PARIS--There's been a lot of discussion of late about how Apple's iPhone remains the most profitable smartphone around, despite fierce competition from Android.
That's relevant for companies like HTC and Samsung that sell Android phones. But Google has a different agenda with its freely available operating system: driving usage of its own services.
That was the business interest that Google's Marissa Mayer discussed today at the LeWeb conference here. As the vice president in charge of products with a local component, she has a high interest in what happens on mobile phones.
SAN FRANCISCO--Interviewed at the Web 2.0 Summit, Foursquare CEO Dennis Crowley talked about how the location check-in app is becoming more passive.
"One of the big hurdles we have is that you have to think about using it," he said of Foursquare. "If we can lower that barrier, we can juice the experience."
That's why the company recently launched the Radar feature, which, once you turn it on, collects info about where you are, the direction you're going, and so on. It'll tell you if people you like are nearby, and "… Read more
All that work to build 3D graphics into the Web just bore fruit on one of the Internet's most useful and widely used sites: Google Maps.
Google has enabled a "MapsGL" option to show 3D buildings on the site through the use of WebGL, a 3D graphics technology for the Web that four of the five top browsers have embraced.
The move marks another step in the convergence of the browser-based Google Maps and the more immersive Google Earth software that stemmed from Google's 2004 acquisition of Keyhole. Google Earth lets people fly around, overlays imagery … Read more
SAN FRANCISCO--At the TechCrunch Disrupt conference today, the first product announcement came from Gowalla CEO Josh Williams. The new version of Gowalla will be bringing city guides to the service, leveraging the company's large database of places and updates from users.
The new version will launch shortly with more than 60 city guides using, of course, user content. But the service has new editorial partners, including Disney, National Geographic, and several universities.
With Gowalla, you can now create "stories" around events. Anyone you tag in a location and time becomes a full authoring partner of the post, and the presentation of these stories is quite good.
The question is: by focusing on the traveler instead of the resident, does Gowalla give up the nice deal-based transactional business that Foursquare and Facebook can run with? Perhaps, but the travel business is in many ways a much sweeter place to be. The advertising money is national more than regional, bigger, and more stable. You can still use Gowalla to check in at locations, so this is a bigger--and smarter--change than it may appear at first.
New Zealander and former decathlete Sean Gourley says it's only a matter of time before his company Quid will know more than the United States government. "How much is information worth?" he asked rhetorically during at a recent lunch meeting with CNET, as he showed off Quid's software that uses data, math, and visualizations to help clients make billion-dollar decisions.
Based on today's news from the company, the answer to Gourley's question is "a lot." Quid announced it has secured $10 million in series C funding from some heavyweights in the Silicon … Read more
Google Maps has received a new experimental Labs add-on today that may simplify your life in areas with little to no Wi-Fi or data.
The "Download map area" add-on in the new Google Maps 5.7 for Android will store a map for a specific area you're trying to visit. You'll have to plan in advance with this tool, and downloading a map will take some time and storage space, but it beats lugging around a guide book, or worrying about getting enough signal in a trouble spot.
If you've got an Android phone running … Read more
Using your mouse to drag across the screen, you can now pan up and down different streets to track down specific sites and locations. As you virtually stroll along each street, Bing quickly updates the street-level photo view, showing you a seamless perspective of your tour of the neighborhood. You can drag your mouse left or right to travel along your current street. Making a right or left at an intersection is just a matter of … Read more
Google may have launched its first daily deal offering in Portland, Ore., yesterday, but Groupon is fighting back one city at a time, with a spin on the model it popularized.
Groupon Now, which rolled out in San Francisco and New York yesterday and launched in Chicago two weeks ago, follows the formula of Groupon's original online daily deal but shrinks the timeline. Instead of having 24 hours to purchase a perk and months to use it, you'll now have hours to both buy the deal and cash it in.
The premise is simple. After entering your location … Read more
Google has updated its version of Google Earth for Android to take advantage of the large screen size and processing power of tablets.
In a blog post yesterday, product manager Peter Birch said the update added support for fully textured 3D buildings, as well as a new action bar making it easier to search the imagery and navigate layers of information. Google Earth started life as the company's virtual globe, but now incorporates street-level imagery and even extends out to space.
"Moving from a mobile phone to a tablet was like going from a regular movie theatre to … Read more
There's an untapped army of workers walking around out there, and an unharvested sea of jobs for them. That's Gigwalk CEO Ariel Seidman's belief, as his company launches its open marketplace for real-world on-the-spot jobs and tasks.
The idea is this: If you need something simple done at your store or other physical location, as long as it's something almost anyone can do, you can put a job up on Gigwalk for people to grab. Example jobs include: Verifying (with a photo) the placement of a traffic sign, or evaluating the quality of service at a retailer. Jobs like that are currently in the system here in San Francisco.
Some of the jobs I saw in the preview did seem like thinly veiled guerrilla marketing efforts (watch a video on your laptop at a given coffee shop, for example). Seidman told me Gigwalk reserves the right to remove jobs it doesn't feel are appropriate.
I have yet to see what I would consider jobs of physical labor appear on Gigwalk, like "Help me load this huge dresser into my van," but there's no reason these kinds of gigs couldn't appear here as well. See also: TaskRabbit and Zaarly. Seidman says Gigwalk's primary competitor, at the moment, is Craigslist, although Gigwalk is obviously more focused and structured.
Gigwalk is primarily designed to be a marketplace for much smaller gigs, for people who might want to make a few bucks when they're out and about. Seidman says in early testing, Apple Store employees on their way to work were enthusiastic users of the service. It also seems like a nice way for people with nothing to do to make some extra money--as long as they already have enough money to have a smartphone with a data plan.
There are various checks and levels in the service. You can't accept a job unless your phone geolocates you at the right spot. All job results get evaluated by the people who requested them, and users earn "street cred" for jobs well done; some jobs can't be accepted unless you are above a certain street cred level.
In addition to limiting jobs to users with cred, posters can also request only Android or iPhone users, for example. You can't limit jobs to people by gender (which you might want to do if a job is to try on a particular item of clothing at a retailer) or other demographic, but you can ask for certain criteria in a gig posting.
It's obvious how Gigwalk makes money: It takes a cut. The minimum fee for a single job is $3. Gigwalk takes money from its posters in advance, which makes for nice, front-loaded accounting. The company launched a closed precusror to this open service a while ago, as a way for mapping customers like TomTom to assign map verification tasks out to consumers.
The service is opening up today. I have high hopes for it. It's clever, the app is well-designed, and I believe it may actually be able to tap into the genuine need that marketers and other people have to collect information from real people in the the real world. And of course it gives those people a simple way to make a little extra money. It brings Web efficiency to the real world. … Read more
Wearables are largely aimed at the person who just wants to maintain a good weight, sleep enough, and maybe get in a little cardio. CNET's Brian Cooley tells you why 2014 could be the breakout year for wearable tech.