Catching Up With Android, Google Maps 2.0 For iOS Offers iPad Support, Indoor Directions

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Poor Apple Maps. While we see very minor improvement from Apple’s year-old Maps application, Google continues to improve its world-class offering pretty rapidly.

Why, today, in fact, Google launched an update to the Google Maps for iOS app, adding support for the iPad, indoor maps, and a slew of other features that were released with the recent Android Google Maps update.

Google Maps 2.0 now fully supports the larger screen sizes of the iPad and iPad mini, as well as offering indoor maps with walking directions for transit stations, airports, malls and other large buildings.

Past that, you’ll also notice that the Google Maps iOS app now offers better navigation with live traffic updates and incident reports. Meanwhile, Apple Maps still hasn’t figured out transit directions.

Google 2.0 also includes 5-star ratings for various locations, alongside reviews from friends and Zagat content, and if you were perhaps looking for a little marketing in your Maps app, Google is also pushing Google Offers to users through the navigation app.

Google has always been ahead of the pack when it comes to Maps, and with the recent acquisition of Waze crowd-sourced mapping technology, Google’s lead will likely only get bigger.

The update is available now in the Apple App Store.

Almunia Says The EU Antitrust Ball Is In Google’s Court, While FairSearch Releases More Data Against Google’s Proposed Remedies

Flag of European Union

We are still waiting for the antitrust commissioner in Europe to make his next formal statement on negotiations with Google, after the search giant in April this year suggested remedies in the ongoing antitrust case against it over dominance in search. But for now, it sounds like the ball is in Google’s court, with Joachin Almunia, the VP for competition in the European Commission, today confirming that he has written to Google’s chairman, Eric Schmidt, to request changes to Google’s proposals after concluding Google’s proposals were not good enough.

“After the analysis of the results of the market test that concluded last month [June 27], I concluded that the proposals that Google sent to us months ago are not enough to overcome our concerns,” he noted today in a press briefing in Brussels. Subsequently, he said, “I wrote a letter to Mr Schmidt asking Google for more improvements.”

It looks like this is the second letter that Almunia has sent to Schmidt on this case. The first, sent in May 2012, was closer to the start of the investigation out outlined Almunia’s main reasons for bringing the case against Google in the first place.

Almunia is scheduled to make one last statement to the press before the summer break in August, and sources expect his office to make a more detailed announcement about the Google case before legislators break for the summer.

So far, competitors have been invited to respond, and today more of those responses are trickling out, courtesy of lobbying group FairSearch, a group of businesses that include Microsoft, Oracle, Expedia and others trying to get more leverage over Google in Europe, where it dominates the search market.

Summed up, Google’s proposed remedies propose the following changes to how it presents search results in Europe, over the next five years:

  • More labelling of links that promote Google’s own search services (such as Shopping) to show that these are promoted (ie paid) placements, to better distinguish them from natural search results.
  • More graphical separation of the above links (using things like frames).
  • Offering links to three “rival specialised search services close to its own services, in a place that is clearly visible to users.”
  • Clear way for websites to opt-out from Google’s specialised search services, “while ensuring that any opt-out does not unduly affect the ranking of those web sites in Google’s general web search results.”
  • Offer a way for specialised search sites (say, travel, mapping or restaurants) a way of tagging that cannot be indexed by Google (and then subsequently used to improve their own specialist search results).
  • Give a way for publishers to control what part of their content gets used in Google News.
  • No longer include any obligations (“written or unwritten”) for publishers to source online search ads from Google. (Implication here is that this becomes connected to how those sites then get indexed on Google’s main search and subsequently impacts those sites’ traffic.)
  • No longer impose obligations preventing advertisers from managing campaigns on competing ad platforms.

On the surface, these sound like reasonable proposals, but the devil is in the details. The complaints from competitors range from the fact that Google’s proposals apply to but not any of the country-specific domains that come up by default when you are in an individual country; to how clearly delineated things like graphical signage indicated “promoted links” will look. There is also the fact that, given there are significantly more than three competitors making complaints against Google’s dominance, how to balance that in a proposal that only allows for three rivals’ links to appear at any one time.

From a source close to the negotiations, we’ve also heard that there was some surprise within the EC at how little Google conceded in its first stab at making remedies. It’s perhaps a negotiating tactic that is more common in the U.S. — offer less than what you’re willing to actually give — but apparently the EC was expecting more.

