An unofficial blog that watches Google's attempts to move your operating system online since 2005. Not affiliated with Google.

Send your tips to gostips@gmail.com .

July 25, 2014

Extended Google Play Music Trial for Chromecast Users

To celebrate Chromecast's first birthday, Google extended the Play Music All Access free trial from 30 days to 90 days, but only in the US. You can redeem Chromecast offers from this page. "In order to check for available offers, we require you to share your device's serial number with Google. We use the serial number to provide your device with offers that may be relevant to you," informs Google.


The extended trial is only available if you haven't subscribed to All Access and you haven't used the 30-days free trial. There's more information in the help center:

"Promotion only open to users in United States who have purchased and set up a Chromecast on or before September 30, 2014. Users must set up their All Access account and redeem their code by September 30, 2014 to be eligible for the offer."

What happens when the free trial ends? You'll pay $9.99 per month until you cancel the subscription.

"Once your trial period has ended, you'll be automatically billed each month for your All Access subscription. As an active subscriber, you'll have access to unlimited streaming music from All Access. During your free trial, you can cancel at any time. Unless you cancel, you will not be charged until the start of the first paid billing period."

{ via +Google Play }

Google Shows Images Next to Search Answers

I mentioned in a previous post that Google answers complicated questions using information from web pages. Now Google also shows images next to the relevant snippets. Here's an example for [galaxy s5 focal length].


Here's another example for [iphone 5s focal length]. This time, Google highlights the wrong answer:


A search for [iphone focal length] returns a row from a table that compares focal length for the latest 4 iPhones.

July 21, 2014

More Secure Gmail Authentication

Google has a new settings page that lets you enable or disable access to less secure apps.

"Some devices and apps use insecure sign-in technology to access your data. Choosing Disable prevents these less secure devices and apps from accessing your Google Account. Choosing Enable increases your chances of unauthorized account access but allows you to continue using these less secure devices and apps."



Many mail apps use insecure sign-in standards:

* the Mail app for iOS 6 or below
* the Mail app from Windows Phone 8.0 or earlier
* some built-in Android mail apps not developed by Google
* desktop mail clients like Microsoft Outlook and Mozilla Thunderbird.

If the access to less secure apps is disabled, you'll see a "Password incorrect" error when signing in and you can't set up a Google account on your device. "Google may block sign in attempts from some apps or devices that do not use modern security standards. Since these apps and devices are easier to break into, blocking them helps keep your account safer."

A Microsoft article explains that "Google has increased its security measures to block access to Google accounts after July 15, 2014 if those accounts are being set up or synced in apps and on devices that use Basic Authentication." Another article informs that "Windows Phone builds earlier than 8.10.12359.845 [Windows Phone 8.1] use Basic Authentication and therefore may be impacted. Windows Phone builds later than 8.10.12359.845 use Open Authentication (or OAuth) and therefore will not be impacted".

All Google products use OAuth 2.0, so if you use the desktop Gmail site, the mobile Gmail site or the mobile Gmail apps, you're not affected by this change. 90% of Apple devices are using iOS 7, so most iOS users are not affected. If you use Android mail apps built by OEMs like Samsung, the built-in mail app for Windows Phone or a desktop app like Outlook or Thunderbird, it's a good idea to make sure that the "enable" setting is checked on this page.

An article from April provides more information:
Beginning in the second half of 2014, we'll start gradually increasing the security checks performed when users log in to Google. These additional checks will ensure that only the intended user has access to their account, whether through a browser, device or application. These changes will affect any application that sends a username and/or password to Google.

To better protect your users, we recommend you upgrade all of your applications to OAuth 2.0. If you choose not to do so, your users will be required to take extra steps in order to keep accessing your applications.The standard Internet protocols we support all work with OAuth 2.0, as do most of our APIs. We leverage the work done by the IETF on OAuth 2.0 integration with IMAP, SMTP, POP, XMPP, CalDAV, and CardDAV.

In summary, if your application currently uses plain passwords to authenticate to Google, we strongly encourage you to minimize user disruption by switching to OAuth 2.0.

{ Thanks, Herin. }

July 18, 2014

Create Reminders in Google Search

You don't have to use the mobile Google Search app to add reminders. Just search Google for add reminder or create reminder, enter a name, a date or a place. You can also enter specific queries like: add reminder to buy milk tomorrow or create reminder to buy sandwich when I am in Chicago. Just click "remind me on Google Now".



You can create reminders for tasks, places to visit, events and more. You're notified of your reminders in Google Now, which works in Android, iOS (using the Google Search app) and Chrome for desktop.

