Google Brings Dart To Runnable, Gives Developers An Easy Way To Try It

Dart, Google’s JavaScript competitor, launched its 1.0 version last November. While Google’s Go language has quickly caught on with developers, though, Dart has been struggling to attract them. In an effort to get more developers on board, Dart today became the first project to host its framework on one of Runnable‘s recently launched Code Channels.

Runnable, which launched a few months ago, wants to become something akin to a “YouTube of Code.” Instead of videos, it hosts a library of code snippets that are all executable right on the site. For the most part, the Runnable team audits all the code that goes on the site, but it also recently announced these new Code Channels, which are a way for vendors to integrate their frameworks with its platform. This, the company argues, makes it easier for developers to take new frameworks for a spin, and that’s clearly what the Dart team has in mind, too.

Screen Shot 2014-01-15 at 10.50.21 AM

“We’re thrilled to have been selected by Google to host the new Dart framework,” said Runnable CEO Yash Kumar in a statement today. “Dart will be an extremely valuable addition to our ever-growing code library, making our library even more useful for developers. This is a great example of how Code Channels can help any company or developer let the world discover, run and use reusable code, and we’re excited to see the projects Dart allows our users to create.”

Given that the Dart virtual machine is only available in an experimental Chrome build called Dartium, it’s no surprise that most of the examples on Runnable focus on the dart2js Dart-to-JavaScript compiler that allows developers to write Dart code and still run it in all modern browsers.

Getting Google on board is a nice win for Runnable, of course. Today’s announcement also validates the company’s overall model and will likely give it the visibility necessary to get even more well-known frameworks and vendors on board in the next few months.

Chrome 33 Beta Introduces Custom Elements And Support For Speech Synthesis API

Just a day after the launch of Chrome 32 into the stable release channel, Google today launched the first beta of Chrome 33 for desktop and Android.

This release mostly features updates that will be interesting to developers, including support for Custom Elements, which allows developers to define their own HTML elements. It’s a part of the Web Components specs the Chrome team has long been very interested in.

Using Custom Elements, developers can define new HTML elements, extend existing elements and bundle together custom functionality into a single tag. As Google notes, this technology allows developers to “architect their apps in much cleaner ways. Here is a demo app that shows web components in action. It’s also worth noting that Mozilla will also support Web Components.

codesample

The other main new feature in this update is support for the Web Speech API, which allows developers to add speech recognition and synthesis to their sites. Google added recognition to Chrome last year, and today it adds built-in speech synthesis, too. Using this API, developers can get a list of supported voices from a given machine and then use the synthesis engine to have a web app speak to its users. Besides Chrome 33, Safari on iOS 7 also offers partial support for this feature.

speech_synthesis_chrome

Here is a brief rundown of other changes:

  • The requestAutocomplete API for easy web payments is now available on Mac.
  • The Page Visibility API has been unprefixed.
  • WebFont downloading has been optimized so that fonts (at the median) are available before Blink layout is done, meaning that the net latency impact of using a webfont is usually zero.
  • The Blink CSS Animations and Transitions implementations are now powered by the new Web Animations model.
  • This change should not affect developers or sites.
  • Chrome now supports the latest version of the Web Notification API.

Foundation: Nest’s Tony Fadell on the Power of Focus

Screen Shot 2014-01-16 at 10.02.43 AM

As part of our annual Google Ventures CEO Summit, Nest founder and CEO Tony Fadell and I filmed a live Foundation episode in November in front of a few hundred startup founders in the GV portfolio. Tony told stories about his entrepreneurial roots as a kid selling eggs door to door, his experiences at Apple, angel investing and what the future looks like for the connected home.

Tony is a remarkable leader, and the news that Google plans to acquire Nest is a testament that leadership, as well as to his excellent team focus his team.

Tony’s advice on how to stay focused:

I learned the power of ‘no.’ No is really important. Entrepreneurs are told to say ‘yes, yes, more, more.’ To help you focus, to help you really understand what you’re doing, you have to say no a lot. When you say yes to everything, you get distracted. When you say no, you have to get the one thing you’re doing really right.

Kevin Rose is a general partner at Google Ventures. You can watch Kevin’s prior Foundation episode, an interview with Coinbase founder Brian Armstrong, here.

Google’s New Plug-In For WordPress Makes Webmaster Tools Verification And Placing AdSense Ads Easy

banner-772x250

Google today launched a plug-in for self-hosted WordPress blogs in public beta that makes adding AdSense ads to websites easier and makes verifying a site with Webmaster Tools a single-click process.

