Tagged With google labs


Google has a long history of introducing, then forgetting about, and finally officially killing off its products. Most recently, that included Google Spaces, a service that most of us never knew existed to begin with. Let's take a tour of some of our favourite services Google's killed off over the years.


Google has announced that it is "winding down" Labs, its system of introducing new features as experimental prototypes. While I don't imagine that means the end of innovation from Google, it does mark an unfortunate change in the way we get to experience those innovations.


Google Maps on your phone is a great way to navigate in unfamiliar areas, but what happens if there's no signal? A new Google Maps Lab feature lets you download maps within 10 miles (how very imperial) of any location listed on a place page, ensuring you have basic details even when your phone can't connect.


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Thanks to some handy tricks in the Google Labs bag you can easily add an HTML signature complete with images and save it for future use without plugins or outside help.


Besides a killer algorithm and brand-name recognition, Google's greatest strength is its speed at releasing new products. We get to play with new, cool and ever-improving tools for free. Recently, though, we've seen that being unwitting lab subjects can kind of stink.


Google has upgraded the optional Accessible Search feature available from Google Labs. Now, individual results pop up in bright, blue boxes with large text you can choose to make larger. You can navigate results with the keyboard, with alert sounds, and a screenreader will read back the highlighted entry. Just visit the Experimental Search page, scroll down to Accessible View and click the Join this Experiment button. Anyone else find it quicker to scan and less cluttered than the regular search results page?


Windows only: Google Labs has just launched Lively, the latest in a long line of attempts to make 3D avatars an appealing part of social networking. Embedding a Lively 'room' in your own site allows people to chat and interact using their own avatar. Of course, concentrating on the visual aspects of social networking isn't necessarily going to make them a more useful productivity tool, but if you find current systems lacking in design panache, Lively might be worth a spin. Lively is freeware for Windows XP and Vista only, requires a Google account. We found sign-in to be troublesome to say the least; if you've had a positive experience with Lively, share it in the comments.