Thursday, 30 September 2010

Unthreading conversation in GMail

Well I know many people have been waiting for this update from Google for a while. Personally I don't have a problem with the threaded conversation view, perhaps because I've been using Gmail and Google Apps for years and have just got used to it. If you're coming to GMail fresh from using Outlook or something then this will certainly ease the transition. It will be interesting to see how many people try it and then switch back to conversations after finding they spend more time hunting for messages.

Gmail: Unthreaded conversation view now available to users

Gmail now offers users the ability to switch between conversation view and the traditional message-based unthreaded view. When a user switches to unthreaded view, messages are no longer grouped together into a conversation, and each message is shown as a separate entry in the inbox. The inbox is still sorted in reverse chronological order.

Editions included:
Standard, Premier, Education, Partner Edition and Google Apps for Government

Languages included:
All languages supported by Gmail

How to access what's new:
This feature is only available to domains whose administrator has enabled the ‘enable pre-release features’ checkbox in the Control Panel.

In Gmail ‘Settings’, go to the new ‘Conversation View’ section, select to have that view on or off and click ‘Save changes’.

Note: The mobile web-based view of Gmail will still be threaded, as will the Gmail Mobile Client app. However, if you are using a Blackberry, Windows Mobile, iPhone, or Android device, you can access Gmail unthreaded in the native mail clients of those devices using Google’s sync tools.

For more information: 

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

More security for your users: Two-step verification now available for Google Apps

A useful addition for the security conscious (hey I used to be a CISO so I know this is important!). So why allow users to opt-out?

More security for your users: Two-step verification now available for Google Apps: "
Two-step verification is now available for Google Apps. When enabled by an administrator, it requires two means of identification to sign in to a Google Apps account. A mobile phone is the main requirement to use the second form of identification. It doesn’t require any special tokens or devices. After entering a password, a verification code is sent to the user’s mobile phone via SMS, voice calls, or generated on an application they can install on their Android, BlackBerry or iPhone device. This makes it much more likely that it is the user accessing the data: even if someone has stolen the password, they'll need more than that to access the account. Users can also indicate when they're using a computer they trust and don't want to be asked for a verification code from that machine in the future.

Editions included:

Premier, Education Edition and Google Apps for Government

Languages included:

US English Only (Next Generation Control Panel)

How to access what's new:

- Google Apps Administrators can enable this option in the control panel in the 'Advanced Tools' section by checking the box 'Allow users to turn on two-factor authentication'. Users still have to opt-in to use this feature and it is not possible to make this mandatory for all users. To see this new option, your control panel must be using the ‘Next Generation’ version.

- Once your users manually enroll in two-step verification, they may need to use access codes in addition to their verification codes. For installed applications that don’t have a two-step verification field, your users will need to enter an access code once per device or application in place of their regular password to access their Google Account. Common devices and applications that require access codes are: Gmail and Google Calendar on Android-based phones, ActiveSync for Windows Mobile and iPhone, and IMAP clients such as Thunderbird.

- At any time, administrators can un-enroll users from two factor verification in the control panel, either through the checkbox to allow it or in the user’s individual settings.

- Two-step verification can’t be used for accounts using a SAML single sign-on service (SSO).

For more information:

Help Center overview:

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Updated Gmail app now available in the Android Market

So this new gmail app for Android has a couple of nice new features but one thing I'd really like to see is the ability to swipe sideways to flip between accounts. Right now you have to go through the menu or tap on the username at the top and then choose which account you want to view. A simple swipe action would let me flip backwards and forwards between accounts so much more easily.

Updated Gmail app now available in the Android Market: "
A new version of the Gmail app is now available in the Android Market. This means the app is no longer tied to Android version releases anymore. New features include:

- Important message actions will now stick to the top of the screen, one click away, no matter how long the email is.

- View previous message content more easily, just like in the desktop version of Gmail. Tap “Show quoted text” to reveal the previous message.

- Limited support for Priority Inbox. If you’ve enabled Priority Inbox via the desktop version of Gmail, you’ll see an “Important” label that shows all messages flagged as important. You can even add a shortcut to “Important” to your home screen.

Editions included:

Standard, Premier, Education, Partner Edition and Google Apps for Government

How to access what's new:

- The Gmail update requires Froyo (Android version 2.2), so it’s available if you have a Nexus One, HTC EVO, Motorola Droid 2 or Motorola Droid. (Not sure if your device is running Android version 2.2? Check here.)

- Get the update from Android Market.

For more information:

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Friday, 17 September 2010

Higher Quality Video in Gmail Chat

Enhanced video quality coming to video chat in Gmail teases of future enhancements too!

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Tip: Just the text, please!

Now this is a useful little tip from the Chrome team.

