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Android Intelligence
 
 
IN THIS ISSUE:
 
  The Latest Android Intelligence: Three burning questions about Google's Pixel 3a and getting to know Android Q's new gestures
  3 Things to Know This Week: The next-gen Google Assistant, the Home-Nest merger, and Android's amazing new caption system
  Tips o’ the Week: Fresh Sheets features and a simpler way to stop alarms
  Deal Intelligence: The Pixel 3a for (effectively) $100 off, two Home Hubs for (practically) the price of one, and a decent discount on a hot new convertible Chromebook
  Plus Clippy's cold-blooded assassination — at the hands of Conan?!
 
 
 A Word of Welcome

Whew! What a week. Google I/O is over, and that means we've got no shortage of juicy nuggets to mull over and digest. Sure, we saw all the stuff we were expecting — like the launch of the new midrange Pixel 3a phone — but we also saw plenty of surprises. And now that everything's official, we've got lots of context-seeking and contemplating to do.

 

Let's get right into it, shall we?

 
JR
jr@androidintel.net
 
 
INSIGHT
 The Latest Android Intelligence
 
3 Burning Questions About Google's Pixel 3a

 The Short Version: As Google's Pixel 3a phone makes its way into the world, it's time to think through the bigger-picture implications of the device's arrival.

 

 Know More: For all we know about Google's new midrange Pixel option, there are still some pretty significant unanswered questions — some bigger-picture puzzles that'll help us fully understand the Pixel 3a's impact on the greater Google ecosystem and Android landscape. Think 'em through with me, won't ya?

 

 Read more: The full column is here.

 
 
Android Q Gestures: The Good, the Bad, and the Baffling

 The Short Version: Get ready for a whole new way to get around Android (yes, again!). Here's an up-close look at Android Q's new gesture system, where it shines, and where it falls short.

 

 Know More: After a couple of days living with Android Q's new gesture system, two things are clear: First, this is a major leap forward from Google's first gesture effort — and second, there's still plenty of work to be done

 

 Read more: The full column is here.

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PERSPECTIVE
 3 Things to Know This Week
 
1. Google Assistant is about to get a whole lot better

 The Short Version: The brains behind Assistant will soon move from Google's data centers onto your own local Android device, which should seriously shake up the way the service works and what it's capable of accomplishing.

 

 Know more: Google says it shrunk Assistant's speech and language recognition models down from 100GB to less than half a gigabyte, which will allow it to store all of Assistant's brainpower on individual devices instead of requiring phones to tap into the cloud for every Assistant interaction. The result, according to Google's demo, is an Assistant that works almost instantaneously — making it possible (at least in theory) to dictate text, move between apps, and perform all sorts of different tasks by voice in an impressively fast and efficient manner. Google says the setup makes Assistant 10 times faster at responding, in fact, and allows it to work offline as well. The on-stage demos certainly make it seem like this could have the potential to turn Assistant into a far more useful tool for completing complex actions and getting around Android without ever lifting a finger.

 

 Read more: You can read more about the changes (which are expected to roll out later this year starting with "new Pixel phones," however you want to interpret that) here. And if you didn't see Google's on-stage demos of the technology, do yourself a favor and go watch 'em. This is really something you have to see to appreciate how significant it could be — if, of course, it actually works as well as Google promises.

 
 
2. Google Home and Nest are merging

 The Short Version: After coyly flirting and dancing around each other for what seemed like an eternity, Google's Home and Nest brands are finally getting married and merging into a single entity called Google Nest.

 

 Know more: The Home and Nest teams have actually been working together for almost a year now, but the products put out by the two brands have remained awkwardly separate — despite their obvious overlap. Now, Google is getting rid of the Home name altogether and using Nest for all of its self-made home products (so in other words, Pixel will be the brand for all Google mobile products and Nest will be the brand for all Google home-oriented devices). As part of this, the Home Hub is being renamed to "Nest Hub," though the regular Google Home and Home Mini won't be rebranded until future generations. Google is also getting rid of its "Works with Nest" program for third-party integrations, stepping up its privacy commitment for Nest products, and preparing to integrate Nest accounts with Google accounts in order to provide a single, maximally secure sign-on.

 

 Read more: The full Nest announcement is here.

 

 DIVE DEEPER: For a thought-provoking perspective on how parts of the Nest change might not be a good thing, see this well-reasoned counterpoint: "Google's Nest Changes Risk Making the Smart Home a Little Dumber"

 
 
3. Live on-demand captioning is coming to Android

 The Short Version: As part of its Android Q improvements, Google is prepping a new system that can place live on-demand captions on top of practically any kind of media content — podcasts, videos, even regular ol' phone calls.

