Rick Osterloh, former CEO of Motorola, is returning to Google in order to run the company's new hardware division, which includes Nexus and Chromecast. Osterloh left Lenovo last month. Lenovo bought Motorola from Google in 2014. Osterloh will be responsible for working with Google's handset partners in designing Nexus phones and tablets, as well as Chromecast dongles and compatible products. Osterloh's role will also include oversight of Google Glass, ATAP, OnHub routers, Chrome-based PCs and the Android-based Pixel tablet line. Osterloh will serve as a senior vice president and report to Google CEO Sundar Pichai.
Google is rolling out an update to its Google Photos app for Android with a new search bar. The app places the search bar at the top, replacing the floating action button that previously adorned the lower corner of the app. Photos users can now search with a single tap and drop-down options make it easy to find faces, places, or photo types from the library. Google Photos also added the ability to customize the movies Photos automatically creates from events with additional photos, videos, and music. Last, the revised app makes it possible to rename or delete devices folders, and to manage photos stored on SD cards with moving and copying actions, and creating new folders. Google Photos for Android version 1.19 is free to download from the Google Play Store. Google say these changes will reach the iOS Google Photos app soon.
Google today announced a new feature for its Calendar application for Android that makes it easier for groups to schedule meetings. This tool is being made available to Google Apps for Work and Edu users, who more commonly need to schedule group events. The "find a time" button can scan all the group members' calendars to find a time that works for everyone. If a common time cannot be found, the "find a time" tool looks to see if conflicting events can be rescheduled. Google says the feature works across time zones and allows the event scheduler to see all invitees' calendar at a glance. The app makes suggestions. Users are still in charge of actually setting meetings. Google Calendar for Android is free to download from the Google Play Store. Google plans to bring this feature to the iPhone soon.
Google recently made a remote control app for Android TV available to the iPhone. The app allows iPhone owners to access and control their Android TV device. It includes a d-pad and touchpad for navigation, as well as text and voice search. Google says the app lets people connect multiple remotes to Android TV for multiplayer gaming. The app, which works via WiFi, is compatible with all Android TV products and is free to download from the iTunes App Store.
Google today introduced what it calls MODE watch bands for Android Wear devices created with help from b&nd by Hadley Roma. The bands feature a snap-and-swap switch where they connect to the watch so they can easily be removed and changed. Google is making a wide variety of leather and silicon bands available for Android Wear devices in four different sizes to ensure compatibility with most smartwatches. Google plans to make the MODE mechanism design available to other brands to expand the number of snap-and-swap bands beyond today's launch collection. A tool on Google's web site helps Android Wear owners select a band that fits their specific watch. The MODE bands are available to purchase online from Google, Amazon, and Best Buy.
YouTube is pushing out a new version of its mobile app to Android and iOS devices with changes to the home screen. The home section of the app offers more relevant personalized recommendations, says Google, that are generated by neural network technology. The computer-assisted curation can detect patterns in users' watching behaviors to learn and improve as it goes. Google says it focused on how its system recommends recently-posted videos from users' favorite content creators. In tests, Google claims people who've taken the new recommendation system for a spin have spent more time watching the latest videos. YouTube is also preparing to roll 6-second ads that cannot be skipped ahead of all videos, particularly those viewed from mobile devices. The refreshed YouTube app is free to download from the Google Play Store and iTunes App Store.
Google is pushing an updated version of its camera application to Nexus handsets. The new Google Camera app makes changes to the user interface to improve usability. For example, the Nexus 5X and 6P gain a dedicated slow-motion video mode, which is available from the slide-out camera menu. Nexus 6P owners can switch recording speeds at a whim. The app changes the shading of the shutter button, and the camera switcher adopts a circular design that's more in line with Google's Material Design. The Google Camera is only available to Nexus smartphones running Android 6.0 Marshmallow, including the Nexus 6, 5X, and 6P. It is free to download from the Google Play Store.
Google today said the global Android Gmail app is set to add support for Microsoft Exchange. "Whether you're on Google Apps or Exchange, you can use the Gmail app on any Android device to send and receive mail," said Google in a blog post. Gmail will also be able to support Exchange-based calendars. Gmail has long supported the IMAP and POP email protocols, including Microsoft's Outlook and Hotmail services. Google added Exchange to Gmail back in November 2014, but only Nexus handsets running Lollipop had access to the feature. Providing Exchange support to all Android users is a big win for businesses that rely on Microsoft's email management product. Google says the updated app will be made available from the Google Play Store over the next few days.
