120 articles published since December 19, 2022
About Dallas Thomas
Dallas was the type of kid who would take apart his toys to see what made them tick, and he grew up to become a mechanic for a while. His innate curiosity for how things work led him to a career covering Android in 2014, and that's where he found his true calling. He's rooted every phone he ever owned, although he usually sticks with the stock ROM nowadays. When he's not digging into Android, he's either hiking, watching a Rockets game, or busy raising his young son.
Project Tailwind has a new name and is now accepting testers
The AI revolution is well underway, and advanced language models like Google's PaLM 2 are at the heart of most recent breakthroughs. Google teased several new machine learning tools at I/O 2023, and the one that got the biggest reaction was something called Project Tailwind. In a demo, someone's notes and Google Docs files were used to generate detailed summaries about subjects that were addressed deep within the notes. Now, Google has given the utility has a new name and is finally opening it up to testing.
We’re now in the last month of Google’s development timeline
Google's Android 14 beta program is nearing its end, with July being the last month in the development timeline ahead of a potential stable release in August. What started five months ago with the first developer preview has evolved into a fairly polished build after countless bugs were squashed. Now, Android 14 Beta 4 has arrived with its own hefty list of bug fixes.
A quick update following last week’s Platform Stability release
A week ago to the day, Google dropped Android 14 Beta 3, which marked the Platform Stability release where APIs and other app-facing features are finalized to give developers time to get their apps ready before the new OS version's stable release later this summer. So after a somewhat rocky start, you could say that development of Android 14 has finally started hitting its stride.
The little things add up on large-screen devices
It's clear that one of Google's main goals with Android 14 has been to improve the tablet experience — just in time for the release of the company's new large-screen lineup, the Pixel Fold and Pixel Tablet. In earlier versions, we've found a massive new list of hardware keyboard shortcuts, support for touchpad gestures, and a new App Pairs feature for automatic split-screen multitasking, among other quality of life improvements for large-screen devices. Now, Android 14 Beta 3 has brought a subtle change for people who use an external mouse with their tablet.
New clocks and shortcuts to liven up your lock screen
Android 14 has officially entered the last stage of its development with today's Beta 3 release bringing the program to its Platform Stability milestone. This means developers can get serious about updating their apps for the new version, as APIs and other app-facing features have been finalized. But from an end-user standpoint, Beta 3 also marks another major improvement: Android 14's new lock screen customization options are live.
This new version brings us to the Platform Stability milestone
Google is sticking pretty closely to its Android 14 development timeline — right on schedule, the company is releasing Android 14 Beta 3. This new version marks the Platform Stability milestone, where APIs and developer-focused features are now finalized ahead of the last beta releases in July.
Start playback with your voice, then control it with your phone
You can't make a new feature for a streaming music app without addressing the 500-million-subscriber elephant in the room: Spotify sets the tone for the industry, and rightfully so. A laundry list of useful functionality like Spotify Connect, which lets you seamlessly control playback as you transition from one device to another, has other apps perpetually playing catch-up. YouTube Music has been hard at work on this front, and is now testing a way to make Google Cast devices like the Nest Audio easier to control.
Catching up with Spotify one feature at a time
It may not be the absolute best music streaming service in everyone's eyes, but you can't argue that YouTube Music has come a long way since its inception. Google has been hard at work trying to keep up with the likes of Spotify and Apple Music, adding useful new features like real-time lyrics and full song credits in recent months. Now, one hotly requested feature is finally making its way to YouTube Music: play counts.
Fixes for freezes, crashes, and people who couldn’t opt out of the beta
The first beta release of Android 14 was riddled with bugs, so Google quickly dropped Beta 1.1 to fix the most egregious errors. There were still plenty of problems, but most of those were addressed when Android 14 Beta 2 was sent out during Google I/O 2023. Just over two weeks later, Google is back at it with the release of Android 14 Beta 2.1, adding a touch of polish to what has been a somewhat rocky development cycle so far.
