If you use Google’s mobile website for Gmail on your iOS or Android smartphone, Google just launched an update that will make your life a bit easier. You can now undo a number of actions in mobile Gmail, including whenever you archive, move and delete a message or conversation, or when you add a label to an email.
These days, barely a day passes without Google featuring a customized logo - a Doodle in Google's parlance - on its homepage. Most of these celebrate national holidays or commemorate important people. Sometimes, though, Google goes beyond simple drawings and goes the extra mile, as it did in the case of Jules Verne's birthday a few weeks back, or when it featured a playable version of PacMan as its logo last year. Today, to celebrate what would have been Charlie Chaplin's 122nd birthday, the company is featuring a video doodle on its homepage.
Google is the default search engine on virtually every browser – with one exception: Microsoft’s Internet Explorer. Now that Microsoft is rolling version 9 of Internet explorer out to most of its users, Google is actively courting these users with a large blue bar on its homepage: “Come here often? Make Google your homepage.” The possible answers: “Sure” and “No thanks.” If you decline, Google will then show IE9 users an add for Chrome.
Last year, the Department of the Interior decided to replace its 13 aging email system for its 88,000 employees with Microsoft's cloud-based offering. Google, which was also in the competition for this contract, which is worth an estimated $59 million over five years, filed a lawsuit shortly after the contract went to Microsoft, claiming that the process was not fair and open. In its filing (PDF), which were unsealed by the court last week, Google claimed on multiple occasions that its offering was certified under the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA). Among other things, FISMA sets out to establish minimum security requirements for information systems used by the U.S. government.
Google may be one of the world’s biggest Internet companies, but if you want to talk to a real human being when you run into an issue with Google, you’re generally out of luck. While Google offers customer support through email for some services, the company’s online FAQs and help pages are generally the only means to get official information about a product. Google’s dislike for offering phone support was also on display when it launched its Nexus One smartphone without offering any phone support and only launched a phone support line after lots of complaints from its users. Maybe things are changing in Mountain View, however. Today, Google announced that it will offer free phone support for its AdWords advertising platform in the U.S. and Canada.
Google just launched it's +1 button this morning, which allows its users to like sites and ads right on the search results page and which will soon also come to a site near you in the form of a Facebook-like "-1" button. Quite a few pundits are already proclaiming this as a Facebook competitor, but I have my doubts. For now, the benefits of clicking the +1 button simply aren't there for users to bother clicking on them
Last year, Google announced that it would bring ultra high-speed broadband Internet to one community in the United States. After a long decision process, the search giant today finally announced which community will be the first to enjoy Google-sponsored Internet access that's more than 100 times faster than the U.S. average. Out of the 1,100 cities that applied for Google's so-called "Fibre for Communities program, Topka, Kansas probably went the furthest in attracting Google's attention by renaming itself Google, Kansas. That was not enough, though, and Google today announced that it chose Kansas City, Kansas instead.
The New York Times will activate its paywall at 2pm ET (11am PT) today. While the word "paywall" evokes the idea of an impermeable wall that you will only be able to breach by getting out your credit card, the reality is far more complicated. Indeed, according to the New York Times' own estimates, only about 20% of its readers will ever encounter the paywall at all.
Wikipedia is undoubtedly among the most useful websites on the Internet, but it definitely is not among the prettiest. Its utilitarian design doesn’t exactly look inviting, but if you are a Chrome user, a new extension now makes the site far more readable. The Readability-inspired Wikipedia Beautifier fades out all the extra crud around the text and allows you to fully focus on the article itself.
It took more than 10 years, but after filing for a patent for a "provides a periodically changing story line and/or a special event company logo to entice users to access a web page" in April 2001, the U.S. Patent Office today granted Google's Segey Brin a patent for the company's iconic Doodles. Google Doodles are the variations on the company's logo that it uses celebrating holidays and special events. They appear on Google.com and its international versions.
A few weeks ago, Google introduced a Chrome plugin that allowed you to block sites you didn't want to see in your results pages. Now, the search giant is taking this concept a step further and allows anybody to block sites right from the search results page. There is a slight twist to this, though. The link to the block feature will only appear after you have visited a site. So if you want to block a site that you deem to be offensive or of low quality, you first have to visit it before you can block it.
Google just put another nail in the coffin of dedicated GPS units and paid mobile apps. Google Maps Navigation now offers users the ability to route them around traffic jams. Until today, Navigation would simply calculate the most efficient route and send you on your merry way without checking traffic conditions. The new version, however, will look at both current and historical traffic data to calculate the best route to take. According to Google, Navigation users now use the app to drive more than 35 million miles per day.
I'm a jaded tech blogger, but Microsoft's HoloLens project is without doubt the most exciting project to come out of Redmond in years. After years of talk about augmented reality, this may be the first project that actually lives up to the hype.