02 January 2015

Quickly Add YouTube Search Results to Playlists

Back in August, I noticed that YouTube added a menu next to search results, so you can add them to playlists. The menu is now even more useful because it has a search box and you can find a playlist faster.

Click the 3-dot icon, type a few characters from the playlist's name and pick the right playlist. You can even use keyboard arrows and press Enter. When you select a playlist, YouTube moves it to the top of the list.

If you want to create a playlist, you can type the name in the search box and select "Create new". Make sure to change playlist privacy setting to "private" or "unlisted" if you don't want to create a public playlist.

From Snippets to Answers

Many Google answers include information that's already available in search result snippets. Google picks a relevant search result and shows its snippet at the top of the search results page. Sometimes it even adds an image from the page to illustrate the answer.

Here's a simple example of an implicit question. When searching for [pothole] on a mobile device, Google shows an excerpt from a Wikipedia page.

The page is actually the second search result. As you can see, the snippet and the answer are identical, so it may seem that Google's card is redundant.

Here are a few differences:

1. The answer is placed at the top of the page, so you are more likely to read it.

2. Google increases text size and places the answer in a special card, so the answer is more authoritative.

3. Sometimes Google adds a thumbnail to make the answer more useful.

4. The answer shows a link to the page below the snippet because it's less important. Search result show the link to the page first, while the snippet is only there to help you find the right search result.

5. When you're using voice search on a mobile device, Google reads the answer.

6. The answer is tailored for devices that don't have a browser, like smart watches.

7. Google doesn't always pick the snippet from the top search result, so it's not always redundant.

From snippets to answers, Google morphed from a search engine that shows ten blue links to a personal assistant that answers your questions. Google's results are evolving from a list of websites to comprehensive answers that use various sources, including websites.

31 December 2014

Google's Smarter Step-by-Step Instructions

Back in January, I wrote about Google's answers to complicated questions. Google uses snippets from search results and places them in a special card at the top of the page. Sometimes it even shows step-by-step instructions.

I noticed a different format for Google's answers and it's seems to be limited to questions about Google's services. When searching for [go incognito chrome], Google shows step-by-step instructions for both desktop and mobile. The list is short, it includes icons and the text is not from the page that's referenced. The help center article includes separate instructions for desktop, Android and iOS, while the Google Search answer suggests things like: "Click the Chrome menu on your computer browser toolbar or touch Menu on your mobile device". Another difference is that the the title and the URL are placed before the answer.

Another example: when searching for [how to change gmail password], Google shows a link to the page that lets you change the password.

30 December 2014

YouTube's Roboto Experiment

YouTube experiments with switching from Arial to Roboto, a typeface that's already used by many other Google products. Roboto "was designed entirely in-house at Google by Christian Robertson, an interface designer for Google" and it "was released for the first time in 2011 with Android 4.0".

Here's the Roboto font experiment:

... and YouTube's regular interface which uses Arial:

This is a screenshot from Google Docs, which shows a sample text that uses Roboto and Arial:

Here's how you can enable the experimental interface. If you use Chrome, Firefox, Opera, Safari or Internet Explorer 8+:

1. open youtube.com in a new tab

2. load your browser's developer console:

* Chrome or Opera 15+ - press Ctrl+Shift+J for Windows/Linux/ChromeOS or Command-Option-J for Mac

* Firefox - press Ctrl+Shift+K for Windows/Linux or Command-Option-K for Mac

* Internet Explorer 8+ - press F12 and select the "Console" tab

* Safari 6+ - if you haven't enabled the Develop menu, open Preferences from the Safari menu, go to the Advanced tab and check "Show Develop menu in menu bar". Close Preferences and then press Command-Option-C to show the console.

* Opera 12 - press Ctrl+Shift+I for Windows/Linux or Command-Option-I for Mac, then click "Console".

3. paste the following code which changes a YouTube cookie:

document.cookie="VISITOR_INFO1_LIVE=vuYbQD3x-HQ; path=/; domain=.youtube.com";window.location.reload();

4. press Enter and close the console.

To disable the experiment, use the same instructions, but replace the code from step 3 with this one:

document.cookie="VISITOR_INFO1_LIVE=; path=/; domain=.youtube.com";window.location.reload();

{ Thanks, Rubén Gómez. }