GOOGLE SAYS ITS new wireless service will operate on a much smaller scale than the Verizons and the AT&Ts of the world, providing a new way for relatively few people to make calls, trade texts, and access the good old internet via their smartphones. But the implications are still enormous.
Google revealed on Monday it will soon start “experimenting” with wireless services and the ways we use them—and that’s no small thing. Such Google experiments have a way of morphing into something far bigger, particularly when they involve tinkering with the infrastructure that drives the internet.
YouTube will launch a new, child-friendly version of its service for mobile devices on Monday. USA Today broke details of the news, which we’ve confirmed with sources at the company.
The app will initially be available for Android and in the U.S. only, but the move is telling of the Google-owned company’s ambition to develop its service beyond just being the world’s largest repository of online videos. It already has its ‘Music Key’ service, and an ad-free version is reportedly on its way also.
The kids app will surface content suitable for youngsters, as you’d expect, and TechCrunch understands that it will include a number of parental control features, such as a limiter that restricts the time of each session, and a sound toggle for muting and unmuting videos. The app will ship with content from a range of partners from the entertainment industry, including Jim Henson TV, DreamWorks, National Geographic, and a range of high-profile YouTubers.
When we moved to our new apartment, Cox cable gave us our new phone number. We had only been in the apartment for a day when the phone began ringing almost hourly. First, it was the silence of autodialers checking for sentient beings on the other end of the line. This went on for a few days. Next, we began getting twice daily pitches from Google’s call center asking us to claim our Google listing. When we informed them that we were a residence, we were practically called liars.
“This is a dentist’s office,” said one of the call center jockeys, with a condescending tone.
“I can tell you, with all assurance, I am standing in the living room of my apartment,” I retorted.
Being a contender in the mobile payments space is becoming a coveted position by large and small businesses. A largely fragmented sector with several unexpected turns over the years, the digital wallet battlefield has recently been showing signs of maturation, which tells us that the market is starting to consolidate and that prominent players may soon emerge.
Since the inception of mobile payments, there has been a lack of a cohesive solution by key players in the space. For example, businesses and payment vendors are at odds with the banks over sharing transaction revenues. And now cellular providers are creating a proprietary solution to avoid dealing with Apple and Google. As we leap into 2015, mobile payments are expected to become mainstream within the next 12 months, and the market has already begun to straighten out.
Google is gearing up to sell wireless service directly to customers as a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO), by acquiring excess network capacity from Sprint and T-Mobile and reselling it to customers under its own brand. This is the same approach used by Cricket Wireless, MetroPCS, Pure Talk, Republic Wireless and many others in the U.S., but Google’s arrangement apparently required special consideration, according to The Wall Street Journal, given the potential threat network providers perceived in giving the search giant and Android maker too much control.
Google may be in the final stages of investing in Elon Musk’s private space exploration company SpaceX, a move that would bolster SpaceX’s emerging satellite business and would help Google expand internet access around the world.
According to The Information, which cited anonymous sources familiar with the talks, the deal would value SpaceX at more than $10 billion, though the exact terms of the investment are still unclear. But at an event in Seattle last week where SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk first announced the new satellite venture, Musk gave some indication as to the epic scope of the project that lies ahead. He seeks to create a network of hundreds of satellites that could not only connect people on Earth to the web, but also people on Mars—if and when people get there. The total cost of such an audacious project? $10 billion.
You may recall that Google’s mission is to “organize the world’s information”. So if you’ve been seeing the Birthdays of people you hardly know appearing UFO-like in your Google Calendar lately, never fear — this is just Mountain View doing its thang organizing your stuff.
Specifically, this bit of Googly info-admin boils down to its algorithms harvesting the birth dates of all of your Google contacts (which means anyone you might email regularly) and any Google+ users you added to the circles of your (in all likelihood Google-enforced) Google+ profile, and then inserting those dates into your calendar so you don’t have to.
Q: how useful is it to have the birthdays of people whose birthdays you don’t at all need to have in your calendar mixed in with the birthdays of people you do need in your calendar, cluttering up the place where you record other stuff you do really need to know?
A: not useful at all!