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The Future of Search Series is supported by SES Chicago Conference and Expo, the leading search, social and display conference. From November 14-18, get five days of education, inspiration and conversations with marketing experts from the digital space. Register with MASH20 to save 20%.

A text-based, context-less search experience, the type of search experience consumers have come to expect on the web, is becoming passé as touchscreens replace keyboards and tablets re-imagine what’s possible.

“I give you a query and you give me an answer,” says Norman Winarsky, vice president of SRI Ventures and longtime search expert, on what search is today. “But the search bar doesn’t understand my query.”

“The tablet offers the opportunity for discovery, as well as for search,” he adds, “and not only for discovery, but for inspiration.”

As the co-founder of personal assistant startup Siri — which was acquired by Apple and may find its way into iOS 5 — and an investor in a number of future tech search-driven startups, Winarsky has an ever-present eye on trends in search.

In an interview with Mashable, Winarsky details how tablets are changing the way we search.

The Unified Experience





“Tablets enable a full, interactive experience that involves not only text, but potentially speech and interactions,” he says.

Search on tablets will incorporate how you engage with your tablet’s touchscreen, front and back cameras and microphone. “Where are you looking? What are you seeing? How much time are you spending reading?,” he says as ways to imagine new avenues for search on tablets.

The tablet, more so than other devices, can know enough about you to understand the context around your queries and give you better answers, he says. “Search becomes a unified experience on a tablet … a unified experience between our eyes, our ears and our cognitive processes.”

The future of search, as pioneered by the tablet’s form factor, is the dynamic interaction among all of your senses, foretells Winarsky.

Winarsky’s predictions aren’t all that far fetched, especially if you align yourself with the camp that believes that tablets will replace laptops and PCs as the primary devices for personal computing purposes.

Forrester, for one, estimates that tablet sales will total 195 million between 2010 and 2015, with tablet sales eclipsing laptop sales by 2015. Apple is currently dominating the market; it alone sold 9.25 million iPads in its fiscal third quarter — the company’s best quarter ever.

In a post-PC world, keyboards will play second fiddle to fingers and gestures. Cameras will conjoin the physical with the virtual. Our voices will tell our tablets what we want, and our tablets will process speech in a near-cognitive fashion. All those dynamics will aid significantly in the discovery on information with right-here, right-now context.

The New Battle





Who then is best positioned to command this new frontier in next generation, tablet-optimized search?

“It’s kind of hard to bet against Google, isn’t it?” Winarsky says. Still, he admits that the company is behind in the tablet market with Android and behind in the social networking space, even with Google+. But, Google owns the text search market, and it has the resources to create a unified search experience, he says.

“In order to win the new battle of search, you’re going to have to win all of the elements of the unified experience,” Winarsky says. “You better be a dominant player in social networks … you better be a great player in artificial intelligence and speech recognition … you need to be able to understand the content of videos and images, and you need a far better interaction experience that enables you to better understand the human interaction with the tablet.”

But, will the unified search experience take the form of an application, an operating system or continue to be a literal search experience? “Eventually, search will not be a separate activity. It will be incorporated into the operating system of the tablet,” Winarsky says, though he qualifies his statement to add that this will take years to happen.

Search on tablets, as outlined here by Winarsky will be a far different experience than search as we know it. Will these tablet-inspired experiences trickle back to how we as consumers expect to search for information on the web via laptop or PC? “Absolutely,” says Winarsky.

“People will feel that search by text alone, in a text bar, without interaction and without multimedia is prehistoric in five to 10 years.” This, perchance, leaves the door open to a new king in the search market.

Images courtesy of iStockphotoarakonyunus, and Flickr, waferbabyArne Kuilman

Series supported by SES Chicago Conference and Expo

The Future of Search Series is supported by SES Chicago Conference and Expo, connecting the digital dots between search, social and commerce. The SES Chicago Conference & Expo takes a critical look at the latest developments to help marketers traverse the quickly developing landscape, with a special focus on the latest ecommerce trends and the latest technology launches from Google, Facebook, LinkedIn and more. Register with MASH20 and save 20%. Join the discussion #SESConf.


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Google Music Beta web app iPad

One important feature that Google’s Music Beta service has been lacking since its launch is compatibility with iOS devices. The idea behind the service is that you store your music library in ‘the cloud’ so that you can access it on any internet-connected device, wherever you may be, without using up your precious local storage.

