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Fox.com now blocking Google TV devices

There is a work around… “you bring up the browser menu, then go to “more”, and then “settings”. From there go to “advanced” (as seen above) and then “mode”, and finally change the user agent mode from “default” to “generic. There you have it, you may now go back to watching all of your favorite Fox shows on Google TV… that is until Fox plugs this workaround like Hulu did. Stay tuned”.

Amplify’d from www.gtvhub.com

11.11 – Update: User agent fix unblocks Fox.com…for now.

Another one bites the dust. A couple of weeks ago, Fox.com was atop our list of Websites that could still be accessed on Google TV to stream full episodes of content. Well, you can go ahead and cross Fox off that list, as they are now blocking Google TV devices (see the photo above).

The list of networks allowing Google TV devices to access their online content appears to be dwindling. Stay tuned.

[Cheers, Brian]

Read more at www.gtvhub.com

Move over Apple, you may not be the sexiest phone afterall!

As the smartphone wars continue, it looks like the iPhone (my preference for it’s integration into all my other Apple products) is getting some stiffer competition. Will Apple’s culture hurt the iPhone?

Amplify’d from www.nytimes.com

If you want a smartphone powered by Google’s Android software, you could get Motorola’s Droid 2 or its cousin, the Droid X. Then there is the Droid Incredible from HTC, the Fascinate from Samsung and the Ally from LG.

Paul Sakuma/Associated Press -Steven P. Jobs, in 1984, presented the new Macintosh personal computer.

 

That’s just on Verizon Wireless. An additional 20 or so phones running Android are available in the United States, and there are about 90 worldwide.

But if your preference is an Apple-powered phone, you can buy — an iPhone.

That very short list explains in part why, for all its success in the phone business, Apple suddenly has a real fight on its hands.

Americans now are buying more Android phones than iPhones. If that trend continues, analysts say that in little more than a year, Android will have erased the iPhone’s once enormous lead in the high end of the smartphone market.

But this is not the first time Apple has found itself in this kind of fight, where its flagship product is under siege from a loose alliance of rivals selling dozens of competing gadgets.

In the early 1980s, the Macintosh faced an onslaught of competition from an army of PC makers whose products ran Microsoft software. The fight did not end well for Apple. In a few years, Microsoft all but sidelined Apple, and the company almost went out of business.

Can Apple, which insists on tight control of its devices, win in an intensely competitive market against rivals that are openly licensing their software to scores of companies? It faces that challenge not only in phones, but also in the market for tablet computers, where the iPad is about to take on a similar set of rivals.

“This is a really big strategic question,” said Toni Sacconaghi, an analyst with Sanford C. Bernstein and Company. “No one knows whether openness will ultimately prevail as it did on the PC.”

Apple declined to comment on the issue.

By some measures, the competition Apple faces this time is even more formidable than it was in PCs. In addition to the Android family, Apple already competes with Research In Motion, maker of the BlackBerry.

And the iPhone will soon have one more powerful, and familiar, foe: Microsoft. That company’s well-reviewed Windows Phone 7 software will appear in as many as nine new smartphones beginning next month. Others like Nokia cannot be counted out.

Read more at www.nytimes.com

The Bing-Facebook Alliance… Watch Out Google… NOT!

OK, so Bing and Facebook “just made search social”. Fastcompany.com asks the question, “will your online life ever be the same again” after the Facebook-Bing alliance? Uh, yeah! I don’t care how “social” Facebook and Bing become (as if Facebook could even BE anymore social), they are not taking down the search giant, world dominating Google. Yeah, I said it.

Here are six take aways regarding the Bing-Facebook alliance. After reading this post, Google more on the topic. By the way, when you get to the point where your brand represents the services you offer, i.e. we Xerox when we want to make a copy and we reach for a Kleenex to blow our nose, then you have made it baby. Seriously, go Google it if you don’t believe me… I mean search it :-)

Amplify’d from www.fastcompany.com

It’s not too audacious to say that the new Bing search features that Microsoft and Facebook unveiled today are going to upend the search business.

