A confusing twist is coming to your calendar
Some new signs suggest Google’s gearin’ up to overhaul its approach to reminders across Android and beyond. Prepare for befuddlement…
An analysis of code in the Google Calendar Android app reveals some pretty clear indications that those Assistant-made reminders — y’know, the “Hey Google, remind me to…” sorts of memos — won’t show up in your agenda much longer.
- Google seems set on replacing the Assistant-connected reminders with reminders from Google Tasks and having those appear in Calendar instead.
- The Assistant reminders system doesn’t seem to be going away entirely, though. Any reminders set through Assistant will soon be available in Google Keep, according to the code.
- Being able to set reminders in Assistant is simple and effective, and having those show up in your calendar made perfect sense. It’s a bit baffling why Google would make its services less intelligently integrated and more confusing like this, but we can only hope there’s some broader plan that’ll come into focus eventually.
You can find all there is to know about this under-development change in this code-sleuthing report.
Your phone’s clipboard is about to get smarter
One of the less attention-grabbing elements of the upcoming Android 13 update is the series of enhancements coming to the software’s clipboard system.
Android 13 includes a new clipboard pop-up that appears anytime you copy you something on your phone — and it’s shaping up to include some genuinely useful options.
- First and foremost, the pop-up has a built-in edit function that lets you adjust whatever text you’ve copied before you paste it.
- It also has contextual action commands, like an option to open a link in your browser if you copied a URL and one to dial a phone number if you copied some digits.
- The latest spotted addition is a Nearby Share button that lets you instantly beam whatever text you copied to another compatible device in your area. Handy, no?
This Twitter thread has the lowdown on the new Nearby Sharing addition, while this analysis zooms into the other upcoming clipboard enhancements.
At I/O 2022, Google announced an upgrade to Nearby Share that will let users quickly copy text or images on one device and share it with another. This feature hasn't rolled out yet, but it's possible to enable it in the latest version of Google Play Services. Here's a demo: pic.twitter.com/Z1k7J8OcpV
— Mishaal Rahman (@MishaalRahman) June 20, 2022
The heavily hyped Nothing Phone won’t be easy to buy
In “Who Could’ve Possibly Seen This Coming?!” news, the new Android phone created by OnePlus founder Carl Pei won’t be sold in the U.S. and will be available only on an invite-only basis elsewhere in the world.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: This company and the guy behind it are more hot air than actual substance.
- The now-especially-aptly named Nothing says if people want the phone to be more broadly available, they should “call their carrier to let them know about” it. Erm, right. We’ll get right on that.
- The likely translation there: The company couldn’t get carriers to sign on to support the device.
- Anything’s still possible, of course, but this sure doesn’t seem like a promising sign for the company’s chances of becoming an even remotely significant Android player.
Explore Android’s secret boundary-blurring superpower
When Apple launched a way for the iPhone faithful to copy text from the real world onto their devices, it was huge news — magical, revolutionary, and other such over-the-top adjectives.
The funny thing is that Google’s had a far more advanced system on Android for ages now. It just doesn’t do much to promote it.
I’m talkin’ about Google Lens — Android’s best-kept secret and one of the most practical, time-saving implementations of Google’s mobile-tech intelligence.
Lens can let you do stuff like:
- Get the words from any paper, board, or screen in front of you onto your phone’s clipboard in seconds flat
- Grab words out of any image saved on your phone — a screenshot, a photo of a document or billboard, you name it
- Have any of that text read aloud, beamed over to the clipboard of any other phone or computer, or translated into a different language in real-time
- Perform most any manner of math on demand
- And give you a super-speedy way of creating a new contact or calendar event — or launching a new email, text message, or phone call based on information printed in front of you
This. Thing. Is. Incredible. And all you’ve gotta do is remember the awesome feats it can perform for you — and then remember to call upon it when a related need arises.
Give Google Voice a(nother) chance
Speaking of underappreciated Google services, have you spent any time thinking about Google Voice as of late?
Google Voice is one of Google’s most powerful services — and one of its most complicated. If you manage to wrap your head around it, though, it will genuinely change the way you think about your modern mobile devices and what a phone number even is. No exaggeration.
That’s why I decided to put together the missing guide to all the ins and outs of Google Voice.
- Voice lets you unshackle your phone number and have it live on a Google server in the cloud instead of being connected to one specific piece of hardware.
- That in turns allows you to manage exactly what that number does and when, all through Google’s Voice app or website.
- That freedom opens up the door to all sorts of interesting possibilities — things like making and receiving calls with your standard number on any computer where you’re signed in and setting up an intricate system of Gmail-filter-like rules for exactly how your number should handle every incoming call.
This, my friend, is one service that’s well worth being aware of.
Give yourself a simple shortcut to your Google-stored passwords
If you use Google’s native system for storing your sign-in info for different apps and websites, listen up: There’s now an even easier way to access your credentials.