Given that WordPress now powers more than 20 percent of websites, it’s no surprise that Google has decided to take WordPress very seriously. Despite its legacy as a blogging platform, WordPress is mostly used as a content management system that, thanks to its extensibility, can cater to virtually every need.

screenshot-1

While it seems like Google is planning to add more functionality to the plug-in over time, the current version is still pretty limited. Besides the Webmaster Tools verification (which saves you the usual steps of copying and pasting code snippets into your WordPress templates), it only offers the ability to easily place ads on your site.

With so many WordPress websites on the market, the company clearly wants to make sure its main source of income is available on as many of these as possible. Given the wide variety of WordPress templates, however, chances are this won’t work with every site. Google acknowledges as much and says that it is “still fine-tuning the plugin to make sure it works well on the many WordPress sites out there.”

To get started with this tool, all users have to open the plug-in and then select if they want to see a preview of their site’s homepage, or of a single page or post. Google automatically places markers on the screen for spots where ads would fit, and all a user has to do is select one of these spots to start service ads there.

The service currently supports four ad formats: automatic (which chooses the most appropriate size), horizontal banner (728×90), vertical banner (160×600) and rectangle (300×250).

screenshot-2

Google’s New Plug-In For WordPress Makes Webmaster Tools Verification And Placing AdSense Ads Easy

banner-772x250

Google today launched a plug-in for self-hosted WordPress blogs in public beta that makes adding AdSense ads to websites easier and makes verifying a site with Webmaster Tools a single-click process.

Given that WordPress now powers more than 20 percent of websites, it’s no surprise that Google has decided to take WordPress very seriously. Despite its legacy as a blogging platform, WordPress is mostly used as a content management system that, thanks to its extensibility, can cater to virtually every need.

screenshot-1

While it seems like Google is planning to add more functionality to the plug-in over time, the current version is still pretty limited. Besides the Webmaster Tools verification (which saves you the usual steps of copying and pasting code snippets into your WordPress templates), it only offers the ability to easily place ads on your site.

With so many WordPress websites on the market, the company clearly wants to make sure its main source of income is available on as many of these as possible. Given the wide variety of WordPress templates, however, chances are this won’t work with every site. Google acknowledges as much and says that it is “still fine-tuning the plugin to make sure it works well on the many WordPress sites out there.”

To get started with this tool, all users have to open the plug-in and then select if they want to see a preview of their site’s homepage, or of a single page or post. Google automatically places markers on the screen for spots where ads would fit, and all a user has to do is select one of these spots to start service ads there.

The service currently supports four ad formats: automatic (which chooses the most appropriate size), horizontal banner (728×90), vertical banner (160×600) and rectangle (300×250).

screenshot-2

Google Adds Optional Data Compression Feature To Chrome For Mobile, Reducing Your Data Usage By Up To 50%

datasavingsduo_v3

Google today is officially announcing the release of a data compression feature for its Chrome mobile web browser which allows you to reduce your data usage on smartphones and tablets, potentially saving you money on your monthly cell phone bill or data plan. The feature is one of several new additions coming to Chrome’s mobile browser, which also sees the inclusion of Google Translate on iOS, support for Application shortcuts for favorite websites on Android, and other fixes.

The data compression feature, however, is the highlight of this forthcoming release. When enabled, it will also include Chrome’s Safe Browsing technology to protect against malicious webpages. Google says the feature will roll out via app updates on the iTunes App Store and Google Play Store over the next few days.

You may recall that Google first began testing the then-experimental data compression feature on Android last March through the Chrome Beta for Android application, and then later expanded those tests to iOS in the fall.

The optional feature, essentially a Google proxy, routes web requests through Google’s servers where the company’s PageSpeed libraries compress and optimize the content. Meanwhile, the actual connection between the browser and Google’s servers is handled by the SPDY protocol for further optimization.

photo-ipad-chrome-compression

Whether you’re interested in the backend technologies or not, the savings Google claims to achieve through this configuration are notable. When switched on, Chrome’s data compression and bandwidth management feature can reduce data usage by up to 50%, Google says, on both Chrome for Android and Chrome for iOS. As noted earlier, even just using the PageSpeed libraries to transcode images to Google’s WebP format instead of JPEG or PNG makes a big difference, because 60% of all transferred bytes on the average webpage are images.

