Tag Archives: Google Chrome extensions
Guess what I’ve got for you today, folks? You guessed it- more Google + themed Chrome extensions and applications. What, you thought I was done? It’s like I’ve said before- Google + is gaining steam with all the speed of a runaway locomotive. With that in mind, there’ll always be new extensions to cover, new means by which the developers are improving upon an already excellent platform. Granted, the array of extensions I’ve found this time aren’t quite as impressive as some of the addons I profiled in previous posts, but they’re all still useful in their own way- and they’re definitely the sort of tools that someone, somewhere, is going to need.
This time around, we’ve got some added functionality for Google’s “+1″button, a non-malware extension that lets you add Facebook to G+, and some minor cosmetic overhauls for Google’s social networking platform. Enjoy.
In a lot of ways, Google’s “Circles” are something of a mishmash of Facebook’s friend system and Twitter’s followers system. You’ve got the sort of personal connections you can make on Facebook coupled with a twitter-like system of friendship known as “circles.” Consequently, there are a lot of people obsessed with who’s added them to their Circles on G +- just as you’ve got folks on Twitter who’ve an unhealthy compulsion to gather as many followers as humanly possible. In many cases, it all seems to come down to a popularity contest. On Twitter, it’s at the point where you’ve got what I like to term ‘fair weather followers’ who follow people just to get them to follow back, then proceed to unfollow them once that ultimately irrelevant little counter on the right side of their page goes up by another little tic. As you could imagine, there are a lot of Twitter apps designed to notify users when they’ve been unfollowed. Wouldn’t it be nice if there were something like that for Google +?
Currently, there’s an extension that at least purports to do so. I wouldn’t trust it, though- and I’m not sure you should, either.
Here’s another Chrome Extension that gives Google + a bit of a makeover. See, here’s the thing- as you get more and more people sharing posts with you, and begin to add more and more folks to your circles; your stream can start to feel a bit…overcrowded. Maybe a bit cluttered and overwhelming, to boot. When there’s a message with too many new comments on it, it could potentially dominate the entire stream- whether you care about those comments or not.
“G + Me For Google +” purports to enhance “the Google + web app to make it much easier to process a large stream of incoming posts and comments,” helping it to “unlock the potential of its real-time updates.” According to the developer, the extension adds the following features to Google + through Chrome:
- Notification status visible at all times
- Collapsible comments
- Collapsible posts
- Real-time comment count on collapsed items
- Mark comments as read
- Two available modes: Expanded and List.
- Mouse-over instant preview(currently only available in List mode).
Not only that, the developer’s also gone so far as to include a list of extensions and apps their addon’s compatible with. The only extension it’s incompatible with is Comment Toggle- but I’ve found I rather like this addon more than the former anyway- so it’s ultimately a nonissue. Now, there are evidently a few minor glitches with the extension- the ‘j’ and ‘k’ keyboard shortcuts don’t really sit well with the addon, and occasionally the comment count goes a little wonky as a result of people deleting their comments: In other words, you could very easily see a post with a comment count of zero or negative comment counts.
My Thoughts On The Extension:
I decided to take G + Me For Google + for a test run, and I’ve gotta say- I liked what I saw. First things first, I’ll explain the two formats to you. Expanded mode looks fairly similar to standard Google +, with one additional feature: each post in your stream has a small gray bar above it. Clicking on that bar will collapse the post down to a single row. You can also collapse or expand comments- which automatically marks the post as ‘read’ (more on that in a moment). All in all, pretty nifty- and it works a hell of a lot better than Comment Toggle.
List mode is probably the coolest feature of this extension. See, in List mode, all of the posts in your stream are automatically collapsed down. Each collapsed item displays the name of the person who published it, the time at which it was published and the number of comments it has received. If you’ve already marked it as ‘read’ the comment box will be gray. If there are any unread comments, the comment box will be red.
If you want to focus on a single post in your stream, all you have to do is click on it. The post will expand, and any other post you happened to be looking at will automatically collapse. You can also mouse over posts to see them in an overlay on your screen-sort of like how +photo zoom zooms into pictures. All in all, it gives the feeling of having a sort of ‘Google + dashboard’ to work off of, and makes sorting through what can often amount to a massive volume of messages a far less daunting task.
You can grab G+Me For Google from the Chrome Web Store, as always.
Google Voice is great, isn’t it? Lets you call and text from your computer, send SMS to and from your phone, and generally just provides a great service as keeping in touch is concerned. The problem is…it’s not actually available outside the US. Plus, I’m sure there are quite a few of you who, for whatever reason, don’t want to use Google Voice, even though you have it available to you. Fortunately, there are alternatives. We’ve already looked at one a little while ago- Mightytext. Today, we’re going to look at another one, known as DeskSMS.
Right off the bat, I’m going to make it clear- you could do a lot worse than this application. Whitson Gordon of Lifehacker labels DeskSMS as quite possibly the best application of its kind. After doing a bit of my own research on the extension, I’m inclined to agree with him- at least partially. While I don’t know of enough alternatives to say whether or not this is the best piece of software out there, it definitely ranks among the upper echelons.