 

 Know more: This has huge implications for the hearing impaired community, but it could be pretty interesting for the rest of us as well. With Android's new Live Caption system, as it's being called, you could watch a video in a public place without having to be That Guy™ (or That Girl™ or That Non-Gender-Specific Goober™) who blares the audio out for everyone else to "enjoy"; instead, you could simply silence your phone and flip on Live Caption and then see every word on your screen as it's uttered. The phone call part is even more phenomenal: Google's system will actually transcribe everything the person on the other end says in real-time and then allow you to "speak" back either by typing or by using the contextually provided Smart Reply suggestions that appear on-screen throughout the conversation. Pretty futuristic — and the kind of thing that could have an incredible impact for a lot of people.

 

 Read more: Read more about Live Caption here, then be sure to check out Google's official demo of the general captioning system and the phone call feature.

Unlock even more I/O knowledge.

 

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Productivity
 Tips o' the Week
 
Check out Google Sheets' newest features

We talked the other week about incredibly useful things you didn't know Google Sheets could do — and now, Sheets is getting some more noteworthy powers.

 

Amidst all the Google I/O insanity this week, Google quietly announced some updates to the Sheets app. Most significant are the added abilities to remove duplicate cells and to trim white space from cells with a single command.

 

Both new features should show up in Sheets' Data menu within the next several days, so keep an eye out for 'em and remember to seek 'em out the next time a need arises.

 
 
Stop alarms and timers the simpler way

Starting this week, you can stop any alarm or timer set on a Google Home or Smart Display device simply by saying "Stop" while it's sounding — y'know, what you usually say instinctively, anyway, before remembering that you have to say "Hey Google" first. Now it works the way you'd expect, and you don't have to say "Hey Google" before telling the thing to shut up.

 

A small but welcome improvement.

SMART TECH
 Deal Intelligence
 
$100 in store credit with a Pixel 3a purchase

If you're thinking about picking up one of Google's new Pixel 3a phones, take note: From now through the end of next Saturday, May 18th, you can get $100 in store credit along with the device — effectively bringing its price down to $299. Not too shabby at all.

 

The deal is active at the Google Store, Best Buy, and B&H as well as through Google Fi. The $100 credit comes from whichever place you purchase the phone — so you'll get Google Store credit, Best Buy credit, B&H credit, or Fi credit, depending on where you buy it.

 

 Check it out: Google Store, Best Buy, B&H, Google Fi

 
 
Two Google Home (Nest) Hubs for $140

Google's Home Hub Smart Display — now officially known as the Nest Hub — got a permanent price drop to $129 this week. But as of this moment, you can pick up two of the suckers for $140, which is pretty darn close to getting two for the price of one.

 

The deal is running from now through the end of this coming Sunday (or whenever supplies run out) at Costco.

 

 Check it out: Costco

 
 
$40 off the new Asus Chromebook Flip

Asus's brand spankin' new Chromebook Flip C434 — the successor to the popular C302 convertible model — is already marked down by 40 bucks at a bunch of different retailers.

 

The new Flip has been getting rave reviews, with the main criticism being its price — so a $40 price drop seems especially significant.

 

 Check it out: Amazon, B&H, Office Depot, and beyond

 And Just For Funsies...
 

After all the serious contemplation of our technological futures this week, we need a moment of levity — a moment to look back and laugh at some of the silliness of our technological past. And who better to give us that collective chuckle than my dear pal/personal nemesis and everyone's favorite tech history punchline, the legend himself: Clippy.

 

 

Former Microsoft Windows president and honorary Clippy godfather Steven Sinofsky recently put together a fun and enlightening "unauthorized biography" of Clippy in video-interview form. In it, he talks about everything from the thought process behind Clippy's creation to the original cast of characters in Clippy's world (including dolphins?!). He also shows off Clippy's not-so-flattering appearance on Conan (fair warning: Bloodshed is involved) and then dives into what Clippy can tell us about the future of digital assistants.

 

It's an interesting watch or listen for your next workout, commute, or extended period of sitting and staring blankly. You can find the full video here.

 
That's a Wrap

Google I/O may be behind us, but we've got lots more mulling to do. I'll see you back here next week for some next-level thinking on I/O-related topics and beyond. Until then, do me a favor and try to eat as many Q-themed desserts as you can, would ya? Google may not be ready to tell us the name of the next Android version yet, damn it, but we can sure start doing our own research into the tastiest options.

 

(I left a not-so-subtle hint at my favorite Q dessert name throughout the screenshots of my Android Q gestures column, by the way. Major bonus points if you noticed — and especially if you knew what it was.)

 

Cheerio.

Thoughts
JR

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