Microsoft is taking another step into the cloud with the new hosted version of Office, Office 365 is going to be aimed at businesses and may be had for as little as $6 per user per month for small businesses. However, that low rate only includes the hosted version of Word. Microsoft beta tested this service with several thousand users, and will be making it available to all early next year.
The cost might be an issue with Google offering their Google Docs service to businesses for $50 per user per year. Large businesses are looking at as much as $27 per month for access to the whole office suite. Microsoft will have to compete on features to keep users. Though, the profits on hosting software for subscription are likely to be higher anyway.
The Google Chrome Web Store is now open to developers. The developer preview means that developers have a fair amount of time to acquaint themselves with important aspects of the web store ahead of its public launch later this year. They can begin uploading apps through the Google Chrome Extensions Gallery and experience what selling web apps through the online store will feel like once it is live.
“Developers can now start uploading apps and experiment with packaging them, installing them in Chrome (using the latest Chrome dev channel) and integrating our payments and user authentication infrastructure,” Google said in a blog post. The web apps uploaded to the gallery during the developer preview will remain invisible to the general public.
Google unveiled Google Wave, a real time collaboration tool, at Google I/O 2009. There was huge interest at first; many people scrambled to get invites to the service. After all that early attention, Wave has largely been forgotten by the public. Today Google has made the announcement that Wave development will stop at the Googleplex.
It's not going offline right this moment. Google has said they intend to keep the servers operational for now, but the service might be completely shut down eventually. Frankly, Wave really never shook the "beta" feel for us, so stopping development is as good as a death sentence. Much of what was new in Wave, like live typing with remote collaborators, is open sourced and could show up elsewhere.
Google's official line on the rationale for ending the project is pretty matter of fact. "Wave has not seen the user adoption we would have liked," Google said in the blog post. The Big G also claimed in their post that they are working on tools to help users export their Wave data. Have you been using Wave for anything important, or did it just fade into the background for you? Feel free to express your feelings in the comments.
It was just back in March that Google acquired online photo editor Picnik. Google has now rolled out Picnik integration with the company's Picasa Web Albums. When viewing an image in Picasa, the Edit drop down offers the option to open the file in Picnik. The Picnik interface we're all familiar with is loaded in a frame, overtop of the Picasa page.
Picnik is a fairly impressive Flash-based image editor that won many fans before it was bought by The Big G. Picnik allows users to resize and crop, as well as add various effects. A pro version is available for $4.95 a month that allows access to additional effects and fonts. There are some rumors that a version of Picnik could be available in Google's desktop Picasa software soon, but we'd really like to see some of this come to Android.
The Picnik acquisition seems mostly aimed at making the upcoming Chrome OS more useful. The OS is supposed to be heavily dependent on web apps instead of traditional desktop software. In the meantime, give Picnik a shot on Picasa.
Twitter is reportedly floating the idea of starting a service that would offer to make you a "Promoted Tweeter" for a fee. This could conceivably lead to a massive increase in followers. It would be quite the turnaround for the site, which has traditionally discouraged third-party services that promise to increase follower counts.
Twitter began gracing some high profile accounts last year with a spot on their suggested users list. Those that found themselves on the list gained up to 1 million followers. It's not clear how Twitter would promote users that buy into their Promoted Tweeter feature. Would they just show up at the top of search results, or are we looking at a sale of a spot on a new suggested users list?
Just having the most followers may not be worth the cost. Unless Twitter can target certain groups of users, the impact will be lessened. It's best to have a smaller audience of people that care about what you say, than a larger audience of people that just filter you out. Do you think users would see a benefit from a promotion service run by twitter?
Google has added a new view option to the online Google Maps service. When viewing select cities in satellite mode, you can now see things from a 45 degree angle. When zooming into an area in satellite mode, the view will automatically switch to the new viewing angle. It can be toggled off by clicking the satellite mode button. This is similar to a feature Microsoft's Bing Maps has been using for some time.
This is more useful than the standard top down view in a number of situations. If you need to see what a particular area looks like, or want to check out some landmarks, this is much more detailed. Users can pan around to see objects from different angles with the compass icon.
Google was testing this feature in Google Labs for a few months, but now it is integrated into the Google Maps experience everyone sees. The imagery isn't really enabled in enough areas for it to be of use to most people, but Google has plans to expand it.
Even before Steve Jobs made the bold prediction that new formfactors such as tablets would eventually replace the PC, there’s been ample evidence that the landscape of personal computing is radically changing—and mobility is a driving force. Just look around at all the folks carrying smartphones, the massive growth of the netbook sector, and yes, the phenomenon that is the iPad. Even your most hardcore PC power-user is finding a need for these smaller, more portable computing devices in his or her life. Whether the growing proliferation of these gadgets spells the end of the desktop workhorse PC is arguable, but change is definitely afoot. But hardware is only half of the story. Applications are evolving, as well. They have to. Smaller, slimmer, more lightweight devices necessarily entail more modest resources, e.g., less processing power, less storage. Enter the cloud, aka the Internet.
Does your life feel savorless? Ridiculously easy-to-use web apps might be to blame. Google has launched a command-line utility, GoogleCL, to return the missing flavor to your life and provide an alternative way for users to interact with its popular web apps and services, including Youtube, Blogger, Picasa and Docs.
Of course, the tool is not meant for the ordinary user as it can be a bit tedious for most users spoilt by prolongsed exposure to graphical user interfaces. And it might not take long before it begins to wear on people who take the plunge just out of curiosity.
But now that it exists it surely must have a purpose and a target audience: “GoogleCL is a command-line utility that provides access to various Google services. It streamlines tasks such as posting to a Blogger blog, adding events to Calendar, or editing documents on Google Docs.”
It was one year ago that we got our first look at Google Wave. When it launched in preview it was only available by invitation. Now Google has announced that anyone at all can wander over to Wave, and get started without being invited first. Google detailed a variety of ways the public has used Google Wave in order to inspire new users. For example, Mashable's use of Wave to conduct interviews. A few educationalprojects were highlighted as well.
Showing that they are acutely aware of the state Wave was in when it launched, Google took pains to encourage disappointed users to give it another shot. According to Google, Wave is much faster and more stable than it was just a short time ago. In our experience, Google has fixed some of the major annoyances, like being unable to remove someone from a Wave. Developers will be happy to know Google has also open sourced some additional Wave components, and also released some new APIs.
Have you been using Wave all this time, or did you forget all about it? Let us know what you think of Wave now that it's freely accessible.
Today's Google I/O presentation offered a bit of a surprise in the form of a Chrome web app store. The store will be available for both the Chrome browser and Chrome OS whenever it is released. This really helps put the pieces together as far as Chrome OS goes. As it was before, the Chrome OS experience was looking a little too spartan.
Many of the apps we saw at I/O today are familiar names. There is a version of Tweetdeck, an attractive Sports Illustrated app, and (of course) Plants vs Zombies. Many of these apps are reminiscent of iPad apps with embedded video and crisp graphics. When the store launches there will be both free and paid apps.
According to Google, the Chrome web store will be pushed out on the Chrome dev channel "soon". We're still not sold on the idea of making an app store for web apps, but we'll reserve final judgment until we can use it. Do you think a well designed web app is worth paying for?