Port your existing mobile number to Google Voice

Tuesday, January 25, 2011 | 10:03 AM

(Cross-posted from the Google Voice Blog)

867-5309 could be one of the most iconic phone numbers of all time, but it’s not the only number that a lot of us remember by heart. Many of us have a phone number that we've shared with family, friends, and contacts over the years and are reluctant to let go.

One of the most frequent requests we hear from people who use (or want to use) Google Voice is that they’d like to get all of Google Voice’s features without having to give up their long-time phone numbers.

Today, we’re excited to announce that Number Porting is available for all existing Google Voice users. This means you can make the mobile number you’ve always used your Google Voice number, so it can ring any phone you want—or even your computer.



To get started with Number Porting, log in to your Google Voice account, visit the Settings page and click on “Change / Port” next to your Google Voice number.



Porting your number to Google Voice costs $20 and is usually completed within 24 hours. You may incur additional charges, including early termination fees, from your wireless carrier. Contact your carrier to get more details about the charges applicable to you.

After porting your number to Google Voice your mobile service plan will be cancelled, and there are a couple of steps that you’ll have to take to continue making and receiving calls on your mobile device. For more detailed instructions on how Number Porting works and to find tips for making the process as smooth as possible, visit the Google Voice Help Center.

Number Porting is currently available for existing Google Voice users and will become available to new users within the next few weeks, and at this time, Google Voice is available in the U.S. only



Update (1:15PM): Included more details about the porting process.

Weather on your mobile phone, now with added fun

Monday, January 24, 2011 | 1:40 PM

We’d been wanting to build a fun, useful, app-like way to display weather information on our search results pages in the mobile browser. So we pulled together a user experience designer and team of engineers and built a new weather search results snippet that lets you actually play with the results. To try it out, just go to google.com on your iPhone or Android-powered device and search for ‘weather’.

At first glance, you’ll see content that we’d previously shown you before: current conditions and a forecast for the next few days. But by moving the slider over the next 12 hours, you can now see a detailed hour-by-hour breakdown of the changing weather conditions. As you do this, keep an eye on the temperature, wind speed and humidity and see how all these conditions are expected to trend across the day. You may also notice that the background color changes throughout the day. Of course, as you scroll further down you’ll see our regular web search results for your query.

This new weather search experience is available only in English, but we have more updates on the way. We hope you’ll enjoy using it!

Cloud printing on the go

| 10:00 AM

(Cross-posted on the Docs Blog and Gmail Blog.)

Back in April 2010 we announced Google Cloud Print, a service that in Beta allows printing from any app on any device, OS or browser without the need to install any software. Just last month we opened Google Cloud Print to users in the Chrome notebook pilot program. Today we are very pleased to announce the beta launch of Google Cloud Print for mobile documents and Gmail for mobile, which we will be rolling out to users throughout the next few days.

Imagine printing an important document from your smartphone on the way to work and finding the printout waiting for you when you walk in the door. Just open a document in Google Docs or an email in Gmail in your mobile browser and choose “Print” from the dropdown menu in the top right corner. You can also print certain kinds of email attachments (such as .pdf or .doc) by clicking the “Print” link that appears next to them.


This feature will be rolling out today and tomorrow for English speaking users in the US and will work on most phones that support HTML5, such as devices running Android 2.1+ and iOS 3+. To get started, you’ll need to connect your printer to Google Cloud Print. This step requires a Windows PC for now, but Linux and Mac support are coming soon. You can learn more at the Google Cloud Print help center.


Happy printing!

A new look for Google Translate for Android

Wednesday, January 12, 2011 | 10:53 AM

(Cross-posted on the Official Google Blog and Translate Blog.)

When we launched the first version of Google Translate for Android in January 2010, we were excited about the year ahead. For the first time, we were bringing the capabilities supported on Google Translate—like machine translation, romanization of non-Roman scripts and spoken translations—to the Android platform. We also offered voice input to let you speak the word or phrase you wanted to translate instead of typing it in, and SMS translation so you could translate SMS messages sent to you in foreign languages.

Today, we’re refreshing Translate for Android with several updates to make the app easier to interact with. Among other improvements, we’ve created better dropdown boxes to help select the languages you want to translate from and into, an improved input box, and cleaner icons and layout.

We also want to let you in on an experimental feature that’s still in its earliest stages—Conversation Mode. This is a new interface within Google Translate that’s optimized to allow you to communicate fluidly with a nearby person in another language. You may have seen an early demo a few months ago, and today you can try it yourself on your Android device.

Currently, you can only use Conversation Mode when translating between English and Spanish. In conversation mode, simply press the microphone for your language and start speaking. Google Translate will translate your speech and read the translation out loud. Your conversation partner can then respond in their language, and you’ll hear the translation spoken back to you. Because this technology is still in alpha, factors like regional accents, background noise or rapid speech may make it difficult to understand what you’re saying. Even with these caveats, we’re excited about the future promise of this technology to be able to help people connect across languages.

As Android devices have spread across the globe, we’ve seen Translate for Android used all over. The majority of our usage now comes from outside the United States, and we’ve seen daily usage from more than 150 countries, from Malaysia to Mexico to Mozambique. It’s really rewarding for us to see how this new platform is helping us break down language barriers the world over.

