A little under a year ago, Google added podcast support to Google Play Music. Spotify is currently working on several exclusive podcasts for its service, and now Google is doing the same with 'City Soundtracks.'
Each episode features musicians discussing growing up in their hometown, with host Hrishikesh Hirway, and includes a mix of conversation and curated playlists. The first three episodes are already available - featuring Kehlani, Big Freedia, and Spoon, respectively. Read More
Fellow long time Tasker users will be familiar with João Dias and his awesome AutoApps plugins. One of his most popular, and the one that I use the most, is AutoVoice. Basically, the plugin listens to and hijacks Google Now commands to trigger Tasker profiles — I had a simple one that would turn on my PC via Wake On LAN when I said "Okay, Google. Turn on my computer." Now v3.0 has been officially released and brings some awesome Home, Echo, and IFTTT integrations as well as natural language commands. Read More
Google's Daydream View VR headset was released last year alongside the Pixel phones. One of the headset's features is the removable facepad, which you can hand wash occasionally to keep the headset clean. If something happens to the facepad, or maybe you just want a spare, Google is now selling them separately for $14.99. Read More
Belgium is next up in Google's ongoing, slow-moving initiative to bring Android Pay to more countries. Starting today, Belgians can use the contactless payments service at over 85,000 locations including places like McDonald's, H&M, and Carrefour. Read More
Much to my dismay at the time, my high school Spanish teacher could always tell when I used Google Translate. Automatic translation tools often produce results that mostly get the point across, but with strange sentence structures and other quirks. Google is now testing neural machine translations for Google Translate, with the hope of producing more accurate results. Read More
Most major tech companies offer 'bug bounties' for major security flaws found in their products. For Google, a company dedicated to cloud services and internet-connected hardware, the bounties ensure its products are as safe as possible. Now Google is increasing the rewards for certain vulnerabilities. Read More
Today is the fifth anniversary of the Google Play Store. That's right, it has been five years since we saw the last of the Android Market - unless you had a very old device that never received the redesigned store app. To celebrate, Google is taking $5 off any book on Google Play Books - as long as it costs more than $5 to begin with. Read More
Factory images for the March 2017 security update for most supported Pixel and Nexus devices are now up on Google's developer sites here and here. That includes the Pixel, Pixel XL, Nexus 6P, Nexus 5X, Pixel C, Nexus 9 (+LTE), and Nexus 6. Builds for the Pixels are NOF27B for all variants except devices on Rogers, which should use build NOF27C.
The Nexus Player appears to be left out of the March updates at this point.
You can find the accompanying security bulletin here, which as usual lists a significant number of security threats that have now been eliminated. Read More
Local Guides is a program by Google Maps in which you "help others explore the world and get great benefits in return" (Google's words, not mine). Well, it looks like those great benefits are about to become merely average benefits, as Google is completely ditching free Drive storage for new Level 4 Local Guides, who currently get 100GB for one year. Read More
While Google and Samsung have long sought to talk up their various partnerships over the years, there is little doubt for me that 2017 will be the year in which the two giants go after one another more aggressively than ever before in their history. Samsung actively presents a threat to Android's diversity, and Google must step in to stem the bleeding of an increasingly unprofitable device ecosystem. Samsung's challenges in wearables, television, and smart home also are a major cause for concern to Google as Samsung increasingly leverages its smartphone dominance.
Samsung and Google have been close collaborators from the days of the original Galaxy S, a phone launched almost seven years ago. Read More