Sharing to Google+ from Third-Party Sites Will Soon Become a One-Click Affair


How popular (or not) Google+ really is remains debatable, but there can be little doubt that there aren’t a lot of sites on the web left that don’t feature a Google+ button. That button has two functions. It lets you +1 a page and, with a second click, you can also bring up the Google+ sharing box and share that page with your friends on Google+. Google is about to make a subtle change in this flow very soon, however. Instead of having to click twice to bring up the sharing box, it will soon pop up automatically. Chances are, this will greatly increase the numbers of news stories and other items shared on Google+ in the near future.

Easier Google+ Sharing

Google made this announcement to its Google+ platform preview group earlier today. Usually Google+ updates that affect third-party sites are tested among the members of the platform preview group for a few days before they are released to the public.

Easier Google+ Following

sf_following_circleIn addition to this, Google will also update its Facebook-like Google+ badges. Here, too, Google is simplifying things. With the updated badges, it will just take one click to follow a Google+ page from a third-party site. This click will add a page directly to your “following” circle, though you can also bring up an optional menu to add it to other circles as well.

1:16 pm

Google Docs Gets Customizable Styles, Sparklines and Google+ Sharing for Forms


Google just announced some welcome new features for Google Docs. Maybe the most important of these updates is Google Doc's new-found ability to apply changes to a document's style and formatting across the document with just a few clicks. This means that if you want to change how subtitles look, for example, you don't have to go through the whole document anymore and change them one by one. Instead, you just change the style of your subtitles once and then apply it to the whole document. If you use Microsoft Word or Apple's Pages, for example, you know that this isn't a revolutionary new feature, but it can definitely save you quite a bit of time.

Sparklines google docs

Sparklines in Google Docs

In addition to the new customizable styles, the spreadsheet application now also features support for sparklines, an increasingly popular way of presenting data in a glanceable visual format. Other new options for spreadsheets in Google Docs include the ability to create more sophisticated charts "including different Y-axes on either side of the chart, formatting options for the axis and title text, and all sorts of other customization for how your lines, bars, or pies are displayed."

Sharing Forms

Google already featured Google+ sharing in Google Docs, but with today's update, it also lets you share right from the form editor.

But there's more…

In an interesting move that becoming more common among Google products, the Google Docs team has also decided to bundle new feature announcements instead of writing a new blog post and announcement for each small update. Here then are the other updates Google made to Docs over the last month:[list]

  • Adding images to your docs from a high quality stock photo gallery. Simply go to Insert > Image, select Stock photos, and then search for the images that you want.
  • A more streamlined format for document discussion notifications that batches multiple discussions into a single email.
  • Quickly opening and selecting items from specific menus with keyboard accelerators. For example, when using Google Chrome, Ctrl+Option+E on a Mac and Alt+E on Windows or Linux will open the Edit menu.
  • Copying and pasting via the context (right click) menu in documents when you have the Chrome App installed.
  • Easily adding Google drawings or Google Groups discussions to a Google Site from the Insert menu.[/list]


11:29 am

Google+ Now Available for Google Apps Users


Google just announced that Google+, the company’s new social network, is now available for Google Apps users as well. That means all of you who have Google Accounts through work or school (or simply because you use the free version for your own domain) can now finally access Google+.

One of the tweaks for Google Apps users is that you can’t just share content publicly and with your circles, but that you will also have the option to share with everybody in your organization. Google+ will automatically create a circle for your organization.

The administrator of your Google Apps account will have to turn Google+ on manually (unless your domain is set up to enable new services automatically), but once that’s done, you can simply sign up with your Google Apps account and get going. Google is rolling this service out slowly, so it may take a few days before you get access to Google+ for your Google Apps account.

It took Google quite a while to turn on Google+ for Apps users. Adding support was one of the most requested feature for Google+ ever since its launch. It’ll be interesting to see how businesses will use Google+ internally.

Be Careful Who You Share With…

It’s worth remembering that Steve Yegge’s infamous Google platform rant only became public because he mistakenly shared his story publicly instead of internally, so make sure you check your sharing settings before you hit that publish button…

5:28 pm

Google+ Circles Are Now Sharable – Not the Twitter Lists Clone You Expected


Google just announced that users of its new social network Google+ can now share their meticulously curated circles of users with the rest of the world. Owen Prater, a software engineer on the Google+ team made the announcement on the service earlier this afternoon and noted that Google hopes that this new feature will allow users “to share and find lots of great content in Google+, while still giving you important controls over how you read and share.” Sadly, it’s exactly those controls that make this feature somewhat different from Twitter’s list feature – and likely not quite what Google+ users expected it to be.

No Subscriptions, Just Copies

While lists on Twitter, for example, are automatically updated for all subscribers when you add or remove accounts from the list, shared Circle won’t reflect these updates. What you are sharing then, in effect, is a version of your Circle as it looks today and that is frozen in time.

Google shared list example

Because of this, you can’t “subscribe” to somebody’s circles either. Instead, you can only make a copy of a circle and add it to your account. That’s easy enough (just give it a name and you’re done), but it’s not quite the same as having an automatically updated list of people that a curator is keeping up to date for you. For power users, that’s a bit of a letdown.

