huwmart.in

From Google’s perspective this is obviously a good move, they’re rebranding Blogger and Picasa as Google Blogs and Google Photos respectively, apparently as a big push to “unify its brand” ahead of the launch of Google+. I think it’s terrible though, on the same vein of Google trying to “unify its brand”: people want to be part of a brand.

Maybe not in the beginning, but now i’m sure one of the big things that brings people to Flickr is the name. It’s known as that huge beast of a photo sharing site, and if you want to share photos, you obviously go there. What Google have done by rebranding Blogger and Picasa is null the brands behind them. ‘Google Photos’ and ‘Google Blogs’ might do just fine based on their large existing user base to make people want to be part of that, but there’s less of a pull.

Having a brand like Picasa is good, there’s a name to it - you can ask “Are you on Picasa?”. Instead now people will be asking “Are you on Google Photos?”, and the average Joe will have no idea what they’re talking about, they might even assume you’re talking about image search! People want to be associated with a brand, and being associated with a search leviathan like Google doesn’t exactly tug at the heart strings.

If there’s one thing Google seem to do really well, it’s search, that and user guides. Having got a lovely new email address at me@huwmart.in, I wasn’t loving it, the GoDaddy mail interface is the most distraught interface i’ve ever laid eyes on. To escape UX hell I signed up for a free Google Apps account and then went from there, after following the user guide to the letter and waiting for the changes to process now I can access my mail account through Gmail. Perfection.

I well and truly love the design direction Google are going in, since the launch of Google+, we’ve seen a reboot of the interface for Google search, GCal and now Gmail as well. What Google are producing are elegant web app’s which people will want to use, that people will get pleasure from looking at for the first time, rather than an archaic looking app thats redeemed by its functionality - anybody that has tried Gmail will tell you its a great service, better than Hotmail at least, but design like this is the icing on the cake, and it’s very much appreciated on my end.

Since Google’s Inside Search event i’ve been trying to figure if the new Google search stuff is groundbreaking or just convenient. With five new additions to Google search on the desktop and on mobile it’s obviously a great improvement but it’s still left me feeling a little cold.

Without a doubt, image search seems insane - allowing you to perform a Google search with and image, I can’t figure how it would work in practice with a genuine use case though, typically when you have a photo, you took it, so you will know a decent amount about it, more than Google will. All I can entertain is the idea that it will help you identify “mysterious creatures” as the demo video suggests. It would be great for identifying animals, places, people you can’t remember the name of, however Google reports that it simply ‘compares pixels’ and works best with things well documented on the web1, personally I think it’s a bit of a gimmick with no really useful purpose, will it make people use Google over Bing? Hell yeah, like I said it’s a gimmick but it’s not particularly blowing my mind.

One thing that really made me smile was Google Instant for Mobile:

Google is launching Google Instant for Mobile, which is very similar to Google Places, but right on the Google Mobile homepage. The next time you’re out and about, simply launch Safari and visit the homepage to access location based shortcuts that’ll help you find food, drink, fuel, and more with simple tap based navigation. The results are integrated with Google Maps, so you can location based results closest that are ranked closest to you. On top that, you’ll have access to phone numbers, reviews, and directions from a pull down menu under each result.

This sounds and looks slick, to find locations around you, you don’t even have to type, it looks similar to what Microsoft is doing with Bing on Windows Phone 7 with local results, it allows you to get in, get out and things done quicker. I think thats really what we need in the mobile space and is awesome to see Google pushing it. As another addition to Google Mobile search they’ve also made it easier to “to build longer, more complicated searches” which basically allows you to build on your existing search with suggested phrases to refine it, again adding to the get in, get out and things done quicker style that Google Mobile search is going with it means you can simply tap to refine your search rather than spending time typing.

Everything else just feels like a convenience, Google also announced Voice Search on the desktop which seems strange to me, it obviously works well on Mobile devices because you’re mobile, but on a desktop when you’re going to be using the keyboard and mouse a second later anyway, it feels out of place. They also announced Instant Pages:

Instant Pages can get the top search result ready in the background while you’re choosing which link to click, saving you yet another two to five seconds on typical searches.

