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

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August 26, 2014

64-Bit Chrome for Windows in the Stable Channel

Chrome 37 has been promoted to the stable channel. This means that the 64-bit Chrome for Windows is ready for primetime. You won't be upgraded to the 64-bit version even if you use 64-bit Windows 7 or Windows 8, so you have to manually install the 64-bit Chrome 37 from this page. You can also click the "Windows 64-bit" from Chrome's download page.


"64-bit Chrome offers many benefits for speed, stability and security. Our measurements have shown that the native 64-bit version of Chrome has improved speed on many of our graphics and media benchmarks. For example, the VP9 codec that’s used in High Definition YouTube videos shows a 15% improvement in decoding performance. Stability measurements from people opted into our Canary, Dev and Beta 64-bit channels confirm that 64-bit rendering engines are almost twice as stable as 32-bit engines when handling typical web content," informs Google.

So why is 64-bit Chrome opt-in? It doesn't support 32-bit NPAPI plugins. This may be an important downside for some users, but Chrome will remove NPAPI support in the coming months anyway. Until then, the 32-bit Chrome will still be the default.

Chrome's "known issues" page informs that the 64-bit plugins for Java and Silverlight work properly, while the plugins for Google Earth and Google Voice don't work because they're 32-bit plugins. You can switch between the 32-bit and 64-bit Chrome versions from Chrome's download page.

{ Thanks, Dilraj. }

Upload Google+ Videos to YouTube

YouTube now lets import your videos from Google+. Just go to the upload page and click the "import" button from the right sidebar.


You can select one or more Google+ videos and upload them simultaneously. This is a great way to upload your videos from desktop computers, Android and iOS devices if you've enabled the Auto Backup feature.


Google+ is better suited for uploading and managing photos. Even if Google+ uses YouTube's infrastructure for videos, Google doesn't provide embedding options for Google+ videos.

{ spotted by Nedas Petravičius. }

August 25, 2014

Edit Office Files in Docs, Sheets and Slides for iOS

Google released the Slides app for iOS and added native Office file editing to Docs, Sheets and Slides for iOS.

"You can truly get stuff done from any device — your iPhone, iPad, Android phone, Android tablet, laptop or desktop computer. Any change you make on any of these devices is saved automatically, so you can pick up right where you left off any time, anywhere that you can sign in. The Docs, Sheets and Slides apps come with offline editing built right in. Just make the files you want to edit available offline. Any changes you make offline get automatically synced when you reconnect, just like when you make offline edits from your computer. And while converting Office files to Docs, Sheets and Slides is a cinch, the new iPhone/iPad apps also let you edit Office files directly - just like on the Android apps and the web," informs Google.



Native Office editing using the Office Compatibility Mode is a great feature and now Google's productivity apps for iOS are more powerful and can better compete with Microsoft Office.

On YouTube Music Key

Google works on a subscription service for YouTube that will allow users to watch music videos without ads, play music videos in the background when using mobile devices and temporarily download music videos. YouTube Music Key will cost $9.99 a month and it will include Google Play Music All Access, which will be renamed Google Play Music Key.

While this is a great deal for Play Music subscribers, I'm not sure if YouTube Music Key's offering is strong enough on its own. There are many free apps for Android and iOS that let you play almost any YouTube video in the background, not just music videos. They also let you download almost any video and don't show YouTube ads. There are various ways to block YouTube ads and download YouTube videos.


I think that YouTube Music Key is a way to improve Google Play Music Key and supplement it with YouTube's music videos. It's also a way to promote Google Play Music's subscription service using YouTube.

Features like playing videos in the background or offline playback should be available for free for any video. Limiting them to music videos and requiring a monthly fee seems shortsighted, considering that there are free apps that offer these features.

Google Knowledge Vault

New Scientist reports that Google works on supplementing Knowledge Graph with a new database called Knowledge Vault. While Knowledge Graph uses information from a list of trusted sources, Knowledge Vault gathers data from the entire Web.

"Google started building the Vault by using an algorithm to automatically pull in information from all over the web, using machine learning to turn the raw data into usable pieces of knowledge. Knowledge Vault has pulled in 1.6 billion facts to date. Of these, 271 million are rated as 'confident facts', to which Google's model ascribes a more than 90 per cent chance of being true. It does this by cross-referencing new facts with what it already knows. Knowledge Vault offers Google fast, automatic expansion of its knowledge – and it's only going to get bigger," informs New Scientist.

Google already provides some answers extracted from web pages, but it's not clear if this feature has anything to do with Knowledge Vault.


It's interesting to note that the Google blog post that announced Knowledge Graph mentioned that "Knowledge Graph isn't just rooted in public sources such as Freebase, Wikipedia and the CIA World Factbook. It's also augmented at a much larger scale — because we're focused on comprehensive breadth and depth."

