Google Buzz for mobile now available on more devices

Thursday, May 27, 2010 | 10:25 AM

Back in February, we launched Google Buzz for mobile, a tool to start interesting conversations when you are out and about. One of the most popular ways to access Google Buzz for mobile is through the web application (by going to buzz.google.com in your phone’s browser). When Buzz launched, it was only available for devices running Android 2.0+ and iPhone. Not any more! Today we’re a releasing an XHTML version of the Buzz website which can be accessed from many other mobile devices, including those running Android pre-2.0, Blackberry, Nokia S60, and Windows Mobile.


Just type buzz.google.com in your browser. Then when you log in using your password, you will be able to view the stream of buzz posts, post publicly or privately, comment or like a post, and more. On the BlackBerry platform, you can also enable location through your browser settings. This will allow you to get to the Nearby view, where you’ll find geo-tagged posts near you. In addition, you can tag your post with your location. Please note that location features might not work on some devices.


Android pre-2.0 devices can now run the same web app as newer versions of Android. You can also switch to the XHTML version if needed, and we will remember your preference.

We have worked hard to make Google Buzz for mobile accessible on more devices in more locations. It is now available in 37 languages through buzz.google.com and we’re excited to bring it to mobile devices with browsers that don’t support the HTML5 capabilities the webapp uses. We hope that you enjoy using Google Buzz on the go!

Update 5/27/2010 11:17: This new webpage is also functional on Palm WebOS phones.

Posted by Alex Kennberg, Software Engineer, Google Mobile

Where Have I Been? Get Your Answer with the Google Location History Dashboard

Wednesday, May 26, 2010 | 12:01 PM

When I was young, I used to imagine that there was a string attached to me, and that one day I’d be able to see my whole life’s travels laid out on a globe. Thanks to my phone, Google Latitude, and Google Location History, I’ve been able to pull a virtual string behind me for a few months. Alas, I can’t entertain myself for too long with just a piece of string. Today we’re launching an experimental new view in Beta for Google Location History to visualize your location history in a different -- and hopefully more interesting -- way than just a string of locations.

If you’ve already chosen to enable Location History, the new dashboard view will try to highlight interesting trends from your existing location history, such as trips you’ve taken, places you’ve visited, time spent at home vs. out, and more. Ever wonder how much time you’ve spent at work recently compared to six months ago, or where it was that you stopped on your last road trip? Just check out Location History for some of the answers.

For example, I took a look at my dashboard, and it reminded me that my brother and I watched the Oakland A’s win on the final at-bat on April 17th.



If you’re a road warrior like me, the dashboard can help you remember your trips and where you stopped along the way. Here’s an example of a trip I took to New York to get a little work done and visit some friends just west of Central Park.


Speaking of being a road warrior, sometimes I do wonder how long my string is. I at least know how long it is since I started using Latitude and Location History -- about 21,000 miles or 10% of the distance to the moon!


We’re really excited to make Latitude and your location more useful to you, but we definitely understand that your privacy is important. Just as before, Google Location History is entirely opt-in only and your location history is available privately to you and nobody else. Additionally, you may be asked to periodically re-enter your password when opening any Location History page, even if you’re signed in to your Google Account already (just to make sure you’re really you). Of course, you may always delete any or all of your location history in the Manage History tab or disable Location History at any time.

To try out the new dashboard yourself, enable Google Latitude in the background on your phone, turn on Google Location History, and wait a few days (up to a week) to build up enough history for the dashboard to begin showing information. This is just one interesting way you can do more with your location, but we don’t expect it to be the last. With last week’s launch of the Google Latitude API, we hope to soon see people create even more cool ways for you to choose how to use your location and location history.

The Location History dashboard’s information is still experimental and in Beta so you may notice some initial issues with accuracy around its estimates. We’re working on improving the Location History dashboard and Latitude location updating overall, so you’ll notice improvements for both over time. You may also want to try turning on WiFi or GPS on your phone to improve location history accuracy. Visit our Help Center to learn more or tell us your feedback and questions in our Help Forum. Give us suggestions and vote on other people’s on the Mobile Product Ideas page!

