Category: Google

Project Fi App Update Gives Management on Group Plans

The Project Fi app for Android and Fi members has an update rolling out that allows some management features of Group Plans.  Referred to as the “M” update, users who upgrade and have group plans enabled will be able to manage some elements of that plan including being able to limit a users data allocation.  However, in order to create a group plan, add or delete a member of the plan, you will still need to go through the Fi website.

Group Plans have been in Fi for a few months now and had been one of the most requested features of the MVNO service from Google.  Like other carriers, group plans allow you to share a pool of data with up to 5 members.  It is great for families or even small businesses.

Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides for Android See Minor Updates

Users of Google Docs, Sheets and Slides on Android will find minor updates rolling out for each of the productivity apps.  For the most part, these updates are bug fixes and performance improvements but in the case of Google Docs and Google Slides, there are new features in each.  For Docs, you now have the ability to add page numbers to a document from the app.  You have been able to do this in Docs on the web for a long time but it has finally made its way to the Android app for the sake of feature parity.

For Google Slides, the ability to import and export OpenDocument formatted files (.odp) has been added to the presentation app.

Google Could Launch The Budget Friendly Android One in The US

It looks like we could see the budget friendly Android One phone here in the United States by mid year.  A report in The Information suggests that Google is planning on launching the phone at a $200-300 price range that will give branding recognition to Android in addition to giving uses a true Google Android experience.  Further, like the Nexus and Pixel phones,they would get updates and security patches for two years meaning they would more-or-less be the most up to date.

For those who may not know what Android One is, it was a low budget phone that was launched in India back in 2014.  The idea was to give a Google Android experience at a $100 price range.  It didn’t do well as it didn’t get the marketing support it needed and the phones were under powered and under featured compared to similar phones in India at the time.

Google Search Now Can Queue Offline Search Requests

A great new feature is rolling out to Google Search for Android that will help you be more productive when you are offline.  Now when you do a search and you do not have a data connection (LTE or Wi-Fi), Google Search will queue your search queries and will provide the results back to you when a connection is established.  The idea is that you don’t have to remember to do that search later.  You can do it at the moment, it will queue, and you will get the results once you are back online.

Here is a scenario for you.  Let’s say you are on a flight with no Wi-Fi (I know, animalistic but go with me on this) and you are working on a research project.  You can do a search while you are in airplane mode and Search will queue it up.  You land, take your phone out of airplane mode and you get a notification that your search query has been answer.  It saves you time and you don’t have to try to remember to do the search later.  Do it at the moment and get the results back when you are back online.

Big Changes Coming to Google+

Google has announced a raft of changes that are coming to Google+ for the web and for Android.  While there are several things that were highlighted, perhaps the two biggest have to do with Events and the old G+ layout.  One is returning and one is going away for good.  Events went away from Google+ during the revamping of the app and the web site last year and it was one of the feature that many users had requested Google to get back into it.  That will be happening starting January 24th.

Finally (drumroll please!), we’re bringing Events over to the new Google+. While there’s more to be done to improve the experience, beginning January 24th you’ll be able to create and join events on Google+ web as you have in the past. Please note that Events will not be available for G Suite at this time.

Note that the post said on the web.  It does not look like you’ll be able to add events from the app – at least not yet.

Project Fi Referral Plan Extended Indefinitely

Last month I wrote about a referral program that Project Fi had going on last month.  Basically the way it worked is that if you used a referral link from a Project Fi customer (like mine for example), you would get a $20 kick back on your bill have you have been active for 30 days.  In return, I get the same kick back after you have been active for 30 days.  It was a win-win and it was a great for you to try Fi with a little bit less risk.

And while I’m at it, thank you Alan, Rodger and Stef for using my referral link last month!  😀

Now the referral program has been extended indefinitely.  If you want to try out Fi, you can use a referral link from any current Fi customer and sign up.  After you have been with the service for 30 days, you too will get a referral link so you can share the love too.

