Here are several short updates on things that Google has been up to. The search giant has been quietly laying off thousands of contractors; its Chrome browser was recently rated as the speediest; and the Street Views user interface gets a revamp.Google has been letting go of workers and avoiding nasty headlines through a loophole in legal law, it appears. According to reports, Google has about 30,000 employees, though only 20,000 are officially listed as full-time workers. The other 10,000 are listed as contractors. Since these contractors aren't full-timers, Google doesn't have to announce when it trims its "temporary contractor" workforce by 1,000 here or 500 there. It has been doing just that. Some are suggesting that Google is misleading Wall Street and investors with this practice. The problem is that many of the "temporary" workers being affected have been with Google for up to five years. That doesn't sound very temporary to me. Evil? You be the judge.
In less scandalous news, Google's Chrome browser recently came out on top in a speed test. The folks over at ExtremeTech put Chrome through its paces. ExtremeTech has a fine article detailing the methodology it used to test the browser. They used 10 different speed test sites, a number of content-rich Web sites, and repeated all the tests on multiple computers. In the end, Chrome won. It beat out Firefox 3.04, Opera 9.6, and Safari 3.2. How fast is Chrome for you?
Lastly, Google has been fiddling with its Street Views user interface. Google has placed a lot of emphasis on its Maps product, and Street Views in particular. You'll recall that the most recent firmware update for the iPhone included the ability to see Street Views. Well, now the user interface of said street-viewing tool has been tweaked. According to CNet, the biggest change is that the Pegman (little icon dude) needs to be dragged and dropped to the spot you want Street Views to show. This beats the previous method of using a drop-down menu in terms of speediness. Also, the Street View has been enlarged. Rather than just a small window on the screen, it will fill the entire screen.
So there you have it, three pre-Turkey Day Google tidbits.