Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Want Google Wave Now? PyGoWave’s the Next Best Thing

Want Google Wave Now? PyGoWave’s the Next Best Thing: "
Google Wave LogoFew products have matched the excitement and the hype surrounding Google Wave, the search company’s ambitious realtime communication platform. Some believe Google Wave will replace email, while others think it could flop.

We already know that beginning September 30th, 100,000 invites to Google Wave will be released. But that’s a full two months away – what if you just can’t wait anymore to get your hands on Google Wave?

One developer couldn’t wait either, so he took the code from the Google Wave API and transformed it into an open-source version of Google Wave, called PyGoWave. Don’t get your hopes up yet though; this version isn’t quite like the real Google Wave.

An overview of PyGoWave

PyGoWave (@PyGoWave) is essentially a rudimentary open-source Google Wave server. It doesn’t use the original Google Wave code (it will be open-source in the near feature), but uses the Google Wave API to create a test version of the product.

The project actually started late last month, but has been picking up steam as features are still being implemented. This is very important: PyGoWave is not a full-featured version of Google Wave, nor does it have the Google Wave interface. It does have access to a slew of Google Wave gadgets and extensions, though (read Google Wave Extensions: An Inside Look for info on extensions).

As soon as you look at PyGoWave, you can tell it’s not the same interface. Here’s a screenshot of a wave within PyGoWave:

And here’s a screenshot from the official Google Wave sandbox:

Don’t expect to get the full functionality of Google Wave in PyGoWave (i.e. it’s really hard to start a Wave conversation), but you do get to try out some of Wave’s best features, primarily Wave Gadgets, as almost all of the gadgets available in the sandbox version of wave can be accessed in PyGoWave, including Maps, Wave Rating, and even a Wave Reading app. Even cooler, you can download them all.

In fact, you can download PyGoWave itself and run it on your own server, since it is an open-source project. It features downloads and even a wiki for getting started and setting up a PyGoWave server.

It’s not wave, but we’re getting closer

Let’s be clear: PyGoWave is not the open-source version of Google Wave. It’s an early approximation of the open-source version, based on the Google Wave API. It’s still not completely usable and is riddled with bugs, but so is Google Wave itself.

We are very appreciative of the PyGoWave team for undergoing this difficult project. People are very excited about Wave, and the more we learn about it, the better. The team also promise to keep building up the tool’s features and improving its usability, meaning you can expect it to become cleaner and more usable as time goes on.

Everyone can access this open-source project, so if you want to try your hand at PyGoWave, sign up and then post your username in the comments below. For the next 30 minutes, I’ll add commenters to to the Mashable Test Wave.

More Google Wave Resources from Mashable

- Google Wave: A Complete Guide

- Testing Google Wave: This Thing is Tidal

- The Top 6 Game-Changing Features of Google Wave

- Google Wave Extensions: An Inside Look

- Could Google Wave Redefine Email and Web Communication?

- Twave: Google Wave + Twitter

Reviews: Google Wave
Tags: Google, Google Wave, PyGoWave

Apple Tablet May Launch in September

Apple Tablet May Launch in September: "
appletablet1Rumors of an Apple tablet – essentially a large iPhone or iPod touch – have been swirling for over a year. Today the Financial Times is adding credibility to the rumors, reporting that Apple is rushing to debut the device in time for the Christmas shopping season.

The article swings back and forth between the new device and a series of record label deals Apple could launch simultaneously, but here are the points specifically related to the tablet:

Screen size: “may be up to 10 inches diagonally”, touch sensitive (of course)

Phone capability? Unlikely – it’s more like a large iPod Touch than an iPhone.

Wireless connectivity: Same as the iPod Touch, with the ability to download media through iTunes.

Kindle Rival? May provide the ability to read books, creating a rival to Amazon’s Kindle.

Launch date: By Christmas, possibly as early as September.


