Today Amazon announced that it will be adding vinyl records to its AutoRip service. AutoRip is a service by Amazon that offers purchasers of music on physical storage, free MP3 downloads of the same album.
From now on, any physical disc purchased on Amazon will include a free digital copy of the same album, which is placed in your free Amazon Cloud Player. In addition, digital copies of purchased tracks will not count against your storage total on the cloud service. Amazon says the service is available now for "thousands of records," including titles from every major label with more titles being added daily.
"We're thrilled to extend this experience to vinyl records," said Steve Boom, Vice President of Digital Music for Amazon "Many of our music customers are vinyl fans and it's traditionally been very difficult to make digital versions of vinyl records-now customers can enjoy the albums they buy wherever they are, not just when they have access to a record player."
Mozilla has updated its Firefox web browser with per-window private browsing that functions much the same as Chrome's private browsing feature. In addition to per-window private browsing, Firefox 20 comes with stability improvements, bug fixes, HTML5 additions, and a new download experience.
As part of the stability improvements, users can now close a frozen plugin without the entire browser crashing. This is also similar to how Chrome handles plugins. The improved download experience features a new interface and a button that makes opening the downloads list much easier. When downloads are active, the button shows an estimated time to completion.
Probably the largest change with Firefox 20 is the ability to have both normal Firefox windows and private browsing Firefox windows open simultaneously. As previously stated, this new method is how Chrome has handled private browsing from the get-go. Firefox used to require the entire session to either be a normal session or a private browsing session.
Microsoft's Hotmail replacement, Outlook.com, is still pretty new but this hasn't stopped the Windows giant from releasing a new design for the calendar aspect of the website. Today, Microsoft has updated Outlook.com's calendar to feature a "fresh and intuitive design" that fits with the modern look Microsoft is providing all of its new products.
Microsoft's new design emphasizes "content over chrome" by giving appointments and events primary focus. After all, those are the main functions one expects from a calendar. If you're interested in Microsoft's changes in more detail, you can head over to their blog post announcing the update or head over to Outlook.com and check it out for yourself.
Yahoo has teamed up with cloud storage provider Dropbox to do away with the current 25MB e-mail attachment file-size limit. It's much the same technology as Gmail uses with Google Drive integration. Attachments are loaded into a user's Dropbox and can be easily stored, updated, and forwarded.
Some user e-mail accounts restrict file size or inbox size even further causing e-mails with large attachments to bounce. Dropbox says that this new integration will allow users to quickly save attachments directly to Dropbox where it will automatically sync to all of your devices:
Email attachments can be tricky: they've got file size limits, you can't keep them updated, and when you add people to a thread, attachments are the first to get left behind.
The Yahoo! Mail team decided to fix this-by integrating with Dropbox! Starting later today, if you're using a Yahoo! Mail account in English, French, German, Italian, or Spanish, you'll be able to access your Dropbox from right inside your inbox. You can add stuff from Dropbox to any email message and save attachments back to Dropbox, too.
Since this integration is Dropbox-powered, you can even send that big album of vacation pics without worrying about the 25 MB file limit. Plus, it's easy to save any photo, video, or doc in your Yahoo! Mail straight to your Dropbox, where you can get to it from anywhere.
Google have updated the search interface for their Chrome Web Store, which now provides tabulated filter options at the top of the page. There are four filter options: All, Apps, Extensions and Themes.
Google have been slowly improving the search functions within their Chrome store, where last July the company added social recommendations from Google+, which allows users to see which apps people in their circles +1'd. The company are working on a total revamp of the Web Store, that will reportedly include multi-platform support for apps and extensions.
Google introduced their new e-mail compose window as an option last October, but Gmail users have noticed this morning that this is now the default way it will be from now on.
The new compose experience is a pop-up window that appears on the right side of the screen, and makes it easier to not only send e-mails, but to multitask within Gmail. Google have noted that it is a little harder finding text formatting options such as underline, indent, numbered and unnumbered lists, but they're still floating around.
I have noticed it as an option for me, but it is not forced on me just yet. How do you find the new compose experience?
YouTube debuts new live-streaming platform for game developers, will transcode video feed in real-time
Game Developers Conference 2013 - YouTube has announced a new platform for game developers that will allow real-time streaming of gameplay. The new platform will allow game developers to send a stream of content to YouTube's server where it will then be transcoded in real-time.
This isn't the first time that YouTube has helped game developers integrate live-streaming. Black Ops 2, which was touted by YouTube many times during the presentation, already utilizes YouTube for game streaming. This new platform will bring live-streaming support to iOS, Android, and a wider development audience.
Live-streaming gameplay seems to be all the rage. Sony put a major focus on it with the PlayStation 4 and it looks like YouTube doesn't want to be left behind. YouTube still has some work to do on the platform, but I'm sure we'll hear more about it in the coming weeks and months. Who knows, maybe it will be used in a majority of Xbox 720 games.
