Wednesday, March 02
Wednesday, November 11

Inbox by Gmail to Add ‘Smart Reply’

Cam Bunton reporting for 9to5mac:

In its blog post about the update, Google explains how the technology works, stating that as the email comes in, one network encodes the email by consuming the words one at a time and then produces a vector, or list of numbers. This vector essentially captures the message of what the email means. A second network then uses this ‘thought vector’ and creates a grammatically correct reply one word at a time. To the user, it should feel fast, intuitive and natural.

Wow. Such incredible AI work they do in Mountain View (or wherever). I’m not totally creeped out by this feature, yet, but I have this sinking feeling that I should be.

Tuesday, August 25

Project Sunroof from Google

In a nutshell, Project Sunroof is an online tool that helps you determine if solar is worth the investment for your home. Yet another 20% project from a Googler that seems like it has potential to make a substantial impact in an area where we are long overdue for change. I know it’s still not quite economically feasible, but I wish there were some communities (or more, if some do exist) that required solar roofs for new construction. It may not be a cure-all, but every little bit helps.

On a related note, has anyone ever determined if there’s an 80/20 rule that applies to Google’s famed 20% projects? Do 20% projects account for 80% of their successful non-search/ads projects?

Monday, August 10

Google is Alphabet Owns Google

During what is normally a very slow tech news month, Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin drop a Monday afternoon bomb that Google Inc. is now Alphabet Inc. and the various business entities under the company formally known as Google are now subsidiaries of the new company.

Alphabet CEO Larry Page, in a blog post announcing the change:

We’ve long believed that over time companies tend to get comfortable doing the same thing, just making incremental changes. But in the technology industry, where revolutionary ideas drive the next big growth areas, you need to be a bit uncomfortable to stay relevant.

The company and products you formerly knew as Google stay as Google, albeit now as a wholly owned subsidiary under Alphabet. GOOG becomes the stock trading symbol for Alphabet, and all previous shares of Google convert directly into shares of Alphabet.

Forever in tune with the zeitgeist, they even included a nice little easter egg for fans of the HBO series Silicon Valley.

Saturday, August 08

Get Busy Times from Google

Back in the last week of July, weirdly in a Google+ post1, Google announced a new feature that plots out the busiest times of the day for a particular business or other such place frequented by others.

I don’t always have warm fuzzies about Google’s data mining practices – mostly, I’m okay with it, but it occasionally gives me the heebie-jeebies. That said, you have to give them credit for at least trying to give some value back to the users they keep an eye. Features like this certainly make a great case for the utility and usefulness of big, aggregated data sets.

  1. A platform they seem to be abandoning faster than a sinking ship.  ↩

Wednesday, July 22

What Happens when an Apply guy explores Material Design?

Speaking of Material Design, these remixes of OS X/iOS app icons based on Material Design principles are not terrible. Some of them are downright nice, in fact. My personal faves are the Finder and Photos icons. The post wraps up by highlighting some great animation work that has been applied to some of Google’s app icons.

Tuesday, July 07

Introducing Material Design Lite

Back in 2014, Google published the material design specification with a goal to provide guidelines for good design and beautiful UI across all device form factors. Today we are releasing our effort to bring this to websites using vanilla CSS, HTML and JavaScript. We’re calling it Material Design Lite (MDL).

I love the overall aesthetic of Google’s material design specification and I’m excited they’re bringing it to the web with this new, easy to implement library. Now, if only I can come up with a good project/excuse to start playing with it …

Tuesday, June 30

Phandroid: Hangouts 4.0 for iOS

It’s probably not the Hangouts update Android users have been expecting, but Hangouts 4.0 rolled out today for iOS users and brings a slick new user interface and a few other tricks along with it.

While we have yet to hear a peep out of Google, we’re crossing our fingers that an Android version isn’t too far behind. With “Update Wednesday” soon approaching, it could be no more than a few days away although we wont get our hopes up. Maybe Google will finally allow Android users to send video clips — like they already do on iOS — as well?

Does Google update their apps for iOS first because that’s where the users are or because it’s easier1 on iOS? Or is it a little bit of column A, little bit of column B?

  1. I’m being a lot facetious here. I recognize Android has the market share and some features are probably a lot easier to implement on Android versus iOS.  ↩
Monday, June 01

Google: All Your Photos Are Belong to Us

Last week at their annual I/O developer conference, Google announced Photos, the long-rumored separation of Google+ and the great photos product held captive within. Along with the news came the big reveal that the service offers free, unlimited storage for everyone with only the slight caveat that you accept Google’s generous terms of a per-file cap of 16MB and acceptance of Google’s lossy but supposedly very good compression algorithm. Oh, and then there’s that license agreement thing, too.

I don’t personally fear the Google as much as I probably should, so I’m at least trying out the service with a small subset of my photos1. Because I’m silly, I shoot primarily in RAW format with my almost 10 year old Nikon DSLR, so I won’t be using Google Photos as my primary photo backup service in the foreseeable future. It’s a compelling service, nonetheless, and a lot of people will justifiably jump on board and love it.

  1. Right now I’m giving the Goog all of the photos on my iPhone.  ↩

Saturday, May 30

Google Design

Wow, Google really is taking this Material Design thing seriously.

Note to readers from the future: I apologize in advance for the inevitable pivot Google will make in their design philosophy, calling it something like Matter or Fluid or something like that within the next 5 years.

via Sidebar