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Google grab bag: Blurry faces and more

Google makes Trends more quantitative, blurs all Street View faces, encourages citizen journalism on YouTube, and looks to be adding PDF support to Docs.

It's tough to stay on top of Google, but I thought I'd draw some attention to some developments involving the search powerhouse.

Google Street View now blurs all over, not just in Manhattan.
Google Street View now blurs all over, not just in Manhattan. Google

• More Street View with more privacy: One year into Google's launch of the Google Maps feature to show a driver's-eye view of the world, Google added 37 new cities, including Atlanta, Buffalo, N.Y., Ann Arbor, Mich., Fresno, Calif., and Cincinnati. It effectively doubles the coverage of Street View, engineer Jiajun Zhu said in a Google LatLong blog posting.

In addition, Street View face-blurring technology that first was tried with Manhattan imagery now is deployed all over, Google said.

• WordPress snafu: Google blocked e-mail sent to Gmail from on Wednesday, including notifications that blogs at the site had been updated. "A handful of third-party sites had problems sending email to Gmail users. We resolved the issue within a half hour of discovering it," Google said in a statement.

• Updated Trends. Google added two new abilities to make its Google Trends service more useful as a tool to monitor what's popular in searches and the chatter of news and blogs. First is a quantitative element that more precisely compares different search terms--for example Windows XP vs. Windows Vista; the chart is now calibrated so the relative popularity can be judged. Second is the ability to export Trends results as a data file.

• Journalism on YouTube: The Google video-sharing site now is able to call specific attention to journalistic efforts by creating a new "reporter" channel, according to the YouTube blog.

• PDF support in Docs: The Google Operating System blog has uncovered some evidence that points to support of Portable Document Format within Google Docs, the online applications suite. That makes sense given how widely used it is and that it's an openly documented and now standard format.

• Bypass Flash. On search results, Google now lets users bypass Web pages' Flash introductions--the kind of whiz-bang animations that rarely are worth watching more than once. Google search results now can let users, in effect, click the "skip intro" button on such sites if they want, Google Blogoscoped reported.

• Members of Google's mobile device team discuss how its Google Maps for Mobile service (think GPS Lite) works. The technology lets some phones figure out their rough location based on proximity to cell phone towers. It's available through Gears for Windows Mobile, and Google is adding support for geolocation in general to the new 0.4 version of Gears under development now.