Google I/O 13, Google’s annual developer conference, happened last week, and I had the fortune of following a few great people on Google+ through their experiences at the conference. There was a lot of talk about Glass and the new Google+ format, both of which I have experienced vicariously through a few people on YouTube. The really interesting part about I/O was the overarching theme of what Google is doing.
Jeremiah Owyang sums it up best in his post about the key trends at I/O:
Google products are being enhanced and interconnected, with no new products added.
Google is virtually replicating planet earth, but “improving” the quality.
Google knows what and who you love as we trade convenience for our data.
It’s all true! Google didn’t make any big product announcements at this year’s I/O—they took care of that with Google Glass a month ago. Instead, they made major improvements to all their products.
Google Maps: It’s now better than ever. The improved Google Maps suggests related places and integrates friend’s social information into your map searches. It has a new interface as well, making the map more prominent on the page. Google also combined Google Earth into the maps so you can get the 3D experience on your browser.
YouTube: A new channel layout was announced a few weeks back and is now becoming official for all users. This update makes content discovery on any channel easier.
Search Improvements: With the implementation of Google+, Google search results now include your social graph results as well. Google uses your data to generate better suggestions across all searches, including Maps, YouTube and Images.
So what are the business implications of these changes? Well, if your business is not on Google+ yet, and you’re not +1’ing your own content, you’re missing out on great SEO advantages. If you have a retail business or a restaurant, don’t forget to also include our business in Maps and promote reviews on the platform. Google is still the reigning search engine, and all that data generated by other Google users will help your search positioning and discoverability.
The future looks bright for Google and Android users alike. The company is using big data in all the right ways to create better a user experience and opportunities for businesses to promote themselves.
Google took full advantage of April Fools this year with almost every major app having a great gag.
First is Google Nose, where search integrates with 15 million “scentabytes.” You can even smell “success!”
Althought Google Nose didn’t offer any real functionality; a personal favorite at Renegade is Google Treasure Maps. Where together we can discover the clues to a great treasure! It actually has a setting that will change your Google Maps to the treasure map mode.
Google+ had an emoticon layer you can add to photos. This actually works! Any photo you own and have uploaded to G+ will have a button where you can click to enable the emoticon.
Google Schmick is an Australian Google Street View app that helps you spruce up your house. Now you can give your house a lick of fresh paint for free on Street View with Google SCHMICK (Simple Complete House Makeover Internet Conversion Kit).
Gmail Blue is the great of all inventions! Transform your Gmail inbox into the deepest blues of blues. Unfortunately this doesn’t seem to actually be an option.
For those office proficiency geeks, Google launched the “Levity Algorithm” to help make your appointments and documents more exciting! (no iteration of this is really available)
YouTube was by far the best April Fools with the greatest collaboration of pranksters!
Stay tuned tomorrow when Renegade explores pranks from all over the web!
If you are one of the 91 million people who seeks refuge in the familiar feeling of letting Google answer your everyday queries, then you are beginning to see changes beyond the daily theme that drapes their iconic logo. They are trickling in incrementally (they introduced author information results over the holiday), however these small changes have the potential to ultimately accumulate in a force that could not only alter SEO, but also drastically change the way you use technology to satisfy both your simple and complex informational needs. Many people have already ditched Google, preferring Siri's knowledge and soothing medium to the often arduous task of mining through Google search results. There appears to be an upcoming battle between Google, Apple, Facebook or wherever else you get information from, and whoever can integrate the most is likely to prevail.
Launched in June of 2011, initially in a field test/invite only phase, Google+ is still yet to seriously challenge the holy trinity of social networking that is Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. It currently has around 40 million active users, a far cry from the 800 million people that maintain a Facebook profile. As it becomes increasingly popular, the question emerges: will slow and steady win the race? If Google+ integrates, can it become a dominant force in social media or is it merely the movie sequel that you wished you hadn’t wasted 10 bucks on?
