Archive of ‘Blog’ category

How to create and manage a Google+ Page

So Google has launched Google+ Pages. And you have read my earlier post and would like to have one. Great. But how do you do it? Read on, I will tell you how. (Click any image to see a larger version.)


First off, you need to find the “Create a page” button which Google cleverly hid on the right side of your screen. If you scroll down, you will find it below your hangouts button. Click that and you are on your way towards making your Google Plus Page.


As a start, you will see a familiar page setup. If you have ever made a Facebook page, you will recognize this. The page gives you five choices.

  • “Local business or Place” where you can register if you are a business with a local focus such as hotels, restaurants, places, stores, services etc.
  • “Product or Brand” where you can register if you have a clear brand like Coca Cola, or if you are are selling things like apparel, cars, electronics, financial services etc.
  • “Company, Institution or Organization” where you can register if you want to build a page for your company, organization, institution, non-profit or to promote your organization as a whole.
  • “Arts, Entertainment or Sports” where you can register if you are involved in or want to promote things like movies, TV, music, books, sports, shows and whatever else you can think of that falls into this category.
  • “Other” where you can register if your page doesn’t fit in another category.

After making that choice, your next step is to add some basic information. For this example, I will be making a page for my company Relationists. Some of the fields you will have to fill out might be different depending on the category you choose. When you do a local business you need to fill out your location first for example. Other categories follow more or less the same lines as this example will.


After you have made your choice for a category, you get to name the page and link it to a website if you have one. You can also pick the category the page will be active in and who is able to see it. Check the “I agree to” button after reading the Pages Terms and click create.


You will then be taken to a new screen to customize your public profile. Here you can write your tagline. This is the line that is put underneath the title of your page. You can also add a profile photo.


After you click the Change profile Photo button you will be taken to an upload screen. In true Google form you can drag a picture from you computer onto the screen to set it as your profile photo.


After you have added a picture, you will be able to do some basic editing. Make sure your photo is square or you might loose parts of it.


With the photo on the page, you now get the option to spread the word. You can skip this if you like. There are more possibilities to do this once the page is finished.


When you do want to share it now, you get a popup that you can put your message in. After sharing, click finished on the bottom of the page to continue.


Congratulations, you have just made a page. But it is not finished yet. Amongst other things, there is nothing to see there. So, it is time for a first post.


The first posts works like any other post in Google Plus. You can type, add links etc. and choose the circles to share it with. Please keep in mind that circles for pages work slightly differently. You can only add people to the circle of your page after they have added your page to their circles. A good thing is the flawless switch between using Google Plus as a person or as a page.


Now you are ready to edit your profile. Make sure you are using Google Plus as your page and you will see a new button appear on the right side of the screen. It says edit profile and that is what it does. Here you can edit the About, Photos and Videos pages.


Adding an introduction to your page is easy enough. Just a text field with limited layout options, but enough to make a nice introduction. After adding the introduction, make sure that you add ways for people to reach you. Your page is only as good as the options are for people to get in touch with you.


At the top of the edit profile page you can also add a photo bar. A nice feature which we have seen at Facebook before. Here you can add five photos that will be shown as 125×125 pixel squares. Just click the photo bar to enter edit mode and you will be able to add individual pictures. Creating a continuous bar is easy when you know that the width of the whole area is 685×125 and that every picture is separated by 17 pixels. You can use my example cutout to create your own bar in your own image editor.


Click ok, stop editing and your page is ready to go. Enjoy. But do not leave it at this. Your page should be personal and active. Add to your stream and get people involved in hangouts etc. Only then will your page reach its maximum benefit.

Google launches Google Plus Pages to beat Facebook

Yes, Google has added pages to Google Plus. And even though you might think that this is not that big a deal, I think it could have a lot more impact than you think.

Google has launched pages that are not that different from what we are used to in Google+. That means that, unlike Facebook, a Google+ page is just a single page. No extra fuss. No extra pages. They might come in the future, but for now your page only has a block of five pictures on the top, a timeline and three links to a limited About page and photo’s and video’s that you have uploaded. The good thing is that Google has incorporated the regular Google+ features. Obviously you can add pages to your circles keeping their communications where you would want it. However, what is much more interesting is the option to create a hangout on your page. So, if you run a celebrity page, you can now do an online meet and greet as easy as planning a time to open up the hangout. The Muppets did exactly that yesterday when you could chat with Kermit and Miss Piggy. And yes, this is to promote their new show.

