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Where to find me and the Weekly Update

A few people have asked me where I'll be going with the shutdown of Google+. I'm not planning to leave Google+ imminently, so can still find me here :)

I will continue to post the Weekly Update on my blog:

You can subscribe to my blog updates by email:

You can subscribe to just my Weekly Updates by email:

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I also share everything on Twitter, and I will continue to do that after Google+ closes:
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New this week: Google Fi gets RCS, YouTube cracks down on harmful and dangerous pranks and challenges, Newspack new platform for small news organizations

As we kick off the long weekend here in the US, there are a number of updates for Fi users, YouTubers, Plussers, Webmasters and more.

* Google+ continues to update features aimed at business users. You can now embed Google+ Search result streams in the new Google Sites. The option to embed Google+ Profiles, Collections and Community Streams was introduced in July 2018.

* While Google+ still hasn’t provided any details about the shutdown process for consumer users, companies that provide services dependant on the Google+ API are removing Google+ support. While the Google+ API isn’t shutting down until March 7th, Google did announce there will be intermittent failures starting January 28th. Buffer announced they will stop supporting Google+ on January 25th and HootSuite will remove support on January 28th.

* The official Google+ Moderators Community became inactive on January 17th. Posts are still available for reading and commenting, but there will be no new members and no new posts. This follows the Google+ Aspire Community, which became inactive on January 10th.

* YouTube will be cracking down on dangerous pranks and challenges, resulting in Community Guidelines strikes (3 strikes in 90 days and you’re out!). Not only does it include pranks that could cause serious danger or death, but also pranks that make victims believe they’re in serious physical danger, or cause children to experience severe emotional distress. YouTube will also strengthening enforcement around custom thumbnails and external links that egregiously violate the Community Guidelines.

* RIP Annotations: This week Annotations were removed from YouTube videos. They were replaced by Cards and End Screens in 2017, but existing Annotionations were not removed until now. Annotations were visible on the video itself, rather than behind a button the way Cards are, and they were often used creatively. The down side of Annotations was that they could be visually annoying, and - more importantly - were not visible on mobile devices. Cards aren’t very creative, but they are visible everywhere you watch your video.

* Also this week, YouTube “Shows” playlists were converted to regular playlists, and “Movies” become standard videos. These features were only available to a limited number of creators, and so probably won’t impact most folks.

* Google Fi gets RCS: Last December, Google explained that one focus of their messaging service strategy is to “upgrade SMS so that people around the world can more easily enjoy group chats, share high-res photos, and get read receipts on any Android device” with “Rich Communication Services” or RCS in Android Messages. This requires both device manufacturers and mobile carriers to get on board. At the time it was noted with some irony that Google’s own mobile service, Google Fi, didn’t support RCS. Now, finally, Google Fi has RCS support. This is enabled automatically on “designed for Fi” phones, and can be enabled on other supported Android devices.

* Extra Extra! Newspack by is a new platform for small and medium-sized digital news organizations backed by the Google News Initiative and a number of other news-supporting organizations. If you are a part of a news organization that is interested, submit an application at . If you have a news site now, and aren’t looking for a new content management system, Google Webmasters has posted a number of tips for getting your content into Google News.

* Have you wondered what the web might look like when the European Union’s new copyright directives go into effect? Google has been testing news results with no headlines, snippets or images, apparently to see what compliance with Article 11 looks like. And YouTube has posted a mock-up of what it could look like under Article 13. If you are thinking a lot of blank spaces, you’d be right. And yes, I think Google is likely to redesign pages shown to European users in a way that both complies with the new rules, and emphasizes there is missing content.

*Click the link below for more links, tips and updates for YouTube creators, AdSense Publishers, G Suite domain owners and more.

Get all this week’s tips and updates:

* January 22: Google Webmaster Central Office Hours Hangout (Ask questions on Google+, watch on YouTube, if you are in New York City you may be able join in person)

* January 24: Google Partners Academy on Air: Simplify and grown your business with machine learning

* January 25: Buffer removing option to share to Google+

* January 28: HootSuite support for Google+ ends

* January 28: There will start to be “intermittent failures” of the Google+ API. The Google+ API will be fully shut down March 7. The Google+ API lets external sites and apps connect to Google+.

