Google to help you plan your city break


It seems that not a day goes by when we don’t have a new Google project to report on. Those guys seem to knock out new services faster than you can say “total world domination”.

This time Google has been working on City Tours – an app that will help when planning city breaks. Enter a city name, a set of dates and duration of your stay and sit back as City Tours plans a multi-day itinerary complete with schedule and walking distances.

Click on a certain attraction’s name and it gives you opening times, a star rating and even suggested stay times – three stars out of three and an hour visit for Madam Tussauds in case you were wondering.

It’s not just the big cities that feature on City Tours – a suggested tour of Southend-on-Sea includes all the big attractions. Yes, Southend-on-Sea has some big attractions – the longest pier in the world, don’t you know?

It’s definitely a work in progress though. It doesn’t seem to recognise water and only seems to measure walking times based on straight lines between points. It doesn’t seem to have a problem making users walk for about six hours a day either.

It’s only in Labs at the moment and no doubt Google will have all these problems ironed out before a full release. Try it out here.

(via Search Engine Land)

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Google Flipper – a new way to flip through the news


Ever looked at Google News and thought – “I’m loving the content, I just wish it was presented in a more visual way”? No? Me neither, that would be quite a bizarre thing to think really.

But someone at Google obviously has though this by the looks of Flipper – a Google labs project that displays the news in a much more visual way. Check out this screen shot from Tech Crunch to get an idea.

The idea behind Flipper is that users will be able to flip through the news. They’ll also be able to sort the news into personalised sections – by sources, key words, trends, recommendations and the like.

The thing that excites me most about Flipper though is simply its name. Flipper – how awesome is that? You’ll be able to talk to it in the same way Porter, Sandy and Bud used to talk to Flipper the dolphin.

“What’s that Flip, Gordon Brown’s expenses are coming under intense scrutiny? And a man got stuck down a well in Tunbridge Wells?!?” Brilliant – the news will never be boring again.

Flipper isn’t public at the moment – it’s only for the Google boffins – but expect it to launch sometime soon.

(via Tech Crunch)

Google launches "Similar Images" search and News Timeline


It’s been, ooo, at least a week since we’ve had something new from Google, and the company’s making up for lost time by announcing two new products at once. There’s Similar Images, and News Timeline.

Let’s start with the former. This is a new option for image search that lets you scan for images that look a bit like other images. For example, in the pic above you can see that a search for Jaguar brings up both animals and cars. If you click on ‘similar images’ below the picture, though, then just animals, or just cars, will appear.

News Timeline does pretty much what it says on the tin. It organizes news information chronologically, and allows you to define a date range to search for news within. It could be seen as a response to Twitter’s growing strength in the news market but in reality it’s probably just a rollout of existing search tech over to the news section.

Lastly, Google’s also putting more prominence to its labs features by moving them to their own domain. You can visit to try out all of Google’s latest experiments.

(via Google Blog)

GMail gets offline access


Picture the scenario – you’re at home, and your internet connection’s gone down. You want to ring the providers, but all the info is in your GMail, and you can’t get to it, because you’ve got no internet connection! What do you do? You stop panicking, because you’re turned on offline access for GMail.

It’s a new feature for the popular webmail client that’ll allow users to keep a local cache of their messages so that if your internet connection drops for some reason, then you’ll still have complete access. It’ll also work in situations with no connection at all – on a plane, for example, or a bus.

To activate offline access, go to the Labs section of your GMail. It should be in the list there. If it’s not yet (it’s not for me) then give it a few hours and it should show up. Once activated, click the “Offline 0.1” link in the upper righthand corner to set everything up.

(via Official GMail Blog)

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GMail adds yet more functionality – this time it's SMS


GMail’s really blitzing new features out at the moment – yesterday it became an OpenID provider, and earlier in the week they rolled out gadgets for Calendar and Docs, but today’s new feature is SMS.

If you’ve got phone numbers stored with your contacts then if they go offline when you’re talking to them, your messages will be sent as SMS instead. Best of all, it’ll give the person you SMS a number that they can email in the future to get messages to your GMail account.

The functionality hasn’t arrived over this side of the pond yet, but it’s a lovely little bonus feature, so I hope it shows up soon. It’s yet another reason why you should use GMail over Yahoo or Hotmail.

GMail (via GoogleWatch)