Google+ Pages put the focus on people even more than Facebook does. Their point is that their pages are a great way to connect to the team behind the brand, the organization or the name. A valid point. And one that could explain the lack of extra pages. Though they might add the option to create extra tabs and create pages in the future.

So, with the parts they are missing, why would Google Plus Pages be even a remote threat to Facebook? Search, that is why. Even though more and more people use social search -asking friends a question- Google still holds all the cards in search. We have seen the impact of that with the +1 button which puts pages your friends have liked on top of your search results. And it won’t be long until Google Plus Pages will be doing the same. Their pages will turn up before the Facebook version will. And that will happen across the board. Whether on the computer, tablet or mobile, Google Plus Pages might become one of the most natural entrances to your brand from the search results. After all the effort you have put into your Facebook page, you might not like the idea. But it might all be for the best if you are a company that takes its customers seriously. Because the entrance through your Google page might become your key to individual success with your customers. Hangouts with key representatives will get potential customers to connect to your products and services much more than Facebook will ever allow you to. And purchasing stays at your own doorstep instead of Facebook’s.

Do I think Google Plus Pages will be a success? Yes. By the sheer size of the Google Plus network? No. But by the integration that Google is rolling out into every single one of its products. And by the personal nature in which you can start interacting with your audience.

Google launches the new Android, why did you get the 4S?

Last night Google launched their new version of Android and the new Android flagship phone, the Galaxy Nexus. Naturally the phone is all you would expect of a new smartphone with dual core processors, great screen etcetera. However, last night was all about Android and just a little about the phone.

Ice Cream Sandwich, as Google has named their new Android 4.0, is full of great new developments making it smarter and easier to use. Just a quick run of all the new features:

Multitasking has been improved with a new screen that allows you to flip through your running and last used programs. Just a simple drag will get you straight back into them.
Resizable widgets allow you to adjust the size of a widget to show more or less information depending on your needs. A great addition as it will allow you to arrange your stuff better.
Lock screen actions allow you to see your notifications without unlocking your phone and it also allows you to quickly take a picture as we have already seen the iPhone do. You can also quickly respond to a caller by sending them a standard text message when you are not available. Great if you want to tell someone you would love to talk to them, but the timing is just off.
The new notification screen allows you to do more with your notifications and work with them more intuitively. It has just improved on its own standard again.
The new spellchecker and soft keyboard allow you to input text even faster with better error correction. Naturally we have to see how this is going to work in practice, but with new word suggestion technology it might just kill those autocorrect failures.
Obviously Androind comes with a new voice input engine. It has an always open microphone and it will allow you to dictate large texts including punctuation on your phone. Sure, it might not tell you whether you need an umbrella, but with its technology supporting many languages and quick correction for dictation errors, this might just be the ticket to be more productive on the road. I have to say that the voice input engine on 2.3 has been my most used feature on the Nexus S, so I am looking forward to this. And besides, the versatility of Android allowed programmers to put together Iris in eight hours during a hackathon. I bet a competitor for Siri will not be long.
For people with metered subscriptions, the new Android version allows you actively limit your data usage with great graphical overviews of your data usage that you can set your own limits on.
Android also has new accessibility options that will allow you to use your smartphone without even seeing the screen. These features are great for the visually impaired with audible feedback on what you are doing.
The new people and profiles brings more information together about your contacts and creates a new “me” profile that can be easily shared with others.
There are also changes to the calendars making them more unified and a new visual voicemail app that allows other apps to add messages for a complete overview.
And then we got to the toys. Google has been playing with the camera as well. The new camera app has face detection, a continuous focus setting, but also a tap to focus option that we have been missing for a while now. To take a better shot at that scenic location, the new camera app allows you to do a single-motion panoramic shot, saving a lot of stitching. The gallery has been improved and now features a photo editor as well. And the video camera allows you to do live effects for transforming whatever you are filming. Not sure why you would want to do that, but hey, it can be fun. More useful is the new feature to film yourself against a background that you have set yourself.
Finally Android will allow you to easily make a screenshot of your phone and share that. Now that is a feature that I have been waiting for.
Google didn’t do anything to make its phone cloud connected, but they did take the time to explain that they didn’t need to do that, as they have always been completely in the clouds.
Google will also bring more of the Chrome experience to Android. It will sync bookmarks with your computer and has dramatically improved rendering performance. Looking forward to seeing that.
The email experience has also been improved with better auto-completion of recipients, new quick response options, nested subfolders and new security options for enterprises.
And here is where it becomes geeky. And I love it. Android has been fitted out with Beam. Beam can share whatever you are doing with another Android phone through NFC (Near Field Communications). Whether that is a website, contact information or even a game you are playing, just put the two devices together and you see the same thing.
To keep your phone from being used by people you don’t really like, you can now use face recognition. Hold the camera in front of your face and it will unlock if it recognizes your face. During the demo something did go wrong there, but it will probably be ironed out soon enough.
Oh, and for sharing your stuff, you can easily set up a direct wifi connection between two devices as well, having your own private network. Not necessarily with an internet connection.

