Tag: Google

Xbox One can now stream YouTube video in 4K

The Xbox One X and S both allow you to watch 4K video, but the consoles didn't have a way to watch YouTube in 4K. That is, until now. This week, Microsoft is rolling out an app for both versions of the Xbox One console that provides support for 4K videos at up to 60 fps -- but not HDR.

While the Xbox One X is a tough sell for us, we think the 4K experience on the Xbox One S (which doesn't allow for 4K gaming, but does upscale graphics and supports HDR) is definitely worth it if you're in the market for a new console. Adding (long overdue) 4K YouTube support just makes it even better. If you have the console, you'll see the updated YouTube app this week, or if you're impatient, you can download it from the Windows Store today.

Via: The Verge

Source: Microsoft Store

Google’s Pixel AR stickers are available starting today

During Google's Pixel 2 event in October, the company teased its upcoming AR stickers and starting today, Pixel users can actually get their hands on them. Those with Pixel phones running Android 8.1 Oreo will have access to AR stickers like Foodmoji, 3D text and celebratory balloons and champagne just in time for the holidays. And ahead of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Pixel users can also get a pack of Star Wars-themed AR stickers.

You can check out the Star Wars stickers in the video below or the image above and overall they look pretty great. They seem to have a much better quality than the Stranger Things AR stickers that we've seen previews of before and are also being released today. And they look way better than that Snapchat Star Wars Lens.

To add these stickers to your photos or videos, just open the camera app, switch to AR Stickers mode, select which sticker pack you'd like to use and the drop the stickers into the scene. You can then resize them and move them around and they'll also interact with whatever else is in the image.

The new AR Stickers are rolling out to Pixel users over the next few days and Google says more sticker packs will be released in the future.

Google’s high-quality Home Max speaker goes on sale for $399

Google launched its high-quality Home Max speaker with Google Assistant in October, and the last we heard (via a Best Buy leak), it was set to arrive on December 11th. That date was spot on, it turns out, as the Home Max has indeed gone on sale at both Best Buy and Verizon. It's still not up on Google's own store (the "buy" button still says "join waitlist"), but it just seems like a matter of time now.

The Home Max speaker sports a pair of 4.5-inch high-excursion woofers and custom tweeters, putting it in the same class as serious audio products like the Sonos Play:5. We had a brief hands-on with it during the launch, under controlled conditions, and found it to be "extremely loud, well balanced and crystal clear, with well-defined bass."

Google Home Max, as mentioned, costs $399 and comes in charcoal and white with both Chromecast and the voice-controlled Google Assistant. That's $100 less than the Sonos Play:5, which doesn't have either of those two features. Sonos did say that Google Assistant was coming to the Play:1 in 2018, but the company hasn't said if it'll come to any other products.

Source: Best Buy, Verizon

Google reveals all the Android Wear watches getting Oreo

Google left us in the dark for a bit as to which Android Wear smartwatches are getting Oreo. Thankfully, just a few days after its official arrival, we're getting the lowdown on device upgrades. Aside from the LG Watch Sport, which was spotted with Oreo last week, an additional four smartwatches are getting the Android bump (peep the full list below). The update brings with it some technical modifications, including vibration strength settings for notifications, touch lock, and battery-saving enhancements.

The list is mainly made up of smartwatches from fashion brands, such as Louis Vuitton, while older Android Wear devices and the Asus ZenWatch 3 have been left out for now -- among them the LG Watch R, and the original Huawei Watch and 2nd gen Moto 360/Sport from 2015 (as noted by 9to5Google). Getting stuck on Nougat doesn't bode well for those that didn't make the cut.

Android Wear Oreo(8.0) update is already available in the following watches:

Fossil Q Venture

LG Watch Sport

Louis Vuitton Tambour

Michael Kors Sofie

Montblanc Summit

Watches that are currently pursuing the Android Wear Oreo (8.0) update:

Casio PRO TREK Smart WSD-F20

Casio WSD-F10 Smart Outdoor Watch

Diesel Full Guard

Emporio Armani Connected

Fossil Q Control

Fossil Q Explorist

Fossil Q Founder 2.0

Fossil Q Marshal

Fossil Q Wander

Gc Connect

Guess Connect

Huawei Watch 2

Hugo BOSS BOSS Touch

LG Watch Style

Michael Kors Access Bradshaw

Michael Kors Access Dylan

Michael Kors Access Grayson

Misfit Vapor

Mobvoi Ticwatch S & E

Movado Connect

Nixon Mission

Polar M600

TAG Heuer Tag Connected Modular 45

Tommy Hilfiger 24/7 You

ZTE Quartz

Source: Google

Mod gives Google’s Home Mini speaker its ‘missing’ line-out jack

For many, Google's Home Mini speaker has one key disadvantage over Amazon's Echo Dot: there's no line-out jack. If you want more powerful sound without buying a higher-priced model, you have to stream to a Chromecast-equipped speaker system. However, that didn't deter SnekTek -- the site has added an aux audio port to the Mini through a clever homebrew mod. To say this required some delicate surgery would be an understatement, mind you. The procedure involved boiling the adhesive off the bottom, finding the one space where a headphone port would fit, and carving out a hole. As with the iPhone 7 headphone mod, the product clearly wasn't designed for this -- there won't be any doubt that you voided your warranty once you're done.

