Saturday, January 21, 2017

Weekly Update - January 21, 2017: Google+, YouTube, Presidential Social Media Transition

My top updates this week:
Plus there are tips and updates for Google+, YouTube, Blogger, Google Docs, Google Search and more.

Image: My Wife’s Lovers by Carl Kahler (1893) “Dubbed by Cat Magazine as "the world's greatest painting of cats".”

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Blogger tip: Insert emoji, symbols and other special characters into your blog post

Sometimes you need to insert characters into your blog post that aren't available on your computer's keyboard.  You can use the Blogger "Insert special character" tool to insert arrows (↑→), mathematical symbols (⺟∫), accented (éü) or non-Latin characters (禁𓁗) and even emoji (🐦✋).

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Live streaming to YouTube on an Android phone: the best and worst apps

I wanted to try live streaming on my Pixel phone, but I don't have access to the YouTube Mobile live stream app, which is still only available to a limited group of Creators (you can watch YouTube mobile live streams here). I decided to try a few of the most popular Android live streaming apps to see how well they work.

What I was looking for:
  1. Easy to use interface
  2. Direct live streaming to YouTube
  3. High quality video
  4. Portrait or Landscape mode
I've excluded apps like Livestream, which focus on their own live streaming community, and don't have any way to export the video file or stream to YouTube directly.

The results were mixed. The easiest to use was Periscope, but that doesn't broadcast to YouTube directly and the recorded video is not high definition.  And I couldn't get InstaLively to stream at all.

However, Live in Five (recommended by +Ileane Smith) is a promising option - it broadcasts directly to YouTube and seems pretty easy to use. It lets you stream either from your camera or from your screen if you want to broadcast your game play.

You can see a playlist of my test videos here or embedded at the end of the article.

Note that to use any app to live stream to YouTube, your channel must have live streaming enabled.

As a technical note, I'm using my Pixel phone running Android 7.1.1 My internet connection is my home wifi with a current speed of ~11.5Mbps upload and 30-50Mbps download.

Read on for links and my first impressions:

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Weekly Update - January 7, 2017: Google Assistant, Advertising, Hangouts

This week was the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas where new computers, smart devices and other electronics were shown, from the silly to “put that on my wish list”.  The best Google-related updates:
And there were a few other non-CES updates that have sparked interesting discussions:
Plus tons of tips for YouTube, Google+, AdSense, Webmasters, Google Calendar, Google Maps and more..

Image: Impression, soleil levant by Claude Monet (1872) Public Domain

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Weekly Update - December 31, 2016: Happy new year!

Happy New Year readers! I know this is posted a day late, but the upates are through the end of 2016.

I've posted my yearly reviews of the different Google products I follow, so if you want an overview of the year, that's the place to start:

The big themes: better communication from the different Google support teams (YouTube, AdSense),  re-designed interfaces (Google+, AdSense, Blogger, YouTube), benefits for Creators (YouTube and Google+) and finally, products finding the own way after Google+'s pivot (YouTube, Blogger, Hangouts, and yes, Google+ itself).

There weren't many updates this week, but there are still some tips for webmasters, Google+ers, YouTubers, Android fans, live broadcasters and more.

And a wee plug: Did Santa bring you a Pixel? Planning to try Project Fi? Get $20 off!

Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016 in Review: Hangouts (yes, still Hangouts)

Hangouts got some decent updates in 2016, despite being upstaged by Google's sexy new 1:1 chat and video messaging apps Allo and Duo.

When Allo and Duo were announced at Google I/O in May, there was much speculation that Hangouts was on the chopping block. But Google quickly clarified that "We're continuing to invest in Hangouts and it will remain a standalone product,", but with a different user base in mind.  Allo and Duo are for personal one-to-one interaction on mobile devices, while Hangouts is focusing on business and collaborative uses. 

Nick Fox, Google's VP of communication products, told Nathan Ingraham at Engadget:
"Because Hangouts is built on a Google account, because it's deeply integrated with Google apps, the Apps suite [things like Drive, Docs, etc.], Gmail, Calendar and so on, it's seen much more success in the enterprise," Fox told me. "It will increasingly focus on that kind of group collaboration enterprise productivity space."
Amit Fulay, Group Product Manager at Google and one of the leads on Duo similarly explained to Forbes:
Unlike Duo, Hangouts is full-featured video calling solution that allows for various integrations and works on PC’s as well as mobile devices. “Hangouts will still be the place for productivity,” Fulay informs me. “Duo is meant to be about the individual, Hangouts is more for collaboration.”
And Hangouts is part of the "secret sauce" behind Project Fi's mobile calling technology, as Nick Fox explained:
With a Hangout, you can connect to several people simultaneously over the ‘net, chatting via video and, of course, audio. When you place a call over Wi-Fi via Project Fi, Google sets it up as a Hangout—only without the video. If you leave Wi-Fi, the Hangout keeps running, and then, because Hangout can juggle multiple connections, your phone can establish a new link over a cellular network.
Hangouts phone call technology also allows Google to offer users free calls around the world when tragedy strikes, as it did far too many times in 2016 (in Belgium, Turkey, France, Japan and Ecuador).

Chat updates
Goodbye to Google+

One of the other big changes for Hangouts was the separation from Google+. When Hangouts launched in 2013, it was deeply integrated with Google+. But since then it's been gradually moving out onto its own. Now, at the end of 2016, the divorce is nearly complete. The new Google+ web interface - now the default (and only experience for G Suite users) - does not include Hangouts. Hangouts are still available at, Gmail, or using the Chrome extension.

What's coming in 2017? 

The G Suite Early Adoptor program describes a new Hangouts experience for business meetings:
A new meeting experience for Google Hangouts makes this exceedingly easy: no downloads, no browser plugins, invite anyone, join from any device, even without an account or a data connection. Every meeting generates a short link and dial-in phone number so you can invite anyone without friction. An updated user interface accommodates up to 50 video participants, and with seamless integration into Calendar and instant screen sharing, your team will be better connected than it ever was before.
There's no way to know when (or even if) that will make its way to consumers, but it sounds pretty interesting.

And I'm hoping for updates to the Hangouts mobile app as well.

Read on for the detailed list of Hangouts updates and some great Hangouts tips.