03 April 2015

Google's Colorful Help Centers



Google's help centers have switched to Material Design. Help centers use different colors, much like the mobile apps. Gmail's help center uses a red background for navigation elements and it's annoying because it distracts you from the article.






Chrome's help center uses blue and it's interesting to notice that the sidebar stands out more than the article. There are many other services that have blue help centers: Search, Calendar, AdWords, AdSense, AdWords, Maps.









Here's the homepage for Google Drive's help center. The transition between Google's help centers is jarring because they look so different now. Colors should be used sparingly and shouldn't distract from the main content.





01 April 2015

Google Contacts Preview and Gmail



If you switched to the new Google Contacts interface and select Contacts from the Gmail dropdown, you'll no longer see the old Google Contacts. Google will open the Contacts preview in a new tab and not inside Gmail, which doesn't use Material Design yet.






You can switch back to the old Contacts by clicking "Leave the Contacts preview" in the "More" menu. Another option is to use this permalink for the old Google Contacts: http://ift.tt/tkIhcJ or this keyboard shortcut: press g then c in Gmail (assuming that keyboard shortcuts are enabled).

Using Google Photos in Google Drive for Desktop



As previously announced, Google Drive has a new section for Google Photos and the new feature is gradually rolled out. Here's how it looks in Google Drive for desktop.



You should see a message which informs you that the new feature is enabled: "New! Access your Google Photos from Drive".






There's a Google Photos section in the sidebar. Click the new menu items and Google suggests to add the folder to My Drive to make it easier to organize your photos.






Click "Create folder" and Google Drive shows a strange message: "You have given Google Keep access to your files in Google Drive. Creating the Google Photos folder in My Drive will give the app access to your photos and videos from Google Photos, as well (including photos and videos from your mobile device if you've turned on AutoBackup)."






Google adds a Google Photos folder to My Drive, which is supposed to include all your albums as subfolders. For some reason, Google Drive only shows a few recent photos and this message: "Stay tuned! Your older photos are coming soon."







Google Spam



After reinventing Gmail with Google Inbox, Google is about to release a new invite-only service that will change the way you manage your mail. It's called Google Spam and it shows the most popular spam messages sent to Gmail users. That's right, Google Spam will go beyond your inbox and show what you've been missing all this time: the spam messages received by other people.






To protect user privacy, Google Spam will only show messages received by at least 10,000 Gmail users. You'll be able to star your favorite spam messages, label them, forward them to your friends and even find their true meaning.



Gmail will highlight important spam messages, so the next time you receive messages from "the office of the US Ambassador to Nigeria", "Mr. Lee Kun-hee of Samsung Group chief and the Hyundai chaebol" or from Gmail Security Maintenance, you'll know if they're featured in Google Spam.

Google Play Store Adds Fire Warning Icon



The latest version of the Google Play Store app brings a new feature for those who own a Snapdragon 810 phone. Many people complained about the overheating issues of Qualcomm's flagship SoC, so Google decided to add a fire warning icon next to the apps and games from the Play Store that require a lot of resources.






The good news is that the new icon will only be added for HTC One M9 and other Snapdragon 810 devices, so those who use older phones and tablets won't see the warnings.



Google even considers releasing a special version of Android optimized for Snapdragon 810, which disables advanced features like OpenGL and the new Android runtime (ART), so that the octa-core CPU doesn't overheat. It will be called "Lollipop Ice Cream", as it will try to cool down the latest Android devices, while also bringing back the features from Android Ice Cream Sandwich.

Google April Fools' Day 2015



April Fools' Day is here, so it's time to list all the pranks, hoaxes and funny Google features that make this day so special.



Google Japan announces Google Panda (translation), a cute toy that answers your questions using the power of Google Search.









There's also a "keyless" keyboard for Japanese (translation). Piropiro uses a party horn and measures your breath to convert it into words.









Google Maps lets you play Pac-Man. "Play the classic arcade game PAC-MAN in Google Maps with streets as your maze. Avoid Blinky, Pinky, Inky, (and Clyde!) as you swerve the streets of some famous places around the world."






... TO BE CONTINUED ...

31 March 2015

Play Pac-Man in Google Maps



Google Maps has a cool Easter Egg for April Fools' Day: a Pac-Man mode. Just click the Pac-Man icon at the bottom of the window. You can also search for a place you think Pac-Man might be.



"You can now play the classic arcade game PAC-MAN in Google Maps with streets as your maze. Avoid Blinky, Pinky, Inky, (and Clyde!) as you swerve the streets of some famous places around the world. But eat the pac-dots fast, because this game will only be around for a little while," explains Google.









{ Thanks, Ken Drori. }

Chrome Selfie: Share a Reaction



Angelo Giuffrida, a reader of this blog, noticed a new feature in Chrome for Android. There's a new menu item that lets you "share a reaction". You're supposed to take a selfie, Chrome adds a screenshot of the page you were reading and then you can share the resulting image with your friends.



