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Android Google

Google introduced a crippling Android app scaling bug to the Chrome OS Beta and Dev channel – Android Police

Android display scaling has been a controversial topic in the Chromebook community since the removal of Android’s DPI scaling setting in Chrome OS 67. The fonts and touch targets in Android apps appear tiny and illegible, making them incredibly frustrating to use compared to Chrome and native Chrome apps. There used to be workarounds to increase Android app scaling, but these methods don’t work anymore. People have complained about it in the Chromebook community forums and have been filing bugs, and, to be honest, I can’t blame them. Google is now testing a new system called “uniform scaling” in the Chrome OS Beta and Dev channel to tackle the problem with tiny Android applications, but it’s filled with issues.

Uniform scaling is Google’s answer to the Android app scaling complaints littered everywhere on the Chromium bug tracker and the Chromebook community forums. It scales Android apps to be 25% larger to become readable and less frustrating to use.

beforeafterunformscaling

Left: Telegram Android app without uniform scaling. Right:  With uniform scaling.

As shown above, the overall layout of Android apps appears larger with uniform scaling. The font and interface are scaled up significantly more than before, making it easier to read and interact with the app. While the decision to increase scaling for Android apps is the right move, especially from an accessibility standpoint, the change causes its own issues, such as making apps appear too big and cutting off content. There’s also one rather glaring unanticipated consequence.

Last night, I tried to catch up on homework using Squid, a popular note-taking app found on the Google Play Store. I started to write, and I noticed that my writing started to move away from my digital pen. That’s weird, I thought. I restarted Squid, and it did the same thing. I minimized the Squid app and tested the Concepts Android app to see if it was a Squid issue, and it exhibited the same problem. Take a look:

Canvas

Concepts app with uniform scaling. Completely off-centered from my digital pen.

As you can see, the input is nowhere near where my stylus actually is. I have to be actively compensating for the misalignment to draw correctly, which is a significant annoyance (especially when drawing faces).

squid

Squid app with uniform scaling. Ink initially trails behind my digital pen until I lift it.

Squid is impacted significantly more than the Concepts app. The ink initially trails my drawing pen until I lift it, shifting the whole stroke to the bottom right. This makes drawing impossible since I have to predict where the ink is going to end up.

Some of you might be wondering why I’m making a big fuss about it if the problem doesn’t exist on the Chrome OS stable channel. Think of it this way: we’re already late in the beta cycle for Chrome OS 86. The clock is ticking, and there’s not a lot of time for the issue to be fixed before the expected release of Chrome OS 86 stable (unless Google delays it, which does happen). Enthusiasts and web developers jumping to the Beta channel to try out upcoming features with “low risk” will find their Android apps near unusable. If you need drawing to work correctly on Android apps again, you’ll have to powerwash (or factory reset) your Chromebook to switch back to the stable channel, which erases all of your data stored on your Chromebook. I’m not the only one running into this problem either — people have messaged me saying they can no longer handwrite notes or draw on Android apps, which destroyed their workflow. Here’s what sucks about this: there is no way to turn uniform scaling off. Until Google fixes the awful uniform scaling bug, you’re stuck with misaligned inking. Not good, Google.

If you’re negatively impacted by uniform scaling problems and prefer not to back up and powerwash your Chromebook, there are a couple of things you can try to work around the issues.

Workaround #1

If you don’t annotate or draw on Android apps, try this workaround. You can change Android’s display scaling by exposing the hidden display settings in Android.

  1. Install Activity Launcher (or any equivalent app that can launch hidden activities) from the Google Play store.
  2. Launch Activity Launcher, search for “display,” and click on com.android.settings.DisplaySettings to launch the hidden display settings.
  3. Click on the “Advanced” button, then click “Display size.”
  4. Shrink the display size to “Small” by moving the slider to the left.

Your apps should appear exactly like how they used to look without uniform scaling. You must do steps #2-4 every time you log out or restart your Chromebook.

Workaround #2

If you need to annotate or draw on Android apps, this workaround will help get the pen’s inking centered. You’ll need to ADB into the Android subsystem and change Android’s display density using a few commands.

