During the Google I/O developer conference in San Francisco today, Google discussed the future of its “Chrome OS” platform, as well as some future products that will soon hit the market. Google has improved the performance of Adobe Flash playback within the browser, and the OS will now recognize I/O devices — such as cameras — when they’re plugged into the computer. Other new features include Google Music integration, a new photo manager that allows you to send directly to Picasa, and an option to upload files directly to Box.net. Google’s bread and butter, Gmail, Calendar, and Docs are all now accessible while offline. Hackers will also appreciate a new built-in jailbreaking feature. Samsung and Acer will both introduce “Chromebooks” on June 15th for $429 and $399, respectively. Samsung will also sell a 3G version of its Chromebook for $499. Those prices sound a bit high to us considering that you can get a full-fledged Windows 7 netbook for that price, but we’ll see if the market agrees.
Moments ago, Google announced it will begin pushing out Android 2.3.4 in the “next few weeks.” The company notes that the software will contain bug fixes for the Nexus One and, more excitingly, video chat capabilities for the Nexus S. “You can now video or voice chat with your friends, family and colleagues right from your Android phone, whether they’re on their compatible Android tablet or phone, or using Gmail with Google Talk on their computer,” reads the press release. “You can make calls over a 3G or 4G data network (if your carrier supports it) or over Wi-Fi.” A video demo of the new video chat feature is waiting for you after the break. Enjoy! More →
A carefully crafted tweet has sparked rumors of a native video-chat feature coming to Android 2.3.4 in the near future. “Just had a video call using gmail on Nexus S. Impressive quality @googlenexus Gingerbread 2.3.4 #io2011,” reads the post in question. The implication is — obviously — that Google will migrate its Gmail, browser-based video chat service to Android and unveil the new offering at this year’s Google I/O conference, which is set to kick off May 10th in San Francisco. We can’t say we’d be surprised to see it… but we’re still pretty excited. More →
Intel gathered by blog Android Central indicates that Sprint and Google will make their Google Voice partnership ready for prime time on April 26th. The venture, which was announced last month, will allow Sprint customers to seamlessly integrate their current wireless number with Google’s Voice service. Calls and texts sent from your mobile device will be logged by Google Voice’s online system, and calls can be made from the browser using the service’s VoIP feature. International calls made from linked mobile devices will automatically route through Google Voice — which offers deep discounting on international voice traffic. The feature has been available in beta for the last few weeks, but it looks like the two companies are finally ready to let everyone in on the fun. More →
There is quite a bit of Internet showmanship that takes place every year on April 1st. Tech companies and blogs — present company excluded — try and swindle users and readers into believing, if only for a moment, that a new, slightly outlandish product or feature is on the way. Google is a frequent offender on April Fool’s Day, and last week the company’s homepage was waxing poetic about its Google Motion service. The faux feature was said to allow users to control Gmail using their computer’s built-in camera and body movements. One week later, University of Southern California scientists, aided by a Microsoft Kinect, have turned the prank into a reality. Leveraging movement tracking software already in the works, the school’s Institute for Creative Technologies demonstrates in a video exactly how Google Motion could work. It’s humorous, interesting, and funny, all at the same time. The video is awaiting your scrutiny after the break. More →
In a recent blog post, Google Software Engineer Stanley Chen revealed the latest addition to Gmail’s feature set, Smart Labels. The new labeling system, which can be turned on via the Labs section of Gmail, tries to help you automatically organize incoming email. “Smart Labels automatically categorizes incoming Bulk, Notification and Forum messages, and labels them as such,” reads the announcement. “‘Bulk’ mail includes any kind of mass mailing (such as newsletters and promotional email) and gets filtered out of your inbox by default (where you can easily read it later), ‘Notifications’ are messages sent to you directly (like account statements and receipts), and email from group mailing lists gets labeled as ‘Forums.’” Smart Labels can be tweaked and customized to fit your workflow and function in harmony with Gmail’s Filters. The new feature is available to all Gmail users immediately. More →
Google has stated that it is in the process of restoring data to accounts affected by a bug that wiped out email and chat history for some Gmail users. The number of user accounts wiped out by the bug has also been revised down again, this time from 0.08% of Gmail’s user base to 0.02%, or roughly 36,000 accounts. Google apologized for the mishap and the company insists that no data was lost as a result of the bug. Some user accounts have already been restored, the company said, and the remaining accounts should be back to normal soon. Google says the bug was caused by a storage software update it began deploying over the weekend. As soon as engineers were alerted of the issue, they stopped rolling out the update and reverted back to the old software. More →