MacBook Touch mockup by Edwin Tofslie

Boosting Album Sales: Project “Cocktail”

The revelations are made in an article that’s largely focused on Apple’s plan to boost album sales, a project they’re calling “Cocktail”. In conjunction with the record labels, the FT says, Apple wants to turn albums into interactive books “by bundling liner notes and video clips with the music”:

Apple wants to make bigger purchases more compelling by creating a new type of interactive album material, including photos, lyric sheets and liner notes that allow users to click through to items that they find most interesting. Consumers would be able to play songs directly from the interactive book without clicking back into Apple’s iTunes software, executives said.

“It’s not just a bunch of PDFs,” said one executive. “There’s real engagement with the ancillary stuff.”

The FT reports with some uncertainty that the tablet could launch at the same time as the Cocktail project: this September. We wouldn’t hold out too much hope: it was only last week that the launch date of “early 2010″ spread through the rumor mill.

BONUS: Apple Tablet Mockups Gallery

While only Apple insiders know for certain what the device looks like, that hasn’t stopped artists from creating their own mockups for an Apple tablet. From the “Macbook Touch” to the “iPhone Pro”, here are some the best creations:


MacBook Touch Mockup via Gizmodo


iPhone Pro by ArtilleryUnit


Apple iPad from kleber_zion/Flickr




MacBook Touch Mockup by Tommaso Gecchelin

Top right image by PC World

Tags: apple, macbook touch, Tablet

Google Sells Stake in AOL, Loses $717 Million

Google Sells Stake in AOL, Loses $717 Million: "
At the end of 2005, Google made an interesting investment: $1 billion dollars for 5% of AOL. The move made sense for AOL – it provided it with a ton of new advertising, search, and revenue opportunities via a strong partnership with Google. Google, in return, got a 5-year deal to be AOL’s default search engine.

But the value of that deal has only dropped like a rock in a lake since then. AOL has continued to deteriorate, despite highlights like the acquisitions of Bebo and Socialthing. Thus, Google’s decided to cut its losses and has sold back its AOL stake for $283 million.

According to Business Insider, Time Warner (AOL’s parent company) has made a regulatory filing with the SEC to confirm the transaction. On top of the sale, it was also revealed this afternoon that Time Warner has filed to make AOL its own company – an expected move. According to MarketWatch, the new company will be AOL Inc.

The sale means that Google, in total, lost $717 million as a pure investment. This doesn’t include the value it generated in its search partnership, but we’re willing to bet it wasn’t worth more than $700 million. It also places AOL at a valuation of $5.7 billion, a far cry from its peak during the first dot com boom, when everyone had an AOL account.

Reviews: Google
Tags: aol, Google

Apple iTablet: Will You Buy One?

Apple iTablet: Will You Buy One?: "
The fabled Apple Tablet – it’s a rumor that has been around for years. Yet it’s looking more and more like the Apple iTablet is no joke. A 10-inch portable movie-playing, book-reading iPod Touch on steroids? Oh yeah.

Yet while the Tablet may drop in stores in September, that doesn’t mean that it’ll be a success. Yes, Apple has an incredible track record with its Macbooks, iPods, and the iPhone, but a ten inch tablet that’s something between an iPhone and a Macbook leaves a lot of questions – and a lot of possible flaws. So will you, the consumer, grab one of these tablets? We want to know. But first, here are the likely pros and cons of the device to help you decide:


Apple LogoThe rumored Apple iTablet features highlighted in two articles by the Financial Times provide the best insight into what we’re likely looking to see in Apple stores come September. Here are some of the best features that we’ve been able to dissect:

- 10 inch screen

- Internet connectivity

- The ability to run iPhone apps

- Book-reading abilities

Okay, so we really know almost nothing about this fabled device. But the essential point is that it’s a slim touch-screen device that could compete in the Netbook space. They are rising in popularity and are surprisingly useful (I’ll admit that I love my HP netbook), but an Apple tablet could blow away any netbook in speed and functionality. Make it portable and include Apple’s take on design and you could have a winner.


