The Google I/O conference, as big as it was, was just one of the many major things that went down this week. We're talking a new smartphone, late-night comedy laughs, a cool photo app, and more. If you missed some of this week's best tech news, don't fret. We've got you covered with the major highlights in this week's recap.
- Opportunity breaks NASA's driving distance record — Geekosystem
- All-out war and other horrifying implications of the Star Trek universe — Cracked
- Smartphones are bridging the digital divide — ReadWrite
- A boy reunites with his family after 23 years thanks to Google Maps — Newser
- The greatest graphics in video game history — FWD
- A beautiful, visual graph of what Reddit looks like — HuffPost Tech
- An incredibly complex ball contraption made completely of Legos — Geek.com
Oh em gee . . . mail! Google's email client is making moves and taking action with new features that you won't be able to live without. Power emessagers will soon be able to check into their flights, RSVP for events, review movies, and send money right from Gmail.
Google is launching all sorts of new shenanigans at this week's Google I/O developer conference, but these super-useful Gmail additions might be some of the best features unveiled at I/O so far.
Gmail's US users will be able to send money and make payments from their inbox via Google Wallet. No need to set up complicated money transfers or PayPal accounts to pay back friends and family — just hover over the paperclip attachment button, click the dollar sign, enter an amount, and swoosh! The money is now on its way and you've repaid your debts like a Lannister. Sending money is free if your bank account is linked to Google Wallet, but credit/debit card transactions will cost you 2.9 percent. Over 18 years old? You'll get the feature in the coming months.
Gmail is also introducing buttons that'll help you reach that seemingly unattainable goal of Inbox Zero. The new clickables are called quick actions, which will appear in-line with email subjects in your inbox, prompting you to check into your flight, RSVP for dinner, save an event to your calendar, and other similar actions.
Sorting through email is about to get much more efficient. If you're a developer and can't wait to get a hold of the new features, head over to developers.google.com/gmail/schemas.
- J.J. Abrams hangs out with the Star Trek cast and some astronauts — Geekosystem
- Brackium emendo! Science can now regrow broken teeth — Cracked
- The world needs more of these bartending robots — ReadWrite
- A tiny human wears Google Glass — FWD
- Water that's 1.5 BILLION years old — Newser
- A six-step guide to speaking Klingon — Mental Floss
- Whoa: scientists clone human cells for the first time — Geek.com
When Google holds an event, expect big news to go down. Between the announcement of a streaming music service that combines Google's cloud library with your own downloads to an updated search system that uses conversational speech, the Android crowd had plenty to get excited about during the tech company's Google I/O Wednesday keynote. Here, catch up on what changes are coming to the Google-sphere.
Google finally has a solution for those multiplatform relationships (you know, if he's an Android and she's an iOS or vice versa), and it's called Hangouts. The video chatting feature for Google+ is now a standalone app for Android and iOS and as an extension for Chrome.
How is the Hangouts app, introduced at today's Google I/O conference, about to change the way we communicate? By eliminating the barriers between different mobile platforms that prevent texters on different types of devices from sending video, photos, and — most importantly — Emoji. Hangouts is a messaging app that streamlines conversation between multiple people, enabling one-on-one or group chatting across both iPhone and Android devices.
You can invite up to 10 friends to a video call and "hang out" on a computer or a smartphone. Conversations, shared photos, and video call history are kept in the cloud, so you always have access to those threads even if you lose your device.
Synchronicity is definitely one of Hangouts' best features. Once you get a notification for a new message on one device, that alert will be silenced across your computer or other devices. There's even a snooze option when you need some peace and quiet from notifications. Download Hangouts and see how Google's new app bridges the multiplatform divide!
Google Maps, with over one billion monthly active users, has become such an essential part of getting from point A to point B. That's why when we heard Google was preparing to announce some major changes to Google Maps at this week's I/O conference . . . we were a little bit nervous.
But the search-company-turned-Internet-giant has only improved one of its best products with a beautiful new interface and more personalized search. At today's keynote, we listened to Bernhard Seefeld, product management director of Google Maps, discuss and demo the new features.
Here's why we're loving the next generation of Google Maps:
- It looks great — The map itself is more textured, more shaded, and more colored than before, so you can really see elevation and environmental differences around the world. Blues and greens are richer, more vivid, and easier to see.
- It's immersive — The search bar is now tucked away in the upper left-hand corner, which allows the map to be as full-screen and immersive as possible.
- It gets smarter with time — Personalization is the name of the game when it comes to the latest iteration of Google Maps. You set standard locations, like home and work, but it's the personal landmarks that make the map useful. These landmarks are restaurants or other places you frequent. Maps can suggest similar places to you and get better at recommendations over time.
- It's more interactive — Search results appear right on the map, instead of in a list. Results are fully labeled with the type of business (restaurant? park?), its name, and a summary of what it is. Click to expand even more information, like operating hours, contact information, Zagat ratings, and more.
- It really gives you the sense of a place — Using 3D mapping technology and user-generated photos, the new Maps shows you what a place actually looks like from the ground, not just an aerial view.
Like what you see? Request an invite to the new Google Maps.
Talk to Google like it's your best friend. Really, the search giant insists that with its improved conversational search functions, demoed at Google I/O on Wednesday, you'll be able to speak commands not just from your mobile device with the Google Search app, but also from Chrome on desktops, using less-robotic speech and receiving spoken responses from Google.
During the live demo, we watched Johanna Wright, vice president of Mobile, ask Google a series of questions about an upcoming trip to beach town Santa Cruz, CA, getting decidedly more human and conversational with each question. After asking Google for attractions and restaurants in Santa Cruz, when Johanna said, "How far is it from here?," the result that populated was directions from our location in San Francisco to Santa Cruz, showing the search algorithm's progression from understanding strict computer speak to more casual conversation using predictions to determine which locations the user is referring to.
Google Now, the personalized search function that might know you better than you know yourself, also received an update today in the form of reminders, public transit cards, and entertainment cards that populate based on your past preferences. These reminders will appear within your Now account based on when you've set a need for them. For example, a reminder to leave to catch a taxi may appear two hours before a scheduled flight. Just like a web search, Google says many of these notations can be made with your voice commands.
Big changes are on the way for the Google+ platform, which is rolling out a redesign and new social engagement features over the next week. Unveiled at this morning's Google I/O conference in San Francisco, the new Google+ will deliver a modernized stream and new social discovery experience to its 190 million active "Plus-ers."
For current Google+ users, the changes are certainly something to be excited about. Streams are about to become more dynamic and beautiful, and Google is getting smarter about helping you discover more content you'd be interested in based on what type of content you're posting. Plus, the platform is introducing powerful photo editing and photo storage tools to manage your media.
Even if you're not on Google+, take notice because the platform is playing an increasingly important role in search, website log-ins, and other Google products like Maps and Gmail.
See how Google's relatively new social network is about to look totally different (in a good way) after the break.
Make room on your home screen for one more monthly music subscription service, this one backed by the power of the Google Play store and your own music library. Google Play Music All Access, announced Wednesday at Google I/O 2013, is the tech company's take on the growing popularity of services like Rdio and Spotify, which give customers instant access to millions of songs based on monthly subscription models.
What sets Play Music All Access (a name not for the easily tongue tied) apart from the others? For starters, users can access their Google Play Music locker — their personal music collection of up to 20,000 songs — in addition to Google's catalog of millions of licensed songs all within one service.
Read on for how much Google's music streaming will cost you per month.