New Google Docs feature lets you provide feedback in an entirely different way

Collaborating with others in Google Docs is about to look a whole lot different especially when it comes to giving and receiving feedback.

While Google’s office software already allows users to highlight sentences and paragraphs to leave comments, the search giant will soon be rolling out reactions to provide a less formal alternative to comments.

According to a new post in the Google Workspace blog, Google is adding emoji reactions to Docs. In practice, this new feature will look and feel similar to how users can react to messages in a group chat, for better or worse.

Emoji reactions

Whether you like it or not, this feature will be on by default and can not be disabled by users according to Google.

To access reactions in Docs, users simply need to select a sentence or even a paragraph they want to react to and they’ll be able to add an emoji reaction from the pop-up menu on the right side of the screen just like adding comments to a document.

If you’re a fan of emojis and use them frequently, you’ll be happy to know that any preferences set in Google Docs will also be shared with Google Chat. These include emoji skin tone and gender preferences and Google has also added gender-neutral options for gender-modifiable emojis.

Emoji reactions are rolling out now to Rapid Release domains and will roll out to Scheduled Release domains beginning on April 20. All Google Workspace users as well as users with personal Google Accounts will be able to use this feature once it goes live.

While emoji reactions could potentially make using Google’s online collaboration tools more fun, the ability to disable the feature altogether would be a nice touch for more serious organizations and users.

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Google Chrome is removing its data saving mode on Android – lets celebrate

When version 100 of Google's Chrome browser is available to download, it will be without the Lite mode that enables less mobile data to be used on Android devices when browsing the web, and I couldn't be happier.

In a blog post, the company explained that it doesn't see the need for a feature to minimize data used in its web browser, when the amount of cellular data has increased, while the cost has stayed the same.

The feature arrived back in 2014 as a way to load webpages with less data being used, which could be useful for those on a small data plan for their smartphone. 

Having sold phones and data plans to customers in a previous career, the end of this feature is only good news for me, but mainly for the customer who reads their content from Chrome on a mobile device every day.

When does Chrome 100 arrive?

According to Google's Roadmap status page for Chrome, version 100 will arrive on March 29, with a beta arriving around March 3.

This will apply to all versions of Chrome – from its mobile versions to the desktop on PC, Mac and Chromebook.

But with the Data Saver feature only on Android versions, it's not going to be something that's missed by many users, especially as there's data saving features built into Android 12 for all apps anyway, by going to Settings > Cellular Data.

Having worked at a phone store for years before switching careers to be a writer, helping customers with their phones and the data they would use, would be a common task for me. Some would come in, asking me why they had received a text stating they were at 80% of their monthly data usage.

Looking at how much data apps would be used, a web browser would usually reign supreme at the top of this list. But this was in a time where 2GB of data a month would be normal to see, not the 150GB a month or unlimited plans we all see advertised.

Google Chrome logo

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

But when a 'lite' mode would appear on a browser or a social media app like Facebook, it would degrade the experience. I remember pixelated images loading instead, or certain content removed so the text would be all over the place.

However, it's finally time to see the back of these features – they only hinder, not help the experience if you're trying to search for something or read the latest news in Chrome on your Samsung S22.

As Google Chrome hits a century of a version number, it's great to see this disappear, and instead, enrich the content that's available for your interests across the spectrum of the web.

However, Firefox is also approaching version 100, so there's a chance that we may see a landmark feature arrive from Mozilla as well. March is looking to be an eventful time for web browsers on many devices, and I'm here for it.

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New Elementor Cloud Website tool lets web creators build WordPress websites faster

Creating a WordPress website requires the technicality of finding a reliable web hosting provider, choosing a compatible domain name, and picking a powerful website builder. 

There is a steep learning curve for newbies and a tedious workflow even for veterans. Beyond the sheer technical challenge of getting started with a WordPress site, there are a number of financial factors that add a layer to this already complex process. 

Elementor Cloud Website has been launched specifically to alleviate this complex process.

With Elementor Cloud Website, Web Creators can use the all-in-one website builder tool to create websites faster and more efficiently using a single end-to-end solution that includes a code-free builder, first-class hosting, and the ability to connect domain names at no extra cost. 

Elementor Cloud Website features

Elementor now offers an all-in-one website builder kit (Image credit: Elementor)

Building something online isn’t all that different from the real world — to get started you need a plot of land, an address, and finally a house. Similarly, the virtual world requires a hosting provider, a domain name, and a website. Each of these parts can be purchased either individually or collectively.

