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

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October 19, 2014

Google Inbox?

Ryan Goldstein, a reader of this blog, noticed a new addition to Gmail's SSL certificate: a reference to inbox.google.com in the Subject Alternative Name field. Subject Alternative Names allows you to secure multiple host names with a single SSL certificate.


When visiting inbox.google.com, Google redirects to https://inbox.google.com/?pli=1 and returns a 403 Forbidden error message. This suggests that the site exists, but it's not yet publicly available.


It's not clear if inbox.google.com will be a used for a new Gmail interface, a different service that uses Gmail data, a mail client or something else.

Update: There's a Chromium bug report about "Inbox (BigTop) desktop freezing in Chrome Canary".

What steps will reproduce the problem?
1. Navigate to inbox.google.com
2. Click on any email message to expand the message

What is the expected result?
Email message expands to show full text of most recent email in the thread, as well as number of other emails in the thread.

What happens instead?
No activity. Inbox application appears frozen. Cursor remains small hand with pointed finger.

Update 2: Mihai Parparita spotted other references to BigTop in Chrome's bug tracker: "I clicked on it from my corp Bigtop account. I was signed in to Mirror with my personal account as the sync account." There are also many reference to inbox_app.

Update 3: Android Police reports that the Gmail app for Android will handle email accounts from Outlook, Yahoo Mail and other email providers. You can already use Gmail's mail fetcher, but the new feature will work better and Google will be able to replace the Android Mail app with Gmail. Maybe this has something to do with Google Inbox?


{ Thanks, Ryan. }

Remove Images From Google Maps Views

If you've added photos to Google Maps Views and you'd like to remove them, Google offers a few options: removing photos from Google Maps Views and Google Maps or deleting photos from all Google products, including Google+. Photos are stored in Google+, not in Google Maps.


Open the photo page in Google Maps Views, click "Remove from Google Maps and Views" and you'll see this confirmation dialog: "Your image will remain in Google+, but will be removed from Google Maps products. This may take up to 24 hours."


If you click the "delete" button instead, your photo is deleted from Google+ and all the Google services that use it.


"When uploading your photos to Google Maps Views, your content will be publicly visible to other users. Geolocated photos that are shared on Google Maps may also be displayed in a variety of Google products and services, such as Google Maps for mobile, Google Earth, Google Search, Google+, Google+ Local, and third party sites using embeddable widgets or the Google Maps API," informs Google.

There are other ways to remove photos from Google Maps Views: make the Google+ album private or uncheck the "Show location data" setting in the album properties.

{ Thanks, Jordan. }

Earth View, New Tab Page Powered by Google Maps

"Earth View displays a beautiful and unique Satellite image from Google Maps every time you open a new tab." It's a Chrome extension that replaces the new tab page with a random Google Maps image.


If you want to find more the satellite image, click the globe icon at the bottom of the page and you'll open the current view in Google Maps. To see a new image, open a new tab or refresh the page.

While the Earth View images are fascinating, you'll probably miss some of the features from the standard new tab page: bookmarks bar, frequently visited pages, Google's doodles and navigation links. Earth View only shows a link to Chrome's apps page.


I've checked the extension's source code and there are almost 1000 satellite images. They're not bundled with the extension, they're loaded from JSON files like: https://www.gstatic.com/prettyearth/1003.json.

Translate Selected Text in Chrome

Chrome has a built-in translation feature, so why would you install an extension for Google Translate? You can select text from a page, click the small Google Translate icon and get the translation almost instantly.


You can also click the extension's button and type some text you want to translate or click "translate this page".


The nice thing about the extension is that you can change your primary language in the extension's settings without changing your browser's interface language or your operating system's language. For example, Chrome for Mac "determines the browser interface language by the Language & Text setting in System Preferences."


"The Translate team is working hard to connect people by breaking language barriers across computers, mobile devices and Internet browsers. Our users make more than 1 billion translations a day," informs the Google Translate blog.

October 1, 2014

Open Gmail Images in Google Drive Viewer

Gmail now treats embedded images just like image attachments. You can mouse over an image and click "Download" and "Save to Drive" or you can click the image to open it in the Google Drive viewer, which has additional features like printing, Google+ sharing, zooming, opening the file in a Google Drive app and more. It's also great for opening the image in full-screen mode. You can use the arrow buttons or press right/left arrow keys to open the next/previous image.