This doesn't disable the Mini's built-in sound, but it otherwise works: Google's puck is suddenly much better-suited to kicking out the jams. And it's not an expensive mod, either, as the biggest costs are the port itself, some wiring work and epoxy. The main catch, of course, is the effort. If the thought of tearing open your speaker triggers a mild panic, you're probably better off springing for a Chromecast Audio adapter and setting your mind at ease.

Via: Android Police

Source: SnekTek (YouTube)

Andy Rubin returns to Essential amid questions over his past

Android mastermind Andy Rubin is back at the helm of Essential after his surprise personal leave... although you could argue that he never really left. Recode has learned that Rubin is back "less than two weeks" after the company announced that he'd taken a break. Neither Essential nor Rubin was willing to comment, but insiders claimed that he technically didn't have to leave the building -- he continued to work with his venture capital company Playground Global, which shares the same office spaces.

The end to the partial leave comes as questions linger over revelations that Rubin's departure from Google came after an investigation ruled that he's been involved in an "inappropriate" relationship with a subordinate. Rubin's spokesperson has maintained that it was a consensual relationship and nothing wrong took place, but the woman had filed a complaint with human resources that led to the investigation. There's no evidence linking Rubin's recent leave to the Google story, although the timing has certainly raised eyebrows.

Without details of what the complaint entailed, it's difficult to know just how much of a cloud this casts over Rubin's work at Essential. You can safely presume that concerns over the relationship aren't what the company at large wants, however. While Rubin's return will reassure backers worried that Essential would face a leadership crisis, it's having enough trouble getting people to buy its first smartphone -- the conduct of its founder doesn't help matters.

Source: Recode

Google Maps will wake you up when you need to get off the bus

Google Maps will make taking the train or the bus in places you're visiting a lot less stressful: according to TechCrunch, the app will soon guide you through every step of a mass transit ride, including telling you when it's time to get off. Once the feature rolls out, you'll apparently find a "start" button at the bottom of the screen when you look up how to go to a certain destination. If you tap that button, you'll get live updates on where you are as you walk or as your ride moves, not only within the app, but also on your Android lock screen.

[Image credit: TechCrunch]

You probably won't need a feature like that for your daily commute, but if you're traveling to a new city, state or country with a transit system that can be overwhelming for first timers, then it could be a godsend. Simply glance on your lock screen to see where you are (if your GPS and mobile internet are working inside the vehicle, that is) or wait for your phone to tell you that you've arrived. You can even scroll up and make sure you're going the right way. TechCrunch says the feature will go live "soon," but make sure to check your app right now -- it might have already rolled out to random users for testing.

The concept isn't completely new. Transit's self-titled app has a "Go" feature that takes you through every step of a bus or subway ride. Google's implementation would have a clear advantage, though: on Android, you wouldn't have to download a separate app.

Source: TechCrunch

YouTube makes a few of its Red Originals free for the holidays

When you're stuck taking care of kids this holiday season, you could either watch Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer for the umpteenth time, or you could keep up with the times and turn to YouTube. The streaming giant has had a YouTube Kids offering for awhile now, but just for the holidays, it's offering up something new: Starting today through January 2nd, YouTube is making five of its family-friendly YouTube Red originals completely free for viewing on the YouTube Kids app. This is especially momentous because, according to YouTube, this is the first time it's made any of its YouTube Red series available for free in their entirety.

The shows are as follows: DanTDM Creates a Big Scene, Hyperlinked, Kings of Atlantis, Fruit Ninja and We Are Savvy. And since you have a few weeks to watch these, you could conceivably binge-watch all of them before the new year without paying a dime. And hey, if your kids get hooked, that might persuade you to signup for YouTube Red proper after the promotion is over.

Though the promotion has likely been in the planning stages for awhile now, it arrives at a time when YouTube probably wouldn't mind the positive publicity. It's recently had to clamp down on several child-exploitation YouTube channels, inappropriate content masquerading as child-friendly and it also pulled autocomplete search results with child abuse terminology. Recently, it's even hired over 10,000 people to help moderate content.

At the same time, YouTube also wants to push its Red offering even further. It recently unveiled a whole spate of new Originals that include a high school basketball series with Lebron James and a Tinder dating comedy. At last check a few months ago, YouTube Red reported over 250 million views.

Google re-enables touch controls for audio playback on the Home Mini

There's an update on the way for those of you with a Home Mini speaker. Google is rolling out a new feature that lets you use the sides of the device to play or pause whatever you're listening to, be it music, news or if you want to end a call you're on. Right now, the touch-friendly side area of the Home Mini only works to control the volume, but now with a long press of the unmarked spots you can have some extra functionality.

