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5 hours ago

YouTube Music: Everything you need to know

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YouTube Music: Everything you need to know

YouTube Music

YouTube Music is here — and it's packing the biggest music library in the world.

That's what I like

YouTube is one of the most-viewed websites on the planet, and by far the most popular video platform today, so it's no surprise that millions upon millions of users turn to it every day for music. It's the default platform for music videos — especially viral music videos like This is America and Girls Like You — and it's also a place to find just about any song, remix, mashup, or fan cover you could ever want. Whether you're looking for lyrics to a song before karaoke night, music to sleep to, or a new remix to play at your next party, YouTube has what you're looking for.

Now, YouTube is ready to make another run at a music app built upon their video empire with YouTube Music. It's a music app with a truly unique interface, an unparalleled selection, and more than a few kinks to work out, but YouTube Music is here to stay and here to compete.

The latest YouTube Music news

September 21, 2018 — Audio quality controls roll out to Android and iOS apps

YouTube Music has been waiting on a number of features, and none more impatiently as audio quality controls. YouTube Music has an amazing selection, but until now it's been stuck at 128kbps. Today, YouTube Music has pushed out audio quality controls to both the Android and iOS apps, seemingly as a server-side update as they appeared without an app update in the YouTube Music app on my Galaxy S9+. There are audio quality settings in three places:

  • General: Audio quality on mobile network — Low, Normal, High, Always High
  • General: Audio quality on Wi-Fi — Low, Normal, High, Always High
  • Downloads: Audio quality — Low, Normal, High

"If you stream at Normal quality, you are getting 128kbps AAC as your bitrate. For premium subscribers, we offer High quality which is 256kbps AAC. If you have flaky network connectivity or want to save data, you can switch to low quality which is 48kbps HE-AAC. 256kbps AAC is equivalent in audio quality to the 320kbps CBR mp3 that we had for GPM, but it uses less data. Right now we don't have any plans for audio quality higher than 256kbps. Our deals would require us to charge more to stream FLAC, so at this point we are focused on improving performance rather than supporting lossless streaming." — YouTube Music Product Manager Brandon Bilinski

Read more answers from the YouTube Music Q&A

September 20, 2018 — YouTube Music Product Team holding Q&A on September 21st

YouTube Music pledged to bi-weekly updates back at the beginning of August and more transparency, but 6 weeks out and very little seems to have changed. There are still tons of questions swirling around the revamped music service, and to help assuage concerns the YouTube Music Product Team is holding a Q&A session Friday morning at 9:30AM PT.

You can submit your questions for the team right now on the event thread of the official YouTube Music Help forum. There have already been a flurry of questions posted, especially around the migration of Google Play Music to YouTube, Android Auto support and library sort options, which are two features that the YouTube Music team said were coming "in the next few months" back in July.

Go ask a question for the YouTube Music team to answer

August 29, 2018 — YouTube Music Premium expands to 4 more countries

As the YouTube Music Premium rollout continues, it's now been confirmed that the service is available in four additional countries. Specifically, Belgium, Denmark, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands!

Similar to other parts of Europe where YouTube Music Premium is available, the service costs €9.99/month and 99 kroner/month in Denmark.

August 1, 2018 — YouTube Music plans bi-weekly update schedule, reconfirms some coming features

YouTube Music has a lot of bugs to fix and features to add before it can begin to truly compete with Spotify or begin migrating Google Play Music subscribers over, and while those updates will take time, we at least have something of a timetable for when YouTube Music will be receiving updates.

YouTube Music product manager Elias Roman tells Engaget that the service plans to push out updates for the service every two weeks. Among the changes Roman confirmed:

  • An album sorting option beyond recently added
  • A drop-down menu option to filter out musicians you follow on YouTube Music from the main YouTube Subscriptions feed
  • Low/medium/high audio quality settings for streaming and downloads (coming in a few weeks)

Roman was also quoted as saying that "We are not focused on exclusives. We don't believe exclusives are good for the industry or good for consumers." This makes sense for YouTube Music given that everything available on YouTube Music is available on the main YouTube app to both paid and free users, which would make exclusives available to everyone.

July 17, 2018 — Google promises Android Auto support, better sound quality, SD card support, and more with future updates

There are plenty of areas in which Google can improve YouTube Music, and thanks to the team behind the app, we now have a short list of features to expect in future updates.

Over on the YouTube Music Help forum on Google Support, the YouTube Music team says that the following features will be available in no particular order over the coming months:

  • Better audio quality, and ability to select the quality for downloading and streaming
  • Sonos support
  • Android Auto support
  • SD card support for Android
  • More obvious shuffle vs. play-in-order options for playlists

It's unclear when exactly all of this will be available, but the option to save downloaded songs to an SD card is rolling out now.

June 18, 2018 — YouTube Music is coming to 12 new countries and becoming available to all inside the original "Early Access" countries

YouTube has opened up YouTube Music to 12 new countries , as well as ending its awkward and often confusing "Early Access" period and making the service available to everyone in its original five countries.

This brings the number of countries YouTube Music serves up to 17 — Australia, Austria, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, New Zealand, Norway, Mexico, Russia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States — and with the new YouTube Music also comes the new YouTube Premium pricing system.

May 23, 2018 — Your locally owned songs from Google Play Music will transfer over to YouTube Music… eventually

Upload your own music

Google wants all of its Play Music subscribers to migrate over to YouTube Music at some point in 2019, and to help make that process as seamless as possible, the company's confirmed that some of Play Music's best features will be coming to the new YouTube Music — the biggest of which is a music locker for storing copies of song you locally own.

This news was recently confirmed by Google to The Verge, with the Head of YouTube Music saying on Twitter that "Your collection, playlists and preferences from Google Play Music will be preserved at migrated to YouTube music for a soft landing."

In addition to having a place to store music you already own, YouTube Music will eventually allow you to buy new songs that you can add to your collection.

May 22, 2018 — The new YouTube Music is officially here!

Just like we expected, YouTube Music's new app and desktop site officially started rolling out on May 22. Google says the new look is currently in "early access" and is gradually becoming available for folks in the U.S., Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, and South Korea.

To access YouTube Music, you can download the app from the Play Store or hit up the desktop site at music.youtube.com. If you're not seeing the changes quite yet, be sure to check back frequently to know when you've been graced with Google's good wishes.

All the big details

The service starts at $9.99/month — but no one should pay that

Go Premium

There's no real sugar-coating it: using YouTube Music as a free user on Android is bad. There are ads every three to six songs, and you can't leave the Now Playing screen, so it hogs your screen and your battery. YouTube Music is worlds better when you unlock its paid features. YouTube Premium is absolutely worth paying for.

YouTube Music Premium, however, is not.

For the love of Duarte, buy YouTube Premium instead of YouTube Music Premium

Where is YouTube Music Premium available?

If you're still interested in checking out YouTubeMusic Premium, the service is currently available in the following countries:

  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Canada
  • Denmark
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Luxembourg
  • Mexico
  • Netherlands
  • New Zealand
  • Norway
  • Russia
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • United Kingdom
  • United States

What's happening to Google Play Music? Where's my likes and playlists?

Old vs new

Google wants all of its Play Music subscribers to migrate over to YouTube Music at some point in 2019. That means YouTube Music will be adding most of Google Play Music's tentpole features — the biggest of which is Google Play Music's free 50,000 song music locker.

What does YouTube Music mean for Google Play Music

That said, Google Play Music and YouTube Music's libraries and catalogs at the moment are completely disconnected and there's quite a bit that has to happen before that can change. The library migration is a long ways off, but in the meantime, Play Music users get two music apps to play with instead of one. So which one should you use?

YouTube Music vs. Google Play Music: Which should you use?

A mixtape full of promise

Zero to Hero

YouTube Music is built on a gold mine. YouTube is not only the most used video platform in the world, it might be the biggest catalog of professional, semi-professional, and amateur music available in the world. This isn't the first time Google has tried to capitalize on this, but this time is different. YouTube's music team has finally gotten its act together and made us all a mixtape full of promises.

But can it follow through on them?

YouTube Music review: A mixtape full of promise

Getting started

Get your library built

YouTube Music is an adjustment from traditional music services — especially because it is based around video rather than audio — but thanks to the Google's search prowess and downright uncanny predictions and recommendations, getting used to Google's newest music service should be as painless as possible. And since it's built around years of your YouTube history, YouTube Music already knows you better than you think.

Getting started with YouTube Music

Going offline

Download something

Networks fail. Your plane says it's going to have Wi-Fi, but nope. You get stuck in the car with your parents in the middle of nowhere, and you're outside cell range, and the radio stations are nothing but static and muffled AM country. Having music to listen to when you offline is important, and when the music service you're using is based around video — which eats data like nobody's business — how you save your music for offline playback is even more important.

