Send Places to Mobile Devices in Google Maps

Google Maps now lets you send a place from the desktop site to the mobile app for iOS. You first need to open Google Maps for iOS, go to the Settings, tap Notifications, enable "Sent from desktop Maps" and tap OK to allow Google Maps to send notifications. "Make sure you're signed in to Google Maps with the same account across your computer and mobile devices with the latest version of Maps for mobile installed," informs Google. Then you can search for a place in desktop Google Maps, click "send to device", pick the iOS device and you'll get a notification on your device. If you miss a notification, you can find in the "Recent notifications" section from the Settings.

Some similar features are available for Android from the desktop Google Search site. You can send directions, notes and even set an alarm. Unfortunately, "send to device" is not available in Google Maps for Android yet.

Updated Interface for Google Play Music Mini Player

Google Play Music for the Web wasn't the only thing updated to Material Design last month. Google also updated the mini player that's displayed when you install the Chrome app.

The mini player is still standalone, so it works without having to open Google Play Music in a new tab. It has some new animations, controls hide when you're not using them, there's an icon that shows the main player and you can click the song's title or the artist's name to open the album page or the artist page in Google Play Music.

Here are some screenshots from Chrome for Mac and Windows:

Google Payments

Now that Google announced Android Pay, it's interesting to see what happens with Google Wallet. A Google+ post mentioned a few weeks ago that Google is building a new Google Wallet app that will "will allow anyone with a US debit card to send and receive money for free within minutes - even if the other person doesn't have the app".

There's also a help center for a service called Google Payments, which is supposed to be available at Right now, this URL redirects to Google Wallet. "You can securely store payment information in your Google Account using Google Payments. You can use this payment information to make and track purchases on Google services," informs Google. The services that support Google Payments are Google Play, Google Drive, YouTube and Google Express.

Chrome's Dev Channel replaced Google Wallet references with Google Payments. For example, there's an autofill option that shows "addresses and credit cards from Google Payments". Here's a screenshot from Chrome Dev for Android:

Google Calendar Discontinues SMS Notifications

SMS notifications were a very useful Google Calendar feature back when smartphones weren't popular and most people used feature phones. Now that the sales of feature phones decline and they're replaced by low-cost smartphones, Google decided to discontinue SMS notifications.

"Starting on June 27th, 2015, SMS notifications from Google Calendar will no longer be sent. SMS notifications launched before smartphones were available. Now, in a world with smartphones and notifications, you can get richer, more reliable experiences on your mobile device, even offline. This change will not affect Google Apps for Work, Education and Government customers," informs Google.

Gay Google (2015)

Just like last year and the years before, Google celebrates the LGBT Pride Month with some special decorations that are displayed when you search for [gay], [lgbt], [lesbian], [transgender], [queer], [asexual], [gay pride], [pride parade] and other similar queries. This time, Google shows a colorful heart and some people holding hands.

Here's a screenshot from Nexus 5:

You can also check Google's decorations from 200820092010201120122013and 2014.

Chrome Web Store Adds Compatibility Information

Chrome Web Store now shows if an app, extension or theme is "compatible with your device". Google also uses a small icon to reassure users that they can install the app, extension or theme and it will work on their device.

If the app is not compatible, the blue "add to Chrome" button is replaced by a red "not compatible" button, just like before. Click the "not compatible" button and you'll see a message like: "This application is not supported on this computer. Installation has been disabled. The following problems are detected: This app runs only on Chrome OS".

New Logo for Video Hangouts

Jeremy Couch, a reader of this blog, noticed that video Hangouts have a new logo. Instead of the Google+ logo, Hangouts uses the Google logo.

The old logo:

Right now, Hangouts is a Google+ feature and it's also available inside Gmail, Google Inbox and as standalone apps for Chrome, Android and iOS. Maybe Google plans to detach Hangouts from Google+.

10-Day Weather Cards in Google Mobile Search

Google's weather card for mobile devices now shows 10-day forecasts. Just swipe to the left to see the rest of the forecast.

Here are some screenshots for [weather in London]:

Until now, mobile weather cards only included 6 days. Google Now cards for weather are still limited to 5 days, while desktop cards show weather forecasts for 8 days.

From Google+ Notifications to Google Notifications

Google's navigation bar has a bell icon that shows the number of unread Google+ notifications and lets you read them. Google has recently renamed this section from "Google+ notifications" to "Google notifications" and added a special icon next to Google+ notifications.

