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Google

Listening to music via a browser normally involves YouTube – and by association the terribly annoying Vevo. If I wanted advertisements before a song I’d turn on the radio. Soundcloud is an alternative but unfortunately caters mostly to the Alternative genre.

The Drive Tunes extension for Chrome however promises a seamless listening experience straight from your Google Drive. As with most things good and Googly – it’s free, it works and isn’t chock full of malware.

On the face of thing’s all is well. But is it usable? Is there even a point to a browser music player? Oh, and does it play nice with Google’s other offerings? The plot thickens.

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Emails are no longer merely a tool for communication between people. I don’t know about you, but my inbox is full of emails, both automated and purposefully typed, from a ton of different contacts, websites and even a few junk senders. From the company that brought you Priority Inbox, a feature that detects which emails are important and presents them upfront, comes a “new inbox that puts you back in control”.

Several weeks back, Google unveiled their new tabbed Gmail inbox. It frames itself as an easy way of separate different types of emails into multiple tabs. Let’s take a look at what it’s all about. (more…)

Two years ago, we asked you what was your favorite social network. You split the vote almost exactly in thirds between Twitter, Facebook, and Google+, that is if you don’t include the 11% that said they can’t stand social networking.

It’s a different world today in many ways, but the tides really don’t seem to have changed that much in social networking. Google+, if anything, has continued to be less popular than Facebook and Twitter, despite its continued improvements. Facebook has continued to change its settings and design on a regular basis, but we all keep coming back to it since everyone else is there. And Twitter, despite shutting down most 3rd party apps, has continued to grow and dominate the public online conversation.

There’s other networks, of course. App.net was started to make a Twitter alternate that’s more developer friendly, and has turned into quite the nice network of its own. And blog platform Tumblr was bought out by Yahoo! not just because it’s a great place to start a blog, but also because it’s actually a social network of a sort. And that’s not all. Mobile messaging apps like Line have taken the world — or Asia at least — by storm, and are building up their own in-app social networks.

My personal loyalties lie divided between Twitter and App.net, and I only seldom use Facebook and nearly never use Google+. How about you? We’d love to hear what social networks you prefer in 2013.

Google’s geeky. Its homepage has always been spartan, and even the shade of blue used on its links are tested for performance. Its HQ is known for group bikes, indoor slides, yards mowed by goats and filled with inflatable deserts, the representatives of the web giant’s robot-themed mobile OS.

But Google’s also successful, wildly so. It’s a rare day when any internet connect human doesn’t touch at least one Google products. Not because we’re forced to, but because we want to. Google Search just works, and its popularity got us to try the rest of their apps. And you know what? Google Maps, Gmail, Docs, Chrome and more all work so good, most of us choose them because they work great. They may be spartan, but they sure do the job.

That’s not enough. The new Google, one increasingly infused with Google+ DNA since its launch 2 years ago, is focusing harder than ever on design. And features. And glasses, and driverless cars, and beating Dropbox, and more. It’s a busy — and shiny — new search giant, and that’s on showcase more than ever at this year’s Google I/O developer conference.

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Google has tried so hard to get into the social networking game, but its first attempts were little more than failures. Let us count the ways:

  • Google Wave, which promised to reinvent how we collaborate. Dead.
  • Google Buzz, a social network inside Gmail. Dead.
  • Orkut, an outright social network. Practically unknown outside of Brazil.

So then, Google practically had to redesign their entire company around their final social offering: Google+. It launched with fanfare, and even had some nice features, but ultimately wasn’t enough different to drag most of us away from Twitter and Facebook. Just about the only standout feature was Hangouts, group video chats inside Google+.

But Google has forged it deeply into Google search, making a Google+ profile rather necessary if you want your site’s search results to show off your author info. Plus, if you buy into Google’s other products like the brand-new Glass, you’ll get the best built-in sharing experience with Google+.

So, are you still using Google+? Or has your account languished without any recent updates?

Of course, if you do use Google+, be sure to follow us on Google+!

There has been much said about Google’s decision to shut down Google Reader, and while for many people it is just another closure of a little used service, for lots of others it means losing a valuable source of news.

If you had come to rely on Google’s news reader to keep up to date with the latest news and posts from your favorite websites – including Web.AppStorm! – you could turn to Twitter to plug the gap. Here we’ll take a look at Twitter lists and show how they can be used as a viable alternative to RSS feeds.

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Imagine that you were kidnapped by persons unknown. Imagine you were dropped off somewhere completely alien to you – you could be anywhere in the world. You don’t know who captured you, and you don’t know where you are, but you know you’re being followed. This is the basic premise for Pursued, an ambitious online game that makes use of Google Maps as a game world rather than a tool for working out directions.

We’re big fans of conundrums here at Web.AppStorm, so we thought we’d take a look at this intriguing puzzler.

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Search = Google.com

For most of the world’s internet users, that’s just about it. There’s Google, and nothing else. People even enter Google into the Google search bar in browsers to bring up the Google.com homepage. It’s a mess.

But then, it’s not surprising that Google is so popular, simply because it works great for search. If you need to find something online, you’re almost guaranteed to find it with Google. And when it just works, and is blazing fast, why fix it? There are alternatives, most notably Microsoft’s Bing, which now powers Yahoo! Search as well. There’s also the underdog DuckDuckGo, which has somewhat of a geek following, but doesn’t seem to be that widely used.

I personally still use Google search, after periods of using both Bing, its predecessor, Live Search, and DuckDuckGo. I always end up coming back to Google. That apparently makes me like most of our search visitors, of which 96% use Google to find our articles.

How about you, our faithful readers? What search engine do you use by default? We’d love to hear your thoughts on why you use – or don’t use – Google.

Yesterday, Google unveiled the latest addition to its Chromebook family: the Chromebook Pixel. Grabbing headlines with a starting sticker price of $1299, the device features a MacBook Pro-like high-resolution display and a price tag to match.

In this article, we’re going take a look at the Chromebook Pixel, how it stacks up to similar devices, and question why exactly the crew in Mountain View even bothered sending it to retail.

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