The rebranding will focus on two popular features
Google's largely-failed social media experiment, Google+, is reportedly approaching a transformation, with a renewed focus on Photos and Hangouts. The two popular features appear to be splitting apart from the central service, marking the first step in an apparent rebranding effort that is likely aimed at revitalizing -- or quietly killing -- the stagnate social network.
Google comfortable with progress according to new Google+ department head
With Vic Gundotra leaving Google earlier in the year, many thought that Google+ would die because of his departure. However, it appears that Google is satisfied with the progress that its social media software has made. New Head of Social Media David Besbris, who was a vice president of engineering, says that he thinks Google is in social media for the long haul.
Signing up a Gmail account no longer requires a social media account setup
Google is no longer forcing users to create a Google+ profile when setting up a new Gmail account, according to a report from marketing blog Wordstream. By easing up on the mandatory setup of the social media arm of the search company, Google is continuing to put distance between users and the service that never seemed to find the same footing as Facebook.
Polling system closing down at end of 2014, users given a way to export existing polls
Opinion poll service Google, a move that would fold the service into Google's social media channel. Terms of the deal weren't disclosed, but with the Polar team joining Google+, the polling system is being shut down before the end of 2014.
Change framed as no longer having limitations, Google offers thanks for feedback
Google announced today that it's removing the requirement for real names to be used on its Google+ platform. After years of user complaints over the policy, it appears that Google finally gave into public demands. The company doesn't state a specific reason for the change, but frames the change in a way that all limitations have been removed.
Early Google social network shuttering, focus shifts to YouTube, Google+
Google is warning it will be shutting down its early social network, Orkut. Closing after ten years, the service will officially stop operating on September 30th of this year, with the search company planning to focus its "energy and resources" on its other social efforts, including Google+, YouTube, and blogging platform Blogger, to make them "as amazing as possible for everyone who uses them."
Gundotra leaving Google after almost eight years
Vic Gundotra has announced he is leaving Google, after close to eight years with the tech giant. Revealed in a Google+ post, the social network Gundotra helped create, he praises the company he is parting from and the people he's met, though neither his post nor that of Google CEO Larry Page hint at whether Gundotra is leaving of his own accord or if he was pushed.
Google+ Hangouts for iOS adds iOS7 optimization, video messaging
Messaging app Google+ Hangouts has received an update for iOS devices. Google+ Hangouts features free group audio calling with up to 10 people, and phone calls can be made through the app for free to numbers in the US and Canada. Now optimized for use on iPad, users of v2.0 can access picture-in-picture video calling as well as record and send video messages up to 10 seconds long. The app has been updated to reflect iOS 7, and has the addition of shareable animated stickers for expressing feelings and sending a map of one's current location. Google+ Hangouts is free to download, and is available on iTunes.
Google adds location sharing, high-res photo backup
Google has updated its Google+ app for iOS, adding multiple new features and changing the design. Version 4.6.0 of the Google+ app adds the ability to store full-resolution backups of a user's photos. It also adds a new location sharing feature, giving a visual representation of where one's friends are.
Social network brings slew of new features
Google has invited media to San Francisco to highlight a slew of new features that are headed to the company's social network. Many of the Google+ updates focus on photography, expanding manual and automatic enhancement tools, along with new effects for saved videos or live Hangouts feeds.
Version 1.4 enables in-app sharing, ID token support
Google's latest update to its Google+ iOS SDK was announced today. The development kit allows users to integrate Google+ components with third-party apps. With the newest release of the software, developers can now offer a way for users to share content to their Google+ circles directly from their iOS app with the Share plugin, and can export text and well as image and video attachments. ID token support is now included, permitting developers to verify users' identities against the Google+ database. Requiring Google Developers.
Tweaked conversion system improves color, hue of uploaded RAW files
Google has updated its social network to improve the way it handles RAW images. Changes to its RAW-to-JPEG conversion system, credited to Nik Photography, will mean that the converted images shown on Google+ will now match the RAW file more closely in terms of color and hue, while still keeping the uploaded RAW files untouched.
