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

Google’s marketing campaign for its upcoming flagship started online, but has since expanded to TV and billboards. A new Pixel 6 magazine ad features much of the same copy, but does tease some upcoming capabilities.

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In October of 2019, Google Assistant introduced an Issa Rae voice that responds to a subset of common queries, like the weather. Just shy of two years later, the cameo will stop working at the end of this month.

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Yesterday

Following version 93’s release on Android, Mac, Windows, and Linux, the next release of Google’s browser is rolling out. Chrome 94 is here and marks the start of updates every four weeks (instead of six).

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Google today opened submissions for the 2021 Material Design Awards. Now in its seventh year, the company is looking for apps with great dark theme, large screen, and motion implementations.

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September 24

Over a one-month period that ended in late November, Google rolled out updated logos for the vast majority of Workspace apps. Google Tasks was left off the list, but that’s now being rectified with a new icon.

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At the start of August, the new Google Assistant lost its translucent/transparent UI. The original NGA design is back today on Pixel phones, though it’s not clear whether the look is here to stay.

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For customers in the Asia-Pacific region, Google is marking its birthday a bit differently this year and using the occasion as an opportunity to promote its upcoming flagship phone. Purchasing something this weekend from one of three Google Stores will net you a discount when buying the Pixel 6 later this year.

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September 23

Besides Tensor, the camera upgrade is the most exciting aspect of Google’s upcoming flagship phone. The latest Pixel 6 Pro leak suggests the return of an ultra-wide front-facing camera and details the video shooting experience.

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The Surface Duo launched with Android 10 two days after the Android 11 rollout commenced last year. Following the unveil of the Surface Duo 2 yesterday, Microsoft is now committing to bringing the year-old operating system to its original Android Foldable by the end of 2021.

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For the past few years, Google has been working on a new specification for building Chrome extensions. Manifest v3 became available earlier this year with Chrome 88. In launching, the company has been conscious of how big a shift the privacy-preserving aspects are, and today detailed the transition away from Manifest v2.

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In October 2020, a big Smart Display redesign that brought more interactivity, as well as a dark theme, widely rolled out. Google is now introducing an “app” – though it’s more akin to shortcuts – launcher on the Nest Hub Max.

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Back in November, Assistant Driving Mode started rolling out as part of Google Maps. Google today is making official the new “dashboard” experience coming to Driving Mode, while the Assistant capability is set to get wider availability and a new way to launch.

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Back in June, Pixel phones were the first to receive the ability to secure images and videos behind a passcode. Google today confirmed that the Locked Folder in Photos is set to soon arrive on all other Android devices.

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With Ford back in February, Google’s car operating system netted a significant partner. Honda is now the next major carmaker to adopt Android Automotive from 2022 onwards.

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Google today has three car experiences, and all of them are seeing updates. The biggest is an upcoming “Hey Google, pay for gas” command, while Android Auto is getting new media and connectivity features.

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Google improves Spanish support on the Nest Hub, Hub Max in the US

An update to the Nest Hub and Hub Max improves how the Assistant Smart Displays handle Spanish by providing a more immersive language experience in the US.

Last March, Google announced a “Works With Chromebook” program to certify and badge accessories for Chrome OS. The latest peripheral to come out of this certification is docking stations. 

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September 22

On Android and iOS, YouTube Premium lets you store content for offline viewing. The ability to download YouTube videos is now coming to the desktop web as part of an experiment that paying subscribers can enable today.

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Google’s ‘About this ad’ page will soon list what else advertisers have posted in the past month

Last year, Google introduced an updated “About this ad” feature to let you learn more about specific advertising. This page is now gaining a history feature that shows you what an advertiser has run on Google’s platforms in the past 30 days.

Microsoft announced its first foldable in October of 2019, but did not ship the phone until almost a year later. The end result was not too groundbreaking, but Redmond is trying again with the Surface Duo 2. 

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