Google I/O 2013

This past week, Google wrapped up its annual developers’ conference in San Francisco, Calif., giving us a look into the future of one of the most powerful companies. Google I/O features highly technical, in-depth sessions geared towards developers. Over 6000 developers on-site, 460 I/O Extended sites in 90 countries and millions around the world tuned in to the live-stream  indicating just how popular Google is and the excitement surrounding their big announcements. The Keynote speech offers a look into product and platform innovations Google has planned for the upcoming year.

Here’s a quick summary of what you missed at the 2013 Keynote:

Google+
Google+ is being updated with 41 new features. The most significant being the content feed. The new design was unveiled, and appears to look like a combination of the Facebook timeline and Pinterest. This new interface allows for easy content exploration and places an emphasis on images and links. Each photo flips over to reveal more information about the subject. The new Google+ is hyper-intelligent, with its automated hashtags, letting you find relevant content that much easier. A significant update to Google+ is the new automatic photo enhancement feature and the new highlight view for albums. Based on a variety of factors, Google can stop duplicate images from appearing, emphasize photos with friends or know landmarks, and even filter out blurry pictures. Google+ Hangouts also got an upgrade, streamlining your online conversations to any device or platform.

Android
Google announced 900 million Android activations and 48 billion app downloads to date. They will be releasing a stock Android Galaxy S4, rather than the Samsung interface. The phone will be available for purchase in the Google Play store on June 26, but it won’t come cheap — the price is set at a steep $649.

Google Play
An obvious update to Google Play is the store’s visual appearance, but behind the scenes there have also been improvements. You can now get suggestions based on your personalized preferences, chosen by Google. In addition, Google introduced Google Play for Education, a store specifically for educational institutions. Google Play Games has added the ability for cloud gaming, so if you stop playing on one device, you can seamlessly pick back up on another device. Lastly, Google Play Music is offering a new $9.99 monthly streaming service, similar to Spotify and Rdio. Google Play Music All Access is radio without rules. Google is offering a free monthly trial, and if you sign up before June 8th, you can use the service for only $7.99 a month.

Maps
Google Maps continues to stay one step ahead of the competition, and this big update will ensure they do just that. Maps has been redesigned to be fully interactive and tailored to you. The service gets better the more you use it as it adapts to your preferences and is able to suggest restaurants you may enjoy or even the fastest route home. With the integration between Maps and Google Earth, you will be able to explore cities in 3D and view “3D Photo Tours” for a virtual sightseeing experience. Google added several new types transportation, including a flight search, they improved public transit information significantly and are including live traffic reports. You will also have the ability to compare different modes of transportation to see which one is best for you. To be one of the first to try to new Google Maps, you have to request an invite.

Glass
Glass has the potential to be “the next big thing” in technology. Although not part of the keynote, Google Glass was a big topic for day 2 of the conference and stole the show. During the I/O, Official apps for Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Evernote were debuted. Glass sessions focused on product development and building “glassware.” There was also a Q&A period that covered privacy implications and government restrictions. Google Glass is most likely the first step on a long journey of wearable technology. It’ll be interesting to see how it’s received by the general public when it becomes available at the end of the year.

If you would like to view the Keynote in its entirety, it’s available on YouTube (warning: it’s three and half hours long). Google never ceases to impress the world with their advances in technology. We’ll be looking forward to seeing what Google comes up with next.

 —Rachel Keeton

 

Google Maps for iOS is already a success

In case you missed it (and I doubt you did, but anyway), according to a Google+ post from Jeff Huber, he SVP of Geo and Commerce at Google, the Google Maps app for iOS was downloaded more than 10 million times in the first 48 hours of its launch, making it a huge success already! In fact, it became the top free app in the App Store just hours after debuting. I’m not going to lie, I downloaded it as soon as I found out.

“We’re excited for the positive reception of Google Maps for iPhone around the world. Congratulations to the Maps Team on the recognition for the passion and hard work they poured into it, for this release and over the last 7+ years.”

The Google Maps app made its debut after several months of rumors about a forthcoming app after it was removed from iOS 6 and replaced by an Apple-made mapping program that was not popular with users. Personally, I had no issues with it aside from the lack of public transportation integration, but Google’s app seems just as polished as the Apple-integrated one. What do you think? Have you downloaded the new Google Maps on your iPhone already? I know everybody at this particular social media agency has.

iPhone 5: iOS 6 Changes Worth it?

On September 19th, Apple pushed its new iOS 6 software live. With iOS 6, came five big changes: Maps, Siri, Camera, Mail, and Passbook. Out of these changes, the changes with iOS Maps App is by far the one that has the most controversy. Google Maps, which was a pre-loaded feature, has been completely taken off the home screen of the iPhone. Once re-downloaded, the iOS Maps, now controlled by Apple and not Google, is missing points of interest feature, Google transit directions and street images. To say that’s not enough change, the Maps gives inaccurate and incorrect destinations, for instance saying that a farm in Dublin was in fact an airport, which can cause major miscommunication dilemmas for pilots.

Though iOS Maps seems to have the most controversy, the other changes have a more positive note to them. Siri can now tweet, facebook, and make reservations for you. The new Camera feature is by far the most fun to play around with. Now, users can take panoramic shots of different places they visit to the people they are with.

