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Google+ Launches Business-Savvy Social Networking Tools

Google Plus

Google on Wednesday got dressed up in its best suit and tie and grabbed its briefcase to head to work, rolling out new Google+ tools and features tailored for businesses that will be free through the end of 2013.

Google is no stranger to business-ready applications, having built up an impressive enterprise portfolio in recent years with its Gmail and Google Apps offerings.

“Every day, more companies are going Google. We’re excited to help them take advantage of modern, Web-based tools and give their employees new ways to connect and collaborate,” Google Apps product management director Clay Bavor said in a blog post.

All Google Apps users can get a sneak peek at the new features in full preview mode, a step up from Google’s beta testing format. Pilot customers, including Kaplan and Banshee Wines, have been testing the new site by engaging and connecting employees, according to Google. Early feedback is crucial for Google to tailor its new features to organizations, the company said.

Google+ for businesses is defined by three features that differentiate it from the consumer platform– private sharing, video integration, and administrative controls.

Google Apps users get more control over the content they post to Google+. There’s a new option to mark posts as restricted, which keeps them private within an organization and bars another user from re-sharing them with outsiders. Businesses can also share a message only with specific partners or colleagues outside of the organization as well.  Read More

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Google+ use skyrockets, says report

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Computerworld – Social network Google+, which turned a year old at the end of June, has seen its user base take a dramatic jump in the past six to seven months, according to comScore, an Internet traffic monitor.

According to comScore, total unique visitors to Google+ in the U.S. went from 15.2 million in November 2011 to 27.7 million in June of this year. That’s a jump of 82%.

Worldwide, Google+ visitors jumped from 66.7 million to 110.7 million in the same time period, marking a 66% increase, comScore reported.

“That’s impressive,” said Zeus Kerravala, an analyst with ZK Research. “I guess there is room for an alternative social networking vendor.”

Google Plus

Google’s social network had more good news earlier this month. The American Customer Satisfaction Index released a survey showing that while Facebook‘s user satisfaction rating dropped 8% over the last year, to 61 on a 100-point scale, Google+, making its first appearance in the survey, scored 78.

Kerravala noted that Facebook may be the world’s largest social network with more than 900 million global users, but the site has taken some major hits lately.  Read More

‘Big data’ from social media, elsewhere online take trend-watching to new level

From a trading desk in London, Paul Hawtin monitors the fire hose of more than 340 million Twitter posts flying around the world each day to try to assess the collective mood of the populace.

The computer program he is using generates a global sentiment score from 1 to 50 based on how pessimistic or optimistic people seem to be from their online conversations. Hawtin, chief executive of Derwent Capital Markets, buys and trades millions of dollars of stocks for private investors based on that number: When everyone appears happy, he generally buys. When anxiety runs high, he sells short.

Hawtin has seen a gain of more than 7 percent in the first quarter of this year, and his method shows the advantage individuals, companies and governments are gaining as they take hold of the unprecedented amount of data online. Traders such as Hawtin say analyzing mathematical trends on the Web delivers insights and news faster than traditional investment approaches.

The explosion in the use of Google,Facebook, Twitter and other services has resulted in the generation of some 2.5 quintillion bytes each day, according toIBM.

“Big data,” as it has been dubbed by researchers, has become so valuable that the World Economic Forum, in a report published last year, deemed it a new class of economic asset, like oil.  Read More

2 troubling examples of Google’s conflicts

Google is mightily testing the faith of its users.

In ways large and small, the Mountain View search giant is setting up conflicts of interest across its varied business lines that will prove increasingly difficult – if not sometimes impossible – to reconcile.

We saw two clear and troubling examples last week. On Wednesday, the company said it was integrating Zagat reviews into its social network and local search results, putting to use the popular business review publisher it purchased last fall. It’s the latest example of Google – once strictly a search engine designed to direct users to the best places to meet their needs – evolving into a content company in its own right.

The shift gives Google greater incentive to leverage its dominant search tool to steer consumers to its own products, not necessarily the most relevant ones. So will Yelp get a fair shake versus Zagat? Or will Hulu get equal billing with Google’s new YouTube programming?

On Thursday, we saw an even more ominous shift in behavior as the company announced plans to replace Google Product Search, a tool that allowed users to compare product prices at retailers across the Web, with a “purely commercial” service known as Google Shopping.

What that means is Google will now charge retailers to have their products listed in the service. Previously, the listings were cobbled together from free retailer feeds and other online sources.

Sameer Samat, vice president of product management for Google Shopping, said in a blog post that it’s been difficult for Google to deliver accurate, up-to-date product information without a “commercial relationship” with merchants.

“Higher-quality data – whether it’s accurate prices, the latest offers or product availability – should mean better shopping results for users,” Samat said.

