Amazon restores YouTube access on Echo Show and adds access to Vimeo and Dailymotion

A couple of months ago, Google blocked access to YouTube on the Amazon Echo Show because the device’s voice optimised interface violated their terms of use. I never got around to writing about it when it happened because I was busy attending to more important matters. Today, Amazon has restored access to YouTube videos on the Echo Show. While they were at it, they also added access to videos from Vimeo and Dailymotion. Read more ›

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Google announces new Home Mini and Home Max smart speakers

As was expected, Google has announced a new smaller version of their Google Home smart speaker, called the Home Mini, to compete with Amazon’s Echo Dot. Additionaly, Google announced a much larger higher-end smart speaker called the Home Max that more closely competes with the upcoming Apple HomePod speaker, than anything Amazon makes. Read more ›

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Google’s answer to the Amazon Echo Dot leaks ahead of next month’s expected announcement

Google is holding an event on October 4 where they’re expected to reveal their two new flagship phones, the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL. It looks like phones aren’t the only thing on the agenda because Droid Life has leaked information about a new smart speaker that is also expected to be revealed that day. The new device, called the Google Home Mini, will compete directly with Amazon’s Echo Dot. Read more ›

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Google Play Store now gives apps the option to block rooted devices

Earlier this week, it was discovered that the Netflix app on the Google Play Store was preventing users with rooted devices from installing the app. It was assumed the block was caused by changes to the app’s DRM. Android Police has discovered that it’s much worse than that. Google is now giving app developers the option to prevent rooted devices from installing their apps. Read more ›

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Android TV to gain new home launcher and Google Assistant with Android O update

Google’s I/O developer conference started today and the company held their big keynote presentation where they ran through all the new updates coming to their various products. Much like last year and the year before that, Google spent less than 30 seconds this year talking about Android TV. Even though there was much more said about TV in general this year, it was focused entirely on how Google’s voice assistant interacts with Chromecast and YouTube. What was said about Android TV is that the platform would be gaining support for Google’s voice assistant and getting a new home screen launcher later this year when Android O, the upcoming version of Android, is released. Read more ›

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YouTube unveiled their upcoming $35 a month TV service

Google’s video site has unveiled YouTube TV, an upcoming streaming TV service to compete with Sling TV, PlayStation Vue, DirecTV Now, and others. YouTube TV will launch this Spring “in the largest U.S. markets” with a base package of 44 channels for $35 per month. Read more ›

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Android TV gets no love from Google’s big hardware event

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Those of you hoping for a new Nexus Player, or even just acknowledgement that Android TV exists, out of Google’s big hardware focused event today are out of luck. Like has been mostly the case for the last two years, Google has once again ignored Android TV as a thing that they make. The only mention of Android TV during the entire presentation was when discussing Google Home’s ability to “Voice Cast” and control playback on Chromecast and “any Google Cast enabled TVs, like Android TVs.” Even then, the context involved Android TV as the operating system for televisions, and not independent set top devices. It seems more evident than ever that the future of Android TV for Google is for it to become just a free OS for televisions manufacturers to use, that helps Google slowly creep into everyone’s living room.

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Google Home to take on Amazon Echo in November for $129

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Google revealed more information about their upcoming Amazon Echo competitor, the Google Home speaker. The device will be launching on November 4th and is available to pre-order now for $129 with 6 month’s of YouTube Red included. It’s very similar to the Amazon Echo speaker, with a few distinct differences. Read more ›

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Chromecast Ultra announced with 4K UHD and HDR for $69

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Google officially revealed the new Chromecast Ultra at their media event this morning. The new device will be the first Chromecast to support 4K UHD video, as well as HDR content, both HDR10 and Dolby Vision standards. It will be $69, as rumors predicted, and available in November. Read more ›

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Google will reportedly reveal a 4K capable Chromecast on October 4

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Google will be holding a hardware focused event on October 4th where, among other devices, they will reportedly reveal a 4K capable Chromecast, according to Android Police. Sources say the device will either be called the Chromecast Plus or Chromecast Ultra, but not much else is known. Given the simple and minimalistic nature of the Chromecast, I’d expect it to function identically to the existing Chromecast, but have the horsepower to decode 2160p streaming video.

