Weekend News From Web Majors You Might Have Missed

Here's a shortcut to interesting news that you might have missed this weekend: Google App Inventor, Google China, Facebook closing down its gift store, Yahoo and Zillow and more...

App Inventor.JPG Big news: Google is launching its App Inventor, allowing everyone (you, me, them, everybody) to build their own Android app. The move is totally innovative and opens the Android doors to non tech-savvy people. It might well (or maybe not, let's see what the future holds) stall the iPhone... Saga to be continued, undoubtedly.

Google China logo.JPG Google was granted renewal of its Internet Content Provider License by the Chinese authorities, Xinhua news agency reported, citing an "official with the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), who spoke anonymously." The license was reconducted for Beijing Guxiang Information Technology Co Ltd, who operates Google's China website, it said. Google had tweaked its stance in China and stopped redirecting the mainland queries to its Hong Kong site as it applied for renewal of its licence.

Google Maps logo.JPG Google Maps was in the news. Google's URL shortener is now also available for Google Maps as part of its Labs offering, Mashable reports. Labs remains an opt-in feature for the time being and the URL shortener (which has been around since December) shrinks your links into 'Goo.gl' URLs. Separately, Google Maps also announced it is releasing 45° imagery of select cities in the U.S. and worldwide to all its users worldwide.

Thumbnail image for facebook.JPG In an unexpected move, Facebook said it will be closing its gift shop on August 1st. In a blog post, Jared Morgenstern, Facebook's product manager for games and credits said the decision was made in order for the social site "to focus more on improving and enhancing products and features that people use every day, such as Photos, News Feed, Inbox, games, comments, the "Like" button and the Wall." All Facebook said the company "killed a $100 million baby" as the virtual goods ecosystem propped by the likes of gaming giant Zynga have more selling power than the virtual gift shop channel.

Thumbnail image for Yahoo.JPG Yahoo and Zillow, an online real estate marketplace, entered a partnership through which Zillow will power Yahoo's local for-sale real estate listings, the companies said in a joint-statement. Financial terms of the deal were not available but they said the partnership is expected to take effect "later this year."

OpenMapquest.JPG AOL has launched the beta version of its Open.MapQuest.co.uk platform incorporating crowdsourced content, MediaPost reported. Users can log in, add and edit their own contribution, making it a knowledge-based map resource, as opposed to a purely business-fed service. The company reportedly has invested $1 million in this initiative. Last week, the Independent Film Channel with Foursquare to provide its own crowdsourced local content to the location-based business.

About the author

Liva Judic joined Search Engine Watch and ClickZ in May 2010 as a news blogger. She has lived and worked across the globe in Madagascar, Switzerland, London, NYC, Asia and is now based in between New York and Berlin.

Her background is in government relations and financial media where she started out as a journalist at Bloomberg and became senior editor at AFX news (now part of ThomsonReuters). Prior to forming her own consultancy Judic was head of international PR for a head of state.

Judic focuses on facilitating brand and marketing transitioning for European startups moving to the US. She has been named one of the Top 50 Industry Influencers of 2014 by AGBeat