January 27, 2012

Finally A Victory For PCs: HP, Dell Spend Millions More Than Apple On Google Adwords

Finally A Victory For PCs: HP, Dell Spend Millions More Than Apple On Google Adwords

Apple is one of the best-known brands, so no wonder it paid Google just $ 18 million in 2011 for search traffic. By comparison, HP and Dell, which are breathing heavy to keep ahead of the Cupertino, Calif. tech giant ranked No. 1 and No. 2 for spending big bucks flogging their products online.

According to Google, Apple spent $ 17.9 million for Adwords advertising in 2011, making the company the fourth largest advertiser in the search giant’s Computers and Consumer Electronics category. By comparison, HP spent $ 33.3 million as the category’s No. 1 player. Dell is No. 2, paying the Mountain View, Calif. Google $ 26.3 million. Meanwhile, electronics retail giant Best Buy forked over $ 23.7 million in 2011 Adwords spending to take No. 3.

What’s this all mean? Mainly that advertising does not equal marketshare. HP’s new CEO Meg Whitman recently told a French newspaper she expects Apple will become the No. 1 PC maker in 2012. Indeed, Gartner recently announced HP’s marketshare fell to 23.1 percent and growth was -26 percent. Dell, by the way, is also bleeding out — just at a slower pace.

As for Apple, it had nearly 21 percent quarterly compared to the fourth quarter of 2010, according to researchers. In other words, HP and Dell, spending wads of cash on Adwords advertising, lost ground while Apple had double-digit growth despite spending less on ads.

Hm. This just reinforces the power of Apple’s ecosphere powering product sales with little online advertising. The Cupertino, Calif. company instead builds a lasting relationship with consumers. First the heart-warming mass media spots, then the word-of-mouth promotions, followed by iTunes feeding the various devices, making Apple purchases painless with near-zero barriers. While the “halo effect” still exists for Apple products, the growth of iTunes for music, video, books, software and apps makes that early Apple advantage less critical.

Cult of Mac

Apple iOS, Google Android feared to be hitting middle age as five year old platforms

By Daniel Eran Dilger

Published: 04:28 PM EST (01:28 PM PST)
A market research group has teamed up with a business analyst to conceptualize the notion that mobile operating systems only last for ten years, peaking after five, an idea that suggests Apple and Google are approaching their apex at middle age and risk an imminent decline.

Market research group Strategy Analytics and RBC Capital Market analyst Mark Sue both highlighted a trend in comparing RIM’s beleaguered Blackberry OS, Microsoft’s abandoned Windows Mobile, the dead Palm OS and Nokia’s now comatose Symbian, all of which were first introduced as smartphone operating systems around 2002.

A graphic produced by Strategy Analytics shows a particularly convincing lines that suggest Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android might be fated to follow the same paths, given that both turn five later this year.

“History shows that operating systems peak in the middle of a 10-year cycle,” Sue wrote in a note to investors, adding that while iOS and Android are both currently selling lots of devices, their “sustainability beyond five years remains to be seen.”

The chart doesn’t depict why mobile operating systems of the past peaked after just a few years, nor does it delve into details related to market trends, such as the mass conversion of PDAs to smartphones ten years ago, or the tremendous shift from basic feature phones to smartphones going on today.

A brief history of smartphones for analysts

The Palm OS was actually developed in 1996 to run handheld organizers, and didn’t start to become a smartphone platform until the Handspring Treo was introduced in 2002, at which point its underlying technology was already five years old.

Microsoft’s Windows Mobile was similarly an effort to sell the company’s Windows CE mobile “handheld PC” platform to drive phones. Its WinCE core similarly originated in 1996 and wasn’t used in smartphones until 2002.

Nokia’s Symbian also originated as an OS behind pocket organizers, first by Psion in the late 80s. The initial Nokia Symbian smartphones were released in 2001, at which the core technology behind them was already over a decade old.

RIM’s Blackberry OS first originated in the company’s pagers in 1999 and started being used in the company’s smartphones in 2002.

That means the world’s “old” smartphone operating systems all came into their current role when smartphones began as an observable trend almost exactly ten years ago.

Their actual “ages” in 2002 ranged from about three to 13 years, and each developed in wildly different circumstances. BlackBerry and Palm OS were originally completely proprietary, essentially embedded operating systems while Windows Mobile (and later Palm OS) were broadly licensed, while Symbian evolved from an embedded OS to a broadly licensed platform to an open source project.