Traditionally, getting to Google’s password system to look up one of your passwords has been a bit of a clunky process. You’ve either had to find and pull up a special website or spelunk deep into your phone’s settings to track down the option.
Well, get this: You can now add a shortcut onto your home screen that’ll take you directly to the native Android Password Manager.
Just do this:
- Open up your phone’s settings and search for the word password.
- Find and tap the line labeled “Password Manager.”
- Tap the Google account where you’ve got your stuff stored, if you’re prompted.
- Tap the gear-shaped icon toward the top of the screen that comes up next.
- And on the settings screen that appears after that, look for the line labeled “Add shortcut to your home screen.”
- Tap that bad boy and tap it good, and hey — how ’bout that?
There on your home screen is a simple icon that’ll take you straight into that Password Manager interface anytime you touch it.
Doesn’t get much easier than that.
Google Talk is officially gone
Google’s original messaging service is taking its final breath this week — nearly 17 years after it entered our lives. Google shut down support for third-party apps connecting to Google Talk on Thursday. That represented the last gasp for one of the company’s earliest communication products.
- The main Talk service mostly went away in 2013, when the also-now-killed-off Hangouts app started replacing it.
- Talk was integrated into Gmail for years and also associated with a standalone Windows client.
- Most people unofficially referred to Talk as Google Chat, or GChat — which makes the fact that Google is now replacing it with the current service that’s also called Google Chat all the more amusing.
You can find the understated announcement of Talk’s demise on this Google Help page — and for a thorough look back at the service’s beginning and where things went from there, head over to this excellent overview of Google’s dizzying message app journey.
A handy new traffic widget is headed to your phone
Google has quietly announced plans for a new Nearby Traffic widget to reach the Android Maps app “in the coming weeks.”
Maps has technically had a traffic widget for ages, but it’s just a static shortcut that takes you into a specific area of the app. This new version is a massive improvement.
- The new Nearby Traffic widget shows a live, real-time view of traffic in your current location.
- You can interact with it directly from your home screen, too, via a zoom button in the widget’s corner.
- It’s frustrating that Google ignored Android widgets for years up until Apple aped the concept — but hey, better late than never, right?!
All there is to know about the new widget is in the first item of this Google blog post — and be sure to check your phone to see if it’s there and waiting. It showed up on my Pixel 6 yesterday morning!
Google’s color-changing magic is coming to more places
Some under-development code suggests the dynamic theming system introduced as part of Android 12’s Material You design is nearing its next destination.
The code indicates that Google’s gearin’ up to bring that same sort of intelligently adjusting interface — where the entire system changes its coloring to complement the hues of your wallpaper at any given moment — to Chrome OS next.
- When Google first introduced Material You last May, we were told it’d start on Android and then eventually show up on Chromebooks, Smart Displays, Wear OS devices, and even regular ol’ Google web apps.
- This move marks the first time we’ve seen any sort of forward motion since that initial Android rollout.
- The Material You takeover will ultimately bring a whole new look and feel to the entire Google ecosystem — one that’s customized for each and every one of us at every moment of every day. Whether you’ve got a Chromebook or not, this is the beginning of something big.
This code-sleuthing report has the latest info on the Material You movement.
Android 13 is almost ready to roll — at record pace
Hard to believe, but Google’s big 2022 Android update is officially now at its “platform stability” point of development. That suggests we could see the final version of the software significantly earlier than usual.
Google launched the third beta of Android 13 this week and with it a promise that things would be stable from this point forward.
- For context, it wasn’t until mid-July that we saw the third beta of Android 12 last year — and mid-August that the software was considered stable and near-complete.
- The official Android 13 schedule has one last beta update coming out around July and then the final release soon after.
- The last time we saw an Android version shape up to arrive this early was back in 2018, with Android 9 — which launched in early August.
For the latest official info on Android 13’s development, check out Google’s official beta 3 announcement — and for a look at the small and subtle changes in this latest beta, head over to this image-driven overview.
Apple’s playing some serious catchup with Android right now
This week’s highfalutin Apple event introduced a slew of new features for the iOS faithful, but the vast majority of Apple’s latest “innovations” are things we’ve had on Android for ages.
This cycle tends to go back and forth from one year to the next, but this year definitely feels like an awful lot of one-directional déjà vu.
- Among Apple’s incoming iOS additions are features like lock screen widgets, shared photo libraries, multi-stop navigation, dictated punctuation, and undo send in email.
- Lock screen widgets in particular are an interesting one, as Google brought those into Android in 2012 — and then quietly killed ’em off two years later.
- I’m calling it now: Google’s totally gonna bring lock screen widgets back in another year or two. Wouldn’t be the first time we’ve seen something like that happen.
This article has a nice summary of Apple’s Android-reminiscent additions as well as a couple of iAnnouncements that are genuinely new and intriguing.
