Google Updates Search App for iOS

A couple of months ago Google released a new Search app for iOS devices.  Now, today, they are releasing an update to that app based on user feedback they have received.  The new version is touted as faster and easier to use.

Google claims that search is now 20% faster as you type in your queries.  They have also turned off the “Just Talk” app by default claiming that it was a part of the slower performance that users were experiencing.  Just Talk allowed users to search via voice by bringing the phone up to their ear and speaking, rather than tapping ,the microphone icon.  It can be re-enable by users by visiting the Settings > Voice Search menu.

Google has also increased the size of the font that appears in search results, making it easier to read on a small screen.  They have also made the entire result “tappable” as opposed to just the actual link.

Both of these improvements should enhance the usability for all iOS device owners.  Google, in mobile especially, needs to continue moving forward with improvements given that Bing is suddenly emerging.  While Bing has a great mobile service, I wouldn’t go so far as to call them a competitor yet, but they are at least the little dog that nips at ankles.

GNC #665 Tech Takes Over Store!

I hope you have been pleased with the format tweak, while all may not be 100% apparent I have made some major process changes here over the past 2-3 shows that I am going to work very to keep in check. One thing should be obvious slightly shorter show.. 1 hour and 10 minutes +/- 4 minutes is the goal.. Keeps you listening longer and keeps the cream of the crop content in the heart of the show.. Going long is something that grew into a monster that I hope to keep tame..

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Cell Tower in a Suitcase.

Show Notes:
We don’t track Anyone! (Yea Right)
Apple and Google Summoned to Washington D.C>
South Korea / Europe Start Investigations on Apple!
Facebook Send Button.
Sprint wants a Look at AT&T Docs.
Not your Standard Internet Cafe.
Facebook Locals.
God Particle at LHC?
The Sun!
Wifi on Plane but no Power Plugs?
New Lunch bag for Kids ;)
Simply Ridiculous!
Webm Coalition
Seagate Hybrid SSD.
HeyTell.
Whistle “Free Calling” App.
Make Reservation to Charge your Car?
Apple Record Sales.
11 Billion Product Lock In.
More Dumb Criminals.
SurveyMonkey Buys Form Company.
Netflix still growing.
Dropbox tries to kill Open Source Project.
Demand Media Fallout Bad.
Google Preview for Ads.
Android App Giveaway.
Tech Takes Over Store.
Rent Videos from YouTube?
Did you turn on Do Not Track?
Trolls Winning?
TV Waking Up?
Wanna buy a IP address?
Amazon Outage.
Nook has Apps?
Yahoo buys TV Interaction Company.
FBI raids Actors Guild Member.
Level3 Buys Global Crossing.

Bye Buzz – Yahoo Buzz that is

Y Buzz

Y Buzz

Yahoo! continues to condense the Yahoo! Giant. This time, it’s Yahoo! Buzz – the Digg-like site that aggregates news articles. In a statement made on the website, it says:

Yahoo! Buzz will be discontinued as of April 21, 2011. As of this date, you will be unable to access the Yahoo! Buzz site. This was a hard decision. However this will help us focus on our core strengths and new innovations.

We appreciate your patronage.

The Yahoo! Buzz Team

In the last 6 months, Yahoo! has continued to close down properties. Yahoo! 360, MyBlogLog, AllTheWeb and more. All put in mothballs.

Some properties continue to thrive – for now. Delicious almost saw demise, but Yahoo! corrected by stating the bookmarking site is actually “For Sale” (unless it did get sold. Last time I heard, the sale was unofficial news). Other sites we saw for sale were Yahoo! HotJobs (sold to Monster) and it’s search engine (to Microsoft).

No word why Buzz isn’t getting sold. Maybe they tested the market waters and no one wanted it.

Do You have the Buzz Widget on your Website?

One thing to note – if you installed the Buzz widget on your site, you might want to take it off.