Google Chrome Launches Chromebook Education Series on YouTube

The Google Chrome team has launched an education and troubleshooting set of videos for Chromebooks and Chrome OS on their YouTube channel.  The videos, eight in all, cover a wide range of topics from setting up your Chromebook for the first time to troubleshooting Wi-Fi issues.  Each of the videos range from a couple of minutes to nearly 5 minutes depending on the topic.  While experienced Chromebook and Chrome OS users will find the videos to be basic, for those who are moving from a Windows PC or Mac, they can be a huge time saver when it comes to understanding their new device.

Chrome OS An Option for Toontastic 3D Android App Install

Earlier today, Google launched a new app aimed at helping youngsters be creative.  The new Toontastic 3D app looks like a lot of fun and it allows kids (and adults) to create stories and turn them into 3D cartoons.  You can read more about it here but if you have creative young people in the house, it’s worth a look.  But that’s not really the point of this article.  It is the install options for Toontastic 3D.  If you go to the site and click the “get the app” link, you will get a splash screen with links to the Play Store and iTunes Store.  No biggie right?  Read the test of that splash screen.

Download Toontastic 3D for your tablet, phone, or Chromebook

So we all know that Android apps are coming to Chrome OS and this, as far as I am aware, is the first genuine advert that a Chromebook, i.e. Chrome OS, is an install option.

Book Your Ride Share Service Right Within Google Maps

Google Maps has a big update rolling out that brings a nicely integrated car sharing booking element to it.  The ability to see ride share services like Uber and Lyft has been in Maps for a while now but if you wanted to actually book an Uber, you had to go to the Uber app to do it.  No more.  Now you can link your Uber account to Google Maps and can book your ride right from within the app.  Further, you can see the location of your driver within the app and you don’t even have to have the Uber app installed on your phone for all this to work.

What you do need however is the latest build of Google Maps.  That is version 9.43.2 for those keeping score at home and it is currently rolling out to the Play Store.

Google Gboard for Android Gets A Much Needed Performance Update

Google Gboard for Android has just been updated with some significant performance improvements.  The update is still in the 6.0 train so if you have the app installed, the OTA should be coming to you over the course of the next few days.  Almost immediately you will feel the difference.  First, overall Gboard is much faster and more responsive to typing.  There isn’t the millisecond delays between you pressing a virtual key and it registering.  But perhaps a bigger improvement is around Glide Typing.  In this update I find there is virtually no lag or false positives of me picking up my finger when I don’t.  It is remarkably better in this release and if you use Glide Typing, you will want this update ASAP.

Google Play Store Now Allows You To See Installed Top Apps

There has been a minor behind-the-scenes update to the Google Play Store that some users are seeing.  If you go to the Top Charts in the Store, some users are now seeing a “Show installed apps” toggle at the top of each page.  Enabling this allows you to either display or hide the apps from that chart that you already have installed.  The idea is to speed things up a bit by not having to wade through apps you already have installed.  You can simply hide them and see the other top apps you don’t have installed.

There is nothing that you need to do necessarily to get the update.  It will just appear for you once it hits your account.

Google Acquires Lime Audio to Improve Conference Audio

Google has announced that they have acquired Lime Audio to boost their audio performance in Chromebox for Meetings and Google Hangouts.  The acquisition, of which the financial details were not released, will allow Google to improve the audio experience as more customers are turning to video and audio conferencing in their day-to-day operations.

One of the biggest challenges to a great video meeting is the audio quality. Conference rooms today come in all shapes and sizes and that can provide a challenge for acoustics. Additionally, a poor internet connection can hamper voice quality in video conference calls. Limes Audio has been building solutions that remove the distracting noise, distortion and echoes that can affect online video and telephony meetings, improving the overall online conference experience.

Based on the release about the acquisition, Google is going to be incorporating the Lime Audio technology in to Chromebox for Meetings and Google Hangouts.  When or how this will be done was not disclosed.