Google Goggles 1.1 for Android added another feature that makes visual search more useful: translating text. For now, the application detects text in the following languages: English, French, Italian, German, Spanish and is able to translate the text to all the languages supported by Google Translate.
“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,” explains Google’s mobile blog.
Google says that it’s a good idea to point your phone at the phrase you want to translate and select the region that includes the text to improve detection.
I tested the feature by trying to translate phrases from a French magazine (Science & Vie Junior), but the results weren’t great all the time. Here’s one of the best results:
(screenshots taken using ShootMe on a Nexus One)
To install Google Goggles, you need a phone that runs Android 1.6+. Search for Goggles in the Android Market or open the barcode scanner and scan this QR code.
Even if tech blogs keep track of the number of apps in the Android Market, it’s important to know that Android users can install applications from other sources. If Google decides that an application like Music Junk should be removed from the Market, you can install it from SlideME or from any other website.
There are many reasons why the number of Android apps is still small: Android Market is not available for all Android phones, paid apps are only available in a few countries, there’s no official web interface and Google has rarely promoted Android Market. That’s why I decided to share some of my favorite Android apps. I’ve only tested them using Google Nexus One, but they should work on other Android phones.
1. Quick Settings replaces a lot of widgets: it’s the quickest way to turn off WiFi, to change brightness settings, to turn off auto rotation or turn on bluetooth.
2. NetCounter is a simple application that monitors network traffic for 3G and WiFi. It’s useful if you don’t have a mobile data plan or your traffic is limited.
3. AppBrain is a useful service that lets you find other great Android applications. It shows recommendations, applications that are suddenly popular and it also have a web interface.
4. Cubed is a music player with an innovative user interface. It’s better looking than the stock music player and it’s fun to use.
5. Spare Parts is an application from Android’s SDK which shows a lot of interesting stats about your phone’s battery and a summary of application usage. If you’re wondering how much time your Android phone spent with screen on or you want to monitor the network traffic of an application, use Spare Parts.
6. Astro is one of the best Android file managers and it comes with a lot of nifty perks, including an image viewer and an archive viewer.
7. AK Notepad is a simple application for writing notes. You can add a note to your home screen, add a reminder or export it to a text file.
8. StopWatch provides a stop watch timer, a countdown timer and has a very simple user interface.
9. Ethereal Dialpad lets you “create flowing music with an expressive touch synthesizer”. It’s relaxing and you never get bored using it.
10. Seesmic is my favorite free Twitter client for Android. It has support for multiple accounts, background notifications and it has a great composing dialog.
11. Google Translate combines translation with a text-to-speech service. If you use voice input, you don’t even have to type the text you want to translate.
12. Nexus One Torch – probably the best flashlight application for a rooted Nexus One.
Apple’s CEO wrote a thoughtful post about Adobe Flash and explained the reasons why Apple doesn’t intend to add support for Flash to the iPhone OS:
“Flash was created during the PC era – for PCs and mice. Flash is a successful business for Adobe, and we can understand why they want to push it beyond PCs. But the mobile era is about low power devices, touch interfaces and open web standards – all areas where Flash falls short.”
Steve Jobs says that Flash doesn’t perform well on mobile devices, it drains the battery and it’s not optimized for touch interfaces. Flash is also a way to create cross-platform applications, but Apple doesn’t want applications that look the same way on all mobile platforms and don’t take advantage of iPhone’s features. “We cannot be at the mercy of a third party” is the main reason why Steve Jobs doesn’t want to include Flash’s runtime. Flash’s main use today is to play videos, but web developers should start using the native video tag, which is already supported by most web browsers, including iPhone’s browser.
Apple’s refusal to support Flash in popular products like iPhone or iPad has an important side-effect: web developers will be forced to take advantage of HTML5 features like native video, canvas or create animations using SVG, instead of/in addition to using Adobe’s proprietary plug-in.
Unfortunately, users can’t access a lot of content on their mobile devices. There are many sites built using Flash and many popular sites use Flash to create animations, charts and other interactive content. Adobe is already working on Flash Player 10.1, the first version of the plug-in that will work on smartphones, if you don’t take into account Flash Lite. Flash will soon be available for Android, Windows Mobile, Symbian, Palm and Google will include the plug-in in Chrome and Chrome OS. Flash Player 10.1 for Android will be available as a public preview in May at Google I/O and the general release will be in June.
Google’s decision is pragmatic: even if HTML5 is the future, Flash is an important part of the web today. “[Sometimes being open] means not being militant about the things consumer are actually enjoying,” said Google’s Andy Rubin. Users will be able to choose if they want to enable Flash and Adobe will be pressured to deliver a better product.
Some might say that Android is actually the anti-iPhoneOS: it’s an open source operating system, it encourages competition and collaboration in the mobile space, it lets you replace built-in functionality, install applications from other sources than the Android Market and customize your device. Android is not “at the mercy of a third party”, but third parties can add a lot of value. Even if Android’s user experience is inferior to iPhone’s user experience, Android is an open platform that can be fully customized and a better catalyst for innovation. Android doesn’t strive for perfection, it’s a flexible platform that lets you transform a device into whatever you want it to be.
