Monday, August 29, 2011

New boundary for Google Docs Apps

Reliability is great, but not when it makes an application more hard to use. Google Docs tests new interfaces for the document editor and Google Spreadsheets. enthused by Google+, the new interfaces remove all the colors from the icons and other UI elements, remove the Google Docs logo, add new scrollbars and a "Collaborate" menu that includes all the features from the "Share" drop-down.

The new grayscale buttons from the toolbar make it more hard to find the right feature. They are less intuitive, harder to differentiate and look like disabled buttons. Compare the two versions of the "paint format" button (the fifth button):

Unlike the new interfaces for Gmail and Google Calendar, the efficient Google Docs apps don't use too much white space. You can toggle to the new interfaces by clicking "Try now" in a small message that announces the changes when you release a Google Docs document or spreadsheet. To go back to the old UI, choose "Use the standard look" from the "Help" menu.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Lists in Google Snippets

I've mentioned two weeks ago that Google ongoing to label pages that take in search results. For some of these pages, Google's snippets now use lists, so you can differentiate between separate items. These snippets are twice as big as the ordinary snippets (4 lines vs 2 lines) and they take in useful information like prices or dates.

Sometimes Google is confused and shows comparable snippets for blogs, especially if homepages look like look for results pages.

Google's snippets typically include one or more excerpts from the page that include some of your keywords and are estranged by ellipses.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Music Rich Snippets in Google Search

Last week, Google announced a new taste of rich snippets, this time for music pages. At that time, I couldn't see the new snippets, but now they ought to be obtainable for everyone.

"With this new feature, site owners can mark up their pages using the newly shaped music markup spec on, and search results for that site may start displaying song information in the snatch so that users know that there are songs or samples there for them to listen to. Several early partners have implemented the music markup on their sites, counting MySpace, Rhapsody and Reverb Nation," explained Google.

The new rich snippets comprise links to music pages that could be establish by visiting the search result, but it's faster to bypass the search result and start to play a song. It's important to talk about that the songs aren't played on Google's results pages, so you still need to go to a different page. You'll only see the music rich snippets when your inquiry includes the name of an artist, a song or an album.

Google also shows rich snippets for events, profile pages, recipes, videos, reviews and products. "With rich snippets, webmasters with sites containing structured content—such as review sites or business listings—can label their satisfied to make it clear that each labeled piece of text represents a certain type of data: for example, a restaurant name, an address, or a rating."

At some point, Google will make structured data searchable and it will be a lot easier to purify results. Recipe search previously lets you do that and it's pretty useful.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

A convenience survey for blind users

These days, we rely on the Internet to keep us knowledgeable and in touch, yet our experience of the web is filtered through the tools we use to access it. The devices and technologies we choose, and our decisions about when we improve those tools, can affect how we interrelate with the web and with whom we are able to communicate.

In July, I attended the yearly conference held by the American Council of the Blind (ACB). I was struck by something I heard from people there: their experience using the web was very dissimilar from mine not because they were blind, but because the technology and web tools obtainable to them were unlike the ones available to me, as a sighted person. While the Internet provides many benefits to modern society, it has also created a exclusive set of challenges for blind and low-vision users who rely on assistive technologies to use the web. We’re committed to making Google’s products more accessible, and we believe the best way to understand the convenience needs of our users is to listen to them.

This week, we’re announcing a review that will help us better understand computer usage and assistive technology patterns in the blind community. Over the past three months, we’ve worked intimately with the ACB to develop a survey that would give us a greater understanding of how people choose and learn about the assistive technologies they use. This survey will help us design products and tools that interact more efficiently with assistive technologies currently available to the blind community, as well as improve our aptitude to educate users about new features in our own assistive technologies, such as ChromeVox and TalkBack.

The survey will be obtainable through mid-September on the ACB's website and by phone. We encourage anyone with a visual impairment who relies on assistive technologies to participate; your input will help us offer products that can enhanced suit your needs. For details, visit

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Undocumented Shortcut for Caps Lock in Chrome OS

One of the most significant changes Google made when designing the keyboard for Chrome OS notebooks was replacing the Caps Lock key with a search key. Although the search key is not very useful since it only opens a new tab, the Caps Lock key made a lot of comments, forum threads and emails unreadable.

If you actually need to use the Caps Lock key, there's a way to change the search key into a Caps Lock key in the settings. Unfortunately, this is time consuming, particularly if you constantly switch between the search key and the Caps Lock key. There's a better way: press both Shift keys at the same time to enable or disable Caps Lock. It's an undocumented shortcut that works in the newest versions of Chrome OS.

Monday, August 15, 2011

New Google Movies One Box

Google's One Box for movie show times has a new border that offers information about more movies. It's much easier to evaluate movies and you can click "show more movies" to get bigger the One Box. Google links to the Google Movies site, which shows short snippets from reviews, trailers, small photos, but also links to IMDb.

In other associated news, Fran├žois Beaufort spotted that the sprite, which includes all the images that are used in the search results pages, added 4 icons for flight search, music search and movie search. Back in March, Tech Crunch noticed that the music search characteristic no longer worked. "The music search attribute introduced in 2009 is at present unavailable while we make some updates to the user experience," explained Google

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

We love Lucy

Lucille Ball may have been born 100 years ago today, but her jokes are timeless. Having grown up with the comedic genius of “I Love Lucy,” it’s hard to consider that Lucy, Desi, Fred, and Ethel wrapped up the early series in 1957. Lucy’s creativity, absurdity, and ever-changing facial expressions (especially when she was scarfing down candy, stomping on grapes or touting a new energy drink) have brought joy and laughter to generations of listeners.

We’re extremely happy to celebrate her birthday with a doodle to highlight her brilliant career as an actress and businesswoman. Through the old-timey TV live on the homepage all day on August 6th, you can flip the six channels for a extraordinary Lucy broadcast.

Happy birthday, Lucy — we still love you!

No More separate Google Dictionary

Google Dictionary is no longer obtainable as a standalone service at You can still find it in Google Web Search and Google Translate. For example, you can look for [define keyword] and click "more" or search for [keyword] and click "Dictionary" in the look for options sidebar.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Google Docs Tests New Interface

Google Docs has a new boundary inspired by Google+ and you can try it here. The interface is cleaner and there's a bunch of white space. You'll also find the familiar red buttons, the gray buttons, the new scrollbars and the label less search button.

The new boundary looks better, but there's a lot of white space that could be used to show more information about the files. The details view is no longer obtainable from the interface, but you can enable it in the old UI and the setting is preserved.