In this week’s top stories: Android 12 leak reveals a radical new design, the Google Pixel Buds receive their first firmware update of 2021, Samsung continues to put ads on their flagship Galaxy phones, and more.
The biggest Google news this week is that reported Android 12 mockups leaked out, with the leak revealing a major design overhaul for the OS. In the images, we see confirmation of Android 12 getting an in-depth theming system, along with a curious new “Conversations” widget that continues to put the focus on people.
On the privacy front, Google will alert users when the microphone or camera is active. There will be a green pill in the top-right corner of the status that shrinks to a dot. When tapped from the notification sheet, more information is provided with links to settings. A new unified Privacy settings page will let users “Disable camera,” “Mute microphone,” and turn on/off Location at high-level. The latter control is currently its own preference page.
This week, Google released a firmware update for the Pixel Buds, bumping from version 552 to 553. As of yet, Google has not released any information about what this update contains.
[…] the [update] process starts by connecting the Pixel Buds to your phone. Over the course of 10 or so minutes, the new firmware is transferred to the headphones. After placing the buds in the charging case, it takes another 10 minutes for the upgrade to occur. All components have to be sufficiently charged.
On the Samsung side of things, our Ben Schoon took time to showcase how frustrating it is that even Samsung’s flagship phones show ads for Samsung devices and services. Thankfully, you can turn off quite a few of these ads, though not all of them.
Alright, so let’s start off with the bad news. Samsung doesn’t ever let you fully turn ads off. The most effective form of getting rid of ads is to disable the notifications, as detailed below. The rest, though, aren’t as easy to get rid of. If you want to use Samsung’s Weather app, odds are you’re going to see ads while doing so. The same applies to many other Samsung apps.
In Google Nest news, the Nest Hub and Nest Hub Max received a firmware update to version 1.52 this week. With the update, the smart displays gained a new alarm clock experience — including the “Sunrise alarm” which was originally exclusive to Pixel phones on the Pixel Stand accessory — a family tab, and much more.
Google rolled out a preview of Zoom to the Nest Hub Max in December. At the start of this month, @MadeByGoogle tweeted that Zoom is “now available.” The broader launch could coincide with this firmware, though the Google Support document — with full setup instructions — still mentions how the integration is “only available to a limited number of users.”
Fitbit, which is now part of Google, shared some improvements to their app this week, with the addition of blood glucose tracking to assist those with diabetes. Additionally, the ECG features of the recently released Fitbit Sense will soon be available to use in Canada, New Zealand, and US territories.
Fitbit’s Charge 4 is similarly getting an update that shows on-device SpO2 readings, as well as that metric and skin temperature data in Health Metrics. This new fitness tracker firmware is “coming soon.”
The rest of this week’s top stories follow:
- Google proposes way for Fuchsia OS to run Android and Linux programs ‘natively’
- OxygenOS 11 Open Beta 2 rolls out for OnePlus 7/7 Pro, 7T w/ Canvas AOD
- Samsung brings Android 11, One UI 3 to a handful of Galaxy A and Galaxy M devices
Android TV / Google TV |
- First Chromecast with Google TV update of 2021 should reduce ‘corrupt data’ error and more
- Android TV Home 3.0 prepares for Google TV-like ‘Discover’ tab revamp
- [Update: Rolling out] Android TV homescreen gets revamped w/ some Google TV goodness
- Some Chromecast with Google TV users report ongoing freezing issues w/ some apps
Apps & Updates |
- Google Chat readies beta preview for Hangouts users
- Android Auto is now rolling out wallpaper support [Gallery]
- Google Assistant unofficially comes to Windows, macOS w/ useful custom client
- [Update: Fixed] Google apps on iOS are showing sign-in warnings amid lack of updates
- Google Fi VPN coming soon to iPhone subscribers and exiting beta on Android
- Google resumes updating its major iPhone and iPad apps, starting with YouTube
- Here’s how to bypass verification when sideloading Google Camera or Recorder
- [Update: Swipe up feed] Google app for Android testing bottom bar browser redesign
Chrome / OS |
Made by Google |
- 5 reasons the Pixel Buds should be your next earbuds [Video]
- [Update: February patch here] Pixel 5, 4a 5G now support Standalone (SA) 5G on T-Mobile, Google Fi
- Google commits to ‘more than 100 games’ coming to Stadia in 2021; here are the next nine
- [Update: Studio reponse] Stadia port of Terraria canceled after co-creator locked out of Google accounts
- Stadia now comes pre-installed on all new Chromebooks
Wear OS |
- Facer for Wear OS preloaded on Montblanc Summit Lite, which (btw) launched a month ago
- Google deprecating legacy Wear OS app model, reiterates platform commitment
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