You won't have to go to a galaxy far, far away to meet a beloved character who has been an internet sensation since it first featured in Disney's The Mandalorian show last year. Thanks to Google, you can now virtually place a life-sized Grogu — colloquially known as Baby Yoda — right in your room.
Over the weekend, the Google search website briefly turned gray and black for some people who use a dark theme on their desktop computers. It looks like the company was testing a proper dark mode for its desktop website, but by now, it's already disappeared for those who initially got in on the test. If we're not in for another flip-flopping experience á la Google Maps (which had its own dark mode appear and disappear multiple times over the year), we might soon be able to enjoy our web searches dunked in an eye-soothing dark mode.
We're all familiar with the "knowledge panels" that pop up in Google when a famous person's name is searched, but Google has been working on something like this, which it calls "people cards," for us regular people. We first learned about this back in February, when Google published some support pages (that it quickly took down), but the feature officially launched in India in August and is now coming to some African countries as well.
Earlier this year, it came out that Google paid around $1.5 billion in 2019 to be the default search engine on various devices in the UK alone, most of which naturally goes to Apple. Factor in other countries, and it's likely to be a multi-billion dollar deal between the two tech behemoths (the DoJ estimates it at around $8-12 billion). It's a convenient arrangement that goes back more than a decade. Apple gets to serve the best search results to iPhone and iPad users, who in turn get served with Google's ads — everyone wins. Except for consumers, according to US antitrust authorities, and it's this increasing scrutiny that is pushing Apple to develop a competitive search engine of its own.
Google TV is the biggest change to Android TV we've seen in years, and although it may well have its drawbacks, it sounds like it's pretty good at serving you the content you actually want. It also has an easily accessible watchlist that you can add movies and shows from various services. We now know that this list is also integrated with the watchlist feature in Google Search, as well as the wishlist in the Play Store.
This year, Google's Arts & Culture project dove into a global exploration of cultural and historical wonders as a salve to the travel restrictions inflicted by the coronavirus pandemic — it was dubbed as a way to take a vacation without crossing borders. Now, the showcase is getting more than three dozen 3D models of artifacts and monuments for your eyes to take in, right from Google Search.
Even if stay-at-home orders are slowly lifting all around the globe, we're mostly supposed to stay inside to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. But that shouldn't stop us from exploring things we'd normally see in museums or shops thanks to 3D models available in Google Search on Android and iOS. We've already covered which animals and pets you can lure into your home, but if you and your kids get tired of acting as an amateur zoologist, there is a whole world to explore, starting with planets and space crafts courtesy of NASA over anatomy all the way to shopping for shoes, and most recently, chemistry models.
Not too long ago, Google started testing a new in-app browser for its Search app. It looks pretty reminiscent of the experience in the iOS app, with a similar loading animation when you open websites. The problem with this implementation is that in contrast to the Chrome custom tabs of old, the new browser is completely separate, meaning no shared history, bookmarks, or logins. Despite these disadvantages, Google seems to be willing to keep pushing its new in-app browser, as it has just gained its own Safe Browsing toggle and site settings options revolving around cookies and permissions.
Google has a history of making fun easter Easter eggs across its sites, services, and apps, and today's is a wave of 90s-era nostalgia. With a simple query in Google Search and a tap on the fresh license plate, you can celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air with period-appropriate results.
Google introduced activity cards in Search last year to let you quickly revisit results from your previous searches of the same keyword. The company is now expanding the scope of this tailored feed to cover three specific new areas: jobs, recipes, and online shopping — the things people are probably looking for the most while stuck at home during the pandemic.