You’re given a number of options regarding how you want to manage SMS on your system, and how this management will relate to your phone. Any time you receive a text message, DeskSMS will automatically forward this message to Google Talk, Gmail, a web interface, or the Chrome extension. Hell, if you’d prefer, you can go with all of the above.
One particularly nice touch of DeskSMS is that it allows you to respond to text messages with your instant messaging software- no additional steps required. Just receive message, send response, and you’re done. As an added bonus, it’ll send the response using your phone number, rather than an email or internet phone number.
Where it really shines is the interface- it’s a simple, no-fuss affair, and it’s amazingly simple to set up and use. All you need to do is download the Android app, then install the extension onto whatever platform you’re running it on. Once you’ve done this, link the extension to your account, and you’ll be prompted to select what services you want to forward and you’re good to go.
There’s one problem with this software. If you don’t have an Android phone, you’re pretty much out of luck.
Those of you who do can grab the beta of this extension from the Chrome Web Store. Be sure to download its counterpart from the Android Marketplace.
Chances are good that if you’re reading this, you’ve got at least a marginally positive opinion of Google. Assuming this is true, chances are also good that you use at least one Google service, right? Google Docs, Gmail, Google +, pretty much any of those are fair game- and all of them are pretty damned useful. Of course, chances are also good that you’re using more than one service. See where I’m going with this?
Tineye’s a Chrome extension that lets you search by image- as opposed to searching for image. At this point, a lot of you are probably saying “Whoa, hey, stop right there. Google’s already got image searching, they added that ages ago!” Oh, I’m well aware of that. But the thing about Google’s “Search By Image” feature is that it mainly focuses on the image title, identifiable watermarks and related keywords. TinEye’s supposedly unique in that…well, it doesn’t do that.
Instead, it actually claims to be the first image search engine to use image identification technology. According to the developer, when a user uploads an image, it “creates a unique and compact digital signature or ‘fingerprint’ for the image.” It then proceeds to compare this fingerprint to every other image in the TinEye index, retrieving matches in the process. It doesn’t usually find similar images- that’s not really its purpose. Instead, it finds exact matches to the uploaded image- regardless of whether or not those matches have been cropped, edited, or resized.
Now, you’ll notice that it doesn’t actually search images out on the internet- it creates a catalogue of sorts and searches through this catalogue when you’re looking for an image. So it’s anything but perfect, in that regard- cataloguing pretty much every image in the internet is a daunting task, to say the least. Just the same, the developer claims to be adding literally “tens of millions” of images per day to their libraries. At the very least, you’re guaranteed to find at least a few copies of the image you load into the extension.
While that’s all very, very cool and sounds rather high tech, some of you are probably scratching your heads and going “Well…what’s the point?”
For those of you who don’t know, the Murdochs are the family behind a Britain-based publication known as News International. A lot of you are probably a bit confused here- why would you want to boycott a news publication? What could they have possibly done wrong? Are they a tabloid? Do they sensationalize their stories too much? I will explain- and perhaps you’ll understand why an extension like this isn’t a ‘just for fun’ sorta deal.
Fact is, there’s actually a very valid reason to want to boycott the Murdochs and their entire organization.
I feel for other journalists, I really do- sometimes, it’s really hard to get a decent story running. Journalism can be a downright cutthroat field, and if the other guys get a story before you do, well…in some cases, that could mean you’re kissing your job goodbye. You can’t really blame a guy for resorting to some…unorthodox practices in order to get their facts straight.
But this…this is something else altogether. After tirade after tirade about his disgust with British media, one would have expected better of CEO Rupert Murdoch. Turns out, a lot of News International’s success came from the fact that a lot of their sources were illegally obtained. I’m not simply talking home invasion or photos without consent- those are small time compared to what the super-powerful publication was pulling. I’m a little disgusted by some of the things they did. Want to know why? Here’s a tidbit from the article I linked above:
…it is clear that success came with a heavy price tag – morality. Murdoch’s journalists kept circulations high by violating and exploiting the vulnerable: they hacked the private voicemails of the families of dead soldiers and of murdered children.
“Essentially, we’ve seen criminality and invasion of privacy on a staggering industrial scale,” Loz Kaye says.
But now it is clear that success came with a heavy price tag – morality. Murdoch’s journalists kept circulations high by violating and exploiting the vulnerable: they hacked the private voicemails of the families of dead soldiers and of murdered children.
“Essentially, we’ve seen criminality and invasion of privacy on a staggering industrial scale,” Loz Kaye says.
Not even the rich and powerful could escape. Then-Chancellor Gordon Brown’s baby’s photo was splashed over the front page of the Sun, his illness a sick headline, Royal family phones were hacked.
The scandal even goes right to the heart of the police force: senior police officers were bribed by journalists for tip-offs on sensitive investigations. Private lives were made public.
Wire tapping. Hacking. Bribery. The fact that they even went after the Royal Family at one point…yeah. Now that this is blown wide open, I don’t think News International is going to be all that powerful anymore. I know I’ll be staying the hell away from them and their sorry excuse for a newspaper. If you want to know more about the Murdochs and this whole scandal, read the article I linked above. I’m pretty sure I’ve said all I need to say here.