In addition to these well known smartphone platforms, a variety of embedded platforms created by Motorola, LG, Samsung and other smartphone vendors over the past decade have combined custom code, Linux, Java and Adobe’s Flash Lite to deliver smartphone products, all of which also suddenly began to decline in popularity exactly five years ago.

From that perspective, there is zero correlation between age and the sudden nosedive of all these operating systems five years ago, the date Apple introduced the iPhone.

Unless another company introduces a new product with the ability to suddenly disrupt the public’s interest in today’s five year old iOS and Android, Apple and Google should not have too much to worry about.

Other evidence that doesn’t support a ten year life span

Speaking for Strategy Analytics, Alex Spektor, told Fortune in an interview that “no single platform has consistently dominated for eternity. Something better and newer comes along and pushes it out of leadership position.”

Spektor also noted that “after operating systems drop from their 5-year peak” their vendors suddenly refresh and replace them, acknowledging such revitalizing efforts such as Palm’s webOS in 2009, Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 toward the end of 2010, and RIM’s efforts to deliver its new QNX-based BlackBerry X last year.

So far, none of these efforts have turned things around; RIM is still struggling to deliver its new OS for its smartphones, while Palm sold itself off to HP and its new technology was largely scuttled due to a management crisis. Microsoft’s valiant efforts to promote WP7 over the past year have only resulted in the company losing the remains of its existing market share.

Nokia’s initial efforts to modernize Symbian within an ambitious open source project, and its parallel efforts to launch Maemo/Meego Linux, were both abandoned last year after failing to turn things around quickly enough. None of these efforts were anywhere near reaching a five year apex; they simply failed to introduce the same level of disruption in the market that Apple’s iOS caused five years ago.

Is iOS getting old?

While all of the original smartphone operating systems now in decline are based on code that is least a decade old this year, Apple’s iOS is based on a core platform that outdates all of them. From its kernel to its APIs to its developer tools, the iOS has a direct lineage dating back to 1988, when Steve Jobs first showed off the NeXT Computer.

Rather than age, the biggest differentiation between Apple’s iOS and the initial wave of smartphone operating systems was that Apple’s iOS was derived from a platform-agnostic desktop operating system founded on Unix and an advanced object oriented development system, rather than being an embedded mobile OS with a pedigree of running PDAs, pagers, and handheld organizers.

It was actually this “age” and sophistication that enabled Apple to disrupt the smartphone market with a brand new product, because the iPhone greatly benefited from having a mature kernel, APIs and development tools.

Google’s Android, while based on existing Danger technology and incorporating existing Linux and Java technology, still changed enough of its core design so that it has taken years for the platform to achieve a level of stability and maturity that it can be compared in some respects to Apple’s iOS.

The platform that can, does

Unlike any other smartphone operating system, iOS still shares significant kernel, API and development tool technology with both the desktop Mac OS X and with other successful mobile devices outside of the smartphone, including iPad, iPod touch and Apple TV.

HP, Palm, Microsoft and RIM have all failed in their attempts to introduce tablet or handheld PC products beyond smartphones. Even Google’s Android platform hasn’t managed to drive significant sales of tablets or set top boxes, despite major initiatives over the past two years seeking to achieve that.

Additionally, when Google attempted to enter the notebook market with Chromebook, it didn’t even try to use Android, but rather developed a parallel effort. Similarly, Microsoft’s next efforts to sell PCs and tablets will revolve around Windows 8, which bears little in common with its WP7 smartphone platform on a kernel, API or development tool level.

After expressing morbid concerns about the fate of Apple’s nearly five year old iOS, Spektor acknowledged that “the outcome isn’t the same for all platforms.”


Google shares sink after Q4 earnings miss Wall Street expectations

By Josh Ong

Published: 11:10 PM EST (08:10 PM PST)
Shares of Google fell more than 9 percent in after-hours trading after the company missed both Wall Street’s revenue and earnings expectations when it reported its fourth quarter 2011 results on Thursday.

The Mountain View, Calif., company reported 25 percent growth year over year with revenues of $ 10.58 billion for the December quarter. Operating income for the period was $ 3.51 billion, up from $ 2.98 billion in the year-ago quarter.

Though Google’s quarterly performance still represented a sequential increase, but investors voiced concerns that its growth had decelerated from previous quarters. The company’s net revenue of $ 8.13 billion missed consensus estimates of $ 8.4 billion, as tracked by Thomson Reuters.

