Unless you have: been living under a rock, don’t use Google, or were just born, you should have heard about the recent changes that were made to the Google product suite. The changes were announced at the sixth annual Google I/O Keynote. Google I/O is an event where Google offers insight into their products and services as well as giving previews of things to come. These conferences are usually the first time the public is given the chance to see the latest developments to come from behind the curtain.
The spirit of Google I/O is to help developers and webmasters understand how Google is working to help them 1) integrate Google services into there websites, applications and technology and 2) how these changes or developments can be used to make profit, better their (developers) creations while sharing details on how to do so. Even if you are not a web developer or application builder, there is tons of great user-based products, information and news. Along with product releases and announcements, Google I/O is a method for sharing information about Google’s progress.
Some of the interesting facts released during first section of the three-hour keynote were:
- Focus of product development has been centered on Android and Chrome.
- New activations of Android: 100 Million (2011) to 400 Million (2012) activations of Android. Currently at 900 Million.
These interesting tidbits where shared in the opening of I/O by Vic Gundotra, Senior Vice President of Google.
Following Vic, Sundar Pichai the Senior Vice President of Product Development discussed the two primary focuses of Google in regard to the search giant’s product-side of the business. During his segment, Sundar mentioned how only 7 years ago (or so), it was only desktops that connected us the way we wanted/needed, smart phones took us to the next level of technology (and other ‘mobile’ computing devices).
Google Android and Chrome
This is the reason that Google focuses on 2 platforms: Android and Chrome. Android’s mission and purpose is meant to be a method for developers to innovate using open standards that are robust yet simple. The platform is build on the concept of community, that everyone contribute to the growth of the whole through individual contributions.
Chrome, both the browser and operating system, are also built around the idea that the technology can only get better if more heads are on the ‘job,’ figuring out better ways of approaching data management, computing methods, functions, user experiences and browsing. Browsing is a method of connecting users with information or experiences they are longing for, Chrome (the browser) should be easy to use and efficient way to navigate the web we, as an internet community, have created.
The keynote was then handed over to Hugo Barra, VP of Product Development for Android, who discussed new developer tools along with statistics about application creation and installs. As of the date of the Google I/O event (5/15/2013), there has been 48 billion app installs on Android enabled devices, more than any other application platform.
With such high demands and a sense of open community, Hugo stated that Google listened to the request and insight of the developers of those apps and focused on a few common request. As a result Google was introducing some new app focused elements:
- 3 new location apis
- Fused Location Provider (Wifi, GPS, Cell)
- Geofencing (define a geographic area for apps)
- Activity recognition (accelerator data for movement and distance tracking)
- Cross platform single-sign on. Sign in on Google (uses the Google+ system) allows for integration across apps and properties. (Actually effects all Google Properties)
- GCM (Google Cloud Messaging) – Used to support apps and system. Introducing synced notifications [finally!!] With synced notifications, acknowledging the notification on one device removes the notification across all devices and/or services.
- Google Play Game Services – will use the users’ Circles to help engage his/her’s friends to make the experience more personal. Also use of API will allow cross platform use.
(Are you a developer or interested in getting started? Check out Google Android Studio, the interface is pretty sweet and the have made creating apps for Google Play pretty easy, with a little understanding of the coding language of course.)
Google Pixel Chromebook
All this talk of devices and Chrome led into a little, granted welcomed, product placement. Sundar brought up the latest desktop product, the Google Pixel. Pixel has been out for a little over a year, following the creation of the Google netbook aka ChromeBook. But, as Sundar said, “[we've been] investing a lot in these area this year.” He was referring to Chrome and Pixel. It was also stating that the purpose of Chrome was Speed, Simplicity, and Security.
At which point he said that everyone in attendance would be receiving a ‘free’ Google Pixel! Free is relative I suppose. Google I/O tickets ran for $900 for general admission and $300 for accademic admission. Depending on the size of the harddrive, Google Pixels can retail for $1299 to $1449 in the Google Play Store. Not a bad trade off.
Major Changes in Google+
Vic Gundotra then went into Google Plus. The big announcement for this area was the introduction of 41 new features that would be releases that very afternoon, following the keynote. Vic focused on three areas: Stream, Hangouts, and Photos.
