Is Google Play Ready for Prime Time?

Posted: April 27th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Fun, Marketing and SEO, Techy | Tags: , , | No Comments »

n March 2012, Google made a bold move with the creation of a new digital content service called Google Play. Google Play combines the Android Market, Google Music, Google Movies, and Google books into one service which can be accessed from the web and from any Android-powered device.

From a long-term perspective, Google Play is meant to be part of the unifying force behind the company’s mobile strategy. In August 2011, Google acquired Motorola Mobility in order to boost the Android ecosystem, and just a few days ago Google announced plans to build and sell Android-based tablets directly to consumers rather than through their hardware manufacturing partners. (Google has already tested the waters of hardware sales to customers with the Nexus One back in 2010.) It’s clear that Google wants to move away from the name “Android” and begin to brand all of their mobile distributed services under one clear name.

What’s not clear is why they chose that name.

Android users were familiar with term “Android Market” and knew what it stood for easily (even with Google Music, Google Books, etc. as standalone apps within the market). However, the name “Google Play Store” — or is it just “Play Store”? — feels just as rushed as Google Play’s launch. The Android Market is one of the operating system’s major features, because your apps and downloaded files were synced across your Android device. None of that changes with Google Play, but the re-branding may make it more confusing for newer Android users.

The Google Play Store wasn’t the only name change — Google Music, Google Movies, and Google Books are now called Google Play Music, Google Play Movies, and Google Play Books. On devices, this is shortened to Play Music, Play Movies, Play Books, and there are also new icons for each of these apps.

Google Play’s launch is also centered mostly around US Android tablet and smartphone users. The full suite of Google Play apps are available here in the States, but a full global roll-out is still pending. Users in the UK and Canada have access to the Play Store, Play Movies, and Play Books. Australia has access to the Play Store and Play Books, and Japan has access to the Play Store and Play Movies. Every other country in the world just has the Play Store, which puts the entire Google Play ecosystem on pause until implementation in other countries is fully complete. (There’s a thread on Google+ about the Google Play roll-out that has well over 260 comments about this.)

The same goes for Google Play on Google TV. Google Play Books, Google Play Movies, and Google Play Music are said to be available on the Google Play Store on Google TV, but that’s not the case across all Google TV devices (namely, the Logitech Revue). Google Play Music is available for Google TV, but not the other two services. This may be part of Google’s plan to completely phase out support for the Revue (perhaps in anticipation for a newer, better Google TV set-top box), but for now, Revue users will only be able to use Google Play Music.

Google is moving full force with marketing Google Play, and has even given the service prominence in their ubiquitous navbar, which is present across a majority of Google’s services. Including Google Play front and center for users (along with the bright red “New” superscript) is a little blatant, but doing so would make users who are unfamiliar with the service take notice.

There’s no doubt that Google Play is a step in the right direction for Google with regards to strengthening their mobile brand and readying their digital media hub for their upcoming line of tablets. And, like any of Google’s products or services, this is only the beginning. However, they will still have to go a long way to ensure current users that Google Play is more than the sum of its parts.

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NEW Windows 8 – Coming Mid-Late 2012

Posted: January 12th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Techy | No Comments »

Microsoft released the early version of Windows 8 on a prototype tablet last week. Those of you who would like to taste and experience the all new Windows 8, you can download the Developer Preview, which is currently in pre-beta version. The developer version shows off the current stage of the OS. It is available for free download, and comes in three different packages:

(1) 64-bit version – Only the OS
(2) 32-bit version – Only the OS
(3) 64-bit version with developer tools

Windows 8

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BBC upgrades iPlayer for your TV, PS3 users first to get it

Posted: August 11th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Techy | No Comments »

The BBC has announced the launch of a brand new version of its, now famed, BBC iPlayer which has been redesigned specifically for your TV.

In the past, use of the iPlayer on the television, often through the PlayStation 3 or a connected TV, although popular, has been stifled by an interface that could prove a little clunky. The new version of the iPlayer should bring a whole new level of control and the custom-built TV interface should allow for an easier transition from scheduled TV to on-demand.

The new iPlayer design will also deliver a simplified TV-friendly UI which allows for familiar channel flicking, whilst there’s also a vastly improved search function.

Daniel Danker, BBC’s general manager, Programmes & On Demand said:

“BBC iPlayer has been tremendously successful. With today’s announcement, we’re transforming iPlayer in its most natural home: right on the living room TV. By creating a product that’s as simple and intuitive as flicking through TV channels, the BBC is bringing on demand television to mainstream audiences across the UK.

“Last week, Ofcom reported that 10% of TV sets sold in the UK are internet ready. But BBC iPlayer is already available on over 300 connected TVs and blu-ray disc players, which has resulted in a 5x growth of iPlayer on TV over the last 6 months alone. At this rate of growth, in the next few years we could well see over half of iPlayer use directly on the living room TV.”

This move should do a great deal to increase the use of the service, as it’s a lot more likely that the iPlayer for TV will be used to browse for shows rather than just looking up specific programmes that have been missed. It is also in line with the growing trend for people to watch programmes away from scheduled television broadcasts.

The new TV-friendly iPlayer will be launching initially on Sony’s PlayStation 3, with further rollout to the 300-odd connected TVs coming in the next few months; turning catch-up TV into a “complete connected TV experience”.

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Website security indicators – Google Chrome

Posted: June 30th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Techy, Web Detective | No Comments »

Website security indicators – Google Chrome.

A highly useful page for users of Google Chrome. This page provides the security info needed when visiting any page on the internet.

