Introducing Chrome for Android

, Chrome for Android Beta is focused on speed and simplicity, but it also features seamless sign-in and sync so you can take your personalized web browsing experience with you wherever you go, across devices.

Speed
With Chrome for Android, you can search, navigate and browse fast—Chrome fast. You can scroll through web pages as quickly as you can flick your finger. When searching, your top search results are loaded in the background as you type so pages appear instantly. And of course, both search and navigation can all be done quickly from the Chrome omnibox.

Simplicity
Chrome for Android is designed from the ground up for mobile devices. We reimagined tabs so they fit just as naturally on a small-screen phone as they do on a larger screen tablet. You can flip or swipe between an unlimited number of tabs using intuitive gestures, as if you’re holding a deck of cards in the palm of your hands, each one a new window to the web.


One of the biggest pains of mobile browsing is selecting the correct link out of several on a small-screen device. Link Preview does away with hunting and pecking for links on a web page by automatically zooming in on links to make selecting the precise one easier.

And as with Chrome on desktop, we built Chrome for Android with privacy in mind from the beginning, including incognito mode for private browsing and fine-grained privacy options (tap menu icon, ‘Settings,’ and then ‘Privacy’).

Sign in
You can now bring your personalized Chrome experience with you to your Android phone or tablet. If you sign in to Chrome on your Android device, you can:

  • § View open tabs: Access the tabs you left open on your computer (also signed into Chrome)—picking up exactly where you left off.
  • § Get smarter suggestions: If you visit a site often on your computer, you’ll also get an autocomplete suggestion for it on your mobile device, so you can spend less time typing.
  • § Sync bookmarks: Conveniently access your favorite sites no matter where you are or which device you’re using.


Chrome is now available in Beta from Android Market, in select countries and languages for phones and tablets with Android 4.0, Ice Cream Sandwich. We’re eager to hear your feedback. Finally, we look forward to working closely with the developer community to create a better web on a platform that defines mobile.

Posted by Sundar Pichai, SVP, Chrome and Apps

(Cross-posted from the Chrome blog and on the Mobile blog)

No New Mail? Try Google+

What’s the message displayed by Gmail when there’s no message in your inbox? If you answered “No new mail! Want to read updates from your favorite sites? Try Google Reader”, you are right. It was Google’s subtle way to promote Google Reader.


Before Google Reader was released, Gmail’s “inbox zero” message used to be: “No new mail! There’s always Google News if you’re looking for something to read.”

Now that Google focuses on developing Google+, a modern version of Google Reader, Gmail’s new message is: “No new mail! See what people are talking about on Google+.” The links sends Gmail users to the “what’s hot” section of Google+ which “highlights selected content thought to be exemplary, interesting, and appropriate: showing you serendipitous and diverse information”.


From Google News to Google Reader and now Google+, Gmail illustrates three different ways to read news. Google News ranks and clusters articles from the web, Google Reader allows you to read news from your favorite sites, while Google+ lets you read the articles shared by the people you follow. From news that are important to everyone to news that are important to the people you trust.

Google Updates privacy policies and terms of service

First, Google privacy policies. Despite trimming policies in 2010, we still have more than 70 (yes, you read right … 70) privacy documents covering all of our different products. This approach is somewhat complicated. It’s also at odds with our efforts to integrate our different products more closely so that we can create a beautifully simple, intuitive user experience across Google.

So we’re rolling out a new main privacy policy that covers the majority of our products and explains what information we collect, and how we use it, in a much more readable way. While we’ve had to keep a handful of separate privacy notices for legal and other reasons, we’re consolidating more than 60 into our main Privacy Policy.

Regulators globally have been calling for shorter, simpler privacy policies—and having one policy covering many different products is now fairly standard across the web.

These changes will take effect on March 1, and we’re starting to notify users today, including via email and a notice on our homepage.

