Google News Roundup April 2011

It’s no surprise that Google’s been making news recently. This news round-up covers Google Map Maker, the GrooveShark disagreement, and what to do if you want to see William and Kate’s royal wedding but didn’t get an invitation.

First, let’s look at GrooveShark. This online music service lets users upload music; other users of the service can then stream it to their own computers. If this sounds familiar to you, it’s because Google’s YouTube service does the same thing for videos.

GrooveShark created a mobile application, which it then made available through Apple’s app store and Google’s Android app store. All seemed well – until the RIAA got involved. The organization got GrooveShark’s application pulled from the Apple store last August, and from the Android app store just last week.

While the RIAA claimed that GrooveShark’s application violated the Android store’s Terms of Service, GrooveShark doesn’t think it deserved this treatment. Not only does its application do for music what Google’s YouTube does for video, but it takes down any uploads that infringe copyright when presented with a DMCA notice – exactly like Google. In fact, GrooveShark says that it has removed 1.76 million tracks and banned more than 20,000 users.

GrooveShark has even signed deals with more than 1,000 labels. They wrote an open letter explaining their position after their application was removed from the Android Marketplace. So far, however, Google has not responded. Those who wish to get their own copy of the application are not completely out in the cold; it is available from GrooveShark’s own website.

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A bit more frivolously, who better than Google to track the epidemic of royal wedding fever around the globe? Google search trends offers a top ten list of countries searching for “royal wedding,” with the United Kingdom at the top. Not surprisingly, the US also makes this list, along with Ireland, New Zealand, Canada, and Australia. These and other parts of the world that turned up make sense for historical reasons. But someone will have to explain to me what the United Arab Emirates is doing on the list.
Google says on its blog that it has been “working to make as much of the big day as possible accessible to everyone.” To that end, its Google Earth 3D imagery now includes a “Royals’-eye” view of the entire wedding route. But the best news for those who didn’t receive an invitation is that “the Royal Household has just announced that footage of the entire ceremony will be live-streamed on their official YouTube channel:”

Google explained that the “live stream will begin at 10:00a BST (9:00a GMT, 2:00a PT, 5:00a ET) on Friday, April 29, and will follow the wedding procession, marriage ceremony at Westminster Abbey and balcony kiss.” For those who can’t get enough, The Royal Channel will also include live blog commentary on the event. If the timing of the wedding doesn’t work well for you in your time zone, never fear; you’ll be able to view it in its entirety on the site afterwards.

The great thing about the Internet is that it’s interactive, and they royals apparently haven’t forgotten that. They’ve already opened a video guest book on The Royal Channel that lets anyone in the YouTube community upload congratulatory messages to Prince William and the soon-to-be-princess, Miss Catherine Middleton. Some may think of this event as much ado about nothing, but it’s worth noting that many are already calling it the first royal wedding of the Internet age. In a sense, that gives it the same significance as the marriage of Princess Margaret and Antony Armstrong-Jones more than 50 years ago, which was the first royal wedding broadcast on television.

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Finally, here’s something for all of the geography mavens. About three years ago, Google went live with Google Map Maker, a product that lets users add and update the map for locations around the world. In that time, Google notes, users of the service “have built out and edited the maps for 183 countries and regions around the world,” including Antarctica. Google has incorporated their edits into Google Maps and Google Earth.

Up to now, residents of the United States have been left out of some of the fun, because no one could add to the map of the US directly. Yesterday, the search engine changed that. Now users with a Google account can add to the US map with Google Map Maker. As with all other regions, edits will be checked for accuracy.

Google Map Maker allows for a greater richness in detail than many standard maps. For example, users can mark bike paths, or add descriptions of favorite retailers (such as the local book store or comics shop). You can even add all of the buildings on your college campus, along with their names. Google points to the details in its map of the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay as an example of what a group of power users can accomplish. “We’re eager to see you add the same level of detail to locations in the United States.”

Once approved, edits will appear on the map within minutes. Users can even watch edits happening in real-time.

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