Posts tagged Google

Google lowers search ranking of websites that don’t use encryption

The move is intended to promote better security practices across the Web

Websites that aren’t encrypting connections with their visitors may get a lower ranking on Google’s search engine, a step the company said it is taking to promote better online security practices.

The move is designed to spur developers to implement TLS (Transport Layer Security), which uses a digital certificate to encrypt traffic, signified by a padlock in most browsers and “https” at the beginning of a URL.

As Google scans Web pages, it takes into account certain attributes, such as whether a Web page has unique content, to determine where it will appear in search rankings. It has added the use of https into those signals, although it will be a “lightweight” one and applies to about 1 percent of search queries now, wrote Zineb Ait BahajjiA andA Gary Illyes, both Google webmaster trends analysts, in a blog post.

All reputable websites use encryption when a person submits their login credentials, but some websites downgrade the connection to an unencrypted one. That means content is susceptible to a so-called man-in-the-middle attack. Content that is not encrypted could be read.

Rolling out https is fairly straightforward for small websites but can be complex for large organizations that run lots of servers, with challenges such as increased latency, support issues with content delivery networks and scaling issues.

LinkedIn said in June it was still upgrading its entire network to https after Zimperium, a security company, found it was possible in some cases to hijack a person’s account. People using LinkedIn in some regions are flipped to an unencrypted connection after they log in, making it possible for a hacker to collect their authentication credentials.

Facebook’s Instagram was found to have the same problem last month. Instagram’s API (application programming interface) makes unencrypted requests to some parts of its network, which could allow a hacker on the same Wi-Fi network to steal a “session cookie,” a data file that reminds Instagram a person has logged in but which grants access to an account.


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15 great apps for Android Wear

All Android Wear apps are not created equal. Here are 15 standout selections that actually add value to the smartwatch form.

Expand your Android Wear horizons
Google’s Android Wear platform is pretty powerful out of the box — but with the right set of apps, it can be made even more useful.

Any Android app can actually interact with a Wear watch via its regular notifications. Certain apps, however, take things a step further with advanced features and special interfaces.

Of course, just because an app works on a watch doesn’t mean it’s worth using. Wear apps shouldn’t merely be watered-down versions of what we have on our phones; they should provide meaningful value specific to the smartwatch form — in a way that actually makes sense for a wrist-based device.

These 15 apps accomplish that, and they’re well worth giving a whirl.

Wear Unlock for Android Wear
This app is one you’ll probably never open once you have set it up — but its presence will benefit you almost every day.

Wear Unlock ($1.99) turns your smartwatch into a wireless key for your phone: Whenever your watch is present and paired, your phone won’t prompt you for a PIN or password. When your watch isn’t actively connected, your phone will automatically lock itself and enable a security prompt.

That type of function is available natively in the Moto X — and will be built into Android itself starting with this fall’s “L” release — but Wear Unlock makes it work with any phone today.

Wear Unlock for Android Wear
This app is one you’ll probably never open once you have set it up — but its presence will benefit you almost every day.

Wear Unlock ($1.99) turns your smartwatch into a wireless key for your phone: Whenever your watch is present and paired, your phone won’t prompt you for a PIN or password. When your watch isn’t actively connected, your phone will automatically lock itself and enable a security prompt.

That type of function is available natively in the Moto X — and will be built into Android itself starting with this fall’s “L” release — but Wear Unlock makes it work with any phone today.

Wear Aware – Phone Finder
Your Android Wear watch is always on your wrist — and that means it can help make sure you never leave your phone behind.

Wear Aware (free) runs in the background on both devices and buzzes your watch anytime your phone moves out of range. That way, if you set the phone down and walk out of a room, you’ll figure it out before you get too far.

The app also allows you to manually page your phone from your watch so you can easily find it when it’s out of sight (like those times when it’s magically hidden between your couch cushions).