Less than a month ago, Google+ made a great leap when it released its Business Pages feature. Like Facebook’s “Fan Pages,” Google's version allows companies and brands to foster trust, identification, sense of community, and direct communication with its customers/users; but Google+’s version has the potential to have a far greater impact on the social networking landscape.
The key word here is integration. While many scoff at Google+ as it crawls through its infantile stages, Google has big plans for “Plus.” First, as more companies create pages, it offers a quick, efficient and reliable way to locate small businesses. Rather than spending 3 minutes squinting at a flower shop’s poorly curated website in search of an address or phone number, the user can merely type “Flowers4Her+” into Google and its basic information will be immediately available; plus the number will be linked for easy calling. Additionally, as these pages are “in house” results, they will appear more frequently when a user searches for “Flowers near Union Square.” Page admins are able to use segmentation to target a specific demographic of their customers, and improve their customer service by chatting face-to-face. The future integration is expected to include, but not be limited to, the Apps for Business Productivity suite, word processing, document sharing, Calendars, Gmail, E-Commerce, Google Adwords and Analytics services, and Maps and location based tie-ins. If all Google utility is integrated, Google+ could become a one-stop shop for social networkers. And if a user is already using Google+ to find flowers for his girlfriend, paying with Google+'s E-Commerce feature, putting a reminder in his Google+ calendar, and finding a restaurant for dinner, it is likely that he will also connect with an old college buddy while he’s there. For his sake, let's just hope he doesn't consider an an e-card and opts for the real thing.
So what could this mean for the future? Attempts to answer that question can only lead to speculation and yep...more questions. Nonetheless, you can almost feel the techtonic plates shifting under your feet. November has been the most active month for IPOs since July with 13, including technologies Yelp and Groupon (which has plummeted 42% in price in its last 5 days of trading). Will Yelp’s popularity be short lived when customers can get the same utility elsewhere? Or in an easier format? As new technologies emerge, they bear great uncertainty. But ultimately, accesibility, utility, and usability will decide this fight. Furthermore, with the impressive aptitude of Siri, iPhone users were opened to a world in which the consumer could circumvent mobile tools like the Google search bar, and third party apps like Yelp and Urban Spoon. (Plus, they didn't even need to look at the screen, let alone type and decipher the results) The iPhone 5 is rumored to release this coming spring, and all signs point to a reinvented body type and an improved version of everyone’s favorite digital companion. We can expect that by then Google+ will have made the necessary integrations to make finding information easier. Plus, who knows what the new Facebook phone, (codename Buffy) is going to bring to the table. (Mark Zuckerberg has publicly expressed reluctance to an IPO for months, but recently is becoming more open to the idea even as early as this Spring) This technology slugfest could have greater implications than Ali-Frazier!
So what do we know now? People are currently using, and loving Siri; but how much of that use is due to the “cool” factor of a fresh piece of software? Siri consolidates your answer sources, generating results from a growing multitude of partners including OpenTable, Yelp, Yahoo, StubHub, Movie Tickets, Rotten Tomatoes and Wolfram Alpha (to name a few); allowing you to get all your information in one place. If Siri 2 combs out some glitches, and more and more people join the iPhone family, how it affects Google’s utility and what Google+ looks like down the road could truly reshape the social information landscape. Both Google+ and Siri have the potential to be disruptive technologies, with the power, resources, and reach to replace competitors in the information world. It is hard to predict now, but as a social networker and technology addict, I am beginning to wonder who will be telling the future me where to find the nearest pumpkin latte this time next year.
In the meantime, connect with Renegade's Google+ page here and like us on Facebook!
-Scott Anthony Procops
He tweets here: @TheS_P500
To the chagrin of many users, Facebook has given itself yet another facelift. The latest changes include a Top Stories feature, a real-time chat and comment tool and a revamped album view.
Top Stories is an enhanced version of Facebook’s tailored news feed, which now features blue tabs, indicating which stories have occurred since the user’s last login. The new ticker tool shows real-time updates in a small corner on the upper right side of the homepage. When the chat box is opened, the ticker attaches itself at the top. (Please note: this feature does not appear active on my account at publishing time). Among the other changes are a Friends lists (‘Circles,’ anyone?) and subscribe buttons. The full details of the new settings and tools are posted to Facebook’s FAQ page.
