Tag: google apps

Google Assistant now features Santa tracking

The Android mobile app and service is letting kids of all ages check on what Old Saint Nick is up to.

Christmas is creeping up fast and as Santa and his elves make last minute preparations, Google Assistant is allowing kids to check up on jolly old Saint Nick. The popular Santa Tracker has been worked into the artificial intelligence-powered digital personal assistant app. Kids of all ages can now say “Track Santa” or ask “Where is Santa” and find out the latest about Father Christmas.

At the moment, the Assistant is providing text answers to the question, though full maps are available.

For instance, when using the mobile app or desktop site instead of Google Assistant, a full map response is provided to the inquiry about Santa’s location. That said, the Assistant has a few additional lighthearted options, such as a number of different Santa-themed jokes.

Google Assistant - Santa TrackingThe majority of the responses currently shared about Santa’s location have to do with the last minute preparations he is making with his elves. For instance, one reply from the Santa Tracker indicates that he just finished checking the weather reports for Christmas Eve.

The Google Assistant app is available for mobile devices based on the Android operating system.

Typically, the Assistant helps mobile device users to be able to conduct internet searches, to look through their pictures or complete a range of other basic tasks. However, for the holiday season, Google’s Santa tracking system has been integrated into the Assistant to allow users to find out when he might be flying near to their location.

That said, the holiday features aren’t just exclusive to people who celebrate Christmas during the holiday season. Google has also worked in a cute option meant for Jewish kids who are getting ready to celebrate Hanukkah, too. For instance, if you ask the Assistant to “spin the dreidel,” it provides a digital simulation of the spinning four-sided top. This can allow kids to play regardless of whether they happen to have an actual dreidel handy.

For mobile device users who have gadgets based on an operating system other than Android, the features Android users are enjoying with Google Assistant are still available. Google’s full Santa-tracking website is available for all smartphones, tablets and laptop/desktop users to be able to keep up with the very latest with the Jolly Old Elf.

Google Docs makes reading on mobile devices easier with EPUB exports

These files are now created with Word indexes and simplify compatibility issues for new and legacy documents.

Users of Google Docs now have a new feature available to them, as they are able to use EPUB format when they export their documents, including the ability to convert Word indexes into chapter lists that can be clicked by the viewer.

This announcement was made rather quietly, earlier this month by the team at Google Apps.

The introduction of the new Google Docs feature may have seemed like a rather quiet one, but it could represent a considerable step forward in making it possible for a spectrum of new and legacy documents to be accessible from one device to the next. Since the EPUB format has become a common format for everything from textbooks to young adult fiction novels and even academic treatises, it was a natural fit for this new feature. The format is appealing due to its ease of compatibility as well as the reliability of its hyperlinked chapter indexes created through standard word processing software such as Microsoft Word.

This format allows Google Docs to better cater to the use and exporting of longer works such as novels.

Google Docs - Mobile Device Reading Made EasierUnlike when Word documents are uploaded as a Google Doc file, viewable in GDocs, where the indexes originally created in the .doc file may not work (that is, by clicking a chapter, the viewer will not be automatically brought to that page), when it is exported as an EPUB, the chapter indexes are all completely preserved. This makes for a much more convenient reading experience and can be very important when viewing a longer document.

EPUB, itself, is based on the XML publication standard and is both free and open. Its standard was ratified by the International Digital Publishing Forum and overcomes many of the barriers and limitations presented by certain other common formats such as Adobe’s PDF which can lead to a more cumbersome reading experience, particularly when shifting from one device to the next.

It is likely that this could become a highly popular feature in Google Docs and could present a way to translate full libraries of legacy Word-based documents into a more modern and compatible cross-device format.