I just tried the latest version of Google. You can try it, too. It's great.
This is not Google Bard, the artificially intelligent chatbot I wrote about recently. It's a brand-new Google, a mix of Bard and traditional searching. To find it, go to labs.withgoogle.com and click "join the waitlist." You should be on in a week.
Once in, go to labs.withgoogle.com in Chrome or a Chrome-based browser. Then click on an example and type a follow-up question. I went from a conversation about why dogs like tennis balls to an explanation of the affection they feel for their owners. Here's what's great: You get the info without having to click links or leave the page, but the links are there if you need them. Incidentally, you may have noticed that ordinary Google searches also have some basic info at the top, but the new Google takes it one step further, engaging you in a conversation.
The answer to my follow-up question about the canine world included a link to an NPR article titled "Dogs Remember Every Move You Make." I learned that with a simple command, trained pets can repeat your movements, such as tapping on an open umbrella lying on the floor.
Your follow-up question in Google Labs doesn't have to be related to the previous one. When I clicked on a sample search about Hawaii, for example, my follow-up question asked about Canada. I got a great guide to Banff.
LET'S FOLD PHONES
This month, you'll be able to buy the latest versions of foldable phones, which soon could be all the rage. Unlike the first foldables, the new ones are unlikely to crack when you fold them.
The catch is, they cost between $999 for the Motorola Razr Plus and $1,799 for Google's Pixel Fold. But early adopters of a similar phone, the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4, love them because they're so compact. When unfolded, the Pixel Fold dimensions are 6 by 5.5 inches and .22 inches thick, and the Razr Plus is 6.6 by 2.8 inches, and .31 inches thick. When closed, they're about half that. Yet the outside screen can still display videos, games or whatever else you like, or can be opaque.
When you unfold the phone, you can have two different videos playing, one on the left, the other on the right. Or you can watch one across the whole display. Early adopters say they enjoy taking videos or photos with a folded phone, because you can open it partway, like a half-open book. Then you point half of it to take a video or photo and use the other half to press the button.
The Razr Plus has a June 23 release date. A significantly cheaper version goes on sale later this year, but it will only have a slim strip of a screen when folded, just enough to show you notifications or the latest news. The Pixel Fold is expected to ship June 27. Apple won't introduce a foldable phone before 2024 at the earliest, according to TomsGuide.
PORTABLE MINI OVEN
The next time my neighbor invites me to a bring-your-own-dinner social, I'm bringing mine in the Hotlogic Mini Oven.
Last night, I put a frozen Trader Joe's Cowboy Quinoa veggie burger inside a small glass bowl, placed it in the Mini Oven, zipped up the bag and plugged it in. It was excellent -- moist yet crispy. In a microwave, it just gets mushy. On the stove, I often burn it.
There are no dials to adjust, and no timers. But the enclosed recipes are a guide. Oatmeal takes two hours. Monterey Chicken takes two hours plus. So plug in early and relax. It heats food to 165 degrees, so you can cook meat from scratch. It includes a plastic container, or you can supply your own glass or microwavable dish.
The price is $50 from HotLogic.com. The family size is $80. If you eat in your car, you need a power inverter to plug it into. These typically cost around $30 and have two outlets.
TIP FOR SENIORS
My 89-year-old friend needed to call her daughter-in-law but didn't have her phone. She couldn't use mine because she didn't know the number. She couldn't check her contacts on my phone in iCloud.com because she didn't remember her password. I suggested adding her iCloud password to the notebook she carries in her purse. It could be handy in emergencies.
3D PRINTED SCHOOLS
Maggie Grout started the nonprofit Thinking Huts when she was 15. Her idea was to quickly build schools around the world using a 3D printer. Her first one is in Madagascar, which has schools with more than 100 children packed into a single classroom.
The printers, which extrude cement, are about 15 feet tall. Grout says that not only do they build schools faster, they come out stronger. Building a school, she says, is like icing a cake. Once the many layers are dry, you can attach local materials to make a roof, door and windows. The Madagascar doors are made of rosewood, carved with flowers.
Grout was abandoned as a baby in a basket in a rural village, then adopted by an orphanage worker. Search "The nonprofit organization 3D printing schools for children in Madagascar," to see a video clip she stars in.
Joy Schwabach can be reached by email at email@example.com.