Google stock was up $ 6.66, or 1.05 percent, at the close of the market on Thursday, but its disappointing quarterly results prompted a sell-off that caused shares to drop $ 57.67 to $ 581.90.

As is to be expected, Google’s top brass remained upbeat about the results. CEO Larry Page said he was “super excited” about the growth of Android, Gmail and Google+, adding that its new social networking service now has 90 million users globally.

“I’m very excited about what we can do in 2012–there are tremendous opportunities to help users grow our business,” Page said.

But, analysts were quick to pick up on 8 percent decline in the average cost-per-click, its first year-on-year drop in two years, for the search giant. They hounded Page with half a dozen questions about the issue during the Q&A portion of the earnings conference call, prompting the CEO to ask that the next question not be about CPCs, Reuters reported.

“The major question is: Is this a one-time thing or is this something that is going to continue because the nature of the business has changed,” Colins Stewart analyst Mayuresh Masurekar said.

Company executives attributed the decline to currency exchange fluctuations and advertising format changes. But analysts feared that mobile advertising may have caused the drop in cost-per-click rates.

“This was the first time we’ve seen a decline in CPC rates since 2009,” Needham & Co analyst Kerry Rice told the publication. “It’s been a long time and the one thing that’s really changed about this is mobile.”

The report also noted that investors remain uneasy about Google’s planned acquisition of Motorola Mobility. They are reportedly concerned that entering the low-margin hardware business could affect Google’s bottom line and scare off Android vendors.

Google’s results appeared even worse considering that fellow technology giants Microsoft, Intel and IBM all reported solid earnings on Thursday. Though Microsoft did note a 6 percent decline in its Windows business, it made up for it with its gaming, Office and server divisions. Intel managed to beat expectations, which had been scaled back because of a weakened PC market.

For its part, Apple is expected to report stellar earnings for the December quarter next Tuesday. Record iPhone and iPad sales are likely to drive a blowout quarter for the company.


Today At Cult Of Android: Google Announces Q4 Earning, Virgin Mobile USA To Start Throttling Data, And More…

Android may not be every Mac user’s cup of tea, but it’s the biggest mobile operating system in the world, and it’s important to know what’s going on with Android — what it’s doing right, and what it’s doing wrong. Here’s the best stories that hit today over at our sister site, Cult of Android.

Official Wikipedia App Makes It To Android

The official Wikipedia App hit the Android Market last week and somehow slipped past most people’s radar. If you were lucky enough to have found out about it before the SOPA blackout yesterday, you were treated to Wikipedia access via the app, while most everyone else remained in the dark. At least we know about it now, and I’m sure there are quite a few people who have been waiting on an official app for Android. If you happen to be one of those people, you’ll be pleased to know it’s available now, and offers many great features such as: More…

Virgin Mobile USA To Start Throttling Customers Who Use Over 2.5GB Of Data A Month

Virgin Mobile began sending out text messages to high data consuming customers to warn them of their plans to implement data speed reductions in March. This comes as no surprise as Virgin Mobile actually considered throttling back in September, but for some reason decided to put the idea on hold. This time, it’s for real, and they plan on starting on March 23rd. If you’re a Virgin Mobile USA customer and use over 2.5GB of data in a month, expect your speeds to start slowing down (if that’s even possible). More…

The 1.5GHz Dual-Core LG Spectrum Is Now Availble On Verizon For $ 199

While AT&T goes through hell and back to get their hands on some spectrum, Verizon has announced it will be selling it for $ 199 —the LG Spectrum, that is. The LG Spectrum is Verizon’s latest LTE offering and features some impressive specs at at a decent price. More…

Full Screen Browsing Comes To The Amazon Kindle Fire In Latest Update

The Amazon Kindle Fire has a new update available. Update 6.2.2 is going out over the air and can also be downloaded manually if needed. This latest update improves support for manually setting up e-mail providers in the Email app, offers a new full screen mode for viewing web pages, and also includes enhancements to performance. More…

HTC’s Quad-Core Phone Seems To Be Suffering An Identity Crisis

Apparently HTC’s mega-beast quad-core handset is suffering from quite the identity crisis. We’ve come to know it as the HTC Edge up until just recently when PocketNow reported that HTC went ahead and changed the codename to Endeavor. It’s supposed to undergo another name change to Supreme, once it hits retail shelves, but as PocketNow points out, while retail names often see multiple name variances, codenames usually remain the same to help distinguish them internally. More…