Mobile data compression is not a new idea, of course – for instance, Opera’s Turbo mode for its mobile browser offers a similar capability, as does Amazon Silk. Meanwhile, Google rival Facebook acquired Onavo this October, a mobile data analytics company offering consumer-facing apps (Onavo Extend) that help users optimize their devices to get more out of their data plans. In other words, Google is not alone in releasing the pressing need for users to get more out of their data plans, without being smacked with high usage bills. And keeping consumers online longer is Google’s overarching objective here.

Chrome Data Compression & Privacy

One thing to be aware of is that by turning this feature on – which is done by visiting “Settings” > “Bandwidth management” > “Reduce data usage” in the application – you’re agreeing to route all your HTTP traffic through Google’s proxy servers. (The feature is disabled for HTTPS and “Incognito” mode traffic, though).spdy_proxy_google

This is concerning for some users, now more sensitive to potential privacy issues. But Google has said previously that while requests are logged, headers and cookies are stripped out, and the webpage content is cached, but not logged. Most importantly, Google says the logs are not associated with your Google account and the entire log entry is removed within six months. These details were noted in a Chrome privacy whitepaper last updated in November. Still, when the feature goes live, it will be worth keeping an eye on potential privacy policies changes…just in case.

Other Additions

nexus5_africabloghomescreenThe updated apps bring a couple of other interesting additions, too. Another feature arriving on iOS is support for Google Translate in the browser – a feature which Android and desktop users already have access to. This allows you to translate a webpage into your device’s native language.

Meanwhile, Android users will be able to save favorite websites to their homescreen more easily, thanks to a Menu option “Add to homescreen.” Some websites will open up in full-screen mode after doing so, Google also notes in the blog post announcing this release.

To access any of the above options, you’ll need to download the Chrome app, or apply the update, if already installed.

Google Adds Optional Data Compression Feature To Chrome For Mobile, Reducing Your Data Usage By Up To 50%

datasavingsduo_v3

Google today is officially announcing the release of a data compression feature for its Chrome mobile web browser which allows you to reduce your data usage on smartphones and tablets, potentially saving you money on your monthly cell phone bill or data plan. The feature is one of several new additions coming to Chrome’s mobile browser, which also sees the inclusion of Google Translate on iOS, support for Application shortcuts for favorite websites on Android, and other fixes.

The data compression feature, however, is the highlight of this forthcoming release. When enabled, it will also include Chrome’s Safe Browsing technology to protect against malicious webpages. Google says the feature will roll out via app updates on the iTunes App Store and Google Play Store over the next few days.

You may recall that Google first began testing the then-experimental data compression feature on Android last March through the Chrome Beta for Android application, and then later expanded those tests to iOS in the fall.

The optional feature, essentially a Google proxy, routes web requests through Google’s servers where the company’s PageSpeed libraries compress and optimize the content. Meanwhile, the actual connection between the browser and Google’s servers is handled by the SPDY protocol for further optimization.

photo-ipad-chrome-compression

Whether you’re interested in the backend technologies or not, the savings Google claims to achieve through this configuration are notable. When switched on, Chrome’s data compression and bandwidth management feature can reduce data usage by up to 50%, Google says, on both Chrome for Android and Chrome for iOS. As noted earlier, even just using the PageSpeed libraries to transcode images to Google’s WebP format instead of JPEG or PNG makes a big difference, because 60% of all transferred bytes on the average webpage are images.

Mobile data compression is not a new idea, of course – for instance, Opera’s Turbo mode for its mobile browser offers a similar capability, as does Amazon Silk. Meanwhile, Google rival Facebook acquired Onavo this October, a mobile data analytics company offering consumer-facing apps (Onavo Extend) that help users optimize their devices to get more out of their data plans. In other words, Google is not alone in releasing the pressing need for users to get more out of their data plans, without being smacked with high usage bills. And keeping consumers online longer is Google’s overarching objective here.

Chrome Data Compression & Privacy

One thing to be aware of is that by turning this feature on – which is done by visiting “Settings” > “Bandwidth management” > “Reduce data usage” in the application – you’re agreeing to route all your HTTP traffic through Google’s proxy servers. (The feature is disabled for HTTPS and “Incognito” mode traffic, though).spdy_proxy_google

This is concerning for some users, now more sensitive to potential privacy issues. But Google has said previously that while requests are logged, headers and cookies are stripped out, and the webpage content is cached, but not logged. Most importantly, Google says the logs are not associated with your Google account and the entire log entry is removed within six months. These details were noted in a Chrome privacy whitepaper last updated in November. Still, when the feature goes live, it will be worth keeping an eye on potential privacy policies changes…just in case.

