Apple Adds iCloud Bookmark Syncing to Chrome and Firefox on Windows

ICloud Windows Control Panel

One of the nice features of Safari on Mac and iOS is how your bookmarks can stay in sync between your devices, with no plugin required. The one flaw in that setup was that there was no way to sync your Safari bookmarks to any other browser on Windows aside from Internet Explorer. If you wanted a universal bookmark experience, you had to use another browser with cross platform sync support, such as Chrome, on all of your devices. That has now changed. One piece of news almost lost amid the hoopla with iOS 7 and the new iPhones, is that Apple has added Chrome and Firefox to the list of browsers that support iCloud bookmark sync on Windows.

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Here’s How I’m Replacing Google Reader – For Now

Google Reader alternativesAs you probably know, Google Reader says its final farewell on July 1. Earlier today, we finally received a news update from the developer of Reeder, the popular iOS app that many people used to follow their favorite RSS feeds. Reeder for iPhone already supports a few different services, but Reeder for Mac and iPad only supports Google Reader. Support for additonal services is supposedly on the way, but I decided I can’t wait any longer, and I’ve cobbled together a few apps to get RSS reader functionality on Mac, the iPad, and iPhone.

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Roll Your Own RSS Service With Fever

Fever rss reader iconIf the announcement of the impending shuttering of Google Reader sent a chill down your spine, you’re not alone. My first reaction to the news, after swearing to myself, was “well, that’s the risk of relying on a free service.” My next though was, “hmm, time to see what else is out there.” My first stop was to check out Fever.

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2 Reasons Why I Won’t Be Trying Google’s Evernote and Springpad Competitor

google keep on the wayCould Google be launching a competitor to Evernote and Springpad? Google scrapped its Notebooks app quite some time ago, but according to a story on the Verge yesterday, it looks like the company might be ready to get back into the note taking app business. Would you give it a try?

I’m sure that Google will insert many hooks into its other services, that will make the app very tempting. Still, there are a couple of reasons that I probably won’t be leaving Evernote anytime soon. READ MORE

How to Find Out When Google Updates Maps Imagery In Your Area

The recent brouhaha over the iOS 6 maps app called attention to the strengths of Google Maps. One strong point of Google Maps is its satellite and aerial imagery. That imagery isn’t great everywhere, though. Some geographic areas have images that are less current than others, or that were taken at fairly low resolutions. If you want to be notified when images in a particular area are updated, there’s a website that will do just that. READ MORE

How to Vaporize Your Friends’ Political Posts On Facebook [Chrome]

I love my Facebook friends. I really do. But the ones on the far left and far right don’t seem to get it. Their political posts are often filled with animosity or, worse yet, reliance on Fox News. They don’t sway anyone. Instead their posts foster annoyance, or even make them look like they’re a few cards short of a full deck. If you use Chrome as your web browser, you can escape all that.

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Google Chrome Explodes On To iOS, Puts Desktop Experience In Your Pocket

Google Chrome Explodes On To iOS, Puts Desktop Experience In Your Pocket | 40Tech

If you hadn’t already heard, Google Chrome for iPhone and iPad was released this week — and it promptly became the #1 free app on the app store. This is something that we’ve been waiting for with baited breath, and something that I, personally, was never sure would happen properly due to the rivalry between Apple and Google.

Have no doubt, though, it’s here — and it takes the best of Google Chrome’s desktop browser and jams it neatly and prettily into your pocket.

Google Chrome for iPhone | 40TechGoogle Chrome for iPad | 40Tech

One of the best features of Google Chrome for iOS is the integration of Chrome’s sync technology. If you have ever wanted the ability to open up any device — iPhone, iPad, Android, any computer that you’ve signed in to Google Chrome on — and pick up browsing from where you left off (again, on any of them), then you have reason enough to love Chrome for iOS app as the final piece in that puzzle.

It syncs your browsing history, open tabs, omnibar searches (yep, all that omnibar instant search power is in there, too), passwords, bookmarks, etc., etc., etc. Chrome was always great for being able to hop from computer to computer, but now you can hop from computer to computer to mobile and back again — and seamlessly, at that.

