Startup and Technology News
Last feed update: Wednesday December 11th, 2013 03:30:02 PM
Tuesday December 10th, 2013 05:13:48 PM
Google has been working with museums to populate its Google Cultural Institute, an online collection of virtual exhibitions from around the world. Today, it's opening up that project to anyone who wants to create an online exhibit can do so, from independent museums to individual artists. Google's Open Gallery tool makes it possible, letting anyone upload videos, images and Street View content, and then combining that with text to publish an interactive guided tour through a collection of cultural artifacts.
Tuesday December 10th, 2013 04:59:19 PM
Google and LG have been getting awfully cozy lately -- the web giant tasked the Korean company with delivering its two most recent Nexus smartphones, and if you're the type to put stock in rumors, it seemed like a new Nexus tablet (bearing the model number "LG-V510") would be the next fruit of their union.
Well, according some files posted to LG's own site, it isn't. Not exactly, anyway.
Tuesday December 10th, 2013 04:00:54 PM
Slowly but surely, Google's Chromecast devices is beefing up with content partners. The latest is Songza, a music streaming service that finds you an expertly curated playlist based on your current activity or mood.
Today Songza launches on Chromecast through an update to the iOS, Android and web apps. After the update, users will notice a "Cast" icon anytime that there is a Chromecast-connected TV nearby.
Monday December 9th, 2013 03:22:47 PM
Google is doing a thing that was probably inevitable with its social network, Google+: It's testing a new +Post ad system in the form of promoted posts that translates public Google+ content from their brand sites into a display ad that can run across Google's Display Ad network. The company announced the pilot program via G+ product manager Eran Arkin's page on the network today.
Friday December 6th, 2013 08:24:46 PM
About a week after posting its first anti-Chromebook “Scroogled” video, which features the cast of “Pawn Stars,” Microsoft is now back with a second video. But instead of revisiting the humorous approach of the first one, the company has brought back its regular man-on-the-street routine for the second. In this video, Microsoft Evangelist Ben Rudolph is tasked with walking the streets of Venice, Calif., to ask people if they would rather have a Chromebook or a Windows laptop. No surprise — nobody wants the Chromebook. Obviously, everybody he asks either needs Photoshop, Illustrator or a Microsoft Office app. None of these run on a Chromebook (assuming you leave out Microsoft’s Office Web Apps. “If that doesn’t have the capability to run Microsoft Office, it’s kind of useless to me,” one lady tells Rudolph. As in the first ad, Microsoft also plays up the fact that ChromeOS is meant to be online most of the time, conveniently forgetting that there are plenty of offline ChromeOS apps available by now. Instead of a cheap Chromebook, the ad tells viewers, they should rather buy an Asus T100, 10.1-inch Windows 8 machine with a detachable touchscreen. “This one is the same price, about $300 bucks,” Rudolph says. Actually, try more like $400. And running Photoshop and Illustrator on it won’t bring you much joy either. The people on the street are obviously wowed that they can detach the screen and turn it into a tablet, though people haven’t exactly been lining up to buy convertible laptops so far. Given that Chromebooks make up about 1 percent of the PC market, Microsoft is mostly increasing mainstream awareness of these devices with its ads, as The Verge’s Tom Warren pointed out earlier today. Despite this low market share, Microsoft clearly sees Chromebooks as a threat, though, and chances are we’ll see a few more of these videos over time.
Thursday December 5th, 2013 09:59:22 PM
Google has long had a thing for voice search, but until now, the only language it fully supported was English. Even though voice search itself is available for a few dozen languages, the only language Google could respond in with spoken answers was always English. That’s changing today. Google just announced that its Search app for iOS and Android can now speak out answers in French, German and Japanese. Unsurprisingly, these are also languages Google’s Knowledge Graph supports. To answer these questions, after all, Google needs to be able to understand their intent (or at least have a high confidence that it does). Chances are then, that after this initial roll-out, Google will also target Spanish, Portuguese, Russian and Italian, all of which are supported by Knowledge Graph. If you speak German, French or Japanese, you can now easily try this new feature on your mobile phone. Just ask it “Wo bekomme ich Kaffee in München?” and it will happily show you coffee shops in Munich. For now, this is only available on mobile, but given that Google has started to build voice support into virtually all of its services, chances are that it will also bring it to the web very soon.
Thursday December 5th, 2013 05:16:23 PM
San Francisco-based startup and Y Combinator Winter 2013 class member Swapbox has raised $800,000 in seed funding, led by Tony Hsieh's Vegas Tech Fund investment vehicle and including Fuel Capital, YC founder Trevor Blackwell, Base Ventures and Ace & Company. The startup is hoping to cash in on the rise of ecommerce and home delivery, with shared, centrally located delivery lockers so people never miss a package again.
Thursday December 5th, 2013 04:50:28 PM
Google's Android OS has many venerable traits, but the camera isn't one of them. The software iterates with each release, but it doesn't ever get all that much better, and the hardware on Android devices seems to disappoint pretty consistently. People had high hopes for the Nexus 5 making things better, but photos barely improved versus the dismal Nexus 4.
