The latest version of Google Photos makes it possible to archive photos for safe, out-of-sight keeping. The tool was added to Google Photos 2.15 for Android devices, though it is not yet available to iOS devices or on the web. The archiving tool now appears within the navigation drawer on the left. A tutorial will walk people through the feature upon first use, after which archived photos can be accessed via the nav drawer. Archiving gives people a way to push photos out of their main feed without deleting them. The pictures are still readily accessible, though they will be out of view unless purposely sought out. The archiving function was first spotted by 9to5Google. Google Photos is free to download from the Google Play Store.
T-Mobile hopes its new "Get Out of the Red" deal will tempt Verizon customers to switch to T-Mobile. T-Mobile is offering to pay the remaining balance on Verizon subscribers' handsets and allow them to use those same handsets on T-Mobile's network. Lots of caveats apply. In order to qualify for the deal, Verizon customers must be in good standing with Big Red and come to T-Mobile with an Apple iPhone SE, 6s, 6s Plus, 7, 7 Plus, Google Pixel, or Pixel XL. These phones have the proper radios to support T-Mobile's LTE network. The company is working to add other devices to the list. Verizon customers will need to port their number to T-Mobile, sign up for a T-Mobile One plan, buy a new T-Mobile SIM card, and sign up for T-Mobile's Premium Device Protection Plus insurance plan for $15 per month. Once all these criteria are met, T-Mobile will pay the remaining balance on the Verizon iPhone or Pixel, whatever that may be. T-Mobile says customers will be reimbursed for their Verizon iPhone/Pixel balances within 15 to 30 days via prepaid MasterCard. T-Mobile is pitching the idea as an easier way to switch carriers as it doesn't require people to backup or transfer content from one phone to another. The offer works with Verizon handsets because by law Verizon's LTE phones must be unlocked. AT&T and Sprint customers cannot take advantage of this offer precisely because their phones are carrier locked. T-Mobile's Get Out of the Red promotion will be available starting May 31. T-Mobile is, however, throwing a bone to AT&T and Sprint customers. T-Mobile said it will pay off the remaining handset balance and/or early termination fee for AT&T/Sprint customers who port a number to T-Mobile and finance a new device on T-Mobile's equipment installment plan. Last, T-Mobile customers who already have two T-Mobile One plans will be able add two additional lines of service for the price of one. This promo requires autopay.
Google today detailed how families can use their Google account to stay connected and in sync with one another. Google already allows people to share media via Google Play Music, Google Play Movies & TV, and Google Play Books. Moving forward, families can take advantage of Google Calendar, Keep, and Photos to manage appointments, tasks, and libraries. For example, the shared Google Calendar lets families keep track of group plans and other events, while Google Keep makes it possible to capture and share ideas with other family members. Shared albums in Google Photos requires only a few taps to push those weekend snapshots to everyone, while YouTube TV allows up to six people to maintain their own cloud-based DVR for online television shows. Google says the new family tools are rolling out to Google Calendar, Keep, and Photos in Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, New, Zealand, Russia, Spain, the U.K., and the U.S. starting today. YouTube TV is available in select markets around the U.S. Families, as defined by Google, support up to six members per household.
Google recently updated its YouTube TV app for iOS and gave it the ability to push content to the Apple TV. The Android version of the mobile app can cast video to Chromecast-enabled TVs, but Apple TV users were left without a way to connect the gap between their iPhone and television set. The new version of YouTube TV for iOS adds AirPlay, allowing iPhone owners to view YouTube TV programming on their television set through the Apple TV. YouTube TV for iOS is free to download from the iTunes App Store, but the availability of the service is limited to just a handful of markets for the time being.
Google I/O, the search company's annual developer conference, is wrapping up after a whirlwind few days in Mountain View, Calif. Google hit attendees with a blitz of announcements centered around artificial intelligence, machine learning, and mobility. While much of what Google showed off is meant for its developer partners, plenty will reach consumers in the days, weeks, and months ahead — not only on Android devices, but iOS, the web, your car, your wrist, your headset, and more.
