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Spotify Releases Wear OS App for Smartwatches

Yesterday, 10:39 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Spotify today showed off a new way for people to manage their music. The company has developed a small app specifically for Wear OS devices. Once installed, people will be able to play, pause, or skip to the next track; instantly set tempo-matching songs for runs; connect to home speakers; as well as access and manage playlists. The wrist-born controls also make it possible to favorite tracks and rewind podcasts on the go without reaching for your phone. Spotify says its new Wear OS app will reach customers over the coming weeks. Separately, the company said Fossil has agreed to pre-load the Spotify app on several of its Wear OS smartwatches.

Google to Charge Phone Makers to Use Google Apps in EU

Tuesday, 12:08 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today said it is appealing the European Commission's recent decision against Android. The EU sees the mobile platform's dominance as anti-competitive and fined Google $5 billion. Google believes Android has spurred competition and created a rich and flourishing ecosystem. However, Google has also developed a plan to comply with the EU's decision. Moving forward, Android device makers that want to install the Google Play Store and Google apps on phones and tablets in the EU will also be able allowed to build non-compatible, or forked, variants. Device makers can license the Google mobile application suite separately from Google Search and Google Chrome, which will now have their own licensing agreement. Google says it will offer new agreements to its partners that choose to pre-install Search and Chrome. Competing search and browser apps may also be pre-installed. "Since the pre-installation of Google Search and Chrome together with our other apps helped us fund the development and free distribution of Android, we will introduce a new paid licensing agreement for smartphones and tablets" that are shipped to the EU, said the company. Google will use the licensing fees to make up for lost revenue due to the decrease in Search and Chrome pre-installs. The change goes into effect October 29.

Google Adds EV Charging Stations to Maps

Tuesday, 11:39 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today said people can now search for and locate electronic vehicle charging stations in Google Maps. In addition to displaying the closest stations, Maps will provide information about the business where the charger is located, the types of ports that are available, how many ports there are, and charging speeds. Google says it offers crowd-sourced information, too, such as photos, ratings, and reviews of the charging stations. Google will supply links to additional details about the charger. Globally, Google Maps will locate Tesla and Chargepoint chargers, and in the U.S. it will also locate SemaConnect, EVgo, and Blink chargers. Android and iOS users can download the new version of Maps with EV charging locations today. Google says the same information will be available on desktop PCs in the coming weeks.

Hands On with the Huawei Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro

Tuesday, 8:31 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Huawei’s latest phones, the Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro, are impressive metal-and-glass slabs that go toe-to-toe with the best from Apple, Google, LG, and Samsung. Those seeking non-carrier fare will find plenty to like about this powerful pair of intelligent devices. Here are Phone Scoop’s initial impressions.

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All Google Assistant-Enabled Headphones Now Support Real-Time Translation

Monday, 10:51 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google has quietly updated its Google Assistant to make real-time translations available across a wider range of products. The real-time translations were initially limited to Google's own Pixel Buds. Now, any set of headphones that support Google Assistant can access the instantaneous translation function. The headphones that ship with the new Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL are among the first to support this feature.

Google to Sunset Its 'Reply' App for Android Phones

Oct 10, 2018, 4:52 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google says it has decided to stop updating and supporting Reply, a beta app that brought Google's smart reply functionality to third-party apps. "As you know, Reply was an experiment, and that experiment has now ended," said Google in an email sent to beta testers. "While it might still work for the next few months, you may encounter bugs, or see that the suggestions aren’t as good." Google suggested that it may bring some of Reply's features to other Google products.

Hate the Notch? Google Will Let You Hide It On the Pixel 3 XL

Oct 10, 2018, 4:30 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google has indicated that owners of the Pixel 3 XL will be able to effectively hide the notch with a software feature. "For people who prefer a more traditional smartphone look, we’ve added an option to hide the display cutout (the notch)," said Google via one of its Twitter accounts. Google didn't provide more detail. An option to hide the notch already exists in the developer settings of Android 9 Pie. It's not clear if Google was referring to this, or a separate, and hopefully easier to use, method for hiding the notch. Android phones from LG, OnePlus, and others allow you to hide the notch using software.