Google also shows notifications for YouTube and Blogger, but the main purpose of this feature is to display Google+ notifications. Until now, Google added icons for events and circles, but not for Google+ posts. Maybe the notification section will add support for other Google services.

Here's a screenshot from April:

Gmail's Basic HTML Warning

If you use this URL to open Gmail's basic HTML interface, you'll probably see this message:

"Do you really want to use HTML Gmail? You're about to use a version of Gmail designed for slower connections and legacy browsers. To get all of Gmail's features, including inbox categories, images, and quick actions, please use the latest version of Gmail (recommended)."

You can click "Take me to latest Gmail" or "I'd like to use HTML Gmail" if you really, really want to use it.

Google+ Photos Redirects to Google Photos

Now that Google launched a new photo sharing service (Google Photos), it's interesting to see what happens with Google+ Photos.

Google has a new Android app for Google Photos. Until now, the Google Photos shortcut linked to the Google+ app. A recent update to the Google+ app removed the Photos section, so you can no longer check your photos from Google+.

The desktop Google+ site redirects users to the new Google Photos and shows this message: "Google Photos gives your personal photos a comfy new home. Photos shared in Google+ remain part of your Google+ profile." There's also a link toGoogle+ Photos.

Picasa Web Albums, Google+ Photos and the new Google Photos are different interfaces for the same photo library. Now that Google Photos doesn't require Google+, it's likely that Google can finally retire Picasa Web Albums and replace it with Google Photos.

Google Photos:
Google+ Photos:
Picasa Web Albums:

Google's Navigation Bar Removes Google+ Integration

When you are logged in, Google's navigation bar shows your name next to the app launcher. Until now, Google added a "+" next to the name and linked to Google+. Starting today, Google no longer links to Google+ and the "+" prefix has been removed. You can still find the Google+ shortcut in the app launcher.

It's another change which shows that Google+ will take a back seat and will no longer be promoted as a standalone service.

Offline Google Maps Navigation, Directions and More

Google released free turn-by-turn navigation for Google Maps back in 2009. At that time, it was one of the top reasons to buy an Android phone, at least if you lived in the US. Since then, Google added support for a lot more countries and developed an app for iOS which included the navigation feature.

Unfortunately, Google Maps Navigation still requires an Internet connection, like most of the features of the Google Maps mobile apps. Navigation continues to work if you lose your Internet connection, but you can't change your destination or your route. Google Maps lets you cache maps, though they're limited to 50km x 50km and you can't get directions, use navigation or find local businesses. Nokia's HERE apps for Windows Phone, Android and iOS allow you to download full-featured country maps for free and use all of these features offline.

The good news is that Google Maps will soon add support for offline turn-by-turn navigation, directions, local search and it will even let you find more information about businesses. Here are some screenshots from the Google I/O Keynote:

According to Jen Fitzpatrick, Google VP for Engineering & Product Management, the new features will be released later this year.

Google's Smart Lock for Passwords

Google Play Services brings an interesting feature: a Smart Lock for passwords and connected accounts. This feature is enabled by default and it allows the passwords of your apps and websites to be saved to your Google account. By default, Google automatically signs in to apps and websites connected to your account, but this feature can be disabled.

Chrome already has a syncing feature for passwords, so the new Smart Lock uses it to bring the same passwords to apps. For example, Google could save your Facebook password and it could use it to sign in to your account in the native Facebook app.

Android Police reports that Smart Lock works in the Netflix app and developers need to use a new API to add support. Other Android apps that support this feature: Eventbrite, Instacart, New York Times, Orbitz.

"Google Smart Lock for Passwords takes the hassle out of keeping your accounts safe for your favorite apps and websites. Smart Lock can save passwords to your Google Account and then help you use your passwords securely and conveniently on the websites you use in Chrome and the apps you use on your Android devices," informs Google.

There's also a page that shows your saved passwords: you can find it "Your passwords from Chrome and Android are saved with Google Smart Lock and accessible to you across devices," explains Google. Unfortunately, this page doesn't show your passwords if you use a sync passphrase to encrypt your synced data in Chrome: "you can access your data within Chrome on your syncing devices, but not from this website." A help center page mentions that you can't use Smart Lock for Passwords on Android if you set a sync passphrase.

If you don't have a sync passphrase, the page shows your passwords and lets you delete them. Click the eye icon to see a password.

You can remove the sync passphrase from this page, but this also deletes your Chrome data from Google's servers. The good news is that this doesn't clear data from your devices, so you can sign in again to start syncing.