This workaround requires enabling ADB debugging, which allows you to install apps not verified by Google. Android Police and Google are not liable for damages caused by sideloading harmful apps. Disabling this feature will require a powerwash.

  1. If you already have Linux installed on your Chromebook, you may skip this step. Otherwise, launch Chrome OS Settings, click on Linux (Beta) on the navigation pane, and click the “Turn on” button. If you can’t find it, your device may not be eligible for Linux, a requirement for this workaround.
  2. Activate “Enable ADB debugging,” which is tucked under “Develop Android apps” in the Linux (Beta) section of Chrome OS Settings.
  3. Launch the Linux terminal from the launcher. ADB is required to modify the Android subsystem. To do this, type and enter the following: sudo apt update && sudo apt install android-tools-adb.
  4. Once ADB is installed, look for the Android subsystem: adb devices.
  5. You should see a device called “emulator-####.” Note that the “#” will vary depending on your device. Copy it.
  6. ADB into the Android subsystem: adb -s emulator-#### shell.
  7. If you did these steps correctly, your terminal should display your device name. For example, my Pixel Slate says nocturne_cheets:/ $ 
  8. Change the density of Android’s window manager to 120: wm density 120.

density

If done correctly, this is what your terminal output should look like.

The content inside Android apps will be very tiny, but the inking will accurately follow your drawing pen. I recommend reverting the density setting back to default when you’re finished drawing: wm density reset.

I hope the developers at Google will fix the bugs caused by uniform scaling. As of now, this new scaling has completely broken all Android drawing apps, significantly impacting artists and students. I filed a bug report on the Chromium bug tracker, and I hope the developers will jump in and quickly fix the issue before it reaches the stable channel.

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DeepMind Google

How Google Maps uses DeepMind’s AI tools to predict your arrival time – The Verge

Google Maps is one of the company’s most widely-used products, and its ability to predict upcoming traffic jams makes it indispensable for many drivers. Each day, says Google, more than 1 billion kilometers of road are driven with the app’s help. But, as the search giant explains in a blog post today, its features have got more accurate thanks to machine learning tools from DeepMind, the London-based AI lab owned by Google’s parent company Alphabet.

In the blog post, Google and DeepMind researchers explain how they take data from various sources and feed it into machine learning models to predict traffic flows. This data includes live traffic information collected anonymously from Android devices, historical traffic data, information like speed limits and construction sites from local governments, and also factors like the quality, size, and direction of any given road. So, in Google’s estimates, paved roads beat unpaved ones, while the algorithm will decide it’s sometimes faster to take a longer stretch of motorway than navigate multiple winding streets.

Google says using DeepMind’s AI tools have improved the accuracy of ETAs in Maps by up to 50 percent.
Image: Google

All this information is fed into neural networks designed by DeepMind that pick out patterns in the data and use them to predict future traffic. Google says its new models have improved the accuracy of Google Maps’ real-time ETAs by up to 50 percent in some cities. It also notes that it’s had to change the data it uses to make these predictions following the outbreak of COVID-19 and the subsequent change in road usage.

“We saw up to a 50 percent decrease in worldwide traffic when lockdowns started in early 2020,” writes Google Maps product manager Johann Lau. “To account for this sudden change, we’ve recently updated our models to become more agile — automatically prioritizing historical traffic patterns from the last two to four weeks, and deprioritizing patterns from any time before that.”

The models work by dividing maps into what Google calls “supersegments” — clusters of adjacent streets that share traffic volume. Each of these is paired with an individual neural network that makes traffic predictions for that sector. It isn’t clear how large these supersegments are, but Googles notes they have “dynamic sizes,” suggesting they change as the traffic does, and that each one draws on “terabytes” of data. The key to this process is the use of a special type of neural network known as Graph Neural Network, which Google says is particularly well-suited to processing this sort of mapping data.

For more detail, check our the blog posts from Google and DeepMind here and here.

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Google Pixel

Google Pixel 4a review—The simple, basic, reasonable Google phone – Ars Technica

OK but the Pixel 5 has already leaked —

Google gets all the basics right at a decent price.


tktktk

  • The front of the 4a looks better than any other Google phone, no matter what the price.


