desktop Stories March 14, 2016

Skype for Web (& Chromebooks) adds calling to mobile phones & landlines, guest mode & more

After launching Skype for Web worldwide back in June and also bringing it to Chromebook users, today the previously chat-only web app is adding support for making phone calls and other new features.

desktop Stories November 9, 2015

Hangouts web update brings faster experience and streamlined look

Google’s giving the web Hangouts a revamp today. The interface (as seen above) is more minimalist and takes advantage of the full screen. Under the hood, calls should start quicker and have higher resolution. Rounding up the list of changes is a simpler invite system.

Here’s what Googler Eduardo Fernández had to say about the update:

Today, we’re introducing a new calling experience for Hangouts on the web that loads more quickly, renders video more sharply, and streamlines the interface so you can focus less on where to click and more on what to say. We’ve been using this new calling experience at Google for a while now. It’s early days, but we hope you like it as much as we do. (Note: This is not available for Google Apps for Work customers.)

Key changes include: • Calls that start faster and stay crisper, with higher quality video • A more streamlined and immersive full-screen interface • A simpler way to invite friends and family to your calls

Starting today, a small group of users should see the improvements and it will be fully released over the coming days. The update is not yet available for Google Apps for Work customers.

desktop Stories October 22, 2015

Chrome 47 beta brings splash screens for Android web apps, notification management for desktop, more

Google is releasing the beta of Chrome 47 today that introduces as number of new features across platforms including new splash screens for Android web apps, improved management for push notifications on the desktop, enhanced multitasking and more.

For the new splash screens, developers will be able to take advantage of splash screens when their web apps are launched from an icon saved on the homescreen. Google points out that  “apps can take a few seconds to load” and presenting a nice looking splash screen will “allow apps to show something meaningful to users as the app loads, improving perceived performance” for users.

In addition, Chrome 47 beta brings an improved push notification experience for desktop users on Mac, Linux, Chrome OS and Windows by introducing auto dismissing notifications:

“Sites such as social media or email can generate a large number of push notifications that take up screen space and aren’t particularly relevant unless viewed soon after posting. The new version of Chrome now allows developers to configure automatic dismissal of desktop notifications, improving the experience for these kinds of notifications. Sites can set NotificationOptions.requireInteraction to indicate the notification should remain onscreen until the user dismisses it.”

And lastly, the 47 beta release brings what Google refers to as “Cooperative multitasking with requestIdleCallback()”, something developers can take advantage of to improve performance by allowing apps to run during “idle time” when resources aren’t being used by other tasks.

Google has more info on the release here.

desktop Stories October 16, 2015

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Google earlier this week pushed the Chrome Android app to version 46, and now the browser’s desktop clients and Chrome OS are seeing the update as well. While Google has yet to publish and official list of changes for the Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux version (although we have noticed the removal of one major user-facing feature), we do have a quick look at the changes that version 46 is bringing to Chrome OS… expand full story

desktop Stories September 3, 2015

Following the public release of Chrome 45 a couple of days ago, Google yesterday detailed an important new feature for mobile: Chrome Custom Tabs. Now, Google is showing off more of the performance improvements that the company has introduced in the latest version, allowing Chrome to use less memory and power on the desktop. In one example, it seems Google has managed to reduce the memory footprint of most sites you visit through the browser… expand full story

desktop Stories August 4, 2015

The rise of Chrome OS has been nothing short of fantastic. With so many of our daily computing needs being met with online services, having a laptop which “only runs a web browser” and a bunch of useful web apps isn’t such a bad idea anymore. You can save on costs massively, and still be able to do almost anything you need to do. Unless you need lots of storage for gaming or media, it’s hard to argue against buying a Chrome-based notebook.

But is the same true of a desktop? I’ve been using the Acer Chromebase Touch for the past week or so and, as much as there are frustrations, there are also things I really enjoyed.

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desktop Stories July 21, 2015

beamandroidmacfeat

Apple and Google products don’t always play together nicely, but when they do, it’s normally because a third party has created an application or two to get them talking to each other. That’s exactly what Reflector 2 for Mac does (among many other things). If you’ve been wondering how you can get content from your Android smartphone or tablet mirrored or streamed to your Mac (and Windows PC, if you’re into that kinda thing), this is one really easy way.

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desktop Stories July 17, 2015

chromebasefeature

Acer recently unveiled a new range of all-in-one desktop computers running Chrome OS. The Acer Chromebase Touch is one of the company’s most recent models, and it has a 21.5-inch, full HD touchscreen. It’s powered by a Tegra K1 quad-core processor, 4 GB RAM, 16 GB of storage and a couple of 3W front-firing speakers.