All of the criticism volleyed towards the still-unreleased Apple tablet can be summed up in one scathing article by PCWorld’s Michael Scalisi. I’m just going to quote him on some of his many points:

- “There are lots of things that tablets are not good at. Take watching movies, for example. Since a tablet is designed for lying flat, you have to be looking straight down to view the computer. Actually, that makes it suck for most things.”

- “While I think a multi-touch display is a great idea, using it to host a virtual keyboard takes too much real estate on a petite 10-inch display.”

- “While the iPhone OS might seem like an obvious choice due to its small footprint and contribution toward long battery life, it has glaring limitations on a larger device.”

- “Bundling it with wireless broadband service would find a limited audience.”

Really, there’s not much more we can add to the con side.

Our Take

Let’s get two simple truths out of the way first:

1. All of this is rumor. We really have no idea what the iTablet will look like, how it will work, or what features it will offer. In fact, we can’t even be sure at all it exists. Steve Jobs could be laughing his ass off in a comfy chair at Apple HQ for all we know.

2. As a rule, Apple does its research. They perform intensive testing, undergo multiple iterations, and push the boundaries of usability and design. There is a reason that its products have been hits since Steve Jobs returned to the helm.

While we think Scalisi’s points are all valid, they’re all towards a product none of us have ever seen. It is unfathomable to us that Apple wouldn’t realize that a tablet can’t be seen at a flat angle and wouldn’t take measures to fix it. We’d be shocked if they didn’t modify the iPhone OS to perform admirably on a tablet. These are things Apple tests and tweaks constantly.

We’re going to wait until the tablet is in our hands until we give it a review, but we’re going to repeat our very simple point: Apple doesn’t build crappy products.

What do you think?

We voiced our opinion, so now it’s time for yours. From what you know about the Apple iTablet now, would you buy it? Do you think it’s a smart move by Apple? Or will it flop? Vote on our poll, and then leave all of your thoughts in the comments.

Will you buy the Apple iTablet?(online surveys)

Top right image by PC World

Tags: apple, Apple Tablet, iTablet

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Google Android Will Soon Control Your Home

Google Android Will Soon Control Your Home: "
Google Android ImageWhen Google announced its Chrome OS, there was one question we kept asking in the back of our heads: what’s going to happen to Android? Android, Google’s mobile operating system, is coming to netbooks next month. But Chrome OS is also starting with netbooks, so where does that leave Google’s other operating system?

Apparently, Android has found a new market for assimilation: home appliances. According to a report on Forbes, a wave of touch-screen devices are about to be unleashed on the market later this year. They will be capable of everything from controlling your lights to managing your stereo remotely. Oh, and all of these devices are going to run on the open-source Android platform.

Android’s “Touch Revolution”

Touch Revolution, a company that builds the touch screens and provides the Android features for these types of devices, makes the assertion that well-known companies are coming out with home management tools this year that will run on the Android OS. In fact, the company divides them into three categories:

1. Home control devices: These will be touchscreen platforms that can activate and manage security, control the house lights, or switch off the A/C

2. Media control devices: More adept remote control over things like DVRs and stereos

3. Home Phones: What Touch Revolution calls “smart phones for the home”

A new purpose for Android

While we see the utility in these types of devices, you may be wondering why they would pick Google Android for this sort of thing. The Forbes article touches on that too:

“Why use Android at all? Brown says its partners liked the operating system’s ease of use, openness and touch-centric features. They also regarded it as a bargain since Google is distributing it for free.”

Android was originally built for touch-screen phones, and thus a modified Android OS for touch screen tablets and devices seems only logical. Google Chrome OS, on the other hand, will focus on web applications and load speeds.

So it looks like Androids will soon be running our toasters and Chromes will eventually be powering our netboooks. That’s both really cool and a little scary at the same time.

