labs Stories April 10, 2012

You might be familiar with Google Labs from other Google services such as Gmail. The functionality allows users to enable experimental features that have not rolled out as main features of the service. Now, Labs is enabled for Google Play Music allowing you to add new features to the desktop version of the app, some of which were only previously available to iOS users.

One feature that made its way over from the iOS version of its web player is a toggle to switch to HTML5 audio rather than using Flash. You can also now enable Gmail-like desktop notifications that will give you details for the currently playing track including song title, artist name, album title, and album cover. Lastly, a 5-star Ratings lab will replace the current thumbs up and thumbs down features for more specific ratings. You can get all the details here.

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labs Stories September 2, 2011

Aardvark has announced in a blog post this afternoon that Google has shut them down. For those of you who don’t quite remember Aardvark, a question and answer site, was acquired by Google for $50 million in 2010. Today, Aardvark is being closed, and the team will be moved to Google+ and other products.

We’ve been excited to share these lessons within Google over the past year, especially as part of the effort behindGoogle+.  It has been gratifying to see how well this project is doing — even in these early stages, Google+ has already become a great place to share knowledge online, eclipsing the original vark.com! — and there is much more to come very soon.  In this and other projects at Google, the Aardvark team remains committed to developing powerful tools for connecting people and improving access to information.

The closure of Aardvark comes along with Google’s closure of Labs we reported on last month. Google’s CEO Larry Page has gone on record saying Google is killing off smaller products, in order to put “more wood behind fewer arrows”. This is evident when Google killed Labs, Slide, and now Aardvark.

Update: Google has also announced the closing of Google Desktop.

Update x2: Google has posted the full run-down of what is being closed.

Continue after the break..

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Deal: Get Pixelbook at 25% off: $750!

labs Stories August 9, 2011

A demo of App Inventor

Last month, Google announced that the company will be shutting down Google Labs — a hub for the testing of new products. Google said that while most of the products were being shut down, a few products from Labs will be saved, but it appears the Android App Inventor, announced late last year, will not be one of them.

App Inventor was aimed at providing an educational bridge for people who wanted to create Android Apps but weren’t versed at Java. The app was even used at many camps to teach early programming.  It’s sad to see such a great educational tool go and we wonder if it is a sign of something bigger in the tools area or maybe a sign of Android divesture of Java. Luckily for those who don’t want to let go, the project will be open-sourced(via Hack Education) expand full story

labs Stories August 4, 2011

If you have ever used Gmail on a tablet, you’ve probably appreciated the improvements made to the mobile UI and missed them when forced to use Gmail from your desktop browser. Luckily, Google just introduced a new preview pane feature for Gmail that allows you to quickly view snippets of messages, much like the mobile interface currently accessible on tablets (which, yes, dates from Outlook 2003 – thanks commenters).

You can enable the feature by turning it on from the Labs tab in your Gmail settings and switching between views via a new toggle button in the upper right corner of your inbox.

You can also move the preview pane below your message list if you have limited screen real estate. expand full story

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