Getting your Google Mac news

Friday, June 22, 2012 at 12:00 PM

By Scott Knaster, Editor

More than five years ago, we created this blog to tell you about our software for Macs. Since then, Apple’s products have become more popular than ever, and we’ve kept up by offering strong support for OS X and iOS, including the speedy and popular Google Chrome for OS X, the amazing Google Earth, and a whole bunch of excellent iOS apps.

Our Mac and iOS support has now become so mainstream that we realized we just don’t need to keep Mac news on its own blog, so we won’t be posting here any longer. For updates, we encourage you to visit our blogs for individual products, like the Chrome Blog and the Lat Long Blog.

Thanks for reading this blog over the past five and a half years!

Steve Jobs, 1955 - 2011

Thursday, October 06, 2011 at 11:41 AM

We at Google were shocked and saddened yesterday to hear about the death of Steve Jobs. Steve's work has inspired and delighted many of us for decades, and we will miss him.

Please read Larry and Sergey's thoughts about Steve Jobs.

A new Objective-C library for a new generation of APIs

Wednesday, August 31, 2011 at 12:45 PM

By Greg Robbins and Tom Van Lenten, Software Engineers

Cross-posted with the Google Code Blog

Four years ago, we introduced an Objective-C library for Google Data APIs. At first, it supported a scant three services - Google Base, Calendar, and Spreadsheets. Perhaps more surprising is that it was written just for Mac applications; the iPhone SDK was still a year off. In the years since, the library has grown to support 16 APIs, and has been used in many hundreds of applications. In a fine example of unforeseen consequences, most of those applications run not on the Mac but on iOS.

The Google Data APIs were built on XML and the Atom Publishing Protocol, a reasonable industry standard for the time. But mobile, low-power, and bandwidth-limited computers are now the biggest audience for client software. Across the Internet, XML and AtomPub have given way to the lighter-weight JSON data interchange format.

Other fundamental changes have also shifted the API landscape. Password-based authentication is being supplanted by the more secure and flexible OAuth 2 standard. The number of APIs has grown dramatically, making it impractical to hand-craft data classes for all APIs and all languages. When services offer API improvements, developers want access to those changes as quickly as possible.

To support this evolving world, we are introducing a brand new library for Cocoa developers, the Google APIs Client Library for Objective-C. The library supports recent Google JSON APIs, including Tasks, Latitude, Books, URL Shortener, and many others. It is designed to make efficient use of the device’s processor and memory, so it’s a great fit for iOS applications.

The new library includes high-level Objective-C interfaces and data classes for each service, generated from the Google APIs Discovery Service. This lets the library model data not just as generic JSON dictionaries, but also with first-class Objective-C 2.0 objects. The classes include properties for each field, letting developers take advantage of Xcode’s code completion and syntax and type checking.

Here’s how easy it is to use the library and the new Google Books API to search for and print the titles of free ebooks by Samuel Clemens:
#import "GTLBooks.h"

GTLServiceBooks *service = [[GTLServiceBooks alloc] init];

GTLQueryBooks *query = 
  [GTLQueryBooks queryForVolumesListWithQ:@"Mark Twain"];
query.filter = kGTLBooksFilterFreeEbooks;

[service executeQuery:query
    completionHandler:^(GTLServiceTicket *ticket,
                        id object, NSError *error) {
      // callback
      if (error == nil) {
        GTLBooksVolumes *results = object;
        for (GTLBooksVolume *volume in results) {
          NSLog(@"%@", volume.volumeInfo.title);
The library supports Google’s partial response and partial update protocols, so even items of data-rich APIs can be retrieved and updated with minimal network overhead. It also offers a simple, efficient batch model, so many queries can be combined into one http request and response, speeding up applications.

