08 October 2016

More Related Searches in Mobile Google Search


Google's mobile search interface shows a new box with related searches after clicking a result and going back to the search page. There's a list called "people also search for", which shows queries that are related to both the original search and the search result you've previously visited. Swipe left to see the entire the list.


Tap a different search result and you'll get different suggestions:


Google tested this feature back in June and now it's no longer an experiment.

07 October 2016

Android 7.1: Pixel-Only, For Now


Pixel phones will ship with a new Android version: 7.1. It looks like many of the important Nougat features have been left out from the 7.0 release.

Android 7.1's unofficial changelog published by Android Police has many Pixel-specific features, including a new launcher, a new camera app, Google Assistant, a support tab in the settings, solid navbar icons, Smart Storage that removes old backed up photos and videos when storage is full.



There are also some features that aren't restricted to Pixel devices: night light (filters blue light), fingerprint swipe down gesture, seamless A/B system updates, Daydream VR mode, support for app shortcuts and circular app icons, keyboard image insertion, manual storage manager and more. Unfortunately, Nexus devices and Pixel C will only get a dev preview by the end of 2016, so the stable release will be available in 2017. So much for buying Nexus devices to be the first to get the latest Android updates.

Google Assistant won't be a Pixel exclusive for long, since it's a core Google feature that needs wide adoption. I assume that the launcher and camera app will be also available in the Play Store at some point.

Why Google Can't Sell Expensive Products


Google announced its first phone and many people wondered why it's as expensive as an iPhone. Nexus phones were sometimes inexpensive (Nexus 4: $299, Nexus 5: $349, Nexus 5X: $379) and sometimes more expensive (Nexus One: $530, Nexus 6: $649, Nexus 6P: $599). Now the 5-inch Pixel costs $649 in the US, while the 5.5-inch Pixel XL costs $769, which is more than any other Nexus phone.


Obviously, Google's pricing was more aggressive when it wanted to sell more products and less aggressive when sales numbers mattered less. The truth is that Google only managed to sell products in high volumes if the price was low enough to make them good value. Chromecast was successful because it offered a lot of value for the money. Nexus 5 was a flagship phone at half the price, so millions of people bought it. Nexus 7 was good enough for $199, but Google's bigger tablets were more expensive and their flaws were more striking.

Google is a "value" brand. Most people associate Google with free ad-supported online services that offer great features. There's no paid Google software for consumers, as Google only sells digital content and subscription services (storage, music). Google is not a lifestyle or luxury brand, so people don't expect to pay much for Google products.

There's a lot of risk associated with Google products, since Google doesn't stand behind them all the time. Some of them are experiments, others are quickly discontinued and forgotten. I still remember that Google stopped selling Nexus One only 6 months after the launch or when Logitech's CEO said back in 2011 that Google TV was a huge and costly mistake. Android One was a flop, Google Play Edition failed, Motorola was acquired by Google and later sold to Lenovo.

Google's commitment issues, its high appetite for releasing beta products, its lack of planning and foresight - all of these problems alienate consumers and make them think twice before buying a Google product. Premium brands are all about image, trust, credibility, heritage.

06 October 2016

No More Nexus Devices


After the launch of Google's Pixel phones, many people wondered if the Nexus brand will be retired or we'll still see Nexus phones, tablets and other Android devices. It looks like the first answer is accurate. According to The Verge, Google says that there are no plans for future Nexus products.


"The idea was to show everyone how it should be done," says Brian Rakowski, VP of product management for Android. "All the partners in the phone manufacturing space took it and built great products on top of it. Meanwhile, Nexus kind of trundled along at the same small scale."

Nexus was the reference Android phone and was mostly for developers and early adopters. Google sent mixed messages: some of the phones were heavily subsidized, others were more expensive, design and features were rarely consistent from one generation to another.

With Android's beta program and Google's efforts to give manufacturers early access to the Android code, Nexus devices became less important. There are also inexpensive "flagship killers" like the OnePlus 3, which only costs $399.

Google got serious about hardware and started to build an ecosystem of devices that work together: phones, tablets, laptops, routers, VR headsets, smart speakers, smart gadgets for your TV. Some of them are great, others will get better or be replaced by products that better fit inside the ecosystem. Google finally realized that "people who are really serious about software should make their own hardware," as Alan Kay said and Steve Jobs quoted.

Challenging Apple when it comes to selling premium hardware is quite difficult. Apple consistently delivers great products, while Google's products are hit and miss (examples of bad apples: Nexus Q, Pixel C, Glass, Nexus 9). Apple has a long-term vision for products, while Google's plans are always changing with many casualties along the way.

"It's very challenging to work on dozens of products and make them all terrific. We have to have a lot of discipline and a lot of focus," says Rick Osterloh, Google's head of hardware and Motorola's former president.