* *January 31: * YouTube Video Credits removed

* *January 31: * YouTube removes option to automatically share to Google+ and Twitter

Image: Golden oranges and snow on Old Baldy, California. By Tichnor Brothers, Publisher - Boston Public Library Tichnor Brothers collection #63825, created between ~1930-1945, Public Domain,

It's orange season in California, with the remaining Los Angeles county groves overlooked by a snowy Mount Baldy (which I learned today is really Mount San Antonio, even though no one actually calls it that).
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New this week: YouTube turning off auto-sharing to social media, Google+ Aspire Community closes, Google Assistant makes travel easier and more

2019 has finally gotten rolling and there have been some updates rolling out. Before you ask, no, Google+ has not provided any additional information about the shutdown process, although we are starting to see its effects. And there are updates for YouTubers, webmasters, travelers, and more.

* The official YouTube Help forum is now easier to get to. Just open the YouTube Help Center ( and click the “Community” tab ( Team YouTube has a list of official announcements and updates, which should be your first stop for information (

* YouTube will be removing the ability to automatically share newly uploaded videos, Likes, and adds to playlists to Twitter and Google+ on January 31st. You can still share videos and playlists manually from the video watch page.

* According to Google, one of the 2018 highlights for G Suite was “introducing more G Suite apps to help teams collaborate, including Hangouts Chat, an enterprise messaging app with built-in security that features threaded conversations to house your projects over time, as well as increased investment in Google+ for the enterprise.” That’s a yay for G Suite users, a sigh from us consumers who won’t see any benefits.

* The official Google+ Aspire Community is now closed to new posts (announcement). Originally launched in 2015 as the Collections Community, it was rebranded in September 2018 as Aspire, with the expanded aim to provide resources for “creating and curating great content on G+.” With the shut down of Google+ in sight, the community has been reconfigured so that no new members can join and new posts from current members won’t be published. The Community will remain publicly accessible for folks to read, copy or remove their posts.

* If you use Google+ sign-in on your website, there is now a developer guide for migrating your site to Google sign-in.

* The official Google Webmasters blog turned off comments. It looks like they were probably using the Google+ commenting system, and rather than switching back to Blogger comments, decided to forgo having to moderate spam and off-topic comments and turned them off. They point webmasters to Twitter and the official Google Webmasters help forum.

* At CES Google announced new features for Google Assistant that should improve your travel. You can now share your ETA while navigating in Google Maps via SMS, WhatsApp, Messenger, Hangouts, Viber, Telegram, or Android Messages. If you are flying, you will soon be able to use Assistant to check in to your flight, and save and retrieve your boarding pass. And Assistant can help you book a hotel room.

* Prepare to say goodbye: over the next few months Google will be shutting down the Picasa Web Album API (including slideshows), the old desktop version of Google Contacts, Inbox, Allo, and the consumer version of Google+. This is going to be a difficult spring for some of us Googleverse diehards.

Click the link below for more links, tips and updates for YouTube creators, business owners, Docs creators, Podcast listeners, Google Fi customers and more.

Get all this week’s tips and updates:

* January 2019: Picasa Web Album Data API deprecated, including Picasa slide show widget

* January 15: Annotations removed from YouTube videos

* January 15: YouTube “Shows” playlists converted to regular playlists, “Movies” become standard videos

Image: Winter Landscape by Adrianus Haanen (1854) (Public Domain)
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2018 Year in Review: Creator Updates in the Googleverse from Google+, YouTube, Blogger, AdSense, Photos and more

There were many changes in 2018, some good, some bad, some happy, some sad. Here are my top Creator updates:

* Consumer Google+will shut down in April 2019

* YouTube has new tougher eligibility requirements for the YouTube Partner Program

* YouTube introduces easy webcam live streaming

* YouTube rolls out new features to increase engagement: Premieres, Community Tab, Stories

* Blogger undergoes Spring Cleaning, retiring some old features, and adding a few new tools

* AdSense introduces "Auto Ads", which let you place a single code snippet on your site, and AdSense automatically inserts ads in your site's layout.

* The EU's GDPR went into effect in May. Both Blogger and AdSense provide tools to help your site comply with the new data privacy regulations.

* The last bits of Picasa Web Albums are just about gone

* Google Photos introduces 10 new movie themes

Get all the details, and an overview of all the 2018 updates:
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Still coming soon ...

I'm a bit under the weather so there's been a delay. My end of the year roundup will be posted tomorrow or the next day. Apologies!
A mini roundup of this week's few updates

My end of the year review is in progress and will be posted on the 1st.

Read this week's updates for Fit, Facebook, photos and more...
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A mini roundup of this week's few updates

My end of the year review is in progress and will be posted on the 1st.

Read this week's updates for Fit, Facebook, photos and more...
Add a comment...