How to download music for offline playback in YouTube Music

What is it missing?

I'm all alone and I need you now

YouTube Music is a brand-new service — albeit one built on an old app of the same name — and like most things that are shiny, new, and different, there are a lot of bugs to be worked out. There are a lot features that are still missing — from basic audio quality settings to more complicated endeavours like gapless playback and library management — and we've got a handy list of what's missing and when we could maybe see some of it.

On that note — YouTube Music's library does not include every video on YouTube, nor does it include every song and album on Google Play Music right now.

What YouTube Music still needs

Making the most of things

There's somethin' holding you back

YouTube Music is "Early Access" right now, which means the service is essentially a beta and it is definitely buggy. While time and updates will fix some of those bugs, there are some things you can do to make the most of its current state.

6 tips and tricks for using YouTube Music

Also, even if you've never used YouTube Music before, it has years and years of your YouTube history to work off of. That means that YouTube Music could already have a good idea what you like, or it could have things completely wrong because you've mostly used YouTube to pull up music when your nieces are over or you're hosting a party for your country-obsessed friends. Here's how to help YouTube help you with better suggestions.

How to improve YouTube Music recommendations

Can it dethrone Spotify?

YouTube Music Premium is meant to compete with Spotify Premium

Spotify has spent the last decade building up a loyal user base, building algorithms that few companies can even begin to touch, and building up a reputation as the best brand in streaming music. YouTube, however, is one of the most used sites on the internet, period, a selection you can't find anywhere else — a selection that will be absolutely unbeatable in the future — and Google is bringing its best algorithmic game with YouTube Music.

It's still early days, but YouTube Music will be enough to dethrone Spotify soon?

YouTube Music vs. Spotify

Updated August 2018: Added a new section for where YouTube Premium is available.

12 hours ago

How to make Twitter for Android show tweets in reverse chronological order

How to make Twitter for Android show tweets in reverse chronological order

Get chronological

Twitter made a horrible mistake years ago, and now they're beginning to make it right again.

Twitter added the option to "Show me the best Tweets first" a while back, and it jumbled up our feeds and showed us old but popular tweets over the latest and greatest tweets from those we follow — and sometimes from those we didn't follow. Blame algorithms. I don't want to see old tweets, I don't want to see recommended tweets, and I sure as sharing don't want to see tweets from anyone I don't follow.

Now, we can truly get back to basics and reclaim a reverse chronological Twitter feed.

1 day ago

Amazon Alexa: Everything you need to know about the heart of the Echo

8

Amazon Alexa: Everything you need to know about the heart of the Echo

You wouldn't have the Amazon Echo (or Echo Dot, or Echo Show, or whatever) without Amazon Alexa. Here's what you need to know about the two.

Latest News

September 20, 2018 — The Lenovo Smart Tab blends the best of Alexa and Android in one device

Per a press release that was shared on its website, Lenovo announced that it's working on a new device called the Lenovo Smart Tab. We don't have any specs on the Smart Tab or even know what it looks like, but Lenovo says it features Amazon Alexa and has a "Show Mode" that "will offer more visual Alexa experiences to enhance the way users interact with their music, control smart home devices, and more."

We also know that the Smart Tab will feature Lenovo's "versatile and beautifully designed Android tablet technology", but aside from that, this gadget is still mostly a mystery.

Lenovo will be sharing more details on the Smart Tab later this year, so stay tuned!

September 20, 2018 — Amazon announces whisper mode, offline smart home control, and more at fall event

Amazon just wrapped up its big fall event at its HQ in Seattle, and as expected, a lot of new Alexa goodies were announced.

The first thing Amazon unveiled is a new whisper mode for Alexa. Alexa can now detect when you're whispering to it and then whisper a response back in return. According to Amazon, the functionality will be "rolling out soon."

Also new is offline support for controlling smart home devices. For example, if you say "Alexa, turn off the lights", your command will still go through even if there's no active internet connection.

If home security is important to you, Alexa Guard will probably become one of your new favorite features. Alexa Guard connects to any home security systems you've got set up, so if you say something such as "Alexa, I'm leaving", Alexa Guard will trigger all of your devices to lock down your home even if you're using stuff from other brands. To get things started, Amazon's partnering with Ring and ADT to kickstart the platform.

On a similar note, the newly announced Alexa Doorbell API will allow you to have two-way interaction on an Echo Show and Echo Spot when someone rings a connected doorbell. Anyone can tap into this, meaning it won't be tied to just specific partners Amazon okays.

Lastly, in an attempt to make everything a smart gadget, Amazon's launching the Alexa Connect Kit.

Alexa Connect Kit is a new developer kit that features various radios and a real-time OS that devs can integrate into appliances and make them "smart." Brands like Hamilton Beach, P&G, and others are already using it.

July 26, 2018 — Alexa Cast launches as a way to cast Amazon Music from your phone to Alexa speakers

If you own an Alexa-powered speaker, there's a good chance you subscribe to Amazon Music. Amazon Music is a great service for using your voice to listen to tunes on your Alexa device, and today with a new update that's rolling out to the app, you can finally use Amazon Music on your phone to cast music to your Alexa speakers.

Aptly called "Alexa Cast", this works just like we've seen from Google with Chromecast for years. When listening to a song in Amazon Music on your phone, tap the Alexa Cast button, choose the speaker you want to send your tunes to, and it'll automatically switch to it from your phone.

You can start using Alexa Cast after updating the Amazon Music app on your Android or iOS device.

April 18, 2018 — A new Call of Duty skill delivers personalized coaching, tips on objectives to complete, and more

We don't blame you if you never thought of pairing Alexa with Activision's Call of Duty: WWII, but someone apparently did and made a skill just for that.

The new Call of Duty Alexa Skill can connect to your Call of Duty account, and after doing so, you can ask your Echo about how to improve your game based on the last match you just played, get updates on new Contracts you should complete, see which friends are playing, and more. Activision says the skill allows for personalized responses to over 2,500 questions and can dish out 250,000 responses using a custom "solider" voice.

Although it's still in beta, you can start using the skill right now by enabling it and then saying "Alexa, Ask Call of Duty ___"

April 4, 2018 – Hands-free Alexa comes to more Fire tablets, music now available with Routines, and Canadian users can use Alexa in the Amazon Music mobile app

Whew, what a day! Amazon announced a heap of Alexa goodies on April 4, and without further ado, let's run through what's new.

First off, the online shopping giant has now allowed you to turn the Fire 7 and Fire HD 8 tablets into hands-free Alexa speakers. This is a feature that was previously reserved for just the Fire HD 10, and it allows you to say "Alexa" and have the tablets respond just like an Echo. The tablets will need to have their screens on or be plugged into a power source in order for this to work, but even so, it's a nice way to get Alexa listening to you no matter where you go.

Moving over to Alexa Routines, you can now add music to these. Alexa Routines enable you to perform a variety of actions with one single command, and up until now, playing music wasn't an option when creating a new Routine. With this update, however, you can play your favorite album, artist, podcast, etc. from Amazon Music, Spotify, Deezer, Pandora, and TuneIn.

Last but not least, users in Canada can now talk to Alexa inside the Amazon Music app for Android and iOS.

What is Alexa?

Amazon Echo. Or Alexa. They're one and the same, really. That is, an Amazon Echo without Alexa really isn't any more than just a speaker. And Alexa without a speaker is just ... Well, nothing.

Confused yet. I don't blame you. Let's explain the difference this way:

Echo is hardware, Alexa is software

Amazon Echo — and all of its permutations — is hardware. Alexa is software. She (and I have zero problem if you refer to Alexa as a she) is the brains behind the Echo, and all the things you can do with it. And because she's software, she's available on more than just Amazon's own devices.

Anyone can put Alexa on anything. You can make your own Alexa speaker for just a few bucks and a little bit of nerdy know-how. There are third-party Alexa speakers that look like Amazon's own Echo Dot. There are third-party Alexa speakers that look like speakers. You can get Alexa baked into a smart thermostat. She's built into the HTC U11 smartphone.

The point is, Alexa can be built into pretty much anything these days.

But that's just half of the story.

It's all about the Alexa Skills, baby ...

Alexa starts out by knowing what Amazon tells it. She already knows how to tell the time, and set alarms and timers, or answer general questions and read headlines. But Alexa also has the ability to learn more. A lot more.

Or, more precisely, you have the ability to teach Alexa new things.

See all of Amazon's Skills here

Amazon calls these things "Skills," and there are hundreds of them.