For now, Google admits that Pixel phones "aren't going to have enormous volumes", as this is only the first iteration of the product. The good news is that "touch latency [on the Pixel] is the best of any Android device ever produced. If you put it under high-speed camera, it's on par with an iPhone."

Google has big plans when it comes to hardware and hopes to eventually sell a lot of them. Even if that means competing against its own partners. "We’re no longer going to be shy about what we think is the right answer for us. What we are going to do is give the OEM ecosystem a chance to compete, meaning it’s a fair playing field," says Rishi Chandra, VP of product management for home products.

{ via The Verge }

05 October 2016

How to Make YouTube Playlists with a Google Spreadsheet


A couple of YouTube videos, some simple Google formulas and a Google Spreadsheet – that’s all you need to quickly create a YouTube playlist. It will be an anonymous playlist, not connected to your YouTube channel, and may be a good way to bunch together multiple videos for easy sharing on WhatsApp, Twitter or an email newsletter.

Make YouTube Playlists with Google Sheets

To get started, open this Google Sheet and put the URLs (links) of YouTube videos in column A (one video per cell, starting with Cell A3). As you paste the video links in cell A, the column B gets populated with the video ID while column C will include a video thumbnail. This helps you double-check that the video URL is actually pointing to the intended video.

After you are done writing the video URLs, go to cell A1 (see tutorial) and you’ll find a link to your YouTube playlist ready for sharing with the world. If you add or remove videos from column A, the playlist link will be updated automatically. Simple. You can share the Google sheet with other people and collaborate together to build a YouTube playlist.

YouTube Playlist Generator – How It Works?

When you paste the video URL in column A, the REGEXTRACT formula uses the following regex to extract the ID of the YouTube video.

=REGEXEXTRACT(A3, “youtu(?:.*\/v\/|.*v\=|\.be\/|.*?embed\/)([A-Za-z0-9_\-]{11})”)

Once video ID is available, the IMAGE formula is used to create the video thumbnail for that YouTube video.

=IMAGE(“http://ift.tt/2dso38y;, 4, 80, 120)

Now comes the most interesting part – generating the YouTube playlist. Well, that’s a simple URL hack where we concatenate the video IDs with the JOIN() method and make a live link using the HYPERLINK() method.

=HYPERLINK(“https://www.youtube.com/watch_videos?video_ids=”&join(“,”,B3:B);”Link”)

Also see:  How to Copy YouTube Playlists

These YouTube playlists, generated on-the-fly, are not saved in your Google account. You can also build a permanent YouTube playlist where multiple people can collaborate with a Google Form and Google Scripts. Check out this project written by Martin Hawksey. Thank you Tor Halvor Solheim for the idea.


The story, How to Make YouTube Playlists with a Google Spreadsheet, was originally published at Digital Inspiration by Amit Agarwal on 05/10/2016 under Google Spreadsheet, YouTube, Internet.

Google Gets Serious About Hardware


Google has a new hardware division and Rick Osterloh, the former Motorola chief, is in charge. This hardware division merges Google's disparate hardware projects to bring more cohesive products that work well together.

Google announced a lot of products today and all of them are made by Google. Nexus phones have been replaced by Pixel phones, Daydream View is a comfortable VR headset that works with Pixel phones, Google Home brings Google Assistant to a smart speaker, Google WiFi is a new router that promises better range and Chromecast Ultra supports 4K and has an Ethernet port. That's quite a lot.

Pixel phones are actually made by HTC, but there's no HTC branding. Pixel and Pixel XL are designed by Google and HTC is only the OEM. The two phones share the same premium hardware (aluminum/glass unibody, Snapdragon 821, 4GB RAM, 32/128GB of storage, AMOLED screens, 12MP camera with OIS), but have different screen sizes (5 inch vs 5.5 inch), resolutions (1920 x 1080 vs 2560 x 1440) and batteries (2770 mAh vs 3450 mAh). They have an impressive camera that scores 89 in the DxOMark Mobile test, which is the highest score for a mobile phone. The camera has a fast f/2.0 lens, hybrid autofocus powered by laser detection and phase detection, zero lag HDR+, powerful stabilization.

Pixel and Pixel XL ship with Android Nougat and they're the first phones that come with Google Assistant, the upgraded voice assistant with a more natural voice, more comprehensive answers and better integration with other services.

"Pixel is available for pre-order today starting at $649 in the U.S., U.K., Canada, Germany and Australia," mentions Google. Pixel XL costs $120 more, while the 128GB options adds $100 to the price, exactly like the iPhone. Google partnered with a few carriers: Verizon, Roger/Telus/Bell in Canada, EE in the UK, Deutsche Telekom in Germany, Telstra in Australia, as well as a few stores like Best Buy and Flipkart.



