Apps & Updates September 17

With the Charge 5 and “Daily Readiness Score” announcement at the end of last month, Fitbit also confirmed our report that the Sense and Versa 3 would get “Snore & Noise Detect.” That microphone-powered feature is now beginning to roll out. 

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Every app open on Android 12 is accompanied by a launch animation to make “startup a more consistent and delightful experience.” One aspect of this is an animated icon on the splash screen, with Drive being the first Google app to support this on Android 12.

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Apps & Updates September 16

Gmail on the web is set to get a navigation revamp this summer, while the Android app is now beginning to roll out a Material You redesign. 

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Compared to other redesigns, Material You for Google Calendar is very straightforward, but the widgets do benefit from one handy tweak.

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In announcing that Keep is getting a Material You redesign, Google yesterday failed to mention that new widgets were also inbound. We’ve since enabled them, and they’re absolutely fantastic. 

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Last week, Google announced that Material You is actively rolling out to the key Workspace apps on Android, including Drive. The Google Drive redesign also brings along new widgets including a quirky and large X-shaped one.

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Google has been working on an in-app browser for Search on Android for quite sometime now. After being widely rolled out to the beta channel for the past few months, it has disappeared and reverted to Chrome Custom Tabs.

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Apps & Updates September 15

Outside of Workspace apps, Google Camera, Clock, Contacts, and Phone have already been updated with the company’s new design language. Google Photos is the latest app to get Material You, though it’s a work in progress.

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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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After debuting Material You revamps for other Workspace apps earlier this month, Google is today announcing that Google Keep is next in line for the update.

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Apps & Updates September 13

The ability to “Test device speed” was one of the last remaining features of the old Google Wifi app that had yet to be migrated to Google Home with June’s Wi-Fi redesign. An update today introduces that check, and reveals work on ISP access to your Google/Nest Wifi router.

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Apps & Updates September 12

Assistant Driving Mode was announced at I/O 2019 to replace Android Auto on phones. It was supposed to launch that summer but was delayed, and is now happening with Android 12. Ahead of that, the homescreen UI unveiled over two years ago is finally appearing in Assistant Driving Mode.

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“Device Personalization Services” is the method through which Google delivers and updates features like Now Playing (on Pixel), Live Caption, and smart actions in notifications to Android devices. This app, updated via the Play Store, is now being renamed to “Android System Intelligence,” at least on Google Pixel phones.

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Apps & Updates September 9

A year ago, Google streamlined Assistant preferences by switching to one unified list showing all features in alphabetical order. The latest step to simplify Google Assistant settings involves splitting Voice Match and other options by device type.

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In May of last year, Google officially rolled out a night mode for the Search apps on Android and iOS. Google.com on desktop web is now officially getting its dark theme.

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Google Meet adds visual effects panel to set background blur, images on the web

Video effects are useful for both personal and work calls. Google Meet is now making it easier to set visual effects on the web with a new settings panel.

Following the Gmail redesign last week, Google today showed off Material You for the key Workspace apps on Android 12. This includes Google Calendar, Drive, Docs, Gmail, Meet, Sheets, and Slides.

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After initial testing in May, Google today has widely rolled out a redesign of Android’s default Weather app. Part of Google Search, the experience was overdue for a modernization.

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Apps & Updates September 8

Google Pay for Wear OS is now available in 10 more countries for grand total of 37

With the launch of Wear OS 3 on Samsung’s Galaxy Watch 4, Google announced a wearable redesign of Pay as well as expanded international availability. Google Pay on Wear OS is now coming to 10 more countries.

Besides a slew of Material You additions and other enhancements, Android 12 Beta 5 today expands — as we’ve been expecting — Nearby Share with an “Everyone” visibility option, redesigned QS pane, and multi-device sharing.

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Beta 5 of Android 12 is here as the final update before the public launch in the coming weeks. The Android 12 Easter egg was introduced last month, but it’s gotten more elaborate today with a homescreen widget that tells you the Dynamic Color palette Material You is using.

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Soft and hardcover photo books were the first Google Photos print product, and the lineup has since expanded to several other offerings. Google Photos is now letting you get prints in more sizes and as a delivery instead of having to pick them up in a store.

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Google’s rename of ‘Rooms’ in Chat and Gmail to ‘Spaces’ is now underway

Back in June, with the announcement that Workspace is available “for everyone,” Google revealed that “Rooms” in Chat would soon be renamed to “Spaces” and gain a slew of new features. That rebrand is now underway.

While text chatting with classic Hangouts is still possible today, Google has killed most of the legacy service’s video calling features. Google will soon restore a familiar capability that lets you make direct calls using Meet without having to generate a link ahead of time.

