What The Heck is Google Wallet?

Posted by Eric Torres

Sep 20, 2011 10:43:00 AM

Google Wallet LogoHow many of you have more than $50 in your pocket right now? If you’re like me, you rarely ever have cold, hard cash in your pocket. Just about every purchase I make is used with a card. Well, for some of us, that is about to change. Soon you will be able to pay for everything using your smart phone. Wait a minute…what? Want to pay for something? Walk up to the register, have the clerk check you out, and then tap your phone to the front of the register. The register picks up some data on your phone, and the bill is settled. No sliding a card, no pulling out cash, just tap your phone to the register and you’re on your way.

All of this is made possible thanks to technology called Near Field Communication (NFC) and Google Wallet. This week, Google Wallet became available to the public, and provided you're in the right place, you can use it to pay for your goods.

How does Google Wallet work?
Let’s start with the basics. Google Wallet is an Android application. It’s a free download and you can add the details of your credit cards so that it stores all the basics that you need to make payments – your credit card number, expiration date, name and the CCV security code on the back.



Google Wallet works by communicating with the checkout terminal when you go to pay for goods or services. Tap your phone to the register and your phone sends wireless data to the store and your products are paid for. There's no cash involved.

Right now the Google Wallet app is only available for the Sprint Nexus S 4G phone works with a Citi MasterCard credit card. Google has said that it’s looking to support all cards from all suppliers in the future but, until then, you do have another option - the Google Prepaid Card, a virtual credit card that then serves as a source of cash to make your Google Wallet payments.  As an added bonus for early adopters, if you get a Google Prepaid Card before the end of the year, you'll get an extra $10 deposited courtesy of Google.

Also, while MasterCard is the only credit card that will currently work with the system, Visa, Discover, and American Express have come onboard as well recently, meaning that soon everyone's credit cards and check cards should be working with the system.

Who accepts Google Wallet payments?  
03 google walletOf course, to use Google Wallet you will need to find a place that accepts it as payment. At the moment just over 124,000 merchants are using the MasterCard PayPass NFC terminals currently required for the task. Within that number, you’ll find those who will process the payments as well as supply the full Google Wallet benefits of loyalty points and voucher redemption, and those who are just enabled to take the payments alone. The former are known as Google SingleTap merchants and include the likes of Bloomingdales, Macys, Subway as well as other big names.

If you’d like to find out your nearest PayPass and Google Wallet-ready locations, then you can enter your zip code in the Google Wallet site. The PayPass locator Android app also has a location feature to help you find what you’re looking for. Finally, it’s also worth keeping your eyes open at the check out, Spot the PayPass symbol and you’re in luck. 

How safe is it?
Google Wallet SecuritySecurity and consumer trust are obviously going to be massive issues if Google Wallet is to succeed. As such, Google has done its best to put users at rest by outlining how safe the system is going to be with your money.

Once entered into the app, all your card details are encrypted and stored on a separate chip within your handset known as the Secure Element. The Secure Element apparently can be thought of as a distinct computer capable of running its own programs and storing its own data. It uses storage separate from the normal Android memory and will allow trusted programs to access your information.

On top of all of that, the Google Wallet app also requires users to enter a PIN each time a transaction is made and, just to make sure there’s as little damage potential as possible, each Google Wallet transaction is currently limited to just $100. You can spend more but it requires an activation code being sent to your handset.

Should all else fail, the consumer will find themselves with the same rights and liability as if it were a normal credit card.

What’s next?
Along with the expansion in credit card types, expect to see Google Wallet come to a variety of different platforms and phones quickly. Even though Google is only rolling out things on Sprint's Nexus S 4G, it's just for the initial testing. It won't remain on Sprint alone forever. Current iPhones don't have NFC technology, but it's entirely possible future models might.

google offers

There is also the matter of a service known as Google Offers which will be starting up in an area nowhere near you shortly. Google Offers will be for both online and local deals in a rather similar way to which Groupon currently works. The added push is that anything you purchase via Offers will automatically sync with your Google Wallet. Once at the store in question, you’ll be able to present the barcode on your screen for the sale staff to scan or complete the transaction via NFC if they happen to be fitted with a reader.

Where can I get Google Wallet?
Currently Google Wallet is only available on Sprint Nexus S 4G phones through a software update. To get this update and to get started using Google Wallet click here!

