Google has redesigned advertisements used in its Maps application to include more user-friendly features. The company has already reported a 100% increase in click-through rates due to the newly designed ads. Search results now feature larger, easily clickable buttons that show up in more places on the phone’s screen. The buttons allow users to place calls or to find directions with ease. Websites now load within the Maps app instead of launching in a separate browser page. Replacing the old red flags are new blue Google markers to tell users exactly how far they are from a location.
T-Mobile tested the markers feature last summer and saw 162,000 click-throughs in one month. “Adding local store information to mobile apps definitely increases relevancy for the user, which is why we regularly see click through rates of 13%. We’re very pleased with the results,” said a T-Mobile spokesperson. Continue reading “Google Maps’ New Ads Improve Click-Through Rates” »
It’s been long suspected that Apple will replace Google Maps with its own mapping technology, and today the company confirmed that iOS 6 will feature a proprietary mapping application. Up until now, iPhone users have relied on the Google Maps application to find locations worldwide. However, over the course of the last few years, Apple purchased a series of mapping technologies to build its own application.
In 2009, Apple acquired PlaceBase, specializing in creating an API for combining data and location information. Then, in 2010, the company purchased mapping visualization firm Poly9. Last year, Apple bought C3 Technologies for its automated 3D mapping algorithms. With the acquisition of these three companies, Apple has built its own completely in-house mapping solution. Apple will preview the next version of its mobile operating system, iOS 6, during its annual World Developers Conference beginning June 11 in San Francisco. Continue reading “Apple Cuts Google Maps out of iPhone” »
Google is now accepting applications for Summer of Code 2012, an international program that offers post-secondary school students ages 18 and up a chance to write code for various open source software projects. Google has funded a selection of open source, free software, and technology-related groups in which students are matched up to participate in a summer of coding.
The three month internship, which is entirely run online, offers a stipend and mentors in the field to potentially assist with future job opportunities. The program was incepted in 2005, and has since brought together over 6,000 students and 3,000 mentors from over 100 countries. The goal of Summer of Code is to ultimately give students invaluable experience and exposure to real-world software development scenarios.
Currently, 180 mentoring organizations are participating in Summer of Code 2012 including abiword, Joomla, Mozilla, and Twitter. Students will be able to contribute to active free/open source software projects for these organizations. It’s a win-win situation for the mentoring organization, which looks more attractive to potential employees by participating in the program, and students, who gain real world experience to beef up their résumés.
Google has eliminated Android Market and introduced a new forum for digital entertainment, Google Play. The entirely cloud-based destination, rolled out on March 6, combines all the features from Android Market, Google Music, and Google eBookstore in one online space. Users can access movies, books, music, and apps on the web or on their Android smartphone or tablet. Any items previously purchased will still be available through Google Play, plus some additional features:
Forget sliced bread, Square Inc. just introduced new technology that will replace it as the benchmark for “cool”. We thought Square Inc.’s electronic card-reading device for the iPhone was pretty amazing (and it still is), but the start-up just released an update to its Card Case app that allows iPhone and iPhone 4S users to pay for items at local retailers completely hands-free.
The latest version of Square’s payment app, allows users to enter their credit card information, a pin for the card, and a picture of themselves for identity verification. Card Case uses “automatic tabs”, which usesthe new location-based technology of the iPhone iOS5 to detect when a users’ phone is within 100 meters of a participating merchant.
Still a little fuzzy? Here’s a simple explanation – You download Card Case, enter your credit card information and your picture, and opt-in to the “hands-free” payment option. If the Starbuck’s you’re passing on General Highway has registered with a Square application, the app will automatically open a “virtual tab” with the coffee shop. Starbuck’s employees can then see that you are able to use Card Case to pay your bill, and the app will show them your picture to prevent others from using your name. Walk in, order your seasonal Pumpkin Spice Latte, tell the check-out clerk your name, and you’re done, no plastic necessary. Card Case will then send you an alert letting you know that you’ve just completed a transaction.
It goes without saying that Square isn’t the only player in the mobile payments space. Companies are using all kinds of technologies to be the number-one name in mobile payments. Google introduced Google Wallet, eBay’s PayPal Mobile is predicted to process over $3 billion in mobile payments this year, and Intuit, VeriFone and even Visa have entered the game.
Currently, Card Case is available only to iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S users , but is rumored to be updating its Android app to incorporate the new features soon, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Kickstarter is helping to bring great projects to life. The online crowd-funding service platform gathers monetary resources from the general public to fund creative projects, like Dot. Developed by New York-based startup Kogeto, Dot is a hardware iPhone attachment that captures panoramic video.
Kogeto founder and CEO Jeff Glasse came up with the idea after building Lucy, an advanced desktop panoramic video camera designed for professional and educational use. Glasse “[wanted] … to put a panoramic capture device in everyone’s hand, and Kickstarter allowed us to do that.” The device started shipping yesterday and will be available for purchase in Apple Stores nationwide starting Nov. 1.
Available for iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S, Dot is a video camera attachment that works with its accompanying Looker app to capture and share 360-degree shots. You can then share your panoramic video – or, “Dotspots” – via Facebook, Twitter, or on Kogeto.com. “This isn’t one of those piecemeal panoramic experiences weaved together via software; this is the real deal,” said Jennifer Van Grove of Mashable, “And it works remarkably [well].” Over 1,000 supporters donated to the prototype project, which received a total pledge of $120,514, $100,514 more than their $20,000 goal.
Dot is compact, lightweight, does not require any batteries or recharging, and will only run you $79. The device is also available in black, red, pink, or green. Glasse said Dot had racked up thousands of advance pre-orders, proving the height of demand for the innovative product.
Last month, Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos announced that the company would be adding four new models to its Kindle fleet – the Kindle, Kindle Touch, Kindle Touch 3G and the Kindle Fire tablet. The Kindle Fire will be Amazon’s first touch screen color tablet, based on the Android OS. Today, we learn that the Kindle Fire will also have a new format that supports HTML5 and CSS3, Kindle Format 8 (KF8), lending a colorful and vibrant reading experience to the company’s first tablet.
KF8 will soon replaced Mobi 7, the device’s existing format, making Kindle e-books look and read more like an actual, physical book. Amazon’s announcement claims the upgrade “adds over 150 new formatting capabilities, including fixed layouts, nested tables, callouts, sidebars and Scalable Vector Graphics.” Sure, static words on a page do their job, but KF8 will mean improved flexibility and more visually appealing books. The upgrade will improve digital renditions of children’s picture books, comics & graphic novels, technical & engineering books and cookbooks.
The only drawback is that KF8 will not be compatible with older Kindle devices – “Kindle Fire is the first Kindle device to support KF8 — in the coming months we will roll out KF8 to our latest generation Kindle e-ink devices as well as our free Kindle reading apps,” said Amazon in its FAQs. This announcement will only help to drive sales for the latest generation of Kindles, set to be priced at just $79 for the new base model Special Offers version.
The Kindle Fire is $199 and will be released on November 15th, and is currently available for pre-order. Amazon has priced its new Kindle line aggressively, upping the ante in the tablet market. The Fire is a fully-functional media tablet offering free cloud storage services and much more, and at half the price of an iPad, it proves itself as a formidable competitor.