With the Google+ Streams, the major changes were: a new Stream layout (streamlined and focused on content management) and auto-generated Related hash tags. Making it easier to find associated content.
Hangouts have been pulled out of the Google+ platform as a simple application and is now a stand-alone service. Now, on mobile devices, tablets and online, Google Hangout can be downloaded and installed separate from Google+. Along with this major change, Hangouts was updated to offer:
- Circle planning (circles are set up to reflect true life situations not just “friends” or “not friends” like ‘other’ networks.)
- A technology that facilitates connections not hindering it, you shouldn’t need to find a way to contact people on their level.
- Group video at the touch of a button, without a charge.
Pictures have also had a major overhaul in the Google+ platform. It appears that this area of the system was a big focus this year and as such, a lot of the changes focused on quality of the images and recognizing important elements in uploaded photos.
- Camera with Cloud (automatically correcting and editing)
- Using the Google Datacenter for backup/storage (started at 5 GB, now to 15 GB free) “Some memories aren’t meant to be downsized.”
- Photo analyzation to make ‘highlights’ on search and image galleries.
- Auto Enhance (Algorithm understands human nuances.)
- “Auto Awesome” burst mode to generate gifs for you.
- Facial recognition to construct happy smiling faces for collages, gifs and more.
The End of Search
Yup, that is how Amit Singhal introduced his section of the Keynote concerning the element of Google that started it all. After a mild heart attack and running around the office saying the sky was falling, I sat down and intently listened as he explained why search, as we knew it, was not going to be the same.
The end of search:
- Knowledge Graph – Answering questions before a user leaves the search.
- Statistics coming soon to the SERPs near you.
- Anticipations of next questions (comparisons, associated content, statistics, etc.)
- Extremely personalized results depending on your information, care of Google+ and assorted device data.
- “Search is meant to be a conversation not a string of of keywords”: introducing Conversational Search and Hot-Wording (no interface, just say ‘Okay Google’)
- Answers, Converse, Anticipate – the focus of Google search in the new age of search.
To explain more about the conversational search and hot wording used in Google Now, the Vice President of Search/Mobile Johanna Wright took the stage. She discussed that the recently released Knowledge Graph is linked to Conversational/Hot Wording search systems. This link gives the voice recognition system an authoritative and robust database to pull information from. Currently, Conversational Search is only on Chrome and Chrome OS. Johanna briefly previewed Reminders, which allow users to speak vocal commands that setup quick reminders to alert individuals of events.
The section on Maps was a little more function based and abstract. The gist was that the Google Maps system was updated to incorporate 3-D renderings of buildings and places. They also expanded into locations that were ‘less traveled,’ such as oceans, interiors and landmarks.
Here are the high points concerning Google Maps:
Brian McClendon, VP Google Maps
- Over 1 Million websites using Google Maps
Daniel Graf, Director
- No more Zaggat
- Dynamic rerouting using changes in road conditions
- Explore feature allows you to find location attraction
Droid Life actually has an article concerning the updates that are in the pipeline for Maps. As we all know, things change so we are apprehensive about making any announcements or conclusions concerning what we can expect or the way businesses or users will use the system in the near future.
Quotable from the conclusion of Google I/O Keynote:
“A law can’t be right if it’s 50 years old, before the Internet.” – Larry Page
Change is really hard to accept for most, and it seems like every time we log on to Google (and many other web platforms) there are a ton of updates, changes, alterations or new services. Some changes are innately bad, others are really great! In either case we all, especially web technologist and marketers, should see them as opportunities. Opportunities to learn something new. Opportunities to develop the next level of our craft, a client’s marketing strategy, or a better way to connect to the internet community.
Never loose sight of the fact that just twenty years ago you didn’t have access to the whole of human knowledge in your pocket. Everyday we move forward with technology is another day towards achieving the dreams we share of creating a better world. The picture may change but the gallery remains. Google is just a method for achieving something you (or the people you work with) hold as important or necessary to your daily, weekly, short-term or long-term goals. What really matters most is what those goals are. Google has “improved” it’s products, the tools have changed, how you wield them is up to you; feel empowered by these opportunities-stop whining!
