In a flurry of digital space updates and upgrades, Google boosts mobile search & maps & Allo &… a travel app & concept movies in Google Photos…maybe even soon a new tool to fight online harassment.
It’s been a busy week or so at the Googleplex. Don’t these folks ever take a break? (The answer is, no.)
Over the past few days Google has rolled out faster mobile search across the Googleverse through its Accelerated Mobile Project, given Google Maps users a little flashlight (kinda) as an aid to navigation and bought a whole company to, presumably, make Maps even more detailed, launched a personal travel app, enhanced Google Photos with concept movies and sharing within the app and finally launched its Allo messaging-search-assistant-with-artificial-intelligence app.
Mobile search is AMP’d
While Google started ranking Accelerated Mobile Pages a bit higher, featuring them more prominently, in search results last Feburary pages they are now a permanent part of any search result users may seek.
“Now when you search on your mobile device, you’ll see a label that indicates a page is AMP’d,” Google explains. “This doesn’t change Search results but will show you which sites have pages that are ready to load lightning fast.
“Today, the median time it takes for an AMP page to load from Google Search is less than one second. Beyond just saving you time with fast loading pages, AMP will also save you data — AMP pages on Search use 10 times less data than the equivalent non-AMP page.”
Google claims it now has over 600 million pages AMP’d and waiting to load in less than a second on any mobile device. That’s a lot of web pages, of course, and if your’s isn’t one of them you could be losing out.
Google Maps and its flashlight directions
The Maps update in recent days may just make the app even more indispensable for many users, well, Android users at least.
We don’t usually think of Google Maps as part of the digital marketing effort but Google Maps is also a huge search engine, connected of course to the biggest search engine in the world. If the location of your business or organization is important to your success, you can’t really afford to ignore Google Maps.
“To make orienting yourself even easier in Google Maps for Android, we’ve replaced the direction arrow on your blue dot with a shining blue beam – think of it as a flashlight guiding your travels,” says Google. “The beam also tells you how accurate your phone’s direction is at any given time. The narrower the beam, the more accurate the direction. The wider the beam, the more likely it is that your your phone’s compass is temporarily uncalibrated, which means that its sensors aren’t working as they should be.”
Any Maps users has experienced this from time to time and, confused, tried to figure out how to recalibrate. Google says the flashlight beam will make the problem more immediately noticeable and fixed more quickly and easily.
“This can happen by doing something as simple as charging your phone or walking by a metal pole, which most of us do everyday,” Google explains. “Thankfully, there’s a really easy fix. Any time you want to get back on track – not just when you see a prompt or notification – simply move your phone in a figure 8 motion a few times. This should immediately result in a more accurate direction.”
Urban Engines likes to call it’s effort building the “Internet of Moving Things.”
“The potential to improve the lives of millions of commuters, by learning from commuting behavior patterns, reshaping congestion and creating new consumer services in each minute-mile is incredible,” says Urban Engines. “In fact, we have an opportunity to create an urban OS — an intelligent software overlay for our real world.”
Messaging and personal assistant Allo
Google launched its greatly anticipated fancy messaging and personal assistant app, Allo, earlier this week.
And while Edward Snowden warns against downloading it, Google boasts Allo will not only make messaging more fun and easy but will also become a personal assistant, separate and apart from (and maybe eventually replace) Google Now.
“Your Assistant can suggest restaurants nearby or movies to check out, right in your conversation,” brag the Google overlords. “Find videos to share, get directions, and seek answers together with your friends. Just add @google, and your Assistant is ready to help.
And with Allo, says Google, users can have a conversation with this new AI personal assistant.
“Get the latest scores from the game,” Google continues. “Find out how far you are from the airport, and when your flight leaves. You decide what to share with your Assistant, and the more you use it, the more useful it gets.”
Google Trips and sharing movies and photos
Google Trips is yet another new navigation app launched this week and it comes with a “magic wand” to change plans mid-trip. Oh sure, why not?
“Google Trips makes it easier than ever to plan and organize your trips,” says Google. “It automatically maps out a half day or a full day with suggestions for things to see and do. Don’t like what you see? Tap the ‘magic wand’ to see more nearby sights. Each tap of the wand gives you a fresh set of nearby attractions.”
Google Photos not only has new “concept movies,” an enhanced version of its long-standing automated movie creation tool but it’s also made sharing images with friends easier within the app itself.
“Now, with Google Photos, you pick the photos, tap ‘share’ and select the people you want to share with, instead of the apps — and we take care of the rest,” Google explains.”If your friends are on Google Photos, they’ll get a notification. If you share via phone number, they’ll get a link to the photos and videos via SMS. And email addresses will get an email with a link from Google Photos. So you can spend less time toggling from app to app to share photos — dealing with failed texts or email attachment limits along the way — and more time enjoying life’s photo-worthy moments.”