Google on Monday announced a change to how it offers free cloud storage to its users: 15GB will now be shared across Google Drive, Gmail, and Google+. This change will start rolling out over the next couple of weeks.
Previously, Google offered 10GB for Gmail plus another 5GB for Drive and Google+ Photos. Now the company has decided that it makes more sense to unify the free storage across its three services.
As part of the change, Google is tweaking its Drive storage page to show a pie chart that breaks down your storage use across the trio. Here’s how it looks:
As before, you can still upgrade your storage space. Plans range from $4.99 per month for 100GB to $799.99 per month for 16TB.
What is most interesting for Gmail users here is that the 25GB upgrade is no longer the limit. Any additional storage you purchase will also apply to Google’s email service.
The Google Apps story is only slightly different: Google is offering its business customers 30GB of unified storage across Drive and Gmail. Storage will also be shared with photos customers upload to Google+ larger than 2048px, and just as before, files created in Docs, Sheets and Slides don’t count against this storage quota.
Here’s the updated Google Drive storage page for enterprise customers:
Google Apps customers are also no longer limited to 25GB for their inboxes. Once again, additional purchased storage can be shared and used by Gmail.
This unification will help Google market how much storage it offers by default, as well as push its storage plans to existing users. It’s not so much a smart move, as a necessary and obvious one.
Top Image credit: Pawel Kryj
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At last year’s I/O, Google launched its Cloud Messaging push notification service for Android. This week, it extended this service to Chrome and Chrome OS, which, Google says, allows Chrome apps and extension developers to wake up their apps remotely and/or send alerts to users.
While mobile app developers have long been familiar with the concept of push notifications, this is a pretty novel service for web developers. Unless a Chrome app or extension is running in the background and pulling down information from the service, after all, users can’t usually receive alerts like news updates or stock ticker notifications from the developers’ servers.
Google product manager Mark Scott writes in his announcement that ”event pages keep apps and extensions efficient by allowing them to respond to a variety of events, such as timers or navigation to a particular site, without having to remain running persistently.” This works, but it does consume bandwidth and reduce battery life if you are on a laptop or Chromebook.
Cloud Messaging for Chrome, on the other hand, allows developers to push messages directly to signed-in users. As long as the user is signed in and on a machine where the app or extension is installed, the alerts should automatically start appearing.
See the original post: Google Brings Its Cloud Messaging Push Notification Service To Chrome
Facebook is not the only company to invest in development of products that take better advantage of the Android homescreen. South Korean messaging app KakaoTalk also recently announced its intentions to release a rival Android launcher. And now, Highland Capital, Andreessen Horowitz and others have invested $1.8 million into Aviate, an ex-Googler backed intelligent homescreen for Android devices.
The round also included participation from Freestyle Capital, Draper Associates, and other angels, including Dan Rose, Facebook VP of Business Development and Monetization. The company actually closed on the funding in December, but is only announcing now. The funds will be used to grow the team quickly, and further develop the product.
The company behind Aviate, Palo Alto-based ThumbsUp Labs, was founded in November 2011 by a team with backgrounds in computer science, search and OS development. Co-founder Mark Daiss majored in Cognitive Science at the University of California, and previously founded Pupil, an image based Q&A app, where he also focused on the problem of bringing relevant information to smartphone users when it was most useful.
Meanwhile, Stanford grad Will Choi worked for Google on its front-end search team; and Paul Montoy-Wilson, also a Stanford grad, worked as a Product Manager for the Android Marketplace (now Google Play), and had previously co-founded customer feedback app HaveASec.
Each founder had his own take on how to make mobile phones more effective – Daiss having seen the app discovery and engagement challenges firsthand; Montoy-Wilson with insight into the Android ecosystem itself; and Choi coming at the problem from the search perspective – he wanted to rebuild mobile search from the ground up.
What Aviate Does
With the Aviate, the goal is to help mobile users de-clutter their Android homescreens, and instead view relevant information adapted to their surroundings, rather than a grid of apps. Where Facebook Home has taken over the Android environment as something of an “apperating system,” to use the term coined by Wired (referring to something in between an app and operating system), the team at Aviate believes there’s more that can be done with such technology, beyond simply optimizing your social networking experiences.
Users today have a number of mobile applications on their devices which they access regularly, and that serve a wide variety of functions. It may not make much sense to give over complete control to just one, such as is the case with Facebook Home. (Early adopters of Facebook Home seem to agree, ranking and reviewing the new app poorly.)