Google today distributed a bug-fixing update to the Android O beta. The small patch, weighing it at about 55 MB, is meant to smooth out some performance issues present in the initial build. People enrolled in the Android Beta program should see the fresh update hit their devices shortly. The Android O beta works on the Pixel, Pixel XL, Nexus 6P, and Nexus 5X.
Google this week rolled out the Google Payment API, a new set of capabilities that will allow anyone to make in-app or online payments with any debit or credit card associated with their Google account. Google says this option will simplify the process for people to checkout and make purchases online, as it negates the need to fill out cumbersome purchasing forms. Moreover, the API will make it possible for people to send or receive payments via the Google Assistant. Whether the Assistant is accessed through a smartphone or Google Home, users can say, "Ok Google, send $10 for Jane for pizza" and Google will do exactly that. A separate payment tool for developers, called the Card Linked Offers API, smoothes over the process of supporting loyalty cards and programs. It gives developers a new channel for interacting with customers and rolling out targeted offers. From a consumer standpoint, it will be far easier to add loyalty cards to Android Pay once developers update their app with the Card Linked Offers API. Google expects these capabilities to roll out later this year.
Google today announced a new version of its Complications API for developers in order to help them create better experiences for Android Wear. Complications are dynamic data sets that appear on watch faces, such as step counts, notifications, weather alerts, and similar. Specifically, the refreshed API can now auto-size text to fit in bounds defined by watch face makers and it includes a full rendering tool to handle style and layout factors for complications. The API adds more sample code that developers can cut-and-paste into their apps, as well as a new test suite for checking that watch faces can handle all the fields and complications together. The new Complications API is for Android Wear 2.0 and up. Google released the second-generation wearable platform earlier this year. Google also said it is offering developers a new Wear UI library for handling user interfaces. Notably, Google is killing off the card pattern and multi-directional UIs for Android Wear devices. This change will occur over time.
Google this week released the first public beta of Android O, the next version of its core mobile platform. Android O has a handful of interesting new features, including picture-in-picture, notification dots, autofill for app logins, easy text selection, and much more. Android O may not be huge on hallmark additions to the platform, but it shows an excellent level of refinement from Google. We downloaded the Android O beta and took it for a quick spin. Here are our first impressions of this super early build of Android O.
Verizon Wireless will be the first U.S. carrier to offer a Project Tango smartphone to its customers. The forthcoming Asus ZenFone AR will arrive later this summer, according to Google executive Johnny Lee. The ZenFone AR is significantly smaller than the first Project Tango handset, which was the Lenovo Phab 2 Pro. The ZenFone AR will also be compatible with Google's Daydream virtual reality platform. Asus first announced the ZenFone AR in January. It sports a 5.7-inch WQHD AMOLED display, Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 processor, 8 GB of RAM, and a vapor cooling system. Triple cameras on the back support Tango applications with a 23-megapixel main camera, depth camera, and motion tracking camera. Other features include NFC, memory card slot, USB-C port, 3.5mm audio jack, and Cat 12 LTE. The 3,300 mAh battery supports Quick Charge 3.0. The exact availability is not yet known.
Google today said it plans to bring full virtual reality support to its Chrome browser for Android handsets. With Chrome VR, people will be able to experience full web sites in virtual reality, watch web-based videos in virtual reality, and interact with web sites through their VR headset. Google suggests that Chrome VR can pair with augmented reality tools when, for example, shopping for furniture in order to help define whether or not things will fit in your house. A new version of Chromium is available to developers from GitHub so web writers can get started in creating VR experiences for the web. Google didn't say when it expects to offer a final version of Chrome VR to the general public.
Google today said it is updating YouTube VR with the ability for multiple people to watch and share experiences at the same time. The new tools will make it possible for those with their own headsets to do what Google calls co-watching. People will be able to enjoy the content and discuss it in real time, even when viewing from separate locations. Google is working with its content producers to create more VR content for YouTube, all of which will be accessible in the new Daydream 2.0 Euphrates platform.
