Tag Archives: google

Google creates awesome translating app for Android

Google has just announced an update to the translate app for their Android mobile platform. The update includes an incredible (but still experimental feature that translates) spoken conversations.

So if you’re in Spain you can open up this app on your phone and speak English to it. The application translates what you said and responds in spoken Spanish. Amazing!

Conversation mode in Google Translate for Android

The feature is still experimental but has a lot of promise. The best way of understanding it is by viewing this demonstration video.

Google Goggles – Search with your camera phone

Google has just released a new service. It is called Google Goggles and it runs on cell phones (not many people know that Google produces a mobile phone operating system).

Basically, you take a picture with your phone and the service gives you information about what you’re looking at. In this example the service recognizes the Golden Gate Bridge and returns information on it.

Google Goggles example

It’s a very early version of the service, but it also works on books, business cards, paintings, logos, and even wine labels! Take a look at the official site to get a better idea.

I’ve read a review of the service and it seems to work reasonably well. Amazing!

It feels a lot like magic! This could also be quite scary. Imagine a day when people can find your Facebook profile by scanning you with their phone!

Google gives directions in SA

Google have just released Google Maps SA. It’s awesome!

We’ve been able to see satellite images and some road data before. But now there is a lot of road data and you can get automatic directions!

The directions service works amazingly well. I’ve tested it with several routes that I often take and Google invariably got things right – even offering options!

For one test I typed in this exact input:

  • V&A Waterfront, Cape Town
  • Moyo at Spier, Cape Town

The service quickly offered two routes to Spier (N1 or N2).

It estimates time fairly accurately at about 40 minutes (N1 is slightly quicker even though it is slightly further).

Google maps SA example

It also offers step by step driving instructions for the route. Like a poor mans GPS. Simply amazing.

View the map yourself to see what I’m talking about.

The old ‘better than’ trick

The old ‘better than’ trick is a favorite of mine. Whenever I find myself using a product/restaurant/program/website/etc I pop over to Google and search for

‘better than [product]’

Going through the results pages will often reveal that there is a better product out there.

For example I just bought a Garmin heart rate monitor/GPS. After using the default software (Training Center) that comes with the device for a while I was thoroughly unimpressed and figured there must be a better alternative.

So I searched for ‘better than training center’ . After going through a few results I found the superb SportTracks software which is MILES better than Training Center and is also free.

Obviously this trick works better for some kinds of products (e.g. software) than others – but it is normally worth a try.

The same kind of trick can be modified using things like:

  • reminds me of ‘lord of the rings’
  • sounds like nirvana
  • similar to cape town

Automated news program nails United Airlines stock

It’s a little old by now, but this is an interesting story about how automated news crawling wiped $300m off United Airlines’ market cap. Basically this is what happened:

  • Back in 2002 United Airlines was on the brink of bankruptcy – that obviously made the news
  • For some reason an old story became popular on the South Florida Sun-Sentinel newspaper website – it got put back onto the front page but without a date
  • Because there was no date the Google News crawler picked up the story and put it onto today’s news
  • Several other news aggregators picked up the story and it “eventually headlined as a news flash on Bloomberg”
  • That triggered automated trading programs to sell-sell-sell
  • The selling spree wiped 1.14 billions dollars off of United’s market cap
  • During the day stock recovered but ended $300 million down

Crazy stuff.