About Chandraveer Mathur
Chandraveer is a mechanical design engineer with a passion for all things Android including devices, launchers, theming, apps, and photography. When he isn't typing away on his mechanical keyboard’s heavy linear switches, he enjoys discovering new music, improving his keyboard, and rowing through his hatchback’s gears on twisty roads.
Borrowing pages from Instagram and TikTok playbooks
Content comes in all formats today, and YouTube was among the first few social media platforms to join the short-form video fad with Shorts, alongside the likes of Instagram Reels and TikTok. However, Shorts mostly feel like a one-way broadcast from the creator to the viewers, with comments being the only form of interaction. Google recently announced a slew of new features to facilitate engagement with audiences, better creator discovery, and collaboration for content creation. You could say YouTube Shorts is finally realizing the importance of the social element in its recipe for growth and success.
The Files by Google app makes the process really convenient
Files by Google has been a staple in stock Android, and one of the best file manager apps on ROMs developed by other smartphone brands. It doesn’t exactly lead the way with new feature additions, but certainly benefits from deep integration with the Android OS when implementing stuff like Nearby Share support. Now the Files app can share entire folders from your Android device via Nearby Share without destroying the folder structure.
Another one bites the dust less than a year after introduction
Although generative AI piqued public interest only recently, behind-the-scenes development has been ongoing at companies like Google for a few years now. Testing these cutting edge improvements in AI is usually something reserved for employees and developers, but Google allowed commoners to take its AI projects for a spin with apps like AI Test Kitchen. In an unforeseen turn of events, the company has delisted this app from the Play Store and Apple App Store, perhaps ahead of a complete and unexplained shutdown.
Can the Galaxy Tab S9 tolerate the odd splash?
Samsung recently announced the latest and greatest models to join its tablet lineup — the Galaxy Tab S9 series comprising the Galaxy Tab S9, S9 Plus, S9 Plus 5G, and S9 Ultra models. The fresh additions supersede the Galaxy Tab S8 series, which is still one of our favorite Android tablets, although it lacks any form of water resistance. If you are in the market for a powerful device that you can take anywhere to get work done, the Galaxy Tab S9 series is the ideal choice now for one more reason. Unlike its predecessor, Samsung says all the variants in the Galaxy Tab S9 series are IP68 water-resistant.
Developing a new tool to work amicably with third parties is better than coughing up billions
Hopping onto a service and building a profile that caters to your unique preferences is relatively simple, but as we discovered while migrating from Spotify to YouTube Music, it isn’t easy to jump ship once you’re locked in, because companies like Google don’t allow smooth data sharing with third party services. Italian startup Hoda highlighted concerns with these practices last year, prompting an investigation from the competition authority in the country. Now, the authority has approved Google’s three-pronged action plan for Google Takeout to get the complaint dismissed.
Adding participants should not be so tedious
Group messaging is at the core of how so many of us communicate with everyone from friends, to work teams, and even our families. Ever-growing access to great encrypted messaging services like WhatsApp has simplified setting up these groups, as well. WhatsApp has slowly been working to improve group messaging with features like new icons for profile pictures and video messaging, and now, developers are beta testing a convenient new way to add participants to your group chats.
Are these smartwatches a swimmer’s ideal companion?
Samsung recently unveiled the Galaxy Watch 6 series comprising the Watch 6 and Watch 6 Classic at the Galaxy Unpacked event, held in the brand’s home country of South Korea for the first time. These smartwatches replace the Galaxy Watch 5 series from last year and have lofty expectations to live up to. The Watch 5 and Watch 4 models before that were our favorite Wear OS smartwatches. However, excellent technology isn’t of much use if it can’t accompany you wherever you go. The Galaxy Watch 6 is well-built and has a water resistance rating to ensure it can accompany you everywhere.
Here’s our first glimpse at the related settings UI
Losing your smartphone is a nightmarish scenario, but Google includes the Find My Device app to help locate your Android device easily. The system is not as robust as Apple's, which uses a network of participating devices to relay the lost object’s location to the owner. But we are getting there. Google intends to enable geolocation of lost Android devices, even when they are powered off, using the Find My Device network which is yet to debut. We now have our first look at the settings UI for this feature in a rather production-ready state.
Coming to foldables and perhaps tablets near you
Samsung recently unveiled the Galaxy Z Flip 5 and Fold 5 as incremental upgrades to its last generation models. While foldables have the inherent capability of delivering a more immersive big-screen experience in a smaller form factor, typing on the large inner displays can quickly become cumbersome. One of our favorite keyboard apps, Google’s Gboard, introduced a convenient split layout back in May this year to save your thumbs from the agony. We are now discovering how this virtual keyboard leverages its flexible design to offer users a new personalization option on foldable phones.