Google today provided some insight on its Daydream virtual reality platform and says a new version of Daydream will soon make its debut. Daydream 2.0 Euphrates targets standalone VR headsets and is powered by Android O. The entire experience is handled in virtual reality. Daydream 2.0 updates the home experience for standalone headsets and smartphones. Euphrates includes a new dashboard that will appear on top of any app and lets people remain in VR even when checking settings, reading notifications, and multitasking. Euphrates also adds Google Cast support, allowing people to pick a destination and cast from Daydream to other devices such as television sets. Daydream 2.0 makes it possible to capture screenshots and then share them via social networks. Google said there are eight Daydream compatible handsets right now, and it expects that number to increase significantly by the end of the year thanks to new entries from LG, Motorola, Asus, and others. Google believes tens of millions of Daydream devices will be in the market by the end of the year.
Android O replaces the squishy emoji blobs that have long been a part of Google's stock operating system with more traditional, circular emoji. Many of Google's handset partners include their own emoji on Android phones, but the clean version of Android that runs on Pixel and Nexus devices includes the blob-style emoji. Android O puts the basic design and shape of the emoji in line with what other companies offer. The redesigned emoji are included in the new Android O beta release that Google made available earlier today.
Google today updated its Android Device Manager application. The app has a fresh design and, more importantly, a new name. Moving forward the app is called Find My Device. As before, it's a tool to help people find, lock, or erase lost or stolen Android devices. Some of the new features include the ability to check the lost device's wifi and battery status, as well as view the last known location in the event the phone has lost power or been turned off. Find My Device is free to download from the Google Play Store.
Google today made its instant apps tool available to all developers. Google first announced instant apps at its I/O developer conference in 2016. Instant apps can run in the browser via search results even when not installed on users' phones. The idea is to improve the visibility of apps, allow people to test them, and encourage more app downloads. Only a few developers have had access to instant apps since last year. Now, any developer can create instant versions of the apps. Google said it will take most developers about four or five weeks to modify their apps to run in the instant format. It will be up to app creators to use this tool before instant apps begin to appear in search results.
Google today made the first public beta version of Android O available for download. The updated operating system is available to the Google Pixel, Pixel XL, and Pixel C, and the Nexus 6P, 5X, and Nexus Player. In order to access the beta, people will need to register via the Android.com web site. The beta is open to anyone. Some of the hallmark features of Android O include picture-in-picture, improved security, quick app loads, autofill, better power management, and more. Google warns that this initial public beta may not be stable enough for everyday use. Google expects to release the final version of Android O later this summer.
Project Tango, Google's augmented reality platform, gains a new virtual position system that can locate phones indoors. Google envisions it as a helpful tool in retail and similar environments, helping people navigate stores to find items. For example, Google is working with Lowe's stores as well as a handful of museums to bring VPS to real-world locations. Google thinks it might be particularly helpful for the visually impaired. Further, Google says a new Project Tango augmented reality handset from Asus will debut later this year. Asus didn't provide details about the new handset, which is called the ZenFone AR.
Google today said Samsung will update the Galaxy S8 and S8+ handsets later this summer in order to make them compatible with Google's Daydream virtual reality platform. Daydream is Google's year-old VR service that runs on select handsets. It includes a dedicated VR headset. Google also mentioned that a forthcoming flagship handset from LG will be Daydream compatible. Google is working with partners such as Qualcomm, HTC, Lenovo, and others to create more standalone Daydream headsets that should arrive later this year.
Google today introduced Android Go, a lite version of Android meant for the most basic hardware in environments where mobile data is expensive. For example, it does things such as save mobile data in Chrome by default. It includes a new version of YouTube called YouTube Go. It compresses videos to cut down on data usage, but also allows people to download videos over wifi for offline viewing. The Google Play Store will soon include recommendations for "lite" versions of apps that are designed to run on low-cost devices. Android Go will target all devices with 1 GB of RAM or less, and each version of Android moving forward will include an Android Go release. Google expects to see the first Android Go devices reach the market later this year.
