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

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March 31, 2015

Google Spam

After reinventing Gmail with Google Inbox, Google is about to release a new invite-only service that will change the way you manage your mail. It's called Google Spam and it shows the most popular spam messages sent to Gmail users. That's right, Google Spam will go beyond your inbox and show what you've been missing all this time: the spam messages received by other people.


To protect user privacy, Google Spam will only show messages received by at least 10,000 Gmail users. You'll be able to star your favorite spam messages, label them, forward them to your friends and even find their true meaning.

Gmail will highlight important spam messages, so the next time you receive messages from "the office of the US Ambassador to Nigeria", "Mr. Lee Kun-hee of Samsung Group chief and the Hyundai chaebol" or from Gmail Security Maintenance, you'll know if they're featured in Google Spam.

Google Play Store Adds Fire Warning Icon

The latest version of the Google Play Store app brings a new feature for those who own a Snapdragon 810 phone. Many people complained about the overheating issues of Qualcomm's flagship SoC, so Google decided to add a fire warning icon next to the apps and games from the Play Store that require a lot of resources.


The good news is that the new icon will only be added for HTC One M9 and other Snapdragon 810 devices, so those who use older phones and tablets won't see the warnings.

Google even considers releasing a special version of Android optimized for Snapdragon 810, which disables advanced features like OpenGL and the new Android runtime (ART), so that the octa-core CPU doesn't overheat. It will be called "Lollipop Ice Cream", as it will try to cool down the latest Android devices, while also bringing back the features from Android Ice Cream Sandwich.

Google April Fools' Day 2015

April Fools' Day is here, so it's time to list all the pranks, hoaxes and funny Google features that make this day so special.

Google Japan announces Google Panda (translation), a cute toy that answers your questions using the power of Google Search.



There's also a "keyless" keyboard for Japanese (translation). Piropiro uses a party horn and measures your breath to convert it into words.



Google Maps lets you play Pac-Man. "Play the classic arcade game PAC-MAN in Google Maps with streets as your maze. Avoid Blinky, Pinky, Inky, (and Clyde!) as you swerve the streets of some famous places around the world."


You can also play Pac-Man in the real word using Ingress, Google's augmented reality game.


Google Australia found that Australia is at risk of becoming a Northern Hemisphere country by 2055. "Over the past two months, Google Maps engineers in Sydney have discovered that the Earth's equator is slipping south at rate of 25km per year — much faster than previously thought."


Gmail launched Smartbox by Inbox, "a better, smarter mailbox that fuses physical mail with everything you love about the electronic kind".


Chrome for mobile added a new feature that lets you share reactions about the pages you visit. "With #ChromeSelfie you can share sites with your family and friends on social media and via instant messages, along with a handsome selfie instead of cumbersome text."


There's a self-browsing extension for Chromebooks. "With just one click, you're off surfing the web — no input needed. Just lean back, and we'll take you there - quickly, simply, and securely." The extension also writes emails automatically, sends roses to your significant other on Valentine's Day, buys and sells stocks and plans your vacations. "This new functionality has been tested for weeks, browsing the whole web from classifieds to news, music to cat photos - and now, these Chromebooks are responsible for the majority of ALL CAPS comments on the web," says Fran├žois Beaufort.


Google launched a new domain: com.google, which is just like google.com in the mirror. Similar to elgooG, the entire content of the page is flipped around. "We're always thinking about what's ahead, but sometimes it's important to look backwards. In that spirit, we're proud to introduce http://com.google, available today. Made possible by new gTLDs," informs Google.



... TO BE CONTINUED ...

Play Pac-Man in Google Maps

Google Maps has a cool Easter Egg for April Fools' Day: a Pac-Man mode. Just click the Pac-Man icon at the bottom of the Google Maps window if you're using a computer. You can also search for a place you think Pac-Man might be, especially if you use a mobile device. Google offers some hints like: "Chomp your way to independence down seven lanes of July" or "Previous PAC-MAN lives don't get to rest in a white marble mausoleum".

