Did you really think Google was going to sit idly by and let Apple’s iTunes dominate the music experience forever? Not a chance.
The internet search giant is taking a major step forward in its expected bid to become a legitimate rival to iTunes.
According to CNET
, who cites “music industry sources”, Google Music is being tested internally at Google. These sources also said that the app described in this recent XDA Developers forum
, was a “working version of the service, but that the final version could be “much different” than the one recently leaked.
The lucky find by an XDA Developers forum member has suggested that Google's development on its music service has proceeded much faster than many would have expected it to. In a forum post made two weeks ago, the poster claims that he was playing around with a custom Honeycomb ROM for his smartphone, only to find out that the ROM contained a fully working version of Google Music preloaded, complete with cloud syncing capabilities.
According to the CNET report, sources close to the search giant have revealed that Google is already well into the next step of the testing process. Known as 'dog-fooding', it refers to employees being tasked to try or test out a new product or service in order for developers to gather data on how the service might function under typical real world circumstances. Add both findings together, and most users will probably come to the same conclusion - that Google's upcoming online music service is almost ready, and it is only a matter of time before Google Music goes live.
Google Music is widely expected to offer streaming music service that enables users to access their content from any and all connected devices. To me, being the music junkie that I am, this sounds like a godsend. I can’t wait for the day that my music collection, in its entirety, will be cloud-based and available to me on all of my internet connected devices. I also look forward to some healthy competition for iTunes.
Online music sales have been largely dominated by Apple. Competition from a powerful content provider such as Google ought to give iTunes a run for its money, creating more options for all of us. Unfortunately, it seems that Google has its work cut out for them, as CNET's report claims that industry players close to the search giant have identified content availability as the biggest problem faced by Google Music. This is due fundamental differences in Apple's and Google's approach to digital music: unlike Apple, Google is reportedly negotiating with record companies for rights to all music synced to Google's cloud servers, and not just tracks made available for download via Google Music. Sources inside the music industry say Google would have likely introduced the service long ago if not for the negotiations that reportedly continue between the internet behemoth and top record labels.
The music industry, however, is more than eager for an iTunes rival to enter the market. The prospect of an iTunes competitor of Google’s caliber “has music industry executives giddy.”
Needless to say, record companies are understandably wary of Google's unorthodox proposal; this has resulted in delays over content availability for Google Music. Still, one should not overlook the fact that Google has had experience in digital music, and it is entirely possible that Google's approach might come off as the better solution as opposed to Apple's iTunes.
For music lovers like me, we are eagerly waiting to see how this all plays out. How about you? What would you like to see from Google Music that iTunes does not offer?
After 12 betas, 1 release candidate, and more than a year of work Mozilla has officially released Firefox 4, the latest version of its popular open-source browser. In the first 24 hours since it has become available, Firefox 4 has been downloaded over 5 million times, according to Mozilla’s official download stats page. In comparison, Microsoft's Internet Explorer 9 was downloaded 2.35 million times in its first 24 hours of availability.
Available for download on Windows, Linux, and Mac, The new version of Firefox 4 introduces a much-improved user interface, significant performance enhancements, strong support for the latest Web standards, and noteworthy new features like built-in support for synchronizing bookmarks and other browser data.
The new release arrives at a time when the Web is enjoying an unprecedented level of competition and a rapid pace of evolution, with the release of Internet Explorer 9 last week and with a “new kid on the block” steadily gaining market share, Google’s Chrome.
Firefox 4 has a dramatically redesigned user interface that's quite a departure from the one seen in previous versions, but it also bears a striking resemblance to Google Chrome. The tabs now sit above the address bar which, combined with the lack of a menu bar, maximizes the amount of screen space devoted to actual web content. A Windows Start menu-style Firefox menu contains the most common menu commands with the Bookmarks menu accessible from the Bookmarks toolbar, if you choose to leave it visible. It's possible to restore a more traditional appearance though, with a menu bar and tabs below the address bar.
