Google 2013

Following on from my review of sorts of the HTC One. There’s a reason I like Windows OS. And a reason I had reservations about Android. The former is a clean, slick, pretty hot looking operator. The latter is often ugly, functional and even clunky sometimes. One of the reservations I have about the new Flickr is that it looks a bit Google-ified. That’s to say, it could look prettier. To say the least. I blame Marissa Mayer. She’s from Google. Ironically, she herself is very pretty. But I’ll have more to say on Flickr another day.

Google constantly irks me. They buy up cool companies and then shut them down. They make ugly, ugly products. And yet they just work better than the competition. Tried searching for mail in Outlook.com? For all the prettiness of Microsoft’s email baby, it’s a decade behind Google. I gave it a good run, and still use the email address they gave me. Via Gmail.  But, amongst all the Plain Janes of Google’s product portfolio, there’s that one stunner…

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Google Maps has always been the best. Again, Bing maps is pretty, and it actually works well. In some ways better. But it’s not as expansive, its version of Street View is very limited. But maps is the one product where Google has the entire competition well and truly licked. Knocked out the park. On the desktop or on a mobile device, it has no peer. And to rub salt in the wounds of those competitors, Google Maps just got a huge make over and is better than ever.

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It’s Maps and Earth all in one, with genuinely useful (as opposed to frivolous and gimmicky) functionality built in. It remembers your locations and searches, brings up strips of images, has slicker street views and awesome tilt/3D views. I got my beta invite a few days ago and have been playing around a while to see if it breaks or if the new stuff wears thin. It doesn’t and they don’t. Want to see the new Maps for yourself? Request an invite. It took them a week to let me in, so the sooner you apply, the sooner you get to play.

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So, Mr Google. I give in. You win. I’ll throw my lot behind you. I’m kinda committed, I guess, having bought a new Android phone. Again, the beauty of that Sense 5.0 interface, as I mentioned in the review I did of the device, wipes all the traditional Google ugliness from view. I’ll give Google+ another go. Google+ photos too. I’ll switch back to using my Gmail address again.

I’ll let you resume your snooping around my hard drive. Credit where credit is due. Google keeps innovating. You keep churning out fantastic products. Even though you really, really pee’d me off when you killed Reader. I’m using Feedly now, by the by. It’s the best of the rest, sort of thing. It turns out that Feedly is just as good as Google Reader once you get used to it. In fact, it’s Googe Reader made pretty. It’s the product you should have made in the first place…

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9 comments

  1. I tried out the new Google Maps yesterday and some this morning. It has a lot of features, not all of them desirable. (I don’t like the pop up stuff, for one.) I love to try out new things, but so far, this one is going to take me a while to get used to, if I can.

    My Chrome browser seems to open the New G-Maps by default, but I can still get the more familiar, and so far, more useful, older G-Maps in my Safari browser.

    Saludos,
    Don Cuevas

    1. The pop up images at the bottom can be collapsed…the search box is stuck there is seems. But, given that it’s now a full screen map without the huge sidebar, and given that the search box/results drop down are actually useful I think most people will learn to live with it. I actually like it.

  2. I like Google maps, but I’m leary about signing up for their services. I don’t like the idea that the world’s largest internet advertising company would be scanning my e-mails, etc. Call me paranoid, but I like Andy Grove’s famous comment, “Only the paranoid survive.”

    By the way, I tried to leave a comment on your photoblog, but need a Google account to do so. As such, I’ll be mum there.

    Saludos

    Kim G
    Boston, MA
    Where we watch with concern Google’s tussles with various European regulators.

    1. PS. On the photo blog, the entry “Wing and a Prayer” shows some rather contradictory information. At the top it says “10 comments.” At the bottom of the post it says, “no comments yet.”

      1. I’ll answer both issues at once. When you see the comment box on the photoblog, it’s set as Google as default. But along the top of the comment box are four icons, for Facebook, Disqus and WordPress. Click on the comment system of your choice…

        If you go to ‘Wing and Prayer’ and click on the WordPress icon, you’ll see 10 comments appear!

        If you can’t see the icons, then your computer must be broked! Or the script I’m using is! I’ve tested it in a couple of browsers and mobile though, and it seems to be working ok.

        I do wish it’d merge the comments into a single stream, but alas it’s not possible. So I do run the risk of having multiple conversations going on a single post. Assuming I keep the blog going and it takes off.

        1. OK, I’m trying that same entry again (Wing and a Prayer). But it was rather non-obvious that I’d have to click on one of those icons to leave a comment with the preferred provider. These days websites are festooned with various brand names, and this seemed to be just another example.

          Disqus comments still haven’t loaded (~40-ish seconds later). I’ll give it a few more moments. BTW, I’m using Firefox (running Adblock and Flashblock) on Windows 7, Tosh laptop.

          OK, the webpage stopped loading, but there are no disqus comments, and I can’t leave one either. Sorry to be the bearer of glitchy news.

  3. I’ve tested the site in Chrome (works great) Opera (also works) and in IE – in which the Disqus comments also fail to load. Everything else seems to work in all browsers though. But yeah, looks like Firefox and IE don’t like the Disqus script.

    I have added labels to the comment icons. I guess the icons themselves weren’t blatantly obvious. I must confess I also missed them when visiting another site which has this commenting add on.

    Normally I’d recommend someone switch to Chrome. I really dislike Firefox….it’s the only browser I simply won’t even install on my computer these days. But I know you aren’t fond of Chrome’s parents! Perhaps you might like the new Opera, which is based on the Chrome core, but I would imagine is reasonably independent. Ish Sort of… :)

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