"You can now play the classic arcade game PAC-MAN in Google Maps with streets as your maze. Avoid Blinky, Pinky, Inky, (and Clyde!) as you swerve the streets of some famous places around the world. But eat the pac-dots fast, because this game will only be around for a little while," explains Google.





{ Thanks, Ken Drori. }

Chrome Selfie: Share a Reaction

Angelo Giuffrida, a reader of this blog, noticed a new feature in Chrome for Android. There's a new menu item that lets you "share a reaction". You're supposed to take a selfie, Chrome adds a screenshot of the page you were reading and then you can share the #ChromeSelfie with your friends.

This looks like a special feature for April Fools' Day. In fact, you can enable this feature by changing the date of your Android phone or tablet to April 1st.





{ Thanks, Angelo. }

March 30, 2015

Unified Inbox in Gmail for Android

Gmail's app for Android is actually a mail client and it lets you add all your email accounts, including those from Yahoo Mail and Outlook.com. The main benefits of integrating the stock Email app are that it can now be updated faster and you only need to use a single app instead of two apps. The latest version of the Gmail app for Android brings a lot of new features: unified inbox, conversation view for non-Gmail accounts, better search suggestions, larger attachment previews and more.


The "all inboxes" section shows the messages from all your accounts, so you can quickly read them and write replies without having to switch between your accounts. Threaded conversations are no longer limited to Gmail accounts: conversation view is available for all your email accounts.

"Today’s update also includes more responsive animations (like when you open and close a conversation), larger attachment previews to help you see what's inside, and the ability to save to Drive with a single tap," informs Google.

Chrome Data Saver

If you're using the compression proxy from Chrome for Android or iOS and you'd like to see a similar feature in Chrome for desktop, there's a Chrome extension from Google that adds this feature. Data Saver is still in beta, but it works well and it's pretty useful: it reduces data usage by using Google servers to optimize the pages you visit.


"When this extension is enabled, Chrome will use Google servers to compress pages you visit before downloading them. SSL and incognito pages will not be included," informs Google.

It's nice to see that Google Web Accelerator is brought back to life. Even if Data Saver only works in Chrome and it doesn't have all the features from Google Web Accelerator, it's less controversial than Google's Labs project.

Google Photos in Google Drive

For the past 4 years, Google+ was the place where you could find some of the most interesting and innovative Google features. From powerful photo editors to automatically enhanced photos and auto awesome effects, from video conferencing to live streaming, Google+ integrated and upgraded many standalone Google services. Google now wants to set free some of the Google+ features and make them available outside Google+.

Google Drive now lets you browse the photos and videos uploaded to Google+ Photos. There's a new Google Photos section inside Google Drive and it's interesting to point out that the name is Google Photos and not Google+ Photos.

"To get started, just look for the new Photos menu in Drive for Android, iOS and the web. From there you'll be able to manage your photos and videos alongside other types of files. For example, you can now add pictures of wedding venues and cakes to the same Drive folder as your guest list and budget," suggests Google.


You can add Google+ photos and videos to Google Drive folders, print, download, share, delete or rename them.

The new feature is gradually rolled out in Google Drive for the web and the mobile apps, so you may not see it yet.

{ Thanks, David King. }

March 26, 2015

Google Keep Labels

Google Keep now lets you add labels to your notes. Just click the 3-dot icon below the note and select "add label". There are 3 default labels (inspiration, personal, work), but you can add your own labels.


Google Keep's navigation menu shows your labels, so you can quickly find related notes.


You can now export notes to Google Docs: just click "copy to Google Doc" and Google will create a document from your note.


Reminders are more useful. Google Keep lets you create recurring reminders, just like in Google Calendar. You can create reminders that repeat daily, weekly, monthly, yearly or use the custom option for more complex reminders


The new features are available in Google Keep's web app, Chrome app and Android app (Google Keep 3.1).

March 22, 2015

Colorful Knowledge Graph Cards

Last month, Google tested some colorful cards for mobile search results. Now Google's mobile site shows Knowledge Graph cards with colorful backgrounds, but only if you're not signed in.


It's not clear if Google uses random colors or they're related to the image search results.

{ Thanks, Shinohara Makoto. }