Tag: Google

The Project Fi Travel Trolley Expands to 8 New Airports

Last year, the Project Fi team quietly added a travel vending machine at San Jose International Airport (SJC).  The machine allowed Fi subscribers to get free travel gear such as eye covers, charging cables and other travel centric goodies.  Now they have decided to expand a bit.  In a Tweet yesterday, the Fi team announced that the Travel Trolley as they are called will be coming to eight new airports throughout the United States.

The list is pretty good and cover many high traffic or popular airports across the country

  • PHL, Terminal F, just prior to the first gate
  • ORD, Terminal 3, between concourse K and H
  • MDW, Terminal 1, between Gate A5 & A3
  • SJC, Terminal B, across from Gate 25
  • MSP, Terminal 1, Concourse G
  • SMF, Terminal B, across from Gate 12
  • BUR, Terminal A, gate A3
  • SEA, Concourse A, gate A3
  • RDU, Terminal 2

The good news is that if you are not a Fi subscriber, you can still take part in the fun.

Android Pay Adds More Banks in The United States

Building on the addition of over a dozen new banks earlier this month, Android Pay has added support for five more banks here in the United States.  The update brings the total 18 new banks & financial institutions adding support for the tap-to-pay service in April alone and adds to the over 150 new banks added in 2017.  As with the update earlier this month, this round of supporting banks are mostly credit unions and smaller institutions.  They include:

  • Barksdale Federal Credit Union
  • Florence Savings Bank
  • J.S.C. Federal Credit Union
  • O Bee Credit Union
  • Security State Bank of Hibbing

If you are a customer or member of one of these credit unions or banks, you can now add your bank-backed credit and debit cards to Android Pay to use them where it is accepted.

Completely Revamped Google Earth Released

After two years of behind the scenes work, the new Google Earth has been announced and released today.  The update brings vast improvements to the app for Chrome on the web and the Android app along with several new features.  The web-based version of the new Earth is now available while the Android app, version 9.0 for those keeping score at home, is rolling out now to the Play Store.  The app sports an all new icon along with the app improvements.

The banner new feature in this update is the new Voyager feature.  Teaming up with scientist, non-profit organizations and storytellers, this new feature allows you to have an interactive guided tour of a locale within Google Earth.  My personal favorite is The Hidden World of National Parks which takes you on a journey through these protected areas here in the United States and includes a combination of Street Views, videos and, of course, interactive maps.

Google Text-to-Speech Update Brings New Languages

Google Text-to-speech is not an app you probably do a lot of tweaking on but it is an important foundational app for Android.  The app essentially serves as an engine for other apps so they can read text on the screen aloud to you.  For example, if you are in Google Play Books and want the app to read aloud a book, this is the app that makes the magic happen.  Or Google Translate to translate text.  So when an update comes out for it, it is important to get it.  The latest update to Google Text-to-speech is rolling out now and it is version 3.11.12 for those keeping score at home.  It comes with several new tweaks for users as well as new languages.

First, let’s cover the languages.  In this update, support for Bangla (India, Czech, Khmer, Napali, Sinhala and Ukrainian have been added to the engine.  Along with this, Google has added intonation control over several more voices that are in the engine and have made general improvements on many of the voices in the app.  Google did not specifically call out which languages were impacted by these latter two.

Multiple Account Support Coming to Google Home

While the feature isn’t enabled yet, it appears that Google Home will soon be getting the ability to support multiple accounts.  As a Google Home Pioneer, if there are two feature requests that have been at the top of the list, it has been multiple account support and support for Exchange calendars.  The former, at least, appears to be nearly ready.  This is something that I also pointed out in my review of Google Home back in October as being something which Google needed to address.

If you aren’t familiar with Google Home, right now you can only associate one Google account with the device.  If, for example, you and your partner want to use Home, it will only give you the calendar and other personalized information for the first account setup on the device.  The issues with this are pretty self evident:  I can get my calendar’s next appointment but when my wife asks for her, she gets mine.  Even if you add a second account to the Home app, it will only give you the personalized information for the first account.

Google Search Fact Checking Feature Goes Live

After testing for several months, the new fact checking feature in Google Search has now been enabled for everyone.  The new feature is rolling out now and it could take a few days for everyone to receive it.  Just make sure you are running the latest version of the Google app on your Android phone.  The new feature is pretty straightforward in how it works.  Type in a search as you would normally do and if it is a search on a topic that has been fact checked, you will see a link below your search results with a source and if the fact is true, mostly true, mostly false or false.

If you want to check the validity of the facts, you can tap that link to go to the source and do your investigating on if it is really true or not.  For their part, Google is trying to bubble up this information quickly & easily so you don’t have to do a lot of tapping around to check the facts of a story.

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.

Google WiFi Adds Network Schedule Pauses

The Google WiFi app for Android has had an update rollout today that brings a great new feature for scheduling access time for certain devices.  Named Scheduled Pause, the new feature allows you to schedule times in which devices that you select are not able to gain WiFi access.  This is a great feature for parents who can block network access to their children’s phones or tablets while it is homework time or after bedtime.  While it won’t block things like 4G data use, it can at least give some control over the WiFi network in the house.

Once you have a schedule setup, you don’t have to do anything to enable it.  It runs and ends at the defined time you selected when setting it up and only impacts the devices you put on the list as being subject to that schedule.

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.

How To Subscribe to Sports Calendars in Google Calendar

With the 2017 Major League Baseball season underway, you may want to keep up with your favorite team’s schedule.  Given that the baseball season is at least 162 games (if your team doesn’t make the playoffs), who they are playing, where and when can be a bit of a challenge to keep up with day-to-day.  Google, however, has made it pretty easy.  In Google calendar, they have the schedule for all of the MLB teams but also for a wide range of other global sports such as cricket, rugby and football (or soccer as we call it in America).  While you can’t add these calendars from the Android app for Google Calendar, you can sync them with it so you have your favorite team in your favorite sport schedule with you all the time.

In this How To, I’ll show you were to go to add these calendars to your Google Calendar then how to sync them with your phone or tablet.

Huawei Mate 9 Picks Up Google Daydream Support

Joining an ever increasing list of devices that support Google Daydream, the Google VR team have posted via Twitter that the Huawei Mate 9 now supports the Virtual Reality platform that is built into Android Nougat.  This will add the Mate 9 to the list of devices that support Daydream that currently includes the Google Pixel phones, the Moto Z, and ZTE Axon 7.  The update to support Daydream will include the Mate 9 as well as the higher priced Porsche Design version of the 6″ phablet.

The support for Google Daydream will come to the Mate 9 via an OTA update.  When that update will be coming & the size of the update is unclear.  Given that Google has announced this more-or-less, my suspicion is that the pressure is on Huawei to get it out in reasonably short order – likely the next few weeks.  If you have the Mate 9, be sure to check for updates.  Once you have Daydream support, you can use the Google Daydream headset for VR experiences.

Gmail Update Brings GIF Keyboard Support

A small update to Gmail is currently rolling out to the Google Play Store that brings support for GIF keyboards from within the app.  The update is build 7.3.13.151698241.release for those keeping score at home and who like to play Google version Bingo.  When it is installed, you will be able to insert GIF animations directly from the keyboard instead of having to go to another app, then copy-and-paste it into your message.  In order for it to work, you have to be using a GIF supporting keyboard like Google’s own Gboard.

Once you have the update, inserting GIFs is done like it is any other app when using a supporting keyboard.  You can search for GIFs from the keyboard, tap them, and they are inserted into your messages.