An unofficial blog that watches Google's attempts to move your operating system online since 2005. Not affiliated with Google.

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November 25, 2014

YouTube HTML5 Loop

YouTube's HTML5 player uses some tricks to hide the standard menu that's displayed when you right click a HTML5 video. This menu includes features like looping videos, enabling browser controls or saving videos.

I've found a way to enable this menu in Chrome: just right click the video twice in the same place. The first right click will trigger YouTube's contextual menu, while the second right click will display browser's menu. Features like "save video as", "copy video URL" don't work, but you can use this trick to watch videos on repeat. Just click "loop" and you can watch your favorite YouTube video over and over again. To deactivate repeat, right click the video twice and click "loop" once again.


Obviously, this only works for YouTube's HTML5 player, but it's enabled by default in Chrome and most YouTube videos use it. It doesn't work for embedded videos.

There are other ways to loop YouTube videos: from adding videos to playlists to using the "loop" parameter, installing extensions or using sites like Infinite Looper.

To enable the menu in Firefox, you can Shift click the YouTube player. There's no loop option, but you can find features like "save snapshot as", "view video" and more.

Chromebooks Bring 1 TB of Free Google Storage

If you planned to buy Google storage, you might decide to buy a Chromebook instead. When you buy a Chromebook, you now also get 1 TB of storage for 2 years if you redeem the offer by January 31, 2015. You would have to pay almost $240 for 1 TB of Google storage and the most affordable Chromebook costs $199: Acer Chromebook 11. You get the Chromebook for free and you still save about $40.


Until now, Google only offered 1 TB of storage for Chromebook Pixel users (3 years instead of 2). Chromebook Pixel is the most expensive Chromebook and still costs $1299 when you buy it from the Google Play Store.

You can argue that you won't actually save $240, since Google will drop the prices and 1 TB of storage will no longer cost $9.99/month in 2016. That may be true, but you still got a laptop and more than enough cloud storage for only $200-300.

Chrome Will Remove NPAPI Support in 2015

Google hoped to remove the support for NPAPI plug-ins this feature, but that will have to wait until next year. The NPAPI support will be completely removed in September 2015 from Chrome for Windows and Mac. NPAPI support was removed from Chrome for Linux in Chrome 35, back in May.


Chrome whitelisted some of the most popular NPAPI plug-ins like Silverlight or Google Talk. As their usage continued to decline, the whitelist will be removed in January and users will have to manually enable the plug-ins.

As you can see from the table below, the only plug-in used by more than 10% of the Chrome users is Silverlight and it's followed by Google Talk, which is still used by 7% of the Chrome users. Java usage declined from 8.9% to 3.7%, Facebook's plug-in usage declined from 6% to 3%, while Unity is only used by 1.9% of the Chrome users, down from 9.1% in September 2013.


In April 2015 NPAPI support will be disabled and Google will unpublish from the Chrome Web Store the extensions that require NPAPI plugins. Power users and business users will still be able to enable NPAPI using Chrome flags or Enterprise Policy, but only until September 2015, when NPAPI support will be completely removed. There's a deprecation guide for developers which offers a few alternatives to NPAPI, including HTML5, WebRTC, Chrome APIs for apps and extensions and Native Client.

NPAPI is a legacy technology that enabled a lot of powerful features, back when browsers couldn't play videos, handle video calls or run games. You had to install QuickTime or RealPlayer to play videos, install plug-ins for Google Talk or other video calling apps, install Java or Flash to play games. Now browsers are a lot more powerful and the features that are still not supported by Chrome can be enabled by more secure NPAPI alternatives like PPAPI and Native Client, which are unfortunately still only available in Chrome.

November 22, 2014

YouTube Videos in Google Play Music

A side effect of the YouTube Music Key service is that the Play Music app for Android/iOS and the desktop site started to show relevant YouTube music videos for the songs you are playing. There's a "watch video" button placed on top of the album art and a "start video" menu option (it's called "watch video" in the iPhone app).





Google Play Music for Android shows the video inside the mobile app, so it doesn't launch the YouTube app. Google Play Music for iOS opens the YouTube app.


In the desktop site, the YouTube player is overlaid. Press Esc or click outside the player to hide it.


I've checked a long list of songs and the "start video" option is available for many popular songs that have music videos. You can also find YouTube videos when searching for artists and albums.

November 21, 2014

Using YouTube Music Key

Thanks to my Google Play Music All Access subscription, I've been able to try YouTube Music Key, the new feature that transforms YouTube into the music streaming service with the largest collection of music videos.

If you use All Access and you have the latest version of the Play Music app for Android, you should see this message in Play Music:


Open the YouTube app and the most obvious new feature is the download button that lets you save almost any music video.


The "add video to Offline" dialog lets you pick the video quality: normal (360p), HD (720p). You can click "remember my settings" to no longer see this dialog.



The Offline section shows all your offline videos and playlists.


You can download entire playlists. The music tab from the "what to watch" section features a lot of music playlists, including Songza playlists.



The "background & offline" section from the settings lets you customize background listening, video quality, offline storage and lets you disable downloading videos when you're not using Wi-Fi.


By default, YouTube continues to play music videos in the background, but you can disable this feature or only enable it when using headphones or external speakers.