    Ron Amadeo

  • The back looks and feels cheap though. The (also plastic) Pixel 3a was much nicer.


    Ron Amadeo

  • The soft-touch back material is a magnet for grease, grime, and fingerprints.


    Ron Amadeo

  • The hole punch camera and tiny earpiece.


    Ron Amadeo

  • The screen is flat, and the bezel is nearly uniform all the way around.


    Ron Amadeo

  • Part of the back’s problem is the really basic design. The single camera lens in a block looks like a placeholder for a better camera. The no-frills fingerprint sensor looks like it’s been stamped out of the same piece of plastic as the back.


    Ron Amadeo

  • The small hole in the bezel is the proximity sensor. Under the screen is the display brightness sensor.


    Ron Amadeo

  • The side, featuring an power button with the slightest whiff of the color green.


    Ron Amadeo

  • The top has (gasp) a headphone jack!


    Ron Amadeo

  • The bottom, featuring a USB-C port and one of the stereo speakers (the other hole is for fun.)


    Ron Amadeo

The Pixel 4a sure has had a rough path to market. The leaks, rumors, and common sense all pointed to a Google I/O 2020 launch, but the coronavirus pandemic put a stop to that and every other major real-life gathering. Many were still hoping for an online launch, but Google ended up canceling two of its attempts at an I/O replacement event, the first due to logistics and the second out of respect for the nationwide protests against police brutality. The delay meant we had seen fully working prototypes five months before the actual release of the phone. Just like everyone else, the Pixel 4a has had a rough 2020.

Now that the Pixel 4a has finally arrived, it feels like it’s built for the era. It’s a cheap, functional, utilitarian design that arrives at a time when the economy is not doing so hot. This phone is just the cure for people who are sick of $1000 smartphones. You can do better, but for the price, the Pixel 4a is a great entry-level phone that won’t leave you wanting for much.

Design and build quality

Google Pixel 4a product image

Google Pixel 4a

(Ars Technica may earn compensation for sales from links on this post through affiliate programs.)

From the front, the Pixel 4a is the best-looking phone Google has ever designed, which is an odd thing to say about a budget model. The company finally designed an all-screen phone without reserving a huge chunk of front real-estate for a strange gimmick or giant notch, and the result is beautiful. With slim bezels, a single hole-punch camera, and a minimal earpiece trucked into the top edge, the front of the Pixel 4a looks positively modern, premium, and reasonable. Like the OnePlus Nord, the display is totally flat with a moderate border around the edges, which is preferable to the curved screens you see on most high-end smartphones. The curved displays distort the image and pick up tons of glare. Plus, as the curves get more and more dramatic, it’s easier to accidentally trigger the side of the touchscreen. Flat screens are the best, yet they’re extremely rare on high-end Android phones these days.

The back, by contrast, looks dreadfully cheap. It is plastic, but I’m not using “cheap” as a euphemism for all plastic backs. The Pixel 3a back was plastic but looked great, thanks to the lovingly crafted two-tone design. The Pixel 4a is just a huge slab of drab, soft-touch black plastic that collects a ton of fingerprint grease. Google’s attempt to replicate the Pixel 4’s camera block looks awful and pointless when there’s only one camera, and the simple, round lens cover on the Pixel 3a looked much more attractive.

SPECS AT A GLANCE
Pixel 4a
SCREEN 2340×1080 5.8-inches (443 ppi)

OLED, 19.5:9 aspect ratio

OS Android 10
CPU Eight-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 730G

Two 2.2GHz Cortex A76-based cores and six Cortex A55-based cores at 1.8GHz, 8nm

RAM 6GB
GPU Adreno 618
STORAGE 128GB
NETWORKING 802.11b/g/n/ac 2×2, Bluetooth 5.0 + LE, GPS, NFC, eSIM
PORTS USB Type-C, 3.5mm headphone jack
CAMERA Rear: 12.2MP main camera

Front: 8MP camera

SIZE 144×69.4×8.2 mm
WEIGHT 143g
BATTERY 3140mAh
STARTING PRICE $349
OTHER PERKS rear fingerprint reader