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desktop Stories June 30, 2015

Extra Theme options

Google announced today that it’s rolling out a ton of new themes for Gmail — the built-in feature that allows customization of your inbox with color palette options and background images — as well as new emoji. expand full story

desktop Stories February 19, 2015

Yahoo unveils new suite of dev tools including search integration for other apps

After announcing its first dev con last December, Yahoo today kicked off its mobile developer conference in San Francisco where it unveiled five new products for mobile app makers. As suspected, Yahoo revealed the latest tools from Flurry, the mobile ad and analytics firm it acquired last July.

This includes Flurry Analytics Explorer, a new dashboard for the Flurry Analytics system which it says enables developers to discover more insights with than before, and Flurry Pulse, which lets app builders “share app signals with partners using their existing Flurry SDK implementations and the click of a button.”

desktop Stories November 21, 2014

Quartz OS custom Linux distribution aims to bring Material Design to the desktop

Google ushered in a new design language called Material Design as one of the biggest new elements of Android Lollipop, and an upcoming Linux distribution called Quartz OS aims to bring the clean and simplistic user interface to the desktop. Quartz OS is essentially the marriage of Material Design and Linux, aiming to harness the flexibility and power of the JavaScript-based markup language QML.

desktop Stories January 23, 2014

‘Ok Google’ voice search arrives as native Chromium feature without browser extension

Google’s open-source Chromium evangelist François Beaufort shared some interesting details today about new voice search integration in the latest Chromium build— Google’s open source browser project that is often used to develop and test features coming soon to its Chrome browser. While users have been able to download a browser extension for Chrome since November that allows them to activate a voice search with the “Ok Google” voice command (just like on Android), it appears Google is testing the command as a native feature without the need of the extension. Beaufort notes that the latest Chromium code shows the ability to toggle the feature through settings:

desktop Stories November 27, 2013

Google introduces new personalized Google Maps embed

Google has been adding a ton of new features to its new Google Maps preview on the desktop ahead of a broader roll out. It recently added real-time incident reporting from Waze in new countries and also added a new 3D Earth Tours alongside a revamped StreetView. However, up until now, we’ve still had to deal with the old Google Maps embed that allows us to interact with small embedded Maps on websites and elsewhere. Good news: Today Google announced it’s rolling out a brand new Google Maps embed that users can embed via an HTML snippet from the new Google Maps preview. 

desktop Stories November 26, 2013

Google announced today on Google+ that it’s releasing a new extension for Chrome that will enable hands-free activation of the voice search features it rolled out earlier this year. Google announced the conversational voice search features for Chrome back in May and has been updating it on various platforms since, but previously users had to actually click a microphone icon to activate voice search on the desktop.

Now, like on Android 4.4 devices and within the Google Now mobile apps, using the extension users will be able to simply say “OK Google” to initiate a search: expand full story

desktop Stories November 21, 2013

Google-Shopping-Nov-2013

Google today announced some nice additions to its Google Shopping service available to users browsing for products in Google search and directly through the Google Shopping site on desktop and mobile. In addition to new curated shopping lists from some of its partners (note: These are Google’s partners buying paid product listing ads), Google Shopping also receives an updated look and feel, part of an ongoing update that Google started rolling out back in October with an updated storefront and improved local listings.

One new feature in the redesigned shopping experience pictured above is the ability create your own shortlists that are easily accessible from the top of each page while browsing: expand full story

desktop Stories June 24, 2013

chromebox_02

Update: Samsung has denied the claim, quoted in TNW as saying:

The rumor that Samsung is withdrawing from the PC desktop business is groundless. Samsung will continue to offer diverse PC products according to consumer and market needs.

 

Samsung has been the sole manufacture producing Chromeboxes over the last couple of years, but according to a new report from the Korea Times, the company will soon close its traditional desktop business. The report claims that Samsung has decided to close its unprofitable desktop PC business to focus on tablets, all-in-ones, and hybrid laptops. The company says that “demand for conventional desktop PCs is going down,” and that it would like to dedicate its resources “to popular connected and portable devices.”

Samsung says that even those in research and technology departments are being pressured to switch to tablets and convertible laptops.

“Tablets, all-in-one and hybrid PCs are Samsung’s current focus. Samsung is speeding up its restructuring of its PC business via product realignment toward profitable variants,” said a Samsung official.

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desktop Stories June 18, 2013

carousel-google-search-restaurants

Google announced today that it is rolling out a new interactive carousel for restaurants and other local places directly in search results on the desktop. Users will be able to click on thumbnails in the carousel to quickly get more info on a specific place, including: “overall review-based score, address and photos.” The feature was previously available to some Nexus tablet and iPad users since rolling out back in December, but today it’s rolling out to everyone through Google search on the desktop: expand full story

desktop Stories May 15, 2013

Google today announced that it is revamping the Google voice search feature available in Chrome. While users have always been able to search with their voice through Chrome, Google is attempting to make the service work more like it does through Google Search apps and Google Now on mobile devices.