Tip: Just the text, please!: "Has this ever happened to you? You're writing an email online and you try to copy some text from a webpage. But when you paste it in, you get all the original fonts, colors, and spacing. 'Wait!' you say, 'I just wanted the text!'

This happened to us so many times while building Google Chrome that we added a special shortcut to do just that. Alongside the common Ctrl-V keyboard shortcut for 'paste', Google Chrome supports a similar shortcut, Ctrl-Shift-V, for 'paste as plain text'. (And it’s Command-Shift-Option-V on a Mac.)

You can use this shortcut in any rich text editor (like Gmail's compose window, or when writing in Google Docs) to strip out all the presentation from the original source and just paste in a block of text.

Posted by Peter Kasting, Software Engineer

Monday, 13 September 2010

Microsoft BPOS Outages

Interesting to see how Microsoft are struggling to build a reliable cloud service

Their basic problem is that they're not building a proper multi-tennant infrastructure, it's still just a bunch of servers that they run instead of you. They still need to have scheduled down-time to patch and update them. Contrast this with Google's approach which is fully resilient and doesn't require and scheduled down-time at all.

I think the choice is clear.

Friday, 10 September 2010

Walk this way

This looks like a really great upgrade to the maps and navigation features on Android but I'm a little wary of how much data it's going to consume and how great the performance will be when you don't have full 3g coverage. Certainly I've found 3g on my HTC Desire from Orange to be particularly patchy with fluctuating signal levels and dropping back to GPRS on and off throughout the day, even if I'm stationary.

Anyway we'll give this a try and hope for the best.

Walk this way: "Whether you’re going for an urban hike or wandering from your hotel to find that restaurant you passed earlier, you won’t have to flag down a local if you’ve got Google Maps for mobile 4.5 on Android. Maps already had Navigation and walking directions, and today we’re happy to share the perfect marriage of the two: Walking Navigation (Beta). If you need help deciding where to walk (or drive), you can now also use Street View smart navigation or the new Google Maps search bar to guide your choice.

Walking Navigation
Walking Navigation lets you use GPS navigation with walking directions that are more direct and use pedestrian pathways when we know about them. To try it now, choose the “Walking” option from the Navigation icon. Walking Navigation has a few changes that help when you’re on your feet. For example, your phone will vibrate when you need to make a turn. You can even turn off voice guidance and just use these notifications while soaking in the sights and sounds around you. To help you orient yourself with your surroundings, the map will rotate with you as you turn the phone, and walking mode uses satellite view by default. Use it like a virtual compass with satellite imagery to look ahead or help pick out landmarks along the way.

Choose the “Walking” option after selecting the Navigation icon (left) to use Walking Navigation (right).

Keep in mind that Walking Navigation is still in beta, and Google Maps may not always have up-to-date information or optimal walking routes. Whether you’re walking or driving with Google Maps Navigation, you should always be safe and pay attention to road signs, follow signals, and use good judgment about routes that can’t be walked.

Street View smart navigation
If you want a sneak preview of where you’re going, use the new Street View on Google Maps with smart navigation and updated imagery. Just like with Street View smart navigation on your computer, you no longer have to slowly move down a street by tapping arrows along roads repeatedly. Now you can quickly navigate Street View by dragging Pegman from the corner and highlighting where you want to go with a lightly shaded “pancake” on roads or a rectangle on buildings. Let go of the screen when highlighting the front of a building, and you’ll fly there and turn to face it. With a swipe of your finger, you can hop rivers and scale buildings.

You’ll need to download an update for the “Street View on Google Maps” app in Android Market separately from Google Maps. Once you update, access Street View just like before: open Maps, search for a place or long-press the map, and choose the Street View option if available.

New Google Maps search bar
At the top of the map, you’ll find the new Google Maps search bar always available for easy access. Tap it to quickly start searching, open Places, use the Layers menu, or find yourself on the map with My Location. Here are more new features that may be helpful when you’re looking for nearby places:
  • Filter search results by distance or ratings
  • View prices categorized with dollar signs
  • See cross streets for places.
Google Maps for mobile 4.5 and Street View smart navigation are available now for Android 1.6+ everywhere they’re currently available. Search for Google Maps (tap here on your phone) and then Street View on Google Maps (tap here) in Android Market to update both.

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.

Posted by Andrey Ulanov and Kevin Law, Software Engineers


Monday, 6 September 2010

Backing the Winning Mobile OS

Which mobile operating system is dominant? Well in North America at least it's the iOS on the Apple iPhone range of course. But will it be that way for long? Look at the trend between iOS and Android thend draw your own conclusions. My take is that open systems will always win out against monopolistic closed environments.

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Archos Android Tablets

Can't wait to get my hands on one of these devices the form-factor is ideal and with an Android phone in your pocket you can share your existing 3g connection! No need for more mobile contracts.