Until now, search algorithms have used machine learning and artificial intelligence to predict which of the billions of pages out on the Internet might be most salient to your search. Now, at least on Bing, they’re going to have access to something even more precious: the knowledge of who your friends are and what they like.

Among the features Bing is rolling out to users in the coming days is a module called “Liked Results” to its search results. Looking for information on that new Tom Cruise movie? On Google, your search engine would serve up the relevant pages it has calculated are the most popular. On Bing, as of now, it serves up the regular Google-style results and a module that shows you pages your friends have liked — including, for example, movie reviews. You no longer have to do the work of trolling through search results to figure out which of the pages might tell you whether the movie’s a hit or a bomb. Trust your friend Sara’s taste? Click on the page she Liked.

So what does this all mean? Here are a few takeaways:

1. Search just reached an inflection point. Google’s great innovation was to figure out how to deliver the most relevant search results, based on the assumption that a webpage that had a large number of other pages linking to it would be more interesting than one with fewer links. Google has built its search algorithms by continuing to troll large sets of data for other attributes that indicate relevance. Now, however, Bing can deliver results based on what your trusted sources of information—your friends and acquaintances—think. This is a giant leap forward. Among other things, it means that…

2. Companies have to focus on creating great customer experiences. Because when their customers go searching online—for a movie, a camera, a travel destination—their friends’ recommendations are going to be front and center. Launched a store that no one “Liked?” you’re not going to show up in the search results.

3. Search is going to look a lot different. Forget the list of blue links. As Qi Lu, the engineering lead for the new changes (and president of Microfsoft’s Online Services Group), said, once you introduce a social dimension to search results, you could actually start representing search results—visually—in new ways. He didn’t say what those might look like, but be prepared to see them soon, because…

4. We’re going to be seeing even more social elements introduced into Bing’s search results. And soon. Both Microsoft and Facebook said that today’s new features were just the beginning. It only took them two months to gin up the ones they released today. Which means more are going to be coming down the pike in the months to come. Which means…

5. Google may have to go back to the drawing board. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg didn’t say they were shutting the search giant out. In fact, he said that, ultimately, the company would like to work with all players in search. But for now, it appears he’s working solely with Microsoft.

6. You must master your Facebook privacy settings. Mindful of earlier criticism of Facebook’s handling of privacy issues, both Microsoft and Facebook went out of their way today to stress that users will retain control over what Facebook shares with Bing. The flip side is that users actually have to exercise the control that Bing and Facebook give them. Don’t want your friends’s friends to know you Liked Justin Beiber’s fan page? Better check those privacy settings now.

Read more at www.fastcompany.com

The Bing-Facebook Alliance… Watch Out Google… NOT!

OK, so Bing and Facebook “just made search social”. Fastcompany.com asks the question, “will your online life ever be the same again” after the Facebook-Bing alliance? Uh, yeah! I don’t care how “social” Facebook and Bing become (as if Facebook could even BE anymore social), they are not taking down the search giant, world dominating Google. Yeah, I said it.

Here are six take aways regarding the Bing-Facebook alliance. After reading this post, Google more on the topic. By the way, when you get to the point where your brand represents the services you offer, i.e. we Xerox when we want to make a copy and we reach for a Kleenex to blow our nose, then you have made it baby. Seriously, go Google it if you don’t believe me… I mean search it :-)

Amplify’d from www.fastcompany.com
Read more at www.fastcompany.com

It’s not too audacious to say that the new Bing search features that Microsoft and Facebook unveiled today are going to upend the search business.

Until now, search algorithms have used machine learning and artificial intelligence to predict which of the billions of pages out on the Internet might be most salient to your search. Now, at least on Bing, they’re going to have access to something even more precious: the knowledge of who your friends are and what they like.

