Did you know that the magazine Cosmopolitan once launched its own brand of healthy yogurt? That’s right—in the early aughts, so very recently, they decided that they could cash in on their fame as a leading purveyor of women’s advice and stories and make their own delicious yogurt, hoping to expand into other foods. By all accounts, it was a very good yogurt, but no one bought it. There was too much of a disconnect. That happens all the time: businesses try to expand from their core competency, and fail. An exception to that rule, as always, is Google. Here’s the latest in Google News.
Think about it: you probably didn’t blink an eye when you heard that Google is working on self-driving cars, even though barely a decade ago you just used it to ask “Who was the 11th president?” and “Why is this rash here?” But over the (very few) years, Google has expanded what it can do and is now part of every aspect of our digital and mobile lives. This week, at a conference—and outside—Google announced some new developments that will continue to impact how we interact with our mobile technology.
Google News: Google and Microsoft Drop Lawsuits
There is an old saying that goes, “When elephants fight, the grass loses” (“grass” can sometimes be replaced with ground, or ants, or anything underfoot). This has been the case for years, as Google and Microsoft have been at each other’s throats, litigiously speaking, over patent right. Microsoft claimed that Android infringed on some of its patents, and the case involved phones from Motorola and Lenovo. In 2013, Google got involved, thanks to several acquisitions, which is a bit like tapping in Ronda Rousey.
Yesterday, though, the two giants announced that they were dropping all lawsuits related to each other, which in the world of business is as close to a hug as you can get. This is already paying off for mobile tech users, as they also announced that they will be joining the Alliance for Open Media, a coalition that is working to provide the next generation of royalty-free video streaming. So when you are watching a crystal-clear YouTube video on your phone, you can be thankful that you don’t have to dodge perturbed and lawyer-driven elephants.
Google News: Partners with Twitter for Instant Articles
Earlier this year, we talked about Facebook introducing Instant Articles, a new way to consume news that fit into an increasingly mobile lifestyle. This has already been a huge success for Facebook, and for its partners. Although the traditional news outlets aren’t making as much money as in the old model (which was known as the “pay us – you have no choice!” model), it is considerably more profitable than the new model (aka “brother, can you spare a dime?”). I think these kinds of sharing models will change journalism, but can, in the long run, save it.
Enter Google, which announced it is partnering with Twitter for its own version of Instant Articles. The Google twist is that it isn’t going to have its own original articles, like on Facebook, but rather will cull cached articles from its search. This will actually be a way for news sources to earn money without committing extra resources to write reformatted articles. To me, this is ideal, because the extra revenue will allow them to expand investigative and international coverage, the two areas that have suffered the most in the information age (and at a time when we needed both, very badly). Bringing more articles to more people is the best way to save the noble profession of journalism.
Google News: Chromecasts and Marshmallows
There are few things more satisfying than using ChromeCast—pull up a video on your phone, hit a button, and then suddenly it is on your TV. Google announced this week that ChromeCast app is expanding, and will be compatible with Showtime, Sling TV, NBA and NHL TV, and, maybe most excitingly, Spotify. This is great for parties, especially because the new ChromeCast can be plugged right into your speakers. That playlist on your smartphone? It’s now all around your house.
The last big announcement was for Marshmallow, the new version of the Android OS. Starting with Nexus phones, but rolling out to all other Android carriers, Marshmallow promises a more intuitive and app-centric search function, with greater memory for your preferences. The “app-centric” search interacts with your apps, so that if there is something you are looking for, it can open the right app. Saying “How do I get to the nearest indoor wave park” will pull up Google Maps, instead of just opening the search results (or asking “why?”). The best part is that Google also promises the new OS will also improve battery life.
Google never sleeps. If there is one thing we can be sure of, it is that this Mountain View giant will continue to innovate and change our digital and mobile experience. It’s easy to imagine a time when the search engine is a quaint relic of its business model, but that would be missing the point. Google has always been about one thing: collating all possible information to make the world more manageable, more understandable, and more enjoyable. These new developments are part and parcel of that mission.