Saturday, April 3, 2010

[G] Gmail on the iPad

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Official Gmail Blog: Gmail on the iPad

Posted by Alex Nicolaou, Engineering Manager

When the iPhone and Android devices came out, we started building for advanced mobile browsers and optimizing the Gmail interface for touchscreens, culminating in the Gmail for mobile HTML5 web app. As portable devices continue to evolve, we're excited about the upcoming wave of tablet computers and the possibilities they bring.

With today's release of the iPad, we're launching an experimental two-pane user interface to take advantage of its large touchscreen and tablet form factor. Building upon the Gmail for mobile web app, this new interface displays your conversations on the left and your messages on the right hand side.

All the features of the Gmail web app that you're used to, such as offline access and aggressive caching to reduce latency, are present in the iPad version. Tablet devices are still very new, so expect changes as we continue to optimize for this new format. We'd like to hear any ideas you may have on how we can make Gmail better for the iPad so don't hesitate to let us know.

To try out Gmail out on the iPad, just go to in Safari. For quick access, try creating a homescreen link. Please note that the new interface is only available in US English for now. You can always access Gmail through the native Mail application using IMAP as well.

Friday, April 2, 2010

[G] A new look for Google Transit maps

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Google LatLong: A new look for Google Transit maps

At the beginning of last year, the Google Maps team launched the Transit Layer, showing the layout of public transportation networks on top of the map in over 50 cities worldwide. Since then, we have grown our coverage to nearly 450 cities and added more information to both the base maps and the transit layer.

We've now released a significant redesign of our transit maps that better highlights the information transit riders are most interested in seeing. Before, the transit map was placed on top of the base road map, obscuring some important information in the base map and competing visually with the complexity of the road network. With this redesign, we're changing the entire base map to put more focus on the transit lines, and lower the prominence of roads. We hope you'll agree that the result is a cleaner, less cluttered map that will make it easier for transit riders to get around.

Looking at the London Underground shows the immediate benefits of removing the clutter of the A-road badges, and the simplified map style which lets the transit lines and roads coexist more elegantly:

In the old transit map of New York, streets such as 8th and 7th Avenue are completely obscured. The new rendering is a cleaner, lighter, and more readable experience:

San Francisco is a great example of the benefits of being able to see important underlying map data in addition to the transit lines. Now the city name, major landmarks and important roads are visible again:

To try this out for yourself, select "Transit" from the "More" drop-down on Google Maps in any city where transit is supported, or simply click on a transit station on the map itself. We hope that you have as much fun using our new transit maps as we did making them!

Posted by Jonah Jones, User Experience Designer, Google Maps

[G] Introducing the eBay Social Shopping Gadget (Alpha)

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Social Web Blog: Introducing the eBay Social Shopping Gadget (Alpha)

Hi, my name is Jay Patel and I'm a software engineer at eBay. I'm excited to introduce the Google Friend Connect community to the new eBay Social Shopping Gadget (Alpha).

Add "Social Shopping" functionality to your Web site

We built the new eBay Social Shopping gadget with site owners in mind, so you can easily add "social shopping" functionality to your website. The eSS gadget lets users browse on eBay in almost the same way they could if they were on, and also allows them to share their shopping experiences with friends. For instance, users of your site can recommend eBay items to friends and browse their friends' recommendations — all in one place.

In addition to searching the entire eBay site, your users can also view item details at a glance and watch items within auctions or buy-it-now listings. If your users already use eBay, then they can easily link their eBay account to their Google Friend Connect (GFC) account, which will let them monitor their eBay watch list from eSS, receive personalized recommendations and bid and buy directly using eSS.

For publishers and web site owners

As with all Friend Connect gadgets, the eSS gadget enhances your site's appeal by adding social features, allowing you to customize eBay recommendations and listings to suit your site content. For example, if you own a blog about "twin parenthood," visitors to your site would probably see items such as twin strollers or baby monitors. No spam, no football memorabilia.