Among the features Bing is rolling out to users in the coming days is a module called “Liked Results” to its search results. Looking for information on that new Tom Cruise movie? On Google, your search engine would serve up the relevant pages it has calculated are the most popular. On Bing, as of now, it serves up the regular Google-style results and a module that shows you pages your friends have liked — including, for example, movie reviews. You no longer have to do the work of trolling through search results to figure out which of the pages might tell you whether the movie’s a hit or a bomb. Trust your friend Sara’s taste? Click on the page she Liked.

So what does this all mean? Here are a few takeaways:

1. Search just reached an inflection point. Google’s great innovation was to figure out how to deliver the most relevant search results, based on the assumption that a webpage that had a large number of other pages linking to it would be more interesting than one with fewer links. Google has built its search algorithms by continuing to troll large sets of data for other attributes that indicate relevance. Now, however, Bing can deliver results based on what your trusted sources of information—your friends and acquaintances—think. This is a giant leap forward. Among other things, it means that…

2. Companies have to focus on creating great customer experiences. Because when their customers go searching online—for a movie, a camera, a travel destination—their friends’ recommendations are going to be front and center. Launched a store that no one “Liked?” you’re not going to show up in the search results.

3. Search is going to look a lot different. Forget the list of blue links. As Qi Lu, the engineering lead for the new changes (and president of Microfsoft’s Online Services Group), said, once you introduce a social dimension to search results, you could actually start representing search results—visually—in new ways. He didn’t say what those might look like, but be prepared to see them soon, because…

4. We’re going to be seeing even more social elements introduced into Bing’s search results. And soon. Both Microsoft and Facebook said that today’s new features were just the beginning. It only took them two months to gin up the ones they released today. Which means more are going to be coming down the pike in the months to come. Which means…

5. Google may have to go back to the drawing board. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg didn’t say they were shutting the search giant out. In fact, he said that, ultimately, the company would like to work with all players in search. But for now, it appears he’s working solely with Microsoft.

6. You must master your Facebook privacy settings. Mindful of earlier criticism of Facebook’s handling of privacy issues, both Microsoft and Facebook went out of their way today to stress that users will retain control over what Facebook shares with Bing. The flip side is that users actually have to exercise the control that Bing and Facebook give them. Don’t want your friends’s friends to know you Liked Justin Beiber’s fan page? Better check those privacy settings now.

If You Can’t Beat ’em, Join ’em. Time Warner Decides To Join Forces With Google

A staggering stat (from Google) indicated that YouTube (owned by Google) has more content uploaded in 60 days then the three major TV networks broadcast in 60 years. It would stand to reason then that the networks would want to become play ball with Google. This is exactly what Time Warner Inc. is doing by playing ball with Google Inc. Not to be outdone, NBC Universal’s CNBC network and the NBA also announced they would build Google TV software applications. The plan for Google world domination continues.

Amplify’d from www.wallstreetjournal.com
The chief executive of Time Warner Inc. said he is turning to Google Inc. as an ally in his push to bring cable shows to users across various devices and that the Web giant’s new service for accessing and searching Internet programming on TVs isn’t the threat many television distributors fear.

Jeffrey Bewkes, who oversees a company that includes the TNT, TBS and HBO cable networks, also predicted a “massive amount of competition” for Netflix Inc. and Hulu LLC as more content owners make their TV shows available through operators on demand and online and as cable and satellite companies improve their experiences.

“When all of the content on the big screen works like the content on the little screen what will happen? The programming will trump the interface,” he said.

[BEWKES] Bloomberg NewsTime Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes, shown in May, says content is still key.

Mr. Bewkes’s comments come as media executives are agonizing over which new Internet distributors to supply shows to and whether to pursue new digital distribution methods on their own. Hulu and Netflix had no comment.

Time Warner has been championing a model it calls “TV Everywhere,” allowing cable and satellite subscribers to watch the TV shows they pay for in their traditional TV bundles online, free.