Chrome will now include “conversational search” with a brand new interface that doesn’t require users to click in order to search with their voice. Like on mobile devices with Google Now, users will now be able to simple say “Google” in order to activate voice search.

Today, we previewed what this conversational experience will look like in Chrome on your desktops and laptops. Soon, you’ll be able to just say, hands-free, “OK Google, will it be sunny in Santa Cruz this weekend?” and get a spoken answer. Then, you’ll be able to continue the conversation and just follow up with “how far is it from here?” if you care about the drive or “how about Monterey?” if you want to check weather somewhere else, and get Google to tell you the answer.

The new interface, as pictured above from Google’s demo of the feature, is much like the voice search interface for Google Now on Android devices.

While not a full blown Google Now experience yet, the feature will allow users to pull up flight information, email, calendar entries and more by taking advantage of Gmail field trial features that some users have already opted in to try.

The new feature will be coming to Macs and PCs through Chrome soon.

Google also briefly showed off some new content coming to Google Now including new cards for Reminders, Music Albums, TV Shows, Books, Public Transit, and Video games rolling out today: expand full story

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Some pretty incredible new features of Google+ Photos today that will probably be burying Picasa once and for all. Using their algorithms, they will enhance and help sort photos saving time and energy with the net result being incredible photo albums.

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Google+ will receive a card-based interface redesign featuring a new three column view. The new interface is responsive to the user’s display size. The new multi-column view is customizable meaning you can toggle back to the previous single column view if you prefer.

Google+ will also begin rolling out intelligent hashtags for photos, meaning if you post a photo of the Eiffel Tower, Google+ can automatically recognize the subject and appropriately tag it for you.

Users will now be able to view related photos by clicking on the current photo and seeing related hashtags on the flip side of the photo. A video below highlighting the related hashtag feature is below.

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Update: The apps are now live on Google Play and the App Store.

Google today launched its much rumored messaging service live on stage at its I/O keynote and announced the service would be coming to multiple platforms today. While some thought the service would be dubbed “Babel,” Google instead rolled out a standalone app called simply “Hangouts” that will be coming to iOS, Android and desktop later today.

Google execs provided a demo of the app running on Android today, but also gave us a glimpse of the iOS version as pictured above. The demo mostly focused on showing a list of conversations (not contacts) as well as one-on-one and group messaging, photo albums stored in the cloud, and the ability to start text conversations and video calls with contacts in one tap.

As for Gmail:

What does this mean for your Gmail? You now have the option to switch from the current version of chat to Hangouts. Simply click “Try it out” next to your chat list to switch to Hangouts and give your chat an instant facelift (literally!). You’ll now see the profile photos in the order of your most recent conversations. With Hangouts, you’ll also be able to quickly send messages, have video calls with up to ten people at once, and share photos. You can start a conversation with just one friend or even a whole group.

Google made a point of noting that conversations are stored and saved in the cloud, allowing users to have long-lasting conversations and browse a full history that dates back months or years. The app will unify and replace the Google Talk, Google+ Messenger, and the Google+ Hangout apps that currently make up Google’s messaging services.

The service will be launching as a new standalone app called Hangouts for iOS devices, Android, and on the desktop some time today.

Google today announced a new service called Google Play for Education that allows schools to easier find and distribute Google Play content to Android devices in schools.

The Google Play Education store will allow schools to search for content by subject matter and grade level and provide content that has been recommended by other educators. Google is teaming up with partners such as NASA and PBS for content but it will also begin accepting app submissions from developers this summer before the education store launches this fall.

Rather than using credit cards in an education environment, teachers will be able to purchase bulk quantities of apps and charge licenses against a balance from the school’s purchase order. The Google Play for Education service will also allow school’s that use Google Apps to instantly distribute an app to multiple devices in a school by setting up a Google Group

Google Play for Education will be launching this fall. You can learn more at https://developers.google.com/edu/.

Google: Chrome is the most used browser with 750+ million active users

At its I/O keynote taking place right now, Google is going over improvements it’s made to Chrome and to kick things off the company announced that the browser is now home to over 750 million active users across all platforms. That’s means the company has added over 300 million users since it announced 450 million active users at its I/O event last year.

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It isn’t a Nexus but it might as well be. Google announced a special version of the Samsung Galaxy S4 that will run stock Android, has an open boot loader and get updates straight from Google. You can buy 16GB (with open SD card slot) for AT&T and T-Mobile at the Play Store for $649 starting on June 25th.

Yay? expand full story

Google just announced its much rumored new music service that it is calling Google Play Music “All Access” live on stage at its Google I/O event keynote presentation.

