Google I/O 2013Google I/O 2013 continues, but yesterday was the big keynote speech highlighting changes to some of Google’s programs and services. While some rumors came true – there was a “new” phone announced, just not the X Phone – others did not – no Android 4.3. Some view I/O 2013 as Google’s act of cleaning up its mess.

I think the clean up is certainly part of the focus, but I also think Google’s trying to unify services and designs – as Larry Page said, “show what’s possible.”

Lawyers will love some of the new additions to Google Books, Google+, Google Maps, Google Now, and desktop search.

Lawyers will love Google Books

The key update that will make the Google Books service useful and relevant for attorneys is the ability upload your own content.

Google Books Uploads

You’re able to upload up to 1000 different titles in PDF or EPUB format. Obviously there are copyright limitations, but I’m not sure as to the extent of the restriction. You also can’t share your books, at least not yet.

Think about this: a personal injury lawyer “sweetens” her chances of getting hired by a prospective client when she offers her “free book” with a (cheap) free Android tablet. At $60 or $70 she’s making a small investment with a potentially high return.

Logistically, there’s still some issues – such as what account do you use – but those can be address and resolved.

Lawyers will love Maps

The hands-down best part of the I/O keynote was the preview of the new Google Maps. Shockingly good.

Lawyers will love the marketing aspect that will allow you to get found more easily. They’ll also love the 3D and spacial rendering, which brings cities and areas to life. Of course, there’s the high quality street views, which have helped me more times than not on cases.

Couple desktop with the new mobile maps features – improved turn-by-turn navigation – and you’re sure to find many ways to use the new Maps.

Lawyers will love Search and Now

Google’s enhancing Chrome to add voice search. Now, you’ll say “okay Google,” to activate search, just like you do on your phone. This hasn’t quite rolled out, but should be available soon.

Google Search App for Android

In addition to enhancing search, Google also beefed up it’s already awesome program, Google Now. The update gives Now the ability to add reminders, give real-time transit information (select cities), and update you on your upcoming television shows.

I already love Google Now, and these new features just give me more incentive to use the program. You’ll need a device running Android 4.1 in order to get Google Now. The easiest way to enable Google Now is go to Voice Search > Menu > Settings > toggle Google Now on or off.

Lawyers will love Google+

Google+ is Google’s extremely correct answer to social media. Google+ is receiving 47 new features and changes, including an overhaul of the design and layout for desktop browsers. The new design focuses on clean designs, which seems to be Google’s current push.


Google also announced that it would be “merging” its messaging service, Talk, into a new program called Hangouts.


Hangouts proposes to become an all-in-one communication tool, with chat, video, and photo capabilities. This doesn’t sound like much of a revolutionary new product (we already have Hangouts within Google+), but I think the intent is to make Hangouts more of an off-browser, stand-alone app.

Unfortunately, even though Hangouts is live now, unless you’re really lucky (or you have a Nexus device), you probably can’t get the new app to work. Google knows: “If you aren’t yet able to install Hangouts on your phone or tablet, or the Play Store “Open” button takes you to the old Talk app, hang tight, we are rolling out Hangouts to everyone over the course of several days. Rest assured Hangouts will be available soon for all Android 2.3+ devices, tablets included!”

I got Hangouts to work on my Nexus 7, but not on my phone or ASUS Transformer Infinity tablet.

When (and if) Hangouts finally does work, attorneys will be able to use the program to interact in collaborative groups via chat or video, from any device. I also presume, though I’m not positive, that there will be more safeguards to secure messages and conversations from public consumption.

Jeff Taylor

I'm just an ordinary guy living an extraordinary life. I'm also an attorney and I blog about Android for lawyers. You can follow me on Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, or Google+.


samglover · May 16, 2013 at 8:57 am

I use a Google Apps account, and every time I try to use Hangouts, whether its on G+ or my iPhone, I’m told it’s not enabled for my account. But there’s nowhere I can see in the domain management panel to enable Hangouts. Frustrating.

    Jeffrey Taylor · May 16, 2013 at 9:59 am

    samglover My guess is that this hasn’t propagated to Google Apps accounts yet, which is really frustrating since we pay for this. This same sort of thing occurred when Google introduce Google+, and they restricted Google Apps accounts – that’s the reason I have 2 accounts. I suspect we’ll see the service merge into Google Apps when it’s “stable.”

    Jeffrey Taylor · May 16, 2013 at 10:06 am

    samglover I did some more surfing, and this might just be an error in the Hangouts API. I went ahead and revoked access in my management panel, then exited all instances and signed back in. Hangouts doesn’t work on my desktop or Chromebook, but it does on my tablet and phone.

    Jeffrey Taylor · May 16, 2013 at 11:17 am

    samglover Check out this solution:

      samglover · May 16, 2013 at 1:52 pm

      That was stupidly complicated. But it worked!

gyitsakalakis · May 16, 2013 at 11:04 am

As expected, most people over at G+ are complaining about the interface changes. I happen to like them, but who cares. The only thing more reliable than change, is people’s opposition to it. Anyway, if you don’t like the multi-column thing, you can change it back to single column, just search around Google for the how-to.
My i/o takeaway (mostly from Page’s talk), Google is in the everything business. People will cry anti-trust, but then again, there’s no financial transaction for a lot of their stuff. I’m no Sherman Act expert, but seems that they’re going to dodge a lot of the anti-trust issues simply by giving their stuff away for free and serving up ads for dough.

    Jeffrey Taylor · May 19, 2013 at 5:47 am

    There’s some small elements of the G+ changes I’m not particularly fond of, but overall I think the design is more clean, which is good.

    I agree partly about “the everything business,” and I think that’s one of Google’s biggest problems – nobody knows what stays and what goes. After Reader, many are gun-shy about Google’s services, which is a shame. I think ultimately we’ll see resounding focus on unified design and cross product integration, even more than now.

Jeffrey Taylor · May 19, 2013 at 5:52 am

Hangouts+ should be live for everyone via a mobile app update. Apps users will still have the “stupidly complicated” procedure to enable apps.

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