Google has updated its Google Voice extension for Chrome, and it sure brought with it some highly usable new features.

Users of Google Chrome and Google Voice have already been able to use them in conjunction with one another, but with the release of version 2.0 of the Google Voice extension yesterday, it just got even more exciting.  The extension now:

  • Adds a button to the toolbar, which displays the number of unread messages in your Google Voice inbox.
  • Gives you quick access to your most recent messages with transcripts.
  • Lets you initiate calls and send free text messages by just typing any number or contact name.
  • Makes phone numbers on websites callable via Google Voice by just clicking on them.

The system is a lot more integrated now, and should make it even easier to save on cell phone minutes, and even contemplating getting rid of your landline once and for all.

If you haven’t signed up for Google Voice yet, it’s well worth it … especially since it is free.

Categories: Google, VoIP   
 

Google is adding file storage to its Google Docs product that will allow you to store any type of file you want.

According to the Google Docs blog, the new service will be rolled out to all users over the next few weeks and will allow you to upload any type of file you want up to 250 MB in size up to a total of 1 GB of storage.  Additional GBs of storage are available at the rate of $.25 per GB per year.  Storage folders can be shared with users of your choice to make it easy for parties spread out around the country or world who are working on the same project can work together on all of the necessary files.

There is no word yet on a file uploading program, but there almost has to be to make this service truly usable.

There are two worrying aspects to this service:

  1. Do we really want to let Google have an even deeper look into our lives?  There seems to be no end to the amount of information it wants out of us, and having access to our files to boot just seems a little silly of us to give.
  2. With the ability to share files with friends, can anyone say “piracy”?  I knew you could.  Google just made it easy for friends to share as much music with one another as they would like to.

It is amazing how many services Google rolls out, but it doesn’t always mean it’s a great idea for the users.

Categories: Google   
 

It seems there was one aspect of selling its own cell phone that Google did not take into account: Dealing with customers after you sell them a product.

Complaints are popping up all over various blogs of how the customer support for people who have purchased Google’s Nexus One phone is totally non-existent.  Apparently no phone number is provided and buyers are directed to a forum where they can try to get assistance.  Even once they do go to the forum, they are finding that replies from official Google employees are few and far between.

Now customers are threatening to send back what they consider to be defective phones and finding out that they will be charged a $45 restocking fee for sending the phone back.

And it isn’t just the users who have things to complain about.  Application developers are apparently unhappy with the fact that no SDK (Software Development Kit) has yet shipped for the new phone, meaning that while some apps may work with the new phone, that can’t be guaranteed as the nexus One is running a new version of the Android operating system.

In short, as the first venture into hardware sales, Google is not doing well.

Up until now the company hasn’t had to do much in the way of customer service as most people found it silly to complain about products they get to use for free.  However, this is a different ball game once money begins changing hands.

Even though the Nexus One is being handled though T-Mobile, and the handset is being built by HTC, this is Google’s phone all the way and all customer service is supposed to be done through them, including returns.

With Google planning at least one more hardware release of a netbook by the end of this year supposedly, it may be time for the company to get some lessons in how to deal with customer service issues.  Step one?  Open up a phone center, and do it immediately.  The rest will come to you naturally over time.

Categories: Cell Phones, Google   
 

nexus oneFor all of the talking all of the tech bloggers have done about the Nexus One phone from Google, we were severely lacking in technical details. At long last, we have them.

Thanks to Engadget, the technical specifications for the Nexus One phone from Google have finally surfaced.

  • Android 2.1
  • 11.5mm thick
  • 512MB RAM, 512MB ROM, 4GB microSD in-box expandable to 32GB
  • 5 megapixel camera with mechanical AF and LED flash
  • HSPA 900 / 1700 / 2100, 7.2Mbps down and 2Mbps up (this means it will work with T-Mobile’s 3G network, but not AT&T’s)
  • 1GHz Qualcomm chip
  • Wi-Fi A/B//G/N
  • Bluetooth 2.1
  • GPS
  • Cell tower & Wi-Fi positioning
  • Accelerometer
  • 3.7-inch diagonal widescreen

Simply put, this sounds like it is going to be a great phone, but we still haven’t heard anything about pricing, release date, how it will be sold, will it be offered with a subsidy … in short, we are still missing a huge portion of the puzzle pieces.  It is believed a formal announcement will be made at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas during the first week of January, but even that is just speculation at this time.

