Look Ma, No Steering Wheel In Google’s New Self-Driving Cars

Google self-driving car prototype It now seems inevitable that self-driving cars will become mainstream in the next 25 years. And Google is largely responsible. While other companies have comparable technology, Google has the visibility and cultural sway to push the notion effectively. Today, the company revealed that it had built and would be "releasing" its own car prototypes. They look like a Pixar Animation Studios spin on the Fiat 500: We’re now exploring what fully self-driving vehicles would look like by building some prototypes; they’ll be designed to operate safely and autonomously without requiring human inte [...]

Google Readying 3-D Mapping “Tango” Tablets For Developers

Google Project tango graphic Google is reportedly getting ready to release 4,000 prototype tablets that would help advance the company's Project Tango, which is a 3D mapping and modeling effort involving multiple robotics experts from around the world. The story was first published in the Wall Street Journal last week. Google may provide these specialized tablets to developers attending Google I/O next month. The idea would be to see what sorts of applications and use cases developers would come up with. According to a description of these "Tango tablets" (not Google's term) in the article the devices would have [...]

In 2014, Google Aims To Train 20,000 Third-Party Sales Reps To Sell Local

Kristin Colt When small businesses see Google as the "Wild Wild West" of confusing marketing opportunities, Google itself sees working with third-party companies as crucial to cutting through that confusion and fueling its growth. Google provided training to 13,000 third-party sales reps last year and aims to train 20,000 this year. The figure came during a talk by Kristin Coit, Google's head of directories and web hosting partnerships for Google in North America. She was speaking at LSA 2014, the annual conference of the Local Search Association. "We understand small businesses don't want to do [...]

April Fools Day “Google Maps: Pokemon Challenge” Video Goes Viral

Google Maps Pokemon Challenge April Fools Video A video that started out as one of Google's many April Fools Day pranks last week has gone viral. The "Google Maps: Pokémon Challenge" video currently ranks No. 2 on Unruly's top 20 chart of most shared videos, with more than 480,000 shares since its March 31 release and over 13.5 million views. The video is a spoof recruiting film to introduce an actual Pokémon Challenge game created by Google where players were tasked with locating Pokémon characters using Google Maps on an iPhone or Android device. The video includes a cameo from Google Maps VP Brian McClendon who claims, "We've [...]

Google: Aware Of Large-Scale Hotel Listing Hijackings, Working To Fix

google-plus-local Google is working to clean-up a situation where thousands of hotel listings in Google+ Local have been "hijacked" or had links leading to their official sites changed to lead to third-party booking sites. Thousands Of Hotel Listings Were Hijacked In Google+ Local is the story at Search Engine Land sister site that covers the situation in more detail. Initially, Google had no comment about the discovery. However, after publication, it confirmed that it was aware of the issue and working to fix it. [...]

Where’s Santa Claus? This Year, Just Type “Santa” Into Google

If you're looking for Santa's location, Google has a super easy way to find it. Just type "Santa" into Google, to get a special box that locates him on a map. The image below shows you how it works on Google (click to enlarge). After typing in "santa," a special map appears on the right-side of the screen: It's supposed to work the same way if you're in Google Maps. Just type "santa," and you'll have his current location appear: However, I found that if I wasn't signed-in to Google, searching for Santa on Google Maps didn't work for me. Instead, I simply got listings related to Santa [...]

Google Places For Business Rolls Out Review Inbox, Listing Customer Ratings & Reviews All In One Place

google-plus-local According to today's post on the Google and Your Business blog, Google Places for Business is rolling out a new Review feature. Now, businesses with a verified listing can see their customer ratings and reviews all in one place with the new Review Inbox that has been added to the Places for Business dashboard. Google says not only will all of a business's customer reviews and ratings be listed in the inbox, but businesses can respond directly to reviews, as well as encourage customers to leave a review on a Google+ page. From the Google Places for Business blog post: If you feel your b [...]

With Celebrity Directions Waze Becomes Vehicle For “Ride Along” Film Promotion

Waze logo Last week, Universal Pictures announced that comedian Kevin Hart would be "the very first celebrity voice featured in U.S. versions of [Waze]." Universal is hoping to use the tie-in to promote an upcoming film in which Hart is starring, called "Ride Along." Ride Along also stars rapper-actor Ice Cube and appears aimed primarily at African-American US audiences, but with potentially broader appeal. Google acquired Waze for approximately $1.3 billion in June after a failed acquisition attempt by Facebook. Google bought Waze in part to tap its community of engaged users and help improve the [...]

Google+ Invades The Android 4.4 “KitKat” Phone App: What It Means For Businesses & People

google-kitkat-nexus5-featured Practically no one has a phone with Google's latest Android 4.4 operating system on it yet. But the system, nicknamed KitKat, will shortly be spreading beyond the Nexus 5 launched last week. When it does, people with Android 4.4 will discover that their phone's dialer has become integrated with Google+. That'll have a big impact on how business and people are found, plus how things appear when calls come in. A primer on the change. What's The Phone App & The Dialer? The "phone" part of "smartphone" is about making voice calls. Remember those? The Phone app is how you make those calls i [...]

Google Launches Media Tools Website For Journalists

Google Logo - basic featured Google released a new site this week geared toward media outlets and journalists. The new site offers an extensive set of Google Media Tools, all neatly assembled into one place. According to Google, the site is a "Starting point to tap into Google's suite of digital tools that can enhance news gathering and exposure across television, radio, print and online." With overviews, tips, and "Getting Started" links for each tool, the website is arranged into six categories: Gather and Organize, Engage, Visualize, Publish, Develop and Additional Resources. From the 'Gather and Organize' [...]

