Google Dashboard Released

Ok so Google services rawk, the problem is their are so many of them and it’s a bit…. spread all over. Google Dashboard is a new service that shows a summary of the data stored with a Google account. You’ll soon find a link to Google Dashboard in the “personal settings” of the “my account” page. This is handy if you use a bunch of Google services like GMail, maps, docs, etc.

The dashboard lists some of the information associated with the Google services you use: your name, your email address, the number of contacts, the number of conversations in your Gmail inbox, your Google profile, the most recent entries from the web history etc. It’s a long answer to the question: “What does Google know about me?”.


Gmail Adds a Contact Picker

Gmail is probably one of the last Google services that adds a very simple feature: a contact picker. When you compose a message, you may want to see the list of contacts so you can select some of them. But this feature wasn’t available in Gmail, although you could find it in Google Docs, Google Calendar and in almost any mail client and webmail service. Some people even wondered if you can send messages to more than one address: questions like “Why can’t I load multiple contacts when I go to compose?” or “How do I compose using my address book?” were very popular in Gmail’s help group.

“Auto-complete is convenient and fast, and usually does the trick. But sometimes seeing your list of contacts can help you remember all the people you want to include on your email,” admits Google.

The wait is over and now you can finally use the contact picker in Gmail: just click on “To” when you compose a message, select the contacts and click “Done”.

Some of the cool things you can do using the contact picker:

* select contacts from one of your groups: just use the drop-down to choose from “Friends”, “Family”, “Coworkers” and other groups.

* easily remove the contacts you’ve picked by just clicking on them.

* manually add email addresses by clicking on an empty space from the picker’s “to” box.

* if you’ve already typed some addresses in the “to” box, the contact picker will include them when it launches.

* add all the results of a search by clicking on “Select all”.

* the feature also works for “cc” and “bcc”.

Now if they would just add this feature to Google Voice AND make it not happen in a popup (ugh… where’s the modal AJAX love Google?!) we’d be set.

Create a Permanent, Icon only GMail tab in FireFox

Icon-only Perma-Tabs
Yes, I’ll admit it… I *heart* GMail and FireFox; I use them everyday. I wish that GMail didn’t take up a full blown tab in FireFox tho (especially when on the netbook where screen real estate is precious!) You can permanently affix the Gmail (and Reader) tab in your tab bar, reduce it to show the tab favicon only, and display the number of unread items in each using a collection of Firefox add-ons (of course you can… that’s why we LOVE FireFox). See what it looks like in the image above: the Gmail and Reader tabs are on the far left, icon-only, with unread item counts–19 unread messages and 1k+ unread items (yikes!)–on the icons themselves.

To reproduce this setup in your own copy of Firefox, you’ll need four Firefox add-ons which Gina Trapani has put all together in a single collection. Install all the add-ons in the Icon-Only Perma-Tabs for Gmail and Google Reader collection. Restart Firefox.

Then, in Better Gmail 2, make sure “Unread Message Count in Favicon” is checked. In Better GReader, make sure “Show Unread Count in Favicon” is checked. Open Gmail and Google Reader in new tabs. Right-click on those tabs, and choose “Faviconize tab.” Then, to make them permanent (i.e., open automatically every time you launch Firefox), right-click again and choose “Permatabs->Permanent Tab.” Once you’re done, whenever you launch Firefox or even hit “Close All Tabs,” your icon-only perma-tabs containing Gmail and GReader will persist.



Google Wave Starts to Open to Public on September 30th

According to the Official Google Wave Developer Blog, they’ll be extending 100,000 invites to regular old users on September 30th. Google launched Google Wave at its Google IO conference at the end of May, but so far the Web giant has restricted the service to 6,000 or so developers.

Google Wave is a unique hybrid of email, chat, and a blog, and some expect it to eventually replace some of Google’s other applications. No word yet on how invites will be handled or who will be getting them.


Google Officially Releasing an OS – Google Chrome Operating System

Rumors spread yesterday about how Google was going to make a “Chrome Operating System”. Of course there have been rumors of a Google OS for years now. In early 2006, Ars reported on Google’s denial that it was prepping an OS distribution of its own based on Ubuntu. More recently, the (relative) ease of porting Android to netbooks led to plenty of speculation that Google’s full computer OS, when it appeared, would be based on Android. It turns out that’s not the case… it’s NOT going to be Android (though Google won’t preclude third-party adopters from using Android).

Last night at 9:00pm Google’s official blog raised the flag indicating Google was getting into the OS race. So what is the OS? It’s being Google Chrome OS and the operating system will center on Google Chrome and be targeted for netbooks (initially). It will run on both x86 as well as ARM chips and we are working with multiple OEMs to bring a number of netbooks to market next year. While speculation was wild a few days ago about a Chrome OS, what wasn’t understood was how Chrome, a browser, could BE an OS…. a browser isn’t actually an operating system, what about hardware drivers, memory and processor management, and other red herrings. It turns out Google is cranking out a new windowing system on top of a Linux kernel – welp, that solves issues about drivers and such.

So what’s the intention here? Google intends that the web is the platform. All web-based applications will automatically work and new applications can be written using existing web technologies. And of course, these apps will run not only on Google Chrome OS, but on any standards-based browser on Windows, Mac and Linux thereby giving developers the largest user base of any platform. If you do a lot in the cloud now then as TechCrunch put it “Don’t worry about those desktop apps you think you need. Office? Meh. You’ve got Zoho and Google Apps. You won’t miss office. Chrome plus Gears plus Google Wave plus HTML 5 and web platforms like Flash and Silverlight all combine into a single wonderful computing device. The Internet Is Everything. All the OS has to do is boot the damn computer, get me to a browser as fast as possible and then stay the hell out of the way.”

The timing of this couldn’t be any more bitter sweet for Microsoft. Windows 7 RTM lands next week with the full release for October. I have to wonder if Google was trying to take a bit of wind out of Microsoft’s sails since on of the things touted was how well Windows 7 runs on netbooks. The Google Chrome OS will only become available for consumers in the second half of 2010 – not that far behind the release of Windows 7.

Does this spell the end of Microsoft Windows? I’d say don’t count them out yet. Chrome OS will be new and will essentially require cloud computing. Sure, for most things I could get by on that, and as the web gets faster, HTML 5 hits, etc we will be able to do more and more in the cloud. In addition to the Microsoft has been developing “Gazelle” as an alternative to Internet Explorer. The browser acts like a self-contained operating system (sounds like Chrome OS) and is designed to address the fact that browsers like IE and Chrome have not been built by design to handle multiple processes and web applications in a secure manner. The browser relies on a “browser kernel” (5,000 lines of C# code) that helps enforce security rules to prevent malicious access to the PC’s underlying operating system. Built by the Microsoft Research team, company officials have been dropping hints that they are ready to talk more about Gazelle recently – perhaps as the Worldwide Developers Conference.

Google’s official blog post on Google Chrome OS