Google News

Click the links below to read the full text. Also subscribe to posts via RSS feeds.

Google+ Hangouts: going beyond the status update

posted Dec 16, 2011, 1:22 AM by Felix Lio

All too often, physical distance and frantic schedules get in the way of spending time together, especially during the holidays. But you know what? They don't have to.

With Google+ Hangouts, you can go beyond “status updates,” and connect with the people you care about using multi-person video. For free. And today we're rolling out a number of improvements that make it even easier to say hello to your loved ones, face-to-face-to-face.

Upgrade any conversation from long-form to live
Certain posts act as kindling for face-to-face interaction. Suppose your sister gets engaged, or your roommate lands a job, or your favorite singer shares their concert schedule. You can obviously write comments back and forth, but it's moments like these when you really want to connect in person. That's why we're making it easy to start a hangout from any post on Google+.

Just click "Hangout" underneath a post that you’re passionate about, and we’ll add your invitation to the comments. If others are hanging out already, you'll see their invitation in the comments as well.

Starting a hangout on a post (left); Joining a hangout already in progress (right)

The desire to “go live” isn’t limited to your desktop computer, of course, so we’re also bringing hangouts to Google+ Messenger on mobile devices. Simply tap the new hangout icon when the time is right, and you'll flip from text and photos to smiles and laughter.

Google+ Messenger: tap once to start a hangout (left); tap again to continue typing (right)

The new Google+ app will be available in Android Market within a few days, and it’s coming soon to the App Store.

Broadcast and record what matters most
The Black Eyed Peas, the Dalai Lama and even the Muppets have all used Hangouts On Air to share their performances and peace talks with the world. On Air is still under active development, but today we’re doing three things to get us closer to general availability:
  • We’re turning it on for hundreds more public figures, celebrities and other Google+ users with large followings
  • We’re making Hangouts On Air completely self-service, so you can broadcast whenever you’re in the mood
  • We’re integrating it with YouTube, so once you’re off the air, we’ll upload a full-length (and private) recording to your account
Starting an On Air hangout (left); Watching an On Air hangout in the stream (right)

To get started, just look for the new “broadcast and record” option after starting a hangout. If you don’t see it yet, then don’t worry: we’re working hard to give everyone the chance to go On Air.

In the meantime, you can still watch or join On Air broadcasts directly from the stream. Just look for the red banner while reading your posts or checking your hair, and you'll know you're in the right place.

Dial-in friends and family, from all over the world
Not everyone has a webcam or a front-facing mobile camera, but that shouldn’t stop them from spending time with the people they’re close to. Fortunately, nearly everyone has a telephone, and today we’re making it possible to dial-in anyone, from almost any country, directly into your hangout. Calls to the U.S. and Canada are free, and international calling rates are super, super low.

Dial-in hangout participants from almost anywhere

Never miss a chance to connect
When friends and family invite you to hang out on Google+, we want to make sure the opportunity doesn’t pass you by. So we’re making active hangouts more accessible in two important ways:
  • On the right-hand side of the stream, you’ll see up to three live hangouts that you can join
  • Whether you’re at your desk or on the go, we'll ring your device and notify you when you’re invited to a hangout
From left to right: live hangouts you can join; desktop notification in chat; mobile notification

Whether it’s sharing baby news, or your niece’s new dance moves, Google+ users continue to use hangouts to build intimate onscreen experiences. We hope these two improvements help you discover more of them, more often.

Have some fun, add some antlers
Back in NMovember, we helped the Google+ community add millions of virtual moustaches to their faces. Now that it’s December we’re introducing a pair of antlers, so by all means, unleash your inner reindeer! Looking ahead, developers will be able to create their own effects using the updated Hangouts API, so stay tuned for lots more fun.

Moustaches in Movember (left); Antlers in December (right)

By bringing people together, face-to-face-to-face, we're hoping to make the world a bit cozier, and lift people's spirits a bit higher. So give hangouts a try this holiday season, and let us know what you think.

Making Chrome even more app-ealing

posted Oct 27, 2011, 7:26 PM by Felix Lio   [ updated Oct 27, 2011, 7:28 PM ]

From sharing photos, to collaborating on documents, to enjoying online games, web apps make the web fun, useful and entertaining. Since the beginning, Chrome has been designed to allow apps to do more, faster. Today, changes in Chrome make it even easier to access your favorite apps and discover new favorites.

In the latest stable release of Chrome, we’ve completely redesigned the New Tab page. It’s more streamlined, so it’s easier to access and organize your apps in different sections on the page. Watch the video below for a quick tour.



To add more apps to your New Tab page, click the Chrome Web Store icon. The Web Store also has a new look:


Apps and extensions are now presented in a wall of images that’s updated every time you visit the store. We hope this will help you quickly scan the store and find interesting things to try out. In addition, apps and extensions are easier to install—just hover over an image on the grid and click “Add to Chrome.”


Getting additional information about an app or an extension is just a click away. When you click on an app, extension or theme, you’ll see a panel featuring screenshots, videos and other relevant information neatly organized into separate tabs. The store also includes a brand new reviews interface that links to the Google+ profile of each reviewer. (To protect your privacy, we made sure to anonymize any reviews that you previously submitted.)