Create Google Calendar Events in Google Search

You can now create events from Google Search. Type create event, add event, new event, add meeting or schedule appointment and Google shows the details for a generic Meeting event that starts in a few minutes. You can add the event to your calendar or click the time to go to Google Calendar.


A better idea is to enter something more specific: create event for Monday at 10am: write the report. This way, you can create the event directly from Google Search and you don't even have to open Google Calendar. It's similar to the "quick add" feature from Google Calendar, except that you need to add some text like "new event" or "create event" and detection doesn't work that well.


You can click "edit event" to open Google Calendar and make some changes.


This also works when you use voice input.

{ via Search Engine Land }

The New Google Alerts UI, Now Available

As previously anticipated, Google Alerts has a new interface inspired by Material Design. For some reason, Google only shows the new UI when you are logged in, while displaying the old interface if you don't log in to a Google account.

The new UI is a lot simpler and focuses on managing alerts and creating alerts with one click. The old Google Alerts homepage exposed a lot of advanced options, which are now hidden. There's a long list of alert suggestions: companies, people, countries, musical artists, industries, places, athletes, as well as your name and email address (the "me on the web" section).


For example, you can type "Google" in the huge input box at the top of the page, click "Create alert" and that's it. Google shows a preview, so you can see what results you may get.


There's a "show options" link that shows the advanced options, so you can choose sources, language and region, how often to send alerts, how many results to include and the delivery option: email or feed. The nice thing is that Google remembers your options and it uses them the next time you create a new alert.


Google Alerts lets you edit or delete alerts and shows a special icon for feed alerts.


Here's the old Google Alerts:

The New Google Drive for Desktop

I just got the new Google Drive desktop interface. Google shows a small box that asks you to try the new Drive. You need to go to the Settings drop-down and click "Experience the new Drive".



Here's the welcome page with a small accessibility icon:


The new interface has a lot in common with the new desktop home screens for Docs, Slides and Sheets. All of them use the new Material Design.


Here's the contextual menu:


When you click a file, it's selected and the info pane shows more information about the file. There are no more checkboxes: click to select, double click to open.



There's an updated "new" button that lets you upload files and files, but also create new documents.


You can now resize the sidebar:


It's easier to select files: click and drag your mouse over several files or press Shift to select a range of files or press Ctrl to select non-consecutive files.

July 17, 2014

Chrome App Launcher for Linux

In Chrome 36, the app launcher also works in Linux. Now this feature is available for all major desktop operating systems: Windows, Mac OS, Chrome OS and Linux.

To add the app launcher icon, Google suggests to "search your computer for Chrome App Launcher and
pin it to your system's launcher or panel for easy access." You first need to enable the App Launcher by adding a Chrome app from this page.

Here's a screenshot from Ubuntu 14.04:


Gmail's Special Phishing Warning

For some reason, Gmail displayed this phishing warning when opening an email newsletter: "Be careful with this message. It contains content that's typically used to steal personal information." There are two links that allow you to "Report this suspicious message" or "Ignore, I trust this message".


A help center article explains that Gmail "shows you a warning above any message that looks like a phishing scam but comes from an address in your Gmail contacts list. When a suspicious message like this is sent from an email address of someone on your contact list, it's possible that the person's email account was compromised and used without their permission to send a malicious message."

Google advises you to "read the message and decide if it seems like it was written by the sender. Consider whether it sounds like the person you know, contains suspicious links or content, or asks you to do unusual things like send money or provide personal details. If it seems like your contact's email account was compromised and used to send this message, please click Report this suspicious message within the warning. The message will be marked as 'sent from a compromised account,' and you'll send a report to the Gmail team to help us improve our detection of compromised accounts."

You may be wondering why Gmail doesn't flag the message as spam. Messages from your contacts are never moved to spam. In fact, that's one way to make sure that you receive messages from someone and they're not added to the spam folder: add the email address to your contacts.

I checked to see if the messages was sent by one of my contacts and the answer is no. That's strange, maybe this is a Gmail bug.

Redesigned Incognito Page in Chrome 36

Chrome 36 brings a redesigned incognito page with a bigger icon, a heading, shorter text and card interface. There are some changes to the text: Google removed "however, you aren't invisible" and "[going incognito doesn't hide your browsing from your] governments and other sophisticated attackers", but kept "your employer, your internet service provider, or the websites you visit". Google also removed the text which informed users that extensions are disabled by default in the incognito mode.


Here's the old new tab page for incognito mode (screenshot from Chrome 35):