Some detailed weather forecasts for your home screen and lock screen in the morning
The Google Pixel 7 Pro and its smaller sibling launched in October. They’re Google’s best phones yet, and other than some choice hardware upgrades, they also brought along some exclusive software features. One of them is now finally finding its way to older Pixel phones. People are reporting that they’re seeing expanded weather forecasts on their Pixel 6 home and lock screens in the morning, a feature first launched with the Google Pixel 7.
Google promises to honor your trade-in without forcing you to buy another Pixel 7 and returning your unit
The Google Pixel 7 Pro and its smaller siblings were an absolute steal when they launched. By trading in the right phone, you could lower the price significantly, allowing you to enjoy your brand-new phone for much less than the $600+ asking price. But it looks like the process isn’t without hiccups. Multiple people claim that even though they went through the trade-in process on the Google Store website when they bought their new phones, Google doesn’t have any recollection of that.
The best way to stay safe online
Internet fraudsters are always looking for accounts to hack in hopes of getting access to valuable personal information. History has proven that passwords are no longer sufficient to safeguard you. So, it's best to secure your online profiles as much as possible with other methods. Security systems like two-factor authentication (2FA) have been developed over the years to provide an additional step to the login process. This ensures that dubious characters cannot access your account even if they manage to get a hold of your passwords.
Does YouTube Shorts need a Bitmoji-like?
Google may be ailing in ad revenue right now and pushing harder on hardware, but it's also seemingly not against spending nine digits to buy an AI-powered imaging company focused on making avatars. That's reportedly what's just happened, according to a source familiar with the matter.
These "extra" features are worth turning on
Even though there is less in the box these days, getting a new phone is still an exciting experience. When the phone arrives, you open the box, peel off the wrapper, and power it on for the first time. After logging in to the phone and setting everything up, you can change the settings and preferences to make the phone your own. And when you have a Google Pixel 6a, one of the best budget Android phones, your experience improves even more when you turn on a few hidden features during the setup.
But doubts surrounding the permanence of this solution remain
Spotify's recent issues with Apple's policies reiterate how much control companies like Google can command over software and technology. Google also has an iron grip on licensing technologies and software for smartphones and other gadgets, especially Android. Device OEMs are forced to choose between running Google's officially sanctioned version of Android or an Android fork on their devices. A recent agreement between Google and Amazon has resulted in a few Smart TV brands daring to offer new TVs with Fire TV OS while other products continue using Google's stock Android.
OK Google! These smart displays work best with Google Assistant, making them top choices right out of the box.
Google Assistant is widely considered one of the best virtual assistants out there. Alexa may be better at smart home functionality thanks to its many integrations; however, Google Assistant is one of the best smart speakers for your home and a more socially adept virtual assistant. Subsequently, finding a smart display compatible with Google Assistant should be easy, right?
Following in Signal’s and WhatsApp’s footsteps
Google promised it would add RCS-based end-to-end encryption (E2E) to group chats in its Messages app. This is a significant step up compared to MMS group messages, which are unencrypted by design. It would also bring the RCS standard up to speed with the Signal protocol, used by both WhatsApp and the Signal messenger itself. According to reports on Reddit, the company is now getting ready to launch this capability widely.
It has a dedicated refresh button now
Widgets are a great way to access critical functions of an app right from your home screen. Options like Google’s At a Glance widget let you glean important information like weather, your next meeting, and AQI alerts conveniently. Almost all these widgets update automatically in the background without being asked, so you get current information at all times — at least, they're supposed to. But now we're seeing Google’s Digital Wellbeing widget introduce a refresh button for when it needs a little reminder to keep things current.
iPads are great, but they're getting increasingly complex
For a long time, Google left Android for tablets languishing. After the tablet-only Honeycomb 3.0 Android version in 2011, the company gradually simplified the standard Android interface to resemble an overblown phone. While manufacturers like Samsung jumped in the hole left by Google to create some of the best Android tablets you can get right now, it's clear that Apple all but won the tablet market.
Reining in the RAM gluttony
Google’s ongoing efforts developing Chrome certainly don’t go unnoticed, considering it's the most popular web browser in the world by a landslide margin, across multiple platforms. Still, that doesn't mean it's perfect, and while the new Chrome 107 release includes improvements like support for HEVC hardware decoding in videos, and laying the groundwork for simplified login experiences down the road, long-standing issues like its infamous RAM hogging continue. Now there's finally some interesting progress towards doing something about that in development channels, with Chrome working on new tools for snoozing inactive tabs and freeing up system resources for other applications.
