About the Author

Abner Li

@technacity

“It’s Google’s Alphabet’s world & we’re all just living in it.”

That is Abner’s philosophy and why he has spent the last five years covering Google.

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

Today

Back in June, Google made its energy saving tuning program available to all Nest Thermostat owners after previously restricting to certain partner public utilities. The wider availability of Seasonal Savings is continuing this winter with Nest Thermostats starting to show the prompt.

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In announcing the big UI revamp for Assistant Smart Displays last October, Google also teased the addition of Sunrise Alarms. That Android feature is now beginning to roll out as part of a new alarms experience for the Nest Hub.

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January 16

From AR navigation to business messaging and reviews, Google Maps is truly a platform. The latest update today is focused on improving the visual quality and details of the default layer — especially for nature — in Google Maps.

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January 15

YouTube reminds Premium users that they have YouTube Music by adding to sidebar

YouTube Music is now Google’s only song streaming service after Play Music was deprecated last year, though transfers are still available. A small tweak sees YouTube Music being prominently advertised on the YouTube.com sidebar.

This week we recap everything announced by Samsung today at the Galaxy S21 event from the trio of phones to new earbuds and a tracker. We then highlight the top things announced at an otherwise quiet CES 2021.

Alphabet Scoop is available on Google PodcastsApple PodcastsSpotifyCastroPocket CastsOvercast, and through our dedicated RSS feed.

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According to several consistent reports, the Pixel 4a 5G is suffering from touch reliability issues following last month’s software update. Besides taps not registering, those that use 3-button navigation are particularly affected.

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With the launch of Hitman 3 on Stadia next week, State Share is officially debuting. Ahead of that, Google today showed off how the feature works while revealing that it’s coming to the entire trilogy.

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Besides the intended differences, web browsers based on Chromium offer an underlying experience that’s mostly identical to Chrome. Google recently discovered that users of third-party Chromium browsers have inadvertently been able to access data and other sync features reserved for Chrome.

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January 14

Last year, the Google app on Android ditched Chrome Custom Tabs when opening Discover articles and Search results. Google has now redesigned the custom in-app browser with a bottom bar to make it easier to navigate.

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Google told Fi subscribers last year that classic Hangouts would no longer support texting or calling in January. A week before the deadline, Google has pushed back that deadline for MVNO subscribers to March.

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Google Store marks Fitbit acquisition closing with prominent banner message

The Google Store serves as both the place to learn about Made by Google and the way to buy products directly. Made by Google is now advertising the Fitbit acquisition with a prominent store link.

Samsung devotes a portion of every Unpacked event to talk about its partners, and the Google segment today revealed how Messages is “native” on the Galaxy S21, while you can connect Duo video calls to your TV.

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January 13

Windows 10X was originally intended to debut on dual-screen devices, like the Surface Neo, before later coming to laptops. Last May, Microsoft announced a “pivot” to “focus toward single-screen Windows 10X devices” amid the work-from-home surge. A “near final version” of Windows 10X has now leaked, and it reveals some key similarities to Chrome OS.

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The last big update to YouTube on the web saw autoplay controls move inside the video player. YouTube.com is now gaining voice search for fast lookup and hands-free navigation commands.

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To boost privacy on Smart Displays and speakers, Google is introducing a Guest Mode. It’s rolling out today for Nest Hubs and other first-party Google devices. 

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Google wants to leverage YouTube’s scale and reach to disseminate trusted health videos, and announced a new effort to “surface easy-to-understand medical information from some of the most respected organizations and clinicians.”

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Local Guides settings, opt-out moving out of Google Maps to new page

Google keeps Maps up-to-date with the help of “Local Guides” and rewards contributors through a tier system with various perks. A small change sees settings for Local Guides moved out of Google Maps to a new site.

January 12

Old Nest Aware users have not been billed in recent months due to error, charges forthcoming

Last year, Google revamped Nest Aware with a fixed pricing model but allowed customers to stick to the previous structure. Due to a billing error, some users still on that old plan have not had to pay for Nest Aware since November, but they should expect a charge in the coming weeks following that delay.

A handful of factors play into the quality of your video call, and Google Meet now wants to “make it easier for end users to understand how their local desktop and network environments affect meeting quality” with a new Troubleshooting menu. 

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The Asus Fanless Chromebox looks very much like an enterprise router

While Chromeboxes haven’t caught on in the same way as Chromebooks, they are ideal for some use cases. The most notable aspect of a new “Fanless” Chromebox from Asus is frankly a design that heavily borrows from Wi-Fi routers.

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