Category Archives: Google Calendar

Google kicking butt on iPhone

My old boss, Vic Gundotra, has been showing off a new iPhone app from Google and also trotting out some numbers we first heard at the iPhone Dev Camp: that people with iPhones are using the Web at a far faster rate than people with other phones.

This data matches what I’ve seen in my own life, too. I have a $750 Nokia N95. It really sucks to surf the Web on, compared to the iPhone. So, why do I carry both an iPhone and the Nokia? The Nokia does video capture and has a much better camera than the iPhone, which doesn’t do video yet. Interesting data, though.

Could Google Reader team have done a better PR job?

Looking back on it I’m wondering if the Google Reader team could have done a few things differently in the PR realm?

Looking at the advice to startups that ReadWriteWeb gave the answer is clear: yes.

Did the Google Reader team show anyone at a conference the new feature? No. Strike @1.
Did the Google Reader team do a video? No. Strike #2.
Did the Google Reader team brief bloggers ahead of time and get their feedback? No. Strike #3.
Did the Google Reader team show its #1 customer/user these features and get feedback? No. Strike #4.
Did the Google Reader team give an interview to a video journalist like Kara Swisher (or me) before release? No. Strike #5.
Did the Google Reader team release on Tuesday-Thursday, like ReadWriteWeb suggests? No. Strike #6.
Did the Google Reader team have a demo to show off? No. Strike #7.

Now, I’m not saying that the community still wouldn’t have reacted the way it did, but at least we would have had a dialog going and we would have had a lot more to go on and talk about than what they did end up doing, which was releasing a short blog post about the new features without even a screen shot.

That, to me, is setting up the team to fail.

It’s amazing to me that the company that owns TWO video services doesn’t get the power of video. Hello, Vic Gundotra, what’s going on here? Where was the campfire for new stuff? If the Google Reader team showed this to a few bloggers over a campfire they might have heard this feedback earlier when they could have done something about it.

Google Reader needs GPC

Oh, man, is the Google Reader team under attack for its new social networking features.

There’s a few ways I could take this.

1. I could call people idiots for not understanding the meaning of the word “public.”
2. I could call the Google Reader team idiots for not putting GPC into its social networking and sharing features.
3. I could call the media idiots for not explaining these features better and for even making it sound like stuff that isn’t shared at all is being shared (which absolutely isn’t true).

I’m going to take #2: that the Google Reader team screwed up here and needs to implement GPC as soon as possible. What’s GPC? Granular Privacy Controls.

Here’s how Google screwed up: Google didn’t understand that some users thought that their shared items feeds were private and didn’t know that they were going to be turned totally public. The users who are complaining about this feature assumed that since their feed had a weird URL (here’s mine so you can see that the URL isn’t easy to figure out the way other URLs are) that their feed couldn’t be found by search engines or by people who they didn’t explicitly give the URL to, etc. In other words, that their feed and page would, really, be private, even though it was shared in a public way without a password required or anything like that.

Now, I almost took the stance that the users are wrong. Except, well, in this case they aren’t and the Google Reader team should change the way this feature works.

Here’s how.

When you share a feed item you should have a choice about whether it is made really public (like my feeds are) or whether you keep them for just certain friends to view. Google needs to look to Facebook for leadership here.

If I don’t want you to see some content on Facebook I can lock you out while letting other friends see it. That’s “GPC.”

Facebook has GPC. Google Reader does not.

Social networking services that don’t have GPC will increasingly piss off users and chase them away to competitors that DO have GPC. Look at why SmugMug is so popular (and why its users PAY for the service!) A big part of it is GPC.

But, to the users you still are idiots for not understanding that when Google says “public” Google MEANS public. I’m not sure how much clearer Google could have made it, other than to maybe put a disclaimer that says something like “this feed might look sorta private right now, but we reserve the right to put this feed into public view at anytime for any reason. If you don’t want your shared items to be seen by everyone, please don’t share them.

I think the Google Reader team knew that it was going to have a problem here, though, because they gave its users the ability to delete all items in their shared item feed. Scary feature, too. I’ve spent thousands of hours building up that database and I almost used it by accident cause it sounded like a good feature to try. Yikes, glad I thought a little bit more than I usually do that night.

Anyway, Google Reader team: please enable GPC. Your users will keep yelling and screaming until you do. I know, cause a few of them have yelled and screamed at me about this feature.

UPDATE: I just signed in and there are 444 items shared with me from my friends. That’s not even counting the feed items that come to me just because of my almost 800 feeds. Yikes! Demonstrates that even Christmas can’t stop the information glut we’re seeing.

My feedback for Microsoft’s mapping team

The Virtual Earth team wants our feedback.

Wonderful. Kudos to any company that wants its customers’ feedback and offers a participatory approach. So, here’s my feedback…

Microsoft added a LOT of whizbang features to its maps (3D, lots of photos, and such) but they didn’t focus on the basics.

First off, you need a redesign. Google is kicking your ass on simplicity. Microsoft’s UIs always seem to get more clutter. Your team should hire Ev Williams to come and give his talk that he just gave at LeWeb3. Get rid of stuff, don’t add it.

