10 things you may have missed at Google I/O

GoogleBlog - Tue, 05/24/2016 - 13:35
Last week thousands of developers joined us at Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, CA, at Google I/O, our annual developer conference, for three days of talks, sandboxes, and some festival fun. Here’s a look at I/O beyond the keynote:

1. It’s not just for grown-ups.
A day before Google I/O officially began, we hosted I/O Youth. Over the course of the day, 120 students from Bay Area-based schools engaged in four hands-on activities focused on storytelling, designing, and coding. They heard from inspiring speakers that bring creative solutions to their jobs like Brent Bushnell, CEO of the entertainment company Two Bit Circus, and Pavni Dijwanji, who leads our Google-wide efforts to create a better experience for kids online. Check out 11-year-old Cindy Zhou’s coverage of I/O Youth for Time for Kids.
2. Machine learning is already making products smarter.
As Sundar said during his keynote, machine learning and artificial intelligence are changing computing in incredible ways. One of the biggest uncracked nuts in A.I. is understanding natural language. But we’re making progress, and we can see people are eager for it—on the Google app on Android, over 20 percent of the searches we get in the U.S. are now by voice. Ok Google!

3. ATAP is bridging the physical and the digital.
On Friday, ATAP took the stage to share a glimpse of what’s going on in the ATAP garage. In “Pearl,” an interactive 360 story made for mobile by Academy award-winning director Patrick Osborne, a girl and her dad crisscross the country in their beloved hatchback. Project Jacquard introduced a twist on the iconic denim jacket—the Levi’s® Commuter™ Trucker Jacket, with Jacquard’s interactive fabrics woven in. With the LG Electronics Inc. smartwatch and JBL by Harman speaker prototypes Project Soli demonstrated, you don’t have to touch a screen to view a message or change a song. And Ara showed off a developer version of their modular phone and provided a peek into a future where phones can be customized for function and style.
The Soli smartwatch prototype (developed in collaboration with LG Electronics Inc.) is controlled without touching the screen

4. We're working to make I/O more inclusive for everyone.
As in past years, we made an effort to make I/O a diverse and welcoming conference for women and minorities who are underrepresented in technology. Women at I/O made up 23 percent of our 7,000+ attendees (at last year’s conference, women made up a similar percentage of our 5,000 attendees). We partnered with 13 community groups for women in technology, and offered travel grants to attendees making the trip. On Tuesday night, we hosted a Women Techmakers dinner for 1,000 women.
Women Techmakers dinner

We also want I/O to be more accessible for people with disabilities. To that end, we worked with Googlers and attendees with disabilities to provide things like real-time captioning for all breakout sessions at the conference.

Finally, this was also the first year we released ethnicity and race information for a Google conference.

5. We’ve made custom hardware for machine learning.
We designed and built a chip (of the silicon variety) that’s specifically made for machine learning. We call it a Tensor Processing Unit (TPU) because it's tailored for TensorFlow, our machine learning software that’s openly available to all. A TPU is an order of magnitude (10x) more power efficient than a traditional computer chip—and TPUs were also the secret hardware sauce for AlphaGo, our machine learning system that played and won 4 of 5 matches with Lee Sedol in Korea.

6. The Google Play Music experience blended Google smarts with musical discovery.
Not far from the dancing paint robot, I/O’s Google Play Music room brought Google Search and Google Play Music together in perfect harmony. On the Play Connections Wall, you could explore connections between different artists, albums, and songs, powered by the Knowledge Graph. Nearby, a display with 3,000+ earphone jacks let you listen to songs from Google Play Music’s many different playlists, complete with LED lights that matched the mood of each song. The audio cables powering the display added up to 18,000 feet (3.4 miles)—almost as tall as Mount Kilimanjaro.
7. Android Pay is powering commutes in the U.K. and ATMs in the U.S.
Last week we announced the first countries outside of the U.S. to get Android Pay, starting with the U.K. Londoners will also be able to use Android Pay across the Tube for London network, including on the tube, bus, and rail. That’s 13 million journeys where you can now just tap and pay. In the U.S., Bank of America customers will be able to start using their phones to withdraw money in ATMs across the country starting in June.