Daydream View brings virtual reality to everyone (who has a Daydream compatible phone). "Powered by Android 7.0 Nougat, Daydream-ready phones are built with high-resolution displays, powerful mobile processors and high-fidelity sensors—all tuned to support great VR experiences. Google’s newest Pixel and Pixel XL are the first Daydream-ready phones, and there are a lot more on the way from leading Android smartphone makers," informs Google. Daydream View is a VR headset and controller that costs $79 and it's comfortable and easy to use. For now, it's mainly a Google Pixel accessory and it will be available in November in the US, Canada, Germany, UK and Australia from the Google Store and all the other carriers and stores that sell Google's phones.



Google Home is a smart wireless speaker with integrated Google Assistant, powerful microphones and noise cancelling technology. It's always listening to "OK Google" (you can quickly disable this feature from the mute button), it has touch controls, far-field voice recognition, Hi-Fi speakers, multi-room support if you buy multiple devices. It also has customizable bases you can buy from the Google Store. Google Home is a clever voice interface for Google, but also for your other smart devices like Chromecast, Nest, Philips Hue and more. IFTTT will make Google Home automation even more powerful.

"Google Home will be available in stores starting in November or you can pre-order yours today for $129 from the Google Store, Best Buy, Target and Walmart," informs Google.



After launching OnHub routers manufactured by TP-Link and Asus, Google came up with its own simplified WiFi router. It's designed to cover a small house or an apartment and you can use multiple Google routers for a larger house. "Network Assist is intelligent software built into Google Wifi to provide you with the fastest possible speed. Behind the scenes, Network Assist automatically helps you avoid Wi-Fi congestion, and transitions you to the closest Wi-Fi point for the best signal." Google's new router has a mobile app that lets you quickly change settings and check stats. For example, you can pause Wi-Fi on a device or prioritize a device.

"Google Wifi will be available for pre-order in the U.S. in November. It will retail for $129 for a single pack, and $299 for a three-pack at the Google Store, Amazon, Best Buy and Walmart."



Chromecast Ultra brings 4K and HDR support, a more powerful hardware and a different charger with Ethernet port. "Chromecast Ultra supports 4K, HDR and Dolby Vision, so you'll get a crisper picture with higher resolution and more vibrant colors. At first, you'll be able to stream 4K content from Netflix, YouTube and Vudu, and we're working to bring more 4K and HDR content on board. Later this year, Google Play Movies & TV will be rolling out 4K content. Chromecast Ultra loads videos 1.8 times faster than other Chromecast devices and includes major Wi-Fi improvements to support streams from full HD to Ultra HD without a hitch," explains Google. "Chromecast Ultra will be available in November for $69 from Best Buy, the Google Store, Target, and Walmart in the U.S., as well as from international retailers in 15 more countries."


04 October 2016

How to Embed YouTube as an Audio Player


How do you embed the audio portion of any YouTube video into your website? An easy option would be that you convert the YouTube video into an MP3 file and upload it to an audio hosting site like Soundcloud. This will work but YouTube is very likely to have a problem with your approach due to copyright issues.

YouTube Audio Player

There’s a simpler approach as well that uses the official YouTube API and requires no file conversion.

You can embed any YouTube video in your web pages and visitors on your site will be able to play and pause the video audio with a simple click. With this technique, you can also use a YouTube video as background audio that runs in a loop.

Check out this live demo. It may resemble an embedded audio player but there’s actually this YouTube video that’s playing in the background.

How to Embed YouTube Audio

It takes just one step to embed a YouTube audio. Open any YouTube video and make a note of the YouTube Video ID (a string of 11 characters).

Next copy-paste the code below anywhere on your website and replace VIDEO_ID with actual ID of your YouTube video.

 <div data-video="VIDEO_ID"  
         data-autoplay="0"         
         data-loop="1"             
         id="youtube-audio">
  </div>
  <script src="https://www.youtube.com/iframe_api"></script>
  <script src="http://ift.tt/2cPXBSW;

There are few other configuration parameters that you can change depending on requirements. For instance, if you set data-autoplay to 1, the audio will begin playing immediately on page load. Likewise, set data-loop to 1 and the audio will play continuously in a never-ending loop until manually stopped.

This internally renders the YouTube video using the IFRAME player and would thus work on both desktop and mobile browsers.

The JavaScript files are hosted on Github while the images are hosted on Imgur. It is recommended that you copy the assets to your own server before deploying on a heavy-traffic website.

YouTube Audio – The Technical Details

We are using the YouTube JavaScript API that renders a regular YouTube player but with the width and height set to 0 pixels. When the user clicks the audio button, it toggles the existing YouTube player state and the video begins to play or pauses.

Here’s the annotated version of the source code. It can be extended to embed YouTube playlists, the default playback volume can be changed or you even embed a part of the video.

YouTube Audio Embed


The story, How to Embed YouTube as an Audio Player, was originally published at Digital Inspiration by Amit Agarwal on 03/10/2016 under Embed, YouTube, Internet.