I have a hate/hate a bit more relationship with Google Doodles. Google products work so well because they put functionality and UI before aesthetics. When other search engines were adding flashiness to their pages Google stood strong and kept it simple. Initial beta public beta testers of the site laughed at the simple design with the logo and search bar. They didn’t know what to do with it.
When Google Doodles started I was like OK well see how this goes. A doodle for Earth Day or MLK was alright but recently there have been more and more doodles. It gets a bit unnecessary when there is a doodle for Harriet Tubman’s 191st birthday. This didn’t happen yet but it could at the pace they are going.
Yesterday was Labor Day in the USA. One of our major holidays where people actually get off work. To commemorate it the Google search page had a mini American flag under the search bar. No doodle, no big deal. Big ole Google wore a little USA pin on its white blouse. No biggie. But today there was a doodle marking Freddy Mercury’s birthday. What’s even worse is that Google put this image up on their home pages outside the USA and they waited for Labor Day to be over to put up in the US. Really… couldn’t wait could you? And its up on 9/6/11 not 9/5/11 which marks Mercury’s actual birthday.
Patriotic Labor Day gets no doodle.
All I ask of you Google is to bring Google Doodle back to the essentials. Use it to share knowledge with the world and commemorate important dates. Experiment with it and don’t over use it. A google doodle IS distracting one from using the search feature*. Make it a treat, not something that happens every other day. Web surfers like goodies…..and cats.
*The pac man doodle was genius. It allowed users to play a game right on the home screen. People over analyzed it and figured it cost the economy $120 million because people played it instead of working. That’s what its all about! Thinking back on it we should have sued Google for that one and blamed them for a rise in unemployment or something.
I just frantically waved at the Google Street View car at 21st St. while riding my bike hoping one day to be captured in time on Google Maps.
It may not be as big a surprise as Google hoped it would be at this point, but the company has now officially announced its NFC-based Google Wallet mobile payment service, complete with backing from a number of retail and financial partners including Subway, Macy’s, Walgreens, Toys ‘R Us, First Data, Citibank and MasterCard — plus Sprint on the carrier side. In the case of MasterCard, that partnership means Google Wallet will be fully compatible with the PayPass contactless payment system that’s already widely in place today. Trials are beginning immediately in New York and San Francisco, with a full release planned for this summer. Initially, the Sprint Nexus S 4G will be the only compatible phone, but support for more phones is promised “over time,” and Google even suggested that phones without built-in NFC could simply use an NFC sticker (the Google Wallet app itself will work on non-NFC phones as well). You’ll also have to use either a Citi MasterCard or Google Prepaid Card with the service, although the latter can obviously be funded from any other card.
Also announced today is Google Offers, which will deliver an “offer of the day” to your inbox, and let you seek out other offers from retailers. Of course, it also ties into Google Wallet, and you’ll be able to both redeem offers and receive loyalty rewards from retailers with just a tap of your NFC-enabled phone. As far as Google is concerned, however, mobile payments and special offers are just the beginning for Google Wallet. It eventually sees everything from boarding passes to tickets to IDs (and even keys) being stored on your phone. Not surprisingly, all of this is US-only for the time being, but Google is apparently working on international expansion. Head on past the break for a video and the complete press release.
By MIGUEL HELFT
SAN FRANCISCO — You may not know it, but if you carry a smartphone in your pocket, you are probably doing unpaid work for Apple or Google — and helping them eventually aim more advertising directly at you.
Matthew Staver for The New York Times
Wi-Fi hot spots, like this cafe in Norton, Kan., can provide valuable location information.
As those two companies battle for dominance in mobile computing, they have increasingly been using their customers’ phones as sensors to collect data about nearby cell towers and Wi-Fi hot spots.
Google and Apple use this data to improve the accuracy of everything on the phone that uses location. That includes maps and navigation services, but also advertising aimed at people in a particular spot — a potentially huge business that is just getting off the ground. In fact, the information has become so valuable that the companies have been willing to push the envelope on privacy to collect it.
“Google envisions a world where even a small business can promote products to consumers nearby on a mobile device,” said Alistair Goodman, chief executive of Placecast, a location-based advertising company here. “That is a massive market.”
The companies are using the cell tower and hot spot data to build maps of the world, maps that help smartphones quickly pinpoint their locations. Using the signals as navigational beacons is particularly useful in places where GPS satellite signals are weak, like urban areas or anywhere indoors.
Shifting allegiances and legal battles in the world of location services suggest competition in this market is heating up.
Apple initially relied on technology from Skyhook Wireless, a company that was a pioneer in the technique of using Wi-Fi hot spots for location. But last year it began collecting its own data as well. And late last year, Skyhook sued Google, charging that Google had copied its technology and persuaded Motorola to break contracts with Skyhook and use Google’s competing service.
