Google Set to Officially Release ARCore at Mobile World Congress

ARCore and AR Stickers

ARCore, the Augmented Reality SDK that allows for Android phones to create AR experiences, looks set to be one of the many things that Google is going to be releasing at Mobile World Congress next week.  According to an exclusive report in Variety, the Mountain View company will release the first version of ARCore to the public and it will work on Android Nougat and Oreo devices.

Google is set to make a major push to bring augmented reality technology (AR) to Android at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona next week, Variety has learned from sources familiar with the company’s plans. Central to these efforts will be the release of the company’s ARCore framework, which will allow third-party developers to bring AR apps to Android phones.

This is a significant step forward for the company’s AR plans as, to this point, ARCore has only been available on Google Pixel devices in a pre-release state.

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The Google App on Android Gaining Screenshot Editing Tools

Google App Editing Tools

The beta version of the Google app for Android has a new update rolling out that brings a handy screenshot editing feature – but it only works within the Google app itself.  The new feature has arrived in version 7.21 for those keeping score at home and, given it is in beta, it will likely hit the stable channel for everyone over the course of the next couple of weeks.

The new screenshot editor allows you to take a screenshot of something in your Google app feed, search results, or pages viewed within Chrome custom tabs in the app.  Once you snap the screenshot, by pressing the Power+Volume Down button on virtually all Android phones, you will get a lower notification for you to edit or share the screenshot.

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It’s Not Just You – Google Killed Shortcuts in The Google Feed

Improved Google Feed

If you have noticed a change in your Google Feed from the Google app on your phone, you are not alone.  The shortcuts to weather, restaurants and other information at the top of the page has been removed in an effort by Google to improve the overall user experience with the Google app.

To be clear, the Google Feed is accessed either by going into the Google app or, if you have a Pixel phone, a swipe to the right on your Home page.  There you see information cards you have configured, news and other information.  Previously, there were shortcuts at the top of this page for one-tap information which are now gone.

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Nest Becomes Part of The Google Hardware Team

Nest Thermostat

Four years after being acquired by Google, Nest has now become merged into the Google hardware team.  The announcement came today from Nest CEO Marwan Fawaz and it made it clear that the goal of merging the teams was to accelerate smart home technologies with Google AI at the heart of that innovation.

By working together, we’ll continue to combine hardware, software and services to create a home that’s safer, friendlier to the environment, smarter and even helps you save money—built with Google’s artificial intelligence and the Assistant at the core.

While details on when the full merging of teams would be complete, the announcement highlighted that the teams already work very closely together, indicating it would be in short order.

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Google Leveraged Machine Learning to Remove 700,000 Rogue Apps

Google Play Store

Through the use of Machine Learning to detect apps that impersonate, have inappropriate content or malware, Google removed over 700,000 rogue apps from the Google Play Store, taking 100,000 repeat offender developers along with them.  The injection of ML can find patterns that detect bad behaving apps quicker than human inspectors, resulting in a 70% increase in removing of apps from the Play Store over the previous year.

Not only did we remove more bad apps, we were able to identify and action against them earlier. In fact, 99% of apps with abusive contents were identified and rejected before anyone could install them.

The end result is that the Play Store, while still not perfect, is a far safer place than it was this time last year and it will only get better as the Machine Learning models get smarter.

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Project Fi Now Replacing Defective Nexus 5X Phones With Moto X4

Android One Moto X4

Google is finally offering a reasonable replacement to those that have struggled with defective, often bootlooping, Nexus 5X on Project Fi.  Customers who have the 5X and have the $5 per month Device Protection Plan on the device, can now get a Moto X4 as a replacement.  The $69 deductible payment is still required but this is far better than the $53 check that was offered by Google on defect 5X’s just a few weeks ago.  If you didn’t want that $53, you could get a $100 Google Store credit.

The Nexus 5X has been plagued by bootloop issues where the device would simply be stuck in a mode where it is simply never is able to get past the boot up screen on the device and actually load Android to run the phone.  Not all phones were effected of course but many where, prompting some class action lawsuits against Google and LG.

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Audiobooks Teaser and App Update for Google Play Books

Shelves in Google Play Books

It is one thing when a company gets an upcoming feature or product leaked.  It is another thing entirely when the company itself leaks the upcoming feature or product.  That appears to be what happened late on Friday with Google Play Books.

Both online and in the Android app, a banner in the Play Books store promoting the coming of Audiobooks to the store and a 50% discount on your first purchase.  I, unfortunately, didn’t capture the banner but the folks over at 9to5 Google did and you can see it here.

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