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Google Says It Is Making Progress with Project Treble

Today, 8:35 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google believes the initial adoption of Android 9 Pie will be quicker than the initial adoption of Android 8 Oreo thanks in part to Project Treble. Google launched Project Treble in 2017 with Oreo in an effort to speed up phone makers' ability to push system and security updates to users. Since then, Google has worked with its hardware partners to create a Generic System Image (GSI), drawn directly from the latest AOSP build, and what it calls Vendor Interfaces. These delineate a clear boundary between the partner's code and Google's code. Google's code can be updated via the GSI rapidly and independently of the vendor code. Moving forward, Google says all devices that launch with Android 9 Pie will be Treble-compliant and can take advantage of swifter system upgrades. It is this that gives Google the confidence to predict that more devices will be running Pie at the end of 2018 than were running Oreo at the end of 2017. Developers can use the GSI, too, which will always be based on the most up-to-date version of Android, to test their apps. This should let developers adapt to new Android builds at a faster rate.

Google Maps Makes It Simple to Message Businesses

Today, 8:09 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google has made it easier for people to connect with businesses through Google Maps. Google has allowed Maps users in select countries to message businesses through the Google Maps app itself. This is intended to help when it might be inconvenient to call the business directly. Google is expanding the availability of this feature to more countries. Further, Google is now saving those conversations in Google Maps so they can be revisited if users need to re-start the thread. At the same time, Google released a new app for businesses, called Google My Business, which lets businesses easily set up and manage the ability to message customers. Google didn't say to which countries Map messaging is being extended.

Google Turns On the Night for Pixel Phones

Yesterday, 12:38 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google says all three generations of Pixel phones will soon be able to take advantage of Night Sight, Google's new low-light photo feature. Night Sight uses several techniques at once in order to improve the chances of capturing a successful shot in dark environments. Night Sight continually adapts to the movement of the Pixel phone and the surrounding light. The software is able to measure hand shake and motion in the scene to find the right exposure. Google says when the Pixel is held still, Night Sight will take longer exposures to minimize noise, but if the subject is moving Night Sight will use shorter exposures to minimize blur. Night Sight can compensate for some amount of motion in the shot by firing off a burst of photos and then merging the results to provide a bright, sharp photo. Night Sight also uses machine learning to balance color and create true-to-life images. Pixel phones will automatically suggest Night Sight when they detect low-light conditions, though users can also turn the feature on manually. Night Sight will be rolling out over the next few days through an update to the Google Camera app.

Google's Project Fi Integrates VPN More Tightly for Security

Tuesday, 1:00 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today said its Project Fi wireless service will soon be more secure. The company is extending the way it uses a VPN to protect subscribers' connections. Moving forward, all connections, whether cellular or WiFi, will be encrypted via Google's VPN. Using a VPN prevents bad actors from intercepting the data being sent between your device and the connection point. Moreover, the VPN was designed so a user's traffic isn't tied to their Google account or phone number, providing another layer of security. Google Fi provides LTE via three different carriers (Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular) and automatically switches to WiFi when available. Google says Fi will be more proactive about returning to the cellular network when the WiFi connection gets sketchy. Google claims this reduces the amount of time people wait for their device to switch over by as much as 40%. Google will begin distributing these new features to devices running Android 9 Pie on Project Fi over the coming week.

GBoard to Use AI In Order to Suggest GIFs, Emoji and Stickers

Monday, 12:38 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google's GBoard application for Android devices is prepared to add a bit of smarts to the conversation. The latest version of the app will use artificial intelligence to suggest GIFs, emojis, and stickers. As people type, Google will scan for words that are commonly paired with GIFs, emoji or stickers. When it reads them, the "G" logo on the keyboard will light up, letting the user know that GIFs are available. Tapping on the "G" then takes users to a screen where they can choose from pre-selected GIFs, or search for a different one. Google says all the AI processing is done locally on the phone to ensure a quick experience. The new AI-assisted GIF suggestions are available globally in English starting today. Google hopes to expand to more languages over time.

