Fush And Clicks

A Blog On All Things Digital (And Not).

Google Now Lets You Write Search Queries

It started with typing your query, then voice queries, then image based queries and now Google has just announced you can hand-write your search queries.

You can hand write your query on your smartphone or tablet when on Google.com. All you have to do is place your finger on the Google home page and use your finger or stylus to write. Google will use its handwriting technology to convert the handwriting to text.

To enable it, go to Google.com on your mobile or tablet device and click on “Settings” at the bottom of the screen (or for tablets at the top right) and enable “Handwrite.” Then go to Google.com on the device and start writing. There is some slight annoyances in having to switch out between the modes, but definitely a neat idea for searching.

Here is a screen shot after you enable the handwrite option:

Here is a screen shot of an “SEO” hand written query from an iPad:

Once it is enabled, the home page wil allow you to write your query. On the search results page you can activate the screen by clicking on the “Handwrite icon” at the bottom right of the screen. Here is a more detailed help document on handwrite instructions and here is a tips document from Google on this new feature.

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YouTube Adds Face Blur Functionality

youtube-blur-video

YouTube has added the ability for users to blur the faces of people appearing in videos they upload to the site.

The company said that the feature was designed to protect the anonymity of individuals in potentially dangerous situations, such as anti-government protests.

“As citizens continue to play a critical role in supplying news and human rights footage from around the world, YouTube is committed to creating even better tools to help them,” the company said in a blog post announcing the feature.

“Whether you want to share sensitive protest footage without exposing the faces of the activists involved, or share the winning point in your eight-year-old’s basketball game without broadcasting the children’s faces to the world, our face blurring technology is a first step towards providing visual anonymity for video on YouTube.”

The company noted that the feature is still under development and that in some cases the blurring may not function properly. The blurring option will be offered under the YouTube ‘video enhancements’ tool.

While facial blurring is largely considered to be a tool for protecting freedom of speech and human rights, the technology has also been used as a measure for preserving privacy and anonymizing users whose images are captured in public places – such as with Google Street View.

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Facebook Tests Sponsored Results in Search Bar

Originally posted on Search Engine Watch:

Facebook’s search box could become home to a new form of advertising known as Sponsored Results.

The ads would appear alongside Facebook’s organic results when users conduct searches for specific pages or places (rather than keywords, ala Google AdWords) on the social network. No word yet on if or when the ads will launch to a larger audience.

Testing began last week. Ads will be sold on a cost-per-click basis and will only appear in Facebook’s search typeahead, not on a search results page.

TechCrunch was first to report the Sponsored Results test. Facebook later confirmed its existence.

“We are currently testing a feature that surfaces sponsored results along with the organic results when people are looking for things on Facebook,” according to a Facebook spokesperson. “We try to show people apps and pages they’ll be most interested in.”

Facebook post-IPO monetization push continues. If you need a recap of all the recent Facebook ad changes, Hollis Thomases offers a recap on ClickZ.

News of the new ads has some speculating whether this will hurt the relevance of Facebook’s search results (really?). Others have noted that Facebook search is more targeted toward finding specific people, places, or apps, whereas Google search is more about discovery.

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Google Buys Email Client Sparrow to Boost Gmail

Earlier this week, Google has acquired the iOS and OS X email client Sparrow. Though a sale price hasn’t been officially disclosed, The Verge reported the price tag as being “under $25 million.”

Sparrow works on iPhone and iPad devices and Mac computers, using simplified interfaces of Twitter clients such as Tweetie or iOS apps as opposed to more traditional email style applications such as Apple Mail or Mozilla Thunderbird.

Specifics of how Google will use Sparrow have yet to be announced but it is thought that the client will help boost its Gmail service and see an improved native email client to compete with Apple Mail.

“The Sparrow team has always put their users first by focusing on building a seamlessly simple and intuitive interface for their email client,” said a Google spokesperson. “We look forward to bringing them aboard the Gmail team, where they’ll be working on new projects.”

Sparrow’s CEO Dom Leca announced the Google acquisition on the company’s website, noting that they will be “joining the Gmail team to accomplish a bigger vision, one that we think we can better achieve with Google.”

Though Sparrow announced it will be working on new things at Google, it also promised that it “will continue to make Sparrow available and provide support for users”.

However, on its iTunes Store listing, Sparrow said that there will be no further updates to its email client, apart from maintenance and bug fixes.

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Google Easter Egg: Search “Conway’s Game of Life”

From Search Engine Watch

 

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A new Easter egg has been discovered on Google. Users who search for “Conways Game of Life” (minus the quotes) will see a cellular automata “game” invented by mathematician John Conway. But you’re limited to being a spectator on this one.

When you arrive on the Google search results page for “Conway’s Game of Life”, you’ll notice several small blueish-gray boxes moving through numerous patterns and spreading over the page.

