Knowledge Graph Turns Google Search Into Encyclopedia

Google announced the launch of Knowledge Graph, an enhancement to Google Search.  Google will analyze your query and display information that are relevant to what you searched for.  Google claims that its database contains more than 500 million objects and more than 3.5 billion facts about and relationships between these different objects.  This function is currently available to Google.com US English users only, it will also be available to smartphones and tablets later.

So what does Google Knowledge Graph offer?  For example, if you search for “Taj Mahal”, Google brings out both information about the monument and the musician.  No matter what you are searching for you don’t miss relevant info.

Google Knowledge Graph Sample - taj mahal

Besides, you get a summary of the entity you are searching for.  Without having to go into the result pages, you get an overview of information.

Google Knowledge Graph Sample - marie curie

Google will even go deeper to explore the relationship of the search query with other objects.  For example, if you search for somebody’s name, his parent’s and sibling’s names would appear.

Google Knowledge Graph Sample - matt groening

The knowledge graph occupies the right hand side of the results page so it does not affect the original search results.  My first impression is that Google puts up a mini encyclopedia right on the results page.  It is most useful when you search for hard facts about a place, a celebrity, an object, etc. because you’ll no longer need to click the Wikipedia page on the results page.

 

Image and info source: Google Official Blog

Google Drive – Why It’s Awesome and How It Makes Chromebook Sexy

Google launched Google Drive on 24 Apr.  I believe it is a significant step that takes cloud living and working into a new era.  In this article I shall briefly introduce what Google Drive is, how to use it and what killer features does it have.

Google Drive Icon

 

Activation

Currently Google Drive is not fully opened to all users.  If you go to http://drive.google.com, chances are you would see the following screen.  Note the “Your Google Drive is not ready yet” message and the “Notify me” button (top right corner).  From here you could ask Google to send you an activation email.

Google Drive - Not Yet Ready

 
It may take hours or days to receive Google’s welcome email, which looks like this:

Welcome to Google Drive

 

Basically Google Drive is an upgrade of Google Docs.  It doesn’t look much different from Google Docs.  You can use it the same way as Google Docs, there is not much of the user interface to learn.

Google Drive
 

Features

But Google Drive is not simply a Google Docs with a larger capacity (Google gives you 5 GB storage for free).  I see a few improvements.
 
Firstly, Google Drive has a built-in OCR function, meaning that if you search for a phrase in your Google Drive, not only would text-based files containing the phrase would come up in search results, pictures which the phrase would also be searched.  Google recognizes the text in graphics form.  Similarly, Google Drive also integrated Google Goggles the image search engine.  So it you try to find “the great wall” in Google Drive, even if the file name does not contain the words, Google Drive could recognize the photo you took in Beijing in your last trip to China.
 
Secondly, just like Dropbox and Skydrive by Microsoft, the desktop app of Google Drive automatically synchronize your files between your Windows PC or Mac and your Google Drive.  There is also an Android app and an iOS app is in the pipeline.  This level of synchronization was not available in the previous Google Docs.

Google Drive for Windows 
 
Thirdly, Google brought web apps into Google Drive.  When I first entered Google Drive, I was asked if I wanted to use Pixlr Editor as the default image viewer and editor.

Google Drive - Web Apps

This is a smart move by Google.  There are way too many online storage competitors in the market, the most famous ones include Dropbox, Box and Skydrive.  Why should we use Google Drive if other companies provide the same (or more) storage space?  By adding web apps to web storage, Google created not only a storage space but an online working space!

 

There is a growing collection of Chrome web apps that support Google Drive.  You can identify these web apps by the Google Drive icon in chrome Web Store:

Chrome Web Store - Google Drive Apps

And you can add more web apps by clicking “Create”, choose “More” and then “Get more apps”.

Google Drive - Get more apps
I see huge potential in integrating Google Drive with web apps.  Image editor, word processor, music player and editor, spreadsheet editor…  All web apps could be ran on the same Google Drive platform, this makes online working and collaboration much easier.  The Google Docs in the past was primitive, it only had basic editing function.  Now when third-party app developers could create web apps that have direct access to Google Drive, more possibilities are created.
 
