Tag Archives: Google

Google Tools and Things You Didn’t Know About

Check out this quick list of Google things you likely didn’t know existed. Read the article below from theinquirer.com to find out more about these little-known features you need to see. Click here to see the original article and photos.

gmail undo send feature
Image from theinquirer.com.

6 of the most useful Google things no one uses

Don’t let them get discontinued

By Holly Brockwell

GOOGLE DOESN’T EXACTLY have a publicity problem. But it does have a product problem, in the sense that since it puts its name to a bazillion products, some of them inevitably fall under the radar, and not necessarily through any fault of their own.

That wouldn’t matter, except that the Powers That G have a bad habit of killing features and services that don’t get enough love. Can I get an “amen” for Google Reader? Yeah.

So in the interests of hanging onto the products I use and need, here are the top 5 Google things you should all start using so they don’t discontinue them. Thanks. Appreciate it.

  1. Gmail Undo Send

Everyone’s sent an email and immediately wished they could take it back. Gmail has the best system for doing this – rather than one of those weird “this message was recalled” emails, the Undo Send feature holds your email in the outbox for your choice of five to thirty seconds before sending.

This gives you ample breathing space to spot typos, realise you’ve clicked ‘reply all’, or worst of all, used the phrase “kind regards.”

Undo Send used to be one of the Gmail Labs features, meaning an experimental thing that you could choose to switch on. But it was so brilliant that it made it into the main product, so you’ll now find it under Cog > Settings > General > Undo Send. You can choose 5, 10, 20 or 30 seconds for the wait period – I’d recommend the full thirty. Sometimes you don’t notice you’ve put “hope your well” until the 29th second.

  1. Gmail Labs in general

Now that Undo Send has graduated from Gmail Labs to the General settings, it’s made room for other great ideas to take its place. Labs is the sandbox for fully-fledged features, and you can find some handy features in there that might improve the way you use email.

They change a lot, and Google provides a big disclaimer that they might break or vanish any time. But – touch wood – I haven’t had any problems yet.

Things you can currently turn on in Labs include a Mark As Read button (for people who hate having unread emails but don’t want to open all the stuff they’ll never read), Unread Message Icon (for the opposite people: this adds a little message count to the Gmail icon in the title bar), and even a thing that moves the chat box from the left to the right, like Facebook’s. Mmm, so much tinkering goodness.

  1. Google Docs templates

No one should spend a single precious moment of their life trying to make their CV look halfway professional when these exist. Google’s made heaps of useful templates that they really don’t advertise, and unlike the Microsoft Office ones of old, they don’t mostly date from the same time as terms like “clip art” and “desktop publishing.”

There are different templates for each product. In Google Docs (ie their Microsoft Word-alike), you’ll find the CV templates as well as reports, meeting notes, newsletters, even lesson plans. But the best ones, in my opinion, are in the Excel-competitor Google Sheets.

In the Sheets templates, you’ll find a wedding planner, annual and monthly budgets, to-do lists, travel planners, team rotas, timesheets, invoices – and they’ve been prepopulated with wizardry that adds all the totals up for you.

Annoyingly, Google’s hidden them really well. To see the templates for your product of choice, go into Google Drive, click New, then choose Docs, Slides or Sheets and move across to the next menu. Click “from a template” and enjoy.

  1. Google Keep

I bang on about this a lot, because it pretty much changed my life. Google has its own free to-do/notes app, and it is amazing. If this one’s ever discontinued I’m going on Google strike forever.

Keep has free Android and iOS apps, and works in web too. This means you can easily jot down something you want to remember and it’ll sync across all your devices instantly. You can make to-do lists with proper, working tick boxes. You can colour-code and add clickable hashtags (!) and drag to rearrange and pin things to the top and add voice memos and pictures and drawings and oh god it’s the best, please use it so it never goes away. Thank you.

  1. Send and archive

Another well-hidden feature of Gmail. This adds an extra button to reply emails, so instead of just “Send,” you also have “Send and archive.” This magical button – as the name suggests – sends your reply and files the conversation at the same time, so it vanishes out of your overstuffed inbox (but of course, isn’t gone forever).

Since I turned this on in all my email accounts, replying to people has been somehow much more fun. It feels like throwing the ball back, and on a psychological level it’s made me feel much better about the sisyphean task that is email. Until they reply, of course.

  1. Word Lens

At this point, I think I should get commission for showing people Word Lens. Google paid $$$ for the technology, implemented it into Google Translate, and then basically didn’t tell anyone. Word Lens lets you hold up your phone camera to something written in another language, and see it right there on your screen in English. It is ridiculously sci-fi and cool, and has saved me from ordering black pudding on business trips several times.

The homepage looks dead fancy in Spanish

As with all these products, Google needs to get way better at publicising them. Apple would be shouting about this feature from the rooftops, it’d have some fancy PR name like Understandroid (I don’t work in marketing, OK?) and they’d demonstrate it ad infinitum in their presentations, ads and product videos. Google just whacked it into the existing Translate app, put out a blog post and wondered why people don’t get enthused the way they do by Apple stuff.

To use it, just open the normal free Google Translate app (Android or iOS) and tap the camera icon below “tap to enter text.” Download the dictionary for the country you’re visiting before you go on holiday, and everyone will be your best friend when you get there.

Click here to see more from theinquirer.com.

New Uptime Video-Watching App from Google

Watch YouTube videos with your friends via Uptime, a new app from Google. Read the article below from appleinsider.com to find out more.

Google's Uptime for YouTube

Google launches Uptime collaborative YouTube viewing app exclusively for iOS

By Mike Wuerthele

Google’s “Area 120” incubator project has developed Uptime —an iPhone app for watching YouTube videos collaboratively with other users of the app.

Users of the app will see other viewers icons progressing along the video’s progress bar. Users can follow other Uptime users to see what they’re watching, and share clips from the service from within the app.

The app also features live commentary by people watching the video, as well as the ability to like videos, and get daily video recommendations from friends and people you follow.

At present, the app is iOS-only, with no sign of an Android app.

The app itself is currently available on the iOS App Store, and is free, but requires an invite to use. According to TNW, code “PIZZA” can be used to garner an invitation for the service.

The Uptime app came out of Google’s incubator program, first launched formally in 2004.

“We encourage our employees, in addition to their regular projects, to spend 20% of their time working on what they think will most benefit Google,” Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin wrote in 2004, launching the program. “This empowers them to be more creative and innovative. Many of our significant advances have happened in this manner.”

The 20% rule turned into the Area 120 incubation program, which is now helmed by long-time Google executives Don Harrison and Bradley Horowitz. Other 20% projects in the past have included Gmail, and Google News.

Click here to see more from appleinsider.com.

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.