Some of the privacy mechanisms, of course, are smart. When you share a circle, for example, you have to give it a different name, helping you to ensure that you don’t inadvertently give away the derogatory name for the Circle you may have used in private.

This new feature is currently rolling out to all Google+ users, so if it’s not available in your account yet, just give it another hour or two and you should be able to share your Circles as well.

10:25 pm

Sorry Facebook, But That Stuff I Share on Your Site is Not the “Story of My Life”



Facebook’s announcements today represent nothing short of a major paradigm shift of how it wants its users to interact with its service and each other. Sure, the new Timeline is pretty to look at, but on the scale of today’s announcements, that’s just a blip on the radar. What really matters is that Facebook now sees its missions are giving you the ability to “curate the story of your life.” Thanks to the new lightweight sharing features announced today, you can now quickly share (and bore your friends with) every article and book you read, every movie you watch on Neflix, every TV show you watch on Hulu, every book you read on your Kindle, every song you play on MOG or Spotify, and every picture of food you take on Foodspotting. Doesn’t that sound like a dream come true? Isn’t that “the story of your life?”

What I Share on Facebook Isn’t the Story of My Life – Not Even Close

scrapbook_flickrZuckerberg’s idea is that we will use Facebook to keep track of the “story of our lives.” I can’t help but wonder if that’s not one step too far.

I can see the reasoning here – after all, once you’ve connected everybody, you can’t grow by just adding new users anymore.

The fact that Zuckerberg would even think that users are putting “the story of their lives” on Facebook is just creepy.

If you really feel the need to share everything you do on Facebook and you think that that’s a good representation of your life, you seriously need to get out and try living your life a bit harder. We never share everything, we never want everybody else to know everything we do and often enough, we’d rather forget stuff than keep a precise record of it.

Digital Scrapbooking

Of course, if you are really buying into this idea, you can then relive all those glorious days on your timeline/digital scrapbook later on, or even get a nice graph with all the recipes you cooked in the new Reports feature. It’s all there in a nicely designed “frictionless experience.”

Maybe it’s just me, but I have no interest in using Facebook as a repository for all this superfluous data. A picture or two from my vacations is good enough – I don’t need to keep track of every recipe I cooked, every road I drove on and every morning run. Just like I wouldn’t be interested in offline scrapbooking, I have no interest in cataloging my past exploits on Facebook either.

It’s not just the data I might collect on Facebook (I doubt I will). I’d rather, for example, see my friends make very deliberate choices when they share something with me – not the one-click-and-forget kind of sharing Facebook seems to have in mind.

While Facebook is hyping the potential serendipitous discovery that this new system could allow for, my feeling is that this will just add more noise and very little value in the long run.


Image Credit: Flickr user Dean Michaud.

8:42 pm

Posterous Reinvents Itself Around Public/Private Sharing


Posterous, the minimalist blogging/sharing platform that competes directly with Tumblr and similar services, announced a massive revamp of its service today. With Posterous Spaces, the company is now focussing more on sharing content privately – something both Google+ and Facebook are also trying to do. You can, of course, continue to post everything publicly as well, but Posterous clearly believes that the future of content sharing is likely to be private and not always out in the open.

As part of this change, Posterous is also launching a new iPhone app that includes this private sharing ability.

Posterous Spaces reader

New Features

Besides this new focus on private sharing, the team has also made quite a few other changes to the product. The new reading experience, for example, now makes it easier to see all the new posts from people you follow in one place. The redesigned profile pages now look very slick and make it easier for your followers on the service to see all your activity around the site. Thanks to some work on the backend, the site now also loads considerably faster.

Posterous spaces

Overall, then, this is a welcome update for Posterous, which has been struggling to grow in light of the competition it’s been facing from Tumblr. While existing users can continue to use the service without changing their current habits, the new focus on private sharing give it a much-needed differentiator.

Enhanced by Zemanta

4:57 pm

A Sign of Things to Come: Google Books Gets Support for Easy Google+ Sharing


Google just announced that you can now easily share links to Google Books on its new social network Google+. That, by itself, isn’t really the most exciting news of the day – and the implementation could still be improved – but I think it is a sign of what’s to come once Google gets around to integrating Google+ sharing into more of its products.

Share Books With Your Literary Circles

If you are a Google+ user, you are already familiar with the new black bar at the top of your screens that gives you access to Google’s various properties and also alerts you of any activity in your Google+ account. This bar also features a “share” button, but by default, the share feature isn’t populated with any information from the site you are visiting when you click on it. On Google Books, however, Google will now automatically add the title, book cover and description to your post when you click the “share” button.

Still Room for Improvement

None of this is highly spectacular, but Google will hopefully get around to adding this functionality on more of its sites. Currently, for example, you can’t easily share a Place Page you found on Google Maps on Google+ without copying and pasting the URL. Indeed, it is somewhat surprising that the Google+ team chose Google Books – a relatively underused service – as the first property for this feature.

As Google expands its Google+ service to more sites – and maybe even launches a sharing button for third-party sites as well – it will hopefully learn to automatically extract more relevant information from these sites and services automatically and pre-populate the sharing dialog with these. While adding the link, cover and description from Google Books is nice, for example, there really is no reason why it couldn’t be formatted a bit nicer and why Google doesn’t add some more info (publishing date, name of author etc.) here as well.

5:20 pm