2. Mobile. Make it killer and do whatever it takes to get it on the iPhone.

3. Show examples of how to do great searches. Google does, you don’t (at least not before you get into a search box). Google is easier to use because of it.

4. Make it work for what people use maps for. Today I picked up Patrick at his school. I forgot how to get there. Patrick said “just search Google Maps for Petaluma Jr. High.” When I saw this note I tried the same on Microsoft’s system. Hint: Google worked, Microsoft didn’t.

5. Speed. Google is always faster everytime I try it. That doesn’t give me confidence that Microsoft is working on the right things.

6. When I search for “Mavericks, Half Moon Bay, CA” Google finds me a result, Microsoft doesn’t.

7. Split all the different views into different URLs. Have a page where I can select between them. If I wasn’t a former MSFTie I’d have no clue what the difference between “Aerial” and “Bird’s Eye View” is.

8. I still have no clue what “collections” are. “Saved Locations” explains what they are much better.

9. Don’t be pedantic. When I asked it to give me directions to PodTech’s offices it tried to correct my zip code from 94304 to 94304-1216. Google wasn’t annoying like that.

10. Microsoft’s maps look cooler (they show mountain terrain, etc) but are harder to read, particularly on laptop screens in bright sunlight. I find I actually switch to Google for this reason. Most of the time I really don’t need terrain, or pretty pictures, but just want a simplistic, easy to see in bright sunlight, map.

11. DO continue to kick Microsoft’s behind with Traffic data (I’m sure there’s other data you could overlay on the map the way you do with accident data, right?)

12. Redesign your directions results. Google got nine items in the same space that you only got six. I often look up maps on my laptop and that DOES make a difference!

13. My Location. My Location. My Location. My Location. My Location. My Location. My Location. My Location. My Location. My Location. My Location. My Location. My Location. My Location. My Location. My Location. My Location. My Location. That’s the best feature on ANY software I’ve used this year. I was showing it to Patrick today and it made him go “wow.” Not available on iPhone, but only on Google’s Mobile Maps version. This was a MAGICAL feature over in Europe!

14. You don’t understand the magic of the word “link.” I can always figure out Google Maps and how to embed it into my blog. It’s tough for me to figure out how to link to a Microsoft Map. Yeah, I’m an idiot so you might write that off as idiotic behavior but, remember, I worked the Microsoft customer support lines so I know there are other idiots out there like me. Some of them even blog. Every blog brings you traffic, even if the only reader that blog has is mom and dad. Call it a f***ing permalink and call it a day, will you please?

15. I’m surprised no one has used their photo trucks to put little pictures next to driving directions. Instead on both maps I get “turn right onto SR-92.” Why don’t you put a little picture of what the sign looks like? I’d love it if you said “you’ll see a sign that looks like this right before you need to turn right.”

16. Amazing that NEITHER Google or Microsoft have a link that says “using GPS.” I’d love to have a page that explains all about how GPS works, which models are the coolest to use with these mapping systems, and what I need to get and how I need to hook it up. This could even be a profit center. If Microsoft linked over to Amazon’s store they’d get a kickback for each GPS sold.

17. Google Maps remember my default location. Microsoft Maps don’t seem to remember anything.

18. Google has more viewing area horizontally. For some reason my eye likes that.

Well, that’s enough. I’m not sure why I like Google Maps more, but they keep being my default and nothing I saw on this little jaunt tonight made me question that decision. I have never needed 3D imagery to get around, preferring the simple approach (although those features are impressive).

What do you think? What would you work on if you were on the Microsoft Mapping team? I haven’t even attempted to look up anything international, either. But Google was very accurate in Paris and London and told me instantly where I was thanks to its My Location feature. That really is the killer feature for me and it’s one that now gets me to use my Nokia N95 to look at maps instead of my iPhone (the iPhone is better for viewing and navigating around maps, though, but that one feature has proven much more important to me than anything else in the mapping experience).

Anyway, good luck!

Oh, and has anyone built a map mashup yet for Facebook? I’d love to see where all my friends are located around the world.

Google is taking over the mobile world

Tonight was updated for iPhone. I film a little demo on Seesmic. TechCrunch broke the news as far as I can tell (Google Reader is getting damn fast at bringing me everyone’s blogs).

Anyway, this is yet more reasons I’ll be using Google on mobile phones.

I’m even ready to eat my words about Android since Verizon announced they’d be supporting Google’s new mobile OS.

And have you tried the new “My Location” feature on Google’s mobile maps? That rocks — I’ve used it dozens of times over the past week and it makes using Google Maps on a cell phone a LOT more useful.

Is anyone else getting you to use its services on mobile phones?

Oh, Sean Percival says “I like it” on his Seesmic video about the iPhone.

UPDATE: MG Siegler has a more complete review, which talks about the new auto suggesting feature which does, indeed, rock.

UPDATE2: David Jacobs says “holy crap” and “it’s amazing.”