About the Author

Abner Li

@technacity

Send tips/talk to abner@9to5mac.com or @technacity (open DMs).

Abner Li has worked at 9to5Google since 2015 and in late 2020 took on the role of editor-in-chief. He is keenly focused on tracking what happens at Google, and is often the first to spot new features in Google’s ever-growing family of applications that are updated on a daily basis, including Search, Assistant, Maps, Workspace, Android, and Chrome/OS.

To him, what Google does greatly impacts the technology space and modern life. Inside the company, he is particularly interested in the key products mentioned above, as well as up-and-coming services like Google Podcasts and Google Lens. Each are massive platforms that can be unwieldy to grasp, with Abner keenly bent on understanding their philosophy and future direction. He is most excited about Google’s plans for augmented reality glasses.

Abner spearheads the APK Insight program at 9to5Google to chronicle all changes in the company’s Android apps, often finding new features before they are officially announced. This includes redesigns and revamps, launches, and new products.

Another big area of interest is Google’s burgeoning hardware division. He detailed all of the Pixel 3’s camera features before launch and got wind of Stadia’s hardware controller. Most recently, Abner scooped the 2nd-generation Nest Hub’s Soli-powered Sleep Sensing capability and how it would integrate with Google Fit.

Today

In addition to a new Recently Played tile, YouTube Music for Wear OS will soon let you stream songs over data/cellular instead of having to download songs, albums, or playlists ahead of time. 

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Google is bringing its bright red warning banners to Chat in order to guard against invites that contain potential phishing and malware links.

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In addition to other Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) announcements today, Google is making it easier to find accessible Android apps in the Play Store.

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On the Google My Activity page, one of the very first controls shown is Web & App Activity. Google will soon break up that setting with a new “Workspace search history” preference.

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The first-generation Nest Hub is getting a more sizable update than usual that adds the app launcher and on-device Bluetooth settings menu.

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Adding alt-text to Gmail image attachments
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For Global Accessibility Awareness Day, Google is previewing new features across several products covering Android and Workspace, including alt-text in Gmail.

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May 18

At I/O 2022, Google announced that it will update over 20 of its first-party apps for large screens in a show of its commitment to the form factor. This will undoubtedly improve the experience for existing owners and is meant to encourage other developers to do the same. Here’s every Google app on Android that has a tablet update and what’s still to come.

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As announced in March, Google TV is rolling out a redesign that adds a “Highlights” news feed and reorganizes other parts of the Android app.

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Google Photos recently rolled out a pair of tweaks on Android and iOS that make it easier to delete media in albums, and there’s a new date/location indicator when browsing.

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Google now accepting Android 13 Beta 2 and 12 QPR3 Beta 3 feedback

Google is now taking feedback for Android 13 Beta 2 a week after its launch at I/O 2022. At the same time, the Android 12 QPR3 Beta 3 survey is also available.

A week ago at I/O 2022, Google said it would optimize over 20 of its Android apps for large-screen devices. The first tablet update is now here, and that distinction goes to Google Lens.

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YouTube is announcing a handful of updates today to its video player from a “Most replayed” graph to testing ways to quickly jump to sections you’d be more interested in.

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Amidst I/O 2022, Google Cloud announced Immersive Stream for XR last week to use the cloud-based GPUs behind Stadia for interactive 3D and augmented reality demo experiences. 

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In a slightly protracted rollout, Google today revealed the first three games that will be available to Stadia Pro subscribers for May 2022. More titles will be announced in the coming days.

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May 17

Last week, a handful of Google apps opened preview programs, but new versions have yet to emerge. The Play Store now says that the Wear OS companion app is getting a beta.

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Report: Apple ML exec that left over in-person work policy joining Alphabet’s DeepMind

According to Bloomberg today, Ian Goodfellow, who oversaw machine learning at Apple before quitting due to the in-person work policy, is joining Alphabet’s DeepMind.

Google is ever on the quest to improve the general perception of security and privacy on its mobile operating system. The latest effort is called “Protected by Android” and that branding looks set for a broader rollout.

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Pixel Launcher app search is broken on Android 12 for some

Ahead of going stable next month, Android 12 QPR3 Beta 3 has a curious Pixel Launcher bug that breaks the ability to search for apps installed on your device. 

Google removes bandwidth-saving measures on Chromecast, Smart Display Ambient mode

In April of 2020, Google lowered the quality of Ambient mode on Chromecast and Assistant Smart Displays to save bandwidth in response to COVID-19’s work from home (WFH) surge, and these changes are now being reverted.

As part of its Grow with Google and Career Certificates initiatives, Google has launched a new Interview Warmup website.

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