Google CEO Eric Schmidt, talking at the Web 2.0 conference today, made a couple announcements regarding devices that you, reader, may be interested in hearing. After all, with Android poised to become the most populous mobile OS in the world, any major update is worth discussing.
Gingerbread, as they are calling Android version 2.3 (apparently not 3.0, said to be Honeycomb), was shown off on what appeared to be a Nexus S, which would make sense as the first phone to roll out with the update. New features include near-field communication and potentially face recognition, in addition to the resolution compatibility improvements and other under-the-hood changes.
Whenever I ask Google about the versions of Chrome and Chromium, they’re quick to point out that the numbers don’t mean much these days. That said, they still show how quickly the search giant is able to get features implemented that they want to see in their browser. And they’re apparently not happy with the already fast speed at which things are progressing. They want things to go faster. So they’re working to speed things up even more.
A posting in their Chromium Google Group notes they’d like Chrome 8 to hit the beta stage sometime in the next several days. That’s pretty crazy considering that it was only 3 days ago that Google officially released Chrome 7. ”I’m working to shorten the beta cycle for this release as much as possible,” a developer wrote a couple days ago noting that meant they had to focus on blocker bugs (the bugs stopping a version from hitting beta). The developer also notes that this is a part of making sure Google’s ultra-fast six week release cycle remains feasible.
Chrome 8 hit the dev channel a couple weeks ago, and seems pretty solid already, so they’re likely to hit their target. Notably, this version brings the option to have Google Instant baked into the Omnibox.
And with version 8 about to go beta, perhaps it shouldn’t be a surprise the Chromium (the open source browser on which Chrome is based) already hit version 9 today.
It’s certainly possible that we’ll see Chrome 9 released before the official build of Internet Explorer 9 (currently in public beta). Even if the numbers don’t mean much, I’m sort of wondering what happens in the next year — are we really going to see Chrome 14, 15, 16, etc?
Chrome OS, meanwhile, continues to progress towards the version 1.0 launch. They’re currently on build 0.9.93.0, which uses Chrome version 8.0.552.9.
I’d venture to say that I’m as excited about Chrome OS as anybody. 99.99 percent of my working day is currently spent in Chrome currently, and I’d be just fine with it being 100 percent if it gains a few features that Chrome OS is promising. But there’s a mildly worrisome trend occurring leading up to the launch of Google’s first desktop operating system: defections. Also interesting: what does Facebook want with these guys?
Since being wrestled back from Microsoft’s death grip, the web browser has thrived thanks to its openness. All of the popular browsers beyond IE — Firefox, Chrome, Safari, Opera — are either based on open-source or have a thriving community that helps develop and expand each of them. And it’s relatively easy for a user to switch between any of them. But what if that were to change?
I have no direct knowledge that this is about to happen, but recent conversations have had me thinking about this. What if say, Google, in their attempt to finally create a cohesive social experience, decided to forgo building yet another service and instead went for the ultimate layer: the browser?
They could do this, of course, because they make the Chrome web browser. Just imagine a web experience where you signed in once and that was it. For the rest of the time you used that browser, everything would be set for you. Notifications, instant messages, status updates — those would all come in and go out through Chrome, not some website you have open within Chrome.
That may sound weird, but we’re not that far away from this personalization of the browser. Consider that Chrome’s Omnibox (the URL bar and search box) is already a Google zone. Sure, you can set it to use another search engine, but how many people do you think actually do that? And now that Google Instant is being integrated into it, it seems like the connection will only get stronger.
And shortly, Chrome will have its own Web App Store. These apps (some of which will be paid) will only run in Chrome itself. And the payment mechanism and DRM will have to be run through the browser.
How will that work? Presumably, you’ll have to be signed in to your Google account when using the browser. Google has already put some of this in place by enticing people to put their credentials in to the browser for things like bookmark sync. And the latest builds of Chromium make it very clear that you’re signed into the browser, not some website.
Oh yeah, and there’s this thing called Chrome OS which is due to launch shortly. How do you think that will work? Yep, you’ll be logged in to your Google account the entire time. From what I’ve heard, the basic high-level thought is that Chrome OS and Chrome are the same thing. One is simply going to be an operating system within another operating system (Windows, OS X, or Linux), while the other won’t have that additional layer. But functionality-wise, they’ll be the same.
