Chrome could soon become a web-wide note machine
Google appears to be cookin’ up a new Chrome feature that’d effectively turn the browser into a cross-platform note-taking service — with a really interesting twist.
The feature is still very early in development, so there’s no telling if or when it’ll actually arrive or how it could evolve along the way. But its early form is pretty forkin’ intriguing.
- The system adds a new contextual sidebar to the Chrome interface.
- You can use that sidebar to jot down notes related to whatever web page you’re viewing, and those notes then show up whenever you visit that page again.
- This could be a powerful new option, especially if Google were to integrate it intelligently with its existing Google Keep note-storing service. Come on, Google: You can do it!
You can see the system in action and find all there is to know about it in this image-heavy Reddit thread.
The new Wallet app is here
Google’s reincarnation of its once-killed Wallet service is now officially available on Android. Ready for befuddlement?
In its new form, Wallet is meant to serve as a dedicated spot for storing credit cards and other basic info, which previously had been a part of Google Pay. Deep breaths, JR. Deep breaths…
- The new Wallet app is actually a rebranded version of the old Pay app, which Google phased out and replaced with a new Pay app a couple years ago.
- That same app was originally called — wait for it — Google Wallet, up until Google rebranded it in 2018.
- And here’s the real kicker: The actual payment function of Pay and Wallet is technically built into Android itself and will work without either app installed. Just look for the “GPay” tile in your device’s Quick Settings section to find it.
The full Wallet launch saga is spelled out on this page: The new Google Wallet is now available to all users
Some sizzling new summer smartphones are coming
Summer may be the relatively quiet season for Android phone launches, but Google, Samsung, and OnePlus all have eye-catching new arrivals on the way.
The Pixel 6a, Galaxy Fold and Flip 4, and OnePlus 10T are all expected to arrive over the next few weeks.
- At $449, the Pixel 6a is looking like a seriously compelling option for an exceptional all-around experience — particularly with Google’s best-in-class software setup and timely update promise.
- On the flipside, Samsung’s latest folding creations are expected to push the envelope of what’s possible with that cutting-edge hardware approach.
- And OnePlus — well, OnePlus was once an Android fan favorite. So it’ll be interesting to see if it can get back on track and give us something worth getting excited over.
The Pixel 6a preorder page has all the info on that front, while this detailed review delves more into what the device is actually like to use. You can find the latest on Samsung’s August 10 launch plans here, meanwhile, and bone up on OnePlus’s August 3 moves here.
Teach your phone’s Assistant a few useful new tricks
Google Assistant is kind of like a well-trained puppy. It can do lots of cool stuff, sure, and it’ll sometimes figure out what you’re trying to tell it.
But let’s be honest: It’s mostly on you to remember what commands it knows and communicate in a way it understands.
That’s never been more apparent than with Assistant’s tucked-away and all-too-easy-to-overlook location powers — some genuinely useful stuff that few people realize is present or possible. For instance:
- Assistant on Android can pull up an on-demand map of your current location anytime you need it.
- It can also send anyone directions to your whereabouts without ever forcing you to lift a finger.
- And, my favorite twist: It can quickly and effortlessly save any location where you are and then help you navigate back to it later — all with a couple simple voice statements.
Make it extra-easy for anyone to find you
Speaking of location fixation, if you ever want someone to meet you and you’re actively on the move, the Maps Android app has a fantastic feature for sharing a live view of your location and letting someone navigate to it.
- The feature updates itself in real-time, so the other person will continue to be taken to the exact right spot no matter how much you roam.
- You can set the sharing to remain active only for a set, specific amount of time, or you can leave it active until you manually turn it off.
- The info will be visible only to the person you share with, and it’ll stop working as soon as you turn it off.
To find the option, just open the Maps app on your phone and tap the blue dot representing your current location. You should then see a special Share Location option — and at that point, the rest is pretty self-explanatory.
Tap into Photos’ newest shortcut
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Sometimes, it’s the smallest touches that make the biggest difference.
That’s certainly the case for me this week, as a teensy-weensy new Photos feature most folks probably won’t ever notice is bringing me buckets of virtual joy.
It’s a new shortcut that lets you hop directly into Photos’ screenshots section with a single swift tap — which is so much faster and more convenient than poking around through the app’s endless maze of menus to get there (especially if you interact with screenshots as much as I do!).
- The feature’s in the midst of rolling out to all Android devices now, regardless of who made ’em or what version of the operating system they’re running.
- To see if it’s made its way to you, press and hold your finger to the Photos app icon on your home screen or in your app drawer.
- And holy hamburgers — how ’bout that?!
Right there, smack in the middle of the app’s pop-up shortcuts, is a spankin’ new option to transport yourself instantly into the screenshots section. Hoorah!
And a bonus tip: If you want to save another step and make the action even easier to get to, press and hold your finger onto the “View screenshots” shortcut — and you can then drag it directly onto your home screen for one-tap access.
Android 13 is almost ready
The final pre-release beta of Google’s upcoming Android 13 software is officially official. The real news here, though, is less about that actual update and more about what its arrival reveals.
