Thanks to Groupon acquisition rumors, the blogosphere in the past week is less polluted with news about Facebook and Twitter. Google was quite busy last week and rolled out updates to a lot of its products, Xmarks found a buyer, OnLive introduced PlayPass and Groupon unveiled new features.
Read on for some of this week’s best web app news and updates.
Google Earth goes mostly under the radar and doesn’t get as much buzz as other Google products do. Version 6 of this desktop app is now available for download for all major OS platforms. With Google Earth 6, you can explore the streets in 3D like never before, and now you can see 3D trees in locations all over the world. Trees ensure much more detail to the location you are viewing. Just fly from outer space down to the streets with the new Street View and easily navigate your way around. You can also switch to ground-level view to see the same location in 3D.
Google has so many apps one could run an exclusive blog to keep track of them, but when it comes to Google Apps, a suite of web based office tools, the availability of apps is a bit thin. Google Apps users had access to mail, reader, calender and docs. Being the top requested feature, Google has finally decided to give users the convenience of using any Google service allowed by their administrator from a single account affiliated with their organization. All Standard, Premier and Education Edition customers will be moved to the new infrastructure in the fall and if you want to be part of the early testing group, sign up here.
Formerly known as Foxmarks, Xmarks is a very popular Firefox plugin (now available for other browsers too) that helps millions of users sync their bookmarks in the cloud. Couple of months ago, they had decided to shut down the service due to a lack of funds. Lots of users pledged to help Xmarks out of a pickle and now they’ve found a buyer.
LastPass, the cloud based password manager and form filler app, is their new owner. Xmarks is transitioning to a “freemium” business model and the browser add-on will remain free. Users can now opt to purchase Xmarks Premium for $12 per year, which includes new enhanced features like Android and iPhone mobile phone apps, priority support, and more. If you are planning to go with Xmarks and LastPass Premium bundle, it will cost you little less.
Internet piracy groups are a real sneaky bunch of people. They constantly find new ways to profit from content that is not legally owned by them. You don’t have to be a member of a forum or torrent site to find pirated content, links to such content are indexed just like anyother webpage and show up in search results maximizing the damage to content owners. Google takes down these links from their index when the copyright holders complain but there are millions of links out there with newer ones showing up by the hour.
From now Google will stop auto completing keywords related to piracy and will kick sites promoting piracy of Google AdSense, a major source of revenue. Earlier this year, pirates lost a major revenue stream when popular file sharing site RapidShare abolished the Rapid Points system and Google new move id sure to hurt them more.
With a touted $5 billion valuation, Groupon has become the fastest growing company in terms of revenue in such a short period of time. But they sure aren’t sitting around, thinking how to spend the money. Group deals is a classic example of a cut throat business and the Groupon team always tries to be ahead of the competition. They have announced a new round of features—Groupon Stores and the Deal Feed—to make your shopping experience more awesome. Check it out!
Gmail is great, but Gmail Labs make it fantastic. Google keeps on adding cool features to Labs at regular intervals. The latest ones to make the cut are smart mute and easier unmute. If you are someone who subscribes to a lot of mailing lists or receive a lot of promotional offers and other mails of less significance, use the smart mute feature to prevent them entering the inbox in the future. Can’t wait to try it out!
Onlive promotes cloud based video game processing, allowing games to run without game consoles or high-end computers, introducing a paradigm shift in the game purchase and download market. You can try games for free and rent them for a three or five day period for a fee. Now with the introduction of PlayPack, users can play games all day, every day, for just $9.99/month. PlayPack will come out of beta in mid-January and the service is free for all members until then.
Google has silently updated Chrome to version 8. It is a well known fact that Chrome follows an aggressive development cycle and their versioning system is a bit different from others. How else can you explain a browser launched couple of years ago to hit 8.0 while Firefox is still at 3.x? The update fixes a lot of bugs and major features include support for a built-in PDF viewer.
Advertising is the bread and butter of YouTube and its video producers. Level headed people understand that the content creator has bills to pay and are Ok with ads in the videos. The problem is ads that are unbearable to watch. Dubbed as TrueView video ads, YouTube’s new feature now allows the viewer to skip ads that do not interest them. It is not being forced upon all video publishers yet, but Google is working towards giving viewer choice and control.
2010 is coming to a close and it is now time to rehash the best and worst that happened online. YouTube has put together a list of memorable videos and is unveiling them one by one. There will be 31 videos in total, one for each day of the month.
Share Your Thoughts!
What news from the app universe grabbed your attention in the past few days? Share your thoughts and opinions in the comments section. Thanks!