Google wants to provide more help than what its search engine currently does, so it came up with a product that allows human experts to answers questions using a new real-time online video streaming service.
Google wants to provide more help than what its search engine currently does, so it came up with a product that allows human experts to answers questions using a new real-time online video streaming service.
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.
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.
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.
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.
All Google account owners can now sign-in across multiple platforms and carry their personal information on Google+ through any app on Android, iOS, or the web.
How? Well, Google recently added a new feature called Google+ Sign-In on its social network.
The search giant said its first release will focus on four important pillars: simplicity and security, tight integration between web and mobile apps, social spam filters, and sharing interactive multimedia posts.
Google+ Sign-In allows a user to sign in to any Google service, such as Gmail and YouTube, and use the account information to sign in to apps created by other developers.
Take note there’s an option to choose the information shared with the app on the Google+ permissions screen. Other people can view shared activities.
The search giant said Google+ Sign-In has the same security measures found on any Google account, such as its popular 2-step verification.
Signed-in apps are easy to manage on both desktop and mobile: users can either go to Google+ Apps on any web browser or open the new Google Settings for Android app.
Google Settings for Android allows a user to see apps with Google+ Sign-In and choose whether to personalize the Google AdMob Ads in Android apps or not.
The opt out option for AdMob does not block ads from Google. It will still send ads but not as relevant to the user when opted in.
In addition, Google said developers with online and mobile versions of their apps can now save time. A simple Google sign-in to any website allows them to install the site’s mobile app on their Android device in just one click.
Google+ Sign-In also gives a Google account owner discretion to share an important event or activity to a selected group of friends or Circles. This allows them to decide if a photo or video is private or public.
Google assures that Google+ will not allow apps to send social spam – annoying updates – across the stream. The app only appears when needed, especially when a user searches for it.
When it comes to shared photos and videos, a new interactive post shows up on a friend’s Google+ stream when the user shares a multimedia file from an app that supports Google+ Sign-In.
A simple click will take the user’s friend to the app and do things: buy a copy of a song or listen to it, watch videos, or write a review about the shared clip.
Developers who are building apps for Android, iOS, or the web can go to the Google+ Developers site to read more about the new feature and more.
Android apps need the new Google Play Services with Google+ Sign-In to add the feature.
Google will roll out the new “Sign in with Google” button in stages, but developers and users can check out these sites in the meantime: Banjo, Beautylish, Fancy, Fitbit, Flixster, The Guardian, OpenTable, Shazam, TuneIn, and USA Today.
All apps used in this article are courtesy of the Google+ Developers Blog.
Google is requiring users of its services to create a Google+ account in its latest attempt to cope up with Facebook, the world’s leading social network, reports the Wall Street Journal.
The search giant is now asking users of Gmail, YouTube and other Google services to make a Google+ page that is viewable to the public.
Google+, which started as an experimental social networking project, is now Facebook’s closest competitor and an important new program for Google to generate more revenue from online advertising.
Google is urging users of the social network to set up groups of friends and interact with these “Circles” within the website similar to its rival.
Sources told the WSJ that Google CEO and co-founder Larry Page is seeking imperative steps to draw online users closer to Google+ and pull them away from Facebook.
Google aims to contend with Facebook through an improved integration between Google+ and other services offered by the Mountain View-based company.
Take note that most of Google’s and Facebook’s revenues come from selling online advertisements, but the latter has the capacity to link a user’s online activity to his or her real name and find the people on that person’s friends list.
Industry experts said, in an interview with the WSJ, that Google told them about better integration of Google+ with in-house products and services, which will allow the company to gain the right statistics for targeted traffic with applicable online advertisements.
The move has taken aback several users of Google services who fear how far the extent of the integration will involve.
A Navy P.O. said he joined Google+ because all his smartphone photos are automatically uploaded to a dedicated, private Google+ folder, but he later found out that his profile page (with his real name) was connected to a software review he recently wrote on the Google Play Store.
He said that Google will share posts even without the account owner’s consent just to go head-to-head with Facebook’s services.
A spokesperson for Google answered that the company started to require the use of Google+ profiles for written reviews to raise the bar on the quality of the criticisms, which, it said, was lower when users left anonymous reviews.
In addition, the requirement to create a Google+ profile page also allows people to read reviews written by friends.
Google VP Bradley Horowitz said, “Google+ is Google,” and the social network’s entry points are many, with more integrations added daily.
Sources familiar with the matter said Google employees have mixed reactions on the change: a few see it as a dire effort to challenge Facebook, while some view it as the company’s ultimate route to be relevant in social media.
The people said, almost a year ago, Google CEO Page opened the thought of demanding users of the company’s services to login to their Google+ accounts to see business reviews.
The thought of frustrating Google Search users made Google executives to convince Page not to follow up on his strategy, added the sources.
Google has recently pushed further on other ways to integrate its services.
In autumn, the firm started to require users who want their reviews of restaurants or other commercial enterprises posted to use their Google+ profiles, and it applied similar rules for reviews of mobile apps and physical merchandise from Google.
Inbound Google+ links also show up in Google Search engine result pages (SERPs) that involve people and brands with a Google+ account.
Vic Gundotra, SVP of Engineering at Google and Google+ head, said resistance to in-house project integrations were stronger two years ago, when people had yet to grasp a good understanding of the social network.
Last month, the online search company said the number of people who used at least one Google+ feature, including the “+1″ button (similar to the Facebook”Like” button), increased from 150 million in late June to 235 million.
The boost proves how serious Google is to challenge Facebook by taking advantage of its top websites to help Google+ and turn it into a gateway for online users and businesses to communicate.
Google+ is asking Google users to login to their accounts and thus the firm will now have the ability to combine heaps of data from a user’s search pattern and history of visited websites with Google+ activities.
Google’s online advertising business accounts for an estimated 95 percent of its over $40 billion annual revenue, excluding that of Motorola Mobility, so the possibility of future success from the changes on Google+ are promising.
In most cases, users add real names and other personal information to their profile pages on Google+.
While Google+ profile pages are set as public and appear in Google Search by default, it is possible to change the settings so that the user has the option to hide the page from SERPs and disable or delete his or her Google+ account.
Google says that usernames are not passed on to advertising companies, but it extracts data from the user’s history of visited websites and specific interests to help advertisers use targeted and relevant ads.
Google+ chief Gundotra assures Google will not share user information with advertisers and that the company prioritizes the trust of its users.
Google is pushing users of its services to use Google+ in sharing photos and ideas with friends or other Google+ users who have similar interests.
Google+’s integration with other Google products and services help users reap more information about ads, apps, businesses, products, and websites because Google+ users can receive notifications if their Google+ friends or other contacts outside of the social network recommend some items.
To put this into perspective, Dylan Casey, an ex-Google+ product manager who is now affiliated with smartphone-based social network Path, gave an example where a user searches for a camp stove on Google Search, discovers that a friend recently bought one, and asks him or her about the item.
After Google+ launched one and a half years ago, Google struggled to increase the average on-site staying time of users, with analytics firm comScore estimating a year ago that Google+ users spent three minutes on average per month compared to over 400 minutes on Facebook.
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.
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.”
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.”
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).
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.
“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.
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.
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)
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.
Image: Fabrizio Van Marciano, via Flickr (CC)
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.
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 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 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.