About the Author

Abner Li


“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.

Abner Li's Favorite Gear


After launching last week, Google Duo’s visual voicemall feature is now fully rolled out on Android and iOS. The company is now working on version 30 that better details the upcoming screen sharing and Google account linking functionality. Meanwhile, a group calling feature is also in development.

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March 15

YouTube for Android and iOS have long featured a floating video player so that users can minimize what they’re watching and continue browsing. The Google video site is now testing this remarkably convenient functionality on the web.

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Everyone can use an Echo Dot: Just $50!

Save for some older Nexus devices, the Google Camera app is primarily for Pixel phones. Most of the changes in today’s update are to settings, while there are a handful of new features added with version 5.2.

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As part of this morning’s rebrand of Android Wear to Wear OS, existing smartwatches will get updated with the new name over the coming weeks. Google has published a list of devices that will receive Wear OS, with the update already rolling out for some today.

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With version 3.0 of Android Messages beginning to roll out this week, Google is already working on the next update to the SMS and RCS client. We’ve received a dogfood (or internal test) version of Android Messages 3.1 and it reveals upcoming support for Android P, a built-in GIF picker, and more about the web app.

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Over the weekend, signs emerged that Google was preparing to rebrand Android Wear to a simpler “Wear OS.” This change is now official with a new Google site for smartwatches and a revamped Wear OS companion app for Android.

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Google Play Store to beta test in-line video ads for apps

Ahead of the Game Developers Conference next week, Google’s ad services are launching new tools to help gaming developers better advertise apps. This includes video ads in the Play Store and more types of rewarded ads.

Now on its fourth edition, Google today published the 2017 Year in Review of Android Security. The in-depth report highlights last year’s launch of Play Protect, as well as platform level changes as a result of Android Oreo.

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March 14

LG’s Google Assistant smart display now available to pre-order for $297

Announced at CES 2018, the first Google Assistant smart displays are expected to launch in the summer. Lenovo, JBL, Sony, and LG have all announced devices that adopt the new form factor, with the latter company’s ThinQ WK9 now available for pre-order.

Many of Google’s machine learning efforts are open sourced so that developers can take advantage of the latest advancements. The latest release is for semantic image segmentation, or the technology behind the Pixel 2’s single lens portrait mode.

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In retrospect, Pokémon Go in 2016 popularized the trend of real-world mobile games that are now intersecting with the augmented reality push on both Android and iOS. Google is now capitalizing on this wave by opening up the real-time updates and location data already found in Maps to game developers.

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Broadcom’s months-long attempt to takeover Qualcomm is officially over following yesterday’s intervention by the White House. The foreign chipmaker today announced that it’s complying with an order issued by President Trump that cited national security in blocking the deal.

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Virtual reality can allow for very immersive experiences, with Google actively investing in capturing moments with the point and shoot-like VR180 and professional Jump camera rigs. The company’s VR division is now experimenting with light fields to capture the world with much more realism.

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With the first Routines launching yesterday, Assistant is now adding another feature that Google announced last month. Meanwhile, text selection in Google Lens for Assistant is now widely available.

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March 13

In our APK Insight of the Google app beta on Friday, we spotted Assistant adding new menus for “Purchases” and “Reminders.” Those additions now appear to be a part of an upcoming redesign that removes Assistant’s “Your Stuff” tab.

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Google Station’s high-speed Wi-Fi hotspots expand to Mexico starting today

Google Station is the company’s high-speed public Wi-Fi platform that first launched in India two years ago and later expanded to Indonesia. The free service is now available in Mexico City starting today.

Google Images updated with page title captions under every mobile result

Google announced a major change to Images last month that removed the direct link to pictures as part of a new licensing deal. Today, Google’s visual search feature is adding new captions under every result to aid context.

Announced at last year’s October 4th event and reconfirmed last month, Google Assistant Routines are finally beginning to roll out. This feature, which allows a single phrase to initiate multiple commands, is launching in the United States and replaces the existing “My Day” feature.

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Back in January, we spotted YouTube preparing a dark theme for its mobile apps that would match the recently revamped desktop client. Today, the video site is making the dark theme official on iOS, with an update coming soon to Android.

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Google’s ‘Plus Codes’ are an open source, global alternative to street addresses

Google frequently touts that the “next billion users” will come from developing nations with different focuses and needs. To that end, the company has developed a number of optimized services, with one being a “simple and consistent addressing system that works across India and globally.

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