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

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October 21, 2014

New Google+ Share Button

The share button from Google's navigation bar looks different: it now uses an icon instead of text and it's more compact. It's interesting to notice that Google used a text label only in the English interface.



Here's the old Share button:

Move Content From an iOS Device to Android

It's easy to switch between iOS and Android, especially if you use Google's services. Google published a guide that helps you switch from iOS to Android, while also highlighting the advantages of Google's services.


You can upload the photos from an iPhone or iPad to Google+ Photos by downloading the Google+ app and enabling the Auto Backup feature. You can also upload the songs from the iTunes library to Google Play Music for free, but you'll have to use a computer.

Transferring contacts is more complicated if you don't use Gmail. You'll have to export contacts from iTunes or from the service you're using and upload them to Gmail.

Transferring apps is the most time consuming step. "Google Play has over 1.3 million apps to choose from so you can find all your favorites and discover new ones. For apps where you're a subscriber, like Netflix, you can simply transfer your service over to Android for free. Just download the same app from Google Play and sign in to your app."

Google's guide doesn't help you migrate SMS messages, call history, calendars and notes. If you use iCloud for calendars, you can export them using this trick and then import them to Google Calendar. Exporting iCloud notes is a manual process: "Open the Notes app at iCloud.com. Copy the text of each note and paste it into a document on your computer, such as a Pages or TextEdit document. Save the document to your computer."

Apple has recently published a similar guide for switching from an Android device to an iOS device. Apple links to various apps that automate the process.

Unlike Apple, Google makes it easy to export your data. You can export your mail, calendars, documents, notes, photos, videos, messages with only a few clicks. If you use Google apps like Chrome, Google Maps, Google+, Google Play Music, Hangouts, Google Drive, Google Search, Gmail, Google Keep for both Android and iOS, you can quickly switch between Android and iOS devices.

{ via Droid Life }

Google Play Music Adds Songza Radio Stations

Google bought Songza and now it brings its features to Play Music, but only for All Access subscribers. The Listen Now section recommends radios based on moon, time of the day or activity. You can play music for working out, unwinding, having friends over, spending time with your family and more. "Each station has been handcrafted—song by song—by our team of music experts (dozens of DJs, musicians, music critics and ethnomusicologists) to give you the exact right song for the moment," informs Google.


I picked Unwinding and then Electronic Chillout and Bedroom Chillout.



Google creates a regular radio station and you can remove songs, reorder them, create playlist or listen offline.


"As part of this update, we’ve also redesigned the 'Listen Now' page so you can more easily discover new music. Now you’ll see cards for all of your recently played music, new releases you might be interested in, and radio stations based on what you like to listen to. You'll also notice that the new app uses Google’s material design, with bigger images, bolder colors and slick transitions," explains Google.



Songza-powered radio stations are only available in the US and Canada, probably because Songza is restricted to these countries. You can find the new radio stations in Google Play Music's web interface and the mobile apps for Android and iOS.

{ Thanks, Theo Winter. }

October 19, 2014

Google Inbox?

Ryan Goldstein, a reader of this blog, noticed a new addition to Gmail's SSL certificate: a reference to inbox.google.com in the Subject Alternative Name field. Subject Alternative Names allows you to secure multiple host names with a single SSL certificate.


When visiting inbox.google.com, Google redirects to https://inbox.google.com/?pli=1 and returns a 403 Forbidden error message. This suggests that the site exists, but it's not yet publicly available.


It's not clear if inbox.google.com will be a used for a new Gmail interface, a different service that uses Gmail data, a mail client or something else.

Update: There's a Chromium bug report about "Inbox (BigTop) desktop freezing in Chrome Canary".

What steps will reproduce the problem?
1. Navigate to inbox.google.com
2. Click on any email message to expand the message

What is the expected result?
Email message expands to show full text of most recent email in the thread, as well as number of other emails in the thread.

What happens instead?
No activity. Inbox application appears frozen. Cursor remains small hand with pointed finger.

Update 2: Mihai Parparita spotted other references to BigTop in Chrome's bug tracker: "I clicked on it from my corp Bigtop account. I was signed in to Mirror with my personal account as the sync account." There are also many reference to inbox_app.

Update 3: Android Police reports that the Gmail app for Android will handle email accounts from Outlook, Yahoo Mail and other email providers. You can already use Gmail's mail fetcher, but the new feature will work better and Google will be able to replace the Android Mail app with Gmail. Maybe this has something to do with Google Inbox?


{ Thanks, Ryan. }

Remove Images From Google Maps Views

If you've added photos to Google Maps Views and you'd like to remove them, Google offers a few options: removing photos from Google Maps Views and Google Maps or deleting photos from all Google products, including Google+. Photos are stored in Google+, not in Google Maps.