No, not the Google Buzz widget. That’s still around.

Yahoo! Buzz launched Feb 26, 2008 to tepid fanfare. They launched to counter Digg. Earlier this year when content farms got hit with a new Google algorithm, Digg had to restructure. I guess Yahoo just wanted to be done with it.

 

Dealing with Content Farms

If you follow the news about Google or search you know that what some people call content farms have become a big issue. First what are content farms, Wikipedia defines content farms as Web sites that employ a large number of freelance writers to generate large amounts of articles that are written to be search engine friendly. The main goal is to increase ad revenue. Critics of these sites say the content is often of low quality and many of the articles often just copy information directly from other sites. Proponents say they are just reacting to market demand and are doing nothing wrong. The problem I have with content farms is they tend to push higher quality articles down the search page. The more popular a search is the more likely this is to happen. They also tend to be simplistic and leave out important details.

The question is what to do about content farms. There are a couple of solutions that have become available lately. The first is to use a search engine called Blekko. Blekko allows you mark sites as spam and then that url is removed from your search database. It works really well, however for it to work you have to use Blekko. This is not realistic for most people who equate search with Google. The second option is a Google created solution which can be found in the Google App Store called Personal Blocklist by Google. Once you install the extension when you do a search if a site comes up that you consider to be spam, you simply click on Block this Site and that site is again removed from your search database. There are a couple of problems with Personal Blocklist that prevent it from being the ultimate solution at this time. First it is available in Google Chrome only and it doesn’t sync across computers. However if you live in Google Chrome and have a single computer this is a great option. A third option is an independent tool called PersonalBlock through Kynetx which is an Appbuilder site. Personal Block works on Google Chrome, Firefox, and Internet Explorer. It will works whether you search through Google, Yahoo or Bing. When you do a search and you find a site you consider spam you click Block x Web site and like the Google extension those sites are now blocked from your searches. With Personal Block if you decide you want to see the site if you scroll to the bottom of the search page there is an option to show the site. If you use this method then Google doesn’t get the information. if you use the Google created solution, then Google can aggregate the information and hopefully better search for everyone. I do like the fact that all these solutions leave the choice up to the user.  I am not sure I want Google or Bing or Yahoo to make that decision for me.

Google Mobile App For iOS

There’s a free Google Mobile App that I found in the iPod/iPhone app store that I decided to give a try.

On loading it for the first time, I immediately noticed the “Voice Search” button I’m used to on my Android smartphone. In Android, the “Voice Search” is incredibly useful. Google’s voice recognition works by making a short recording of a verbal search query and then immediately sending the data to Google’s voice recognition servers, which do an amazing job with voice to text. The recognized text is immediately sent back to your device, and the device responds appropriately.

The Google Mobile App also includes quick access to many other Google services, such as Gmail, Calendar, Docs, Talk, Reader, etc. The app includes a number of other settings such as privacy, the ability to do push email notifications, setting the level of safe search or turning safe search off completely, etc.

Google’s voice recognition is astoundingly good. It’s worth loading the Google Mobile App on an iPod, iPhone or iPad just for the purpose of wowing others with it.

Blekko A New Search Engine

I have been using Blekko off and on over the last week and although it does some things that I like, I doubt it will ever go main stream. First, what is Blekko. Blekko is a new search engine that uses slash tags to narrow down your search range. The first big difference between Blekko and Google Search, is that you have to be sign in to your Blekko account to use it. The strength of Blekko is the ability of each individual to manipulate search the way they like. There is a good video tutorial on how it works on Vimeo. Using the slash tag does work and it does narrow down your search, however it is nothing new, using the advance features in Google Search also allows you to narrow down your search options. Blekko does however allow you to do something that Google does not and that is create your own slash tag algorithm. I created one called mac-tutorial, where I added all the sites that I know that do video tutorials on Mac subjects. When I want to find a video tutorial on a mac-software or hardware, I can use this search and it will pull up searches only from these sites. You can also do searches using slash tags other people have created. If you are interested in the slash-tags that I created I am listed under klandwehr on Blekko. If you are on of the few that created list on Twitter then you will probably like creating your on slash-tags on Blekko. However I am afraid like Twitter list’s I don’t think most people want to create their own slash tags.