Do More with Google Latitude and Your Location Using the New Latitude API

Wednesday, May 19, 2010 | 12:05 PM

Location, location, location. In case you haven’t noticed, we’re really excited about all the ways location can make mobile apps and websites more useful. With Google Latitude, we created a simple way for you to own your location and let you easily share it with whomever you like, display it wherever you like, and even keep a history of it if you want. We wanted to give you even more ways to use your location, so today we’re announcing the Google Latitude API -- an easy and safe way for you to use and reuse your Latitude location with any apps or services that you can imagine!

Since launching Latitude, our team has been talking about all the cool things you could do with your continuously updated Latitude location. While we’ve built some of our ideas, there are simply too many exciting ones for us to do alone. Instead, we wanted to let you safely share your Latitude location with third parties who could create apps that do more with your location. Developers could, for example, build apps or services for:

  • Thermostats that turn on and off automatically when you’re driving towards or away from home.
  • Traffic that send alerts if there’s heavy traffic ahead of you or on a route you usually take based on your location history
  • Your credit card accounts to alert you of potential fraud when a purchase is made far from where you actually are.
  • Photo albums so your vacation photos appear on a map at all the places you visited based on your location history.
We want to help developers build all these applications and more, but our first priority is keeping you, the user, in control over your location. That way, you only use it when, where, and how you choose. Before any application, website, or feature you’ve chosen to use can access your Latitude data, you must specifically grant access to the developer and will see exactly what access or data they’re requesting. This includes whether you share your current best available vs. city-level location or your location history if you’ve opted in to using Google Location History. If you change your mind, you’ll be able to both see which developers have access to your Latitude data and revoke access from any developer at any time from your Google Account’s personal settings. Just like with Latitude, you always choose who can see your location.

We’ve also learned that making your phone’s continuous location available in the background is tricky to do accurately and efficiently -- just imagine your phone’s battery life if several apps were continuously getting your location in different ways? With this in mind, we built a free and open Latitude API that lets the third-party developers you choose start using your updated location in new ways without reinventing the wheel.

If you’re a developer, go to code.google.com/apis/latitude to get started and read our documentation. Join the Latitude API Google Group to ask questions, discuss the API with the community, and give us feedback. The Latitude API is being launched in Labs so we can listen to developer and user feedback before it graduates. We’re excited to see what you can do with Latitude and location so please do let us know what you think!

If you’re a Latitude user, check out our existing Latitude apps and keep an eye out for future apps and services that you can choose to use and do even more with your Latitude location. If you haven’t started using Latitude yet, get started so you too can start using your location in new ways.

Google Mobile now on Twitter and Facebook

Thursday, May 13, 2010 | 2:08 PM

Want to know what's on our minds or what we're up to more regularly? In addition to our blog and our YouTube channel, Google Mobile is now on Twitter and Facebook.

On Twitter, @GoogleMobile will share announcements, cool uses and product tips for Google products on mobile platforms, behind-the-scenes musings from Googlers and general goings-on in the mobile world. Simply go to twitter.com/googlemobile, sign in (or sign up), and choose "follow". You can also see our most recent Tweets on the right hand side of the Google Mobile Blog and follow us from there.


Google Mobile also now has a Fan Page on Facebook. On this page, you have the freedom to contribute just about anything you want - submit photos and videos, post suggestions and comments on our wall, and strike up discussions with other fans of Google Mobile.


To become a fan, just go to www.facebook.com/GoogleMobile and click “Like”.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Google Maps for Android Gets Biking Directions, Navigation Shortcut, Sharing, and More

Tuesday, May 11, 2010 | 10:50 AM

Starting today, Google Maps for mobile has a few new ways to help you and your friends quickly get to where you’re going whether you’re on 4 wheels or 2 (or maybe even 3). With Google Maps 4.2 for Android you can now get biking directions on the go, start Navigation from your Home screen, share places with friends, and more.

Biking directions
Since launching biking directions on desktop Google Maps, we’ve wanted to get you biking directions, lanes, and trails on your phone too. Just in time for National Bike Month, select the bike icon when getting directions to get an optimal bicycling route in the U.S. If you’re in the mood for a more scenic ride, you’ll also see the Bicycling layer on the map which shows dedicated bike-only trails (dark green), roads with bike lanes (light green), or roads that are good for biking but lack a dedicated lane (dashed green). You can always turn on this layer from the Layers menu to pick your own route. Add in the Labs’ Terrain layer, and you can decide to either climb or avoid that big hill on the way home!