What does this mean in practice? The main change is for users with Google Accounts. Our new Privacy Policy makes clear that, if you’re signed in, we may combine information you’ve provided from one service with information from other services. In short, we’ll treat you as a single user across all our products, which will mean a simpler, more intuitive Google experience.

Our recently launched personal search feature is a good example of the cool things Google can do when we combine information across products. Our search box now gives you great answers not just from the web, but your personal stuff too. So if I search for restaurants in Munich, I might see Google+ posts or photos that people have shared with me, or that are in my albums. Today we can also do things like make it easy for you to read a memo from Google Docs right in your Gmail, or add someone from your Gmail contacts to a meeting in Google Calendar.

But there’s so much more that Google can do to help you by sharing more of your information with … well, you. We can make search better—figuring out what you really mean when you type in Apple, Jaguar or Pink. We can provide more relevant ads too. For example, it’s January, but maybe you’re not a gym person, so fitness ads aren’t that useful to you. We can provide reminders that you’re going to be late for a meeting based on your location, your calendar and an understanding of what the traffic is like that day. Or ensure that our spelling suggestions, even for your friends’ names, are accurate because you’ve typed them before. People still have to do way too much heavy lifting, and we want to do a better job of helping them out.

Second, the Google Terms of Service—terms you agree to when you use our products. As with our privacy policies, we’ve rewritten them so they’re easier to read. We’ve also cut down the total number, so many of our products are now covered by our new main Google Terms of Service. Visit the Google Terms of Service page to find the revised terms.

Finally, what we’re not changing. We remain committed to data liberation, so if you want to take your information elsewhere you can. We don’t sell your personal information, nor do we share it externally without your permission except in very limited circumstances like a valid court order. We try hard to be transparent about the information we collect, and to give you meaningful choices about how it is used—for example our Ads Preferences Manager enables you to edit the interest categories we advertise against or turn off certain Google ads altogether. And we continue to design privacy controls, like Google+’s circles, into our products from the ground up.

We believe this new, simpler policy will make it easier for people to understand our privacy practices as well as enable Google to improve the services we offer. Whether you’re a new Google user or an old hand, please do take the time to read our new privacy policy and terms, learn more about the changes we’re making and understand the controls we offer.

Posted by Alma Whitten, Director of Privacy, Product and Engineering

Two Ways to Export Your Google Docs

Google Takeout supports a new service: Google Docs. Now you can use the same interface to batch export your documents.


I tried both Google Takeout and the built-in feature from Google Docs that lets you download your documents. Even if they have the same purpose, they’re quite different. The Google Docs feature is more flexible: you can choose to download only spreadsheets or presentations and skip all the other documents. You can also skip the files uploaded to Google Docs and not converted to a Google Docs format (for example: PDF files, archives and video files). Google Takeout has a “configure” feature, but you can’t skip one or more document types. Another subtle difference is that Google Takeout lets you export only the files that you own, while Google Docs exports all the files from your account.


How to export all your files from Google Docs? Just go to the Google Docs homepage, select one or more documents, click “More” and then “Download”, click the “All items” tab, pick your favorite formats and click “Download”. The process is not that intuitive and you shouldn’t have to select a file to see the download option.

{ via Data Liberation Blog }

Google: Renewing old resolutions for the new year

Here’s an update on some products that will be merged, open-sourced, or phased out in the coming months:

