Google is a household name for a reason. This tech company not only offers one of the best search engines on the web, but also has a laser-focus on enhancing the overall user experience via regular updates, overhauls, and new products.
The tech giant rolled out a few new updates over the last week, and they’re pretty exciting because they further enhance two of its most beloved services: Google Search and YouTube, the massive video platform that was purchased by Google back in 2006. RELATED: 6 practical reasons to use Incognito mode.
Google didn’t just make those changes, though. It also rebranded one of its G Suite products, Google+, giving it both a facelift and a new purpose. Let’s take a look at the changes you can expect to find with these new Google updates.
What updates did Google roll out?
As we mentioned, Google has rolled out updates to a few of its services over the last few days, and you may find these changes to be pretty useful — especially when it comes to the update to Google Search.
The new Google Search update
Chances are you already use Google Search on a regular basis. It is one of the most comprehensive and easy to navigate search engines, after all, so it may be hard to picture Google Search needing an update. But it did, and the update is awesome.
One of the new features of Google Search centers around Featured Snippet boxes, which are the short boxes of information that appear when you search in Google, with a link to the full article underneath. If you click on the Featured Snippet in the Google Search results, it will take you to the web page with the full article text that contains the information you’re looking for.
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The problem in the past has been that you can find the information you’re looking for in a search and see it in the Featured Snippet box, but the information can be difficult to locate in the article text when you visit the linked page. This new feature resolves the issue by highlighting the specific text content you’re looking for in the article on the linked page.
Google has been testing out this feature for the last couple of years, and as of this week, it’s finally live on both desktop and mobile. According to Google, this feature should work on most browsers — but it may not work on all.
“There’s no markup needed by webmasters to enable a featured snippet [but if] a browser doesn’t support the underlying technology needed, or if our systems can’t confidently determine exactly where within a page to direct a click, clicking a featured snippet will take a user to the top of the source web page,” a Google support page said.
The YouTube update
If you’re an avid YouTube creator, you’ll be stoked to know that a new update to the video content site (which is owned by Google) now allows creators to add video chapters to their content.
You can add these chapters to break up your video into sections, and what’s cool about this update is that each chapter will have an individual preview, allowing your viewers to pick and choose which parts or chapters of the videos they want to watch — or rewatch — without having to scroll through the entire video.
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For example, when a YouTube creator uploads a video with chapters, they will organize it by timestamps that are included in the video’s description. These timestamps will specify what content can be found in what chapter: an intro at 0:00, a tutorial at 5:32, a review at 8:15, and a conclusion at 12:17 — or any variation of this.
These chapters make it simple to quickly locate the parts of a video you need while avoiding the rest. If you need the tutorial portion of a video, you can skip right to it with chapters. Or, if you’re only interested in the review portion, you can easily just skip the intro and the product tutorial. Pretty nifty, right?
The downside is that YouTube creators will need to add chapters to their videos — it won’t be done automatically (at least not right now, anyway). Still, this feature is extremely useful for people who don’t like to spend their time watching a full video and prefer to get right to the point instead.
- Sign in to YouTube.
- Go to the video you want to edit.
- Select Edit Video under the video.
- In the Description box of the Add details page, add a list of timestamps and titles.
- A few tips: You’ll need to make sure sure that the first timestamp you list starts with 00:00. Your video should have at least three timestamps listed in ascending order, and the minimum length for video chapters is 10 seconds.
The rebrand of Google+ to Google Currents
And, last but not least, Google also announced the rollout of Google Currents this week, which is basically a rebrand of the mostly-defunct G Suite social media network Google+. This rebranding was announced in mid-2019 after Google eliminated the social networking aspect of Google+ in lieu of a focus on enterprise communication.
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Google Currents is being touted as a way for “employees to share knowledge and engage in meaningful discussions with others across their organization, regardless of title or geography,” according to Google, and can be used as a way to “engage employees. Have meaningful discussions. Stay current — together.
According to Google, the new Google Current offers users:
- A centralized place to communicate your ideas and get instant feedback: you can share ideas with employees and gather input through meaningful, focused discussions on topics that matter to your organization.
- Help with working more efficiently with personalized content: you can find previously siloed content and resources that are relevant to your work with customized help from Currents.
- A place to learn from each other’s experiences: you can discuss key topics with employees across your organization through posts and comments that stay accessible on Currents so you can refer back to them over time.
- Help to find what you need when you need it: you can see the most important content first, using Currents’ home stream, which is ranked by relevance for each user. Follow tags on topics, search for specific information, and find what interests you.
- Help to manage with ease and take the pulse of your organization: Manage and moderate content faster with help from Currents. Key metrics help admins and users measure engagement and find valuable insights.
The user interface on Google Currents has been updated but still looks strikingly similar to the old Google+ interface. Posts and other content will be listed on the “home stream” in order of relevance, and posts from leadership can be given priority. Users can also opt to view the content in reverse chronological order.
As with Google+, users can incorporate tags, attachments, or images in their posts, but Google Current adds a few “additional features,” including content moderation and administrative privileges.
Google Currents will be available starting on July 6, and existing Google+ users will automatically be transitioned to the “updated look and feel” of the new platform within five days of the rollout.