June 1, 2012

The Roundup: Chromeboxes, Kevin Rose, Project Glass, And Much More

This week has given us the biggest flood of Google news since the inception of the blog. From the new, budget-friendly Chromeboxes running the fresh user-friendly version of Chrome OS, to Kevin Rose taking a job at Google Ventures, to a couple of interesting tidbits about Project Glass, and a whole lot more. Such a barrage of news is bound to overwhelm even the biggest Google enthusiasts, so read on at your own discretion.

The Chromebox

Since the launch of the first Chromebooks, there has been little news about Google's "other" operating system. We unfortunately have no idea hos successful (or unsuccessful) this project is. What we do know is that Google's not giving up on it. In fact, they have just released a brand new Chrome OS powered device, the Chromebox. Unlike its slower Chromebook brethren, the $329 Chromebox packs an Intel Core processor, 4GB of RAM, b/g/n WiFi, 6 USB 2.0 devices, gigabit ethernet, HDMI & VGA outputs, and Bluetooth 3.0.
The Chromebox will come preloaded with the latest, more user-friendly version of Chrome OS. This UI sports a Windows-style taskbar along the bottom to which you can pin your favorite apps for quick access. Google also completely rethought their pricing model. Instead of a monthly fee for maintenance and customer service, businesses can now pay $150 ($30 for schools) per device and receive support for the life of the product. If you combine this relatively cheap device with the new, easy-to-use interface, a simple and inexpensive maintenance plan, and the new security certification for Google Docs, Chrome OS machines may start looking mighty appealing to businesses large and small.

Project Glass News

Project Glass product manager Steve Lee recently gave an interview to Fast Company in which he revealed just a little bit more about our new favorite white unicorn. What do we know? It won't launch this year. But it will launch sooner than 5 years from now. And the early Project Glass prototypes required the user to wire it to a laptop in a backpack. Google co-founder Sergey Brin has also gotten chatty this week with Current TV. This time we found out that Google Glass (that's what Brin calls it) is controlled by a touchpad attached to your right arm. Brin also said that he sees a small chance of an actual product launch as early as next year, but he did not sound too hopeful. That pretty much leaves 2014 as the most likely launch date.

Kevin Rose Moves To Google Ventures

Remember when +Kevin Rose (founder of Digg) joined Google? Me neither. He was initially put in charge of social. It did not take long for Google to see that this young entrepreneur will be a better fit on the business/management end of things. AllThingsD reported this week that Kevin Rose will move out of social and into Google Ventures.

The Nexus 7 Tablet And Android 4.1 Jelly Bean

Rumors of a Google tablet have been swirling around for a while. ASUS has been the most likely partner. Tegra 3 has been the most likely processor. 7" has been the most likely form-factor. Jelly Bean has been the most likely operating system, and $199 has been the most likely price. And now Android Police reports that recent Rightware benchmarks confirm nearly all of these rumors (except the price). Additionally, the tablet is likely to be called Nexus 7 and Jelly Bean is going to be version 4.1 (not 5.0).

In a related bit of news that doesn't quite warrant its own subheading, Google is now selling accessories for its Galaxy Nexus phone through the Play Store.

Google+ & Orkut Begin To Come Together

From day one of the Google+ launch people have been asking "What about Orkut? Don't you already have a social network?" What I personally have been wondering is why didn't Google just turn Orkut into Google+? From an engineering perspective it wouldn't be hard to do. Change the design to be the same as Google+ and introduce Hangouts and Circles. They wouldn't need to port people to a new service. They wouldn't have to make them give up their contacts, lose their posts, and start from scratch. They would have simply turned Orkut into Google+ through a series of gradual updates. Well, this week's news shows that Google has no intentions of bringing the two services together. But they do want to make it easy to make the switch. Google has introduced a new feature for those who have both an Orkut and a G+ account which lets people automatically share all their public posts on G+ with Orkut. Any private G+ posts (to specific people or circles) will stay on Google+ only.

Website Translator Update

Google launched a Website Translator plugin back in 2009. Since then, they say 1 million sites have implemented it. Thus far, you were stuck with whatever translations Google offered you. This week, a new beta feature was added to the plugin that lets both the website owner and the users highlight and edit a translation. If a user edits the translation, it will be submitted to the site owner for approval. Anybody using Google Chrome or Google Toolbar will be able to see these corrections.

Screen Anonymous Or Blocked Calls In Google Voice

Google Voice introduced two new groups that will make it easier for you to screen those collections calls. If you open up Google Voice online, you'll be able to set different settings for callers not on your contact list as well as those calling from a blocked number (like collectors). For either of these groups you can record a different greeting, send them straight to voicemail, ask them to identify themselves, or have these calls forwarded to a different phone.

Google Applied For .Google, .Docs, .YouTube, and .LOL Domains

ICANN, the international body that assigns top-level domains (like .com, .org, and .xxx) started its new initiative to vastly increase the number of top-level domains it permits. For around $200,000 in fees per domain, companies can apply for their own domains in hopes of promoting their brand. It makes sense that Google would want the .google, .docs, and .youtube domains. What Google plans to do with the .lol domain (if they get it) remains a mystery.

Connection Issues Warning In Chinese Google Search

Ever since Google has stopped filtering its search results in China by redirecting users to Google Hong Kong, weird error messages started popping up when clicking on certain results. This is because even though Google doesn't filter their results, the Chinese government still has The Great Wall up which does not allow any content they disapprove of to pass through. This week, Google decided to give users a heads up if their search query is likely to return a lot of error messages. Now, if you do a Google search from China and see a warning "Connection Issues," you may want to try a different search if you want to avoid error messages.

Is That It?

If you're been following tech news this week, you may know of another tiny bit of Google-related news. If you want the facts about Google retiring Places in favor of Google+ Local and integrating Zagat ratings across its properties, you can read this detailed description at Search Engine Land. Here at The Daily Google we'll be doing our own analysis of this change and its future potential soon. Stay tuned!