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Google News Overhauled

There’s an old saying that all news is local. But all news is personal too—we connect with it in different ways depending on our interests, where we live, what we do and a lot of other factors. Yesterday Google revamped the Google News homepage with several changes designed to make the news that you see more relevant to you. They also trying to better highlight interesting stories you didn’t know existed and to make it easier for you to share stories through social networks.

Before:

After:

The new heart of the homepage is something they call “News for you”: a stream of headlines automatically tailored to your interests. You can help us get it right by using the “Edit personalization” box to specify how much you’re interested in Business, Health, Entertainment, Sports or any subject you want to add (whether it’s the Supreme Court, the World Cup or synthetic biology). You can choose to view the stories by Section view or List view, and reveal more headlines by hovering over the headline with your mouse. Google will remember your preferences each time you log in. If you don’t want customized Google News, hit “Reset personalization” to clear all personalization preferences. If you haven’t previously customized and would prefer not to, simply close the “Edit personalization” box. You can always go back and change it later.

To give you more control over the news that you see, Google is now allowing you to choose which news sources you’d like to see more or less often. You can do so in News Settings. These sources will rank higher or lower for you (but not for anyone else) in Google News search results and story clusters. They’ve also added keyboard shortcuts for easier navigation, like in Gmail or Google Reader. When you’re in Google News, hit the question mark key to pop up a full list of shortcuts.

There are the subjects that interest you and then there’s the major news of the day. To make it easy for you to find the big stories like Hurricane Alex, they’re adding links to topics that many outlets are covering. You’ll find these topics in the Top Stories section on the left side of the homepage as well as in linked keywords above headlines. Clicking on a topic link takes you to a list of related coverage that you can add to your news stream. You can change your preferences any time in “Edit personalization.”

Google is  also more prominently displaying the Spotlight section, which features stories of more lasting interest than breaking news and has been one of our most popular sections since they introduced it last fall. And then there’s local news; they’re now highlighting weather and headlines about your city or neighborhood in their own section, which you can edit with whichever location you want to follow.

Finally, you can now easily share story clusters with other people via Buzz, Reader, Facebook or Twitter. Just select the drop-down menu marked by an arrow on the top-right of each story cluster. In the drop-down, you can also choose to see more or less of the first news source.

The redesigned Google News homepage is rolling out today in the English-language edition in the U.S., and Google plans to expand it to all editions in the coming months. They’re making the ability to choose which sources you’ll see more or less often available in all English-language editions worldwide and plan to expand it soon. For more information about these changes, check out the video below or visit Google’s  Help Center.

ChromeVis a new Chrome Extension for Users with low Vision

From text that is too small to read, to user interfaces that do not offer keyboard navigation options, users with special needs face a lot of challenges when trying to access websites they are interested in. Google Chrome team believe that extensions can complement the work the team is  doing to make Google Chrome more accessible and can help users with disabilities turn the web from an often unwelcoming place to an environment they can truly enjoy.

Today Google is  launching a new category of featured extensions under the name “Accessibility”. On this page you’ll find ChromeVis a brand new extension from Google that allows users with low vision to magnify and change the color of selected text. You will also find extensions like Chrome Daltonize that can help color blind users to see more details in web pages or gleeBox that provides alternatives to actions traditionally performed via the mouse such as clicking, scrolling and selecting text fields.

All users can benefit from these extensions – not just users with disabilities. To encourage more developers to incorporate best practices in accessibility when designing extensions, Google’ve open sourced the code behind Chrome Vis and created relevant documentation. You can get more information in the Chromium blog.

One can develop a lot of great extensions to benefit users with special needs. Google plan to release a few more in the next months so stay tuned for more updates.

Google Chrome now support Adobe Flash Player

In Google’s most recent stable release of Google Chrome, they talked about beta-testing Adobe Flash Player integration into Chrome. They’ve enable this integration by default in the stable channel of Chrome. To read more about this integration, check out the Chromium blog.

In testing Flash Player integration into Chrome, the Chrome team admittedly spent many, many fun hours with a few of our favorite Flash-based indie games. So as a side project, they teamed up with a few creative folks to build Chrome FastBall, a Flash-based game built on top of the YouTube platform.

If you’re using Chrome, your browser should be automatically updated with Flash Player integration as of this week. And if you haven’t yet tried Chrome, download this newest stable release of the browser at google.com/chrome and take it for a test drive!

Yahoo! Messenger is Now available on Android

Android phone owners, the wait is over! Today marks the debut of Yahoo! Messenger App for Android, alongside the new Yahoo! Mail for Android.

