotra.

“While Google+ is all about creating a better experience across Google, it’s also a destination. And here too, I’m happy to report that we have just crossed 100,000,000 monthly active users on Google+.”

The Google+ service went public just last year and the numbers included both the online web base and mobile app versions.

google-now-with-more-than-400-million-users

Source: Google+

Image: Fabrizio Van Marciano, via Flickr (CC)

 

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Google+ is Growing

Google has released an update to its Chrome OS to offers users a direct method to backup files to the company’s Google Drive cloud storage service.

The latest version of Google’s operating system allows users to save content without requiring them to save files locally before uploading, which makes it simpler to access content on Google Drive from other devices that run on Android and iOS.

“This week’s stable release also includes visual improvements such as a redesigned Cloud Print dialog and the ability to add custom wallpaper (for example, a picture of your cute little morkie). You can now also save files directly to Google Drive, so you can access files later from any device, including Drive on iOS or Android,” said Xiyuan Xia, Software Engineer and Apps Connoisseur at Google.

chrome-os-update-offers-several-new-features-includes-direct-upload-to-google-drive

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Google has rolled out changes to the curiously popular “I’m feeling lucky” option on its homepage for users to change “lucky” into something that suits their sentiments.

Starting today, users will have the ability to choose from different options for “I’m feeling…”, which allows the “I’m feeling hungry” option to hunt for local restaurants if you are in the mood to dine out.

“I’m feeling lucky” certainly has many followers and users so the search giant looked for a way to make the experience more enjoyable for them.

google-rolls-out-changes-to-im-feeling-lucky

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Google has revealed that users of social networking service will have the ability to add a custom URL to Google+.

The catch? You must at least be a prominent personality or brand name since the search giant will make it an exclusive feature for popular brands and celebrities with verified Google+ accounts. All the same, the new feature will shortly roll out to all Google+ users and allow them to customize and shorten URLs on the social network.

The new feature will show usernames with ‘+’ signs behind the google.com domain. David Beckham has already registered the +DavidBeckham address to change the football star’s Google+ URL to google.com/+DavidBeckham.

google-adds-custom-urls-to-google

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Google, Orange Partnership Offers Gmail SMS Chat in Africa
(Photo Credit: Orange)

Google will offer its services, starting with Gmail SMS Chat, in Africa by leveraging on Orange, the mobile network operator and Internet service provider subsidiaries of France Telecom.

The signed agreement wishes to provide Africa accessibility to services offered by the world’s largest Internet search company with the help of Orange’s extensive continental coverage.

With the partnership, Google account holders and users can now take full advantage of the Gmail SMS Chat service for Orange mobile customers, keeping in touch with contacts all over the world.

Excluding its presence in Europe, Orange currently covers several countries from Africa to the Middle East, while Gmail SMS Chat has already started in Kenya, Senegal and Uganda.

In the upcoming months, five more countries will also start using the service, including Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea Conakry and Niger, and a trial phase for Mobinil in Egypt.

Google and Orange intend to offer more than Gmail SMS Chat as both companies extend the deal with other Google services.

Over 60 million Orange network subscribers live in Africa.

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