In this week’s top stories: Google Phone gains a new Caller ID announcement feature, Android 12 Beta 1 arrives for Pixels and beyond, Nest Thermostats gain a C wire adapter, and more.
In some parts of the world this week, the Google Phone app — which is usually the default dialer on Android devices — got a new feature, allowing your phone to speak incoming calls aloud. While admittedly a basic feature, hearing a name and phone number aloud can in some cases be far more helpful than just the sound of your ringtone.
To enable the new feature you can open Google Phone > Settings > Caller ID announcement. The “Announce caller ID” is disabled by default but you can choose between “Always,” “Only when using a headset,” or “Never.” In conjunction with the blocking options, this should help you manage unwanted calls with much more precision.
Most of the biggest news in the Google world this week came from Google I/O, the company’s annual developer conference. At the event, Google unleashed the Android 12 Beta onto owners of Pixel devices and phones from other OEMs like OnePlus. As always, our team has dutifully catalogued every change in Beta 1 compared to Android 12 Developer Preview 3.
If the new Assistant lock button shortcut is enabled, you cannot currently access Cards & passes, Device controls, or even the power menu. Google Pay cards and smart home access will eventually appear in Quick settings, but that’s not the case yet in Beta 1. That should be fixed in a later beta.
The other biggest piece of consumer news coming out of I/O is that Google has partnered with Samsung on the next version of Wear OS. Set to launch later this year, the new Wear OS has been promised to bring the best of Tizen — the OS that powers most Samsung Galaxy Watches — and Google’s recently-acquired Fitbit.
By working with Samsung and Tizen, there is faster performance (up to 30% on “latest chipsets”), longer battery life, and a “thriving developer community” for third-party apps. The unified platform remains available for all device makers and allows them to add a “customized user experience”/skin.
Outside of the main Google I/O festivities, the Made by Google leak cycle took another step forward with trusted leaker OnLeaks confirming the design of the Pixel 6 Pro and Pixel 6. With new renders, we get a better look at the details of Google’s 2021 flagships, including a loose idea of their camera arrangements and dimensions.
What’s especially notable about this leak is that it gives us insight into the size of Google’s next phone. After offering only smaller devices in 2020, the “Pixel 6 Pro” represents a splash into the big-phone market with a 6.67-inch display, the biggest size ever on a Pixel phone if it turns out to be true. That comes with 163.9 x 75.8 x 8.9mm dimensions, a considerable increase over 153.9 x 74 x 8.2mm Pixel 4a 5G, which is the company’s largest phone currently.
In another bit of Made by Google news, the company launched a new “Nest Power Connector” which helps those whose AC systems don’t have a “C wire” to better install a Nest Thermostat. While the connector is optional, it offers a constant source of power instead of relying on a battery to operate while the HVAC system isn’t actively running.
This $24.99 accessory is an alternative to “hiring an electrician to install a new C wire through your walls.” Google also presents it as better than third-party C wire adapters that can “cause problems or damage your Nest thermostat, even if they claim to be Nest compatible.”
The rest of this week’s top stories follow:
- Android Auto now available on 100M cars, instrument cluster integration coming
- OxygenOS Open Beta 10 for OnePlus 8/8 Pro adds Bitmoji AOD, May patch
- Android 12 Privacy dashboard and controls for camera, microphone coming in Beta 2
- Sharp Aquos R6 launches with huge 1-inch camera sensor, 240Hz display
Apps & Updates |
- Google’s new Android TV remote will live in Quick Settings on Android, Home app on iOS
- Google Messages rolling out unified emoji, GIF, and sticker picker with search
Chrome / OS |
- Google adds delete button for last 15 minutes of Search activity, ‘Locked Folder’ for Pixel Photos
- Google I/O 2021 Keynote Live Blog + News Hub: Assistant, Android 12, and more
- Material You is Google’s new personalized design language
Made by Google |
- Android 12 Beta reveals model numbers for Pixel 6 family, including foldable ‘Passport’
- Google Photos’ Locked Folder will be limited to certain Pixels, local-storage only
- Stadia may make its retail debut at upcoming NYC Google Store
- Samsung debuts Galaxy Buds app for Windows 10 for easy earbud pairing and controls
- Galaxy Watch Active 4 may use a more efficient 5nm chip to power Wear OS, design refined
- Poll: Would you buy or do you own a Wear OS watch?
- Wear OS emulator gives a tantalizing glimpse at the Android 11-based redesign [Video]
- OnePlus Watch has its priorities straight, preps Harry Potter, Cyberpunk 2077 Editions [U]
- Here’s a quick look at YouTube Music & other revamped Google apps for Wear OS [Gallery]
- Fitbit will make ‘premium’ smartwatches based on Wear OS
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