Google Will Sunset The Meebo Bar On June 6 To Focus On Google+ Sign-In and Plug-Ins


Google has announced that it is bidding adieu to the Meebo Bar publishing tool in order to focus on projects like Google+ Sign-In and plug-ins. The Meebo Bar will be retired effective June 6.

Founded in 2005, Meebo was acquired by Google last June for around $100 million. At that time, TechCrunch learned that its product team would use its expertise to help build publisher tools for Google+, with the expectation that existing Meebo properties would be integrated into G+ or closed down.

In fact, many of Meebo’s features, including Meebo Messenger, Sharing on Meebo, MeeboMe, and all of its mobile apps, were largely dismantled after the acquisition, but the Meebo Bar made a reappearance in December, with Google+ sharing options. With the Meebo Bar’s retirement, however, it looks like our original prediction has come true.

The Meebo Bar not only gave Web site developers a way to integrate chat, sharing features and ads, but also a means by which to monetize their Web sites. According to a comScore report from December 2011, before its acquisition by Google, Meebo was getting around 100 million total users per month.

But now it’s the latest target of Google’s spring cleaning–other recently announced shutdowns have included Google Cloud Connect, Google Voice App for BlackBerry and, of course, the much mourned Google Reader. The product retirements are part of the Internet giant’s ongoing efforts to focus on products that not only have a larger amount of users, but also fulfill its core mission of search, social, and ads.

After June 6, the Meebo Bar will stop loading on sites and Google recommends that developers remove the inactive code as part of a “general code housekeeping task.” Check here for more info.

More Google Glass Specs Revealed As Android Tinkerers Look For Ways To Root It


Google felt it appropriate to highlight some of Glass’ specs earlier this week, but there’s much more to the company’s wearable display than just the 5 megapixel camera and its 16GB of internal storage. In case you were hankering for a taste of what else makes Google Glass tick, Android developer (and Glass Explorer) Jay Lee spent some time tinkering with his preview unit and managed to figure out what kind of hardware it has under the hood.

Lee managed to confirm that Glass runs Android 4.0.4 Ice Cream Sandwich (CEO Larry Page noted during Google’s most recent earnings call that Glass “obviously” runs on Android), and also determined that it has a Texas Instruments OMAP 4430 chipset. In case you haven’t been keeping abreast of developments in the mobile chipset market, the OMAP 4430 was used in devices like the original Motorola Droid RAZR and Samsung’s 7-inch Galaxy Tab 2.0 — solid devices during their prime, but the chipset that powered them is far from new.

Sadly, some of the particulars are still shrouded in mystery — Lee wasn’t able to figure out the processor’s clock speed (the 4430 CPU can be clocked between 1 and 1.2 GHz), and the device only reports that it has 682MB of RAM, but Lee suspects the total is actually 1GB. Still, that’s not too shabby a spec sheet for a device that essentially lives on your face, and some recent reports reveal that the ambitious headset may be surprisingly too simple to root to. Liam McLoughin, an intern for Google’s Chrome team, recently tweeted to note that gaining root access to the search giant’s curious head-mounted display seemed simple in theory, a development that prompted Lee to go digging in the first place.

Meanwhile, Cydia founder and administrator Jay Freeman revealed on Twitter that he too had made progress in gaining access to the device, and even posted a picture to show off how far he’d managed to go. At this point we’ve already seen some companies embrace the Glass platform (Path and the New York Times immediately spring to mind) and others like Evernote are known to be crafting experiences for Glass, but some moderately powerful hardware and seemingly easy rootability could make Glass an even bigger hit for Android tinkerers.

Trouble With Your Investment Portfolio? Google It!

