Facebook testing new Explore Feed tab on Android

For many people, Facebook has become a prime point of contact for their time spent online. That is not stopping the company from continuing to explore ways to keep users on the site even more and trying to find ways to entice new users to get on-board. For example, they have launched a dedicated section for videos and the intention appears to be for that to become a source for original content only available through Facebook. Now the company is working on a way to get news junkies to stick around via a new Explore Feed.

Google app teardown points the way to new Google Assistant features, Pixel squeeze feature

A new beta version of the Google app is rolling out to users and a teardown shows several new features that will either be included in the next version or possibly a subsequent version. The improvements and features cover both the Google Assistant and will presumably be available for all users as well as some features specific to the forthcoming Pixel 2 device.

Samsung’s Bixby button can be disabled in latest update

An update to the Samsung Bixby app is rolling out to the Galaxy S8, Galaxy S8+ and Galaxy Note 8 devices that provides a little bit of help for users who find the Samsung AI platform more of a bother than anything else. A frequent complaint from users is that the Bixby button is essentially in the way for users who have not interest in Bixby, especially when it is accidentally pressed to open Bixby. The update adds a new setting to disable the Bixby button.

Google Tez is new mobile payments platform in works for Indian market

India continues to show signs of becoming a major market for the tech industry despite challenges related to the relative lack of wealth and Google is working hard to capitalize on that growth. The latest move from Google involves a mobile payment platform that is localized for India going by the name Google Tez, which means “fast” in India. Google Tez will be a new platform joining Google Wallet and Android Pay.

Google announces Material Design Award winners

At their annual conference covering the intersection between design and technology, Google announced this year’s winners of the Material Design Awards during SPAN Pittsburgh. This is the third year for the annual awards and Google decided to change things up a bit by opening nominations to the public. After receiving “hundreds of submissions” Google reviewed them and came up with four winners. The honorees are recognized for “best-in-class achievements in employing the Material Design system.”

[Download] Use the official BlueBorne Vulnerability Scanner app to check if your phone is safe

By now, you may have heard a little about the BlueBorne Bluetooth vulnerability that billions of devices are exposed to. Even if you haven’t actually paired with another device, many of us leave Bluetooth active on our phones, which leaves them vulnerable to BlueBorne because it doesn’t even need to pair with the handset to take control of it. Scary, right? An IoT security company called Armis Labs first discovered ‘BlueBorne’, and has also published an app that you can download to check if your handset is vulnerable to this latest attack.

Google Allo gets a web update including ‘volume’ and Smart Smileys

Google has been quite slow to expand the Allo ecosystem since first revealing yet another messaging platform from the tech giant. One piece that seemed to take forever was the launch of a web interface for users wanting to access Allo from their desktops. Google finally released a web interface last month, but users quickly discovered it was a barebones version lacking some features. Google is starting work on addressing the shortcomings and today released an update adding the ability to shout or whisper when sending messages and they added the Smart Smiley function.

Upcoming ‘Baywolf’ headphones could sport Google Assistant built-in

With less than a month to go until October 5th where Google will take the wraps off of the Pixel 2 handsets, as well as possibly a Google Home Mini and brand new Pixel Chromebook, you could say that anticipation levels are sky-high. Besides the new hardware already mentioned, Google could well be branching out into headphones toting Google Assistant if the latest report is correct. 

Google adds HDR support to the Pixel and Pixel XL, sort of

Google has quietly added HDR support for the Pixel and Pixel XL in the YouTube app. Cool, right? It is, but how they did it is pretty interesting.

Typically, phones need to support HDR at the hardware level. Some newer phones and tablets are launching with it despite there not being very much HDR content, but you don’t see OEMs go back to add HDR support via software on older phones, but that’s exactly what Google did.

On-again, off-again Samsung Bixby home assistant device back on

It has been an on and off effort by Samsung on working toward release of their own version of a smart home assistant device to compete with Google Home, Amazon Echo and the Apple HomePod. In July word first came out that Samsung was working on a device to compete in that market, but progress was slow due to troubles experienced with the Bixby technology that would power the devices. Shortly after that news surfaced, sources indicated Samsung had decided to abandon the effort apparently judging their entry into the market as being too late. While making the rounds in connection with the launch of the Galaxy Note 8 this week, Samsung’s DJ Koh indicates the company is moving forward with plans for a home assistant device.

Bixby Voice is now available in more than 200 countries, if you speak English

The Galaxy S8 launched earlier this year featuring Samsung’s new assistant, Bixby, replacing the S Voice app that has been present on previous Galaxy S handsets. While Samsung made a pretty big deal out of Bixby at the launch event, the truth is that the virtual assistant launched incomplete and the voice component of the app only became available on the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus in the US last month. Now, Bixby Voice is rolling out to pretty much everywhere in the world, so long as you speak English and own a Galaxy S8.