Categories: Cell Phones, Google   
 

google2Google is once again riding to your rescue by helping you clean up your contacts.

It happens to everyone at some point.  That unfortunate muddling of your contacts where you end up getting multiple entries, and then you have to go through trying to merge them and clean it all up.  Well, Google is now going to help you with this by allowing you to do it automatically.

You simply need to log in to your Gmail account, click on “Contacts”, and then click the button that says “Find Duplicates”.

google contacts

You will then be presented with a list of all the contacts there is more than one entry before and the number of times they appear in your Contacts to the side. By default all of them are checked off for merging, but if there is someone you don’t want to merge you simply uncheck the box. Once you click the box it all happens pretty quickly, and viola, no more duplicates in your contacts!

Seeing as I sync my contacts with my iPod Touch and my BlackBerry, this is just what I needed!

Categories: Google   
 

fccnexusoneThe government has inadvertently confirmed the NexusOne, also known as the Google Phone, by showing its FCC approval.

Before any cell phone is released in the United States it must go through approval of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).  As the FCC is an open body, all approvals are posted to its Web site, and thanks to this little trick, the FCC approval for the NexusOne, the official name of the Google Phone, was revealed this morning.

The reason this is even remotely interesting is that all of the technical aspects of the phone must be revealed to get the needed approval.  So, what did we learn?  Well thanks to the information about its wireless bands, it looks like it will work on T-Mobile’s 3G network, but not on AT&T’s.  Thanks to its EDGE band, it should work on all carriers, but if you want true wireless high speed, you may be stuck with only T-Mobile.  That is not what a lot of us were hoping for, and it will severely limit how much of a dent this phone will put in the United States cell phone market.

We also learned it will have 802.11b/g Wi-Fi, which has been tricky for some phones to include because of the possibility of network interference.  It will also be sporting the ubiquitous Bluetooth connectivity and a microSD slot for memory expansion, both are pretty much a requirement in this day and age.

Without support for the AT&T 3G network this won’t be the threat to the iPhone we all thought it might be at first, but that won’t be fully decided until it is actually in the hands of consumers and we can see what this thing can do.

Categories: Cell Phones, Gadgets, Google   
 

nexus oneAs you have undoubtedly heard by now, it appears Google is releasing its own cell phone next month called the Nexus One.  Why is everyone so hyped about this?  What does it mean to the average cell phone user?  Follow along.

Evidence has mounted all weekend to the fact the long rumored Google Phone is finally real and will be called the Nexus One.  While it appears from the photos that have leaked to just be the new HTC Passion that is due out on T-Mobile next month, it’s what under the hood that will make this a totally different beast, as well as how it is being sold.

The Nexus One will be running a copy of the Google Android operating system, which is nothing new since many phones now run it, but what will be different is that it won’t be fractured.  As Android has gone out to the various carriers, they’ve all made little tweaks to it that have caused it to act differently on different handsets, and in turn this has made it hard for application developers to make sure their products work across all the different versions.  So the copy that will run the Nexus One will probably be the truest version of the Android OS we’ve seen yet.

As for the way the phone is being sold, that is where things will get a bit odd.  The rumors currently point to Google selling it themselves via the Web as an unlocked phone.  If you are unfamiliar what this means in the term of phones, unlocked phones are not tied to any one carrier and you can walk in, sign up for their service, get a SIM card from them and your phone will work.  Most phones have a carrier logo on them meaning you can’t take a BlackBerry you buy from Sprint and expect it to work on the T-Mobile network and vice versa.

While companies such as Nokia have sold unlocked phones before, none of them have had the name “Google” attached to them which is going to make this a highly desirable device.