Tuesday Mr. Bewkes said that Time Warner, which already has deals to enable Comcast Corp. and Verizon Communications Inc. subscribers to watch shows from its cable networks online, has or is close to finalizing similar deals with Dish Network Corp., DirecTV Group Inc., AT&T Inc. and other cable operators as well.

Monday, the company also endorsed the Google TV technology, saying it would optimize some of its television websites, including those of TNT, TBS and CNN, for viewing on TVs carrying Google TV. It said it would do the same with its HBO GO website, through which some viewers who subscribe to the premium cable channel can watch its shows online. The arrangement isn’t a business deal.

Google is working with several partners to build televisions and boxes carrying its software. Logitech International SA plans to discuss its set-top box running Google’s new software Wednesday.

NBC Universal’s CNBC network and the NBA also announced they would build Google TV software applications that provide access to content like financial news and sports scores. Other television networks—including the major broadcast networks—have largely been mum about whether they plan to work with Google’s service.

Read more at www.wallstreetjournal.com

 

Google Earth 3.1 Lets You Look UnderWater!

With the latest release of Google Earth 3.1 for iOS, you can now explore underwater landscapes and terrain on your iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. By land or sea, Google Earth will take you there.

 

Looking for buried treasure? No problem, just use Google Earth. Want to know if your roof needs repair, just put in your home address (I’m not kidding, I saw a missing shingle thanks to Google Earth).

 

I kid about Google being in the world domination business but I don’t think I’m joking anymore. Gotta go, I’m using Google Earth to see what’s really going on under sea level at the Bermuda Triangle.

Amplify’d from googlemobile.blogspot.com
Dive below the ocean’s surface to explore underwater canyons, or travel to the ocean’s deepest point, the Mariana Trench. Once underwater, simply swipe the screen with two fingers to “look around.” You can always reset your view by clicking on the north arrow on the iPad, or on the compass on the iPhone and iPod.As with the desktop and other mobile versions of Google Earth, we’ve also added the “Ocean” layer, which features hundreds of photos and videos from more than 100 contributors curated by the Sylvia Earle Alliance.


This version also includes native support for the new Retina display, which means that if you have an iPhone 4 or the new iPod touch, you’ll get to enjoy an even sharper view of the world. 

Google Earth 3.2 for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch is available now in the App Store, or navigate to http://m.google.com/earth in your mobile browser. You can also download Google Earth by scanning this QR code:

For help or additional information, visit our help center.

Read more at googlemobile.blogspot.com

 

Google TV’s marketing site goes live; our questions finally get answered.

Not to be outdone by Apple TV, Google TV just rolled out thier new offering. It’s enough to make your head spin!  I have no idea what to ask Santa for now!

Amplify’d from thenextweb.com

It appears that Google is betting big, showing logos from CNN, TBS, CNBC and even HBO on its mock-up. The question, of course, lies in the licensing. This has been a major concern for Apple, which was only able to launch it’s latest Apple TV with the support from ABC and Fox in the US. NBC has already stated that they felt Apple’s $.99 rental price point wasn’t a good valuation of its product, so let’s cross fingers that Google can come up with an idea that works better.

So now we have the Roku box, Apple TV and of course Google TV all coming into the market. That leaves a load of choices, and Google had left us a lot of questions. While I was personally ready to pull the trigger on an Apple TV the day that it launched, both Roku and Google have made me glad that I decided to wait.

Read more at thenextweb.com

Google TV’s marketing site goes live; our questions finally get answered.

Not to be out done by Apple TV, Google TV just rolled out their new offering. It’s enough to make your head spin!  I have no idea what to ask Santa for now!

Amplify’d from thenextweb.com

It appears that Google is betting big, showing logos from CNN, TBS, CNBC and even HBO on its mock-up. The question, of course, lies in the licensing. This has been a major concern for Apple, which was only able to launch it’s latest Apple TV with the support from ABC and Fox in the US. NBC has already stated that they felt Apple’s $.99 rental price point wasn’t a good valuation of its product, so let’s cross fingers that Google can come up with an idea that works better.