IFTTT
No single Android Wear app offers more possibilities than IFTTT. The app — which stands for “If This, Then That” — connects to the cloud-based service of the same name.

IFTTT (free) allows you to configure and run all sorts of recipes that bring together different types of Web-driven actions. You can use it to set the temperature on a Nest thermostat, for example, or to activate an appliance connected to a Belkin WeMo switch. You can even use it to trigger a fake call to your phone, if you’re ever desperate for an excuse.

Anyone can create and contribute new recipes, and the list of available options grows with each passing week.

PixtoCam for Android Wear
Google’s native Android Camera app has built-in Wear functionality: When you open the app on your phone, a card appears on your watch with a simple button to activate the shutter remotely.

Handy, sure, but that’s just scratching the surface of the ways Wear can interact with your phone’s camera. An app called PixtoCam ($1.99) actually lets you see through your phone’s lens anytime you open it on your watch. You can remotely snap photos or capture videos and even control the camera’s zoom and flash from your wrist.

The app’s interface isn’t great — but if you’re willing to put up with that, its functionality is fantastic.

Allthecooks Recipes
Allthecooks (free) is a prime example of how an app can adapt sensibly to the smartwatch form. The way it works is simple: You open the app on your phone and find a recipe you want to attempt.

Once you make a selection, the recipe automatically shows up as a card on your watch. You tap it to bring up step-by-step instructions formatted to fit the small screen. Each step is on a single card, and you swipe horizontally to move from one to the next.

That keeps your hands free while you’re cooking and allows you to glance down at your wrist for all the info you need — and that, my friends, is what a smartwatch is all about.

RunKeeper – GPS Track Run Walk
RunKeeper (free) makes excellent use of the smartwatch form. The app is designed to track your walks, runs and bike rides while providing detailed ongoing info about your progress.

Anytime you start a new activity, RunKeeper places a card on your watch that lets you view your current time, total miles traveled and miles per minute. You can pause or stop the activity by using on-screen buttons or by tapping a microphone icon and saying “pause” or “stop.” When you’re finished, RunKeeper gives you a summary card that shows all of your stats, including totals for the aforementioned measurements as well as the number of calories burned.

An optional $9.99/month subscription offers features like long-term statistics.

Golfshot: Golf GPS

Golfshot (free) turns your Android Wear watch into an intelligent guide for all your golfing adventures. You simply tell the app what course you’re playing on and it puts pertinent info on your watch’s display as you go.

Cards from Golfshot show you the distance from your current location to each hole, along with stats like the par and handicap for every stop along the way. You can also get the distance to the course’s hazards in order to keep track of upcoming obstacles.

An optional $4.99/month subscription enables enhanced features like 3D flyovers and personalized recommendations.

EchoWear Song Search
Google’s ability to identify a song on demand is an awesome feature for music fans — and with a screen on your wrist, it’s easier than ever to access that information.

Install EchoWear Song Search (free) on your Android Wear device and the next time a song that you don’t know is playing, tell your watch to “Start Echo Search.” The app will listen to the tune through the watch’s mic and then present you with a card showing the artist and track title.

Wear Mini Launcher
In theory, Android Wear is designed to revolve around voice commands and contextual information — but in reality, there are also times you’ll want to manually open an app or adjust your watch’s settings. The current version of the software doesn’t make those tasks easy.

That’s where a utility called Wear Mini Launcher comes in handy. Wear Mini Launcher (free) adds a hidden drawer that appears anytime you swipe over from the left side of your watch’s home screen. The drawer gives you quick access to all of your apps as well as tools to adjust the watch’s brightness, view the battery level of your watch and your phone, and remotely toggle things like your phone’s Wi-Fi and volume settings.

@here for Android Wear
Ever find yourself in an unfamiliar area and attempting to tell someone where you are? An app called @here (free) can help.

The app does all the work for you: When you’re in a new location, @here will place a card on your Wear watch showing your current address on a map. You can swipe sideways to see the name of the neighborhood and to get a closer view of the streets around you.

