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Google Maps Officially Returns to the iPhone (SocialTimes)
To the relief of many iPhone 5 owners, Google has finally made Google Maps available for download in the Apple App Store in more than 40 countries and in 29 languages. Apple’s own maps application had failed to provide a good enough user experience to compete with Google Maps, which was originally left out of the newest iPhone. Mashable On the surface, it wouldn’t have to take much to beat out the Apple Maps app, which had been widely criticized for omitting transit directions, giving poor navigation and displaying incomplete 3D views that distort national monuments, such as the Eiffel Tower. Not to mention the broken roads and satellite views that display nothing but clouds. VentureBeat The Google Maps iPhone app is gorgeously designed (just like the Gmail iPhone app, which launched last week). To learn more about how Google approached building the long-awaited app, VentureBeat chatted with Daniel Graf, director of Google Maps for mobile. The Wall Street Journal Some industry watchers say the Google Maps app is good news for Apple, since attractive apps help sell more iPhones. While Google’s new app will be popular, usage of Apple Maps also will remain high because it is pre-installed on iPhones and it has an appealing design, an analyst said. Wired Rather than port a quick-and-dirty Android doppelganger over to the App Store, the Google Maps team designed a uniquely iOS interface and experience. For that reason, some features native to the Android app don’t end up in the iOS version, and some interactions you’ll experience on the iPhone 5 are completely different than anything you’ll see on an Android handset.

Google+ Brings Deeper Integration with YouTube (SocialTimes)
Google will add a button allowing YouTube users to share videos they upload on Google+ from the upload interface and will automatically display all public YouTube videos a user has uploaded in the “videos” tab of his or her Google+ profile. The user must link his or her Google+ and YouTube accounts under his or her real name for the public videos to display automatically, like Picassa photos currently do. TechCrunch The YouTube feature, says Google’s Dom Carr, is meant for “those of you who are aspiring musicians, pundits, comedians, or brands.” By giving users another avenue to their YouTube channels, Carr writes, these users will be able to “grow [their] audience even faster with Google+.” The Next Web Carr’s post showed off the new YouTube tab on Bruno Mars‘ Google Plus page. Many people will keep the old Videos tab around, and others will of course choose not to have one at all, but for those who have a lot of content on YouTube, this is a no-brainer.

Facebook for Android 2.0 is Built for Speed (AllFacebook)
Facebook for Android 2.0 will include faster launch times, as well as quicker load times for photos and timeline. Users should be able to simply tap photos to see them instantly.

App.net Releases Private-Messaging API (SocialTimes)
App.net, a paid service that launched with the intention of delivering all of the promise that Twitter had before it began to see itself as a website rather than a service, Thursday launched a private-messaging API with a mockup open-source app. Before now, App.net’s API supported public posts in a format similar to Twitter’s.

Promoted Tweets Can Now Target Trending Topics (AllTwitter)
Twitter released some updates to its advertising platform on Thursday, and we’ll start with the most exciting news for advertisers first – the ability to latch on to trending topics. It plans to “use relevance signals about your Promoted Tweets and the Trend itself to help increase your campaign’s coverage automatically. For example, if a celebrity’s pregnancy news starts trending, and you’re a retailer of baby clothing, your Promoted Tweet may be entered into the auction for that trending search.”

Gigya Certifies Privacy Practices on Websites Using Social Logins (SocialTimes)
Gigya introduced a SocialPrivacy Certification program that, like the organic food program, relies on audits of business practices and rewards good actors with a certification they can display. The certification is intended for Web services that use social login services such as Facebook connect.

High Times Reporter Releases $4.20 E-Book (GalleyCat)
High Times has just published the marijuana advocacy magazine’s first e-book. The book is supported by a special Facebook app that includes buy buttons, reader polls and quizzes.

The Most-Played Games of 2012 (SocialTimes)
Raptr, an online community for gamers, has revealed which popular titles got the most play in its second annual Most Played Games Awards. The analysts looked at the total playtime, the average total playtime per person, and the average session length to come up with the top games that were played, but not necessarily released, in 2012.

Two Ways to Improve Your Google Search Rankings (SocialTimes)
How do you get more traffic to your website? First Page Sage founder Evan Bailyn says there are two ways.

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