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By Usama Jawad96
You may soon be able to get new emojis on Android without waiting for system updates
by Usama Jawad
Love it or hate it: a lot of people use emojis to convey a variety of emotions as it allows them to do so in a lesser amount of time with fewer taps of the keyboard. Typically, support for new emojis on Android and iOS devices comes with system updates such as Android 11 and iOS 14.2. Now, a new report claims that Google may be looking to decouple this dependency on Android system updates.
As spotted by the folks over at XDA, Google has made several commits to the Android Open Source Project (AOSP) Gerrit to achieve this purpose. Currently, all fonts and emojis are stored in a read-only system partition so updating them requires either rooting your phone and having a go at modifying system files yourself or waiting for a system update.
The new commits on the Gerrit indicate that Google will allow the "system_server" process read-write access to the system directory, which essentially means that the company will be able to roll out support for new emojis faster than before.
It is important to note that these commits have not been merged as of yet, so there's no assurance that this change will even happen. However, if they do get merged, we should probably see this change happening with Android 12 which is supposed to bring in at least 217 new emojis with Emoji 13.1 in 2021.
Source: Google (1, 2) via XDA
By Jefferson Mangubat
Microsoft Office edit support comes to Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides for iOS
by Jefferson Mangubat
Google has rolled out native editing support for Microsoft Office files on Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides for iOS. The company announced the latest change today, available now for all users with both personal and enterprise accounts.
The new update allows you to edit, comment, and collaborate on Office files in Docs, Sheets, and Slides on your iPhone or iPad. Google says the feature "brings the collaborative and assistive features of Google Workspace to your Microsoft Office files” for iOS users. That means you no longer have to download and email file attachments like before. Prior to this change, you would need to convert an Office file into a format that's compatible with Docs, Sheets, or Slides in order to edit it on your iOS device, making that task cumbersome.
Office editing support was previously introduced to Docs, Sheets, and Slides for Android in September. The same functionality was rolled out on the web last year. Just like its Android release, today's update gives you access to new improvements to sharing options and controls. The new capability also replaces the previous Office Compatibility Mode (Quickoffice), which only had basic functions.
By Abhay V
Google details the new Fit workout features making it to Wear OS devices
by Abhay Venkatesh
Google Fit received a major revamp last week, bringing new features and UI to the app on Android and iOS. The search giant also previewed new Tiles coming to Wear OS devices that make it easier to start and track workouts from the smartwatch. The firm has now detailed the improvements made to the feature in a separate support document (spotted by 9to5Google).
The revamped experience now features two Tiles for workouts, with the center screen providing basic stats such as time elapsed, distance, and pace – for runners. The Tile on the right provides performance metrics such as calories burnt, steps covered, and Heart Point, which can be cycled through by tapping on the metric. The top of the screen houses a heart rate zone indicator. The new UI also provides completion alerts for each unit of distance – or splits –, including pace information and remaining distance callouts.
Additionally, users can now set goals before commencing a workout by tapping on the flag icon and choosing their preferred goal from the list. These goals include distance, calories, Heart Points, and more. There is also a new celebration animation for when users hit their target for Heart Points or steps, every day.
The leftmost screen features quick settings and music controls. Users can now turn on Touch Lock from the quick settings to prevent accidental touches on the display. However, this does not disable the physical button, making it easy to switch screens or pause workouts.
Lastly, the new Breathe Tile – akin to the one present in Samsung’s devices – provides guided breathing sessions and post-session summary of heart rate changes, and more.
These features will make it to Wear OS through an update to the Fit app starting this week.
Source: Google via 9to5Google
By Rich Woods
2020 Holiday Gift Guide: Streaming solutions
by Rich Woods
Every year, we like to write up some holiday gift guides for those that like to get people some device as a gift, but don't quite know what to get. One of my favorite topics is set-top boxes; you know, those little streaming devices that let you play Netflix, Hulu, and a lot more. The reason is that for so many people, streaming devices are the perfect gift.
There are so many people that only think to upgrade one component of their entertainment system. I can't tell you how many people I see spend a couple thousand dollars on a brand-new LG OLED or Samsung QLED 4K UHD TV, but they're still using their third-generation Apple TV or original Amazon Fire TV Stick. Many people just don't stop to think that they're limiting their experience by using an old device.
It's a meaningful upgrade in our experience too. We spend a lot of our time in front of TVs, whether it's for binging a new show on Netflix or watching movies. Going from something that only supports FHD to something that supports UHD and HDR formats like Dolby Vision can really change the experience. And it's not even an expensive gift.