Other attempts have been made at social web browsers — notably, Flock. But Chrome has been smart to slowly integrate personalizations over time. And they have two killer features: Google services and the fastest browser. Now that Chrome is approaching 100 million users, it may be getting close to the time that Google could strike with a fully social browsing experience.
Sometimes, it’s the little things in life.
Earlier this evening, Google published a post on their Chrome Blog highlighting some of their favorite new extensions for the Chrome web browser. As there are now something north of 8,000 Chrome Extensions out there, this seems like a good idea (which Google plans to do regularly) to highlight new ones. But buried at the bottom of the list is one Google made themselves. It’s called Highlight to Search. And it’s awesome.
It’s such a simple thing: when it’s installed, any word you highlight with your mouse cursor on any webpage will bring up a search magnifying glass icon below it. Clicking on that will open a tiny Google Search overlay box with that word already entered. An auto-suggest drop-down also populates just in case you’re looking for something related. And clicking on any of the suggested results will open the full query in a new Chrome tab. Again, so simple, so obvious, but so useful.
The truth is that you could sort of do something similar already with Chrome. If you highlight any word and then right-click, you’ll see an option to “Search Google for XXXXXX”. I use it all the time. But the extension saves a right-click, gives users a much nicer interface, and gives you auto-suggestions.
This is yet more proof of why extensions are awesome. One man’s potential bloat (which this would be if it were a default feature) is another man’s treasure.
A month ago, when Google unveiled Instant, their new search-as-you-type feature, I thought it sounded great except for one little thing: I don’t use google.com that often to search anymore. That doesn’t mean I don’t use Google — I do — I just use it in Chrome’s Omnibox (the URL/Search box that’s baked into the browser). And I’m hardly alone there. When asked when Instant would be making it to browsers search boxes, Google stated that it would come “in the next few months“. Luckily for Chrome, that’s happening much quicker.
It was last July that Google dropped a nuclear bombin announcing Chrome OS, their operating system based around their Chrome web browser. The world was different back then — namely, Google’s Android mobile operating system wasn’t nearly as powerful as it is now. But its rise has led some to wonder why exactly Google is pushing ahead with Chrome OS — or if they might abandon it? (Remember, they did lose their key Chrome OS engineer to Facebook.) Well, they’re not. All indications are that it is coming very soon now. In fact, it may even launch a month from today.
At their official unveiling event 11 months ago, Google promised that Chrome OS would be ready to by the end of this year — before the holiday season. It looks like they will be able to keep that promise, as bug comments on theirGoogle Code site for the project indicate that the OS has already hit “RC” status — also known as “Release Candidate”. As far as I can tell, it achieved this milestone in the past few days or so, and the most recent build would seem to be 0.9.78.1 (or RC 78.1). When that number evens out to “1″, we can probably expect Chrome OS to be ready to go.
Further, the most recent updates in this thread from three days ago twice have a Google employee referencing a November 11 date. “We will push this after November 11,” the employee writes in response to a question about a specific feature. The same employee then references that date again later. It’s hard to tell for sure if that’s the date Google is targeting for the Chrome OS launch, but it certainly seems inline with everything else we’ve heard.
It’s also possible that November 11 will be a final code freeze and Chrome OS could ship a week later — maybe on the 1 year anniversary of their unveiling event last November? It’s worth nothing that the Chrome Web Store is due out this month — that will obviously be very useful for Chrome OS as well. And yes, you can probably expect at least one U.S. carrier to be on board with the official launch.
More indications that Google is quickly approaching a first build of Chrome OS includes what they’re actually working on now. Screensavers, sign-in screens, and highlight colors — in other words, a lot of UI elements, the icing on the cake.
I’ve reached out to Google for comment and will update if I hear back.
At TechCrunch Disrupt, Google’s CEO Eric Schmidt told the audience that the next step for Google Search is to show more personalized results. It’s unclear when Google will roll out a more personalized search experience, but startup Evernote, the ‘memory enhancement’ service that allows one to capture, organize, and find information across multiple devices and platforms, is hoping to bring this to you now. The startup is releasing a new Google Chrome Extension that includes Simultaneous Search, which lets you search both Google and your Evernote account at the same time.
