Review: Gizmodo Selects the Best Cloud Storage Services

  • Gizmodo takes an in-depth look at 11 popular cloud storage services and provides analysis of each based on pricing, features and functionality.
  • This is a great bird’s-eye view for those who may be wondering what makes each service distinct.
  • The site picks SugarSync as the clear winner, which offers 5GB of free storage and has plans ranging from 30-500GB starting at $50 a year.
  • “It combines the best bits of all of the other services and weaves it together into a fast and intuitive package,” reports Gizmodo about SugarSync. “It worked exactly like we wanted to. Super powerful, super easy, and tons of features.”
  • Additional top services include Google (Budget Winner), Microsoft SkyDrive (Free Winner) and Dropbox (Your Mom’s Winner).

Quixey Search Engine Targets Social Media Apps

  • Quixey is an app-specialized search engine funded by former Google CEO Eric Schmidt.
  • The service hopes to make it simpler for social media users (developers and consumers) to find applications and widgets for social networks.
  • Last week, Quixey got closer to that goal when it added Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Foursquare integration.
  • The engine also indexes and categorizes tools and apps based on social chatter, blog posts, reviews and other third-party descriptions of their function. The search technology bypasses the clutter by efficiently mining data and app-related keywords.
  • Quixey co-founder Tomer Kagan explains: “A lot of apps on Facebook [for example] don’t even have a description attached — just a name. From a search perspective, if all you have to work with is like three words, it’s extremely difficult.”
  • The Mountain View, CA startup has raised $400,000 in seed money from Schmidt’s Innovation Endeavors.

MySpace Founder Believes Google+ has Facebook on the Defensive

  • Tom Anderson, former founder and president of MySpace, details the key advantages Google+ has over Facebook in a recent guest post on TechCrunch.
  • Anderson suggests Google+ can attract game developers by taking a smaller cut, and may not need any advertising at all. “Google has plenty to gain without ever showing an ad and, put simply, Google doesn’t need the money,” writes Anderson. “Facebook’s got to know this, and it’s got to have them just a little bit concerned.”
  • Facebook is testing out a “real-time” feed, as opposed to its current default “Top News” algorithm (which Anderson has criticized). Facebook is having to deal with complaints from advertisers and app developers. “It seems that the ‘Top News’ stream is killing the virality of advertisers ‘content’ and of apps that are trying to find new users,” he adds.
  • Anderson addresses Google’s decision to block business accounts and suggests both companies have some challenging decisions to make: “How do they balance what’s best for the regular guy (you & me), advertisers (big brands), small local businesses (who can never afford the big spend), platform developers with non-competing services (games & music, which it appears FB won’t get into) and platform developers with potentially competitive services (like business networking and dating, which FB/G+ may want to get into themselves someday).”
  • “Over the long haul (5-10 years), the company that makes the right choices in these areas may just end up winning,” he concludes.

Google Rolls Out Ambitious Plan to Acquire Patents

  • Google has purchased more than 1,000 patents from IBM, its most recent step in what the Los Angeles Times describes as “an arms race for patents.”
  • The acquisition is part of an effort to strengthen its intellectual-property portfolio and avoid legal assault.
  • It may also bolster the legal buffer surrounding its Android mobile OS court showdown with Oracle set for October.
  • Google has some 700 patents (mostly for search engine technology) while its competitors, especially those in the mobile industry, have thousands.
  • “Patents are instruments of war. Companies are acquiring patents to both defend their market share and to countersue competitors,” suggests technology patent valuation specialist Alexander Poltorak, chief executive of General Patent Corp. “Google neglected patents for many years because it did not realize that they were essential business tools. It can no longer neglect them.”

Facebook for Business Helps Organizations with Social Networking

  • Facebook announced the launch of “Facebook for Business” this week.
  • The service does not introduce any features new to Facebook, but is reportedly making it simpler for organizations to set up on the social networking site.
  • “Facebook allows small businesses to create rich social experiences, build lasting relationships and amplify the most powerful type of marketing — word of mouth,” a Facebook spokesperson told GigaOm. “We created to make it even easier for people to reach these objectives and grow.”
  • Facebook provides business services including user profiles for organizations, advertisements, sponsored stories, and assistance with creating Facebook apps and using social plugins.
  • The timing is interesting, since Google+ has recently been shutting down company profiles for violating user policy.

20th Century Fox will Offer Movie Downloads for Android

  • Twentieth Century Fox has announced a new service that will offer Fox movie downloads on Android devices as early as October. This is a first for the Google Android OS.
  • Due largely to the lack of playback and copy-protection technologies, Android has so far taken a backseat to Apple’s iPhone and the convenience of the iTunes store.
  • These issues should be addressed now that Google has acquired rights-management company Widevine.
  • Digital Trends points out that the service won’t enable downloading directly to phones: “Customers will need to initially buy a physical Blu-ray disc of a Fox movie. Afterward, they will be allowed to download a digital Android-friendly copy of the movie from Fox’s website to a computer, which can then be side loaded onto the Android device.”

Update: Google+ Reaches 20 Million Users in First Three Weeks

  • ETCentric recently reported that Google+ may be one of the fastest growing networks ever, when it hit the 10 million mark two weeks from its launch.
  • Web analytics firm comScore reports that the new social network has already doubled that amount. Google+ has had 20 million unique visitors since its release late last month, including five million from the U.S.
  • Additionally, the Google+ iPhone app released earlier this week is expected to boost these totals.
  • “I’ve never seen anything grow this quickly,” commented VP of industry analysis at comScore, Andrew Lipsman. “The only other site that has accumulated as many new visitors in a short period of time is Twitter in 2009, but that happened over several months.”
  • According to Digital Trends: “The long-term plan for Google+ is to integrate it with other Google services such as YouTube and Gmail. When that happens, it’ll become a service to be reckoned with and will likely begin to make big gains on competitors such as Facebook and Twitter.”

