When you enter a location for a Google Calendar event, Google now shows a list of suggestions. For example, if you type "Google H", one of the suggestions is "Google Headquarters". The nice thing is that Google also adds the address.
It's not clear how suggestions are ranked, but they're different from the Google Maps search suggestions. Nearby places are placed at the top of the list even if they're not that important.
One of the cool things about the new Google Maps is that the URL is updated automatically when you navigate the map, so you can simply copy it from the address bar. Unfortunately, the URL is still huge and a short version is often useful.
Now you can get a short URL by clicking the gear icon at the bottom of the page, selecting "share and embed map" and checking "short URL". I think the short URL should be displayed by default, since the long version can be found in the address bar. "By using a short URL, you can squeeze a long Google Maps link into fewer characters to leave more room to say what's on your mind," explains Google.
If you have a Chromecast and you want to try a new app that supports Google's dongle, install TicTacToe for Android or for iOS. It's a very simple game that requires 2 players and displays the results on your TV. You can install it on an Android phone or tablet, on an iPhone or iPad, but you need 2 devices to play the game.
While the game is pretty basic, it shows that Chromecast isn't just for streaming music and video. Once the Google Cast API is out of beta, you'll find a lot more interesting apps. TicTacToe is based on this sample app.
Last week, Google announced that you can now embed maps in the new Google Maps interface. Just click the gear icon at the bottom of the page and select "embed map". You can pick from the 3 sizes that are available or click "custom size" to enter your favorite width and height.
The most interesting thing about the new embeds? "This map is built for you. When you view this map on your site, you'll see your saved places on the map. Your site's visitors won't see those saved places – they'll see a map built for them." This only happens if you see your profile icon in the top right corner of the map. You can star locations in an embedded map and they'll be saved to your Google account.
"You can embed a basic map, driving directions, or a local search into your website or blog from the new Google Maps," informs Google.
"On Christmas Eve we'll be proudly showcasing a preview of Santa's dashboard -- the technology that powers his sleigh during his around-the-world journey. We've received this special preview from one of Santa's many developer elves, who are hard at work in the North Pole helping Santa prepare for his big day. Santa's dashboard - featuring the latest and greatest in Google Maps technology and sleigh engineering - will allow you to follow his progress around the world, and also learn a little about some of his stops along the way. Our friendly elves have also invited you to explore Santa's village while Santa gets ready for his journey. So go ahead and explore his village, you might just find some fun activities and meet some interesting elves," informs Google.
These features aren't new, but they're pretty useful and they might help you become more productive when you download files in Google Chrome.
1. Do you want to open a file immediately after Chrome downloads it? You don't have to wait, just click the file in the download bar and you should see something like "opening in X minutes".
2. If you always want to open certain files after Chrome downloads them, click the arrow icon and check "always open files of this type". You can use this for .mp4 files or .torrent files, for example.
3. How to move to the desktop a file you've just downloaded? Just drag it from the download bar and drop it onto your desktop.
4. Some files open directly in Chrome: PDF documents, MP4 videos, MP3 songs. How to download them? Use a keyboard shortcut: Ctrl+S or Command-S for Mac. Another option is to right click and select "save as". You can also right click the link to the file and select "save link as".
5. Don't worry about closing the Chrome window accidentally while downloading some files. Chrome shows a warning: "download in progress".
6. Manage your downloads by clicking "Downloads" in the Chrome or pressing Ctrl+J (Command-J for Mac). Use the search box to find a file you've downloaded last month, right-click the URL and you can copy it, click "Show in folder" to locate the file. You can also clear all the downloads.
The new Google Maps for desktop updated the local search card and now shows the top 3 results instead of only one. You can still go to the list of top results or check the results from the map, but the card is more convenient. Google is the king of search, so people expect to find a hierarchy. The list of top results is one click away, but many people will never find it.
iGoogle has been discontinued, it's time for My Google. It's not clear what's behind this new service or if it will ever be released, but one thing it's clear: a Chromium bug report from a Google employee included a few links to some articles from Google's help centers. One of the links is: https://support.google.com/mygoogle/answer/3151281?hl=en&ref_topic=3148584 and there's a reference to "MyGoogle".
Clicking the link sends you to a 403 error page: "Your client does not have permission to get URL from this server". You get a 404 error page if the page doesn't exist, so this is different.
It's likely that the My Google help center is only available for Google employees, since the service hasn't been released yet. The Chromium bug report included links to the following Google help centers: MyGoogle, Google+, Google Maps, Google Search and YouTube, so the new service could be important.
"My" suggests that you'll be able to personalize Google. iGoogle, My Yahoo, My MSN focused on personalized homepages, but Google moved away from this model and started to focus on pushing content when it's likely to be useful (Google Now).
Maybe it's about Google Now, maybe it's another attempt at personalizing search results, maybe it's a way to manage preferences for all Google services. What's your take?
Update: Will Norris, from Google, says that it's "nothing quite that exciting. Just internal HR stuff."
The Google+ notifications box has a few keyboard shortcuts you might find helpful. Here are some of them:
* up/down arrow keys help you select a notification from the list. Notice the blue line, which shows the currently selected notification. After opening a notification, use the same arrow keys to scroll.
* Enter (Return for Mac) opens the notification you've selected. You can also use o
* press the down arrow key after the last notification and then press Enter to open the list of previously read notifications
* right/left arrow keys let you go to the next/previous notification. You can also use j/k
* u - go back to the list of notifications or to the main screen
* d - mark as read the notification you've selected
* Esc closes the notifications box.
Unfortunately, there's no shortcut that opens the Google+ Notifications box, so you still need to click the bell icon. How to quickly read your notifications? Press the down arrow key, then press Enter and go to the next notification using the right arrow key.
Sometimes Page Up/Page Down and Space/Shift+Space work, but only after you use the arrow keys. If you find other keyboard shortcuts, please let me know in the comments.
"Hanukkah, also known as the Festival of Lights and Feast of Dedication, is an eight-day Jewish holiday."
- Festivus search results include the aluminum Festivus pole
"Festivus, a well-celebrated parody, has become a secular holiday celebrated on December 23 which serves as an alternative to participating in the pressures and commercialism of the Christmas and holiday season. Originally a family tradition of a scriptwriter working on the American sitcom Seinfeld, the holiday entered popular culture after it was made the focus of a 1997 episode of the program."
As Google says, "it's all about Thanksgivukkah in 2013. This overlap of Thanksgiving and Hanukkah won't happen again for another 70,000+ years, making it a once-in-a-lifetime event".