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Apps & Updates September 7

Wallpaper-based theming is the main highlight of Android 12 and Material You. However, Dynamic Color did not initially work with the Pixel Live Wallpaper collection/category, and an app update rolling out this week remedies that.

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Apps & Updates September 3

Google wants to build tools for the future of (hybrid) work with Workspace. To that end, Google Workspace is acquiring the team behind Playspace.

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While people like desktop Tab Groups, the reception is much chillier in Chrome for Android. Google is fortunately listening to feedback and is “experimenting with changes to this feature’s behavior.”

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The latest version of Google Search’s integrated bookmarking feature is called “Collections.” It was last updated in early 2020, and a redesign of Collections today makes the Google app tab much more useful.

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Apps & Updates September 2

Google recently redesigned Lens to prioritize screenshot analysis over live capture. Google Lens is now seeing a Material You flourish and even more prominent placement on Android.

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When enabled, Drive today lets you view/edit recent Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides in Chrome without an internet connection. Google Drive’s offline mode now works with PDFs, Office files, and images.

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Apps & Updates September 1

Back in the third quarter of 2020, Google said it had 30 million YouTube Premium and Music Premium subscribers. YouTube Music now has over 50 million paid customers.

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Google continues to add more features to Chat as it becomes available for more and more people ahead of the classic Hangouts depreciation. The Google Chat web app is now integrating Tenor GIF search.

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In July, Google rolled out a new unified emoji, GIF, and sticker picker for Android’s default SMS/RCS client. The latest tweak sees Google Messages get an attachments menu redesign to access all the things you can send besides text.

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Google app on Android makes it easier to control SafeSearch with ‘Hide explicit results’ setting

SafeSearch, which “filter[s] out explicit content in Google’s search results,” has been around for so long that it has entered the cultural lexicon. The Google Search app on Android is now making it easier to access with a new “Hide explicit results” settings page.

Apps & Updates August 31

Chrome 93 is rolling out as a quieter release than usual on desktop and mobile today. However, a small tweak in Chrome for Android sees Google switch the dark theme to a darker shade of gray.

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Following version 92’s release on Android, Mac, Windows, and Linux, the next release of Google’s browser is rolling out. Chrome 93 is here today as a smaller update.

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Earlier this year, Chrome rolled out the ability to generate links that directly highlight a specific passage of text. Google now wants Chrome users on Android to test (and create) “quote cards” that can be easily shared as images on your social network of choice.

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Apps & Updates August 30

To help employees better manage their day, Google Calendar is introducing new “Time Insights” that let paid Workspace users see “how [their] time is spent across meetings and collaborators.”

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Earlier this year, Google redesigned the Now Playing UI in Podcasts for Android and iOS. Google Podcasts is now rolling out its next major redesign with a lot of tweaks that address usability complaints.

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So far, Gboard has received a Material You redesign that introduced rounded UI elements and support for Dynamic Color. The latest tweak to conform to Material You sees Gboard get circular key popups. 

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Apps & Updates August 27

Assistant Snapshot carries forward the legacy of Google Now, though its prominence is diminished compared to the previous feed. Its standing might be further de-prioritized following a pair of worrisome changes to Snapshot in the Google app and Assistant.

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Back in July, “Backup by Google One” started rolling out as an expansion to the existing Android backup service. This more granular and expansive approach to storage is now more widely available.

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Earlier this week, some Google Home users got the option to add delayed starts to macros. Google has now updated Assistant with support for “Daylong Routines” that allow actions to automatically trigger at different times over the course of a day. 

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Apps & Updates August 26

Google Tasks is a straightforward organization tool that’s tightly integrated with Gmail, Calendar, and other Workspace apps. A small redesign of Google Tasks for Android and iOS introduces tabs that let you quickly jump between lists.

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The rise of remote work and video conferencing has boosted webcam sales over the past year. It has also led some to connect their DSLRs and other dedicated cameras to their PCs, while people are doing the same with their smartphones. Reincubate Camo is one of the more popular PC webcam solutions for iPhone, and it’s now available on Android in beta.

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Apps & Updates August 25

Google News Showcase launching in Colombia, third Latin American country

Google launched its $1 billion licensing program in late 2020 to support publishers and surface card-based content across its platforms. Google News Showcase is now coming to Colombia.

Google’s latest Search improvement is a “new system of generating titles for web pages” that better describes what a result is about. 

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Apps & Updates August 24

Google bringing Smart Reply suggestions to comments in Docs

After launching in Gmail, Smart Reply has expanded to more and more Google products. Google Docs already has Smart Compose, and it’s now adding Smart Reply suggestions when commenting.

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