A new charitable experiment is being trialed at eBay which will allow users to split their fashion related sales revenue with the non-profit organization Goodwill. eBay will handle the sell in-house in an effort to reduce the "pain" of listing individual items.
The online auction giant will send sellers postage paid mailing bags that will return the item to be sold to eBay, where it will be listed for sale. If the item sells within two weeks, eBay will split the proceeds 50/50 with the seller and Goodwill. At the moment the new feature is only available to California residents of San Francisco, San Mateo and Marin areas.
This new venture is similar to past "seller assistance" services that eBay has offered in the past, such as mall kiosk where one could drop off an item to sell and be paid a fixed price on the spot. Recently eBay launched a service in which an "auction expert" would come to your home and help pick out items that would sell better than others.
Facebook's Hacker Cup is a contest in which programmers from around the world are given tasks that they must program solutions to. The third annual Hacker Cup championship took place over the weekend at Facebook's Menlo Park headquarters. This year's winner is the same as 2011's: Petr Mitrichev.
Mitrichev represents the first repeat winner of Facebook's Hacker Cup, though it's only been held for three years. Petr Mitrichev hails from Russia, though other countries were also represented at the finals. Contenders came from Australia, Belarus, China, France, Germany, Poland, Japan, Russia, Switzerland, and Ukraine.
Mitrichev was awarded first place and $10,000. Second and third place were given to Jakub Pachocki and Marcin Smulewicz, who both hail from Poland. Now the question remains: why wasn't the United States represented in this competition?
Just like Google's update last month, Google has added an additional 100 ski resort maps to Google Maps. These trail maps can help ski and snowboard enthusiasts prepare for a trip to the mountain and scout the terrain and ways down the mountain before heading off to some distant ski resort.
The trails are represented by green, blue, and black lines, with the color corresponding to the difficulty ratings traditionally used by ski resorts. Lifts are represented by dotted red lines.
This latest update includes Mt. Hood Meadows, Timberline Lodge, and Hunter Mountain. All 100 of the newly added resort maps are for mountains in the United States and Canada. Europe has been largely left out of these updates, aside from when ski resort maps were first introduced. Google Maps has maps for about 225 different resorts around the world.
Google is taking a page out of Facebook's book and is pushing images as a main part of Google+. As part of this initiative, Google has added support for Gifs to be used as Google+ profile pictures. Interestingly enough, Twitter dropped support for Gifs last September. It'll be interesting to see if they reverse their decision.
Animated Gifs will be supported on both the desktop and mobile versions of Google+. As Matt Steiner, the person who first posted that Gifs are now supported, said, "[it is] like newspapers in Harry Potter." We imagine some creative people will make use of this to do some funny and interesting things, much like people did with Facebook cover photos when they were first introduced.
Facebook is continuing to push its mobile-first approach as more and more users become mobile-only users. As means to this end, Facebook blocked desktop access to the social networking site for its employees. This forced them to use the mobile apps and figure out what's wrong with them.
Facebook Product Manager Josh Williams:
To be honest, a couple of weeks ago, myself and a number of other product managers had access to our website internally shut off. Basically it forced us to use only mobile devices for a week ... It forced us to say, 'Hey, we have these features that exist in one place but not in another, and we have to remedy.'
Facebook has previously forced its employees to switch from their iPhones over to Android devices to encourage development of the Android app. At the time, the Android app was far behind the iOS app in terms of performance, design, and overall functionality. This apparently worked well because the Android app of today is much better than it used to be.
Facebook is updating its commenting system with threaded comments and replies, a technology that has existed around the web for sometime. Reddit comes to mind as a site that has focused on threaded comments and replies. The new feature will roll out to Facebook Pages starting today.
This new commenting feature will allow users to more easily interact with Facebook pages and keep conversations more organized. Comments, and their subsequent replies, will be organized according to relevance to viewers. It will base relevance off of positive feedback, connections, and negative feedback.
Pages with more than 10,000 followers, such as ours, are said to have the feature automatically turned on. Other Page owners are able to opt-in to the update by heading to the Manage Permissions section of the admin panel. All pages will be forced into the new commenting system on July 10, 2013. Check it out and let us know what you think of the changes.
After a security hole was discovered in Apple's iForgot password recovery page that allowed passwords to be recovered with just an e-mail and date of birth, Apple has disabled the page for obvious reasons. Navigating to the page now returns a "Currently Unavailable" status message that suggests you "check back later."
Make sure to enable two-step authentication on your account to help protect from future vulnerabilities such as this.
At the time of writing, Apple's page continually timed out for both my coworkers and myself.
