Category: Google

How To Fix Failed To Load Error in Google Now

Over the weekend, many people were impacted by what appears to be a server-side experiment with Google Now.  The issue left those who use the Google Now Launcher, the Pixel launcher or the Google app on their phone useless for personalized information.  The cards would not display save one that simply stated “Failed to load cards”.  I was met with this issue on all three of my main devices:  Google Pixel XL, Nexus 9 and Huawei P10.

Fortunately there is what seems to be a rather quick and easy fix to this issue:  Clear the data on the Google app on your devices.  I did this on all three of my devices mentioned above and afterwards, the Google Now cards displayed as expected.  If you know how to clear data in an app, try the trick and let me know if it also works for you.  If you don’t know how to do this, keep reading and I’ll walk you through the steps.

Alphabet Reports $24.75 Billion in Earnings for the First Quarter

Alphabet, the parent company of Google, has just posted their first quarter 2017 results and they are nothing short of breathtaking.  The company’s revenue was $24.75 billion in the quarter, up 22% from the same period last year, and beat all expectations.  Operating income increased to $6.58 billion, up from the $5.3 billion for the previous year.  Netted out, the company made $5.4 billion in net income for the quarter.

Digging further, advertising revenues were up for the company in the quarter.  They rose to $21.4 billion while the Other Revenue for the company grew by $1 billion to $3.0 billion.  The Other Revenue section of the financial report as this is where hardware sales (Google Pixel, Google Home, Chromecast) are lumped together with things such as enterprise sales.  An increase here is a good reflection on how those business units are doing overall.

Google Allo Update Brings Support for Yes/No Polls

Slowly Google Allo is growing up and with the latest update, there is a new bot that will allow you to create simple Yes/No polls for your friends and family.  The update is a behind-the-scenes update so as long as you have the latest version of Allo on your phone, you will have access to the new poll.  For reference, the latest build is version 8.0.035.  To activate the new poll bot, simply type @yesno in the text box to message a single friend or a group of friends.  After you type in @yesno, type in your question right after it.  For example, “@yesno Have you tried the new polls in Google Allo?”  Press send and it will go to all of your friends in that message group.  They (and you) can then tap the Yes or the No button to vote.  Simple and easy.

Where this could be useful is if you are meeting a group of friends and want to know if the restaurant you have selected is a good option.  Or if everyone wants to go to lunch in the office.

Android Overtakes Windows as The Most Popular OS in Internet Usage

After dominating the world for the past three decades-plus, Windows is no longer the most widely used Operating System in terms of Internet usage.  That honor now goes to Android according to the team at StatCounter.  In their latest report, Android passed Windows by .02% to take over the top spot.  The report measures the Operating Systems in use globally to access the Internet and this is the first time that Windows has been beaten – by anyone.

The report reflects what many have seen for a long time:  The world is going mobile and with Android dominating the mobile landscape as far as install base, it isn’t shocking to see it take over the #1 slot when it comes to Internet usage.  It also reflects a fundamental shift in how we get to the information we need in our day-to-day lives.  Mobile search has continued to climb as the most common way people access information so this report fits that trend too.

Google Shuttering Location Sharing in Google+

A few weeks ago, Google announced that they would be rolling out location sharing in Google Maps.  The new feature will allow you to share your location with friends and family for a set period of time and it will work across Android and iOS devices.  As a part of that effort, it appears the company is starting to shut down location sharing within Google+.

Google+ has had the ability to share your location for a long while but if you attempt to use it now, you are greeted with a splash page indicating that the feature is moving to Maps.  The tricky bit is that it hasn’t fully rolled out to Google Maps yet either.

Rogue One – A Star Wars Story Now Available For Purchase

The day has finally arrived Star Wars fans.  Rogue One:  A Star Wars Story is now available for purchase in the Google Play Movies & TV Store.  The movie has been available to add to your wishlist since January and was one of the most successful movies of 2016.  The movie is set between the much maligned prequels and A New Hope, the original Star Wars movie, focusing on a band of Rebels who are trying to steal the plans to the Death Star.  If you haven’t seen it yet, rent it and see what you missed.  It has become one of my favorite movies in the franchise.

The movie is $19.99 in HD.  Right now there is not a rental option nor is there a UHD option for the movie.

Google Trips Update Brings Ability to Manually Add Reservations

Google Trips has seen its second update this week, bringing two new features that users will appreciate.  First, you now have the ability to manually add hotel and airline reservations to a trip.  Previously, there was no way to do this and the only way to get reservations into a trip was by having it automatically added via Gmail.  Now when you go into a trip within the app, you will see a FAB (Floating Action Button) which will now let you add flight and hotel information.

The other big change in this update is that Google Trips will now watch your Gmail for bus and train travel and add those automatically to your trips.  This expands the apps ability in searching Gmail as previously only hotel and airline information was automatically added.