Want to teach Alexa to turn on your smart lights, or open your garage door, or do anything she doesn't already know how to do? You need a Skill. That's where developers come in. Amazon has made it so that anyone can write an Alexa Skill, and companies and their developers have been doing so for years now.

Think about the things you do every day. Listen to satellite radio? There's a Skill for that. Lock your house after you're already at work? It's a little daunting, actually. There are hundreds and hundreds of Skills, of varying degrees of usefulness. (Dog facts, uh, OK.)

How to enable and disable Alexa Skills

Support for Sonos speakers

Amazon Echo speakers are pretty decent, but Sonos speakers are better! The latest version of the Sonos One speaker has Alexa built right in, making it arguably the best sounding Alexa speaker you can buy.

If you've already got a bunch of Sonos speakers set up around your home, don't fear — simply use the Sonos Skill and you'll be able to control all the different speakers around your home. It's not the greatest experience with some very mixed reviews from users, but it's still the best way to connect your high-end smart speakers with Alexa.

Alexa Routines makes life easier — now with music!

One of the coolest parts of smart speakers is the ability to get the latest news, play music, and control your connected smart home devices all with your voice. With Alexa and your Amazon Echo products, you have the option to do so on an individual basis or group actions together using Routines.

Routines are built right into the Alexa app and are entirely customizable. You can create your own Alexa Routines right in the app which can be triggered by a phrase you say (ex: "Alexa, good morning") or at a scheduled time.

Each Routine can trigger a combination of up to seven different action types, which are each customizable to some extent depending on what you need Alexa to do:

  • Alexa Says: Mostly silly stuff. You can set Alexa to say a specific greeting, wish you a happy birthday, sing a song, or tell a story or joke.
  • Music: The latest feature to be added to Routines, you can use an Alexa Routine to trigger music. For example, saying "Alexa, it's party time" could automatically play your favorite party playlist on Spotify.
  • News: Adding this to a routine will trigger Alexa to read out the latest Flash Briefing news reports.
  • Smart Home: Get Alexa to toggle or control your connected smart home products. For example, I have a routine set up for when I say "Alexa, I'm leaving" that turns off all the smart lights in my house.
  • Traffic: To add traffic updates to an Alexa routine, you'll first need to dive into the Alexa settings and enter location information for your daily commute.
  • Volume: You can set a routine to automatically adjust Alexa's volume. For example, if you're a really heavy sleeper you can have Alexa crank the volume when you say "good night".
  • Weather: Adds a weather update to your custom routine.

How to set up Routines on your Amazon Echo

Alexa calling and messaging

All of that connected home stuff is great, and it's important. But one of the more exciting avenues of potential lies in Alexa Calling and Messaging. As the name implies, it's the ability to make calls and leave messages through Alexa. From the outset, it works with Echo devices and the Alexa app on phones and tablets. If you have an original Echo or Echo Dot, you can make voice calls. If you have an Echo Show, you can make video calls, or even "drop in" on a close acquaintance (they have to approve you first) without them having to hit a single button.

That's where these $50 Echo Dots really make a lot of sense. Now Amazon has a means for you to communicate not just on that little Dot, but also on your phone. It's two birds with one stone, and it's really just the start of things. And it makes up for where Amazon failed in trying to make its own phone. Folks didn't want a Fire Phone, but they do want an Echo — especially an inexpensive on — and in buying one they have to put the Alexa app on their phone.

It's not quite a benevolent Trojan Horse, but it's close.

Read: Amazon is getting close to being the king of all messaging

Update May 2018: Added sections on Sonos speaker support and Routines.

Amazon Alexa

See more at Amazon

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1 day ago

Samsung Internet 9.0 update brings lots of visual changes

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Samsung Internet 9.0 update brings lots of visual changes

The update makes the browser feel more polished and easier to use.

Thanks to countless updates over the years, Samsung Internet has become one of the best alternatives to Google Chrome when it comes to web browsers on Android. The latest update brings Samsung Internet up to version 9.0, and while all of the core functionality remains the same, there are quite a few visual changes you'll want to keep an eye out for.

Old UI (left) vs. v9.0 (right)

One of the biggest tweaks is the removal of the menu button at the top right corner of the app. Now, you'll tap the new hamburger menu icon on the bottom navigation bar to see your bookmarks, enable night mode, access your settings, and more. Not only is the new menu more visually appealing, but it's also a lot easier to reach.

Speaking of the bottom nav bar, you'll also notice that the text underneath each icon is now removed and that you now have to access the new menu in order to view your bookmarks.

Old UI (left) vs. v9.0 (right)

Other changes included a centered address bar at the top of the browser, a black background behind any open tabs, and redesigned settings pages.`

Download: Samsung Internet (free)

1 day ago

How to adjust notifications for Google Fit

How to adjust notifications for Google Fit

While it's great to get notifications for your fitness progress, getting too many could make you feel like you can slack and slow down. If you want to limit your notifications from Google Fit, it's super simple!

Products used in this guide

How to turn off all notifications

If you don't want ANY notifications from Google Fit, you can completely turn off notifications for the app. This is useful if you want to just check your progress at the end of the day to see if you met your goal, rather than be notified throughout the day.

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Tap Apps & notifications. On a Samsung phone, tap Apps.

    Tap Apps & notifications. Tap See all apps. Tap Fit.

  3. Tap See all apps.
  4. Tap Fit.

    Tap Notifications. Toggle the switch next to Show notifications.

  5. Tap Notifications.
  6. Tap the switch next to Show notifications. On a Samsung phone, tap the switch next to On.

That's it! You won't get any more notifications from Google Fit.

How to turn off notifications for activity tips

If you don't need Fit sending you tips throughout the day, it's easy to turn those off and leave other notifications on.

  1. Open the Google Fit app.
  2. Tap Profile in the lower-right corner.

    Tap Profile in the lower-right. Tap the Settings icon in the upper-right.

  3. Tap the Settings icon in the upper-right corner.
  4. Scroll down to Notifications.

    Tap activity tips. Tap the switch next to Show notifications.

  5. Tap Activity tips.
  6. Tap the switch next to Show notifications.

That's it! Fit won't show you any more tips throughout the day.

How to turn off notifications for completed workouts

It may sound counter intuitive, but it can be useful to turn off notifications for your goals. For instance, you may want to keep pushing yourself for the rest of the day, while knowing you already reached your goal may make you slow down.

  1. Open the Google Fit app.
  2. Tap Profile in the lower-right corner.

    Tap Profile in the lower-right. Tap the Settings icon in the upper-right.

  3. Tap the Settings icon in the upper-right corner.
  4. Scroll down to Notifications.

    Tap Completed goals. Tap the switch next to Show notifications.

  5. Tap Completed goals.
  6. Tap the switch next to Show notifications.

That's it! You won't get any more notifications for completing your goals.

Our top equipment picks

If you're all in on Google Fit, it's worth getting a Wear OS watch to track your workouts right from your wrist.

The best watch for Google Fit

Mobvoi TicWatch Pro

$250 at Amazon

The best Wear OS watch is also the best for tracking your workouts.

The Ticwatch Pro features a GPS tracker, heart-rate monitor, and NFC payments.

The Ticwatch Pro is a genuinely good watch even if you don't care about fitness tracking. If you do, it's even better. There's a GPS chip to better track your jogs, a heart-rate monitor for keeping your beats in check, and an NFC chip so you can leave your phone at home and still use Google Pay.

2 days ago

Apple Music finally supports Android Auto with latest update

6

Apple Music finally supports Android Auto with latest update

Available with the v2.6 update.

It might seem like a sin to use Apple Music on an Android phone, but to be perfectly honest, it's a great alternative to the likes of Spotify, YouTube Music, etc. As part of the v2.6.0 update that's rolling out to the Apple Music app now, you can finally use it in Android Auto.

When you're in Android Auto, you can now tap on the music icon and select Apple Music from the list of available services. All of the controls work just like they do with other music apps in Android Auto, and while this is a feature that's been a long time coming, it's great to see it finally make an appearance.

Also new with v2.6 is the ability to search songs using lyrics, redesigned artist pages, Friends Mixes, and a Top 100 playlist that houses the best 100 songs for the day around the world.

Apple Music costs $9.99/month for one user, $14.99/month for the family plan, and if you're a student, you can grab it for just $4.99/month.

Download: Apple Music ($4.99/month and up)

2 days ago

Spotify vs. Google Play Music: Which should you subscribe to?

Spotify vs. Google Play Music: Which should you subscribe to?