Other means to view app information comes in the form of push notifications and homescreen widgets – neither of which tend to be personalized or contextually aware, outside of location-aware weather widgets, perhaps. In addition, app notifications these days are borderline spam, as developers feel increased pressure to get their app’s users to return and re-engage.
How It Will Work
Aviate wants to be different by working with your favorite applications to pull in information and surface it when you need it. (The app is not yet available for testing, so we can only speak of the company’s intentions here, rather than the real-world results.)
What we do know – and the team is being cagey so far – is that the app will be downloadable from Google Play, and after installation, it will integrate deeply with the phone to upgrade the overall experience. Like Facebook Home, it’s more than an Android launcher. Aviate will organize all your applications for you, and then based on context (time, location, etc.), it will begin to adapt to you individually as it learns what apps you need, when and where.
For example, Aviate will know that when you’re at work, you may need one subset of apps, but when you’re at the gym, you might use another. It also learns what information you need at your fingertips, and surfaces that more proactively, and in a more personalized manner over time. Details on that aspect are still sparse.
Frankly, it sounds a lot like the Google Now concept, but applied to the broader world of mobile applications. Already, it seems like something Google would want to snap up for itself, but it remains to be seen how well it all really works. The company is in the process of filing several patents around the technology now, however, and if granted, those could make the company more valuable in time.
Though obviously Android is where such innovation can take place, Aviate says it has plans for an iOS version in the future.
The app will launch into private beta in the next couple of months. Users can join the waiting list here.
Remember Slide, that social technology company acquired by Google way back in 2010? No? Well, just to jog your memory, one of the first products to emerge from that acquisition was an iOS (yup) app called Photovine, which rolled out in July 2011.
In the build up to launch, Slide had been teasing the public with news of the app, after it emerged that Google had registered the trademark and .com domain name; then a splash page emerged teasing a few more details.
After a short private beta period, it was finally launched to the public in August 2011, and we went hands on with the social photo-sharing app, giving it a favorable review. However, Google pulled the plug on Slide and Photovine the following March and, well, that was the last we heard of it until earlier this year, when the Photovine brand emerged from Los Angeles-based app development company Silo Labs.
Silo Labs is a Stanford & USC alumni startup, funded by Tech Coast Angels to the tune of $220,000, and Photovine is the first app of its conveyor belt. Though Silo Labs now own the Photovine trademark, it seems Google still owns the Photovine.com domain name, and the Internet giant has declined to release this to them. As such, Photovine has plumped for Photovineapp.com as its main splash page.
Soft-launched in March this year, Photovine has been iterating its photo-aggregation app, though at the time of writing it only reels in photos from Facebook and Instagram. This will be fine for many folk.
It’s also worth noting here that it isn’t really the same thing as Google’s product, all that’s happened here is a brand name acquisition.
You will of course need to connect your Instagram or Facebook account, which you’ll be prompted to do when you spin the little wheel on the main screen.
Assuming you have connected both accounts, you can opt to filter your snaps for each platform by images you’ve personally uploaded, ones your friends have uploaded or ‘all photos’. It would be good to have an addition option here, to display all your own photos from both Instagram and Facebook, and omit your friends’ uploads.
You’re then presented with a Flipboard-style magazine of photos, which you can click on individually or view as a slideshow. You can set transition time and even play music. And shaking your iPhone changes the slideshow animation.
The music is turned off as a default which is only right, and when you switch it on you’ll be prompted to play any song from your device. Personally, I have no real desire to play music while viewing photos, but it seems the guys at Photovine have one eye on future monetization via music partners – how this eventually transpires, remains to be seen.
Interestingly, Photovine also doubles as a camera app, allowing you to snap photos, carry out some basic (or plain bad) edits and share them to Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
Photovine operates in a very competitive space, with the likes of Snapjoy (recently acquired by Dropbox) and Pixable already strutting their stuff. Indeed, the latter of these is probably the most comparable to Photovine, and Pixable is already cross-platform and integrates with Twitter and other platforms too.
Photovine, however, is a well constructed app, offering a really nice interface which is fun to use. Plus, it is early days, so there is a lot of room for iteration. The company says it’s working on an Android and iPad incarnation, as well as some “very exciting features” for Photovine 2.0.
Photovine is available to download for free from the App Store now.
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Feature Image Credit – Thinkstock