Google today provided more details about the next version of Android at its I/O developer conference. One of the biggest additions to the platform is picture-in-picture for mobile phones. It works with apps such as YouTube and video calls and allows people to minimize the video in a small window while opening and using other apps. Notification dots are a simpler way for people to manage incoming notifications. Another tool headed to Android O is called autofill. It works with most third-party applications and eases the process of filling login details. Another function improves text selection, Android O will automatically select phone numbers, addresses, and business names or titles with a single tap. TensorFlow Lite, a new developer tool, will let developers create more powerful applications for the latest hardware. Google is investing in what it calls vital tools in Android O. For example, Google is using machine learning to scan 50 billion apps every day to ensure they are secure. Google Play Protect will scan apps installed to devices automatically. Google improved app boot times for Android O. Google says the Pixel, for example, will load apps twice as fast with Android O. Wise limits put boundaries on app usage to free up memory and protect battery life. Play Console Dashboards, a tool for developers, will give app writers far more insight into their apps' performance, including crash reports, CPU usage, and power consumption. Last, Google added the Kotlin developer language to the Android platform. This lets developers rely on Kotlin rather than Android Studio to create their applications. Google said Android O will arrive for end users later this summer. Developers can download a beta build of Android O beginning today.
Google today made it easier to share photos with others. The new suggested sharing tool relies on machine learning to recognize faces in photos and match them with known contacts. The app will automatically select the best shots from events/locations and offer personalized sharing suggestions to family and friends. The app can, for example, eliminate duplicates and select images that are in focus and then instantly push them to those in the photos. Google Photos can share albums and images with anyone, no Google Photos account required. Google Photos is adding a shared libraries feature, as well, allowing people to share and contribute to specific libraries. Photos added to shared libraries will instantly appear on all devices/accounts linked to the library. Last, Google added a tool called Photo Books to Google Photos, which lets people create photo albums that can then be printed in soft- or hard-covered albums. The tool can automatically pick the best shots among those selected, lay them out instantly, and then print and ship the album. Google said these features will reach Android, iOS, and the web in the coming weeks.
Google today said its Google Home device can now make free voice calls to landline and mobile phones in the U.S. and Canada. There are no apps, set-up, or apps required. Google Home owners simply need to ask the Assistant to call anyone in their contact list. The tool is smart enough to discern between six users and their individual accounts by their sound of their voice. By default it will dial out from a private number, but users can configure it to display their own number for outgoing calls. Google Home is also adding support for Spotify for music streaming, and will soon support Bluetooth for streaming from any Android and iOS device. Home is gaining more compatibility with Chromecast, too, and can display information requests on connected TVs. These updates are expected to reach Google Home over the coming months.
Google today announced Google Assistant for the iPhone. The app can respond to voice input and take action for a wide variety of tasks. It can supplant Siri on the iPhone to read emails, send messages, perform searches, and open/use applications. Google didn't say exactly when Google Assistant for the iPhone will be available.
Google today announced Google Lens, an image-recognition tool that relies on mobile cameras to perform searches. The tool is a significant advancement to the old Google Image Search app. Google says its neural networks are better than humans at recognizing objects. Using Google Lens, people can aim their camera at just about anything and Google will instantly perform a search and suggest results. For example, users can point their camera at a restaurant and immediately see the Google Search results for that restaurant, including reviews, hours, and location details. It can recognize object such as flowers, and much more. Google didn't say when Google Lens will be available.
Google today said Gmail will soon support smart replies, or automatic responses to emails. The tool is being carried over from Google's Allo messaging application. When people open emails, Gmail will now suggest several canned responses to the message that people can tap to send instantly. Google didn't say exactly when the new feature will reach the mobile app.
YouTube TV recently added a handful of new channels to its monthly internet-based TV offering. Subscribers will now be able to access and watch programs on AMC, BBC America, IFC TV, Sundance TV, Telemundo, Univision, and We TV. Despite the new channels, the service is only available in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, Philadelphia, and the San Francisco Bay Area. Google hasn't said when it YouTube TV will reach more markets.