Google's goal has always been to use the power of the Web to extract facts and answers. 10 years ago, Google Q&A provided answers to common questions like "what is the population of Japan?" using information from the Web. Knowledge Graph allowed Google to organize information and create connections between entities and now Knowledge Vault comes full circle.

"Knowledge Vault: A Web-Scale Approach to Probabilistic Knowledge Fusion" is authored by Xin Luna Dong, Evgeniy Gabrilovich, Geremy Heitz, Wilko Horn, Ni Lao, Kevin Murphy, Thomas Strohmann, Shaohua Sun, Wei Zhang - all of them from Google. The paper explains that "Knowledge Vault is different from previous works on automatic knowledge base construction as it combines noisy extractions from the Web together with prior knowledge, which is derived from existing knowledge bases". Google's paper uses the open source Freebase graph, but it's obvious that Freebase would be replaced with Knowledge Graph in Google Search.

{ via Search Engine Land }

Add YouTube Search Results to a Playlist

If you want to quickly add videos to a YouTube playlist, you can click YouTube's search box, enter a query, mouse over search results, click the 3-dot menu icon and pick an existing playlist or create a new one. You can add videos without having to open them, then you can edit the playlist from this page.


External Addresses No Longer Use Gmail SMTP Servers

Gmail has a feature that lets you send mail from a different email address. For non-Gmail addresses, you could send email addresses using Gmail's SMTP servers or through the email provider's SMTP servers. Now you can no longer use Gmail's SMTP servers when adding new accounts:

We rolled out a change for new accounts where if you would like to send mail as from a non-Gmail or non-Google Apps account, you can no longer use the option of Gmail's servers to send your mail. Google is a strong supporter of email authentication standards including DKIM, SPF and DMARC. This is one in a series of changes to strengthen email authentication, and end any practices by Google products which break authentication.

Any accounts which previously were using Send Mail As via Gmail servers will not be affected, you can keep the previous set up. If you are a Google Apps user sending from a domain alias or email alias you can also check out the steps listed in this help center article under "I'm a Google Apps for Business user sending from a domain alias or email alias".


The help center article has more information: "Your other email provider has to provide authenticated SMTP support for you to use this option. We'll use TLS by default, or SSL if you enable it. Many email services that provide POP or IMAP support also offer authenticated SMTP support, and you can likely find your SMTP server configuration instructions alongside information about POP or IMAP."

Until 2009, all the addresses you added to your Gmail account used Gmail's SMTP servers. In 2009, Gmail added the option to use the email provider's SMTP servers. One of the benefits was that email clients like Outlook no longer displayed "From username@gmail.com On Behalf Of customaddress@mydomain.com". At that time, Google mentioned that "we recognize that your other address might not have a server that you can use to send outbound messages — for example, if you use a forwarding alias rather than an actual mailbox, or if your other email provider doesn't support authenticated SMTP, or restricts access to specific IP ranges. For this reason, we've kept the original method as well." Now, the original method is no longer available.

{ Thanks, Jan Willem Hengeveld. }

August 23, 2014

Why Switch to HTTPS?

Google tries to move the entire web to HTTPS, but you may wondering if it's really necessary. If you only have a blog or any other site that only displays static content, why would you use SSL? John Mueller and Pierre Far, both from Google, have the following answer:

Some webmasters say they have "just a content site", like a blog, and that doesn't need to be secured. That misses out two immediate benefits you get as a site owner:

1. Data integrity: only by serving securely can you guarantee that someone is not altering how your content is received by your users. How many times have you accessed a site on an open network or from a hotel and got unexpected ads? This is a very visible manifestation of the issue, but it can be much more subtle.

2. Authentication: How can users trust that the site is really the one it says it is? Imagine you're a content site that gives financial or medical advice. If I operated such a site, I'd really want to tell my readers that the advice they're reading is genuinely mine and not someone else pretending to be me.

Change the Query in Google Search Easter Eggs

This is really cool: you can take some of the Google Search Easter Eggs, change the query and they will still work. For example, you can replace "do a barrel roll" with "google maps" like this: https://www.google.com/search?q=do+a+barrel+roll#q=google+maps. Start with https://www.google.com/search?q=do+a+barrel+roll#q=, then add the new query, while replacing space with +.


This also works for the "blink html" Easter Egg: https://www.google.com/search?q=blink+html#q=las+vegas and the "tilt" Easter Egg: https://www.google.com/search?q=tilt#q=android+l.

{ via Search Engine Land }

August 18, 2014

More Directions in Google Search for Mobile

When searching for [directions from A to B] or [distance from A to B] from your mobile device, Google now shows an updated card with multiple tabs for driving directions, public transit, biking directions and walking directions. Until now, Google only displayed driving directions.

This isn't Google Maps for Android or the mobile Google Maps site, it's just a Google Search card.