But respected industry watcher Danny Sullivan, often a defender of Google’s practices, sounded an alarm about the shift. The editor in chief of the Search Engine Land blog said it was the latest example of the company defying what was once a core corporate principle: refusing to allow companies to buy search result rankings, known as paid inclusion.  Read More

Google’s Social Network Ascending

Google is the Goliath of the Internet — the information technology firm whose almost-prohibitive dominance of online life frequently leaves rivals gasping for breath.

When it comes to social media, however, the statistics tell a different story entirely. The company’s Google+ social network is seen by many Web savants as a poor man’s Facebook — a pale imitation of the real thing, with no big distinguishing features and a fraction of the user-base.

It’s a frustrating reality for a company so accustomed to online primacy, but it may be about to change.

On Wednesday came word that Google has begun leveraging its online dominance of other sectors to begin building Google+ into a more widely-used platform.

According to TalkingPointsMemo, Google recently unveiled Google+ Local, converting all of its Google Place listings into Google+ Local profiles. The move requires any company that wants to control its listing on Google Maps to take part in Google’s social network.

Google Maps, currently the Web’s most widely-used map service, has become an important avenue through which local businesses can reach new customers.

The decision to link map listings with Google+ profiles is seen by some tech analysts as a way of imbuing the social network with some of Google Maps’ ubiquity.

Google, however, has pitched the move as a leg up for businesses and the customers they serve. In a post on the company’s “Google and Your Business” blog, a Google executive explained, “With one listing, your business can now be found across Google search, maps, mobile and Google+, and your customers can easily recommend your business to their friends, or tell the world about it with a review.”  Read More

Google+ for Android adds beautiful layout, easier-to-start hangouts

Google+ for Android adds beautiful layout, easier-to-start hangouts

Google has updated its Google+ app for Android with beautiful new flourishes and the ability to start a video chat Hangout on the go, the company announced today.

The app update makes a lot of sense in light of Google+’s new photo-centric iPhone app and the service’s focus on wanting to be the next Flickr. Google clearly knows it can’t win directly competing against Facebook on status updates so it will try to get people to use Google+ for other things, namely video chat Hangouts and photo-sharing.

My favorite feature of the bunch is Hangouts and that feature has been nicely updated today by letting you start hangouts directly from your phone. Before, you could attend Hangouts in progress but could not create new ones from your phone. To try it out, tap “Hangout” in the navigation ribbon, add a few folks, and tap “Start.”

As for the layout, there is now full-screen media in your river, conversations that fade in, and the ability to +1 content instantly.  Read More

New Google+ iPhone App Looks So Good, You’ll Wish You Actually Used Google+

The Google+ iPhone app received a major facelift on Wednesday. Image: Screenshot/Christina Bonnington

Google rolled out an update to its Google+ iPhone app Wednesday — and the revamped, redesigned app looks so stunning, you may begin wishing the social network itself wasn’t such a ghost town. Instead of a shrunken-down version of the Google+ website, the app now has an identity of its own, and it’s about time.

Google refreshed the web interface of Google+ with a focus on the “widgetization of social” in April. But rather than taking this approach in the mobile space, the iOS app focuses on sleek, elegant design and usability. Google did not update the Android version of the app — it’ll get its turn in a few weeks and will include a few “extra surprises,” according to Google.

After logging into your account, the app brings you to your Stream, which is now dominated by grays, gradients, and large iPhone-wide graphics. Your posting text, laid on top of the upper portion of its corresponding image, is cut off after two lines. This keeps your focus on imagery, but you can click into a post for its full text, associated comments, and any link that may be attached.

Adding a post to Google+ is very straightforward.

At the bottom of each photo on your Google+ Stream, you can easily tap to +1 a post, or add a comment to it.

At the top of your Stream, a drop-down menu allows you to filter your Stream based on the circles you’ve created. There’s also a pencil icon at the top — click it to post content. When sharing something on the Google+ app, a simple menuing system helps you easily add text, choose which circles of contacts you want to share with, add a location, or add a photo from your camera roll, or from the camera app itself.  Read More

Google: Here’s What Our Sci-Fi Glasses Look Like

We’re more than a quarter of the way through 2012, and as you may have noticed, we have failed to acquire silver jumpsuits or jetpacks. In fact, aside from that headset in your ear, smartphone in your pocket and tablet in your purse, everything is looking quite boringly un-futuristic.

But if Google has its way, we will start wearing some very science fiction-like glasses by year’s end.

The search giant’s research arm launched a Google+ page Wednesday for Project Glass, its augmented reality glasses project. The page revealed that Google researchers have started testing the glasses, with an Android-run heads-up display, that the New York Times suggested Google will start to sell this year for roughly the cost of a regular smartphone.

[Update: a Google spokesperson has indicated to Mashable that the company selling the glasses this year would be “extremely unlikely.”]  Read More

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