Dev Channel Update Adds Better OS Integration in Chrome Packaged Apps

Latest Chrome Dev channel brings Chrome packaged apps richer access to Google services, better OS integration. Google granted 'Providing results to parameterless search queries' patent.

Google Chrome Dev Channel has been updated to 29.0.1547.15 for Windows, Mac, Linux and Chrome Frame. This release brings powerful capabilities to Chrome packaged apps including richer access to Google services such as Google Analytics, Google APIs and Google Wallet.

In addition, it also introduces better OS integration using services such as Bluetooth and native app communication.

Chromium packaged app, which are are currently in preview available to Chrome Dev channel users in the Chrome Web Store.

Here is what is new in this release:

First up, Google introduced Identity API, that supports authentication using Google Accounts as well as third party providers such as GitHub and Foursquare. It allows packaged apps to authenticate users securely using OAuth 2.0 without the user having to provide a username and password directly to the app. "Identity API uses a webview based UI to show the OAuth consent dialog and when the Google+ API scope is used, it allows users to control who can see their activity on the app," google added.

Indentity API in Chrome packaged apps

The Identity API also gives packaged apps secure access to Google APIs such as Google+, Calendar and Drive. As an example, "Google Keep uses the Identity API to authenticate users as well as to call the Google Drive API to save notes to Drive," explains google.

Analytics API makes it easy to collect user engagement data from their applications. "Developers can then use Google Analytics reports to measure number of active users, adoption and usage of specific features, and many other useful metrics," google said.

Bluetooth API based on the 4.0 specification, allows packaged apps to connect to Bluetooth devices such as smartphones and headsets. "The API's Low Energy support allows Chrome packaged apps to automatically sync data from low energy health devices like fitness trackers and heart rate sensors."

Native Messaging API allows Chrome packaged apps to communicate with native applications. "This API can be used by a Chrome packaged app to communicate with native binaries that drive consumer electronics such as motion sensors or scanners," informs google.

Finally, Google also made enhancements to Media Gallery API, that allows packaged apps to read media (music, videos and images) from the local disk with user consent.

Starting with this release, "a user's iTunes music library will be available as a default media gallery, allowing apps to import and play locally stored music," google said.

In App Payments API built on the Google Wallet for digital goods platform--allows packaged app developers to sell digital and virtual goods in a packaged app through a simple user interface.

In addition to one-time billing, this API supports subscription-based billing.

In App Payment in Chrome packaged apps: Review your purchases

Google has also made a online Chrome sync dashboard available that lets users see how many extensions, apps, themes, bookmarks, passwords, Omnibox URLs, autofill items, settings and open tabs are synced by Chrome for their account.

"Chrome Sync saves your personalized browser features to the web and allows you to access them from Google Chrome on any computer," informs Google.

Google Dashboard shows even more information about Chrome Sync: autofill profiles, app settings, search engines and the date of the last sync.

And, to find more technical information about Chrome Sync internals, "just open a new tab in Chrome, paste this: chrome://sync-internals/ and press Enter." You'll find that Chrome synchronizes a lot more things: app notifications, device information, dictionaries, experiments, extension settings, favicons.

Below are some Google KeepAndroid app tips:

For Mobile:

