Archive for the ‘ Google ’ Category

Google Maps for Android Gets Biking Directions, Navigation Shortcut, Sharing, and More

Starting today, Google Maps for mobile has a few new ways to help you and your friends quickly get to where you’re going whether you’re on 4 wheels or 2 (or maybe even 3). With Google Maps 4.2 for Android you can now get biking directions on the go, start Navigation from your Home screen, share places with friends, and more.

Biking directions
Since launching biking directions on desktop Google Maps, we’ve wanted to get you biking directions, lanes, and trails on your phone too. Just in time for National Bike Month, select the bike icon when getting directions to get an optimal bicycling route in the U.S. If you’re in the mood for a more scenic ride, you’ll also see the Bicycling layer on the map which shows dedicated bike-only trails (dark green), roads with bike lanes (light green), or roads that are good for biking but lack a dedicated lane (dashed green). You can always turn on this layer from the Layers menu to pick your own route. Add in the Labs’ Terrain layer, and you can decide to either climb or avoid that big hill on the way home!

Google Navigation shortcut
If you’re driving instead of riding, we wanted to make it easier and faster for you to get on the road with Google Maps Navigation as soon as you’re ready. With the new Navigation shortcut, you can pick a destination and be on your way with as little as 2 taps of your finger. Select the “Navigation” icon in your phone’s app launcher to get the new destination selection view. Then, speak or type your destination, pick one from your contacts, choose a starred place, or select a recent destination. Navigation will begin and you’re good to go. Make it even easier on yourself by adding the Navigation icon right on your Home screen.

Sharing
Once you figure out where you’re going, why not get some friends to meet you there? From any search results page, choose to “Share this place” to send that place’s info, such as its address and phone number, to whomever you like. If you want to meet someone on a street corner or gather friends at an outdoor concert, you can also send an exact location from the map — even a snapshot of your current location. Just use the share option after selecting a point on the map, your “My Location” blue dot, or yourself in Latitude if it’s enabled. Whether you’re sharing a place or a location, you’ll be able to send it to small groups via an email or text message or send it widely with apps like Google Buzz, Facebook, or Twitter.

Get these new features by searching for Google Maps in Android Market from Android 1.6+ phones (On your phone now? Tap here). Update Maps to version 4.2, available in all the countries and languages where Maps is currently available. Visit our Help Center to learn more, ask questions in our Help Forum, or give us suggestions and vote on other people’s on the Mobile Product Ideas page.

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Translate the real world with Google Goggles

Traveling to another country can be an amazing experience. The opportunity to immerse yourself in a different culture can give you a new perspective. However, it can be hard to fully enjoy the experience if you do not understand the local language. For example, ordering food from a menu you can not read can be an adventure. Today we are introducing a new feature of Google Goggles that will prove useful to travelers and monoglots everywhere: Goggles translation.

Here’s how it works:
  • Point your phone at a word or phrase. Use the region of interest button to draw a box around specific words
  • Press the shutter button
  • If Goggles recognizes the text, it will give you the option to translate
  • Press the translate button to select the source and destination languages.

The first Goggles translation prototype was unveiled earlier this year at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona and could only recognize German text. Today Goggles can read English, French, Italian, German and Spanish and can translate to many more languages. We are hard at work extending our recognition capabilities to other Latin-based languages. Our goal is to eventually read non-Latin languages (such as Chinese, Hindi and Arabic) as well.
Every new release of Google Goggles contains at least one new feature and a large number of improvements to our existing functionality. In addition to translation, Goggles v1.1 features improved barcode recognition, a larger corpus of artwork, recognition of many more products and logos, an improved user interface, and the ability to initiate visual searches using images in your phone’s photo gallery.
Computer vision is a hard problem. While we are excited about Goggles v1.1, we know that there are many images that we cannot yet recognize. The Google Goggles team is working on solving the technical challenges required to make computers see. We hope you are as excited as we are about the possibilities of visual search.
Google Goggles v1.1 is available on devices running Android 1.6 and higher. To download, please scan the QR code below or go to the Android Market app on your phone and search for “Google Goggles”. See our help center for more information.

Location, Location, Location: Google Latitude Has 3 Million Active Users

Location is the hottest craze in social networking right now, as developers and social media sites have realized the huge potential of the smartphone as a way to track the places people are visiting and keep them connected with their friends and followers. Everyone wants in on the location game, but one service that has been chugging along in the background with little mention is Google Latitude. Most people took Google’s location-based service as a bust, but Steve Lee is here to say, “Latitude is not dead.”

In fact, Lee points out this is far from fact, with Latitude now hosting 3 million active users. For reference, FourSquare just recently broke the 1 million mark. The user-base picks up a big boost thanks to Google’s smartphone platform, with over 10 percent of all Android users using the service.

The apparent low market penetration has a lot to do with iPhone users being less keyed-in to the service thanks to Steve Jobs and his anti-Google agenda. OK, so it might have less to do with that and more to do with Latitude operating as a background task, something that up until OS 4 the iPhone was incapable of. Lee also went on to suggest that Latitude may eventually gain explicit location abilities in combination with the already present implicit tracking (meaning FourSquare-like check ins).

Any Latitude users out there? Lee notes that 25 percent of those signed up to the service currently have zero friends, so maybe the real key in getting Latitude noticed is upping the social value of tracking your location. For now I will stick with FourSquare and continue on my quest to best all my friends in the weekly leader boards.

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