Music subscriptions can help set the tone for your life: they can help keep your energy up and your fingers tapping out a rhythm. As such, I've taken a deep look at Google Play Music and Spotify to help you figure out which service is more deserving of your money and music.

Google Play Music

Our Pick

$10/mo at Google

Pros

  • Best integration of purchased/uploaded music
  • Stable, consistent performance with quick bug fixes
  • Cache while streaming builds offline library effortlessly

Cons

  • Uncertain future concerning YouTube Music migration
  • Low device de-authorization limit

Google Play Music fits users with well-established personal music libraries and those with particular playlist tastes that can't be satisfied by subscription music catalogs alone. For $2 more, you can also unlock premium features on YouTube and YouTube Music.

Spotify Premium

Algorithmic powerhouse

$10/mo at Spotify

Pros

  • Top-notch subscription catalog
  • Best-in-class playback handoff between devices
  • Best streaming bundle for students

Cons

  • 10,000 song library limit is easier to hit over time
  • No cloud integration for purchased or uploaded music
  • Inferior support experience, especially on Android

Spotify is for social listeners that don't buy music and trust Spotify to serve up what's popular or what the algorithms say they like. It's great for users who just want a bit of music to fill their lives and tech fiends that switch devices too frequently for Google Play Music's device limit policy.

Sound Quality and Device Limitations

Spotify Premium offers audio streaming qualities up to 320 kbps on "Extreme quality" and up to 256 kbps while playing on Chromecast. Google Play Music offers audio streaming qualities up to 320kbps on both subscription and uploaded music, though the quality of uploaded music is dependent on the quality of tracks uploaded.

Google Play Music Spotify Wear OS app ✔️ ✔️ Android TV app ✔️ ✔️ Web client ✔️ ✔️ Desktop client Download/upload only ✔️ Chromecast compatibility ✔️ ✔️ Google Assistant compatibility ✔️ ✔️ Max audio quality 320 kbps 320 kbps Offline limits 10 devices 5 devices 10,000 songs Device limits 10 devices Only for offline (5 devices)

Spotify lets you stream Spotify on as many devices as you like but you can only download music for offline playback on five devices, and up to 10,000 songs. Meanwhile, Google Play Music has a 10-device limit for authorizations with a four-device de-authorization limit per year, but on your 10 authorized devices, you can download as much music as can fit on your device's storage.

Google Play Music has an app for Android TV, both Play Music and Spotify have apps for Android Wear, and both support Google Cast and Android Auto. Spotify uses Spotify Connect to connect to a wider variety of speakers and devices than just Google Cast, including Sonos and car systems.

Read more: What is Spotify Connect and why do I want it?

Library and Features

Both Google Play Music and Spotify have over 30 million songs available to their users to stream. Spotify doesn't let you upload your own music library, and you can only add 10,000 songs from the streaming catalog to Your Library. Google Play Music lets you upload 50,000 personal songs to your Play Music library and stream them wherever for free, and you can add as many subscription songs and purchased songs to your library as you wish.

Google Play Music Spotify Songs available 35 million+ 35 million+ Library limit Unlimited subscription music, 50,000 song uploads 10K Playlist size limits 1,000 songs 10K Lyrics Only accessible via Google Search Genius Lyrics (display on device and Chromecast) Gapless playback ✔️ Crossfade only (and not when casting) App theming White theme, hamburger menu Dark theme, bottom tabs Support Quality Quick bug fixes, very responsive support staff, few new features More new features, very slow to fix bugs on Android, less responsive support staff

Spotify's dark theme gives the app a cleaner, crisper look that's far easier on the eyes during late night jam sessions, and its bottom tab layout is easier for jumping between sections of the app than Google Play Music's hamburger drawer. Play Music's Now Playing Queue lets you see ahead over a dozen songs on radio stations and you can swipe away songs you don't like. Spotify doesn't really show you what's coming up on radio stations and queue management is ever so slightly insane.

Orange vs Green

Spotify's automatic stations and suggested songs seem to be slightly more accurate in their predictions than Google Play Music's. Spotify also offers up Discover Weekly and Daily Mix playlists to help you keep your music fresh, which trounce Play Music's Feeling Lucky radio station easily.

Considering how heavily we rely upon our music apps, it is worth mentioning that while Google Play Music is not receiving as many shiny new features as Spotify, bugs are fixed far, far faster on Google Play Music. Google Play Music also has instant chat support as well as over-the-phone support, whereas with Spotify, you can either tweet your problems to @SpotifyCares or using a standard contact form and hoping for a speedy email back.

Plans and Pricing

Spotify Premium for Family and Google Play Music's family plan are both $14.99 a month and give up to 6 users their own premium subscription account. Everyone on a Spotify family plan has to live at the same address, and you can't change addresses once it starts; if you move, you have either go to individual plans or delete your accounts and start over. Google Play Music's family plan does not require everyone to live under the same roof, which Spotify Premium for Family not only requires, but enforces.

Google Play Music Spotify Standard Price $10/month $10/month Student Discount? Nope $5/month w/ Hulu Family plan? ❌ $15/month Music integration offerings Upload 50K songs for free, Google Play music store integration ❌ Video bundle offerings YouTube Premium ($12/month) Hulu (Bundle is $13/month) Available countries 63 65

Spotify Student, which bundles Spotify Premium, Hulu (ad-supported), and SHOWTIME for $5/month is the best deal in media streaming, but if you're not an American college student, the next best deal on the market is YouTube Premium. For $12/month for an individual — or $18/month for the family plan — you can unlock premium features in Google Play Music, YouTube, YouTube Music, YouTube Kids, YouTube Gaming, and YouTube VR.

Read more: YouTube Premium is Google's bundle future

Buy-one-get-one music service: A word about YouTube Music

No. Stop it. Bad!

Google Play Music comes with premium access to the "brand-new" YouTube Music, and some YouTube executives keep slipping out bits and pieces about Google Play Music being replaced by YouTube Music. There are a few very important things to keep in mind:

  • There's a lot to like in YouTube Music, but it still very much a beta product with a whole lot of bugs and missing features that it needs to get in order before any migration could occur.
  • If/when that migration occurs down the road, your library will migrate over at that time including your uploaded/purchased music locker.
  • Google Play Music and YouTube Premium both come with YouTube Music Premium, so you can use both apps and take advantage of their individual strengths — YouTube Music's unbeatable YouTube-powered selection and Google Play Music's normalcy and stability.

What YouTube Music means for the future of Google Play Music

Google Play Music

Our Pick

It may not be the most popular, but this two-fer has the best features and value

Google Play Music is the last of its kind on Android: a music service that allows you to integrate subscription music with a personal music locker of purchased and uploaded music. With YouTube Music making a splash, Google Play Music is a top-notch two-in-one service that's well worth your time, money, and music. It's also part of the best non-student streaming bundle around: YouTube Premium.

Spotify Premium

Algorithmic powerhouse

$10/month at Spotify

Magical mixtapes and student signups have made Spotify a juggernaut.

Spotify's student bundle is the best in media streaming today, and it's hard to break away from the siren song of Spotify's shuffles once that discount ends. Between its many exclusives, famous algorithms, and the simple magic of Spotify Connect, Spotify is a music service with a lot to love, even if Spotify's support on Android isn't quite as good.

Updated September 2018: This guide has been consolidated to help you make your music subscription selection faster and to reflect changes in pricing and Spotify's upgraded offline limits.

2 days ago

Best alternative to Inbox by Gmail

Best alternative to Inbox by Gmail

We're a virtual company made up of tech experts from across the globe. There are plenty of email apps available for Android, and now that Inbox is leaving in March 2019, we're here to help you find your replacement.

In March 2019, Google will shut down Inbox for good. We'll still be using it until then, but when it comes time to transition to a new email client, your best bet will likely be Gmail. Here's why.

Our pick

Gmail

The closest you'll get to the Inbox experience.

Although many of us used Inbox because it had lots of features that were lacking in Gmail, this has steadily changed over the years. With plenty of useful features and far greater stability than anything else on our list, Gmail is the best Inbox alternative.

Who should use Gmail?

If you haven't checked out Gmail since Inbox stole you away from it in 2014, a lot's been added that makes Google's primary email app worth revisiting. Emails are sorted into specific categories so you can focus on what matters, it's easy to switch back and forth between multiple accounts, you can use Smart Replies, and more. It may not be a perfect Inbox clone, but it's already pretty great and only going to get better.

Is it a good time to try it out?

Absolutely. Gmail's changed a lot since Inbox was first released and is now more polished and feature-rich than ever before.