Along with the new look, a bunch of new apps have joined the store. I’m personally excited about My Robot Nation™, an app that lets you design your own robot and bring it to life with a 3D printer. There are plenty of new games to play, including The Godfather: Five Families and Fieldrunners. And for those of you still looking for a Halloween costume, check out the brand-new eBay shopping app.

We have many more features on deck, and we’re looking forward to making the app experience in Chrome even better soon.

Google+: Popular posts, eye-catching analytics, photo fun and...

posted Oct 27, 2011, 7:23 PM by Felix Lio   [ updated Oct 27, 2011, 7:25 PM ]

We think Google+ should get better every time you use it. It’s not enough to obsess over community feedback (which we do); we also need to surprise and delight you with constant improvements (which we also try and do). Today’s no different, so we’re rolling out four new features in four different areas.

What’s Hot on Google+: see what everyone’s talking about
Google+ users share and receive billions of items every day—on a wide range of topics, in nearly every country. Circles give you a personal lens on all this activity, helping you focus on updates from your family or your favorite celebrities. But sometimes you want to know what the world is so excited about. Whether it’s breaking news or beautiful photos, you just don’t want to miss anything. With this in mind, we’re launching “What’s Hot” on Google+, a new place to visit for interesting and unexpected content:



Google+ Ripples: watch how posts get shared
There’s something deeply satisfying about sharing on Google+, then watching the activity unfold. Comments pour in, notifications light up, friends share with friends (who share with their friends), and in no time at all there’s an entire community around your post. We want to help people re-live those conversations—both to rekindle that initial excitement, and to learn how posts flow across the network. That’s why we’re launching Google+ Ripples: a visualization tool for public shares and comments.

To get started, just find a public post that interests you, and select “View Ripples.” From there you can replay its activity, zoom in on certain events, identify top contributors and much more. Google+ Ripples is still experimental, so let us know how we can make it more informative and more awesome:



Google+ Creative Kit: have more fun with your photos
Nothing tells a story like the perfect picture, so it’s only natural to want to make yours really, really, really, ridiculously good-looking. Unfortunately, photo editing is too often a chore, requiring specialized software and lots of patience. We want to help everyone put their best photo forward, so today we’re introducing the Google+ Creative Kit, a fast and friendly way to make powerful edits to your photos.

Now you can add that vintage feel to your vacation photos. Or sharpen those snapshots from the family barbeque. Or add some text for added personality. With the Creative Kit, all you need is an idea:



Of course: we also think photo editing should be lots of fun. So we’ve added some limited-edition Halloween effects to the Creative Kit, and we’re inviting everyone on Google+ to join a ghoulish (and good-spirited) photo competition.

Through the end of October, simply add some spook to your photos, and share them publicly on Google+ with the hashtag #gplushalloween. We’ll assemble a surprise panel of celebrities, and next Thursday, Nov 3, they’ll announce their favorites. In the meantime, you can see early submissions from community members below. After all: we take our fun very seriously. :-)

From left to right: Larry Page, Sergey Brin (top), Adrian Grenier (bottom), Britney Spears,

Google+ is now available with Google Apps

posted Oct 27, 2011, 7:20 PM by Felix Lio

Google Apps fans, today we’re ready to add you to our circles. Google+ makes sharing on the web more like sharing in the real world, and now Google+ is available to people who use Google Apps at college, at work or at home.

Starting now you can manually turn on Google+ for your organization. Once Google+ is turned on, your users will just need to sign up at google.com/+ to get started. For customers who use Google Apps for Business or the free version of Google Apps and who have chosen to automatically enable new services, Google+ will automatically become available to all of your users over the next several days.*

Google Apps users will have access to the same set of features that are available to every Google+ user, and more. In addition to sharing publicly or with your circles, you’ll also have the option to share with everyone in your organization, even if you haven’t added all of those people to a circle.



Google+ at home, at work and at college
You use Google Apps in lots of different ways, and we expect the same for Google+. Apps users from artists to doctors to parents to students to teachers have told us that they are ready to join the 40 million people already sharing on Google+.

Circles is a great way to share relevant content with the right people. With Circles, your photography crew doesn’t have to get an update about your morning workout, your triathlon team doesn’t have to see all your thoughts on the latest camera gear, and your project teams can be kept separate from all of this.



Hangouts with extras, which combines multi-person video chat with screen sharing and collaboration in Google Docs, lets you work together on projects even when your team can't be in the same room. Whether you’re out of town, working on a project with a distributed group, or just don’t feel like walking to the next building for your meeting, Hangouts with extras can give your team the productivity boost it needs.



