Google News Updates; Compact View, Options To Disable Blogs and Press Releases

Google News has become a steady source of reading news for me. However, the quality of websites in the index had been on decline until Google stepped in and cleaned it up. However, Google News is still far from perfect and a lot of spam still exists.

Google News New Interface

Google has rolled out some new changes to Google News which includes a compact view where stories will be collapsed by default. Google News has also changed the default view to a single column view, however, users have an option to switch back to the two column view through their settings.

Google News displays a mix of traditional newspapers, blogs and press releases. Many of these websites might not be of interest to you, but Google still displayed them nevertheless. With the new update they Google News has now added a feature where users can disable blogs and press releases completely from Google News.

Disable Blogs and Press Releases in Google News

The option to disable Blogs and Press Releases from Google News can be found under the settings page in Google News. You can also visit http://news.google.com/news/settings to update your settings.

The complete list of new changes in Google News include:

  • Click-to-expand: Each story cluster is collapsed down to one headline with the exception of the top story. When something grabs you, click nearby anywhere but the title to expand the story box.
  • Labeled diversity: For stories you’ve expanded, you’ll see genre labels for some of the additional articles that explain why they were chosen and how they add value. For example, you might see something labeled as an Opinionpiece or an indication that an article is "In Depth."
  • Multimedia and more: Within each expanded story box, you’ll find a sliding bar of videos and photos, links to related sections and easier-to-use sharing options, so you can quickly digest the sights and sounds of a news story, dig into different types of publications and share what you find interesting with one click.
  • Personalized top stories: The Top Stories section is expanded to six or more stories from three to give you more topic diversity. The first three stories remain unpersonalized and the same as before. The rest may be personalized based on your interests. To personalize your Google News experience you can click on "Edit" under "News for you." You can choose the "Standard Edition" if you don’t want personalization.
  • Less is more: The default view is now the popular "One Column" (formerly "Section") view. We merged List View into Top Stories, as described above. You can still switch to "Two Column" view, which resembles classic Google News.

Gmail Labs Brings Background Send, Now Send an Email While Reading Other Mail Conversations

Gmail has continued innovation this year with the launch of Smart Labels. Another new nifty feature has come to Gmail that allows us to send emails in the background, without blocking the user interface while sending it.

The new feature here is called Background Send and it does exactly what it sounds like. With Background Send, you can click on send and expect to move around your mailbox seamlessly. This will not be interrupted by the sending process, that is taking place in the background. Clearly, you can send multiple emails in parallel without any of them being interrupted.

The feature will require browsers with fast and fail-proof JavaScript rendering. As the feature works in th background and the process of sending an email is not as intensive and simultaneously frequent as, say tweeting, the performance/speed difference will not be evident at first.

How to Enable Background Send in Gmail?

gmail-background

To enable background send, go to Gmail -> Settings -> Mail Settings on the top right hand corner. Out there, go to the Labs tab and look for  Background Send. Click on the Enable radio and you are all set to use Background Send.

Gmail has taken over all our email needs, and innovations like these are extremely important to keep competition at bay.

Bing and Yahoo: Combined Market Share Now At 30%

Microsoft’s Bing decision engine is turning quite some heads with its growth and rise in popularity. Bing began providing Yahoo with organic search results and according to Hitwise, their combined share is at 30 percent. Clearly, as Bing provides Yahoo with organic results, it is a big win for Bing.

bing-share
The month of March has been prospective for Bing and it has seen a rise of 5 percent in this month alone. Google’s current share stands at 64.42 percent, following a drop after Bing took away some of the market share from it. Overall, Bing is at 14.69 percent whereas Yahoo is at 15.32 percent.

Bing is making groundbreaking changes in its search and has advertised heavily across the Internet. Its spam free search results have led Google to update its algorithm leading to elimination of content farms. While this has improved search results, the need to make this change has raised questions on whether Google search will see the end of this decade with the same market share.

The default search provided in browsers is affecting search market shares more than ever and the rise in Bing is acclaimed to this very fact. The market share Bing enjoys currently is gathered from those migrating over from Yahoo. Though, this is just not enough to compete against Google search full on.

Google Brings Enterprise Control To Android

With Android being one of the leading smartphone operating systems and very rapidly climbing the charts in deployment, it’s well received news that Google is aligning their mobile offerings to include enterprise-level controls to compete in the business market.Google has updated their Device Policyapplication to include the ability for users to control their Android devices by way of tracking it via GPS, activating the ringer or resetting the PIN or password on the device. In the event that an employee or regular Apps user loses their device, they can use the online remote functionality to retrieve or secure their phone. Administrators and users can set up multiple devices in a new page that provides detailed information about each synchronized device (a tablet or smartphone) and plots the last known location. Devices must be running Android 2.2 or higher in order to use this feature.