When we introduced the previous Objective-C library, it was with this assertion: When you trust your personal data to Google, it's still your data. You're free to edit it, to share it with others, or to download it and take it somewhere else entirely. We hope the new library and Google’s growing collection of APIs help iOS and Mac developers to keep that principle meaningful for many years to come. You can start using the Google APIs Client Library for Objective-C by checking it out from our open-source project site and by subscribing to the discussion group.

Greg Robbins writes code to connect Mac and iOS apps to Internet services. He chases dogs in the morning, and bugs in the afternoon.

Tom Van Lenten is a Software Engineer on the Google Chrome team. He is also hooked on the Google Toolbox for Mac open source projects.

Posted by Scott Knaster, Editor

⌘ + Q: I didn’t mean to do that

Tuesday, June 14, 2011 at 9:55 AM

by Robert Sesek, Software Engineer

In Chrome, have you ever accidentally hit ⌘ + Q when you meant to hit ⌘ + W? It’s both frustrating and a productivity killer to close your entire browser by accident, because you then have to restart and wait for all the pages to reload. It happens to us too. But now we’ve added a new feature in Chrome for Mac that can help keep you from losing your work.

On the Mac, Chrome can now warn you before quitting so that you don’t accidentally quit the browser when you’re just trying to close a single tab. To enable this feature, go to the Chrome menu in the upper-left and select Warn Before Quitting. The next time you press ⌘ + Q, a floating window will appear, instructing you to Hold ⌘Q to Quit. This way, if your hand slips and you press Q instead of W, you can go right on browsing without interruption. If you really do want to quit, hold down ⌘Q as it says and, after a second, all the windows will fade away and you can release the keys. If you want to skip this warning and quit quickly, you can just press ⌘ + Q twice.

As a side note, if you ever accidentally close a tab or window, you can use Chrome’s tab restore feature to get it back. Simply press ⌘ + shift + T, which will reopen the most recently closed tab or window. Just like the Undo command in your word processor, you can use this shortcut multiple times to repeatedly reopen closed tabs. You can also find tabs you’ve recently closed on the bottom of the New Tab page, or in the History menu.

We hope this feature helps prevent you from losing your place accidentally. Happy browsing!

WWDC 2011 Journal, Day 4

Friday, June 10, 2011 at 8:57 AM

by Mike Morton, Google Mac Team

Google Engineer Mike Morton is finished with Apple's 2011 Worldwide Developer Conference. Here's his final journal entry, written before he hopped a plane for home earlier today, where he's probably catching up on sleep and email, in that order.

My last day in town began with a short – OK, very short – visit to the hotel gym, then the usual breakfast at Moscone of pastries (have these folks not heard that carbs are out of fashion?) and coffee. The guy across the table was wearing a t-shirt that read "I was a Mac user when Apple was doomed". It’s nice to be not doomed again.

Early in the day, I went to a talk on accessibility on iOS. This included a great demo of iOS features to help people who are blind, visually impaired, deaf, or motor-impaired. There were also details of how to make sure our apps are useful for everyone. We also saw a short video of the Wearabraille system, which is the most high-tech accessory I’ve seen for an iPhone.

Most talks include a demonstration app, sometimes with an Apple engineer creating the app one piece at a time. Since they paste in prepared snippets of code, that kind of demo moves fast, occasionally leaving me with the feeling of watching a cooking show on fast forward. Building an app on the fly, even with prepared ingredients, can be tough on the Apple folks, too. Even though it’s scripted, the parts done manually are an invitation for the Demo Gods to fling a few thunderbolts. Audiences are very patient, as most of us have been hit with thunderbolts ourselves, but it’s still tough on the person giving the talk.

One of today's highlights was a performance by James Dempsey and the Breakpoints. James is the funniest guy at Apple, and does a song every year. I got there early and scored a front-row seat. Worth the effort, not only to see James perform "The Accessibility Song" on iPad instead of his usual guitar, but also for the number of words rhymed with "accessibility". I don’t think the performance has hit YouTube yet, but you can find several other performances online.