Here’s how it works. When you beginning typing your Google search, your Evernote notes will also show as a result on top of your Google search result. Evernote will also show you the number of notes that match your query; and you can click on the result to see a list of all your notes that matched the search. Evernote says the extension also works on other Google search portals, including Google Images and Google Shopping. And the startup is planning to expand this functionality to other search engines and browsers.
With the new extension, Evernote users can also email their clips and notes to up to ten friends right from inside the Evernote Extension popup.
For any Evernote power user, the extension seems like a great way to combine your everyday search with your content on the note taking platform. Evernote has been growing like a weed, reaching 4 million users in August, and nifty features like these should only help the service continue to increase its userbase.
Well, this is bizarre. Minutes ago Paul Berry, CTO of the Huffington Post, tweeted that “google analytics chrome 6 bug is going to be big news”. After a little digging, we think he may be right: Chrome 6 (and the more recent Chrome 7, which is still in beta) is causing issues with Google Analytics, causing traffic data to be seriously skewed for visitors using Chrome’s browser. The number of Unique Visitors reported by Analytics is jumping up, but the average number of pages viewed by each user is dropping off a cliff. Update: See below, Google says that there was an issue, but that it has been fixed in the most recent Chrome update.
Here’s how one site administrator describes the issue on a Google support forum:
While they’re still only officially saying that the it will launch “later this year”, it appears that Google is taking the steps to get ready for a Chrome Web Store launch very soon. Specifically, a post today highlights that developers can now hook their apps up to Google Checkout merchant accounts (to be able to sell their apps — U.S.-only for the time being), and that there is now a way to preview how your app will look in the store when it goes live.
I love the whole concept of Google Chrome Frame. It’s Google spitting in the face of Microsoft and showing them that their software isn’t good enough for the modern web — by recreating it as Google software. Granted, Microsoft finally looks to be evolving with IE9, but they had years to do that, so Google stopped waiting and did it for them. Ballsy. Brilliant.
But Chrome Frame, which became an official stable product today after a few months in beta, has had one major weakness: it requires administrator rights to install the plug-in. Sadly, that’s something a ton of users in corporate environments don’t have. And that’s one segment that needs Chrome Frame the most, because they don’t have the option to install another browser. But Google is working on getting around that requirement.
The search giant said as much in their post today announcing the stable build of Chrome Frame. “We’ve set aggressive goals for future releases: we’re working on making start-up speed even faster and removing the current requirement for administrator rights to install the plug-in,” Google engineer Tomas Gunnarsson writes today. He doesn’t elaborate as to how exactly they’ll do that, but they’re working on it.
He also notes that Google is putting Chrome Frame on the same rapid release cycle as the rest of Chrome. That means a new version every six weeks or so. That’s like a fraction of a nanosecond in IE release cycle years.
And finally, full Gmail and Google Calendar support is coming to Google Frame in the “near future,” Google says.
The Sunday Times reported yesterday that Samsung’s much-hyped Galaxy Tab would be able to have its Android 2.2 OS “replaced with Chrome, when that arrives, though owners who aren’t tech savvy should have this upgrade carried out by a professional.” This information was supposedly confirmed by Samsung, which has since said that they have no plans to replace the OS on the Galaxy Tab. Typical corporate prevarication, or something more?
This information could be obvious, revealing, or questionable. I’m leaning towards questionable.
Google Instant is great — but I rarely use it. Why? Because I simply don’t go to google.com that often. That’s not to say I don’t search Google a lot — I do — I just use the Omnibox is Chrome for almost all of my searches. When Google launched Instant, they noted that it would be added to browser for people like me “in the next few months“. Well, guess what? It only took them 9 days.
Granted, Google has only enabled Instant as a Chrome Labs, and they have only enabled it for Chromium, the open source browser that Chrome is based on. But most features that come to Chromium, usually find their way to Chrome in relatively short order — though they have to then travel through the different levels of Chrome itself (dev then beta then stable). Sadly, this feature is Windows-only for the time being as well.
If ever a trailer did not depict what a movie is actually about it’s this trailer for Universal Pictures’ “Catfish”, a movie about Facebook the subject matter of which could not be further from that other movie about Facebook. I’d like to use this sentence to say “Spoiler Alert” about fifteen times because the next couple paragraphs are going to be full of them.
If you hate spoilers do yourself a favor and stop reading now. That said, the following exposition shouldn’t prevent you from seeing the movie, I’ve seen it twice and enjoyed both times.
