All about Google Chrome & Google Chrome OS

25 May 12 Google+ Android App Can Start Hangouts With Ease, Gets New Look

The Google+ app for Android just received a big update that simplifies the way users can start Hangout video chats from their phones.

Before now, users could only start a new Google+ Hangout by initiating a Messenger chat, then tapping a video icon in the chat window. For a major feature of Google+, the process was obscure and clunky. In the new app, users can start new Hangouts by tapping the home icon at the top-left corner of the screen, selecting “Hangout” and choosing friends or circles to invite.

With this new feature, Google can now start to gain a foothold in mobile video chat. Although Google has offered one-on-one video chat through Google Talk since April 2011, Hangouts are more interesting because they support up to 10 people talking simultaneously. That helps Google stand out from Microsoft’s Skype and Apple’s Facetime.

Hangout creation isn’t the only new feature in the updated Google+ app. The app also sports a new look, with images that span the width of the screen for each post. Text is big and bold, and appears directly on top of each image along with +1 and comment counts. The downside to this approach is that posts are tougher to scan through in aggregate, because you often have to click on them to see the full text and associated links, but at least the posts themselves are more inviting.

A Closer Look at the updated Google+ App

Google updated its Google+ iPhone app two weeks ago, with the same visual overhaul as the Android app. Although Google took some lumps at the time for giving Android the cold shoulder, Google Senior Vice President Vic Gondotra said the Android version would have “a few extra surprises” to make the wait worthwhile. Indeed, the ability to start Hangouts without going through Messages is an Android-exclusive feature for now.

I imagine Google will simply Hangout creation in its iPhone app eventually, but the company hasn’t said when that will happen.

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06 Oct 11 Google Launches First Chromebook Store in London

Google has moved forward with the next phase of its plan to directly compete with Apple for your computing cash by opening an actual Chrome laptop store in London. Dubbed the “Chrome Zone,” the store is designed to give consumers a hands-on sample of what cloud computing is like using a Google Chromebook.

Inside the store, staffers stand at the ready to walk customers through the Google ecosystem of cloud services and applications on the notebooks. Commenting on the launch, Google Product Marketing Manager Laura Thompson said, “Many things in life, like football and rock music, are best experienced in person. Chromebooks are no exception.”

Perhaps the most surprising thing about this new retail initiative is that Google decided to put its first non-travel centric retail experiment in London, of all places. Those following the company’s recent history in Europe know that Google hasn’t had an easy time in terms of public perception in the region, but a recent initiative tied to Britain’s Tech City indicates that the brand is truly committed to making London the beachhead of its integration into Europe’s consumer market.

Referring to Google’s recent Tech City plans, former Google EMEA Head of Corporate Development Anil Hansjee gave us some insight into what Google’s increased presence in the U.K. means for tech innovation: “The emerging ecosystem of Internet startups in East London already has amazing resources at its fingertips such as Seedcamp, Techhub and The Trampery co-working spaces. With the Google announcement more resources are being added… The Google building is more than just about working space. They have understood what start-ups actually need at the very early stages and are bringing mentorship, skills and resources…”

Although Google has confirmed that more Chrome Zone stores will begin appearing throughout the U.K., no plans have been announced for additional stores in other major cities, but stay tuned for updates. We have a feeling, as the stores begin to evolve over the next year, the much-lauded and iconic Apple Stores may finally have some worthy competition.

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