Waze Carpool Expands to More States

Oct 10, 2018, 1:13 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google has made its Waze Carpool service available to a handful more states around the country. The service has been in testing in the San Francisco Bay Area since 2016 and is now available in California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, Ohio, Washington, and Wisconsin. Waze Carpool lets people find rides from nearby Waze users. People can select carpoolers based on profiles, ratings, and filters. While carpooling, Waze users are eligible to use HOV lanes, and will always be guided via the fastest route. Waze also pitches the service as a way to cut down on commuting costs for riders and a way to earn gas money for drivers. The app is free to download from the iTunes App Store and Google Play Store.

Google Rebuilds Its Home App to Simplify Device Control

Oct 9, 2018, 4:54 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today announced that a new version of its Google Home app will reach Android and iOS devices this week. The app has been entirely redesigned to ease the process of controlling various smart home devices, such as smart lightbulbs. For example, all the devices in a home will be visible in a single view, allowing people to control their devices without jumping between apps. It also lumps together similar devices like speakers, lights, cameras, thermostats, and more. The app now automates quick actions for important features, such as turning on lights or viewing cameras. The app brings home control when away from home. Users will be able to check on their house, adjust their thermostat, and more no matter where they happen to be. Moreover, Google Home allows multiple members of a family to access and control smart devices in the home complete with voice recognition. Google built Google Assistant into the app, as well, so people can tap the mic and say “Hey Google, dim the lights.” Google hopes this revised app will improve peoples’ control over and interactions with in-home smart products.

Hands On with the Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL

Oct 9, 2018, 1:34 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google's flagship Android devices are here! The Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL carry forward Google's vision of AI-boosted mobile computing. The phones offer larger displays and new cameras with gobs of new photo-processing power — all backed by Google Assistant. Here is our in-depth preview of Google's new phones.

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Google's Pixel Charging Stand Turns Your Pixel Into an Assistant-Based Home Helper

Oct 9, 2018, 11:09 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Oct 9, 2018, 5:05 PM

Google today announced Pixel Stand, a wireless charger for the new Pixel 3 phones. The stand charges the devices wirelessly, but also transforms the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL phones into Google Home Hub-style assistants. The screen of the Pixel can be set to display the weather, notifications, photos, and much more while the phone charges. It keeps the phone in a listening mode so it will always respond to "Hey Google" commands for search and other queries. It will display album art when listening to music, and offer native integration with Google Home smart products, and wake people; gently with what Google calls the Sunrise Alarm. The Pixel Stand costs $79 and is available for preorder today.

Google Reveals Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL with Bigger Screens, Better Cameras

Oct 9, 2018, 11:05 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today announced a new batch of Pixel phones, including the Pixel 3 and larger Pixel 3 XL. The phones will come in sand, black, and white. Like preceding generations of the Pixel line, the Pixel 3 and 3 XL are made from a combination of metal and glass. The 3 has a 5.5-inch screen while the XL has a 6.3-inch screen. The phones feature improved cameras that work hand-in-hand with apps such as Google Photos and Google Lens. It includes Google's HDR+ for capturing rich, detailed images. The phone includes Google's dedicated Pixel Visual Core for processing images. A new tool called Top Shot captures images before the user presses the shutter button in order to ensure the best shot is taken. This feature has been on phones for several years. Another feature called Super Res Zoom to help with zoomed-in shot. Google says it merges slightly different photos to create brighter, cleaner images. The Pixel 3's Night Sight function which claims to negate the need for a flash. It uses machine learning to improve low-light shots and will come to the Pixel 3 and older Pixel phones next month. The Pixel 3 series includes a wide-angle front camera for better selfies. Other modes such as Portrait mode and autofocus gain new functions to perform faster. The new Pixel phones run Android 9 Pie and includes a rear-mounted fingerprint reader. Google is offering YouTube Music to Pixel owners for six months for free. The phones include a Call Screen function that is meant to screen calls with Google Assistant. It uses AI-based conversational tools to answer the phone and talk to the caller while the conversation is transcribed in real-time on the screen. People can read the transcription and pick up the call if they wish. Another tool called Flip to Shish will silence notifications when the device is flipped over on its face. The devices will be available for preorder later today.