Online publishing company Wetpaint has been undergoing a strategic shift in its business model over the past year. Wetpaint began as a simple wiki/social publishing tool but then started to build entertainment sites for big brands, including MSN. And the heavily funded startup succumbed to layoffs last July and December. But today, Wetpaint is taking the company in a new direction: original content. The startup is launching Wetpaint Entertainment; a TV news site that covers news and gossip from over 15 major TV shows, such as Glee, Grey’s Anatomy, and Gossip Girl.
Each show has a dedicated online channel (the site is launching with 15 channels), and will compile the most popular photos, videos, fashion gossip, and headlines to provide one place for all the information about fans’ favorite shows.
Adam Penenberg. If you call yourself an online journalist, and yet that name doesn’t immediately prompt a nod of recognition – a smile, even – then it’s time to close your laptop and bow your head in shame. Or at least head over to Netflix.
It was Adam Penenberg who, back in 1998, first forced traditional journalists to sit up and take online reporting seriously. And he did so with a double whammy: scooping them on a big story – a scandal that went to the heart of one of America’s journalistic institutions – while also exposing a rising star of print journalism as a hack and a liar.
This weekend, I’ve been catching up on some reading. One post that was of particular interest to me was David Beach’s article from last week about developing for Android. Beach, who is a product manager at eBay Mobile and a co-founder of 12seconds, basically says that the experience sucks for a number of reasons (all of which Google can fix, but will take quite a bit of work and time). But one quote in particular stuck out to me:
Android has succeeded despite Google. In fact it’s safe to say that Android is successful for one primary reason. The iPhone is only available on AT&T. If the iPhone was on Verizon a year ago. Android would be no where near as popular.
Obviously, Beach isn’t the first person to bring this idea up. But he brings it up in a way that he’s able to back-up his feelings from a developers’ perspective, while at the same time roping in what isn’t ideal from a consumer perspective about Android as well.
Bob Dylan once said that ‘money doesn’t talk, it swears’, but in Hargeisa the capital of Africa’s Somaliland it stinks. It literally stinks, reeking of rotten paper, like a leaky library in a monsoon.
That’s because there’s so much of it. For every dollar there are almost 17,000 Somaliland Shillings and the highest-denomination note is 500 Shillings, which is by no means the most common note in circulation. Money-changers sit within self-built stacks of money (picture left, video below) and children take wheelbarrows of it from one place to another, reminiscent of 1930s Weimar Germany when the Deutsch Mark became worthless.
By all criteria, cash doesn’t work here. Could tiny, unknown Somaliland become the first nation to become a cashless society? It is not only possible, it is almost certain. There is already a surprisingly strong base for this to happen. Thanks to a cobbled together-by-necessity system of money-transfer posts from Somaliland’s diaspora and a surging mobile banking industry, the country has to do away with cash. But first some background.
If I ever write another book it will probably be about one of three topics. The first is the truth about how the press and journalism really works – the sausage making – to show just how much of a beautiful, subjective and chaotic mess it all is. The second idea is to talk about how perfect blogging is, with its constant feedback loop, as a training ground for mass psychology and manipulation. The third idea I’m keeping to myself for now, but it’s more startup focused.
It’s the second one that’s been on my mind lately. Mostly because it’s become pretty clear to me that any blogger worth her salt could start, say, an extremely successful militant religious cult.
Any blogger will tell you how frustrating the early days are. Getting someone, anyone, to link to you. Your first comment! etc. And as your audience grows you are introduced to the first rule of anonymous human behavior – it’s dark and brutal, and reminds me how thin the veil of civilized behavior really is. If there is something nasty that can be said, someone will say it. Over and over.
Stealth Mode Watch, a searchable data spider of often very revealing SEC form D filings, is the brain child of Denis Papathanasiou, who came up with the idea while researching funding options (a.k.a spying) for his ebooks startup Fifobooks, “I was just using it to keep tabs on specific investors and other competitors in the ebook space, but I mentioned it to a few people, and they were interested enough to want to use it themselves.”
Papathanasiou then added a public API and launched it in beta under its own domain. Right now the site allows a simple search mode which shows results for the past four weeks and then an extended API mode which allows results past that date as well as filtering parameters like “people,”"companies” and “places” (Humans beware: The data is delivered in XML files).