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...
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 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 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.
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.
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."
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.