Previous Post
El Fusion Round I
Next Post
Sawiris & the Silver Screen

Google Updates

Google recently announced a whole host of updates and new services in a bid to climb to the top of the online world once more, and stay there.

 In a bid to ensure you can't ever do anything in your life without it beginning with G, Google have released a massive set of new and actually very interesting updates to their range of services.

Google Play Game Services: Google’s answer to iOS Game Center and Xbox Live lets users start playing a game on their phones and resume progress on their tablets. It’ll also have achievements, online multiplayer and leaderboards tied to your social circles on Google+. Surprisingly, Google will let developers add its game services to iOS devices and Web-based games, not just Android.

Google Play Music All Access: Google is getting into the subscription-music business, with a service that resembles Spotify and Rdio. For $9.99 per month — or $7.99 per month if you sign up by June 3 — you get millions of streaming tracks on Android devices and Web browsers, along with artist-based radio stations and personalized recommendations. No word on apps for iOS or other platforms.

Maps for Mobile: The smartphone version of Google Maps lends drivers a hand with warnings when a traffic jam pops up, along with a suggested new route. The map view will show major sources of traffic jams as well. Google has also created a new interface for tablets, with an “explore” feature that lets you browse for nearby restaurants, shops, bars and other attractions.

A Big Update for Desktop Maps: The desktop version of Google Maps is getting a major overhaul this summer, with smoother graphics and a focus on discovery. When users search for certain things, like sushi, they’ll see recommendations based on what they or their friends have reviewed. The interface will look a lot slicker, with photos, user reviews, navigation options and other details popping up as you click on each location. You can sign up to preview the new Maps through Google’s website.

New Features for Google+: Google is really hoping you’ll share more on Google+, its two-year-old social network. A new interface resembles Pinterest, with several columns of updates filling the page. For photos, Google+ can pare down your vacation photos by automatically selecting highlights, and it can make photos look better with skin softening, noise reduction and other quick editing tools. Google is also launching a separate Hangouts app for Android and iOS, letting users talk, share photos and jump into video chat.

Voice Search on the Desktop: While using Google search in Chrome, you’ll be able to start a voice search by saying “O.K., Google.” And just like the mobile app, the desktop version will support conversational searches, so you can say something like “Where’s the nearest pizza place?” followed by “How far is it from here?” Google says this feature will be available soon.

Google Wallet for Gmail: In the US at least, you will be able to make payments through your Gmail account. This service is expected to be rolled out worldwide after an initial trial period and is a very significant step and a real threat to PayPal.

If there’s a common thread between all these improvements, it’s that Google is trying to make all its services stickier. Instead of merely looking something up on Google Maps, maybe you’ll hang out there exploring things for a while. Instead of searching once on Google and clicking some links, you’ll have a back-and-forth voice conversation. You’ll spend more time playing games that are connected to Google and more time listening to music. And maybe you’ll actually use Google+ for once. Doing all these things could make your life easier and more enjoyable — but of course they also allow Google to pursue its business model of learning more about you, and selling more ads.