articles tagged with: google
Google+ has announced today that companies and brands can create a presence on the social network from the search giants – following a similar style to Facebook pages.
They have five categories:
- Local Business or Place
- Product or Brand
- Company, Institution or Organization
- Arts, Entertainment or Sports
Over 40m have already signed up to Google+, and in articles this morning it has been mooted that a shift in social networking could occur with this new change….but why?
Well, the new features will allow users to recommend brands by using the +1 button, add companies to their circles so they can be kept updated with news and chat via its multi-person video tool Hangouts (something we’ve used for internal meetings and think i).
It’s also noted that this new development could be a way of attracting celebrities and journalists away from Twitter – this is mainly due to the additional features Google+ could offer with its integration in search, gmail, news etc. If there was a major shift the 40m+ users would surely skyrocket.
We’re going to take a look at the opportunities that a business page would offer not only us but also our clients – so look out for our advice on setting up a page!
Created on Tuesday November 08 2011 11:51 AM
So, at Focus we've been trying out the new Google+ system from Google to try to figure out if it's going to change our digital lives.
First things first -- it is very much like Facebook. At its core, it performs much of the same functionality as Facebook - you befriend people (add them to your "Circles", in Google+ parlance), and can then exchange messages, photos, videos and links.
Second, it even looks like Facebook - you still get the central feed of all your friends' activity, and the site design is even fairly similar at first glance.
So, what differentiates Google+ from Facebook?
Well, let's start with the bad: right now, the odds are that none of your friends are on there. Of course, this is reasonably obvious, as the service has only just launched and they're limiting invites right now, but it's still likely to present a significant hurdle to adoption, especially for casual users - Auntie Mabel isn't likely to sign up to "a site like Facebook, but with none of your friends or family on there."
So what's there functionally to convince you into making the jump?
First, you organise your contacts into Circles, which is a very nice implementation and superior to Facebook. I can organise people into friends, colleagues, family -- and create my own circles, such as the local poker club.
Then, when I post a message, I can choose what circle or circles are going to receive this message.
It sounds like a simple idea - it is! - but it's a very powerful one. Now I can post videos of the kids to friends and family, comments on technology to my colleagues, and jokes to my friends.
In Facebook, it's rather more that everything goes to everyone, which may not be what I want - either from a privacy standpoint or a "boring family members with technical stuff" standpoint.
Next, there's "Hangouts", where contacts in any of your circles can join in a virtual chat room, and chat via text, voice or video. Up to 10 people can video chat simultaneously for free, which is quite impressive, and may (incidentally) worry Skype, who require you to pay to video chat with more than one person.
I'm going to skip over "Sparks", which is supposed to feed me information I'd find interesting (like "when your Grandpa used to cut articles out of the paper and send them to you", according to Google), but in my testing, it seems to be a poor version of Google search, giving me a random mish-mash of barely-interesting results. Hopefully that'll get better, as Google clearly should have the search knowledge to pull this feature off well. Or perhaps it'll return great results for the content that you're interested in.
Finally, there's the increasing integration with other Google services.
For example, there's the "+1" integration -- if you share a link on Google+ about a great pet shop, say, I can "+1" it, which is giving the site my personal recommendation - a feature you may well have seen rolling out over Google's search results recently.
Now, if my one of my friends searches on Google search for pet shops, the site I recommended will come up with my recommendation noted - giving them some reassurance that it's something their friends approve of. It also seems likely that "+1"'d sites may rank higher for you in the search results.
Also, the new black Google navigation bar is going to be standard amongst all your Google services - Search, GMail, YouTube, Docs, Reader - so Google+ is going to have the advantage of being "right there at the top of your page" when you're using any of those sites.
So: is Google+ an improvement on Facebook? Probably, yes, at least on paper. Is it going to gain any widespread use? That's a lot harder to answer, and it's certainly going to be challenging for it to make gains into Facebook's massive dominance, but when it launches fully it will clearly be right there in front of a huge amount of existing Google users.
Facebook, of course, aren't sitting idle in response to this new competition - there are new announcments abounding of Skype integration so you can video chat with your friends, but we'll have to see what pans out there.
We will keep you posted!
Created on Thursday July 07 2011 12:58 PM
Google’s +1 feature has gone live, that means you can now add the +1 button to your site for people to recommend it to their Google email contacts when they use Google search. We’ve been left thinking “um yeah, so....what’s the point?” According to Google the +1 button is meant to be short hand for “this is pretty cool” or “you should check this out”....sorry isn’t that what the ‘like’ button has been saying for the last few years? Or did we miss something?
In order to use +1s you need a Google profile once you have one your ‘+1’s are available to everyone and connections to your email address will be able to find them easily. The thing is, I already have a Facebook account, a twitter account, a LinkedIn account etc, I have a lot of usernames and passwords to remember as it is, so what will signing up to yet another one do for me? Well it seems like not a lot, you will at most occasionally see +1s from email contacts when you search on Google, however it will do a lot for Google. It’s their chance to get some interest data which so far they have been lagging behind in. This is Google’s attempt to move into the ‘social web’ space, which hasn’t proved very successful for them previously. Those in the know are very critical of the development as Happy Cog founder Jeffrey Zeldman puts it: "Google trying to be Facebook is like Yahoo trying to be Google, and we all remember how that worked out."