Google Renames Files Go Android App to Files by Google

Nov 8, 2018, 10:11 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today said it is rebranding its mobile app for managing on-device storage and sharing files with others. When Files Go first launched in December 2017, its goal was to help people whose devices had limited storage. It was also meant to let people share music, videos, and apps with others even when an internet connection wasn't available. Google says the app has grown to 30 million monthly users. The company is rebranding Files Go to Files by Android and redesigned the user interface at the same time. The app now focuses more on content stored on the mobile phone, yet it still includes lighthearted experiences such as celebratory notifications explaining how much storage people have recovered when they delete files from their device. Files by Android is free to download from the Google Play Store.

Google to Let Developers Update Apps As People Use Them

Nov 7, 2018, 3:59 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today announced a number of features that developers can put to use in their Android apps. First up, the new In-App Updates API lets developers push updates to their app while the app is in use. One one scenario, the user waits a moment while the update is applied immediately. In another scenario, the update is downloaded in the background even while the app is in use. Google believes this will make the updating process feel more seamless to end users, as they won't be forced to close apps or update via the Play Store. Google Slices, a concept introduced earlier this year, are now in public testing. Slices allow a snippet of an app to run without the app actually being installed on the device. Several apps, including Kayak and Doist, will have Slices up and running by the end of the month. Google expects to expand Slices to more apps in the near future. Google also released a new version of the Kotlin coding language, launched Android Studio 3.3 in beta, added support for uncompressed native libraries in Android App Bundles, and made improvements to Instant Apps. Developers can access and put these new tools to use through the Android developer portal.

Google Adds Native Support for 'Foldables' to Android

Nov 7, 2018, 1:28 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today announced support for folding devices, what it calls "foldables," at the Android Developer Summit. Google says this is a new form factor coming from Android device makers next year. With native support for foldables baked into Android, apps will be able to run seamlessly as the device folds and unfolds. This achieves this form factor's chief feature, which Google says is screen continuity. Google didn't spell out any specific devices. Samsung is widely expected to announce a folding phone in the near future.

Google Brings Election Tools to Google Search

Nov 6, 2018, 8:32 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today rolled out several tools to help Americans vote in the 2018 mid-term elections. There are three components to the information being offered by Google: how to vote; who are the candidates and what are the issues; and what are the results. Anyone who searches for "how do I register to vote" or "how do I vote" will be given detailed information on registration deadlines, requirements, eligibility, and the logistics of casting a ballet at your local polling place. Searching for "where do I vote" should show people the right location. Need help understanding what's at stake? Google has created knowledge panels about every candidate and ballot measure in clear, easy-to-understand language. The panels will highlight candidates' platforms, statements, and legislative priorities. Last, Google will help people follow the results. People can search for "Senate results" or "House results" to see up-to-the-minute updates as results begin to come in. These results will include a real-time summary of each chamber. People can also seek out information on gubernatorial elections.

Android's November Security Patches Are Here

Nov 5, 2018, 1:37 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today provided details concerning the November security update for Android. Google says the newest patch solves a number of vulnerabilities in the Android source code impacting the framework, media framework, and core system. Many of the problems spotted were rated "high" or "critical" in terms of severity. The majority of "critical" issues could lead to remote code execution, wherein a hacker might launch malicious apps. As far as Google knows, none of the security holes have been exploited. Google revealed these problems to its phone-making partners last month. The company is providing two updates, one dated November 1 and the other dated November 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. It is up to individual device makers to update their own hardware with the patched platform.