Reasons to use Gmail

  • It's free
  • Very fast and smooth
  • Smart Replies
  • Customizable swipes
  • Undo sent emails

Reasons not to use it

  • Fewer categories/bundles than Inbox
  • Can't see reminders

Google's building Gmail into a version of Inbox that'll be around for years to come

When Google released Inbox a few years back, many users flocked to it because it offered a considerably better experience on both mobile and desktop compared to Gmail. In fact, even now in 2018, there are some things Inbox continues to do better than Gmail.

Over the years, however, Google's brought Gmail back up to speed and has now grown it into an email client that's steadily becoming a more effective Inbox replacement with every passing day.

With Gmail, you can now snooze emails, use Smart Replies, customize your swipe actions, view all of your accounts at once, and view your emails in three pre-made bundles. Those bundles are what really sold Inbox for a lot of people, and while Gmail's Social, Promotions, and Updates bundles aren't quite as extensive as what Inbox offers, they still do a good job at helping your inbox feel a bit less cluttered.

Google's slowly bringing Inbox's best features to Gmail one at a time.

Gmail's Android app looks and feels great, and at any second now, we're expecting it to get a complete visual refresh to match Google's Material Theme UI. If you prefer checking email on your computer, the big Gmail update that landed earlier this year still works great and continues to feel much better than the old version.

Other niceties include rich notifications on Wear OS, integration with the Google Assistant, and — as always — Gmail is 100% free to use.

Lastly, there's something to be said about the stability of Gmail going forward. While Google's been known to launch and kill off services fairly often as we're seeing with Inbox, Gmail's been around since 2004 and is one of the most popular email clients in the world. In other words, it's not going anywhere.

There are lots of other email apps that try to replicate Inbox's formula, but with small, third-party clients, there's no telling how long they'll be around for.

Alternatives to Gmail

Despite all of the progress Google's made with Gmail, we understand that it still won't be a good fit for everyone. As such, we've outlined a few other options that are worth checking out.

Runner-up

Microsoft Outlook

A clean UI and built-in calendar make this a great pick.

Free on Google Play

Another good alternative to Inbox is Microsoft Outlook. Outlook is a very pretty app that runs smoothly, keeps you focused on the emails that matter, and even view your calendar. In addition to Microsoft Exchange, Office 365, and Outlook.com, the app also supports Gmail and Yahoo Mail accounts.

If Gmail doesn't offer enough to tickle your fancy, Microsoft Outlook might do the trick. The Focused inbox filters out non-priority messages, things like flight info and files are easy to find, and we love having a built-in calendar to quickly view any upcoming appointments without having to leave the app. Outlook is probably the best choice for users of Microsoft services, but we love that there's also support for Gmail and Yahoo Mail users, too.

New kid on the block

Edison Email

A promising client that's still in beta.

Free on Google Play

Edison Email is a newer email client that's currently in beta testing on the Play Store. That means there are still some bugs here and there, but Edison has a lot of good ideas. It's got a great user interface, customizable gestures, and custom tools for tracking packages, unsubscribing from emails, and more.

If you don't mind putting up with the usual assortment of bugs that come with apps that are still in beta testing, Edison is a new email client that may be the perfect fit. There's a feature that makes it easy to unsubscribe from emails, a dedicated travel page so you can easily see flight & hotel info, and even a package tracker! Edison works with just about everything, too, including Gmail, Yahoo Mail, Exchange, Hotmail, Outlook, AOL Mail, IMAP, Alto, iCloud, and many more.

AI alternative

Astro Mail

A powerful client with built-in AI.

Free on Google Play

AI seems to be everywhere these days, so why not add it to your inbox? That's exactly what Astro Mail does. With the Astrobot, you can quickly archive heaps of email, view calendar appointments, unsubscribed from mailing lists, and more.

Astro Mail's AI bot is easily the big feature that helps it stand out from the rest of its competition, but that's not the only thing it brings to the table. You'll also find a calendar, can schedule emails to be sent out at certain times, get notified when someone reads your emails, and there's even an Alexa skill for the app! There are a lot of complaints about various bugs in Play Store reviews, so keep that in mind before getting your hopes up too much.

Bottom line

There are a lot of cool, experimental features in our above picks, but if you want an email client that works well, is super stable, and still offers some powerful tools, Gmail is the way to go for most people.

Credits — The team that worked on this guide

Joe Maring is Android Central's News Editor and has had a love for anything with a screen and CPU since he can remember. He's been talking/writing about Android in one form or another since 2012 and often does so while camping out at the nearest coffee shop. Have a tip? Send an email to joe.maring@mobilenations.com!

2 days ago

Skype Preview's SMS Connect for Android: A promise of things to come

1

Skype Preview's SMS Connect for Android: A promise of things to come

If SMS is your go-to way to message, you'll want to follow the progress of Skype's SMS Connect.

Online messaging services are growing in popularity, but for many people, SMS is still the go-to way to message. Skype has had a number of attempts to allow users to send SMS messages from a variety of devices, but the most recent iteration may be the most promising.

Skype Preview's SMS Connect works with Windows 10 desktops and PCs when a user has Skype set up on their Android phone. It's still in preview so it's not perfect, but there's enough available already to talk about what Microsoft needs to do with it to make it mainstream.

3 days ago

YouTube Gaming app is shutting down in March, moving to a web portal

7

YouTube Gaming app is shutting down in March, moving to a web portal

There's a new place to watch all of your favorite gaming YouTubers.

Back in 2015, Google launched its YouTube Gaming app to give gamers their own platform for separate features like Game Pages, Super Chat, and Channel Memberships. Since then, many of those features made their way to YouTube as a whole, and it seems as though YouTube Gaming no longer needs its own standalone app.

The YouTube Gaming app will be shutting down as of March 2019, but that doesn't mean the entire platform is going away. Instead, YouTube Gaming is moving to its own site starting today at youtube.com/gaming. Google says that while it has a strong audience on the YouTube Gaming app, it can reach an even larger audience directly on YouTube, with over 200 million gamers and 50 billion hours of gaming content in the last year.

At the new YouTube Gaming webpage, you can search and sort by particular games to find related videos, ongoing live streams, and other games from the developer. You can also subscribe to specific games, and YouTube Gaming highlights creators on the rise to help boost new and existing channels.

Of course, there's the standard fare of discovery features we're all used to, as well; trending videos, upcoming live streams, and recommended videos all populate the home feed, along with any gaming-related videos from channels you already subscribe to on YouTube.

Android Gaming

Best action games for Android

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3 days ago

HQ Words: Everything you need to know

3

HQ Words: Everything you need to know

This is where we go next after HQ Trivia.

The team behind HQ Trivia is readying to deliver a brand new game for 2018, and this one is for the word nerds. According to reporting from Digiday, the new game will be called HQ Words. Based on Wheel of Fortune format, players will be tasked with guessing phrases one letter at a time while competing live against other players. The game is expected to launch sometime in October.

It's been just over a year since the world was first introduced to HQ Trivia, a daily trivia game show that you play on your phone. After a few months of iOS exclusivity, it eventually launched on Android by the end of 2017 and has maintained a cult following throughout 2018 thanks to its mix of charming hosts, challenging trivia, and of course the prospect of winning real cash.

One key to HQ's success has been strategic partnerships with brands and film studios, along with piggybacking on major events such as the Super Bowl, national holidays, and big award shows — such as last night's $100,000 last-man-standing game tied into the 70th Primetime Emmy Awards.

Details of how the new game will work are scant at this point, but much of the core gameplay seems to be stripped straight from phrase guessing games like Wheel of Fortune — or perhaps Hangman if there's no actual wheel involved. Players will be given a blanked-out phrase with a clue and a list of letters to choose from, with points awarded for selecting the right letters and strikes given out if you guess wrong. The top player or players with the most points will split the daily jackpot. According to Digiday's reporting, HQ Words is but one of several new show concepts that the HQ team is working on at it's New York headquarters.

There's no word whether the game will be available for both iOS and Android right at launch, but we'll keep you up to date with the latest news and information as it becomes available.

HQ Trivia for Android: Everything you need to know

3 days ago

Google Play Points program launches in Japan to reward paid app purchases

2

Google Play Points program launches in Japan to reward paid app purchases

Users also earn points for buying movies, ebooks, and more.

While the Google Play Store might have come a long, long way since the days of the Android Marketplace, it continues to pale in comparison to Apple's App Store when it comes to actual money spent on paid applications. With a new program called Google Play Points, it would appear that Google's starting to take steps to correct this.