Google Renames AR Stickers As 'Playground'

Oct 9, 2018, 11:02 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today relaunched its AR Stickers for Pixel phones as Playground. The Playground feature lets people put animated, 3D stickers on top of their photos or videos to add a bit of fun. The company said it has a lot of new stickers, including some from Marvel and Childish Gambino. Playground will be available for Pixel 3 and 3 XL first, with Pixel 2 and the original Pixel to follow later this year.

Google Debuts New Chrome OS Pixel Slate

Oct 9, 2018, 10:49 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today announced a slate-style, Chrome-based machine for productivity. Google says the Pixel Slate has a custom display and dual front-firing speakers for stereo sound. Custom audio algorithms create crisp highs and powerful lows. Google will give people a free three-month subscription to YouTube TV with their purchase of the Pixel Slate. The computer has 8-megapixel front and rear cameras that include tools such as portrait mode and a wide-angle lens on front for video chats. The Slate runs an all-new version of Chrome OS. The UI more closely resembles Android and is easy to use by hand. It is capable of running full-powered Linux and Android apps. The OS customizes the UI based on preferences and usage patterns, surfacing apps people are likely to open. Google Assistant is more deeply integrated in Chrome OS and can be used to search for restaurants or dictate emails. The Slate includes Family Link, Google's parental feature for controlling usage around the home. Virus protection is built in and the Pixel Slate includes automatic security updates. Google created a dedicated keyboard for the Pixel Slate. The Slate powers the keyboard via connector rather than Bluetooth. The folio-style keyboard features rounded, backlit buttons and a trackpad and can adjusted to any angle. Google's G Suite productivity tools are baked into the platform, as well as the full version of the Chrome browser with support for extension. The base model costs $599, while the keyboard costs $199 and the stylus costs $99. Google says all three will be available later this year.

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Google Home Hub to Serve As Nexus of Our Digital Lives

Oct 9, 2018, 10:38 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Oct 9, 2018, 5:30 PM

Google today announced the Google Home Hub, a new smart display that features a 7-inch screen for use in the home. The Hub features the Google Assistant and dedicated tools to help people manage their other devices, content, and accounts. The Hub uses custom fabrics, features rounded corners, and comes in four different colors. Google specifically chose to not include a camera with the device so the Home Hub can be used in bedrooms and other private spaces. Voice-based commands will let people access YouTube, play music, search for recipes, control smart home gear, and much more. An ambient light sensor on the top ensures the screen is always optimized for the lighting conditions. Google has worked to create a step-by-step guide for recipes that can be controlled via voice. The idea is to let people access the recipe even when their hands are dirty during cooking. The Hub is based Android. It is available for pre-order starting today for $149 and will reach stores October 22.

Google's 'Live Albums' to Create and Share Albums Automatically

Oct 9, 2018, 10:34 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Oct 9, 2018, 5:25 PM

Live Albums are the latest photo-focused feature of Google Photos. With Live Albums enabled, Google Photos automatically finds and shares users' images with others. In order for it to work, people will need to create tags for people or places. As people capture images of those people the photos will automatically be added to the album and shared with those designated as part of a family or group. The app was created alongside the Google Home Hub, Google's new in-home smart display. People will be able to take photos that are instantly added to albums and then used as the screen saver on the Home Hub. Live Albums are part of the Google Camera app on the latest Pixel phones, but should reach other Android devices over time.

Google to Limit What Apps Can Do with Gmail and SMS

Oct 8, 2018, 2:04 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today said it plans to limit what apps are allowed to do when granted access to users' Gmail accounts and SMS, contacts, and phone call logs. In Gmail, Google will curtail the types of apps that are allowed to seek permission for Gmail data. Google says only apps that directly enhance or improve email functionality will be allowed to access Gmail. Further, apps that do need access to Gmail will need to adhere to strict new rules and be subject to occasional security audits. Similarly, Google plans to limit which types of apps are allowed to seek users' SMS, call log, and contact information. Apps will need to show specific reasons for wanting this information. Only apps set as the default SMS and calling apps will be allowed to request such data. And users will be able to control this with more granularity. Last, Google plans to make contact interaction data unavailable to apps and developers. The company will make this change through the Android Contacts API over the next few months. Google encourages developers to review the new guidelines and update their apps accordingly. For end users, the result means apps will have less access to their data.

