How to add multiple destinations (or stops) in “new” Google maps

Since May, Google has been publicly testing a major update to the Google Maps user interface for desktop web browsers. In early October, they released it to the masses. Many of the features have moved from easy to discover buttons, icons and labels, and instead buried more deeply into less obvious locations.

One feature that is now not as immediately apparent, is the ability to add multiple destinations or stops when mapping directions. This feature was missing for a while in the new version, which has probably contributed to its lack of discoverability.

To complicate issues, the instructions on how to add multiple destinations to your route, isn’t very clear. For example, the help documentation states:

Add destinations and waypoints

To add a destination in your directions search, click the button in the infocard. This will create a new text box to add your additional destination. Add the location of your destination by typing or left-clicking on the map. To add more, click again.

However, that doesn’t actually work. As a test, I ran a search to get directions from Seattle to San Francisco. As you can see below, there isn’t a “+” button in the infocard.  Continue reading

How to Remove Yourself From a Google Beta or A/B Test

Recently I went to do a search using Google and found that the interface had between tweaked in a few ways that made it difficult to use. I did some searching and found that the tweaks were indeed tests being run by Google. On the Google Product Forums, I found a lot of ranting. I also found a Google employee post instructions on how to get out of the test base.

Unfortunately, it’s not fool-proof. It impacts a lot of other sites and your browser usage. It’s not a vote that you don’t like it – you need to track down a thread for the specific issue and post your feedback.

The answer? Clear your cookies. This will log you out of Google services as well as any other service you’re logged into, so you will need to log back in when you’re done. Google has a page with instructions on how to clear all your cache & cookies.

But what if you don’t want to have to log back into all of your sites? Well, if you’re using Chrome, there’s another way. Continue reading

One Way Google’s Android is More Closed to Consumers than Apple’s iOS

Developing for smartphones has shown some interesting differences between Android and iOS – beyond the obvious. Android is touted as being “open”, but in reality while the source code is “open”, consumer access system updates is vastly more closed than iOS.

Let’s take the tweakers, modders… and other enthusiasts out of the picture for the moment, as they aren’t the majority of consumers. When Apple releases a new version of iOS, it’s available to all, regardless of carrier. For example, iOS 6 was announced on September 12 and then released to the public on September 19, 2012. iPhone owners did not have to wait for their carrier to remove features, block functionality or install junkware. The OS update was available to all with supporting hardware.

Continue reading

Tips for Using SVG in Mobile Websites

A few months ago I designed and helped build a mobile website. A goal of mine was to create a fast loading, resolution independent interface. SVG has been around for over 10 years, but using it is still quirky. For example, Google decided to save 1MB by excluding SVG support from Gingerbread, and that has proven to be a painful decision for mobile developers.

While there are more complicated workarounds, I tried to make things as simple as possible. Here’s a couple tips I learned that I didn’t find elsewhere.

Scale down background images. Although you can set a SVG image multiple ways, if you set it as a background image, the default android browser will not properly upscale the images. So make them large in your SVG file, and shrink them down in the UI. Fortunately, increasing the size of the image(s) does not increase the file size.

Some have suggested changing the SVG files internal dimensions from px to a realtive value such as ems. However, in my tests this doesn’t help with the default browser in Android, even in Jelly Bean. Continue reading

How to setup IMAP with Comcast (Xfinity) email on Windows or Mac OS X

IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol) has been around since the 1980’s, but Comcast has never supported it with their comcast.net email accounts. IMAP has many benefits over POP, but I won’t go over those here.

Windows 8’s native email client doesn’t support POP, and this has finally been enough for Comcast to venture into supporting IMAP. Currently support is only in beta, and you only have the option of POP or IMAP – not both like most email providers have offered since the 80’s and 90’s.

How do you get IMAP? You sign up for the IMAP Trial from XFINITY® and cross your fingers that all goes well. The page does say “This page is for those subscribers that use Windows 8″ but if you read the terms, it’s not platform specific so Windows 7 and prior as well as Mac users can take advantage of IMAP as well.