Chrome for iOS | Request Desktop Site | 40TechChrome for iOS | Bookmark Sync | 40TechGoogle Chrome for iOS | Sync Across All DevicesGoogle Chrome iPad App | 40Tech

That’s just the tip of it, though. Google Chrome for iPhone and iPad is blazingly fast, has an intuitive interface, and comes with niceties like easy, swipe-based tab switching, tracking of recently closed and most-visited web pages, voice-based search capability (Google’s not Siri’s),  search within web pages, and the ability to request a switch to desktop mode for entire sites at the touch of a button.

Google Chrome for iOS also includes Incognito Mode, and allows you to have as many open tabs in the browser as you damned well please. Chrome for iPhone is beautifully designed and extremely intuitive, and Chrome for iPad is the closest thing to a desktop browser that you will find on any tablet.

Chrome iPhone App | Omnibox Search | 40TechChrome iPhone App | Drag To Open, Close Tabs | 40TechChrome iOS App | Swipe to Change Tabs | 40TechChrome iOS App | Sign in to Sync | 40TechGoogle Chrome for iPhone, Google Chrome for iPad | Incognito Mode | 40TechChrome iPhone App | Collapse, Expand, Swipe Tabs | 40TechGoogle Chrome iOS App Settings | 40TechGoogle Chrome iPad App | Drag Tabs, Scroll Tabs | 40Tech

As with anything, though, Chrome for iOS is not perfect. There is no read later functionality, which you may miss if you love it in Safari, and heartbreakingly, there is a fairly consistent lag issue. Don’t get me wrong… when it works, it’s stupidly fast — but there are times, especially on pages with Javascript, that you will be typing or touching a button and nothing will happen for a few seconds. This can be an extreme pain in the ass, and may even be a deal-breaker for some. There may not even be much Google can do about it, because it could be related to Apple not giving other browsers on iOS access to their Nitro Javascript engine.

If you can get past the occasional (if persistent) few seconds of waiting, though, Google Chrome for iPhone and iPad could be your go-to web browser replacement for mobile Safari (it’s certainly more stable than Safari for iPad). The possibilities excite me to no end. I’m thinking some version of Chrome extensions would be a logical next step! Either way, Chrome for iOS gives me yet another reason to jailbreak my iPhone and iPad: to cull Safari out of default browser status, once and for all.

Get Google Chrome for iOS (iOS 4.3+)

What Chrome Apps Do You Actually Use? [Reader Feedback]

What Google Chrome Apps Do You Actually Use? | 40Tech

I like Google Chrome. Love it, in fact. I love the extensions, I love the OS-style feel of it, and I love the apps integration that makes that feel possible. It long ago took over Firefox for me, and, while I love the foxy Fox, I’ve never been able to go back to it full time.

The one thing I find with Google Chrome, however, is that — like my computer and my mobile devices — I have a tendency to collect apps that seem useful, and then rarely use them. I tell myself that they might come in handy one day (and therefore should be kept), but that’s probably just an excuse — an excuse that got me wondering: do you have the same problem?

I organize my apps into different pages, and I’ve listed them below, only detailing the Quick Apps page, which are the ones I like to keep available and (in theory) use the most. I’ve uncluttered recently, but I still find that I barely use many of the apps within.

Google Chrome Apps For Business, Life and Getting Things Done | 40Tech

Evernote Web - I never open this. Well, very rarely. I use the desktop app or my mobile apps instead. I keep it, though, on the off-chance that I’ll load up Chrome OS or install Linux and sync my profile. Or something.

SpringpadI like Springpad and I do use this, as the app is strictly web-based at this time. I also enjoy some of the integration into the context menu, though I don’t actually use it that often.

Producteev - I use this one, too. Producteev has a desktop app, and that’s great, but it needs work. I also prefer to have my task manager in the browser, as I do most of my work while online, and the browser makes it quickly accessible.

Wunderlist - I love Wunderlist. It’s probably the sexiest task/list manager out there. I rarely use it, though, as my workflow is based around Producteev. Occasionally, I might use it to quickly make a pretty list that I want with me on my iPhone and iPad, but I have no real need for it. But it’s pretty!

