Here’s the latest action:
China’s virtual worlds censored— China’s virtual world Hipihi reflects the real-world culture of its users. Players can have virtual sex in private rooms, but can’t engage in frank political talk. GigaOm has a review here. We mentioned Hipihi earlier, when writing about competitor Leeuu. There’s a YouTube video of Hipihi here (though Chinese language), which shows how similar it is to Second Life in other ways.
iFamily latest family tree company — We’ve written about the proliferation of family tree Web sites, including Geni, MyHeritage, and clones such as Verwandt among them. The latest is iFamily, which has won an undisclosed amount of cash form CountryRoad Capital, a New York investment firm. IFamily says its main product, Family Tree, is the leading social genealogy application on Facebook. Since launching in June, the product has had more than 20,000 downloads with more than 62,000 family tree profiles entered, the company says.
Twitter + Gmail: Last week, we mentioned Twitter’s search box, which lets users of the service search for people they want to befriend and track. Now the messaging service has added a way to import your address book from Gmail. This could be a draw for many young, tech-savvy people who already use Gmail + GTalk to instant message. It lets them stick with their contact list, but add the social component of Twitter to their routine. It may be may be enough to convince skeptics to use Twitter — we’ll be giving it a shot. The company also plans to add address book imports from other email clients.
Vadver latest video recommendation service — The San Francisco start-up is led by Patrick Koppula, who was founder and former CEO at music recommendation service iLike.com (formerly GarageBand.com). The young company has raised $1.7 million in Series A funding from Draper Fisher Jurvetson, according to Newteevee. This is a crowded area, counting players like Mesmo.tv and Divvio. We’ll have more later.
Nielsen launches HeyNielsen to track social web “buzz” — The TV/Web traffic rating company’s new product will be “opinion engine, part social network and part buzz tracker,” according to PaidContent.
Latest GPhone reports: It’s launching in India in two weeks — The latest rumors are pretty strong, and say Indian mobile operators Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Essar will debut the device in early September. Story here. Sources close to Google say a simultaneous North American and European GPhone launch is expected, the article continues, with the company currently waiting for federal regulatory approval before rolling out the handset in the U.S market. The Bharti Airtel and Vodafone negotiations are said to encompass mobile data, IM and search solutions as well, it said. The Wall Street Journal previously reported Google invested “hundreds of millions of dollars” in the gPhone project, and entered negotiations with T-Mobile USA and Verizon Wireless.
Bloglines gets a makeover — Bloglines, the feed reader we started using years ago, has got a redesign. It is being tested here. The redesign helps, but it still doesn’t push it noticeably past other readers. It doesn’t have an offline feature, for example. Basically, it has caught up with Google Reader and others — offering a personalized start page, more (3) pains for viewing and drag and drop features for feed management. There’s a review by RWW. Bloglines was once the undisputed early leader, led by entrepreneur Mark Fletcher, but innovation at Bloglines started slipping after it was sold to Ask and Fletcher left.