Continuing along with the ability to remotely secure a device, Google Apps administrators now also have the option to force encryption for data stored on the device (supporting Android 3.0/Honeycomb tablets with encrypted storage). This will greatly reduce some of the risks that organizations take when employees wish to bring personal devices to work, it will allow security provisioning for any data exfiltration to ensure it is stored properly. Presumably, this can be done on a device-by-device basis allowing administrators to specifically select which devices have this set.

The last minor, yet very welcomed addition is Google Apps Lookup, which provides a much easier way for users to search their corporate address book for a contact. Similar to Microsoft’s Exchange Global Address List (GAL), mobile users can enter the name of a contact (by speech or text input) and the app will automatically search the online Apps directory for the contact and provide all the available information for the user to interact with as a regular contact in their device address book. This feature is available to Android devices running 2.1 or higher and must be enabled by the Apps administrator.

With personal devices making their way into the corporate environment, many organizations are feeling the weight of providing support for numerous devices yet retaining control and security over sensitive information. Google is taking steps in the right direction to take Blackberry head-on with some competition in the enterprise market.

Via Google Enterprise Blog

Happy 7th Birthday Gmail

was launched on April 1, 2004 by Google. Many people took Gmail as a April fool prank from Google considering the date it was launched on. However, Gmail was for real and it went on to become a huge success for Google.

Gmail 7th Birthday

Gmail went viral because of the invite only option it had. In fact, I received a Gmail invite from my friend too. The invite only access to Gmail was later on dropped in 2007. Currently Gmail has approximately 200 million users and is one of the most popular email service after Windows Live Hotmail and Yahoo.

Today is Gmail’s celebrates it’s 7th birthday and is better than ever before. There have been so many new features rolled out to users using and more.

Google also later on launched Google Apps which has Gmail, and other Google products among other things. I have been a big fan of Gmail and love the web interface. Just wanted to take some time out and wish Gmail a Very Happy 7th Birthday.

Google Working on NFC Based Mobile Payments App for Android

Ever since Google launched the Nexus S with NFC support, there has been speculation that it was planning to jump into the mobile payments arena. It seems that Google has already been working on such a mobile payment system, according to a report by WSJ.

It has teamed up with Mastercard and Citigroup to create a system which would allow Android smartphone users to make purchases by waving their smartphones before a small reader when checking out. In the early stages, the mobile app will be available only for Citigroup credit/debit card users.

Google will use readers by Verifone, which is a major player in the mobile payments segment. The mobile payments app will be made available for “one current model and many coming models of Android phones”. The current model is most likely the Nexus S, since it is the only one to have NFC support.

Google will be handling all the shopping cart data as well as the shipping information. Google won’t be charging any transaction fee for acting as the intermediary, but it will be able to send targeted ads and offers to users of its application. If this service attracts a lot of users, Google will have access to a treasure trove of personal information. Google has also applied for a patent for a “distributed electronic commerce system with centralized point of purchase”.

LG and Google Working on Nexus Tablet Powered by Honeycomb

Though Google has made Android available to everyone who wishes to implement it (at least the smartphone version), it has always wanted to create its own devices with hardware partners which would allow users to experience Android the way Google intended it.

On the mobile front, Google first launched the Nexus One which though made by HTC, ran the “pure” version of Android. It was one of the best Android phones when it launched, but failed due to lack of carrier support and a high price point. After that, it partnered with Samsung to launch the Nexus S which ran Android 2.3 Gingerbread without any customizations, which was a moderate success.

LG Nexus Tablet

The Motorola Xoom was touted to be a Google experience tablet, but Google didn’t give it the Nexus branding. Now we know why! Today, rumors have started circulating that Google is working on its own Nexus tablet which would be made by LG. It will run the “pure” Android 3.0 Honeycomb without any embellishments (though we are confused because the Motorola Xoom does the same). The rumor comes from a very credible source with a good track record – Mobile Review – so it’s very likely that we will see the Nexus tablet soon.

via BGR

Google Launches New Group Messaging App “Disco”

Google is entering the group messaging market with its latest launch, an app for iPhone called Disco. As predictable, the app allows users to create groups from their contacts and send them messages, letting any user who is a member of the group then reply to the message.