Wednesday December 4th, 2013 08:15:48 PM
A report in PRWatch made it more publicly known that Google has made donations that it calls "substantial" to a number of conservative groups, including Americans for Tax Reform, the CATO Institute, and Heritage Action.
Americans for Tax Reform is known for its founder Grover Norquist and his pledge, which many conservative politicians sign, promising to not raise taxes. The CATO Institute was founded with Koch money, and Heritage Action had a hand in the government shutdown.
Wednesday December 4th, 2013 05:13:41 PM
Google Calendar is getting a small update today that adds autocomplete for locations and instant search results as you type to the company’s calendaring solution. With the new location autocomplete, adding addresses to an event finally becomes less of a chore and error prone. You just start typing and Google will try to predict your intentions. Once your friends or colleagues receive the invitation, they can just click on the ‘map’ link in their calendar to see where the event will take place. Type-ahead search in Calendar is also a relatively small update, but one that will also save quite a bit of time. Same here: just start typing and Google will show you all the potential results in a drop-down menu under the search form. As the company previously announced in November, when invitations are sent to a group, the calendar will now automatically update when people join or leave a group. This means event guest lists will be automatically updated and users don’t have to worry about missing an event when they join a new group or getting irrelevant updates once they leave. While Google regularly updated Gmail and many of its other productivity tools over the last few months, Calendar always lagged behind a bit. The last major update to Calendar was adding Latin American Spanish as an option in April, after all. It’s good to see the company put some effort behind its online calendar again. While it’s a pretty capable calendaring solution, there’s plenty of room for improvement here, so hopefully we’ll see a bit more of that in the months to come.
Wednesday December 4th, 2013 01:38:37 PM
Andy Rubin left the helm of the Android team back in March, replaced by then-Chrome VP Sundar Pichai, and it's been a bit of a mystery what he's been up to since. Now, the New York Times reveals that he's moved to a much more experimental department at the Internet giant, spearheading the company's efforts to revolutionize the use of robots in real-world applications.
Tuesday December 3rd, 2013 08:45:55 PM
Those who signed up for the new Google Wallet debit card at the end of November are now receiving their cards in the mail, following the Thanksgiving holiday here in the U.S. This MasterCard-powered prepaid debit card allows you to link your online Google Wallet balance to a real, plastic card you can use at point-of-sale, at ATMs, or anywhere else a MasterCard is accepted, stateside.
Tuesday December 3rd, 2013 05:01:47 AM
Alex Williams,Frederic Lardinois
Google today announced the general availability of the Google Compute Engine, the cloud computing platform it launched in the summer of 2012. As part of the GA launch, Google also announced expanded support for new operating systems, a 10 percent drop in pricing for standard instances, new 16-core instances for applications that need a lot of computation power and a new logo to update its branding. Compute Engine is the cloud platform Google has developed on top of the vast infrastructure it manages to run its own search engine and its other properties. The company offers 24/7 support and promises a 99.95 percent update in its SLA. Besides lowering the price of all standard instances by 10 percent, Google is also dropping the price of persistent disk storage by 60 percent, as well as I/O charges for it “so that you get a predictable, low price for your block storage device.” The company also says that its largest persistent disk volumes now have up to 700 percent higher I/O capability. Until now, Compute Engine supported Debian and CentOS, customized with a Google-built kernel. Starting today, developers will also be able to use any out-of-the-box Linux distribution, including SELinux and CoreOS, the Y Combinator alum with the OS designed to mimic Google’s cloud infrastructure. The company is also announcing official support for SUSE, FreeBSD and Red Hat Enterprise Linux (currently in limited preview). As part of this update, Google is also announcing support for Docker, the increasingly popular tool for creating virtual containers from any application. With Docker, developers can build and test an application on their laptops and then move this container to a production server for deployment. The company submitted Docker as an open-source project last month. Docker fits with CoreOS, a project that was started by Alex Polvi, the founder of Cloudkick, which he later sold to Rackspace. Docker actually comes packaged with CoreOS so applications can be moved between different services. That’s important as it offers ways for developers to easily use multiple cloud services without locking themselves into a single vendor. For developers who need a more computational power than Google can offer so far, the company today launched three new 16-core instance types (until now, the maximum number of virtual cores on Compute Engine was 8). Google expects developers will use these to perform tasks that “range from silicon simulation to running high-scale NoSQL databases.” Overall, Google’s range of
Monday December 2nd, 2013 01:00:59 AM
