Google is once again trying to show that location services are really important to them with the release of Google Hotpot, a social recommendation engine for Places. According to Google, this service will provide recommendations "powered by you and your friends" to businesses and locations you happen to be near. Right now, Google Places mostly provides information and facts about restaurants, clubs, banks, or anything you can find on a map, as well as imported ratings from outside sources like Yelp. Hotpot adds the ability to like or dislike a location on the spot, and provide your opinion. Then, the engine will present that additional information from your social circle. The new feature is available on Android phones now and on the web, and uses your Google account to allow you to rate businesses.
Read More | Google Hotpot
So Facebook just launched Facebook Places, a feature that lets you check-in to local spots, and even lets others check you into those spots without your knowledge or approval by default. We figured some wouldn’t appreciate that, and would want to opt-out of some or all of the Facebook Places functionality, and we wanted to fill you in on just how to do it.
First, log in to Facebook and choose Privacy Settings from the Account menu at the top right. Click on Customize to get to where we need to go. The first area we want to check is called “Things I Share.” One of the categories is “Places I check in” - this is set to be visible to all your friends by default, and you can make that more or less restrictive in this area. Right below it is an option titled “Include me in ‘People Here Now’ after I check in” which is also on by default. This lets anyone know you are at a location if they are also there, or nearby.
The last option is the one that lets others check you in against your will, and it’s enabled by default. Scroll down to the “Things Others Share” area, and you’ll see a Enable/Disable toggle for “Friends can check me in to Places.” If you don’t want others associating you with a location, you can turn that off here.
There you have it! We’re sure Places is going to be huge for Facebook, and that a lot of people will be joining in on the fun, but we also know there are a bunch of you that would rather not be involved, so we wanted to let you know how to shut it off.
We all knew it was coming, but Facebook has finally released their location check-in methodology with the release of their Facebook for iPhone 3.2 app. The new ‘Places’ feature let’s you check-in Foursquare/Gowalla-style into venues that are around you. You can also track the locations of your friends as well, to see what others in your social graph are up to. One seemingly annoying feature is that Places even allows you to check other people in with you, and that is on for every account by default. Of course, you can manually turn that feature off, but shouldn’t that be the default option?
Also new in 3.2 for phones running iOS 4 is background uploading of photo and video content, so you can start an upload and jump out of the app to something else while things continue. All iOS version also pick up new in-app privacy management features as well.
We’ve been trying to test out all the new hotness, but just about every area we go into on the new app results in some sort of error message. We’ll keep trying.
Read More | Facebook 3.2 for iPhone
During his first (and only) MacWorld keynote speech, Phil Schiller announced the latest update to the iLife suite of software, iLife ‘09. Let’s take each app, one by one, and look at the changes and additions:
iPhoto ‘09: New to iPhoto is Faces. Faces uses facial recognition to organize and tag photos of people. iPhoto will find a face in a photo, and you tell it who it is. It will then find other photos that it thinks are of the same person. Easy way to grab snapshots that feature the same person. Another new organization feature is called Places. This uses the geotagging feature available on a lot of modern cameraa, and puts pins on a map showing the different places that the images were taken. If you have photos that aren’t geotagged, you simply tell iPhoto where the image (or event images) was taken, and it fills in the rest. The map feature is based on Google Maps, so you can zoom in on a location, look at satellite or street view, etc.
Apple has also added in built-in support for Facebook and Flickr to iPhoto - that means no more fumbling around with clunky plugins to get your pictures out of iPhoto and onto those services. A very welcome addition. Facebook users can add the names of people in their images, and iPhoto will retain that info as well (presumedly for the Faces feature.)
iPhoto also gets new slideshow themes. You choose a theme and photos, and iPhoto puts it all together. It uses the Faces to find the faces in images so that those are centered and zoomed. You can save slideshows to iTunes, and they can be synced to an iPhone or iPod touch. Something new for the Books too, you can now automatically get maps included, with pins that show your location. Great for making travel books.
iMovie ‘09: Apple has admitted that, since it was new, iMovie ‘08 didn’t have all the features that older customer wanted. This year, they aim to change that. iMovie ‘09 gets a new Precision Editor, Advanced drag & drop (that give you context-sensitive menus,) dynamic themes, and even animated travel maps. So, again, you can use your location data to insert 2D and 3D maps of those locations into your movies.
GarageBand ‘09: GarageBand ‘09 is being updated with a new feature called “Learn to Play,” which brings up an instructor which plays video lessons. If that’s not enough to get you excited, there are even Artist Lessons. You get people like John Fogerty, Colbie Caillat, Sting, Sarah McLachlan, Norah Jones, and Patrick Stump, who will teach you how to play instruments like the guitar or piano.
iLife ‘09 also includes updated versions of iWeb and iDVD, and ships free on new Macs. You can purchase an upgrade for $79, or buy a family pack (good on up to five Macs) for $99, and it will be available in “late January.”
For those wondering, Apple has also released a new version of iWork - iWork ‘09.
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