Tabbed browsing has been given a makeover with an intriguing new feature called Tab Groups. Multiple windows full of tabs can be managed from a single visual overview without cluttering up your desktop and Task Bar with lots of windows. This is useful if you're addicted to tabbed browsing and juggle tabs related to different tasks and projects. Tabs can be dragged and dropped between groups, groups can named or resized so, for example, more important Tab Groups are bigger than less important ones.
Like Chrome, individual tabs can be 'pinned' so that they can't be closed which is useful for web applications, such as Google Docs, that you might always want accessible. If you start typing the address of a web page that's already open in another tab, Firefox offers to take you to that tab without reloading the page.
Being a loyal Firefox user for years, recently I made the switch to Chrome as my default browser. My decision was based solely on speed, the quicker I can open web pages the better. With Firefox’s new speed enhancements redesigned interface, I might just have to switch back.
Mozilla is confident enough about the state of its Firefox 4 Release Candidate (RC) to announce a launch date for the
final version of Firefox 4.The company targets March 22 as the release date at this time, according to a developer post by Mozilla's Damien Sicore.
So far it seems as if the RC is holding its own quite well. I’ve been using it as my default browser since the early beta stages and have found no significant bugs. There has been only one major (Java) bug has been found by some users, which Mozilla did not qualify as a blocking bug. If all goes according to plan, Mozilla will publish Firefox 4 in its final version next week. If Mozilla discovers any additional bugs, there will be a second RC and the final release date will be delayed.
At this time, Mozilla is about five months behind schedule. Before the end of June, Firefox 5 is scheduled to be rolled out. That date has been pushed back indefinitely. Microsoft released IE9 late Monday, which increases the pressure on Mozilla to release its next-generation browser.
Stay tuned, later this week I’ll explain the new features and what you will need to know!
Last night at the South by Southwest Interactive conference in Austin, Texas, the final version of Windows Internet Explorer 9 was released and is now available for download.
Microsoft opted, this time, not to offer IE9 support for Windows XP. So, the 9th version of the IE9 web browser can only be installed on Windows Vista or Windows 7, a decision that has spurred a lot of critics, as an estimated 60% of the computers in the world are running on the Windows XP operating system.
The new web browser promises a better Internet browsing experience. Given that IE is losing its share to popular browsers like Firefox and Chrome, Microsoft expects to strike back with IE9. Let’s take a look at what’s new in the new Internet Explorer:
The new IE9 interface is surely inspired from the best of Chrome and Firefox. The first big change is in the location of the URL bar which now aligns with the tabs, occupying minimum vertical space on the screen. The toolbar on the top combines most of the settings and other tweaking buttons go provide optimum space for the web pages. The address bar is ‘smart’ in the sense that it gives suggestions from your bookmarks, history and relevance of the query you’re typing in it. The tabs can be separated from window by dragging them out to form a new window – something that you can do also in Chrome and Firefox. The new tab also shows your most visited & bookmarked sites for easy access.
There is a considerable improvement in the software load time. The browser does seem to load faster than any of the IE versions in the past. The most welcome addition is ‘hardware acceleration’ which uses GPU to process graphics heavy web pages thus taking off the load from CPU and improving load times. This is most likely to improve your game demo and video preview experience.
IE9 introduces support to HTML5. It’s definitely not 100% HTML5 as the HTML5 standards are not final yet. We are expecting a lot of improvement in the support with future updates to IE9.
Now you can directly drop the Facebook URL to taskbar of the browser and IE9 will automatically add links to relevant pages of Facebook (Feed, Profile, Inbox etc.). Microsoft has partnered with several popular service providers to enable this feature.
Power users will find this feature very useful. Those obsessed with speed can now follow recommendations from the add-on performance adviser to get the most out of their browser. The performance adviser detects the programs, scripts and apps that slow down your browsing experience and provides a one-stop solution to turn them on or off.
Improved Download Manager:
Learning from Firefox & Chrome, Microsoft has included a nice download manager which is a central place to manage and track all your downloads. There’s nothing new or revolutionary in it, but it’s a feature we all got used to after Firefox introduced it.