  • Google Message Continuity (GMC): In December 2010 we launched an email disaster recovery product for enterprise customers that use Google’s cloud to back up emails originally sent or received in an on-premise, Microsoft Exchange system. In the time since we launched, we’ve seen hundreds of businesses sign up for it. By comparison, in that same time, we’ve seen millions of businesses move entirely to the cloud with Google Apps, benefitting from disaster recovery capabilities built directly into Apps. Going forward we’ve decided to focus our efforts on Google Apps and end support for GMC. Current GMC customers will be able to use GMC for the duration of their contract and are encouraged to consider using Google Apps as their primary messaging and collaboration platform.
  • Google Sky Map: This app was created by half a dozen Googlers at the Pittsburgh office in their 20 percent time to show off the amazing capabilities of the sensors in the first-generation Android phones and offer a window into the sky. Since we launched the tool in 2009, we have managed to share our passion with more than 20 million Android users. We will be open-sourcing Sky Map and are collaborating with Carnegie Mellon University in a partnership that will see further development of Sky Map as a series of student projects.
  • Needlebase: We are retiring this data management platform, which we acquired from ITA Software, on June 1, 2012. The technology is being evaluated for integration into Google’s other data-related initiatives.
  • Picnik: We acquired this online photo editor in 2010. We’re retiring the service on April 19, 2012 so the Picnik team can continue creating photo-editing magic across Google products. You can download a zip file of your creations through Picnik Takeout or copy them to Google+. As of now, the premium service is free to everyone. Premium members will receive a full refund in the coming weeks.
  • Social Graph API: This API makes information about the public connections between people on the web available for developers. The API isn’t experiencing the kind of adoption we’d like, and is being deprecated as of today. It will be fully retired on April 20, 2012.
  • Urchin: In 2005 we acquired Urchin, whose online web analytics product became the foundation for Google Analytics, helping businesses of all sizes measure their websites and online marketing. We’re fully committed to building an industry-leading online analytics product, so we’re saying goodbye to the client-hosted version, known as Urchin Software. New Urchin Software licenses will no longer be available after March 2012.

Resolutions can be hard, and changing products that people love is hard too. But we’re excited to focus on creating a beautifully simple, intuitive user experience across Google—an experience that will change the lives of millions of people.

Posted by Dave Girouard, VP of Product Management

Google Search, Punctuation Marks and Other Symbols

Google usually ignores punctuation and mathematical symbols from a query because it doesn’t index them. They rarely change the meaning of a query and Google’s index would have to grow a lot bigger, without improving the results too much. Some punctuation marks and mathematical symbols are used to provide advanced features (for example: colon, quotes, minus sign, plus sign).

I’ve recently noticed that Google started to show results for queries like [.], [,], [:], [;], [#], [%], [@], [^], [)], [~], [|], [“], [<], [$]. When you search for [%], Google shows the results for [percent sign] and that happens irrespective of the interface language, so it’s not a synonym generated by Google’s algorithms.


Search for [:] and you’ll get the results for [colon]. Most results are about the colon from the human anatomy and they’re not relevant.

Chrome’s Homepage Penalized for Paid Links

If you search for [google chrome], you’ll notice that Chrome’s homepage is no longer the top search result.

The explanation is that a video ad for Chrome was used in a lot of blog posts that promoted Chrome and one of the posts linked to Chrome’s homepage without using the nofollow attribute.

“Buying or selling links that pass PageRank is in violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines and can negatively impact a site’s ranking in search results,” explains a Google article.

Even though Google didn’t actually buy links, it’s strange to see that a Google Chrome campaign generated a lot of low-quality posts. Danny Sullivan says that “the bigger issue in this has always been the garbage content that was produced by the campaign, ‘thin’ material that Google has fought to keep out of its own search results. I’m still trying to understand how Google failed to understand that the marketing companies it engaged with would produce this.” Actually, the whole story is difficult to understand. “Google seems to have contracted with Essence Digital to have a video ad campaign be run across the web. Apparently, Google had no idea how Essence Digital was going to actually run the campaign or make the video ads appear across the web.”

A Google spokesperson says that the campaign wasn’t authorized by Google, but “Google should be held to a higher standard, so we have taken stricter action than we would against a typical site”. That’s the reason why Google “demoted www.google.com/chrome and lowered the site’s PageRank for a period of at least 60 days”. As Matt Cutts explains, “after that, someone on the Chrome side can submit a reconsideration request documenting their clean-up just like any other company would. During the 60 days, the PageRank of www.google.com/chrome will also be lowered to reflect the fact that we also won’t trust outgoing links from that page.”