If you’d rather not get location cards automatically, you can also opt to have @here appear only when you explicitly ask for its assistance.

Emergency Alert for Wear
Emergency Alert (free) is an app you probably won’t need often — but one that might be worth keeping around just in case.

The app allows you to set a predefined emergency contact and message. You can then speak the command “Start Emergency Alert” into your watch to have the message delivered via SMS along with an interactive map of your location. (The app does require a single on-screen tap for confirmation to make sure you don’t trigger an alert by mistake.)

Of course, the app doesn’t have to be used only for emergencies; you could also employ it as a tool for quickly sharing your location with a specific friend or loved one to make it easier to meet.

Lyft
Next time you need a ride, try speaking into your wrist. Lyft (free) lets you request a pickup via Wear with an easy-to-remember voice command: “Call me a car.”

Once a driver’s en route, the app delivers card-based updates to your watch that show you the vehicle’s estimated arrival time along with the option to cancel.

Lyft isn’t available everywhere, but if you’re in one of the places where the service is provided, its Wear integration delivers a top-notch — and thus far unmatched — experience.

Fly Delta
Flying the friendly skies? Grab the official Fly Delta app (free), and you’ll automatically get useful info on your Android Wear watch when you need it.

Delta’s app delivers nicely formatted updates about your itinerary along with mobile boarding pass barcodes so you never have to whip out your phone or physical documents. Its updates start appearing as cards as soon as you’re checked in.

(The American Airlines app (free) also provides similar functionality.)

1Weather: Widget Forecast Radar
Android Wear has its own native weather cards, but you can step things up a notch with the aid of 1Weather (free — an optional $1.99 upgrade removes ads).

The app’s main card shows you the current conditions for your area or any other area you select. Swiping over once gives you a glimpse at what’s ahead for the rest of the day — broken down into segments like “morning,” “noon,” “evening” and “night” — while swiping over a second time lets you look ahead at the four-day forecast.

Baby Time: Android Wear Lock
If you spend any time holding a small child, this app might be just what the doctor ordered.

Baby Time (free) offers an easy way to baby-proof your Android Wear watch: Just issue the voice command “Run Baby Time,” and your screen will go dim and stop responding to taps and basic swipes. To get the watch back in its normal mode, you’ll have to swipe up twice and then down twice — something even the most advanced infant is unlikely to do.

JR Raphael is a Computerworld contributing editor and the author of the Android Power blog. For more Android tips and insights, follow him on Google+ or Twitter.


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Google-Car

Quick look: Google’s self driving car

Google’s sensors avoid trouble, even when other drivers try to distract the cars

Google’s self-driving car technology likely will not be available for several more years – think 2017 or beyond. Recently the company took a number of reporters on little rides to show off what the car’s technology can do now. Here’s a look at the picture profile Reuters shot at the event.

A Google self-driving vehicle drives around the parking lot at the Computer History Museum after a presentation in Mountain View, Calif.

A look at the sensing/camera device on the roof of the Google Lexus RX 450h car.

A closer look at the roof mounted sensor because of the roof-mounted laser sensor which spins 10 times a second, gathering a 360-degree view of the car’s surroundings.

Another sensor mounted on a Google self-driving vehicle. According to a Reuters story: Other drivers who spot the self-driving car often swerve in front of it and tap on their brakes, hoping to gauge the Google car’s reaction, according to the two Google staffers in the car’s front seats. Another favorite involves car drivers waving their hands in the air, in an attempt to get the Google driver-seat staff member to take his or her own hands off the wheel and prove the car is really steering itself. “We just laugh at them,” said one of the Google staff members in the car.

Google’s cars have never “caused” an accident in self-driving mode, although they have been involved in a few fender benders, such as an incident in which a Google car stopped at a red light got rear-ended, Chris Urmson (pictured here], the head of Google’s self-driving car project told Reuters.