The Mail App now allows you to attach photos and videos straight through the app, which was not possible before. Lastly, a new pre-loaded feature on the iOS 6 software is Passbook, which allows users to be more organized when it comes to storing, boarding passes, tickets, store cards, and coupons. But the Passbook app does not automatically transfer tickets and coupons into its app, users have to download the ticket vendor’s app, the airline company’s app, or the store’s app before they can start storing their information in this app.

The biggest changes to iOS 6, to say the least, give users a mixed feeling about them. Only users can judge themselves, if they like these new features are beneficial to them. It will be interesting to see how these new features affect internet marketing’s fast-paced life.

Future of Location Based Apps

rAmmoRRison

Location-based apps are one of the newest frontiers in Digital Marketing. Google Maps, Foursquare, even Twitter are in on the “check-in” game. On platforms like Foursquare, users can see who is currently checked into a place, leave messages there, and receive incentives for checking in. Twitter and Google allow location broadcasting to approved friends. But where is this technology going? I did some deep digging to find out.

1. Tracking
Tracking on social Web sites is not new. We have all heard cautionary tales about Joe Inappropriate losing his job over an indecent picture his company found on Facebook or Jane Toomuchinformation missing out on a second interview because of too many updates on Twitter about how much she hates her current job. Location based tracking seems to be ahead. ZDnet suggests that insurance companies or assessors may be able to use your check in history to determine risk factors and rates. If you were to check into multiple bars every night for 2 months and you don’t own one, this might be an issue for you. It’s not all bad though, an auto insurer could set up a maintenance check-in program that tracks how often your car’s oil is changed or whether or if you check in to a car seat inspection station.

2. Real-time coupons
Some Web sites, like Foursquare, are already in the infant stages of adopting this technology. As a user checks in, incentives, or coupons, are shown for his or her presence. However, Mobile Commerce Daily has reported that Where, another location-based site has introduced location-based, real-time mobile deal alerts. “[Where’s] deal alerts service pushes mobile coupons and discounts to consumers based on preference and location.” For instance, let’s say I have selected to receive alerts from Ingenex Digital Marketing on Where. 2 weeks later, I walk past Ingenex and my text alert goes off. It reads:

Hey there friend! Ingenex Digital is offering a free cup of coffee when you stop in and say “Hello!”

The text service is free but regular text messaging rates apply, but for most of us, that really shouldn’t be an issue anymore. Business owners could have the ability to schedule daily offer changes and control the amount of time the coupon is active.

3. Tourism
Why not make being a tourist a little bit easier. Gowalla seems to be the predominant player in this so far. Users can create “trips” with check in points. The site features sponsored tours by University of Oklahoma and National Geographic. Not many other players have embraced the tourism possibilities and with Gowalla’s page visits down approximately 45% in the past two months, the possibility of dying in the shadows of Foursquare and Google Latitude grows stronger. Roseindia, a leader in Web tutorials, offers a few points for utilizing location-based tourism. Based on your GPS, a platform that provides traffic information, weather updates, local information, city guides and check-in spots could possibly be available in the near future for tourists with smartphones.

The landscape of local-based applications is wide open for innovation. Tracking, real-time coupons, and tourism are all areas that apps are beginning to target. So, what would you like to see come to fruition?  Any ideas?

deanj

Google Latitude: useful social utility or stalking device?

As many of you may be aware Google has a very advanced and user friendly application called Google Maps.  Google Maps provides traffic details, satellite views, list views, map views, hybrid views, GPS, driving directions, public transit details, and so on.  Google has now taken this application one step further by adding Google Latitude into the mix.  Google Latitude allows you to locate where your family and friends are as well as show them where you are in real time within Google Maps

The privacy settings have an opt-in-only feature, meaning no one can see anyone else’s location without permission.   Once permission is granted the settings can be adjusted and can vary from your location being automatically detected, manually entered or completely hidden from other people, another way to hide is to sing out of Latitude altogether.  Users can also adjust the level of geographic information they are willing to share from a specific spot on a street to a city location.  These settings can be individual specific. 

Users can also upload a picture and change their status line through this account which will both appear as the icon on the map representing them.  The changes here will also reflect in the users Google Talk account (the instant messenger within G-Mail).  This is a great feature as users will be able to update their pictures or status dependant on where they are allowing them to share their surroundings with their friends and family.  The downside to this is that there are many other ways to send instant pictures to others like simply sending a picture through a text message for starters. 

I personally see this as a great tool for parents checking on their kids, or to keep track of elderly relatives that may live on their own.  It is a great security measure but not something you can solely depend on.  Friends and family can use it as a tool to share their whereabouts with each other in a fun, visual way. 

My only concern with this tool is it’s ability to be used as a stalking device.  Scenarios can range from people in shaky relationships cyber stalking their significant others to make sure they know their every move, all the way to predators looking for their vicitims.  Everyday the news reports new ways predators are using to reach their targets; through chat rooms, facebook groups, virtual gaming like X-Box Live.  These tools are giving them the platform to create relationships and have the ability to con, especially children, into providing information that shouldn’t be given to strangers, I wouldn’t be surprised if their are criminal minds out there already plotting to use this tool to know the exactly where their so called “friends” are located. 

Although there are several competitors out there with similar tools, most in the past have been for specific mobile devices.  Google has made this tool easily accesible to the masses.  Still in its early stages I will be interested in what this tool leads to as a social utility.

Deepti Dewan Chowdhry