There are a couple of things that Blekko does that I wish Google would adopt, the first is there spam filter. If you search for something using Blekko and within your search stream you see a site that you consider spam. You simply click on the spam indicator and that site is gone from your search forever. Also if you are interested in the SEO of a site, you can hit the SEO indicator and see all the search data about that site. This is great if you want to check why one site is ranked higher then another. You can check your own site and find out where the people who are searching for your site are coming from and which sites are linking to your site. Again though this is something that a power user might be interested in, but not the average user. The average user just wants to find what they are searching for. I do think Blekko is worth trying. However I am afraid that its chance to become main stream is slim. After all they are competing against Google, and Google is hard to beat, just ask Ask.com. Have you tried Blekko, what do you think of it and will you continue to use it.


Where Do You Find WordPress Themes?

For the past few days I have been scanning the net looking for a new WordPress theme for my own site.  There are a lot out there.  Just do a Google search if you don’t believe me.  Some are for purchase, but a lot are free.  Many of the sites are legit, but some are sketchy.

So the question is, how do you find legitimate content when it comes to something as generic as a WordPress theme?  If your computer-literate then you probably have a bit a intuition about sites you visit.  You may also have some help from services such as the Firefox add-ons – NoScript and Web of Trust.  But those are really just a belt to use with your suspenders.

Is there a way to really sort out the good content?  Back to my WordPress example, I have waded through pages of Google results, but found only a smattering of decent ones.  Some sites that show up high in the rankings don’t even pass the Web of Trust tests.  If it’s tough for a geek to figure out then that explains the amount of people who find their PC’s infected – or worse, don’t know their computers are infected.

That’s the discussion I’d like to have with all of the readers of this site.  I am not just looking for WordPress theme sites.  I am really looking for how all of you sort through results in a generic search and find the good stuff.  With Google returning thousands (or more) of hits and some of the less-than-savory sites rising up the rankings, how does anyone figure out where to go today?

Android Pros and Cons

I’ve been using Android for a while now and feel I’ve been using it long enough to make some meaningful observations.

I like Android. It’s quick. It’s powerful. It has some astounding voice recognition capability built right in that even the iPhone can’t touch. For example, hold down the search button and when the voice search box pops up say “navigate to” and then speak either a street address, the name of a business or a business category, and watch what happens. The results are something right out of science fiction and nothing short of amazing. Try THAT with your iPhone.

In other areas, Android seems to fall rather flat. While it’s possible to create, name and populate folders, the process seems clunky and rather counter-intuitive.

How about allowing me as an end-user to rename application icons to something useful? Many apps have names that don’t bear any relationship or give any hint as to what their functionality is as an app. If I could just rename the text under the app icons it would help me out as an end user quite a bit. Either give me a direct icon name that describes functionality succinctly, or give me the ability to rename an icon myself just like I can in Windows or OS/X.

Another area that falls somewhat flat is how to discover great apps. There are a ton of apps, but it’s often difficult to find the best ones. I’m willing to spend money on apps, however I want the best bang for my buck. How can I be assured if I buy an app I’m buying the best possible one?

Instant Google

Google has introduced instant search. It is being rolled out to the US today and should be available to France, Germany, Italy, Russia, Spain and the UK by the end of the week. It should roll out to the rest of the world over the next weeks or months according to Google. In order for Google instant search to work in Safari you have to be signed in to your Google account however in Google chrome it seems to work even if you are signed out. I can’t seem to get it to work in Firefox at all, not sure why and since I don’t use Firefox that often I am not really worried about it. However I am curious if anyone else was having trouble getting it too work in Firefox and has found a solution to the problem.