On the back you’ll get an old-school rear capacitive fingerprint reader instead of the in-screen reader that ships in more expensive phones. Most phones, including the Pixel 3a, give some kind of treatment to the rear capacitive fingerprint reader like a chamfered edge, or colored highlight. Seeing the plan Pixel 4a fingerprint reader shows you why. The whole back looks like it is stamped out of a single piece of plastic. The entire back of the Pixel 4a is an ugly disaster, and you do not even need to compare it to flagship phones—this is speaking strictly in comparison to the Pixel 3a. This isn’t a huge deal since most people will put the 4a in the case, but it’s a strange downgrade when it felt like Google got things right last generation.

There’s a rare headphone jack on top. When the smartphone powers that be came for the headphone jack, one of the justifications was that removing it would leave more room for the battery, but it’s interesting that the Pixel 4 with no headphone jack had a 2800mAh battery and the similar-sized Pixel 4a with headphone jack has a 3140mAh battery.

Other than that, there isn’t much else to the phone. There’s a USB-C port, stereo speakers (one on the bottom, one in the earpiece), and the usual buttons on the side. The one interesting design touch is the contrasting power button, which isn’t white—it has the slightest whiff of green to it.

The Pixel 4a is an interesting effort in Google’s supply chain cost-cutting. The phone only comes in one size, in one color, and in one storage configuration. There is a single Pixel 4a sku and that’s it. Compare that to the Pixel 4, which had two sizes, with two storage configs each, in three colors each, and that quickly multiplies up to 12 skus. Apple is absolutely flexing when it offers the iPhone 11 Pro in 24 different varieties (four colors, three storage options, and two sizes). Throughout the Pixel’s history, Google would frequently run out of a certain color or storage option, but with the Pixel 4a, it doesn’t have to worry about any of that—the Pixel 4a is the Pixel 4a, and it’s either in stock or it isn’t.

Other cost-cutting features you may or may not miss compared to flagship smartphone: the Pixel 4a has a single camera, no wireless charging, and no water resistance.

Versus the competition

We wrote last year that the Pixel 3a was “the only Pixel phone you should buy,” and things would feel the same way this year. Google really doesn’t have a solid argument for why the $800 Pixel 4 and $350 Pixel 4a should exist side-by-side, or how there is $450 worth of difference between them. The $350 Pixel 4a has a bigger display, slimmer bezels, a bigger battery, a headphone jack, more storage, and the same OS and camera as the $800 Pixel 4.

Most of the Pixel 4’s cut extras won’t be missed, either. Trading the Pixel 4’s face unlock for the Pixel 4a’s rear capacitive fingerprint is, in my opinion, an upgrade, since the fingerprint reader is faster and more reliable. The Project Soli air gesture system in the Pixel 4 never really worked well, didn’t attempt to do much (it skipped music tracks and one or two other things), and was redundant when you have a giant touchscreen. The Pixel 4 has a 90Hz display, which is a big deal, but the phone doesn’t have a big enough battery to support such a feature. The only Pixel 4 features you’ll actually miss are the water-resistance and maybe the wireless charging.

Google seems to understand that the Pixel 4a really limits the Pixel 4’s appeal, and the company took a proactive stance and discontinued the Pixel 4 just days after Pixel 4a was announced.

The Pixel 4a will see some good competition in the mid-range market, but how things work out depends a lot on which country you’re talking about. For whatever reason, no company is taking a worldwide approach to the mid-range market, so pricing and availability varies wildly.

The best bang for your buck in the Android space is still the OnePlus Nord, which at around $100 more than the Pixel 4a, gives you a bigger screen, bigger battery, and faster SoC. Most importantly though, you’d be upgrading from a 60Hz display on the Pixel 4a to a buttery smooth 90Hz panel. Faster displays means Android runs at a faster 90FPS framerate, and that makes animations and scrolling look and feel better. The Nord isn’t available in North America, though—you’ll need to be in Europe, Hong Kong, or India to buy one. India, one of OnePlus’ biggest markets, is getting an incredible deal on the Nord, with an exclusive, cheaper 6GB/64GB sku for $335. If you’re looking for an Android phone and can buy a Nord, you should buy a Nord.

