Google has now rolled out "Google Shopper," a new mobile application for Android devices that offers a variety of different ways to search for products. In addition to basic search functionality, users can search by voice, take a picture of cover art, or scan a bar code to get detailed product information and the price comparison.
Google introduces this application on its website and in the video below. As AndroidAndMe notes, the app obviously competes with the likes of ShopSavvy, who tells the publication that Google [and Amazon] "are and always have been our biggest competitors".
Google could deal a much stronger blow to the upstart by including Shopper - now a Labs product - with new Android handsets. We also don't see why Google wouldn't extend the application to other mobile platforms as well.
At the Mobile World Congress, Google CEO Eric Schmidt showed off a new prototype of Google Goggles - Google's experimental Android visual search application - that can easily translate text captured in photos.
The prototype uses Google's machine translation technology and image recognition capabilities to create an extra layer of useful context. So should the user take a photo from his Android device, the application can easily translate the text in that photo - though right now it only supports German-to-English translations.
Here's how Google explain the process: "You may question what's happening in the background. On the very simplest level, this prototype connects the phone's camera to an optical character recognition (OCR) engine, recognizes the image as text and then translates that text into English with Google Translate".
You can't get your hands on updated application yet, and Google is being coy about when it will release an update, but you can expect the application to eventually support photo-to-text translation in all of the 52 languages supported by Google Translate. Once translation makes its way into Google Goggles we can only imagine how helpful the application could become to travelers looking to quickly translate menu items, street signs and transit information.
Google has opened up and doing its charity wallet once again. This time, the search giant has donated $2 Million to the Wikimedia Foundation, the organization that runs and maintains Wikipedia.
The donation, in true social media fashion, was announced via tweets from Wikimedia Foundation advisory board member Mitch Kapor and Wikipedia Founder Jimmy Wales. Neither Wikimedia Foundation nor Google the have made an official announcement yet - it's supposed to come tomorrow.
The donation's absolutely in line with Google's generosity to foundations that promote a faster and more open web. However, we think it's very interesting that Google is giving money to the Wikimedia Foundation now, only a year and a half after the search giant launched its own Wikipedia killer, Google Knol.
Back then, we said it was doomed to fail, and so far Knol's stagnation has proven us correct. Is this a sign that Google's abandoned the project and is embracing Wikipedia as the web's center for knowledge? Hopefully we'll get a few answers tomorrow.
We've blogged before about our thoughts on the social web, steps we've taken to add social features to our products, and efforts like OpenSocial that propose common tools for building social apps. With more and more communication happening online, the social web has exploded as the primary way to share interesting stuff, tell the world what you're up to in real-time and stay more connected to more people. In today's world of status messages, tweets and update streams, it's increasingly tough to sort through it all, much less engage in meaningful conversations.
Our belief is that organizing the social information on the web - finding relevance in the noise - has become a large-scale challenge, one that Google's experience in organizing information can help solve. We've recently launched innovations like real-time search and Social Search, and today we're taking another big step with the introduction of a new product, Google Buzz.
Google Buzz is a new way to start conversations about the things you find interesting. It's built right into Gmail, so you don't have to peck out an entirely new set of friends from scratch - it just works. If you think about it, there's always been a big social network underlying Gmail. Buzz brings this network to the surface by automatically setting you up to follow the people you email and chat with the most.
We focused on building an easy-to-use sharing experience that richly integrates photos, videos and links, and makes it easy to share publicly or privately (so you don't have to use different tools to share with different audiences). Plus, Buzz integrates tightly with your existing Gmail inbox, so you're sure to see the stuff that matters most as it happens in real time.
We're rolling out Buzz to all Gmail accounts over the next few days, so if you don't see it in your account yet, check back soon. We also plan to make Google Buzz available to businesses and schools using Google Apps, with added features for sharing within organizations. On your phone, Google Buzz is much more than just a small screen version of the desktop experience.
Mobile devices add an important component to sharing: location. Posts tagged with geographical information have an extra dimension of context - the answer to the question "where were you when you shared this?" can communicate so much. And when viewed in aggregate, the posts about a particular location can paint an extremely rich picture of that place. Check out the Mobile Blog for more info about all of the ways to use Buzz on your phone, from a new mobile web app to a Buzz layer in Google Maps for mobile.
