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

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July 27, 2014

New URL for Google Docs

If you go to docs.google.com, you might see this message: "Soon, docs.google.com will start taking you to the Google Docs application, not Google Drive. You can always get to Google Drive by using drive.google.com." Until now, docs.google.com redirected to drive.google.com without displaying this message.


"You may be using docs.google.com to access Google Drive. With the launch of the new Google Docs editors home screens, docs.google.com will redirect to the Docs home screen, where you'll find all of your Google Docs and Word files," explains Google.

Some useful URLs:

* docs.google.com, google.com/docs - Google Docs (the first URL still redirects to Drive for now)
* sheets.google.com, google.com/sheets - Google Sheets
* slides.google.com, google.com/slides - Google Slides

Google Tests Timeline View for Knowledge Graph

Google tests a timeline view for Knowledge Graph cards. For a query like [World War I], Google's experimental interface displays a chronological list of important events obtained from Wikipedia articles.


Mouse over an event and Google shows more information, including images, relevant dates and snippets from Wikipedia articles. Click the event to perform a Google search.


By default, Google only highlights some of the most important events, but you can zoom in to explore to see even more events. Google uses colors and parallel axis to distinguish between different types of information.

Here's a video that shows this feature in action. Right now, the timeline view looks like a tool for power users and Google will have to create a simplified interface when this feature is publicly released.

Back in 2007, Google Labs added a timeline view for Google Search. Google News Archive also had a timeline view. These features displayed relevant search results about important events related to your query.


{ via Florian Kiersch - translation }

Animated YouTube Channel Art

YouTube now lets you upload animated GIFs for channel art. The maximum file size is 2MB and the minimum dimension is 2048 x 1152. "For optimal results on all devices we recommend uploading a single 2560 X 1440 px image," informs YouTube.


Here's an example of channel that uses animated GIFs and a video that explains how to create animated channel art using Photoshop:


{ Thanks, Sterling. }

Gmail Setup Widget

When you create a new Gmail account, Google now shows a widget that helps you learn how to use Gmail, choose a theme, import contacts and mail, change profile image and more.


"Gmail now has a setup gadget to help people new to Gmail get started. This gadget helps people set up their Gmail account with actions like adding a profile picture and creating an email signature, and teaches them to use features like undo send and creating an auto-responder. The setup gadget is hidden once the person completes all actions, dismisses the gadget or after two weeks. It can be relaunched from Settings," informs Google.

{ Thanks, Herin. }

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: