Tag Archives: Google

Gmail for iOS Finally Gets an Update

Find out what comes with the new Gmail update for iOS in this article from pcmag.com:

gmail photo from pcmag.com
Photo from pcmag.com.

Gmail for iOS Gets Long-Awaited Update

By Angela Moscaritolo

Among the updates are Undo Send for Gmail on iOS and better search and spelling suggestions.

Heads up, iOS users: The Gmail app is about to get a lot better.

Google just announced what it’s touting as the biggest overhaul of the app in nearly four years. The update brings a “fresh new look, sleeker transitions and some highly requested features” such as the ability to “undo send” as well as swipe to archive and delete, according to a blog post from Product Manager Matthew Izatt. Plus, the whole app should be “a lot faster,” he added.

With undo send on iOS, you’ll be able to “prevent embarrassing mistakes,” by quickly undoing a message before it’s delivered to the other person, just like you can already do on the desktop.

Plus, now when you’re searching for something you’ll see instant results and spelling suggestions to help you locate what you’re looking for even quicker. With swipe to archive or delete, you should be able to more quickly clear items out of your inbox if you’re into that type of thing.

Meanwhile, Google also made some user-requested updates to Calendar on iOS. That includes the ability to check out month and week views in landscape mode and support for Apple’s Spotlight search feature and alternate calendars. You can access Spotlight search on your iOS device by touching anywhere on the home screen and swiping your finger down. With Google’s support, you can now use the feature to look for events, Reminders, and goals in your calendar.

Finally, you can now add alternative calendars like Lunar, Islamic, or Hindu and easily see those dates alongside your current calendar.

Click here to see more from pcmag.com.

Keep Your Facts Straight with Google’s New Fact-Checking Tag

Read about the new fact-checking tag on Google News and what Facebook intends to do to keep up in this article from techcrunch.com.

google and facebook graphic
Photo courtesy techcrunch.com

Google added fact checking: Facebook, it’s your move now

By Sarah Perez

Google yesterday announced it will introduce a fact check tag on Google News in order to display articles that contain factual information next to trending news items. Now it’s time for Facebook to take fact-checking more seriously, too.

Facebook has stepped into the role of being today’s newspaper: that is, it’s a single destination where a large selection of news articles are displayed to those who visit its site. Yes, they appear amidst personal photos, videos, status updates, and ads, but Facebook is still the place where nearly half of American adults get their news.

Facebook has a responsibility to do better, then, when it comes to informing this audience what is actually news: what is fact-checked, reported, vetted, legitimate news, as opposed to a rumor, hoax or conspiracy theory.

It’s not okay that Facebook fired its news editors in an effort to appear impartial, deferring only to its algorithms to inform readers what’s trending on the site. Since then, the site has repeatedly trended fake news stories, according to a Washington Post report released earlier this week.

The news organization tracked every news story that trended across four accounts during the workday from August 31 to September 22, and found that Facebook trended five stories that were either “indisputably fake” or “profoundly inaccurate.” It also regularly featured press releases, blog posts, and links to online stores, like iTunes – in other words, trends that didn’t point to news sites.

Facebook claimed in September that it would roll out technology that would combat fake stories in its Trending topics, but clearly that has not yet come to pass – or the technology isn’t up to the task at hand.

In any event, Facebook needs to do better.

It’s not enough for the company to merely reduce the visibility of obvious hoaxes from its News Feed – not when so much of the content that circulates on the site is posted by people – your friends and family –  right on their profiles, which you visit directly.

Plus, the more the items are shared, the more they have the potential to go viral. And viral news becomes Trending news, which is then presented all Facebook’s users in that region.

This matters. Facebook has trended a story from a tabloid news source that claimed 9/11 was an inside job involving planted bombs. It ran a fake story about Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly which falsely claimed she was fired. These aren’t mistakes: they are disinformation.

Facebook has apologized for the above, but declined to comment to The Washington Post regarding its new findings that fake news continues to be featured on the platform.

In addition, not only does Facebook fail at vetting its Trending news links, it also has no way of flagging the links that fill its site.

Outside of Trending, Facebook continues to be filled with inaccurate, poorly-sourced, or outright fake news stories, rumors and hoaxes. Maybe you’re seeing less of them in the News Feed, but there’s nothing to prevent a crazy friend from commenting on your post with a link to a well-known hoax site, as if it’s news. There’s no tag or label. They get to pretend they’re sharing facts.

Meanwhile, there’s no way for your to turn off commenting on your own posts, even when the discussion devolves into something akin to “sexual assault victims are liars” (to reference a recent story.)

Because perish the thought that Facebook would turn of the one mechanism that triggers repeat visits to its site, even if that means it would rather trigger traumatic recollections on the parts of its users instead.

There is a difference between a post that’s based on fact-checked articles, and a post from a website funded by an advocacy group. There’s a difference between Politifact and some guy’s personal blog. Facebook displays them both equally, though: here’s a headline, a photo, some summary text.

Of course, it would be a difficult job for a company that only wants to focus on social networking and selling ads to get into the media business – that’s why Facebook loudly proclaims it’s “not a media company.”

Except that it is one. It’s serving that role, whether it wants to or not.

Google at least has stepped up to the plate and is trying to find a solution. Now it’s Facebook’s turn.

Facebook may have only unintentionally become a media organization, but it is one. And it’s doing a terrible job.

Click here to see more from techcrunch.com.

New Safety Update for Google Search app for iOS

Read about the new incognito mode for the Google Search app in this article from techcrunch.com.

Google Search app photo, Device Pitstop
Photo courtesy of techcrunch.com.

Google’s search app now sports an incognito mode

By Sarah Perez

Looking to surf the mobile web privately, but generally prefer the Google Search app over standalone browsers like Safari or Chrome? Then you’ll appreciate the latest update to the Google Search app for iOS, which now introduces an “incognito mode” that you can further protect using Touch ID, along with a host of other changes.

While private browsing has long been an option in most browsers, Google’s search app has been without the feature, despite the fact that many mobile consumers today use Google’s app as their main entry point to the web on their iPhone.

The app today is ranked slightly higher than Google’s Chrome browser, in fact, as the #2 Utility and #30 Overall app on the iTunes App Store, versus Chrome’s #3 and #34 slots in Utilities and Overall, respectively.

To use the new private search feature, you simply toggle on the incognito mode option in the Settings, when you don’t want your search and browsing history saved. In addition, you can also switch on Touch ID for incognito mode, which means that no one but you can re-enter your existing incognito session.

Once enabled, you can even kick off a new incognito mode session via 3D Touch on the app icon.

The addition of incognito mode is the biggest new feature in the updated app, but Google says there have been other tweaks as well, including performance improvements and increased stability on iOS 10, making the app twice as reliable as the earlier version.

Another notable feature is the ability to watch YouTube videos right in the search results. Before, you would have to open a new page or visit the YouTube app.

The update is live now on the App Store.

Click here to see more from techcrunch.com.

Everything You Need to Know About Google Duo

This article from theverge.com discusses the ins and outs of Google Duo, the latest and greatest FaceTime-rivaling app. Read all about it here:

Device Pitstop Google Duo on smartphones

Google Duo arrives to take on FaceTime

A relentlessly focused mobile video chat app

By Dieter Bohn

Google Duo, a new video chat app that works exclusively on phones, is getting released today. I’ve been using it for about a week and I can tell you that it’s fast, easy to use, and devoid of complicated bells and whistles. You tap on the face of the person you want to call, they answer, and you have a one-on-one video chat going. Nobody who uses this app can say that Google didn’t achieve its goal of creating a video chat app that’s relentlessly, explicitly designed solely for phones.

That effort is so single-minded I can’t decide if it’s timid or bold.

First, a bit about how Duo works. It’s available on both Android phones and iPhones. When you sign up, the app checks your phone number from your SIM and then sends you a confirmation text. That’s the whole setup process — there are no accounts to create nor friend lists to maintain. It’s tied directly to your contacts list and your phone number.

That’s great for simplicity, but bad if you want to use Duo on anything other than your phone. It’s also unable to make conference calls, put Hangouts-style funny pirate hats on your head during a call, or offer just about any other fancy feature you might expect from a video conference app.

Duo’s radical simplicity is by design, says vice president of Google’s communications division, Nick Fox. “By being laser-focused on mobile,” he says, “it enables us to just make sure that we were doing a great, wonderful job on that case. … For us, we thought ‘amazing on mobile, nothing on desktop’ was the better approach.”