This latest Android 13 beta is more or less identical to the last one in terms of form and features, but the fact that it’s showing up so early in July is pretty darn significant.
- Based on Google’s own estimations, the finished version of Android 13 should now be a few weeks away — putting its likely launch somewhere in the early part of August.
- Last year, Android 12 didn’t show up on phones until late October.
- Looking back, the last time we saw a major Android version land this early was on August 6th of 2018, with Android 9.0. That was the earliest Android rollout since Google got on this standard fall cycle. Sure seems like Android 13 could set a new record, though we’ll still have to see how long it takes to make its way to different devices.
The official Android 13 beta release announcement has all there is to know about the current state of the software’s development.
Your lock screen may soon take on a whole new look
A report making the rounds right now suggests ads could be coming to the lock screen on Android devices in America, but hold the phone: There’s much more to this story than meets the eye.
The report revolves around the coming U.S. launch of a company called Glance, which currently partners with phone-makers in Asia to place ads and other contextual content on Android lock screens.
- Right now, Glance works with Samsung and Motorola as well as several Asia-specific device manufacturers.
- But the company has since stated that unlike its approach in Asia, its upcoming partnerships in the U.S. will not include advertising — and will involve a “100% opt-in platform” that’s present only if you choose to activate it during your phone’s initial setup process.
- While the specifics of where and exactly how it’ll work aren’t entirely clear yet, the word partnerships is key. This won’t be a part of Android itself, and it’ll be limited to certain phone-makers and carriers who decide to participate and integrate it into their devices’ software.
Two of your top apps are about to get new identities
Brace yourself: Some pretty substantial changes are coming to a couple of Android’s most prominent preloaded services.
Progress is picking up fast on a pair of high-profile brand shifts here in the land o’ Android, and you might see the first signs soon.
- Some folks are already getting alerts on their devices about the Android-based Duo video-calling app’s pending merger with Meet.
- And at the same time, a behind-the-scenes update arriving on all Android phones this week is paving the way for the coming rebrand of parts of Google Pay into Google Wallet (yes…again).
- Neither move will change much in terms of features or what you’re able to accomplish, but they will change where you look for certain functions — and probably cause plenty of confusion, too.
For the full scoop on the Duo-Meet rebranding mess, peek your pretty head-brain into this report — and if you want to see what’s happening now with the Pay-Wallet splitting silliness, head over to this info-packed update.
Teach yourself a trio of critical Android security steps
So, back to that smashing phone incident o’ mine: If there’s one thing I learned from having my phone crushed by a 45-pound dumbbell the other day, it’s that a little creative thinking can go an impressively long way.
- After my phone got crushed by that weight, I realized I could no longer interact with it — at all.
- It was technically still working, mind you, but the screen wouldn’t come on.
- And that left me with a prickly predicament: How do I secure all my stuff before sending it in for a warranty replacement?
No matter what you’re doing with an old or broken phone, there are three critically important steps you’ll always want to take — steps that’ll protect your most personal information even when your phone isn’t exactly accessible.
Turn your Android TV experience up a notch
Got a screen with Android TV on it, either built into the set itself or added in via some manner of streaming player attachment?
I don’t tend to cover Android TV too closely, as you’ve probably noticed, but it’s an important cousin of our favorite mobile software.
And this week, we’ve got a spectacular new collection of 25 tips for taking your watching experience to the next level — no matter what kind of Android TV device is in front of you.
Check out the complete list, courtesy of my pal and renowned streaming guru Jared Newman, and see how much useful new stuff you uncover.
Give your browser’s address bar some extra oomph
Here’s a neat new time-saver I stumbled onto the other day: In the Chrome desktop browser, Google’s cookin’ up a time-saving system that makes it especially easy to search through your bookmarks and browsing history right from your address bar.
Once you get it set up, you’ll simply type @bookmarks or @history, then hit the spacebar or Tab key and type whatever you want — and poof: You’ll be taken directly to a search in the appropriate place, faster than you can say “Sufferin’ succotash, Safari sure sucks.”
Here’s the trick to making it happen:
- Type chrome:flags into the address bar of the Chrome desktop browser on any computer you’re using.
- Type omnibox site into the search box at the top of the screen that comes up next.
- See the line labeled “Omnibox Site Search Starter Pack”? Click the box next to it and change its setting from “Default” to “Enabled.”
- Click the blue Relaunch button at the bottom of the screen.
And that’s it: Once your browser restarts, you should be able to use those fancy new commands for digging into your bookmarks and history without any real effort.
Hangouts is getting hung out to dry
In what has to be the longest, most convoluted phase-out of all time, Google is at long last pulling the plug on its old Hangouts messaging service and pushing everyone to its newer Google Chat replacement.
What. A. Mess. Google’s been in the midst of phasing out the original Hangouts service for five years now — five years! — and while the service’s presence is finally fading into the past, the future of Google’s messaging setup is far more murky.