Back in October, Google had to disable the Home Mini's top button, after it was reported that the budget speaker was recording basically any and every sound. Thankfully, the search giant took care of that issue rather quickly -- but those are just the risks you take when you want the lavish life of a smart home.

All the cool gifts are made for spying on you

It's the gift-giving season, and high-tech gadgets are more exciting than ever. Alexa, Siri, Cortana, and even "Okay Google" are ready to come over for holiday ham, ready to help you turn on a light or play you some Spotify. Those always-on microphones, cameras, and WI-FI connected devices are cheaper, cooler, and more convenient than ever.

Yet, you still feel a little weird about their, you know, baser functions. Google and Amazon only record what they need to. Plus, you've read 1984, watched Big Brother (and thought the contestants were nuts for being watched 24-7), and you think spying on people's everyday lives is generally bad.

And yet, look at us. We're marinating in surveillance tech. We carry an always-on combination tracker and eavesdropping device everywhere we go (a smartphone). We agonize over picking out the best smart home microphone-speaker combination. We snarf up the latest in connected appliances. We say "yes" to all the apps, and surf the web looking for deals like it's the pre-condom era of porn.

We know the connected devices, no matter how big the company they come from, are all bug-infested, insecure, preyed upon, and riddled with shady backroom data deals. And yet.


And yet.

The trend toward in-home surveillance devices is only continuing, with this year's gift-giving aspirations. Here at Engadget, we're modeling the trend: decrying privacy invasions, yet playing with privacy fire, indulging our lust for convenience and futurism with all the sexy gadgets on our 2017 best-of gift list.

We want the Echo, the Google Home, a Sonos One, and all the privacy-devouring spy tech we can cram into our voice-activated games console. I'm with you! Yet I know better than to let companies spy on me! Give me a new MacBook, a Chomebook, an iPad or a Surface, damn the easily-hackable onboard cameras and microphones, full speed ahead. I'd push grandpa into a mall fountain and jam his walker into Best Buy's revolving doors to get my hands on the hottest new tracking devices, the iPhone, a Pixel, a Galaxy.

And that's the thing: We all know the risks these days. It's not like ten years ago when some of us were trying to raise the alarm about webcam hacking and data dealing, and everyone thought we were fringey conspiracy weirdos in tinfoil bras doing Flickr updates from our freaky internet-connected phones.

If anything, security and surveillance are even bigger concerns. Just in October, a woman's new webcam was taken over practically the minute she plugged it in. In a Facebook post, she described the incident, going on to film the camera's complete hijacking while in progress. But here's the thing: The story didn't surprise anyone, and didn't compete with any headlines. We're all like, yeah, that's a thing that happens now, while in our heads we silently practice what we'll do when it happens to us.

young male technician...

I know what you were thinking when your eyes traveled the wishlist above, with the Echos and the Homes, and the highly desirable appliances that make Inspector Gadget's kit look like unimaginative stupidity. You're thinking, "but Amazon will protect me from unlawful requests" and "Google Home wouldn't do that on purpose, it would harm consumer trust."

And in the instances we know of, you'd be right. When a man was murdered in November 2015, Amazon initially refused to hand over its Alexa data from the scene of the crime when prosecutors demanded the records. The company said that Alexa's questions and answers are protected by the first amendment and Amazon "seeks to protect the privacy rights of its customers." Amazon later relented and shared the data when the defendant, the Echo's owner, gave permission. That a hacker had fun turning the Echo into a wiretap did not endeavor to reassure.

And that whole thing where Google Home was recording everything just this last October, well that was a "bug." Never mind that "bug" is Facebook's perennial catch-all term/excuse for getting caught doing something people don't like (and that's not a good look for anyone). Google said its little smart home speaker was having an "issue" that caused it "to behave incorrectly." That probably wasn't reassuring for journalist Artem Russokovskii, who discovered he was being recorded 24-7.

What can we do, but take Google and Amazon at their word? No one trusts these companies or their interests in serving us better ads or suggestions. They say they'll protect us, they're big companies and can afford to properly test everything, and they fix their mistakes when we find them.

Haven't we learned anything from dystopian books and films? How is this now aspirational? Or is it just that we're so miserable from politics that a little convenience-at-a-cost is our only salve to soothe our tortured souls?

Don't feel bad. Everyone's doing it, the gleeful self-surveillance. Even hackers, who know better than anyone, and I can tell you that they're shopping for the same things and going home to strip down and roll in piles of connected crap like they hate privacy, too. We're all going to privacy hell together.

I'm sure it'll be fine. As long as we remember that it pays to be paranoid because we're all so depressed and angry at the state of the state that we deserve a little fluff, a little fun, a little convenience.

Facebook may be insidious, Apple might've conditioned us, and everyone with a stake in the surveillance pie has tried to soothe us. But we still need to cover our webcams, turn off geotagging, drill into settings to fight the data creeping, and stay awake and alert to the ways that companies make us targets.

Take my advice for the holidays: Shop like no one's watching, but never forget that someone might be listening.

Images: Brendan McDermid/Reuters (Amazon Echo); Shutterstock (Security camera).