Category: Google

Recent Tab Now Showing Up in Your Google Feed

Google has been working on the the Google app for Android a lot in recent weeks, with the most notable change coming last week with the introduction of Google Feed.  If you aren’t up on it, basically the Feed is similar to the features are found in the Google Now Launcher and Pixel Launcher, but it gives you more relevant information based on your searches and location.  It is more dependent on Artificial Intelligence to give you information that is more important to you.

There is now a new feature in the Google Feed feature:  Recents.  Now you have a third tab that shows you your recent search history on your device.  You can simply swipe left and right to see the history and tap on a result to go back to that site to continue reading it.

Alphabet Q2 Earnings Up 21% to $26.01 Billion

Alphabet, the parent company of Google, has released their Q2 2017 financial report and it is, in a word, impressive.  The company had earning of $26.01 billion US for the quarter, up some 21% over the same quarter in 2016.  This beat analyst expectations which had pegged earnings at just over $25 billion.

Operating income was down to $4.132 billion with an overall operating income margin of 16%.  Both of these were down from the same quarter in 2016.  Net Income was down to $3.54 billion for the quarter.

Opinion: Google, Please Update Your Release Notes on App Updates

Yesterday, Google Calendar had a nice update drop in the Play Store.  The problem is, if you only read the release notes, you would have had no idea that a great new feature in the app.  That feature, the ability to drag & drop appointments to new days and times, was not mentioned in the release notes.  At all.  In fact, the release notes are from some four months ago.

The problem is that users of apps on Android need those release notes to know what they are getting in the update.  Be it a new feature or even a little bit of detail around what was fixed if it is a maintenance release would go along way.  Instead, users are dependent on sites like ClintonFitch.com and others to dive into the updates as soon as they drop or do APK tear downs to find out what’s new.  Believe me, I appreciate you coming and finding out what is new in a release but really, should it be such a guessing game?  No, I don’t think so.

Google Improves AI-Laden Feed in Google App for Android

If you use the Pixel launcher or the Google app on your Android phone, you will have noted a few changes recently to the feed in apps.  The feed, which rolled out with the Google Now launcher, has slowly been improved to provide you more accurate or interesting information to you based on your habits.  Today, Google has pushed the big red button and with a server-side update, everyone’s feed is now showing these improvements.

Inside the Google app, you will see a much improved lists of articles and topics that are potentially of interest to you.  They did this by heavily leaning on Artificial Intelligence to bubble up things that you may find of interest based on other articles you have read or other interactions with Google along with local information on events happening around you.

Opinion – Google Pixel Has Only Sold 1 Million Units… Who Cares?

Yesterday, through some estimates made from the downloading of the Pixel Launcher from the Play Store, several reports surfaced on the number of Google Pixel phones that have been sold.  Based on the listing of the launcher in the Store, it is estimated that 1 million units have been sold since the phone launched in October 2016.

On the surface, given the vast number of Android devices in the market, this seems like a low sales number.  And it is frankly.  Samsung has sold some 5 million Galaxy S8 units in just a handful of months while other phones like the Huawei P10 have also pushed well past 1 million units.

But who cares?  While many will get wrapped around the axle on this low number, it is important to keep in mind Google never intended this device to be for the masses.  It is a flagship device with a premium price and I suspect that Google themselves aren’t too flustered over the low numbers.  Neither should you.

Chrome 59 Released with Settings Now in Material Design

The Chromium team within Google has released Chrome 59, the latest major build of the browser for Windows, MacOS and Linux.  The update is rolling out now and if you have Chrome installed, the update should come to you over the course of the next few days.  If you want to force the issue, just type chrome://help in the browser and it will automatically download the update immediately.

There are two big changes in this update along with the normal raft of bug and security fixes.  The first is the injection of more Material Design.  The Settings page within Chrome is now by default in Material Design.  The ability to turn on this feature manually in Chrome has been there since Chrome 57 but it has required a manual flag change deep within the settings of the browser.  Now it is on by default in Chrome 59.

Opinion – As a Site Owner, I’m all in on Google Chrome Ad-Blocking

In a blog post yesterday, Google clearly and carefully outlined their plan for blocking overly aggressive adverts on the web.  At first blush, it would seem odd that Google, a company who primarily makes their money from adverts, would block ads.  Further, it would seem self serving as the types of adverts they want to block in Chrome, they themselves don’t serve up so only their ads would get through the blocker.  That’s not entirely true.

