Google Roundup of the Week: Chrome Gets Instant Surfing

By Sam Cook

Here are the posts you may have missed from Google's many project blogs.

Google has lots of individual blogs for their various projects, and even if you’re interested in the company’s work it’s a lot to keep up with. So let’s take a look back at some recent Google posts, and see what new features the search giant has come up with. This week there’s a major overhaul of the GoogleDocs list view, location check-in at long last, and Street View that goes inside of buildings—plus a handful of various other updates.


GoogleDocs Gets a Fresh Look

has a whole new feel. The check boxes you once used to select multiple items are now gone, replaced by the familiar Shift/Control/Cmd+click combo—it certainly makes selections snappier, though perhaps less intuitive. When you click an individual item on the new list, you’ll see it immediately pop up in a right-side preview panel, along with sharing and organization details. Any videos you’ve uploaded can be played directly from this new preview feature, while photos can now be browsed in a slideshow viewer.

There are also some less obvious changes to GoogleDocs, like the ability to star a document and change justification directly from the toolbar. Document sharing has also been tweaked to prevent fragmenting email threads between collaborators, and the new Web Clipboard extension for Chrome lets you copy text and pictures directly into your GoogleDocs clipboard.

Chrome Browsing Becomes Instant

Some long-teased Chrome  features have made their way out of beta and into the stable release. Using the Wrench-Options-Basics menu you can turn on Chrome Instant, which brings the Google search page quick-load to the omnibox. Start typing a url and the browser’s auto-complete guess will immediately start loading—fair warning, it’s a little trippy.

The update also includes WebGL support, which enables 3D web experiences that can harness the power of your graphics card. There are even a selection of demos to show you what a hardware-accelerated web can do.

Google Latitude Catches Up

They’re rather late to the game, but Google’s Latitude location-sharing system now supports checking in, including automatic check-ins and outs, plus notifications about nearby places, all of which is strictly opt-in. And that service should dovetail nicely with Hotpot, the company’s business recommendation service, which will now be part of your Google searches. As long as you’re logged into your account, friend reviews and ratings will show up whenever you make a relevant search.

We’ve been hearing for a while that Street View might be headed indoors, and now it’s here and bringing your closer to the world of art. Using those familiar white arrows, you can virtually tour 17 different museums and browse select works of art on display around the globe.

Odds and Ends

There are a couple of minor updates to other Google services that are worth mentioning this week. Iphone users will now find Shopper listed in the App Store, and Google Reader fans have some new controls for sharing content.