Users of the Google Chrome browser will see an icon to the left of the web page address (the url). Clicking this will give the user valuable information in their decision to enter information of a sensitive nature, such as usernames, passwords, and credit card numbers.

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Lorempixum – placeholder images for every case

Posted: June 17th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Techy, Web Design, Web Detective | Tags: | No Comments »

This is a pretty cool tool for all you web designers/developers out there.

Ever struggled to find an appropriate placeholder image? And when you do find one you then have to crop it to the right dimensions.

Well this site at Lorempixum.com takes all the work out of it. It’s a placeholder image generator, you choose the size of the image and a theme, you can then copy and paste the image to your site.

Alternatively, just put this custom url in your code like this:

<img src=”http://lorempixum.com/400/200″ />

to get your FPO / dummy image.

via lorempixum – placeholder images for every case.

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Facebook Auto-Tagging Now Outside North America

Posted: June 9th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Techy, Web Design, Web Detective | No Comments »

Facebook face tagging recognition

Facebook Auto-Tagging Now Outside North America.

Sophos, the IT security and data protection firm, has advised Facebook users to review their privacy settings, even as reports have stated that the social networking website has enabled facial recognition for photo tags for many users.

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Internet Explorer 9

Posted: June 8th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Techy, Web Detective | Tags: , | No Comments »

IE 9

Fabulous – I think not! After taking nearly a full minute on first start up. I guess it got annoyed during the process that it discovered that Explorer wasn’t the default browser of choice. IE 9 which promises so much, delivered so little. All it took was one click on the button at the bottom that says ‘Choose add-ons’ for the browser to become non-responsive. Actually I must say that it then felt quite comforting that Microsoft’s new flagship product failed so spectacularly. The decision was then made for me to remain with Google Chrome – simple and fast!

Anyone buying a new PC or downloading this browser should immediately dump it, if only for all the years of misery draped on us with its previous 3 browser version attempts, although admittedly IE9 implements standards a lot better than before but again not as well as Firefox, Opera or Chrome.

Microsoft really has slowed down the progress of web and standards considerably, Goodbye and stick to what you are good at – designing MICE!

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The Wilderness Downtown

Posted: May 12th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Design and Illustration, Fun, Marketing and SEO, Techy, Web Design, Web Detective | Tags: , | No Comments »

Click here to see ‘The Wilderness Downtown’ by Arcade Fire.

Take a look at this, no flash needed so make sure you don’t use Internet Explorer as it’s done in HTML 5 showing the way forward. IE is slowing the web down by not embracing new technologies and open source – what are they waiting for.

This is the new video for Arcade Fire and is promoted via a clever viral, listen and learn!

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YouTube Now Saves All Videos in Open Format WebM

Posted: April 20th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Techy, Web Detective | No Comments »

YouTube Now Saves All Videos in Open Format WebM.

YouTube is announcing this afternoon that all videos uploaded to the site are now saved in WebM format, as well as other supported formats including Adobe Flash. 30% of the YouTube archives, making up 99% of the views, is now available in WebM as well and the full archives are being put in the new format as we speak.

WebM is a format that many different companies have been working on, in an effort to create a way to show and view videos that is better suited for the web than Flash and is royalty free. Firefox added support for the format last month and Internet Explorer announced a plug-in that would add WebM support. Google and Opera also offer browser support for WebM. Where’s Safari? Google added WebM support to Android’s Gingerbread version in December.

Performance improvements may not be readily apparent, however. The WebM project site says that “playback performance and rendering is not yet fully optimized in the browsers that support WebM but improvements are forthcoming.”

Frederic Lardinois explained WebM here at ReadWriteWeb last June, when support for it was added to Chrome:

Google introduced WebM at its annual developers conference last month…The WebM project aims to provide online video providers with a royalty free alternative to the H.264 video codec. H.264 has become the de facto standard for high-quality online video and Apple uses it to display videos on the iPad and iPhone. Adobe supports it in its Flash player. As online video continues to move away from Flash and towards HTML5, however, developers need a free and open alternative to H.264. H.264 is currently available for free and owned by the MPEG LA consortium, but this group will likely start to charge royalty fees in the near future.

To counter this threat, Google acquired On2 Technologies last year. On2′s VP8 codec forms the basis of the WebM project.

Hopefully this whole experiment will work out and browsers will be optimized to support it. I paid good money for this Macbook Pro I’m running Chrome on, and I’d love to be able to use it to watch videos.

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CSS3 linear gradients – Dev.Opera

Posted: March 22nd, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Techy, Web Design, Web Detective | Tags: | No Comments »

CSS3 linear gradients – Dev.Opera.

For as long as we can remember, we have used colour gradients on the Web to brighten things up, and add class to designs. If you want to create a fantastic looking button, panel, gauge, progress bar or other UI feature, a gradient is the way to go.

Up until now, we have always used repeated background images to create gradient effects. The CSS is simple, and creating a gradient using Photoshop, Fireworks, or another graphics tool is not hard. However, doing it this way is rather inflexible, given that if you want to vary the colour scheme or other features of the gradient, you need to go back to your graphics tool and create another image! Wouldn’t it be better if you had complete control over the gradients using CSS?

CSS3 comes to the rescue with the CSS Image Values and Replaced Content Module Level 3: part of this module defines CSS gradients, which allow us to create any gradients we want using only CSS. In this article I will explore how to use linear and repeated linear gradients, which are supported across Opera 11.10+, Firefox 3.6+, Safari 5.03+ and Chrome 7+.

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