Google Photos Passes 1 Billion Downloads on Android

Google Photos has been getting a lot of attention in the past week.  The photo app was reported at Google I/O last week to have 500 million monthly users, had a new archive feature added, and a new photo book service where you can order a hardcover book of photos from your library.  All of this makes sense when you consider the update to the listing for the app in the Play Store.  Photos now has been downloaded 1 billion times for Android.

The update to the listing comes nearly two years to the day from when Google Photos was originally announced.  My fellow Google Top Contributor in Google Photos, Paolo Amoroso, reminded me this morning that the launch date of Photos was May 28, 2015.

Huawei P10 and P10 Plus Coming to Canada June 6th

Good news this morning for Canadian readers.  The Huawei P10 and P10 Plus are coming June 6th to various carriers in the country.  Both the P10 and the P10 Plus were announced back in February at MWC and both have been well received.  Reviews of the phones have been overall positive and Huawei has sold millions of units internationally.  To this point, neither phone has been in the North American market but it has been widely expected that Canada would see the phones first.  The US will likely see them too, just under a different name.  That’s not confirmed however.

For those who have not had a chance, you can read my review of the P10 to get my thoughts.  Personally, I’m a big fan of this phone and it is one of the fastest phones I’ve ever reviewed.

The P10 will be coming to Bell, Fido, Rogers and Videotron while the larger P10 Plus will be exclusive to Rogers for the initial release.

Microsoft Authenticator Adds Fingerprint Support

Microsoft Authenticator, the 2-factor verification app from the Redmond company, has a nice update rolling out to it for users.  The new build, version 6.1.7 for those keeping score at home, brings fingerprint authentication to the app.  What this will allow you to do is approve a login request by tapping the fingerprint scanner on your phone and not require you to enter the six digit code to approve it.  It is all aimed at keeping things easier but also secure.

If you haven’t tried Microsoft Authenticator, it works how you would expect a 2-factor app to work but it does so with a bit more flare by having avatars for your accounts.  For example, you have the Facebook logo for your Facebook account, or the Google “G” with your Google account.  It also has a nice, 30 second countdown clock next to each code so you know when it is about to expire.

Google Photos Adds Archiving Feature

Google has begun the process of rolling out a new Archive feature to Google Photos.  The new feature will allow you to select photos and move them to an Archive album, hiding them from your main photos view. You will still be able to view the photos in Albums and you can still search for them.  It just removes them from your Photos view.

This feature can be quite handy for more-or-less cleaning up your Photo stream.  As a Top Contributor for Google Photos, I take a lot of screenshots of my Chromebook, Mac and Android devices to help people in the forums.  That means I have dozens of these screenshots in my Photos view.  Well, I did until yesterday.  Now I have them archived but if I ever need to refer to one, I can easily do so.  They aren’t deleted or altered in any way.

Microsoft Teams Update Brings Tab View & Message Editing

Microsoft has released another big update to their collaboration app, Microsoft Teams.  The app has brought some much needed improvements to both the Android and the iOS versions of the app, bringing it more inline with the desktop version.  In this update, version 1416/1.0.0.2017051604 for those keeping score at home, finally brings tabs visibility to the mobile app.  This includes being able to see the Planner and OneNote.

The other big feature is the ability to edit messages that you have already sent.  This feature includes messages with images.

Today’s Deal – Anker PowerLine USB-C Cable for $5.59

Today’s Deal over at Amazon is a quick, 4 hour sale on the Anker PowerLine USB-C cable.  The 3-foot USB-C to USB-A 3.0 cable is down to $5.59, down from it’s normal price of $11.99.  This price is good until the timer runs out or the designated number of cables are sold.

Anker makes some great accessories and I have no hesitation in recommending them.  Their cables are well designed and constructed so they will last a long time.  They are also backed by an 18-month warranty.

Android Pay Support in PayPal Now Rolling Out

Back in April it was announced that PayPal would be integrating with Android Pay so it could be used as a payment option when you are using Android Pay at a retailer.  That integration now is starting to show up for users.  In the latest version of the PayPal app, you now have an option in settings to link the two payment services together.  This then allows you to select it as your payment option when you are at a retail pay terminal.