The other music news of the morning was speculation about which musical act would show up at the traditional Thursday night WWDC bash. Rumors flew about The Edge, Michael Franti and Spearhead, Arcade Fire, and others. Some thought it would be someone whose music was played before the sessions. That would suggest the equally unlikely possibilities of a James Brown gig or a Beatles reunion.

Those wanting to drink at the party had to show IDs to get wristbands. Perhaps they were expecting some serious drinking: the wristbands said "If found, return me to WWDC". The Franti faction was right, and the band rocked Yerba Buena Gardens, driving some of us old folks to the far edge of the garden, where the volume was more tolerable.

Tomorrow’s special event is Buzz Aldrin speaking, but I’ll be airborne while he talks about orbit. I hope he repeats next year! Tickets for next year are already on my mind — WWDC 2010 sold out in eight days, and 2011 in eleven hours. Pressure for tickets will be intense in the future. I wonder if we’ll see scalping, or perhaps ’bots which will buy your ticket for you.

WWDC 2012 will bring new things, but it will also be the same thing all over again: long lines, repeated sleep deprivation, seeing friends. I wonder how we can keep this blog from being the same thing all over again. What should my intrepid editor and I do? Interviews with attendees? Writing in lolcat for teh intire confuhrens? Capturing each day in a single haiku? Using nothing but memes built at We'll have to work on that. See you next year!

WWDC 2011 Journal, Day 3

Thursday, June 09, 2011 at 10:22 PM

by Mike Morton, Google Mac Team

Every June, Mike Morton travels to San Francisco for Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference so you don't have to. WWDC content is covered by a non-disclosure agreement, so Mike's observations focus on ambiance, human behavior, and the effects of sleep deprivation.

I thought I was smart when I asked for a room across the hall from one of my team members, so we could easily get together for breakfast. It didn’t feel so smart when he knocked on my door early this morning. When I stuck my head out the door, he apparently noticed that my hair was going in enough directions to inspire Stephen Hawking to new theories about the nature of space, and helpfully observed "Oh, I woke you up." I didn’t have the presence of mind to reply, "No, no, I had to get up to answer the door anyway."

A few of us headed to Moscone and found a line of people waiting to get in. I knew I shouldn’t have answered the door. But it wasn’t much of a wait, and we soon had caffeine and pastries and were heading for the first session of the morning. I hit four talks today, skipping a couple of slots in a struggle to keep up with work email. (I got down to under 100 messages, but it’s back up since then).

Queues continued inside Moscone, with thousands of people waiting for the most popular topics. At one point, I left a small room and walked halfway around the building to a large one, only to find and follow a line of engineers reaching right back to where I started. The veneer of civilization wore a little thin as some attendees snuck in exit doors to avoid the wait and get good seats, but Apple staff mostly stopped that. I watched one Apple staffer trying and mostly succeeding to keep us in line, and asked him whether it was more like herding cats or herding sheep. He didn’t hesitate in answering — “Sheep”.

During lunch, Michael Johnson from Pixar spoke to a huge audience about Pixar’s technology and people. I caught him last year, but he always works in new material. There may or may not have been sneak previews of future films, but the non-disclosure agreement probably means I shouldn’t go into detail. As always, his talk was a lot of fun, a nice break from the serious stuff. That serious stuff does weigh on some people after a while. In the last session, I heard snoring a few rows back.

I keep seeing old colleagues and friends I but don’t have enough time to talk. I also wind up confessing that I flat out can’t remember a few names, but nobody seems to mind.

I’ve written in past years about the value of labs, where you can talk one-on-one with Apple engineers for help with learning new areas or solving problems. Unlike past years, I didn’t come with many questions, but some people sure did. There were huge waits in some labs. Unfortunately for the Apple folks, they wear distinctive t-shirts, so I bet they get cornered in the halls by people who didn’t get to them in the labs.