Wunderkit - I know what you’re thinking… If I don’t use Wunderlist, what do I need the whole Wunderkit for? Short answer — I don’t, even though it’s awesome. But I keep thinking I might employ it as an alternative for Producteev or something. That will likely never happen, though — and shouldn’t I put it in my App testing folder, instead? Yeah, you’re probably right. And yet…

Mint - Now this, I use. I don’t use it enough or to its full potential, but I do use it. Mint is an awesome money managing app, and it has been working up in Canada for a while now. I’m not letting this one go.

Timer - This is a simple button that fires the Timer site/app (formerly TimerTab, which we covered here) — which allows you oddly enough, to time stuff. You can even set a YouTube video as an alarm. I chose Spill the Wine by Eric Burdon and War.

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Gmail | Offline Google Mail - I live in Gmail, so this is a no brainer. I set it to open in its own window and roll out. I don’t usually use Offline Google Mail, and I think it may be totally useless now that Google is doing better offline mail within the regular Gmail app, but I haven’t tossed it yet. Just in case…

Google Calendar - There are a number of ways I can get at Google Calendar, but I use this when I want it to easily open in its own window. Which is a rare thing… but I do still use it.

Google Docs - This is my web portal to Google Drive – which is an awesome 5GB of free storage space with a 10GB file size limit, plus more — and it could be an Evernote alternative in its own right.

TweetDeck | Hootsuite - I have no idea why I keep these here. I find that I manage multiple Twitter accounts more effectively on my phone, or by using LastPass to sign in to the account I choose. For work accounts, I have a whole other browser profile that I tend to use, so there is never any real conflict. If I consolidate, though, one of them could be useful, I suppose. Who needs to have so much social information thrown at you at one time, though? Keep it simple and lower your stress level, says I.

Box | Dropbox - I use both of these, but if the two, Box is the only one I ever open, because it is a web-only interface. I use my OS for Dropbox. I keep it there for the Google OS potential, though. I used to have SugarSync there, as well, but that app seems to have disappeared for the Chrome Web Store.

My other pages are separated by Design, Fun Stuff, and App Testing.

In Design I have several Aviary image editing and creation apps, Picnik, and Audiotool. Again, I think I keep these for when I’m on a computer that isn’t Adobe-friendly, as I never use them otherwise. Design also has Zootool (a visual bookmarking app I never use), jsFiddle (code-testing sandbox that I rarely use), Pinterest (more for my wife, than me – and why under design…?), Summify, and Revisu (helps with design iterations when using Google Drive).

Google Chrome Apps for Photo Editing, Autio Editing, and Design | 40Tech

Fun Stuff (which is woefully bare, unfortunately) has Kid Mode for Chrome, which is the Zoodles app for my daughter. Zoodles is awesome, but the app hasn’t worked properly in Chrome for a while, leading me to use Firefox for this particular function. This page also has YouTube (which I mostly get to via search), Full Screen Weather (which I usually check on my phone), Graphicly Comics (which I never use), and Planetarium (used rarely). Netflix used to be here, but it is nowhere to be found on the Web Store now.

Google Chrome Apps for Kids, Fun, and Entertainment | 40Tech

App Testing tends to change, by its nature, but there are a few things in there that are persistent for some reason. I’ve left Jolicloud in there, as well as Memonic, and SlideRocket (which is cool, but I don’t generally use due to the pricing). I’ve also got HelloFax in there (it works with Google Drive and I use it sometimes, but had nowhere else to put it), Summify (it will stop working eventually, as it’s been bought by Twitter, but I keep it here in the meantime) and Thinkery (possible Evernote alternative I need to get around to testing more). This is also where I keep the Web Store link.

Google Chrome Apps I'm Testing | 40Tech

So there you have it. Even after going through every app in my Chrome set up, I still don’t know what ones to get rid of, but I only use about a third of what I have with any regularity. It’s a conundrum, I tell you!

How about you? Do you have any Chrome apps that you keep around, but never use? What are the apps that you do use, and couldn’t live without?

Could Google Drive Be An Evernote Alternative?