Other Additions

nexus5_africabloghomescreenThe updated apps bring a couple of other interesting additions, too. Another feature arriving on iOS is support for Google Translate in the browser – a feature which Android and desktop users already have access to. This allows you to translate a webpage into your device’s native language.

Meanwhile, Android users will be able to save favorite websites to their homescreen more easily, thanks to a Menu option “Add to homescreen.” Some websites will open up in full-screen mode after doing so, Google also notes in the blog post announcing this release.

To access any of the above options, you’ll need to download the Chrome app, or apply the update, if already installed.

Chrome 32 Launches With Tab Indicators For Sound And Video, Improved Malware Blocking & New Win8 Metro Design

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Google today released the latest stable version of its Chrome browser. Version 32 includes many of the features that recently arrived in the beta channel, including improved malware blocking and tab indicators for when a site is playing sound, accessing the webcam and sending video to your Chromecast. Google uses a speaker icon, blue rectangle and red dot to indicate these different functions.

Those indicators are a godsend for anybody who has ever tried to figure out which tab suddenly started playing music or a video. Google first started playing with this idea in early 2013, but the beta only got this feature in November.

chrome_noisy_tabs

This new version also includes Google’s new malware blocker, which arrived in the experimental Canary build of Chrome last October. With this, Google will automatically block any downloads its systems have flagged as malware.

felt_screenshot

For Windows 8 users, the new version now sports a new look in “Metro” mode (Google still uses that term, even though Microsoft itself has moved away from it and left it rather unclear what the new terminology should be). In Metro mode, Chrome now looks like ChromeOS  with its integrated app launched on Windows. In previous versions, the Metro mode simply presented users with the regular Chrome interface. This never looked quite right, but with this new interface, Google is actually using the Metro mode to its advantage and is basically bringing ChromeOS to Windows.

Also new in this version is support for Chrome’s “supervised users” feature, which is officially still in beta. With this, family members can check on a kid’s browsing history, for example, and set up site restrictions through chrome.com/manage.

As always, this release also includes a good number of security fixes (21 in total), as well as stability and performance updates.

Google Drive Adds Activity Stream, Makes Tracking Changes To Shared Documents Easier

Activity stream image2

Google today added an activity stream to Google Drive that finally makes it easier for its users to track changes to documents that are shared with multiple users. This feature, Google says, will roll out over the next week, so it may be a few days before you will see it in your account.

Being able to easily edit documents with multiple users in real time is one of the features that always made Google Drive stand out. As the company rightly argues, though, keeping track of all the actions users take in these documents was virtually impossible. While most document-centric services like Podio offer similar streams, Google never offered this feature, despite its focus on document sharing.

The stream will track edits and comments, as well as actions like adding new spreadsheets, renaming documents and who a file was shared with.

When you go to drive now, you can click a new info button in the top navigation bar and the new activity stream will pop up.

Drive-activity

Google has recently increased the rate at which it updates Drive again. Just last month, it added a new drop-down menu that makes it easier to rename folders and rename and organize them. While that wasn’t a major new feature, it did make using Drive easier, just like today’s update makes it a far more usable solution for team.

Google Invests $75M In 182MW Texas Wind Farm

PAN2 12-20-13 T60 1st site stripped

Google just loves its green energy investments and today, the company announced a $75 million investment into the Panhandle 2 wind farm outside of Amarillo, Texas. This marks the  company’s fifteenth renewable energy investment and its second in Texas.

Once it’s operational, the new wind farm is scheduled to produce 182MW, enough capacity to provide energy to 56,000 homes. The facility is schedule to go online by the end of 2014 and will consist of 79 Siemens 2.3MW turbines. Morgan Stanley has provided financing for the project and Pattern Energy, as well as three tax equity investors will acquire the facility once the construction is completed.

At $75 million, this is not exactly Google’s largest investment in renewable energy yet. That honor belongs to Solar City, which received $280 million from Google to provide financing for residential solar projects. In total, Google says, it has now invested in enough projects to generate over 2GW.

Google’s biggest cleantech investment to date, though, is clearly Nest, which it acquired for $3.2 billion yesterday. There is no direct connection between the two announcements, but Google has obviously had a very strong interest in energy-related projects for a while and this only increased once Larry Page became the company’s CEO again in 2011. With Nest in its portfolio, we may see the company shift a bit more from large-scale energy projects to more consumer-oriented hardware products that help its users save energy directly.

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