It’s a tough market to crack for Google but I’m sure, knowing their online real estate they will have us all using the term ‘+1’ as a verb before we know it. Perhaps though their time would have been better spent coming up with a unique product, for example a ‘-1’ button that would allow us to tell people what we don’t like online and weed out the spam - everyone loves a rant after all!
Created on Wednesday June 15 2011 04:23 PM
So Google's launching Chromebook, the device that connects you to the web instantly, and lets you do...not much else!
But with cloud computing that's not too much of an issue, right? Who needs all those pesky, cumbersome programmes running when, let's face it, all you really want to do is check a few emails, do a bit of facebook stalking and maybe order a new pair of shoes or three?
And even if you do want to create documents, and maybe update that spreadsheet of your finances, Google Docs lets you do it all in the Cloud with no need to save anything locally. Brilliant!
Or is it?
In the week when Facebook were outed as commissioning a smear campaign against Google regarding their Social Circle feature and the security of data online, is it such a good idea to have EVERYTHING in the cloud? And, more significantly, with Google?
Yes, it's very convenient that all you have to do to use your Chromebook is log in with your Google account, but when Chrome has all your browsing history, Google Docs have got all your data, your GMail account all your communications...well, you get the picture.
Don't get me wrong, I'm a big Google fan, but I don't think I'm alone in thinking it's all getting a bit scary!
Created on Friday May 13 2011 12:28 PM
I know, I know, I know. Not a very original theme for a blog article. Here at Focus Towers it feels like everyone's going unreasonably nuts for the forthcoming nuptials.
Don't get me wrong, I'm thrilled to bits about the extra bank holiday, but that's about as far as it goes.
2 billion people across the globe will tune in in some way to watch the ceremony, it's reckoned, making it possibly the biggest media event in history.
Googling anything to do with weddings that day? Good luck! You're not likely to get anything useful. Top search terms are reckoned to be 'royal wedding stream online' and variations around that theme.
What's really striking though is that this is the first truly digital event of its kind. Charles and Di in '83 may have attracted some attention, but this time, it'll be more a case of trying to escape it!
Of the 2 billion (!) people estimated to be watching across the globe, an estimated 400 MILLION will stream the content online. 400 million. That's about six times the population of the UK, kids.
The royal family may have managed to turn down B Sky B's request to film the event in 3D (I kid you not), but they can't stop the hoards all trying to get their little bit of the magic digitally. Will the internet fall over? Who knows? Good luck servers across the globe!
I won't be watching online. I won't be watching on TV. I'll be on a beach on the south coast somewhere hopefully. But the thing is, I'll have my iPhone with me for sure. And Twitter. And Facebook. And the Royal Wedding digitally, in the palm of my hand. Looks like I might be getting involved, after all...
Created on Wednesday April 06 2011 02:52 PM
A browser can be like that comfy pair of old slippers, it’s your friend, to take your walks around the internet in. It can be hard to break the habit of those old comfy slippers though, and try a new pair of slippers, even if they may allow you to walk a bit faster and trip you up less. You might not know your way round in them so well at first, they might not be the right fit for what you need or they could be a great improvement; maybe those old slippers are holding you back? With the launch of Internet Explorer 9 last week it’s time for us all to consider if our current browser really is the best fit.
For those less technical savvy amongst you, you may be shocked to know that there is more than one way to view the internet. You may still be using Internet Explorer thinking that that is as good as the internet can get, but let me introduce you to my friends, Google Chrome, Firefox and Safari. These different browsers offer different functionality some are better for macs (Safari) some are faster (Chrome) and some are safer (Firefox).
Internet Explorer has dominated the browser market for many years; in 2002 95% of web users were browsing through it, now that’s more like 45-50%. This is because the browser market has revolutionised in the last couple of years with the invention of browsers like Chrome and Firefox which offer faster web browsing, better functionality and a more intuitive web browsing experience. Internet Explorer 9 is Microsoft’s latest offering that is trying to win back its market share. It offers integration with Windows 7 to make browsing your favourite sites easier, and gives larger screen space to site contents by reducing the tool bars.
It’s free to download any of these browsers, so why not find out which is the right fit for you?
Created on Friday March 25 2011 02:03 PM
Google announced on Monday that their increasingly popular browser Chrome will be dropping native support for the H.264 video format.
As the latest versions of browsers are being released there is increasing support for native video playback, ie. users will no longer need proprietary plugins such as Flash or Silverlight to watch video on the web. This means each browser has to support certain video formats themselves. The battle at the moment is between the proprietary H.264 (heavily supported by Apple and now Microsoft) and open-source WebM / Ogg Theroa formats (supported by Mozilla and now Google).
From the Chromium blog:
Though H.264 plays an important role in video, as our goal is to enable open innovation, support for the codec will be removed and our resources directed towards completely open codec technologies.
