Google took this week as an opportunity to beef up its social search, show up Apple on the digital subscription front, and release yet another version of Chrome. 

Google Social Search Integrates Twitter, Quora & Flickr

Internet users are relying more and more on location based services and peer recommendations than general search results. Accordingly, Google has updated its Social Search feature with three new levels of integration, including Twitter, Quora and Flickr.  

The first level mixes Social Search results with regular results based on their relevance (previously they were only displayed at the bottom). The second level includes notes for links people have shared on Twitter, Flickr, Quora, and other social sites. For example, if someone you’re connected to has publicly shared a video link for a super bowl ad on Twitter, that link may appear in your super bowl ad search results along with an annotation that is only visible to you when you're signed in. 

Lastly, users now have more control over connected accounts. You can still connect accounts publicly on your Google profile, but now there's an option to do so privately (in other words, without displaying your username). 

MPEG LA Prepares Attack on Google's Open Video Codec

Google aimed to create a completely free and open standard for HTML5 video last year when it open sourced VP8 under a royalty-free licence, but patent-licensing organization MPEG LA may have officially burst that bubble with the announcement of a call for patents that cover V8.

Most see MPEG LA's recent call for patents as a direct attack on Google, but a recent statement from a Google spokesperson claims the Internet giant refuses to be fazed:

MPEG LA has alluded to a VP8 pool since WebM launched… The web succeeds with open, community-developed innovation, and the WebM Project brings the same principles to web video. The vast majority of the industry supports free and open development, and we’re in the process of forming a broad coalition of hardware and software companies who commit to not assert any IP claims against WebM. We are firmly committed to the project and establishing an open codec for HTML5 video.

Even so, the company will likely face litigation if legitimate patent-holders decide to come forward. Further, Google's biggest competitors don't seem to be on the same page. Microsoft and Apple are both part of MPEG LA's H.264 patent pool, and both include H.264 in their respective browsers. With that in mind, how valid is Google's "vast majority" claim, really?

Google One Pass Financially Friendlier Than Apple's Digital Subscription Plan

Apple's digital subscription plan for apps was criticized for being too restrictive and pricey when it was announced earlier this week. What a nice window this provided Google, when one day later the company revealed its own publisher-friendly and inexpensive (by comparison) payment service.

Google One Pass provides online publishers with an avenue to sell digital content on the Web and via mobile applications using Google’s existing payment service, Google Checkout. Some highlights include:

  • New revenue stream
  • Purchase-once, view-anywhere functionality
  • Ability to give access to existing subscribers
  • Lightweight technology implementation
  • Business model flexibility (e.g., subscriptions, day passes, metered access, pay-per-article, multi-issue packages)

Many see this move as a direct hit to Apple's own master plan, including James L. McQuivey of Forrester Research. “This is purely a shot across Apple’s bow at a critical point in time,” he said. “That’s what the industry wants right now, to know there is an alternative to Apple and someone willing to talk about a more reasonable rate.”

Under Apple’s plan, the company will keep 30 percent of any sale of digital content within its App Store, and will own the subscriber information, like names and e-mail addresses.

Google Ramps Up Mobile Advertising Efforts, Launches Mobile Now! Initiative

Online advertising has been Google's main source of revenue, bringing in US$ 28 billion in its fiscal year, 2010. But given the increasing trend in smartphones and other such devices, Google will be ramping up efforts for profitable mobile advertising models.

The Internet giant's Mobile Now! advertising initiative operates under three core principles: 

  • Seamless: Designed to help marketers and developers extend the benefits of their desktop advertising to people on mobile devices, while effectively managing their campaigns and ad space across many channels.
  • Inclusive: Google's solution spans across search, text, display, video, commerce and more, on a wide variety of devices.
  • Made for mobile: Built to help marketers, developers and publishers take advantage of these mobile-specific characteristics such as location awareness and touch screens.

Google wants to emphasize a seamless delivery of content and advertising across all kinds of devices, including desktop computers, smartphones, tablets and the like. This will incorporate various mobile-related concepts, such as location awareness, click-to-call, click-to-buy, click-to-map and others.

"The power of constant connectivity on mobile is a thrilling new reality, and has already transformed the way people engage with information, businesses and certainly with each other," wrote Karim Temsamani, Global Head of Mobile on Google's official announcement. "We’re just now scratching the surface of what’s possible on mobile. This is an exciting time, and there’s much more to come." 

Chrome 10 (beta) & Chrome 11 (dev)

For as much as Google hates talking about Chrome releases, they sure do talk about them a lot. This week's beta release (v.10) includes improvement in JavaScript speed (66% improvement on the V8 benchmark suite over our current stable release), new password sync features, and revamped browser settings.

A preliminary implementation of GPU-accelerated video has also been added, lending users with capable graphics hardware a significant decrease in CPU usage (as much as 80 percent, in some cases). 

Finally, the look and feel of the settings interface has been reworked Instead of opening in a separate window, they now open in a tab. Further, two new settings fare available for customizing Chrome to your liking: "Firstly, if you can’t remember where a particular pesky configuration setting is, simply type its name into the search box to see the settings that match as you type. Secondly, you can also now jump directly to most settings pages using their own dedicated URLs, without needing to navigate through a sequence of windows," wrote Jeff Chang, Product Manager and Min Li Chan, Product Marketing Manager, on Google official announcement post.  

 

 

As far as Chrome 11 goes, Google isn't talking much (yet).  One feature we have heard of, however, is called "chromoting," which lets a Chrome browser remotely take over another machine over a network. Essentially, this means Chrome OS could remotely run some native software that wouldn't run on a Chrome OS machine.