Tags: android, Google, Google Android

AT&T: iPhone Exclusivity Won’t Last

AT&T: iPhone Exclusivity Won’t Last: "
AT&T LogoThe consensus is growing: iPhone users don’t like AT&T (actually, “don’t like” might not be strong enough). From angry Twititions over 3GS prices to possible Justice Department investigations, sentiment is just not with AT&T. Yet, they still remain the only U.S. carrier with the iPhone, and are hoping to renew their contract with Apple, which ends next year.

That’s what makes AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson’s admission at the Fortune Brainstorm: Tech Conference so stark. According to CNET, he stated that, “There will be a day when you are not exclusive with the iPhone.” While it’s true that nothing lasts forever, it’s not a positive message coming from AT&T’s perspective (though it is one for iPhone owners).

AT&T’s CEO acknowledged not only that it wouldn’t have the iPhone forever, but that the Apple relationship is one of its most important strategic partnerships. That’s probably an understatement, considering that 2/3 of the AT&T’s newest subscribers signed up for an iPhone last quarter.

Still, we think that a different quote from the AT&T CEO was just as enlightening. From the Brainstorm Tech blog:

iPhone Image

When asked if he was completely satisfied with AT&T’s relationship with Apple, Stephenson said, “I don’t think I could get my wife to say that about me so I don’t think I could say that about a business partner.”

Here’s what we think: if AT&T ever hopes to keep its partnership with Apple, it needs to satisfy its relationship with customers first. The customers are the ones placing pressure on Apple to break the exclusivity. Fix the network and give consumers what they want, and the calls for AT&T’s head will die down.

Tags: apple, att, iphone

Gmail Makes it Easy to Unsubscribe From Spammy Mailing Lists

Gmail Makes it Easy to Unsubscribe From Spammy Mailing Lists: "
gmailI’ve recently been on a personal crusade to unsubscribe from all the not-quite-spam but still junky mail that fills my mailbox every morning. Usually though, I just click the “Report Spam” button and hope that eventually Gmail will get the hint rather than actually following the process to unsubscribe from the mailing.

Apparently, a lot of people do the same thing, so Gmail has rolled out a feature to try and streamline the process. Now, when you click the “Report Spam” button on an email, you’ll get an “Unsubscribe and report spam” option that will actually remove you from the mailing list as opposed to simply moving the email to your spam folder.

Gmail notes that this doesn’t yet work for everything, and when I tried it on a couple of newsletters in my mailbox, I didn’t see the option. They are trying to get more senders to support the feature, however, writing on their blog:

“We’re actively encouraging senders to support auto-unsubscribe — we think 100% should. We won’t provide the unsubscribe option on messages from spammers: we can’t trust that they’ll actually unsubscribe you, and they might even send you more spam. So you’ll only see the unsubscribe option for senders that we’re pretty sure are not spammers and will actually honor your unsubscribe request. We’re being pretty conservative about which senders to trust in the beginning; over time, we hope to offer the ability to unsubscribe from more email.”

It’s definitely a nice feature from Gmail, but the bigger problem seems to be with the email senders, who automatically opt you into mailing lists and make it intentionally difficult to remove yourself. Unfortunately, that’s not something that’s likely to change anytime soon, even with Google actively pursuing the issue.

Reviews: Gmail, Google
Tags: gmail, Google, spam

Would You Share Your Final Wishes With Google?

Would You Share Your Final Wishes With Google?: "
Google Health is one of those projects that’s easy to be conflicted about. On one hand, it seems like a great idea; the healthcare system is a mess, and organizing information online is useful for both patients and doctors. On the other, it’s well, Google, and via their dominance in search, advertising, and communications, they already know a ton of stuff about us – do we really want them knowing our intimate health details too?

That question gets even trickier today, as Google Health is now encouraging users to upload “advance directives” – the official term for the document that lets your wishes known if you ever find yourself in a medical position where you’re unable to communicate (i.e. – if you want to be kept alive on a respirator if necessary).

The move is part of a new feature of Google Health that lets users upload scanned documents. And they’re making the process of publishing your advance directive fairly simple. “To complete your form, download it, print it out, complete it, scan it, and upload it to Google Health. Once you’ve uploaded the signed form, Google Health makes it easy to share it with your caregiver,” writes Google on their company blog.