Use the music controls from the notification bar or from the lock screen. Pause a song, play the ext song from the playlist or go back to the YouTube app.



When you're offline, you can only use the Offline section and play the music videos you've previously downloaded.



Another benefit: whether you're playing music videos online or offline, the YouTube app won't show ads. It's important to keep in mind that the new features (offline playing, background listening, ad-free experience) are only available for music videos, not for any YouTube videos. In fact, they don't even work for all music videos, probably because of licensing issues. You'll find many videos that show this message: "background listening unavailable - this video cannot be played in the background".

New UI in Google Maps for Mobile Browsers

The new interface from the Google Maps mobile apps is now also available in the mobile browser. Just go to maps.google.com in your favorite mobile browser for Android and iOS and you should see an interface that closely resembles the UI from the native mobile apps.


"Bold colors and textures are in — and Google Maps is on trend, with a slick new style to make traveling with Maps even easier. Over the next few days, when you open up Google Maps on your Android or iPhone, you'll be greeted by bright colors and a fresh new design. This new look is all about creating surfaces and shadows that echo the real world; with Google Maps' new material feel, layers and buttons come to life so you know just where to touch to get directions, recommendations and imagery," explained Google a few weeks ago, when the new versions of the mobile apps were launched.



The mobile web app even has a "hamburger" menu that lets you enable layers like traffic, transit, bicycling and satellite.

November 20, 2014

Google, No Longer the Default Search Engine in Firefox

"Choosing Firefox isn't just choosing a browser. It's a vote for personal freedom online." This is one of the messages from Firefox's start page. Here's another one: "Firefox is celebrating 10 years! Help us keep the passion for a free and open Internet burning forever bright."


10 years ago, Firefox was the main alternative to Internet Explorer, which was the dominant browser at that time. "Before July 2004, according to WebSideStory, Internet Explorer was used by about 95% of web surfers. That figure had remained static for years," reported BBC.

Ever since its launch, Google was the main source of revenue for Mozilla, thanks to a lucrative partnership that made Google the default search engine in Firefox. Now Mozilla partnered with Yahoo, which will be the default search engine in the US for the next 5 years.

"Google has been the Firefox global search default since 2004. Our agreement came up for renewal this year, and we took this as an opportunity to review our competitive strategy and explore our options. Today we are announcing a change to our strategy for Firefox search partnerships. We are ending our practice of having a single global default search provider. We are adopting a more local and flexible approach to increase choice and innovation on the Web, with new and expanded search partnerships by country," informs Mozilla. "Starting in December, Firefox users will be introduced to a new enhanced Yahoo Search experience that features a clean, modern interface that brings the best of the Web front and center. Under this partnership, Yahoo will also support Do Not Track (DNT) in Firefox."


Firefox will use different default search engines, depending on the country: Yandex in Russia, Baidu in China. Google will continue to be one of the preinstalled search engines and the Safe Browsing and Geolocation features will still use Google.

Why switch to a different search provider? Firefox's main competitor is no longer Internet Explorer, it's now Chrome. Mozilla wants to show how it differs from Google: it'a a non-profit organization, it focuses more on privacy and it has a different mission. "This is why our independence matters. Being non-profit lets us make different choices. Choices that keep the Web open, everywhere and independent. We think today is a big step in that direction," says Chris Beard, CEO of the Mozilla Corporation.

Update: According to ExtremeTech, "Google will remain the default search provider in Europe".

Google Advanced Search Brings Back the Black Bar

I checked Google's advanced search page and noticed something strange: after clicking the "advanced search" button at the bottom of the page, Google sent me to a search results page that included the old black bar navigation menu.

One of the culprits is the "as_qdr" parameter that somehow triggers the old interface. This URL sends you to the old Google interface: https://www.google.com/webhp?as_qdr=all. You can bookmark it if you miss the black bar.


Another way to bring back the black bar is to use the "noj" parameter like this: https://www.google.com/?noj=1.

Embed Street View and Photosphere Images

You can now embed Street View imagery and photospheres in the new Google Maps. Find the Google Maps imagery you want to embed, click the gear button at the bottom of the page, pick "share and embed image" and copy the code generated by Google. Google lets you change the size of the embedded image and preview it.



Here's an example from Googleplex:



Google also added support for Street View and photospheres to the Google Maps Embed API. "These embeds use the new imagery viewer technology that powers Street View in the new Google Maps. Embedding a Street View or Photo Sphere works similarly to the Street View Service in Google Maps JavaScript API v3 - specify a lat/lng or panorama ID to pick your location, plus heading and pitch to determine direction of the scene and angle of the camera," informs Google.

{ via +Google Maps }

November 19, 2014

Chrome Web Store Adds Support Tab

Chrome Web Store has a slightly different interface for apps and extensions. The overview and details tabs have been merged and there's a new support tab that lets you share your feedback without writing a review. You can ask questions, send suggestions and report bugs. The support feature already existed, but it didn't have its own tab.



If the support feature is not enabled, you'll see this message: "If you are experiencing any problems with this extension or have questions or suggestions for the developer, please check out the developer's support site."


OMG Chrome found some other changes. "The horizontal strip of ‘Related Apps‘ and ‘More from this developer‘ no longer appear beneath listings. In the Reviews section the entry form has been shunted from left of the page to the right."

{ Thanks, Stefan. }