Beginning January 1st, Google will start charging a fee to developers and websites that frequently access its Google Maps API service, BBC reported recently. Developers will apparently be charged $4 for every 1,000 views after Google Maps is accessed more than 25,000 times in a single 24-hour period. BBC said Google expects the changes will only affect 0.35% of its user base. “We understand that the introduction of these limits may be concerning,” Google Maps product manager Thor Mitchell said. “However, with the continued growth in adoption of the Maps API, we need to secure its long-term future by ensuring that even when used by the highest-volume for-profit sites, the service remains viable.” More →
Google announced on Friday that it is shutting down a number of properties in the coming months, the most notable of which is likely its failed social network, Google Buzz. Best known as that annoying thing under “Inbox” in Gmail, Google Buzz was a Twitter-like service that never gained traction. Buzz encouraged users to share status updates, photos and more that could then be viewed by friends in real time, however it offered no compelling features compared to already established services such as Facebook and Twitter. Google will also shutter several additional services in the near future, including Jaiku, a social network the company acquired in 2007, and Code search, a tool that helped programmers search for open source code. Google Buzz will shut down in the coming weeks while Jaiku and Code Search will both go offline on January 15th, 2012 along with a few other seldom-used Google services. More →
Google recently announced that its Google+ social network is now available to anyone who wants to join. The search engine giant noted that it has added 91 changes during the social network’s beta trial, which lasted just under 90 days, and that it is deploying nine new changes on Tuesday. Among the most notable additions, the Hangouts video chat feature is now available for Android smartphones running Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) or newer. Here is a list of several other key changes:
- A new “Hangouts on Air” option allows users to live broadcast to up to nine different people.
- Hangouts can now be named.
- A screen sharing function has been added to Hangouts.
- Users can now share and view a sketchpad directly inside Hangouts
- Google Docs can be viewed and shared inside Hangouts.
- Google+ members can now search for other users from the social network directly and Google+ will return results from around the web.
- The Google+ Hangouts API is now available for developers.
Google posted a guide on its Android Developers website on Monday that should help developers prepare Honeycomb applications for the new Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) operating system, which will run on smartphones as well as tablets. That means Honeycomb developers will need to make their applications compatible with displays smaller than those found on various Android tablets. Creating an Ice Cream Sandwich compatible version of an application is important to reaching a larger audience, too. “Optimizing for handsets can be tricky if your designs currently use all of a large screen to deliver content,” Google explained in a blog post. “It’s worth the effort, though, because Ice Cream Sandwich brings the Honeycomb APIs to handsets and you’ll significantly increase the user-base for your app.” Read on for a link to to the Android developer site, where you can read an in-depth guide to adding smartphone support to Honeycomb apps. More →
PlayOn on Wednesday announced the availability of a new API that makes building channels for the company’s streaming video service easier than ever. PlayOn’s new “dead simple” PlayDirect API allows partners to create new channels by simply specifying a URL for the video feed and then selecting the video’s viewable area. Since making the new API available just two days ago, PlayOn has already added 25 new channels including Food Network, Disney Channel Live, Lifetime and TV Land, which are now available to stream to computers and mobile devices. “By opening up the PlayOn technology platform to third party developers, we are able to expand the content available to PlayOn users,” a spokesperson said in a statement. “Just like Apple’s app store brought new features and functionality to the iPhone, we plan on seeing a host of new channels in PlayOn.” More →
Microsoft is aiming to assuage the pains of mobile application developers looking to migrate their iOS applications from Apple’s mobile operating system to Windows Phone. “Launched today, the iPhone/iOS to Windows Phone 7 API mapping tool helps developers find their way around when they discover the Windows Phone platform,” writes Microsoft in a blog post. “Think of the API mapping tool as being like a translation dictionary.” The tool will allow iOS developers to easily find the equivalent API calls, classes, methods, and notification events in C#, as well as download working bits of sample code. “Don’t expect a mapping for all of the APIs, simply because the platforms are built upon different architectures and user interfaces,” the post continues. “For this first round we focused on identifying the one-to-one mapping when it exists. In the following versions we’ll expand the scope and anytime the concepts are similar enough, we’ll do our best to provide the appropriate guidance.” Microsoft’s tool can be found here. More →
Research In Motion has just announced that BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) Social Platform is now available in public beta. First announced during BlackBerry DEVCON 2010, BBM Social Platform allows developers to integrate their applications directly with BBM using a set of new APIs, and RIM is banking on developers to make BBM a more robust application. RIM hopes programmers will create multimedia apps, location-based services, games, VoIP services, and more, that can build on the existing BBM experience. Here’s one possible use case: You start up a multiplayer game with a friend and smack talk with him or her inside the game over BBM. When you’re done, maybe you want to share that game with someone else, using features enabled in the BBM Social Platform, you’ll be able to share apps. It will even let developers create custom areas inside a BBM profile, which could be used for showing game achievements or other stats. Now let’s just hope these features carry over to BBM on Android and iPhone. More →
Google made its software development kit (SDK) available for version 2.3.3 of the Android OS earlier this month, and Stanford University’s MobiSocial News uncovered a nifty feature that hasn’t gotten much coverage. The new SDK features an API for “insecure Bluetooth socket connections” on both the client and server sides. Coupled with Gingerbread’s widely publicized NFC capabilities, this will allow developers to enable a tap-to-connect feature that lets NFC-equipped Android phones forgo the Bluetooth pairing process. Similar to the functionality HP showed off with its TouchPad tablet and Pre 3 smartphone at the Think Beyond event last week, devices running Android 2.3.3 or later can be connected to each other with a simple tap that will automatically initiate data transfers. Apple is rumored to be cooking up a unique twist for the NFC functionality coming to its next-generation iPhone, so smart functionality beyond mobile payments such as tap-to-share will certainly help Android’s case in the meantime. More →
If you have a Windows Phone 7 device and are itching to get some OS tinkering in, listen up. Blog ChevronWP7 has released their first Windows Phone 7 unlocking tool for users running Windows XP SP2 or higher. The unlock will allows for “the sideloading of experimental applications that would otherwise can’t be published to the Marketplace, such as those which access private or native APIs.” The tool itself is a dead-simple executable file that requires three to four clicks to delivery its payload. If you’re interested, hit the read link and let us know how you make out. More →
Today, Google announced that it would be adding six new fonts to its Google Font API: Droid Serif, Droid Sans, Calibri, Cambria, Consolas, and Corsiva. The Google Font API system enables the use of web-fonts, hosted on a server, to be displayed on modern web-browsers. In other words, you can display fonts that are not loaded on your, or your clients, system. Google also notes that Google Docs will be able to leverage these new fonts (as they use the Font API) and that it is already testing its next batch of calligraphy. All we need is a few more iterations of Comic Sans and our life is complete. More →