We've relied on other services' openness in order to build Buzz (you can connect Flickr and Twitter from Buzz in Gmail), and Buzz itself is not designed to be a closed system. Our goal is to make Buzz a fully open and distributed platform for conversations. We're building on a suite of open protocols to create a complete read/write developer API, and we invite developers to join us on Google Code to see what is available today and to learn more about how to participate. We really hope you enjoy the experiences we've built within Gmail and for mobile phones. If you want to learn more, visit buzz.google.com. We look forward to continuing to evolve and improve Google Buzz based on your feedback.
The rumors were right: Google took the bold step of running a Super Bowl ad in the third quarter of the game today, marking its first main push into TV advertising and a new frontier of marketing for the company that has triumphed in online ads above all else. Google CEO Eric Schmidt's Tweet hinted at the ad yesterday, reading: Can't wait to watch the Superbowl tomorrow. Be sure to watch the ads in the third quarter (someone said Hell has indeed frozen over).
Every year, Vogue and the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) sponsor a Fashion Fund to support emerging designers. In 2009, every participating designer was asked to create a one-of-a-kind item inspired by Google in some way - whether through our logo's colors, technology or our commitment to equal access to information.
Last October, Google transformed 10 of the finalists' designs into iGoogle Artists themes. While Google loved seeing fashion meet iGoogle, they wanted to see these pieces in person - and wear them! Now, they're debuting three of our favorite designs from this challenge. These three featured designers have customized their original designs for a broader audience, and they're making them available to the public to purchase for a limited time.
Today, we're excited to announce our third annual Doodle 4 Google contest in the U.S. Google doodles, created by our talented team of doodlers, have helped us celebrate events and anniversaries from Van Gogh's birthday to Valentine's Day. And since 2008, Doodle 4 Google has given K-12 kids the opportunity to create their own logo and have it displayed on the Google homepage for hundreds of millions of users to enjoy for a day.
In addition to the winner's art appearing on Google.com on May 27, 2010, they'll also receive a $15,000 college scholarship, a laptop computer and a $25,000 technology grant for their school. This year's theme is "If I Could Do Anything, I Would..." and it's all about pushing the limits, dreaming big, and seeing what you can accomplish in life. When coming up with inspiration for this year's contest, we turned to some of our very own Googlers, including Ed Lu, a former astronaut.
Ed typifies this year's theme in action, and shares an inspiring anecdote: On my first mission STS-84, one of my crewmates and I were having dinner aboard the Space Shuttle Atlantis. After all our work for the day was done, we decided to eat "upside down" on the ceiling, gazing out at the Earth moving by below our feet. As we flew around the Earth, watching the continents go by, my crewmate remarked how amazingly large the Earth really is. But at that same time, it also felt small to us.
There we were, flying at 18,000 miles per hour around the Earth in a machine built by humans, with a crew made up of astronauts from all over the world. Both of our observations were true at the same time.
The world is indeed a big place with many challenges. But by using science, technology and the power of people working together, nearly anything is possible. So dream big! If you could do anything, what would you do? For even more inspiration, you can see last year's winner, Christin Engelberth, a sixth grader at Bernard Harris Middle School in San Antonio, Texas. She titled her doodle "A New Beginning" to express her wish that "out of the current crisis, discoveries will be found to help the Earth prosper once more".
We're happy to let you know that this year, we've also assembled a panel of well-known "Expert Jurors," including creative directors, cartoonists and famous animators ranging from Sesame Workshop to Pixar Animation Studios. Our Expert Jurors will help us narrow down the cream of the crop to 40 regional finalists, who will come to the Google office in New York City on May 26, 2010. For the second year, we'll also be partnering with the Smithsonian's Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, where the top 40 regional finalists will get to have their artwork displayed in a national exhibit.
And for the first time this year, we'll give out eight Technology Booster awards to schools that submit maximum number of doodles per school by March 10th and have students in our 400 State Finalists. Please visit the official competition website for a full listing of all contest rules and requirements. Only students from registered schools can enter, so be sure your school is registered by March 17, 2010. All doodles must be submitted by March 31, 2010. We hope you're as excited about this year's contest as we are. Good luck!