So now we have the Roku box, Apple TV and of course Google TV all coming into the market. That leaves a load of choices, and Google had left us a lot of questions. While I was personally ready to pull the trigger on an Apple TV the day that it launched, both Roku and Google have made me glad that I decided to wait.

Read more at thenextweb.com

The Week In Review

Microsoft has completed an integration with my latest addiction, Foursquare.  Don’t worry, you’ll still be able to get your badges but now you can sync your location with Bing maps… although I don’t know why you would want to.

I’m not sure what the difference will be from what we’re already doing on Foursquare but according to BuzzBox reports are:

You will be able to search any location, and overlay it with a FourSquare “layer.” You will then get icons showing where users in this area have been “checking in.” This effectively shows you what the locals currently consider hot — where the action is right now.

The Wall Street Journal could charge readers $17.99  a month to read the newspaper on Apple’s forthcoming iPad device.  In a news item on Wednesday discussing publishers plans to support the iPad, the Wall Street Journal says the newspaper and the New York Times are currently working with test iPads.

“Six advertisers, including Coca-Cola and FedEx, have agreed to advertise with the Journal, and a four-month ad package costs $400,000,” according to people familiar with the matter quoted by the newspaper. Coke and FedEx however, declined to comment on terms.

“The Journal plans to charge subscribers $17.99 a month for iPad subscriptions, according to a person familiar with the matter,” the newspaper notes.  The iPad could prove a good source of revenue for publishers.

Read more at www.networkworld.com

Google pushed hard on China and China pushed back.  Media company Tom Group Led., popular Chinese portal Sina Corp. and online forum Tianya.cn have announced plans to stop using Google search on their sites.

Photo by Gemunu Amarasinghe/Associated Press

Security officers tried to stop people from lighting candles outside Google’s Chinese headquarters in Beijing on Tuesday.

China’s intransigence on the flow of information could harm its links to the global economy and sully its image.

Google Faces Fallout as China Reacts to Site Shift

By MIGUEL HELFT and MICHAEL WINES

Google’s China operations came under pressure as some content from its uncensored Hong Kong site was blocked.

China’s Internet Giants May Be Stuck There

By DAVID BARBOZA

Post-Google, China’s Internet market could increasingly resemble a lucrative, walled-off bazaar, experts say.

Read more at www.nytimes.com

Finally, in case the upcoming Apple iPad isn’t expensive enough, Mervis Diamond Importers recently announced the world’s first diamond studded iPad. The 11.43 carat iPad will sell for $19,999. You can order yours starting June 1.  So if you’d prefer a shiny, blinged out iPad over, say, a new car, you’re in luck.

Interesting and Note Worthy

Twitter’s worldwide growth is on the up swing.  According to worldwide comScore figures released this week, Twitter attracted 73.5 million unique individuals in January, up 8 percent from December, 2009 (when it had 65.2 million visitors). Twitter has an annual growth rate of a staggering 1,105 percent. A year ago, Twitter.com attracted only an estimated 6 million visitors.

Parents and privacy watchdogs are all a buzz about Google’s Buzz, the Internet giants new social networking tool.  Buzz has come under attack for its lack of privacy control, which the Google has attempted to fix.  However, parents are saying Buzz puts children in harms way and reveals entirely too much information about them online.  In an article from today’s LA Times, it seems parents have reason to be in an uproar.

The concern came home in a personal way for technology analyst Charlene Li. On Sunday night she discovered that her 9-year-old daughter had publicly shared a private conversation on Buzz without intending to. Li grew even more troubled when she spotted her daughter’s fourth-grade classmates chatting with strangers.

She turned off Buzz and alerted other parents and her child’s school, which in turn alerted other parents. Then Li, an analyst who tracks Google as well as other Internet companies, took to the Web to spread the word.