This looks like a special feature for April Fools' Day. In fact, you can enable this feature by changing the date of your Android phone or table to April 1st.















{ Thanks, Angelo. }

Unified Inbox in Gmail for Android



Gmail's app for Android is actually a mail client and it lets you add all your email accounts, including those from Yahoo Mail and Outlook.com. The main benefits of integrating the stock Email app are that it can now be updated faster and you only need to use a single app instead of two apps. The latest version of the Gmail app for Android brings a lot of new features: unified inbox, conversation view for non-Gmail accounts, better search suggestions, larger attachment previews and more.






The "all inboxes" section shows the messages from all your accounts, so you can quickly read them and write replies without having to switch between your accounts. Threaded conversations are no longer limited to Gmail accounts: conversation view is available for all your email accounts.



"Today’s update also includes more responsive animations (like when you open and close a conversation), larger attachment previews to help you see what's inside, and the ability to save to Drive with a single tap," informs Google.





Chrome Data Saver



If you're using the compression proxy from Chrome for Android or iOS and you'd like to see a similar feature in Chrome for desktop, there's a Chrome extension from Google that adds this feature. Data Saver is still in beta, but it works well and it's pretty useful: it reduces data usage by using Google servers to optimize the pages you visit.






"When this extension is enabled, Chrome will use Google servers to compress pages you visit before downloading them. SSL and incognito pages will not be included," informs Google.



It's nice to see that Google Web Accelerator is brought back to life. Even if Data Saver only works in Chrome and it doesn't have all the features from Google Web Accelerator, it's less controversial than Google's Labs project.

Google Photos in Google Drive



For the past 4 years, Google+ was the place where you could find some of the most interesting and innovative Google features. From powerful photo editors to automatically enhanced photos and auto awesome effects, from video conferencing to live streaming, Google+ integrated and upgraded many standalone Google services. Google now wants to set free some of the Google+ features and make them available outside Google+.



Google Drive now lets you browse the photos and videos uploaded to Google+ Photos. There's a new Google Photos section inside Google Drive and it's interesting to point out that the name is Google Photos and not Google+ Photos.



"To get started, just look for the new Photos menu in Drive for Android, iOS and the web. From there you'll be able to manage your photos and videos alongside other types of files. For example, you can now add pictures of wedding venues and cakes to the same Drive folder as your guest list and budget," suggests Google.






You can add Google+ photos and videos to Google Drive folders, print, download, share, delete or rename them.



The new feature is gradually rolled out in Google Drive for the web and the mobile apps, so you may not see it yet.



{ Thanks, David King. }

30 March 2015

How to Fake your Location in Google Chrome



Some websites may request access to your location so that they can serve more relevant information. For instance, if you are looking for a gas station, a maps website may use your current geographic location to display stations that are near your place without you having to type your co-ordinates.


Share Location in Chrome

Google Chrome will only share your location if you click Allow.



How Browsers Determine your Location


Earlier, websites would use the IP address to determine your approximate location but with the HTML5 Geolocation API, web browsers can more accurately detect your location using data from GPS, Wi-Fi networks, cell towers, Bluetooth and the computer’s IP address. If you agree to share your location with the browser, it will send these details to Google Location Services for estimating your location which is then shared with the requesting website.


To give you an example, open the Where am I app in your browser, allow it to use your location information and the app should be able to display your latitude and longitude coordinates (it is more accurate on mobile browsers as those devices have built-in GPS).


How to Fake your Geolocation Coordinates


When you happen to visit a location-aware website, the browser will always ask for a confirmation before sharing your location. If you aren’t keen to share your geographic coordinates, you can always deny that request or, if you are using Google Chrome, you can even send a fake location to the website.


Here’s how. While in Google Chrome, press Ctrl+Shift+I on Windows, or Cmd+Opt+I on Mac, to open the Chrome Developer Tools. Now press the Esc (escape) key to open the Console window. Switch to the Emulation tab and choose the Sensors option in the left sidebar.


Here check the setting that says “Emulate Geolocation coordinates” and specify the exact latitude and longitude coordinates* that you want to share with that website. You can use the Postal Address finder to know the latitude and location of a place.


Now refresh the current web page and it will take your fake location. Make sure that the developer tools panel is visible always else Chrome will not override your geolocation.


Related tip: Geotag your Tweets with any Location


The option to fake your geolocation is not available in the DevTools of Mozilla Firefox but you can use the Geolocator addon to send any preferred location to the HTML5 Location API.


Geolocation Coordinates




The story, How to Fake your Location in Google Chrome , was originally published at Digital Inspiration by Amit Agarwal on 29/03/2015 under Google Chrome, Location, Internet.