In anticipation of this year’s PodCamp, I attended the SpeakerUp meeting the organizers hold for individuals interested in presenting a session. At the event, I helped explain and elaborate on some of the concepts past speakers were discussing with a nice gentleman sitting next to me. At the end of the meeting, I distributed a few business cards with individuals, including the man sitting next to me. The week following the meeting I received a nice matte card in the mail at my day job with cj Advertising, the card was from the nice gent I was conversing with, a Tennessee state representative.
Every opportunity to connect with others is important. No matter the size of the event or the location; anytime there is a chance to network, it should be taken. Every industry has it’s own form of technical conference. Some are meant to connect businesses with customers others connect businesses with other businesses that can augment the methods an organization uses to service their clientele. In search and online marketing, there are a number of events that help industry professionals share knowledge, develop strategy, identify changes and create new valuable relationships. There is no college or certificate program for search marketing. The knowledge SEOs/SEMs/Analysts and other web technologists use to perform our duties comes from monitoring search engine signals, paying attention to news or releases, industry events and networking with others.
One of the first networking events I attended was PodCamp Nashville in 2010. Aside from getting out and talking shop at the Cadillac Ranch in downtown Nashville, the event opened my mind to the fact that not all knowledge is contained in a book or behind some velvet rope. Many gurus and experts have obtained these statuses from developing their networks and following other specialists as they develop their own methods for problem solving.
As my father often told me growing up, “if you’re gonna walk through a minefield, follow someone.”
True experts, regardless of the industry, know when they have reached the end of their knowledge base. The ‘expert’ has the wisdom to ask for help; either from friends or people with the know-how to find the solutions. This ‘wisdom’ requires knowing who you can turn to; hence the importance of networking. If you are questioning whether 2013′s PodCamp Nashville is worth your time, ask yourself one question: how valuable is your network?
After attending SMX West in 2012, I found that creating real-world connections was important to my professional success. Just as a website needs visitors, your marketing/advertising success requires that someone take an interest in or at the least, know about you. You may have Earth-shattering ideas or concepts; but if no one hears your voice it doesn’t matter.
Now for a worthwhile plug! This year’s PodCamp is free to attend and they’re are some great speakers offering up important information, including myself! At this event you can:
- Network with professionals from around Nashville (not just marketers and advertisers either).
- Learn more about some of the big names in the Music City: Emma, Horton, Raven and so many more!
- Enjoy learning about several digital areas: web marketing, self-publishing, content creation, Google, etc.
So, register and start signing up for sessions (make sure to sign up for mine: Becoming THE Authority on Google). The only thing you’ll need to pay for is the gas to get to the Hotel Preston, your lunch ($15) and any drinks you may want to lubricate your palate with. You have nothing stopping you from succeeding but yourself.
Following PodCamp, there are a number of networking opportunities that allow PodCampers and others to link up. If you could or could not make it out to the event, there are still tons of opportunities to meet up with speakers or event goers. Find these individuals on Twitter (#PCN13) or visit PodCamp’s website for follow up blogs and posts: http://www.podcampnashville.org/pcn13/news/pcn13-rewind-blog-tour
Here is my slide deck from my presentation.
Google is everywhere! Most people know that fact. Google is dominating search, piloting free internet service, on mobile devices and taking over small islands in the Sea of Gibraltar. Alright, that last one wasn’t true but you get the point. Now, it may just be time for a Nashville refresh but there have been increased sightings of Google Map mobiles throughout the metro area. According to other keen-eyed Tennesseans, the Google Map camera-equipped Subarus have been sighted in Green Hills, The Gulch, East Nashville and a few other locations. I came across the vehicle below while driving through Brentwood.
These vehicles are used in a number of ways by the Google Maps section of Google, Inc. The mapping system reportedly collects a number of data points aside from just the street-view images and global position satellite (GPS) coordinates. In an article published in the Guardian, an audit requested by the German data protection agency revealed that Google was collecting Wi-Fi information at the least. Other data that could be collected by these vehicles could be anything from device MAC addresses and IP addresses to cellular networks signals, who knows but Google.
