IT'S FRIDAY and that means another collection of news-in-brief from the camp of Google and its parent company Alphabet. If you ever want to catch up with the longer stories, you can always do so at this link.
First up, it's WearOS. The wearable version of Android has come in for a lot of flack and holds a tiny market share, but Google is still pushing forward. After a major revamp earlier in the year, Google is already trailing "System Version H", the next update. Battery life is the prime focus here, with features including automatically going into "deep sleep" when you're not wearing it.
Gmail next, and as we move closer to the sunsetting of experimental mail client Google Inbox, the remaining users have started getting nag screens inviting them to switch to the new version of Gmail which has incorporated almost all of its features. Reaction has been mixed, with many complaining that they choose Inbox deliberately and that GMail won't be a substitute.
Next a quick note on Nest. Although brief, the entire Nest cloud went down last night. Although it hasn't had any major impact, it serves as a reminder that if you have no internet, your smart home will bork. Worth remembering.
Android 9.x Pie will run on more devices in 2018 than Android 8.x Oreo did in 2017, according to Google. Why? Two reasons. First and foremost, Project Treble, the separation of the operating system from security updates, meaning they can be rolled out without having to reflash the entire OS. Secondly, Google is insisting that all phones released with Pie are Project Treble compliant, so it can better justify enforcing updates as they are issued.
Over at Chrome OS, the rollout of Linux support for Chromebooks continues with the announcement that Linux apps will soon be able to access folders and files like any other app on the machine, not just Downloads and Google Drive. This is a big deal as it means that native apps will be a viable alternative for often watered down alternatives for Android and Chrome OS. It also cements Chromebook as the most versatile type of machine - offering three different app libraries on the same OS.
It's not all good news though. Despite being significantly more trouble free than its predecessor, the Pixel 3 range is not without problems. Some users are complaining that the speaker on their device is "buzzing". Google has promised a fix is in the works, but it's another "how did they not spot it?" moment.
Finally this week, Google Assistant has been given taught some new tricks, just in time for the onslaught of whimsy that is December. Amongst the new features are user-curated cookbooks, allowing you to keep recipes in one place, better storybook content for kids, and most intriguing, allowing users to reply to all points messages. Sounds like a recipe for a whole-home slanging match from where we're standing. μ
Oh and it'll also help give aural pleasure
But it might still not be enough to make virtual reality super appealing
And a ridiculous competition
Now you can talk to your silly-looking earbuds too