Category Archives: Google Maps

New Features, Bells and Whistles: Google I/O Conference

Guest Post by Paul Williams, a copywriter with

The Google I/O 2013 conference started with a bang on May 15th. Developers, tech journalists and venture capitalists crowded the Moscone Center in San Francisco, where CEO Larry Page and VP Amit Singhal delivered masterful keynotes that set the tone for the rest of the event.

Although Google I/O events are mostly for developers, the conference thus far has produced many interesting items for users to dissect and marvel at. In fact, the buzz surrounding the I/O conference has mostly been focused on developments and new features that will soon be ready to enhance the Google user experience. The major announcements are related to maps, music, finances, pictures, education, games, social networking, and search.

Providing Instant Answers with Conversation and Learning

Google is leaning on its Knowledge Graph to deliver a rich search experience that draws from a massive relational database that stores 570 million entries. According to Amit Singhal, Knowledge Graph will progressively learn from the queries entered by hundreds of millions of users. To this end, a film enthusiast searching for information about director Kathryn Bigelow, will instantly see highlights from her filmography, biographical data, reviews for Zero Dark Thirty, discussions about the possible remake of Point Break, and even more nuggets of information right on Google’s search engine results page (SERP).

Google is moving beyond the traditional keyboard-mouse-screen input methods of Internet search. “OK Google” is the new approach to conversational search. In this regard, Google’s plans for voice search have already impressed users and developers alike with an interface that will surely rival Apple’s Siri. The Google Now voice-activated personal assistant is also becoming smarter with reminders, recommendations and alerts that conform to each user’s search history and preferences.

Mapping and Finance

A revamped Google Maps for mobile devices will serve as a full-fledged handheld or in-vehicle navigator while the Maps version for tablets will feature an interface that encourages exploration. Google Wallet does no longer seem to be pursuing a debit-card strategy, although it intends to take on rival PayPal with an electronic funds transfer system powered by Gmail.

Advanced Social Networking

More than a dozen new features have been added to Google Plus (G+), the search giant’s promising social network. One of the most significant upgrades is Babel, a communication tool that integrates G+ Hangouts with other messaging applications such as Voice, Talk, Gmail, and the G+ Messenger.

Google is borrowing a page from Twitter with its own set of hash tags for G+. These smart tags will search across the G+ network for user-generated content that can be analyzed and organized by hash tags that can be clicked and expanded to reveal related content. This is similar to the discontinued Google Sparks feature of G+.

The most visible G+ upgrade can be appreciated in its user interface. Multiple columns that stream updates with animated transitions and photos retouched with Google’s patent “I’m feeling lucky” style of image editing make for a much more visually-pleasing experience on G+.

Streaming Music and Game Services

Google Play is no longer limited to solely serving as a marketplace for Android apps. For less than $10 per month, users can listen to unlimited tracks streamed from Google Play’s vast online music library. Users will be able to listen from their Android mobile devices or from compatible Web browsers.

Gamers will now be able to begin playing a game on their smartphones or tablets and later resume playing on a different device or Web browser. This is similar to the popular Xbox Live online gaming service from Microsoft, although Google plans to let developers come up with third-party gaming apps on Apple iOS and non-Chrome browsers.


Paul Williams is a part-time tech blogger, and full-time copywriter with  You can contact him via email.