With the availability of Yahoo’s world-class Yahoo! Messenger services for Android, they’re making it easier than ever for users to access fast, reliable, and feature-rich Yahoo! experiences on one of the fastest growing platforms in the market.

Yahoo! Messenger Android App is available for download via the Android Market globally, and support OS 2.0 or higher, including the popular Motorola Droid, HTC Incredible, Google Nexus One.

With the new Yahoo! Messenger App for Android, you can:

  • Easily message friends, check friends’ status updates and availability and update their personal status and availability
  • Multitask and stay connected with the App working in the background; with push notifications, consumers can easily catch new messages and friend requests
  • Full use of emoticons and rich text formatting
  • Send photos to friends directly from the phone’s camera or the photo gallery
  • Chat with MSN/Windows Live Messenger friends
  • Send instant messages to friends via SMS text message*

Download the Yahoo! Messenger App from the Android Market on your phone today and let us know what you think! For additional information, visit http://mobile.yahoo.com/messenger/android

Amazing New Experience by Yahoo! via Android and HTML5

Today, Yahoo! released their first wave of new Android and HTML5 products, including Yahoo! Mail and Yahoo! Messenger apps for Android, a new Android widget for Yahoo! Search, and Yahoo’s amazing HTML5-powered Yahoo! Mail and Yahoo! News experiences for the Apple iPhone and iPod touch. Complete product details can be found on the Yahoo! Mobile Blog here.

So what does this mean for you? If you are one of the 300 million Yahoo! Mail and Yahoo! Messenger users worldwide, Yahoo! Is  making it easier to access feature-rich Yahoo! experiences on two of the fastest growing mobile platforms in the market, Android and HTML5-capable browsers.  Get more details on the Yahoo! Messenger app on the Yahoo! Messenger Blog here.

With the new apps for Android, Yahoo! created fast, easy-to-use and visually stunning experiences for Yahoo! Mail and Yahoo! Messenger, providing rich full-featured experiences right on your Android device, and built from the ground up for the Android platform. They also introduced a Yahoo! Search Widget for Android to provide quick and convenient access to Yahoo! Search, making search easily accessible directly on your home screen.

In another exciting new release, they’ve leveraging the cutting-edge features of HTML5 and introducing a new Yahoo! Mail web-app, plus a Yahoo! News site, for the iPhone and iPod touch.

The new Yahoo! Mail for mobile web is the most advanced mobile web-app they’ve ever created, making full use of client side databases and advanced caching capabilities, Yahoo! is offering faster access, powerful search, and rich content & message previews surfaced directly in the inbox. This amazing new experience is available in 28 languages in more than 200 countries.

Yahoo’s enhanced Yahoo! News includes a new layout with animated visual effects and navigation that utilizes touch gestures to deliver a compelling news experience.

They’ve been working hard, and listening carefully to their users’ feedback to understand what their consumers want, how a sophisticated mobile experience should behave, and how they could harness the latest cutting-edge technology. The result is a collection of incredible new experiences that represent their continued commitment to provide best-in-class products, while creating a modern and flexible platform for continued innovation and development. Yahoo! hopes you’ll love using these new experiences as much as they’ve loved creating them!

Here is a video with more on Today’s news:

Enjoy!!!!!!!!!!!!

Google Docs viewer on Mobile Browsers

Last week, Google announced that the Google Docs viewer supports .doc and .docx attachments. Today they’re also releasing a mobile version of the Google Docs viewer for Android, iPhone and iPad to help you view PDFs, .ppt, .doc and .docx files you’ve uploaded to your documents list, without needing to download the file.

With Google’s mobile viewer you can switch quickly between pages and pan/zoom within a page. On your iPhone and iPad, you can pinch to zoom in or out.

You can try it out by going to docs.google.com on your Android-powered device, iPad or iPhone and select any document in these formats that you’ve previously uploaded.

Firefox 3.6.6 Now Available for Download

Today, Firefox launched an update to our crash protection feature to extend the amount of time Firefox will wait before terminating unresponsive plugins.

The crash protection feature, first introduced in Firefox 3.6.4, protects Windows and Linux users from crashes and freezes caused by third party plugins such as Flash and Silverlight. When a plugin crashes, users can reload the Web page to restart the plugin and continue browsing. When a plugin freezes, making the whole browser unresponsive, Firefox 3.6.4 terminates the unresponsive plugin after waiting 10 seconds. These changes were tested with a beta audience of close to one million users.

Following the release of Firefox 3.6.4 we heard from some users, mainly those using older computers, that they sometimes expect longer periods of non-responsiveness from plugins, especially with games. For these users the default timeout of 10 seconds was too short. To address this, we increased the amount of time Firefox waits for a plugin to respond before terminating it from 10 to 45 seconds. This change has been made in Firefox 3.6.6, which was released today as an automatic update for all users.

