Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Mobile Google News (Beta)

Google has just announced the release of Google News for mobiles.

This fills a niche I've been currently filling using mobile RSS readers. This is a neater solution as I already rely on Google News when not on the road (or in the train).

Google has been agressively targeting the mobile space for a while now, and with good reason. People are becoming more and more connected, so it makes sense to provide mobile friendly versions of the tools people have come to depend on when at the desk.

Sony Ericsson to Provide Blogger Access on Phones

In an unexpected, but possibly genius move, Sony Ericsson have announced their intention to provide direct access to Blogger accounts on all their new phones. This will let users with Blogger accounts blog directly from their handsets.

The partnership with Google will give bloggers with all new SE phones, starting with the K610, K800, and K790 phones announced today, the ability to post blog entries (with requisite camera phone images of course) while on the road with nothing but their trusty mobile.

Seems like a logical next step really, rather than blog about your day when you get home, you blog as it happens, so there is an obvious appeal for travelers and tech-conference blogger types. But perhaps the biggest impact will be during major world events which have already shown the popularity and effectiveness of blogs as breaking news providers. This functionality can only make blog-news reports of major events like Katrina or the London Bombings even more timely.

Incidentally, this deal also makes Google's search the default engine on all SE handsets, adding to the deals already forged with Motorola and Vodafone.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Google Page Creator

Google has just released Google Page Creator that lets you create mini websites, as well as providing the hosting.

The page editor itself is fairly basic, but does provide a limited number of layouts and styles. It neatly fills the current hole in the market for people who want a quick and easy website but don't require (or want) a blogging functionality or layout.

But perhaps the best thing about this is the hosting they provide. One of the big things I thought was missing from Google was a place to store files, images, downloads that I link to from places like my blog.

Up until now you still needed to have a place to host content -- with this solution I could probably move most of my sites to GooglePages without too much difficulty.

Monday, February 20, 2006

GoogleTalk Conference Chat

I've been playing with the new SDK in Google Desktop Beta 3 and I've written a plugin that lets you have chat room style conferences with people in your GoogleTalk friends list.

So if you've got GoogleTalk and latest Google Desktop installed, and you'd like to chat with a group of your friends all at the same time, check out the GoogleTalk Conference Chat sidebar plugin.

It's currently in what I would describe as Beta, meaning I know there are things that need fixing but I'd like some feedback before I commit more time to the project. So please -- let me know what you think!

I currently support multiple chat rooms, next on the agenda is improved formatting and persisting chatrooms across sessions.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Ratings and Profiles in GoogleGroups

While working on a plugin for the new Google Desktop API I noticed a couple of changes to the Google Groups interface. Each post can now be rated for quality and you can easily view the profile of each poster.

Accordingly the layout of each posts header has changed so you can see what average rating a post has received (and the number of votes as well as a link to the profile of the poster.

The profiles show a basic set of information (name, location, website/blog) as well as a detailed posting history including a timeline of when they have posted.

It's been a while since Google Groups got any changes but this is definitely a good improvement. The rating system should help point readers to the one good post that often amounts to the needle in the haystack of a flamewar.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Google Desktop Update

Looks like the rest of the Google boys and girls have been playing nice with the team at GoogleTalk. There's a new Google Desktop release(Beta 3) available, and GoogleTalk features prominently.

Desktop now uses GoogleTalk as a communications layer (Perhaps to encourage others to do the same, there is a new release of Libjingle).

As a result, you can now share your search index between your computers. Enabling this option will keep a copy of your indexes on Google servers and allow you to access that index from any other computer. This is both powerful and dangerous. You can search your files and view your web history anywhere, but then google has a record of all of this as well -- adjust your tin-foil hats now.

Two new related new search operators under: and machine: let you limit searches to paths and machine names respectively.

You can also choose to send the contents of some panels to friends.
News articles for example, can be sent to a contacts email, chat window, or direct to their news sidebar. What's more exciting to a developer like myself is the ability to write plugins that allow the same sort of data transfer with the new API -- watch out for a huge number of online games coming your way.

Other new sidebar features include the ability to 'lock searches' on your computer, detach sidebar items from the sidebar to 'float' on your desktop, spell checking, advanced search dialog, and an improved preferences page.

It's an impressive new release and the new communications features should prompt a raft of new sidebar plugins that take advantage.

More info at the Inside Google Desktop blog.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Google Integrates Chat with Mail

Now this is a beauty. Google is in the process of integrating GoogleTalk with GMail.

They're doing this in a number of ways. First off, the much anticipated ability to record your chat history within your gmail account (with the ability to go 'off the record' during any conversation that will prevent both sides of the conversation to stop logging.

More impressively, chatting and presence have both been integrated directly into the gmail interface.

A small presence window shows you your contact list with status messages and presence. Clicking on your contacts will launch a chat window within GMail, which can be un-joined into a separate pop-up window.

It's a very neat combination that looks good and just the way you'd think it should. It's the next logical step in web-based mail and after the disappointment of Google Video it's good to see Google have done this right.

Google say they're rolling this out now, so expect to see it in your GMail interface soon.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Google Reader Update

More from Google.

The time it's Google Reader. They've added a new 'label' drop-down to the main page which lets you easily filter your reading list by label. To achieve the same thing previously, you had to navigate in via the 'edit subscriptions' link.

Google Reader has also added some new keyboard shortcuts for navigating around your labels. Especially cool is the 'g then l' shortcut that will overlay a partially transparent label selection screen that lets you use the keyboard to choose a label to view.

g then h : your full reading list
g then s : starred items
g then u : edit subscriptions

More info at the official Google Reader Blog where they also mention some 'fun things' in the future and link to Niall Kennedy's blog entry about a forthcoming Google Reader API.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Google Cricket Sidebar Update

The Google cricket sidebar is inching its way to release. There's not too much more to do, but free time has been scarce of late making the last stage of testing and development drag on.

One of the biggest problems is the sheer number of games available to watch at any given time. There's test matches, limited overs, and 20/20 games. Then there's the domestic competitions from all over the world including India, South Africa, and Australia. The end result is a lot of different variations to test, but which can only be tested when the games are being played!

To help get a release out sooner, I'm considering offering a reduced version that will feature the one day and test matches from only one international team. My personal preference is for my home team of Australia -- but I'm willing to consider any alternative test playing nation based on feedback.

So, post your comments here or send me an email!