8. Your favorite Google apps are coming to Daydream.
As part of our effort to make VR even more accessible and immersive, we’re planning to bring some of your favorite Google apps to Daydream, including Play Movies, Street View, Google Photos, and YouTube. The YouTube VR app will provide an easier, more immersive way to find and experience virtual reality content on YouTube. Look out for it sometime later this year.
9. Android apps are coming to a Chromebook near you.
Chromebooks are now the #2 most popular PC operating system in the U.S., and soon you’ll be able to do even more with them. We’re bringing the Google Play Store to Chromebooks, so you can download and use all your favorite Android apps, right on your Chromebook.

10. It was full of festival fun.
Bringing I/O to Shoreline Amphitheatre meant a conference with a festival feel. Interactive experiments let people from around the world send paper planes and splashes of virtual paint zooming onto the keynote stage. That night, Charli XCX and Kygo performed for a crowd lit up with glow sticks. And at After Hours, acrobats mingled alongside a karaoke rickshaw, DJs spun from the tops of art cars, and domes that held tech talks during the day were converted into underwater discos and a planetarium.
For more from #io16, check out this photo album from the event or take a tour of the sandbox in 360 degrees:

Posted by Emily Wood, Managing Editor, Google Blogs
Categories: Technology

Set Rheem Water Heater Vacation Mode?

AskDaveTaylor - Tue, 05/24/2016 - 10:54

The first and most important step is to make sure you have everything set up, including the Rheem app on your smartphone. Then you need to make sure everything’s talking and that you’ve got your Rheem water heater set up on the EcoNet network too. There’s a bunch of information online about how to do that, but from my own experience, it’s pretty straightforward.

Just write down your water heater’s serial number (it’s on the sticker) and your home module’s MAC address (again, on a sticker that’s on the back of the home module itself). Then download and set up the Rheem app, entering both values when prompted, and you should be good to go, with your water heater showing up in the app itself.

If that’s all good, then launching the app should show you something like this:

If you aren’t seeing your device, go through the setup steps again until you do see it show up (notice mine’s “Gas Water Heater” in “Basement” on the lower left).

Now, to set up a vacation period when the water heater will automatically lower its target heat to save you money, tap on the “Vacation” button on the top right.

You can see that I have no vacations set up. Not so good, since I am poised to spend the night out of town.

To set up a water heater vacation, tap on the desired location (in my case, “Home”).

Now you can see the default start time is the current day at 5pm, to end at 5pm the following day:

Not quite right? Tap on the start or end time to change it:

Got it all just so, with your exact start and end times ready?


That’s it. Done. Easy enough, eh?

Oh, and if you also have a Nest thermostat, you can hook them together so that when the Nest goes into “away mode” that the Rheem water heater also automatically switches to vacation mode too.

To accomplish that handy trick, go back to Settings:

Tap on “Works with Nest”, and, well, sign in to your Nest account:

Very cool. Very “smart home”.

Now, go on your vacation already!

Categories: Technology

Review: Escort Passport Max2 Radar Detector

AskDaveTaylor - Mon, 05/23/2016 - 11:10

So when Escort, one of the biggest names in radar detectors, sent me one of their top-of-the-line Passport Max2 units, I knew just the road trip to test it on, a journey from Denver, Colorado to Missoula, Montana and back, all in seven days. That’s about 900 miles each way, with long stretches through Wyoming and Montana that are perfect for an autonomous vehicle: no turns, no cars, no off ramps. Just road.

And cops hiding over the next rise, hoping to earn their pay by tagging people who are exceeding the speed limit!

Right from the unboxing, I was impressed with the Max2, with its compact size and excellent fit and finish. It’s the best radar detector I’ve ever used, actually, even including a suction cup mount that actually has a level to make putting it on the windshield quite easy. It’s just a bit bigger than a deck of cards, at 3.2″ wide x 5.3″ long x 1.3″ high:

If you’re into specs and know radar detectors better than I do, you’ll appreciate that it works with all the following bands:

X-band 10.525 GHz ± 25 MHz
K-band 24.150 GHz ± 100 MHz
Ka-band 34.700 GHz ± 1300 MHz
Laser 904nm, 33 MHz Bandwidth

Most important to know is that K-band is the most popular, with about a 1/4-mile “clocking” range, Ka-band includes photo-radar, so the cops like it (they’ve got a photo of your car with the speed recorded in case you try to contest), laser is popular because it’s very fast to read (it can estimate your speed within 1/2 second) but has a max range of 1/5 mile, and, finally, X-band is the original detection frequency and has a range of 1/2 mile.