Google Announces Q4 Earnings: Over 250 Million Android Devices Activated, Over 11 Billion App Downloads

Google released their Q4 earnings today, and while the money side of things is good, with $ 2.71 billion in profit on $ 8.13 billion in revenue, I’m sure you’re more concerned about Android than you are money — right? Even if you’re not, I’m going to share with you some Android numbers being thrown around to give you a better idea of how well Android is doing, and how well it continues to grow. More…

The ARCHOS Android Powered Home Smart Phone Is Now Available In The UK

You may remember the ARCHOS 35 Smart Home Phone we showed you last month, you know, the home phone with Android on it. Well, it’s now available to purchase in the UK, and the 8GB model will set you back £129.98, including taxes. The ARCHOS 35 takes the “smart” from smartphone, and puts it into your home phone. More…

Cult of Mac

FTC reportedly adding Google+ to antitrust investigation amid search controversy

By Josh Ong

Published: 01:00 AM EST (10:00 PM PST)
In the wake of a recent controversy surrounding Google’s decision to feature Google+ content in its search results, the company will face scrutiny of its social networking service from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission as part of an antitrust probe, a new report claims.

Two people familiar with the situation have alerted Bloomberg to the federal agency’s plan to include Google+ in the investigation. At issue is the possibility that Google violated antitrust laws if it gave preference to its own services on its search engine, the sources said.

The alleged expansion to the FTC’s probe comes on the same week that Google attracted harsh criticism for its new “Search, plus Your World” feature. The Mountain View, Calif., company announced on Tuesday that it would begin including personalized results tailored to users’ Google+ profiles and serving up “related people and pages” from its Google+ service.

The changes were met with widespread disapproval after it was revealed that empty Google+ pages were displacing apparently more relevant results from rivals Facebook and Twitter. Search Engine Land’s Danny Sullivan published a series of posts detailing the changes and possible implications.

Twitter quickly spoke up in opposition to the changes, claiming that the new results are “bad for people, publishers, news organizations” and its own users.

Google fired back on Google+ that it was “surprised” by Twitter’s comments because the company chose not to renew its agreement with the search giant. However, some pundits have suggested that the agreement between Twitter and Google broke up because of differences over money.

“We believe that our improvements to search will benefit consumers,” Google spokesman Adam Kovacevich told Bloomberg over email. “The laws are designed to help consumers benefit from innovation, not to help competitors.”

Google Chairman Eric Schmidt said earlier this week that he doesn’t believe Google is favoring itself by suggesting Google+ pages. He also indicated that he was willing to talk to Facebook and Twitter about including them in the results.

Meanwhile, some groups, such as the Electronic Privacy Information Center have begun calling for the FTC to look into Google’ s changes and “business practices,” the report noted.

Google confirmed last June that the FTC was conducting a review of its business and stated it would work with them to answer its questions. Sources have claimed that the FTC is looking into whether Google is preventing smartphone manufacturers from using competitors’ services on its Android operating system and allegations that it down-ranked rival websites while harvesting their data.

The company has also been on the hot seat recently over several troubling violations of its own informal “Don’t be evil” motto. Earlier this month, it came to light that some blog posts that claimed to be “sponsored by Google” were violating the company’s own guidelines against paid links. Google quickly disavowed the links as a mistake made by bloggers working with third-party advertising firm Unruly Media, which had been hired by Google to promote its Chrome browser. The company then punished itself by down-ranking its Chrome website for at least 60 days.

More recently, Kenyan business listings company Mocality released evidence that Google appeared to have been “systematically accessing Mocality’s database and attempting to sell their competing product to our business owners.” Recordings revealed Google representatives falsely claiming to have partnered with Mocality.

Google quickly responded that it was “mortified to learn that a team of people working on a Google project improperly used Mocality’s data and misrepresented [its] relationship with Mocality to encourage customers to create new websites.” The company “unreservedly apologized” to Mocality and promised to take the “appropriate action with the people involved” after looking into the mater.