Website building challenges

1. Choosing a WordPress hosting plan can be even more challenging to navigate with hidden costs, Secure Socket Layer (SSL) requirements (essential when conducting online transactions), storage limits, and other limitations. Not to mention deciding between managed hosting, shared hosting, and cloud hosting.

2. Registering a domain name is one of the hidden costs of website building. The cost fluctuates depending on the domain name's potential popularity. This is a vital part of any website set up as a name can affect branding, SEO, and how easily audiences can search and find you. It is important to note that some hosting providers even charge extra for connecting a custom domain name.

3. Finding the best platform to build your website is crucially the most important factor once visitors land on your website. There are many web creation platforms available, with the majority of them operating on their own closed CMS system. A closed CMS system often ties people into one product with accelerating price hikes annually. Leaving these systems usually means starting from scratch. Additionally, a closed system makes it nearly impossible to find enhancements from third parties.

Web creators demand an open-source ecosystem, with a secure and high-performing hosting service, where they can build websites freely. Elementor Cloud Website is exactly that. With secure built-in hosting,  Elementor Cloud Website empowers web creators to focus on what matters — creating your perfect website. 

An Elementor Cloud Website is 100% WordPress. You get seamless hosting, WordPress pre-installed, a world-class, secure platform, and all the storage you need, plus the choice to connect it to any external domain at no extra cost.

With Elementor Cloud Website, there's no additional installation required. You also have full ownership of your content. There are no hidden fees as the subscription is a fixed price charged annually, making Elementor Cloud Website an all-in-one solution for your web creation needs.

 Elementor Cloud Website as a solution

Elementor Cloud Website is for Web Creators who want to focus solely on creating a good website. An all-in-one solution, Elementor Cloud Website-built in features relieve web creators of the need to pursue third-party fundamental WordPress services. 

It is a cost-effective choice for anybody constructing websites for customers by revamping and facilitating the handoff process.

Web Creators can get started right away with an Elementor Cloud Website because it comes pre-installed with WordPress CMS, Elementor Pro features, and the Hello Theme. With the technical logistics covered by Elementor, Web Creators can simply add their personal touch and launch when ready.

This allows you to take control of your online presence with the option to connect your own domain at no additional cost, as well as the ability to easily export your website if you ever decide to switch services.

Elementor Cloud Websites have the highest security requirements and certifications available (SSL certification by DigiCert). You also have the option to import your own if you choose. Every Elementor Cloud Website is automatically backed up every 24 hours. Additionally, Elementor gives a unique code that may be used to access your website while it is being updated.

 What’s Included in the subscription? 

All features that are currently available in the Elementor Pro plugin such as its 100+ widgets, kits, and templates, are included in the Elementor Cloud Website subscription. In addition, you'll get round-the-clock support for everything in one place, whether it's issues with the Editor or technicalities about the Hosting. That means you'll only have to make one phone call to find solutions.

The fact that Elementor Cloud Website comes with built-in hosting from Google Cloud Platform means you enjoy the same top-of-the-line service Google uses. Additionally, utilizing CDN by Cloudflare's global network of secure servers means website visitors are automatically sent to the server that is nearest to them, delivering the best possible experience.

An Elementor Cloud Website may be built and published for US$ 99 per year. Since Elementor Cloud Website is hosted using Google Cloud Platform, it comes with its best-in-class features. It also includes a built-in free SSL from DigiCert and offers a generous 100K monthly visits, 20GB of storage, and a bandwidth of 100GB.

Create WordPress websites even faster

With Elementor Cloud Website, Web Creator's jobs will be streamlined, profitable, and more enjoyable as it will nullify (or at least mitigate) much of the bureaucratic and technical hassles that arise when creating WordPress websites.

Packed with all the power of Elementor Pro features, it offers Web Creators a visual, intuitive website building experience backed by over 100 powerful widgets. The accompanying cloud-based web hosting service will serve the needs of virtually any client as it runs on the universal Google Cloud Platform, including CDN by CloudFlare meaning which automatically optimizes every visitor experience. 

Providing built-in SSL from DigiCert, automatic and manual backup, as well as the option to connect to a custom domain at no extra cost, means this is now the most comprehensive web creation platform on WordPress, sans none.

Elementor Cloud Website is set to revolutionize how WordPress website projects are organized.  By streamlining their workflow, removing technical setup barriers, and simplifying hand-off to clients, Elementor now offers Web Creators a solution that lets them focus on what they do best: Create websites and design the future.