If hopping ecosystems is an option, the iPhone SE is a major temptation, with its top-of-the-line Apple A13 Bionic SoC in a $400 device. This “mid-range” phone will turn in faster benchmarks than even the most expensive Android devices, which is a pretty embarrassing situation for every Android manufacturer and Android’s primary SoC vendor, Qualcomm. The iPhone SE’s headline-making $400 price is only a thing in the United States, though. In Europe and India, the iPhone SE is €489 (~$580), a 45 percent premium over the US price. The SE also only has a baseline storage of 64GB, while the Nord and Pixel 4a start at 128GB. So if you want to compare like-for-like storage, add about $50 to the price of the SE.

With the Pixel 4a, Google continues to struggle to compete in the worldwide smartphone market. The phone will only be for sale in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Singapore, Spain, Taiwan, the United Kingdom, and the United States. That’s a measly 13 countries; the iPhone SE launched in 40 countries and is expected to add to that number. OnePlus is only a subsidiary of the Chinese conglomerate BBK, so it doesn’t have a global mandate, but it still launched the Nord in 30 countries. We’ve complained about it before, but Google Hardware can never be more than a small hobby until Google dramatically expands its distribution network.

The biggest competition the Pixel 4a might have for its prospective audience is from Google itself. This is probably a side effect of the numerous delays, but Google has already been teasing the Pixel 5 and a “Pixel 4a 5G” before the Pixel 4a hits shelves.

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Google makes

Google makes NASA artifacts and prehistoric crustaceans viewable in AR – The Verge

Google has made a number of prehistoric creatures and historical artifacts available to view in augmented reality in its Arts and Culture app, the company announced today. If you want to take a closer look at the ancient crustacean Cambropachycope from your living room without having to visit Moscow’s State Darwin Museum, for example, then now’s your chance. Or how about the Command Module from Apollo 11 or Neil Armstrong’s lunar spacesuit?

The announcement comes as many museums around the world are starting to open up after the coronavirus pandemic forced them to close. However, in the immediate future, health and safety measures mean that many still aren’t as accessible as they once were. AR will have to suffice, even if it can’t quite match the sense of awe you get at seeing a 25.2 meter-long blue whale skeleton suspended from the ceiling above you in London’s Natural History Museum.

The feature overlays exhibits into your environment, allowing you to view them from any angle and take photos.
Image: Google

Other exhibits include prehistoric creatures like the Aegirocassis, as well as objects like a pre-Inca statue that dates back to 500 BCE. There are also paintings available to view in augmented reality like a self-portrait from Frida Kahlo, or Gustav Klimt’s The Kiss. Once you’ve placed the exhibit into your room, you’re free to film it or take photos using your phone’s camera.

Supported exhibits include prehistoric creatures as well as more recent historical items.
Image: Google

The exhibits are available to view in Google’s Arts and Culture app, which is best known for its art history features. Over the years it’s also added a few AI twists on its collection, such as in 2018 when it launched a feature that would match your selfies against famous portraits. More recently it added a photo filter feature that edited your photos in the style of famous painters.

As well as museum exhibits, Google has adding augmented reality creatures to its search results. Since Google I/O 2019 the company has made a number of 3D animals available to view, recently expanding its offering to include dinosaurs and insects.

Google’s blog doesn’t mention which hardware is required to view its latest museum exhibits in augmented reality, but its previous AR features have required you to use an ARCore-supported Android device, or an iPhone or iPad running iOS 11 and up. You can find the augmented reality exhibits in the Arts and Culture app by searching for “AR” and then tapping the “View in Augmented Reality” button in the pages for supported exhibits.

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Google Pixel

Google’s Pixel Buds bass boost: better sound, same connectivity issues – The Verge

Google pushed out a significant firmware update to its Pixel Buds this week, adding several new features to the true wireless earbuds including a “bass boost” setting, sharing detection (so you can individually set volume for each earbud when sharing one of them with someone), attention alerts, and more. The updated firmware was also supposed to address the connectivity and audio dropout problems that some early Pixel Buds buyers have been complaining about.