Google confirmed on Sunday that a major bug has mysteriously deleted the entire contents from within roughly 150,000 Gmail accounts. Google initially reported the problem to be more widespread, but it revised its initial estimate down from 0.29% of total Gmail user accounts to 0.08%. According to user reports, email correspondence from within affected accounts was deleted earlier this past weekend. Affected users were initially unable to log in to their accounts, and then found that their data had been deleted once access to the accounts had been restored. Accounts were essentially reset, with years worth of emails and chats having seemingly been erased. Google appears confident that the lost data will be restored, however, and it notes that users will be unable to access their accounts while engineers address the issue. “Google engineers are working to restore full access,” Google noted on its Gmail status page. “Affected users will be temporarily unable to sign in while we repair their accounts.” More →
Yesterday, Google announced the expansion of Gmail’s Priority Inbox feature to its mobile website. Users accessing gmail.com from their HTML5-capable smartphone browser can now view messages categorized by Gmail as both “important” and “everything else.” Currently, users must enable Priority Inbox on the desktop version of Gmail to be able to view it on their mobile — only viewing is supported, users can not yet rank messages from the mobile web version. Priority Inbox is supported in Android 1.5+, iOS 3.0+, and most other HTML5-capable smartphones. More →
Google announced Monday the extension of a free calling initiative for U.S.-based Gmail users that was set to expire this month. ”In the spirit of holiday giving and to help people keep in touch in the new year,” Google has extended free calling in the U.S. and Canada through the end of 2011. The promotion applies to all calls made from within Gmail, and is completely separate from Google Voice, which also affords free calling to the U.S. and Canada. Gmail’s recently added voice calling feature is thought to be a prelude to the eventual addition of VoIP services to Google Voice. More →
If you’re a Google Apps user, you’ve had the ability to delegate access to your email account for quite some time. Now, Google is giving all users of its Gmail web-base email service that option. Via a blog post, the Big G announced the email delegation feature for all users of its popular email platform. The new functionality can be found in “Settings” by clicking on the “Accounts and Import” tab. From there you can add another Gmail account that you would like to grant access to your inbox; delegates will not be able to change settings, passwords, or chat as the user. “Each account will open in a different browser tab or window so you can view both accounts simultaneously, all while signed into your primary account,” writes Google. The new feature is immediately available to all users. More →
If you’ve ever accidentally deleted a contact from your Gmail address book, you know what pain is. The action has been, since the inception of the contacts feature, irreversible. But that all changes today. Google has announced a new “restore contacts” feature that will grant those whom have accidentally deleted a contact 30-days of clemency. As the press release reads:
We’ve added a new feature to Google Contacts that allows you to revert your contact list and undo any mistakes made up to 30 days in the past. Let’s say you accidentally deleted a bunch of contacts or wiped the contact data from your Gmail account by mistake while syncing to another device. Visit Gmail’s Contacts section, select “Restore contacts” in the “More actions” menu, and choose the time you would like to revert to.
The feature is rolling out to Gmail users as we type. More →
A lot of people are thinking it, but former Google employee, Gmail creator, and FriendFeed founder Paul Buchheit has come right out and said it. On his FriendFeed page, Mr. Buchheit has levied some harsh judgements on Google’s netbook-centric Chrome OS. Here are just a few of his thoughts:
Prediction: Chrome OS will be killed next year (or “merged” with Android).
I was thinking, “is this too obvious to even state?”, but then I see people taking Chrome OS seriously, and Google is even shipping devices for some reason.
Chrome OS has no purpose that isn’t better served by Android (perhaps with a few mods to support a non-touch display).
It is still unclear how Android and Chrome OS will peacefully co-exist after the tablet-optimized Android 3.0 comes out in 2011, what the genesis of Chrome OS looks like, and what the public will gravitate towards. We’re interested to hear your thoughts concerning the Chrome OS vs. Android debate. What do you think? Too similar? Or is Google one step ahead of the technology pundits?
[Via TechCrunch] More →