The app is currently available for the iPhone but not for Android devices which is pretty ironic. The only thing that may explain this is the fact that the app is developed by an autonomous business unit within Google called Slide. Slide was an independent app development house before Google acquired last year for a whopping $182 Million. Slide apparently still works on its own as a separate business unit.  When you create a group, a new phone number is also assigned to your group; any messages sent to that number are visible to the whole group. Group members can also be added online at Disco.com and each group can include up to 25 members. Google acquired the Disco.com domain last year for $255,000 at DomainFest.

The app has a neat functionality but doesn’t add much innovation compared to similar apps that already exist in the market place. Time will tell if Disco follows the trend of Gmail and Android when it comes to being a success, or follows other social efforts like Google Wave and Google Buzz into  obscurity. The app can be downloaded from iTunes.

 

Finally: Google Let’s You Block Content Farms And Spam Sites On Search Results, Without Any Extension

If you are a regular web surfer, you might have noticed some sites appear on Google search result pages no matter what you’re searching for. These sites (read content farms) have content on every other topic and often times, the experience leads to a really frustrating experience. You keep seeing the same site over and over again and might want to block them permanently so that they never appear on Google search result pages.

Some days back, Google released a Chrome extension which can filter out specific sites from Google search results. Looks like the extension was just a trailer run, Google has finally decided to hammer content farms, aggregators and spam sites with a new weapon personalized block of specific sites on Google search result pages.

block-sites-permanently

From today onwards, you will see a new link like Block all example.com results, just below the search snippet as shown in the above example. Click that little link and you will not see any page of the same site on Google search results in future. Not even on the 100th page of Google SERP’s.

You can lift the domain block on Google search result pages anytime, since the blocked pages will be organized under a new section called blocked pagesat the bottom of SERP’s. Clicking that Blocked sitessection will allow you to manage your list of blocked sites, remove existing entries, manually block another site and so on.

manage-blocked-sites

Since your customized block list is saved to your Google account preferences, surfing as any anonymous user will still show the same spam sites as before. On the settings page you can find details about the sites you’ve blocked, block new sites, or unblock sites if you’ve changed your mind.

Of course this is much better than the Personal Blocklist Chrome extension which works only in Google Chrome. The sites which you have blocked will never appear on any of the search result pages, regardless of what browser you’re using and whether you have any extension installed or not.

Google says in the official blog post that they are not considering the domains people block as a signal in ranking but the web spam team will look at the data and cross check whether it would still be useful to show a specific site for particular queries.

This is indeed a clever move by Google at the right moment. I guess Google wants to go the stats wayto find out what majority of users are thinking about particular sites. How many users are blocking this site , what are the queries and phrases users were using before blocking this specific site Google wants to find out these answers through manual inputs by humans, no algorithm this time.

This can mean a lot of things. Hopefully an end to the old SEO saga of content marketers who not only create spam content but also email people asking Hey we will write free content for you in exchange of links

What are the next steps in fighting junk content on search results ? Google isn’t saying but it’s no wonder that the web spam team is slowly tightening their grip on content aggregators and junk sources.

Note: The image used in this article is just an example. Matt writes a highly informative blog, which we love reading.

Win Free Tickets To Google I/O 2011

Google I/O is a developer conference hosted by Google where they have developers from all over the world come together for 2 days to discuss technical content and building the next generation of web, mobile and enterprise applications.

Google I/O 2011

Google I/O is usually in high demand and this year’s tickets for the event were sold quickly enough causing server crashes and more. If you are a developer who wanted to go to the event but could not get a ticket, here is your chance to win free tickets for the Google I/O event to be held on May 10-11, 2011 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco.

The free tickets will be given away as part of a contest Google is holding for developers. The contest will be held for 10 days in March. Each day Google will ask developers to solve questions and challenges before picking a final winner for the day. The schedule for the contests is as follows (all times in PST):

  • March 16 – Android, 9:00 am
  • March 17 – Chrome, 9:00 am
  • March 18 – App Engine, 9:00 am
  • March 21 – YouTube APIs, 9:00 am
  • March 22 – Game Developers, 9:00 am
  • March 23 – Google Maps / Geo, 4:00 pm
  • March 24 – Commerce, 9:00 am
  • March 25 – Developer Tools / GWT, 9:00 am
  • March 28 – Accessibility, 4:00 pm
  • March 29 – Google Apps / Enterprise, 4:00 pm

All the challenges will have 2 rounds with the first round being a rapid-fire question/answer round which will qualify developers to move onto the round 2; which is a coding challenge.

The contest is open to residents of 50 United States and Columbia. Winners of the contest will be announced on April 4. For more information about the winning free Google I/O Developer tickets, visit the contest site.