However, unlike Amazon’s rival music service, Google failed to cater for a massive audience, and that’s those of us who use the iPhoneiPod touch and iPad… until yesterday.

There’s now an official Google Music Beta web application that can be accessed using the mobileSafari app on any of your iOS devices — simply by visiting It’s built with HTML5and sports a very Google-esque minimalist design, and as such, it’s pretty darn snappy, according to first impressions.

Google Music Beta web app iPhone

Though it does have its limitations: Although you can listen to tracks you’ve uploaded to your cloud, you cannot upload more music or browse music catalogs. However, I have a feeling the web app is simply a stopgap to keep us happy until a native iOS app hits the App Store.

Unfortunately I’ve been unable to try the app out for myself because being a Brit, I don’t currently have access to Google’s new service, but I’ve heard very good things about it.

Are you a Google Music Beta tester and have you played with the new iOS web app yet? What do you think?

[via The Next Web]

Google has finally launched an iOS app for Blogger, giving the blog network’s millions of users a simple way to write, manage and publish posts from their iPhones.Blogger Finally Releases an iPhone App

The app, available for iOS users 3.2 and up, is rather straightforward. It allows users to compose and publish blog posts complete with photos and geotagging. It also lets users view and edit their published and draft blog posts. It mimics the simplicity of the Blogger for Android interface, though. Users can also manage multiple blogs from the interface.

While the app works for the iPad, it only works in compatibility mode. Hopefully an iPad app is in the near future.

This is the first official Blogger app for the iPhone. BlogPress created an unofficial app that Blogger endorsed, but an official app has been long overdue. The blogging service, once the world’s largest blogging service, has been overshadowed by WordPress, Tumblr and more lightweight competition. Google recently started investing in an overhaul of the service in an attempt to make Blogger relevant once again.

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What do you think of Blogger and its new iOS app? Let us know in the comments.


Google Takeout, the recently launched “data liberation” service that lets you export files, photos and data from Google services like Picasa and Buzz, now includes support for Google

With the update, users of Google’s Internet-telephony service Google Voice are able to export call history, voicemail messages, greetings, call recordings, phone numbers and text messages.

For many users, Google Voice is a repository of data as critical to your work or business as email messages, contact info or calendar appointments. So to be absolutely certain that this data is securely backed up and archived, the Google Voice “takeout” feature will certainly come in handy.

Voicemails and greetings are exported as MP3s, text messages are in microformatted HTML and phone numbers are available as vcards, which could then be imported into other contact systems.

The announcement was made via this cutesy video (below), picturing Google engineers as members of an organization known as the “Data Liberation Front,” dedicated to making your data accessible and exportable – that is, “liberated.”

Despite its silly nature, don’t be fooled into thinking that Google Takeout is some sort of side project for Google. It’s a key effort on its part to differentiate its offering from the walled garden that is Facebook.

Although Facebook introduced a way for you to download your information last fall, it comes in a unwieldy zip file that most users don’t know what to do with, and other services don’t support. In other words, it’s your data, but it’s basically useless. Google, meanwhile, makes sure your data is available in standard formats for import into other programs and services. Google Voice export is just the latest example of this core philosophy.

Using Offline Google Mail 
When I first ran the Offline Google Mail app, I had to select and okay an “Allow offline mail” setupGmail Logo page, which seems odd, given the name of the app. I’m not sure why you’d use this app if you’re only going to use it while online, since the regular Gmail app/site is more capable. Even before okaying this, I saw a new system tray icon in my Windows 7 taskbar for Chrome. Interestingly, this icon wasn’t just about the mail client, but offered purely Chrome browser functions, such as a task manager.

After okaying offline mail reading, I was immediately taken to my inbox. As advertised, it looked identical to the Gmail client you see on an iPad or an Android tablet in landscape view, with the mail headers in a list on the left, and preview of the mail contents on the right. This is almost worth the installation of Offline Google Mail for me, since the regular Gmail site doesn’t offer a preview of mail contents unless you install an experimental Labs add-on.

For the current mail you’re looking at, a drop-down menu lets you do the usual mail functions—Reply, Move, Label, Mute, Report spam, Print, and Mark as Unread. Buttons above let me delete or archive the piece of mail. One odd limitation was that if an email contained multiple addressees, I only saw Reply All; there was no Reply to Sender option, though I could remove other addressees individually later.