Non-Chrome browsers able to use basic Google+ image tools
Google has introduced some new photo editing tools to its Google+ social network. The new tools, a product of its Snapseed acquisition last year, provide a wide array of basic editing and adjustment tools to the Android and iOS Google+ apps as well as through Chrome, with users of other browsers having relatively basic tools to use.
Facebook 25 times more popular than Google for sharing
Despite Google's efforts to integrate its "social layer" across all of its services, Google+ trails every other major social networking platform. A new report out from Gigya pegs Google+ at only a two percent share of social sharing, behind even LinkedIn, which holds a three percent share. The social platform is in fifth place among the major social outlets.
Android app gets additional tweaks
Google has announced plans to update the web, iOS and Android versions of Google+ with better notifications. Google's Vic Gundotra says that notifications should be "much easier to use across mobile and desktop." Some planned changes include a bell icon for letting users know when updates are available, and a tray for managing read and unread items.
Main, Gmail searches pull results from other Google apps
Google has released a beta version of Chrome 28 for Windows, Mac, Linux, and Android. The most significant change is in the Windows release, where a native notification center for apps and extensions has been turned on. These can include not only text and images, but optional actions such as making a phone call or sending email. Notifications can appear even when Chrome is closed. Google is promising Mac notifications "soon."
Social toolbar to shut down on June 6th
Google is going to close the Meebo Bar tool on June 6th, almost an entire year after the Meebo social service was discontinued by the search company. The social toolbar, appearing on a number of sites and providing connectivity to Facebook, Google+ and Twitter, will cease functioning, forcing website owners to remove the feature from their pages.
iPhone app folds in Snapseed features
(Updated with iPad info) Google has updated the iOS and Android Google+ apps with a number of new features and improvements. The iPhone interface in particular now sports basic editing tools carried over from Snapseed, such as cropping, rotation, and Instagram-style photo filters. Brightness, contrast, and saturation can be controlled through gestures, and tapping an image lets people compare an altered photo with the original.
Cross-platform system to consolidate existing IM systems
Google is looking towards unifying its messaging platforms into one single service, according to rumors. Called Babble, the new service would provide cross-platform communications between the various Google services, such as Google Talk, Google Hangouts, and Google Voice, replacing them all with a single common method.
Refined single-participant live video broadcasting in Google+
Google has updated the Hangouts feature of Google+ that will help one-person broadcasts. Hangouts On Air will now default to a full-screen single-camera video for broadcasts, instead of showing a large image with a smaller thumbnailed view in the camera roster below, something which apparently has been added after numerous requests from users.
Galaxy Note II to come in black
Samsung appears to be preparing to release a new color variant of its Galaxy Note II. Purported press images found by AndroidSlash appear to show an all-black model of the fast-selling handset. There is no word on when exactly the all black Note II might debut or on which carriers it may appear.
Twitter update brings leaked changes
Google and Twitter have each launched major app updates for iOS. The latter has released Twitter 4.3, bringing expected upgrades such as expanded tweets, which show content previews for links connecting to unspecified "partner websites." In the final release notes, Twitter also mentions that the feature is only "rolling out gradually."
Google's social network hits 250 million users
At today's Google I/O conference, the company announced that its social network, Google+, will be getting a dedicated app for the iPad and other tablets. The app is being designed specifically for the tablet experience. People will be able to attend video hangouts and interact with the social network in the same way now possible on desktops. The app will also contain the new Google+ Events feature, which enables live streaming of images captured by attendees at events.
Share box on profile pages visible only to profile owner
Google has made some minor changes to its Google+ social network. The adjustments focus on the profile page, namely the addition of a share box at the top of the update stream, accompanied by a cover photo alongside the main profile image. The details were announced via a Google employee on the service.
