05 December 2014

My Maps Pro, Free for Everyone

My Maps Pro used to be the paid version of My Maps. It was previously called Maps Engine, while the free version was called Maps Engine Lite. My Maps Pro had less restrictive limitations than My Maps and it was better suited for companies. "Both My Maps and My Maps Pro give you the power to create custom maps that you can share and publish online. While My Maps is perfect for creating and sharing personal maps, such as places to visit on vacation or your favorite hiking trails, Pro is designed for business or advanced personal use," explained Google.

Now My Maps Pro features are available for free in My Maps:

More layers and places: You can now add up to 10 layers to your maps, and import spreadsheets or CSV files with up to 2,000 addresses per layer. (The limits for free version of My Maps were previously 5 layers/500 addresses per layer.) Now everyone can create richer, more robust maps, and businesses can visualize and analyze larger location-based datasets.

More map views: Got a great map you want to share with the world? Maps you share publicly and embed on your site can now be viewed up to 25,000 times per day. (The limit for free version of My Maps was previously 2,500 views.) And for growing businesses, more map views mean your maps will scale with your business.

{ Thanks, Andrea Leardini. }

Santa Card in Google Search

When searching for [Santa] or [Santa Claus], Google shows a card that promotes its own Santa Tracker. Just like last year and the year before, NORAD's Santa Tracker is powered by Microsoft and not by Google.

Google also developed a Santa Tracker app for Android and a Chrome extension. "Before Santa takes off on Christmas Eve, his elves have cooked up a countdown timer to keep precise track of his departure. You can play around with his blimp, elf bus, and write messages on a frosty browser window. Once he takes off, follow him around the world as he delivers presents," informs Google.

Google's Santa Tracker has a lot of cool games and a feature that lets you send a call to friends from Santa.

04 December 2014

How to Easily Find the Biggest Files in your Google Drive

What do you do when your Google Drive is running out of storage space? You either add more storage or the inexpensive option is that you clean up your Drive and delete the large files that are hogging up the bulk of space. But how do know where these big files are hiding in your Drive?

Google Drives lists the file size but without the sort option.

Google Drives lists the file size but without the sort option.

If you switch to the List View in Google Drive (the list icon is near the Settings gear), it will show the sizes of all your files but unfortunately there’s no option to sort that list by their sizes. Also, Google Drive doesn’t support a Gmail-style size search operator so, unlike your emails, you cannot search for big files in Drive.

There’s however an easy workaround. While you are in Google Drive, go to bottom left corner and you’ll see a link that shows how much storage space you have used. Hover your mouse over that link and then choose Google Drive. Voila! The list you now see is sorted by size and the largest are listed at the top.

You can use the URL – http://ift.tt/1yjGn44 – to directly access the list.

The list only includes non-native file formats since the native Google files – like your Google Documents or Google Spreadsheets – do not count towards the available quota.

The story, How to Easily Find the Biggest Files in your Google Drive , was originally published at Digital Inspiration by Amit Agarwal on 04/12/2014 under Google Drive, Internet.

Use the Reader Mode in Chrome for Android for a Better Reading Experience

Google Chrome for Android features a new Reader Mode that lets you read web pages on your mobile without the clutter. Previously you had to install bookmarklets to enable readability but not anymore as readability is now integrated in the recent releases of Chrome much like the Safari browser on iOS.

Read web pages without the clutter

Read web pages without the clutter

While you are reading an article inside Chrome (it will only show up in text-heavy articles), you can click the “Reader” button near the address bar (see screenshot above) and the current page is instantly optimized for reading. The page header, the ads, the sidebar, the navigation and all the non-essential elements are instantly hidden while the typeface and layout is changed for improved readability.

Turn-on the Reader Mode in Chrome

If you are not seeing the Reader Mode button in your Chrome yet, that’s because it’s enabled by default. Tap the address bar in Chrome, type chrome://flags and you’ll get a list of flags that are available in your Chrome.

Scroll down until you see a setting that says “Enable Reader Tool Mode” and click Enable. Relaunch the Chrome app and you should now see the Reader button in your Chrome when you are on a text-heavy web page. It may not show up on every article page though.

The Reader mode in Chrome will also come handy for printing web pages or when you saving a page as a PDF on your Android.

chrome://flags works in Chrome for Android too

chrome://flags works in Chrome for Android too

The story, Use the Reader Mode in Chrome for Android for a Better Reading Experience , was originally published at Digital Inspiration by Amit Agarwal on 04/12/2014 under Android, Google Chrome, Internet.

Device Assist for Android

Google released an Android app that provides tips for using your device and helps you solve some of your device's issues. The app is called Device Assist and it's currently available to "US-based Nexus, Google Play edition and Android One devices running Android 5.0, Lollipop".

Device Assist detects some of the problems concerning your device and offers tips like "consider using a wall charger" or "screen brightness setting is battery intensive". For some of the tips, there's a "do it for me" option that automatically changes settings.

Google also provides tips that help you explore new features and improve the performance of your device. The list of tips is searchable and there a few useful tips when searching for things like "battery" or "screen".

Device Assist makes it easy to share information about your device with Google and to get access to live Google support. This option is only available for Nexus and Google Play Edition devices.

{ via Android Police }

Finding Music Key Enabled YouTube Videos

When Google announced YouTube Music Key, I expected that mobile users will be able to download and play in the background almost any music video. Unfortunately, these features don't work for many videos, especially for music videos from unofficial YouTube channels.

It's easy to tell if you can download or play in the background a video: look for the download button in the mobile YouTube app.

If the download button is there, you can tap the home button and the video will continue playing in the background.

For some reason, YouTube doesn't offer a search filter that allows you to restrict search results to videos you can download and play in the background. A good idea is to play YouTube's mixes or pick an album from the music card, when searching for an artist.