In the stock market, there are countless strategies for making a buck. Some investors like to focus on the fundamentals of the companies they invest in — poring over financial statements to figure out which firms are over- or under-valued. Others invest based on trends or macroeconomic events, like whether the Fed is raising or lowering interest rates. These may be effective approaches, but the greatest trading strategy of all — were it possible — would be to simply learn how much a particular asset will, in the near future, be valued by everybody else in the market. After all, all the hard data in the world cannot compel a seller or buyer to give you the price you want. That’s why, at the end of the day, stock markets are about mass psychology as much as anything else. And with the proliferation of the internet, it has never been easier to tap into moods and feelings of the masses. This is what researchers Tobias Preis, Helen Moat, and Eugene Stanely had in mind when they set out to prove that you can make money in the stock market just by following what people are searching for on Google. (MORE: How Does One Fake Tweet Cause a Stock Market Crash?) In a study published yesterday in the journal Nature, these researchers showed that from 2004 through 2011, by making trades purely based on the prevalance of specific search terms, they could earn outsized returns. The most lucrative search term these researchers found was, unsurprisingly, “debt.” The researchers found that if they had sold a Dow Jones Industrial Index fund during times when the search term “debt” spiked, and consistently did this over the 7-year-period between 2004 and 2011, they would have earned a healthy 326% return. By contrast, had they simply bought a broad stock market index fund in 2004 and held it until 2011, they would have earned just 16%. Some of the other terms that would have yielded hefty returns were a little less intuitive, like “color,” “stocks,” and, oddly enough, “restaurant.” The

Wavii Confirms Google Buy, Shuts Down Its Service To Make Natural Language Products For The Search Giant

wavii announcement

Wavii, the natural language technology startup, has updated its home page, and its previously-monochromatic logo, to officially confirm that it has been acquired by Google — a deal that we noted earlier this week was “north of $30 million.” And to set speculation running about what might be coming next, Wavii CEO Adrian Aoun confirmed that it will be shutting down its service so that it can use “our natural language research at Google in ways that may be useful to millions of people around the world.”

There are a number of ways that Google may end up implementing Wavii technology and the talent that it’s picked up along with it, with possibilities in areas across search, apps, and mobile:

When we first covered the company back in January 2012, as it first emerged from stealth mode, we noted that it wanted to make a “Facebook out of Google.” That referred to the way that it asked for keywords for things that interest you, then combined that with natural language processing and machine learning to comb the web, linking that up with your Facebook social graph, to produce pages of content relevant to you, effectively giving the whole of the web a kind of intelligent, personalized order.

After coming out with a public beta in April 2012, Wavii, as ATD notes, moved to a mobile-first business model around November 2012. Today, it’s known also for having technology similar to that of Summly, the summarizing app bought by Yahoo for $30 million.

As we noted earlier this week, Apple had also been looking at the company as something that could complement its Siri speech recognition/personal assistant product, and considering that, Wavii could also end up playing a part in developments at Google Now — Google’s own bid for personal assistant dominance.

Here’s Aoun’s full announcement:

You probably know us best for our app that takes the deluge of information streaming across the web and condenses it into fast, fun updates. While we won’t continue to offer this particular service, we’ll be using our natural language research at Google in ways that may be useful to millions of people around the world.

To all of our loyal Wavii users, we owe you a big thanks for all of your feedback and involvement throughout this journey. We look forward to taking our technology to the next level and delighting you with what we come up with next!

New Chrome Beta for Android update improves page rendering performance

Today’s update for Chrome Beta helps alleviate some issues and improves the overall stability of the mobile browser application for Android. The update contains fixes for “frequently occurring crashes,” according to Google’s official Chrome Releases blog, and it gives page rendering performance a bump. The newest update also fixes a few pesky annoyances: eliminating a bug that would prevent users from scrolling through a webpage after zooming into an image and removing the blue line that would sometimes display below the omnibox.

The last major Chrome Beta for Android update hit earlier this month, when the Chrome Team released version 27 to the Beta channel. That release included the ability to search a query directly from the browser’s omnibox. It enabled full-screen browsing on phones and made tab history for tablets available with a long press of the back button too. Google did launch a smaller update last week for only ARM and x86 devices, which fixed flickering when opening new tabs and eliminated duplicate items in the history.