At focus we think open-source is great, in fact we build our web sites on open-source technologies every day. However, we think this move by Google (who's motto is "Don't be evil" by the way) is bad for a number of reasons.
H.264 is an established format. Millions of mobile devices support hardware acceleration of H.264 video and there are millions of videos already on the web encoded in the format (including every video on the Google owned Youtube).
Users are still stuck using Flash. Any Chrome user trying to view an H.264 video will have to use Flash as a 'middleman', slowing the process of moving away from Flash to HTML5 / native browser support for video.
This isn't about
enabling open innovation at all. This is about competiton with Apple in the mobile market and trying to make life as difficult as possible for them. Which is fine in itself, but not when it's being diguised as
There are licensing question marks around the WebM format. Promoted as completely open-source, there are reports that the WebM format may have licensing issues of it's own.
In the end I think despite both H.264 & Flash being proprietary technologies, H.264 is the better more transparent one for the user. The licensing cost is paid by the Browser vendors (let's face it, Google, Apple, Microsoft can afford it) not the developer or end user.
Created on Thursday January 13 2011 11:45 AM
So everybody who's anybody has been blogging about Google's latest offering: Google Instant.
It's a faster way of finding what you're looking for, reducing search times by between 1 and 5 seconds according to the gatekeepers of the web themselves.
The time saving comes in the fact that your search results are modified as you type, building on the search suggestion function and altering the results you see as you go.
The reactions of the web using public have been varied; from those thrilled to bits with the speed of it: 'I didn't even have to press enter!' extols a man in Google's own promo video, to those terrified of it: Charlie Brooker claims it's like 'the internet on fast forward' and that it's trying to kill him (!)
It's also got SEO and search marketing companies unsettled due to the impact that it could potentially have on the value of keywords.
For me, I'm a fan. It's going to take a bit of getting used to the constantly changing images and results as you type (one of the key factors behind its development was apparently the fact that Google's users type much more slowly than they read) but I'm just not sure it'll have that much of an impact on me, as I tend to use the browser bar in Chrome as my search field, rather than the box on Google's homepage.
There are rumblings that Instant will be rolled out to work in the Chrome browser bar, but for now, it's not going to change my life. Google Telepathic on the other hand, now that would be something impressive.
Created on Tuesday September 21 2010 02:46 PM
It’s been three months since we helped Bristol City Council to relaunch the Go Places to Play website back in May, and our reporting tools tell us that the additional developments to the site have made it better than ever for its users.
The refresh was born out of the desire to make it easier for parents and carers to access information about parks and play spaces in their neighbourhood and to feed them information about play activities and events going on throughout the summer holidays and beyond.
With this in mind, we refreshed the design of the homepage, gave the site a clearer layout and built additional functionality such as the online park finder tool, enabling parents and carers of young people to locate the facilities closest to them. While we were all really pleased with the results, the proof was always going to be in the pudding. In this case, Google Analytics.
We track all sites we build with Google’s analytics tool, and measure each on a quarterly basis. Now the updated site has been live for three months, we’re in a position to report back! We have succeeded in increasing the number of visits to the site per day by nearly half, increased the time that people spend on and interacting with the site by a third and reduced the bounce rate by 20%.
If you’re interested in learning more about Google Analytics, or would like us to take a look at your web stats to make suggestions on how best to achieve your business objectives through the website, get in touch.
Created on Friday August 20 2010 11:13 AM
Yesterday I attended a training and consultation workshop on Social Software and Promoting Participation with Young People, hosted by Katie Bacon (what a great name!).
We went along with CERNIS our new partners (see previous blog ) to find out more about how social media platforms such as Facebook can be used safely, in particular for sensitive projects such as ours which is in relation to child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS).
Primarily we were looking to understand what measures can be put in place with regards to managing the posts and comments yet still facilitating an environment where young people can participate freely.
The session was great, very informative, interesting and interactive. We looked at how youth workers can manage their own social networking site (SNS) and the advice that can be given to young people. We discussed the implications of creating an online community and how you can facilitate a balance between functions that enhance the content but also functions that protect the members from harassment.
We’re looking to use a virtual platform to support the workshops with young people that are being carried out by CERNIS across the country – where information and feedback can be shared and participants can monitor the progress of the project and see feedback from other sessions. We’ve decided to use a blog called More Thoughts as the main platform but were also considering a Facebook profile page to help to communicate with the young people when new content is posted (as an alternative to email) and to generate interest. All of the tools seem to be available for controlling who see’s, edits and moderates the content on the page, however the one big stumbling block that we could not see a way around was the inability to be able to hide the friends list from the profile.
However, even though on this occasion we have decided not to use Facebook in particular, lots of other ideas and suggestions were made on how to generate interest and bring our blog to life with free tools that are available online. We’re going to include a video introduction to welcome people along, we will also look to include videos from the sessions (creatively preventing anyone from being identifiable), use Google maps with points to show where Anna and co are holding their workshops as well as photos and progress so far, and other little features such as a Wordle to make the content more interesting.
There’s a lot to do as the first workshop begins in Norfolk on Tuesday!
Created on Friday August 06 2010 08:45 AM
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