Google to Give Users More Control Over Account Permissions

Oct 8, 2018, 1:51 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Oct 9, 2018, 5:01 PM

Google says people want more control over what account data they share with apps, and the company is taking steps to make that a reality. Google plans to change the way developers will use its API for granting account access. Moving forward, people will able to grant permissions to specific data subsets, such as calendar and Google Drive, while denying access to others, such as Gmail. Apps will show users permission requests one at a time, within their own dialog boxes, rather than en masse on a single screen. People can then select individual pieces of information to share. Google says these changes will begin to roll out slowly over the next few months.

Google to Shut Down Google+ After Security Lapse Exposed Hundreds of Thousands of Accounts

Oct 8, 2018, 1:41 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today came clean about a security problem it first discovered in March. One of the APIs that helps people share their account profiles with others through Google+ was inadvertently left open for apps to access. Google says about 438 apps had the ability to access user data, including name, email address, occupation, gender, and age, for a lengthy period of time. As far as Google knows, none of the 438 apps were aware of or used the security hole to take user data. Google believes the public profile data of about 500,000 people was left exposed, though not accessed. Google patched the bug immediately in March, but chose not to reveal this information to the public for fear of regulatory reprisal. Further, Google says Google+ has seen traffic diminish significantly, with 90% of sessions lasting less than five seconds. Due to the security lapse and the low usage, Google has chosen to sunset Google+. Consumers will have 10 months, through August 2019, to download their data before Google+ is turned off permanently. Google+ initially hoped to be a social networking alternative to Facebook. It later scaled back the service with a focus on businesses and groups.

Metro Will Launch 5G Alongside T-Mobile

Oct 8, 2018, 11:34 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Metro by T-Mobile, T-Mobile's recently-renamed prepaid brand, will offer 5G service to customers at about the same time T-Mobile rolls out 5G to its postpaid subscribers. "When we talk about 5G for all, it's not just nationwide 5G service, but it's all shades of T-Mobile, magenta and purple," said Neville Ray, chief technology officer at T-Mobile, at an event today. T-Mobile says it will launch 5G in some 30 markets during the first half of 2019, and both T-Mobile and Metro customers will be able to access the faster speeds and lower latency. Metro's new service plans, announced earlier this month, are available starting today. Metro's $40 plan doubles the amount of high-speed data to 10 GB per month. The new $50 plan allows for unlimited data and includes Google One online cloud storage (Android only). The $60 plan includes unlimited data, Google One, and Amazon Prime. T-Mobile says Metro customers' data is prioritized below that of some T-Mobile customers when the network is congested. On all plans, customers who consume more than 35 GB per month may notice reduced speeds due to deprioritization.

HMD Global to Bring Nokia 7.1 with PureDisplay to US

Oct 4, 2018, 11:32 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

HMD Global today announced the Nokia 7.1, a premium mid-range phone that targets people who want an affordable, yet powerful device. The 7.1 adopts the all-screen design approach. It has a 5.84-inch PureDisplay that includes full HD+ resolution in a 19:9 screen that supports HDR10. The 2.5D panel is made from Gorilla Glass 3 and will change the brightness and color tone automatically to match the surrounding light. The screen covers most of the phone's face, though it has a notch at the top to accommodate the earpiece and user-facing camera. HMD Global says the 7.1's 6000 series aluminum frame is diamond-cut and dual-anodized for a premium finish. Under the metal skin, the 7.1 is powered by a Snapdragon 636 processor with 4 GB of RAM and 64 GB of storage. Dual cameras with Zeiss Optics adorn the rear, including a 12-megapixel main camera at f/1.8 and a 5-megapixel depth-sensing camera at f/2.4. Together, they can capture portrait/bokeh images. The 8-megapixel selfie camera has its own AI-assisted features to help with facial recognition for masks, stickers, and more. The 7.1 can live stream "bothies" — or video from the front and rear cameras at the same time — directly to Facebook and Instagram. The camera app features Google Lens and Motion Photos built in. Other features include a rear-mounted fingerprint reader, Cat 6 LTE with dual SIM support, Bluetooth 5.0 with aptX, GPS, and WiFi. The phone includes an embedded 3,060mAh battery that supports rapid charging. The 7.1 charges via USB-C and offers a 3.5mm headphone jack. The device runs the Android One version of Android 8 Oreo, which means it is near stock and will receive three years worth of monthly security upgrades and two years worth of OS upgrades. Pre-sales for the midnight blue and steel versions of the Nokia 7.1 begin online via Best Buy, B&H, and Amazon on October 5 with an expected shipping date of October 28. The phone will reach Best Buy stores on November 5. The Nokia 7.1 costs $349.