“In the redesign of Google Image Search for mobile, available today for iPhone 3.0+ and Android 2.1 devices, Google focused on making it easy to quickly see as many image thumbnails as possible. The thumbnails are square to maximize the number of images we can get on the screen at one time so you can scan them quickly. You can swipe to see the next or previous page of results, or tap the large, stationary ‘Next’ and ‘Previous’ page buttons. We optimized for speed so that the images appear quickly when you browse,” explains Google.
Google Image Search’s interface for iPhone and Android is much better than the desktop interface, which really needs an update. The Sideshow extension for Chrome enhances Google Image Search and other photo sites, but it would be better if Google implemented some of its feature.
I was on YouTube yesterday and noticed Google’s Nexus One channel released a new video. The title looked like it had not been edited because it used underscores instead of spaces and it ended with the file extension.
The video showcased a New York Times app for Android running on the Nexus One with the user flipping through news articles and using the widget. The video has been pulled and I can’t find it on either Google’s main or Nexus One channel.
A FAQ page from the NYTimes site has more information:
“The NYTimes application for Android has a unique video display experience, font size adjustment and the ability to share articles via e-mail, SMS, and social apps such as Twitter and Facebook. The NYTimes application for Android works on Android smartphones with operating system version 1.6x or higher. It’s available for free at the Android Market (app store). On your Android smartphone, visit nytimes.com/androidapp to download the application.”
Smaato’s metrics are based upon 36 mobile ad networks and over 4 billion ad requests served in the Smaato Network of more than 3,300 registered mobile publishers in March 2010.
Worldwide CTR Index (Click Through Rate) by Handset Operating System
Chart 1: Smaato Index – Operating System CTR (Click Through Rates) worldwide, March 2010
The performance of different operating systems in March shows Symbian’s lead decrease slightly, as Feature Phone handsets and Windows Phone make significant increases. The CTR Index (Click Through Rate) differs from 35 (Blackberry) to 156 (Symbian), compared to February where the spread was between 51 (Blackberry) and 147 (Symbian).
Android has suffered the most in the latest metrics, with a drop of almost 50% as its global CTR Index fell from 110 in February, to 58 in March. This has been the second consecutive month that Android has dropped. Feature Phone handsets have been building momentum since the first Smaato Metrics Report in December. Each month it has made consistent gains on the competition in the CTR Index, from 84 in December, to 91 in January, to 107 in February and now at 123 in March.
The Index consists of the average CTR of all devices and this number is set to 100.
Symbian’s lead has shortened in the CTR Index table and remains the OS to beat with regards to CTR performance in mobile advertising. Feature Phones have been making steady ground, where as Apple remains consistent across February and March (89).
Chart 2: Smaato Index – Operating System CTR (Click Through Rates) worldwide, Q1 2010
Symbian is continously the best performing OS regarding the CTR worldwide. After strong performances in January and February, Android lost its second position in March.
Read full story in http://metrics.smaato.com/march10
Nokia this morning announced that it has acquired MetaCarta, a privately-owned geographic intelligence company, for an undisclosed sum. Nokia says it will use MetaCarta’s technology in the area of local search and other services.
MetaCarta was founded in 2001, is based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and employs over 30 people.
MetaCarta’s solutions enable companies to bridge the gap between content and maps. Its products fall into four major categories: the MetaCarta Platform, Geographic Data Modules, GeoWeb Applications, and Hosted Content Collections.
To see an example of what MetaCarta’s technology is capable of, see NewsMap, a hosted map mashup / extension that enables Web publishers to dynamically display maps that show the places mentioned in their news articles. Or check out its GeoSearch News service, which aggregates news from thousands of sources and displays a map of the locations mentioned in stories.
For Nokia, this is the second small acquisition in two weeks – it recently picked up mobile Web browser company Novarra. Its purchase of MetaCarta is another testament to the Finnish mobile giant’s focus on location and navigation-based services for its wide range of handsets that find their way into the hands of customers all over the globe.
While surfing the web on your iPad, we expect many of you will want to check your Gmail. If you go to gmail.com in your browser, you’ll see something different than what you’re used to on the desktop. We’re releasing an experimental user interface for the iPad built on the Gmail for mobile HTML5 web app that we launched last year for the iPhone and Android devices. Those devices have large screens compared to other phones, and tablets like the iPad give us even more room to innovate. To take advantage of the iPad’s large display, we’ve created a two-pane view with your list of conversations on the left and messages to the right.
To try this new interface, go to gmail.com in your browser. We recommend adding a homescreen link for easy access. As this interface is experimental, expect changes as we continue to develop and optimize. Also, please let us know any ideas or feedback that you have. You can also access Gmail on the iPad through the native Mail app using the IMAP protocol.