Google already uses text ads for Chrome, sitelinks still point to the demoted page and the top result for [google chrome] is a Google page, so users will manage to find Chrome’s homepage, but it’s impressive to see that Google penalized one of the most important Google products because of a small mistake. After all, the videos used a DoubleClick redirect to link to Chrome’s homepage and only one of the posts linked directly to the page. That post has been removed by the blog author, so Google could have claimed that there were no paid links.

In 2009, Google Japan hired an Internet marketing company to promote one of its features. The company used paid posts and Google dropped the PageRank for Google Japan’s homepage from 9 to 5.

Predictions for Google’s 2012

Last year’s predictions weren’t that great (the predictions for 2010 were better), but predicting the future is an addictive game, so I’ll try again. Here are my predictions for 2012:

1. Oflline Google stores that will sell Chromebooks, Android phones, Google TV boxes, Google-branded shirts and more.

2. Google Music will become a subscription service.

3. Google will focus on improving the quality of Android apps. It will offer better tools for creating consistent user interfaces, it will review some of the new apps and applications will be able to request additional permissions after they’ve been installed.

4. Google Games – a new service for multiplayer games that will combine the best games for Chrome, Android and Google+, while syncing your data, ranking users and allowing you to challenge your friends.

5. A new music editing online service that will only work in Chrome (and probably other Chrome-only services).

6. ARM Chromebooks (notebooks and tablets) and ARM Google TV boxes will be cheaper and more successful.

7. Google+ will have at least 300 million users at the end of 2012 and will incorporate many existing Google apps. Google will aggressively promote the service and will even integrate it with Chrome.

8. Google Instant Answers – an improved OneBox that will offer some of the detailed answers that are available in Wolfram Alpha.

9. A virtual assistant for Android that will be more powerful than Siri and it will also be available in the desktop Google interface as an upgrade for voice search. Google will get better at supporting natural language queries.

10. Google’s navigation menu will be customizable and the notification box will support new services.

11. The first Google-branded Motorola phones and tablets.

12. Google search results personalized based on information from your calendar, Google+ posts, the apps you install etc.

13. Google Doodle Creator – a service that lets you create a doodle and share it with your friends.

14. Image Search will be able to analyze images and recognize multiple objects and people.

15. Chrome Web Store apps and extensions for Android.

16. YouTube’s HTML5 player will become the default player.

17. YouTube’s new TV-like channels will combine some of the best videos that are available.

18. The largest fine in Google’s history.

19. Blog commenting service powered by Google+.

20. Google+ Answers service replaces Aardvark.

21. An online Chrome dashboard will let you access your data (bookmarks, passwords, apps) even when you don’t use Chrome.

22. Better Google Docs for tablets, Google Drive – a new name for the Google Docs list, apps for syncing files and more free storage.

A Great Ad for Galaxy Nexus

Sometimes you need a great ad to show that your product stands out. Now that Galaxy Nexus is finally available in the US, Google uploaded some promotional videos. One of them is good enough to be a TV ad:

“With Hangouts, the unplanned meet-up comes to the web — and the phone. Let buddies know you’re hanging out and see who drops by. Chat face to face with a group of up to ten people using your 1.3-MP front-facing camera, all on the go,” explains Google.

Google Nexus: Calling All the Crazy Ones

While watching this ad for Galaxy Nexus…
http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=CdD8s0jFJYo
Calling all pretty faces, all visionaries, all the pass-it-alongers, all meeters and greeters, all wandering navigators, and mad scientists. All high-defers, all late-night poets and daylight dreamers. The possibilities are calling.

… I realized that there’s a famous ad which uses a similar enumeration. It’s Apple’s “Crazy Ones” commercial from 1997. Here’s the unaired version narrated by Steve Jobs (you can also watch the version that aired on TV):


Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. While some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.