Google Offers Getting Out Of Pre-Paid Voucher Business

Google Offers Google Offers is shifting from pre-paid vouchers to digital coupons exclusively. Previously, there was a mix of both. As a practical matter that means there will no longer be deals purchased up front that could expire without redemption. Instead, all deals will be incentives to buy online or visit a store, redeemable at the time of purchase. According to AllThingsD Google is pledging to refund the value of pre-paid but unused vouchers. (I have several unused, expired vouchers but haven't received any such refund offer.) Google Offers are currently distributed in multiple ways: through th [...]

July Mobile Data: Apple Gains, Google Top Mobile Site, Facebook Top App

smartphones ComScore released its July smartphone subscriber market share data for the US. The story is very similar to past months: the market continues to be a contest between Apple and Samsung, iOS and Android. In the handset category, the iPhone continued to be the top individual smartphone with Samsung gaining 2 points. All other makers were down. The Moto X has just become available and has yet to register. It remains to be seen whether it can reverse Motorola's long decline. For its part HTC has just launched an expensive branding campaign featuring actor Robert Downey Jr.  It's unlikely to [...]

Google Adds Location Sharing Features To Google Maps & Releases Google+ For Android Updates

Google+-iOS After retiring Latitude earlier this month, Google announced today that they have added location sharing features to the Google Maps app. Users can now share "pin-point" or "city-level" locations, and filter which of their connections can see a location by selecting Google+ circles. Along with the new Google Map location sharing updates, Google+ for Android has new features as well: With a few taps, users can now switch between Google+ accounts without having to sign out of one account before signing into another. Also, any Google+ pages managed by a user are available from the [...]

Google Recruiting “City Experts” To Get More Local Reviews

Google City Experts Google appears to be trying to create its own version of Yelp's Elite Squad, a community of trusted high-volume review generators. A solicitation appeared in Google+ asking people to become "City Experts." Here's the text of the Google message: Do you love to review places around your city and share your opinion with others?  Our new Google City Experts program gives top reviewers (users with at least 50 high quality reviews, and at least 5 reviews in the current month) special perks like event invitations, custom swag, special access to contests and more. Users opt-in with their Google+ [...]

Up Close With Google Views, 360º Photo Spheres Plotted On Google Maps

Last year, Android gained "Photo Sphere" functionality, the ability for people to take 360 degree photos. It's very cool, something I've used plenty. Now Google's making it easier to find and share this type of photography with a new "Google Views" area within Google Maps. Viewing Photo Spheres Google Views, which Google announced today, allows people to browse through a collection of popular Photo Spheres through a column along the side or select places that have panoramic photography as plotted on a map: The bulk of the page is taken up by a featured Photo Sphere. However, you can [...]

How To Measure Local Area & Directory Referrals With Google Analytics

ML Metro Map If you're a small business that relies on foot traffic, referrals, and/or calls from a specific geographic area, Google Analytics has likely been a bit of a mystery to you (unless you're a power user). Your website might be getting traffic, but how much of that traffic is really local to your area? There are two things we can look at to determine this information. We can look at the referral traffic from sites that focus on local area traffic, and we can also see the "location" of visitors under the "Demographics" area of Google Analytics. The issue here has always been ease of use. As a sm [...]

Apple Buys Locationary To Clean Up The Location Data Mess

Apple maps Reported earlier by AllThingsD, Apple has acquired Toronto-based location-data management startup Locationary. Apple was seeking both the company's data management capabilities and the expertise of CEO Grant Ritchie and his team. The application of the technology is relatively straightforward: it's an investment in making Apple Maps and its local data much better. In my experience, Apple Maps has not been as "bad" as the criticism. Indeed, I've found a number of errors in Google Maps recently, which I tend to use more often than Apple Maps on my iPhone. Locationary and its "Saturn" pl [...]

Does In-Store Location Tracking Cross The “Creepy Line”?

Google indoor maps Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt famously (or infamously) said that Google's policy is to "get right up to the creepy line" but not to cross it. These days, the creepy line is a moving target where consumer data collection are concerned. Indeed, privacy continues to be a very hot-button issue in the US and around the world -- especially in the wake of the NSA-Snowden revelations. This weekend, the NY Times reported on the relatively new phenomenon of indoor location tracking. There's an emerging ecosystem of technology companies, startups, venue owners and retailers that are investing [...]

Google Retires Latitude, Pushes Google+ Location Sharing Features

With the announcement of the new Google Maps app release today came news that Google will be retiring Latitude in all of its various forms on August 9. The tool that allowed Google Maps users to find friends and share their location will no longer be available. No more Latitude for Google Maps on Android, Latitude for iPhone, Latitude API, Latitude public badge or iGoogle Gadget. The Latitude website at maps.google.com/latitude is also being shut down. Retiring Latitude is part of Google's efforts to push Google+ and the location sharing features now included in Google+ for Android. Whil [...]

New Google Maps App Offers More Search Functionality, Navigation Features & Dedicated Tablet Design

Google Maps logo Google is rolling out a new Google Maps app for Android devices starting today, with iPhone and iPad versions on the way. The new app will include more search functionality, updated navigation features, Zagat reviews and discount offers for specific destinations. Among the new app features, users will be able to find locations without typing by tapping the search box to see cards displaying eat, drink and shopping options. There are also two new navigation features, including one that reports road problems along with incident details, and another that lets users know if a better route is a [...]

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