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.

Today

At launch, the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL saw some critique for not having an option to require that your eyes be open during the face unlock process. Android 11 DP2 last month introduced that preference, and it’s now available on Android 10 with the Pixel 4’s April update.

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With the year well underway, the next update for the Pixel 2, Pixel 3, Pixel 3a, and Pixel 4 family of devices is rolling out. The April security patch contains the usual big and security fixes after last month’s feature drop.

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With search queries about COVID-19 surpassing even those for weather and the news, Google in recent weeks has worked to compile that information together. In Google News, there is a new COVID-19 hub, while Assistant and Podcasts have similar experiences.

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Last week, Google released a simple and moving ad thanking healthcare workers around the world for combating COVID-19. The company is now continuing that praise by saying thank you to all coronavirus helpers with a series of Google Doodles over the next two weeks.

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April 4

In mid-February, B&H Photo briefly put up Made by Google’s highly-awaited wireless headphones for pre-order. Some more store listings for the Google Pixel Buds headphones have now emerged.

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Last week, Google Podcasts saw a big redesign on Android, iOS launch, and new web functionality. The Google Podcasts team today hosted a Reddit AMA today to talk about its approach.

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April 3

From today’s Doodle to PSAs and Knowledge Panels, Google Search is home to a number of resources about COVID-19. In recent weeks, the company has provided ways for important sites to surface related information. The latest effort will see Google directly highlight announcements from health agencies and other government sites.

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Google rolling back Chrome’s cookie security measure in light of COVID-19

Last month, the Chrome team postponed the latest browser release to make sure the application remains stable as more people work from home. Google today announced that it’s temporarily rolling back SameSite cookie changes in Chrome due to COVID-19.

Accessing Stadia today requires purchasing the $129 Premiere Edition. However, Google and its partners have given out promo codes on more than one occasion since launch. The latest round sees some YouTube Premium subscribers receiving a three-month trial to Stadia Pro.

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YouTube Music has seen a number of changes in recent weeks ahead of Play Music’s eventual deprecation. The latest tweaks how the YouTube Music Library is organized by separating “Subscriptions.”

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Big data is being leveraged around the world to help mange the wide-ranging impact of coronavirus. Google’s contribution are “COVID-19 Community Mobility Reports” that leverage location history to quantify how the pandemic has changed society, and help public health officials better respond.

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April 2

Google Assistant’s predecessor was generically known as “voice search” and activated with the “Ok Google” hotword. Despite being several years old, the capability still exists today in the Google app on Android. However, the most recent beta removes that old voice search UI.

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In the second off-cycle release this preview period, Google this morning launched Android 11 DP 2.1. The update addresses a handful of bugs that are particularly user-facing.

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In light of Google Stadia and Microsoft xCloud, Amazon’s entry into the game streaming field as a large cloud provider is not surprising. A new report details Amazon’s gaming interest with a competitor to Stadia and original content.

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April 1

Many today are looking for ways to stay entertained at home as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. In recent days, more and more people are discovering Google 3D animals in Search, with the company this evening releasing an ad highlighting the viral social media hit.

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Google Fi temporarily raises full-speed data limit due to COVID-19

With more and more people working from home or participating in remote learning, fast internet is crucial. Google Fi today detailed its response to COVID-19 in regards to late payments and data speed limits.

Google providing Wi-Fi to 100,000 California students and 4,000 Chromebooks

Today, Governor Gavin Newsom reiterated that schools in California are not reopening this academic year given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. To ensure that remote learning is accessible to all, California announced a partnership with Google to make available Chromebooks and Wi-Fi to students.

Today, all of Google’s major, consumer-facing social media efforts are housed within YouTube. A new report today reveals that the YouTube app will soon be home to a new “Shorts” format that will counter TikTok.

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Google Keep gets always-visible docked sidebar on the web

The last major addition to Keep’s online client was a dark mode last July. A tweak sees a new docked sidebar for Google Keep that’s always visible on the web and works like Gmail’s.

Google reports surge in Hangouts Meet usage amid coronavirus

When possible, the world is largely staying home and turning to remote work or distance-learning. As a result, Hangouts Meet and other Google products have seen tremendous “surges” in usage amid the coronavirus pandemic.

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