Google has launched new transcription for Google Voice, thereby removing one of my main sources of workday entertainment. Nobody could be as weird on purpose as my Google Voice transcriptions. “…we asked users if they would kindly share some of their voicemails for research and system improvements. Thanks to those who participated, we are happy to announce an improved voicemail system in Google Voice and Project Fi that delivers more accurate transcriptions. Using a (deep breath) long short-term memory deep recurrent neural network (whew!), we cut our transcription errors by 49%.”
Instagram is now allowing more search functionality from the Web. “You can now look up anything from hashtags, locations and usernames right from the desktop. Tags and locations are getting their own pages too, so you can see the most popular related images.” I’ll work with it, but right now I really like Websta and Worldcam, though Worldcam has occasional API issues.
Google Maps now has a timeline. “Have you ever wanted a way to easily remember all the places you’ve been — whether it’s a museum you visited during your last vacation or that fun bar you stumbled upon a few months ago? Well, starting today, Google Maps can help. We’re gradually rolling out Your Timeline, a useful way to remember and view the places you’ve been on a given day, month or year. Your Timeline allows you to visualize your real-world routines, easily see the trips you’ve taken and get a glimpse of the places where you spend your time. And if you use Google Photos, we’ll show the photos you took when viewing a specific day, to help resurface your memories.”
Google has launched a “Buy it Now” button on mobile, in addition to a bunch of other shopping updates. “Finally, to help smartphone shoppers buy with ease from their favorite retailers, we’ll be testing Purchases on Google. When a shopper searches on mobile for a product such as ‘women’s hoodies’, she may see a shopping ad with ‘Buy on Google’ text. After clicking the ad, she’s taken to a retailer-branded product page hosted by Google. Checkout is seamless, simple, and secure, thanks to saved payment credentials in her Google Account.”
Breaking News has started offering “emerging story alerts”. “Every day we discover stories that are just beginning to gain traction. This is often a local story that starts small, but our editors believe – through eyewitness reports and our own experience – that it has the potential to become a big story. Or at the very least, attract a lot of media attention. We call these “emerging stories.” Beginning today when you update your Breaking News app (iOS and Android), you can opt-in to receiving emerging story alerts at a frequency of 1-3 a day.”
Google has simplified and updated its patent search tool. “The idea is that the new patent search will be easier to use both by experts in the field as well as the general public to look for patents and related materials. Given the rising interest in safeguarding IP among developers and founders who may have never had to consider patents much before, this could prove to be especially useful.”
My favorite read-it-later tool Pocket is now offering a text-to-speech feature on its iOS app. Of course they would do that two days after I deleted the app from my iPhone because I was never using it. “Called Listen, the text-to-speech feature could come in handy if you’re out jogging, driving some place, or simply want to lie down and give your eyes a break. Listen has actually been available to Android users of Pocket for several years now, so it’s great to see it finally make it to iOS. For sure, iPhone users intent on listening to their saved articles could always highlight text and hit ‘speak’, but a proper feature built into the app is definitely the way to go.”
Catching up… Facebook is letting you pick who you see first in the news feed if you’re using the iOS app. If you’re not, tough cookies. “You can adjust the new News Feed preferences, which are only in Facebook’s iOS app for now, from the ‘News Feed Preferences’ menu in the ‘more’ section of the Facebook app. The revamped preference menu has four sections: prioritize who to see first, unfollow people to hide their posts, reconnect with people you unfollowed, and discover new pages.”
Google is doing more with Safe Browsing. “We want to be really clear that Google Safe Browsing’s mandate remains unchanged: we’re exclusively focused on protecting users from malware, phishing, unwanted software, and similar harm. You won’t see Safe Browsing warnings for any other reasons. Unwanted software is being distributed on web sites via a variety of sources, including ad injectors as well as ad networks lacking strict quality guidelines. In many cases, Safe Browsing within your browser is your last line of defense.”
Google has announced improvements to its mail spam filter. “Since the beginning, machine learning has helped make the Gmail spam filter more awesome. When you click the ‘Report spam’ and ‘Not spam’ buttons, you’re not only improving your Gmail experience right then and there, you’re also training Gmail’s filters to identify spam vs. wanted mail in the future. Now, we are bringing the same intelligence developed for Google Search and Google Now to make the spam filter smarter in a number of ways.”
Hey! IFTTT now has a Pinterest channel. Triggers are either liking a Pin or adding a Pin to your board; its action is adding a Pin to your board. Tons of interesting stuff here. I like tracking Pins on a Google Spreadsheet, or cataloging Pin information to a Dropbox text file.
What a great idea: Google is now offering a wired adapter for its Chromecast. The bad news: it’s already sold out. “The powered accessory plugs into the USB port on your Chromecast. From there, you just need to run an Ethernet cable from your router to the power supply. It’s that simple.”