Google is hitting the ‘nets hard this week. The Mountain View, Ca. behemoth has unleashed a fresh batch of fancy tricks for their avid followers, further extending the Googleplex’s empire beyond search and into other facets of life. Not only did Google open Wave to 1 million people and launch its Chrome browser for Mac users, but they’re dropping other potential game changers as well.
While Twitter and Facebook (and now Bing) are great at finding out what’s going on right now, Google is not. However, on Monday Google decided to fight back and launched a real-time search function of its own. Now when you search on the main Google page for any current topic, a new box showing the “latest results” springs up. The new feature is a real-time stream of content, continuously updated with links from news articles and blog posts, as well as short bursts of user-generated content from Twitter and FriendFeed [AtlanticWire]. Facebook and MySpace results are coming soon. The real-time search hasn’t been fully released yet, but if you navigate to Google Trends and click on a hot topic, you’ll get a preview of what’s to come.
Not satisfied with limiting their users to text or voice web searches, Google unveiled Google Goggles, a picture-based search function for its Android phone. You snap a photo by centering your image in the Goggles screen and pressing a small camera icon at the bottom of the screen. Goggles then scans the image, analyzes it and identifies it. If the image is of a business card, Goggles separates the information into fields and lets you put it into your Google Contacts database. If it’s a book, the app offers to let you purchase or research it. If it’s a store or a landmark, Goggles fetches Google search info about the location. (Objects such as cars, animals or people aren’t, according to the instructions, really identifiable yet) [ComputerWorld]. Basically, you’ll be able to know everything about a lot of the stuff around you simply by pointing and clicking with your Droid.
This past Monday, just in time for the holiday season, Google launched an entirely new way to window shop. Google is sending window decals to more than 100,000 U.S. businesses that they’ve identified as the most sought-after on Google and Google Maps. Much like the Yelp stickers you’re accustomed to seeing in businesses around town, these decals will appear in store windows and highlight the business’ status as a Google Favorite Place [Mashable]. But there’s a twist: The decals include QR codes, which are funky looking bar codes that people can scan with their cell phones to bring up reviews or coupons for that location. QR codes aren’t new, but they’ve struggled to gain popularity. However, Google is banking on the integration of QR codes with Google maps and its Android phone to push them past the competition (namely Yelp). Others are more skeptical.
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Image: flickr / manfrys