For more eBay Social Shopping gadget details, visit the “Help” section at To install the gadget, visit the Google Friend Connect Gadget Gallery by logging into Google Friend Connect and clicking on the "Social Gadgets" link on the left-hand side. Then click on the "All gadgets" tab to locate the eBay Social Shopping Gadget.

We hope you'll take advantage of the eSS gadget to add a "social shopping" dimension to your website. Please contact us at with any feedback or questions.

By Jay Patel, Software Engineer, eBay

[G] Go Mobile! Series: Your ads on the iPad

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Inside AdWords: Go Mobile! Series: Your ads on the iPad

Like many of you, we’re excited about the upcoming release of Apple’s iPad and the promise of tablet computers. Innovative products like the iPad are on the cutting edge of a whole new class of devices that promise to make accessing information and content easier and more fun.

Over the past year, we’ve been working to make sure that our advertising products work well on a different class of exciting new devices - mobile phones with full Internet browsers like the iPhone and those running Android. These mobile devices have exploded in popularity, and have allowed advertisers to achieve incremental reach and great results. With these high-end phones making up 50% of mobile search queries, it’s highly valuable for advertisers to connect with these users.

In many ways, an iPad is more similar to these mobile devices than to desktop and laptop computers. It runs on a mobile operating system, has a touchscreen, runs mobile apps, and is highly portable, suited for on-the-go browsing. For this reason we’ve decided for now to include the iPad as a mobile device in AdWords, which means that as AdWords advertisers, you can easily extend the reach of your current ad campaigns to these new types of devices.

To ensure that your ads appear on new mobile devices like the iPad, simply make sure that you have “all mobile devices” selected in your campaign settings under the “Networks and devices” section. You can also use the default setting, "All available devices."

If you want to target the iPad specifically, our engineers are busy at work doing the final testing on an option to enable you to do just that. It will appear in the coming days when you choose to “target only selected mobile devices”. And don’t worry - if you’ve already changed your AdWords settings to not appear on these mobile devices, your ads won’t appear on the iPad.

Of course, the world of devices like the iPad is in its infancy, and these devices may evolve in ways that we haven’t anticipated yet. So we’ll continue to watch the space and ensure that no matter which direction the devices go in next, we make sure give advertisers the reach, control and features they’ll need to get great results from their ad campaigns.

Posted by Paul Feng, Group Product Manager for Google Mobile Ads

[G] OGRE’s Latest Release Features Google Summer of Code Projects

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Google Open Source Blog: OGRE’s Latest Release Features Google Summer of Code Projects

OGRE (Object-Oriented Graphics Rendering Engine) is a scene-oriented, flexible 3D engine written in C++ designed to make it easier and more intuitive for developers to produce applications utilising hardware-accelerated 3D graphics. OGRE has taken part in Google Summer of Code™ since 2006, and every year it's been a valuable learning process for our mentors and organisers as well as the students themselves. 2009 was our most high-profile year by far, despite the fact that we intentionally took on fewer students, because those we did accept this year were of truly amazing quality.

Assaf Raman mentored Noam Gat (aka 'Noman' in our community), who also participated in Google Summer of Code in 2008 and has been an active member of our community for a while now. He did some stellar work on improving the convenience of using various deferred shading approaches in OGRE, and as a result was approached by, a leading online community for game developers, after the summer to write an article on it; his article has been featured on the front page for a few days now. We're all very proud of what Noam's achieved both over the summer and outside it, and he's now officially joined the core team.

Brian Johnstone, a former Google Summer of Code student who went on to become a mentor (he was a student in 2007), guided Zi Ye (aka 'omniter') in 2009, and his work has also been hugely successful; his project was a unified samples framework to replace our ageing collection of demos, and he vastly exceeded even our high expectations. Not only did he produce a fantastic new framework and browser for all our samples, he created a new GUI system from scratch designed specifically to make samples easier to write, created new, more attractive versions of most of the demos, and even created some 3d models as a bonus (outside of the program). He also came up with the idea of making a weekly narrated video of his progress to share with the community which was hugely popular.

Google Summer of Code continues to help drive OGRE forward, and in particular has been a valuable source of new developer talent, while also giving students an interesting and hopefully educational way to spend their summer. Everybody wins! The OGRE Team would like to offer our thanks to Google for running this truly remarkable programme.