Call me ‘star struck’ but this happened to be my first encounter with the Google Maps crew. Have you captured a Google Map mobile or spotted one? We’re interested in seeing your pictures or hearing your stories about where you spotted them. Maybe there is a general refresh going on or maybe this is Nashville-centric; only time and the Maps will tell.
Matt McGee tweeted a blog article that alerted us to the latest news about Google Places for Business; it is finally getting an update! Google Places for Business was once the portal business owners and managers had to access to make changes to their listing that appeared on Google Maps. With the introduction of Google+, and later Google+ Local, Places for Business took a back seat in terms of it’s usefulness in managing listings.
In the forums that were barraged with questions (and anger in many cases) from business owners trying to get a handle on their business listings after the launch of Google+ Local Pages, Jade Wang first directed many to use Places unless they had setup Google+ Pages. Later on, Jade would direct everyone in a forum post to setup Google+ Pages for Local, stating:
Don’t edit your page using Google Places for Business. The only reason to log in to Google Places for Business would be to check analytics.
On April 2nd, Qasar Younis, Senior Product Manager (via Vanessa Schneider) announced the new look for the dashboard for Google Places for Business. And as you may guess, many of us thought Places would someday redirect to a portal or administrative panel within Google+, but it appears it will stand alone.
In the announcement Google offers these highlights about the update to Google Places:
- Easier to use – Which is very true. From the screenshots, it appears to be the interface many webmasters are familiar with from managing Google+ Pages for Local.
- Edits go live faster – Supposedly, updates will be live within 48 hours! Of course, there is the disclaimer that Google reserves the right to manually moderate changes to ensure quality.
- Better integration with other Google products – The dashboard will allow access to the linked Google+ Page for the location, AdWords Express (if used) and Google Offers.
The update is suppose to roll out over the next couple of weeks, but there is an option available to request to be ‘pushed’ live sooner.
By visiting https://support.google.com/places/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=3038693&p=coming_soon you can learn a little more about the changes and ask to be upgraded earlier.
Finally! We have very high hopes for this update. It sounds like Google has worked on this update for awhile in an effort to streamline the management of business listings. The concerns we have, as with any new release by the search masters, is that this will lead to a new wave of technical issues/quirks that will make it difficult to make verified business listings accessible as has been experience with the release of Google+ Local. As we await the roll out we are among the webmaster with fingers crossed; success with this update means success to millions of business owners.
Notifications are being sent to several hundred individuals that they now owe Google, Inc. $1,500 US + applicable taxes. What for?! Google Glass. Those being notified have actually been selected to join a small group of aptly named ‘Explorers’ (#GlassExplorers) that tweeted Google’s Project Glass twitter account (@ProjectGlass) with the hashtag, #IfIHadGlass. Google started notifying selected participants late Wednesday with messages like:
Google Glass: The Explorer Edition
Towards the end of February, Google announced that Project Glass would be looking for select individuals to test out the new product, in real world settings, to provide useful feedback. The announcement was made in association with an introductory video featuring footage of what it is like to use Glass along with a website containing the details of entry into the participation program, www.google.com/glass.
According to a tweet from Project Glass, the participants are being notified over the next couple of days and in coming weeks the details of the Explorer Program will be released via direct message (DM) using Twitter. The selection process has been done using Twitter and Google+, showing that Google is aware of where their target audience and suitable participants are.
Meaning, that if you wanted to participate and were not notified in the first batch, there may still be a chance you may be selected.
— Project Glass (@projectglass) March 26, 2013
Of course, no contest happens without it’s share of disqualified participants:
@wutabril Unfortunately your application didn’t comply with our terms, and has been disqualified. We’re sorry for the confusion.
— Project Glass (@projectglass) March 28, 2013
If you were selected, congratulations!! Dust off your traveling shoes and blog, count out your cash money and get ready to be famous; Google Glass is calling. The Explorer Edition is the first version of the product and it can be assumed that as time passes there will be different versions of the Glass product, hopefully with varying functions and price tags.