One of the new features in Android O that was recently announced at I/O is Smart Text Selection. Selecting the right text can be hard on a small screen, but Google's data shows that most of the time when we are selecting information it's something like an address or phone number. Now in Android O you can double tap text, and the selection automatically expands as needed. It even shows a convenient predictive shortcut so we can use it in another context, or save it. Of course, we can use the Assistant to do all those things if we remember, but it's good to have multiple ways of solving the same problem.
Several months ago, we discussed something called Nearby, a project that - at the time - seemed to be Google's effort to let "people, places, and things" know when a user is, well, nearby. It seems that Google is still hard at work on its effort to connect various devices to each other and their surroundings, but Copresence (an internal name for this functionality) may have a more specific scope in this effort than we first estimated, apparently including iOS devices in the fun.
Copresence, which we saw a glimpse of in a recent teardown, appears to be aimed at letting nearby Android and iOS devices communicate with one another in a variety of ways, exchanging files, photos, directions, messages, or other content, essentially making Copresence a sort of contactless, cross-platform version of Android Beam.
When you search for certain artists, movies, or figures, Google sticks a card within the results that displays background information all in once place. This way you can potentially get what you need without having to click on a single link. Recently the company started giving video games this same treatment.
When you search for a particular title, Google will toss up such details as a brief history, the developer, release dates, and supported platforms. It will also supplement this text with screenshots. These Knowledge Graph cards show up on desktops and mobile devices alike.
Information appears for games spread across various platforms, including indie PC titles, console hits, and mobile games for Android and iOS.
In July, Chrome Beta was updated with a new interface that more closely adhered to Google's new design vision - material design. Fitting with Google's occasional habit of stripping things down during major refreshes (see Google Maps on the web), many elements of the interface were sliced, rearranged, or simplified, including the tab indicator in the top right corner of the screen. Previously, the indicator showed users how many tabs were open, but after the redesign it simply displayed a square (or two stacked squares if you had multiple tabs open). This was a thorn in the side of many users, who missed the helpful bit of information.
Google has just announced its second new app in one day, releasing Google My Business to the Play Store. With the goal of "helping your business shine," My Business offers smart insights for your Google-connected business. From Google+ page insights to the ability to update your company's information, My Business helps you find and connect with "your people."
The app offers insights on your business' appearance in search, how users interact with you on Google+, and how you're displayed in services like search and Maps, with the option to update your information any time. My Business also has quick access to your Google+ page for quick business-related sharing on the go.
Google translate can be tricked into providing some hilarious results, but for average queries, it generally does a really good job of translating and offering additional information like synonyms and usage types. It looks like Translate on the web is learning a couple of new tricks though - recently, Google flipped the switch allowing Translate to show usage examples and word definitions. Various alternate translations (sorted by frequency) still appear on the right, while the new bits of info appear in a column on the left.
The additional info may seem like a minor addition, but it's a feature that could be very useful to those in the process of learning a language.
No one app is going to make an Android device immediately safe from any and all threats, but some can make it easier to remain ever vigilant. viaProtect may one day be such a app. This piece of software gives you a basic idea where the apps installed on your phone or tablet are sending your information. It doesn't go into specifics, but it will at least show you how much of your traffic is encrypted and some other security-related information.
Perhaps more interestingly, viaProtect offers a look at what companies' servers your data is speeding off to and where they reside in the world.
Privacy and technology maintain a tenuous relationship, and the balance between convenient features and personal security is always one worth keeping in mind as users make the most of their devices' capabilities. To that end, Chainfire has released a new proof of concept app that aims to give users at least some peace of mind when it comes to the - for lack of a better term - trackability of their devices, specifically related to Wi-Fi.
As Chainfire explains in a post to Google+, our phones (and other devices) broadcast information about our location, movement, and habits that can be picked up on not just by well-intentioned business owners looking to offer a promotion, but by "crooks, the government, and other shady individuals" who may pair location or network information with other personal info for tracking purposes.
Update 2: According to TechCrunch, and Co-Founder/CEO of natural language processing startup Robin Labs, the app is a real, functional product built on the startup's "white-label" voice assistant platform. While it was not commissioned by Yahoo!, it was created during ongoing discussions with the company. Read the full story here.
Update: According to TechCrunch, who has a source "familiar with Yahoo's internal projects," the video doesn't depict a real Yahoo! product, in progress or otherwise. At this point we can't verify absolutely whether the product is real, fake, imagined, or in progress, but even the Android Police can be tricked now and then.
We don't often cover Kickstarter campaigns – after all, the platform is flooded with entries that may not be worth mentioning, or are dead on arrival. Sometimes, though, a gadget comes through that exceeds expectations, and the myIDkey is one of those.
myIDkey is a voice-activated secure USB drive that manages your passwords. Across all devices. Oh, and it has a fingerprint scanner. The project has absolutely demolished its $150,000 funding goal, reaching (at the time of writing) $164,126 with twenty seven days left to go.
The handy USB device looks to give you a "key to all your devices," connecting directly through USB to your PC or via Bluetooth to your mobile device(s).