After some time listening to the Pixel Buds today, I’d say Google succeeded at the first bit; bass boost makes for a very real improvement to sound quality if you were disappointed by low-end performance before. But the Pixel Buds’ wireless signal is still weaker than it should be, and the frustrating music disruptions remain.

After applying the update, you’ll find bass boost under the “sound” section, which also includes the new, experimental attention alert options. Toggling it on adds a substantial amount of extra oomph to the lower frequencies. If you found the Pixel Buds to be a little flat previously, you might be pleasantly surprised after trying bass boost. It makes a difference without overwhelming the mids and higher frequencies, so Google has done a nice job with the EQ tuning.

But the connectivity fixes aren’t what I hoped they’d be. The Pixel Buds have always worked fine if you’re just sitting at home on your couch or at your desk. And in all honesty, I didn’t notice many issues during my time reviewing them. But I have in the weeks since. The problem comes when you venture outside. I just moved to a fairly busy street in Brooklyn, and this morning I walked a few blocks to get a sense of whether Google has overcome the Pixel Buds dropout issues. In my experience, the (disappointing) answer is no. I still encountered signal loss and one earbud — usually the left one — cutting out for a couple seconds at a time.

If I hold my phone at around chest height, most of these problems clear up. But when it’s in my pocket, the Pixel Buds’ connectivity can be a mess and less dependable than other true wireless earbuds. Your results may vary, and I’m seeing reports from some people on the Google Pixel subreddit who are running into fewer dropouts than before. There’s more work to be done, though, and I doubt Google is finished with trying to optimize stability for the Pixel Buds.

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Google Pixel

Google Pixel 4a can be repaired same-day at all uBreakiFix locations in the US – 9to5Google

While the Pixel 4a’s plastic body should afford it a bit more durability than “glass sandwich” flagship phones, there’s still a chance it can break. Google is once again partnering with uBreakiFix to offer same-day repairs for the Pixel 4a.

This week, the Pixel 4a began arriving to those who pre-ordered from the Google Store, and today marks the official first day of Pixel 4a sales. In light of that, uBreakiFix has confirmed to us that their partnership with Google is continuing, allowing the company to offer same-day repairs for the Pixel 4a at all 550+ locations in the US.

Since the outset of the Pixel series, uBreakiFix has been one of Google’s key repair partners in the US, offering official service for in-warranty and out-of-warranty repairs. Between that, and the fact that the Pixel 4a launch was almost certainly delayed by over two months, it’s no surprise that uBreakiFix is able to offer same-day service from the get go.

Each uBreakiFix store is equipped with Google-trained technicians to provide authorized repair service for cracked screens and other technical issues using genuine OEM parts. uBreakiFix offers authorized in- and out-of-warranty repairs for the Pixel 3a series and beyond, plus authorized out-of-warranty repairs for Pixel, Pixel 2 and Pixel 3 series devices.

The folks at uBreak also assure us that they’re taking the appropriate precautions both for their own safety and their customers to prevent the potential spread of COVID-19 by thoroughly disinfecting your Pixel 4a both when they receive it for repair and before they return it.

More on Pixel 4a:

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About the Author

Kyle Bradshaw’s favorite gear

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caption Google

Google Duo will caption video and audio messages on Android, iOS – 9to5Google

We detailed last week that Google would eventually replace Duo with Meet. As our report noted, the “pace of Duo development is winding down,” but that a handful of features are still in the pipeline. One of those, captions for video and voice Duo messages, was quietly announced by Google today.

After opening Google Duo voicemails, these captions will appear at the bottom of the screen just above the blue “Call” back button. Besides an accessibility feature, it’s useful when “in a noisy place,” and you can’t put up the phone to your ear.

These “Captions for messages” were first spotted in development at the end of February. Behind-the-scenes, audio content is “transcribed, but not stored” by Google. The option to enable/disable will appear under “Message settings” in preferences.