Google had already drawn sharp criticism from privacy watchdogs for the way it rolled out Buzz in millions of Gmail accounts. Privacy expert Kathryn Montgomery, a professor at American University, urged the Federal Trade Commission to address the potential risks to kids.

“Google Buzz is a new danger zone for children,” Montgomery said.

Google said it had no specific plans to tweak Buzz in response to parents’ privacy concerns. In a statement, spokesman Scott Rubin said: “We designed Buzz to make it easy to have conversations with your friends about the things that interest you. Keeping kids safe online is very important to us.”

Wal-Mart is making big moves.  Yesterday the retail giant announced that it has agreed to purchase the start-up online movie service Vudu. The struggling three-year old company’s services are already being built into televisions and Blu-ray players.  Now the question is… is your HD-TV ready to connect to the Internet?  Here’s the full press release

Walmart Announces Acquisition of Digital Entertainment Provider, VUDU

Company takes next step to enhance home entertainment and information delivery options for consumers

BENTONVILLE, Ark., Feb. 22, 2010 — Walmart announced today a definitive agreement to acquire VUDU, Inc., a leading provider of digital technologies and services that enable the delivery of entertainment content directly to broadband high-definition TVs and Blu-ray players. The deal is expected to close within the next few weeks.

VUDU is a revolutionary service, built into a growing number of broadband-ready TVs and Blu-ray players, that delivers instant access to thousands of movies and TV shows directly through the television. Customers with broadband Internet access and an Internet-ready TV or Blu-ray player can rent or purchase movies, typically in high-definition, without needing a connected computer or cable/satellite service. New movies and features will be added continually, enabling customers to enjoy a product that continues to become more robust long after they have left the store.

“The real winner here is the customer,” said Eduardo Castro-Wright, vice chairman for Walmart. “Combining VUDU’s unique digital technology and service with Walmart’s retail expertise and scale will provide customers with unprecedented access to home entertainment options as they migrate to a digital environment.”

VUDU has licensing agreements with almost every major movie studio and dozens of independent and international distributors to offer approximately 16,000 movies, including the largest 1080p library of video on-demand movies available anywhere. Via their broadband Internet connection, users have the ability to rent or buy titles and begin viewing them instantly.

VUDU will continue developing entertainment and information delivery solutions such as VUDU Apps, a platform that delivers hundreds of streaming Internet applications and services to TVs and Blu-ray players with built-in Internet connectivity. VUDU has partnered with some of the leading names in Internet and media entertainment to offer applications on its platform including Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, The New York Times and The Associated Press.

“We are excited about the opportunity to take our company’s vision to the next level,” said Edward Lichty, VUDU executive vice president. “VUDU’s services and Apps platform will give Walmart a powerful new vehicle to offer customers the content they want in a way that expands the frontier of quality, value and convenience.”

VUDU, based in Santa Clara, Calif., will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Walmart. The company is not disclosing financial terms of the agreement as the acquisition is not material to its first quarter earnings for fiscal year 2011.

Social Media And Gadget Trends

Google may be all about world domination but Facebook is running an impressive second.  According to Compete.com, Facbook passed Yahoo making the social networking site the number two most trafficked site after… wait for it… Google.  Facebook drew nearly 135 unique visitors in the January of 2010 and time spent on Facebook was twice that of time spent on Yahoo and Google.  I know I did my part to help them hit the number two spot!

Yahoo for years was the world’s most popular website — its ubiquitous portal has dominated the web since the 90s. Two years ago however, GoogleGoogleGoogle vaulted past Yahoo and became the Internet’s most popular destination. Last month, it became Facebook’sFacebookFacebook turn to knock Yahoo down another peg. via Mashable

In gadget news, BlackBerry is getting a cool new app.  Amazon has released a free Kindle application for BlackBerry smart phones and is planning to launch apps for Macs and the anticipated Apple iPad.  In other BlackBerry news, RIM developers have finally realized the worth of developing a Twitter app which falls under the “Duh” and “It’s About Time” heading.  I guess you could say better late than never but BB users have already taken sides on our favorite third-party Twitter BB apps and RIM is going to have a long way to go to get us to switch to an official BlackBerry app.