Court-mandated bans claimed to be against freedom of speech
Registered sex offenders banned from using social networks are asking courts to lift the restrictions. Blocks on sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ help protect its users from potential abuse according to authorities, however the offenders claim such orders infringe their freedom of speech, the Chicago Tribune writes. The demands place courts in a difficult position, to decide between protecting individual freedoms or protecting the public.
Flickr Uploadr goes HTML5 for web images
Flickr revamped the web version of its Uploadr tool on Wednesday. The new version has switched to HTML5 with a more natural drag-and-drop interface to load photos. Making the switch now lets Flickr show thumbnails, like the native desktop and mobile apps, as well as reorder images, tag friends, and otherwise handle most tasks that would have needed to wait until afterwards.
Websites get option to share directly to Google
Google debuted a new Share button on Tuesday, allowing sites to give users the option to post content directly from a site to a user's Google+ account. The move brings Google's social networking site in further alignment with the capabilities of its chief rival, Facebook.
Updates to Google+ through SMS in more nations
Google has increased the reach of Google+ SMS accessibility to include 41 new countries. The extended list of nations that can send and receive updates to the social network are primarily based in Asia and Africa, helping users in some areas where mobile data is not widely available.
Brin claims competitors as threat to web
Google co-founder Sergey Brin used an interview late Sunday to single out companies he saw as potential threats to the Internet. Along with singling out actual censorship and an aggressive media industry, he informed The Guardian that proprietary environments, such as Apple's iOS and Facebook's web code, were considered dangers. They risked isolating information, Brin argued, and an open search tool like Google couldn't have existed if sites like Facebook had been the norm.
Google updates Google+ and Goggles for Android
Google has updated its Google+ and Google Goggles apps for Android with some key updates. The most significant change announced for Google+ (Google Play) from a user perspective is the ability to include larger and richer web snippets of shared material, which was high on the list of requests from regular users. When sharing a link, it will appear as a detailed blurb on posts.
Google+ reworked early
Google's still-young Google+ got a major interface rework on Wednesday. The service now has all its core sections, such as circles and photos, in a large vertical sidebar instead of the small horizontal bar. The method both makes access more obvious and, Google adds, will let users customize the order as well as make it easier for Google to add major new features.
Adds collaborative games and drawing tools
Google has added new features to the Hangout interface of its Google+ social networking. Now, when a user creates a Hangout video chat, they can interact through several new collaborative apps. The apps include shared games, slide show presentations, and drawing utilities.
Organizer provides easier drag and drop ordering
Google has updated the way its Google+ social networking service handles photos in albums. The company has added an
album organizer. With it, photos can be sorted, reordered, moved or deleted.
Updates look and feel of browser-based app
Google has redesigned the mobile web version of its Google+ social networking service. The latest release provides a crisper, less cluttered look to its browser-based offering. The company claims that the new interface is much closer to the native apps running on Android, iOS, and Blackberry 7 devices.
Google Plus may unify games on mobile and web
Google+ group product manager Punit Soni gave a presentation at the Game Developers Conference on Tuesday that promised a completely unified game platform from his company. He expected "by next year" to see Android, Chrome Web Store, Chrome Native Client, and Google+ games to all be unified. He didn't explain how this would happen, VentureBeat said, although it's implied that Google+ would emphasize HTML5 games on mobile, not just the desktop, and wouldn't be locked into Android alone.
Demand answers by February 29
Flickr reworks to improve photo viewing and upload
Flickr senior product lead Markus Spiering in a far-ranging interview previewed some of its first major overhauls to Flickr for years. A February 28 overhaul outlined to BetaBeat will remake the photo preview page, turning it into a mosaic with larger shots and information only when it's needed. The new upload page is now more akin to a mobile app with a more visual drag-and-drop interface.