Microsoft and Alphabet, parent company of Google, have agreed to cease all ongoing regulatory fights between them. Microsoft has complained to US and European Union antitrust regulators often and loudly with respect to Google's search practices and other behaviors. Microsoft said it has changed its legal priorities and would rather compete against Microsoft in the open market for business and for customers. Google said the change in legal strategy is partly due to the firms' dismissal last year of patent lawsuits. "Our companies compete vigorously, but we want to do so on the merits of our products, not in legal proceedings," said Google. Rather than file complaints with governmental bodies, Microsoft and Google will reach out to one another directly if business-related problems arise.
Sprint is rolling out Android 6.0 Marshmallow to the Samsung Galaxy S5 Sport and Galaxy Note Edge. The update is being pushed in phases, which Sprint expects to complete by May 11 for the S5 Sport and May 2 for the Note Edge. In addition to the operating system update, Sprint says the Galaxy Note Edge is also receiving the latest security patches from Samsung and Google. Sprint did not say if the Note Edge update includes the improved Edge Panel behaviors that have been made available to the S6 Edge and S6 Edge+.
Google today added the Sony Xperia Z3 to the list of devices able to download and test the Android N Preview. Z3 owners can obtain the Android N Developer Preview 2 code directly from Sony, but will have to manually flash it to their device. Once this preview is flashed, the Z3 will be able to install future Android N updates over the air. The Nexus 5X, 6, 6P, 9, and Player are already compatible with the Android N Preview.
Facebook today said group calling is now available within its Messenger app. Users around the globe can call any group by tapping on the phone icon in the conversation thread. Users will be able to manage individual participants before the call connects. Facebook says the feature is included in the newest version of Messenger, which may take up to 24 hours to appear for all users. Facebook Messenger is free to download from the iTunes App Store and Google Play Store.
Google today updated its Keep and Sheets applications for Android devices. The latest version of Keep improves thanks to a new sharing tool that, when tapped, includes an option to create a new note in Keep. When using Chrome, the note will automatically include the URL for the current web page. A similar change is being made available to Keep in the Chrome desktop browser. Google is also addressing a highly-requested feature with the addition of labels for categorizing notes. Google says this should make notes easier to manage and search. As for Sheets, the Android app now makes it possible to add or change titles to charts, as well as the titles of their X and Y axes. Sheets users can now change the color of a series in a chart, and specify where the chart's legend should be located. Keep and Sheets are free to download from the Google Play Store.
Google today updated its Inbox service with features that should help people keep track of events, newsletters, and web links with less fuss. Google says Inbox will now cluster emails regarding a single event together and always display the most up-to-date information in an easy-to-glance format. Inbox has improved how it handles newsletters by prioritizing those most often read by the user. It will minimize newsletters once they're read to save space. The new "save to Inbox" tool is meant to help people save web links for later. The most recent version of Inbox for Android and iOS includes the link saving tool in the sharing menu and should negate the need for people to send themselves emails with web links. Inbox will group saved links together to make them easier to find. Inbox, an alternate email app for Gmail, is free to download from the Google Play Store and iTunes App Store.
YouTube today made it possible to stream 360-degree video live online and on Android devices. YouTube has supported 360-degree video for about a year, but today's change will let content producers push immersive video to people in real time. Google said it has partnered with select brands to get live 360-degree video off the ground. YouTube itself will stream a limited set of performances from the Coachella music festival. At the same time, YouTube is adding support for spatial audio. People can watch 360-degree videos and listen to spatially-tuned audio that changes as users move about the virtual 360-degree space. The new features arrive as companies such as Samsung, LG, GoPro and others offer 360-degree cameras as smartphone accessories.
Google today added podcasts to the online and Android versions of its Google Music service. Similar to how Google Music suggests playlists for certain moods or activities, so too will the service recommend podcasts based on interests and activities. Google Music users will also be able to find and subscribe to their favorite podcasts. The tool allows people to automatically download several episodes for each podcast they subscribe to, or receive alerts when new episodes are available. Along with the new service for consumers, Google has made available a portal for podcast creators so they can share their podcasts through Google Music. Podcasts are coming to Google Music in the U.S. and Canada first, with other regions to follow.