Just ahead of the holiday shopping season, Microsoft ramped up its FUD machine and launched the next phase of its infamous anti-Google Scroogled campaign last week. This time, the company is targeting Chromebooks, Google’s cheap ChromeOS-based, web-centric laptops. Why is Microsoft worried about Chromebooks? Because it can see the writing on the wall. For many mainstream users, the operating system they use is slowly becoming irrelevant, and even though Chromebooks are not right for everyone, they are slowly becoming a real alternative in the low-end laptop market. Most Chromebook distractors will argue that there’s no need to even try to poke fun at these devices. Who, after all, wants a laptop that can’t do anything else but surf the web? Who would even buy one of these things? It’s the platypus of the notebook world, after all. But while most people think of Chromebooks as laptops that can’t do anything else but surf the web and aren’t “real laptops” (an idea Microsoft plays up in its Scroogled campaign), that perception is quickly becoming outdated and that’s why Microsoft has decided to go for the FUD. Microsoft wants you to believe that you can’t do anything with a Chromebook when you’re offline. That’s just plain wrong at this point. Sure, Chromebooks make more sense in an always-on environment (which is where most people use them), but nobody is stopping you from playing Angry Birds while you’re offline. Indeed, while Microsoft specifically calls out Angry Birds as the kind of thing you can’t do on a Chromebook, Google would be more than happy if you downloaded it from its Chrome Web Store and played it offline. More and more ChromeOS apps now work this way, which is great, but if you think about it, how much of what you do on a laptop these days actually happens offline? Unless you really need Photoshop or high-end CAD software or a similarly demanding program, the software you’re probably using most on your laptop is your browser. Microsoft says you can’t play Call of Duty or Age of Empires on a Chromebook, and that’s fair enough. But you’re not going to enjoy playing Call of Duty on those sub-$250 Windows laptops that Microsoft highlights on its Chromebook vs. Windows laptop page, either. There may never be a Microsoft Office for ChromeOS, but there’s a pretty good version of it available on the web courtesy of Microsoft itself. You
Friday November 29th, 2013 07:00:19 PM
Wibidata, a big data application provider, has a new platform for building real-time apps that shows the increasing accessibility of machine learning and how e-commerce companies can provide an experience similar to a giant like Amazon.com.
The new WibiEnterprise 3.0 platform allows a company to power a site with advanced analytics that fine-tunes itself, providing better recommendations and other features over time, including more relevant search results and personalized content.
Thursday November 28th, 2013 07:29:03 PM
Google's decision to share user data across Google services, revealed in an update to its policy back in March 2012, isn't strictly kosher with Dutch privacy law, the Dutch Data Protection Authority said Thursday. Google doesn't "properly inform users which personal data the company collects and combines, and for what purposes," according to a statement by the DPA issued via press release.
Thursday November 28th, 2013 02:24:01 PM
Google has been rumored to be building a streaming music service into its YouTube property, which is a little confusing because it also has its catalogue-spanning Google Play Music All Access service. But there's even more evidence it's going forward with that plan in the latest YouTube app for Android, which contains code (via Android Police) indicating that a service called "Music Pass" is in the works for the online video site.
Thursday November 28th, 2013 10:50:02 AM
Well that didn't take long. Google has removed Cyanogen Inc.'s alternative Android ROM installer app from its Play store. Cyanogen raised $7 million from Benchmark Capital back in September to turn its geek-beloved aftermarket version of Android into a mainstream flavour of the platform -- with the ultimate aim of using its Android variant to compete with standard Android (and iOS) for consumers' attention.
Tuesday November 26th, 2013 09:40:21 PM
Google has a new Chrome extension released today that brings a recently introduced mobile feature to the desktop. The feature is automatic voice search, which is triggered whenever you utter the phrase “Okay, Google.” The company announced the new feature on Google+ today, (via 9to5Google), and it’s live now and available for users in U.S. English. Previously, Google had made it possible to search the web from the desktop by speaking, but you had to actually click a button to get the website to listen. Now, so long as you have the extension installed, whenever you navigate to Google.com, you’ll be able to just say “Okay, Google” and instantly speak what you’re looking for to receive results. The service has some useful limitations, meaning that a Google search page has to be the active tab in order for it to work. You’ll know if it’s primed to listen because the little microphone icon will be filled in, as you can see in the side-by-side example below. But it works on any results page, too, so that once you’ve done a search, you can continue just using your voice so long as you don’t navigate away or click on another open window. It shows you the words as you speak them, and seems pretty accurate based on my brief testing. The use cases are actually pretty extensive: You can use it for cooking, as Google suggests, for instance, to ask your computer for measurements and more while your hands are dirty. Or just ask Google some questions from the sofa if you’re running a media center PC. It’ll even speak back to you some of the results, like when you ask for measurement or currency conversions. It’s fun, and at least marginally handy, and free, so check it out. We’re inching ever nearer to the day when your computer hears everything, and anticipates your needs based on all that data. Scary/awesome.
Tuesday November 26th, 2013 05:21:23 PM
Google says it's taking steps to address the increase in YouTube comment spam that arose from the recent shift to the new commenting system powered by Google+. YouTube users have already been fairly displeased with the new system for reasons related to privacy, confusion, and the ability to leave anonymous comments, having already left over 31,000 comments of their own on a video post announcing the changes, many negative. In addition, the most popular petition begging Google to reconsider a move back to the old system has over 215,000 signatures today.
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