But X-band signals can also be generated by automatic door openers at supermarkets, garage door openers, and even microwave towers, which leads to “false hits”. The result is that any decent radar detector has all sorts of filters and smarts to analyze not just the signal but the location to filter out these false alarms.

So that’s the two dimensions of a radar detector: sensitivity combined with the smarts to shield you from too many false positives. And that’s where the Passport Max2 is a rock star. Part of this is because the Max2 hooks up through your smartphone with Escort Live, a crowdsourced radar detection database that lets you tap into other people’s experiences and identification of speed traps and more.

Here’s what the app displays on my iPhone when I’m in motion (yes, I’m going 84 in an 80 zone)

If you go to “dashboard” mode, the display’s even more interesting:

Almost makes me want to just glue my iPhone to the car’s dashboard and leave it on this display all the time.

Note: These are simulated screens, of course, because I’d never have been driving over the speed limit, right?

Categories: Technology

Recover Data from your Android Phone with Dr. Fone

AskDaveTaylor - Sat, 05/21/2016 - 11:41

None of us intentionally damages our devices. Heck, smartphones are expensive, and even entry-level Android phones can have irreplaceable data, including that text message from your partner about it being time to rush to the hospital, the baby’s coming! and photos from your child’s first steps, a video of that celebrity you spotted at a concert, critical phone numbers, and so much more.

That’s why if your phone does slip off the counter and crash onto the floor or pop out of your pocket and splash into the creek, it’s such a horrible feeling! Sure, the device getting damaged is bad, but the loss of data is far, far worse.

Except you don’t have to necessarily lose all your data just because something happens to your Android phone. Heck, if you have mischievous children who change your PIN and block you from logging in and using your phone, Dr. Fone for Android from Wondershare can fix that too. Let’s have a look!

Launch the program and you can see the primary categories:

The four primary functions are: Android Data Recovery (for your phone, generally), Android SD Card Data Recovery (if you use a microSD card in your Android phone and it gets corrupted, Dr. Fone can help recover everything), Android Broken Data Recovery (for when your phone’s shattered or otherwise busted up) and, finally, More Tools.

Let’s start by just plugging in an Android phone to the PC and see what happens.

The first thing you need to do to work with Dr. Fone is to enable USB debugging on your phone. The program has very specific directions that are easy to follow, but it’s rather like finding a secret feature on your phone: You find the “Build” information in Settings, then tap on it 7 times. Not 6, not 8. 7 times. Then you have unlocked debugging!

Once you allow the phone to be accessed via USB, the program can easily access everything and figure out what’s what:

If you just want to recover a specific type of data, like WhatsApp messages and attachments, you can uncheck everything else, but most likely you’ll just want to scan everything on the phone (tho it does take longer), so click “Next”…

At first you might worry that everything’s shown as zeroes, but give the program a chance to finish its scan (which can take a few minutes) and eventually it’ll show all the matches. Then you can click on a specific category like “Call History”:

Here you can see a log of all incoming and outgoing calls, by number (tho I’ve blacked out all the numbers for privacy). Notice it also shows the duration of the calls, all of these are very short!

What about photos? Instead, click on “Gallery” and you’ll see all the photos that Dr. Fone can find:

Easy enough to pick and choose which you’d like to copy onto the computer and/or recover after accidentally deleting them.

The basics are really easy to work with, as you can see. But let’s click on the “More Tools” button to see what’s there.

Turns out that there’s one feature:

The ability to bypass a lock screen on an Android phone has obvious security implications, so don’t use it on someone else’s phone. That’s not only an invasion of privacy, it’s probably illegal.