T-Mobile has begun delivering the Marshmallow system update to the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 and Galaxy S6 Edge+. The update brings the devices from Android 5.1.1 to Android 6.0.1. Marshmallow includes a handful of new features, such as Google Now On Tap, Doze, and advanced app permissions. The S6 Edge+, in particular, is also receiving the improved Edge Panel behaviors from Samsung, which offer more content and a broader set of tools for personalizing the panels. The update clocks in at about 1 GB and must be downloaded over WiFi. T-Mobile recently provided the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge with the same update.
The HTC 10 may be the first Android smartphone to ship with support for Apple's AirPlay protocol, but HTC is adding the feature to its older handsets, too. HTC has updated its HTC Connect application for devices such as the One A9, M9, and M8. With the updated app aboard, these older phones are now able to stream audio content to AirPlay connected speakers. HTC is licensing AirPlay from Apple. HTC Connect supports a wide range of streaming protocols, including Chromecast, DLNA, and Miracast. Consumers who own HTC phones can update HTC Connect for free from the Google Play Store.
Instagram today said it plans to roll out a new way for people to discover video. Its Android and iOS mobile apps will soon feature a personalized channel called Videos You Might Like. The channel, located in the Explore section of the app, contains a series of videos from around the world that Instagram believes will match user interests. Instagram will also package together featured channels that center on specific topics or subjects. Instagram says the Videos You Might Like tool will improve with use, as the app's algorithms learn what the user likes and doesn't like. People will be able to signal which types of posts they'd prefer to see less of. Instagram says the explorational video channels are launching in the U.S. first, with other regions to follow. Instagram for Android and iOS is free to download from the Google Play Store and the iTunes App Store. Instagram recently increased the length of videos people are allowed to share from 15 seconds to 60 seconds. The social network says video accounts for a growing percentage of shared content.
Google today announced Live Cases, a way for Nexus owners to personalize their handset while also protecting it. Interested consumers can upload a photo to Google's site, select a case style, and Google will make the case and ship it. Users can pair the case with a slideshow of related images, if they wish, so the screen and case show the same subject. Users will be able to add more photos to the slideshow at any time. Similarly, the Places Live Case is styled with a map of the person's favorite location. The live wallpaper will show a live map of the person's location as they travel throughout the day. A quick tap will reveal nearby points of interest on Google Maps. Google Live Cases are available to the Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P, and Nexus 6. They cost $35.
Snapchat updated its Android and iOS apps today with animated emoji stickers. The stickers can be used on videos and will remain attached to whatever subject they are pinned to. That means the stickers will move if the subject moves. Snapchat is free to download from the Google Play Store and iTunes App Store.
Vine today provided an update to its Android and iOS apps, making it easier to view videos. The app has added a Watch button that, when pressed, will play all the videos in a given channel without stopping. Previously, users had to scroll through the videos manually. People can press and hold any given Vine to watch it loop before resuming the feed. The revised app also lets people sort through likes and comments, and makes speed and performance improvements throughout. Vine is free to download from the Google Play Store and the iTunes App Store.
Google today made Android N Preview 2 available to developers and early alpha testers. Google says the refreshed code tackles some bugs, but also adds a handful of new features. For example, Preview 2 builds in support for more emoji with Unicode 9, such as human reactions and activities. Using the new preview developers can assign launcher shortcuts for their apps, and make use of the updated Vulkan 3D API to reduce power requirements while still offering good graphics performance. The updated platform makes changes to some core APIs, too, such as that controlling the multi-window view. Google offers a reminder that this is not a finished build and not meant to be a daily driver. It is available to the Nexus 6, 5X, 6P, 9, and Pixel C devices. Google suggests developers interested in working with Android N Preview 2 also download the Android Studio 2.0 developer suite, which the company released last week. Google is expected to reveal more details about Android N during its I/O developer conference, scheduled for mid May.
