Google Services Restored For Users Around The World

 

Popular Google services including Gmail, Docs and Drive were down for many users around the world on Thursday, but were restored after a few hours, the US technology giant said.

“We apologize for the inconvenience and thank you for your patience and continued support,” the company said.

“System reliability is a top priority at Google. We are making continuous improvements to make our systems better.”

Frustrated customers in countries including Australia, Japan, France and the United States complained online of the outage, and tracking website DownDetector reported Google services were down in every continent.

“Anyone else having issues with @gmail in Australia?” one person tweeted.

Another Twitter user, in Brooklyn, New York, wrote: “Nearly 16 years in and this is the first time I can remember Gmail being completely down.”

Google’s @Gmail Twitter feed replied to the posts with: “Thanks for reporting. We are aware of a service disruption at the moment.”

The G Suite Dashboard tracking outages in Google’s services showed it was working on the issue, and had it fully resolved in under six hours.

As well as English, the Gmail Twitter feed replied to people in French, Japanese, Portuguese and German.

AFP

Microsoft renames Hotmail as Outlook

Microsoft Corp has unveiled a revamped, Facebook-friendly version of its free, online email service; Hotmail, renaming it Outlook in an attempt to reverse market share losses to Google Inc’s fast-growing Gmail.

The world’s largest software company is renaming its Hotmail service Outlook, giving it a sharp new look, social network links and new features for handling the tide of junk and mass mail that swamps many users.

The revamped service will help sort messages as they arrive and allow users to make internet calls on Skype.

It said the move would help tackle the problem of “cluttered” inboxes.

In addition it is taking steps to link the Outlook account with other services the user might have subscribed to.

“We are giving you the first email service that is connected to Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Google, and soon, Skype, to bring relevant context and communications to your email,” the firm’s Chris Jones said on its blog.

“In the Outlook.com inbox, your personal email comes alive with photos of your friends, recent status updates and tweets that your friend has shared with you, the ability to chat and video call – all powered by an always up-to-date contact list that is connected to your social networks.”

Hotmail was still the world’s largest online mail service as of June, according to the latest comScore figures available, with 324 million users, or about 36 percent of the global market.

But it is losing customers to Google’s Gmail, the fastest-growing rival, which now has about 31 percent of the market. Yahoo Mail is static with about 32 percent.

In a bid to recapture growth, Microsoft is renaming the service Outlook, a name familiar to most corporate workers who use Microsoft’s Office email application, and sprucing up the whole experience. Hotmail users will be prompted to switch over to the new service over the next few months.

Hotmail, launched in 1996, was one of the first online email services, but it has not been updated by Microsoft for eight years.

“A lot has changed in the last eight years, and we think it’s time for a fresh look at email,” Chris Jones, Microsoft’s corporate vice president of Windows Live said.

The new look is clean and uncluttered, featuring lots of white space, reminiscent of Google’s recent makeover of Gmail. Relatively unobtrusive advertisements appear in a column to the right of the screen when looking at folders. They do not appear when a message is open.

Users can link up with their Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ accounts, to see the latest updates from friends and contacts. Online chat is available via Facebook.

Newsletters, offers, daily deals and social updates make up over 80 percent of a typical inbox, according to Microsoft’s own research. To help combat that overflow, the new service automatically detects mass messages and puts them in separate folders. Users can customize the process to sort mail any way they want to.

The new mail service also allows easy use of Microsoft’s Internet-based products, such as SkyDrive for storing documents, Office Web Apps for working away from a PC and will eventually have Skype video chat built in.

“This is about the battle of where people will make their communication home,” said Al Hilwa, an analyst at tech research firm IDC. “The big online players are connecting their online assets together and hoping to provide convenience and functionality of a one-stop-shop of cloud services.”

The success of Microsoft’s new service will depend on whether it can develop it quickly enough “to keep up with a brutally fast Google and a potentially re-invigorated Yahoo,” said Hilwa.

Users can access the service at www.outlook.com. Microsoft said the service is currently a “preview,” meaning more features will likely be added before the final version is fully launched.

In what may be perceived as a dig at Google, Mr Jones added that the firm would not scan email content or attachments in order to sell the information to advertisers or others.

He also announced that web versions of the firms Office apps were built-in, potentially helping it counter competition from other web-based application suits such as Google Docs and Zoho Docs.

Outlook.com also links up with Microsoft’s Skydrive cloud storage, allowing users to send photos and other documents via the service to avoid the risk of going over their attachment size limit.

This could pose a threat to the rival Google Drive service as well as Dropbox, Sugarsync and others.

Google launches Gmail SMS in Nigeria

Google has rolled out a new service in Ghana, Nigeria and Kenya that lets Gmail users send and receive emails using the built-in SMS features of their mobile phones.

The implications of this are pretty big, as it means mobile Internet access isn’t required, and users don’t need a new-fangled smartphone with 3G or WiFi capabilities either. For emerging markets, where iPhone and Android uptake may not be what it is in the Western world, not to mention limited Web access, Gmail SMS (available locally) is an interesting launch.

As long as you have a basic mobile phone with voice and SMS capability in these three African countries, you’ll now be able to do all your emailing by text message through activating a simple setting on your Gmail account.

How it works

“Gmail SMS automatically forwards your emails as SMS text messages to your phone and you can respond by replying directly to the SMS,” says Geva Rechav, Product Manager of Emerging Markets at Google. “You can control the emails received by replying with commands such as MORE, PAUSE and RESUME. Additionally, compose a new email as an SMS and send to any email address recipient – who will find your message in the right email conversation thread.”

So, how do you set yourself up with Gmail SMS?

First of all, you’ll need to log-in to your Gmail account, and click on your profile at the top of the page and then hit Account.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next, you’ll have to access your settings in the “Phone and SMS” section:

 

 

 

 

You will then have to link your mobile phone number to your account to be able to send and receive emails from your handset:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When you click to send a verification code to your mobile phone, you then enter that number you receive into the box on the set-up page.

While the Gmail SMS service itself is free, you will of course still be charged whatever your local SMS rates are.

It’s not yet clear if it plans to open up this service to the rest of the world, but it seems that it likely will make this available in other key emerging markets across Africa and Asia, with Ghana, Nigeria and Kenya the test-beds for this initial launch.

We’ve contacted Google for further comment here, and to establish what its longer term plans are for Gmail SMS.