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New this week: Google+ API shutdown schedule, YouTube Library on desktop, Christmas goodies and more

We’ve passed the darkest day of the year, and so, hopefully, no more bad news for at least a few weeks. This week there is more information for Plussers, new features for YouTubers, and more. Plus some holiday fun! If you celebrate Christmas, may it be merry!

* There is now a timeline for the shutdown of the Google+ API. While it will stop working entirely on March 7th, there may be “intermittent failures” as early as January 28th. If you are a blog owner or webmaster, it’s time to remove any Google+ plugins such as Google+ badges, +1, share or follow buttons, and embedded posts. The API will also stop working for social media management services like Buffer and Hootsuite.

* Romain Vialard has shared instructions for exporting all the data from a Google+ Community and importing into Firebase. (See

* The New York Times reported that Facebook “gave some of the world’s largest technology companies more intrusive access to users’ personal data than it has disclosed, effectively exempting those business partners from its usual privacy rules.” Those partners included big tech companies like Amazon, Microsoft, Spotify, Netflix and Yahoo, which in some cases could access private messages and friends lists. Now it isn’t clear that they did access any of that information, and Facebook says that users gave permission by using Facebook login or otherwise linking their Facebook accounts to those other sites. The question remains whether users understood what they were consenting to.

* Tumblr staff posted a clarification of their new “most adult content not permitted” policy that included examples of images with nudity that actually would be allowed. Gizmodo (and others) re-posted those permitted examples, and they were immediately flagged and hidden by Tumblr’s filters. Tumblr does say that they will continue to improve the automated tools, with the help of users flagging non-permitted content and appealing incorrectly flagged content.

* Google Account Settings ( got a new Material Design makeover and improved navigation, making it easier to find your privacy and security settings

* YouTube on desktop now has a Library page with your watch history, watch later playlist, purchases and more.

* You can find the YouTube desktop keyboard navigation shortcuts by clicking your channel icon at top right, and selecting “Keyboard Shortcuts” from the menu.

* YouTube now lets you add stereo music or narration to VR videos, so you can have both the immersive spatial audio in addition to the music or voice-over.

* YouTube is supporting journalism through the Google News Initiative (GNI). News organizations from around the world submitted proposals, and this week YouTube announced 87 funded projects from 23 countries. Projects include expanding newsroom video operations, and new ways of reporting news through video, training citizen journalists, rights management and more.

* Google Photos albums can now hold up to 20,000 images, up from 10,000 images. That’s a big deal if you’re using the “Live Albums” option to automatically create albums of specific people or pets.

* The Gboard keyboard for Android now supports more than 500 language varieties using more than 40 writing systems, from Abkhaz to Zulu.

Christmas Fun

* If you like to follow Santa’s whereabouts using the NORAD Santa Tracker (, you’ll be happy to know that it will continue tracking even in the face of the partial US government shutdown.

* Santa is now sharing his location with you in the Google Maps app!

* You can call Santa on your Google Home or using Google Assistant on your favorite device

* Go Home Alone Again with the Google Assistant—ya filthy animal (

* Google Fi has shared a gift - a game for everyone, and a special present for Fi customers. (

* Test your search trends knowledge with Google’s Game of the Year ‘18 (

* If you are in the US, there is still the chance to get a free copy of Assassin’s Creed Odyssey for PC. Sign up for Project Stream before the end of it’s test period on January 15th. ( (Not Christmas, but fun!)

Click the link below for links, tips and updates for YouTube creators, business owners, Android users and more.

Get all this week’s tips and updates:


* Nothing until next year!

Image: Christmas wreath on my door, by me. Merry Christmas!

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New this week: consumer Google+ will shut down 4 months earlier than originally announced, YouTube takes down tons of video and comment spam, examples of non-advertiser friendly content and more

This week there was more bad news, with the announcement that Google will speed up the shutdown of Google+. There were also some positive updates for YouTube Creators, so there’s that.

* This week started with the unwelcome announcement that in November a change to the Google+ API could have revealed the private information of 52.5 million users. They have subsequently decided to shut down the Google+ API within 90 days, and sunset the consumer version of Google+ in April, rather than August. Despite the accelerated shutdown Google+ unfortunately hasn’t yet provided us consumer users (or developers) any details about what’s going to happen exactly over the coming months.

* Meanwhile Google+-friendly social media management platform Friends+Me has been actively developing a Google+ Exporter, which allows you to download your Google+ posts in a format that can be imported into WordPress or Blogger. The free version lets you download up to 3000 posts. I haven’t tried it personally, but it’s worth looking into if you are trying to find another platform to host your Google+ content. You can download the Google+ Exporter for your Linus, Mac or Windows computer at

* YouTube released the quarterly Community Guidelines report for July - September 2018. Some of the takeaway: the vast majority of removals are for spam, and are first flagged by automated systems. YouTube has also found that as removals of comments have increased, daily users are actually more likely to comment.