7-Eleven to Let Customers Scan and Pay for Goods Via their Phone

Nov 5, 2018, 10:58 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

7-Eleven is testing a new way for customers to pay for items as they shop at 7-Eleven retail locations. The Scan & Pay feature is being added to the 7-Eleven mobile app. Customers will need to install the app and sign up for the 7Rewards loyalty program in order to gain access to the feature. When customers are near a store that supports Scan & Pay, the "start scanning" option will appear within the app. Customers can then scan their items through the app as they go, adding items to their virtual basket. The app supports Apple Pay, Google Pay, or credit/debit cards for completing the transaction. Once customers have paid, the app generates a QR code that shoppers scan at the confirmation station before they can leave with their items. 7-Eleven is piloting this feature at just 14 stores in the Dallas area. It expects to expand availability of Scan & Pay over time.

Google's Gboard Lets People Create More Personal Emoji

Oct 30, 2018, 2:48 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today added the ability to create personalized Mini emoji that resemble device owners. After people take a selfie, Gboard will use "a combination of machine learning and artistry" to generate illustrated stickers for individual users. The machine learning automatically suggests skin tone, hair styles, and accessories that can be fine-tuned after the fact. Google says Minis support different types of head coverings, facial hair, eyewear, freckles, wrinkles, and more. The tool creates three versions of each Mini, including "bold" and "sweet" for when users want a different take on their little character. Google says the new version of Gboard with Minis for Android and iOS is rolling out to all users starting today.

Gmail for iOS Gains a Universal Inbox

Oct 30, 2018, 11:45 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today just made Gmail much more useful on iOS devices. The latest version of Google's mobile email app now allows users to view more than a single account at a time. Before, users needed to manually switch from one account to another. Now, users can opt to blend their inboxes into a single view, or universal inbox. Google says the multiple accounts can be a combination of work and personal, G Suite or non-G Suite, and even IMAP email. The new "All Inboxes" view shows all emails in a single list. Google assures that the emails themselves are not shared between accounts. The new version of Gmail for iOS is free to download from the iTunes App Store.

Waze to Keep You Rocking While You're Driving

Oct 30, 2018, 7:38 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Waze recently partnered with more music services so people can access and listen to their favorite content while navigating between points. Waze partnered with Spotify last year, but announced an expanded media player within the Waze mobile app that works with seven new content providers. The additional services include Pandora, Deezer, iHeartRadio, NPR One, Scribd, Stitcher, and TuneIn for a wide selection of music, news, and podcasts. Waze says support for these new services is rolling out over time. Beta testers can take them for a test drive right away, but Waze won't finish integrating all eight services into both the Android and iOS Waze apps until the end of the year. Waze says users will need to update their favorite content app and sync it with Waze just once in order to get them working together. The feature supports multiple music apps, allowing people to switch from music to podcasts whenever they wish. Google, which owns Waze, recently added a similar feature to Google Maps.

OnePlus 6T Packs Under-the-Glass Fingerprint Reader, Teardrop Notch, Dual Cameras

Oct 29, 2018, 10:25 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Oct 29, 2018, 10:28 AM

OnePlus today announced its flagship phone for the back half of the year, the OnePlus 6T. The phone is a significant upgrade to the OnePlus 6. To start, it improves the 6.41-inch screen by reducing the size of the notch. The display now has a teardrop-shaped cutout at the top, rather than a saddle-shaped notch. The Super AMOLED panel is protected by Gorilla Glass 6. OnePlus is one of the first few phone makers to adopt an under-the-glass fingerprint reader. The tech made its real-world debut at CES earlier this year, but has yet to reach many phones. The reader can detect fingerprints through the display, which allows OnePlus to create a more seamless device. OnePlus says the technology is fast enough and secure enough for everyday unlocking and mobile payments. It is powered by a Snapdragon 845 processor at 2.8 GHz, and an Adreno 680 PGU with 6 or 8 GB of RAM and either 128 or 256 GB of storage. The phone includes a 3,700mAh battery that supports OnePlus' Dash Charge rapid charging tech. A dual camera system on the rear ensures the phone can capture portrait / bokeh images. It has a 20-megapixel Sony IMX519 sensor at f/1.7 and a 16-megapixel SonyIMX376K sensor with OIS and EIS. The phone can capture slow-motion at up to 480fps. The 6T supports Cat 16 LTE and 42 different global LTE bands with 4x4 MIMO and five-channel carrier aggregation. The phone runs OnePlus' OxygenOS, which is based on Android 9 Pie. OnePlus created its own swiping gestures for controlling the UI that are simpler to master than those from Google. The OnePlus 6T goes on sale November 1 for $549 in both Mirror Black and Midnight Black.

