Hotel Search Upgrade: Google Licenses Room 77 Platform

Room 77 Despite its controversial $700 million acquisition of travel software company ITA several years ago and the launch of Google's Hotel Finder site, Google has yet to emerge as a force in online travel. That may all be about to change. Bloomberg reported yesterday that Google "is licensing hotel-booking software from Room 77 Inc." The news site also reported that "Room 77 co-founder and Chief Technology Officer Calvin Yang and many of its engineers are joining Google." Room 77 is a travel metasearch site like Kayak, only better in my experience. It only focuses on lodging however. The Bl [...]


Google Gets Another Street View Privacy Fine — In Italy

street-view-car-featured It seems like each European country is taking its turn fining Google for some privacy infraction. This time, it's Italy and involves Street View. Google has reportedly paid a roughly $1.4 million (1 million EUR) fine. According a story in Reuters, the issue this time was the failure to clearly mark Street View cars during Italian street photography in 2010: The fine announced on Thursday relates only to vehicles not being labeled clearly enough. The watchdog has also reported to Italy's judicial authorities that Google accidentally captured fragments of electronic communications as part of [...]


No Joke: Google Maps Brings Back “Search Nearby” Feature

google-maps-600 You're going to hear a lot of rejoicing when this news spreads: Google has returned the "search nearby" feature to Google Maps. #celebrate!!! Amidst all of today's Google April Fools' joke announcements, the company tweeted the feature's resurrection earlier today. After doing a search on Google Maps, you can click again in the search box to get "Search Nearby" to show up as an option. Ever since Google relaunched Google Maps in February, users have been complaining about the disappearance of that particular feature. Here are a few tweets about it from just the past couple days: [...]


Google’s April Fools’ Day Jokes For 2014: Google Maps Pokémon Challenge, Magic Hand & More

google-april-fools Is it just me, or does it seem like Google starts celebrating April Fools' Day earlier and earlier every year? No company on the web takes April 1st more seriously than Google, as we've been covering for years now. So what about this year's April Fools' Day antics? Let's have a look. Google Maps: Pokémon Challenge It was a little past 12 pm ET today (March 31), when the Google Maps team posted its April Fools' Day gag -- the "Pokémon Challenge," a game/adventure where Pokémon masters are tasked with using Google Maps to find game characters out in the wild. Winners will (facetiously) ha [...]


Better Data, Public Transit Coming To Apple Maps In iOS 8

apple-maps-featured According to unnamed sources cited by 9to5mac, Apple's forthcoming iOS 8 will see a number of improvements to its mapping product across platforms. The site says the next Apple mobile OS will offer: Better and more complete points of interest and business data Public transit information and directions (rolling out first to major US cities) Much of the discussion in the article is about subtle changes to the Apple Maps UI or functionality improvements coming with the new OS. Further out, says the report, are indoor maps and augmented reality:  "Apple has also begun work on augmented [...]


As Google Upgrades Google Maps Business Listings, Conflicts Happen Including Duplicate Listing Issues

google-local-places-featured Google has been automatically upgrading Google Place listings from the old system to the new Google Places dashboard. With this upgrade, there may be conflicts that prevents the upgrade from completing. The latest conflict is that there are duplicate listing issues and Google needs you to step in, fix the issue and then complete the upgrade process. Google has recently began sending out notices of the duplicate place listings conflict via email to those impacted by this issue. The email reads: We'd like to inform you that Google Places no longer accommodates more than one authorized owner [...]


Google Yanks Fake FBI Listing From Google Maps, Puts New Blocks In Place To Stop Further Abuse

google-maps-fake-fbi In response to a string of cases where fake business/organization listings have been added to Google Maps, Google says it has removed those listings and put in place new hurdles to make it more difficult for this kind of abuse to get through its system. This latest run of problems came to light about a week ago, when some users discovered they could use Google Map Maker to create fake businesses that would be verified via a phone call. In the beginning, many of the fake listings were harmless. More recently, the same user took advantage of Map Maker to create fake FBI and Secret Service [...]


Google Brings Back Right-Click-For-Directions To Google Maps

classic-new-google-maps Google Maps users can once again right-click anywhere on the new Maps to get quick directions to or from the spot that they're clicking. They can also use the "What's Here" option to quickly get the lat-long coordinates for any spot on the map. These are two of many features that users have asked Google to bring back from Classic Maps to the new Google Maps. There are still several other missing features -- some of which Google has promised will eventually show up again. The screenshots below show what happens when you right-click on the new Google Maps (left) compared to a right-click i [...]


German Design Firm Claims Willful Patent Infringement Over Google Earth

Google Earth A German design firm is claiming that Google and Google Earth have infringed its patent (USRE44550 E1) and is seeking triple damages under the notion that the infringement was intentional or willful. The firm, ART+COM ("ACI"), makes the following claims: The development history of Google Earth indicates knowledge and infringement by key Google employees Google Earth "bears remarkable similarities to ART+COM's commercial system, which was developed nearly a decade prior to Google's introduction of Google Earth" The claimed patent and method for rendering geographical objects (Terravis [...]


Google Says (Some) Missing Features Will Be Added To New Google Maps

google-maps-600 Google took its new Maps site out of beta this week, but many users noticed that some of their favorite features from Classic Maps were missing. Not to worry, Google says. It's aware of that and plans to bring at least some of those missing over to the new Maps site in the near future. The team will continue to work to improve the new Google Maps, so look out for better performance and additional features, like send to car, in the coming weeks. That mention of the Send To Car feature is as specific as Google would get in its replies to our questions about the missing features we've n [...]


