Monday, August 29, 2011

Accessing Google Plus ‘Huddle' from Desktop

 

This edition of NetSpeak discusses a tool that helps effectively use Google Plus (Google+), the new social networking service from Google. Google Plus, the latest sensation in the social networking segment, is gaining strength. It offers multiple tools for sharing/communicating/interacting with friends/peers/relatives/general public.
An advantage of this social networking tool is that it allows splitting your network into different compartments — circles of friends, family, acquaintance, professional and so on. The implication is that you can direct your updates to specified set of people rather than sending them to all members of your network.
One of the features (or rather shortcoming) of Google+ is its tilt towards the mobile world (especially towards the mobile phones based on Android platform). To get a complete experience of Google+, currently you need to be accessing it from a mobile phone. For instance, the Google+ application ‘ Huddle' can be accessed only from a smartphone. Huddle is an application in the ‘Google+' pack that allows you to conduct group chatting via mobile. If you have a mobile phone with Google+ support, you can easily install the Google+ client and once installed, along with other Plus application icons, you will find ‘Huddle' icon as well. Though Huddle helps us conduct (text based) group conversation with ease, it does not seem to have gained much popularity among Google+ users. The limitation could be its access only with smartphones and hence the low adoption. Here we discuss a means to use it from a PC.
If you wish to access Huddle from your PC, one solution is to create a virtual Android phone on your PC. As you are aware, one can install multiple virtual PCs — running on different operating systems — using a virtualisation software such as VirtualBox.
Once the VirtualBox is installed, to generate a virtual Android, download the Android image from the Android-X86 project site.
Now, from the VirtualBox interface, create a new virtual machine using this Android image and install the Android OS on it.
Virtual Android
Before running the Android virtual machine, choose the option ‘Create a fake SD card' for creating a virtual SD card. Once this Android machine is loaded, access the ‘Machine' option (from the ‘ VirtualBox Manager'), and select the option ‘Disable mouse integration'. This will enable you to access the virtual Android with your mouse. Now click on the Android window, press ‘Capture' button and you are on your virtual Android.
Once on the Android, initially you will see the Android lock screen with an arrow; just drag the arrow icon to the opposite side for opening the phone's menu screen. On this virtual Android home screen, you will find several application icons. Access the option ‘Applications' from the ‘Settings' button and enable the option ‘Accept applications from unknown sources'. Also, link your virtual phone to your Gmail account (via the ‘Account and Sync' option). Now, you need to install the Google+ client application package. For this, click on the ‘browser' button and download the Google+ APK from the Net (this author used the one available at: http://www. apktop.com/ google-1-0-2-google-plus. html).
Now, use the virtual phone's ‘FileManager' and install this APK. Once installed you will find the Google+ icon displayed on the virtual phone's desktop. Now you can invoke the ‘Huddle' application by clicking on the ‘Huddle' icon and start sending group messages. Besides helping you run ‘ Huddle' and other Google+ application from your desktop, the virtual Android phone provides you an opportunity to try out the wide variety of Android based applications being released on a daily basis. You may also note that Android SDK project is yet another means to create a virtual Android on your PC.
Wi-Fi access point
Assume the following scenario: you are in a different city, to do a presentation that requires access to the Net. Due to some unforeseen reason, access to the Net is disrupted and you get tensed up. Despite the widespread Net penetration, most of us come across situations similar to this quite often. Now, thanks to the amazing developments in mobile technology, one can easily overcome such trouble spots. If you have a smart phone with Net connectivity, the solution is right in front of you. Several mobile applications exist that can easily convert your mobile phone into a Net hotspot. The mobile software, Joikuspot, that works with Nokia phones is a good instance.
Once installed on the phone, you can convert it into a Wi-Fi access point with a couple of keystrokes. When you start the programme, it senses the different Net links available to your mobile network and prompts you to choose the appropriate one. As soon as the programme gets launched successfully, the Wi-Fi enabled devices (like your laptop) detect the signals from your mobile phone and you can start accessing the Net as if it is coming from your home network or your organisation's Wi-Fi facility. One shortcoming of the free version of the utility is that it creates an open access Wi-Fi spot without any password protection. You may also note that most of the new Android phones have this feature in common.
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