But if your kids think it’s funny to lock you out of your own phone, well, now you have the solution, right?

Click on “Android Lock Screen Removal”.

Notice that currently Dr. Fone can only accomplish this neat trick with Samsung Android phones.

What about the Android SD Card Data Recovery? Put a card into a reader, plug it into the computer, and Dr. Fone will find it and offer you the ability to pick and choose what you’d like to extract:

Notice that it understands the Android file system organization, so it shows Gallery, Videos, Audio and Documents.

In summary, if you need a way to extract data from your Android phone, whether it’s damaged or not, then Wondershare’s Dr. Fone program can be a very good choice. Two caveats, however: first, if you have a phone with lots of data, it’s pretty slow, so don’t expect to just zip from screen to screen as it scans, and second, since there are millions of different And since there are millions of different Android phones in the marketplace, it’s smart to check their compatible phones list before you download.

Otherwise, this is definitely a useful tool to know about before you have a crisis moment with your device.

Dr. Fone Android Data Recovery, from Wondershare. $49.95 for Windows, $59.95 for Mac OS X.

Disclosure: Wondershare sent us a full system license for the Windows version for the purposes of this article.

The post Recover Data from your Android Phone with Dr. Fone appeared first on Ask Dave Taylor.

Categories: Technology


GoogleBlog - Fri, 05/20/2016 - 17:01
Whether it’s welcoming a new baby, celebrating the winning shot in overtime, or discovering the best taco stand ever—we all want to share these moments with friends and family the instant they happen. Most of the time, this means picking up our phones and sending a message or starting a call. Today we’re sharing a preview of two new apps that take a fresh look at how people connect.

Allo, a smart messaging app
Allo is a smart messaging app that makes your conversations easier and more expressive. It’s based on your phone number, so you can get in touch with anyone in your phonebook. And with deeply integrated machine learning, Allo has smart features to keep your conversations flowing and help you get things done.
Emojis, stickers, Ink, and our Whisper Shout feature in Allo

Allo has Smart Reply built in (similar to Inbox), so you can respond to messages without typing a single word. Smart Reply learns over time and will show suggestions that are in your style. For example, it will learn whether you’re more of a “haha” vs. “lol” kind of person. The more you use Allo the more “you” the suggestions will become. Smart Reply also works with photos, providing intelligent suggestions related to the content of the photo. If your friend sends you a photo of tacos, for example, you may see Smart Reply suggestions like “yummy” or “I love tacos.”

Smart Reply suggestions in Allo

Allo also features the Google assistant, bringing the richness of Google directly into your chats—helping you find information, get things done, and have fun. You can chat one-on-one with the assistant, or call on Google in a group chat with friends. Either way, you no longer have to jump between apps to do things like book a dinner reservation with friends, get up-to-date sports scores, settle a bet, or play a game. The assistant in Allo lets you bring things like Search, Maps, YouTube and Translate to all your conversations, so that you and your friends can use Google together.

The Google assistant in Allo understands your world, so you can ask for things like your agenda for the day, details of your flight and hotel, or photos from your last trip. And since it understands natural language patterns, you can just chat like yourself and it’ll understand what you’re saying. For example, "Is my flight delayed?" will return information about your flight status.
Google assistant in Allo

Privacy and security are important in messaging, so following in the footsteps of Chrome, we created Incognito mode in Allo. Chats in Incognito mode will have end-to-end encryption and discreet notifications, and we’ll continue to add new features to this mode.

Duo, a video calling app for everyone
Duo is a simple, fast one-to-one video calling app for everyone—whether you’re on Android or iOS, a fast or slow connection, in New York or New Delhi. Like Allo, Duo is based on your phone number, allowing you to reach anyone in your phonebook. And its simple interface fades away when you’re in a call, so it’s just the two of you.

Video call in Duo
One of our favorite features of Duo is Knock Knock, which shows you a live video preview of the caller before you pick up. Knock Knock invites you into the moment, making calls feel spontaneous and fun. Once you answer, Duo seamlessly transitions you right into the call.