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Topics: Google Wallet, Google, Communications, Apps, Smartphone

Beware: Fake Google + Invitations

Posted by Eric Torres

Jul 11, 2011 3:48:00 PM


describe the imageWhenever people desperately want something, criminals have always come up with ways to rip people off.  It's a practice as old as time.

The Google+ invite frenzy has prompted some devious spammers to send out fake invitations.  Sophos, a cyber securities firm, first reported this spam.

Gmail users would receive a Google+ invite that looks like the real thing.  Except when you click on the link to the Google+ invite, it leads you to a completely different website, riddled with malware.

This isn't the first time that insane demand for Google products spawned scams.  Back when Gmail membership was an exclusive club and a hot item, spammers sent existing Gmail users a notice that Google had just given them 50 extra invites.

All they have to do is fill out a form with their Gmail password.

Apple, was also used as bait.  Back before the iPad was released, bogus Facebook pages were set up to ask users to be beta testers; they would get the iPad in advance and then keep it for free.

All these Apple fans had to do was provide their personal information and cell phone number.  Their cell phone number was subsequently enrolled in an expensive premium service.

For active Internet users, scams and spams are a fact of life.  Abiding by the following guidelines, however, will lessen the pain.

  • Don't respond to sweet offers that you didn't pursue or don't know the origin of, whether it's a Google+ invite or a millionaire trying to give away his fortunes.
  • Don't ever give out your personal information to email requests from scammers posing as legitimate entities.  Legitimate entities will never ask you that; the only time they might prompt you for personal information is when you approach them do something.
  • Too good to be true offers do not exist. For example, somebody looking to share the wealth of somebody who has no "next of kin"...does not happen in real life. If you're not sure, don't go for it, especially if you have to provide your personal information or grant access to your computer in exchange for it.
The best way to prevent this is to pay attention and be aware of what sites you are visiting and links you are clicking on. When you enter in password, personal, account, or credit card information, double check to make sure you are on a reputable website. Double check the URL and make sure the URL address is what you think it is. Double check the website you are on to make sure there is nothing suspicious so you won’t fall prey to these scams.




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Topics: New Service, SPAM, Google Plus, new website, Google, New Products, Social Media, Malware, Beta

Google + Social Network Arrives

Posted by Eric Torres

Jul 1, 2011 10:20:00 AM

google plus
This week, Google launched its own social network in an attempt to challenge Facebook with a service that ties together all its existing sites including Gmail. Google’s long expected second shot at taking on Facebook in the social networking space has arrived in the form of the Google+ Project. It has some interesting twists on the social networking model but is far from a Facebook-killer.



Google+ is structured in a remarkably similar way to Facebook, with profile pictures and news feeds forming a central core. However, a user's friends or contacts are grouped into specific circles of their choosing - as opposed to the common pool of friends typical on Facebook.

Google+ started rolling out to a limited number of users on Tuesday in what the company is calling a field trial. Only those invited to join will initially be able to use the service. Google did not say when it would be more widely available.

To create Google+, the company went back to the drawing board in the wake of several notable failures, including Google Wave and Google Buzz, a micro-blogging service whose launch was marred by privacy snafus. 'We learned a lot in Buzz, and one of the things we learned is that there's a real market opportunity for a product that addresses people's concerns around privacy and how their information is shared,' said Google spokesman Bradley Horowitz.

As with Facebook's service, Google+ has a central web page that displays an ever-updating stream of the comments, photos and links being shared by friends and contacts. A toolbar across the top of most of Google's sites - such as its main search page, its Gmail site and its Maps site - allows users to access their personalized data feed. They can then contribute their own information to the stream. Google+ will also offer a special video chat feature, in which up to ten people can jump on a conference call. And Google will automatically store photos taken on mobile phones on its Internet servers, allowing a Google+ user to access the photos from any computer and share them.

Want to try the service? Right now, it’s strictly invite only. Some press are being allowed in, along with others that Google hand picks. There’s no ETA on when wider invites will be available. Unusually, this isn’t being called a beta test or an experiment but rather a “field trial” that’s meant to finally gather some feedback from outside Google itself. The limited test is probably wise. It’ll give Google more time to discover things it might not have anticipated being problems, as was the case with Buzz.

For more detailed information and additional video tours of Google + click here.