The feature is rolling out now and is a combination of an app update.  You need to make sure that you have the latest build of the PayPal app, version 6.12.0.  If you have that and still don’t see the update, it is a matter of it being server-side loaded to your account.

Jamboard Now Available for Order for G Suite Customers

Back in March, at the Google Cloud Next event, Google announced a new whiteboard-meets-collaboration tool, Jamboard.  The 55″ 4K monitor comes with a stylus for interactions (it’s passive so no pairing required) and can even distinguish between the stylus and your finger.  Think of drawing with the stylus and erasing with a finger.

The idea is to increase productivity.  You have a whiteboard session that multiple users can interact with from different locations.  That includes Drive and the rest of G Suite. You can then collaborate seamlessly and has a built-in camera so it can be the center piece of a conference room.  While Google did not say specifically it was aimed at Surface Hub from Microsoft, it’s pretty clear this is aimed to take it on.

For those of you who are on G Suite, you can now call your Google Cloud partner or rep and order your Jamboard.  It costs $4999 plus an annual maintance fee of $600 ($300 if you order by September 30th).  If you want the rolling stand, that’s $1199 before September 30th, or $1399 afterward.

Search Phrases Comes to Gboard in Google Assistant

One of the best apps of late last year was Gboard from Google.  It replaced Google Keyboard and it is a much smarter, faster keyboard for your Android devices and for iPhone, where it debuted originally.  Now Google has quietly added a nice new feature to Gboard when you use it within Google Assistant.  It provides you with common search phrases just above the keyboard to make interacting a bit faster.

Assuming that you have Google Assistant on your phone (if you have Android Marshmallow or Nougat, you likely do), just long press the Home button on your phone to bring up Assistant.  Normally at this point I find it faster just to speak to Assistant to get the information I need but there are times that I can’t do that (I’m in a quiet place for example).  After you open up Assistant, note the keyboard icon in the lower left corner.  Tap it and that opens up your keyboard so you can type a query.

Android Pay Comes to Russia with Support from 15 Banks

Мои русские друзья, это хороший день для вас!  Good news for those in Russia.  Android Pay has come to your country with 15 banks supporting it.  The tap-to-pay service has been rumored for weeks to be coming to the country but Google made it official on their Russian site today.  It’s good news for a country and good for Android Pay as it continues its slow march across the planet.

As for the banks supported, here is the rundown:

  • Sberbank
  • Alfa-Bank
  • VTB24
  • Russian Standard Bank
  • Raiffeisen Bank
  • Bank Otkritie
  • Rocketbank
  • Tochka
  • Russian Agricultural Bank
  • Yandex.Money
  • B&N Bank
  • Tinkoff
  • Promsvyazbank
  • Ak Bars Bank
  • MTS Bank

While it certainly isn’t every bank in the country, key large banks within the country on on the list which means it will hit a large percentage of customers.

SMS Support In Google Hangouts Ends – Except for Fi Users

Google Hangouts has officially dropped support of SMS for non Project Fi or Google Voice users.  The support ended yesterday and was something that had been planned since Google announced the change back in March.

The change is part of the overall strategy of Google to move their G Suite customers to the new Google Hangouts Meet and Hangouts Chat while leveraging Android Messages for SMS on Android devices.  For consumers, the focus is on Google Allo and Duo to meet these communications needs.

Chrome OS Sees Another Minor Update

Chrome OS users, there is another new update out for you.  Version 58.0.3029.140 (Platform version: 9334.72.0) is rolling out now to compatible devices and brings just a handful of security updates and performance improvements.  This is the second of these smaller updates in as many weeks.  As is normally the case, what exactly is addressed in this update is not outlined in the release notes.

For those that are new to Chrome OS, the Chromium team within Google tends to keep the nitty-gritty details of what is fixed, especially around security, until a majority of devices are updated.  The logic is that they don’t want those with not-so-good intentions to exploit a security hole by publishing what the issue is until after devices are updated.