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Alphabet's Loon not commercially viable and is due to shut
by Paul Hill
Alphabet’s Loon has announced that it’s shutting down. The project delivered the internet to cut off communities using stratospheric balloons. X’s Captain of Moonshots Astro Teller said that the Loon subsidiary was not commercially viable describing the project as “riskier than hoped.”
In the coming months, Teller said that Alphabet will begin winding down Loon and that employees “will be moving on.” A small group of the Loon team is going to wrap up operations in places like Kenya where the project is being used to deliver connectivity. For those that have come to rely on Loon, the service will be going away but Alphabet will share what it has learned with telcos, mobile network operators, governments, NGOs and technology companies to help find replacement technology.
Some innovations developed by the project live on according to Teller who said:
While it’s a shame that Loon could not become commercially viable, there are alternative solutions that are being built to help connect those with poor or no internet connectivity. While still expensive, Elon Musk’s SpaceX has been creating its Starlink constellation which delivers speeds of 50Mb/s to 150Mb/s from space.
By Jay Bonggolto
Google Duo might soon stop working on unsupported Android devices
by Jay Bonggolto
A recent update to Google Messages was found containing a string that indicated the app would stop working on uncertified Android devices starting March 31. This was spotted courtesy of XDA Developers' teardown of the app's version 7.2.203.
The change could be due to the rollout of end-to-end encryption feature for Rich Communication Service (RCS) messages. Now, a new app teardown by the folks at 9to5Google suggests that Google Duo will also stop working on unsupported Android phones in the future.
This was found on the latest version of Duo (version 123), which contains the following notice:
The app’s code also indicates that this upcoming change is related to “GmsCompliance" or Google Mobile Services (GMS). It's basically a collection of Google applications and APIs that support functionality across devices. Currently, even phones that are not certified to run GMS like those from Huawei can still use Duo.
When the upcoming change takes effect, Android phones that are not certified to use Play Services may soon be unable to run Duo. It remains unclear, though, when the app will stop working on unsupported devices.
Android 12 could debut revamped split-screen feature with 'App Pairs'
by Rajesh Pandey
Google is possibly working on improving the split-view multitasking experience on Android. The company has not updated the feature in a long time now and it is a bit cumbersome and awkward to run apps in split-screen mode on Android devices right now.
Image Source: 9to5Google As per a new report, Google is planning a major revamp of the split-screen multitasking experience for Android 12. It will debut a new feature called "App Pairs" which will allow users to group two apps in split-screen mode as a "task." What this means is that when one opens the Recent Apps view, they will be shown this "app pair" as a single "task". This will make it easier to switch between another app and then back to the "app pair."
The divider between two apps in split-screen mode is also gaining additional functionality. It will allow users to swap the position of the two apps via a simple double-tap. On paper, the new multitasking approach already sounds more convenient and useful than the existing split-view multitasking method of Android 11. It should also make the split-view multitasking experience far better on foldables and tablets.
Google could possibly announce other multitasking related improvements in Android 12 as the feature has not been updated in quite a few years now. Given that the first developer preview of Android 11 was released in February, it is possible that Android 12 will also be announced around the same time this year.
By Jay Bonggolto
Google starts rolling out offline support for Calendar on the web
by Jay Bonggolto
Google announced today the rollout of offline support for Calendar on the web. The new update comes in handy especially in situations when you're offline or you have a poor internet connection.
The latest change allows you to access Calendar when offline, including events from four weeks earlier or any time in the future by week, day, or month. However, reminders and tasks won't be available when offline.
Calendar's offline support is available to Google Workspace customers with Essentials, Business Starter, Business Standard, Business Plus, Enterprise Essentials, Enterprise Standard, and Enterprise Plus accounts. It's also live for G Suite Basic, Business, Education, Enterprise for Education, and Nonprofits customers.
For IT admins, the feature is now turned on by default. That said, there's an option to disable offline use. For end users, it's switched off by default even after admins have enabled it. They can turn it on for each device they use, nevertheless.
Data will be stored on the device as long as Calendar is used offline. Google, however, cautions against using offline mode on public or shared computers.
The feature is live initially for admins from today. It will arrive for end users in the Rapid Release domains by January 25 and for those in the Scheduled Release domains by February 1, so if you don't see the option yet, you'll have to wait until then.
By Abhay V
Google Messages might stop working on uncertified Android devices starting March 31
by Abhay Venkatesh
Google Messages is a popular messaging app that is installed on more than a billion devices, an impressive feat considering that not every Android device comes pre-installed with the app. The offering serves as a viable alternative to OEM-provided messaging apps on non-Pixel devices. The search giant’s offering can also be sideloaded on devices that are not certified for running Google Mobile Services (GMS), meaning that even devices like those from Huawei – which no longer ship with GMS – can leverage the app.
That might be changing soon, if a string in the Messages app spotted by the folks over at XDA Developers is to be believed. A teardown of the app points to a “compliance warning message” that implies that the app will stop working on uncertified devices starting March 31. The mention was spotted on a teardown of version 7.2.203.
The publication speculates that this change is being made due to the end-to-end encryption feature that is rolling out for Rich Communication Service (RCS) messages. The inability to vet uncertified devices or ascertain if they are compromised – due to the lack of Play services – might pose a risk for users. This means that starting April 1, uncertified phones could begin losing the ability to run Messages and users must look for alternate services.
It is not clear when the updated version of the Messages app will make it to all users with the compliance warning. While the change should affect only a small number of users, it further helps make the service a secure alternative for RCS messaging.