Additionally, the iPad ships with a number of Google services pre-installed. As with Mac computers and the iPhone, you’ll find Google Search in the top right corner of Safari. The YouTube app for iPad is built-in, so you can watch HD videos and read and write comments. The new Maps app on iPad takes advantage of high-resolution satellite and Street View imagery, includes a new terrain view, and lets you search for local businesses and get directions. Just like on the iPhone, you can also go to the App Store to download Google Mobile App with search by voice. Of course, Google Mobile App was originally designed for the iPhone’s screen dimensions, but we’ve adapted it to work on the iPad and we’re looking into new ideas to make the app even better.
As you use Google’s web-based applications on iPad, you’ll notice that you sometimes see the desktop user interface and other times you see the mobile interface. We’ve evaluated the behavior of each Google web app using the iPad Simulator, and we are serving the interface we feel works best. If you’d like any help using our products on iPad, please click the ‘Help’ link within the product.
We’re particularly excited by how tablet computers create the opportunity for new kinds of user interaction. Here on the mobile team, we often talk about how mobile devices are sensor-rich: they can sense touch through their screens, see with a camera, hear through a microphone, and they know where they are with GPS. The same holds true for tablet computers, and we’re just starting to work through how our products can become even better on devices like the iPad.
ZumoDrive is a personal content mover that easily gets ALL your content onto any of your devices, including your netbook, tablet and smartphone. With ZumoDrive, you can now take your music, photos, videos, documents and other files wherever you go regardless of where the files originated, how much on-device storage capacity is available, or whether you’re online or off. We designed ZumoDrive to be extraordinarily simple to use, transparent when it comes to your device experience, and equally functional on whichever platforms your various devices may run on.
File syncing and storage startup Zumodrive is expanding its mobile offerings today with free applications for Android and Palm phones. While there are a plethora of syncing and storage services available to users, ZumoDrive, which spawned from Y Combinator startup Zecter, has a different take on file syncing. Similar to other services, Zumodrive creates a drive on your device that is synced to the cloud. But service includes a slightly different twist-ZumoDrive tricks the file system into thinking those cloud-stored files are local, and streams them from the cloud when you open or access them.
The startup launched an iPhone app last year, which let users sync their content to their phone without having to deal with local storage capacity issues. The Android and Palm apps include much of the same functionality. The apps allows users to sync their entire iTunes library on their phones even though the songs are not locally saved. Plus, ZumoDrive allows you to import your files. photos albums and videos onto your Android and Palm phones.
Additional features include video streaming from ZumoDrive directly to devices in MP4, H.264 format, music organized by artist, albums, and even playlists created on other devices, the ability to stream music in the background and listen to music over both 3G or EDGE networks.
Additionally you can access and view Microsoft Office documents and PDF files.
ZumoDrive has been gaining traction over the past year. Fresh off of a $1.5 million funding round, the startup scored a deal with HP in January to to power the backend of the technology giant’s CloudDrive on all HP Mini netbooks.
Last year, ZumoDrive released a new version of its system that wirelessly syncs playlists between devices, auto-detects content, and lets users link file folders on their devices to ZumoDrive only once so that changes in that folder will always be linked to ZumoDrive. The service was also upgraded to integrate well with media applications, like iTunes, so users can play entire music libraries saved in ZumoDrive on multiple devices without manually syncing content. We initially reviewed Zumodrive here.
As mobile gaming takes off, developers will need in-depth analysis to determine consumer behavior with their games and adjust their games accordingly. Motally, which provides user-action tracking services for the mobile web and apps, is expanding its product base today offering a targeted analytics service aimed towards mobile games on the iPhone, Android and Blackberry platforms. The service is currently in private beta, but developers will be able to sign up to use the service.
Motally’s game-oriented analytics platform allows publishers to track in-game data including where users drop out in-play and which levels users interact with most. Motally also allows for the dynamic changing of the game’s design, allowing developers to measure the impact of changes immediately. As a result, publishers can tweak their games including design, performance, and ad placement by pinpointing areas of the game with the most traffic and identifying trouble areas.
Motally’s game analytics allows publishers to analyze what level players are reaching and then dropping off, determine the top players and their high scores within a game, and to reach out to those on the leaderboard and present them with special offers or advertisements. The data also includes which virtual goods on an application are most popular, which games are most popular in a developer’s portfolio of games, and the conversion rates of players opting into paid premium game offerings.
Game developer Portable Zoo has already been using Motally’s analytics, and claims that data collected from the platform allowed the developer to adjust games to increase average engagement time, and the overall appeal of games.
Motally’s venture in gaming is smart considering the rapid growth of mobile gaming, especially on smartphones. Motally, which recently launched an extension of their mobile analytics to include content developed on Apple’s iPad and rolled out a flexible API, support analytics for applications on the iPhone, Android, and BlackBerry platforms as well as the mobile web. Motally offers more advanced features that allows developers to troubleshoot and debug their products from anywhere in the world, without having to re-deploy apps and games to the Apple iPhone store. For a young startup, Motally has seen significant traction as a mobile analytics provider. Backed by renown investor Ron Conway, Motally’s clients include Twitter, Yelp, Fandango and Verizon.