How this feature was announced is quite interesting. Earlier today, @MadebyGoogle tweeted it out using the new Pixel 4a as an example. Android Police received confirmation from Google that this is distinct from “Live Caption,” which now works to transcribe live audio and video calls in addition to all other device playback.

As such, message captions will be available for non-Pixel Android phones, as well as Google Duo for iOS. As of this evening, the feature is not yet rolled out.

More about Google Duo:

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Google Update

Google Maps update includes more colorful images and sidewalk info – CNET

screen-shot-2src2src-src8-18-at-1-1src-54-pm.png

Google

In addition to helping you find your way, the latest Google Maps update will help you know more details about any given area at a glance. Starting this week, Google will shade maps with colors based on satellite imagery so you can easily tell the difference between forests and beaches. The update will be available worldwide and will cover a variety of natural and manmade features. 

While the refined color palette is meant to help you understand regional features, a future update will offer more detail on a much smaller scale. Google says it will roll out more granular info on streets so you can see their exact size at scale in addition to the locations of sidewalks, crosswalks and pedestrian islands. 

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The more detailed street images will start rolling out in London, New York and San Francisco in the coming months. 

detailed-street-maps-max-1srcsrcsrcx1srcsrcsrc.png

Google Maps will show the location of important features like crosswalks. 


Google

Google announced both changes in a blog post on Tuesday, but didn’t offer a timeline on a broader rollout of the more granular view. 

The color mapping update will supposedly not just be for large landscape features either. Google will use computer imagery to show more coloration on areas such as cities, suburbs and rural towns. 

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Google Phone

Google Phone app (beta) now available for some more non-Pixel and Android One phones – PhoneArena

There are those Android users who would love to have the Google Phone app (beta) found on Pixel and Android One models installed on their own Android phones. In April,

Google started allowing some non-Pixel handsets to install the app. But the list of compatible phones didn’t include Samsung and OnePlus models. That is, until today. The Google Phone app (beta) can now be installed on a wider variety of Android devices.


Android Police points out that you may not be able to easily find the Google Phone app (beta) by using the Play Store’s in-app search. You might find it on Google Search or

through this link. So while you can show off to your Android-using friends and family members the Google Phone app (beta) on your non-Pixel Android device, not all of the app’s features might work. Making calls seems to be no problem but receiving them is often another story. It all depends on the phone that has the app installed.

As we said above, not all of the features that the Phone app (beta) delivers on a Pixel will appear on another Android phone. One of these features is Call Screen. The Google Play Store listing for the app notes that with the latest update to Call Screen for Pixel models in the states, Google Assistant automatically screens unknown callers and filters out robocalls before the phone ever rings. And if the call is not a robocall, Google will provide you with some helpful information about who is calling and why.

To see if the Google Phone app (beta) works on your non-Pixel or Android One phone, you can try to install the app on your Android-powered device.

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delaying Google

Google is delaying the shutdown of Chrome apps, but you probably weren’t using them anyway – The Verge

Google is going to let you use Chrome apps for a little while longer, as the company on Monday announced an extension to its planned timeline to end support for the software (via 9to5Google).

If you aren’t familiar with Chrome apps, they’re apps that you install in Chrome that work similarly to apps that you’d launch from your desktop — like this one for read-it-later app Pocket. But they aren’t widely adopted — Google said that “approximately 1 percent of users on Windows, Mac, and Linux actively use Chrome packaged apps” all the way back in August 2016 when it first announced plans to wind down support for the platform.

In January, Google said Chrome apps would stop working on Windows, Mac, and Linux this year (technically, the company set a June 2020 deadline, but it doesn’t look like it actually followed through). Now, Google says Chrome apps will work on those platforms until June 2021. Organizations can extend support for Chrome apps on those platforms for an extra year, meaning they’ll work through June 2022.

And if you’re a Chrome OS user, Google will now end support for Chrome apps in June 2022 instead of June of next year. But no matter what platform you’re on, Google says support for Chrome apps will end on all platforms by June 2022.

Chrome extensions will still work, though — and in fact, making an extension is one of the options that Google recommends as an alternative for developers who now need to transition away from Chrome apps but still want to offer similar functionality within the Chrome browser.

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