The launch of Google Drive with web apps also makes Chromebook a much more attractive product.  Users can store all their files online in one place and have them viewed and edited in the same one place.  Chrome OS + Google Drive + web apps is an integrated, independent and complete system.  As long as you have web access, you have access to your files and apps to view/edit your files.  I think Google Drive filled the missing piece of a complete cloud system.  The cloud era has come, now in a more desirable way.
 
Finally watch this introductory video, know what Google Drive is and try it now!

Chrome Web Store Trending Apps – Find Hottest Web Apps Easily

Chrome Web Store just received a new update.  A major new feature is the “Trending” tab which to let users know what web apps are hot now.

 

Trending Chrome Web Apps

In the past we could only see “popular” web apps but this list is not frequently updated.  The new “trending” tab lists out the hottest web apps and sort by the popularity.  Apps are ranked as “on fire”, “hot” and “warm”.

Chrome Web Store - Trending Web Apps

The purpose of this “trending” tab is to highlight web apps that are popular in recent time.  These apps may not be found in the “popular” tab that shows all-time hot apps.  For example, while YouTube is definitely a “popular” web app (over 1,000,000+ users installed it in Chrome), it is not even “warm” in “trending”.  This is obvious because the user count of this web app is stable.

Apart from the trending tab, now you can also sort web apps in each individual category to find out the trending web apps.  This is very useful for finding out the hottest web apps such as latest games.

Chrome Web Store - Trending Web Apps in Categories

 

Offline and Playable on Google+ Identification

The second change to Chrome Web Store is the new mark-ups showing particular features of web apps.  In the following screenshot, you see a Google+ mark for Diamond Dash, meaning that this game is playable on Google+ (and trending mark for BrowserQuest too).  You can also find a lightning mark for apps that run offline.  Google said that more marks for other features would follow.

Chrome Web Store - Playable on Gogle Plus Mark

 

Read more about this update here: http://chrome.blogspot.com/2012/04/zap-finding-right-app-and-extension.html

Google April Fools (2) – Really Advanced Search, Inter-planet Analytics, Voice for Pets

The second round of Google’s April Fools!  This time we have a “really” advanced search, Google Analytics that shows traffic from the universe and Google Voice for your pets.

 

Really Advanced Search

This version of Advanced Search allows users to search for:

  • “words almost, but not quite entirely unlike” your phrase
  • “rhyming slang for” your phrase
  • exact word or phrase, whose sum of unicode code points is a mersenne prime
  • “subtext or innuendo for” your phrase
and some more… you can also narrow the search results by “font”, “textured background”, “looping midi music” etc.  I wish this “Really Advanced Search” comes true someday.  If Google is really this intelligent, we could get much more accurate search results that suit our particular needs.

Google Really Advanced Search

http://www.google.com/js/reallyadvanced.html

 

Google Voice for Pets

This new product features “technology originally developed for NASA spacesuits”.  A LED emitter could project a virtual keyboard on the ground for your pet to type messages (if you pet knows how to tap).  By putting a collar on your pet’s neck, what is “said” by it wuold be collected and uploaded to your Google Voice account.  The voicemail transcription engine will translate your pet’s messages into English.  There is even an Android app to make voice call to your pet!

Google Voice for Pets

What would happen if you “Call” your pet?  Will the system translate your voice into cat meows?

http://googlevoiceblog.blogspot.ca/2012/04/google-voice-expands-to-new-markets.html

 

Interplanetary Reports by Google Analytics

My final pick is Google Analytics.  For the first time we can track the visits by our extraterrestrial friends!  This new function shows the visitor number from Mars,Venus, Jupiter…  The following screenshot shows a web site with around 200 hundred visitors from some planets:

Interplanetary Google Analytics Reports

If this could happen, I want to see friend from Mars landing on my site too!

 

Read more: http://analytics.blogspot.com/2012/04/interplanetary-reporting-comes-to.html

 

There are lots and lots more April fools by Google and other tech companies such as Google Fiber Bars, Google Street Views by kangaroos, super miniature Ultrabook by Sony, Reddit timeline, etc.  Find out more from these April Fool Round-ups:

http://www.slashgear.com/april-fools-in-the-tech-world-2012-round-up-01221002/

http://searchengineland.com/googles-gags-go-worldwide-for-april-fools-day-2012-117046

http://www.pcworld.com/article/252985/20_april_fools_mustsee_websites_from_google_to_sony_to_youtube.html

 

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