Although Instant Pages may be a technical feat, it just makes you get places quicker and users wont even pick up on it unless they’re told explicitly it’s Google doing it: they’ll just think its their internet connection.

I respect Google for innovating and releasing this stuff that will put them ahead of Bing, and I really want Google to be “the third half of my brain” but Instant Pages, image, and voice search aren’t doing that for me. I would love to see them keep innovating on mobile search and I think thats where Google can grow in terms of search intelligence, knowledge and logistics with them knowing where you are and what you’re doing, and I know they’ll get there in the end, but i’d prefer it now.


  1. For example, a famous building like the Eiffel Tower would bring up other photos of the Eiffel Tower.

Google’s guitar-inspired Doodle has taken its three simple chords and migrated to its very own web page.

Very nice.

(via Digg)

0 plays

Polishing a Rubix Cube

After the announcement of Samsung’s Series 5 Chromebook and Acer’s unnamed Chromebook as well today, I felt a little guilty for thinking they didn’t look half bad, so I thought i’d talk over why I really like the idea of the Chromebook. As a disclaimer though, the sound quality is horrid and this recording was more for my benefit than for yours to try and run through what’s in my head, so listen with caution, but try to enjoy!

This Is My Next go hands on with Music Beta by Google

In a nutshell, the beta label is well-deserved at this point. On both Chrome and on my phone, I was really pleased with how quickly and effortlessly tracks started streaming over 3G… but the setup process isn’t without its hiccups. Using the companion Music Manager app that you use to boost tracks from your PC into the cloud, Josh and I both noticed that it’s pretty easy to upload more content than you mean to. Granted, it’s a rookie mistake that you’ll only make the first time you use it, but here’s the kicker: once the app starts the “scanning” process on your content, there’s no way to cancel and go back without quitting Music Manager altogether — and it takes quite a while to scan (about 10 minutes for 6.6GB, I found).

The This Is My Next team are completely nailing Google I/O, with another liveblog of the day two keynote later today at 9:30AM PT/12:30PM ET. I still haven’t got an invite to ‘Music Beta by Google’ and i’m still waiting intently, but judging by the video it looks like Amazon Cloud Player plus a tad more1, obviously Google are handicapped by the fact they have no deals with labels and i’m sad to see no compatibility with iOS off the bat but what do you expect, apart from those little but large niggles it looks to be a half decent product and i’m quite sad i’m locked out of the party right now.

Google also announced at the keynote that Music Beta will be free until it’s out of beta, so it will just be Music then, at least theres a chance though, based on how some Google beta’s2 have gone, that it might never leave beta, that might just be my cheapskate mentality though.


  1. Including Google’s standard, horrible design conventions.

  2. Wave, Buzz. Hopefully people won’t have their [private data shared](http://www.engadget.com/2010/09/04/google-agrees-to-pay-8-5-million-to-make-buzz-privacy-lawsuits/) with ‘Music by Google’ though.

We just asked Andy Rubin how the 18-month update commitment will work in light of every manufacturer’s customizations — a source of considerable heartache in the Android upgrade picture so far. His answer? They’re “actively thinking it out right now” with the partners that have been announced — they’ve been “tasked with figuring out how to make it work.” He says details should start to emerge in the next few weeks, but we imagine there’ll be some heated conversations behind closed doors in the process of banging this out.

Talking about the size and constituency of the partnership so far, Rubin says that “it’s an open invitation” to any manufacturer or carrier that wants to participate — but that it made sense to start out small for the sake of manageability. Long term, “there’s no reason not to have everyone in it.”

Well isn’t that terribly encouraging? What Google announced today about better updates isn’t even anything yet. I actually really enjoyed the keynote and i’m excited to see more of Android Ice Cream Sandwich, but I really don’t see how this new update initiative is going to work out, mainly because it isn’t an initiative yet and it’s still being figured out with each party. The deals will probably end up being fragmented from carrier to carrier and manufacturer to manufacturer, causing yet more confusion for the consumer who think things are going to get better but still have no idea how.