A screen displays views from various onboard sensors in a Google self-driving vehicle.

Picture given out by the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles shows a Google self-driven car in Las Vegas, May 1, 2012. Nevada’s Department of Motor Vehicles approved the nation’s first autonomous vehicle license in 2012.

A video look at Google’s car and report on Computer History Museum’s new driverless car exhibit.

Google of course isn’t the only company interested in driverless cars. Here we take a look at Ford, MIT and Stanford efforts.


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Exclusive: Google may offer Wi-Fi for cities with its Google Fiber

Cities getting gigabit-speed fiber Internet could also gain Wi-Fi networks

Google is considering deploying Wi-Fi networks in towns and cities covered by its Google Fiber high-speed Internet service.

The disclosure is made in a document Google is circulating to 34 cities that are the next candidates to receive Google Fiber in 2015.

Specific details of the Wi-Fi plan are not included in the document, which was seen by IDG News Service, but Google says it will be “discussing our Wi-Fi plans and related requirements with your city as we move forward with your city during this planning process.”

If the plan goes ahead, it would be a further step by Google toward competition with traditional telecom carriers. For citizens of the cities involved, it could mean increased reliance on services by the dominant Internet company.

Google declined to answer specific questions about the plans but in an emailed statement said, “We’d love to be able to bring Wi-Fi access to all of our Fiber cities, but we don’t have any specific plans to announce right now.”

Google Fiber is already available in Provo, Utah, and Kansas City, and is promised soon in Austin, Texas. It delivers a “basic speed” service for no charge, a gigabit-per-second service for US$70 per month and a $120 package that includes a bundle of more than 200 TV channels. Installation costs between nothing and $300.

Google has sent the 34 cities that are next in line for Google Fiber a detailed request for information and they have until May 1 to reply.

It asks for a list of all the addresses in each city and a description of building types, and requests numerous geospatial data files containing information on streets, boundaries, rights of way, manholes, utility poles, zoning types and the condition of pavement across the city.

Google is also asking cities to identify locations it would be able to install utility huts. Each 12-foot-by-30-foot (3.6-meter-by-9.1-meter) windowless hut needs to allow 24-hour access and be on land Google could lease for about 20 years.

The huts, of which there will be between one and a handful in each city, would house the main networking equipment. From the hut, fiber cables would run along utility poles — or in underground fiber ducts if they exist — and terminate at neighborhood boxes, each serving up to 288 or 587 homes.

The neighborhood boxes are around the same size or smaller than current utility cabinets often found on city streets.

Once each municipality has sent the information to Google, the Mountain View company said it will conduct a detailed study.

“This process will take some time, but we hope to have updates on which cities will get Fiber by the end of the year,” the company says in the document.


 

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Chromebooks’ success punches Microsoft in the gut

Chromebooks’ success punches Microsoft in the gut
Amazon, NPD Group trumpet sales of the bare-bones laptops in 2013 to consumers and businesses
Chromebooks had a very good year, according to retailer Amazon.com and industry analysts.

And that’s bad news for Microsoft.

The pared-down laptops powered by Google’s browser-based Chrome OS have surfaced this year as a threat to “Wintel,” the Microsoft-Intel oligarchy that has dominated the personal-computer space for decades with Windows machines.

On Thursday, Amazon.com called out a pair of Chromebooks — one from Samsung, the other from Acer — as two of the three best-selling notebooks during the U.S. holiday season. The third: Asus’ Transformer Book, a Windows 8.1 “2-in-1″ device that transforms from a 10.1-in. tablet to a keyboard-equipped laptop.

As of late Thursday, the trio retained their lock on the top three places on Amazon’s best-selling-laptop list in the order of Acer, Samsung and Asus. Another Acer Chromebook, one that sports 32GB of on-board storage space — double the 16GB of Acer’s lower-priced model — held the No. 7 spot on the retailer’s top 10.

