The personal assistant wars may be getting, well, personal. Microsoft has released a public beta of Cortana, the personal assistant found in Windows 10 and Windows 10 Mobile, to the Google Play Store for Android users. Cortana is aimed to compete against Google Now for your quick search, information and reminders on your phone just like Now does. For the longest time, Cortana was exclusive to Windows Phone 8.1 and recently made its desktop debut in Windows 10 and both allow you to simply ask your device a question starting with “Hey Cortana” and you can search anything on your PC or the Internet. Sound familiar? It should. If you have used Google Now, you will see the direct competitive nature of this to “OK, Google” that you ask your phone today.
When I received the Acer C670 to review, I commented to my wife that the world has come full circle. When I started my career first in networking then in telecommunications, I had a green screen CRT that tied me back into mainframe. Now, I have a Chromebook that ties me back into the Cloud. The only difference is that power and performance in a Chromebook is far superior to a dumb terminal.
The Acer C670 Chromebook is by all accounts a middle-of-the-road spec’d device. But don’t let that fool you or pass it over. At only $149, it is an exceptional value for what it does and it has plenty of horsepower to meet your needs as a lightweight, almost always connected device. Truthfully the keyboard on the C670 is one of the better chicklet-style keyboards I’ve tested and it is large enough to feel like you are typing on a full sized keyboard. While the display on the C670 could stand to be a bit better, overall this Chromebook is one to consider if you need something lightweight, small and always ready-to-go for your Google Doc and other online editing needs.
On the official Android blog, Google has announced that they have begun rolling out a new update to Android Wear. This new 1.3 version for those keeping score is going to be huge with a lot of new interactions and with Google Translate embedded into the release. What Google has done with it is great and should make it much easier to get help in up to 44 different languages right on your wrist.
How it will work is simple. You tap on the Google Translate app on you Wear device and speak into it. When you are done, flick your wrist over and the person you are interacting with can read your question or statement in their own language. You can do it all on your wrist and there is no need to get your phone from your pocket unless you want spoken translations.
Last week I posted Part 1 of my migration from Microsoft Office to Google Docs. In that post, I outlined the foundations of why I moved and the process of migrating your files from your PC or other cloud storage to Google Drive, how to setup offline access and the importance and power of Chrome Extensions as part of that offline work.
In Part 2 I’m going to cover the ins-and-outs of Google Docs, the document processing app. I’m going to cover using the app from the perspective of a PC running Chrome, a Chromebook and the Google Docs app on my Android phone (OnePlus One) and tablet (Samsung Galaxy Tab 4). I’ll cover the pros and cons of Google Docs versus Microsoft Word and some of the things that you will need to keep in mind if you are thinking of switching. This same methodology will repeat over the course of the next few weeks when I cover Google Sheets and Google Slides.
As a reminder to everyone who is thinking of making this transition, I will repeat what I said in Part 1 of this series:
Take your time. You will find that the majority of features in Microsoft Office are in the Google apps but they will be in different places. It may take you a few menu clicks to sort it out. Be patient. Give it a chance. Sure it may turn out that it isn’t right for you and your needs but I would suggest trying the experiment over a week or two before you make a final verdict. It isn’t as big a migration from say a PC to a Mac but it is similar to moving from Internet Explorer to Chrome in many ways. Same thing, but bits in different places and this process or that process may be a little different.
Rome wasn’t built in a day and moving from one way of editing your documents to another won’t be done in a day either. Give it an honest try and take your time.
Chrome OS users will be seeing an updated version hit their Chromebooks and other devices over the next few days. Build 44.0.2403.156 (Platform version: 7077.134.0) for those keeping score at home, was released yesterday and it is primarily a bug fix and stability improvement build. As with all Chrome OS updates, the release will be pushed down to devices automatically.
Like most devices today, it is pretty easy to take a screenshot on a Chromebook. Why would you want to take a screenshot? A lot of reasons. You may need to show a friend how to do something on their Chromebook (like, oh, show them how to take a screenshot ) or if you need tech support from Google. Taking the screenshot is easy enough but getting it moved to your Google Drive take a bit more. I’ll guide you through.
If you are a OnePlus One owner, there is a great sale going on over at the OnePlus site today. Right now you can get up to 50% off the regular price on select accessories for your OPO. The sale mostly focuses on cases and screen protectors so if you are in the market for one, now’s a good time to get one. If you don’t have a OnePlus One, you can also get a great deal on the phone itself with the 64GB modely now only $299. You can read my review of the OnePlus One here.
Google has released an update to the Google Photos app for Android that brings the ability to reorder photos in an album and the ability to view shared albums within the app. The update comes on the heals of the update to the Google Photos website yesterday which brought the ability to reorder photos to it as well. This latest update is build 18.104.22.168.143001 for those keeping score at home and is available now in the Google Play Store.
It appears to have been a busy day for the Google Docs team. Earlier today they released an update to Google Sheets that bring auto-fill to cells and now they have updated Google Docs itself with a long, long time requested feature. You can now view print layouts from your Android phone or tablet. Like the update to Sheets, the release notes for this update to Google Docs only state that there are bug fixes and performance improvements. But once again the team took to Google+ to share the news of the new feature.
Google has released an important update to Google Sheets today that will help power users while on their Android phone or tablet. The latest update brings the ability to Auto-Fill cells and will auto switch the keyboard based on the content of the cell you are editing. These features should make a huge difference for users on mobile devices.