A Menu back-arrowed button takes you to Gmail’s organizational features. These include: Priority Inbox’s Important category; Everything; “Labels” (Google’s word for mail folders) such as Starred, Sent, Outbox, Drafts, Junk; and any personal folders you’ve created. Important appears in both the Priority Inbox and Label sections, which seems an unnecessary duplication. The interface does implement conversation view, showing the names of participants and number of emails in parentheses, and you can collapse individual messages with a button to the right above the message area.

Then I pulled the Internet plug, switched off Wi-Fi, and started composing an email. I could even attach a file, but there were no formatting options at all for text, and no type-ahead suggestions when entering email addresses. I couldn’t include a signature, or specify an importance level—it’s pretty much the most bare-bones mail app you can imagine. If you’re used to all the features like these you get in Outlook (which, by the way, has worked offline for decades) you’ll be sorely disappointed.

The mailer does, however, point out misspellings with squiggly underlines, and you can select a correction from a right-click context menu, and even add spellings to your custom dictionary. And if you’re not ready to send the mail (maybe you want to add some formatting later in a more powerful client), you can just hit the Save button. If you want to scrap your draft, the final piece of the interface is for you—the Discard button. A tooltip appears in the bottom of the Inbox window apprising you of what’s in your outbox.

After this inspection of the interface, it was time to plug the PC’s Ethernet cable back in and wait for the test emails I’d composed to be on their way. For a while, the tooltip showing emails in the outbox remained unchanged, even when its “Last Checked indicator said “Just now.” Soon after, it periodically read “Checking,” but after that check, it still showed two messages waiting in the outbox. After the connection was completely restored, the test mail was sent at the next check. The mail’s timestamp reflected when it was actually sent, rather than when I hit Send after composing it. This means you lose track of when you were actually working on an email.

It’s a Start
Chromebook users can now do something with their laptops if they don’t have Internet connectivity. When this capability arrives for Docs, it will really make the new class of computers useful offline. But the email client is as basic as it gets—forget addressing multiple. Non-Chromebook users who prefer Firefox or a browser other than Chrome also need not apply. Another problem is that you’ll probably find yourself having to switch between the more-capable Gmail interface for online use and this offline app when offline. Existing mail apps like Outlook and Thunderbird offer you the same full-featured interface for both offline and online use.

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Google has made over its Blogger product with a new design and editing system in its first major

update to the blogging platform in years.

Users can opt in to Blogger’s new user interface via a pop-up announcement starting Wednesday.

Blogger users will find a look that more closely resembles Google’s current aesthetic, a simplified and more expansive post editor, and a new “Overview” section for monitoring recent traffic and comments.

“We’ve rewritten the entire editing and management experience from scratch so it’s faster and more efficient for you — and easier for us to update and improve over time,” Blogger Product Manager Chang Kim explains.

Blogger, initially developed by Evan Williams and Pyra Labs, was sold to Google in 2003. Once avant garde, the product has stagnated as hipper and faster blogging platforms — think WordPressTumblr and even Twitter(also by Williams) — have taken off.


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Google is launching a new Gmail web app and updates to Calendarand Docs, in an effort to increase its products’ offline utility.

Google users have called bringing Gmail, Calendar and Docs offline an essential step for improving productivity, Group Product Manager Rajen Sheth told Mashable. The problem, he explained, is that when users need offline access to their email or calendar, they really need it.

To that end, Google is launching a new Chrome app called Gmail Offline. Separate from Gmail itself, the new app is designed for accessing, managing and sending email while you’re disconnected from the web. “We can build on top of a lot of HTML5 standards, which gives us the capabilities to make it work offline,” Sheth said.

The HTML5 app looks and feels a lot like the Gmail app for tablets. That’s because Gmail Offline is based off the tablet version, which was designed to function with or without Internet access. It focuses on the key features users need to access while offline, including organizing, starring, labeling, archiving and responding to email. It won’t give you access to Gmail Labs features, but it will get the job done.

In addition to the Gmail Offline app, Google is rolling out the ability to access Calendar and Docs offline. The feature, available by clicking the gear icon at the top of the page, lets you view events and RSVP to appointments in Calendar and view documents in Docs. Offline document editing isn’t available yet, but Google promises to find a way to make it work. Part of the problem is finding a way to make sure document edits made offline don’t override edits made by online collaborators.

The apps are only available through the Chrome Web Store at the moment. If you try to use the Calendar or Docs offline features, you will be prompted to first install Chrome. Google says that it intends to roll out its offline apps to other browsers once they support the functionality.


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