All the important buttons in stacked together
Android Auto is one of the best ways to mirror your Android phone’s apps and content to your car’s infotainment system. The UI isn’t very customizable, but allows placing most menu items on one side after you configure which side the driver sits on. However, a few critical buttons and controls are scattered across the UI, and aren’t easy to locate in a hurry. Google is readying a fix for this with a new sidebar for Maps on Android Auto.
You could get a lot more done on a single screen
There’s a bevy of file manager apps to choose from on an Android phone. However, many OEMs prefer bundling in the Google Files app, or its lightweight equivalent, Files Go. Both apps offer a simple, Material You-themed UI that organizes your files neatly and makes it easy to find what you’re looking for. After locating a file, we usually open or share it, and Files helpfully has a Nearby Share tab baked into the bottom bar. Google is currently redesigning the UI to make this your go-to tab for file sharing.
We have the good news, but no dates yet
Earlier today, Samsung pulled the wraps off the Galaxy Z Fold 5 and Flip 5 models, with the new Galaxy Watch 6 series sharing stage. While the hardware alone gives us plenty to be eager about, Samsung revealed that lovers of podcasts and audiobooks could soon benefit from a standalone Audible app for Wear OS.
Keyboard remapping and more games on more hardware are now available in 120+ regions
After years of depending on Android emulators like BlueStacks, PC gamers finally have a non-hacky way of enjoying some of the best Android games for desktops and Chromebooks with Google Play Games for PC. Although the beta rollout is fast gathering pace, Google is only catching on to popular emulators with massive updates bringing everything the gamer community could ask for — new tiles, support for more PC hardware, new features, and expanding geographic availability.
AI can help spruce up your living room with a new decor
Google apps are proof enough that generative AI can permeate any aspect of our existence, especially those involving virtual tools. Augmented reality greatly simplified major purchase decisions for furniture, but generative AI is poised to make its way into interior decoration and planning as well. We are now learning about furniture and decor brand Wayfair’s attempt at using generative AI to help customers decorate their spaces with a new tool called Decorify.
The beta test simplifies searches originating from articles on Discover
Google Discover is an unmissable part of Pixel Launcher and the Google app, serving as a hub for everything you could possibly be interested in. Google realizes you often read an article on Discover and then switch to the main Search app to find related content. Now, the company is testing a new UI component that makes this search journey easier, giving you a launchpad for the query directly in the Discover feed.
Referring to specific lines just got way easier
Once you’re tied to the Google Workspace ecosystem, by choice or by your employer, it's easy to appreciate the convenience of Docs, Sheets, Slides, and other apps in the company’s document editing suite. Google has added a few new features to Docs recently, like support for polls and a streamlined access request system. Now, you’ll also see line numbers in your documents.
Premium subscribers can start using the feature right away
Ephemeral media is a familiar concept in social media. Ever since Snapchat popularized stories, most platforms have dabbled with similar implementations, and we aren’t just talking about communication apps like WhatsApp here. Twitter and YouTube also gave it a shot, but didn’t hit the mark. Meanwhile, Telegram hopped on the bandwagon just last month when CEO Pavel Durov announced plans to make stories a Telegram feature.
This could be one of those Pixel-exclusive capabilities
Google Assistant is one of the best voice assistants around, capable of doing everything from setting alarms to managing your shopping lists and reading articles to you when prompted using simple voice commands. However, Google has been throwing its weight behind generative AI in a big way with Bard and several other utilities. It turns out Google could also be building generative AI capabilities for Assistant, starting with a feature that summarizes web content for you.
Apps using Windows Subsystem for Android can connect to other network devices
The Windows Subsystem for Android (WSA) has a firm place in the heart of Android lovers because it allows us to run mobile apps on the desktop operating system as though they were native programs. The experience isn’t comparable to stock Android yet, but we are getting there slowly with Microsoft’s updates, growing geographic availability, and support for more apps. Microsoft’s latest update for WSA adds a few noteworthy new features, greatly aiding interoperability with Windows programs and other devices on your network.
'E2EE everywhere' could be another RCS-like pie in the sky
Security is critical wherever sensitive data is involved, like cloud storage, password management, and communication. The best encrypted messaging apps today don’t shy away from their responsibility towards the consumer’s privacy, but breaches and loopholes like WhatsApp’s flawed account deactivation system serve as constant reminders we can make more headway. Google believes the answer lies in an industry-wide interoperable standard for messaging that’s platform and app-agnostic. However, recent examples suggest this is but another pipe dream.