Open the photo page in Google Maps Views, click "Remove from Google Maps and Views" and you'll see this confirmation dialog: "Your image will remain in Google+, but will be removed from Google Maps products. This may take up to 24 hours."


If you click the "delete" button instead, your photo is deleted from Google+ and all the Google services that use it.


"When uploading your photos to Google Maps Views, your content will be publicly visible to other users. Geolocated photos that are shared on Google Maps may also be displayed in a variety of Google products and services, such as Google Maps for mobile, Google Earth, Google Search, Google+, Google+ Local, and third party sites using embeddable widgets or the Google Maps API," informs Google.

There are other ways to remove photos from Google Maps Views: make the Google+ album private or uncheck the "Show location data" setting in the album properties.

{ Thanks, Jordan. }

Earth View, New Tab Page Powered by Google Maps

"Earth View displays a beautiful and unique Satellite image from Google Maps every time you open a new tab." It's a Chrome extension that replaces the new tab page with a random Google Maps image.


If you want to find more the satellite image, click the globe icon at the bottom of the page and you'll open the current view in Google Maps. To see a new image, open a new tab or refresh the page.

While the Earth View images are fascinating, you'll probably miss some of the features from the standard new tab page: bookmarks bar, frequently visited pages, Google's doodles and navigation links. Earth View only shows a link to Chrome's apps page.


I've checked the extension's source code and there are almost 1000 satellite images. They're not bundled with the extension, they're loaded from JSON files like: https://www.gstatic.com/prettyearth/1003.json.

Translate Selected Text in Chrome

Chrome has a built-in translation feature, so why would you install an extension for Google Translate? You can select text from a page, click the small Google Translate icon and get the translation almost instantly.


You can also click the extension's button and type some text you want to translate or click "translate this page".


The nice thing about the extension is that you can change your primary language in the extension's settings without changing your browser's interface language or your operating system's language. For example, Chrome for Mac "determines the browser interface language by the Language & Text setting in System Preferences."


"The Translate team is working hard to connect people by breaking language barriers across computers, mobile devices and Internet browsers. Our users make more than 1 billion translations a day," informs the Google Translate blog.

October 1, 2014

Open Gmail Images in Google Drive Viewer

Gmail now treats embedded images just like image attachments. You can mouse over an image and click "Download" and "Save to Drive" or you can click the image to open it in the Google Drive viewer, which has additional features like printing, Google+ sharing, zooming, opening the file in a Google Drive app and more. It's also great for opening the image in full-screen mode. You can use the arrow buttons or press right/left arrow keys to open the next/previous image.




"Similar to attachments, you can now click on large images within a message to see them full-screen in Gmail on the web," informs Google. It didn't work for a 384 x 103 image and a 266 x 210 image, while it worked for a 300 x 153 image. I assume that the minimum image size required is 300 x 150.

{ Thanks, Herin Maru. }

September 29, 2014

Google Tests Icon for Smartphone-Optimized Results

A Google experiment shows a special icon next to smartphone-optimized search results. Obviously, the icon is only displayed when searching from smartphones.


Back in 2012, Google ran a similar experiment, but it never became a regular feature.

Google has a few articles about building smartphone-optimized sites. Google supports three different configurations: responsive design (same code, same URL - Google's recommended configuration), dynamic serving (different code, same URL) and separate mobile sites (different code, different URL).

{ Thanks, Herin Maru. }

Bonus Storage for Google Maps Views

Sushubh Mittal noticed 8GB of bonus storage in his Google account. The bonus storage is for Google Maps Views and doesn't expire.


Other users got 15GB, 67GB, 72GB of free storage, so it looks like Google's bonus is not the same for everyone. It's not clear how you can obtain the Google Maps Views bonus, but I assume it could be influenced by the number of photos and panoramic images you add to Google Maps Views, the number of photos approved to be displayed in Google Maps and their popularity.

All the photos you've publicly shared in Google+ and they're also tagged with a location and have the "Show location" setting checked are automatically added to Google Maps Views and some of them are added to Google Maps. "Google Maps tries to algorithmically choose a variety of interesting, high-quality photos that give you a sense of place. To keep the focus on the location, photos that have people in them are typically not chosen," explains Google.

You can check your storage here: mouse over the chart to see the breakdown.

Update: Stephen Shankland from CNet found a post from the Panoramio group which says that Panoramio users will receive bonus Google Drive storage: "We will provide an easy way for you to migrate all your Panoramio photos, their metadata, and their viewcounts to Views. Your photos will be saved into public albums in Google+ and we will provide you a Google Drive storage bonus to cover the additional data usage."