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By Jay Bonggolto
Google Meet now lets you replace your background with an image
by Jay Bonggolto
Google announced today a new update for its Meet video calling service that allows you to change your background with either hand-picked or your personal images. The new feature is available only on desktop for now.
You can use either the pre-uploaded office spaces, landscapes, and abstract backgrounds or choose to upload your own photo. To replace your background before a video call, you can simply choose a meeting and then click "Change Background" on the bottom right. You will then have the option to click the plus (+) sign to add your own image or choose from any of the hand-picked photos. There are options to blur your background as well, a feature that was launched in September on desktops. During a video call, you can also access these options by clicking the "More" three-dot menu.
For now, virtual backgrounds are live on Chrome OS and the Chrome browser on Windows and macOS devices. Google vows to roll out this feature to mobile devices soon. The new capability is turned off by default, so you'll need to enable it each time you start or join a call.
The feature is available for all personal Google account owners and enterprise users. However, you can’t choose your own background images if you join a G Suite for Education video call.
Google Messages' SMS categorization feature could roll out soon
by Rajesh Pandey
Google is testing a wider rollout of SMS categorization in the Google Messages app. The feature will automatically categorize messages depending on their content in various categories including Personal, Transactions, OTPs, Offers, and More. The company had first started testing SMS categorization in the Messages app in late September.
As noted by Android Police, Google will also allow users to turn off the feature completely and recategorize messages as well. There is also an option to share messages with Google to improve the categorization feature. For some users though, while the buttons are showing up in the Messages app, tapping on any of the categories does not seem to do anything.
Going by the posts on Twitter, Google is testing this feature among a wider audience, though this is still not a public rollout. Nonetheless, it should now only be a matter of time before Google rolls out SMS categorization in the Messages app for all Android users.
SMS categorization in messaging apps is not a new thing as there are plenty of third-party messaging apps that already offer this feature, including Microsoft's excellent SMS Organizer.
Source: Android Police
By Ather Fawaz
Google expects to complete Fitbit acquisition this year despite antitrust concerns
by Ather Fawaz
Last year in November, Google announced its plans to acquire Fitbit, one of the most popular wearable manufacturers in the world, for $2.1 billion. Historically, Google's Wear OS has struggled to take off. With the Fitbit-Google merger, the plan was to develop and improve the Wear OS ecosystem, potentially allowing Google to make its own wearable hardware in the future. For Fitbit, the merger feels like a necessity to stay relevant like in its early days, as its devices have been falling behind in terms of market share in recent years.
However, the Alphabet-owned company, and by extension, its acquisition hopes of Fitbit, have faced criticism and regulatory scrutiny in the U.S. and Europe for abusing antitrust laws. Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Justice sued Google's parent company Alphabet for the same.
Notwithstanding the status quo, Alphabet CFO Ruth Porat said the company anticipates its bid for Fitbit will be completed this year. In an interview with Bloomberg, Porat said, “We do still expect we are going to receive the necessary regulatory approvals to hopefully complete the transaction before the end of this year. But the time frame may extend beyond that.”
Corroborating this, European lawmakers were also given a deadline extension to pass a verdict on the acquisition. While the new deadline is January 8, next year, approval may well be in sight now. How the deal pans out from here, remains to be seen.
By News Staff
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by Steven Parker
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Google adds a VPN to Google One plans with 2TB or more
by João Carrasqueira
Google is adding a new capability to Google One, the subscription service that brings together Google's cloud storage and a handful of other features. Now, Google One members can also get a VPN service, as long as they're paying for plans that include 2TB of storage or more.
A virtual private network (VPN) allows users to navigate the web with an additional layer of protection, encrypting the data sent between the endpoint device and the internet. This is especially useful in situations where you might be using public Wi-Fi, where ill-intended users may be trying to uncover personal information. The VPN by Google One will be built into the Google One app, and it can be enabled easily.
To go along with the new capability, Google is also making Pro Sessions available with VPN support. Pro Sessions let users get in touch with professionals on Google's side to learn more about specific features of Google One, and they'll include information about the VPN service.
Google has been expanding the benefits of Google One over time, adding expanded phone backups for Android phones, cashback rewards on Google hardware, and recently by bringing the Google One app to iOS, albeit with limited functionality. The VPN service is rolling out in the next few weeks for Android devices in the U.S., but Google says it's also coming to iOS, Windows, and Mac - as well as more countries - in the coming months.