Now Google offers phone calls over the Web to landlines or cellphones via Gmail.
The service puts Google into direct competition with Skype (124 million users worldwide). Also it makes Google a more ubiquitous part of people's social interactions by uniting the service for phone calls with e-mail, text messages and video chats.
Calls to numbers in the United States and Canada will be free at least through the end of the year. International calls are really cheap.
Gmail has offered voice and video chat for two years, but both parties must be at their computers.
“The Social Network”, a movie about Facebook and its founder Mark Zuckerberg, set for release by Sony Pictures on October 1, is already generating a huge controversy.
The film (see the trailer above) portrays Facebook as founded on a series of betrayals in Harvard’s dorms. Zuckerberg, at 26 a billionaire, is featured as a villain and an antihero who almost created Facebook to get girls or to gain power.
He is trying not to react angrily. “The movie is fiction,” he declared.
Facebook has unveiled its “Places” functionality that allows users to share their location and find their friends. When you arrive at a place and check in, you can tag friends who are with you and post their location to Facebook.
Privacy advocates have raised flags, saying that no one can be checked in a location without their explicit permission.
The feature is now working in the new iPhone Facebook app and in Touch.Facebook.com for advanced mobile browsers (I used it while on vacation in Spain; see the screenshot above).
It is expected that Facebook will generate massive location-based status updates. And when Facebook incorporates proximity advertising, it will generate a new era of local advertising.
Facebook has launched its new official live video streaming channel, Facebook Live.
This channel will be used for Hollywood celebs or musicians-oriented video, as well as Facebook announcements, press events, live chats with Facebook engineers and live streaming of its developer conference, f8.
In addition, Facebook Live will exist as an app that can be added to any Facebook Page, where it can stream live on multiple Pages simultaneously, a feature that allows Page operators (businesses, brands and other commercially-minded users) to attract more fans.
In the Facebook Live widget page (hosted by livestream.com), different types of embeds will be available, including the Player widget, the Video Library widget and the Chat widget. Users will also be able to share videos on Facebook, Twitter, Google Buzz, MySpace, Delicious, Digg and via email with special sharing buttons. A shortened URL (http://livestre.am/xyz) will also be provided.
Videos streamed on Facebook Live will be archived and distributed as future reference materials.
Pretty much is the same technology used to stream the f8 developer conference earlier this year -this is just the more formal launch of technology as an app.
The head of Nokia's research centers, Henry Tirri, a Silicon Valley guy, says that the company is working on advances in materials that could result in phones that change color, deflect liquids and grow keyboards out of their displays. "Just you wait", he says.
See below's video with Nokia's Morph conceptdemonstrating some of the possibilities nanotechnologies might enable in future communication devices. Morph is a flexible two-piece device that can adapt its shape to different use modes, can sense its environment, is energy harvesting and self cleaning.
With the help of a $589,000 grant by the Knight Foundation, the non-profit organization behind the Miro video player has launched a free, hosted CMS for online video websites, with an emphasis on feed aggregation and interaction with viewers.
It is called Miro Community and it is aimed to enable "a new low-cost model for community civic media".
Miro Community relies on feeds from YouTube and other video sources, and it does not offer video hosting on its own.
Hosted version is free for non-commercial use. Users who want the ability to run advertising and some other advanced features need to apply for a premium account. It costs $99 per month after a three-month test period.
The U.S. Copyright Office published six new exemptions to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act´s (DMCA) anti-circumvention clause which make it easier for documentary filmmakers to legally use commercial DVDs. That material must be for "noncommercial videos".
The court wrote:
“Merely bypassing a technological protection that restricts a user from viewing or using a work is insufficient to trigger the DMCA’s anti-circumvention provision. The DMCA prohibits only forms of access that would violate or impinge on the protections that the Copyright Act otherwise affords copyright owners.”
It means also the ripping a DVD to make a backup copy is perfectly legal, ripping it to sell copies is not.
Television NFL football coverage is so good that teams are being forced to implement video technology innovations to keep fans engaged as regular visitors to stadiums. The ambience and feeling the crowd is not enough today.
The Giants and the Jets are providing more and better video than people can get at home.
Last year Cowboys Stadium, in Arlington, Tex., installed twin video boards that are suspended over the field.
The New Meadowlands Stadium will offer fans free smart-phone applications that allow video replays, updated statistics and live video from other games. It will work only inside a stadium (thanks to 500 built-in antennas). For those who do not have smart phones, 2,200 televisions have been installed in and around the stadium.
In the coming future, it is expected that the apps will provide fans with statistics on the speed of players and the ball, and video games.
The mobile Web will overtake the desktop Web within the next five years, according Mary Meeker, head of global technology research at Morgan Stanley and an analyst who is regarded as the number one Wall Street expert covering internet companies.
The five key trends which will fuel this explosive growth are:
3G mobile networks
top-of-the-range mobile devices
"Mobile's breakneck pace is unprecedented in world history," she said.
She also suggests looking to Japan for trends in investment opportunities, where 66 percent of mobile Web revenue is from data access, 21 percent is from e-commerce, 11 percent is generated by paid services and only 2 percent comes from mobile advertising.
There are more key points:
The iPad is one of the fastest-selling gadgets of all time (1 million in 28 days)
iPad Internet usage is more similar to desktop usage than smartphone usage
Android smartphone shipments almost equal iPhone shipments
Global 3G wireless penetration just hit 20 percent, which is usually the inflection point to very rapid growth
Mobile app and search usage is up 2X year over year
Japan shows the potential for mobile advertising: Japan mobile ad spending now $11/user, up from $1 per user six years ago
Japan shows potential for mobile commerce: 19 percent of Rakutan's sales now from mobile
"Jailbreaking" your iPhone (that is, modifying a phone so it runs apps that aren't approved by Apple) is now legal. The U.S. Copyright Office, which is part of the Library of Congress, approved it last week.
For the vast majority it means anything. But for tech savvy jailbreakers and app developers (who don't care voiding Apple's warranty) this is extremely exciting.
For example, one unapproved application enables tethering (the ability to share the iPhone's Internet connection with a computer, something for which iPhone owners are supposed to pay AT&T an extra $20 a month. For me, this is particularly useful when you are abroad and you only have an international data plan on your smartphone but not on your laptop.
Browse the internet and you will find an explosion of forums, blogs and sites (as well as stores selling unapproved applications) guiding users through the jailbreaking process, like Hack that Phone.
There's a whole world of possibilities for what you can do with your iPhone.
But remember whenever Apple introduces a new version of its mobile operating system, relocking its phones, you need to jailbreak it again.
In addition to this decision, the Library of Congress also granted an exception to artists who remix copy-protected video content for noncommercial work. Also it renews its approval for cellphone owners to "unlock" their phones or lift controls that restrict use to one wireless carrier.