Google Assistant Can Now Hail Your Lyft or Uber

Oct 4, 2018, 11:23 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today made it easy to hail a ride by asking Google Assistant. Moving forward, people can say, "Hey Google, book a ride to the airport" and the Assistant will display a list of available ride services, such as Uber, Lyft, Ola, Grab, GO-JEK, and others. Assistant will also surface estimated pricing and wait times, as well as ETAs for the end destination. People can request a specific ride share service in the voice command if they wish, such as, "Hey Google, book a Lyft to the airport." People seeking a ride will then be asked to confirm the booking on their phone. This feature is available via Assistant on Android phones, iPhones, the Google Home speaker family, and any other Assistant-enabled speaker. Ride hailing via Assistant is initially available in English and only in countries where ride sharing is supported. Google will add more languages over time.

Google Overhauls Assistant on Phones

Oct 3, 2018, 12:42 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today unveiled an entirely new version of its Google Assistant app for mobile phones. Moving forward, Assistant combines the benefits of voice- and touch-based searches into a single user interface that allows people to interact with buttons, sliders, and other tools as they come. Google focused on giving Assistant bigger visuals, meaning things are easier to see and understand quickly. Revised software controls should help people control their smart home devices, such as thermostats and speakers. The messaging interface is now interactive so people can use their fingers to add commas, change words, or make other adjustments to text. Assistant on Android phones in particular providers easy access to users' day and feed. It will more proactively offer curated results based on the time of day, your schedule, and recent searches/interactions with Assistant. Last, Google is giving brands new tools to take advantage of phone screens for search results. For example, new thumbnails allow Starbucks customers to select items on the menu and Food Network has larger images with its recipes. Developers and brands can put Assistant and its results to work for them. Google Assistant is free to download from the Google Play Store and the iTunes App Store.

Google's Voice Access App Brings Total Voice Control to Android

Oct 2, 2018, 2:38 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today released a new accessibility app called Voice Access. The goal of the app is to help people with certain disabilities interact with their Android device using voice commands. Google says Voice Access delivers a completely hands-free experience, allowing people to talk to Google Assistant, navigate through apps, as well as compose and edit messages. Voice Access supports more fine-grained controls when compared to typical voice command apps. For example, people will be able to use their voice to "click" buttons and controls within apps, or to scroll and navigate around the screen. Users can start with an "OK Google" command to open their favorite messaging app, select the text field, dictate the message, and then edit the message before sending it. Voice Access will also work for those without disabilities. Voice Access is available in English globally starting today. Other languages will be made available over time.

Google Offering Repair Service to Pixel Phones

Oct 1, 2018, 4:01 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google has opened an online-based repair service for its Pixel, Pixel XL, Pixel 2, and Pixel 2 XL phones. Using the web site, owners of these devices can open a repair ticket based on their device's EMEI. The online form helps narrow down the problem and highlights potential repairs. Google will send a box so the device can be shipped to its U.S.-based repair facility for inspection and any fixes. Google says most repairs will take seven to 10 days. Costs for the various repairs were not provided.

