Google Photos Turns 3 Years Old

Google Photos

Believe it or not, Google Photos is now three years old.  The photo library app that syncs photos with your Photos online storage, continues to evolve rapidly and remains one of the most popular Google apps out there.  It makes keeping a sync’d copy of your photos and videos online pretty seamless and if you use the High Quality sync setting, doesn’t even consume any of your Google Drive quota (which is great for photos under 16MP).

Photos was announced as part of the original Pixel launch and those devices, as well as the subsequent Pixel 2 lineup, can store photos in original quality without using Drive space.  Other devices can upload in original too, but you start using up your storage.  It was also one of the first apps that has a serious AI integration from Google, with the app able to identify people, pets and look at the overall quality of the photo to recommend automatic improvements (referred to commonly as Auto Awesome), make animations and movies, and create photo books of your favorite photos.

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Google Photos Favorites Feature To Roll Out This Week

Google Photos for Android

It has been a long time coming but Google Photos is finally going to give you the ability to mark photos in your library as favorites.  The new features, which the Google Photos team announced via Twitter, is a cloud-side update and will be rolling out to all accounts throughout this week.  Once you have it, you will be able to view a photo and will see a small star icon as you view that photo.  Tap that star, that photo gets marked as a favorite.

As part of this feature, there will now be a new Favorites album in the menu and in your Albums view in Google Photos.  That way you will be able to quickly find them in your library.

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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 News App Finally Arrives in the Play Store

Google News for Android

After being announced last week at Google I/O, the new Google News app is now available in both the Google Play Store for Android users as well as Apple’s App Store for iPhone users.  While the app makes the AI-driven news app available, the Google News site is still hasn’t been updated at the time of this posting.

As you may recall, the new Google News app has an entirely new look and feel, drawing heavily on Material Design for its overall look with lots of visual content for news articles.  It is a far cry from the nearly all text-based version of the old News app.

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Apple Seeds Fifth iOS 11.4 Beta to Testers

Control Center in iOS 11

A fifth and likely final beta build of iOS 11.4 arrived yesterday for those who are in the Apple Beta program.  The update doesn’t bring any new features to the platform other than what has already been discussed but does bring a few fixes.

The update weighs in at 2.2GB, indicating that this is the full build and is likely a release candidate build.  For those new to beta testing, release candidates are generally the build that a developer wants to release as the general availability (GA) release.  In other words, they feel their work is done and barring a show stopping bug being found, this should be the build everyone sees when 11.4 is released.

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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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New Google Assistant Voices Now Available on Android and iOS

Google Assistant Voices for Android

Yesterday at Google I/O it was announced that Google Assistant would be receiving six new voices that you could use to suit your personal preferences with as you interact with it on your phone or Home devices.  Just a day later, those new voice models are now live in the Assistant or Home app on your Android phone.

You can find the new voice models under Settings>Preferences>Assistant Voice.  There you can listen to a script read by each of the voices to pick the one you like the best.  There are three male and three female voices to chose from in addition to the stock male and female voices that have already been in Assistant.

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Apple Removing Apps That Share Location Date with Third Parties Without Consent

The Apple App Store

Apple seems to be getting serious about apps sending location data without user consent.  Over the course of the past few weeks, Apple has sent developers emails if their apps are in violation of two key parts of the legal section of the App Store Review Guidelines.  Those have to do with the sending of location data to third parties without the users explicit consent to do so.

The sections in question are 5.1.1 and 5.1.2, both in the legal part of the guidelines.  Those sections of the guide call out data collection and transmission guidelines which is what Apple is cracking down on with these apps.

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