Samsung’s got some fancy new folding phones
The shiny new Galaxy Z Fold 4 and Galaxy Z Flip 4 (gesundheit!) are all about refining the foldable phone formula — both inside and out.
This latest generation of foldables really is aimed at improving the folding phone experience and reducing the number of asterisks involved.
- The Fold 4 and Flip 4 both have better battery life and cameras along with (allegedly) less fragile screens — the biggest sticking point for this type of technology so far.
- They’re also the first phones to run Google’s in-betweener Android 12L release, which introduces a new ChromeOS-like taskbar for tablets and foldables.
- In an awkward twist of timing, the devices are coming out just ahead of the launch of Android 13, which is where a more optimal large-screen Android experience truly comes into focus. And if past trends are any indication, it may be a while before Samsung gets that software processed, ready, and into phone-owners’ hands.
READ MORE: You can get a good overview of what the new devices are all about in this hands-on assessment and see a fascinating view of how Samsung’s folding phone philosophy has evolved over the years in this impressively detailed guide.
Your TV could gain some neat new Googley features
After years of stagnation, Google’s recently rebranded TV software is on the brink of a major expansion, according to a new report.
The report says Google wants to turn Google TV (and/or Android TV, depending on where you look) into a “key pillar of the Android ecosystem” — in large part by increasing its role with fitness.
- Google apparently wants to integrate the platform closely with fitness trackers and encourage developers to create “interactive workout systems for the living room.”
- The setup would also reportedly tie in to WearOS and Fitbit so you could monitor your health stats on the big screen whilst you sweat.
- Beyond that, plans call for tying TVs in more with Google’s smart home systems to make it easier to access cameras and connected-device controls while watching an endless stream of “Alf” (or whatever it is you watch while flailing around wildly and pretending to exercise).
READ MORE: You can find all there is to know about the yet-to-be-announced plans in this thorough report.
Google’s stepping up its messaging war with Apple
El Googster has launched a full-fledged assault against Apple in what’s quickly becoming a very public battle over the future of mobile messaging.
Well, this certainly took a dramatic turn, didn’t it?
- Google’s new campaign includes a dedicated website and series of celebrity tweets that aim to set the record straight about why the iPhone-to-Android messaging experience is so subpar.
- In essence, Apple deliberately makes messaging with Android users from an iPhone unpleasant — presumably to create the perception that Android is the problem and to increase iOS loyalty.
- Apple could maintain its iOS-only iMessage platform but use the more modern RCS standard as a fallback for messaging with anyone who isn’t on iOS instead of relying on the now-38-year-old SMS standard, as it currently does. That’d make for a meaningfully better and more secure experience for its own users. But, well — y’know.
READ MORE: The new “Get the Message” website says it all.
Speed up your Android typing with seven smart settings
Time to talk typing, Android-style — and our first set of tips is all about out-of-sight Gboard settings that’ll get you ready to shift into turbo typing mode.
Your newfound superpowers include:
- Swifter symbol summoning
- Speedier long-pressing action
- The fastest number access imaginable
- And snappier fixing of auto-correct missteps
Handle Android text capitalization like a total typing pro
Next up: Stop wasting your time changing the case of your on-screen text like a caveman and instead start tapping into Gboard’s tucked-away text capitalization shortcuts.
Here’s the short version:
- As long as you’ve got Gboard’s gesture typing option enabled, you can slide your finger directly from your keyboard’s Shift key (the up-facing arrow) onto any letter to capitalize it instantly.
- And anytime you want to change the case of some text you’ve already typed out, remember this: You can double-tap your finger on the word or words to highlight ’em — then hit Gboard’s Shift button to shift the text into Sentence Case, lowercase, or UPPERCASE. Keep hitting Shift to rotate through all the possible stylings.
Take advantage of Gboard’s hidden option for better voice input
Android’s always been great at turning your spoken words into text on the screen, but now that Google’s making phones with its own custom chips inside ’em, it’s starting to unlock even more powerful options for spoken dictation.
If you have a Pixel 6, Pixel 6 Pro, or Pixel 6a, make a mental note of this underappreciated gem:
Anytime you want to dictate text to your phone and keep your phone listening indefinitely, you can double-tap the microphone icon in Gboard’s upper-right corner.
That’ll keep the mic open until you tap it again, close the keyboard completely, or say the word “stop” — which is a pretty nice change from the standard behavior, where the system just stops listening whenever you pause for more than a few seconds.
And an extra little bonus for my Pixel-palming pals: This brand new guide has 10 out-of-sight Pixel settings you’ll absolutely want to dig up and explore.
Android 13 may surprise you
Google’s next big Android version is expected to be ready to roll out any moment now — but when the software shows up on your phone, you might be left scratching your head.