Google Photos for Android is receiving a small update today with a new feature: it allows people to manually push backups from the phone to the cloud. The idea is to give users more control over which photos are backed up and which aren't. Google Photos automatically backs up all photos on the phone, but the manual option makes it possible to select certain images for safekeeping. Google Photos is free to download from the Google Play Store.
Google has updated its Calendar app for Android and iOS devices with the ability to schedule time for personal goals. Goals are activity based, such as working out or playing an instrument. Google Calendar users can choose an activity, answer several questions about it, and Calendar will find time for it in the user's schedule. Calendar can automatically reschedule goals when something more important comes up, and will learn over time as users defer goals and complete them. Google Calendar is free to download from the Google Play Store and the iTunes App Store.
Samsung has released an app for its Galaxy handsets, called Milk VR, that allows people to experience its library of 360-degree content without a virtual reality headset. The app lets Galaxy owners search for, download, and play 360-degree video content directly on their handset. Users play the downloaded videos and can then pan around the landscape. The videos are compatible with the Gear VR and can be played with or without the headset. The Milk VR app is available to the Galaxy S7, S7 Edge, S6, S6 Edge, S6 Edge+, and Note 5. It is free to download from the Google Play Store.
The HTC 10 smartphone, which runs Android, is the first to officially license Apple's AirPlay media streaming technology. The phone ships with a wide range of media streaming protocols as part of its HTC Connect software feature, including Google's ChromeCast, Qualcomm's Miracast, DLNA, and DisplayPort. AirPlay is one of the options in HTC Connect, which can be accessed quickly with a three-finger swipe. HTC said its AirPlay license allows the 10 to stream audio to AirPlay-connected speakers. Apple hasn't said if other Android phone makers plan to offer similar functionality.
Microsoft today said an update to Outlook for Android and iOS will allow users to add calendars from Facebook, Evernote, and Wunderlist. The integration supports events, notes, and reminders. Individual calendars can be color-coded for easy visibility. The features comes from the Sunrise email service, which Microsoft purchased last year. Microsoft believes integrating more calendars with Outlook will help people better plan their work and personal lives. Outlook for Android and iOS are free to download from the Google Play Store and iTunes App Store, respectively.
Google today highlighted its April security patch, which is first being delivered to Nexus smartphones and tablets. The patch resolves 29 issues, of which eight are considered critical. The most severe could enable remote code execution via certain media files, as well as the Stagefright bug. Other issues impact the core kernel as well as certain Qualcomm components. Google says it discovered the vulnerabilities earlier this year and alerted its parters to the risks on March 16. Google has already made the patch available in factory image form via the Google Developer Site. It will release the associated new builds to the Android Open Source Project within the next 48 hours, and will push the update over the air to Nexus handsets in the next few days. Google said, as far it is aware, none of the vulnerabilities were exploited. Google provides monthly security updates to Nexus-branded Android handsets.
BBM users now have more control over their messages thanks to an update BlackBerry made available to Android, BlackBerry, and iOS devices. All three platforms now have unlimited use of the Retract and Timer features. Retract lets users retract messages and images they no longer want the recipient to see. Timer gives users control over how long messages, pictures, or location details can be viewed by a message recipient. Previously, these features were reserved for BBM Premium subscribers, which carries a monthly fee. BlackBerry added other tools to BBM, including Private Chat (removes names and avatars) and Edit (allows editing of sent messages) functions, message forwarding, and bug fixes. Changes specific to Android include the ability to mute notifications, scroll through pictures, and save pictures to camera roll. The update adds support for Android 6.0 and improves BBM voice call quality. For Blackberry devices, the latest BBM makes it possible to retract or edit messages sent to groups, as well as delete messages from just the sender's view of the conversation. For iOS devices, BBM refreshes the chat screen experience, allows users to capture and share larger videos, adds support for multi-select mode to handle bulk tasks, and makes it possible to save images to the camera roll. BBM is free to download from the Google Play Store, BlackBerry World, and iTunes App Store.
Google has begun informing owners of the Google Wallet Card that it will cease supporting the card come June 30. The Wallet Card was initially paired with the Google Wallet app for mobile payments, but Google transitioned its mobile payment service away from Google Wallet to Android Pay. The Google Wallet app was retooled as a control panel for the Wallet Card as well as a method for sending payments to friends and family. Google says it plans to further develop the Google Wallet app as a way to make inter-personal payments, but the debit card is going away. Cardholders will not be able to add money to the card after May 1, and Google will cease processing transactions June 30. Google says people left with balances on their card after June 30 will still be able to send it to others or use it to make Play Store purchases.