Translate supports 53 languages, from Afrikaans to Yiddish, and voice input for 15 languages. You can download the application, available for devices running Android 2.1 and above, by searching for “Google Translate” in Android Market or by scanning the QR Code below.


Now available: Google Places with Hotpot for iPhone

| 8:00 AM

We recently released Google Places with Hotpot in Google Maps for Android, and starting now, you can have that same great experience as an iPhone app. We realize the importance of finding places you’ll love while you’re out and about, no matter what mobile device you use. And Places with Hotpot not only helps you find places near where you are, it gives you the best places to go for you by personalizing your search results.

In case you aren’t familiar with Google Places, it lets you quickly search for places nearby and personalizes the results based on places you’ve rated. We get you started with a few popular search categories, but you can also tailor the list by adding your own favorite searches. This makes it fast and easy to find the best places for you with little fuss.

Use a default search category, save your own, or rate the nearest place quickly.

It can be pretty rewarding to discover a new place you love, but we also realize that there are some experiences you just can’t wait to share. So Places makes it super simple to rate a place with your iPhone while you’re there. Just fire up the app and hit “Rate now.” It will use your location to guess your current place and let you post a Hotpot review right from your phone. But it’s not just about getting to say what you think—the more you rate places, the more you’re sharing about your tastes and the more we can give you personally tailored recommendations.

Give your star rating and add optional details or a review so Hotpot knows your taste.

If you want to make things even tastier, just visit google.com/hotpot from your desktop computer. Here you can add friends to the mix and quickly rate all the places you already know. Once you’ve added friends, you’ll find your results seasoned not just with reviews from around the web and recommendations based on your own personal taste, but also with your friends’ opinions too.

Once you start rating and add friends, Places can give you personalized recommendations.

Get the Places app on your iPhone now by searching for Google Places in the App Store or going here.

This first version of Places is available for all iOS devices in English only. However, expect more features and improvements to roll out soon, including localization in many new languages. We’re hard at work to make Places with Hotpot more and more delicious.

Google Goggles gets faster, smarter and solves Sudoku

Monday, January 10, 2011 | 10:50 AM

Today we’re launching a new version of Google Goggles that’s faster and smarter than ever before. The new Goggles 1.3 client for Android can scan barcodes almost instantly. All versions of Goggles can now recognize print ads in popular magazines and newspapers. Finally, Goggles has also learned a fun new trick for Sudoku fans.


Barcodes
When shopping offline, it’s helpful to be able to learn more about a product by scanning its barcode. With the new Android version of Google Goggles, scanning barcodes is much faster. Open Goggles and hover over the barcode or QR code. Within a second the phone gently vibrates and presents results, without requiring a button press. Simply tap on the result to read product reviews, check in-store availability and compare prices.




Print ads in magazines and newspapers
We’re excited to take another step in our vision of connecting offline media to online media. The next time you're flipping through the pages of your favorite magazine, try taking a picture of an ad with Goggles. Goggles will recognize print ad and return web search results about the product or brand. This new feature of Goggles is enabled for print ads appearing in major U.S. magazines and newspapers from August 2010 onwards.



This feature is different from the marketing experiment that we announced in November. We're now recognizing a much broader range of ads than we initially included in our marketing experiment. And when we recognize a print ad, we return web search results. While in the experiment, we return a specific link to an external website.

Sudoku
Our favorite weekend distraction is a quiet 15 minutes spent solving a Sudoku puzzle. But even that can be an frustrating experience if (like us) you make a mistake and are unable to solve the puzzle. Now, Goggles on Android and iPhone can recognize puzzles and provide answers to help make you faster than a Sudoku champ. So if you ever get stuck, take a clear picture of the entire puzzle with Goggles and we’ll tell you the correct solution. Check out this video to see how it works.


Google Goggles 1.3 with improved barcode scanning is available for download in Android Market. Recognition of print ads and Sudoku solver is now enabled for the Google Goggles app on Android, as well as the Goggles component of the Google Mobile App on iPhone.

A Sneak Peek of Android 3.0, Honeycomb

Wednesday, January 5, 2011 | 4:45 PM

The past few weeks have been exciting ones for the Android team: we recently released Nexus S and Android 2.3, Gingerbread, and we’ve even had some of our most popular team members take a trip to space. But we haven’t stopped buzzing with excitement: today at the Consumer Electronic Show (CES) in Las Vegas, we previewed Android 3.0, Honeycomb.

Honeycomb is the next version of the Android platform, designed from the ground up for devices with larger screen sizes, particularly tablets. We’ve spent a lot of time refining the user experience in Honeycomb, and we’ve developed a brand new, truly virtual and holographic user interface. Many of Android’s existing features will really shine on Honeycomb: refined multi-tasking, elegant notifications, access to over 100,000 apps on Android Market, home screen customization with a new 3D experience and redesigned widgets that are richer and more interactive. We’ve also made some powerful upgrades to the web browser, including tabbed browsing, form auto-fill, syncing with your Google Chrome bookmarks, and incognito mode for private browsing.

Honeycomb also features the latest Google Mobile innovations including Google Maps 5 with 3D interactions and offline reliability, access to over 3 million Google eBooks, and Google Talk, which now allows you to video and voice chat with any other Google Talk enabled device (PC, tablet, etc).

Please stay tuned for more Honeycomb news from the Android team. For now, you can get a taste of Honeycomb by checking out this video.