Google's Arts & Culture App Adds 200,000 Works from the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Oct 26, 2018, 8:28 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Art enthusiasts have 200,000 new reasons to be excited about the Google Arts & Culture app, which recently expanded its partnership with New York City's Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Met has been methodically digitizing its collection of more than 1.5 million artifacts that span some 5,000 years of history. The Met has agreed to incorporate its Open Access program into the Google Arts & Culture platform, bringing with it 200,000 digitized works of art. The art is being shared through a Creative Commons Zero license, which allows people to not only view the art via the Arts & Culture app, but also download, remix, and share those works. The collaboration means people can take advantage of search features from Arts & Culture, such as the ability to browse by time period or color, to explore the Met's collection. Further, the Met has launched The Met Collection API, a tool that will allow Google Arts & Culture to continually add the Met's collection to its own platform, including the most up-to-date versions of catalogued images and information. Art enthusiasts can begin to explore these 200,000 works of art from the Met's collection online, or via the Android or iOS Arts & Culture mobile app.

Google Live Albums Have Limit of 10,000 Photos

Oct 25, 2018, 4:36 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google recently indicated that its Live Albums feature, which lets people instantly share photos and videos with select people, is not without limits. Live Albums are essentially shared albums that display new content right away. The new photos are accessible from devices such as the Google Home Hub and other Assistant-enabled devices. One person can add as many as 10,000 photos or 10,000 videos to a shared album. Multiple people can add as many as 20,000 items (photos and/or videos) in total to a single shared album. People who reach the limit will be warned that their Live Albums are being "paused" until some items are removed. For some, this may defeat the purpose of the automated nature of sharing via Live Albums.

Google to Cease Beacon-Based Nearby Notifications for Android

Oct 25, 2018, 11:50 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today said it will discontinue support for Nearby Notifications on Android devices. The notifications were launched in 2015 as a way for people to discover nearby apps, content, and services based on their location. Businesses could use Bluetooth-based Eddystone and/or Physical Web beacons to beam signals to phones as they passed by, generating an alert. The alerts were meant to help people find relevant information for things in the area, such as transit schedules, free WiFi details, or guidance in museums. Google says, however, that the system has deteriorated such that it is used to deliver spammy notifications that aren't locally relevant. This, in turn, led to a poor experience for people. "We have a very high bar for the quality of content that we deliver to users, especially content that is delivered through notifications," said Google in a blog post. "Ultimately, we have determined these notifications did not meet that bar." Google will discontinue Nearby Notifications on December 6, 2018. Developers will continue to have access to their beacon dashboard and can push location-based notifications through their own apps.

Google Maps Lets People 'Follow' Their Favorite Stores

Oct 25, 2018, 8:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google has found another way to link people with retailers, restaurants, and shops. Using Google Maps for Android, people can search for their favorite places, such as coffee shops or record stores, and tap the new "Follow" button. News from the followed place will then appear under the For You tab within maps. Places can advertise sales, offers, and events in this space where followers can check in for updates any time. Google Maps is also making it possible to keep tabs on places that haven't even opened yet. Businesses prepping new locations can add profiles to Maps as much as three months before launch. People can follow the profile as soon as it becomes available, where they can be kept up-to-date on launch details. Google says these features are rolling out over the next few weeks.