* There has been a small update to the YouTube Community tab: you can now share Playlists, in addition to videos, live streams, images and text.

* Now YouTube now provides Partners with examples to help assess whether your video is advertiser friendly or not. That should hopefully make the dreaded yellow $ less likely. YouTube has also launched a "Video Self-Certification" pilot program that allows some YouTube Partners to rate their own videos against the advertiser-friendly content guidelines when they upload. That program will hopefully expand to more Partners in the future.

* If you are wondering why YouTube is investing in promoting gaming content, it’s all about the numbers: “We have 200 million logged-in users watching gaming content every day. [. . .] We crossed a big milestone where we hit 50 billion hours of gaming watch time in the last 12 months.”

* YouTube Music just launched YouTube Charts, which let you explore what music videos are trending locally and globally.

* There's a nice update to Hangouts Meet video calls: any attachments included in its Google Calendar event can now be viewed directly in the Hangouts Meet video call. Yes, Hangouts Meet meetings can still only be created by G Suite users.

* Facebook is rolling out video “Ad Breaks” to Pages in 40 countries. Looking towards 2019, they are working on new formats for advertisers, and new tools for publishers.

* Is the Facebook Watch video hub a success? Looking back at the past year, Facebook touts the fact that “there are already more than 400 million people monthly and 75 million people daily who spend at least one minute on Watch.” But that the “one minute” is not necessarily a consecutive 60 seconds. They do note that the 75 million daily visitors spend more than 20 minutes in Watch on average. But averages can be misleading, as a relatively small number of users watching a lot of video content (or letting videos play while they do something else) can skew the numbers. For 2019, Facebook will continue to invest in Original content, and likely is hoping people spend more time watching videos.

* Google has announced that for users based in the European Economic Area and Switzerland, Google Ireland Limited in Dublin will become the “service provider” for most consumer services. Google Ireland Limited will also become the “data controller” legally responsible for EEA and Swiss users’ information. Why do this? Google says “We’re making the data controller change to facilitate engagement with EU data protection authorities via the GDPR’s “One Stop Shop” mechanism, which was created to ensure consistency of regulatory decisions for companies and EU citizens.”

Read on for links, tips and updates for YouTube creators, AdSense publishers, webmasters and more.

Get all this week’s tips and updates:


* December 21: Google Webmaster Central Office Hours Hangout (if you’re in Zurich, you may be able to join in person)

Image: Fire Smoke Sunset by John Fowler on Flickr (CC by 2.0 license)

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New this week: Hangouts isn’t going away, but Allo is, YouTube Rewind looks at the (positive) moments of 2018, Tumblr bans adult content and more

I thought December would be a quiet month, but people were talking this week about Hangouts and Google’s messaging strategy, Tumblr’s sudden ban on adult content and much more.

* At the beginning of this week 9to5Google kicked off a storm by reporting that 2019 would be the last year you could use Hangouts, based on information from an unnamed source. This provoked a response from Scott Johnston, product lead for Hangouts, who called it shoddy reporting. Google subsequently released an article with an overview their messaging services strategy. The bottom line: “classic” Hangouts users should eventually be transitioned to Hangouts Chat and Hangouts Meet, which are designed for enterprise and are currently only available to G Suite users. There is no timeline for when that will happen, and “Google is fully committed to supporting classic Hangouts users until everyone is successfully migrated to Chat and Meet.”

* But while Hangouts will still be around, Google also announced that “smart messaging app” Allo will be shut down in March 2019. Allo was launched in 2016 with cool features like smart replies and built-in Google Assistant. Many of those features have been been brought into Android Messages, which is Google’s new focus. Both Allo and Messages let you communicate using your phone number as an identifier, rather than having to sign in to a Google account. But Messages is also the default text messaging app on Google phones, and it supports RCS, an “upgraded” version of SMS that supports rich text, group chats and other features. Google is working with the mobile industry to try to get an RCS standard working everywhere.

* Duo, Google’s 1-to-1 mobile video calling app was also launched in 2016. Unlike Allo, it is still being developed and won’t be going anywhere. If you are keeping score, Messages + Duo are Google’s consumer messaging apps, while Hangouts Meet and Hangouts Chat are the business-focused services (with Classic Hangouts sticking around until Meet and Chat are available to consumers).

