Call it a quality-of-life update or maybe even a "quality-of-memory" update: Google will soon begin listing dates and locations of users' own pictures if they have turned on Google Photos slideshows for their Nest displays and/or Chromecast screens. Display and Chromecast owners were emailed about the change which begins rolling out September 15.
One of the conveniences of using a Chromecast or a Cast-enabled speaker or TV is the ability to control playback from any device in the house (if you want). Starting a song from your phone and stopping it from your tablet, or asking your partner or roommate to do so while you're wrist-deep into a new banana bread recipe, are possible because of the casting notification that surfaces on all devices connected to the same network. That notification is getting a small but awesome quality-of-life improvement now thanks to new track controls.
Google products undergoing multiple rounds of rebranding during their life cycle has become the norm — sparing not even the more popular ones. Android Wear shed the Android prefix back in 2018 to be simply called Wear OS, while the Home line picked up the Nest label more recently. Something similar is about to happen with Android TV, and we’re seeing yet another sign that a rebrand to Google TV is imminent.
Google has just announced that it will be holding a streaming launch event on Wednesday, September 30th. The online event is set for 11AM PT (or 2PM ET), at which Google says we'll learn about new Chromecast, smart speaker, and Pixel hardware, almost all of which has leaked ahead of the upcoming event.
Android 11 introduced a nifty new interface for controlling media playback that lives among the quick settings tiles rather than the notifications. In it, there's also a button that allows you to choose the sound output (which has actually been around since Android 10). At the moment, it's only populated by your phone's speakers and bluetooth sources, even though it seems like adding Chromecast-enabled devices would be a no-brainer. It looks like Google thought the same, but it will have to be implemented by every single media app out there.
Google will discontinue Play Music this month, and as such, the company is hard at work improving YouTube Music. One of these enhancements revolves around casting and Google Assistant. Songs you ask the Assistant to play while you cast will now show up in your YouTube Music queue on your phone, and when you start playback via the Assistant, you can tap into the queue by casting to the speaker or display in question.
The FCC has published documents related to an interactive media streaming device and a more generic wireless device from Google. At least one of the two devices may be part of the next-gen push for Android TV, centered around a device named "Sabrina."
Google Meet, the company's Zoom competitor and successor to Hangouts, has gained plenty of new users and features over the past few months due to the pandemic. With everyone working and playing from home, video chatting is a necessity these days, and Meet might eventually become Google's sole option. Viewing conference calls on TVs and other Chromecast-enabled devices has only been possible by casting your entire phone screen or browser tab until now, but Google has now baked the functionality directly into the Meet interface.
For those of you who use your Assistant-equipped Smart Displays and speakers to broadcast music around different rooms of the house at the same time, Google has made a small improvement. Devices and cast targets can now be added and removed on the fly without creating new groups, which should make things a little more convenient for some.