You can try out Google Chrome Beta yourself in the Google Play store alongside the regular version of Chrome. Keep in mind, some of its new features may sometimes “be a little rough around the edges”—as evidenced by a steady stream of updates.

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The New York Times Releases Its Headline-Reading Google Glass App


Google’s ambitious Glass display is still a ways off from its public release, but it looks like those newly-minted Glass Explorers now have something else to do besides taking first-person photos. The New York Times just pulled back the curtain on its own Glass-friendly app today, which makes it the first installable third-party app available for the ambitious headset (Path was technically the first third-party app, but it’s preloaded on early versions of the device).

It’s no surprise to see the Grey Lady embrace Glass so enthusiastically — Google developer advocate Timothy Jordan first showed off an early version of the New York Times Glass app at SXSW 2013 in Austin (you can see his full talk here), which pipes new news and headlines to the head-mounted display at regular intervals. Navigating through that stream of news seemed easy enough: a quick tilt of the head would allow the user to sift through photos and full articles as well.

Setting up the app is a simple process — clicking on the link above asks for access to your Google account:

Once that’s all done, Glass can occasionally chime in by reading headlines in your ear, but the app is also capable of reading off brief article summaries too. All told it seems like a very neat, (if strangely intrusive way) to consume your daily dose of news, and other companies have already pledged to craft their own Glass experiences — Path and the New York Times are a given, but Evernote and supposedly even Twitter are working on apps for Google’s daring device.

Google Glass Easter Egg Introduces You To The Entire Team In A Panoramic Image Controlled By Your Head’s Movement


As more developers are receiving their pair of Google Glass, the tinkering with the device is heating up. One developer found a very interesting easter egg within Glass itself, which introduces you to the entire Glass team.

The steps to reproduce it are fairly simple:

Settings -> Device info -> View licenses -> Tap the touchpad 9 times -> Tap Meet Team

Here’s a video demo, including the neat sounds that happen as you keep tapping:

The neat part about the photo is that you can see the entire 360-degree panoramic image by moving your head around. This was hard to show in the MyGlass screencast, since it lags a little bit. We’ve learned that Mike LeBeau, Senior Software Engineer for Google X, is the one who dropped the hidden gem into Glass’ software. He’s appeared on TechCrunch before in a <a target="_blank" href="“>hilarious Google blooper reel.

The team photo has Google co-founder, Sergey Brin, front and center.

I’m sure that more of these easter eggs will pop up over time, but this one is particularly cool since it’s the first time that I’ve seen a panoramic image on the device since I started using it. This functionality could be something that isn’t exposed in the Mirror API as of yet, but once it is, it’ll be a fun one.

Google Tests Search Without Instant Previews, Moves Sharing Tool, Cached And Similar Pages To New Drop-Down Menu (Updated)

google logo

Back in 2010, Google launched Instant Preview to provide users with a quick way to get a graphic preview of a webpage before you click on the actual link. Now, as first spotted by Alex Chitu from the Google Operating System blog, it looks like Google is thinking about removing this feature and replacing it with a new drop-down menu.

Update: a Google spokesperson just responded to our inquiry: ”We’re constantly making changes to the layout and features of the search results page.” The wording of this response sure makes it sound as if this will be a permanent change and isn’t just an experiment. Google’s typical answer to these questions starts with “we’re always experimenting with [xyz],” after all.

Instant Preview is probably not a huge hit, given that Google wouldn’t consider removing it if it were a popular feature. It did hide a bit of useful functionality besides the previews, however. Opening these Instant Previews allowed you to also find similar pages and access the Google+ Share feature. In addition, it was also the only way to find Google’s cached version of a given page, too.

All of these features are still there in this new version, but they are now accessible through a drop-down menu right next to the main link.

It’s not clear if this is just a test, or if Google is indeed fully removing this feature and replacing it with the new drop-down menu. We have contacted Google about this change and will update this post once we learn more.

Here is what this looks like for TechCrunch (“Similar,” for some reason, only appears for a subset of results):