Tomorrow is my last day at this conference. I’m heading home early Friday morning. We’ll see if I can balance talks, email, and socializing – and oh, yeah, that gym in the hotel.

WWDC 2011 Journal, Day 2

Wednesday, June 08, 2011 at 10:22 AM

By Mike Morton, Google Mac Team

Google Engineer Mike Morton continues his nerd's-eye-view report from the Apple Worldwide Developer Conference in San Francisco. Today Mike starts with a festive breakfast and finishes at this year's edition of the legendary Stump the Experts.

My team had a 7:00 a.m. meeting at a nearby restaurant so I woke early, dashed through the shower, glanced guiltily at the hotel gym, and headed out, only to find the restaurant is closed on Tuesdays. I continued on to a 7:30 breakfast for folks who coordinate chapters of CocoaHeads. I had a great time talking with people from around the world, everything from small talk about the conference to challenges in getting people to present technical talks. Mark Dalrymple, who helped found the organization, showed up and was mobbed by friends and well-wishers, about five steps from the food table. I helped disengage him and steered him to the food.

There were door prizes, with iTunes gift cards going to the oldest chapter (besides Mark’s), the person who traveled the farthest, and the one who had the earliest Mac model. There was a tense moment on that last one when another guy and I both said we had original 128KB Macintoshes. I challenged "September, 1984. Full price!" He admitted he got his for two bucks at a yard sale — score!

Mark talked a little about founding Cocoaheads with the mysterious Agent M. (I’ve never known Agent M’s name, and have gotten kind of resigned to that little mystery. I was kind of alarmed to see that nobody else there seemed to know it either.) Mark graciously said that Agent M had the vision to plan a global organization, joking that left to himself he would have named it "the Western Pennsylvania Macintosh Programmer’s Cooperative". We posed for a group photo. Someone yelled "Java!" at the right moment and got a good group laugh.

I headed to Moscone and played hooky only once in six sessions. Apple works hard to make their engineers give polished talks with polished slides, and it shows. Most presentations were good — and crowded. Lines to get into the most popular sessions snaked randomly around the waiting areas.

A few sessions had hiccups: A missing slide, a demo application not working. Presenters rolled with the punches. One cheerfully moved on with "imagine you saw a demo, and it was great!". (He got a round of applause.)

I went to lunch in the Moscone cafeteria for the first time this week and found that every table had power strips and fast, wired network connections. Nerdvana! As so often happens when traveling, network connections are iffy. My hotel’s wi-fi and wired connections are both flaky, and Moscone’s wireless net is variable, depending on how crowded the room is. My iPhone’s tethering makes a nice Plan B at any location.

After dinner out, I poked my head in for the Apple Design Awards. It was crowded, so I left and took a break at the hotel to try to catch up on email and other things. I returned about 9:00 p.m. in time for Stump The Experts, my first time seeing this famous event. It’s a manic, disorganized, geekier-than-thou fest, with serious technical trivia about products (way back to the Apple I, even) and programming, but also some wild hats, a lot of improv, rebus puzzles, trying to guess a "will it blend" mystery object from its blended remains, a Mountain Dew tasting, and a "crazy Swiss guy". If I had attended any of the 19 previous years, maybe I would have understood what that last was all about.

Stump The Experts in a typically organized pose

The event is a competition between the audience and the on-stage experts. The format is… well, I couldn’t figure out if there was one. Competition is high-spirited, with lots of argument about who’s right. Example: "I quote the Wikipedia page, which we didn't even have to lie and edit".

Some questions are asked on the spot by the audience. The biggest laugh of the night came when an audience member asked what sounded like a rhetorical question: how did a particular much-hated app gain App Store approval? One expert turned out to be the bowling partner of the guy who wrote the app, and texted him to ask. The answer was "beer", which may or may not be a rhetorical answer.

We wrapped up at 10:30, with a few brave folks disco dancing to "Night Fever" as the rest of us headed out to get some rest (or beer).