In this week’s top stories: Google Assistant’s built-in list of features gets a visual redesign, Nikkei reports the Made by Google 2019 lineup, an ad for the Pixel’s Childish Gambino Playmoji airs during the Grammys, and more.
This week, Google redesigned the Assistant’s response to “What can you do?” on phones to show a visual list of cards showing the most popular and useful actions the Google Assistant can help you with. Tapping one of the cards returns a useful card explaining how best to use the Google Assistant to do that particular task. Now it’s easier than ever to discover how helpful the Google Assistant can be.
The phone revamp is similar to the Explore feature at the very right of the card feed on Google Home Hub, though Smart Displays use stock live imagery as section headers.
This widely available update comes as Google just revamped the carousel of suggested actions in the Assistant panel on phone that we spotted this morning. Both reflect how Google is working to surface all the things Assistant can do for users.
Japanese newspaper Nikkei reported on a significant number of devices that will be included in the Made by Google 2019 lineup, citing “industry sources.” The usual suspects are among this lineup, such as a Pixel 4 and the (long-rumored) budget-friendly “Pixel” phones. Some other devices, like “an updated version” of the Google Home and a new Nest Cam, line up with other evidence we’ve uncovered about Google Home and Nest.
The long-awaited Pixel Watch will reportedly finally see its debut this year as well. Notorious leakster Evan Blass said last year that the Pixel Watch was set to launch at Google’s 2018 hardware event, but that didn’t pan out. Our sources have said the watch was indeed planned to launch last year but was delayed.
You may have noticed last weekend during the Grammys that Google showed an ad promoting the Pixel’s exclusive Childish Gambino Playmoji interacting with the real Donald Glover. Childish Gambino fans will want to check out the ad, if only because it previews an unreleased song. This ad could even be considered tongue-in-cheek, considering the artist himself did not appear at the show, despite winning two of the major awards.
This is one of the company’s better ads in large part due to Donald Glover and the Childish Gambino Playmoji emoting quite well and sassing the other. Google allows the technology it is advertising to take center stage, and does not detail it, the phone, or the brand until the very end.
Chrome OS is working to join the other major desktop operating systems by picking up support for virtual desktops, or more simply named “Virtual Desks.” The feature will allow you to more cleanly separate your apps and windows into “desks.” While the feature is still a long way from being ready to use, we were able to get an early visual demo of how it could feel to use Virtual Desks on Chrome OS.
In the commit message, the developer links to a video demonstration attached to a Chromium bug(which likely isn’t meant to be public) which gives us an early preview of how we’ll be able to interact with Virtual Desks on Chrome OS. As you can see in the video, in a future version of Chrome OS, overview mode will be your entry point to creating, switching between, and managing Virtual Desks.
A new version of OxygenOS rolled out to OnePlus 6 and 6T owners this week, bringing with it Android’s January security patch. The real highlight of the new update though, is deep integration with Google Duo video calling.
The option to start a Duo video call is also now present within the messaging application — if you want to jump straight into a face-to-face chat with a contact you’ve been messaging. Within the recent calls list, you can also jump straight into Duo calls should you want to save time.
Google has long been aware of the fact that major sites (like The Boston Globe) have used a flaw in Chrome’s design to detect and block Incognito Mode users. A new set of commits show that Google is finally fixing this issue, making Incognito Mode properly anonymous.
As for when Chrome’s Incognito detection prevention feature is expected to launch, the developer responsible for the project says he intends for it to arrive in Chrome 74 behind a flag, before being enabled by default “2 milestones” later (or Chrome 76). Should this stay true, you’ll be able to properly disguise Incognito mode from being detected by using the flag #enable-filesystem-in-incognito starting with Chrome Canary builds in the coming days.
The rest of this week’s top stories follow:
- Moto Z3, Moto G5, G5 Plus receiving February security patch
- OnePlus sees a top-5 position in high-end US smartphone market thanks to strong OnePlus 6T sales
- Xiaomi Mi 9 has a ‘holographic’ paint job, triple cameras, arrives February 24th
- Sony ‘Xperia 10’ leak shows off size difference between Sony’s new line of 21:9 smartphones
Apps & Updates |
- Hangouts 29 supports notification channels, adds Google Fi, removes avatar options [APK Insight]
- Google Phone 29 starts enabling real-time text (RTT) accessibility feature [APK Insight]
- Hangouts Chat adds typing indicators in direct messages, but don’t be that person
- Gboard for iOS updated with haptic feedback on iPhone 7 and later
- Google Maps AR navigation coming first to Local Guides as UI detailed in first look
- Google app 9.23 reveals ‘NexusAmChips’ Assistant device ID, ‘Labs’ feature, more [APK Insight]
- Google Play Store replaces tiny overflow button with ‘tap & hold’ gesture
Chrome / OS |
- [Update: February 2019] Best Chromebooks you can buy today
- Google official color themes for Chrome bring dark mode-lite Just Black option
- It’s already time to start ignoring blatantly fake Google Pixel 4 leaks
- Google Store brings back Pixel 3 & 3 XL BOGO ‘up to 50% off’ deal for February
- Report: Google Pixel is the fastest-growing US smartphone brand w/ 43% year-over-year growth
- [Update: Google statement] Google Assistant (mistakenly?) shows ads in results for one user
- Samsung Galaxy Note 8 gets a fourth Android Pie beta update
- Samsung Galaxy Watch Active leak shows off One UI on a smartwatch, new Galaxy Buds images
- Samsung Galaxy S10 leaks in slick blue color variant as banner confirms another year for the headphone jack
- Galaxy S8 and S8+ now receiving fourth Android Pie beta update
Wear OS |
- [Update: February 2019] The best smartwatches for Android you can buy today
- Huawei Watch GT arrives in the US for $199, available now w/ its lengthy battery life