Google now sued over blocking Safari cookies
Google is facing a new lawsuit for violating privacy rights on Apple's Safari web browser, Bloomberg reported. An Illinois man, Matthew Soble, claimed in the suit that Google sidesteps the computer settings that are designed to block monitoring of a user's whereabouts on the web. The lawyers representing Soble alleged that Google did so willfully and knowingly.
Google defends against Microsoft cookie claims
Google's Senior Communications VP Rachel Whetstone claimed Microsoft was being dishonest in making claims of suspicious browser cookie circumventions in Internet Explorer 9 and elsewhere. The executive argued that Microsoft had effectively ignored the issue since 2002, when it had implemented the P3P approach of requiring a cookie state its intent. Microsoft not only knew about the "loophole" of using an undefined intent for years, letting Amazon and its recent investment target Facebook use the trick, but knew that P3P would break the modern Internet regardless
Microsoft tries to press Google on privacy tricks
Microsoft's Corporate VP for Internet Explorer, Dean Hachamovitch, made allegations Monday that Google was bypassing Internet Explorer's privacy settings, not just Safari's measures. After checks, he claimed that Google's cookie text files, meant to allow +1 actions for those who were signed into Google, were skirting the P3P Privacy Protection standard as it was implemented in Internet Explorer 9. The technique supposedly made IE9 take third-party cookies that it would block by default while keeping the action a secret.
Google social app catches up on media sharing
Google+ gained some parity on iOS with an update (App Store) on Tuesday. The new version now supports the same Instant Upload as its Android counterpart, letting users automatically send photos and videos to the private storage on their account both as a backup and for future sharing. It's unlikely the iOS version can start uploads in the background like its Android equivalent given OS policies.
Google+ for Android gets revamp
Google has updated its Google+ app (Free, Android Market) for Android. The latest version incorporates significant speed boosts, including quicker load times. One of the new features added includes a ‘What’s hot’ stream allowing users to quickly see the latest buzz from friends.
Question how users can opt out
Less patchy, more natural images from on high
Google has released its latest version Google Earth. The 6.2 update improves the presentation of satellite imagery so high altitude views appears almost seamless and less of a patchwork. Google has also added a new search interface and an easier way to share imagery using Google+.
Social networking now available to 13-17 year-olds
Google has opened up Google+ to teens 13 and older. Previously, only adults over 18 could participate in the service. Google has also implemented safeguards to help make sure the younger crowd's participation in the social network is safer until they're adults.
Consolidates 70 different policy documents to one
Google has advised customers that it is revising its privacy policies and terms of service. The company claims it is doing so to unify and simplify its terms across most of its product offerings. Starting March 1, Google will be creating a single terms and policy document to replace the 60 it now has to cover its online services and products.
Adds maiden names and pseudonyms as well
Google+ will begin allowing users to be known by their nickname or alternative names. Through a Google+ update, the company's Brad Horowitz has advised the social network's members that it will soon let them add a name such as a nickname, maiden name, or name in another non-Latin script alongside the common name that they require as part of an individual's profile. The change is not immediate, but the company advises it will take place over the next week.
Google trims again with Picnik shutdown
Google in an update gave notice that it was pruning more of its services, this time more directly affecting mobile and creative use. The company now planned to scrap its cloud photo editing service Picnik as of April 19. It had bought out Picnik in 2010 and wanted to keep the team's focus on the image editing it had already added to Google+ and other services.
Gives Gmail address & signs user up for Google+
Google is now steering users into extra services when they register a new Google account on the sign-up page. Now, a new subscriber must provide more information then in the past to create an account, which in turn is automatically used to enroll them in Google+ and create a Gmail account. Although it's not explicitly stated, users can opt out, but the move counts on them accepting the extra features by default.
Rumors point to buyout
Google is rumored to be in the beginning stages of acquisition negotiations with the photo sharing startup Pinterest. Although the companies have yet to publicly comment on the reports, unnamed sources have told TechCrunch the search giant is attempting a buyout worth several hundred million dollars.