Planet GOOG

Hello, Computer! At I/O, Google Debuts Upgraded Maps and ‘Now’ for Desktops

(Photo: Screencap)

Google made no attempt to top last year’s I/O keynote, featuring skydivers. Instead, viewers were treated to a long, rambling meditation on progress from Google CEO Larry Page, who seemed none too keen on talking about Google Glass.

“Technology should do the hard work,” Mr. Page informed us all, “so that people can get on with doing the things that make them happiest in life.” He also suggested that, “being negative is not how we make progress.” Somehow we doubt that outlook inspires Mr. Page to let his underlings off lightly when they screw something up.

The closest thing to a skydiver was when Robert Scoble popped up at the front of the line for Q&A, announcing himself as “one of the first glassholes.” “Robert, I didn’t appreciate the shower picture,” Mr. Page replied.

But there were a few big announcements. Read More

Planet GOOG

Weird Google Text-to-Speech Bug Randomly Blurts Out the Phrase ‘And Now He Praises the iPad’

(Screencap: Google Translate)

Google’s text-to-speech engine is arguably one of the most powerful in the world. It almost always perfectly captures our speech, making it far easier to speak our text messages than risk an embarrassing autocorrect faux pas.

We rarely have complaints about Google’s text-to-speech technology, but there is this one really weird bug within the engine: When you open Google Now, click on the microphone to activate text-to-speech and ask the question, “What is a giraffe?” the phone becomes kiiind of possessed. While reading back the definition of a giraffe to you, Google Now randomly inserts the phrase, “And now he praises the iPad.” Pretty awkward given that Google’s currently dueling in the tablet market with iPad’s own creator. Read More

Planet GOOG

Watch Google’s Jelly Bean Perfectly Process 40+ Voice Commands

(Photo: Google+)

Okay, we confess: We’ve never owned an iPhone and are head-over-heels in love with our Galaxy Nexus. But even the most hardcore of Apple fanboys have to concede that Google’s new Android update, Jelly Bean, looks pretty sweet. Google Now seems like an easy way to seamlessly integrate your phone’s functionality into your every day schedule. Plus, the UI tweaks make the whole Android experience much sleeker and prettier.

Oh, but that’s not all. Jean-Louis Nguyen, a director of biz dev at GOOG, posted a video (to Google+, of course) of the beta version of Jelly Bean responding to over 40 voice commands. The phone gets it right every damn time. Even obscure requests like, “Where is that museum with Egyptian stuff in San Jose?” It’s pretty impressive. Read More