Seriously, I am looking forward to this update. For me, this has countless updates that I will be using every day. Last week I was doubting whether I was going to get the iPhone 4S. Now, the only difference with the 4S for me would be Siri. And I am not going to spend that kind of money to talk to my phone. I would rather talk to the people around me. Besides, someone is going to build an alternative anyway. So, I am looking forward to Google rolling out the Galaxy Nexus in November as I am sure my Nexus S will receive the Android Ice Cream Sandwich update as well. Too bad they did not specify a launch date for that just yet. Read up on everything on Android.com.

Facebook launches iPad app but misses big features

Today Facebook has finally launched its long awaited iPad app. There were rumors that it was postponed until the Apple iPhone 4S presentation last week, because it would be so wonderful. Well, to put it bluntly, I know why they did not show it. Yes, it is nice, yes it is by Facebook, but no, it is not shocking.

The iPad app has a nice feel to it. You have your continuing news feed taking up about 75% of the screen and then you have the chat option on the side. On the left side of the screen you can pull up a fast menu for navigating through everything Facebook has to offer, including apps. Interestingly, there is no “pages” button in the sidebar. And I doubt Facebook forgot that button. I am wondering what their focus on pages will become in the near future after they have rolled out timeline etc. for every user. Another interesting button is the checkin. Above the news feed you have the option to leave an update, add a photo or to check in. Previously Facebook seemed to loose its interest in check-ins for businesses. So, is this a turn from a course set earlier, or is the button still in because it was there in the initial development? Those are interesting questions.

All in all, the Facebook app is nice. It has a good Facebook feel to it and that makes it easy to use and very familiar. It is easier to navigate and a bit easier to work with, as all the areas are just bigger in comparison to running the site on Safari on the iPad. Bigger fingers will appreciate that. As for me? I just appreciate it as it is a well functioning app for a service I use a lot. However, the iPad app misses the new timeline, the ticker, the selected news stories and pages. And missing out on the four features I use most on Facebook is just too much. So, this is not an app I am going to use.

Let me know what you think. Download the app at: https://www.facebook.com/mobile/ipad

Be inspiring – Do you ask the right questions?

Half the internet world talked about the passing of Steve Jobs. There is a lot that can be said about him, but most people agree that he has had a profound influence on the technology we use today. I have never met him in person -and I bet most others that wrote about him never did either. However, through articles I have read about him, I got the feeling that he was a person who knew how to ask the right questions at the right time.

Asking the right questions at the right time can be confronting. But more often, it will inspire people to look at things in a different way. And in turn, that will result in revelations which lead to great products and satisfied customers.

Do you ask the right questions? Do you have a vision you stick to? Do you have a plan to lead your organisation/company/startup to success?

Do you ask the right questions to trigger your customers? Do you help them to reach their goals? To set out together with you to achieve what they have focussed on?

Asking the right questions at the right time in the right way will help you be successful. Whether it is in leading your company or selling your products.

Seeing your true global Facebook reach with Getmap.me

I came across this yesterday and just had to share it with all of you. Just for the fun of it. Getmap.me is not an extensive site with all kinds of extras. It just reverts back to a Facebook app. What is the biggest use of it? Well, its only use is to help you display a map of all the locations in the world where your Facebook friends are located. Pin it on your wall, make it your desktop background or whatever else you like. And just dream of all the places your friends are at. And where you can go. Or where you need to make new friends to cover the globe. Try it. It is fun.

So how intelligent is that Siri anyway?

“Siri, is it going to rain?”

“Yes, it is going to rain in three days, that is why I have taken the liberty to order you a new umbrella from Amazon in black. They have promised me it will be here before the rain starts. Until then it is better that you stay indoors.”

“Euhm, Siri…”

“No worries, I haggled for a 5% discount with EC2. We know each other.”

“Yes, nice, but Siri…”

“And you know you need a new umbrella, because the last black one you had was destroyed in that storm last week. I did order that very sturdy Dutch on that can withstand a typhoon.”

“Yes, but Siri…”

“No John, stop whining. You know you need an umbrella. If you don’t you are only going to get wet and catch a cold. And we don’t want that, do we?”