Chromebooks’ holiday success at Amazon was duplicated elsewhere during the year, according to the NPD Group, which tracked U.S. PC sales to commercial buyers such as businesses, schools, government and other organizations.

By NPD’s tallies, Chromebooks accounted for 21% of all U.S. commercial notebook sales in 2013 through November, and 10% of all computers and tablets. Both shares were up massively from 2012; last year, Chromebooks accounted for an almost-invisible two-tenths of one percent of all computer and tablet sales.

Stephen Baker of NPD pointed out what others had said previously: Chromebooks have capitalized on Microsoft’s stumble with Windows 8. “Tepid Windows PC sales allowed brands with a focus on alternative form factors or operating systems, like Apple and Samsung, to capture significant share of a market traditionally dominated by Windows devices,” Baker said in a Monday statement.

Part of the attraction of Chromebooks is their low prices: The systems forgo high-resolution displays, rely on inexpensive graphics chipsets, include paltry amounts of RAM — often just 2GB — and get by with little local storage. And their operating system, Chrome OS, doesn’t cost computer makers a dime.

The 11.6-in. Acer C720 Chromebook, first on Amazon’s top-10 list Thursday, costs $199, while the Samsung Chromebook, at No. 2, runs $243. Amazon prices Acer’s 720P Chromebook, No. 7 on the chart, at $300.

The prices were significantly lower than those for the Windows notebooks on the retailer’s bestseller list. The average price of the seven Windows-powered laptops on Amazon’s top 10 was $359, while the median was $349. Meanwhile, the average price of the three Chromebooks was $247 and the median was $243, representing savings of 31% and 29%, respectively.

In many ways, Chromebooks are the successors to “netbooks,” the cheap, lightweight and underpowered Windows laptops that stormed into the market in 2007, peaked in 2009 as they captured about 20% of the portable PC market, then fell by the wayside in 2010 and 2011 as tablets assumed their roles and full-fledged notebooks closed in on netbook prices.

Chromebooks increasingly threaten Windows’ place in the personal computer market, particularly the laptop side, whose sales dominate those of the even older desktop form factor. Stalwart Microsoft partners, including Lenovo, Hewlett-Packard and Dell, have all dipped toes into the Chromebook waters, for example.

“OEMs can’t sit back and depend on Wintel anymore,” said Baker in an interview earlier this month.

Microsoft has been concerned enough with Chromebooks’ popularity to target the devices with attack ads in its ongoing “Scroogled” campaign, arguing that they are not legitimate laptops.

Those ads are really Microsoft’s only possible response to Chromebooks, since the Redmond, Wash. company cannot do to them what it did to netbooks.

Although the first wave of netbooks were powered by Linux, Microsoft quickly shoved the open-source OS aside by extending the sales lifespan of Windows XP, then created deliberately-crippled and lower-priced “Starter” editions of Vista and Windows 7 to keep OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) on the Windows train.

But Microsoft has no browser-based OS to show Chromebook OEMs, and has no light-footprint operating system suitable for basement-priced laptops except for Windows RT, which is unsuitable for non-touch screens. And unlike Google, Microsoft can hardly afford to give away Windows.

But Microsoft’s biggest problem isn’t Chrome OS and the Chromebooks its ads have belittled: It’s tablets. Neither Microsoft or its web of partners have found much success in that market.

Baker’s data on commercial sales illustrated that better than a busload of analysts. While Windows notebooks accounted for 34% of all personal computers and tablets sold to commercial buyers in the first 11 months of 2013, that represented a 20% decline from 2012. During the same period, tablets’ share climbed by one-fifth to 27%, with Apple’s iPad accounting for the majority of the tablets.

“The market for personal computing devices in commercial markets continues to shift and change, said Baker. “It is no accident that we are seeing the fruits of this change in the commercial markets as business and institutional buyers exploit the flexibility inherent in the new range of choices now open to them.”

But when you’re at the top of the personal computing device heap — as Microsoft was as recently as 2011 — words like “change” and “choice” are not welcome. From the mountaintop, the only way is down.