  1. Convert an existing list to a to-do list by tapping "show checkboxes" in the Keep menu.
  2. A simple way to add images to a new note: select one or more images in the gallery app or a file manager, use the share feature and select Keep.
  3. Copy text from a web page to a new note. Select the text, use the share feature and choose Keep.
  4. Save the title of a web page and the URL to a new note. Use the share option from your favorite browser.
  5. Add a Keep widget with the latest notes. Resize the widget to show more notes.
  6. Reorder notes: long press a note and drag it to a different position.
  7. Use colors to organize notes. For example, blue notes are related to work.
  8. Take multiple photos from a note. You can then upload the album to Google+ using the share feature.
  9. Write short notes quickly: tap "add quick note", type the note and tap "Done".
  10. Duplicate a note: open it, tap the share button and select Keep.
  11. Tap the microphone to dictate your note and to save your voice recording. You can use Keep as a voice recording app.
  12. Find notes with voice recordings: they have a small play icon next to the date.
  13. Remove a recording by tapping "x" next to the audio player. You can also remove photos in the same way.
  14. Dictate notes without saving audio files by tapping the microphone button from the keyboard.
  15. Use Google Voice Search to dictate notes. Start with "note to self" and select Keep from the list of applications after dictating the note.
  16. Change the default background color: tap "add quick note", type something, then tap the color palette icon and pick a color.
  17. Use the minus operator to exclude keywords when you use the search feature. Use quotes for exact matches. Examples: [milk -buy], ["buy milk"].

For desktop

  1. Read your notes online from any device at drive.google.com/keep.
  2. Install the Chrome app to read your notes offline when you use your computer.
  3. Get permalinks for your notes: open the Google Keep site in a desktop browser, switch to the grid view and click a note.
  4. Download voice recordings: open Keep in a desktop browser, click a note, mouse over the voice recording and click "Download".

Keyboard shortcuts

j/k - navigate to the next/previous note
n/p - same as j/k, but also useful for navigating between list items
c - compose a new note
/ - use the search feature
e - archive selected note
# - delete selected note
o - open selected note
Enter - edit selected note
Ctrl+g - toggle between list and grid view
Esc - finish editing a note.

In other Google news, today--Google Now added a new TV card, that lets you tap "listen now for TV shows" and Google detects the TV show you're watching.

Google Now TV Card"Your Android device uses the Simple Service Discovery Protocol (SSDP) to determine the presence of a TV on the network and related information, such as its model and brand name. This is a standard way for networked devices to locate other devices or services on a home network," Google explains.

"To provide relevant information after you touch Listen for a TV show, TV cards rely on both the WiFi signal and the sound from your TV. You may need to turn up the volume for the cards to work correctly," explains Google. Does this mean that Google records all the TV shows from the US channels?

"Other cards may also appear, telling you more about specific show content as it happens. For example, they may give you more information about celebrities, actors, or other people mentioned in the show," google added.

Google Australia is currently shows some promotional messages while signing in Google Accounts. The promos include:

Search promo: "Oh, cool. I can take my Google stuff anywhere. Sign in to access your docs, photos, music and more across all your devices."

Maps promo: "Oh, cool. My directions are already on my phone. Sign in and take your Google Maps searches with you."

Google Australia Search and Google Maps Promos

The messages are displayed when you visit Google's Australis homepage, and search for something using Google Image Search and Maps. If you don't click "sign in" or the "x" icon to dismiss the message, Google will continue to display it.

Google on Juy 2 has been granted a US Patent 8,478,519 "Providing results to parameterless search queries" by USPTPO, which was filed by Google on August 30, 2010. The patent tells us that this parameterless search query approach isn't limited to mobile phones, but can work with tablets, laptops, car navigation systems, personal digital assistants, or desktop computers.

"In one implementation, a computer-implemented method includes receiving a parameterless search request, which was provided to a mobile computing device, for information that is relevant to a user of the mobile computing device. The method also includes, in response to the received parameterless search request, identifying with a digital computer system one or more results that are determined to be relevant to the user of the mobile computing device based upon a current context of the mobile computing device. The method further includes providing the results for display to a user of the mobile computing device," reads the patent abstract.

For example, if the user is provided with a recent update to a blog that the user frequently reads and the user sends a link to the updated blog posting to his/her friends, the user sending the link can be recorded as user behavior data in the user behavior data repository of the mobile computing device and used to provide results to future parameterless search requests.

You can read more here (via).

Update 07/10: Chrome users on Windows will now see their browser updated to include richer notifications, Mac users will get the feature soon.