Something strange has begun happening to many of Google's OnHub and Wifi routers. The units are refusing to broadcast WiFi signal, and are requiring factory resets to function properly again. Many people refuse to use OnHubs or Wifis because Google has too much control over them, and it seems like they'll have a little more ammunition to use in arguments against these cloud-connected devices now.
German audio firm Raumfeld is known for making some nice (and expensive) speakers with support for streaming services like Spotify and Tidal. Starting today, those speakers also support Chromecast. The update is rolling out to all of Raumfeld's WiFi speakers this very day.
Google told us at its event in October that the company's new router, the Wifi, would be available to order some time in November and would then ship in December. Right on cue, an unlisted video has appeared showing how to set up your brand new router.
Setup is reasonably straightforward, from the looks of things: plug in the USB-C cable for power and ethernet to your existing modem, then wait for it to flash blue, at which point the app can be used to configure it. To do this, scan the QR code on the bottom of the router, then wait for the app to do its thing.
Android Auto v2.0 began rolling out earlier this week with a pretty significant redesign that made the driving mode part of the app's primary UI. There were quite a few changes to support the on-phone Auto simulator, including a fair number of new options like the ability to auto-launch with certain Bluetooth connections (and prevent that if it's still in a pocket).
While most of the new features are easy to discover when poking around in either the driving mode interface or in the couple of config screens, there's a new feature in the audio player that deserves to be called out on its own.
The update is so small that the changelogs for both the Pixel and Pixel XL only have five words: "This update improves Wi-Fi connectivity." It's almost definitely just a fix for a small bug that Google caught before the public release of the phones. It's likely that phones from the Google Store will also receive this update, if they don't ship with it already.
As a kinda, sorta well-known technology journalist, I get a lot of pitches for hardware to review. More often than not, I just ignore these emails (sorry PR people) because I simply get too many of them. On occasion, someone pitches an interesting thing, and I'll take a closer look at it. Such was the case with the Grace Digital CastDock X2. I thought at first it was a Cast enabled speaker, and I bet that's what you thought just now too. Well, it's not. This is literally a dock for your Chromecast Audio, and that makes it just weird enough to warrant a quick hands-on here.
OnHub-schmonhub: two sources are now telling us that Google will introduce an own-brand Wi-Fi router called Google Wifi, and that the device will cost $129. A source that has proved reliable in the past has told us that the device will be launched alongside Google's Pixel phones, Google Home, and the 4K 'Chromecast Ultra' on October 4th.
That source additionally claims that Google will advertise the router as having "smart" features - probably similar to OnHub in some respects - and that Google will claim it provides enhanced range over typical Wi-Fi routers (a claim we see basically every router make, to be fair).
Ever since capped mobile data became the norm, we have been faced with a conundrum—download things on mobile data for instant gratification or wait until there's WiFi that won't put a dent in our data plan. The Play Store has long had an option that would prevent large downloads from starting without your express permission on mobile data, but now Google is testing a system that lets you queue these downloads for the next time you're on WiFi.
High-speed LTE data is more ubiquitous these days, but it's also more often than not capped. To save your data plan, you might want to hop on WiFi when it's available, but WiFi isn't always free. It'll be free for 6 months if you take Amazon and Boingo up on their offer. Download one free app, and you get six months of WiFi access.
Many carriers now offer some form of WiFi calling, but Republic Wireless bases its entire business model on making WiFi calls a seamless part of the experience. A new feature of Republic Wireless' hybrid MVNO network called Bonded Calling aims to improve call quality by using both WiFi and cellular data at the same time to fill in the gaps when you're stuck on a spotty WiFi network.