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Topics: New Service, Google Buzz, Concept, Google, Social Media, Communications, Facebook

What Happens on the Internet Every 60 Seconds

Posted by Eric Torres

Jun 17, 2011 8:51:00 AM

in 60 seconds

 

Let's say that it takes you exactly one minute to read through this post. In that time, over 6,600 photos will be uploaded to Flickr, about 70 new domains will be registered, over 1,200 new ads will be created on Craigslist, and more. Here's what happens on the Internet every 60 seconds.

Now keep in mind that the data below and the infographic above come from the Shanghai Web Designers team. We have done our best to confirm that the statistics provided line up with known data, but you should still take everything with a hefty serving of salt.

That disclaimer aside and without further ado, here's what's happening each minute:

  • Search engine Google serves more that 694,445 queries
  • 6,600+ pictures are uploaded to Flickr
  • 600 videos are uploaded to YouTube, amounting to 25+ hours of content
  • 695,000 status updates, 79,364 wall posts and 510,040 comments are published on social networking site Facebook
  • 70 new domains are registered
  • 168,000,000+ emails are sent
  • 320 new accounts and 98,000 tweets are generated on social networking site Twitter
  • iPhone applications are downloaded more than 13,000 times
  • 20,000 new posts are published on micro-blogging platform Tumblr
  • Popular web browser FireFox is downloaded more than 1,700 times
  • Popular blogging platform WordPress is downloaded more than 50 times
  • WordPress Plugins are downloaded more than 125 times
  • 100 accounts are created on professional networking site LinkedIn
  • 40 new questions are asked on YahooAnswers.com
  • 100+ questions are asked on Answers.com
  • 1 new article is published on Associated Content, the world’s largest source of community-created content
  • 1 new definition is added on UrbanDictionary.com
  • 1,200+ new ads are created on Craigslist
  • 370,000+ minutes of voice calls done by Skype users
  • 13,000+ hours of music streaming is done by personalized Internet radio provider Pandora
  • 1,600+ reads are made on Scribd, the largest social reading publishing company


Impressive? Scary? Overwhelming? We're not sure. But we do know that a lot happened in the few moments it took to look at this blog post — so you better rush to catch up.




By Rosa Golijan for Technolog on msnbc.com

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Topics: iPad, Internet Explorer, Google, Firefox, Apple, Apps, Android

20 Things I Learned About Browsers and the Web by Google

Posted by Eric Torres

Apr 15, 2011 9:24:00 AM


If you have some less tech-savvy friends that are a bit confused about what cloud computing, HTML5, DNS, or the other ins and outs of the internet, a new web site created by Google explains it clearly for non-techies.

20 Things I Learned About Browsers and the Web

The creative team that gave us Google Chrome has released an online book titled "20 Things I learned About Browsers and the Web". The book is not an eBook, think of it as more of an interactive online guidebook built in HTML5.  It’s a clever overview of things many people may not know. Well illustrated and written with humor, the book covers a cross section of items and is designed to explain some of the finer points of the internet to those of us that don't understand it.

This online guide was written for everyday users who are curious about the basics of how browsers and the web work, and how their evolution has changed the way we work and play online.  It has quite a few long-standing basics, like DNS, IP addresses, and cookies, while also explaining some of the more recent trends, like webapps, HTML5, cloud computing, and more.

The site is well designed and one can it read like a real book. You can flip through pages cover-to-cover, or jump to specific sections from any point in the book. It's a good resource when something like Wikipedia might get too technical, so it's a nice companion to Google's latest video how-tos for parents initiative.  
I expect we will only see more and more of this sort of stuff as the years (and technology) move forward. The full experience (ideally in Google Chrome) can be viewed here.

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Topics: HTML, Google, Browser, Chrome

Google Begins Internal Testing of Google Music

Posted by Eric Torres

Mar 25, 2011 1:44:00 PM

Google Reportedly Testing Mobile Streaming Music Service 300x190Did 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?

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Topics: Streaming, Google Music, Google, New Products, iTunes

Google Tool Helps Track & Find Japan Earthquake Victims

Posted by Eric Torres

Mar 11, 2011 11:47:00 AM

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 Google Person Finderafter 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.