Elementor Cloud Website FAQs 

Who is Elementor Cloud Websites for?

Elementor Cloud Websites are great for Web Creators who want to focus on creating a professional website without the headaches that come with connecting each of its primary components. 

This all-in-one solution is incredibly cost-effective and provides everything you need in one spot. It is also an excellent choice for anybody constructing websites for customers because it facilitates the handoff process and makes it simple to maintain. 

What’s the difference between the Elementor Cloud Website and the Elementor Plugin?

There are two distinct approaches to building a website with Elementor.

1. Elementor Plugin: To take advantage of all of Elementor Pro’s features, you can download and install the Elementor plugin. You will also need to purchase hosting with a WordPress installation separately.

2. Elementor Cloud Website: This is a new way to create a website with an end-to-end solution that includes all of the benefits of Elementor Pro, as well as hosting and WordPress installation. The fast setup is a simpler experience that saves you time while creating a stunning website.

Where can I manage everything related to my website on Elementor?

Everything can be managed from the My Elementor dashboard. You can access your WordPress dashboard from there, as well as connect a custom domain, configure your primary domain, toggle Site Lock on and off, manage backups, restore the website if necessary, and do a variety of other useful tasks.

Where is Elementor Cloud Websites hosted?

Your website is fully hosted on Elementor servers in Belgium. We undertake all the heavy lifting surrounding server maintenance so you can focus on constructing your website.

CDN is a service we provide to ensure that your website is available and performing at its best. As a result, we provide you with a network of servers and data centers that is geographically scattered. The material is served from a CDN rather than the origin server, and if one location becomes unavailable, the content is served from another. 

Applications can withstand increased traffic levels when content is dispersed across several sites throughout the world. Website owners should be aware that various nations may have varying information security standards and server location legislation.

Are there any hidden fees?

No, there aren’t any extra charges. The subscription is a one-time fee that is charged annually and covers all of the aforementioned services.

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This browser now lets your web addresses just be emojis

Following the release of its dedicated crypto browser, Opera is innovating once again by becoming the first browser to enable emoji-only based web addresses.

This marks the first time in the history of the internet that users will be able to navigate to websites by entering a string of emoji into the URL bar instead of letters and words.

The addition of emoji in Opera was made possible through a partnership with Yat which allows users to own personalized strings of emoji. EVP of Mobile at Opera, Jorgen Arnesen provided further details on this new partnership in a press release, saying:

“The partnership marks a major paradigm shift in the way the internet works. It's been almost 30 years since the world wide web launched to the public, and there hasn't been much innovation in the weblink space: people still include .com in their URLs. Through the integration with Yat, Opera users are able to ditch .com or even words in their links and use only emojis to be directed to websites. It's new, it's easier and more fun”

Opera emoji integration

Through its new emoji-centric integration, Opera has now made it easier for all Internet users to find and be directed to Yat pages which are unique domains generated when a Yat is created from a personalized string of emoji.

Users can customize their Yat page or have it redirect to anywhere else on the web. For instance, musicians around the world have already set up their own Yat pages including Lil Wayne whose page directs users to his record label or Steve Aoki who has his redirect to his website. Additionally, G-Easy, Kesha, Young Money, 3Lau and Disclosure are also using Yat as well.

Following this new integration, Yat emoji web addresses on Opera no longer need to be followed by “.y.at”. At the same time, strings of emoji embedded on web pages now link to the corresponding Yat page automatically.

As 90 percent of world's 4.6bn internet users worldwide already use emoji to express themselves according to Brandwatch, Opera's integration of Yats unlocks a new way for people to be present on the web. Interested users can find out even more about using emoji in Opera by checking out this blog post.

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Windows 11 now lets you type with your voice

Windows 11 has a new preview build which extends voice control capabilities to allow typing on the virtual keyboard.

Voice access is a feature which was introduced in testing for Windows 11 in December 2021, allowing for a range of different voice controls including the ability to operate mouse clicks with your voice – so adding the same functionality for the touch keyboard in this new build 22538 makes sense.

The way it works is simple: open the virtual keyboard with a command, and each key has a number on it. To press a key, you simply say “click 27” if you want number 27 (which is the letter ‘s’), for example. You can also easily access numbers, punctuation or emoji.

Microsoft further notes that it's starting to roll out the ability to download Speech Packs (from the Microsoft Store) for “device-based speech recognition that provides a better performance of transcription.”