Amazon Fire TV
If you're buying for someone that's invested in Amazon's ecosystem, the Fire TV is the way to go. What's great about them is that Amazon has some solid deals on its own hardware throughout the holiday season. There are four key products here: Fire TV Cube, Fire TV Stick 4K, Fire TV Stick, and Fire TV Stick Lite.
The Fire TV Cube is the best that Amazon has to offer. It's faster than the quad-core processors in the Fire TV Sticks with its hexa-core chipset, and it has an Ethernet port for wired internet speeds. Another key feature is far-field voice microphones for Alexa support. It's normally $119.99, but right now, it's $79.99.
The Fire TV Stick 4K has the same picture quality as the Fire TV Cube, meaning 4K resolution support along with HDR10+, Dolby Vision, and more HDR support. It comes with an Alexa voice remote. Normally $49.99, this product is just $29.99.
Next, we have the FHD lineup, which is the Fire TV Stick and the Fire TV Stick light. The Fire TV stick is normally $39.99 and it's marked down to $27.99, so you should probably just spend the extra $2 for 4K and Dolby Vision support. Finally, normally $29.99, the Fire TV Stick Lite is $17.99.
Fire TV Cube Fire TV Stick 4K Fire TV Stick Fire TV Stick Lite Google Chromecast
Google's Chromecast was always a product that I had trouble recommending. The whole idea was supposed to be a new take on a streaming device. Instead of a remote control, you cast content from your smartphone to the device, also controlling it with your phone. It was interesting, but not always practical.
The new Chromecast is more traditional though. It comes with an actual operating system, Google TV, which will let you run all of your apps like Netflix, Hulu, and so on. It also comes with a proper remote control. And another thing, you don't need to spend extra money on some "Ultra" variant to get 4K support. The new Chromecast supports 4K resolution, and HDR formats like Dolby Vision, HDR10, and HDR10+.
If you want to check it out on the Google Store, you can find it here.
The nice thing about Roku is that it's platform-agnostic. Amazon's Fire TV is built around Amazon Prime subscription content and on-demand content. Apple TV is built around iTunes. Roku isn't built around any service, although it does have a few of its own now. Roku was also the first to make a streaming set-top box back in the day.
These days, it makes a ton of products, and you can check out the full list here. At the top of the lineup is the Roku Ultra, which supports 4K, Dolby Vision, Dolby Atmos, and wired internet. Usually $99.99, it's on sale for $69.99. Roku also has the Streambar and Smart Soundbar, which add audio quality to the mix along with 4K HDR support.
There are some other things that are nice about Roku too, such as AirPlay support if you don't want to go all-in on an Apple TV. There's also a headphone jack in the remote control, so you can watch TV without waking people up. Just like Amazon, Roku also has its own range of inexpensive streaming sticks.
Roku Ultra ($69, usually $99.99) Roku Streambar (99.99, usually $129.99) Roku Smart Soundbar ($179.99) Apple TV
Apple TV is great if you're invested in Apple's ecosystem, and the nice thing about iTunes is that Apple doesn't charge extra for 4K content. Apple has two models, the Apple TV HD and Apple TV 4K. The difference is pretty self-explanatory. The only problem is that the Apple TV 4K is already three years old, and the Apple TV HD is over five years old.
If you want to check these out, you can find them here:
Apple TV 4K ($179) Apple TV HD ($149) As an Amazon Associate, Neowin may earn commission from qualifying purchases.
By Jay Bonggolto
You can now view detailed contact information right within Gmail's side panel
by Jay Bonggolto
Google announced today a new update for Gmail that brings more information about users' contacts to the side panel. The latest change is rolling out to Gmail for enterprise, education, nonprofit, and personal users.
The new update adds the Contacts tab to the side panel. This allows you to view your contact's team, manager, office or desk location, email history (if any), and contact information like their phone number. You can view these pieces of information by clicking “More info” as you hover over a contact's information card or by selecting the Contacts icon in the side panel.
The new enhancement provides additional information about users within your organization, your contacts, and people who previously sent you an email. In addition, Gmail now lets you add users to your contacts and exchange an email or message with them, right from the side panel.
Google recommends having "user data fully populated across Google Workspace apps" in order to make full use of this feature. These data can be populated in the Users section of the Admin console, Google Cloud Directory Sync, and Admin SDK.
This update is rolling out starting today in the Rapid Release and Scheduled Release domains.