Google Rolls Out October Security Patch with Essential Close Behind

Oct 1, 2018, 2:32 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today provided details concerning the October security update for Android. Google says the newest patch solves a number of vulnerabilities in the Android source code impacting the framework, media framework, system, and kernel. The most critical issue was centered in the framework and "could enable a remote attacker using a specially crafted file to execute arbitrary code within the context of a privileged process." As far as Google knows, none of the security lapses were exploited for any means by hackers. Google revealed these problems to its OEM partners a month ago. The company is making two updates available, one dated October 1 and the other dated October 5. These updates should reach Google's branded Pixel and Nexus devices over the next week or so. The company plans to distribute the patched code to AOSP within 48 hours. Following Google's announcement, Essential Products said it, too, is offering its own PH-1 Essential Phone the same security patches. Further, the update from Essential brings back support for notch controls. Owners of the Essential Phone can expect to receive the update in the next few days.

Google Maps' Latest Tools Target Commuting

Oct 1, 2018, 7:48 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today is making some additions to Google Maps that it hopes will help people get to work quicker and with less stress along the way. The app has added a "commute" tab that offers one-tap access to live traffic and transit details that are personalized for each person's specific commute. The tab can instantly show people if their commute will be normal or impacted by traffic or accidents. Google will proactively suggest alternate routes if there are delays in the way. Android device owners will receive real-time notifications and re-routes if problems occur while on the road. Maps now includes support for mixed-mode commutes, such as those that involve driving and walking, or walking and bus/train rides. Google will surface information about the time each leg of the trip will take and offer suggestions if one or more of the legs is running slow. Google will take all these factors into account to help it create a more accurate ETAs. Train and subway commuters gain new insight into their daily ride thanks to real-time bus/train data. Transit riders in some 80 metropolitan areas will be able to see exactly where their bus or train is in order to anticipate how long they have to catch it. In Sydney, Maps will even show how many seats are left on the train. Last, Google Maps is adding direct support for Spotify, Apple Music, and Google Play Music so commuters can control their morning music right from Maps. This is meant to prevent people from toggling between apps while behind the wheel. Google says the new Maps is rolling out to Android and iOS devices this week.

Google Rolling Wear OS Out to Most Android Smartwatches

Sep 28, 2018, 12:12 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today began distributing the latest build of Wear OS to Android-based wearables. The platform, shown off earlier this year, dramatically simplifies the user interface with a focus on health and fitness, notifications, and Assistant-based search queries and commands. The new operating system should be available to the majority of smartwatches already running Android Wear or Wear OS. Google didn't say how quickly the new OS will be disseminated. Users can check for the update manually via the settings menu on their Android watch.

Google Strings Together More Ways to Help with Travel Search

Sep 28, 2018, 7:43 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google says it has updated how it handles search for travelers in a way that should make it easier to piece together trips over time. When searchers first look for certain travel destinations, Google will begin to show things to do and related travel articles. Once people book their flights or hotel, this information will be incorporated into future searches so Google can surface personalized recommendations, such as restaurants near the hotel or the predicted weather during the trip dates. Beginning in October, the Google Trips app will introduce new tools for managing existing trips by revealing one-touch flight and hotel prices, popular tourist sites, and so on. Google says people can turn off personalized recommendations if they wish. Google is also updating Google Flights with the goal of providing more visibility. For example, it can warn travelers when prices are abnormally high or low for any given destination, particularly around holidays. Last, Google will begin to give hotels "location scores" based on the neighborhood and nearby attractions. When used together, Google hopes the changed Search, Trips, and Flights tools will make the process of searching for and booking travel smoother.

Google Maps Makes Planning Group Outings Simpler

Sep 27, 2018, 7:25 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google has added a tool to Google Maps that simplifies the process of planning group get-togethers. Google says a long press on any destination adds it to a shortlist, which appears as a floating bubble on the side of the screen. After adding several places, the organizer can then share the list with friends through any messaging platform. Each person in the group will then be able to view the list, as well as add or remove locations and vote on the final destination. The new group meeting feature will appear in the Google Maps app for Android and iOS this week.

Google Bolsters Search Tool In Android Messages

Sep 25, 2018, 4:31 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google has taken steps to improve the search functionality that's within the Android Messages application. Google says searching by contact or type of content should bring up a richer set of results. Moving forward, tapping on the search icon will bring up a short list of your recent contacts in addition to the search bar. For quick sorting, tap a name and Messages will reveal your messaging history with that person, including both private and group conversations. Photos, videos, addresses, and links will be included in the results. Using the search bar to seek out specific types of content, including photos or addresses should be simpler with this tool. Google says these improvements are rolling out to Android Messages this week.

