With every browser now sporting integrated search capabilities, we find ourselves on Google's main landing page less and less. Should you wander over to Google.com, however, you'll notice that the search titan has begun adding background photos, representing a dramatic departure from the minimalistic look that has become a staple of Google's homepage.
For those of you not digging the change and voicing your displeasure via Twitter, Google has heard your complaints and had this to say:
"The Google home page should be back to normal tomorrow where you can keep it in its simple and classic look, choose to upload an image or photo, or switch back and forth," a Google spokeswoman said.
For everyone else, the images are a welcome change, and there are a whole bunch to choose from, including some gorgeous landscape photos from National Geographic. You'll also find artwork from sculptors and a whole host of other images broken down into a Public gallery and Editor's pics, or you can use an image from your PC or My Picasa Web photos.
One of the most widely used photo sharing services connected to Twitter, Twitpic, has added a new feature today. Users will now have the ability to tag people in an image before sharing. Twitpic will allow the addition of name as well as Twitter username. When tagging anyone in a pic, Twitpic offers the option to send an @reply to the user being tagged.
This is a feature Facebook has had for some time. The often tight integration of Twitter with this service could provide added benefit similar to that of Facebook. With Twitpics 10 million users and new geolocation service, we're excited to see how people utilize this new function.
Does this sound useful to you, or just another Twitter tie-in you'll never use?
Is the stock Google homepage looking just a little too bland these days? Google has maintained the same minimalist look for it entire history, with only the occasional doodle to liven things up. This is the polar opposite of Bing, which busts out snazzy images every day. Well, now you can add a custom background image to Google.com.
Won't this basically destroy the nifty minimalist aspect of the Google homepage? Probably. But no one says you have to pick a busy image, or that you have to use the feature at all. The new feature is currently rolling out and should be available to everyone in a few days. Check the lower left corner of the page to see if you have the option yet. We wouldn't be surprised to see corporations start branding the Google homepage just because they can.
Do you plan to change your Google background, or is the stock look best?
Like many of you out there, we are Gmail addicts around here. So a feature addition to Gmail is always an enjoyable event. When it solves a problem in a really simple way, it's even better. Gmail has added the ability to drag and drop images into the composition panel, and it definitely solves a problem. This is similar to the recently added ability to drag and drop attachments into messages.
In our testing it worked very well. Even dropping in large images resulted in only a slight delay before they were visible. It's just a small addition in the grand scheme of Gmail, but when combined with other new, intuitive features it really makes it feel like a more elegant experience. We assume this is accomplished with some sort of HTML5 implementations in Gmail.
Google is currently only supporting this feature in Chrome, but other browsers are coming soon. What features do you want to see in Gmail?
Double the screensavers, double the fun. Right? That's the proposition offered by FoxSaver, a unique extension for the Mozilla Firefox Web browser that separates the application into its own, separate display platform from your desktop. That's a bit of a tongue-twister, so let me spell this out: FoxSaver, as suggested by the name, is an add-on that builds a separate screensaver into your browsing session.
You can use the add-on to pull images from a huge online gallery of pre-submitted pictures (akin to Flickr). If you're not into the random element, you can also set up FoxSaver to use images from a number of folders on your local hard drive or specific RSS feeds that you've already set up. The add-on will even display the contents of Web pages during the animated screensaver process--take that, data-driven RSS feeds.
Google Labs continues to fine tune the way you look for and view images on your PC. It started with the basic Image Search launched in 2001, which more recently involved into Similar Images. Taking it one step further, Google on Tuesday unveiled an experimental featured called Google Image Swirl.
"Once you find the group of images you're interested in, you can click on the thumbnail and a cluster of images will 'swirl' into view," Google wrote on its blog. "You can then further explore additional sub-groups within any cluster."
To make the effect possible, Google says it tapped into technologies developed for Similar Images and Picasa Face Recognition. All of the thumbnails on the initial results page represents an algorithmically-determined group of images with a similar appearance and meaning.
As it stands, Image Swirl works for more than 200,000 search queries, with even more planned in the future, Google says.
Over the last couple of weeks, you've probably noticed Google has been on a sci-fi kick by replacing its standard doodle with a series of UFO-based logos. The first one showed a UFO abducting the second 'O' in the logo, and after decoding an accompanying Twitter message that read "All your O are belong to us," everyone concluded it was simply a throwback to the poorly translated video game Zero Wing in recognition of its 20-year anniversary.
But then more doodles started to appear, including one which linked to a search for "crop circles," along with another Twitter clue. For those of you that figured out this all somehow tied in with H.G. Wells, pat yourself on the back.
"Now, we're finally acknowledging the reason for the doodles with an official nod to Herbert George, who would be 143 years old today," Google revealed in its blog. "Inspiration for innovation in technology and design can come from lots of places; we wanted to celebrate H.G. Wells an an author who encouraged fantastical thinking about what is possible, on this planet and beyond. And maybe have some fun while we were doing it."
While Google continues to pull ahead with a healthy share of planetary images, Microsoft announced this week that they signed a deal that gives them access to 100TB worth of NASA’s images, that will ultimately find their way onto the WorldWide Telescope website.
Microsoft has announced that they plan on working with NASA in order to develop “the technology and infrastructure necessary to make the most interesting NASA content.” The content, which will be available on Microsoft’s virtual telescope for exploring the universe, WorldWide Telescope, should be available later this year.
And, for those keeping tabs on just how big 100TB of data is, that’s enough to fill 20,000 DVDs.
One of the coolest features to find its way into Microsoft's Silverlight 2's beta build is the Deep Zoom Composer. Deep Zoom gives website developers the ability to display multiple high resolution thumbnail images, which visitors can then quickly zoom in for a detailed closeup and then pan back out without ever skipping a beat. If you haven't already, install the latest beta build, then head over to the Hard Rock Cafe and browse the memorabilia section to what the fuss is all about.
Taking the technology a giant leap forward, Donavon West, a Microsoft MVP for Live Development, has created a 10,000 x 10,000 mosaic of Barrack Obama. Removing political affiliations from the equation, West's DeepZoomObama mosaic shows Silverlight strutting its stuff as you zoom in on any of the many images ranging from Time Magazine covers to cats wearing hats. Best of all, West details exactly how he built it using a handful of readily available free tools.
While a mosaic of Barrack Obama might be well timed with an upcoming presidential election, the door has been left wide open for Maximum PC readers to serve up more scintillating mosaics. Imagine zooming in on an Asus Striker II Extreme and uncovering a wealth of hardware images. Have something even better in mind? Show us what you got!