Also present in this fresh preview release for the Dev Channel is some useful work with Alt-Tabbing and the Task View (the focus rectangle highlighting what’s selected now uses your chosen accent color), and a bunch of other minor changes and bug fixes as ever, all of which are listed in Microsoft’s blog post.


Analysis: Making Dragon a more fiery beast

As we’ve pointed out before, the Windows 11 voice access features are pretty much all drafted across from Nuance’s Dragon speech recognition app (Microsoft bought Nuance last year).

What’s interesting with the on-screen touch keyboard controls brought in with this preview build is that this is a new endeavor not seen in Dragon (at least, not in the version we use – namely Dragon Professional 15, which is the latest release). There are some ways of using your voice to control keys in Dragon 15, but they’re limited (to the likes of function keys, Tab and backspace).

We can expect Microsoft to further build on voice access as Windows 11 matures, and we’re keen to know what comes next. Further honing dictation accuracy – which is already admittedly good – would be great to see.

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Microsoft Teams update finally lets you hide from your own face

One of the worst part of video calls could soon be eliminated for Microsoft Teams users thanks to a new update coming to the service.

The video conferencing platform has revealed it is working on a new feature that will let users hide their own video feed whilst on a call.

This means that Microsoft Teams users will no longer be confronted with the sight of their own face pretending to pay attention (or losing focus), instead just letting them view other co-workers.

Microsoft Teams video

“Currently, the user's video is displayed at the bottom right corner of the meeting screen,” the official entry on the Microsoft 365 roadmap reads. “This feature allows users to hide their own video during a meeting. This will help reduce distractions during the call while still having your video available for other participants.”

The feature is currently shown as “in development” in Microsoft's roadmap, but the entry does claim a projected release date of January 2022. When it does arrive, the feature is set to be available to all Microsoft Teams users worldwide across web and desktop versions.

The update is one of the latest in a series of features announced by Microsoft as it looks to help Teams users increase productivity and efficiency as the era of hybrid working shows no sign of abating.

This includes the recent announcement that Microsoft Teams will soon allow users to mute notifications whilst they are in a video conferencing meeting or don't want to be disturbed.

This should mean an end to distracting notifications or alerts when you’re in the middle of an important meeting.

Recent data collected by software firm StarLeaf found almost all (97%) businesses say that tools such as ZoomWebex and Teams are now essential to their operations.

More than half (57%) of the 2,000 UK-based respondents claim their company would not be able to operate for more than an hour without access to their communications tools, while 27% admitted they would struggle to function for even 30 minutes.

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Twitter finally lets you save your Spaces to use as a podcast

If you regularly host a Twitter Spaces room, but were frustrated that you couldn’t save it for future use, Twitter has good news for you.

Back in 2020, Twitter announced the Spaces feature, where you could chat to others about any topic in a virtual room while your followers could listen in, similar to a live podcast. It’s available to use on iOS and Android where you can access it through the navigation bar, or at the top of the app if a follower is hosting one (access to Spaces when using Twitter in a web browser is still in development).

But once you were done hosting a Spaces room, there was no way to save the chat as a file and upload it to a podcast feed for those who may have missed out on the discussion.

However, there will soon be a ‘Record Spaces’ option when you’re about to chat. Once you’re finished with the Space, Twitter will hold it for 30 days, or you can download it as an audio file, which opens up many possibilities.


Analysis: One more step for Twitter Podcasts

Having a local audio file is the natural next step for Spaces. With apps such as Clubhouse offering similar features but having fallen into obscurity recently, Twitter has an opportunity to make its own mark in distributing Spaces as podcasts.

While the company has been testing Ticketed Spaces, which is a way of paying for access to Spaces in order to listen or to add to the conversation, exporting Spaces to an audio file can make the process of creating a podcast much easier for new users.

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Spaces offer an easy way for a discussion to be held about a certain topic, without having to set up Skype or Zoom, though you would still need to use another program to record the conversation. Spaces can cut these steps further now, with the offering of recording, but it also lowers the barrier for anyone on the social media platform to try their hand at podcasting about their favorite topic.

Users can become speakers and leaders of their own Twitter Spaces. They can be inspired to host their own Spaces to talk about other topics that they’re passionate about while meeting new followers who share the same interest.

This alone gives Twitter a big opportunity and could open up a new avenue to make Spaces a great platform for its own curated podcast library. But for many users, it could also go some way towards making the platform fun – and genuinely useful – once again.

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