Today At Cult Of Android: Google Introduces Android Design, Global Roaming On The DROID 4 And LG Spectrum, And More…

Today At Cult Of Android: Google Introduces Android Design, Global Roaming On The DROID 4 And LG Spectrum, And More…
What’s this? Android news on Cult of Mac?! Who the hell cares?! Maybe you don’t, maybe you do. Point is: these are a few of the popular topics going on in the Android world today. Maybe you’d like to know what the competition is up to, or perhaps your aunt received a Kindle Fire she needs to update. Regardless of the reason, having a resource such as Cult of Android allows you to learn more about what’s going on in the ecosystem powered by the world’s leading mobile OS.

Archos To Update All G9 Tablets To Ice Cream Sandwich In February

If you’re jealous of ASUS getting Android 4.0 and happen to own an Archos G9 tablet, you’re about to get some good news. According to sources over at Android Police, Archos will be updating all their G9 tablets to Ice Cream Sandwich within the first week of February. In addition, all G9 tablets sold in February should come pre-loaded with Android’s latest operating system. More…

Global Roaming To Be Enabled On The DROID 4 And LG Spectrum

Up until now, no LTE device on Verizon has been able to support global roaming (no, not global warming, global roaming), in part because of a network issues that prevents LTE phones from roaming in non-CDMA markets. But now, thanks to some network enhancements and unannounced global GSM/WCDMA roaming capability in the DROID 4 and LG Spectrum, both devices will have global roaming support enabled by the first half of the year. Here’s what Verizon spokeswoman Brenda Raney had to say: More…

Boost Mobile Adding The LG Marquee To Its Pre-Paid Offerings

Boost Mobile just announced the latest Android smartphone to join their $ 55 pre-paid lineup, the LG Marquee. The Marquee isn’t the “latest and greatest” Android phone, and has been out for quite some time, but it’s a nice mid-range device that’s more than capable of handling most tasks. For $ 279.99, you can grab the Marquee along with an affordable pre-paid plan from Boost. The Marquee features: More…

All Extended Batteries For Verizon’s 4G LTE Devices Are 50% Off [Deal Alert]

If you own a 4G LTE device from Verizon then you already know all about battery drain. There are many ways to help improve your battery life on a 4G LTE device, but one of your best options, is to simply purchase an extended battery (if your device has one). It was the first thing I purchased alongside my Galaxy Nexus, and one accessory that I recommend to anyone looking for an extended battery life. Not too long ago, Verizon had the Galaxy Nexus extended battery on sale for 50% percent off, and we’re happy to report that this deal extends to all extended batteries available for Verizon’s 4G LTE devices. More…

Sprint Announces Minor Update For HTC EVO 3D

Sprint has announced a minor maintenance update for the HTC EVO 3D. Software update 2.17.651.5 should be available starting today for anyone who wishes to manually pull it up, otherwise an OTA should begin rolling out on Jan 17. To manually check for the update, simply hit Menu > Settings > System updates > HTC software update > Check now. This update is very minor and includes: More…

Verizon Customers: Start Writing Your 3G Eulogies Now, 4G LTE Connectivity Now A “Hard Requirement” For Manufactures

One day we’ll all look back and say “Hey, remember when we used to have 3G phones?” Of course our kids won’t have any idea of what we’re talking about, in fact, they’ll probably be calling them communicators by then. It seems Verizon is set in making 4G LTE the future of their network, so much, that they have announced from here on out, 4G LTE connectivity is a “hard requirement” for any manufacturer looking to have their phone on Big Red’s network. Of course for now, they will be making a few exceptions for “dumb” phones and phone’s that work on their push-to-talk network. More…

TELUS Reminds Us That The Galaxy Nexus Will Be Available Tomorrow

If you haven’t already heard, the Samsung Galaxy Nexus is set to hit the Canadian wireless company TELUS tomorrow. To remind us of this tasty news, TELUS sent out a tweet confirming its arrival tomorrow, and a link on how to get it. This is exciting news for our northern friends, and I’m betting they can’t wait to get their hands on some Ice Cream Sandwich. More…

Google Introduces Android Design: “The place to learn about principles, building blocks, and patterns for creating world-class Android UIs”

Google’s goal with Ice Cream Sandwich is to present a more unified and distinguishable platform UI from here on out. They’ve been hard at work trying to figure out ways to maintain their “open” approach, while also maintaining some sort of consistency. They want developers to know that they have worked hard on creating Ice Cream Sandwich UI with “the users’ best interests in mind,” and encourage them to apply and adapt these methods when developing for Android. To help guide developers on how to create a complimenting application for Android, they have opened up a new site called “Android Design.” More…

