Ever logged into Gmail, Google Docs, or any other Google product and thought, “Whoa, when did they add that new feature?” Google is constantly making updates to their products, but you’d never know without regularly digging through their many project blogs and Google+ posts. So every week (or two) we like to find out what the company’s been working on, then condense it all into one convenient post. This time Google shows off the Web Audio API in a snazzy demo, starts handling email links in Gmail with HTML5, and adds an easier way to find recently searched places in the mobile version of Google.com.
Here’s all that in detail, plus a quick rundown of some minor updates.
Bringing Music and Fancy Web Technology Together
As Google has pushed forward on new web technologies, they’ve also done occasional proof-of-concept web apps to show off their work. Their latest demo is called Technitone, and is meant to demonstrate what the Web Audio API can do for processing and synthesizing sounds in the browser. Technitone (which is only supported in Chrome for now) is comprised of grid where users can plot tones, along with various tools to alter their looping tune. Individual tones can be drawn from a number of sampled instruments, or from users’ own recordings. Even if you’re not a musician, Technitone is fun to play around with, so we’d love to see what Harmonix or the developer of Audiosurf could do with this kind of tech.
Gmail Users Now Less Likely to Accidentally Open Outlook Express
If you use Gmail most of the time, you’ve probably clicked a “contact” link only to have it launch an unconfigured mail client. Instead of being a convenience, those HTML “mailto:” tags just mean more work for webmail fans, who have to manually copy/paste the link. Now when you visit Gmail in Chrome, you’ll be asked if you’d like Gmail to handle those contact links, rather than have them default to a local program. You can set up similar functionality in Firefox by configuring its settings or on Internet Explorer by installing the Google Toolbar.
Local Search Adds a “Recent” Section on Android and iPhone
The mobile version of Google.com dropped in some local search icons a while back—a useful addition since mobile searches are often about places in the user’s area. This week Google added a new “Recent” button to that list, which shows locations you’ve scouted within the past day or so (note: you have to have Web History enabled and be logged in for it to work). The feature even draws from searches you’ve done on other devices, including your PC.
Odds and Ends
Here’s a quick rundown of some minor updates.
- A redesigned Google Search App for Windows 7.5 Phones is available in the Windows Phone Marketplace, and comes with Autocomplete, Voice Search, and Location-based functionality.
- Google Docs has added a “Comments” button that shows a complete history of your discussions across all your documents, and lets you manage them without navigating away from the current page. The Docs team has also improved their text search for PDFs and images.
- SSL encrypted searching on google.com will be going global over the next few weeks.
- YouTube has made some interface updates that build on the redesign they launched in December.
- Blogger’s Dynamic Views tech now supports interactive gadgets.
- iGoogle pages can be customized with immersive, full-page themes.
- New 45° imagery is available for 56 cities.