The options would allow for more personalization within the Messages app
Google has a large suite of products and services, meaning it has to put forth a large effort to ensure that they all meet the wants and needs of users. When it comes to ones like Messages, the UI is critical to keep people coming back, given the stark competition in the instant messaging space. Now, an update to Messages seems to indicate that Google could be developing tweaks to enhance personalization.
The company has paid Apple to remain the default search engine in Safari
Google and Apple have been doing business together for years, but the details of their dealings have remained largely undisclosed — until now. An antitrust trial that began in September 2023 brought Google to court, stemming from allegations of anticompetitive practices brought on by the US Department of Justice. Now, more information on Google’s track record is coming to light, and it seems that Apple may be profiting more than originally speculated.
Limited to the iPhone version for now, though
The Fitbit app's redesign was long overdue, and reports of the overhaul first emerged as far back as September 2022. Then, the Google-owned fitness accessories manufacturer revealed the redesign in August this year, rolling it out a month later. However, some of the UI decisions taken by the company didn't go down well with the large community of Fitbit owners. As a result, Fitbit said it would bring back some of the features that were removed during the redesign, including easier visibility of your connected device's remaining battery percentage via the Today tab. This key attribute is now back on the Fitbit app for iOS, suggesting an imminent arrival on its Android counterpart.
A new icon appears
The Google Nest Wifi Pro debuted in October 2022, just as we were preparing for the official unveiling of the Pixel 7 series. Although some speed-related trouble initially plagued this Wi-Fi 6E router, Google quickly acknowledged it and later fixed the issue. This August, trusted resource 9to5Google stumbled across code within the Google Home app, indicating that a second-generation model of the Nest Wifi Pro could be in the works. We've now obtained additional information on this front.
An auto-archiving feature can also hide older documents after 30 days
There are several different digital photo management options on the market, which means that companies like Google have ample competition. While Photos is a go-to option for many Google Suite users, the company knows that there is still a whole world of photographers — professionals and amateurs alike — who could be using its product. To tap into this potential, it seems to be developing significant updates for Photos. If you find yourself struggling to organize digital documents, these changes might be especially helpful to you.
Fan speeds are rolling out just as we all say goodbye to summer
If your house is full of smart home devices, you may already be using an app like Google Home to manage them. Having a centralized location to adjust everything from your thermostat to light bulbs can streamline the process. That being said, the Home app has its flaws, with limited user controls and functionality near the top of the list. Now, Google is rolling out changes to the app that could remedy many of these problems.
Court documents show Google tried to cut a deal with Netflix in 2017
Google has been spending a lot of time in the courtroom as of late. The US Department of Justice has taken it to court with an antitrust lawsuit, which has dominated headlines since the trial began in September 2023. Now, a long-delayed battle between Epic and Google has finally made it to trial as well. The tech giant is under fire for its app store practices, and court documents are revealing even more shady business that occurred just a few years ago.
Tilted Towers or tilted Trust laws?
Every day, it seems like there’s more juicy information coming out of the massive antitrust lawsuit and current trial directed at Google by the US Department of Justice. To catch up on the why's and what's of the trial, we’ve got you covered. In short, Google has been accused by the DoJ of utilizing anticompetitive practices to achieve the current near-monopoly it has over numerous technology sectors in the United States, specifically. Just recently, it came out that Epic Games was offered $147 million by Google to put Fortnite on the Play Store, and that’s caused quite a stir.
Software support will carry on
Fitbit had established itself as one of the best wearable tech brands across the landscape before Google swooped in and purchased the company back in 2021. In just over a decade, its innovative health-tracking smartwatches yielded the $2.1 billion pickup, which both excited and frightened its users. Now, almost three years later, and after Google has begun to make good on its promise to require a Google account for any sign-ups on the Fitbit platform, prospective buyers and current Fitbit owners in over a dozen countries around the world will no longer be able to purchase new devices.
SGE for everyone
Google's AI chatbot, Bard, was late to the party compared to OpenAI's ChatGPT. Nevertheless, the search giant has expanded generative AI capabilities into some of its products, with Google Search being one of them. Under Search Labs, the company has opened up these experimental search features for thousands of people, enabling them to check out the power of generative AI on Google Search. Despite its wider expansion out of the US, Search Labs and Search Generative Experience (SGE) were still somewhat limited. That changes now with Google announcing support for its experimental AI-based search functionality to 120 countries and territories, deeming it SGE's "largest international expansion yet."