Could Google Drive Be An Evernote Alternative? | 40Tech

So let’s talk. There’s been a lot of conversation around the web — and on this site — about possible alternatives for Evernote. Springpad was the goto app for many, though the most recent update has pulled them further away from that comparison, and drawn the ire of many users in the process. If you look at Springpad, though, as well as several other apps that offer services that are considered comparable to Evernote (Shelfster, Thinkery, OneNote and Catch, for example), you can define a general criteria for a note taking application that I think — no matter how odd it may sound — could also be met by Google’s latest cloud offering and the new face of Google Docs: Google Drive.

Stick with me. I’d love to have a conversation with you all about this.

 

First: What is Google Drive?

Google Drive is the latest cloud drive offering to hit the web jungle. It came out just this past week and has already been cited as a direct threat to Dropbox, Skydrive, Box, and all the rest. On the flip-side, it’s also received the standard Ahhhhh, Their Stealing My Private Information!!!!! treatment by the web media, as well — in this case, somewhat unfairly (more below).

Google Drive Features

Once you start using drive, you can say goodbye to the docs.google.com url. Your docs shall forever become a part of Google Drive. You’ll still be able to revert to the old Google Docs interface, for a limited time, but the default new dashboard is where you will start, and eventually end up.

Google Drive | New Google Docs Dashboard | 40Tech

 

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Here’s the feature-set, in a nutshell:

Storage is low cost and in abundance. And it can take crazy large files, and allows you to view files most other services don’t. Sync with your computers and mobile devices (iOS coming soon) in the same manner as Dropbox.

  • 5GB of free storage space — and Gmail goes up to 10GB
  • Additional space starting at $2.49/month for 25GB, $4.99 for 100GB — all the way up to 16TB (these also up your Gmail to 25GB)
  • Google Docs don’t count against your storage
  • 10GB filesize limit per file
  • Upload up to 30 types of files –this includes Photoshop, Illustrator, movies, photos and more, as well as viewing of those files (graphic designers, rejoice! — and yes, this means movie and music playback, too)
  • Add and manage files from your desktop environment
  • Google Docs files (.gdoc, .gsheet, etc.) are actually shortcuts to their respective web editors, so don’t take up additional hard drive space on your PC
  • Offline viewing (offline editing is in the works, too)

Sharing, sharing, sharing! Collaborate! Individual files, folders, or your entire Drive…

  • Add a person, go public, or share a link — you can even give people without Google accounts editing capability
  • Send Drive links in Gmail to make sure everyone always has the updated version — no attachment worries
  • Or send Drive files as attachments, or even in the body of the email (classic Google Docs features)
  • Share photos and videos right from Google+
  • Easily view and manage files and folder shared with you
  • Collaborate on any type of file — comment and chat on any of your files, in real time
  • 30 days of revision history

Google Drive Sharing Settings | 40Tech

Search — including including OCR and Google Goggles

  • Filter by keyword, file type, file owner, and more
  • Search text in scanned documents
  • Find a photo using the search bar — Goggles can recognise objects in your images

Third-party apps. There are already several available on the Chrome Web Store, many of them free or freemium services. These apps will plug right in to your Google Drive allowing you to do all kinds of fun things. Some examples:

  • HelloFax lets you send free faxes right from Google Drive — it also has signature signing capability, as do a couple of other Google Drive apps like DocuSign
  • Pixlr and Aviary for Google Drive let you edit uploaded photos
  • SlideRocket can be set up to be your default presentation app
  • Revisu lets you share designs for feedback and track version history
  • Lots more available and lots more coming via Google Drive > Settings > Manage apps > Get more apps

Third Party Google Drive Apps | 40Tech

Any of you starting to see why I couldn’t help but compare it to Evernote? More on that, below.

What About My Privacy?

Google Drive’s privacy policy and terms of use came under fire almost the moment it launched. I have this picture in my mind of writers hearing about the launch and rubbing their hands together with glee as they consider all the readers they will be able to draw in with negative Google headlines. Don’t get me wrong, I still think Google may be the sweet face of Evil, and many of the concerns were and are valid — they’re just out of context.

Google’s Terms of Service states:

“You retain ownership of any intellectual property rights that you hold in that content. In short, what belongs to you stays yours.”

This is a good thing. But here’s where the confusion comes in:

“…you give Google (and those we work with) a worldwide license to use, host, store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works (such as those resulting from translations, adaptations or other changes we make so that your content works better with our Services), communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute such content. The rights you grant in this license are for the limited purpose of operating, promoting, and improving our Services, and to develop new ones.”