The decision to have an advance directive in the first place is a very personal one, that traditionally speaking, would be something you share with your family or doctor. By having it online, and presumably shared with those that would need it, the grey area that can emerge with one’s final wishes could be eliminated. But it also means putting one of the most personal of documents both in Google’s hands and on the Web in general, where security remains an issue.

Personally, I’m a bit torn on the subject, so I figured it would be interesting to put to a poll. Cast your vote and share your opinion (or indecisiveness!) in the comments.

Would you upload an advance directive to Google?(trends)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Sharing on Facebook Now More Popular than Sharing by Email

Sharing on Facebook Now More Popular than Sharing by Email: "
How do you know which social sites are most popular? Aside from looking at the raw traffic numbers, a good indicator is data about which sites are seeing the most content shared on them.

Among the companies with access to tons of this type of data is AddToAny, makers of one the most popular widgets that lets content sites provide their readers with an easy way to share stories across multiple social media sites.

According to AddToAny, Facebook now dominates sharing, with 24 percent of shares from the widget consisting of users posting items to the social network. That handily beats out email (11.1 percent) and Twitter (10.8 percent), making the world’s most popular social network also the most popular service for sharing content. This is undoubtedly welcome news at Facebook, as the site continues to emphasize sharing and readies its own real-time search engine.

Interestingly, if you combine all of Yahoo’s properties – Delicious, Yahoo Bookmarks, Yahoo Buzz, and Yahoo Messenger – it accounts for 14.4 percent of sharing, making it second on the list. Less surprising, MySpace has fallen well down the ranks with just 5 percent of shares. Other notables include Digg at 4.4 percent, Bebo at 3.1 percent, and LinkedIn at a mere 0.4 percent. Meanwhile, the demise of email sharing isn’t all that surprising considering that on the whole, social networking now has more reach than email worldwide.

Here’s the full breakdown:

Twitter for Beginners: 5 Steps for Better Tweeting

Twitter for Beginners: 5 Steps for Better Tweeting: "
Twitter LogoTwitter is immensely useful as a utility for joining in the global conversation and sharing thoughts, opinions, information, and media. But for new users, there’s also a fairly steep learning curve. For many people new to Twitter, the site doesn’t immediately “make sense” and it can be a bit daunting. But there are things those users can do to make the service more useful from the get go.

Below are five steps for new users to take in order to make the Twitter experience more enjoyable from the beginning. New users have both third party services and built-in tools at their disposal to make Twitter work for them, and this post highlights some of the best.

STEP ONE: Find People You Already Know

I joined Twitter later than most early adopters, but once I finally became a Twitter newbie in early 2008, it was much easier to jump into the conversation when I was following some people I already knew — people who I was sure were already talking about things I was interested in and would value my input.

The best tool available for new users directly on Twitter is the Find Friends on Other Networks tool, which lets people allow Twitter to scan their AOL, Yahoo!, or Gmail address books and see if anyone they know is on Twitter. Once you’ve synced your address book, Twitter will locate and suggest users to follow that you likely already know outside of Twitter. When you follow those friends, they’ll get an alert message saying that you’ve followed them.


New users can also turn to third party Twitter people search engines like Tweepz, which take things up a notch by offering more detailed and easily scannable search results than Twitter’s own built in people search. Also check out our recent Twitter people search round up.

Another way to find friends is to check out the Twitter Facebook app and see if any of your friends on Facebook are also on Twitter. Of course, not every Facebook user that uses Twitter also has that application installed — the app has just 250,000 monthly active users, so the number of friends you find via this method might not be too many.

STEP TWO: Find Like-minded Users

One of the most clearly beneficial things for new users to do is to find other Twitterers that talk about the topics they’re interested in. Getting fed a stream of tweets on topics you actually care about will go a long way toward making Twitter more useful and interesting, right off the bat. One tool new Twitterers can use to find like-minded users is Twitter Search. Twitter’s own built-in search engine lets users search for others who are talking about the things they’re interested in by searching for keywords. However, it’s also a bit of a slapdash method of finding users to follow. Because the search is real-time, you’ll only ever find the users who were most recently talking about a specific subject, not necessarily those who talk about it regularly.