The new phone from OnePlus’s founder is almost here
The Nothing Phone, created by OnePlus founder Carl Pei, has an official launch date of July 12th — though the phone’s price and other specifics are mostly still under wraps.
Look, I root for the little guy as much as anyone, and I really do hope this phone brings something new and spectacular into the Android universe. But, well…
Thus far, most everything we’ve seen about the Nothing Phone suggests it’s a lot of hype with little actual substance.
Pei is known for his over-the-top, aggressive marketing. It worked early on with OnePlus. Maybe it’s just me, but it’s starting to get a little tiresome now.
Most actual elements of the Nothing Phone, like its much-ballyhooed custom launcher, haven’t looked like much once we’ve seen ’em for ourselves.
Remember Android’s extra Quick Settings actions
While we’re on the subject of Quick Settings, here’s a handy little possibility that’s all too easy to overlook:
In addition to tapping any item in your phone’s Quick Settings section, you can long-press on lots of tiles to perform different actions.
- More often than not, tapping a tile will toggle the related function on or off while long-pressing it will take you into the full associated section of your phone’s settings.
- That’s true on most Android phones with Quick Settings tiles such as Wi-Fi or Internet, Bluetooth, and even Do Not Disturb and Airplane Mode.
So don’t let yourself stop with tapping. Press and hold, too, and you’ll find new ways to skip steps and save time getting where you want to go.
Meet and Duo are coming together in the most confusing way imaginable
Google’s announced a hilariously convoluted plan to merge its two video messaging apps into a single two-headed beast. Brace yourself…
The good news here is that no significant features should be lost with this change. But, well, get ready to explain this to your friends and family:
- Over the coming weeks, all of the features from Google Meet will get added into the Google Duo app on Android.
- Google Duo will then get renamed to Google Meet later this year — except on the web, where the existing Meet app will remain in place, and in Gmail, where the Meet tab will continue to function and be available alongside the standalone Meet (formerly Duo) app.
- Oh, and the existing mobile Meet apps will still work, too. Anyone using ’em will just be “offered the option” to switch over to the new version.
Assistant may soon get better at understanding you
Newly revealed signs suggest Google’s got big things cookin’ up for Assistant and its ability to correctly interpret what you’re saying.
For all the advancements we’ve seen with Assistant over the years, voice recognition in general can still be maddeningly hit and miss in accuracy. But there may be hope yet:
- Some under-the-hood code in the Google Android app talks about a new “personalized speech recognition” system.
- The system would store recordings of you flappin’ your yap at Assistant to help it get more accurate at “recognizing what you say.”
- Such a system could not only make Assistant more effective at understanding you but also make it faster at processing your commands — since examples of your most commonly used phrases would already be stored locally on your phone as a reference.
You can find all there is to know about this under-development improvement in this code-sleuthing report.
The Pixel 7 is popping up all over the place
Google’s next flagship Pixel phone isn’t expected to land until sometime this fall, but apparent prototypes of the upcoming device seem to be splashing down everywhere all of a sudden.
In an eyebrow-raising series of surprises, someone seems to have gotten their mitts on early versions of both the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro and put ’em up for sale on different online marketplaces.
- Lots of people are talking about the fact that the phones seem incredibly similar to last year’s Pixel 6 devices.
- Remember, though: These are prototypes. And the software in particular is almost certainly far from finished.
- We’ve been down this leaky road plenty of times before, and if there’s one lesson we’ve learned time and time again, it’s that jumping to conclusions based on early versions of something is almost always a mistake.
Step up your Android privacy and security setup
If there’s one tech-related topic that’s universally important, no matter who you are or what flavor of Android you’re using, it’s the topic of privacy and security.
And yet, most people are wasting their time, energy, and precious device resources on all the wrong Android privacy and security apps.
- Android malware scares are almost always overblown, sensational, and with extraordinarily little real-world risk for most average organisms.
- Malware can’t magically install itself on your phone, and even if something questionable does somehow appear on your device, it wouldn’t be able to access any sensitive data unless you explicitly granted it permission to do so.
- The practical impact of Android antimalware software on your phone is mostly just unnecessary ongoing use of your phone’s resources and an unnecessary ongoing drain of your wallet.
The privacy and security apps that matter are the ones that improve the way your data is protected and provide extra tools for making sure your most important info never falls into the wrong hands.
Learn a couple of useful new Google Drive time-savers
Speaking of shortcuts, the Drive desktop website is in the midst of getting an under-the-hood upgrade that introduces a couple of nifty new shortcuts.
Anytime you’re accessing Drive on the web from a computer, keep the following new possibilities in mind:
- After using your keyboard’s arrow keys to select a file, you can hit Ctrl-C to copy it.
- You can then move to any other folder or area of your Drive storage and hit Ctrl-V to paste the file there.
It’s a simple-seeming change and one that’s definitely overdue, but if you juggle as many Drive-dwelling files as I do, it should make a heck of a difference in your day-to-day life.