It’s a can of worms, and in the talks I’ve had with different Google rivals involved, I’m actually not sure they all necessarily agree when it comes to making constructive suggestions for what they’d ideally like Google to do (“going away” not being a realistic option). On the other side, encroaching too far into what Google as a private company should have to do to make it easier for competition could also send out bad signals to other big companies who want to do business in Europe.

In the meantime, FairSearch, one of the main lobbying groups fighting Google in the antitrust debate, has today released the results of a survey of consumers that shows (surprise!) how ineffective Google’s current remedies would be, were they implemented.

On the third point above, for example, “We conclude that the ‘three rival’ links remedy proposed by Google would not draw consumer attention to rival websites,” said the study conducted by University of Illinois professor David Hyman and University of San Francisco professor David Franklyn. In one case, when one in five users clicked on a Google Shopping link, only one in 200 clicked on rival links presented in a box.

It also found that most users didn’t know that Google specialised search links were actually paid-for placements. “Consumers trust search results to be impartial and based solely on relevance to their query, without manipulation of the order or results,” the authors note.

And with the ongoing march to mobile screens, it appears that the issue becomes even more acute. “The researchers also tested mobile surfing-style screens and found the disparity between clicks on Google services and others even more pronounced than for desktop search,” the found. “Only one in 1,000 surfers clicked on a small blue box labelled ‘other links.’”

The report was part of FairSearch’s response that it submitted to the EC at the end of June. It will be interesting to see how much of this makes its way to Almunia’s next progress statement and Google’s next stab at a settlement.

MLB’s #ASG: All the stars, all the stats

Baseball is all about statistics: ERA, OPS, BABIP. So how about some Twitter stats from last night’s All Star Game? In total, there were over 1 million Tweets about the game, with a peak of 23,000 Tweets per minute for Mariano Rivera’s relief appearance.Read more…


Google Opens The New Google Maps For Web To Everyone

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Remember that shiny new Maps web interface that Google started showing off at I/O back in May? It’s here!

Technically, the new Maps interface has actually been here for a while… assuming you signed up for an invite shortly after it was announced and were able to make it through Google’s invite queue before they opened the floodgates today. (I signed up a few hours after the announcement and just got my invite a week or two ago.)

Need a refresher on what’s new? Here’s the bulk of it:

  • A new, fullscreen interface
  • Maps now uses vector data rather than graphical tiles for faster loading and handling
  • You can now zoom way, way out. As in, out into space. They’ve built in a Google Earth-esque planetary view, assuming you’re on a beefy enough computer running a compatible browser (Chrome or Firefox)
  • Photo Tours that let you explore famous locations through a series of stitched-together, user-submitted photos. It’s more trippy than it is useful, but it’s still worth checking out. (To see one, go to a major city [like San Francisco] and click the little expansion arrows in the very bottom right)
  • Most routes will automatically show public transport alternatives alongside your driving options
  • Quick comparison charts for public-transport options, graphing the difference in stops/overall time

But wait! Don’t head straight over to and expect the new look just yet. While they’ve ditched the invite queue and the whole having-to-wait bit, you’ll still need to opt in. To do so, just go to this page, scroll down to the bottom, and hit the “Try Now” button. It should let you in immediately.

New features for BlackBerry 10 app

The BlackBerry community has spoken, and we’ve listened: Today we’re releasing a feature-rich update for BlackBerry 10 that helps you connect more seamlessly to the people and topics you care about. And since BlackBerry users askedRead more…


Google Updates Analytics With Improved User Segmentation, Sequence Filters


Google today introduced a number of new segmentation features for Google Analytics that should make it easier for users to isolate and analyze subsets of their visitors or app users. Previously, segments were always based on individual visits. While that can be a useful metric, it doesn’t give you any real insights into the behavior of returning visitors. Now, Analytics users have the option to create user segments that allow them to select all of the visits of a user who fits into a pre-defined segment (based on behavior or demographics).

This update now also allows Analytics users to perform cohort analysis. Google says this allows you to “analyze the long-term benefit of specific groups of customers (for example, customers who first visited within a specified timeframe).” Say you want to look at the analytics data for all the people who first visited your site in December and spent more than $100 on it during the holidays. Previously, that was very hard to do, but now it’s just a matter of a few clicks.

All of this, of course, is only possible because Analytics can now track users across multiple session. This now allows Analytics users to create certain metrics based on user behavior during a single or multiple sessions (say somebody who viewed two pages in a row or who abandoned a shopping cart). This, Google Analytics evangelist Justin Cutroni notes, is especially useful “when you need to see how two actions, either concurrent or separate, impact behavior.”