* Skype is now offering live captioning and subtitles during video calls, and in the coming weeks they will be offering translations in 20 languages. It seems like Google should be able to offer this in Hangouts Meet, as they offer live captioning during Google Slides presentations,

* The annual “YouTube Rewind” video was released this week, with popular YouTubers and spoofs and homages to the past year’s popular videos and memes. This is a promo for YouTube - there’s even an interlude discussing using the platform for “good” - but fans are annoyed that popular controversial stars like Logan Paul weren’t included. I suspect YouTube would like the media and advertisers to forget the controversies even happened.

* Ariana Grande launched her latest music video as a YouTube Premiere, and had 829,000 unique viewers watching and participating live at its peak. “thank u, next” also broke two more records: most views in 24 hours and fastest time to 100 million views.

* If you are using WordPress for your blog or website, sign up to beta test Google’s new Site Kit WordPress plugin. It shows metrics and insights for your site from Search Console, Analytics, AdSense, and PageSpeed Insights.

* In a surprise move, Tumblr announced that on December 17th - just two weeks after their announcement - they will begin enforcing a new policy that prohibits adult content.. The policy change off to a rocky start, with the algorithm Tumblr is using to automatically flag images with nudity or sexual acts frequently flagging innocuous content. And considering sexual content - especially non-mainstream erotica and porn - is what Tumblr’s known for, so some are suggesting this may be the first step in Tumblr’s demise

Click the link below for links, tips and updates for YouTube creators, webmasters, the best of 2018 and more.

Get all this week’s tips and updates:


* December 11: Google Webmaster Central Office Hours Hangout

* December 11: Google’s DevFest OnAir (register now!)

* December 14: Google Webmaster Central Office Hours Hangout

Image: The Pantone color of the year for 2019 is “living coral” (PANTONE 16-1546, HEX FF6F61, RGB 255 111 97). This photo by thecuratedsoul on Pixabay captures that tone.
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New this week: Project Fi is now Google Fi, YouTube Annotations will be removed in January, YouTube Premium student accounts and more

I’m dreaming of summer here in the Northern Hemisphere! As we head into the last month of the year, there was a major announcement from Project Fi, some nice updates from YouTube and more.

* The big news this week was that “Project Fi” - Google’s mobile network that launched in 2015 - has graduated to “Google Fi” and now officially supports most newer Android phones and iPhones. There is a catch: Fi’s unique technology to seamlessly switch between multiple cellular network and new enhanced network features only work with “designed for Fi” phones.

* To celebrate the launch, Fi offered an amazing one-day-only promo: buy a new phone through Google, meet the other eligibility requirements, and you would receive the full value of the phone back in travel gift cards. It was so popular support was almost impossible to reach and the gift cards ran out hours before the promo period ended. There have been a lot of questions from people who weren’t sure they actually got the deal. If that’s you, be sure to check the information pinned in the Fi support forum:

* YouTube Stories are rolling out to all eligible channels with at least 10,000 subscribers. Stories are meant to be more “casual” content, and are only available for 7 days after they are posted.

* YouTube announced they are retiring “lower usage features” in January, most notably old Annotations. The Annotations editor was retired well over a year ago, but there are many older videos that still have the (sometimes annoying) desktop-only annotation boxes and text. Those will be removed mid-January, and YouTube is encouraging users to add Cards and End Screens in their place.

* Also in January: ad-supported “Shows” playlists become regular playlists, Movies become standard videos and video credits (but not caption credits) will be removed.

* YouTube has launched US-only YouTube Premium and YouTube Music Premium Student Plans. If you are an eligible student, it looks worth checking out (and yes they are verifying student status).

* Instagram now lets you share Stories with a limited group of “Close Friends”.

* In a more exciting initiative, Instagram is working to improve accessibility by adding automatic alternative text. This uses object recognition technology to generate a description of the photos. You also have the option of writing your own custom alternative text. People using screen readers can then hear that description. It’s also been speculated that the alternative text may improve search engine indexing of Instagram images.

* Business reviews in Google Maps can now include hashtags.

* Android Auto now supports apps with MMS and RCS messaging, including group conversations

Click the link for more tips and updates for educators, webmasters, advertisers and more.

Get all this week’s tips and updates:

* December 2: Deadline to apply for the Google Podcasts Creator Program

* December 3: Offline Gmail Chrome Web App removed from the store

* December 4: AdSense on Air; Fight against fraud and protect your revenue with ads.txt

* December 6: Google will stop serving Nearby Notifications to Android devices

* *December 11: * Google’s DevFest OnAir (register now!)

Image: “A Love Story” by E. Phillips Fox, 1903 (Public Domain),_1903.jpg
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