While many of us are still adjusting to the new features, even bigger plans are underway for a complete renovation— one that will make past nips and snips seem inconsequential. As Mashable’s Ben Parr reports, “The Facebook you know and (don’t) love will be forever transformed.”
Before this social czar becomes unrecognizable, here’s a stroll down memory lane of previous (and often equally infuriating) changes. If you’re still longing for the simple Facebook of yesteryear, The Social Network briefly showcases several past versions.
2004: Fresh, streamlined an innovative. It was a time when college students were asking their distant friends, “Has your school signed up for the Facebook?”
2006: The homepage gets its first major overhaul with news feed. Facebook groups with names like, “Bring the Old Facebook Back!” crop up. This was also the year the floodgates opened to the public, not just students.
2008: Perhaps taking a page from Google’s Gmail, the social network adds a chat feature. If you’re like me, you haven’t been signed in since then.
2010: What had started as an intimate webpage now feels like an overcrowded party. Privacy concerns soar while the The Social Network paints a less-than-flattering picture of founder Mark Zuckerberg.
2012: Facebook takes over the Internet? Everyone jumps ship to Google+? Share your thoughts in our comments section.
— Nicole Duncan
A previous post announced the integration of Foursquare into the Klout user influence score. The company has stayed pretty busy, and just announced that YouTube will also be integrated into the algorithm to determine a user’s online influence.
The algorithm measures the comments, engagement, likes and subscriber counts on a user’s YouTube account to determine how much influence a given user has. That, combined with their Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Foursquare information, gives a fairly comprehensive influence score.
This addition to the Klout formula may not mean much to individuals, but it can greatly affect the scores of bigger brands. Many brands have YouTube channels featuring commercials and promotions that require significant resources to create and maintain. Now, the large audiences they reach via this video channel can be measured along with their other social media presences.
Klout has had a wave of recent additions and upgrades with its integration of 3 new social networks and an impressive three rounds of funding. However, due to the nature of their business, we can expect more announcements like this from them in the near future. Next up, Google+?
By now, you are probably aware of and participating in Google's Facebook competitor: Google+.
If not, here is the quick synopsis: Google+ is Google's latest venture into the social media world. Unlike failed experiments Google Wave and Google Buzz, however, Google put everything into this foray.
Google+ is fully integrated across the Google world. Massive hype led up to Google+'s release. Google+ has the potential to catch up to heavyweights Facebook and Twitter.
Fast Company reported that Google's "+1" button is " already more popular online than the Twitter Share and Instant Follow buttons added together, all within about a week of availability."
According to VentureBeat and Idealab CEO Bill Gross, Google+ will be the fastest service ever to reach 100 million users.
As a Google+ user, I think Google has a winner on their hands; at the very least, Google+ has enormous potential. The user interface is simple and attractive, while the "Circles" feature is executed perfectly. "Huddles" allow for group video chat and Google+'s design is undeniably smooth.
However, it is difficult to imagine users leaving Facebook or Twitter for Google+. As Google+'s novelty wears off, will "+" be tossed to the wayside like "Buzz" and "Wave" before it?
I am inclined to say "no," because of Google's widespread integration of the "+" but we'll see what happens in the critical next few months.
-- Niko DeMordaunt
As of July 4th, Larry Page, Google’s CEO and co-founder, had an impressive 30,271 followers on Google+. Right behind Page, with 23,426 followers, was his co-founder, Sergey Brin. I’m sure most of you would agree with me that it’s not much of a surprise that the two co-founders of Google would have 20 thousand plus followers on the new social network that they created.
On the other hand, it did surprise me to hear that there was one Google+ user who had more followers than either of the two co-founders. In fact, one user had an astounding 44,871 followers. Furthermore, this user was none other than Google’s archenemy, Facebook’s CEO and founder, Mark Zuckerberg.
Talk about ironic…
– Zach Prager