03 August 2014

More YouTube Comments

The Google+ integration managed to improve the quality of YouTube comments (or at least the top comments). Sometimes you find YouTube videos with interesting comments, but it's not that easy to read all of them.

YouTube only displays 20 comments or threads and you have to click "more" to read 20 other comments. There's also a page that only displays comments: click "all comments" below the video description and you'll be able to read the top 100 comments.

When you click "more", YouTube fetches 100 other comments. For example, the page lets you read 300 comments with only 2 clicks on "more", while the standard YouTube video page requires 14 clicks.

Here's an example of comment page that shows the top 100 comments. You can click the drop-down below "all comments" to sort comments by date. Another example here.

Offline Android Games

Google Play Store has a collection of games that work offline. It's a hand-picked list of free and paid games like Despicable Me, Asphalt 8, Dots, Minecraft, Riptide GP, Temple Run 2 and more.

"Whether you're in airplane mode or stuck with zero bars, all these games require is your thumb. Now you can play your heart out from anywhere with our selection of off-line games," says Google.

Maybe Google should allow users to create their own collections they could share with other people. A Google search reveals a lot of Google Play collections: Get Things Done, Essential Games, Abstract Puzzlers, MMORPGs, Hidden Gems, Mood Boosters, Picture Taking, For The Power User and more. There are also music collections, movie collections, books collections, Newsstand collections.

Google on Windows 8.1

Google's homepage continues to promote Chrome when using a different browser. Until now, the ad promised "a faster way to browse the web". Now there's a more specific ad in Internet Explorer: "a faster way to browse on Windows".

When clicking "install Google Chrome", Google sent me to this page: "Get Your Google Back. Take two minutes to make Windows 8.1 more familiar." The page suggests to install Google Chrome ("It's the fast, free browser that's built for the modern web") and get the Google Search app for Windows 8 ("It's the quickest, easiest way to access Google Search").

This seems to be an updated version of the "Get Your Google Back" page launched in 2012 for Windows 8 users. Google tries to explain that you can continue to use Chrome even from the Metro/Modern interface and there's even an optimized Google Search app.

Removing the Plus from Google+

3 years ago, Google+ was launched in an effort to make Google more social. It's the most successful social service created by Google and the main reason is that Google promoted it a lot and switched a lot features to Google+.

Google Talk morphed into Google+ Hangouts, Picasa Web Albums became Google+ Photos, YouTube comments require Google+, Android reviews and Google Maps reviews require Google+. When you create a Google account, you need to join Google+. There are Google+ features in Google's notification bar and Google+ is the first service displayed in the app launcher.

Google+ was supposed to be a new version of Google, an upgraded Google that's more personal, has better tools for sharing content and better ways to filter information. "This is just the next version of Google. Everything is being upgraded. We already have users. We're now upgrading them to what we consider Google 2.0," said Vic Gundotra 2 years ago.

Vic Gundotra left Google a few months ago and since then Google+'s importance has diminished. Google no longer released some information about the number of active Google+ users and barely mentioned Google+ in the Google I/O keynote. Google+ no longer requires real names, Google Apps users no longer need to join Google+ to use Google Hangouts video calls and there are rumors that Google+ Photos will be renamed Google Photos and will no longer require Google+. "The move would enable the photo service to stand more independently and be accessible for consumers who aren't part of Google+, potentially spurring more growth," suggests Bloomberg.

Google launched some of its best features inside Google+ to attract users. Now it's time to set them free and make them more popular instead of using them to make Google+ more popular.

For many people, Google+ was an artificial barrier. Having to use your real name to write comments and reviews, to share photos, to write blog posts was an obstacle. The Google+ integration improved YouTube comments, but made many users unhappy.

Google+ is not dead, but Google seems to extract the "+" and split into standalone apps and services. The stream could become less important.

Google Drive Viewer Changes

I've mentioned a few weeks ago that there's a new interface for Google Drive previews and Gmail attachment previews. There's more space for content, the toolbar disappears when you're not using it, you can click "open" to open the file using the default app.

If you use the new Google Drive UI, Google Drive Viewer is no longer available in the "open" menu and you need to click the "pop-out" icon next to the "x" icon to open Google Drive Viewer. Most of its functionality is available from the preview interface, but there are some missing features. For example, adding comments.

The Google Apps blog mentions that "as part of this change we will remove support for adding file-level commenting of non-Google file formats. This change doesn't impact comments in Google Docs, Sheets and Slides, and existing comments on non-Google formats will be retained and available to view." The commenting feature is still available for me in the "Edit" menu when opening a PDF file or other non-Google file types:

Find the Number of Gmail Messages

By default, Gmail groups all your messages in conversations. That's the reason why Gmail displays the number of conversations and not messages in all the Gmail views: inbox, all mail, labels, search results.

If you ever want to find the number of actual messages that match a certain query, the number of messages from inbox or the number of messages you've sent or received since you started using Gmail, there's a way to do that. Just go to Gmail's settings and temporarily disable conversation view. Find the "conversation view" section in the General tab, click "Conversation view off", scroll down to the bottom of the page and make sure you click "Save changes".

Now Gmail will only display separate messages and the number of search results will be more accurate. You'll be able to find the number of messages, not conversations or threads. A conversation can include one message or more messages, so the number of messages will be bigger. Please note that the number of search results is not displayed if there are many search results, so you need to use a workaround.

The screenshot above shows the "all mail" message counter when conversation mode is disabled, while the screenshot below shows the number of conversations when the conversation mode is enabled.

You can go back to Gmail's settings page to enable conversation view.