Fortunately, there are some third party services that new users can turn to in order to find other like-minded users to follow. Twitter directories Twellow and WeFollow organize Twitter users based on topic, and are great places to find other users who will regularly tweet about things you’re interested in.

You should also look into third party sites like Twubble and Twitterel, which attempt to give people friend suggestions on Twitter, based on the friends of your friends and the things you’re interested in.

STEP THREE: Find People in the Area

When I first started using Twitter, I used it for a couple of months, then got bored with it and stopped using it for a while. Recently, I have begun to follow a lot more people in my local area, and I’ve noticed that the service has become much more useful. I get updates about local meetups, stay abreast of local issues, and am able to connect with people around things that only those in my city would understand.


I would have loved to have known how to find local users to follow when I first began using Twitter — I may never have taken a hiatus from the service if I had. A good place to start your search for local tweeters is Twitter search. By using the advanced search options, you can limit results to only those tweets originating from nearby to a specific location.

Of course, third party apps, such as TwellowHood and Localtweeps, generally offer better results. Be sure to check out our recent guide to finding local Twitter users.

STEP FOUR: Get a Desktop (or Mobile) Client

Once you really get into Twitter and start using it to have conversations with friends and followers, you’ll want to upgrade from the Twitter.com web interface. Using the web for tweeting becomes difficult when you start following a lot of people and doing things like sending and receiving replies and direct messages. But don’t worry, there is a solution: a desktop client.

Desktop clients are software built specifically to utilize Twitter. Clients for the desktop generally do very helpful things, like let you put the people you’re following into groups, so you can be sure you won’t miss a tweet from those you care about the most, alert you when you get a new direct message or @reply, search Twitter without having to visit a separate page, or help you share images or videos. In other words, they help you get the most out of Twitter and not miss anything important.


Our current favorite desktop client is Tweetdeck, with Seesmic running a close second. Be sure to check out our round-up of 19 Twitter desktop clients, for the skinny on a large number of available options.

Mobile users can also download applications to help them get more out of Twitter, those users who tweet on an iPhone especially have plenty of options. There are some web-based Twitter clients available that make Twitter easier to use, as well, such as Mixero and PeopleBrowsr.

*Disclosure: TweetDeck partnered with Mashable to create MashDeck, a branded version of the software.

STEP FIVE: Learn the Ropes

Twitter can be very daunting for new users. It has its own set of jargon (#hashtags, @replies, retweets, direct messages, etc.), its own set of commands, confusing rules about who sees your tweets, and a sea of third party clients to navigate. That can be overwhelming for someone new to get into. One place to start learning about Twitter, is the site’s own help portal and Getting Started forum aimed at new users. They’re not the most user friendly sites, though, and might raise more questions than they answer for some users.

At Mashable we just recently launched our Twitter Guide Book, which attempts to help both new and experienced users learn how to use the service and get the most out of it. You should also check out Twitter app directory Twitdom, where you can learn about many of the cool things you can do with Twitter.


Boston Police Using Twitter and Facebook to Track Down Bike Thieves

Boston Police Using Twitter and Facebook to Track Down Bike Thieves: "
Stolen Bikes Boston logoIt may not be rocket science, but the city of Boston is putting their social media savvy to good use and turning to Facebook and Twitter to help them fight crime.

Boston, already known for its tweeting police department, has decided to use social media to get the word out about stolen bikes in the city. The Stolen Bikes Boston Community Alert initiative is a simple albeit wise way to let you report your stolen bike.