The one problem we may encounter is in the price.  If you have ever tried to buy a cell phone that isn’t attached to a contract, or before your upgrade is allowed, you know that smart phones cost more in the range of $500 – $600.  No matter what Google does, unless they find a way to subsidize this phone, people won’t be dropping that much on it.  One suspicion floating around the Web is that Google will sell it as a lower price with the expectation you will be clicking on ads on the phone.  It’s how they bring you services like Gmail for free, so the company is well versed in the business model.  Will it be enough to make the phone affordable?  Only time will tell.

Quite possibly the Nexus One could end up being a game changer for the cell phone industry.  A highly desirable phone not tied to any one carrier will make them compete for your business.  I could easily see the carriers running “Nexus Pricing Specials” where they try to out do each other to woo the most Nexus users to their network.  That is just my theory at this point, but if the phone takes off like I suspect it will, I can really imagine it happening.

My only regret is I got a new BlackBerry Tour in early August, but boy do I want to drool on a Nexus One.

[photo credit Cory O’Brien]

Categories: Cell Phones, Gadgets, Google   
 

google chromeIndicators are pointing to the final piece of the Google chrome puzzle coming next week: Extensions.

Many people have said that the only reason that they haven’t changed to Chrome as their main Web browser is because it lacks support for extensions, those little tools that allow your browser to do extra little jobs.  extensions have long been a major component of the Firefox community, and so people have been missing them during their use of Chrome.

According to TechCrunch, Google will be announcing its Extension support some time this week, and it makes perfect sense as Google is a Gold sponsor of Add-on-Con 09, a developer conference dedicated to extensions.

The only problem with extensions is the more you add to a program, the slower it will go as it is just that much more code for it to deal with.  To date, one of the biggest selling points of Chrome has been its speed, if it starts losing that advantage in lieu of extensions, it may be a Catch-22 for Google.  If people start overloading their copy of Chrome with extensions and it slows to a crawl, something they have done to themselves, they will confuse it with the fault of Google.

In short, enjoy the extensions (if they do in deed come out this week), but be careful with how many you add.

Categories: Google, Web Browsing   
 

google2Google seems to be in a real giving mood when it comes to Wi-Fi this holiday season.

As we reported earlier this month, Google has a program in place through Jan. 15th, 2010 to provide free Wi-Fi in dozens of airports around the United States.  While we all thought the list was complete, it seems it wasn’t.

The new cities added to the list are:

  • Albany, NY
  • Asheville, NC
  • Boise, ID
  • Columbus, OH
  • Phoenix, AZ
  • Washington-Dulles Washington-Reagan National

You can visit FreeHolidayWiFi.com for full details on the program, and you can see a map and list of all the airports below.

airportwifi

Categories: Google, Wi-Fi   
 

google logoThere is no question that the higher you rank in Google the better, but there are times when you can take that importance a bit too seriously.

The other day, my friend Mark ‘Rizzn’ Hopkins shared an item on Google Reader from a site named Business Pundit that literally took my breath away.

It is actually difficult to tell if this was someone’s lame attempt at a joke, or if someone actually thought they could use intimidation to get what they wanted, but either way it is shocking.  The short version is that someone received an email telling them they needed to remove their site from Google’s search engine because the other party felt they didn’t belong, and they were outranking them.  They needed to remove their site or face legal action.  Here is the email as it was posted (I did edit the Google Chat window to hide the names of this person’s contacts):

googlesite2

After I picked up my jaw and stopped laughing at the absurdity of this email, I had to wonder if someone would ever actually fall for something like this.

The higher you rank in a search engine the better, but to threaten someone with lawsuits is a new one on me.  Most people work on their Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to increase their ranking, but perhaps it would be easier to just threaten those with better SEO than you off the search engine so you don’t actually have to work on it?  True, this person says they have optimized their site, but you can always do a bit more tweaking.

In short, no, someone can not sue you for being ranked higher than them in a search engine no matter if they say you don’t belong on that keyword or not.  I would hope no one else would ever attempt using this tactic, but if one person did it, it is almost certain that someone somewhere else has tried it, or may try it.  Don’t fall for this, and if you ever do get an email like this, merely laugh it off, go about your day … oh, and share it for the world to get a laugh.

Categories: Google   
 
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