Duo calls are in crisp HD video (up to 720p) and audio. We’ve optimized Duo to work well even on spotty networks, so if bandwidth is limited it gracefully adjusts quality so you’re still able to connect. We also seamlessly transition calls between cellular and Wi-Fi, so you don’t need to worry about what network you’re on. Finally, we built Duo with privacy and security in mind and all calls on Duo are end-to-end encrypted.

Both apps will be available this summer on Android and iOS. Head over to Google Play and register to be notified when Allo and Duo are available. We can't wait for you to try them.

Posted by Amit Fulay, Group Product Manager, Google, and Yariv Adan, Group Product Manager, Google
Categories: Technology

Video Review: Kensington Expert Mouse Trackball

AskDaveTaylor - Fri, 05/20/2016 - 11:22

If you spend as much time with laptops as I do, you’ve become so accustomed to the built-in trackpad, and perhaps a touchscreen if you’re on a fancy PC — that you might have forgotten that there are other pointing devices available, and that in many situations they’re actually better, more accurate and more relaxing for your poor, overworked hand than that flat sheet of metal.

And there’s no better company to check in with regarding alternative pointing devices than Kensington, a company that’s been making mice, trackballs and other accessories for as long as I can remember. (note: the company Web page says it’s been making these devices for more than 30 years. So, yeah, a long time).

But modern trackballs and mice don’t come with a leash because we modern computer users want freedom from clutter and annoying cables as much as possible.

Enter the confusingly named “Expert Mouse” from Kensington, a trackball that supports both Bluetooth and its own wireless dongle-based communication system (and includes the gizmo you need to plug into your computer for it to work too). Whether you opt for Bluetooth or use the USB connection, it’s a breeze to get going — just plug it in! — and works great with both Mac and Windows PC systems.

Check out my video review:

Learn more about the Kensington Expert Mouse trackball at $89.00 at

Disclosure: Kensington sent me the Expert Mouse for the purposes of this review.

The post Video Review: Kensington Expert Mouse Trackball appeared first on Ask Dave Taylor.

Categories: Technology

I/O: Building the next evolution of Google

GoogleBlog - Thu, 05/19/2016 - 19:45
This morning in our Mountain View, CA backyard, we kicked off Google I/O, our annual developer conference. Much has changed since our first developer event 10 years ago, and even more since Google started 17 years ago. Back then, there were 300 million people online, connecting through desktop machines; today that number is over 3 billion, with the majority using mobile devices as their primary way to get information, organize their day, get from point A to point B, and stay in touch. In a world in which the mobile phone has become the remote control for our daily lives, Google’s mission “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful” is truer and more important than ever before.

The Google assistant
When we think of the Google search experience today—a rich panel of information on [Zika virus], or an alert telling you your flight is delayed—it’s striking to see how far things have come from the early days of 10 blue links. Many of these advances have been thanks to machine learning and artificial intelligence—specifically, areas like natural language processing, voice recognition and translation—and they have helped us build an increasingly useful and assistive experience for users. They are the ingredients that make Google speech recognition the most accurate in the world, and that let you take a picture of a sign in Chinese and see it translated into English.

Progress in all of these areas is accelerating, and we believe we are at a seminal moment. People are increasingly interacting naturally with Google, and aren’t just looking for the world’s information but actually expecting Google to help them with their daily tasks.

Which is why we’re pleased to introduce...the Google assistant.

The assistant is conversational—an ongoing two-way dialogue between you and Google that understands your world and helps you get things done. It makes it easy to buy movie tickets while on the go, to find that perfect restaurant for your family to grab a quick bite before the movie starts, and then help you navigate to the theater. It’s a Google for you, by you.
The assistant is an ambient experience that will work seamlessly across devices and contexts. So you can summon Google’s help no matter where you are or what the context. It builds on all our years of investment in deeply understanding users' questions.

Today we gave a preview of two new products where you’ll soon be able to draw on the Google assistant.