Play Points are currently live for users in Japan, and as the name suggests, you earn points for various purchases that are made throughout the Play Store. You earn more points as you spend more money, and per Google's official support page, the whole breakdown for the program is as follows:

Bronze Level (up to 249 points)

  • 1 point earned for every ¥100 spent

Silver level (250 - 999 points)

  • 1.25 points earned for every ¥100 spent
  • One ¥300 credit for in-app items
  • One ¥100 movie rental

Gold level (1,000 - 3,999 points)

  • 1.5 points earned for every ¥100 spent
  • Another ¥300 credit for in-app items
  • Two ¥500 ebook credits
  • Two ¥100 movie rentals

Platinum level (4,000 - 14,999 points)

  • 1.75 points earned for every ¥100 spent
  • Another ¥300 credit for in-app items
  • Four ¥500 ebook credits
  • Four ¥100 movie rentals

Diamond level (15,000 points and up)

  • 2 points earned for every ¥100 spent
  • Two ¥300 credits for in-app items
  • Six ¥500 ebook credits
  • Five ¥100 movie rentals

As you obtain Play Points, you can use these on in-app-purchases or convert them into regular Google Play credits. It's still unclear if Play Points will expand to other regions outside of Japan, but based on what we're seeing, this seems like a program that users in all countries would be interested in.

Do you hope Google Play Points comes to your country?

3 days ago

How to measure height in centimeters in Google Fit

How to measure height in centimeters in Google Fit

Google Fit is an excellent app for tracking all sorts of health data, including your height. If you want to change your height measurements from feet & inches to centimeters, here's what you need to do.

What's used in this guide

How to measure your height in centimeters

  1. Open Google Fit.
  2. Tap the Profile tab at the bottom.
  3. Tap Height.

  4. Tap the arrow next to Feet & Inches.
  5. Tap Centimeters.
  6. Tap OK.

With that done, you've successfully changed your height measurement from feet & inches to centimeters. If you ever want to switch things back, just follow this same process.

What you'll need

New and improved

Google Fit

Free at Google Play

A fitness companion that's finally worth revisiting.

Google Fit's been in a rut for years, but its latest update finally makes it worth checking out again. With a new design and two clear goals to achieve each day, it just may be the perfect fit for your needs.

Google Fit has been reworked from the ground up with a simpler UI, new activity goals, and more. The app's definitely worth a look even if you've been disappointed by its old version, and as you can see, updating your profile is now easier than ever before.

3 days ago

Twitter: Everything you need to know

6

Twitter: Everything you need to know

All the way back in 2006, a little website by the name of Twitter was created. This July marks the 12-year anniversary of the social network, and since then, Twitter's become one of the most popular apps/sites around.

Over the years, Twitter's become the go-to place to learn about current events, new movie trailers, fresh memes, and to scream about politics with random people online.

Whatever you use Twitter for, here's everything you need to know about it.

The latest Twitter news

September 18, 2018 — Twitter now allows you to only see tweets in reverse chronological order

There are a few things Twitter users have been asking the service to address for years. We're still no closer to editable Tweets, but the company is fixing a pain point that we've been clamoring about for what seems like forever — the way we see posts in our timeline.

Starting today, when you disable the "Show the best Tweets first" setting in the Twitter app, you'll only see Tweets from people you follow in reverse chronological order. Prior to this change, turning this setting off would still show you the "In case you missed it" section of Tweets that broke up the chronological flow.

In the coming weeks, Twitter also says it'll introduce a feature that allows you to switch back and forth between two tabs on your timeline — one for the latest Tweets and another for what it thinks are most relevant to you.

July 13, 2018 — Bottom-navigation bar comes to the Android app

After testing it out for a few weeks, Twitter decided to flip the switch and officially roll out the bottom navigation bar to all of its Android app users.

While the four main pages are the same, you'll now find tabs for Home, Explore, Notifications, and Messages at the very bottom of the app rather than the top. Along with this change, Twitter's also annoyingly removed the swipe gesture to go from page-to-page.

Lastly, Twitter's made it easier to switch back and forth between All and Mentions in the Notifications tab.

June 13, 2018 — Twitter announces new features to more easily discover news topics

Twitter's always sort of been an unofficial way to get caught up with the latest news, but thanks to a few new features coming soon, finding the latest stories/current events will feel a lot more natural and fleshed-out.

If something particularly big is happening, you'll see a card for it at the top of the Home page. When you tap on a story from here or the revamped Explore page, you'll see a brief bit of text outlining what's happening, a live video if there's on to accompany it, and tweets that can be filtered by Recap and Latest.

Along with all this, Twitter will also begin to send out push notifications to users if there's a story the app thinks you'd be interested in.

May 16, 2018 — Third-party apps are in trouble thanks to Twitter's API changes

While the main Twitter app has become much more enjoyable to use over the years, it used to be a steaming pile of hot garbage. Thankfully, developers came to the rescue with third-party clients/apps that delivered all your Twitter needs in much prettier and more powerful manners.

Unfortunately, on May 16, Twitter threw a big middle finger to third-party developers by making drastic changes to the way its API is handled. Rene created an excellent explainer for all of this, but essentially, Twitter's now charging people outrageous amounts of cash in order to keep some features of third-party apps active while completely killing off others.

Twitter finally details new API, screws third-party apps — again

All the big details

Home, Explore, Notifications, and Messages are the four main pages

In the Twitter app, you'll be met with four main icons at the bottom to make your way around everything. They include:

  • Home — This is the page you'll go to every time you open Twitter. It shows a list of tweets from your followers, things they've liked, and anything they've retweeted. If you see something that looks out of place, it's probably an advertisement (yay!).

  • Explore — Want to know what's happening around the world? Explore is the page for you. At the top is the day's most popular story, below that are trends Twitter thinks you'll be interested in, and as you keep scrolling, you'll see other popular stories and curated tweets based on who you follow.

  • Notifications — Upon going to the Notifications tab, you'll see chronological entries for when a tweet of yours was liked/retweeted and when someone replied to a tweet or mentioned your username. If you just want to see these mentions/replies, tap on the Mentions icon near the top.

  • Messages — Slide in those DMs! On the Messages tab, you can jump into any ongoing private conversations you have with other users or start a new thread by tapping the big blue circle near the bottom right.

Tweets can be a max of 280 characters

For the vast majority of its lifespan, one of the main draws to Twitter was its restricting limit of only being able to use 140 characters per tweet. However, in November 2017, Twitter made a pretty controversial decision to double it to 280 characters for all users after testing it with small groups.

If you have a particularly big rant to go on and need more than 280 characters to get all your thoughts out, you can tap a small + icon to quickly add another tweet to your thread and then send multiple tweets out at once in an uninterrupted stream.

All hail the built-in dark mode

Even though Google still can't get its head around a system-wide dark mode for Android, the Twitter app has had one for years.

You can manually enable it by tapping the moon icon on the hamburger menu, or have it turn on and off automatically in accordance with the sunset and sunrise.

If you want to configure these settings, tap your profile icon near the top right and go to Settings and privacy -> Display and sound -> Night mode.

How to enable dark mode in the Twitter app for Android

Bookmarks is the best feature you're not using

This past February, Twitter added a new feature called "Bookmarks." It's technically not a huge addition, but it's one that's proven to be extremely useful in day-to-day use.

I like just about every tweet that makes me chuckle or I find interesting, and while I'm more than happy to throw those virtual hearts around, this does make it extremely difficult to go back and find a specific tweet later on.

With bookmarks, you can add tweets to a separate page that only you can see so you can go back and view them at a later time.

How to use Bookmarks in the Twitter app for Android

It never hurts to make your account more secure

Whether there's a data breach or you just think it's time to beef up the security for your account, resetting your Twitter password is fairly simple.

Once you've got a new password created, you may also want to think about enabling two-factor authentication for your account. This requires you to enter a unique code each time you log in from a new device, and with Twitter, you have the option of getting this code texted to you or through an app like Google Authenticator.

How to change your Twitter password and activate two-factor authentication

A Lite version of the app is available for developing countries

If you live in a developing market and/or have a phone that has struggles handling the full-fledged Twitter app, you can download a slimmed-down version called Twitter Lite that aims to offer the core Twitter experience while trimming down some of the unnecessary fat.

All of the main Twitter features are included with Twitter Lite, such as your timeline, profile pages, direct messaging, and even the Explore page. On top of that, there's also a Data Saver tool to help you use even less data.

Twitter Lite should work well on even 2G and 3G networks and the app weighs in at just 810KB.

As it currently stands, Twitter Lite is available in:

  • Algeria
  • Bangladesh
  • Bolivia
  • Brazil
  • Chile
  • Columbia
  • Costa Rica
  • Ecuador
  • Egypt
  • El Salvador
  • Israel
  • Kazakhstan
  • Mexico
  • Malaysia
  • Nigeria
  • Nepal
  • Panama
  • Peru
  • Serbia
  • South Africa
  • Tanzania
  • Thailand
  • Tunisia
  • Venezuela

Download: Twitter Lite (free)

3 days ago

Google Assistant: Everything you need to know

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Google Assistant: Everything you need to know

There's a lot going on with the Google Assistant — let's break down the important stuff.

