Thursday, January 28th marks International Data Privacy Day. We're recognizing this day by publicly publishing our guiding Privacy Principles. Use information to provide our users with valuable products and services.
Develop products that reflect strong privacy standards and practices. Make the collection of personal information transparent. Give users meaningful choices to protect their privacy. Be a responsible steward of the information we hold. We've always operated with these principles in mind. Now, we're just putting them in writing so you have a better understanding of how we think about these issues from a product perspective.
Like our design and software guidelines, these privacy principles are designed to guide the decisions we make when we create new technologies. They are one of the key reasons our engineers have worked on new privacy-enhancing initiatives and features like the Google Dashboard, the Ads Preferences Manager and the Data Liberation Front. And there is more in store for 2010. You can find out more about our efforts at the Google Privacy Center and on our YouTube channel.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's promised speech on Internet freedom took place last morning. Clinton called for China to "conduct a thorough review of the cyber intrusions" that Google implied were conducted by Chinese government against human rights activists.
A small background: In response to the cyber attacks, Google said that it may shut down Google.cn and its Chinese offices if it can't strike a deal with the Chinese government to run an uncensored search engine. The circumstances might also threaten Google Android's place in China's cell phone market. China is already censoring the news reports about the Google situation within its borders.
Its representatives have said that it doesn't need the conflict between it and Google to be "over interpreted," and that this incident shouldn't affect its relationship with the United States. Hillary Clinton does not agree. "Countries or individuals that engage in cyber attacks should face consequences and international condemnation," she said.
Clinton's speech also addressed some other issues, (indirectly) including Iran's decision to censor Twitter and Facebook in the wake of the country's election crisis. She announced that the United States will spend more million dollars on initiatives to protect Internet freedom around the world.
Google's been investing heavily in its future over the past quarter, both in the form of main acquisitions and new product launches. Today, the company is out with its recent earnings report, with the results indicating that the economy may indeed be recovering, and the company's CEO Eric Schmidt painting a bullish picture on Google's future prospects.
Here are some of the highlights: Google's income for the quarter jumped 17% year-over-year to $6.67 billion. Google grew its cash position to $24.5 billion - up from the $22 billion it reported previous quarter. Google's headcount increased slightly during the quarter to nearly 20,000 employees in worldwide. That's significant given the company was forced to create the first cutbacks in its history during the worst of the economic downturn.
As for the 2010, Eric Schmidt offered the following statement: "We remain hugely optimistic about the Internet and are continuing to invest heavily in technological innovation for the benefit not only of our users and customers, but also the wider web." With $24 billion in cash, expect those investments to include more acquisitions, as well as further spending on huge projects including handsets, the Chrome OS and even potentially tablet computers. Wall Street doesn't seem to be sharing Schmidt's optimism, however, in the instant aftermath of the numbers - shares of Google are trading down about $30/share after hours, or about 5%.
Google has released new, higher-resolution satellite images of the Port-au-Prince area of Haiti that was devastated by a magnitude 7.0 earthquake on January 12. The new impressively detailed photos were taken on Sunday, January 17 and have resolution of around six inches, according to Google. You can see the full set of images in Google Maps in the Satellite mode.
Last week, Google and GeoEye released a set of satellite images of Haiti taken on January 13, just a day after the earthquake, along with earlier images of the area from 2008. Google is working to create the new imagery available as a layer in Google Earth as well. An updated Haiti earthquake layer for Google Earth is presently available with images from multiple sources as well as maps, including earthquake epicenters.
YouTube will begin live-streaming Indian Premier League cricket matches from 12th March. It's possible that the matches will be viewable in countries like the United States that don't presently have a place to watch IPL matches on traditional TV.
YouTube has been a destination for both the lPL (Indian Premier League) and live streaming before, just not at the same time. It streamed U2's Rose Bowl concert to ten million viewers across seven continents last year, and there's an IPL cricket channel that shows pre-recorded highlights from league matches.
Live sports coverage has been one of the greatest reasons to keep those cable or satellite subscriptions, so YouTube moving into this area could be an additional step towards the dominance of Internet-based TV. There have really been live-streaming options for sports online before; they just usually come with subscription fees. For example, ESPN Insider members have the access to live streams of much of what the network of sports channels covers.
Every year, search engines post special logos for Martin Luther King, Jr. This year is no different, we have logos from Google, Yahoo, Bing, Ask.com and others. MLK, Martin Luther Kind, Jr wants no explanation. It is a legal US holiday and a day celebrated by many around the world. And here are the logos:
Now you can get a satellite's-eye view of the devastation in Haiti with Google Earth. Google worked with satellite imaging company GeoEye to put together a map layer file that provides up-close views of the wreckage of government buildings and extra in the Haitian capital city of Port-au-Prince.
Download the file to check it. It's in KML format, and it should load in Google Earth automatically if you have that desktop application installed. Alternatively, you can just pull it up in the web-based Google Maps application.
If you switch the layer on and off for some before-and-after perspective, you'll see just how serious the damage is - as if the pictures circulating on Twitter and additional places on the Internet weren't harrowing enough already. Here's an embed with the data to create things even easier.
Imagine this: You're strolling virtually through your favorite Google Street View destination, when abruptly you notice an animated ad on one of the billboards beside the street. "Buy product X," it beckons you, replacing the obsolete ad that was initially on the billboard when the Google Street View car took the picture.
This might extremely well turn into a reality. Google has been granted a copyright named "Claiming Real Estate in Panoramic or 3D Mapping Environments for Advertising," detailing "techniques for identifying groups of features in an online geographic view of a real property and replacing and/or augmenting the groups of features with advertisement".
The idea is ingenious, truly. Most of those obsolete ads on billboards serve very small purpose in the virtual world of Street View, but if one could replace them with up-to-date advertisements, they could be another source of income for the giant from Mountain View.
Of course, there's a jungle of legal obstacles that Google would have to solve before really going through with this. Who owns the virtual billboards? And what about the companies who paid for the original ads on them? ReadWriteWeb points out a few of the possible issues, but one thing is certain: Google's strategy of amassing virtual real estate will pay off in one direction or another.
Go to Google.com in your iPhone or Android browser and you'll see a little new addition to the homepage: a tiny Near Me Now option below the search box. The new functionality turns your location into an automated search query and makes finding or learning about places in your instant vicinity a no-brainer.
The U.S.-only functionality uses GPS on your device to pinpoint your whereabouts and sort nearby results - right on the www.Google.com mobile homepage - into the following functional categories: Explore right here, coffee shops, restaurants, bars, and ATMs and banks.
Actually, the "Explore right here option" serves up an instant drop-down menu, providing you with results that are literally right in front of you. You'll immediately get a fast glance at a venue's Place Page rating and its distance from you. As a result, the simple and smart addition to the mobile Google experience is bound to be both a large time saver and a boon for Place Pages.
It's no mystery that Google is trying to attack mobile location-based services and customer review web sites like Foursquare and Yelp head-on, and actively promote its Place Pages. This update is natural progression to help it do just that. We do have to wonder, however, as to why the functionality isn't a part of Google Mobile app yet.
If you're an iPhone owner, you probably don't need to hear about Flash. Full support for Adobe's rich media technology has been promised for the iPhone several times, but it's still not there yet. However, if you plan on getting the Google's Nexus One, you'll be one of the first users to be able try out Flash Player 10.1, currently in beta.
Adobe posted a video showing the latest Flash Player happily working on the Google's Nexus One. It can be used to browse Flash-heavy web sites and play online games, but it can also be used to deliver Flash-based ads. From what we can see in the video, Google Nexus One's powerful Snapdragon CPU handles Flash with ease.