Finally, more computer makers are giving the tablet business a second look as we await the release of Apple’s iPad.  According to WSJ.com, Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard Co. have announce their devices and H-P is even looking to under cut the iPad price and release date.

H-P has discussed selling a version of the Slate—similar to the iPad in size and features, and including a cellular connection—for a price below the $629 Apple charges for an equivalent iPad, one of these people said.

Executives at Dell Inc., Acer Inc. and Sony Corp. say they are all watching Apple as they refine their own products. And Microsoft Corp. has a secretive team working on a two-screen tablet device, according to people familiar with the matter.There’s still plenty of skepticism about whether PC companies have the right products to compete against the iPad.  Many of the products risk being seen as “computers without keyboards,” in part because many of them run an operating system, Microsoft’s Windows 7, which is primarily aimed at traditional PC functions, said Forrester Research analyst James McQuivey. In contrast, the iPad’s software, which borrows heavily from the iPhone, is more tailored for consuming media on the go, he said.

However, I can’t help but think that all this open competition will no doubt give those of us who have been holding off on purchasing a tablet or eReader many more choices and choices are always a good thing.


Google faces off with Facebook

Do I need to say it again, Google is all about world domination.  They have dominated the search engine business and while I’m not sure that the Google Wave has caught on they way they would have liked, their Android operating system and their foray into the Smartphone business with the Nexus One are making them a powerhouse not to be ignored.  Now Facebook looks like it’s getting some competition with Google’s newly launched Social Search now opening up in beta.
Opens Social Search to All: Cuts Facebook Off at the Pass
Written by Marshall Kirkpatrick / January 27, 2010

Give it a try and let us know what you think.

Last fall Google began experimenting with a new feature called Social Search, and we called it a big chess move against Facebook. Today Google Social Search is opening up in beta for all Google users. The experimental feature will surface search results from the social streams (bookmarks, blog posts, photos, etc.) of a user’s contacts on services like Gmail, Google Reader or Twitter.

Social Search still doesn’t have a super-prominent place in the Google Search results pages, but make no mistake: This is a very big step. What’s your portal to the Internet: Google’s algorithmic search of the Web at large, or your social circle of people on Facebook? That’s the battle for the future that Google and Facebook are waging now, and Google Social Search is a big move. Facebook search is nowhere near as good.

You may need to go to Google.com/experimental to turn on Social Search and you should try an image search once you have. It will be turned on by default for an increasing number of users over the next few days. The feature requires you to be logged in and discovers your friend connections through your Google Profile.Last week we wrote about how social networking is fast approaching the importance of online of search in terms of Web traffic. One vision of the future, though, has posited that social and search won’t remain separate forever.

Do you want to have your questions answered only via your friends and their online content? No, probably not. But do you want to have your questions answered without the input of your friends and their trusted content? You probably don’t want that either. Google Social Search is a nice combination of search and social. Facebook’s search is terribly weak in comparison. That’s where the real competition is, not between Google and Bing or Yahoo.

One interesting caveat, of course, is that most people have friend networks on Facebook, not in Gmail or Google Reader. Your Facebook Friends aren’t included in Google Social Search, as far as we can tell. Update: Limited information from Facebook may be included in Google Social Search if your friends have associated their Facebook profiles with Google Profiles. But after chasing the Google Social Search team around on the phone for 15 minutes and just getting a PR-answer about this, we’re left to conclude that the rivalry is as heated as we originally reported. Murali Viswanathan, Social Search product manager sent this by email: “If someone links to their Facebook account from their Google profile, Social Search may surface that user’s public profile page. These are the same public profile pages already available on a search of Google.com and other search engines today.”