To make these new features a bit more accessible, Google rolled out a refreshed user interface that takes some cues from the “cards” look the company is already using across many of its other products. The new look, Google writes, is meant to highlight “segmentation as a critical analytics technique with better visibility and readability.”

These updates will slowly roll out to all users over the next few months.

Google Brings Street View, Archival Images And Photos To The Eiffel Tower

Construction of the Eiffel Tower

Google today introduced 360-degree Street View imagery of all of the main floors of the Eiffel Tower in Paris. A few weeks ago, Google introduced Street View imagery for the world’s largest building, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, so adding this kind of imagery isn’t exactly new anymore. What’s different this time around, however, is that the Google Cultural Institute – in cooperation with the Eiffel Tower Operating Company — used this Street View imagery to create a number of online exhibitions about the tower.

These exhibitions feature over 50 archival images, plans, engravings and photos that, says Google, tell “the story of the Eiffel Tower’s development and social impact in the 19th century.” One of the highlights of this collection is a recording of Gustave Eiffel’s voice by Thomas Edison.

Sadly, it looks like Google only got a chance to take its Street View Trolley up the Eiffel Tower on a somewhat cloudy day, so the overall view isn’t quite as spectacular as it could have been.

Over the last few months, Google has been expanding Street View’s reach into a number of new locations ranging from underwater photography around the Great Barrier Reef to the Grand Canyon and numerous zoos, canals, abandoned islands and ski slopes around the world. Just last month, Google added close to 1,000 new Street View locations in Asia, Europe, Latin America and North America to its maps.

This Week on Twitter – July 15

Wednesday, July 17; 9:00 p.m. ET
Sports lovers can follow @ESPYs and #ESPYS for all-access coverage of ESPN’s one-night celebration of the best athletes and moments in sports. @ESPYs will provide behind-the-scenes photos and Vine videos ofRead more…


Google’s Stock Price Opens At All-Time High Ahead Of Q2 2013 Earnings Release Later This Week

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Google shares are on fire. Since June 24, 2013, shares have jumped 7.32 percent to reach an all-time high price of 926.47 shortly after the NASDAQ opened. As earnings are coming up on Thursday, expectations are now pretty high. After a mixed Q1 2013, the company could beat analyst expectations on revenue this time around.

Google shares closed at a price of 765.91 after Q1 earnings. Today’s all-time high represents an impressive 20.96 percent increase over a period of roughly three months. In other words, Google’s market capitalization of $304 billion is now $50 billion higher. Again, this all happened in just three months.

At the time of this writing, the stock is slightly down to 917.59 (-0.59 percent compared to yesterday’s closing price). As Google isn’t making an announcement today, this all-time high is probably due to large financial decisions. Google shares could end up in more portfolios than it used to be.

Yet, as earnings are right around the corner, today’s news is a good opportunity to take a step back and look at Google as a whole. Recently, Google has been a more focused company. It has been killing underperforming products, even if it means shutting down beloved service Google Reader. When it comes to acquisitions, Google isn’t as reckless as it used to be. This year, the company didn’t “pull a Motorola.” Instead, it is closing smaller and more strategic acquisitions. It still has to pay $1.1 billion for Waze, but it’s small compared to Motorola and its thousands of employees. Ads still represent the vast majority of Google’s revenue.

The 2013 edition of the Google I/O developer conference was a great example of the company’s new focus. Instead of showcasing bold products that turn into failures, such as the Google TV or the Nexus Q, Google chose to talk about APIs and core products, such as Google+ or Google Maps.

While Google+ isn’t yet a definitive success, people can’t say that the company isn’t putting enough resources at work on the social network. But it isn’t Google’s only product. At the same time, Android, Chrome, YouTube, Google Maps and of course Google’s search engine all remain very important on Google’s roadmap. Now if only the company could find a way to diversify its revenue, investors would certainly appreciate it.

Internet Association’s New Website Lets Users Comment on Bills



The Internet Association, the lobbying conglomerate of big tech companies like Google, Amazon and Facebook, has launched a new website that allows users to comment on proposed bills.

The association unveiled its redesigned website on Monday, and it hopes its new, interactive features will give citizens a way to speak up. “We want this to be a two way conversation, it needs to be a dialogue,” Nika Nour, the Internet Association’s digital director, told Mashable.

In the “Take Action” section of the website, under “Leave Your Mark,” the association plans to upload bills, declarations and other context documents for netizens to peruse and, most importantly, interact with. After logging in, a user can comment on the bill in general, and even make line edits. Read more…

More about Google, Amazon, Facebook, Congress, and Us World

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