Google just announced the launch of version 1.2 of its Hangouts API, which comes with a number of significant new features for developers who are building products on top of Google’s group video chat service. In addition, Google also just launched private messages in Hangouts as an experimental feature.
Over the last year, Apple and Google have secretly begun working on projects that will become wearable computers. Their main goal: to sell more smartphones. (In Google’s case, more smartphones sold means more advertising viewed.) In Google’s secret Google X labs, researchers are working on peripherals that — when attached to your clothing or body — would communicate information back to an Android smartphone. People familiar with the work in the lab say Google has hired electronic engineers from Nokia Labs, Apple and engineering universities who specialize in tiny wearable computers.
One billion is a pretty big number by any measurement. However, when it’s describing the speed at which something is growing, it’s simply amazing. This past weekend, thanks to Android users around the world, Android Market exceeded 10 billion app downloads—with a growth rate of one billion app downloads per month. We can’t wait to see where this accelerating growth takes us in 2012.
Google is proving adept at building a social media platform plank by plank, Phil Simon writes. Where Apple and Amazon tend to add basic, standalone social features to their products, Google has created a rich, vertically integrated social ecosystem to which features can be added incrementally.
Tom Vander Ark is an edu-futurist par excellence. He's chair of the International Association for K-12 Online Learning, author of the new Getting Smart: How Personal Digital Learning is Changing the World, and an investor in startup technology and entrepreneurship school General Assembly (see this month's Life in Beta) through his education-focused venture fund Learn Capital.