YouTube sees more than 1 billion monthly viewers, nearly 15% of Earthlings use the video sharing site
Google have an announcement for us all today, with YouTube now seeing one billion monthly users. Using Wolfram Alpha's estimate of the 6.79 billion people on Earth, this would equate to roughly 14.7% of the world using YouTube every month.
The Mountain View-based everything giant has said that YouTube feeds out to nearly one in every two people on the Internet, a staggering number. Google were once criticized over acquiring YouTube in 2006, where they paid $1.65 billion for the video sharing site. I'm sure now, critics have their lips closed, and tears running down their faces. It was only last year that Google saw their first billion-view video, PSY's Gangnam Style.
Sixty seconds on the Internet doesn't sound like much, but think of all the millions of users on simultaneously, all doing different things and the numbers add up very quickly. In only 60 seconds, around 640TB of data is transferred around the world.
The data comes from an infographic by chipmaker Intel, who breaks it down into even more interesting numbers. Google is a big part of these numbers, where more than two million searches are conducted every sixty seconds. YouTube pushes out around 1.3 million videos, while at the same time consumes 30 hours worth of uploaded video for public consumption.
Moving onto social networks, Facebook sees around 6 million views, and Twitter enjoys around 100,000 new tweets per minute. E-mail is still a huge number, with 204 million e-mails sent out every minute. Most of these are most likely spam, but they still count as data being transferred. Intel has also made some projections looking into the future, where they expect the number of networked devices to double by 2015.
As if we didn't already have enough weird info coming from Google Trends, we will now be able to watch the rise and fall of viral videos. Google has added YouTube searches to the data available through Google Trends to allow curious users and journalists to dig through piles of information.
For instance, goats were the top animal searched for this month, beating out the ever-so-cute dogs and cats that are usually on top. Goats are probably on top because of the hilarious videos of goats screaming like humans that have surfaced online. More interesting information is that searches for Rebecca Black peak every Friday.
Users are able to search Trends for different Google services, such as just Images, News, Products, or YouTube. We'll keep our eyes on the trends and see if anything interesting pops up. Oh, some good news: Harlem Shake appears to be on the way out.
Google suffered a temporary case of dementia earlier today which resulted in Digg being erased from Google's indexes. The deletion of Digg from the index resulted from Google accidentally applying a Webspam filter to the whole site rather than the one link they were trying to disallow.
We're sorry about the inconvenience this morning to people trying to search for Digg. In the process of removing a spammy link on Digg.com, we inadvertently applied the Webspam action to the whole site. We're correcting this, and the fix should be deployed shortly.
It comes at an ironic time. Just a few days ago, Digg's Kevin Rose announced that they would build a replacement for Google's ill-fated Reader. Digg's General Manager Jake Levine added that the accidental removal wasn't too terrible for business:
The good news is that it doesn't really impact us all that much. The vast majority of our traffic is direct (like 90 percent) so it's not a huge deal for us from a business or user perspective.
YouTube is bankrolling an original series created by Reddit. The new series, Explain Like I'm Five, will be getting three episodes released today, one of which is embedded below. The series comes from the subreddit that features the same name.
For us, it's more about encouraging the Reddit community and bigger community of producers, filmmakers and animators out there to create content, video, web series, shows ... based on Reddit content.
It's an interesting idea that benefits both Reddit and YouTube. YouTube gets to host the content and serve ads and Reddit serves as the source of ideas. We aren't sure if this will prove to be an on-going thing or if Reddit is trying to start the ball rolling and allow others to step up. We'll be sure to report more when we know.
Google has climbed some of the highest peaks in the world to bring Street View images so that you don't even have to get out of your seat. While this won't satisfy some of the most adventurous Google Maps users, it will satisfy those of us who may not be physically capable of climbing these mountins.
While there's nothing quite like standing on the mountain, with Google Maps you can instantly transport yourself to the top of these peaks and enjoy the sights without all of the avalanches, rock slides, crevasses, and dangers from altitude and weather that mountaineers face.
Last week we learned that Google Reader would be put out to pasture this coming July, and while Google continues to sever the heads of some of its apps, it seems to be planting seeds for new services to grow.
Earlier today website Android Police spotted some source code that alluded to a new service from Google called "Keep" that would let users easily take, store, and sync notes using one's Google Drive storage space. After some more digging, the sleuths discovered that the desktop version had already gone live at drive.google.com/keep.
The site has since been taken down, suggesting that Google had not meant for the public to see the new service yet. TheNextWeb was able to demo Keep for a few minutes before it was pulled offline and they described the interface as being "basic" and "made for mobile". They said that it did include a search feature, but integration with the rest of Google Drive was nonexistent.
So what does this mean? Well, Google is obviously working on a note taking application, and that it does plan on integrating it into the existing Google Drive product. Will it contend with Evernote? That is still left to be seen, but there is something appealing to having all my productivity apps built into a single easy to manage product like Google Drive.