In this week’s top stories: Google Messages update brings Android 11’s “Bubbles” feature, the Google Pixel 4a makes its first visual debut, and renders for the Samsung Galaxy S11+ have been updated with a new camera layout.
In the beta builds of Android 10, Google tested a new feature called “Bubbles,” which is similar to Facebook Messenger’s chat heads. While this feature is now slated to arrive in Android 11, Google Messages has been shown to be experimenting with Bubbles.
XDA was able to manually enable the Bubbles feature on an Android 10 device. Once enabled, Bubbles in Google Messages immediately pop-up on screen in a floating bubble which can then be expanded to a window which shows your message thread, quick replies, and all of the outgoing message features you’d see in the full app.
In Made by Google news, with just a few days left in the year, the Google Pixel 4a has allegedly been revealed in very early renders. The renders show the Pixel 4a to have a fantastic combination of the designs of the Pixel 3a and the Pixel 4, bringing, among other things, the familiar square-shaped camera array.
The display is perhaps the biggest change here. Unlike the Pixel 3a, it has very slim bezels all around and utilizes a punch-hole for the front-facing camera sensor. Apparently, the display on the smaller model will be somewhere between 5.7 and 5.8-inches, only a slight increase. The Google Pixel 4a apparently measures in at 144.2 x 69.5 x 8.2mm.
We’ve also seen a bit of movement on the Samsung side of things, with two rumors about the Galaxy S11. Firstly, we’ve gotten a clean look at what may be the S11’s final camera array. The more interesting of the two rumors states that Samsung may actually name the phone the Galaxy S20, to give the series “a new beginning” which has a variety of implications.
For one, Samsung distances itself a bit from other “ten” brands. Recently, we’ve seen iPhone X, Android 10, and more. Further, Samsung gets to match the name with the year which makes these phones even easier to keep track of. Likely most important to Samsung, though, is that it puts the company’s numbering scheme back in front of the iPhone. In 2020, Apple will have the iPhone 12, but Samsung will have the Galaxy S20.
Android TV fans can rejoice this week, as Sling’s affordable AirTV Mini dongle has gained support for the Amazon Prime Video app, joining the limited ranks of supported devices. As you would expect, Amazon Prime Video can be installed via the Google Play Store.
With the AirTV Mini adding support for Prime Video, it’s a big win for the Sling TV-centric dongle. It packs Sling TV, of course, as well as support for Netflix, YouTube, Disney+, and more. Prime Video also helps fill a gap since Hulu isn’t supported on the device for reasons unknown. Luckily, that app can still be sideloaded.
Finally, a beta update to the Google app on the Pixel 4 briefly broke the new Google Assistant experience this week. Until Google rolled out a fix on Thursday, Pixel 4 owners were unable to communicate with their Assistant via voice.
The underlying bug [was] Assistant not being able to accept voice input. Interestingly, you can pull up keyboard entry by going to Updates and choosing one of the commands in the top carousel of suggestions. This brings up an Assistant UI that lacks a working microphone. Text commands do work and fire like usual.
The rest of this week’s top stories follow:
- Modified Google Recorder app from Pixel 4 works on most Android phones
- [Update: Unlocked] Samsung Galaxy S10 gets Android 10 in the United States, Canada
- These are the most important Android smartphones of the decade
Apps & Updates |
- This is Google Podcasts’ bottom bar redesign with built-in queue [Gallery]
- Google Photos will soon let you zoom in on videos
- YouTube TV Live Guide redesign shows one-week schedules on the web
Chrome / OS |
- Chrome OS 81 tests redesigned Files app w/ Google Material Theme
- No, Apple isn’t rebuilding Safari on Google’s Chromium
Google Pixel 4 |
- Some unlocked Pixel 4 buyers receiving phones SIM locked to Xfinity
- Google shares Pixel 4 astrophotography capturing the aurora [Gallery]
Google Search |
- [Update: Day 3] Animated Google Doodles and easter eggs celebrate the holiday season
- How to track Santa Claus with Google on Christmas Eve
- NBA All-Star Voting is again exclusive to Google Assistant, Search
- Google Search AR starts rolling out depth-based object blending/occlusion
Google Stadia |
- Google adds two Stadia Pro games for January 2020, three current titles remaining
- [Update: United States] Stadia Controller Claw now available from Google Store
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