In May 2016, we got our very first taste of the Google Assistant with the debut of Allo. The Assistant was a big draw to Allo at the time, with Google marketing it as a helpful bot that could make restaurant reservations, search the web, and more within your conversations.

Since then, the Assistant has gained heaps of new features and expanded to smartphones, tablets, speakers, and more. Google's shown no interest in slowing down development for the Assistant, meaning that it's likely here for the long-haul.

Whether this is your first encounter with it or you just need a quick refresher, here's everything you need to know about the Google Assistant.

The latest Google Assistant news

September 18, 2018 — The Google Assistant can now lock your kids' devices with Family Link

Google regularly updates its parental control suite, Family Link, with new features to make parenting in the modern world as easy as can be. With the latest update, you can now connect Family Link to the Google Assistant so you can control your kiddos' devices with just your voice.

Assuming you've got Family Link set up for your family, you'll be able to say commands such as, "Hey Google, lock Timmy's phone" to remotely lock his device. Timmy will have five minutes to finish up whatever he's doing, and once those five minutes are up, the phone is locked. Similarly, the Google Assistant will also be able to detect if a kid is talking to it and provide more kid-friendly responses as it sees fit.

Along with the Assistant updates, Google's also expanding Family Link so that it can now be used with kids older than 13-year-old.

September 16, 2018 — Google details improvements made to Sound Search

What song is this?

Now Playing was a nifty little feature when it debuted on the Google Pixel 2, and Sound Search through Google Assistant paled in comparison to it. Google AI knows there's still plenty of work to be done with Sound Search, but have shared some of the steps they've undertaken in the last several months to try and improve the Sound Search on Google Assistant and the Google app, including:

  • Detailing of Now Playing's musical fingerprinting system through embeddings to match a sound sample against a vast database
  • Leveraging server-side resources and procession power for Sound Search to increase accuracy and speed of song matching
  • Weighting the song sample catalog by popularity so that popular songs match quicker and obscure songs need higher levels of embedded matches to trigger a result

Google AI admits that trying to replicate the accuracy and success of Now Playing, which matches on-device against a small database, against a Sound Search sever-side database that's 1000 times bigger, is not without difficulties that they're continuing to work through, but they claim that they've already seen marked improvement to Sound Search in the last year. The challenges of identifying sounds in noisy environments like a crowded dance floor or sporting event are still being worked through, but knowing Google, it can only get better.

Read Google AI's full Sound Search journey

September 11, 2018 — Google Assistant now supports Danish and Norwegian languages

Increased language support is always something we love to see with the Google Assistant, and most recently, everyone's favorite AI can now speak in Danish and Norwegian.

The official Assistant pages are now live in both languages, but as we see with all of these rollouts, it may take some time for it to reach your devices. To check and see if the Assistant's arrived for you, simply hold down the home button on a phone that's set to either language and see if you've got the Assistant UI instead of the old Google voice search one.

September 10, 2018 — Disney doubles its Google Assistant content with three new games

Google Assistant can help your kids with questions about their homework or the universe, can help remind you and your kids when you need to get going for soccer practice, and it can even tell them a bedtime story. Disney is bringing a little more magic to the Google Home and beyond with three new Google Assistant activities.

  • Maui's Music Game lets kids help Maui defeat monster and reunite with Moana after getting separated from his hook in Lalotai, the Realm of Monsters. While playing, you'll be rewarded with musical conch shells that play music from the film. You're Welcome!
  • Disney Princess brings you along on a daily adventure with one of your favorite princesses. Help Ariel learn what human world objects are called, navigate Jasmine through a horse race, and hear fun stories from Cinderella and Tiana. You can also get nerdy with Belle answering her questions about your favorite books.
  • Toy Story Freeze Dance gets active with an interactive dance game that initiates you as one Bonnie's new toys. Learn the moves and the meaning of being a toy, but make sure you pay attention, because at any moment, you could have to FREEZE! to avoid exposing the biggest secret in toydom.

These games are designed for Google Home, but you can also play them on phones and Google Assistant-enabled Chromebooks and TVs, as well as those nifty new Smart Displays. These games join Disney's current Google Assistant offerings:

August 21, 2018 — "Hey Google, tell me something good" now dishes out "good news"

Staying up to date on all of the current news is important no matter who you are, but with everything going on in our world, sometimes it's easy to feel like nothing good is happening. In an effort to bring "good news" to light, Google's launching a new Assistant command in the U.S.

When talking to the Assistant on your phone, Google Home, or Smart Display, you can now say "Hey Google, tell me something good" to hear about how people are solving real issues all around us.

Google partnered with Solutions Journalism Network for this feature, and per Google, solutions journalism, "highlights how problems are solvable and that doing better is possible."

If you're in the U.S., you can try out this command starting today.

August 14, 2018 — Pandora Premium now supported by Google Home and Smart Displays

Users have been able to stream Pandora through Google Home speakers for quite some time now, but starting today, you'll be able to link your Pandora Premium account so you can listen to specific, on-demand songs/playlists in addition to the service's popular radio stations.

Pandora Premium costs $9.99/month like the majority of its competitors, but if you own a Google Home, you can get a free 90-day trial to test out the service before handing over any of your hard-earned cash.

You can start listening to Pandora Premium on the Google Home, Home Mini, Home Max, Lenovo Smart Display, and other Google Assistant speakers right now.

August 9, 2018 — Deeper, more specific news coverage is now rolling out

Pretty much since the Assistant's inception, you've been able to say "Hey, Google, what's the news?" to get a quick overview of all the big headlines for any given day.

Starting today and rolling out to users across the U.S., you can now ask the Assistant about news for specific topics, such as "What's the latest on NASA?" or "What's the news on the women's national soccer team?". Asking these questions on a Smart Display will pull up related YouTube videos while audio-only speakers such as Google Home will read out excerpts from news articles.

Additionally, this command will also be available for Android Auto, Android phones, and Assistant-powered headphones like the Bose QC35 II.

August 3, 2018 — Google Home can now understand what room it's in for contextual light controls

That title might make this not sound all that exciting, but this is actually pretty cool.

Up until now, asking your Google Home to "turn on the lights" or "tune off the lights" without specifying a certain room would result in every single connected light being turned on/off. However, a new update now allows the Google Home to only control the lights in the same room as it when this command is issued.

For example, if you have a Google Home assigned to the same room as the smart lights in your living room, asking that Google Home to turn on the lights will only activate the bulbs in the living room. You can still specify rooms with your voice, but this update should make these interactions a lot more natural.

Following numerous Redditors discovering this feature, Google confirmed to Android Police that this is indeed rolling out to users and will be making its way to everyone over the coming days.

July 27, 2018 — You can now schedule custom routines for specific times/days

Building upon Custom Routines that were added to Google Assistant earlier this year, users can now schedule these routines to go off at a certain time/day. Previously, custom routines you made could only be used after saying a specific command.

While creating a routine, you'll now see a new "Set a time and day" option under the "When" section. Here, you can choose the time you want it to play and what day(s) it should repeat.

There are a lot of ways to take advantage of this, with one example being to have your coffee pot turn on, crank up the AC, and hear about the weather as you're waking up without having to ever speak to your Google Home. Neat!

July 26, 2018 — Dutch is now an officially supported language

Good news, Dutch speakers! As of July 26, 2018, Google's confirmed that the Google Assistant now speaks Dutch as one of its official languages.

Assuming you've got an Android phone running Marshmallow or later, you can now access the Assistant to ask it questions about the weather, create calendar appointments, control smart home devices, and more.

In addition to your phone, you'll also be able to use Dutch on the Google Home later in the year once the smart speaker goes on sale in the Netherlands.

July 17, 2018 — New Google Assistant page shows commute times, packages, upcoming flights, and more

Starting today, the Assistant on your phone is getting a big visual overhaul. After prompting the Assistant, tap the icon near the top right that previously opened up the Explore page for finding new Assistant actions and it'll now show a visual overview of your day.

Similar to old Google Now cards, this page shows things like your commute to work, the current weather, upcoming flights, packages that are on their way from recent online orders, calendar appointments, and much more.

In the near future, Google says it'll let you see a quick overview of notes/lists from Google Keep, Todoist, Bring!, and more, a discovery page that'll help you find nearby events/activities, reminders of where you last parked your car, and recommendations for songs and podcasts the Assistant thinks you'll like.