Comfortably among the top-ranked cloud storage services out there, Google Drive has evolved over the years, and so have its desktop and mobile apps. We keep a close eye on all the new changes coming to the Android version of this essential Google Workspace app, and there have been a few interesting ones over the last few months, including a push to enhance the Google Drive experience on foldable phones. A minor and seemingly under-development visual redesign of the Drive app for Android has now leaked, courtesy of a well-known source of Google leaks.
Thanks to a new calendar
Among the myriad instant messaging apps available today, WhatsApp stands out thanks to its massive user base, coupled with the backing of social media juggernaut Meta, which acquired the platform almost a decade ago. We routinely cover the newest feature additions to the app, with betas giving us a good idea about what to expect from future versions. Over the years, the platform has improved the functionality of WhatsApp Web, too, a browser client meant to give easy access to chats on the web. The latest beta of WhatsApp Web now reveals a calendar functionality within chat search to filter chats based on a specific date.
Search for GIFs and stickers without leaving the app
Google Slides is part of the company's extensive suite of Workspace products, which includes the likes of Docs, Sheets, Gmail, Meet, Calendar, and others. It's an excellent tool for educators and for those who make frequent presentations. However, Slides has been lacking one aspect that we usually take for granted on other apps — stickers and GIF integration. While Slides allows users to paste GIFs and stickers from other apps, native support was lacking. That changes now with Google adding a nifty sidebar for GIFs and stickers within the web version of the app.
But it’s not widely available yet
We all use YouTube in some form, whether it's to kill some time with informational clips or to check out reviews of some of the best phones in the market. The streaming juggernaut is usually busy testing new features, though it seems like the platform's goals have somewhat changed over the past few months, given the renewed push to curb the use of ad blockers. But in between these controversial changes, YouTube has also added some other features to the web and mobile versions of the app to test the waters. One such change has popped up rather discreetly, wherein a mysterious new video button appears on the bottom right of the screen.
Material Design 3 on full display
The Google Password Manager has seen several functionality-related improvements since its arrival on Chrome in 2022, such as the addition of biometric authentication for desktops and laptops earlier this year. More recently, we learned that Google is working on prompting users to switch to passkeys wherever possible as part of a Play Services update. The developers aren't stopping here, as a new leak has now revealed Google's plans to give the Password Manager a visual overhaul on Android.
A badge will mark apps that meet industry-wide security and privacy standards
As Google looks to improve the user experience in the Play Store, it’s ensuring security and privacy remain top priorities. App developers don’t always make user consent requirements easy to understand, and Google seems intent on addressing this challenge. An update will now identify apps that have been independently verified as up to par in terms of privacy and security.
A group of 40 Pixel contest winners will be welcomed at Google Kings Cross
If you’re a Pixel Superfan, you likely already know some of the benefits of being a part of the community. By filling out a Google survey and joining (for free), you’re tipped off to the latest Pixel news, exclusive Q&A sessions with product and engineering leads, and special events. Now, Google is teasing an opportunity to tour its Kings Cross location this December.
Google’s antitrust trial has shed light on the most lucrative search terms
In September 2023, an antitrust lawsuit filed by the US Department of Justice brought Google to court, and the case has been ongoing for over seven weeks at this point. The tech giant faces accusations of forming deals with other companies to ensure that its search engine is the default on devices. Among the businesses Google allegedly has ties to is Apple, and new court documents from the trial suggest that it’s proving lucrative.
Trusted testers will get to try the new features in apps like Docs and Sheets first
Since the beginning of the year, Google has been obsessed with the possibilities of generative AI, much like the other tech titans. The company is taking the battle to competitors like Microsoft’s Copilot with a program called Duet AI, available across Workspace utilities such as Docs, Slides, Sheets, and Gmail. Testing has been limited to a cherry-picked team of testers, but Google is now amending its documentation to accommodate for beta testing of the Duet AI sidebar ahead of a grand release.
Without support for the local language, though
The Personal Safety app on Google Pixels offers several features that could be useful in an emergency, like Emergency SOS and Safety Check. There's also Car crash detection, in which your Pixel phone can automatically determine when you are involved in a car accident and contact emergency services. But like some of the best Pixel features, this one, too, is available in limited countries. Thankfully, Google is expanding that list by bringing car crash detection on Pixels to five new countries.