Blio is a new eReader platform developed in part by Ray Kurzweil, and focused around flexibility of display and interface. As you might expect coming from Kurzweil, it has strong text-to-speech capabilities, and is designed for full color displays and not eInk devices such as the Kindle. In addition, content is being provided by Baker & Taylor, and Blio claims to have over 100 publishers lined up to help provide content for the platform.
I had a chance to play with Blio nearly a year ago at CES 2010, and talked about it during the ALA Midwinter 2010 Top Tech Trends presentation…it’s exciting stuff. Can’t wait to see if it can give Kindle and Nook a run for their money.
Google today rolled out a major change to their search that they are calling Google Instant. This change will begin to populate search results as soon as you begin typing, using your history combined with the information that Google has about word frequency and popularity to predict what you’re looking for. This will be rolling out across the world over the next few months, but you can test it now by visiting this page.
Google is rolling out a new feature to Gmail this week they are calling Priority Inbox. It’s an automated method for ranking and determining which emails in your inbox are important to you, and thus float to the top and are marked, while less important ones aren’t given prominence in the email window. It uses your email history (who you read, didn’t read, responded to, etc.) as measures, and allows you to manually rank as well to increase its filters.
Think of it like an inverse spam filter. Instead of filtering out the bad stuff, it filters up the good stuff!
Apple pushed out an update today for the iWork 9 suite that patches a lot of issues within each of the apps (Pages, Numbers, Keynote). But the big news as far as I’m concerned is that Apple added native ePub support into Pages, which means that you can use it to prepare eBooks for publication. Up until now, the only real option for full layout control over ePub was Adobe InDesign… . Pages support will make it that much easier to get your work into ePub, and onto your iPad, Nook, or Sony Reader!
No, I’m not talking about Android phones…I’m talking about the new feature in Gmail Chat that allows you to make Domestic U.S. and Canadian phone calls for free with your Google account.
Simply hit the “Call Phone” button in gChat, and a familiar number pad pops up. Dial, hit Call, and Google will connect you, for free. How much easier could this get?
Bonus: if you have a Google Voice account, you can even receive calls via gChat! Follow the instructions on this support page to link the two, and you can have your gMail account alert you whenever anyone calls.
To my knowledge, this is the only way that you can both send and receive phone calls in the U.S. with no connection at all to a phone carrier for free. You can use a service like Skype, but Skype calls to a landline phone have a cost associated with them.
I did a quick test of the service today, and the quality of the calls is very good. Now if Google will make this service Facetime compatible, it could be a serious competitor to Skype on the video call front.
From Aug 24-30, Kaplan study guides are FREE at the iBook store on your Apple iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch! Caveats are: the only way to access the iBook store is via the iBook application, which requires iOS 3.2 or higher. If you or your library have devices that meet this criteria (and if you don’t, you really should update your devices), go take a look!
It appears that Samsung might be the first to launch a tablet that looks like it could actually compete with the iPad, the Samsung Galaxy Tab. Driven by Android 2.2, it’s an impressive looking setup. They just released a teaser trailer for it, below, and the full story is over at Engadget.
Here’s a neat toy from Google that I hadn’t seen before: Google Search Stories. The concept is that you can create your own story via search terms, in the manner of the Google Superbowl Commercial (and others that they’ve done in the last year or so). If you haven’t seen it, watch the commercial, and then visit the Search Stories homepage to make your own. You get six searches and a final entry to tell your story, and can choose from a series of Google specific searches to highlight the term in the proper way (Web, Image, Blog, News, Map, etc). It’s an oddly compelling way to construct a narrative.
So compelling, in fact, that I’m going to sponsor a contest using it. Use Search Stories to tell a story about libraries … funny, dramatic, horrifying, or anything in between. Just make it about libraries, and post the video or a link to it here in the comments. I’ll assemble a non-partisan set of judges, and the one chosen as the best will win a copy of my latest book, Mobile Technologies & Libraries. I’ll mail it to you personally if your video is chosen as the winner. Deadline for entry is September 30, 2010, and the winner will be chosen and announced right here on Perpetual Beta.
So get those creative juices flowing, people! Wow us with some crazy search stories!