As a site owner who depends on adverts and as a consumer, I’m quite happy with this announcement and planned implementation in 2018.

The short of it is this:  In Google Chrome, starting in 2018, overly intrusive adverts are going to be blocked by the browser.  As Google described them, “it’s far too common that people encounter annoying, intrusive ads on the web–like the kind that blare music unexpectedly, or force you to wait 10 seconds before you can see the content on the page. These frustrating experiences can lead some people to block all ads–taking a big toll on the content creators, journalists, web developers and videographers who depend on ads to fund their content creation.”

We all know examples of sites that use these types of ads and as a consumer, I hate them.  I never block the ads but I just don’t go to those sites any more.  And that hurts me in getting the information I want or need and ultimately, it hurts the site as they don’t get revenue from their ads.

How To Fix Failed To Load Error in Google Now

Over the weekend, many people were impacted by what appears to be a server-side experiment with Google Now.  The issue left those who use the Google Now Launcher, the Pixel launcher or the Google app on their phone useless for personalized information.  The cards would not display save one that simply stated “Failed to load cards”.  I was met with this issue on all three of my main devices:  Google Pixel XL, Nexus 9 and Huawei P10.

Fortunately there is what seems to be a rather quick and easy fix to this issue:  Clear the data on the Google app on your devices.  I did this on all three of my devices mentioned above and afterwards, the Google Now cards displayed as expected.  If you know how to clear data in an app, try the trick and let me know if it also works for you.  If you don’t know how to do this, keep reading and I’ll walk you through the steps.

Alphabet Reports $24.75 Billion in Earnings for the First Quarter

Alphabet, the parent company of Google, has just posted their first quarter 2017 results and they are nothing short of breathtaking.  The company’s revenue was $24.75 billion in the quarter, up 22% from the same period last year, and beat all expectations.  Operating income increased to $6.58 billion, up from the $5.3 billion for the previous year.  Netted out, the company made $5.4 billion in net income for the quarter.

Digging further, advertising revenues were up for the company in the quarter.  They rose to $21.4 billion while the Other Revenue for the company grew by $1 billion to $3.0 billion.  The Other Revenue section of the financial report as this is where hardware sales (Google Pixel, Google Home, Chromecast) are lumped together with things such as enterprise sales.  An increase here is a good reflection on how those business units are doing overall.

Google Allo Update Brings Support for Yes/No Polls

Slowly Google Allo is growing up and with the latest update, there is a new bot that will allow you to create simple Yes/No polls for your friends and family.  The update is a behind-the-scenes update so as long as you have the latest version of Allo on your phone, you will have access to the new poll.  For reference, the latest build is version 8.0.035.  To activate the new poll bot, simply type @yesno in the text box to message a single friend or a group of friends.  After you type in @yesno, type in your question right after it.  For example, “@yesno Have you tried the new polls in Google Allo?”  Press send and it will go to all of your friends in that message group.  They (and you) can then tap the Yes or the No button to vote.  Simple and easy.

Where this could be useful is if you are meeting a group of friends and want to know if the restaurant you have selected is a good option.  Or if everyone wants to go to lunch in the office.

Android Overtakes Windows as The Most Popular OS in Internet Usage

After dominating the world for the past three decades-plus, Windows is no longer the most widely used Operating System in terms of Internet usage.  That honor now goes to Android according to the team at StatCounter.  In their latest report, Android passed Windows by .02% to take over the top spot.  The report measures the Operating Systems in use globally to access the Internet and this is the first time that Windows has been beaten – by anyone.

The report reflects what many have seen for a long time:  The world is going mobile and with Android dominating the mobile landscape as far as install base, it isn’t shocking to see it take over the #1 slot when it comes to Internet usage.  It also reflects a fundamental shift in how we get to the information we need in our day-to-day lives.  Mobile search has continued to climb as the most common way people access information so this report fits that trend too.

Google Shuttering Location Sharing in Google+

A few weeks ago, Google announced that they would be rolling out location sharing in Google Maps.  The new feature will allow you to share your location with friends and family for a set period of time and it will work across Android and iOS devices.  As a part of that effort, it appears the company is starting to shut down location sharing within Google+.

Google+ has had the ability to share your location for a long while but if you attempt to use it now, you are greeted with a splash page indicating that the feature is moving to Maps.  The tricky bit is that it hasn’t fully rolled out to Google Maps yet either.