By Steve ’sinbad’ Streeting, OGRE team lead, and Assaf Raman, OGRE core team member

[G] Google services on the iPad and tablet computers

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Official Google Mobile Blog: Google services on the iPad and tablet computers

Here at Google we’re really excited about the promise of tablet computers, which will be great for browsing the web and using apps. We’ve been working hard to optimize our services for the new format - larger touchscreens, increased portability, rich sensors - and we’d like to share some information about our progress so far.

While surfing the web on your iPad, we expect many of you will want to check your Gmail. If you go to in your browser, you’ll see something different than what you’re used to on the desktop. We’re releasing an experimental user interface for the iPad built on the Gmail for mobile HTML5 web app that we launched last year for the iPhone and Android devices. Those devices have large screens compared to other phones, and tablets like the iPad give us even more room to innovate. To take advantage of the iPad’s large display, we’ve created a two-pane view with your list of conversations on the left and messages to the right.

To try this new interface, go to in your browser. We recommend adding a homescreen link for easy access. As this interface is experimental, expect changes as we continue to develop and optimize. Also, please let us know any ideas or feedback that you have. You can also access Gmail on the iPad through the native Mail app using the IMAP protocol.

Additionally, the iPad ships with a number of Google services pre-installed. As with Mac computers and the iPhone, you’ll find Google Search in the top right corner of Safari. The YouTube app for iPad is built-in, so you can watch HD videos and read and write comments. The new Maps app on iPad takes advantage of high-resolution satellite and Street View imagery, includes a new terrain view, and lets you search for local businesses and get directions. Just like on the iPhone, you can also go to the App Store to download Google Mobile App with search by voice. Of course, Google Mobile App was originally designed for the iPhone’s screen dimensions, but we’ve adapted it to work on the iPad and we’re looking into new ideas to make the app even better.

As you use Google’s web-based applications on iPad, you’ll notice that you sometimes see the desktop user interface and other times you see the mobile interface. We’ve evaluated the behavior of each Google web app using the iPad Simulator, and we are serving the interface we feel works best. If you’d like any help using our products on iPad, please click the 'Help' link within the product.

We’re particularly excited by how tablet computers create the opportunity for new kinds of user interaction. Here on the mobile team, we often talk about how mobile devices are sensor-rich: they can sense touch through their screens, see with a camera, hear through a microphone, and they know where they are with GPS. The same holds true for tablet computers, and we’re just starting to work through how our products can become even better on devices like the iPad.

Posted by Punit Soni, Product Manager, Google Mobile

[G] Mapping new drinking water sources in Haiti

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Google LatLong: Mapping new drinking water sources in Haiti

We have all heard how the earthquakes in Haiti have uprooted millions of people, with many of them displaced from their homes in Port-au-Prince to the rural areas.

charity:water is a non-profit organization working tirelessly to bring clean and safe drinking water to millions of people in developing nations. People to donate money towards a well or other water project, and charity:water tracks all water projects on their Google Maps-powered Projects page.
After a water project is installed, local field partners report back to charity:water with photos and GPS coordinates. charity:water then adds this project to their online map, so that donors can track the water projects to which they contributed, and the whole world can track all the water projects.

In the past few months, they have turned their attention to Haiti, and in honor of the recent World Water Day, they launched Unshaken, a new campaign to get support for new water projects in Haiti. So follow their map this year to see the support coming in for the Haiti rebuilding efforts!

Posted by Karin Tuxen-Bettman, Google Earth Outreach

[G] Improved comment collapsing for Google Buzz posts

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Official Gmail Blog: Improved comment collapsing for Google Buzz posts

Posted by Sean McBride, User Experience Designer

Any Google Buzz post can turn into a lively discussion. Sometimes these conversations can gather lots of new comments very quickly, turning them into "skyscraper" posts that can dominate your entire screen, especially if you don't check Buzz for a few days. We've heard from many of you that these big posts can be a lot to skim over.

