Android has Almost 1 Billions Users

Android has been very successful for Google. But not even the optimists could preview how quickly it would grow from just a few users into what it is today.

It has been great to see, then, that the number of activations of Android phones is approaching the 1 Billion. That is, near one billions devices have been activated in several parts of the world, what makes Android the most popular mobile operating system in use.

According to informationWeek:

The 1.3 million daily activations is a number that cannot be ignored. There are 111 days left in 2012 (as of this writing). That means Google is on track to sell about 145 million more Android devices by the end of the year, which it will close out with 645 million total devices.
This is an astounding number, since 1.3 million people enter in contact with a technology that is dominating the mobile market. It represents a huge opportunity for developers around the world.

Google is killing another service: Publishing Payments

Google has decided to reduce the noise and improve the quality of their services. So, in the wave of changes to many of the provided services, another victim has emerged last week – the service that provides payments to online publishing has vanished.

It is a new fatality of the reorganization promoted by the new CEO Larry Page. The goal for Google is to improve the existing products and remove the ones that are not so widely used and that are not generating revenue for Google.

In a statement, here is what Larry said

       "Over the last six months we've done a lot of spring cleaning--although it's all happened out of season,"
Spring cleaning is exactly what it seems to be happening here. Other services have also suffered the same fate of the payment platform. For example, Google talk free voice is also part of the past, when it was removed from the main offerings by Google.

A lot of changes have been seen in the last few months in the level of support for money-losing projects. It seems like they are removing services at the same speed in which they were introduced  years ago. We hope that these changes will contribute to the quality of the remaining projects, so that Google will not look like it is forever in beta.

Google disk finally becomes available

After a long wait, Google will finally start to deploy its online storage solution. As part of Google docs, users will have the opportunity to store documents directly in Google servers, therefore creating a new possibility for online backups.
With Google Docs, users are already able to create, share, and modify documents that are permanently store on Google servers. With this new feature, Google is improving Google Docs to add the option of permanent storage for any file.
The free version of the service will store 1GB of documents, while additional storage can be acquired through an annual fee.

Customizing colors and images on Chrome

Since its launch, Google Chrome has been a full featured web browser with a very simple user interface.
What this means in practice is that you can get your job done, but you wouldn't have any of the niceties provided by Firefox, such as themes and other methods of user experience customization.
Version 3.0 of Chrome, however, is trying to change this with the addition of themes. There is even a set of themes that have been specially created for this launch (see link bellow).
As a long time user of Chrome, I think that the current default theme is just as nice (in fact, version 3.0 made some subtle improvements on it. However, it is great that we have choice, so if you are not comfortable with the default options, you can even create a new theme and make it available to everyone.


Using Google to let people know where you are

Google has launched a few weeks ago a new service that lets people publish their current location. Known as Google latitude, the service gives information that might be useful to your friends and family.
However, even if you decide to provide location information, not every one has the software required to receive the updates. This has made some people to have some reservation about starting using Latitude.

Google is making things simple now, by displaying the information provided by the location service in other products. For example, starting now Google will be displaying location information on Google talk. This way, anyone can receive you location information with one of the Google talk clients, such as Gmail.
According to the Google Official blog:
Google Talk location status (beta) automatically updates your Google Talk or Gmail chat status message with your Latitude location. With this application enabled, all of your chat buddies can see your most recent city-level location. The Google Public Location Badge lets you publish your Latitude location on your blog or website
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Google and how to scan books fast

Google engineers are always looking for ways to getter and deliver information faster and more accurately. The latest example is the scanning project, that allows Google to scan physical book and add them to the Google book web site.
Google is probably the company that scans more books in the world. They have a legal agreement by which they can scan every book in some of the biggest libraries in the world. They also have a deal with publishers that will allow them very soon to sell books that are out of print.
Scanning books real fast
The latest information about the scanning project is that they are using technology to reduce the time needed to scan books. The idea even became a patent, which was granted in March of 2009.
The patent describes a technique, by which an infrared system is used before a page is scanned. The infrared light can detect how curved are the pages of a book. With this information, scanners can set up the software to correct any distortion due to the curvature of the book. It is just like using software to project a flat image out of a curved object.
With this added help, the scanners are able to process more books, since the page doesn't need to be flattened on the screen. Also, the results are more accurate, because any distortion is taken care during the scanning phase.
Making all books available
It is interesting to see how fast can Google proceed with the book scanning project. While other companies, such as Microsoft, stopped their book scanning project, Google is going even faster. Nobody out of Google knows how long will probably take until they have every book scanned, but it looks like they are getting there faster.
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Google Code adds support for Mercurial - no Git yet

Google announced today that it will start supporting the distributed version system Mercurial as an alternative to svn in its code hosting website.
The company reported that they did a study on the advantages and disadvantages of both Mercurial and Git before taking a decision.
Here is a picture of the new feature, as posted on Google's blog:

Nice, but no Git Yet
Although this is an interesting step in the direction of using distributed versioning systems, it is still too little. In fact, it seems that Git has many times more users than Mercurial at this time. Developers will most probably continue pushing Google into providing Git support, as sourceforge already did recently.