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Cult of Mac

Today At Cult Of Android: Sony Introduces Smart Extras For Android, OnLive Viewer Comes To Google TV, And More…

Today At Cult Of Android: Sony Introduces Smart Extras For Android, OnLive Viewer Comes To Google TV, And More…
What’s this? Android news on Cult of Mac?! Who the hell cares?! Maybe you don’t, maybe you do. Point is: these are a few of the popular topics going on in the Android world today. Maybe you’d like to know what the competition is up to, or perhaps your aunt received a Kindle Fire she needs to update. Regardless of the reason, having a resource such as Cult of Android allows you to learn more about what’s going on in the ecosystem powered by the world’s leading mobile OS.

Verizon’s Double Data Promo Ends This Sunday

Verizon’s 4G double data promo has been going strong for the past two months but it’s about to end. If you’ve been on the fence about switching to Verizon, you may want to take advantage of this deal while you still can. Unfortunately anyone signing up for data with Verizon must choose from a tiered data pricing option, and with the double data promo, Verizon will double the allotted data upon purchase of a 4G device. More…

Sony Introduces Its Smart Extras For Android [CES 2012]

While many companies are touting their newest Android devices, Sony has not only released new devices, but has some pretty cool accessories to go along with them. These aren’t your average run of the mill Android accessories either, they’re “Smart Extras” for Android. Sony announced three new “Smart Extras” and one in particular has me dreaming up endless possibilities. Let’s take a look at what Sony has presented us with and see just how “Smart” they are. More…

Huawei Announces New MediaPad Series [CES 2012]

Coming off the announcement of “World’s thinnest smartphone,” Huawie has introduced a new series of MediaPad tablets. The first announcement was for Huawei’s new MediaPad, which appears to be the same as the original MediaPad released in June, but will come pre-installed with Android 4.0. This would make the MediaPad one of the world’s first tablets to come pre-loaded with the new Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich operating system. I guess Huawei is really going for those “world’s first” titles. Besides the new MediaPad with Ice Cream Sandwich, Huawei has announced a new MediaPad color series. More…

Motorola’s Televation To Provide An Independent TV Feed To Your Mobile Device [CES 2012]

There have been various ways to access live TV on your mobile device, my personal choice being Slingplayer, but up until now, you were forced to watch whatever was being played through your main cable feed (or visa versa). Motorola hopes to change all that with their Televation product. With Televation, users will have an independent, dedicated content feed from their cable provider that can be streamed to any connected IP device for viewing across a user’s wireless network. The product was actually announced back in June but they had some demos here at CES to show off just how well it works. More…

Popular Cloud Gaming Service OnLive Coming Soon To Google TV, OnLive Viewer Available Now

Google TV will be getting OnLive gaming support very soon, and in preparation of this monumental event, users can now start spectating these live games via the OnLive Viewer app. OnLive is a popular cloud gaming service that streams high-end console video games straight to your screen without the need for high-end hardware. Cloud based gaming is considered by many to be the future of gaming and will free gamers from hardware restraints and allow for a truly unified mobile gaming experience across various platforms. It’s only fitting that the OnLive service be coming to Google TV, as GTV has been working hard on bringing on-demand multimedia to your TV, and what better addition than on-demand gaming. More…

Google Search For Android 2.2 and 2.3 Receives Update

Google introduced a nice little update to their search app for Android users running 2.2 and 2.3. The update brings a more simplified UI and new color scheme among other things. The search app on Android is probably the single most used feature and I’ll admit, one we probably take for granted, so it’s nice to see it getting some update love. If you haven’t grabbed the update yet, you can head on over to the Android Market and start enjoying: More…

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Cult of Mac

Google+ app for iPhone updated to launch hangouts from Messenger

Do you use the video hangout feature of Google+ on a regular basis? If so, you might be happy to hear that you can now use your iPhone to join those video hangouts from the Google Messenger IM app. There’s an update now available for the Google+ app that will give you the video love you crave.

I was interested in the hangout capability, which arrived back in September, because there’s a meeting I need to join into every week or so. That meeting takes place in a Google+ hangout, and up until this time I’ve been tied to either a desktop or laptop. Now if I’m out doing my daily exercise walk or lounging on a cruise ship, I can pull out my iPhone or iPad and join into the meetings. If nothing else, it should be fun to see if I can videoconference and walk at the same time.