Today, we’re making some changes to how comments get collapsed in Google Buzz. In the past, old comments were sometimes collapsed, but new comments (posted since your last visit to the Buzz tab) were always expanded. Now, if there are enough of them, new comments may be collapsed as well. Here’s the nitty gritty on how it'll work by the end of the day once we finish rolling out these changes:
  • If there are 3 or more previous or new comments, we collapse them into a group.

  • We leave the latest previous comment (from before your last visit) expanded to give you context.

  • We leave the last two new comments (since your last visit) expanded so you can get a taste of the ongoing conversation and decide if you’re interested.

  • If there are enough previous and new comments, we collapse them together into a single line to save space.

  • You'll see the names of some of the people whose comments are collapsed, which can help you decide if you might be interested in diving into the conversation.

These changes will limit how much space any one post can take up in the Buzz tab and prevent the popular posts you’re not interested in from dominating the stream. We hope this helps make Google Buzz a little less noisy so you can focus on conversations you care about.

[G] Al Gore + You(?) = Earth Day's 40th Celebration

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YouTube Blog: Al Gore + You(?) = Earth Day's 40th Celebration

The success of the film An Inconvenient Truth had several outcomes: it moved the issue of climate change into the spotlight and forced average citizens to think about their consumption; it catapulted former U.S. Vice President Al Gore into the role of global climate champion; and it demonstrated that film has the power to promote social change.

In anticipation of the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, we're building upon these results by partnering with Vice President Al Gore and his organization, the Alliance for Climate Protection, on our next round of Video Volunteers.

This month, as Video Volunteers curator, Gore is asking you to use film to do good by creating a short, inspiring video for your favorite climate change organization. The top three videos will appear on the YouTube homepage alongside a video from Gore himself as part of a very special Earth Day spotlight. Here he is with more details about the program and why it's imperative that you take action:

Earth Day is on April 22, so we're working with an abridged Video Volunteers timeline this month. All entries must be submitted by April 19 to be considered, so get your camera out today. And if you're a nonprofit organization working on issues related to climate change, this could be your chance to make a big impact on the YouTube homepage. You can post an opportunity for a Video Volunteer here.

Visit now to get started!

Ramya Raghavan, Nonprofits & Activism Manager, recently watched "Polio is Back in Guinea."


Thursday, April 1, 2010

[G] Finding and Building Product-Specific Links

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Google Affiliate Network: Finding and Building Product-Specific Links

Google Affiliate Network publishers can now easily browse across relationships to find products and build links to specific products. The product search feature allows publishers to access aspects of the advertiser’s product feed within the Google Affiliate Network interface. Publishers can view product price, image, category and description in addition to tracking and creative urls and then generate a product-specific link.

To search for a product, sign in and go to the “Products” tab. Next enter the name of a product you want to promote on your website and click ‘go.’ Your product search results will appear ranked by relevancy to the keyword entered.

Please note that specific criteria will generate better results. You can search by criteria such as keywords, brand, advertiser name, product name, UPC, ISBN, MPN and/or SKU. To exclude products place a minus (-) in front of any of your criteria. For example, "digital camera -accessories".

On behalf of the Google Affiliate Network team.

posted by Sheila Parker, Product Manager


[G] Google Checkout + Sites: Two new ways to add Google Checkout "Buy Now" buttons to your Sites

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Official Google Checkout Blog: Google Checkout + Sites: Two new ways to add Google Checkout "Buy Now" buttons to your Sites

Ed Note: This is the second in a series of posts from the Checkout team about features that will make running your business on Google Checkout even easier.

We're happy to share two new ways to easily add Google Checkout as a payment option for items on your Google Sites pages. To add the button right from your Sites page, look for the Google Checkout "Buy Now" Button Gadget in the Google Sites list of featured gadgets. Then setup your gadget with the item details and display settings in just a few clicks.

To learn more about how to add the gadget to your Sites pages through Google Sites, please visit the step-by-step instructional article.

