August 15, 2012

The Roundup: Google+, Motorola, YouTube, Chrome, And Other Google News This Week

Google's been keeping busy. You know what that means? Time for another roundup! We'll keep this one quick and to the point.

  •  Google+ now offering vanity URLs, beginning with the verified people and pages. If you want to visit Toyota's page, just type into your browser bar. Over time, regular folks and non-verified accounts will also get their own custom URLs on the coveted domain.
  • Google+ Hangouts on Air now have a new Studio Mode that's optimized for music. If you want to stream live music using Hangouts on Air, simply go into the settings and enable Studio Mode. Google says this will make music sound richer than in the normal Voice Mode.
  • Huffington Post is launching a new online video news service that will stream 8 hours of news programs on the East coast per day and 4 hours on the West coast. The catch is, all their roundtable discussions will be powered by Google+ Hangouts :)
  • Frommer is one of the best-known names in travel reviews, and now, they're part of Google! Most people may not know this, but Google has some travel services, like flight and hotel finders. Much like it did with Zagat recently, the company will likely integrate its travel services into Google+ and fuse them with Frommer ratings and reviews.
  • The famous British ship Queen Mary will soon be on Google Street View.
  • Google beefs up Patent Search by letting you search for prior art and European patents. Go nuts!
  • If you have Instant Search disabled on, you may be seeing a new search experiment. In addition to the "I'm Feeling Lucky" button, you also have the options for I'm Feeling Doodly, Playful, Artistic, Hungry, Puzzled, Trendy, Stellar, and Wonderful. Choosing one of these will either perform a specific search, like nearby restaurants or images of orion & nebula or take you to some Google service, like Google Art Project or A Google A Day.
  • Since Google bought Motorola Mobility, investors have been worried that this bloated, inefficient hardware company will be a drag on Google's performance and earnings. Google just appeased these worries by deciding they'll be trimming down the fat and fostering laser-like focus on producing just a few super-devices per year. To do this, Google will lay off 4,000 Motorola Mobility employees (with hefty severance packages) and close down about 1/3 of Motorola's 94 offices around the world. Google's stock price is up significantly since the announcement.
  • Google Earth is briskly expanding its 3D maps, this time adding Denver, Colorado and Seattle, Washington to the list.
  • Google revamped its mobile search interface with better answers. Now, searching on a smartphone or a tablet for things like weather or flights will give you richer, more detailed information. Same goes for finance information, currency conversion, unit conversion, dictionary definitions and more.
  • Apparently, for teens (ages 13-17), YouTube is the go-to destination for music listening. More teens use YouTube than radio, iTunes, or CDs. I guess for a musician not having a YouTube page is really not an option anymore.
  • The Google Translate smartphone app can now translate text just by taking a picture of it. You can also specify which dialect you're speaking in for voice translation. And you get instant, as-you-type translations to speed up the process.
  • YouTube just updated its video editor by simplifying the interface and adding an instant live preview of the changes you make, as well as a quick view of available filters.
  • Google Chrome just got an update making the built-in Flash Player more secure and reducing Flash crashes by 20%.
  • If a Google employee dies, their family will now receive 5 years of that person's salary spread out across 10 years.

That's it, folks! You can tell us if we missed anything in the comments here or on our boring old Google+ page.