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Clean up the look of Gmail with Gmelius

Gmail is just about the perfect e-mail client. Quite frankly, I can't imagine my life without it. (Well, I can but don't want to because it involves my old Hotmail account.) As time goes by, however, Google tweaks the look and feel of Gmail, adding new features while removing or changing others. If you'd like to have some say about how your Gmail experience goes, Gmelius is a browser extension for Chrome, Firefox, and Opera which lets you customize what elements show up on Gmail and where.

Gmelius has been around for a couple of years, but … Read more

Get coordinates, quick directions in new Google Maps

Google removed the ability to get latitude, longitude and quick directions with a right-click when it redesigned the Google Maps site. But with the redesign leaving limited release, and being pushed to everyone now, Google is slowly bringing beloved features back to the site.

On Wednesday, the Google Maps team brought back the ability to right-click on the map and request more information about the location you selected. The feature, announced in a tweet, enables you to get directions to or from the location, as well as view the latitude and longitude.

In order to view the coordinates, you'll … Read more

Google Maps Gallery debuts as Web's interactive digital atlas

Ever wanted to know the best escape route out of a city in case of an emergency? How about which of the world's coral reefs are in the greatest danger? Or, the exact route of the Lewis and Clark Trail in 1814?

All of these maps are now far easier to find because of a feature Google launched on Thursday called Google Maps Gallery. This gallery is full of interactive digital maps from a variety of businesses, governments, and nonprofit organizations, such as National Geographic, World Bank Group, and the US Geological Survey.

The topics covered in the maps … Read more

Google donates $6.8 million to San Francisco youth bus rides

It appears Google is looking to temper some of the backlash it's experienced over its high-tech commuter buses in San Francisco.

The Web giant has donated $6.8 million to the city to fund the Free Muni for Low Income Youth program for two years. This program, which launched last year, provides low- and moderate-income students free rides on San Francisco's public buses. Since it began, the program has assisted more than 31,000 students.

Google's donation is one of the largest private contributions toward direct city services that San Francisco has ever received, according to the … Read more

Google keeps an ever-closer eye on non-Play Store apps

SAN FRANCISCO -- Android owners who use apps installed from outside of the Play Store will soon find their devices just a smidge safer, as Google announced at the RSA Conference here that Verify Apps will soon keep an eye on non-Play Store apps even after you install them.

Adrian Ludwig, Google's Android security engineer lead, said the change builds on the Verify Apps security feature introduced last year. He explained the change during a talk on how Google has created a secure open-source operating system.

When the Verify Apps option is checked, Google will scan apps installed outside … Read more

Google Barge, $35 million and counting

Google Barge is about to be on the move, relocating from its current berth alongside Treasure Island in the middle of San Francisco Bay to Stockton, Calif., a delta city about 80 miles east.

But what does that mean for the future of the project, expected to be a floating showroom for Google X products and concepts like Glass, driverless cars, and more?

It's hard to say for sure, because no one in the know is talking. What is known is that the $35 million project, made out of dozens of shipping containers, and intended to float from location … Read more

Get this Google Music Mac app before Google's lawyers find it

An intrepid developer has created a free Google Music desktop app for OS X, borrowing the Google Music name and logo in the process. You shouldn't have to Google "trademark law" to understand that Google's legal department may be readying a letter to Sajid Anwar, the developer who maintains the app or Jame Fator, its creator. On Hacker News, some have reasoned that such a blatant use of Google's trademarks has to mean the developers seek Google's attention so that their app or they themselves may get acquired by Google.

Whatever the reason behind … Read more

Google Doodle honors author John Steinbeck

When I was a young reader, one of my favorite books was "Travels with Charley," a tale of one man's trip across America with his faithful poodle. As I grew older, I fell in love with other books authored by Charley's traveling companion. That's why it's only fitting to me that John Steinbeck's work be celebrated through the latest Google Doodle.

Born in Salinas, Calif., on February 27, 1902, Steinbeck worked at a series of odd jobs before embarking on his writing career. Though his first novel was published in 1929, Steinbeck gained … Read more

EU to Apple, Google: Free game apps? Yeah, right

Apple and Google will be among the organizations to talk to the EU this week about the impact "freemium" apps are having on the industry.

In a statement on Thursday, the EU's European Commission said that it wants to investigate in-app purchases on games that can be downloaded for free. The Commission argues that while games can be downloaded for free, they essentially compel customers to pay for add-ons that bring functionality to the title, and that belies the idea of truly playing a game for "free."

So-called "freemium" games and apps have … Read more

Asus unveils charging docks for Nexus 7

Owners of the 2013 Nexus 7 can now buy a wired or wireless charging dock made by Asus, but neither one comes cheap.

Available through Amazon, the Nexus 7 FH Official Dock uses your tablet's Micro-USB connection to juice it up. You can dock and charge the tablet in portrait or landscape mode, use your Nexus while it's charging, and pipe video to your TV or monitor via the dock's HDMI connection.

The pyramid-shaped Asus PW100 Wireless Charging Stand uses Qi inductive charging to juice up your tablet. You can also charge your Nexus with the cover … Read more