 

 

 

Courtesy of

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Topics: Google, Google Person Finder, Japan Earthquake 2011

Google Announces Recipe View

Posted by Eric Torres

Feb 25, 2011 9:34:00 AM

Want a chicken recipe that calls for paprika, takes 30 minutes to prepare and only has 200 calories per serving? No problem. Recipe View resized 600Google has introduced a new way to make it easier for people to find recipes with a new feature called Recipe ViewLaunched today, Recipe View allows users access to a huge array of recipes from across the web, just by searching for keywords based around ingredients, style of food or special occasions.

Recipe View allows users to narrow their search results to show only recipes, and it displays ratings, ingredients and pictures on the search results page. Once the results are returned you can filter out different ingredients, cook times and even calorie counts to find the perfect meal for you and yours…and me if you invite me over. Users can also search for or more open-ended topics like holidays, events or a favorite chef.



Recipe View is built on Rich Snippet markup technology. Any recipe publisher can add markup to their website’s content and be part of Recipe View. Recipe View is rolling out now in the U.S. and in Japan. Google is promising to roll out Recipe View in more countries in the future but they’re waiting to see how many people will use this feature as most serious cooks will have cookbooks or particular websites they use anyway.

Now that I gave you all the tools, when can I come over for dinner?

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Topics: Google Recipe View, Google, New Announcement

Google To Hire 6,200 in 2011

Posted by Eric Torres

Jan 26, 2011 11:23:00 AM

Five days after Eric Schimdt announced he will be turning over the position as Google Inc.’s CEO to Google’s co-founder Larry Page, describe the imageGoogle announced that they will be hiring about 6,200 workers this year.

Google made the announcement Tuesday in what would be one of the biggest hiring the internet giant has made. This move would boost Google’s workforce by 25 percent and makes their total number of workers to about 30,000. Google hired 6,131 workers in 2007 and at least 4,500 workers just last year.

Google, the world’s most used search engine company, has not disclosed specific figures though. It was also not clear if how many workers will the company hire from the United States. In a statement last Tuesday, Eric Schmidt said that they are to hire more than 1,000 employees from Europe. Google said that they would make their biggest hiring this 2011.

The recent expansion will be an added challenge for incoming CEO Larry Page, one of the founders of Google along with Sergey Brin. Page has already been the CEO of Google but shareholders insisted that they need a more mature leader, then Schmidt came in. During the time that Page was the CEO of Google, the company only had about 300 employees.

The announcement of Google is welcomed by economists as a positive sign even though it came on the same day that Yahoo Inc. laid off around 100 workers. Though the expansion of Google would not be enough to solve he region’s unemployment woes, it is still a big help to the economy.

In the recent State of the Union Address of President Barack Obama, he stressed that more jobs are needed to help the ailing economy of the United States. Google CEO Eric Schmidt is among those who gives advice to Obama regarding the economy.
A lot of developments have been happening with Google Inc. recently. In addition to the announcement of Schmidt to step down as their CEO, Google also released their revenue report for the fourth quarter of 2010 wherein the company had revenues of $8.44 billion. Google had a profit of $2.54 billion during that quarter alone, 29 percent up as compared to their profits in the same quarter in 2009.

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Topics: Economy, Google, Tech News

River Run Tech Blog: Apple iPad 2 Will Be Released In April

Posted by Eric Torres

Dec 8, 2010 10:35:00 AM

Apple will begin production of the iPad 2 in late February and will officially launch the device in early April 2011, according to ipad2 usbsources from Taiwan-based component makers quoted by DigiTimes. Foxconn, a factory complex in China responsible for building Apple products among other things, were told they will need to ship 400,000 to 600,000 units within the next 100 days. Apple had originally planned to start mass production in January, but due to delays caused by the device's firmware, the schedule was postponed.

The iPad 2 has been widely expected to come out in the first quarter of 2011 and feature a front-facing camera. Some analysts also expected Qualcomm will provide chips that allow the iPad to run on both CDMA and GSM networks, a so-called "world" iPad. The current 3G version is GSM only.

An April Launch could mean the newest iPad would be out prior to Google's upcoming personal computer, which is due for mid-2011, according to the plans Google outlined Tuesday.

Apple is currently dominating the tablet computer market. In the third quarter, the iPad accounted for 95.5 percent of the market with 4.19 million units sold. The remaining share was lead by Android with 2.3 percent, while Windows and other operating systems had even smaller slices. The company is expected to steadily lose share next year, but it's likely going to put up a fight with the iPad 2.

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Topics: iPad, Google Chrome OS, Google, Apple

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