Google brings back full screen compose for Gmail

Google brings back full screen compose for Gmail

composeA couple of months ago, Google changed the way you write an email in Gmail. You no longer got a new screen in which you are writing the email. Instead a smaller window would open in the bottom right corner. However, not everyone was happy about that. And Google has listened. So, yesterday they launched their new full screen compose window.

In essence, it is just a popup that goes over the screen you are watching. So, unlike the old compose, it does not send you to a separate page. Other than that, there is not much of a difference. The new compose takes up enough space on your screen and centers nicely. It has the formatting bar in there as a default as well.

You can switch to the new full screen compose by clicking the facing arrows in the top right corner of the compose window to switch to full screen. If you click the more options button, you can set Gmail to open the new full screen compose as your default setting.

So, do you use Gmail at all? And if so, which compose window do you like best?

Google updates Maps to 7.0 includes new Explore option

Google updates Maps to 7.0 includes new Explore option

Google-maps-7-0Last night Google has started the roll-out of the new version of Google Maps for Android devices. The new Google Maps adds traffic information, suggestions for alternative routes and a great new view to explore your area.

On of the great updates for Google Maps has been the inclusion of information on traffic, road works and closed roads. This brings Google Maps closer to the upmarket navigation systems as well as closer to other mobile apps that did include that information. I think that this inclusion will be one of the first features we will see Maps inherit from former opponent Waze. Waze was acquired by Google about a month ago for an estimated U$1.1 billon. This update to Google Maps could show us that integration of the technology of Waze into Google Maps might be closer than we think. For now, we can all enjoy better routing and suggestions for shorter travel times. And that is a definite improvement.

Whether it has to do with the new active routing or whether Google has had other reasons, fact is that offline maps have vanished. From 7.0 users no longer have the option to easily store maps offline on their phone so they can navigate without using a data connection. The decision to drop offline maps might be because it was known not to be perfect all the time. However, for the real enthusiasts the Google engineers have included a work around in the app. If you look up the map information that you want to use when offline, you simply type “okay maps” info the search box and hit enter. The app should then store that part of the map, though you cannot use it for navigation without an online connection.

google-maps-7-0-tabletBusinesses will be grateful for the new screens to display their information. These are especially nice on a tablet. Here you can find lots of details about the business you are visiting. And the explore screen really helps you to find your way around your area. Whether that is a known or unknown area for you, it is going to be easy to find a place to eat, dance, watch or do something else.

Google will be rolling out Maps in the coming day(s) to all its users that use Android 4.03 and newer. What do you use Maps for most? And what excites you in these new features?

Google Glass is everywhere, but will it make the church?

Google Glass is everywhere, but will it make the church?
Picture of Emily wearing Glass outside

Photo courtesy of Google

Google’s most interesting product right now was noticeably absent from its I/O conference this year. But we have been seeing it everywhere else. And many people have an opinion on Google Glass, the glasses that give you instant access to the internet. When Google Glass was first launched last year, I received a lot of emails of people who were doubtful to say the least. And I have to admit that I was absolutely one of them.

So, what is this Glass thing anyway and why would you want to have it? Well, Google Glass is like the rim of a pair of glasses that is supported by your nose and ears. But that is where the traditional part stops. Google Glass has a camera and a small screen that allows you to access information from the internet or share pictures.

It is easy to dismiss Google Glass as something that is intrusive and that will never be used by lots of people in real life. However, that would be short selling the technology at hand. It might just be that Google Glass is the next big thing after the invention of the mobile phone. Yes, I skipped tablets and smartphones altogether. The thing is that the impact Google Glass can have on society is much bigger than we imagine. And I am not moving towards privacy issues or being out of tune with reality. After experiencing Google Glass, the change might be in a completely different place.

Over the past years, a lot of people have been talking about augmented reality. This is where information is added from online sources to compliment the world around you. Google Glass allows you to add information from online sources as you go about your life. The good part is that, even though the person across from you might think you look strange, Google Glass will not actually be in your eye-sight. It will be slightly out to the top right of it. This allows you to look anyone straight in the eye, even though you might be getting extra information. How about using that possibility instead of fumbling with your papers at your next presentation or sermon? Or how about getting that information to help you navigate through a town without having to look at your phone and subsequently missing a step in the road.

These are just practical solutions that are in existence at the moment. But I strongly believe more will come. Wearable electronics will become bigger in the coming five years. We will also see more solutions that will add extra information to everyday life as we move around. The interesting question comes when we ask ourselves, so how can we use this?

Last week a surgeon used Google Glass in the operating room to share with others what he was doing. How can we apply this to the way in which we are church within our community? Would it help our personal lives to project scriptures at certain places in the city? Can it do more for ministers than showing their sermon notes? Or can the possibility of Google Glass give a whole new meaning to discipleship and walking together? I believe we are at the start of this new technology, but I think that in 10 years our children might find it strange that there was a time when it did not exist.

Update: A couple of hours after we published this blogpost, Google released an update for Google Glass now allowing the owners to launch a webbrowser, to access their full address book from Gmail, and to use more voice commands.