Pick Up Two Google Home for $229, a Savings of $29

Google is making it easier for you to fill your home with, erm, Google Home.  Right now at the Google Store you can pick up two of the smart speakers with Google Assistant built in for $229.  That’s a savings of $29 if you bought them separately.  Having multiple Home devices is something that has been supported since its release and allows you to get access to Assistant in which ever room it happens to be in with you.  There are also commands built into Home that allow you to play music across multiple Home devices too.

Google Home certainly doesn’t have the number of commands that its primary competitor, the Amazon Echo, has today.  But that gap is closing and closing fast.  Google nearly every week is announcing new services, bots and commands that can be used with the device.

Google Assistant is not Coming to Android Tablets

With Google Assistant rolling out widely to Android Marshmallow and Nougat running phones, the question of if the new feature would be hitting Android tablets too.  The answer is no.  The team over at Android Police got confirmation from Google directly that the feature will only be rolling out to phones and not to tablets.  As an Android tablet user (albeit limited these days), its a bit disappointing that the feature won’t be rolling out.  That said, it’s understandable.  Given that tablet sales are stagnate at best and most people are driving activity and searches from their phones, it just makes sense for Google not to invest the time and effort into getting it onto tablets.

If you are desperate to get Google Assistant on your tablet, there are hacks that will get it there for you.  If you hit the link to the Android Police article, they have a link to show you how to do it.  But,

Google Assistant

Google Assistant

as always, proceed with caution.

Keep in mind that you can still use OK Google on your tablet, you just won’t have all the new benefits of Google Assistant on it.

Is this disappointing news for you?  Are you surprised?  Leave a comment and let me know your thoughts.

Google Home Update Brings Dedicated Listen Tab

Google Home for Android has been updated with a new Listen tab that makes it easier to find curated music streams across a wide range of services.  The app itself was updated last week but the new Listen tab has now been enabled on the back end.  If you don’t see it yet, don’t fret.  It will be there over the course of the next few days.  Once you have it, you will be able to see music streams from the likes of Spotify and Google Play Music that you can listen to at any time.  You will also get recommendation for apps that can be used by Google Home for music streaming.

The new Listen tab also gives you recommendations of artists and music streams based on your listening habits.  This is a great way to discover new music but also rediscover an old favorite from the past.

Listen Tab in Google Home

Listen Tab in Google Home

Google’s drive is to make it easier to find streaming music.  With so many options, having the ability to scan a single tab in the Home app makes things easier and faster for you.  If you have accounts with Spotify and Google Play Music, you will be able to open those apps from within the Home app to get to the music stream easily but you can also play them from within the Home app too.

 

Send Money to Friends and Family via Gmail

Google has rolled out the ability to send friends and family funds via Gmail on your Android phone.  The update requires the latest version of Gmail (which rolled out last week) but the ability is a back-end change that Google has enabled.  The ability to send funds is something that has been on the Gmail web portal for a while now and having it added to the Android version just makes it that much easier to use.

How it works is pretty straightforward.  When you are composing an email to another Gmail user, tapping the attachment icon (the paperclip icon) will give you the option to send money.  This will pop-up a page that allows you to type in the amount of money which can then be sent from your Google Wallet to the recipient.  On their end, they simply accept the transfer in the email sent to them and they can have it added to their Google

Send Money in Gmail

Send Money in Gmail

Wallet or transferred to their bank account if they have it configured.

There are some catches to this as you may have figured out.  First, it only works to other Gmail recipients.  You can’t, for example, send mail to a friend on Exchange or Outlook.com.  Second, this update is tied to your Google Wallet so you will need to fund that wallet in some way.  This is usually just tying your Wallet to a credit card.  Finally, this update is for Android only.  iOS users don’t have this functionality yet.

 

Chrome 57 Brings Improvements in Background Tab Power Consumption

Google has announced that the latest version of Chrome for Windows, Mac and Linux has a new CPU consumption throttle that will limit the power consumption of background tabs in the browser.  This new throttling policy should shows improvements to users in the form of prolonged battery life, something that Chrome and other browsers are known to impact.

The update is a change from the current timer model that is used in Chrome today.  That timer limits the refreshing of background tabs to once per second.  In this new timer, it is based on CPU consumption.  Build 57 will delay timers to the limit average of CPU load of 1% of a core.  So think of it as an augmented and improved timer model over the once-per-second timer used today.

Google Chrome for Windows

Google Chrome for Windows

It should be noted that tabs playing audio or real-time connections (like WebRTC) won’t be impacted.

So what does this really mean for end users?  It should result in improved battery life.  With fewer timer updates happening in the background, you should see battery life improvement.  How much is going to be dependent on how many background tabs you have open at any given time.  Even with these improvements, it is recommended that you keep tabs to a minimum as you work throughout the day, especially if you are running your laptop on battery power.

Eventually the Chrome team wants to get tabs fully suspended in the background and leverage new APIs to bring them back to life when you need them.  That’s still a bit away but is the end goal for the team.