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Google creates network for tech startups

Network of support starts in seven North American cities

Google announced today it is building a network for tech entrepreneurs in seven North American cities.

The venture, dubbed Google for Entrepreneurs Tech Hub Network, is focused on connecting emerging local tech companies and leaders with each other, as well as with resources at Google.

The company is partnering with tech hubs in Chicago, Denver; Detroit, Durham, N.C., Minneapolis, Nashville and Waterloo, Ontario.

“Through our work in more than 100 countries, we’ve been incredibly impressed with the catalyzing impact that tech hubs have had: helping startups grow, and creating jobs in local communities in the process,” wrote John Lyman, head of partnerships for Google for Entrepreneurs, in a blog post. “We’re partnering to create a strong network, providing each hub with financial support alongside access to Google technology, platforms and mentors, and ensuring that entrepreneurs at these hubs have access to an even larger network of startups.”

The hubs, he said, offer a new approach to starting a successful new business.

“We’re excited to exchange ideas and connect hubs with each other and with Google to have an even bigger economic impact on local communities,” Lyman added.


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Hottest Android news and rumors for week ending Jan. 18

All quiet on the Galaxy S IV front, but plenty going on elsewhere.After a CES week during which the Android world was all a-twitter over a device that wasn’t even revealed at the show, the previously hyperactive Galaxy S IV rumor mill has quieted down, mostly. It’s likely to only be a momentary respite, however, as the device is heavily tipped to be released at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona next month.

MORE OFFBEAT: The dumbest products of CES 2013

Perhaps the biggest news on the most hotly anticipated Android device so far in 2013 is that an ostensible screenshot of mobile benchmarking results has been published by a Japanese-language blog), which points out that the 1.8GHz CPU speed matches up with Samsung’s Exynos 5 Octa eight-core SoC. (More on the Octa later.)

Given the source, it’s important to remember that this should be taken with many grains of salt – even the inclusion of the point about the Exynos 5 Octa could easily be read as a little too circumstantially convenient. (Like Manti Te’o confessing to Lance Armstrong on Oprah or something.)

Still, I can’t deny that the pairing of Samsung’s two biggest headline grabbing topics makes sense. We’ll see what happens (probably) at MWC at the end of February.

Speaking of the Exynos 5 Octa, Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs is unsurprisingly not a fan, according to a report from Unwired View. Essentially, he told reporters in China yesterday, Samsung is just covering for the fact that the four high-performance Cortex-A15 cores drain a ton of power by jamming four slower but less demanding Cortex-A7s into the SoC alongside them, and attempting to reap a publicity windfall by boasting about their eight-core processor.

While Jacobs is correct in noting that all eight of the Octa’s cores won’t operate at the same time, I’m not sure why he’s saying this means the SoC is going to suck. OK, so it’s not a “true” eight-core SoC, but the idea of using the low-power cores for light work and switching to the A15s for more serious tasks still makes sense, and could well back up Samsung’s claims of improved battery life and better performance. Seems like fairly ineffectual spin to me.

The Nexus 4 official wireless charger has appeared on the site of Norwegian store Dustin Home, providing a slick pad on which to charge the Nexus 4 that you still probably don’t have. Presumably, this means that it’ll become available soon in the U.S., but this is a product release story involving the phrase “Nexus 4,” so who really knows?

(Hat tip: Android Central)
But wait! The Nexus 4’s availability problems will soon be a thing of the past, according to an LG executive who spoke to Challenges.fr Wednesday. LG France director of mobile communication Cathy Robin says production of the Nexus 4 is due to increase by mid-February, which could ease the supply crunch. As of this writing, both the 8GB and 16GB models are still sold out on the Play Store.

(Hat tip: r/Android)
Android Police has what it says is an internal Sprint document, which asserts that the company plans to offer a $400 device credit to new family plan customers who port at least one line in from a competitor. The deal’s supposedly set to roll out tomorrow, so you don’t have long to wait, if you’re interested.

