This story was originally published and last updated .
Not too long ago, Apple introduced homescreen widgets on iOS. Naturally, this leads to a renewed interest in the form factor across all platforms, including Android. And since Android app developers have had a lot more time to perfect their homescreen widgets, it's no wonder that there are many polished homescreen decorations out there. Here are a few of our favorite ones.
When it comes to reading on your phone, dark mode is usually the best option to avoid blasting too much light at your eyes. It also has the added benefit of saving battery consumption on OLED displays, as it avoids lighting up most of the screen. Google's News app has featured such a mode since 2018, but the service's web version was only available with a bright theme until today. Thankfully, you can now read the news using dark mode, making it easier on both your eyes and battery.
Once upon a time, in a galaxy far away, Google announced a groundbreaking service called "Google Now." For the few lucky people who got to experience it, Now was everything you wanted at the swipe of your finger. Future appointments, trips, scheduled deliveries, upcoming reservations, all useful information without any fluff. Then random articles and news started flooding it. At first, they were dismissable with a swipe, until they were not. Slowly, Now became Discover, and your cards went away, leaving in their wake any information Google wanted to shove in your face.
In the meantime, Google started developing Assistant's upcoming (aka updates, aka inbox) screen as a replacement where all your personal cards would live, and eventually launched it under the name "Snapshot."
Google just had its Launch Night In event last night morning, but the company isn't slowing down when it comes to announcements. In one of his rare blog posts, CEO Sundar Pichai has shared that Google News is partnering up with publishers to create a new format for insightful feature stories: Showcases. The company seems to be very serious about this effort, as it's initially investing $1 billion to get these partnerships off the ground.
Google turned its News app into a great resource, making it easy to pull articles from multiple sources and compare what each outlet is writing. But the app also functions as a rudimentary weather hub, offering you an always-accessible shortcut to the current conditions and forecasts at the top of its homescreen in your briefing overview. The developers have now added a severe weather alert tailored to your location, helping you become aware of any potential weather hazards when you need to head out.
With everything going on in the world lately, it can be hard to keep up with it all. Google News can be great help there, with the app supporting features like curated stories, daily briefings, and a dark theme. Google even added support for displaying content in two languages together within the feed last year. But it's not all good news, because the in-app translation feature is currently borked.
The venerable Egon Spangler once said, "print is dead." The statement may have been premature, but today it feels a little more on point because Google has begun the process of retiring its print-replica magazine service. Emails are going out to Google News users with active subscriptions to inform them that full refunds are being processed and there will be no new issues coming.
Google has just introduced a new audio news briefing format for Assistant called "Your News Update." When you ask Assistant to tell you the news, instead of playing a series of whole podcasts that you've chosen, it will bring together bits and pieces of produced audio from a number of sources that you've curated. If you want to try it out, just go to the settings menu within Google Assistant, hit "News," then tap on your "News playlist format" to make the change.
Back in March, we reported Google's Discover feed was able to support content in two distinct languages, providing relevant updates to users who spoke different tongues. The company is taking its multilingual abilities even further, as the News app can now handle content in two different languages.