Google Navigation shortcut
If you’re driving instead of riding, we wanted to make it easier and faster for you to get on the road with Google Maps Navigation as soon as you’re ready. With the new Navigation shortcut, you can pick a destination and be on your way with as little as 2 taps of your finger. Select the “Navigation” icon in your phone’s app launcher to get the new destination selection view. Then, speak or type your destination, pick one from your contacts, choose a starred place, or select a recent destination. Navigation will begin and you’re good to go. Make it even easier on yourself by adding the Navigation icon right on your Home screen.


Sharing
Once you figure out where you’re going, why not get some friends to meet you there? From any search results page, choose to “Share this place” to send that place’s info, such as its address and phone number, to whomever you like. If you want to meet someone on a street corner or gather friends at an outdoor concert, you can also send an exact location from the map -- even a snapshot of your current location. Just use the share option after selecting a point on the map, your “My Location” blue dot, or yourself in Latitude if it’s enabled. Whether you’re sharing a place or a location, you’ll be able to send it to small groups via an email or text message or send it widely with apps like Google Buzz, Facebook, or Twitter.

Get these new features by searching for Google Maps in Android Market from Android 1.6+ phones (On your phone now? Tap here). Update Maps to version 4.2, available in all the countries and languages where Maps is currently available. Visit our Help Center to learn more, ask questions in our Help Forum, or give us suggestions and vote on other people’s on the Mobile Product Ideas page.

Translate the real world with Google Goggles

Thursday, May 6, 2010 | 7:59 AM

Traveling to another country can be an amazing experience. The opportunity to immerse yourself in a different culture can give you a new perspective. However, it can be hard to fully enjoy the experience if you do not understand the local language. For example, ordering food from a menu you can not read can be an adventure. Today we are introducing a new feature of Google Goggles that will prove useful to travelers and monoglots everywhere: Goggles translation.


Here’s how it works:
  • Point your phone at a word or phrase. Use the region of interest button to draw a box around specific words
  • Press the shutter button
  • If Goggles recognizes the text, it will give you the option to translate
  • Press the translate button to select the source and destination languages.


Google Goggles in action (click images to see large version)


The first Goggles translation prototype was unveiled earlier this year at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona and could only recognize German text. Today Goggles can read English, French, Italian, German and Spanish and can translate to many more languages. We are hard at work extending our recognition capabilities to other Latin-based languages. Our goal is to eventually read non-Latin languages (such as Chinese, Hindi and Arabic) as well.

Every new release of Google Goggles contains at least one new feature and a large number of improvements to our existing functionality. In addition to translation, Goggles v1.1 features improved barcode recognition, a larger corpus of artwork, recognition of many more products and logos, an improved user interface, and the ability to initiate visual searches using images in your phone’s photo gallery.

Computer vision is a hard problem. While we are excited about Goggles v1.1, we know that there are many images that we cannot yet recognize. The Google Goggles team is working on solving the technical challenges required to make computers see. We hope you are as excited as we are about the possibilities of visual search.

Google Goggles v1.1 is available on devices running Android 1.6 and higher. To download, please scan the QR code below or go to the Android Market app on your phone and search for “Google Goggles”. See our help center for more information.



Google's new look for mobile

Wednesday, May 5, 2010 | 9:08 AM

When it comes to mobile search, we strive to not only give you the same comprehensiveness and relevance as when searching with Google on your computer, but also a consistent look, feel, and overall user experience. So today, as we roll out a new look for Google Search results on your computer, we are happy to announce similar changes to Google Search results for mobile.

When you go to Google.com in the US on your iPhone or Android-powered device, and enter a search, you can now tap on the button to the left of the search box on the results page to see a new search options menu. Then, selecting any item in the menu will refine your search. For example, if you are looking for recent results for "Mother's day gift", simply tap the "Past week" option.



You may notice that when the menu expands, the search results slide off screen to the right. Note that you can still interact with them and see them in full just by panning to the right. Also, there are some additional menu options, like "News" and "Products". In the weeks to come, we will be supporting more devices and locales, and expanding the number of options available.

Update on 5/7 @ 9:20 am: Note that Palm webOS is now supported as well -- as some of you have noticed.