Waze Follows Google Maps to Apple's CarPlay

Sep 24, 2018, 2:50 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today said iPhone users can opt for Google-owned Waze instead of Apple Maps for navigating in their CarPlay-equipped car. Apple added support for third-party apps to CarPlay in iOS 12, which was released earlier this month. Google updated its Waze real-time traffic app in order to make it compatible with iOS 12 and CarPlay. Google says Waze supports traffic alerts, police hazards, instant route changes, live ETAs, cheap gas station locations, and a variety of voices for guided navigating. Google says Waze should be available in most vehicles that include CarPlay, though it suggests users check online to view Apple’s list of compatible vehicles.

Google to Help You Find Your Old Searches

Sep 24, 2018, 2:42 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today said it wants to help people resume incomplete or old searches. The company is taking a couple of steps to make this happen. To start, it will surface new activity cards to help people pick up where they left off. For example, when revisiting old queries users will see a card that highlights the pages they've already visited in addition to related searches. Google says it will only show this card when useful. People will have full control over the tool, meaning they can wipe their search history, the results, or delete the cards altogether. Google says this will be available later this year. Another tool called Collections is headed to Google Search. This will help people lump together the results they've visited over time so they can return to them and keep track of, or organize content for revisiting. Google will add content suggestions to Collections in an effort to help people explore topics further. Main topics won't be the only results displayed, as Google plans to add subtopics with more granular information. Google says this feature will learn over time and should be able to refine results. In order to power all these changes, Google has added a new layer to its Knowledge Graph, called the Topic Layer. This new layer understands topics and generates hundreds of thousands of subtopics, which help identify the more relevant information. Google is still testing these changes and will roll them out when ready.

Google to Make Image and Video Results More Helpful

Sep 24, 2018, 2:02 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google says it is making a "fundamental shift" in how it thinks about Google Search. The company hopes the changes will make searches more visual and, in the end, more helpful. To start, Google is using AI to build AMP stories and surface that content in search results. Google will first focus on creating stories about famous people (movie stars, athletes) that highlight their lifestyles, news, and other facts. Videos will play a bigger role in results. Google wants to surface videos that include the most relevant information about any given query. It will do this by using computer vision to better understand the content of videos before it calculates how they pertain to the search. Google Images is earning some updates, as well, in order to provide the best possible image results. For example, it will signal how the result ranks in terms of usefulness and freshness. Image search results will more directly take people to the image they seek, rather than a web page that might be hiding the image near the bottom. Image Search will contain more context alongside results, such as captions, the title of the web page, and other guiding factors. Last, Google says it is bringing the power of Google Lens' AI technology to Google Images. This will help Google Images better analyze and detect objects, making them more easily searched. Google says Lens will also let people draw on any part of an image to trigger related results for that portion of the image. All these changes are rolling out to mobile devices and the web over the next few weeks.

Google Moves Feed to Search, Calls It 'Discover'

Sep 24, 2018, 1:40 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today announced some big changes are headed to its main search product. Google is relocating users' Google Feed to the main search page and renaming it Discover. This refreshed Discover feed is meant to help people find and explore new things. Google says it will contain new topic headers and cards that explain why the information is being shown, allowing people to dive in deeper or tweak preferences to see less of some things. The discover button that appears at the bottom of the screen subscribes people to certain feeds based on their interests. Google hopes to surface more videos and evergreen content, such as "where-to" and "how-to" articles and videos. Google says it is relying on some of the algorithms it uses in its Google News service to serve people with relevant content. The new Discover will be easier to use for those who speak multiple languages, allowing them to, for example, view video content in one language while reading search results in another. The Discover page is coming to google.com as viewed on mobile browsers and will be rolling out over the next few weeks. Google didn't say if Discover will eventually reach its official mobile search apps for Android and iOS.