There is one feature in Duo that feels genuinely new: it’s called “Knock Knock.” When you receive a call on Android (it doesn’t work on the iPhone), your entire screen starts showing the live video from your caller before you even answer. It lets you see who’s calling — and lets the caller make funny faces to try to entice you to answer. Google’s promo video for Duo emphasizes it heavily:

In my testing, Knock Knock worked very well — and it has the added benefit of making the call start immediately. The video call is already running the nanosecond you swipe up to answer it. “Instead of the call starting with frustration and confusion,” Fox says, “you start with a smile because you know it already works.” I don’t know about the smile, but I do know that Duo calls started without all the “Hello, are you there?” that I typically experience with most other video and audio calls.

For those worried about people hijacking their screen with a video feed while they’re at dinner or a meeting, a few notes to ease your mind. First, Knock Knock only works with people you already have saved in your contacts — so random people won’t show up. Second, you can block a caller if you like — but take note that since Duo doesn’t have its own independent friends list, blocking a caller on Duo blocks them everywhere. Last, you can turn the feature off entirely if you don’t like it.

Google also has done a lot of work on the back end to make things feel immediate. It’s based on WebRTC, with some added technical underpinnings to make the call automatically ratchet the quality up or down depending on your connection quality. It’s even able to maintain the call when you switch from Wi-Fi to cellular. After a very brief hiccup, the call just keeps on going.

I mostly tested Duo on a Nexus 5X (running the latest Android Nougat Beta), where call quality was mostly good — better on Wi-Fi, but never so bad that it dropped completely. On the iPhone 6S, call quality was equally good. However, because Google doesn’t have the same ability to integrate on iOS as it does on Android, there are a few hassles: no Knock Knock, and you have to unlock the phone before you answer the call.

Duo is the second of the two apps Google announced at its developer conference this past May. The other is the AI-enhanced text messaging app Allo, for which Google hasn’t yet announced a release date. That’s odd enough, but perhaps not as confusing as Google’s overall strategy with communication apps: instead of fixing its unified solution, Hangouts, Google has opted to release two different (but slightly related) messaging apps: one for video and one for text.

Neither app is designed to replace Google’s other video and messaging app, Hangouts. Instead, Hangouts will continue to exist with a more tightly focused mission: serving enterprise users, where Fox says we can expect “it will increasingly be more integrated with Google Apps suite.” It will still be available for consumers, of course, but those users won’t be the focus of future product development.

And Fox is also not especially concerned that Google is offering a multiplicity of communication apps. He sees Google’s products as split broadly into three bands: Allo and Duo for consumers; Hangouts for the enterprise; and services that are more carrier focused — like SMS, RCS, and even the Phone app. Fox believes that consumers simply aren’t confused by a multiplicity of messaging apps — whether they’re made by Google or not — “People use the apps that their friends are using,” he says. And he’s excited to see Duo (and, later, Allo) compete with all of them head-to-head.

How Duo will actually compete was (and is) one of my biggest questions. Why use Duo when Facebook Messenger, Snapchat, FaceTime, Hangouts, and any number of other options exist? Is Google going to leverage the massive power of the Android install base somehow? Will Duo be part of the standard suite of Google Play apps preinstalled on the vast majority of Android phones (outside of China)? “We haven’t made decisions on that yet,” says Fox. “We want to get it out there, see how it does, and then I see distribution as the next step rather than the first step.”

When I said up top that I couldn’t decide whether Google’s strategy with Duo was bold or timid, this is what I was referring to. It’s not going to be the automatic default for all Android phones, replacing phone calls in the way that iMessage replaces SMS. Google isn’t ready to go there just yet, which feels timid.

But it’s also bold. In this incredibly crowded marketplace, Google is forcing Duo to compete on its own merits. You can invite somebody to use it by sending them a text from inside the app, but otherwise the plan seems to just be to see how it is received in the marketplace. I asked some variant of “how are you going to get users for this thing” no fewer than four times in my hour with Fox, and every time the answer boiled down to this: “We’re focused on building great apps that people love and distribution will follow that.”

I have no idea if that plan will work: sometimes boldness is just naiveté. But I can’t help but respect the clarity of purpose behind the creation of Duo. It’s aggressively, obsessively focused on making the best possible mobile experience for video chat, at the expense of all else. He said no to desktop, no to conference calling, no even to allowing the same account to work on multiple devices. For the Duo team, getting “mobile first” right meant demanding it be “mobile only.”

Duo does one-on-one video chat very well, which is what Google set out to make it do. The question now is whether or not that’s enough.

Click here to see more from theverge.com.