BlackBerry today outlined several changes headed to its suite of Android applications, including the general availability of the Privacy Shade. The Privacy Shade was first made available only to BlackBerry-branded handsets, but will soon be available to any Android handset that relies on the BlackBerry Hub+ service. The Privacy Shade lets users adjust the transparency of the filter to suit their surroundings and activate it from the convenience key. Along with the wider availability, Privacy Shade users will also be able to re-size the window. Other new tools include Quick File for moving messages, Google Hangouts notifications, GroupWise mail server out-of-office messages, enhanced message previews when roaming, and the dark theme for the Hub widget. The updates will hit Hub+ in the Google Play Store in the days ahead.
Google today said carmakers Audi and Volvo plan to build Android Auto into their next generation of cars. The companies already offer limited support for the platform in select cars. Moving forward, all their vehicles will include Android Auto. "That means your [future Audi or Volvo's] built-in infotainment system could allow you to control your air conditioning, sunroof, and windows, find the nearest restaurant with Google Maps, listen to Spotify or NPR, or just ask your Google Assistant for help — even when you leave your phone behind," said Google. Android Auto, Google's in-dash navigation, communications, and entertainment software, is already available to some 300 car models worldwide in addition to after-market stereo systems. Other auto brands that support Android Auto include Cadillac, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Ford, GMC, Honda, Jeep, Kia, Mercedes-Benz, and Subaru. Android Auto is also available from the Google Play Store as a stand-alone app.
Google today announced Project Treble, which it hopes will solve the pain of updating smartphones to the latest version of Android. As it stands today, the process is multifaceted and includes a number of moving players, including Google, silicon makers, manufacturers, and carrier partners. The complexity of all the pieces translates into lots of time and money for the ecosystem to test, certify, and release new system builds for existing phones. Project Treble, which will work with Android O and subsequent versions of Android, rearranges how the operating system is configured at a base level in order to simplify the process. "The core concept is to separate the vendor implementation — the device-specific, lower-level software written in large part by the silicon manufacturers — from the Android OS Framework. This is achieved by the introduction of a new vendor interface between the Android OS framework and the vendor implementation. The new vendor interface is validated by a Vendor Test Suite, analogous to the CTS, to ensure forward compatibility of the vendor implementation." Put more plainly, device makers will be able to update their devices to newer versions of Android underneath their custom UI without disturbing it, and without requiring help from silicon manufacturers. Google says some aspects of Project Treble are already included in the Developer Preview of O running on Pixel phones. The company plans to work with its silicon and device partners to ensure a smooth transition to the new architecture for future phones. Google expects to release full details of Project Treble with the launch of Android O later this summer.
Google today announced a new feature for its Allo messaging app that will take your self portraits and convert them into personalized sticker packs. Google says it is relying on neural networks to perform the behind-the-scenes magic. The company has a lengthy blog post explaining how it all works. The illustrated stickers will be unique to each user and can be personalized further with a handful of tools being tossed into the app. Google says it is debuting a single style of "sarcastic" stickers today, with more sticker pack styles to follow over time. Personalized selfie stickers are available to Allo for Android starting today. The app is free to download from the Play Store. Google says the stickers will reach the iOS version of Allo before too long.
Verizon Wireless today said its Wear24 Android Wear 2.0 smartwatch is available online and in stores. Verizon announced the device earlier this year. The Wear24 costs $349 at full retail, or $299 with a two-year agreement. The Wear24 is compatible with Verizon's LTE network and can share a phone number with smartphones for seamless messaging and calls. The smartwatch has a 1.39-inch display with 360 by 360 pixels, NFC with support for Android Pay, a 450mAh battery, and a rating of IP67 for water resistance up to 30 minutes in 1 meter of water. Android Wear 2.0 includes advanced messaging tools, an on-device app store, and the Google Assistant. Verizon subscribers can add the Wear24 watch to their existing service plan for $5 per month or as a stand-alone device on Verizon's $10 Single Device Plan. For a limited time, Verizon will provide a $100 Visa gift card to those who trade in any old Android Wear smartwatch.