Google and Apple have said that they collect the information anonymously and use it to keep their databases of Wi-Fi hot spots up to date, not to track individuals. But because a person’s location is delicate information, the practices have raised privacy fears.
The use of this data by the companies has been under scrutiny since last week, when two technology researchers reported that a file stored on many iPhones and iPads keeps track of all the locations visited by a user. The file is unencrypted and is copied to people’s personal computers when they sync their devices.
The report prompted lawmakers in the United States to ask Apple for explanations. Several European governments said they would open investigations into Apple’s practices. On Monday, two customers sued Apple accusing it of privacy invasion and computer fraud. They contend the company is secretly recording and storing the location and movement of iPhone and iPad users.
Late last week, Google said it was collecting information about nearby networks from Android users, though it said that it was not tracking individuals and that it allowed users to decline to participate.
Lisa Madigan, the attorney general of Illinois, wrote to Google and Apple on Monday asking them to explain their location data collection practices.
Apple has declined to comment on the matter.
On Monday, the Web site MacRumors published an e-mail said to be from Steven P. Jobs, Apple’s co-founder and chief executive, in which he replied to a person who had said he planned to switch to a Google Android phone because Google did not track him. The reply said: “Oh yes they do. We don’t track anyone. The info circulating around is false.”
Apple declined to confirm the authenticity of the e-mail.
Some security specialists said they believed Apple was not tracking people, but rather collecting data to update its location databases, since Wi-Fi networks can quickly come and go. A letter sent from Apple in July to two members of Congress, Edward J. Markey, Democrat of Massachusetts, and Joe L. Barton, Republican of Texas, appears to confirm this and provides the most detailed explanation of the technology.
In the letter, Apple said it collects the location data anonymously and only when consumers agree to use its location-based services like maps, or any apps that ask for a user’s location, and for its advertising system, iAds. The company said it began relying on its own databases for location information in 2010. Explaining its need to collect data from its customers’ phones, Apple wrote, “These databases must be updated continuously.”
Security researchers said that they believed that the file with location data stored on iPhones and iPads was meant as a “cache” that would help the device pinpoint its whereabouts faster, and that it could help feed Apple’s giant database of network locations. But they said Apple should have been more diligent about encrypting the file and deleting old data.
“I don’t know why they would want to keep all that data on the device,” said Mark Seiden, an information security consultant in Silicon Valley.
Skyhook began collecting data about Wi-Fi hot spots by sending a fleet of more than 500 cars to drive around the streets of every major city in the United States, Europe and many Asian countries.
“We drove the world,” said Ted Morgan, Skyhook’s chief executive. The company updates the database by sending its cars to remap certain areas and by using phones as sensors when a user requests location data.
Google, which initially collected data on Wi-Fi hot spots with the same fleet of cars that was taking photos for its StreetView service, said it stopped doing so last year after it was found to have collected e-mails and other data streamed through those hot spots. It now collects much of that data and traffic information, through customers’ phones.
Mobile advertising could be a $2.5 billion market by 2015, according to Frost & Sullivan, and ads tied to a location are much more lucrative than other ads. But Mr. Morgan said the location data could be valuable in areas beyond the Internet and mobile phones.
For example, a retailer that has eight outlets in a city could use data about walking patterns to determine where to open its next outlet.
“You are basically getting insight into human behavior that we’ve never had before,” Mr. Morgan said.
Jenna Wortham contributed reporting from New York.
<!- Original article from Mushon Zer-Aviv http://mushon.com/blog/2011/04/22/reclaim-the-street-map/-!>
Rather than doing unpaid corporate cartography,
join us in mapping the world together as a publicly shared resource.
In April 19th 2011 Google announced its new Google Mapmaker expedition to send its users to map the US. This would seem like a great innovative platform for mapping our streets together for those who don’t know that a service like this have actually existed since 2004.Open Street Map is a great collaborative project which Google chose to compete against rather than collaborate with.
In Google Mapmaker, all of your edits would belong to Google. In Open Street Map all of our edits belong to everybody who agrees to equally share them. Google preferred to keep its map proprietary and to prevent equal access to it from those who created it, which it ironically calls “citizen cartographers”. It is sad to say that even Microsoft, Yahoo and AOLare working in collaboration with the public through Open Street Map rather than create a proprietary competitor. Think about it, it’s like undermining Wikipedia by editing aGoogipedia instead…
A year of edits in Open Street Maps
You probably understand this conflict of interests and would choose to draw your streets inour map. But Google, being Google has a much wider outreach and can easily mislead people about “The Meaning of Open”. Therefore I made a very small browser plugin to install on your mom’s browser to protect her from cartographic exploitation by a corporate entity.
What Reclaim the Street Map! does is simply send an alert when opening Google Mapmaker and suggests using Open Street Map instead. If approved, it would redirect to OpenStreetMap.org if not, it would stay on the page. Simple.
So until Google chooses to do less evil, to be a good citizen and to not exploit your mom, please…