Availability is limited for now
Google has been nothing short of vocal in its support for RCS, playing an instrumental role even as holdouts like Apple refuse to consider switching. Beyond its advocacy of the standard, Google has also given the Messages app a lot of attention: it sports a new icon now, and several other cosmetic and functional improvements are in the works. For its latest change, the Messages developers are testing some Signal-like delivery indicators and read receipts in RCS chats.
Google tracks its own rings of fire
Several countries prone to earthquakes have an effective national early warning system that lets their citizens take action seconds, perhaps even minutes before ground-level shaking begins. That's great for those countries, but most of the world — including most of the United States — does not have the systems in place to facilitate such advanced warnings. Google, though, has been working on spreading its Android Earthquake Alert System, which provides a literal surface-level warning to device owners in quake zones, across the world. Yesterday, the United States got to see it in action.
The latest quarterly reports highlight Google’s new humbleness
Google’s parent company, Alphabet, this week. The company reports a revenue of $69.1 billion, which is 6% more than the same period last year (or 11% when adjusted for inflation). At the same time, the company reports a lower operating income, making only 17 billion rather than 21 billion in Q3 2021. What’s more interesting than these raw numbers is a new humbleness and focus for the company, though.
So much more than just driving directions
If you wanted to go somewhere new before the invention of GPS apps, you had to unfold a large sheet of paper covered with names and symbols; then, after you found your way, you either wrote down your intended path on paper or committed your route to memory. Today, we have Google Maps (and phones you can unfold!), which helps a billion people a month find out where they are and gets them where they want to go.
This is the most generous storage space increase we've ever seen
In October 2020, Google rebranded its paid business work tool collection G Suite to Google Workspace, complete with a visual overhaul and new remote collaboration features. Since then, it has made a lot more sweeping changes, including killing free legacy G Suite accounts and bringing even its free Gmail account service under the Workspace umbrella. To better cater to small businesses and entrepreneurs, the company launched the Workspace Individual plan in June 2021. But unlike other Workspace offerings, the Individual tier did not pack many features and was not a value-for-money option. Google is changing that today by adding more storage to the Individual tier and expanding its availability to more countries.
Developers are seeing increased adoption of their Wear OS 3-optimized apps
Until August last year, it felt like Google had abandoned Wear OS as a platform. Samsung's Tizen-based smartwatches dominated the list of the best Android smartwatches, with Wear OS barely getting any updates and the app ecosystem all but dead. That changed with Google and Samsung teaming up to launch the Galaxy Watch 4 running Wear OS 3, which had the best bits of both Wear OS and Tizen. It was a fresh start for the platform, and this year, the launch of the Galaxy Watch 5 series and the Pixel Watch has further bolstered the platform. Google's efforts are now bearing fruits, with the company seeing 3x as many device activations this year.
Take back your free storage with these Gmail tips
If you recently created a Google account, congratulations. You have access to one of the best productivity platforms online and 15GB of free cloud storage to boot. That amount can quickly get limiting, especially since that space is shared by everything Google, including Gmail, Drive, Photos, and other apps. It's not always easy to pin down why you're nearly at the max of those 15GB. A lot of the time, it's Google Drive since your files are backed up in the cloud, even if you have one of the best Android phones in the market. It's also possible a good chunk of it is your email.
A new update is rolling out to add Matter integration to the SmartThings Hub
Matter is the new smart home standard that promises to end the frustration of using multiple apps to control your smart devices and all the compatibility woes. With the backing of Google, Apple, Ikea, Samsung, and other tech giants, the standard envisions a smart home ecosystem where all devices are interoperable. After a delay of over a year, the official Matter 1.0 standard and certification program dropped in early October. Following its release, Samsung is now fulfilling its promise of adding Matter support to the SmartThings platform with the latest app update. This will allow you to control Matter-certified devices directly from SmartThings.
There's some Amlogic and reasoning to this
2023 is shaping up to be another interesting year in Google hardware already and it's not just because we've been covering boatloads of rumors about the Pixel Fold and Pixel Tablet. The amount of investment the company is supposedly tilting into its hardware division is expected to bring about a gradual, but major expansion in the Pixel ecosystem. Still, there's always an opening to present an upgrade opportunity for repeat customers (which can reinforce purchase decisions for new buyers) and that's where great smart speakers come into play: specifically, we're hearing about at least one new Nest speaker in development.