Large-screen devices can already try the new shortcuts on Android 14 Beta 2
Google is highly motivated to improve the Android experience on big-screen devices now that the company has announced its Pixel Fold and Pixel Tablet. Android 14 has a number of new features that should help in this regard, from split-screen app pairs to using gesture navigation while dragging and dropping. But the biggest improvements in the new version, at least for tablet users, might just be with external physical keyboards.
Google Search may never be the same
There's been a lot of chatter around artificial intelligence lately, particularly after OpenAI debuted its revolutionary ChatGPT service that Microsoft is now looking to integrate into Office 365 and Bing search. Meanwhile, Google has been a self-professed "AI-first" company since announcing a shift in focus at I/O 2017, and more recently, it unveiled a new AI-powered chatbot called Bard. But in a sea of buzzwords and initialisms, it can be hard to wrap your head around what these new tools do.
Use navigation gestures to move text and files from one full screen app to another
Android traditionally had more robust multitasking features than iOS, but Apple has closed the gap in recent years and even surpassed Google's mobile OS in some areas. For instance, Android 13 only allows you to drag and drop files between apps when they're in split screen mode, but iOS 16 lets you pick up an item in one full screen app, then use navigation gestures to drop it into another app — heck, you can even drag-and-drop-the-dog. Thankfully, Android 14 has a new multitasking trick up its sleeve.
Not many features from Google I/O, but a MASSIVE list of patches
The first beta version of Android 14 was so riddled with bugs that Google rushed out a Beta 1.1 update just two weeks later. Trouble is, that update only fixed the most egregious glitches, leaving plenty of problems to plague users. Thankfully, Google today has started rolling out Android 14 Beta 2 for eligible devices.
Compose for TV brings Material You to the big screen with less code
Android TV powers some of the best streaming boxes in 2023, like the Chromecast with Google TV and the Nvidia Shield TV Pro. But Google’s TV operating system has far fewer purpose-built apps than the mobile version of Android, and the apps that are made with the living room in mind tend to lack a unified UX. Thankfully, that could be changing soon with new Android TV developer tools announced at Google I/O.
Latest experiment detects ad blockers and offers YouTube Premium in a popup
YouTube Premium subscribership grew to a record 80 million users in 2022, and Google responded by announcing it would be investing more into its subscription offerings in 2023. What we didn't realize at the time was how that could mean handicapping its free offerings to get more people to pay for its services.
Whether you watch live or on replay, expect the Pixel 7a, Pixel Fold, Pixel Tablet, Android 14, and lots of AI
When it comes to Android, the single biggest conference of the year is definitely Google I/O. This year's event is expected to showcase more hardware than usual, with Google perhaps unveiling a midrange phone, a foldable, and a tablet. This is all in addition to updates on Android 14, sneak peaks at the progress of AI projects like Google Bard, and developer-focused presentations that will shape industry trends well into 2024.
WhatsApp believes Google software is to blame
A former Google engineer and the current Director of Engineering at Twitter leading Growth organization recently encountered a potential privacy issue with WhatsApp on his Pixel 7 Pro. According to Google’s privacy dashboard feature, the app had used his microphone at least nine times overnight, all without interaction from the user.
Only for beta testers who aren’t running Android 14
Google's update schedule has gotten pretty hectic in recent weeks. The May security update was just seeded, and meanwhile, the company is running two simultaneous beta programs to test both Android 14 and the June 2023 Pixel Feature Drop. The latter is in development as Android 13 QPR3, and Google has just released a Beta 3.1 update for this version.
New renders showcase the foldable Google says is ‘Coming soon’
We've been tracking the Pixel Fold for months, and recent leaks have seemed to point toward a Google I/O 2023 announcement on May 10. Now, after Google unexpectedly tweeted a render video and set a product page live, the foldable has gone official.
Whatever you do, don’t try to wake up to Where Is My Mind
It wasn't long ago when Google rolled out a handy feature that made Assistant alarms shut up by simply saying "Stop" or "Snooze" — none of that "Hey Google" nonsense needed. These quick phrases were first available for alarms and timers on Google Assistant smart speakers and displays like the Nest Hub, but they eventually made their way to Google's phones starting with the Pixel 6. Now, users are reporting some hilarious unintended side effects with this feature.