Google's G Suite Now Converts Phone Numbers, Addresses into Links
Over the next few days, Google will be rolling out a G Suite update that automatically displays street addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses as active hyperlinks. The change is designed to eliminate the need to copy and paste contact information into other apps before getting directions, responding to emails, or making phone calls, Google said.
Today, Google also updated its mobile app for iOS to provide related article suggestions to people reading online content on their Apple devices. Available only in the U.S. for now, the update will, for example, display brief descriptions and links for other articles about Mars exploration when someone opens the Wikipedia entry for "Mars rover."
Designed To Save 'Precious Time'
Google announced yesterday that users of its G Suite productivity apps will soon see contact information in its Gmail and Inbox apps presented as live hyperlinks rather than ordinary text. Rolling out over the next one to three days, the update will be available on the Web as well as on Google's Android and iOS mobile apps.
"Gmail users often exchange information like addresses and phone numbers with each other to set up meetings, introduce colleagues, and plan events," Google said yesterday in a blog post. "Precious time can be lost by having to copy and paste this information from an email into other apps and Web sites, so we wanted to provide a better way to perform these tasks that also saves time."
By clicking on an address link, a user will automatically be taken to Google Maps to see the exact location and access directions. Clicking an email link will open a new message in the user's default email application, while clicking a hyperlinked phone number will launch a call via the default phone app.
Clock Ticking for EU Antitrust Fines
Starting today, users with iPhones and iPads will also begin seeing new "People also view . . . " reading suggestions at the bottom of online content viewed with the Google iOS app. The update is designed to help users "keep exploring," product manager Harsh Kharbanda said today in a post on the Google blog,
"Maybe you're learning how to cross-stitch, reading up on medieval history, or just looking for good gift ideas -- whatever the situation, this new feature makes it easy to explore and discover content while browsing the web," Kharbanda said. While the update currently applies only to users in the U.S., Google plans to expand the offering to "more languages and locales soon."
In other Google news, the company has reportedly offered the European Commission a new way to handle comparison shopping results when users search for online products and services. The proposal apparently seeks to mollify EU regulators who have already imposed a fine of €2.4 billion ($2.9 billion) on the company for antitrust violations, according to a Reuters report.
While Google is currently facing a record-breaking fine in Europe in connection with alleged anti-competitive practices online, the company late last month reportedly offered the European Commission a solution in which it would let competing businesses bid for spaces in its Product Listing Ads.
Citing "four people familiar with the matter," Reuters yesterday reported that "Google is under pressure to come up with a big initiative to level the playing field in comparison shopping, but its proposal was roundly criticized by competitors as inadequate."
The Reuters article said Google's proposal was also rejected by the U.K.-based comparison shopping site Foundem, which helped initiate the EU's antitrust investigation.
"Unless Google is volunteering to break up its general- and specialized-search businesses, the inclusion of Google's comparison shopping competitors into a new or existing pay-for-placement auction would simply create an additional anti-competitive barrier," Foundem told Reuters. If Google does not satisfactorily address the EU's complaints by Sept. 28, it could face daily fines of around $12 million a day, according to Reuters.
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