An unofficial blog that watches Google's attempts to move your operating system online since 2005. Not affiliated with Google.

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January 26, 2016

Top Results and Quick Answers in Google Inbox

I've always wondered why Gmail doesn't sort search results by relevance, just like Google Search. Gmail sorts results by date, so you can quickly find recent messages that match your query, and that's pretty useful, but sometimes you want to find an old email from a friend or a long-forgotten conversation about modern architecture.

Now Inbox search works a lot like Google Search. Google autocompletes your query and shows results as you type. There's also a "top results" section that shows the most relevant 5 results for your query. It's not perfect and it's easy to see why this doesn't replace the standard "sort by date": ranking email conversations is harder than ranking web pages. There are no links between messages, many messages are pretty short and are only important for a short while.


In addition to top results, Inbox also shows quick answers extracted from your messages. "Now when you're searching for a frequent flyer number or shipping status, Inbox will show it at the top of search results – no more digging through individual emails to find what you're looking for."


Quick answers are very big in the desktop site:

January 24, 2016

YouTube Loop

Back in 2014, I found a way to loop YouTube videos using a feature of the HTML5 player. It looks like YouTube added "loop" as a standard feature. Just right click inside the HTML5 player and click "loop". This way, you can watch a video on repeat until you pause it or uncheck "loop" from the contextual menu.


It also works for embedded videos. Here's a short video you can use to test the loop feature:

Import Contacts in the New Google Contacts

When the latest version of Google Contacts launched last year, many features were missing. It looks like one of these features is back: you can now import contacts without switching to the old UI.

You can import contacts from Yahoo Mail, Outlook.com, AOL or from other email providers. If you want to import contacts from a CSV/vCard file, you'll still have to switch to the old interface.


Google uses a third-party service called ShuttleCloud for importing contacts. "To continue, you'll need to give ShuttleCloud temporary access to your contacts data, including names and email addresses," informs Google.


Another missing feature was restoring contacts. You can now "restore your contacts to any state within the past 30 days, recover deleted contacts, undo an import, or undo a merge."


Exporting contacts and printing contacts still require to go back to the old UI.

New UI for Google's Weather Card

Google redesigned the weather card to include more information and images. The new weather card is only available in the Google Search app for Android, at least for now. "When you search for 'weather' or ask Google, 'will it rain today?' in the Google app on your Android phone, you'll get a wealth of new information, including: hourly sky conditions and chance of rain, severe weather alerts, a detailed 10-day forecast, air quality, UV index, sunrise and sunset times, and more," informs Google.

Google's new UI has 3 tabs for "today", "tomorrow" and "10 days". There's also a "humidity, wind, sunrise, and more details" link at the bottom of the card which allows you to expand it. You can also tap anywhere inside the card.



Google added an option to add a location to the weather list. This way, you can search for "weather" and see a list of all the locations you've added and the corresponding weather information. The search bar is now optimized for finding locations, so it's easier and faster to switch to a different city.


The "today" tab now includes information about sunrise, sunset, solar noon, length of the day, remaining daylight, dawn, dusk, dew point, pressure, UV index and visibility.


For some cities in the US, Japan, South Korea, India and other countries, you can find air quality information and health messages like "it's a great today to be active outside" or "avoid prolonged or heavy exertion". The source is EPA AirNow.




The "10 day" shows weather forecast for today and the following 9 days. Tap a day to find more details, including hourly weather forecast, wind, humidity, UV index, sunrise and sunset.


January 17, 2016

New File Picker in Google Inbox

Google Inbox has a new attachment picker. When you compose a new message and click the paperclip icon, Google now shows a list of recently received attachments, a list of recently sent attachments and the latest photos uploaded to Google Photos. Click "show more" to see the rest of the attachments and photos. You can also select files from your computer. Unfortunately, there's no Google Drive integration yet.

"Inbox by Gmail on the web now makes it easier to share memories with instant access to recent photos and attachments," informs Google.


{ Thanks, Jonah Langlieb. }

December 10, 2015

Google Play Music Family Plan

Google Play Music started to offer a new family plan: $14.99/month for up to 6 family members, just like Apple Music. You and 5 other family members can subscribe to Google Play Music All Access and keep your own playlists, radio stations, ratings and recommendations. The new family plans are available in the US, Canada, the UK, Australia, France and Germany, while also requiring regular Google accounts (no Google Apps, for now). You can only sign up from the Google Play Music app for Android, but everything else works for all the platforms supported by Google Play Music.



Google says you can "share a payment method on Google Play so your family can purchase apps, movies, books and music." It looks like Google will add a family sharing feature for Google Play, so that purchases are shared between family members, just like in iOS. Hopefully, sharing the payment method will be optional.

Save Google's Image Search Results

If you find beautiful images using Google Image Search's mobile site, you can save them and organize them using a new Google service. Just tap the star icon next to a search result and the image is saved to your account. Go to google.com/save to see all the images and add tags or notes (the link only works from mobile Chrome and Safari).





"When using your phone or tablet's web browser, you can easily save images you find in Google search results as links. You can see your saved images, which are similar to bookmarks, when you're signed in to your Google Account. You can return to your saved images at any time and add tags to organize them," informs Google.

December 8, 2015

Reminders in Google Calendar

Google Calendar's apps for Android and iOS now let you add reminders, just like you can do using Google Keep, Google Search or Google Inbox. This feature is rolling out this week if you have the latest version of the Google Calendar's mobile app. Until now, you could only see your reminders in Google Calendar.


"You might already create calendar entries to remind you to call the doctor or pick up groceries on the way home. But while those entries come and go, Reminders stick with you over time so you can track them until they are actually done. If a Reminder isn't completed, it will appear at the top of your Calendar the next day. And the next. When you do finally call the doctor or pick up those necessities, just swipe the Reminder away ... and you're onto the next to-do," informs Google.

Calendar events are different from reminders, but you can now manage them from the same app. Google promises to bring this feature to the Google Calendar web app in the near future.

All Tab in Google Search

Google has a new name for the "web" tab from search results pages. It's now called "all", which better reflects that Google no longer shows only web pages, but also quick answers, facts, images, videos, news, maps, apps, books and more. That's the whole idea behind Universal Search, which was launched back in 2007.


November 24, 2015

Travel Guide Snippets in Knowledge Graph Cards

Google's Knowledge Graph cards include a lot of information from Wikipedia. Google usually shows a snippet from a Wikipedia article and links to the article. I was surprised to notice that cards for countries and big cities from all over the world no longer quote Wikipedia and now include detailed information from travel guides.

Here's an example for [France]: "France, in Western Europe, encompasses medieval and port cities, tranquil villages, mountains and Mediterranean beaches. Paris, its capital, is known worldwide for its couture fashion houses, classical art museums including the Louvre and monuments like the Eiffel Tower. The country is also renowned for its sophisticated cuisine and its wines. Lascaux's ancient cave drawings, Lyon's Roman theater and the immense Palace of Versailles are testaments to its long history."


The snippet from the corresponding Wikipedia article is less poetic: "France, officially the French Republic, is a sovereign state comprising territory in western Europe and several overseas regions and territories. The European part of France, called Metropolitan France, extends from the Mediterranean Sea to the English Channel and the North Sea, and from the Rhine to the Atlantic Ocean. France spans 640,679 square kilometres (247,368 sq mi) and has a total population of 67 million. It is a unitary semi-presidential republic with the capital in Paris, the country's largest city and main cultural and commercial centre."