The feature that Chrome introduced is now available in IE9. You can easily switch to private browsing mode that lets you browse anonymously without any of the site collecting any information from you.
What’s your take on IE9? Do you think it poses a serious competition to Firefox or Chrome?
An 8.9-magnitude earthquake hit Japan on Friday and while authorities are still attempting to assess the extent of the destruction it caused, people are desperately trying to reach loved ones in areas affected by the natural disaster. Google is trying to help.
Google has set up a Crisis Response Center page on which it provides links to disaster resources, related news reports, and the Google Person Finder tool.
The Google Person Finder tool is a simple-to-use website which was dreamt up after the 2010 Haiti earthquake. It allows individuals to share and gather information about those missing after this disaster.
As with previous versions of the tool, all someone needs to do is enter as much of a person's name as he or she knows and Google will provide any related information — including last known location, physical descriptions, last reported status and messages left by those searching for the individual.
Those seeking to add information to the database will need to provide the full name of the individual they've got information about as well as their own names and e-mail addresses.
In the few hours since the Japan earthquake, over 5,500 records have been added to the database and we suspect that the number will increase as people get to safe locations and begin seeking information about their dear ones.
We suggest that you add to the Google Person Finder records if you have any valid information on the whereabouts or status of any individual thought to be missing in the aftermath of the Japan earthquake.
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Here's a technology that may hold some promise for your road warriors: An in-vehicle voice-to-text system that lets drivers dictate email while keeping their hands on the wheel. BMW is showing a prototype of this system, which makes it possible for drivers to edit, send and receive messages using voice commands, reports Bruce Gain at PCWorld
The main novelty is that you can compose e-mails with the same ease of use that you would have with a PC in an office setting--without taking your eyes off of the road or using your hands. You respond to e-mail by dictating out loud what you want to say while using voice commands for editing functions, such as deleting, moving, or replacing text. For millions of workers who otherwise waste a large percentage of their time driving every day, being able to send and receive e-mails safely while commuting would represent an obvious boost in productivity.
The system, which could be sold as an option in production models within three years, as part of the company's plans to develop voice-activated commands to operate any function that drivers must otherwise activate today by hand. For example, the German luxury carmaker expects eventually to allow drivers to enter search queries on the Internet and to hear search results read out loud by using voice commands as well.
This is just one of BMW's initiatives to bring desktop-like functionality to the automobile by way of voice commands. The company's ConnectedDrive technology lets Blackberry users connect the handset to a dashboard console using Bluetooth, and listen to email and text messages read out loud to them.
Similar in-vehicle communications efforts are underway at other auto manufacturers. Ford offers the Sync infotainment system, which enables some smartphone apps to operate on a console. Future versions expected within five years would let drivers dictate messages and hear email read out loud, Gains writes. GM, for its part, is planning to release an OnStar voice communications feature for Android phone users.
What do you think? How many of you would respond to emails while driving? I know I would.
It’s been long awaited, and it’s now here, or at least it will be March 11. Apple has announced the hotly anticipated second version of its popular iPad, and it has addressed some of the complaints and criticisms of the first generation
Below is a video by Jason Snell of Macworld and here is his full breakdown
of the iPad 2.
The device now boasts not one but two cameras, one for its FaceTime video chat feature and the other for HD video recording. It sports a thinner and lighter design for easier holding during extended periods and offers the same 10-hour battery life as previous models. In addition, it sports a dual core A5 chip.