See, I see a host of new problems…

😉

Apple launches new iPhone 4S, voice assistant and iCloud (Prices updated)

Today Apple launched their new iPhone 4S. The iPhone 4S still has a glass back, a square outlook and a 3.5″ retina display. But beyond that, it is all different. It has the new A5 processor for more speed. It has increased WIFI speeds, so it will be faster. It has a new 8 mega pixel camera with a new backlit sensor with better software to take better pictures and shoot 1080p video. And with it’s new dual core graphics processor, it can compete with game consoles. Not in the least because the new iPhone 4S will come with mirroring through AirPlay, enabling you to show the screen on your TV. Oh, and they have learned and included two antenna that switch intelligently to ensure you are connected. The iPhone 4S also has a new battery that will make sure it lasts longer than any iPhone before. Personally I would be interested to see whether it will last a full day. I have been waiting for a phone that can do that for years. All in all, it is a great new phone, but what makes it nicer is iOS 5.

iOS 5 comes with a truckload of new features that will make the iPhone just nicer to use. And the good thing is that it is compatible with most iPhones and iPads. That means that I can still run it on my iPad 1 and you could still run it on your 3GS. Notifications have taken a leaf out of the Android book. It is a pull down now and you can immediately go to wherever the notification came from. Naturally Apple gave iCloud a good part of the stage today. Mainly because so much in iOS 5 will be moving towards the cloud. To sync with your other idevices mainly. Sharing your photos all over your iOS devices, sharing your music with iTunes Match, storing things you want to read later etc.

And so the technobabble goes on. But what really got me going, is the new SIRI voice assistant. Yes, I know, it will be English mainly first, but they claim it will be there in other languages as well. So who knows, it might learn to pronounce our Dutch names at some point. But the intelligence is really cool. Asking whether you need an umbrella gets Siri going to find out what the weather will be like in your area and then telling you whether you need an umbrella based on the forecasts in your area. It can track where you are and notify you of things you need to do when you get close to a specific place. And it can combine your information and your question to set appointments for you or reschedule them with simple human questions. Yes, it all looks awesome, but I am still skeptical. Having first used voice recognition in 1999 for a project, I am always expecting it to fail somewhere. And my Android speech recognition does that as well. 85% of the time it spells out the tweets I dictate quite well, but that other 15% often make it an annoying application.

Yes, I am looking forward to the new iPhone 4S. It seems to be a nice phone. Will I pre order it? I am not sure yet. Apparently the iPhone 4S goes on pre-order on the 7th of October with the first countries getting it on the 14th. The Netherlands will have to wait for the 28th of October with 20 other countries. Prices are set to $199 for the 16Gb, $299 for the 32Gb and $399 for the 64Gb version in the USA. Prices for other countries have not been released yet.

UPDATE: The French Apple store currently shows that the iPhone 4S will be available without a contract starting at € 629. No other prices are mentioned, but with Apple logic that might mean that the €629 is for the 16Gb, €729 will be for the 32Gb and it might be as much as €829 for the 64Gb. Pretty pricy phones.

UPDATE 2: The French Apple store currently shows that my estimation of the iPhone 4S prices was slightly off. The prices rise €110 per doubling of the storage. So, the price for the 16 Gb is €629, the 32Gb is €739 and the 64Gb will be a hefty €849. If you are planning a trip to the US in November, you will be able to get an unlocked iPhone 4S 16Gb for $649, 32Gb for $749 and the 64Gb will cost $849. Not enough to cover the cost of your ticket, but if you are bringing 10… 😉

Are you a blogger? Register to be an official LeWeb’11 blogger now!

About a month ago we opened up the form to suggest the bloggers you would like to see at LeWeb. And now it is your chance!

Do you think you can add unique coverage to LeWeb? Do you love writing about conferences and spreading the word on everything you have heard? Then you might be the blogger/podcaster/vodcaster/etc we are looking for for LeWeb.

What do we expect of official bloggers? We are looking for people that:
Have a passion for content and reporting;
Commit to attending and covering the conference (it’s in English) on their blog (any language);
Have significant reach and influence inside their community.
And naturally, they have to have a proper, publicly accessible and established blog or postcast. And by the way, having huge numbers of followers on whatever social network does not make you a blogger. Blogging does.
(An official blogger will receive tickets to LeWeb’11 for free. Every blogger will need to cover their own expenses for visiting the conference.)

Frédéric de Villamil and myself will be going over all submissions as they come in. This takes time. Please allow us to take that time. Each blogger we select to become an official LeWeb’11 blogger, will be contacted by us personally and directly.