Google to Let Devs Open Any 2D Android App In Daydream VR

Sep 24, 2018, 7:49 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google recently made improvements to its Daydream virtual reality platform that will see its usefulness expand in several ways. First, it is giving the Lenovo Mirage Solo headset the ability to support six degrees of freedom. Together with hand trackers, this allows Mirage Solo users to more accurately interact with virtual worlds. Google says it is using "machine learning and off-the-shelf parts to accurately estimate the 3D position and orientation of the controllers." This means 6DoF can be built into VR headsets at a lower cost. Google gave developers new APIs in order to test this experimental features. The Mirage Solo also gains a see-through mode, allowing wearers to see the real world around them through the headset's cameras. On mobile devices, Google is opening up all Android apps to its phone-based VR experience. Developers can use new tools to add Daydream VR support to their existing 2D applications. Google says its Chrome team recycled existing 2D interfaces from its Chrome Browser Sync to make this possible. Once developers make their apps Daydream enabled, Daydream users will be able to open those apps via their Daydream VR headset and interact with them. Google is calling these features experimental for now.

YouTube Music Mobile App Lets Users Dial In Audio Quality

Sep 24, 2018, 7:37 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

YouTube recently updated the YouTube Music app for both Android and iOS and gave users new controls over how their music sounds. Moving forward, listeners can select to download mixtapes with low quality (48kbps), normal quality (128kbps), or high quality (256kbps) files. The higher quality files will consume more on-device storage. The app still allows for people to download audio only, or complete audio/video music videos. The limit for downloads remains at 100 songs/videos. YouTube Music is free to download from the Google Play Store and iTunes App Store, but downloading music requires a monthly subscription.

OnePlus Pushing Android 9 Pie to the OnePlus 6

Sep 21, 2018, 10:46 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

OnePlus today began delivering Android 9 Pie to its flagship phone, the OnePlus 6. The company had been testing a beta version of the new operating system from Google for several weeks. Android 9 Pie carries with it a brand new user interface, adaptive battery support, and revised gesture navigation. It adds a reworked Do Not Disturb mode, as well as a new Gaming Mode. The update also improves text and call notifications, and allows people to adjust the accent color. Last, the update includes the September security patch from Google. Android 9 Pie is free for owners of the OnePlus 6 to download and install. The company is rolling it out over the next few days.

Apple Music for Android Adds Support for Android Auto

Sep 19, 2018, 4:26 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Sep 19, 2018, 4:26 PM

Apple has updated its Apple Music application for Android devices and improved the app's usefulness in the car. Android device owners can now access their Apple Music service through the Android Auto user interface in the car. Apple Music also offers search by lyrics using a few words to find songs. The app tosses in a new artist page, letting people view artist information and play artist's hits with a tap, and the friends mix, which shows a playlist of songs liked by friends. Last, Apple Music for Android now includes the Top 100 songs from around the world. Apple Music is free to download from the Google Play Store.

Google and T-Mobile Improving 911 Call Location Accuracy

Sep 19, 2018, 9:03 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google and T-Mobile are working together to ensure that T-Mobile customers' location is more accurately pinpointed when calling 911 emergency services. About 80% of the annual 240 million 911 calls in the U.S. are made via cell phones. Where landlines can point to an exact address for emergency services, cell phones often provide only a general location that can be off by hundreds of feet. Google and T-Mobile have been looking to solve this problem for four years. Moving forward, Android devices running on T-Mobile's network will use the RapidSOS system. RapidSOS's internet protocol-based pipeline can share location data with 911 centers quickly and securely. This newer system integrates with 911 centers' existing software to more finely pinpoint location. This user location data cannot be used for non-emergency purposes and 911 centers will only have access to location during 911 emergency calls. RapidSOS is operating in about 1,000 of the country's 5,700 911 call centers. RapidSOS is available to all 911 centers, though there's no word on when the rest will adopt it. By law, wireless network operators are required to locate callers within 50 meters 80% of the time, but not until 2021. Google and T-Mobile claim RapidSOS reduces the average location radius from more than 500 feet down to 122 feet. This is within the range mandated by the FCC. Apple adopted RapidSOS with the release of iOS 12, allowing iPhones to provide similarly accurate location data to 911 call centers.

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