What is Conway’s Game of Life? Essentially, it’s a game played on an infinite two-dimensional grid of square cells with neither players nor winners or losers. Life’s rules create the patterns in the game, and offer a way to learn about complex patterns and systems.

As Wonders of Math explains, the basic rules are:

A cell can be live or dead. A live cell is shown by putting a marker on its square. A dead cell is shown by leaving the square empty. Each cell in the grid has a neighborhood consisting of the eight cells in every direction including diagonals.

  • A dead cell with exactly three live neighbors becomes a live cell (birth).
  • A live cell with two or three live neighbors stays alive (survival).
  • In all other cases, a cell dies or remains dead (overcrowding or loneliness).

Various life forms or objects (block patterns) can appear, according to Wolfram Mathworld: block, tub, boat, snake, ship, aircraft carrier, beehive, barge, Python, long boat, easter, fishhook, and loaf:

conways-game-of-life-patterns

Googler John Mueller revealed the fun Easter egg on Google+, noting “I remember making a version of this as a kid, trying to find self-sustaining elements, building ‘gliders’ that soared diagonally across the field, and generally just fascinated to see such simple structures evolve into something apparently unpredictable.”

Check out this YouTube video of the Game of Life in action on Google:

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AdWords Adds Flexible Reach Targeting to Display Network

The Google Display Network now allows advertisers to fine tune their AdWords accounts with a Flexible Reach option. Flexible reach settings will now give you more control over your settings at the ad group level.

The new Flexible Reach will allow advertisers the ability to dive deeper and fine tune their accounts in greater detail. Until now advertisers would have have to create a separate campaign for each targeting method.

Google explained how it works.

  • Campaign level settings: You choose either one targeting method per ad group, when you select “Broad reach,” or the intersection of all targeting methods specified within the ad group, when you choose “Specific reach.”
  • Ad group targeting: You can choose multiple targeting methods at the ad group-level to target your ad. “Flexible reach” gives you control to either target or set bids for different targeting methods when you add them to an ad group.

Google also stated:

If you’re adding the placements travel-example.com and luxurytravelexample.com to an ad group, you can decide between these two options:

  • Use only travel-example.com and luxurytravelexample.com for targeting, which means your ads aren’t eligible to show anywhere else. (You could also set specific bids for these placements.)
  • Use these placements for bidding only, which means you can set a bid ontravel-example.com and luxurytravelexample.com to increase or decrease your chances of showing there. Your ads, however, can show on other websites based on other targeting methods, like keywords, in your ad group.

google-display-network-new-flexible-reach

To set up this option in your login to AdWords. Go into your Campaign Settings tab and select the checkbox next to “Enable flexible reach” in the “Networks” section.

Note: Before you enable this know that at the present moment you can’t change this back. In the next couple months Google will make the new Flexible Reach option default on all new campaigns.

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Adwords Scripts

In case if you missed it, Adwords recently introduced scripts to their existing set of automation tools. Automated Rules have proven to be extremely handy to help users make automated changes in their account based on simple criteria. However, there is more potential for p users who would want to make changes based on their own pre-defined logic. Adwords scripts fulfil this need by helping advertisers now make changes by writing simple JavaScript programs. Thus, this new feature is more like a collaboration of Automated Rules and Adwords API.

For the meanwhile, Adwords is enabling scripts with three primary services;

1. Google Spreadsheets; for account integration with external inventory data to assist JavaScript execution.

2. URL Fetcher; for fetching resources and communicating with other hosts over the Internet

3. Mail services; to allow users to send emails with complete control over the content of the email, hence turning it into a powerful porting tool.

 

According to Google, the scripts will allow Ad managers to:

– Use external inventory data to either change bids or pause / unpause keywords.

– Output account statistics to a spread sheet from which you can create reports and visualizations.

– Use stats trends over several weeks to change keyword or ad group bids

 

The feature can be accessed by navigating to the Campaigns tab, and selecting scripts after clicking on the automation button. However, you will need a basic understanding of JavaScript to implement. So put your geek glasses on and get started!

Thanks Mohit for the post!

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Google Analytics Finally Gets Mobile App

At long last, the Google Analytics team has announced an official Google Analytics mobile app. There are nearly a dozen apps in the Google Play store that use the Google Analytics API to display reports and other dashboards.

The app uses a swipe-gesture interface to switch between screens that include access to multiple reports for all your Google Analytics profiles, including real-time analytics, all your dashboard stats and even goal alerts, all on-the-go.

“Our users have been asking us for a Google Analytics app for some time now, and we’re so excited to make it available today on Android,” said Peng Li, a software engineer at Google. “This project has been a real labor of love, and we’re thrilled that users can start downloading the app today.”

Earlier today, the Analytics team also announced Mobile App Analytics. With their newly release app, you can now check your mobile app’s analytics with the Google Analytics mobile app.

The Google Analytics app is now available today in the Google Play store. Hopefully an iOS version isn’t too far away!

Originally posted on Search Engine Watch.

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