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Last updated: September 2020
Recent posts

"Unlimited" Meet video call length extended for free accounts through March 2021

Today Google announced that Meet meetings would not be limited to 60 minutes through March 2021.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Google extended a number of premium Meet video calling features to free and lower-tier G Suite accounts. Those are due to expire on September 30.

Free Google accounts would be limited to 60 minute meetings. But Google has announced an extension: As we look ahead to a holiday season with less travel and important milestones like family reunions, PTA meetings and weddings hosted over video, we want to continue helping those who rely on Meet to stay in touch over the coming months. As a sign of our commitment, today we’re continuing unlimited Meet calls (up to 24 hours) in the free version through March 31, 2021 for Gmail accounts.  With today's announcement, anyone with a free account can continue to host a Google Meet video meeting up to 24 hours long, which is "unlimited" for all intents and purp…

YouTube improving captioning tools for creators

YouTube has discontinued Community Contributions, but also announced several improvements to captioning that should make it easier to add and edit video captions.To help Creators who used Community Captions, YouTube is also extending the free membership to the Amara captioning community from 6 months to 12 months, by which time the new features should be in place. If your channel was eligible for this subscription, you should have seen a notice on your YouTube Studio Dashboard. This was offered to channels actively using Community Contributions. Here is how YouTube is improving captioning for Creators: A new version of the Captions Editor in YouTube Studio is rolling out. It uses "smart" timing to automatically sync captions to videos while you write or edit captions. A new Trusted Captioner role is in development. This will allow you to add trusted members of your community to help caption your videos. This will be introduced next year.Improvements to automated captioning. …

On outdated infrastructure

I’ve been thinking about infrastructure. Not so much physical roads and buildings, but rather what keeps websites and online services running.

There are always lots of complaints when Google (or any other company) makes significant changes to their sites and services. People want to know why they can’t keep running the old version along with the new version? And even if they wanted to do that, often it’s not possible. Because of changes in the underlying infrastructure. 
Google has been pretty open of late about these technical changes, if you know where to look for the information. For example, YouTube’s Creator Studio Classic was written in the Python 2 programming language (hat tip Eric Parker), which was sunsetted on January 1, 2020. Over the years the code base became complicated and unwieldy, they decided to start fresh with the new YouTube Studio.

Blogger’s interface has also undergone a major transformation this year. While it has long needed an update, there was no way to delay…

Weekly Update - September 26, 2020: YouTube policy, Web Creators, Stories

This week is all about the Stories, with updates for Google’s Web Stories, Pinterest Story Pins, LinkedIn Stories and the sort-of-related Instagram Reels. Time to embrace vertical video! Plus YouTube is making 18+ age-restriction more consistent, and Google has launched a new “Web Creators” blog aimed at bloggers and such. Plus lots more.

Two reminders.The happy:September 30 is Google’s annual hardware event, with expected announcement of new Pixel phones, smart speakers, Chromecast and maybe more. The sad: Google Meet premium features that were extended to all G Suite customers will no longer be available after September 30, and personal meetings will be limited to 1 hour.
YouTube and VideoYouTube’s classic editing effects are going away September 30. If you used effects on your videos, you can revert to the original video, save the edited version as a new video or keep the classic effects.YouTube is making changes to more consistently age-restrict content meant for 18+ viewers. They…

YouTube making age-restriction more consistent (and harder to bypass)

YouTube has announced several changes to help ensure that viewers younger than 18 will not see inappropriate content. Videos that do not violate YouTube's Community Guidelines, but show dangerous activities, sexually suggestive content, disturbing imagery, heavy profanity or are otherwise not appropriate for younger audiences may only be viewed by users older than 18. 
Currently some videos are not age-restricted when they should be, and, of course, younger teens will try to get around the restrictions. That means younger viewers may be exposed to content meant for adults.  There are several changes being implemented over the next few months that should help prevent that from happening.Development of machine learning technology to automatically apply age-restrictions. Up until now, age-restriction has usually been applied manually. Improved automated review will allow YouTube to automatically age-restrict inappropriate content.YouTube already is using automated systems to determine …

Weekly Update - September 19, 2020: YouTube, Meet, Blogger

Tuesday is the autumnal equinox, and with it fall begins in the Northern Hemisphere. I’m looking forward to cooler weather. And there also seems to be the usual end-of-quarter flurry of product updates. YouTube launched TikTok-like Shorts in India, Google Meet now lets you blur your background and see 49 participants at once, and Blogger no longer lets you switch back to the legacy interface.
Plus there are updates for video creators, webmasters, businesses, and much more.
Also, on Sunday, September 20, join OnEBoard for the Premiere of our interview with author David Amerland
YouTube and VideoYouTube Shorts launched in early beta in India. There are new camera tools that let you create a fun 15-second video, including combining clips, recording with music, and speed controls. Creators in India can sign up for a free workshop to learn how it works. If you don’t have access to the Shorts camera, you can still participate by uploading vertical videos that are less than 60 seconds long. I…

New Duo and Meet features: 49-person grid, background blur, screen sharing and more

2020 has been an exciting year for video conferencing, with millions of people around the world working, learning and socializing from home, and a steady stream of new video calling features. Google has two video calling platforms: Duo, for video chats with friends and family, and Meet , a video conferencing platform designed for businesses and schools. Google has released an amazing number of new features for both platforms since last April.  Updates just in the past week: Meet is rolling out a 49-person grid view Meet is rolling out  background blurring for Mac and Windows. The Meet mobile apps are getting a redesign to match the Meet experience in the Gmail app. Duo now has screen sharing on mobile.  (NOTE: the Tweet announcing this has been deleted, so maybe not quite yet) Read on for an overview of the major Duo and Meet updates since April. Duo UpdatesCommunication toolsVideo calling on more devicesJust for funGoogle Meet UpdatesSee more meeting…