Thanks!

And now, sign up if you feel you meet our criteria!

Flickr launches android app

The original. Click it to go to the full set with 10 filters.

The original. Click it to go to the full set with 10 filters.

Great news for a boring Friday afternoon. The Flickr app has finally come to Android. So, you now need to download it and go outside to take pictures of everything you see. The app takes the whole Flickr experience along to your phone. You can browse your photostream and the streams of your contacts. You can comment and share pictures on Flickr, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, your WordPress blog or via email. Nice.

Obviously, no Flickr app would be complete without the option to take a picture and uploading it to Flickr straight from your phone. And this app does that. Or so I have heard from others, as it crashes on my Nexus S every time I take a picture. Luckily for me, you can also pull a picture out of your phones’ gallery and use that.

The new Flickr app has got 10 filters that can be applied to your pictures for that Instagramesque feeling. Does it cut it? Well, it comes close. The filters are nice and consistent, but without a picture that matches the filter, it won’t be nice to look at. I have taken a standard photo with some nice colors, sun and shade and you can see the filters at work.

Will I use it? Well, I am doubtful. Why? Well, first off, because it crashed on me. I tend to dislike that. Besides, I share most of my pictures through Mobypicture and use the Camera Effects app if I want filters. Is it a bad app? No, it is actually quite a nice app. Great controls and easy to locate what you need.

As an extra, Flickr has launched Photo Sessions. A way to share your slideshow with your friends regardless of the device they are on. And they can comment on your photos etc. Nice. But I miss the audio channel of being able to talk to your friends to hear them as you share the pictures. Just a thought.

Microsoft releasing WP7.5 Mango now, plus the web market

Earlier tonight Microsoft has started to release the new Mango version of Windows Phone to its customers. If you are running a Windows Phone, it is probable that you will need to be patient as they hope to be releasing Mango to 10% of its customer base today. They will be taking weeks to update all of the handsets and carriers that are currently offering phones running WP7.

If you are wondering where your update is, you can check for yourself here.

The good thing about the slow release is that Microsoft is trying to fix possible bugs as the software is released, updating as they go. Smart move. Read more on the Microsoft blog.

Just a little while ago, Ben Rudolph also posted a run through the features of Mango and included the Web Market. An interesting step. Almost a year ago, I spent some time with Robert Scoble talking about how an app market for Windows Phone would be useless as the target audience for Windows Phone would not buy apps for their phone. Now, with what I have seen of Mango, that might be about to change.

I am looking forward to reading the first reports of updated phones. Got one? Let me know.

How Facebook changed the playing field

Last Thursday, Facebook showed a number of new features to the development community. If you read tech blogs, you might have already read about most of the changes Facebook will be making in the coming weeks. But in all honesty, it is not just about the changes in itself. Facebook has started to move in a direction that we have all been expecting, but that we set in a far away future.

Facebook really is moving away from their social network status. They have turned around to the old saying that content is king and are building their own contextual and personality engines. They are working to share with me what I want to see. Serendipity goes out the door and is automated by their contextual engines ‘accidentally’ showing me exactly those things that I am looking for. It enhances my relationships with my friends on Facebook as Facebook emphasizes the ways in which we are similar and slowly takes out the bits that are less interesting.

And then there is frictionless sharing. Lets face it, this is something that we have been waiting for for years. You might not think so, but none of us really likes to spend time updating our social networks. In a lot of ways updating your network is time that could be spent on friends. Facebook is now offering you the option of updating your social network by itself, leaving you the extra time to spend on your friends.

There has been a lot of shouting about privacy and logging out of Facebook and using browsers in incognito mode. The funny thing is that most of us have Google accounts as well. They don’t log out either. In fact, they have not been logging out for far longer than Facebook has been tracking our web behavior. Does that make it alright? Of course not, but it means that we do need to make clear choices on what we share with whom. Not everything should be for everyone. That goes for the new Timeline feature (pic), but also for frictionless sharing. And that is no different than it was last week. We still need to choose who we allow to see into our lives. Like we choose who we let into our living room.

Personally, I think Facebook has done a great job. Yes, I am enthusiastic and I expect many others will be as well. Mainly because it takes the work out of sharing what you are up to and it allows you to work on your relationships instead of your sharing apps. And that changes the playing field completely. Lets face it, will I consider another network that will not allow me to share with similar ease? Facebook has been a standard for social networking for some time. This will ensure that they will be for a long time to come and that if you want your network to be successful, you need to stay close to Facebook.