The phrase “new devices will get updates for 18 months” also suggests getting as little as two updates over 18 months and then being allowed to be abandoned entirely, which i’m sure will be the case for some of the involved parties as a complete cop-out. The fact that companies like HTC and Motorola struggle to update phones to the latest version of Android because of their elaborate skins just instills even more doubt.

What really sent a shiver down my spine though was the use of the term “If the hardware allows” which although could be Google just being realistic, makes me think of the 2GHz dual core chips which we’re supposed to be seeing by next year, if any of the manufactures went all in with a new skin optimized for the 2GHz processor they could completely abandon former customers and leave them versions behind, just like they have been. To be clear though, i’m not hating on Google here, i’m super excited about Ice Cream Sandwich and all the stuff its offering which i’m hoping Apple will follow suit with when they show off iOS 5 at WWDC, but i’m just pointing out the gaping wholes in Google’s announcement which haven’t quite been explained yet, it could all work out but i’m doubting it will, and it’ll be the customers who lose out, sold on a false promise.

It’s disgusting that analysts get paid for this drivel, whats worse is that he doesn’t really say anything.

"At first thought, Schmidt moving to Apple would rather seem unlikely, but not impossible either. ‘While not necessarily likely, we think this scenario is at least a possibility,’ Jefferies analyst Peter Misek wrote in his note to clients… 

So he’s saying Schmidt could be Apple’s next CEO, but probably wont. Based on that same sound logic, the Führer could rise from the dead and lead Apple to true world domination, he probably wont, of course.

If it had the cloudy-ness and free 3G of Chrome OS teamed with the actual functionality of OS X, i’d be sold, no doubt that much data would bring even Apple’s new data centre to its knees though. I wonder if they could do it in time for OS XI…

believe-doubt-dream:

Now this would be very useless and it will be a brilliant idae from Apple. I would jump on board regardless of the cost; well to a certain extent. 

Honeycomb to Require Powerful Processor

Google’s new Android Honeycomb tablet OS will require a dual-core ARM Cortex-A9 processor to run properly, said Bobby Cha, managing director of Korean consumer electronics firm Enspert.

That means that many existing Android tablets will not be upgradeable to Honeycomb, as they lack the processor necessary to meet the spec. Currently, Nvidia’s Tegra 2 platform is the only chipset in products on the market to include a Cortex-A9, although other manufacturers have said they’re moving to the new processor architecture for 2011 products.

A 1,280x720 screen resolution may also be necessary, although Cha affirmed that “Honeycomb does not require 10-inch [screens] … it’s going to go as small as 7 inch.”

Fail. Talk about fragmented, everyone who bought the Galaxy Tab is going to be pissed.

Vizio have been showing off their snazzy new hardware this week: the VIA Tablet, VIA Phone, VIA Plus HDTVs and Blu-ray players with the until now complete and utter failure that is Google TV built in.
The VIA Phone is going to have a 4-inch screen, WiFi N, GPS, MicroSD slot, dual cameras and HDMI output, while the 8-inch tablet brings similar chops minus any sort of 3G connectivity. The VIA Phone is mighty impressive with the 4-inch screen which I definitely prefer to the iPhones 3.5-inch display, only think thats going to let it down is…. Android. It’s sort of salvaged though with the more attractive UI-layer Vizio seem to be using across the board, including the Google TV compatible VIA Plus HDTVs, to make the experience a little more sleek, sexy and bearable, something we haven’t seen from Sony or Logitech yet.

Vizio have been showing off their snazzy new hardware this week: the VIA Tablet, VIA Phone, VIA Plus HDTVs and Blu-ray players with the until now complete and utter failure that is Google TV built in.

The VIA Phone is going to have a 4-inch screen, WiFi N, GPS, MicroSD slot, dual cameras and HDMI output, while the 8-inch tablet brings similar chops minus any sort of 3G connectivity. The VIA Phone is mighty impressive with the 4-inch screen which I definitely prefer to the iPhones 3.5-inch display, only think thats going to let it down is…. Android. It’s sort of salvaged though with the more attractive UI-layer Vizio seem to be using across the board, including the Google TV compatible VIA Plus HDTVs, to make the experience a little more sleek, sexy and bearable, something we haven’t seen from Sony or Logitech yet.