Alternatively, you can also generate the "Buy Now" Button in your Merchant Center and copy and paste the generated button's code snippet into your Google Sites page HTML code. Just click the ?ui=2&view=att&th=1273fd6dd52bc8dd&attid=0.1&disp=attd&realattid=ii_1273fd6dd52bc8dd&zw button while in your Google Sites edit page mode and Sites will automatically embed the button in a gadget for you.

Posted by Nicolas Garnier, Developer Programs Engineer

[G] Announcing Wingdings as a new font

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Inside AdSense: Announcing Wingdings as a new font

Last year, we announced that publishers could begin changing the font faces of their ad units. We've been listening to your feedback, and we're happy to let you know that we've just added Wingdings as a font face option.

During our extensive alpha testing, we found that this font performed especially well on sites catering to two specific audiences: cryptologists and carrier pigeons. Even if your site's visitors aren't usually comprised of these two groups, this font face can reduce ad blindness and we encourage you to test it on your sites. As a reminder, you can choose to update the font face of specific ad units, or apply your settings account-wide.

To get started with Wingdings, follow these instructions.

We're continuing to look for ways to improve your monetization potential, and we'll be sure to let you know of any updates right here on our blog. We're looking forward to the positive effects this launch will have for publishers, users, and advertisers.

Posted by the Inside AdSense Team

[G] Model Your Town finalists announced: Cast your vote!

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Google LatLong: Model Your Town finalists announced: Cast your vote!

[Cross-posted from the SketchUp blog]

OK folks -- it’s time to vote for your favorite 3D town. The submission phase of the Google Model Your Town Competition is over and the five finalists have been selected. Without further ado, they are (in alphabetical order):

Barranco, Lima, Peru
Modeler: Jorge De Albertis
Barranco’s collection of models

Braunschweig, Niedersachsen, Germany
Modeler: Leonhard Pröttel
Braunschweig’s collection of models

Donostia - San Sebastián, Gipuzkoa, Spain
Modelers: Pedro Domecq Aguirre, Eneka Mujica, Gabriel Garcia, Jan Wesbuer, Fermin Saraseta
Donostia - San Sebastián’s collection of models

Dursley, Gloucestershire, United Kingdom
Modeler: John Wilkes
Dursley’s collection of models

West Palm Beach, Florida, United States
Modeler: Chris Sardinas
West Palm Beach’s collection of models

This overview video flies to each of the finalist towns:

On the voting page, you’ll find a separate one-minute video tour for each town, as well as a link to a KML file that you can use to see the models in Google Earth. Take a look at everything, decide which you think is best, then weigh in -- you have until May 1st, 2010 to cast your vote.

Congratulations to the finalists and to all of the teams who submitted entries. Choosing the top five certainly wasn’t an easy task. As you can see from this collection of the teams who entered, the competition was tough. Good luck!

Posted by Allyson McDuffie and Aidan Chopra, Google SketchUp Team

[G] Model Your Town Competition: Cast your vote!

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Official Google Blog: Model Your Town Competition: Cast your vote!

The first-ever Google Model Your Town Competition has entered the public voting phase. It’s now up to you to help decide which of the five finalist towns should be the overall winner. Cast your vote before May 1.
  • Barranco (Lima, Peru)
  • Braunschweig (Niedersachsen, Germany)
  • Donostia - San Sebastián (Gipuzkoa, Spain)
  • Dursley (Gloucestershire, United Kingdom)
  • West Palm Beach (Florida, United States)

These five teams used Google SketchUp and Google Building Maker to create beautifully detailed 3D models of their communities — and now they’re viewable in Google Earth by everyone in the world. To see all of the towns who entered the competition, check out the Google 3D Warehouse collection.

The winning town will receive an event hosted by Google in their honor, US $10,000 for their local schools and more. Don’t forget to vote by May 1, and we’ll announce the winning town by May 15.

And if you’re interested in learning how you can model your town, check out our Your World in 3D website for examples and other tools to help you get started.

Posted by Allyson McDuffie, SketchUp for Education Program Manager

[G] Join us this coming Tuesday to discuss innovation and home energy use

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Google Public Policy Blog: Join us this coming Tuesday to discuss innovation and home energy use

Posted by Jamie Yood, Google Clean Energy Team

How many times have you been headed out of town for a long weekend when you got that sick feeling that you didn’t turn off the lights? Wouldn’t it be great if you could turn down your AC from the beltway? Or learn how much it costs to run that extra load in the washer when you get home?