Google Voice for everyone

A little over a year ago, Google released an early preview of Google Voice, Google’s web-based platform for managing your communications. Google introduced  one number to ring all your phones, voicemail that works like email, free calls and text messages to the U.S. and Canada, low-priced international calls and more—the only catch was you had to request and receive an invite to try it out. Today, after lots of testing and tweaking, they are excited to open up Google Voice to the public, no invitation required.

Over the past year, Google has introduced a mobile web app, an integrated voicemail player in Gmail, the ability to use Google Voice with your existing number and more. Over a million of you are now actively using Google Voice, and many of the features released over the last year (like SMS to email and our Chrome extension) came as a result of users suggestions.

If you haven’t yet tried Google Voice, just dont wait try it out and give your valueable feedback. Check out Google’s revamped features page to learn about everything Google Voice can do, and if you haven’t seen it yet, this video provides a good overview in less than two minutes:

Google feel proud of the progress they’ve made with Google Voice over the last few years, and they are still just scratching the surface of what’s possible when you combine your regular phone service with the latest web technology. It’s even more amazing to think about how far communication has come over the last couple hundred years. To put things in context, Google created this infographic to visualize some recent history of human communication and how Google Voice uses the web to help people communicate in more ways than ever before.

Firefox 3.6.4 with Crash Protection Now Available

Today, Mozilla is happy to release Firefox 3.6.4, the latest security and stability release for Firefox, used by nearly 400 million people around the world to browse the Web. This release provides crash protection for Windows and Linux users by isolating third-party plugins when they crash.

Results from our beta testing show Firefox 3.6.4 will significantly reduce the number of Firefox crashes experienced by users who are watching online videos or playing games. When a plugin crashes or freezes while using Firefox, users can enjoy uninterrupted browsing by simply refreshing the page.

Mozilla recognizes that third-party plugins provide important functionality in many of today’s websites. At the same time, plugins can lead to problems for users as they browse. With the ability to automatically alert users when they have out of date plugins, and now crash protection, Firefox 3.6.4 allows users to experience all the content they love without any of the hassles. (If you’re not running Firefox, Mozilla recommends that you make a habit of visiting the Plugin Check page to keep your plugins up to date.)

At this time Firefox offers crash protection for Adobe Flash, Apple Quicktime and Microsoft Silverlight on Windows and Linux computers. Support for other plugins and operating systems will become available in a future Firefox release.

All Firefox users are encouraged to upgrade for free by using the “Check for Updates” function in the Help menu, or by visiting www.firefox.com. For more information, please visit:

Google Commerce Search 2.0

School is out for the summer, and that means it’s time for some swimsuit shopping, travel purchases and—before we know it—buying back-to-school supplies.

To help retail sites get ready for the summer shopping season, Today Google launched Google Commerce Search 2.0 for retailers in the United States and United Kingdom. The new version of Google Commerce Search provides a better experience online for shoppers and greater control—with immediate ROI—for retailers.

Google Commerce Search, first launched a little over six months ago, is an enterprise-grade website search solution hosted in Google’s cloud and designed specifically for online retailers. This second release includes a number of improvements:

  • More merchant customization: Today Google introducing a full merchandising dashboard, which gives merchants more control over promotions, ranking rules and filtering. Marketers and product merchandisers can now do all of this themselves—no custom code necessary. New intuitive retailer controls like time-based promotions, navigation bar with filters, and simple product ranking rules mean seasonal optimizations can be done on the fly.
  • Better shopper experience: With query auto completion, retailers can offer common queries to shoppers in real time, as they type, without any custom coding. GCS is also faster and more relevant than before thanks to search quality improvements. Because it’s hosted in the Google cloud, search results are returned to shoppers in less than a second. Google also added spelling and stemming dictionaries and new custom synonym options to make shopping on a retail site as easy and accurate as searching on Google.com.
  • Improved browsing and navigation: Many shoppers depend on the search bar on retail sites when they’re looking to make a purchase, but some people will always prefer to navigate through different categories and discover new products. Now, Google Commerce Search allows visitors to shop by browsing around your site as well as searching directly for products.

Finally, Google making the benefits of Google Commerce Search 2.0 available to a wider range of retailers by introducing a pricing model that starts at $25,000/year.
As more consumers turn to online channels to purchase and research products, it’s important for your site to keep up with them using the best technology out there. So with summer just around the corner, make sure your sunscreen’s on, your beach blanket is ready and your e-commerce site is optimized with Google Commerce Search.