Three Americans Earn Top Honors at First Google Science Fair

  • Three female American students swept top honors at the first Google Science Fair, “bucking the perception of a male-dominated science world.”
  • The three girls were selected from more than 10,000 students representing 91 countries in the international competition.
  • The grand prize was awarded to 17-year-old Shree Bose for her work with cisplatin, a chemotherapy treatment drug for ovarian cancer.
  • Bose was awarded a $50,000 scholarship, a 10-day trip to the Galapagos Islands with a National Geographic researcher, and an internship at the CERN particle physics laboratory.
  • In total, the three Americans earned more than $100,000 in scholarships and prizes.
  • Video of the awards presentation and guidelines for next year’s competition are available at the Google Science Fair website.

Update: Apple Considering a Bid for Hulu Video Service

  • In the latest installment of the ongoing Hulu saga, Bloomberg reports Apple is “considering making a bid” for the online video service.
  • Apple would join Google, Yahoo, AT&T and others who have expressed interest (Microsoft has reportedly dropped out of the bidding).
  • With $76 billion in cash and securities, an expected $2 billion bid would not be too difficult for Apple. If so, analysts suggest this would give Apple a leading subscription service that would rival, if not surpass, the Netflix service.
  • “Part of the ecosystem of Apple’s future is to include more video,” said Scott Sutherland, Wedbush Securities analyst (who recommends buying the stock). “It’s something they are focused on.”

Update: Microsoft Drops Out of Auction for Hulu Service

  • Microsoft has reportedly dropped out of the bidding for Hulu and would not continue into a second round, according to “a person with knowledge of the matter.” (Although the individual did not rule out the possibility of Microsoft re-entering in a later round.)
  • Google, Yahoo, AT&T and as many as eight other companies remain interested in the online video service.
  • According to Business Insider, Yahoo is willing to spend up to $2 billion if it can get content rights for the next four or five years.
  • It has been reported that Hulu plans to offer five years of access to content from its media company owners (Disney, News Corp. and Comcast’s NBC Universal), including two years of exclusivity.

Google+ Hangouts Can Provide Two-Way Broadcasts

  • Indie pop singer Daria Musk held a six hour live concert over the weekend from a Connecticut recording studio on Google+ Hangouts with her fans and followers from all over the world.
  • Unfortunately, the one major constraint was that only ten people at a time could join Musk’s Hangout (others were told to try joining again later).
  • According to GigaOM, audience members (including a Google engineering director) “figured out an impromptu way of daisy-chaining Hangouts, making it possible for others to join in on the fun by joining connected video chats. This type of Hangouts relay was a quick hack, something to deal with the fact that Google has restricted the number of live participants in Hangouts to ten — but it also hints at an interesting opportunity for Google to utilize Hangouts as a way to turn live online broadcasting into a two-way medium, that is capable of real audience interaction.”
  • Musk’s comments after the concert: “I have to tell you that I never really felt I belonged in the places I’ve been in… I’ve always dreamed of seeing the world, meeting people from all over, being a global girl, a global artist… Finding my tribe… I found you last night. Thank you for finding me.”

Three Weeks After Launch, Google+ Now Available for iPhone

  • Google launched its new Google+ social network June 28th, and an Android app was made immediately available.
  • Three weeks later, Apple finally approved the official Google+ app for iOS (until Tuesday, iPhone users had to access a mobile Web version in Safari).
  • Similar to the Web version, Google+ for iPhone includes Circles (stream of updates from a user’s contacts) and Huddle (for group messaging within a user’s circles).
  • Google+ for iOS works on the iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4 (running iOS 3.1 or later). A dedicated iPad version has yet to be announced.

Facebook Plans to Launch News Platform: Facebook Editions

  • Facebook is planning a new service called “Facebook Editions” that creates app versions of popular news outlets.
  • CNN, The Daily and the Washington Post are a few of around a dozen news outlets that have already signed on.
  • The recently released Google+, which already has 10 million users, reportedly has a similar idea in the works.
  • Both the Facebook and Google service have a potentially significant obstacle to face: paywalls (New York Times is holding back for the time being due to complications with this issue).
  • Look for Facebook Editions as a new feature of the social networker possibly by September.

Google+ Business Test Program will Move Up its Schedule

  • Google had originally planned to test business partners on Google+ sometime in the coming months, but strong interest has led to the company possibly announcing partners as early as next week.
  • Christian Oestlien, group product manager at Google, wrote this week that “thousands upon thousands” of businesses are interested in using Google+. And as a result, the demand “has got us very focused on accelerating our business plans.”
  • Several businesses — including Ford, Breaking News and Mashable — have already moved ahead by creating Google+ profiles for their brands.
  • Businesses interested in a partnership are being asked to submit their applications by Friday, July 15.

Dragon Go! provides Targeted Voice-Powered Search Results

  • Dragon Go! — a new voice-powered search app from Nuance Communications — is looking to join Google and Bing as a top search engine for mobile devices. (Nuance also offers the popular Dragon Dictation transcription program and a more generic voice search app called Dragon Search.)
  • Although not the first voice-activated search service available, Dragon Go is unique in that it identifies which ideal application to use for each query. For example, if “Play R.E.M.” is searched, Dragon Go will open Pandora — but if movie tickets are searched for, Fandango will open.
  • Nuance developed an open architecture geared toward including all types of vertical queries. It presently supports more than 180 services such as Yelp, Wikipedia, Pandora, IMDb, Fandango, OpenTable and Google.
  • The free app is currently available via Apple’s App Store and works on the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad.