Friday, December 24, 2010

Even More Ads Coming to Gmail

Google has been trying hard to monetise its popular email service Gmail. Recent efforts, as noticed by various bloggers, include to only ads show in the Web Clips box unless a user clicks on the navigation arrows. We have noticed in some of our accounts that Google is now testing ads at the end of a email message. The ad is highlighted in yellow and is clearly labelled as an "Ad", similar to the look-and-feel in search results page.


I personally find the ads not too intrusive but it definitely catches more attention as compared to the conventional ads on the right-hand side. What do you think about the new ads? Do you think they are too intrusive?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Google Maps Street View in Hong Kong

Finally, Google Maps Hong Kong adds (the long waited) Street View function. Google Street View allows you to virtually explore city neighborhoods by viewing and navigating within 360-degree scenes of street-level imagery. It was first launched back in March 2007 in major US cities. Now, available in US, Canada, Australia, some EU countries, Taiwan, and many more.

Last year, Google's Taiwan office has confirmed that street view would be coming to Hong Kong soon (after the launch in Taiwan in August last year). Several have been spotting street view cars across Hong Kong since January 2009. So far, street view has done a good job covering major roads and streets in Hong Kong. Here are some touristy scenic spots:

Time Square:


Golden Bauhinia Square:


The Hong Kong International Airport Terminal 1:


On Tsing Ma Bridge:


Google has an official guide to Street View where you can learn more about behind the scene about the vehicles and their imagery.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Universal Search in Suggest


Now you can get answers directly from Google's search box without even hitting enter. Now when you're searching for the weather, flight status, local time, area codes, package tracking, answers, definitions, calculator, currency and unit conversions, Google would display the Universal Search results directly in the suggestion box. Learn more

This move makes much sense as the idea of Universal Search is to deliver "smack on" answers to common queries. Why require users to hit one more button, load a new page before you can get answers to simple questions? And for Google, more relevant results means improved user experience resulting in an increased user loyalty and switching cost.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Sneak Preview in Google Calendar

I got invited to try out a new feature in Google Calendar called Sneak Preview that allows you to simultaneously preview your friend's calendars while creating an event. Currently in Labs, the "Free or busy" gadget already allows you to check the present availability of your friends but when scheduling an event, you would still need to go to a future date, cross check your friend's calendar to make sure that all of your guests are free during a particular time before creating the event.

With Sneak Preview, you would be able to preview your friend's calendar on a new mini-calendar in the Create Event screen. This makes scheduling events much easier by allowing you to see when people are free and if the proposed time would conflict with existing events. Here's a screenshot of Sneak Preview in action:

Google Calendar Sneak Preview
The proposed event time is highlighted with a translucent shaded box (which is also drag-able). As you add guests to your event, their calendar would show up and you can see their events along side your own calendar. Roll over to their events and details would pop up.

This feature, however, might not be as useful to users who own several personal calenders (e.g. one for work and one for personal) as it currently only shows your default calendar.

If you're invited to test the new feature, you should see a link in your Create Event page:
Google Calendar Sneak Preview Invitation

Do you think this feature would make creating events easier?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

New AdSense Interactive Ad Spotted

Google constantly experiments with different look-n-feel of their ads to see which one better performs and would generate higher click-through-rates. I've recently spotted an interactive ad (of the size of 300 x 250) which contains a seach box in the middle:

AdSense Interactive Ad Search Box
It only advertises one site at a time and allows you to search within the content of the advertised site. Notice that the title of the ad (at the very top bolded) is not a link, rather, mere text. You could navigate through the results by clicking "Next" or "Previous" at the bottom. Here's a screen-capture that illustrates how it works in practice:

video

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Dragon Boat Festival

Google celebrates the Dragon Boat Festival (also known as Duanwu Festival - 端午節 - 端午节) in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. The festival is to remember the death of poet Qu Yuan who committed suicide after a regime take-over in 278BC. Traditionally, people eat rice dumplings and participate in dragon boat races.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Google Docs - Most Loved Office Suite

Google Docs was voted as PC World's readers' favorite office suite beating a competitive product Zoho Office which offers similar services. It also ranked #27 in the editors' list. Other Google products on the list of the 100 Best Products of 2008 include #25 Google Maps Street View, #41 Gmail, #81 YouTube.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Condolence to Si Chuan Earthquake Victims

Black and White Google Logo
Google China turned its logo to black and white in memory of those who died in the Si Chuan Earthquake. Also, the banner below is showed on Google.cn which is translated into: "Let us remember the moment [of earthquake]. Hope that those who died with rest in peace, those who survived will strive on."
gSpy would like to express deepest condolence to the 32476 [to date] who died in the Si Chuan earthquake.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day

The Mother's Day doodle is up in Google Hong Kong and China:
If you search for Happy Mother's Day on Google, you would see the power of OneBox as you would see related searches, iamges, news and blog posts all mixed together. ;)

Friday, May 9, 2008

Social Networking Potential for Google

Google Reader recently launched something called Notes which a combination of Twitter and Google Shared Stuff. Basically, notes made Google Reader a platform for you to stay connected with your friends and update each other on stuff you are up to lately (kind of). But it seems so far that Google's attempts to socialize its products have been bits and pieces here and there. Imagine grouping all Google product feeds into one place, probably your Gmail Chat window, just like this:
Google Social Networking PotentialNot just your shared notes would be showed, but also public events in Google Calendar, Google Docs documents you share with your friends, YouTube videos, photos in Picasa Web Album, or even comments you make on Blogger. One platform that informs you of your friend's latest Google activities just like what Facebook is doing. However, this could potentially be more powerful than Facebook since Google products focuses on productivity while Facebook is just for fun. Corporates would find this a perfect tool to better connect its employees and improve efficiency. What do you think?