All quiet on the Galaxy S IV front, but plenty going on elsewhere.


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Google Is Trying to Fix Its Targeted Ad Attitude Problem

Yesterday the company announced a new feature that not only informs users why targeted ads appear but also provides a little ammo to detonate an unsavory targeted ad. “You can also go to the Ads Preferences Manager to make changes that improve the ads that you’re seeing, including blocking specific advertisers you’re not interested in or turning off ads personalization entirely (of course, you can change your mind at any time),” explains Susan Wojcicki, SVP, Advertising on The Official Google Blog. Being “targeted,” these ads are kind of like mind-readers, showing what Google thinks we would want. “We try really hard to show you ads that are relevant,” explains lead software engineer, Diane Tang in Google’s promotional video. Sometimes, though, Google’s robots don’t quite get it right; certain targeted ads feel creepy and can even venture into hurtful territory. But now, Google’s giving the user a little revenge power, allowing users to delete certain targeted ads. Unfortunately, while the process provides a little catharsis, it doesn’t keep other, similar annoying ads from popping up.

 

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Related: Do We Lie to Google?
If a user sees an add that doesn’t sit well with them, clicking the “Why this ad?” link in the ad will give a pseudo explanation of why you got the ad: it can be based on search, a combination of search terms, Web history, or the contents of the e-mail or inbox, for Gmail-related ads.

Related: Why Are the Major Networks Afraid of Google TV?
Related: Mixed Buzz Over Google Buzz
The explanations aren’t too satisfying, as you can see above. But, Google also gives the option to block certain advertisers from showing up, in the Ads Preferences Manager. It will show recent ads that came up on Google search or G-mail, there you can block away the annoying advertisement forever — unless for some reason you change your mind.
Related: Five Tips for Larry Page, Google’s New CEO

Related: Facebook and Google Join Forces to Oppose Privacy Bill
The problem with this, is that it doesn’t change the way Google picks ads. It will still rely on the same algorithm that reads Gmail and remembers Web history, which wouldn’t work for some, like an anonymous friend of The Atlantic’s Rebecca Rosen. Said friend didn’t appreciate Google’s “Save Your Relationship” and “Is He Lying?” ads after a bad break-up with her boyfriend. “This snarky little message in my face really pissed me off!,” the friend told Rosen. And simply blocking the ad wouldn’t really make this problem go away, because another related ad would pop up, too.
The only refuge Google offers is to entirely opt-out of personalized ads completely. But that makes everything spammier. Those who opt in for personalized ads get 10 percent fewer ads than those who receive random advertisements, according to Google. These people are also more likely to click, which is why Google prefers the personalization. But for the recently separated, more unrelated ads might be less harsh than a stream of heartbreak.

Privacy a concern as Google+ links with Google’s other sites

Users must be alert about having their real identity from Google+ replace pseudonyms in other Google services

Google’s work to integrate its Google+ social networking site broadly with its other services could raise red flags for users who want to closely guard their privacy.

 


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Google wants Google+ to be more than a stand-alone social network. It envisions Google+ integrating with most, maybe all, of its Web applications and sites to provide social sharing capabilities and possibly a uniform online identity.

[ Also on InfoWorld: Google+ poised for push into the enterprise. | And check out the slideshow: 10 ways to enhance Google+ | [ Stay ahead of the key tech business news with InfoWorld's Today's Headlines: First Look newsletter. ]

But there is a crucial difference between Google+ and other company services like Gmail, whose users have long been able to use pseudonyms to protect their privacy, if they wish. Google+ currently requires all members to use their real names — a policy on which it has said it will bend, but not how or when.

There may be a risk that people who use their real name in Google+ but use pseudonyms in other Google services may inadvertently expose their real identity by linking Google+ with those services.