Google execs focused on showing off curated playlists but also made a note of pointing out a “radio” feature that will automatically create an endless radio station based on the song you’re currently listening to. The service will also allow users to search for a particular song or view the “playlist” of a radio station to remove unwanted songs.

The service also includes a feature called “Listen Now” that will provide quick access to recently listened to songs, customized radio stations based on your preferences, and recommendations for new releases from artists you like.

The service will be available on the web, tablets, and phones and cost users $9.99 per month with a 30 day free trial in the US. Those that sign up before the end of June will be able to get the subscription for just $7.99/month and Google said the service will land in other countries soon.

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Google today announced new features coming to the Google Play Developer Console that will make it easier for developers to track and optimize apps across markets.

Perhaps one of the biggest features that will soon be available to developers is the ability to manage beta testing and staged rollouts right from within the Developers Console. The tool will allow developers to select a percentage of users for a stage rollout and easily beta test their apps among small amounts of users.

Among the new features, Google will be rolling out a new APK translation feature built into the console that allows developers to purchase translations through various providers directly through the console.

Other features headed to the developer console include optimization tips, referral tracking, and detailed revenue graphs. Check out a full gallery of the new features below: expand full story

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We knew from leaks in the weeks leading up to I/O that Google was planning some gaming related announcements and today the company has officially announced the service in a press release ahead of its Google I/O keynote taking place now. Not only will the service allow Android developers to build in real-time multiplayer, social features, achievements, and leaderboards while storing game saves and settings in the cloud, the SDK for Google Play game services will also be available to iOS and web developers.

Google noted a few titles for Android have already been updated with the feature including World of Goo, Super Stickman Golf 2, Beach Buggy Blitz, Kingdom Rush, Eternity Warriors 2, and Osmos.

Not surprisingly, the cross-platform gaming service will also build in Google+ integration to track high scores, achievements and more:

-Achievements that increase engagement and promote different styles of play.

-Social and public leaderboards that seamlessly use Google+ circles to track high scores across friends and across the world.

-Cloud saves that provide a simple and streamlined storage API to store game saves and settings. Now players never have to replay Level 1 again.

-Real-time multiplayer for easy addition of cooperative or competitive game play on Android devices. Using G+ Circles a game can have up to 4 simultaneous friends or auto-matched players in a game session together with support for additional players coming soon.

Google’s full press release below: expand full story

desktop Stories April 9, 2013

Google Calendar now available in Latin American Spanish on Android & desktop

While hundreds of millions of Spanish speakers around the globe have had the option to use Gmail in Latin America Spanish since last year, a number of other popular Google services didn’t offer the Español language setting. Now, Google has announced on its Official Gmail Blog that it is expanding support for its Latin American Spanish language option to Google Calendar:

If you’re new to Calendar but already using Gmail in Latin American Spanish, just visit google.com/calendar and language settings will be ready to go. If you’ve used Calendar in the past, you’ll need to update your language settings by clicking on the gear icon in the mid-upper right of Calendar, then selecting Settings: Once in General Settings, Language you can select Español (Latinoamérica).

You’ll also be able to access the Español (Latinoamérica) setting for Calendar on Android devices through your device’s “Language Settings” within Settings.

desktop Stories June 14, 2011

Voice Search from mobile is now available on your desktop on google.com in English. From the official Google blog:

We first offered speech recognition on mobile search, but you should have that power no matter where you are. You should never have to stop and ask yourself, “Can I speak for this?”—it should be ubiquitous and intuitive. So we’ve added speech recognition into search on desktop for Chrome users. If you’re using Chrome, you’ll start to see a little microphone in every Google search box. Simply click the microphone, and you can speak your search.

And why does Voice Search matter? Well, it’s for showing off, that’s for sure, but you may find it useful for hard-to-spell searches or complex ones that you can speak aloud faster than type. After all, we first learn to talk before we learn how to type, right?

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desktop Stories June 3, 2011

WebKit – an Apple-developed, open-sourced rendering platform – is picking up steam on desktop. On laptop and desktop computers, WebKit-powered browsers are closing in on Mozilla’s Firefox, which is the world’s second most-popular browser. Look no further than Net Applications’ numbers derived by monitoring more than 40,000 websites in their network (see above chart). Adding May 2011 web usage share numbers for Safari (7.28 percent) and Chrome (12.52 percent) brings us to the combined 19.8 percent market share.

That’s just shy of one fifth of all desktop browsing, putting WebKit within spitting distance of Firefox’s 21.71 market share. Trends do not favor browser vendors who have been pretty much bleeding market share to Google and Apple in past months. Chrome and Safari have managed to grow their user base over the past couple of months at the expense of Mozilla’s Firefox, Microsoft’s Internet Explorer and Opera Software’s Opera. A StatCounter survey supports those findings (see below). Why is Mozilla failing?

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