Does this address all of the complaints of the previous model? No, but the iPad 2 offers plenty to attract new admirers.Thinner Design
The new iPad is 33% thinner and nearly 15% lighter so it’s more comfortable to hold for extended periods for reading, watching movies, checking e-mail and surfing the Web. Dual-core A5 Chip
Two cores in the A5 chip makes for a faster experience no matter what you are doing, whether it is playing games, watching movies or making FaceTime video chats. The greater speed also allows for faster app launching and smoother multitasking.Enhanced Graphics
Apple claims the new iPad has up to nine times the graphics performance for smoother and more realistic gameplay, not to mention scrolling through your photo albums, viewing animations or editing videos in iMovie.Improved Battery Life
Because of the energy efficiency of the A5 chip and the IOS, the new iPad offers the same 10-hour battery life as the previous version, even with its much slimmer design.Not One But Two Cameras
Some have questioned whether a webcam would work well on a tablet device, because its lack of a built-in stand would likely result in an annoyingly shaky video, and the awkward size of the iPad would make it difficult to use as a camera for still photos or videos. However, enough people clamored for such a camera that the option on the new iPad is sure to be popular. The camera that faces the screen allows for video chats, while the rear-facing camera captures HD video.New iPad “Smart Cover”
In addition to the new features, Apple has also introduced a new cover for the iPad 2. The new cover is articulated and hinged to the top edge of the iPad, so that it can be folded up and either used as a stand to hold the iPad in near vertical position or as a typing base to hold the iPad at a slight angle for typing on the virtual keyboard.
The cover is magnetic in design, so it stays put against the glass front of the iPad when closed. The iPad detects when the cover is closed and goes to sleep automatically, and it reawakens when the cover is opened. As if that’s not enough, the cover comes in 10 bright colors. The cover is designed to protect the screen of the iPad without adding bulk to its design, but some users will be disappointed that it doesn’t protect all sides of the device.LED-Backlit Display
Of course, the iPad sports the same large 9.7 inch high-resolution display as on the first generation (but not the Retina Display like is found on the iPhone 4 — that would probably be prohibitively expensive for a screen the size of the iPad’s). Like previous models, the display features a technology called IPS (in-plane switching) for a wide viewing angle.Multi-Touch Technology
As with the previous model, the multi-touch display makes surfing the Web, flicking through photos and turning the pages of e-books seem natural. The display detects when your fingers touch the screen using electrical fields, and transforms your taps, pinches and swipes into the appropriate responses.iOS 4
The iOS 4 operating system for iPad allows for multitasking as well as running the 65,000 apps that have already been developed for the iPad. As on other models of the iPad, it’s responsive and helps set the iPad apart from devices offered by competing companies.WI-FI and 3G
As with the previous model, the iPad features 802.11n wireless technology, and automatically finds and lets you join WI-FI networks. It is also available with 3G connectivity on either AT&T or Verizon Wireless networks for those places where WI-FI is not available (the 3G data plan requires a separate purchase).Gyroscope, Accelerometer, and Compass
The iPad has always sported a built-in accelerometer that senses when you rotate the device to portrait or landscape orientation so that the display can adjust automatically, but now the accelerometer works in conjunction with a three-axis gyroscope and compass for even better responsiveness, especially when playing games.AirPlay and AirPrint
Apple’s AirPlay technology now allows for wireless streaming of your music, photos and videos to your AirPlay-enabled HDTV and speakers on a WI-FI network.
Built-in AirPrint allows you to get a hard copy of your documents directly from your printer over WI-FI.Video Mirroring
The new video mirroring allows you to show your presentations to a larger audience with the Apple Digital AV Adapter or the Apple VGA Adapter and an HDTV or projector.
Although the iPad to doesn’t include all the features that many people were hoping and wishing for, such as USB ports and Flash compatible, it has enough to offer to keep a new flock of iPad users very happy indeed.
Dropbox has finally dropped the “Beta” tag and released version 1.0! The new version comes with hundreds of bug fixes. Dropbox is a Web-based file hosting service that uses cloud computing to enable users to store and share files and folders with others across the Internet using file synchronization.
In comparison to similar services, Dropbox offers a relatively large number of user clients across a variety of desktop and mobile operating systems. There are a total of 10 clients, including versions for Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux, as well as versions for mobile devices, such as Android, iPhone, iPad and BlackBerry, and a web-based client for when no local client is installed. Dropbox uses the “Freemium” financial model and its free service provides 2 GB of free online storage.
Since the beta tag drop, Dropbox also adds TrueCrypt support, a Rainbow Shell that offers support for extended attributes, selective sync, a new installation wizard, and reduces resource usage. There are both free and paid services, each with varying options.
Here is a more complete rundown
of the new features and a link to download your own