Google Home
Google Home is a voice-activated product that brings the Google assistant to any room in your house. It lets you enjoy entertainment, manage everyday tasks, and get answers from Google—all using conversational speech. With a simple voice command, you can ask Google Home to play a song, set a timer for the oven, check your flight, or turn on your lights. It’s designed to fit your home with customizable bases in different colors and materials. Google Home will be released later this year.
Allo and Duo
Allo is a new messaging app that also comes complete with the Google assistant, so you can interact with it directly in your chats, either one-on-one or with friends. Because the assistant understands your world, you can ask for things like your agenda for the day or photos from your last trip. If you’re planning a dinner with friends, you can ask the assistant to suggest restaurants nearby, all in one thread.
Allo includes Smart Reply, which suggests responses to messages based on context, and comes with fun ways to make your chats more expressive, including emojis, stickers, and the ability to get creative with photos. There’s also an Incognito mode that provides end-to-end encryption, discreet notifications, and message expiration.

In addition to Allo, we’re introducing Duo, a companion app for one-to-one video calling. With Duo, our goal is to make video calling faster and more reliable, even on slower network speeds. We also introduced a feature called Knock Knock, which gives you a live video of the other caller before you answer.

Best of all, both Allo and Duo are based on your phone number, so you can communicate with anyone regardless of whether they’re on Android or iOS. Both apps will be available this summer. Read more here.

Android N, Wear, VR, and Instant Apps
Today we shared details about what’s coming in Android N, including better performance for graphics and effects, reduced battery consumption and storage, background downloads of system updates, and streamlined notifications so you can power through them faster, and updated emojis including 72 new ones. And we want your help coming up with a name for N that can be a sweet successor to Marshmallow. Read more and help us #NameAndroidN at

On top of Android N, we’ve built a new platform for high quality mobile VR called Daydream. Together with Android manufacturers, we're working on upcoming phones, and sharing designs with them for a VR viewer and controller that will be really immersive, comfortable and intuitive to use. Your favorite apps and games will be coming to Daydream too, including Google's—like YouTube, Street View, Play Movies, Google Photos and the Play Store. More to come this fall.
We also previewed Android Wear 2.0, including a revamped user experience and standalone apps that run right on the watch, no matter where your phone is or even if it's off.

Finally, we’re introducing Android Instant Apps—which let you run Android apps instantly, without requiring installation.

Today we launched a big expansion of Firebase, our most comprehensive developer offering to date. Going beyond a mobile backend, the platform helps developers quickly build high-quality apps, grow their user base, and earn more money across iOS, Android and the mobile web.

Tackling global challenges with smarter tools
Machine learning and AI are changing not only computing, but also the way in which we tackle problems we’ve never been able to solve before. The opportunities are even greater when we harness the powers of open-source tools to make them available to the broader developer and researcher community. Imagine what we could do if we work together and use these technologies to tackle challenges in climate change, health care or education. As our machine learning and AI capabilities get smarter and more versatile, these possibilities are starting to appear on the horizon. These are very exciting times indeed.

Posted by Sundar Pichai, CEO, Google
Categories: Technology

Introducing Spaces, a tool for small group sharing

GoogleBlog - Thu, 05/19/2016 - 19:45
Group sharing isn’t easy. From book clubs to house hunts to weekend trips and more, getting friends into the same app can be challenging. Sharing things typically involves hopping between apps to copy and paste links. Group conversations often don’t stay on topic, and things get lost in endless threads that you can’t easily get back to when you need them.

We wanted to build a better group sharing experience, so we made a new app called Spaces that lets people get people together instantly to share around any topic.

With Spaces, it’s simple to find and share articles, videos and images without leaving the app, since Google Search, YouTube, and Chrome come built in.
When someone shares something new to a space, the conversational view lets you see what the group is talking about without missing a beat.
And if you ever want to find something that was shared earlier—articles, videos, comments or even images—a quick search lets you pull it up in a snap.
You can create a space with just one tap for any topic and invite anyone via messaging, email, a social network, or whatever way you like.

We’ll also be experimenting with Spaces this week at Google I/O. We’ve created a space for each session so that developers can connect with each other and Googlers around topics at I/O, and we've got a few surprises too. If you’re joining us in person at I/O, make sure you install Spaces on Android or iOS before you arrive!

Spaces is rolling out today on Android, iOS, desktop, and mobile web for all Gmail addresses. Give it a try and create your first space today.