Turns out this isn’t Jetsons’ talk. It’s right around the corner.

Join the President’s most senior White House energy official, Carol Browner, as well as corporate leaders and advocates this coming Tuesday to discuss how smart grid technology can get us there. The event co-hosted by Google DC and The Climate Group, will explore technologies and policies aimed at giving consumers the ability to better monitor and manage their energy use.

The potential for energy and cost savings are enormous - starting with data that says we can count on savings of 5-15% per household with little effort. What we're interested in, is putting our minds together to discuss how to help consumers get energy and cost savings, speed this future to market and how to encourage innovation.

Power in Numbers: Unleashing Innovation in Home Energy Use
Tuesday, April 6
1:00pm - 5:00pm - Event & Reception
Google Washington Office
1101 New York Ave. NW, Second Floor
Join us! RSVP here.

[G] Grunt, Woof and Moo to you too

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Official Google Mobile Blog: Grunt, Woof and Moo to you too

(Cross-posted with the Google translate blog)

For millennia man and animal have tolerantly coexisted, separated by language and the development of opposable thumbs. Today we can proudly say that we have overcome one of those hurtles. Presenting Google Translate for Animals, a new application available in Android Market.

This application allows you to record animal sounds and have the sounds analyzed and translated by Google Translate into any of the 52 supported languages. With animal translation you can finally understand why Spot keeps peeing in your closet or why Pickles keeps leaving dead mice in the tub. No longer must humanity struggle to comprehend when Lassie warns, “Hurry, Timmy’s fallen down the well!”

The technology isn’t perfect yet, so you may discover some translations that don’t make perfect sense. The algorithms are always improving however, thanks to the large corpus of cute cat videos that have been uploaded to YouTube.

We think that this is an exciting step in understanding and communicating with the world around us. Stay tuned for the addition of “old car” and “stomach” to the translation capabilities of the application this summer.

Posted by Woof Woofington, Product Barketing Manager via Google Translate for Animals

[G] Back to Hits

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Google Analytics Blog: Back to Hits

Over the years we’ve worked hard to make complex data easy to access and easy to understand. We’ve released features like Advanced Segmentation, which lets you segment your traffic on the fly, Custom Reporting-- the ability to create and share your own reports--, and Analytics Intelligence, an algorithmic intelligence engine that automatically spots important changes in traffic. All of this work was done with the belief that you needed this data in order to make sense of your website traffic.

We’re big believers that data trumps opinion, so we set out to prove our belief. We’ll be the first to admit that we were wrong. After extensive analysis by our quantitative teams, we’ve uncovered that hits (or How Interneters Track Success) is the only metric that actually matters in web analytics. Forget that business about absolute unique visitors, goal completion rate, or even bounce rate. If you want to achieve success, you need to focus on hits.

With this finding, we’ve gone back to the drawing board with the Google Analytics interface. Since this will be a major change, we want to share with you a preview of the new Google Analytics UI:

(click to view full-size)

To help you make this transition, Avinash Kaushik is releasing a new book: Web Analytics 3.0 - The Greatest Hits. The new book (more of a thick brochure, really) is chock full of nearly 1,000 words on how to use hits to track your success. It’s your chance to learn how to hit from a true analytics ninja. Plus it’s much shorter than most of his blog posts.

We’re looking forward to exploring the next stage of web analytics with you. Now if you’ll excuse us, we’ve got a hit counter to watch.

Posted by Trevor Claiborne, Google Analytics Team & Hits Master

[G] Google physicists discover extra dimension in Street View

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Google LatLong: Google physicists discover extra dimension in Street View

Today our esteemed team of physicists from Google are proud to announce that they have discovered an extra dimension in our universe. And like other groundbreaking discoveries of black holes, superheros, and space ships, this one was also made by using Street View on Google Maps.
The team hard at work performing theoretical physics in their lab, located in an undisclosed location

This extra dimension can only be seen by using the cutting-edge red-cyan glasses shown below. Thanks to modern technology and remarkable advances in manufacturing, such state-of-the-art equipment is now available online for under a dollar.