To join a hangout, you tap the Hang Out button while in a Messenger chat with others (see below — and no, I am talking with Erica Sadun, that’s not my name).

You can do the same for hangouts announced in the Google+ stream. I tapped a large green Join The Hangout button and was talking to fellow blogger Kelly Hodgkin and her baby in seconds (see picture at right).

We didn’t try the hangout feature over 3G, but if any TUAW readers give it a try we’d like to hear how it works … or doesn’t.

TUAW – The Unofficial Apple Weblog

LG releasing Google TV-based smart TV as Apple television rumors swirl

By Josh Ong

Published: 11:18 PM EST (08:18 PM PST)
LG has taken the wraps off its first Google TV-powered television set, even as rumors of an Apple television loom over the industry.

The South Korean consumer electronics maker issued a press release on Friday (via TechCrunch) unveiling its new LG Smart TV with Google TV, set to be introduced next week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nev. The new set, which will be featured in a demonstration next Monday, sports a custom interface on top of the Android-based Google TV platform.

“Through Google TV, LG has merged Google’s established Android operating system with LG’s proven 3D and Smart TV technologies, offering consumers a new and enthralling TV experience,” said LG President and CEO Havis Kwon.

LG touted the device’s “ease of use” as its most attractive feature, citing the combination of the Android-based user interface and an LG-designed Magic Remote Qwerty. The television utilizes LG’s CINEMA 3D technology to offer a 3D viewing option.

The company does not, however, appear ready to fully commit to Google TV for its connected sets. LG noted in its press release that it will “continue to advance its own Smart TV platform” alongside Google TV. Based on NetCast, the platform will power more than 60 percent of the company’s flat panel TVs that will arrive later this year.

“With a growing collection of content and services, LG’s Smart TV platform will continue to provide consumers with a unique user experience,” the release read.

For its part, Google struggled to gain traction with Google TV when it released the software in late 2010. Sales of set-top boxes and HDTVs based on the platform floundered, with partner Logitech reporting losses of as much as $ 100 million from the initiative. Last October, Google released a new and improved Google TV with more support for the Android Market application store and improved search functionality.

Eric Schmidt, Google’s chairman and former CEO, remains confident that Google TV will take off. H made the bold prediction last month that “the majority” of televisions in stores will run Google TV by next summer. The company has its work cut out for it, as a number of TV makers, including LG, Samsung, Panasonic and Sony have committed to developing their own competing platforms.

Meanwhile, evidence of an upcoming Apple television continues to mount. One recent report claimed Apple designer Jonathan Ive has a “slick” 50-inch Apple television prototype in his studio at the company’s headquarters. Rumors have suggested that different versions of the set could be as small as 32 inches or as large as 55 inches.

Sony CEO Howard Stringer said last year that he has “no doubt” that late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs was working to revolutionize the television. According to him, a “tremendous amount of R&D” is being spent by the industry to invent the next generation of TVs.

Stringer also gave voice to a latent desperation that TV makers have been experiencing as of late. “We can’t continue selling TV sets [the way we have been]. Every TV set we all make loses money,” he said. Several display-making companies, including Samsung, have seen eroding profits in recent years as flat-screen purchases have slowed.

Jobs himself told his biographer that he had “cracked” the secret to a simple and elegant TV interface. A new Apple patent application uncovered by AppleInsider on Thursday revealed that Apple has invested research funds on improved LCD display picture quality when watching widescreen movies, prompting further speculation that the company is working on an television set.


Google Translate for iOS adds iPad support

The Google Translate app (free) has become a universal app, adding support for the iPad. Unfortunately, it appears that the only real change to the app was to scale up the user interface elements to fit the larger screen of the iPad, but based on prior experiences with the app on the iPhone it should be a very useful piece of software.

The app does quite an amazing job of translating text between 63 different languages, literally everything from Afrikaans to Yiddish. For 17 of those languages, you don’t even have to type in the text — you can speak it, and Google Translate makes quick work of converting your speech to text and then translating it. For 24 of the languages, the translations can be spoken aloud.

Favorite translations and your history can be set up for quick access when the iPad is offline, perfect for setting up a list of translated phrases for use while traveling in a foreign country. It’s also possible to display translations on a full screen so other can easily read what you’re saying or asking.

The universal update became available today.

TUAW – The Unofficial Apple Weblog