Google Maps is back and Google+ is even better…


My iPhone home screen
My iPhone home screen

It’s been a good week for Google users. After the release of the much-improved version 2 of Gmail for iOS (finally bringing multiple account support) and the convenience of the new “Save to Google Drive” extension for Chrome, the end of the week sees the dramatically upgraded Google Maps finally back on the iPhone. Each of them more than worthy of an install.

As if that wasn’t enough, today has seen a huge update to Google+ on the desktop, Android and iOS. Lots of new features have been added, as well as a new option in Gmail to share images directly to G+.

For a while there it seemed unclear to me just what Google were going to do with Plus but, with these recent changes, they have finally started delivering on their promise to take advantage of the integration possibilities offered by their more mature products such as Gmail, Calendar and Search. Unlike rivals Facebook and Dropbox they have a unique opportunity to make Google+ (and Drive) a seamless part of the “Google Experience” on both desktop and mobile. As far as I’m concerned, the more of that we see, the better.



Kaleidoscope 2: Still underpowered and overpriced

When I first switched from Windows to Mac Snow Leopard for development, Kaleidoscope file comparison was one of the first apps I installed. Unfortunately, it only took a few compares to realise that it wasn’t ready for everyday use. Yes, it was beautiful: a clean, simple interface designed especially for the Mac, rather than a port of an ugly Windows app or, worse, an “OS-neutral” Java-based app. Kaleidoscope’s fatal flaw was that it had almost no user options. More specifically, it lacked the single most useful user option a file comparison app could have – the ability to ignore white space.

Tabs, line feeds, spaces. These are the kind of things that are changed regularly during software development and maintenance: code is indented and extra space lines are routinely added to make source  more readable. When you are reviewing a change, the ability to ignore these changes is essential. With the first release of Kaleidoscope you were condemned to suffer the mind-numbing waste of time that is sifting through thousands of white space “differences” just to find the two-line change that actually mattered. “Pretty, but dumb” was the best that could be said about Kaleidoscope 1.

So, now we have Kaleidoscope 2 (beta)… years after the first release it has been updated, mainly to include folder compare and merging. Both of these are very welcome additions and they seem to work how you’d expect (i.e. how almost every other  file comparison app works). But, there is still no ability to ignore white space. Yet again, Kaleidoscope is rendered almost impotent for the lack of a relatively simple, often requested feature. We can only hope that it won’t be years before this omission is rectified.

Spot the Difference

A 15-day trial of the Kaleidoscope 2 beta is free to download. It’s currently priced at an eye-watering $34.99, 50% off the intended retail price.