Google has updated the Google Search app and made the voice response function sound less like a computer and more like a human. Google's speech experts took care to improve things like intonation and the transitions between individual words and letters. The result is a more natural-sounding response to spoken requests. Google Now is part of the Google Search app, and can handle a wide variety of voice commands and actions. The Google Search app is free to download from the Google Play Store.
Google today announced VR view, a way for developers to add virtual reality content to mobile apps and web sites. Google believes VR images and video — accessed through Google's Cardboard viewer for phones — can be used to create interactive and enriching experiences within apps. Such content would be engaging for travel or real estate services, for example, allowing people to explore potential destinations or homes. The latest Cardboard SDK makes it possible to embed VR in Android and iOS apps with a few lines of code. Google updated the Cardboard SDK today with the tools needed for VR view, and made the Cardboard SDK available to Apple's iOS platform for the first time.
Google today announced the Fiber Phone, a home-phone service for its Google Fiber internet customers. The service includes unlimited nationwide calling, caller ID, voicemail, privacy controls, spam filtering, and do-not-disturb tools. Customers can keep their preexisting home phone number, use a Google Voice number, or switch to a new number. Fiber Phone can be set to ring mobile phones so users don't miss home calls, and will transcribe voicemails and send them to mobile devices via email or text. Fiber Phone costs $10 per month. Google is making it available slowly in markets where it already provides fiber home internet service.
Google is rolling out an update to Google Photos for Android devices that makes it possible to undo changes made to images. Photos version 1.7 includes fully reversible and non-destructive editing so users can save edits alongside a new copy of each photo. The original image remains untouched. Google Photos for Android is free to download from the Google Play Store.
Google today released a tool for developers that will scan apps and provide feedback on their accessibility. The idea is to help developers view their apps from a different perspective and gain insight about how their user interface choices may or may not work for those with special accessibility needs. The app scans applications and will then offer suggestions on how apps can be improved, such as enlarging touch targets and increasing contrast. The app is free to download from the Google Play Store.
Verizon Wireless is rolling out the Android 6.0 Marshmallow system update to the LG V10 smartphone. According to Verizon, the update installs all the expected features of Google's latest platform, such as Google Now On Tap, Doze, revised permissions, and silent mode. Verizon did not call out any new software unique to the V10. The update is available as an over-the-air download and Verizon recommends users connect to WiFi before installing.
Google today said developers will soon be able to add speech recognition to their apps through the Google Could Speech API. Google is offering the same neural network-based tool it uses in its own voice search and keyboard apps. The API recognizes more than 80 languages and dialects, and can transcribe spoken words into text as well as respond to voice commands. The API can translate text in real time or in batches, can recognize spoken words over noisy environments, and can filter out inappropriate words/content. Google is offering the Cloud Speech API to developers for free for a limited time. Google didn't disclose how it might price access to the API down the road.
Google is improving its Google Photos service by boosting the product's ability to automatically create and annotate albums. Google says Photos will suggest new albums, featuring the best shots, after events/trips are synced online. The albums will feature maps and location points, highlighting where images were captured, should users wish. Moreover, users can add text captions to their albums as well as turn on collaboration tools for shared albums. Google says Photos users can go back to their existing albums and add these same details, such as location, maps, and text, so their albums all feature similar data. The refreshed album tools for Google Photos are reaching the web, Android, and iOS today.
Google today expanded the ecosystem of devices compatible with its casting technology to include standalone displays. The company partnered with Vizio and has added direct casting support to Vizio's P Series displays as well as Vizio's soundbars and speakers. This means people will be able to cast video and music content directly to the display, rather than through a separate dongle that's plugged into the TV to stereo system. Vizio's P Series TVs can receive casted content up to 4K in resolution. Along with the ecosystem expansion, Google has updated the Chromecast app, renaming the app to Google Cast. Google said the revised app will reach Android and iOS devices later this week. Google Cast relies on WiFi to connect smartphones and tablets to multimedia gear.