This new interface is rolling out today and is available on Android and iOS for all languages the Assistant supports.

July 10, 2018 — Google updates the UX for selecting the Assistant's voice

During Google I/O this past May, four new voices were added to the Assistant's existing male and female voices to help give it some more personality. Starting today, English users in the United States will see a new user interface when changing the voice.

With the new UX, users will now see a horizontal row of colors that denotes each voice rather than a vertical list of Voice 1, Voice 2, etc. The colors are entirely random and consist of Red, Orange, Amber, Green, Cyan, Blue, Purple, and Pink.

Google says the new look should be live for everyone by the end of the week!

July 10, 2018 — Deezer Premium is now supported on Google Homes in the U.S., Canada, Australia, and Italy

Deezer may not be as popular as rivals like Spotify and Pandora, but for subscribers of the paid Deezer Premium service, you'll be happy to know that you can now listen to all of your Deezer songs and playlists through your Google Home.

Deezer Premium streaming has been available through Google Home since August 2017, but it was initially only live in France and Germany. This was later expanded to the United Kingdom in April of this year, and with this latest rollout, Deezer Premium now works on Google Homes that are in the United States, Canada, Australia, and Italy.

To link Deezer Premium to your Google Home, open the Home app, go to Music, and link your Deezer account.

The service regularly costs $9.99/month, but if you're a new member, Google's offering three months for just $0.99. If you want to take advantage of this offer, it's good until September 20.

June 26, 2018 — All Google Home speakers now support Spanish

While users have been able to talk to Assistant in Spanish on their phones, we're just now getting the ability to do the same on Google Home speakers.

Now, users in the United States, Spain, Mexico and other countries can choose to speak to Google Assistant in Spanish. If you want to change what language Google Home uses, open the Home app on your phone. The tap Settings -> Preferences -> Español.

All Google Home Speakers now support Spanish

June 12, 2018 — Google Home can now handle up to three commands at once

It can get old trying to ask multiple questions to our smart speakers — "What's the weather" and "How's my schedule" — but nowGoogle Home can understand up to three commands. Now, you can get your calendar, find out the weather and start playing music by only saying "Okay Google" once.

Another new feature is support for Multiple Actions. So now, instead of asking, "What's the weather in New York and the weather in San Francisco?", you can ask, "What's the weather in New York and San Francisco?" This is a subtle change, but it makes conversing with Google Assistant much more like conversing with a human.

Google Home can now handle up to three commands at once

May 9, 2018 — Google announced a heap of new features at I/O

To little surprise, the Google Assistant was the star of the show for a good chunk of I/O's opening keynote this year.

A lot of new features were announced for the Assistant, including new voices, the ability to ask follow-up questions without having to say "Hey, Google" each time, and an option for making your own custom Routines.

However, the most exciting thing was a system called Google Duplex. With this, the Assistant can call businesses and make appointments/reservations on your behalf. It's wickedly cool and definitely one of the wildest things to come out of this year's conference.

What's new in Google Home and Assistant at Google I/O 2018

All the important details

Google Now paved the way for Google Assistant

The Google Now page compared to the new Google Feed.

Before there was the Google Assistant, we had Google Now. Google Now was introduced to the world all the way back in 2012, offering contextual info through the Google Now page and helpful answers to random questions with an "OK Google" voice command.

A lot of what made Google Now so great can still be found in the Google Assistant today, with the exception of the Google Now page. The Google Now page used to be home to cards showcasing the weather, information on packages that had shipped from online orders, boarding passes, and more. It's since been replaced by the Google Feed – a collection of news stories Google thinks you'll be interested in – and it's definitely the biggest departure between the two services.

The Google Assistant as a whole is still more powerful than Google Now ever was, but long-time Android users like myself are still mourning the loss of that Now page. RIP, old friend.

Read more: Google Now is being left to wither and die as Google Assistant takes the focus

It's available on just about everything

In just a few short years, the Google Assistant's gone from being exclusive to a now-failed chat app to being integrated into just about anything you can think of.

You'll find Google Assistant built right into most Android phones, it's the star of the show for the Google Home lineup, and it's even making its way into sound bars.

Here's the full list of devices with Google Assistant

Setting up the Google Assistant is as easy or complex as you want

When you set up a device for the first time that has the Assistant, getting started is pretty simple. Accessing it is just a voice command or tap away depending on what gadget you're using, but if you want to really fine-tune your experience, Google's got you covered.

Take a quick dive into your Assistant settings and you'll find options for just about everything – including your weather preferences, changing the Assistant's voice, retraining your voice model, picking out preferred news sources, and much more.

How to set up and customize Google Assistant

Google Assistant is available in multiple regions and languages

Of course, a smart voice assistant isn't any good if you can't actually use it. Fortunately, Google Assistant will be available in 52 countries —adding 38 countries this year — and 17 languages by the end of 2018.

More: Google Assistant will expand to 38 countries and 17 languages in 2018

Google Home's the premier way to get the Assistant in your house (at least for now)

It's great to have the Google Assistant on your phone, but if you want to truly experience just how helpful it can be, you'll want to consider picking up a Google Home.

Google Home is Google's line of smart speakers that put the Assistant on full-display, allowing you to control smart devices, ask random questions, set timers, play music, and more by just using your voice.

You can spend as little as $49 for the Google Home Mini, $129 for the original Google Home, or a whopping $399 for the Google Home Max.

However, as great as the Home series is, don't forget that Smart Displays are just on the horizon.

Announced at CES 2018, Smart Displays are essentially smart speakers with the Google Assistant and a touch screen display that can show you helpful visuals when talking to them. It's basically Google's answer to the Amazon Echo Show and Echo Spot, and we can't wait to see more from them.

Everything you need to know about Google's Home speakers

Then again, is an always-listening speaker the right fit for your home?

However, the convenience of a Google Home (or any smart speaker for that matter) does come at the cost of privacy. Speakers like the Google Home are "always listening", meaning they're constantly on the lookout for a hot word to know when you're talking to it (such as "Ok, Google" and "Hey, Google").

This means the microphone on a Google Home is always active, but it's not necessarily storing all the audio it hears when it doesn't detect its hot word.

Most all speakers allow you to restore some privacy by being able to mute the microphone, but if you want to start asking the Assistant questions, you'll need to unmute it first.

To learn more about these "always listening" speakers, I'll pass the mic over to Jerry

Big upgrades are coming to the Assistant on Wear OS

Switching gears for a second, the Google Assistant on Wear OS (formerly Android Wear) is about to get a big upgrade.

In the near future, the Assistant on Wear OS will support Assistant Actions (basically apps for the Assistant) and give you the option to hear its responses through your watch's speaker or a pair of connected Bluetooth headphones.

Along with this, Google will be adding something called "smart suggestions." After asking the Assistant for the weather, for example, you'll see little bubbles for "weather tonight", "use celsius", and more so you can continue the conversation with just the tap of your finger. Google Assistant on Android offers something similar, and it's a great tool to have.

IFTTT supercharges the Assistant's usefulness

IFTTT (If This Then That) is a powerful online tool that allows you trigger something (that) if a certain event (this) happens. You can connect IFTTT to the Google Assistant to create your own recipes using this formula, and it can allow for some incredibly helpful combinations.

Some of our favorite uses for IFTTT and the Assistant include adding contacts to your Google account, setting your Google Calendar status to Busy for a certain period of time, and much, much more.

Getting started with IFTTT can take some time and patience if you're new to it, but once you're all set up and ready to go, it can prove to be a lifesaver.

How to connect Google Home and IFTTT to do amazing things with your connected tech

You'll get the same experience no matter what devices you use

With so many devices capable of running the Assistant, it'd be easy to think that the experience you get on one gadget would be different from another. This is something that Google struggled with for a while at first, but we're finally in a position where the Assistant experience you get on a smart speaker, for example, is the same you'll get on your phone.

There are a handful of features here and there that still create for some discrepency, but for the most part, the Assistant you use on your Pixel 2 is the same one found on Google Home.

Google Home and Google Assistant finally offer the same experience

Google Duplex is actually going to be a thing

Google showed off Duplex — Google Assistant making natural-sounding phone calls on your behalf — at I/O 2018, but quickly noted that it was just an experiment. Flash forward a couple months, and Google announced that certain users have started testing Duplex, and a public release will be here in the next few months. Before you know it, Google Assistant will be able to book hotels, dinner reservations, hair appointments and more without you lifting a finger.

More: What is Google Duplex?

Updated July 2018: Added the Google Duplex and language support sections, as well as links to recent Assistant news.

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