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Google has been doing a lot of updating to numerous services lately and Hangouts is the latest to receive the update. This is just the latest in a series of updates that Hangouts has been getting. Some of the other updates include the ability to add digital mustaches and schedule video chats before a Google+ event.
Google has now added Hangouts to Gmail so that users can video chat straight from Gmail. Wait, they could do that already? Well, now you can group video chat and host virtual meetings right from Gmail. The new addition should provide a higher quality video chat experience along with several other benefits.
For one, using Hangouts will allow users on Android, iOS, or Google+ in a web browser to join in the fun. Furthermore, it will allow users to video chat with up to nine friends, as opposed to the previous option of only one. It may not be one of Google's coolest updates, but it certainly makes sense. Check out the videos above and below if you need more convincing.
Google, not wanting to be outdone by Bing, has updated Google Maps and Google Earth with new high resolution imagery that encompasses 25 cities and 72 countries. Google had previously announced they were taking aerial shots of the globe to include in Maps and Earth and this imagery is finally starting to see the light of day.
Quite frankly, the imagery is gorgeous. Since the Olympics are in town, Google is of course using Olympic Park and Village in London as the poster child, as you can see in the picture above. Hands down, this level of detail makes Google Maps the number one mapping service. If you look at competitors, it isn't even close.
Google has also increased its 45* offerings with 21 U.S. cities and 7 locations internationally. Google explains which locations got what:
It would appear that Google+ could finally be catching on, if comScore's numbers are anything to go on. comScore has been released numbers that count how many unique visits a site gets. This means it doesn't take into account how long a person stays on the site or how many return visits that person makes.
But enough disclaimer, let's get into the numbers. comScore says that Google+ saw 110.7 million visitors worldwide in the month of June. Compare that to November of last year and the number is 66% higher. Furthermore, strictly US traffic over the same period increased from 15.2 million to 27.7 million, a growth of 82%.
Facebook, over the same period, dropped from 166 million US users to 159.8 million. In November, Facebook had more than 11 times the unique hits that Google+ had, but now that number has dropped to only 5.8. However, this is where the disclaimer comes in. More people may be visiting Google+, but it is likely they are still spending much more time on Facebook.
Google has once again proven itself a company to be reckoned with. Today, Google announced the launch of Google Fiber, their first step to becoming an internet service provider. Available to residents of Kasas City, Kansas and Kansas City, Missouri, Google will provide an incredible 1 gigabit upload and download speed for only $70.
While $70 isn't exactly cheap, it's quite a bit cheaper, and faster, than competing services. The average internet speed in the United States is about 5.8Mbps meaning that the Google provided internet is about 100 times faster. If you don't want to pay out $70 a month, Google is offering 5Mbps/1Mbps for "free." All you have to do is pay a $300 construction fee.
"No more buffering. No more loading. No more waiting. Gigabit speeds will get rid of these pesky, archaic problems and open up new opportunities for the web," writes Google Vice President Milo Medin, on the company blog. "Imagine: instantaneous sharing; truly global education; medical appointments with 3D imaging; even new industries that we haven't even dreamed of, powered by a gig."
Google is having issues with it's Google Talk service. For about three hours now, Google Talk has been down. At this point, Google is investigating the matter and has promised an update about 10 minutes from now. Google hasn't provided a time frame for the service to return and they haven't provided a reason for the outage.
The status of Google Talk can be checked on Google's website. We will continue to keep you updated as we learn more about the outage, its causes, and when the service comes back. Until then, you're going to have to find another way to chat with your friends.
It would appear that the United States government is actually doing something useful with its money. The FCC has announced a plan to spend $115 million over the next three years bringing broadband internet access to 400,000 individuals and businesses who don't have access to such services as of right now.
The government's money will be complemented by tens of millions of private funds. This new undertaking is part of the FCC's Connect America Fund project and works to bring broadband access to rural areas that may still be stuck using dial-up. It's a pretty big issue as the United States is an extremely large area.
The FCC realizes that high-speed internet access has "gone from being a luxury to a necessity for full participation in our economy and society." The FCC had the following statement: "Today's action is just the beginning of our efforts to unleash the benefits of broadband for millions of homes and small businesses in unserved rural communities across the U.S."
Google, once again trying to be the one-stop-shop for all of your knowledge needs, has added a 34-button calculator to search results. Now, instead of just spitting out a text answer when typing in a math question, you will be able to process sines and cosines, tangents and logarithms, as well as simple addition and subtraction.
Google had given no heads up about this change, but an official Google Twitter account posted that they had rolled out the latest stage, 3.9, of its Panda algorithm last night. It's not clear whether or not the two events are linked. This calculator is just one feature in the past months designed to change Google away from just being a search engine.
Now what they really need to add is graphing capability. Then college and high school students around the world could rejoice in the fact that they could leave their graphing calculator at home and still easily have access to one.
A feature requested by many Twitter users, and partially offered by other services, will finally be offered directly by Twitter some time in the future. "We're working on a tool to let users export all of their tweets," Mr. Costolo said in a meeting with reporters and editors at The New York Times on Monday. "You'll be able to download a file of them."
However, while users will be able to go through their own Tweets, as of right now, there are no plans for a feature to allow users to dig through all of the Tweets on the site. He explained that the search problems are very different and you "can't just put three engineers on it." As of right now, there is no timeline for when a search or download feature would be available.
EU law already provides this option for users who really want to have a copy of their Tweets and several users have taken advantage of it. EU law requires Twitter to provide a copy of all data they have stored about a user. Those who have exercised that right have found that it includes your account, tweets, favorites, direct messages, saved searches and more information about you, delivered in a ZIP file.
Spotify is marking its one-year anniversary in the United States by releasing an infographic with numbers about the service. It contains some incredible numbers and would appear to be a success due to all the big numbers. First, users have listened to over 13 BILLION tracks. This works out to around 27,000 years or 23.7 million man-hours of listening.
Users of the service have also shared nearly 28,000,000 million tracks. 55% were shared via Facebook and 41% were shared via Spotify itself. For those of you who do not know about Spotify, they offer unlimited music streaming for $5/month or $10/month if you want to have access on a mobile device. They also offer a free service, with some restrictions of course.
In another attempt to make a pointless statement towards Washington D.C., a group of websites and privacy organizations have come together to form the Declaration of Internet Freedom. The Declaration of Internet Freedom is the start of something bigger, a movement to uphold and ensure some basic principles, much like the Declaration of Independence was.
"We've seen how the Internet has been under attack from various directions, and we recognize that it's time to make that stop," said TechDirt, a site involved with the new movement. "The Internet is an incredible platform that we want to grow and to thrive, and thus, a very large coalition got together to produce the following document as a starting point, hoping to kick off a much larger discussion which we hope you'll join in."
As it stands currently, the Declaration of Internet Freedom is composed of 5 basic values:
- Expression: Don't censor the Internet.
- Access: Promote universal access to fast and affordable networks.
- Openness: Keep the Internet an open network where everyone is free to connect, communicate, write, read, watch, speak, listen, learn, create, and innovate.
- Innovation: Protect the freedom to innovate and create without permission. Don't block new technologies, and don't punish innovators for their users' actions.
- Privacy: Protect privacy and defend everyone's ability to control how their data and devices are used.