Google Adds Google Lens to Google Images

Oct 25, 2018, 7:47 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Following up on an announcement it made last month, Google has incorporated Google Lens visual search into Google Images. When people conduct image searches on their phones, they'll now see a tool to initiate a Google Lens query. The tool lets people indicate what part of the image they want to identify and Google will attempt to find the answer. Google says it is relying on Google Lens' AI technology to detect and analyze objects within image search results to more easily identify them. Google will indicate that it has identified an object by placing a white dot on the object in the image. Touching the dot calls up the web-based results explaining what that item is, such as a couch, and where it can be purchased. Google plans to add more items, including animals and landmarks, over time. Google Images was also updated with new ranking tools that sort images by usefulness and freshness, as well as direct links to the image source. Moreover, Google Images will contain more context with results, such as captions, to offer more insight. These changes to Google Images are available in English via the mobile web starting today. Google didn't say when it will add Lens to the mobile Google Search app.

Google Makes It Easier to Delete Your Search History

Oct 24, 2018, 8:35 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today rolled out new tools meant to give people more control over their personal data. Starting with Google Search, people will have direct access to their activity. Before today, Google directed people to their Google Account to manage activity. Now these controls are embedded directly in Google services. In Google Search, for example, people can review or delete their search history and then jump back to their current query. Google is also making it easier to access Google Account privacy controls from individual services. For example, Google Search now lets people access their Ad Settings where they can control which ads they see, as well as decide what info Google saves to their account for use in other Google services. Google has created a short video that simply and directly explains to people how to use these new tools. These improvements are reaching Google Search on the desktop and mobile web today, and will reach the Google Search apps for Android and iOS in the weeks ahead. Beginning next year, these same controls will expand to other products, such as Google Maps.

Google Updating Your Movies to 4K for Free

Oct 23, 2018, 11:24 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today said movies people own via the Google Play Store will automatically be upgraded to 4K at no extra cost. When Hollywood studios make their titles available in 4K, Google will upgrade previous purchases, even if those purchases were for originally SD or HD resolution. Google indicated that 4K movies will begin to cost less when purchased in the Play Store. The 4K content should be easier to watch on 4K TVs, according to Google, without additional hardware. It has updated the Play Movies & TV app for the majority of Sony's Bravia 4K TVs and Samsung's 4K Smart TVs, and Google is doing the same for LG. The app allows connected TVs to access the Play Movies service directly for streaming programs. Google will continue to make improvements to the app and bring 4K movies and TV shows to more devices over time.

Google Says Fix for Missing Pixel Pix In the Mix

Oct 23, 2018, 9:02 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google plans to resolve a bug plaguing its Pixel phones that sees photos vanish immediately after they are taken. The issue occurs most frequently on the new Pixel 3 phone, though it has appeared across the range of Pixel phones old and new. When using the camera, snapping a photo will show it in the review screen for a second or two, and then it will simply vanish from the photo gallery. "We will be rolling out a software update in the coming weeks to address the rare case of a photo not properly saving," said Google in a statement provided to media. The company didn't provide specifics on the update.

Google's GBoard App Gains Floating Keyboard

Oct 22, 2018, 7:26 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google has updated its GBoard keyboard application for Android devices and given people the freedom to move it around. Tapping on the ">" button in the conjures up a menu box with the option to unmoor the keyboard from the bottom of the screen. A small tab allows users to move the keyboard around as they wish. The keyboard can be resized, as well, allowing users to see more content on the screen as they type. All normal keyboard functions are available, such as glide typing and word prediction. The floating option is in the latest build of GBoard, which is free to download from the Google Play Store.

Verizon Removes SIM Lock from Pixel 3 Phones

Oct 19, 2018, 4:11 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless has removed the SIM lock from the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL. Some users had noticed the phone was locked before being activated on the network, something Verizon began doing earlier this year to deter theft. "At launch, there was an update related to an automatic overnight unlock on Pixel 3s, which also showed up on phones sold in Best Buy stores," explained Verizon to Droid-Life via email. "We have temporarily removed it from Pixel 3 and are assessing where it will be implemented in the future." This means all Pixel phones sold will be SIM unlocked and can be used on any network, not just Verizon's. Verizon is the only carrier officially selling the devices, though it is also available via Google's Project Fi MVNO.

