Google Expands Family Link App Available Throughout The EU

Family Link for Android

Google’s Family Link, the app that allows parents to setup, manage and monitor their children’s accounts on Android devices has had a big expansion today.  All 28 European Union countries now have the app available to them in their local Google Play Store.

For those that aren’t familiar with it, Family Link allows parents to create an account for their children on Android devices (and Chromebooks too) that can restrict access to certain types of apps, limit their device screen time, and even put the devices asleep at a certain time.  It is all part of Google’s effort to keep kids safe online but also as part of digital wellbeing by not being in front of their screens all the time.

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Material Design Remake of Google News Site Rolls Out

Google News Material Design - May 2018

Following up on the release of the Google News app for both Android and iOS, Google has rolled out the Material Design remake of the site for the service today.  With a far cleaner look with improved content visuals, the site matches nicely the new News app for mobile and should be a somewhat seamless experience for users.

Of all the things discussed at Google I/O last week, the revamp of Google News surprisingly took up a lot of digital ink over the course of the week.  In case you did miss it, Google News is more-or-less the replacement for Google Play Newsstand and Google News & Weather.

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Google Announces YouTube Premium and YouTube Music

YouTube for Android Bottom Navigation

And here we go again…. Google announced, literally in the middle of the night last night, that they are going to rebrand YouTube Red and revamp the YouTube Music app.  It was odd timing to say the least.

YouTube Premium is essentially a rebranded YouTube Red.  You get all the benefits of Red like downloading of content, ad-free content and access to YouTube original content like you do today.  The price is $11.99/month and that includes the new YouTube Music.  This too is similar to what is available today.  If you subscribe to Google Play Music at $9.99/month, you get YouTube Red included.

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Google WiFi Will Soon Be Able to Test Connections for Individual Devices

Google WiFi Network Test

A new feature is starting to roll out to the Google WiFi app that brings the ability for you to test individual device connectivity on your wireless network.  The feature will allow you to see the connection health of an individual device on the network which can be handy if you are troubleshooting a constantly buffering Chromecast device as an example.

Today, the Google WiFi app can test the overall network health and its connection to the Internet.  That will remain in the app but will be augmented by this new feature.  You will be able to select a device and test its connection which will give you more information on the performance of that device, not just the overall network’s performance.

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Google One is The New and Improved Google Drive

Quick Access in Google Drive

Google has made a pretty significant announcement with regards to Google Drive today.  In a blog post, the Mountain View company announced that Google Drive would be rebranded as Google One and bring with it more storage and features.

The most visible change to Google One over Drive is the tiers and pricing structure.  For $1.99 per month, you can pick up 100GB of storage.  That is the same price as today but if you need just a little bit more, there will be a 200GB tier that will be $2.99.  Perhaps the bigger news is that current 1TB account which is $9.99 per month will double to 2TB at no additional charge.  This puts a huge amount of pressure on other cloud storage providers like Dropbox and Microsoft’s OneDrive.

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Google Photos New Color Pop Feature Now Starting to Roll Out

Google Photos for Android

The new Color Pop feature that was highlighted this past week at Google I/O in Google Photos is now starting to roll out to users.  The feature takes an image in your photos library that has a bright colored subject and then turns the background black & white.

The feature, at least right now, is 100% driving by Google Assistant, the AI built into Google Photos.  That means you can’t force the issue.  If the AI finds a photo in your library that meets its criteria, it will provide you the photo in the Assistant tab where you can save it to your library.

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Google Changing The OEM Agreement for Android to Require Regular Security Updates

Google I:O 2018 Social Banner

Google is taking another step forward when it comes to manufactures and Android security updates.  In a session at Google I/O this week, the company indicated that changes would be coming soon to the OEM agreement for Android, requiring more regular security updates.  While the exact details weren’t laid out in the session nor what is meant by “regular”, it is clear that Google is trying to make sure that manufactures keep devices up to date with the latest security updates.

This also, in a roundabout way, would encourage manufactures to offer the latest versions of Android as the security updates are regular on the new versions.

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Rumors Suggest That Three Pixel Watch Options Will Be Coming Later This Year

Ticwatch E

Now that Google I/O has wrapped up for 2018, Android and Google fans are starting to turn their attention to the next hardware event for the Mountain View company.  Rumors are already starting to fly about the upcoming Google Pixel 3 phone series but a new rumor yesterday suggests that we could finally see a Pixel Watch in the mix too.

Wear OS by Google has, much like Android, needed a hero device to show the ultimate experience of what the platform can bring.  It is something I wrote about shortly after the name change from Android Wear and it looks like that could be happening.

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