SEVEN DAYS out from a fairly pedestrian Google I/O keynote is a funny time to be writing a column about the Week in Google. Or so you'd think.
There's actually a surprising number of little nuggets that for one reason or another didn't see the light of day at Google I/O and are worth a few moments of your time.
So this week, there's a new stable release of Chrome OS, the end of an era for one stalwart Google app, a couple of cool additions to another, a new rival for Google Now, and an initiative that will find the nutritional value of your photos.
But first, YouTube's 360 videos will now support Google Cardboard. The bargain basement, though bloomin' brilliant, virtual reality kit is now capable of rendering videos recorded in panorama. It means that you can totally immerse yourself in someone's holiday videos. Which sounds ghastly, now we think about it.
Fortunately, there's a distraction in the form of a new stable build for Chrome OS. Let joy be unconfined among Chromebook users, particularly owners of the new Pixel (yes, all three of you) for whom 'OK Google' is now working properly.
Elsewhere there's enhancements to autofill from Google Wallet, auto-correct from physical keyboards, and a new material design for the virtual keyboard, which makes us wonder whether a Chrome OS tablet is on the way.
Another slightly niche announcement now for anyone who still uses SMS with Google Calendar. Yes, that was a thing. If you still like getting SMS messages to warn you of upcoming commitments, prepare to think again. The service is being turned off on 27 June.
There's also been an update to Google's Keyboard to bring it into line with its biggest rival, SwiftKey. It will now sync dictionaries across devices, so if you're one of these people who says 'innit' a lot the keyboard will remember that.
There's great news for residents of the UK and a bunch of major US cities. Google Now has been hooked up to real-time bus information, so it will be able to warn you more accurately when it's time to get out the door and get to the bus stop. It should significantly improve the accuracy of the 'time to leave' notifications.
But there's a new kid on the block. Or should I say dog. This week saw the private beta launch of Hound, a new personal assistant app from the people behind Soundhound.
It's capable of understanding complex contextual questions and manages to parse them with ridiculous speed. Questions like 'Find me a pub within one mile of Piccadilly Circus that does karaoke and has a star rating above four' will work. We say 'will' because the app isn't officially available in the UK yet. Though that hasn't stopped us.
Finally this week, Google is matching Apple's HealthKit initiative with one of its own called Study Kit. Like Apple's version, it's totally voluntary but Google is looking at the big picture initially and asking the question: 'What is it to be healthy?'
As an aside to this, the company is also exploring a technology that will tell you how many calories your food has. We suspect it's a plot to find all Instagram users and break their spirits, one pointless food photo at a time. µ
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