Amazon.com now offers both online file storage and streaming media through two new cloud services. Cloud Drive is your “hard drive in the cloud” where you can store your music, photos, videos or documents. Your first 5 GB are free. Cloud Player is a streaming media player that you can use in a web browser or on an Android device. The player lets you access your stored music from anywhere, organize your collection, and create playlists. It gets better: any purchases from the Amazon MP3 store do not count toward your storage quota, and when you purchase any MP3 album (many are $5) your Cloud Drive will be upgraded to 20 GB for a year. Still nervous about the “cloud”? Don’t be scared.
Amazon has been offering cloud services to businesses for several years through its Amazon Web Services, but now it is finally leveraging its web-based infrastructure to serve its consumer customer base. If Amazon invented the Kindle to stimulate book sales, this new duo of services is clearly intended to boost its music sales. With a free online music player and free storage for purchases made from its MP3 store, the retail giant has created a compelling offering that can attract and lock-in customers — giving them a competitive advantage in the marketplaces for both digital music and online storage. What’s up Google and Apple?
Do you have more than one Gmail account that you access regularly? Perhaps you have one account for personal use, one for your business, and another for your Lindsay Lohan fan club? In the past, if you wanted to check multiple Gmail accounts, you needed to log out of one account and then log into another. Or you could have used more than one web browser at the same time (Firefox and Internet Explorer for example) and logged into a different Google account in each one.
Well, now Google has provided a better way. It is called their “Multiple Sign-In” feature and, just like it sounds, it allows you to be logged in to more than one Google account simultaneously in the same browser. (more…)
Google has launched a new feature that allows you to make free calls from your PC using Gmail. It’s built into their existing “Google Chat”, which recently added voice and video pc-to-pc calling. Now it also includes a “Call Phone” link which opens a phone keypad window that you can use to make calls (plug-in download required). You can simply dial a number, or choose from suggestions it finds in your address book as you type a number or name. According to the announcement in their Gmail blog post, calls to the U.S. and Canada are “free for at least the rest of the year” and minimal rates to overseas.
With the growing use of web-based software, more of us today are becoming accustomed to working “in the cloud”. Cloud Computing simply refers to the sharing of computer resources using the internet. You are using the cloud when you’re writing an article for your blog on WordPress.com, uploading your photos to Flickr.com, or entering your customer information into Salesforce.com. Despite the benefits to using the cloud, many people are still uncomfortable with the idea of storing their information in vague locations around the internet. While it’s prudent to be cautious about the online services you use, there is no reason to be fearful of the technology itself. Most people were apprehensive about shopping on the internet during its infancy, but today it would be hard to find someone who hasn’t bought something online at least once. If you’re one of those folks having trouble getting cozy with the cloud, here are a few steps to help put you at ease: (more…)
Ning, a popular online provider of social network platforms, recently moved to discontinue its free service and focus only on paying customers. This has raised questions about the future of free online applications in general. Ning may offer a service that is sufficiently valuable and reputable at this point that they can survive with a paid-only model, but “free” isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. On the contrary, there are more and more free (and free versions) of online applications being offered every day. (more…)