Google+ gets a makeover, focuses on Collections and Communities!


Google is rolling out an updated design for the web and mobile versions of Google+. Starting today, users on the web will be prompted to switch to the new design if they wish.

The new design focuses more on the Collections and Communities features of the service. Collections is, well, a collection of posts matching a certain interest, such as photography. Community is where people can form a community based around an interest for like minded people to share and communicate in.

No new features have been added, but with the new design Google is putting more focus on these features by giving them a prime location in the new side menu.

Google is also redesigning its G+ app across platforms. Following the website redesign roll-out, Google will also be updating the Android and iOS apps with the same design.

The web redesign is now rolling out. Look out for the option to switch to the new UI. You will be able to go back to the older design if you wish as the new site doesn’t have all the existing features at the moment.

Apple adds a Black Ribbon to French Homepage, Google does the same for Beirut and Paris!

Apple has acknowledged the recent terrorism attacks in Paris with a commemorative ribbon on the Apple France homepage, The black ribbon is a sign of remembrance and mourning; Google has also added the symbol to its homepage in response to the attacks.

In addition, Apple has been contacting affected employees in French Apple retail stores to check they are safe.

Here’s Google’s Ribbon on Lebanon( and France( Homepages:

Google Black Ribbon Beirut Google Black Ribbon France

Google has made calls to France via its Hangouts service temporarily free. Callers can use the Hangouts app on Android, iOS, and the web to place calls to the country without incurring the normal international charges. The Google+ post making the announcement did not specify any particular countries, so presumably free calls are available from any location where Hangouts can be used. It’s not clear if Google Voice users are also being given free calls.

Note that Skype has joined the team also with free calls to France.

Facebook explains why it enabled Safety Check for Paris but not other recent attacks

  In the immediate aftermath of the Paris attacks on Friday, many with loved ones living in the city received a new type of notification from Facebook. The social network activated a relatively new tool called Safety Check for the attacks, letting people in Paris easily tell their friends and that they were safe.
While the feature has been helpful for many, some pointed to its use in Paris but not for other recent attacks — like a twin suicide bombing that killed over 40 in Beiruit on Thursday — as yet another example of western bias that apparently values certain lives more than others.

On Saturday, Facebook saw fit to respond to those accusations in a blog post written by the company’s vice president of growth, Alex Schultz. In it, Schultz notes that this is the first time the company has enabled Safety Check for anything other than a natural disaster, events which the tool was originally designed for when it was released last year.

Like a natural disaster, he notes, during the attacks “Facebook became a place where people were sharing information and looking to understand the condition of their loved ones.” After discussing with Facebook employees on the ground, the company decided it was a good idea to turn on Safety Check. “There has to be a first time for trying something new, even in complex and sensitive times, and for us that was Paris.”

Now that Facebook has set a precedent for using Safety Check for terrorism and other violent events, it will need to figure out when and where to use the feature. From Schultz’s comments, it’s not clear if the team would have enabled it for Beruit. He includes the Lebanese city among “other parts of the world, where violence is more common and terrible things happen with distressing frequency. ” And he notes that “During an ongoing crisis, like war or epidemic, Safety Check in its current form is not that useful for people: because there isn’t a clear start or end point and, unfortunately, it’s impossible to know when someone is truly ‘safe.'”

That said, Schultz writes that “We want this tool to be available whenever and wherever it can help,” adding, “We will learn a lot from feedback on this launch.”

Google Apps for Work: 2 Million+ Paid Businesses and many new Features!

Google For Work New Logo

While Microsoft is shrinking its OneDrive Storage plans, Google Apps for Work has launched a recommended apps platform and improved its Inbox app, while announcing that more than 2 million businesses now pay for its program, and 3 Million businesses are using the Free edition of GApps for work. Which makes the total of 5 Million Businesses that have gone Google so far!

Google opened an online store – Five years ago – called the Google Apps Marketplace to help its business customers find third-party Web apps that complement Google Apps. The software Google is recommending has been reviewed by Google and a third-party auditor for security and ease of integration. Initially Google is singling out eight partners across five application categories:

  • CRM: ProsperWorks
  • Telephony: Ringcentral, Switch
  • Project management: SmartSheet
  • Document management: AODocs, Powertools
  • Identity/Access management: Ping Identity, Okta.

In addition, Google reorganized its partner program under a new name, the Google for Work and Education Partner Program, to help partners sell services more efficiently to Google’s enterprise and education customers. Plus it partnered up with many organization to improve its Android for Work program.

Smart Reply: Inbox by Gmail!

Google has launched earlier this year a new Email App/Platform, Inbox. Inbox by Gmail is already assisting you with the next step, organizing your trips, and even suggesting reminders. But when you’re schedule is super tight, and the holidays are approaching, you’ll be getting tons of emails. you’ll need help.

Help is on its way with Smart Reply!

Smart Reply is a new feature added to the Inbox app, it suggests up to 3 responses based on the emails you get.

It will take care of the short replies and save you time. And for those emails that require a bit more thought, it gives you a jump start so you can respond right away.

So, how does it work?

Inbox uses machine learning to recognize emails that need responses and to generate the natural language responses on the fly.

If you’re really interested to know about it you can read more on the Google Research Blog.

In addition to this great feature, Inbox gets better now when you report spam, the responses you choose (or don’t choose – they won’t be marked as spam later on) help improve future suggestions.

Smart Reply will be rolling out later this week on both the Apple’s App Store and Android’s Google Play in English (Only for now).