- The official Hangouts replacement is Chat — but Chat, unlike Hangouts, doesn’t support regular SMS-style text messaging. And it’s far less ubiquitous than Hangouts once was.
- Chat is also the name of the advanced messaging standard in Google Messages, a separate app that does support regular ol’ texting in addition to a more modern messaging experience. Confused yet?
- The Google executive in charge of all this recent messaging app realignment announced his departure from the company after just three years on the job this week. Holy awkward timing, Batman!
You can find all there is to know about the latest phase of the Hangouts phase-out in this official Google announcement: Upgrading from Google Hangouts to Google Chat
Gmail’s getting a new look — with a twist
In a very related story, an updated interface that brings easier access to Google Chat and Meet within Gmail is now starting to roll out broadly — though in a pivot from the original plan, Google has added in an option to turn it off.
Gmail’s new integrated view is part of the plan to make Google’s various communication apps feel more consistent and connected.
- It adds an extra sidebar to the Gmail desktop website that lets you move between your inbox, your Google Chat messaging, and your Google Meet video calls in a single streamlined space.
- The setup is eerily reminiscent of Microsoft’s all-in-one approach with Outlook and a dramatic change from Google’s traditional presentation.
- That departing Google exec we talked about a second ago spearheaded this effort (and came to Google from Microsoft, too, fittingly enough) — so his departure on the same week that Google scaled back the rollout and made the new interface optional is certainly…interesting.
This Google Workspace update [Updated timeline for the new integrated view for Gmail] has the full lowdown on what’s changing and when you can expect to see it.
T-Mobile is now actively selling your data
Well, here’s one to give ya the heebie-jeebies: A new report reveals that mobile carrier T-Mobile is allowing companies to buy data on which apps and websites customers are using on its network. Uh…
The internoot’s Privacy Outrage Blaster™ typically gets aimed at companies like Google, but this is a powerful reminder that such sentiments may be missing the mark.
- Contrary to what lots of current marketing campaigns imply (hiya, Apple!), Google never actually sells your data or lets outside parties see it in any way.
- What T-Mobile’s up to is the sort of dirty-feeling shenanigan Google is often accused of doing, incorrectly. But here, it’s happening for real.
- You can opt out, if you’re a T-Mobile customer, but the onus is on you to realize it’s necessary and then figure out how to swing it. And you’d better believe T-Mobile isn’t the only one playing these games.
This article paints a vivid picture of the new T-Mobile program, while this purpose-specific T-Mobile app (yes, you actually have to download an app for this) lets you opt out. For more on other U.S. carriers’ similar antics, check out this helpful overview.
Give your phone a clever clipboard upgrade
When you really stop and think about it, it’s crazy how clunky our current text copying experience remains — especially when you’re moving between multiple devices.
I mean, really: Most of us use a phone and some kind of computer, right? And despite the fact that we’re signed into so much of the same stuff on both devices, it’s insanely complicated to get something you copy on one device onto the clipboard on the other.
Well, take heed:
- An app created by OnePlus, of all companies, acts as an intermediary between your Android device’s clipboard and the clipboard on practically any other computer you’re using.
- You just install the app on your phone, install the companion Chrome extension on whatever computer you’ve got in those pretty person-paws of yours, and poof: Anything you copy on one device will instantly be available on the other.
- It can work with images, too, and even files — and it’s completely free, without any privacy-related asterisks or concerns.
Teach your phone’s Clock app some crafty new tricks
Next up, if you think your phone’s Clock app is just for setting basic alarms and telling you the time, think again.
Google’s Clock app for Android is full of thoughtful out-of-sight features that can make your life easier and save you precious seconds. For instance:
- It can connect to Google Assistant and bring all sorts of advanced automation into your alarm setup — so as soon as you wake up, Assistant starts taking care of stuff on your behalf.
- It can help you fall asleep, too, with special mind-numbing sounds that shut themselves off after a certain amount of time.
- And it can inject some extra intelligence into your end-of-day routine with smart bedtime settings that help your phone and your brain wind down.
Those are just a few of the next-level tricks I dug up in the Google-made Clock tool.
Treat yourself to a smarter YouTube skipping gesture
Skipping around in YouTube videos is kind of like blindly poking at a map and hoping you land on the right place. It isn’t exactly a precise experience — or generally too great of one, either.
Google’s hoping to fix that. The company is currently testing a new and improved skipping system, and if you’ve got any form of YouTube Premium, you oughta be able to try it out this instant:
- Open up the YouTube app on your phone.
- Tap your profile picture in the upper-right corner and select “Settings” in the menu that comes up.
- Find and tap the “Try new features” option in the next screen that appears. Again, it’ll only be there if you pay for some form of the YouTube Premium service.
- Look for the “Find specific video moments more easily” section and tap the button to enable it.
Once you’ve done that, just play any ol’ video you want — and when you want to skip around in it, touch the video to reveal the red dot along the timeline. Then swipe up on that dot, and you’ll see a fancy new interface for sliding backward or forward in the video and actually seeing the frames as you go.