Google Reading Level Bug

Google has an advanced search feature that lets you filter search results by reading level. Click "search tools", pick "reading level" and you can select one of the 3 options: basic, intermediate and advanced reading level.

For some reason, Google's feature no longer works well: the advanced reading level's percentage is 0% for all queries. When you click "advanced", Google doesn't return any search result. Here's an example for [science].

Google annotates search results and you can still find "advanced reading level" pages.

"The reading-level is based primarily on statistical models we built with the help of teachers. We paid teachers to classify pages for different reading levels, and then took their classifications to build a model of the intrinsic complexity of the text," explained Google's Daniel M. Russell. "Roughly speaking, 'Basic' is elementary level texts, while 'Intermediate' is anything above that level up to technical and scholarly articles, a la the articles you'd find in Scholar."

Standalone Mini Player for Google Play Music

Google has updated the Play Music app for Chrome and you can now use it without having to open the Play Music site in a new tab.

I sometimes forgot about the Play Music tab, closed the tab and music stopped playing. Now the mini player continues to work even after I close the Play Music tab.

You can click the "I'm Feeling Lucky" dice button and start a radio based on your listening history. Another option is to open the Play Music site, start a radio or pick a playlist. Then you can close the Play Music tab and use the controls from the mini player: pause music, play next song, play previous song, thumbs up/down.

The mini player also supports keyboard shortcuts:

* left arrow - previous song
* right arrow - next song
* down arrow - decrease volume
* up arrow - increase volume
* p / space bar - pause/play music
* r - toggle repeat between off, all, and one
* s - toggle shuffle on or off
* = - thumbs up

YouTube's Also Subscribed Section

When you go to a channel, YouTube's desktop site now shows a list of people who subscribed to that channel and they're also in your Google+ circles. For example, YouTube lists 3 people from my Google+ circles who subscribed to the TED channel.

If you haven't subscribed to the channel, YouTube shows a similar list with people who "already subscribed" (instead of "also subscribed").

If you click a thumbnail, YouTube sends you to the Google+ profile page.

Google Play Tests a Sidebar for Related Apps

Patryk Szczygłowski, a reader of this blog, noticed an experimental web interface for Google Play. The updated UI adds a sidebar that shows similar apps and other apps from the same developer. Right now, these lists of apps are placed at the bottom of the page, below the description, reviews, changelog and other information about the app.

"Please note, it doesn't fit my laptop screen 1366x768, but Google might enable this experiment for me, because I have been using an external Full HD screen for a week recently," says Patryk.

Gmail's Warning for Suspicious Email Addresses

A few days ago, I received a spam message in Gmail. Instead of flagging the message as spam, Gmail displayed this warning: "Be careful with this message. Someone might be trying to trick you by using similar-looking characters (such as Σ and E) in the email addresses contained in this message."

Last year, Gmail added support for non-Latin characters in email addresses. It also wanted to make sure that the new feature wasn't "abused by spammers or scammers trying to send misleading or harmful messages" and it started to reject messagesfrom email addresses which used "suspicious combinations of letters that could be misleading".

There's a help center article that explains more about this feature. "If you see a warning that someone might be trying to trick you by using similar-looking characters in the email addresses of a message, you should take a close look at the sender's email address and the addresses of anyone else the email has been sent to. The addresses might be different than they seem. Sometimes, the difference is easy to spot if you look carefully. For example, someone might use a Greek character ('Σ') for the Latin character 'E'. In other situations, it's impossible to detect the difference. For instance, the Greek character ('ο') looks exactly the same as the Latin character 'o'."

Personalized Google Suggestions

Google's search suggestions change depending on your previous searches. Just like search results, which are influences by your search history, suggestions related to the queries you've previously typed are more likely to be useful.

Here's an example: I typed "swiss" and got these suggestions: "swiss colony", "swiss army", "swiss army knife".

Then I searched for "kale".

Here are the suggestions displayed when typing "swiss" again: "swiss chard", "swiss colony", "swiss army", "swiss army knife". As you can see, there's a new suggestion and it's placed at the top of the list: swiss chard, a leafy green vegetable, just like kale.

I searched for "rolex" and typed "swiss" again. This time, suggestions include "swiss watches" and "switch army watches".