May 30, 2008 7:34 AM PDT
Week in review: Microsoft and Google get touchy
(continued from previous page)
In touch with Google's future
Farther up California's coast, in San Francisco, developers flocked to the Google I/O conference to see what Google sees in its crystal ball.
Google demonstrated some new tricks of its Android mobile-phone software, including an elaborate use of Google Maps Street View and a touch-screen interface with abilities known for their presence on Apple's iPhone.
After calling up a view of San Francisco using a Web browser, the demonstrator turned around, and the Street View screen panned left or right accordingly, reflecting his orientation.
Also new were demonstrations of a central notification service that can display new e-mail, missed phone calls, and calendar appointments; the ability to unlock the phone using a specific connect-the-dots swipe across the screen; an option to put browser or contact list shortcuts on the Android desktop; and a version of Pac-Man from Namco.
Google also showed off working prototypes of new possibilities for its Gears project--an open-source plug-in that endows browsers with a number of useful features to make them a better foundation for running elaborate software.
When Google launched Gears a year ago, the company overemphasized its ability to make Web applications work, even when the browser is disconnected from the Internet. The new features, though, head in dramatically different directions: notifications on the desktop of various events, support for location information, better interactions with a computer's file system, and technology to let large file uploads proceed, even when hampered by intermittent network connectivity.
MySpace said it's using Gears to make the social-networking site easier to use. Gears hasn't caught on widely, but MySpace gives the project more clout.
At the same time Google is working on the open-source Gears project, competitor Yahoo has begun similar efforts, announcing its BrowserPlus, which has a similar philosophy: expand what's possible to make Web applications a better alternative to programs running natively on a personal computer.
Among its abilities: "Different Web sites can use BrowserPlus to support things like drag and drop from the desktop, easier file uploads, more efficient and secure acquisition of feeds and information, and native desktop notifications," Yahoo said. Right now, it's available only in a "sneak peek" on some Yahoo-operated Web sites.
Gadgets in the stream
During the interview at D6, Amazon.com Jeff Bezos announced a streaming-video service.
"We are working on a new version of video-on-demand, a for-pay streaming service we will release in the next couple of weeks," he said. "The streaming service will start instantly, and it's a la carte, for pay."
Netflix is banking on the idea of streaming movies to people's living rooms being the future.
CEO Reed Hastings said during Netflix's investor day that he expects the business of renting physical DVDs to peak within the next five years. However, Netflix representatives later said they forecast that DVDs will remain strong for at least a decade.
Hastings said that through streaming, Netflix could grow to 20 million subscribers worldwide. But the company cautioned that it will be some time before its streaming-movie service, which is offered free to consumers, will pay off big.
As Netflix was telling its investors about streaming video's promise, rival Blockbuster was pitching another idea to its investors. Even though the video rental chain has put some good money toward streaming-video efforts, it plans to set up in-store kiosks for consumers to download movies onto portable devices, usually in about two minutes.
Initially, the system will work only with Archos devices, but Blockbuster expects the kiosk to be an "open system" that is compatible with a range of devices. Keyes declined to predict how many titles will be available on the kiosk, noting that Blockbuster is still in negotiations with the major studios for content.
Also of note
The New York State Supreme Court ruled that Dell engaged in fraud, false advertising, deceptive business, and abusive debt collection practices...Yahoo filed suit against unnamed "lottery spammers" who tried to fool people into thinking that they won a prize from Yahoo so they'd share passwords, credit card numbers, or other sensitive information...Revision3 investigated the denial-of-service attack that kept it offline over the Memorial Day weekend and concluded that antipiracy group MediaDefender is to blame...A Swedish art student who claimed to have created the "biggest drawing in the world" using a GPS device and an international package delivery service admitted that the drawing is a hoax.
4 commentsJoin the conversation! Add your comment