Google May Charge Android Device Makers Up to $40 for Apps

Oct 19, 2018, 3:38 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google is prepared to charge its hardware partners a steep price for access to Google Apps. The company is prepared to tack on a fee ranging between $2.50 and $40 for each device, reports Reuters, with the average hovering around $20. Device size, screen resolution, and the country in which the device is sold are determining factors. Google says it is doing this to make up for revenue it will lose from de-bundling Google Search and Chrome from the apps it pre-installs on phones. The European Commission fined Google $5 billion for what it sees as anticompetitive behavior with its search and browser apps on mobile devices. The new fees will go into effect October 29. The EU hasn't responded publicly to Google's change in tack, and phone makers have not said how they'll recoup the costs.

Google Tweaks Dev Tools for Smaller App Downloads, Longer Trials

Oct 18, 2018, 12:36 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today updated its Play Store developer tools, giving app writers more latitude to build and test their apps. To start, the Android App Bundle should allow for downloads that are 8% smaller, and on-device packages that are 16% smaller. Google says it should be easier for developers to jump to Android Studio 3.2 (stable) for creating bundles, which now support larger app sizes. Developers can create apps up to 500 MB in size without needing expansion files. Google is taking another run at instant apps. The company increased the size limit of instant apps — which are apps that run even when not installed on a device — to 10 MB. This gives developers freedom to offer more of their app instantly. Further, Google has dropped the requirement that instant apps include a published app bundle. The new Android Studio 3.3 (beta) makes it possible for developers to create a range of app bundles and instant apps. Google says Google Play Instant is now available to premium titles, and as pre-registration campaigns so people can test-drive the games before release. Other changes include tools for retaining subscribers, more flexible subscription pricing, better metrics, and simpler app updates. Google says these tools will roll out piecemeal to developers over the next few months.

YouTube Connects the Dots Between Artists and Fans with Eventbrite Integration

Oct 18, 2018, 12:09 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google's YouTube today announced a new partnership with Eventbrite that's meant to help people find concert tickets. As people watch music videos or performances on artists' official YouTube channels, they'll see Eventbrite listings for live music performances throughout the U.S. below the video. Fans who tap the new "tickets" button in the app will be taken to show listings where they can purchase tickets. Google says this partnership doesn't cover all artists, nor all event venues, though it hopes to add more over time.

Google Maps Weaves In Better ETA Sharing

Oct 18, 2018, 11:56 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google has made it easier for people to share their estimated time of arrival with others. Moving forward, people can tap the ^ button in Maps to begin sharing their trip progress, which can include their live location, route, and ETA. The update allows live ETA info to be pushed via Gmail, SMS, and third-party apps, such as Facebook Messenger, Line, and WhatsApp. Once the journey is complete, the user automatically stops sharing their location. Further, people can now share live driving, bicycling, and walking journeys. This new tool is in the latest version of Google Maps for Android and iOS.

Chrome 70 Adopts New Design and Adds Fresh Features

Oct 18, 2018, 7:23 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google is distributing Chrome 70 to Android devices via the Google Play Store. This new build of Google's browser introduces a number of changes and updates. To start, Chrome more thoroughly adopts Google's Material Design so it is cohesive across devices. Google redesigned the Chrome search widget to better match the onmibox. The app now includes a quick and easy way to find file downloads via the settings menu, and allows web sites to access the phone's fingerprint sensor for authentication purposes. Chrome for Android is free to download.

Spotify Releases Wear OS App for Smartwatches

Oct 17, 2018, 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

Oct 16, 2018, 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

Oct 16, 2018, 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

Oct 16, 2018, 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

Oct 15, 2018, 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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