If you wear these glasses, you can go to Google Maps, and enter your favorite spot in Street View. Pegman will serve as your guide to the secret dimension - start by clicking this icon shown on the left of the screen:

and the new dimension will pop out right in front of your (technologically-augmented) eyes:

This is completely new research on an unchartered topic, so we would like to offer one word of caution: please beware of birds.

Posted by Stéphane Lafon and Abhijit Ogale, Senior Pixel Movers, Street View

[G] The bigger the better

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Google Photos Blog: The bigger the better

Posted by C. Amera, LifeSize Engineer

In a world where everything seems to be getting smaller and smaller, we still believe that bigger is sometimes better. On the photos team, we know this is definitely true. That's why we're happy to announce LifeSizeTM on Picasa Web Albums, an easy way to create and print larger-than-life versions of your photos, all from the comfort of your own home. LifeSize uses intelligent shape detection software to find the subject in your photo and automatically determines its approximate real-life height based on background scenery, surrounding objects, and the ratio of the subject's foot-to-navel length and the navel-to-head length. Check it out and make your own really, really big photo at


[G] Google Reader gives back

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Official Google Reader Blog: Google Reader gives back

At the recent SXSW conference, we handed out free Google Reader T-shirts to people based on how many Reader items they'd ever read... in their whole life. We knew that free shirts would be a hit, but we learned something much more important: a lot of people have read a lot of items. (At an average of thirty seconds per item, the most prolific readers had spent more than 180 full days of their lives perusing stuff on Reader — what Blogger gives, Reader takes away)

After the conference, several of us felt like shirts didn't seem like enough of a reward for all the valuable hours people have spent trolling through so many feeds. One thing led to another, we did a few calculations, drank a few too many cups of coffee, and today we're happy to announce Google Reader's first rewards program: ReaderAdvantage™.

The ReaderAdvantage™ program is simple. You get one point for each item you read. The more you read, the more you get. Then you can trade in your points for cool stuff. And because we believe in a little friendly competition, there are four levels of ReaderAdvantage™ status:

  • Novice: 999 points

  • Gold: 25,000 points

  • Platinum: 133,700 points

  • Totally Sweet: 314,159 points

We considered inventing a secret ReaderAdvantage™ handshake, but instead we created embroidered badges to ensure that members can easily identify their compatriots.

Get your badge on

If you use Google Reader, there's no reason not to join. Visit the ReaderAdvantage™ site to read all the details and enroll today. As always, please send us your thoughts and feedback in our forum or on Twitter.


[G] Unmuting the web with Google Chrome

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Google Chrome Blog: Unmuting the web with Google Chrome

We’ve long felt that not enough people know what a browser is. Too many people just use the browser that comes with their computer. The time has come for browsers to speak up and be heard. Even though we’ve experimented with visual improvements in the way of 3D stereoscopy, we think it’s time for browsers to push the boundaries of what’s possible by using sound to create a magical, immersive experience.

Taking an earful of inspiration from the HTML5 audio tag, we’ve spent the past few months deep in psychoacoustic models, the Whittaker-Nyquist-Kotelnikov-Shannon sampling theorem, Franssen effects, Shepard-Risset Tones, and 11.1 surround sound research to build a cutting-edge audio-driven user interface for our users, available through a new Chrome extension. With this extension, Chrome will provide audio feedback as you browse to web pages and interact with the browser.

To experience the web with auditory feedback, download Google Chrome (if you haven’t already), install the extension, turn up the volume, and enjoy the biggest increase in your browsing productivity since the blink tag. Mundane operations like opening and closing tabs, searching, navigating, even debugging the browser and much more will never be the same.

Now that we’ve nailed sight and sound, we’ll look at bringing olfactory magic to the browsing experience. We hope to deliver that by next year at this time.

Posted by Kay, Rakowski, and Chan from the Psychoacoustics Research Division of the Google Chrome Team