Google today said it has acquired Owlchemy Labs, a company that develops virtual reality content. Google was attracted to the company due to its "really thoughtful interactive experiences that are responsive, intuitive, and feel natural." Google went on to praise the company's sense of humor and said, "We'll be working to create engaging, immersive games and developing new interaction models across many different platforms to continue bringing the best VR experiences to life." Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Google today tweaked its mobile search tools to help people find entertaining activities nearby. Specifically, performing searches for generic events will dial in an easy-to-digest summary of close-by activities from sites such as Eventbrite and Meetup. For example, Google suggests that searching for "concerts in New York" or "art shows this weekend" will result in simple, defined results with time, date, and location data all plainly available. The results will include links to purchase tickets, if necessary, as well as the original web sites hosting the event information. The new search tool understands timeframes, such as "today" or "next week," and will deliver locally relevant results. The new search tool is available to the Google Search mobile app as well as via Google.com on the mobile web.
Google today updated Chrome for Android devices and made it simpler to download, find, and read offline content. Users can now long press any link or article suggestion to download the article to a new tab for offline access. Further, a "download page later" tools allows people to target web sites for download even while they offline. As soon as the device reconnects to the network, these pages will automatically download to the browser for later access. Last, a new tag reveals which articles and content has been saved to the device versus that which is live on the network. The latest version of Chrome for Android is free to download from the Google Play Store.
Google recently indicated via its Android Beta Program web site that a beta version of Android O will soon be available. Google released a preview version of Android O for developers earlier this year, though it is not stable enough for everyday use. The forthcoming build will be more stable for public beta testing ahead of Android O's full release. Google is expected to make this first beta build of Android O available as an over-the-air download later this month, coinciding with its I/O developer conference scheduled for May 17-19. The primary consumer-facing function of Android O is a picture-in-picture viewer for Android phones (this feature is already available to Android tablets). Most Android O tweaks favor developers, such as the new background limiter, notification channels, adaptive icons, and more. Google also indicated that the beta program for Android 7 Nougat is now concluded. All devices that are enrolled in the Android 7 Nougat beta program have been updated to the latest version of Android and will receive no more beta builds.
Google this week updated its Allo messaging app for Android and in the process added several new features. According to Google's Amit Fulay, Allo gains chat backup and restore, incognito mode for groups, and link previews. Allo was the first app/service from Google to include the Google Assistant, which can help people with their chat conversations. Nearly a year from its initial debut, however, and the app still doesn't support the SMS protocol for text messaging. The latest update is available for free from the Google Play Store.
Google has updated Gmail for Android with a new security feature. Moving forward, links within emails that lead to suspicious sites will call up a warning from Google. The tool specifically looks for phishing attacks and will warn people as they click links. The new security feature arrives just as a massive phishing scheme attempted to sucker Google Docs users. Google says this new Gmail security feature is being fast tracked to all users.
Google today expanded the security features Google Mobile Management administrators can enforce on corporate iOS devices. The new tools will let businesses that rely on Google's device management service to ensure iPhone and iPad users conform to corporate security policies. For example, G Suite admins can now sync managed corporate contacts to iOS devices and revoke access when needed. This is particularly helpful when using global address lists, which are now compatible with the native iOS email, calendar, phone, and contacts apps. G Suite admins can also now configure Google account on iOS to sync contacts and calendars, manage Safari browser settings, manage photo sharing, and set permissions with respect to screenshots, screen recording, Siri, and Apple Watch. The new tools are rolling out to all G Suite admin users over the next few weeks.
A handful of marquee apps have dropped support for the Apple Watch in recent weeks, according to AppleInsider. Checks of the iTunes App Store show Google Maps, Amazon, eBay, Target and others have removed the Apple Watch from their list of supported devices. With Watch apps, developers create a watchOS version that goes alongside the standard iOS version. The companies above have ceased distributing the watchOS companion app with their full iOS apps, which means the apps are no longer available to the watch. Google was the only company to issue a statement. It said: "We removed Apple Watch support from our latest iOS release but expect to support it again in the future." Removing apps from Apple's wearable doesn't necessarily signal that the platform is in decline, but it does show supporting the platform may not be viable from a third-party business standpoint. Apple did not comment on the matter.