Google+ coming to a campus near you
Many students and teachers have sent us their ideas about how they can use Google+ to teach, learn, work, and play. These are a few Google Apps for Education universities from around the world that are bringing Google+ to their campuses today:

  • Abilene Christian University
  • American University in Cairo (Egypt)
  • Arizona State University
  • AT Still University
  • Boise State University
  • Central Piedmont Community College
  • Dublin City University (Ireland)
  • ESSEC Business School (France)
  • Leeds Metropolitan University (United Kingdom)
  • Loughborough University (United Kingdom)
  • Saint Louis University
  • Strathmore University (Kenya)
  • Universidad Panamericana (Mexico)
  • University of Ferrara (Italy)
  • University of Maryland Baltimore County
  • University of Minnesota
  • University of Notre Dame
  • University of Pavia (Italy)
  • University of Portsmouth (United Kingdom)
  • University of Washington
  • Vanderbilt University
  • Wake Forest University

Just the beginning
For those of you who’ve already started using Google+ with a personal Google Account and would prefer to use your Google Apps account, we’re building a migration tool to help you move over. With this tool, you won’t have to rebuild your circles, and people who’ve already added you to their circles will automatically be connected to your new profile. We expect this migration option to be ready in a few weeks, so if you’d like, you can go ahead and get started with your Apps account today and merge your connections once the tool is available.

It took more technical work than we expected to bring Google+ to Google Apps, and we thank you for your patience. This integration is just the beginning. We’ll continue to add features and improve the way that Google+ works with Google Apps, and we encourage you to share your ideas.

Android in spaaaace!

posted Sep 6, 2011, 8:56 AM by Felix Lio   [ updated Sep 6, 2011, 8:57 AM ]

Back in December, Android ventured into near space, thanks to a weekend of DIY work, a couple of Nexus S phones, some weather balloons and the help of this little guy. After this first adventure, we knew it was only a matter of time before Android went further into space. 

On the last manned space shuttle, Atlantis, NASA sent two Nexus S phones along for the ride as part of the STS-135 mission. The goal is to use Nexus S on the International Space Station to explore how robots can help humans experiment and live in space more efficiently. 



NASA is using Nexus S phones to upgrade a trio of volleyball-sized SPHERES (Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites), originally developed by MIT. The phones help the robotic satellites perform tasks the astronauts used to do, like recording sensor data and capturing video footage. In the future, the phones will control and maneuver the SPHERES using the IOIO board and possibly the Android Open Accessory Development Kit (ADK).

A couple of our engineers built an open source sensor logging app that NASA decided was perfect for running diagnostics with the SPHERES. You can download the same app yourself from Android Market. NASA was interested in Android because it’s an open source platform, which makes it easy to customize the software on the phone to meet the specifications required to fly in space and work with the SPHERES. Nexus S was also a good fit because of its various sensors and low-powered, but high-performing, processor. 

You can learn more about the project on NASA’s website. We loved being a part of the final Space Shuttle mission and working to bring the power of the Android platform to space exploration.

Google Apps highlights

posted Sep 6, 2011, 8:54 AM by Felix Lio

Over the last few weeks, we added a few frequently-requested improvements to Google Apps, including offline access in Gmail, Calendar and Docs, page numbering in documents, and page-level permissions in Google Sites. If you’ve been waiting for these features, please give them a try!

Work offline in Gmail, Calendar and Docs
You can connect to the Internet in more and more places now, but you probably occasionally find yourself in situations when you can’t use web apps because of spotty connectivity. Now you can stay productive even without a connection in Gmail, Calendar and Docs on Chrome, thanks to new offline capabilities for each of these applications.


Free calls home for overseas U.S. Military personnel 
On Tuesday, Gmail also added the ability for all U.S. Military personnel with valid .mil email addresses to call the United States for free. We appreciate the hardships our troops face, and we hope to make staying in touch with friends and family a little easier for them while they’re deployed.


Page numbers in Google Docs
A while back we added page headers and footers in Google Docs, and now you can addautomatic page numbers at the top or bottom of your pages. We’ve heard from plenty of students and teachers who asked for this feature, so we’re glad to be making Google Docs just a little bit better for them.


Page-level permissions in Google Sites
Sometimes project sites are most useful when the whole team can access everything in the site, but there are other situations—like when you’re sharing a site with a client—when you might not want everyone to have full access. That’s where page-level permissions come in handy. It’s a simple way to specify who can see each page in your Google Sites.


Administrative audit history
Another useful feature that we added for organizations this week is administrative change reporting. This new area of the control panel lets admins see a record of administrative changes that have been made to their Google Apps setup, including changes to user accounts, application settings, mobile settings and administrative delegation.


Who’s gone Google?
More than 4 million businesses are using Google Apps now, and the wave of organizations switching over continues to accelerate. Yesterday at Dreamforce, Eric Schmidt shared a couple new details about the growing momentum in this area, including the fact that more than 5,000 businesses sign up each day, and that there are more than 40 million total active users in organizations using Google Apps.

New version of Google Apps Connector for BlackBerry Enterprise Server now available

posted Sep 6, 2011, 8:52 AM by Felix Lio

Version 4.0 of the Google Apps Connector for BlackBerry Enterprise Server is now available with the following new updates:
- Free/Busy lookup
- Support for Blackberry Enterprise Server 5.0.3

Editions included: 
Google Apps for Business, Government and Education

1-7 of 7

Comments