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12

Google Home app rolls out a better and cleaner UI for routines

Google Home app rolls out a better and cleaner UI for routines

Google Home and Assistant routines have improved quite a bit since their launch in 2018. We started with six preset routines then got customization and scheduling, workday organization, home/away presence sensing, and just yesterday discovered sunrise and sunset routines. Turns out that functionality is part of a huge routines overhaul that brings the look of the feature more in line with Google's recent design language. Functionally, though, I'm sad to say not much has changed besides the new sunrise/sunset options.

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19

Google Assistant Driving Mode is rolling out to more users in the US

Google Assistant Driving Mode is rolling out to more users in the US

More than a year ago, Google announced that the Assistant Driving Mode was supposed to replace the Android Auto interface on phones. It looks like the company ran into significant problems with the software because it took it many months to make good on its promise. The new Driving Mode is only now starting to roll out to more people in the US as an early preview.

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10

Play Store gets a minor interface revamp on Android TV

Play Store gets a minor interface revamp on Android TV

About a year ago, Google started rolling out a more graphical interface for the Play Store on Android TV with focus on content discovery, larger thumbnails, interactive backgrounds, and a modern design. Now, with the new Chromecast having launched with a new Google TV UI, that Play Store is starting to look slightly dated. To keep it fresh, Google is rolling out a minor revamp with a new toolbar, new icons, and some shuffled screens.

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0

Google Home routines can finally be pinned as homescreen shortcuts

Google Home routines can finally be pinned as homescreen shortcuts

I can spend a day listing all the missing features from Google Home and Assistant routines, but there's one that seems to be the most obvious and easy to implement: homescreen shortcuts. How simple would it be to tap a button on your phone to trigger your morning or bedtime routine, instead of talking to your phone or fumbling three levels deep in the Home app to find the option? Very simple. Still, it took more than thirty months after the launch of routines and these shortcuts are finally available... well, for some users at least.

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3

Google Assistant can now access your Calendar and Meet events from multiple accounts

Google Assistant can now access your Calendar and Meet events from multiple accounts

Checking upcoming events and meetings is one of the benefits of owning a smart speaker or display; instead of fumbling with your phone to find your calendar, you just ask a question and get all the information you need... as long as you're only using one Google account. If you have several accounts, say one for work and one personal, you have to share calendars between them to be able to check your entire schedule with Assistant. That was the case until now. Google is fixing this limitation by rolling out a new beta feature that lets you simultaneously access Calendar and Meet events in Assistant from all accounts.

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17

Google Photos wants you to donate your time to further train its algorithms

Google Photos wants you to donate your time to further train its algorithms

Google Photos is not shy about asking for your help to improve its algorithms. More than a year ago, the app started asking users simple "yes/no/not sure" questions to refine its facial recognition chops and better group the same face under the same profile. More recently, the app added a similar survey for things, so when you open the sunset (for example) category under Photos' Search > Things, you get a little box on top where you can confirm whether certain pics have a sunset in them or not. The app is now pushing things further by requesting your assistance in labeling your images from scratch, not just confirming whether or not its assumption is accurate.

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84

Leaving YouTube Premium will be a tougher decision once you see all the benefits you're getting

Leaving YouTube Premium will be a tougher decision once you see all the benefits you're getting

You might be looking at your YouTube Premium subscription and thinking it's not that worth it after all. You don't watch that many videos or listen to that much music, so it'd be more financially judicious to stop paying that monthly $12 (or whatever it costs in your neck of the world). Google would very much like to dissuade you from that and its most recent strategy is to clearly spell out the benefits you've been getting out of Premium so you'd think twice before starting the cancel procedure.

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27

YouTube finally realizes you should be able to choose a default video quality setting

YouTube finally realizes you should be able to choose a default video quality setting

In June, YouTube announced that it was testing simplified video quality settings with some users. We've been looking for an evidence of these settings rolling out for months and couldn't find any until now. They're live for one of our tipsters and come with a much more important feature: default video quality preferences for Wi-Fi and mobile data.

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70

YouTube no longer lets you tap the seek bar to skip

YouTube no longer lets you tap the seek bar to skip

A few years ago, a YouTube update changed the video player's progress bar, extending it over the full width of the display. Ever since, it's been easy to miss the fullscreen button and hit the end of the seek bar just below it instead, often making for a frustrating experience. A YouTube app update tries to remedy that problem by preventing the bar from responding to single taps at all — you now need to hold and slide your finger to seek.

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