Already there are glimpses of how Google+ integrations are altering identity elsewhere on Google. For example, Google has set up a tight integration between Google+ and its Picasa Web photo management service.

For starters, users have to agree to integrate their existing Picasa Web account with Google+ in order to join Google+. If they do so, the displayed user name on Picasa Web accounts becomes the real name used in Google+, replacing the one being used before if different. (The access settings for photos and albums remain the same as prior to the integration, according to Google.)

Without the Google+ integration, Picasa Web users retain the option of using a pseudonym. However, they then can’t have a Google+ account.

Asked for comment, a Google spokesman said via e-mail: “We designed Google+ with privacy in mind, including a number of features that offer users control over what and how they share. We’re always working to provide users with transparency and choice. We’ll continue to do so as we release new features and updates for our products.”

Currently, most Google consumer online services and applications are grouped under a master umbrella account, called a Google Account. It offers individual accounts for Gmail, Docs, YouTube, Calendar, Blogger, Voice, Groups, Reader, and many others.

At this point, Google Account holders can tailor the user name displayed in some of those individual services. For example, one user can have a name shown on his Gmail messages, a different one for his YouTube account and another for a blog published on Blogger. Those names can be pseudonyms.

It’s not clear if options for having different names within a single umbrella Google Account will be maintained as Google pushes forward with the integration of Google+ and other Google services.

Of course, a way to be on Google+ but avoid dealing with its current and future integrations in Google services is to set up a separate Google Account just for it.

Google+ Tips: 4 Tools to Boost Your Social Networking Experience

Getting the hang of Google+ and looking for more? Check out these four Google+ tools that let you easily upload photos in bulk, find new people to follow, translate posts and more.

 

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CIO — While rumors continue to swirl about when the Google+ API will be released to developers, that’s not stopping some people from getting in on the Google+ action.

Whether you’re just starting out on Google+ or consider yourself an advanced user, more and more Google+ enhancements and add-ons are popping up across the Web.

Here’s a look at four new ones that do everything from streamlining bulk photo-uploading to helping you increase your network reach.

1. Google+ Photo Importer for iPhone
If you store your photos on multiple sites such as Facebook, Flickr, Instagram or Photobucket, there’s a new download available in the Apple App Store that lets you upload 100 photos in less than a minute to your Google+ account. This tool is especially handy if you plan on shifting your social networking focus to Google+.

The Google Plus Photo Importer by Dropico costs 99 cents, and while uploads I tested generally took longer than the advertised 60 seconds, it was still impressively fast.

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2. Find People on Google+
Looking for more connections on Google+? While its own search feature only lets you find people by name, you can dig a bit deeper to find groups of people with certain characteristics at FindPeopleOnPlus.

Here, you can not only search for people by name, but you can also search by profession, location, relationship status, gender, education, employer, occupation and more, which makes growing your network and tailoring it to your needs a lot easier.

You can also choose to add yourself to its directory. This will keep your FindPeopleOnPlus profile updated and in-synch with your Google+ profile.

3. PlusClout
Akin to Klout.com, a site that measures your social media influence, PlusClout measures the influence a user has on Google+ and rates it from 0 to 100.

When you visit the site, PlusClout will ask you to insert your Google+ ID in order to generate your score. Your ID is the string of numbers that appear in the URL of your profile page.

PlusClout says that while its formula is still evolving, right now it calculates your number based on 15 million public Google+ profiles and items shared, such as posts, comments, +1s, the number of followers you have and the frequency and volume of information sharing.

You can also browse people with the highest PlusClout in categories such as bloggers, designers, entrepreneurs and the most-followed users on Google+. Click on any of these names and you will see their current PlusClout score, a graph of their score over the last five days, and websites associated with that person.
4. Google Translate for Google+

If you want to connect with people from around the world but find that language is a barrier, this is a must-download Google Chrome extension.

Google Translate for Google+ is a powerful tool that inserts a button into your Google+ streams, letting you quickly interpret a chunk of foreign text.

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