About the Author

Abner Li

@technacity

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

The above is Abner’s philosophy and why in his 6 years of writing about tech Google and Android has been the main focus.

He resides in Los Angeles.

Send tips to abner@9to5mac.com.

Email or Twitter @technacity if you want to discuss anything remotely Android or Google related with him.

Yesterday

In addition to announcing a Phone subscription program, Google today emailed Fi subscribers about how to “Move [their] conversations to Messages by Google.” Support documents lay out in detail what to expect and that Fi texting in the Hangouts app will stop working at the start of next year.

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Gmail Add-ons can now add templates, recipients, and other ‘Compose-time’ actions

In addition to a Docs, Sheets, and Slides expansion, Google Workspace Add-ons for Gmail are becoming more feature-rich. New Compose-time functions let third-party Add-ons “modify and format your messages” in Gmail.

After adding Samsung devices to its online store, Google Fi is now launching a Phone subscription program. The Pixel 4a is the first device available, with buyers saving “$133 over two years.”

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In addition to YouTube Music, Google today is bringing iOS 14 home screen widgets to Photos. It delightfully lets you see “memories” every time you unlock your iPhone or iPad.

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At the start of August, Google provided an official timeline for shutting down YouTube Music’s predecessor. Google Play Music has now stopped working for many users on Android, iOS, and the web.

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Google Shopping adds ‘price insights’ to help determine whether you’ve found a good deal

Google Shopping launched last year with a nifty price tracking feature that notifies you of sales. Ahead of the holiday season, Google Shopping is adding “price insights.”

October 21

Back in July, Google said it was bringing over a key Nest feature to Assistant with “presence sensing.” After detailing late last month, the Home & Away Routines are now rolling out to the Google Home app.

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After coming to Gmail, Calendar, and Drive, the Google Workspace Add-ons side panel will soon be available in Docs, Sheets, and Slides. Google today also showed off a useful Translate integration.

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Back in June, Google announced that the summer wave of incoming engineering interns would focus on open source projects. With COVID-19 conditions mostly unchanged, Google announced today that internships will remain virtual in 2021.

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On Monday, Google announced and started rolling out a major visual overhaul of the Smart Display UI. That redesign leaked out early, and the same source is back with a new capability. The Nest Hub Max is testing a ‘Blue Steel’ feature that obviates the need for saying the “Hey Google” hotword.

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As previewed last month, Google is redesigning the interface of Smart Displays. This includes a dark theme, support for personal and work accounts, productivity actions, and much more.

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The vast majority of Chrome OS devices today are powered by Intel chipsets today. Acer is breaking that mold today with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 7c-powered Chromebook Spin 513. 

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October 20

Ahead of the Play Music shutdown, Google has been working to add key functionality to the YouTube-based alternative, especially for free users. The YouTube Music app for Android Auto now works to play uploaded tracks.

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Google last year brought AMP to Gmail to make messages more actionable and interactive. Drive will now send dynamic emails to let file owners manage requests directly inside Gmail.

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Back in June, Google announced that Windows apps are coming to Chrome OS through a third-party partnership — instead of an in-house solution. Parallels Desktop for Chromebook Enterprise is launching today to provide access to Windows apps that some businesses still need.

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Following the US Justice Department filing its antitrust case over Google’s search dominance, the company quickly said that the lawsuit was “deeply flawed.” Google has since published a longer defense that challenges the facts laid out by the government and argues that end users choose Search naturally.

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At the start of this year, we reported that Google Photos was trialing a subscription where your best pictures get automatically printed monthly. The premium print series is now official and rolling out soon, while Google Photos is also expanding its other physical offerings.

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October 19

Google Discover linking to Google News full coverage, tests ‘hearts’ for feedback

After adding a Web Stories carousel, Google Discover is making two tweaks to cards. The first sees a “heart” being used for feedback, while Discover on some articles will link to Google News full coverage.

The new Google Assistant has had a look of its own since it launched on the Pixel in 2019. Google looked to be bringing elements of that interface to other devices with a UI that we dubbed as being “compact.” NGA is now losing its original transparent look.

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Google Workspace was announced at the start of October as a rebrand of G Suite and revamped approach to office-less productivity. As part of these changes, all of Google’s Workspace apps are seeing new icons, with the rollout now underway.

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