About the Author

Abner Li

@technacity

Abner Li has worked at 9to5Google since 2015 and last year 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.

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

May 8

YouTube to internationally livestream Elon Musk on Saturday Night Live

Saturday Night Live is kicking off the final three episodes of this season with Elon Musk hosting and Miley Cyrus performing. For the first time, SNL will be available as a livestream on YouTube for international audiences wanting to see Elon Musk.

This week, Google introduced Gboard to Wear OS in one of the first wearable app launches in quite some time. One related benefit of Gboard is a much better keypad for entering your PIN on the Wear OS screen lock.

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May 7

On Wednesday, Entertainment Space for Android tablets was announced, and we pointed out the similarities to Google TV. That’s largely due to the fact that Google is leveraging the existing development concept of Android TV channels for the homescreen tablet experience.

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A week after Roku removed the YouTube TV app for new users, Google is countering by bringing the cord-cutting service to the main YouTube client. 

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At the start of 2021, a “near final version” of the operating system with which Microsoft intends to counter Chrome OS leaked. It revealed key visual similarities to Google’s offering, but it has now emerged that Windows 10X is not shipping in 2021 and might have been killed, at least in its current iteration.

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May 6

Here’s how to get back the missing Google Play Store ‘My apps’ shortcut on Pixel

App shortcuts have been a part of Android for the past several years, and the most useful one from Google is arguably for the Play Store “My apps” page. If the shortcut has recently gone missing on your Pixel, there is fortunately a fix for that problem.

In addition to a big web update set for next month, Google Meet is picking up a new “limit data usage” setting on Android and iOS. It allows users to further optimize video call quality for their current device and network conditions.

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Last June, Google redesigned the Photos app with cleaner navigation, new logo, and a map view. In response to “user feedback and comments,” Google Photos is reverting one change to bring the “Sharing” tab back to the bottom bar.

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When listening to songs in the YouTube mobile client, Google will occasionally prompt users to open the YouTube Music app for a better experience. The main YouTube app is now testing a dedicated “Listening controls” experience for music.

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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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Gboard today is available on Android, iOS, Google/Android TV, and is now coming to Wear OS. The company touts this as bringing “faster and easier messaging” to your wearable.

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Using Smart Displays and speakers as an intercom system is one of Google Assistant’s most popular capabilities. Google is now updating Assistant Broadcasts so that they appear on both Android and iOS phones. 

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With every major OS release, Android has continued to iterate on privacy and security features. Google announced today that the Play Store is adding a “safety section” that all Android applications must fill out to “help people understand the data an app collects or shares.”

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Two-factor authentication — or two-step verification in Google parlance — is a minimum requirement for staying safe online. Google today revealed that it plans to automatically enroll users with “appropriately configured” accounts into 2SV methods, like the Google Prompt.

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May 5

Google next month will stop providing unlimited free backup in Photos. Although existing Pixel phones are exempted, future devices — as of today — will miss out on a great perk that helps emphasize the camera. An update to Google Photos today reveals apparent work on a new “Storage saver” tier that will be “free and unlimited” for Pixel.

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Google allowing more employees to WFH permanently, expects most will return to campus

Google prefers that employees work in an office as part of a long-held belief that physical interactions spur new ideas and solutions. As such, it planned on a “flexible workweek” after COVID-19 passed, but some were upset, and Google has reversed course to provide an option for permanent work from home (WFH). 

[Update: Fixed] Some YouTube TV subscribers can’t sign in on Chromecast with Google TV

Chromecast with Google TV and YouTube TV benefits from particularly tight integration stateside, though subscribers of the cord-cutting service are seeing an issue today where they can’t sign in on the streaming dongle. 

May 4

At the end of March, we exclusively reported about Google’s next wireless earbuds, and the first image leaked a week later. Google today announced the “Pixel Buds A-Series” on Twitter, though the reveal was entirely an accident.

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Last year, Adobe released a Gmail Add-on for Creative Cloud for quick access and saving. An update to the Creative Cloud Add-on for Google Workspace today extends that functionality to Google Docs and Slides.

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For May 2021, Google is adding three games to Stadia Pro in a slight decrease from last month. All these titles are already available for purchase on the streaming service.

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