Why Google Inbox Doesn't Replace Gmail

When Google launched Inbox, many people wondered why it's a new product and not a Gmail upgrade. Jason Cornwell, a member of the Google Inbox team, answered this question in a Reddit AMA:

The way people use email has changed a huge amount since we launched Gmail. With Inbox, we took a step back and did a lot of research into how most people are using email today. What we found was that email works as a todo list for many people, that phone usage is starting to eclipse desktop usage, and that many people have negative feelings towards email because it feels like so much work. We built Inbox as a separate product because we didn’t feel like we could solve those problems by just adding more features on to Gmail. We needed to start from scratch to build a tool that really helps you stay on top of your life.

In many ways, Inbox is a simplified mail service optimized for mobile. It surfaces important information, helps you get things done and organizes your messages.

Will Inbox replace Gmail? Here's Jason's answer:

In the short term, no. In the very long term, we hope so. Inbox is something new - that's why we’re launching it as a separate product. We care deeply about Gmail and Gmail users, but in the long run as we add more features to Inbox and respond to user feedback we hope that everyone will want to use Inbox instead of Gmail. Ultimately, our users will decide.

03 December 2014


Google has been testing a new version of reCAPTCHA that makes it easier for users to prove that they're actually human and not bots. The new reCAPTCHA no longer uses a CAPTCHA, so you no longer have to deal with blurry house number images or squiggly words from scanned books.

Here's the new version:

"On websites using this new API, a significant number of users will be able to securely and easily verify they're human without actually having to solve a CAPTCHA. Instead, with just a single click, they'll confirm they are not a robot."

So instead of solving CAPTCHAS with distorted text you can just click a box. But how does this work? Google uses some sophisticated risk analysis algorithms that "actively consider a user's entire engagement with the CAPTCHA — before, during, and after — to determine whether that user is a human." If the risk analysis engine can't confidently predict whether a user is a human or a bot, you'll see a regular CAPTCHA.

Google also tests other simplified CAPTCHAs that are better suited for mobile devices. For example, one of the CAPTCHAs asks you to select images that show a cat.

Edit Office Gmail Attachments in Google Drive Apps

Gmail now lets you edit Microsoft Office attachments with a single click: mouse over an attachment and click "Edit with Google Docs" for Word documents, "Edit with Google Slides" for PowerPoint presentations or "Edit with Google Sheets" for Excel spreadsheets. "You can then start editing and enjoying the full benefits of a single document to keep track of, access from anywhere, and full revision history," informs Google.

When you click a Gmail attachment, Google lets you preview its content inside Gmail. You can also save the file to Google Drive, but it's not converted automatically to a format that can be edited by Google's apps.

Google now supports "15 new Office formats - including presentation show files (PPS, PPSX), macro-enabled files, and template files - all with improved charts, images, and tables support." If you'd like to edit the files without converting them to Google's formats, you can use this Chrome extension.

Moving Files between your Android and Desktop Gets Easier with AirDroid 3

The AirDroid app is probably the easiest way to manage your Android phone from your Mac or Windows PC. It lets you quickly transfer files between your phone and your computer, or from one Android phone to another, without requiring any USB cables.

The newest version of AirDroid – version 3.0 – is even better.

Earlier, if you had to transfer a file from the computer to your Android phone via AirDroid, you had to open a special web page in your web browser, authenticate the connection and only then were you allowed to download or upload files.

AirDroid for Windows and Mac

Now AirDroid has released dedicated clients (software program) for both Windows and Mac that mostly bypasses the need for a web browser. Once you have installed the AirDroid software on your computer, you can simply drag one or more files to the desktop app and the files are instantly transferred to your Android device. It just works.

The transfer happens extremely fast if your computer and your phone are connected to the same WiFi network. However, if one of your devices is not on LAN, you can still send your files via the cloud. The files stay in the cloud for a week before they are permanently deleted.

You can view your phone call logs and also reply to SMS messages from the computer. It is however not possible to initiate phone calls from the desktop. And certain old features, like the ability to capture remote screenshots and photographs using your phone’s camera, still require the web browser.

The Android App sports a clean look though its not Material Design

AirDroid app on Android sports a clean look though its not Material Design

AirDroid 3 is not available in the Google Play store yet but you can head over to beta.airdroid.com to download the Android app and the desktop clients that available for both Mac and Windows.

You’ll need to sideload the apk files and that essentially means letting your Android phone to install apps outside the apps store.

The story, Moving Files between your Android and Desktop Gets Easier with AirDroid 3 , was originally published at Digital Inspiration by Amit Agarwal on 03/12/2014 under Android, Apple Mac, Software.

02 December 2014

Image Options in Google Docs

Google Docs added a cool feature that was already available in Google Slides: you can now change image options. Right click an image, pick "image options" from the menu or click the image and use the "image options" feature from the Format menu. You can change the color of the image using filters in the "Recolor" section and adjust transparency, brightness and contrast.

While the new features are pretty useful, Google Docs should include more powerful image editing tools, like the ones that are available in Google+ Photos. Hopefully, Google manages to build an HTML5 image editing widget that could be added to any Google service, so you can quickly edit Gmail's image attachments, photos uploaded to Blogger, images from Google Docs documents and Google Drive photos.

{ via Google Apps Updates }

Merge Table Cells in Google Docs

There are still basic features that are missing from Google's online office suite. For example, you couldn't merge table cells in a Google Docs document until yesterday, when this feature was added.

Select multiple rows or columns, right click and pick "Merge cells" from the menu. You can also find this feature in the Table menu. If you change your mind, use the "Unmerge cells" menu item.

"Merged table cells can span more than one row and/or column. Merged table cells in Word documents can now be imported as well," informs Google.