This week Google aimed to change the way we consume content with a few significant alterations to Blogger. Meanwhile, a new social, Facebook-y feature was added -- very quietly -- to Labs. 

Google Announces 5 New Ways to Experience Blogger

Everyone's favorite Internet giant is mixing things up over on Blogger. Starting this week, visitors to Blogger-hosted sites will find five new viewing options if they type “/view” at the end of the URL. Make no mistake — these views aren't aren't simple skin changes. The differences are quite dramatic, and aim to change the way content is consumed altogether.

  • Flipcard: This view places square photos in rows, side by side. Hovering over a photo "flips" the image, revealing the name of the post, the date it was published and the number of comments it has. Posts can be reorganized by most recent, date, label or author.
  • Mosaic: This one is pretty self-explanatory — the photos are displayed in a mosaic style. Hovering over a photo increases its size and displays the title of the post. Clicking the image opens the post as part of the mosaic.
  • Snapshot: This view turns photos into rows of Polaroids. The title of the post appears "written" at the bottom of the photo, as though it's a caption. Hovering over each image displays a snippet from the post.
  • Sidebar: Sidebar creates a menu bar on the left side of the screen with all of a blog’s posts as well as their comment counts. Clicking on a title opens the article on the right side.
  • Timeslide: Timeslide is a three-column layout that displays recent posts. The left column shows photos and snippets from recent posts, while the middle column displays summaries of less recent posts. The right-hand column lists titles of older articles.

Google's '+1' Makes Searching More Social

The new +1 feature in Google Labs is the Internet giant's latest attempt at a social life. In use, it adds a little box at the end of each search result. If one appeals more than most, you can click the icon and your Google friends will be able to see it if they do a similar search.

Google is also changing its user profiles to make them something more akin to Facebook profiles, in the hope that your friends will start checking them out more regularly. Only when Google profiles are a popular location will people really start seeing any value in +1. Until then, your friends have to search for the same stuff as you to see what you liked.

Google Makes 2011 About Collaboration

Google's ego took a mighty blow when Wave failed to live up to the hype, but the Internet giant is far from giving up on collaboration. This year it appears the company is making a fresh start with a few tools and features that suit the enterprise just fine.

Simpler File Navigation

When Big G added the upload-any-file feature to Google Docs, it was only a matter of time before users would need an organizational tool. That need was answered in January with a refresh to the documents list, making it easier to find, explore and share Web-based files.

New filters allow users to narrow a search by type, visibility state, and other criteria, while priority sorting has been added to all views. Priority sorting is like Gmail’s Priority Inbox (another newbie), taking in a number of a usage statistics in order to put the most relevant files at the top of the list. Other sort orders like Last Modified Date or by Name are also available. 

Google Discussions

Google Discussions adds a comment feature to Google Docs that includes ownership and editing rights. The tweak encourages collaboration through the integration of structured discussions, a unified discussion stream, time stamps, profile pictures, @mentions and e-mail notifications.

Should the stream get too big, comments can now be resolved instead of deleted. This is great for conserving screen real estate without losing information that you might want to access later:



Google Cloud Connect

Because Google really, really wants you to know how great their workplace tools are, they've released a tool called Cloud Connect. The plugin aims to bring Microsoft users over to the G side by syncing Office with Docs, essentially keeping both the cloud and local files the same.

This year the tool moved from limited beta to general release in hopes of taking Microsoft down a peg or two.

Features include:

  • Simultaneous editing for Word, PowerPoint and Excel files when using Microsoft Office.
  • Google Docs sharing URLs for each Microsoft Office file.
  • Revision history for Microsoft Office files, stored in Google Docs.
  • Offline editing with smart synchronization of offline changes.
  • No Microsoft Office upgrade or SharePoint deployment required.