Google will reportedly also “fully detail” the Google Home speaker, which is their competitor to the Amazon Echo. Additionally, they will reveal two new flagship phones, called the Pixel and Pixel XL, instead of Nexus branded phones like they usually do, and Google’s VR headset, called the Daydream View.

Based on this news of a 4K Chromecast, the likelihood that Amazon will be announcing a 4K Fire TV Stick soon has just shot up from unlikely to pretty likely in my book.

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Android TV to gain picture-in-picture feature

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Much like last year, Google spent just a few seconds talking about Android TV during their opening keynote presentation today at their anual Google I/O conference. The only thing they mentioned regarding Android TV was that they will be adding a picture-in-picture feature with the upcoming Android N software update. While watching a video, Android TV users will be able to enable picture-in-picture mode to shrink the playing video into a small window in the upper right corner of the screen. From there, it appears you’ll be able to navigate the Android TV interface and possibly even launch apps while the video plays in the corner. The demo shown during the presentation depicted a user watching a news video, entering picture-in-picture through an on-screen menu, searching for a game, and installing the game, all while the video continued to play.

When Amazon created Fire OS 5 for the Fire TV and Fire TV Stick, they integrated some of Android TV’s backend code into the release for developers to take advantage of. Perhaps we’ll see a similar picture-in-picture feature make its way to Fire TV devices when Fire OS gets updated to use Android N as its base operating system.

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Google’s competitor to the Amazon Echo is a speaker called Google Home

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Google just revealed Google Home, an always listening speaker they’ll be releasing later this year to take on the Amazon Echo. Google Home is a small cylindrical speaker that responds to the phrase “OK Google” to answer questions and achieve tasks via Google’s voice assistant. It features an interchangable base which will come in several colors so that you can match it to you home’s decor. Home will integrate with many of the same services and smart home devices as the Amazon Echo, but one thing it does that Alexa can’t is control speakers and TVs around your house through Chromecast integration. Read more ›

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New Chromecast reportedly coming later this month

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According to internal documents obtained by 9to5Google, Google is set to finally release a new Chromecast later this month. The new device will reportedly have improved wifi, which could mean 802.11ac, and new features. One of those new features is something being called “Fast Play” which will make it quicker and easier to connect to the new Chromecast. Another feature called Chromecast Audio will allow the device to connect to speakers through an auxiliary cable and sync the audio from multiple Chromecasts. The new device will reportedly be announced at Google’s event on September 29th, where they’re expected to also reveal their two new Nexus phones.
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Google spent just 30 seconds on Android TV during today’s big keynote

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Sundar Pichai, Google’s Senior Vice President of Products, took to the stage this morning to kick off Google I/O, the company’s largest annual event. The opening keynote presentation is where Google talks about and reveals information regarding their most important products, and is where Google announced Android TV a year ago. As Pichai, one-by-one, talked about each of Google’s top services, he eventually came to Android TV where he spent just 30 seconds on the subject. He mentioned the operating system would be released on Sony and Sharp TVs in the US and on Philips TVs in Europe. Pichai then covered Android TVs “streaming console” offerings by mentioning the Nvidia Shield and that “Razor has one.” He finished by saying that Android TV has doubled its user base in the last 3 months. Two hours later, the keynote ended without ever mentioning Android TV again.

Sundar Pichai ended today’s big keynote by saying “This is why [Google] I/O is so exciting for us. We get to share what we’ve been up to in the last year.” The fact that Android TV was virtually omitted from the presentation this year, when it was such a large part of last years keynote, doesn’t bode well for Google’s commitment to the platform. It’s not an indication of Google abandoning Android TV as a failure by any means, but I expected more than just a brief acknowledgement of its existence. The more competition the Fire TV has, the more likely Amazon will continue to push the platform forward with new features. I just hope the new Apple TV, rumored to be released next month, gives the Fire TV some competition.

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