Android 13 really is one of the strangest Android versions to date. It’s both one of the most shape-shifting updates in Android’s history — and one of the most subtle sets of changes we’ve ever seen from a major Android release.
- On the phone front, where most of us will experience Android 13 first, you probably won’t notice much of anything different when the rollout reaches you.
- It’s with foldables and tablets where the software’s most dramatic enhancements will be apparent — but barring some unprecedented miracle with Android upgrade delivery, we won’t get a glimpse at any of that for a while yet, since the companies responsible for the current crop of those devices tend to be a bit poky with their rollouts.
- That creates an unusual situation where Google’s putting one of its most ambitious Android software updates out into the world, and we’re likely still months away from being able to experience its most significant elements. So, yeah: pretty awkward, to say the least!
Your phone’s back gesture is about to get better
One of the most intriguing ideas we heard about early on in the Android 13 development process was a new “predictive back gesture” that’d make it more obvious where the system-level back command would take you. And now, we’re getting a clearer picture of what the enhancement’s all about and when we’ll actually see it.
Few folks noticed, but Google quietly revealed this week that the new system won’t be visible to regular ol’ phone-totin’ schmoes like us in Android 13 — but that it is available for developers to start testing as of the latest (and final) Android 13 beta.
- The new setup will eventually let you see what exactly a swipe-in back gesture is gonna do before you finish the action.
- Android’s back command has always been a little inconsistent and confusing, so this should be a pretty big improvement.
- Google’s asking all developers to get their apps ready now so the feature can become available to everyone in a “future Android release.”
Take a peek at this Android Developers Blog post for a detailed overview of what’s happening now and what’s next.
A core Android app is about to get a new identity
The confusing transition of Google’s Duo Android app is officially underway — and that means a new name will be showing up in your phone’s app drawer any day now.
Google announced its plan to merge Meet and Duo about a month ago, and this week, the first signs of the transition started appearing on Android devices around the world.
- If you open the Duo app on your phone, you’ll probably see a message alerting you to the coming change.
- Some folks are also now starting to see the existing Duo app fully morph into Google Meet — a change that’s seemingly showing up at a slowly phased-in pace.
- The change is expected reach everyone by sometime next month, at which point the app formerly known as Duo will be Google Meet and the only official Google video calling service.
If you want to try to wrap your head around this amusingly ridiculous rebranding mess, this article has a simple rundown of what’s going on and what you can expect.
Find a handy new Android search shortcut
Search, more than anything, is Google’s core strength. And one of the company’s most impressive search systems lives in a nifty little service called Google Lens.
- Lens, if you aren’t familiar, is a real-world search tool that lets you do everything from copying text off a physical paper to grabbing words out of images and even scanning QR codes.
- It’s built directly into Android, and you can get to it in a variety of ways.
- At some point in the recent past, Google quietly added in an extra-convenient shortcut to reach Lens for real-world searching from right within Chrome.
So try this: Open up Chrome on your phone and tap the address bar at the top. See that little camera-like icon all the way over at the right of that line?
Tap that, and you’ll be taken immediately to Lens, where you can use your phone’s camera to do all sorts of time-saving stuff.
Try out a nifty new YouTube zooming feature
Ever find yourself watching a YouTube video on your phone and wishing you could zoom in a little closer to one specific part of the screen?
A new experimental YouTube Android feature lets you do exactly that. And if you subscribe to Google’s YouTube Premium service, you can try it out this second.
Provided you have YouTube Premium, head into the YouTube app on your phone — then:
Step 1: Tap your profile picture in the app’s upper-right corner.
Step 2: Select “Settings” followed by “Try new features.”
Step 3: Look for the “Pinch to Zoom” card and tap the Try It Out button within it.
And that’s it: From that point forward, you should be able to pinch on any actively playing full-screen video with two fingers to zoom in anywhere you want.
One quick tip: After activating the option, you’ll probably have to restart the YouTube app completely — either by swiping it away from your Recents screen or by backing all the way out of the app and then reopening it — before it’ll work.
Check out Android’s latest music-surfacing gem
One of the coolest parts of YouTube Music is the way the service integrates seamlessly with YouTube itself. That makes it possible for you to listen to a sprawling library of live user-uploaded performances right alongside your regular recorded music collection.
Now, Google’s making it even easier to discover live versions of your favorite tunes within the YouTube Music app.
The next time you’re playing something in YouTube Music on your phone, try tapping the “Related” tab at the bottom of the playback screen — then look for a newly added section called “Other performances.”
Take note: The section will only appear when the system actually finds a fair amount of live performances for the specific song you’re playing, so if you don’t see it right away, try it with a handful of other tracks.
When that section does show up, it’s an awesome way to find interesting alternate versions of your favorite music — and especially if you love listening to live music as much as I do, it’s a spectacular new option to have.