The site notifies the police, bike shops, and local security, plus posts to the Twitter and Facebook accounts that have been setup within a matter of minutes. Citizens at-large can then follow the accounts and report sightings of the stolen bikes.

stolen bikes boston

Leveraging Twitter and Facebook, on top of traditional channels, is a great to way to get the community involved and active in city crime-fighting efforts. The immediate nature of status updates, and their mobile distribution, means that more and more people can have instant access to the bike theft reports, increasing the likelihood that more lost bikes will be recovered. We’re impressed with the city’s efforts, and we hope to see more stolen bikes recovered and more cities adopt similar tactics.

[Via BostonHearld.com]

Yahoo’s New Homepage Won’t Save It From Google or Microsoft

Yahoo’s New Homepage Won’t Save It From Google or Microsoft: "
Yahoo, the often-forgotten web behemoth, has been hammered by bad news, bad decisions, and shrinking market share. Last year Microsoft tried to acquire Yahoo for a hefty premium, but co-founder and then-CEO Jerry Yang did everything he could to kill the deal. The result? Yahoo tanked, Jerry Yang was ousted, and Carol Bartz was hired to bring Yahoo back to prominence.

One of the biggest pieces of the Yahoo reinvention has been the much fabled Yahoo redesign. We weren’t expecting it for a few months, but in a call earlier today, we were handed the details (and the screenshots). Oh, the kicker: Yahoo’s new homepage launches tomorrow. Can Yahoo’s new design save it from demise?

Yahoo: Now With More Purple

Yahoo was founded not as a search engine, but as a portal to the entire web. However, the web has drastically changed – tools like Facebook, Last.fm, and Twitter have been part of a wave of more powerful and social web applications that the Yahoo homepage simply does not encompass.

The new homepage is designed to make Yahoo the web’s #1 destination portal by, once again, giving people one place to access everything. This time around, they’re not doing just news, groups, and email, but integrating with Facebook, MySpace, and mobile phones so that Yahoo is always the starting point of your web journey. Take a look at the screenshots below:

The interface is less cramped (although it still packs a lot of stuff), search is emphasized, and My Favorites replaces the old Yahoo Services bar. The key is personalization: if you’re a huge reader of The New York Times or a big Flickr user, you can add or create widgets that help you connect to these sites on-the-fly. You can even update your Facebook status from the homepage, although Twitter updates aren’t anywhere to be found (you probably could just make a widget for that though).

Yahoo is relying on customization and social media integration to become the web’s portal once again. If you want to access it, Yahoo.com/TryNew will take you to the new Yahoo homepage (starting Tuesday), where you can permanently switch. It will not switch over for all users at the same time.

But will it bring Yahoo back?

Is the new Yahoo homepage an improvement? Absolutely: it’s cleaner, offers more personalization, pushes up the search bar, and is simply nicer on the eyes. But that’s not the question we should be asking. Instead, we should ask this: Will Yahoo’s new homepage help it rise back to prominence?

Our answer: almost certainly not. While these new features and widgets are wonderful changes, they’re not new innovations – it’s borrowing concepts from iGoogle and its own My Yahoo start page tool.

Yahoo believes that users are looking for one place to find everything they need. We don’t believe that’s the case. Users in the social media age are looking for engagement, to discover new ideas and new content, and to accomplish tasks with greater efficiency. While you can browse parts of Facebook from Yahoo.com, you’re still going to visit Facebook itself. While you can build a Twitter app on Yahoo, it’s not going to be as good as Tweetdeck or Seesmic. And while Yahoo has great content, it doesn’t have rich media like Hulu, YouTube, or Wordpress.

Yahoo’s new website is nice, but it isn’t a home run. And when both Microsoft and Google are breathing down your neck, you need to hit one out of the park in order to survive. Despite the new face, it’s still Yahoo, and it will have the same difficult problems that it had yesterday.

Google Wave is Coming: 100,000 Invites Go Out on September 30th

Google Wave is Coming: 100,000 Invites Go Out on September 30th: "
Less than two months ago, Google dropped a spectacular surprise upon the world: Google Wave. The communication tool aspires to redefine not only email, but the entire web. And from our very first test of Google Wave to our complete Google Wave Guide, we have to say that it’s a game changer.