Google Places Quality Guidelines Updated

google-local-places-featured Google quietly announced within the Google Help forums that they have made a clarification update to their Place quality guidelines to help business owners know what they can name their business within Google Local and what they can not. In short, Google is allowing a single descriptor within the business name, if and only if that descriptor is location information or describes your business offers. Here are the revised guidelines: Your title should reflect your business's real-world title. In addition to your business's real-world title, you may include a single descriptor that help [...]


New Google Maps Comes Out Of Preview Today

google-maps-ipad-featured Roughly last May at Google's "I/O" developer conference, the company introduced an updated version of its desktop Maps experience. Since that time, it has been in "preview," allowing users to go back and forth between the "classic" and new versions. Today, it's coming out of preview and soon will be the default PC Google Maps experience. Since its introduction, Google has been adding features, tweaking and adjusting the new Maps. Overall, it's a more visually-compelling product than the old Maps with a wide array of enhanced features. Among them: Rich images, photo tours and interior p [...]


Google Now Adds Google Now “Launcher,” Video On Demand Providers, Airbnb Reservations & More

google-now-launcher Engadget reports Google has quietly rolled out several enhancements to Google search app for Android, bolstering Google Now features on the Nexus 5 and some other devices. Here are the changes that were labeled "bug fixes and performance improvements" in the Google Play store for the app. The most noticeable change is that the Nexus 5 home screen has now been renamed the "Google Now Launcher." Select your TV providers and/or video on demand providers and Google Now will give you recommendations on what to watch. Airbnb reservations also now display in Google Now. Also the alarms and n [...]


Google Requiring Some Business To Reverify Their Listings Or Be Removed From Google Maps

google-local-places-featured Some business owners are receiving emails from Google requiring them to reverify their listings within three-weeks or their listings will be removed from Google Maps and Google+ Local. The emails contain the subject, "Action Required: You have 3 weeks to save your Google Places Listing." It is unclear how many businesses have received this notification and how many businesses this may have impacted. Google's Jade Wang said in a help thread that these emails are indeed from Google and should be taken seriously. The email reads: Due to changes in Google Maps, we’d like to inform you [...]


Telenav Thinks Scout Can Take On Google Maps

Skobbler app Last week Telenav acquired Skobbler for roughly $24 million in cash and stock. Skobbler is based in Berlin, Germany and is to OpenStreetMap (OSM) what Red Hat is to Linux according to Ryan Peterson of Telenav. For those not aware, OSM is the Wikipedia of digital mapping. It relies on a global force of over 1.5 million volunteer editors or contributors. Telenav, which got its start in white label navigation and enterprise fleet tracking, is the creator of Scout, a consumer navigation app that Telenav believes is capable of taking on Google Maps. According to Peterson, the Skobbler acquis [...]


5 Tips To Kill The Competition In Local Search

local-search-map-featured If your business has a local presence -- anywhere -- you must take advantage of Google+ Local. Creating and optimizing Google+ Local profiles is a critical marketing practice for local small businesses, multi-location enterprises, national franchises and companies with a single physical location. It will help you reach the 97% of consumers who search for local businesses online. Google+ Local not only helps web searchers find and share local business information, it can also help your business get displayed near the top of Google SERPs. When a search is made with local intent, Google typi [...]


Google Maps App Now Continually Searching For Faster Route

google-maps-app Google quietly pushed out an update to the iOS version of the Google Maps app that now checks for faster routes to a destination as you drive. The new iOS version of the Google Maps app and the Android app will notify you if there’s a faster route available while you are in transit. Here is what the notification looks like while you are using the Google Maps app: This feature is available on both iPhone and Android where Google Maps navigation is available. [...]


Google Places International Adds Over 1,000 New Categories For Business Listings

google-local-places-featured Google's Business community manager, Jade Wang, announced in a Google discussion forum thread that they have vastly increased the number of business categories available to businesses outside of the United States. Jade said they now have added "over 1,000 new categories in the new Places dashboard" for businesses around the world. The new categories are available in the new Places dashboard "globally and translated to every language Google supports," said Jade. Previously, only U.S. businesses had a vast number of categories to choose from. Why? Jade said there were a lot of complexities [...]


Google Showing Date Selector In Knowledge Graph Carousel For Hotels

knowledge-graph Google has added a new feature to the Knowledge Graph Carousel, where for some search queries, it will show a date selector box. For example, a search on [hotel in new york] returns the local hotel listings at the top carousel but now adds this date selector option. Here is a picture: You can now click on the start and/or end date and a calendar pop up will show up for you to change your check in and check out dates. Then the pricing listed in the hotel results may change with the dates. Google has allowed hotel, flight and other bookings through Google's search results and has [...]


Local SEOs Sound Off On Google+ Local Hijackings

google-plus-local Earlier this week, Danny Sullivan reported on the hijacking of thousands of local hotel listings within Google+ Local. Those listings had been replaced by third-party hotel booking services. And while it's unclear how long those third-party links were in place, several knowledgeable people have surmised it may have been at least a month, if not longer. Without offering any substantive comments about the situation, Google appears to have cleaned up the problem and mostly, if not entirely, restored the proper links. There's been no explanation forthcoming about how this might have happened f [...]


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