The way Google search worked yesterday is you would start typing in an inquiry such as Indian restaurants and after you had typed in Indian res you would see a list with the words Indian restaurants and the nearby cities and towns. You would then have to arrow down to the one you wanted, hit enter and then you would get the search results for Indian restaurants in that city. You then have to click on your choice to go to the page. If you think about you are looking at about four steps to get to the page you want. What instant search does is speed this process up. If instant search is turned on when you go to www.google.com and start typing Indian restaurant, you will notice as you are typing some grey letters start to appear as it tries to guess what you are searching for. If the grey letters are completing what you are looking for you can hit tab and it will give you that search result page. Then you can click on the result you want and go to the page. If instead of hitting tab you hit the down arrow you will notice the search page changes to match your choice once you hit the one you want if you hit the right arrow key, it will automatically take you to the first search entry on the page.

If you decide you don’t want to use Google instant search, but you still want to use Google to search ,you can turn off instant search two ways. The first one is to click on the arrow where it says instant search is on and then click on turn instant search off. The second way is to go into search settings and then scroll down to Google instant search and click on Do not use Google Instant, then make sure you save your preferences. If you are wondering how Google can guess what you are looking for so quickly it is using your web history and your ISP location. If you are uncomfortable about Google having this much information you can turn it off. To turn it off go to settings then My Account, and click on the edit button next to My product and then Remove Web History permanently. You will get a warning message and it will ask for your password. I recommend reading the Web History FAQ before you decide to delete your web history permanently, so you are aware of the consequences. Google instant search uses the same information that regular google search did, it just does it faster. I am not sure how much I will use it since I use Google Chrome and use the address bar to do most of my setting. What do you think of Google instant search, do you like it or not.


Yahoo is Done Searching. Microsoft Gets Their Way (Sort of)

bing yahoo

Well, it was a deal that was a year and a half in the making. Actually, it’s been longer than that – nonetheless, Microsoft has finally gotten what they want. While it still needs to have a final stamp of approval, it looks like Yahoo search will become Yahoo Search powered by Bing.

The real history is this: Back in 2005, Microsoft talked ‘Partnership’ with Yahoo to thwart the ever growing Google. That was during the Instant Messaging days – When it was announced that MSN Messenger and Yahoo IM would be able to talk to each other.

By May of 2007, Microsoft and Yahoo were in talks of an apparent $50 Billion dollar merger. While that didn’t happen, we started seeing the beginnings of the Mass Exodus of Yahoo. Employees such as Farzad Nazem – who was Yahoo’s CTO at the time – took retirement. That was followed by other key players in Yahoo’s stable.

However, the battle didn’t really start until Feb 3rd, 2008, when Steve Ballmer offered $41 Billion to take over the company. It was a long – drawn out battle that gave people like Carl Icahn a seat on Yahoo’s board and Jerry Yang the heave – ho as CEO. Since then, Yahoo has plummeted in stock price.

Carol Bartz took over as CEO in January 2009 with a renewed hope. However, the Yahoo name has been pretty stagnant until just a couple weeks ago when they revamped email. Closing services like Yahoo Music and Geocities helped Yahoo score a profit in Q2, but the search side had remained at a plateau.

Then along came Bing.

“I think actually Bing is a good product. ” Carl Bartz announces in a transcript. “It actually extends sort of the experimentation around search and how people use it instead of just thinking like a standard blue link.” She goes on with “…Microsoft should be given kudos for Bing.”

What is supposedly proposed is that Microsoft will take over the search engine side of things. Yahoo will continue with ad placement on the site. Yahoo is expected to get 110% of search ad deals until 2011, in which it will drop to 90%, according to Allthingsd.com.

The drama is expected to unfold in the next 24 hours as it is said to be a ‘done deal – with the formalities happening later today’. Right now, neither side is ready to comment.