Well, in the last two months, Google and third-party developers have been hard at work testing out the system, fixing the kinks, and building some amazing extensions (which we discussed in-depth previously). Still, only a handful of people, almost all developers, have access. That’s about to change soon though: on September 30th, Google will start sending out about 100,000 invites for the next version of Google Wave.

Google Wave’s Rollout

Google Wave Image

Google made the big revelation in a blog post on the Google Wave developer’s blog. The post is part of an update on the Google Wave Hackathon, which allows developers to come to the Googleplex and work with the Google Wave API to build extensions such as Wave in Wordpress, a bot that allows you to easily place Waves in WordPress posts.

It looks as if the testing in the Google Wave sandbox is going well though – it opened up the sandbox to 6,000 new developers and up to 20,000 more will get access before the end of August. But this pales in comparison to the 100,000 users that will get access on starting September 30th.

According to Google, at that point Google Wave will appear on Wave.Google.com, instead of the Wave Sandbox. They will help further test for bugs, provide feedback, and play with apps. Google intends to invite groups of users, so the invites may not come out all at once.

If you want to be part of the next wave of testing (haha, get it?!), you can sign up for updates here. Until the invites go out though, you’re going to have to get your Google Wave fix from our extensive Wave coverage and analysis:

More Google Wave Resources from Mashable

- Google Wave: A Complete Guide

- Testing Google Wave: This Thing is Tidal

- The Top 6 Game-Changing Features of Google Wave

- Google Wave Extensions: An Inside Look

- Could Google Wave Redefine Email and Web Communication?

- Twave: Google Wave + Twitter

Google Wave: Is the World Ready?

Google Wave: Is the World Ready?: "
Google Wave LogoOn May 28th, tech circles went wild when Google revealed Google Wave at its Google I/O conference. The response to and the questions about the new communication platform were staggering. Is it something I should use? Is it a game-changer? Could it kill email itself?

This type of lofty rhetoric will always raise hopes and draw scrutiny. We want to believe that new and radical technologies like Wave will change the very way we live. And while our experiments with Wave have brought us to the conclusion that this platform may indeed be a game changer, it won’t happen if there isn’t widespread adoption. So instead of asking whether Wave will kill email, the better question to ask is this: Is the world ready for Wave-based communication?

It’s All or Nothing with Wave

I have used Wave extensively since the sandbox preview became available, and I will tell you this: it breaks normal conversation conventions left and right. While it looks and feels like email in many ways, its unique hybrid of realtime and message-based communication takes some getting used to. Using applications in-wave, editing other people’s messages, and integrating robots into your conversations are going to confuse and even scare people.

We know that the early adopters will use this (and forgive its flaws) in a heartbeat. The real question is whether or not its new approach to communication is a dealbreaker for the early majority and late adopters of the world.

Google Wave is asking people to do things that grind against the norm. And, while Google won’t say it, its ultimate goal is to have you switch from email to Wave, ushering in a new era of web engagement. If Google’s at the center of every person’s web communication, it will build immense influence and gain unparalleled information on the web’s billions of users. However, with high stakes likes these comes a high risk of failure.

Google Wave will either succeed spectacularly or completely bomb. There is no middle ground for a tool that is supposed to be as omniscient as email. If all of your friends aren’t using it, then Wave isn’t as useful as email, which kills its purpose. But the opposite is also true: if your friends switch over to wave communication and email dies off, you have no choice but to get an account as well.

Is the world ready for Google Wave? The final answer to that question could change the very foundation of the web.

One more thing: if you want to be in on the action, you better sign up for an account soon.

More Google Wave Resources from Mashable

- Google Wave: A Complete Guide

- Testing Google Wave: This Thing is Tidal

- The Top 6 Game-Changing Features of Google Wave

- Google Wave Extensions: An Inside Look

- Could Google Wave Redefine Email and Web Communication?

- Twave: Google Wave + Twitter