Anyway, if you’re looking to block News Corp out of your life, download the extension from the Chrome Web Store. The extension page also contains links to the source code, and information on exactly what websites are blocked.
If you as a Chrome user find that you’ve been jealous of mouse gestures that are available on browser platforms like Opera, I believe I may have found an extension to act as a balm for that wound. It’s called Smooth Gestures, and it does exactly what you’d expect- it brings a bunch of default mouse gestures to Google Chrome. The gestures work right out of the box- there’s no need to do any additional setup beyond installing the extension- you’ll still have the default suite of gestures at your command either way.
Once you’ve installed the extension, it’ll display a help page that lists the available gestures. To use them, all you need to do is hold down the right mouse button, then move the mouse in the manner indicated in the image. For example, if you want to go back one page in your browser tab, hold down the button and swipe the mouse to the left. Simple, right? If you feel like the standard set of gestures isn’t quite enough, Smooth Gestures also allows for a bit of customization.
On the page that shows you the default suite of gestures, there’s also a list of other browser actions that aren’t yet linked to a gesture. If you click on the “add gesture” button in the upper right had corner (or the plus sign next to an unassigned gesture), you’ll be taken into an overlay in which you can draw a new gesture to be linked to the action. You can also disable existing gestures (and, presumable, reassign them) by clicking on the ‘x’ next to each gesture’s listing. I’ve gotta say, I’m kind of impressed- but then, I’m something of a sucker for any interface that lets you customize your experience and ‘make your own rules’ so to speak.
At the bottom of the page, you’ll find a few additional options- you can backup and rest all gesture settings and change which button on the mouse enables the draw gesture. You could disable the mouse button altogether- but I’m not sure why you’d do that, as it’d pretty much break the extension: either you wouldn’t be able to use any of the gestures at all, or simply moving your mouse would activate a mouse gesture. Either way, the option doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me- why not simply uninstall the extension if you’re going to go down that route. In addition to the options just described, you can also hide the settings menu, and hide the extension’s icon.
All in all, this sounds like a pretty cool extension. Mouse gestures aren’t really my thing, though; so I think I’m going to sit this one out, but for those of you who are interested, you can grab it from the Chrome Web Store.
It’s no surprise that as Google’s social networking site gets more and more popular, more and more developers are taking notice of it. As a result, there seem to be more Chrome apps and extensions centered around G + with each passing day. Apps designed to bring the Google + experience into the larger environment of Chrome. Apps designed to improve upon what you can do with G+, and how you can do it. I’ve already shown you Six extensions guaranteed to make the G+ experience better (well, five…Sorry about that, by the way), and even then, I only scratched the surface. There’s much more to come- and with new apps and extensions releasing every day, you can bet money that there’ll always be some new feature or function for Google’s runaway social networking website.
Here, for your browsing pleasure, are five more applications and extensions that’ll make a brilliant experience even better.
Reddit has launched an official Google Chrome extension, designed to make user experience on the site simpler and more streamlined . Personally, I haven’t quite gotten into Reddit yet (I know, shameful). Consequently, I can’t say I’m all that excited about this new piece of software. Even so, I’ve gotta admit, it looks pretty sweet- and if I do end up giving Reddit a try, I’ll definitely be doing so with this extension close at hand.
The new extension is known as the Reddit companion, and displays contextual information in a bar at the top of the browser whenever you click a link in Reddit. This bar allows you to vote, comment on, or save the submission to Reddit. What’s more, it notifies you of messages received over the web service. It’s also got an integrated submission bar, allowing you to easily upload links to the website while you’re stumping about the web. Not too shabby.
Reddit Companion started as an open source project put together by a number of members of the Reddit community, all of whom contributed updates and bugfixes. Makes sense to me- who better to know what one needs in an extension than the users of the service it’s designed for? Presumably, they also collaborated to decide what features would be the most helpful to Reddit users. For the time being, it’s pretty simple-albeit immensely useful for doing so. Word is, this was so that they could release it as quickly as possible.
Sounds like they’re promising future updates to expand the extension’s features, to me.
As always, you can grab the Reddit Companion from the Chrome Web Store. Maybe I’ll check it out, myself; along with Reddit. After all; it’s about time I saw what all the fuss was about, don’t you think?
To a lot of people, Google + might have an interface that looks a little boring. White’s just a drab color for a lot of folks, I suppose. For whatever reason, some people wish to spice things up a bit- change the way their Google + homepage looks. If you count yourself among that group, I’ve got some good news, and I’ve got some bad news. The good news is, there’s an extension that’ll help you along in that.
Sometimes, one happens to come across something that’s just downright awesome. Have you ever wanted to simply…talk to your computer, instead of having to type everything out? Turns out, some userscripts just surfaced at Userscript.org that enables text to speech functionality in Google Chrome. Are you as intrigued as I am? Keep reading.
Speakable Textareas is…well, pretty much what it sounds like. Basically, it adds a little microphone to areas where you can enter text. Clicking that microphone will activate your computer system’s mike, at which point you can pretty much…well, just talk. The userscript basically does the rest, recording your voice and converting it to text. Sounds pretty cool, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, it’s anything but perfect.