"Similar to attachments, you can now click on large images within a message to see them full-screen in Gmail on the web," informs Google. It didn't work for a 384 x 103 image and a 266 x 210 image, while it worked for a 300 x 153 image. I assume that the minimum image size required is 300 x 150.

{ Thanks, Herin Maru. }

September 29, 2014

Google Tests Icon for Smartphone-Optimized Results

A Google experiment shows a special icon next to smartphone-optimized search results. Obviously, the icon is only displayed when searching from smartphones.


Back in 2012, Google ran a similar experiment, but it never became a regular feature.

Google has a few articles about building smartphone-optimized sites. Google supports three different configurations: responsive design (same code, same URL - Google's recommended configuration), dynamic serving (different code, same URL) and separate mobile sites (different code, different URL).

{ Thanks, Herin Maru. }

Bonus Storage for Google Maps Views

Sushubh Mittal noticed 8GB of bonus storage in his Google account. The bonus storage is for Google Maps Views and doesn't expire.


Other users got 15GB, 67GB, 72GB of free storage, so it looks like Google's bonus is not the same for everyone. It's not clear how you can obtain the Google Maps Views bonus, but I assume it could be influenced by the number of photos and panoramic images you add to Google Maps Views, the number of photos approved to be displayed in Google Maps and their popularity.

All the photos you've publicly shared in Google+ and they're also tagged with a location and have the "Show location" setting checked are automatically added to Google Maps Views and some of them are added to Google Maps. "Google Maps tries to algorithmically choose a variety of interesting, high-quality photos that give you a sense of place. To keep the focus on the location, photos that have people in them are typically not chosen," explains Google.

You can check your storage here: mouse over the chart to see the breakdown.

Update: Stephen Shankland from CNet found a post from the Panoramio group which says that Panoramio users will receive bonus Google Drive storage: "We will provide an easy way for you to migrate all your Panoramio photos, their metadata, and their viewcounts to Views. Your photos will be saved into public albums in Google+ and we will provide you a Google Drive storage bonus to cover the additional data usage."

September 27, 2014

Android Verification Code for Google Accounts

When you're signing in to a Google account from a different country, Google asks you to confirm your identity. You can enter your recovery email address or phone number, enter a verification code received in an SMS messages or voice call and now you can enter a code generated by your Android device.


"If you're signing in from a different location than you usually do, we may ask you to enter a code from the Google Settings app on your Android phone or tablet to make sure you own the account. You don't need an internet connection or phone/SMS connectivity to get codes using this app."


The Google Settings app is the UI for Google Play Services, Google's framework that delivers new features and APIs without installing a new Android version. It has nothing to do with the built-in Settings app, which is part of the operating system and can't be updated by Google.

The verification code has 8 digits and it can be obtained by opening the Google Settings app, tapping the menu button and selecting "Get verification code".

{ Thanks, Herin Maru. }

Chrome's Offline Easter Egg

Chrome's latest Canary release has an updated offline error page. It still includes a small dinosaur image, a funny way to show how quickly your computer can become a relic from the past without an Internet connection.


The error page has an Easter Egg: if you press space, it lets you play a game. "Your only goal is to avoid hitting cacti. The T. Rex jumps by hitting the space bar. Fret not if you do hit an obstacle, because Chrome T. Rex doesn't stay down for long. (Hit the game-over refresh icon, and you're back at it.) The game tracks your progress and high score, but stats are lost if the window closes or is refreshed," reports Mashable.


Google's 16th Birthday Doodle

Google has an animated doodle for its 16th birthday. It's not a game like last year's doodle, but it's still funny. This time, Google shows the world how much it has grown.


"When's Google’s birthday? I'm not sure even we know – we've celebrated on September 7th, 8th, 26th, and, most recently the 27th. Still, while there’re some differing opinions about when to bust out the candles and cake, one fun fact is that our first doodle was posted even before Google was officially incorporated," says Google.

You can find Google's previous birthday doodles on this page.

Happy Birthday, Google!