Posted by Luke Wroblewski, Product Director Luke Wroblewski Product Director
Categories: Technology

How can I make my Mac Desktop icons bigger?

AskDaveTaylor - Thu, 05/19/2016 - 11:08

The classic way to make everything on a computer screen larger is to lower the resolution: the smaller the computer thinks the screen is, the larger everything ends up being to compensate. You can experiment with that by going to the Display System Preference, but there’s a much smarter way to fix things! After all, change the resolution and every program suffers, even the games, streaming video content, and Web browser, so I always see that as an option of last resort.

So instead of artificially lowering the resolution of your Mom’s Mac screen, the better solution is to tweak the Finder settings for the Desktop. That’s pretty easy to do, but let’s look at all the different options and how they can affect what’s shown on-screen.

To start, exactly as it was displayed on my own Mac OS X El Capitan system, here are some folder and file icons:

If you hold down the Control key and click on the desktop, you’ll get the Desktop context menu:

As you can see, choose “Show View Options” from the menu.

And you’ll get a nifty little window with all the options you need to tweak and explore:

You might find your Mom’s computer has a default icon size of 44 x 44 or 48 x 48, but you can change it! Notice also the Grid spacing, which controls how tightly the icons fit together.

So let’s make the icons bigger. A lot bigger. Here’s the result:

Notice how everything’s jammed together, however. To fix that simply adjust Grid spacing too:

What happens if you make the icons super, super tiny? Then the available space for text reduces too, as you’d expect:

Very space efficient, but not very easy to work with!

Now let’s make the icons big again, but this time let’s also make the text larger by choosing 12pt instead of 10pt in the window.

You’ll notice that everything’s easier to read (as makes sense!)

Really want to make everything more informative? Click and choose “Show item info” in the settings window too.

Lots of useful information shows up:

Pretty cool, eh? I like having the item info sometimes, particularly with images, where you can see their dimensions without having to open up any programs to do so, and with hard drives, where total size and available space are both displayed too.

Oh, and one last setting. If you turn off the “Show icon preview” option, then the mini-thumbnails of photos, documents, etc, are all replaced by generic system icons:

So there you have it. Lots of different ways you can fine tune your Mom’s experience on her Mac system so that it’s easier to read, easier to see the names and titles of documents, even ways to enable – or disable – thumbnail previews so she can see what’s what with just a glance.

The post How can I make my Mac Desktop icons bigger? appeared first on Ask Dave Taylor.

Categories: Technology

Search Google for Emoji?

AskDaveTaylor - Wed, 05/18/2016 - 10:12

I read that this was a recently added feature on the main Google search page and experimented with it quite a bit, finding that it’s really more of a mobile solution than one aimed at desktop users, though since it’s hard to get emoji on a regular Windows or Mac keyboard, who knows, maybe it works just fine if you can figure out how to do so!

On the mobile side, however, both iOS and Android have support for a rich universe of emoji, those cute little pictures that can enliven your communication, whether it’s a text message to your Mom or an Instagram posting. Do they work and display perfectly on all other devices in the digital world? Not really. But so what! They’re fun and I know that my friends and I are rather addicted to their use. My most commonly used emoji? Thumbs up! Thanks, Facebook.

I did indeed manage to search for an emoji with interesting results on my iPhone 6s, however.

First, the main Google search page:

A tap in the search entry field and it shows my two most recent searches in a handy shortcut window:

Strange combination of searches, eh? Yup. I own it.

Here tap on the smiley button adjacent to the space bar and you can indeed enter an emoji:

Even the search hints and suggestions show that it knows what’s going on with the red rose emoji.

But instead, I’ll tap on the magnifying glass button on the right to actually execute the search:

A bit nerdy as a first result, but swiping down just a bit gets to images that show Google really does know what’s going on:

So there you go. A search for the red rose emoji that results in some interesting results.

Useful? Well, I wouldn’t say that. But perhaps other searches would have more useful results. What did you want to search for when you first submitted this question, by the way?

The post Search Google for Emoji? appeared first on Ask Dave Taylor.

Categories: Technology

Wed, 12/31/1969 - 19:00

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