At first glance, this is freaky — but the reality is that this is used so that Google can integrate Drive with its other services — for you, of course — and to provide the other functions of the service, such as OCR and image recognition. Of course, this also means they can use the content to better provide you with more accurate advertising, but this is something they do with their services already.

Bear in mind that they can also be compelled to give up your information to government bodies or law enforcement agencies if required to by law. This is a standard thing that applies to every online service that houses its servers in the United States.

All of these things can be found in similar fashion in the Dropbox terms of service — and even the Evernote terms of service, though some may find Google to be a bit more ambiguous. Personally, I find the Amazon Cloud Drive terms of service much more frightening.

What does this all mean? Only this: Google’s scary privacy points are, in this instance, not so different than any other online drive’s terms of service. Does this mean there aren’t potentially frightening possibilities; that it’s all really candy and roses? No. Not unless you consider that the candy and roses could be laced with Rohypnol, that is. But these privacy issues are simply the risk you take when you put your files and personal information online. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be concerned, just that you need to make the same decision, no matter what cloud service you use.

 

Next: Google Docs vs Evernote

Evernote Google Drive
Sync between devices (including mobile) Yes
Offline viewing Yes
Offline editing Not Yet
Collaboration Yes
Sharing Yes
Keyboard shortcuts for quick launch With tweaks (custom shortcuts)
Rich text editing Yes
Easy organization by notebooks and tags Yes, but with folders (no more tags)
Powerful search Yes
OCR Yes
Add attachments Yes
Search within attachments Yes
Third party integrations Yes, with more on the way
Add content by email Not at the moment
Web clipping Only manual copy and paste works at the moment
Low cost Yes
Upgradeable storage Yes

 

NOTE: You can create desktop shortcuts to open new Google Docs files, and then add custom hotkeys to those shortcuts to easily open new “notes”. The same urls used for the shortcuts can be used to create a dropdown in your browser’s bookmarks bar, although one bookmark, loaded in the browser sidebar is a great option for Firefox. The URLs you need are in this Google Document: http://bit.ly/IIiHAo. I’ve also added the shortcuts I decided to use, while testing. If there’s interest, I’ll do a full how-to on this.

New Google Document Shortcut with Keyboard Shortcut | 40Tech

NOTE: You can also add Google Drive to the Windows Send To context menu by typing %APPDATA%/Microsoft/Windows/SendTo to a Windows Explorer window – press enter. Then open another Explorer window, create a shortcut of your Google Drive, then drag it to the Send To folder you just opened. Now, when you right click on a file, you will be able to send it right to your Google Drive (this is based on the Windows 7 OS and also works for Skydrive and Dropbox).

 

Where Google Drive Wins

Google Drive allows you access to a full office suite, from full document and spreadsheet creation to presentations. It will also allow you to handle files more easily, as well as have real-time, collaborative conversations within the files/notes themselves. For people who want to have a powerful suite that they can leverage in nearly the same way as Evernote, then Google Drive could be a very good option. The same goes for people who don’t like the new Springpad, but find that Evernote just isn’t enough for them.

 

Where Google Drive Lacks

The lack of speedy clipping is an issue for me. This can be overcome with some simple copy and paste, or with extensions like Send to Google Docs (turns a whole web page into a PDF and sends it to Google Docs), and will likely no longer be an issue once some enterprising person or business creates an app for just that, but for the moment it is a bit of an annoyance. Not a deal breaker, though.

Web Clip of 40Tech Article to Google Drive by Shortcut, Then Copy Paste | 40Tech

The other thing is that it is just not as straightforward as Evernote. The workarounds I put together make it easier to get going, but I find that the keyboard shortcuts I created sometimes fail until I remake them in the shortcut’s properties. And as I’ve mentioned in posts before, Evernote is really good at the simple things it does: taking and organizing notes. Once you add all the extra power and options of Google Drive, then you run into the potential of it becoming unwieldy, unless you manage it really well.

 

So there it is, my curiosity and thought process laid out before you. Your turn now! I want to know what you think – feasibility, practicality of application, pure ridiculousness, et al. Let’s chat about it and see what we can come up with as a group!