14 April 2013

Google's Inactive Account Manager

Google has recently added a feature that lets you decide what happens when you no longer use your account. It's called Inactive Account Manager and the goal was to offer a feature that tells Google "what you want done with your digital assets when you die or can no longer use your account".

You need to set a timeout period (3/6/9/12 months), add your phone number and contact details for up to 10 trusted friends or family members (email addresses and phone numbers), then decide if you want to share Google Takeout for services like Blogger, Picasa Web Albums, YouTube with those people and delete your account once it's inactive. Google will alert you one month before the timeout period expires.

It's a feature that seems to be useful if you want Google to automatically delete your account when you're no longer alive and share some data with the people you trust. Unfortunately, not all the Google Takeout data is easy to use. YouTube videos, Picasa photos, Drive files and Gmail's contact files are easy to open, but the data from Google+, Blogger, Reader is more difficult to read. When you set up this feature, you can pick the services you want.

You can also use the Inactive Account Manager just to notify friends and family members that you no longer use that account or to send an automated response to all incoming Gmail messages once your account becomes inactive.

Google Mobile Search Tests Sub-sitelinks

Google's mobile search site experiments with a different interface for sitelinks. The updated version hides the snippets for sitelinks and lets you expand lists of sub-sitelinks. Instead of only listing the most important sections of a site, Google's new features also shows some popular subsections.

"The links shown below some of Google's search results, called sitelinks, are meant to help users navigate your site. Our systems analyze the link structure of your site to find shortcuts that will save users time and allow them to quickly find the information they're looking for," explains Google.

Here's the new interface:

... and here's what happens when you expand a sitelink:

This is the regular mobile UI:

Google mentioned a similar feature for the desktop site last year: "this improvement digs deeper into megasitelinks by showing sub-sitelinks instead of the normal snippet." I haven't noticed this feature and it doesn't seem to be available in the desktop interface.

Turn Your Email, SMS Inbox, Or Anything Into A Scoreboard With IFTTT And ESPN

ifttt and espnKeep up with your favorites sports team, however you like. The new ESPN channel for If This Then That (ifttt) means you can easily set up SMS, email and even phone notifications for your favorite teams. You could even automate Twitter to send up updates every time your favorite teams scores, if you want – the only limit is your own imagination.

You remember If This Then That, which allows you to combine any two web apps by designing simple rules. All you need is a trigger – in this case, sports scores and events – and an Action – that is, where you’d like that sports score or event to go. Dozens of triggers mean you can use ifttt’s ESPN trigger to get sports updates just about anywhere. You can set up whatever notifications you like : every time a game involving your favorite team begins or ends, or even when news breaks about that team. You can set up as many notifications as you want, too – just keep creating rules.

This is the natural extension of an experiment ESPN and IFTTT offered during the Olympics last year, expect now the Disney-owned TV sports station is offering online updates from a variety of different leagues – from North America’s NFL (American football), MLB (baseball), NBA (basketball) and NHL (hockey) to the top European soccer (football) leagues, the ESPN trigger for ifttt allows you to stay up-to-date however you like.

Creating The Ultimate Sports Recipe

If you’re reading this you’re probably already familiar with ifttt, but if not simply head to ifttt.com and sign up for an account. Register as many “channels” as you can, because the more channels you have the more possible combinations you can complete.

Let’s focus on ESPN, though. This channel can only be used as a “trigger” – that is, as the event that causes an action to happen. Create a new recipe and you’ll be presented with the standard ifttt formula:

ifttt and espn

Click “this”, then click the ESPN channel. You may need to agree to terms first, but once you do you’ll be presented with potential triggers:

ifttt sports scores

Your choices are:

  • Breaking top news

  • Breaking news for sport

  • Breaking news for team

  • New game start

  • New in-game update

  • New final score

Pick whatever sort of news you’re interested in getting updates for, and then – depending on which trigger you choose – you’ll be able to choose a league and (possibly) a team. The sports/leagues offered are:

  • NFL

  • MLB

  • NBA

  • WNBA

  • NHL

  • College Football

  • Men’s College Basketball

  • Women’s College Basketball

  • MLS

  • Barclays Premier League

  • Spanish Primera Division

  • German Bundesliga

  • Italia Serie A

Your trigger created, you now must set up an Action (the “that” part of “if this then that”).

ifttt sports scores

You’ll be presented with a wide variety, but some will work better than others. If all you really want is to be notified when something critical happens in one of your sports, simply select email or SMS and you’ll be able to set up a custom text message. Here’s how that looks for final score, via SMS:

ifttt sports scores

By default you’ll see the “Alert Body”, which is the news ESPN is sending you, alongside the “Alert URL”, which presumably links back to ESPN. Remove whatever you don’t want, and know that you can add the name of the team and the time of publication for the information you were sent.

The process is basically the same for other Actions, and you can get really creative with this if you want. For example: you could set up a document in your Dropbox to always include the latest scores:

ifttt and espn

What could you do with a text file like that? You tell me. You could set it up to display on your desktop using Conky or Geektool, or simply have a text document you can check anytime you want to know the score. It’s totally up to you.

You get the idea: be creative and there’s no end of places you could conceivably see sports scores. Heck,


This does raise a few questions. Would ESPN shut down a Twitter account that does nothing but tweet up-to-the-moment scores using IFTTT? I suppose not, so long as the links to ESPN are maintained, but only time will tell for sure. Let us know your predictions in the comments below – personally, I hope this service simply keeps working as is.

And while you’re commenting, please: let us know what kind of crazy brilliant recipes you’ve created using the new ESPN trigger. Links are much appreciated.

And of course, if you’d rather not roll your own notifications like this, you could just install ESPN’s Sportscenter or Yahoo’s Sportacular on your Android or iOS device for instant sports updates. But if you’re looking for something more universal – not to mention more customizable – ifttt is the way to go.

Oh, and be sure to check out our other ifttt articles for more tips and tricks!

Image Credit: Hockey net and scoreboard by J.D.S. via Shutterstock

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