Category Archives: Android Blog

News and notes from the Android team

At I/O ’19: Building a more helpful Google for everyone

Today, we welcomed thousands of people to I/O, our annual developer’s conference. It’s one of my favorite events of the year because it gives us a chance to show how we’re bringing Google’s mission to life through new technological breakthroughs and products.

Our mission to make information universally accessible and useful hasn’t changed over the past 21 years, but our approach has evolved over time. Google is no longer a company that just helps you find answers. Today, Google products also help you get stuff done, whether it’s finding the right words with Smart Compose in Gmail, or the fastest way home with Maps.

Simply put, our vision is to build a more helpful Google for everyone, no matter who you are, where you live, or what you’re hoping to accomplish. When we say helpful, we mean giving you the tools to increase your knowledge, success, health, and happiness. I’m excited to share some of the products and features we announced today that are bringing us closer to that goal.

Helping you get better answers to your questions

People turn to Google to ask billions of questions every day. But there’s still more we can do to help you find the information you need. Today, we announced that we’ll bring the popular Full Coverage feature from Google News to Search. Using machine learning, we’ll identify different points of a story—from a timeline of events to the key people involved—and surface a breadth of content including articles, tweets and even podcasts.

Sometimes the best way to understand new information is to see it. New features in Google Search and Google Lens use the camera, computer vision and augmented reality (AR) to provide visual answers to visual questions. And now we’re bringing AR directly into Search. If you’re searching for new shoes online, you can see shoes up close from different angles and even see how they go with your current wardrobe. You can also use Google Lens to get more information about what you’re seeing in the real world. So if you’re at a restaurant and point your camera at the menu, Google Lens will highlight which dishes are popular and show you pictures and reviews from people who have been there before. In GoogleGo, a search app for first-time smartphone users, Google Lens will read out loud the words you see, helping the millions of adults around the world who struggle to read everyday things like street signs or ATM instructions.

Google Lens: Urmila’s Story

Google Lens: Urmila’s Story

Helping to make your day easier

Last year at I/O we introduced our Duplex technology, which can make a restaurant reservation through the Google Assistant by placing a phone call on your behalf. Now, we’re expanding Duplex beyond voice to help you get things done on the web. To start, we’re focusing on two specific tasks: booking rental cars and movie tickets. Using “Duplex on the Web,” the Assistant will automatically enter information, navigate a booking flow, and complete a purchase on your behalf. And with massive advances in deep learning, it’s now possible to bring much more accurate speech and natural language understanding to mobile devices—enabling the Google Assistant to work faster for you.

We continue to believe that the biggest breakthroughs happen at the intersection of AI, software and hardware, and today we announced two Made by Google products: the new Pixel 3a (and 3a XL), and the Google Nest Hub Max. With Pixel 3a, we’re giving people the same features they love on more affordable hardware. Google Nest Hub Max brings the helpfulness of the Assistant to any room in your house, and much more.

Building for everyone

Building a more helpful Google is important, but it’s equally important to us that we are doing this for everyone. From our earliest days, Search has worked the same, whether you’re a professor at Stanford or a student in rural Indonesia. We extend this approach to developing technology responsibly, securely, and in a way that benefits all.

This is especially important in the development of AI. Through a new research approach called TCAV—or testing with concept activation vectors—we’re working to address bias in machine learning and make models more interpretable. For example, TCAV could reveal if a model trained to detect images of “doctors” mistakenly assumed that being male was an important characteristic of being a doctor because there were more images of male doctors in the training data. We’ve open-sourced TCAV so everyone can make their AI systems fairer and more interpretable, and we’ll be releasing more tools and open datasets soon.

Another way we’re building responsibly for everyone is by ensuring that our products are safe and private. We’re making a set of privacy improvements so that people have clear choices around their data. Google Account, which provides a single view of your privacy control settings, will now be easily accessible in more products with one tap. Incognito mode is coming to Maps, which means you can search and navigate without linking this activity with your Google account, and new auto-delete controls let you choose how long to save your data. We’re also making several security improvements on Android Q, and we’re building the protection of a security key right into the phone for two-step verification.

As we look ahead, we’re challenging the notion that products need more data to be more helpful. A new technique called federated learning allows us to train AI models and make products smarter without raw data ever leaving your device. With federated learning, Gboard can learn new words like “zoodles” or “Targaryen” after thousands of people start using them, without us knowing what you’re typing. In the future, AI advancements will provide even more ways to make products more helpful with less data.

Building for everyone also means ensuring that everyone can access and enjoy our products, including people with disabilities. Today we introduced several products with new tools and accessibility features, including Live Caption, which can caption a conversation in a video, a podcast or one that’s happening in your home. In the future, Live Relay and Euphonia will help people who have trouble communicating verbally, whether because of a speech disorder or hearing loss.

Project Euphonia: Helping everyone be better understood

Project Euphonia: Helping everyone be better understood

Developing products for people with disabilities often leads to advances that improve products for all of our users. This is exactly what we mean when we say we want to build a more helpful Google for everyone. We also want to empower other organizations who are using technology to improve people’s lives. Today, we recognized the winners of the Google AI Impact Challenge, 20 organizations using AI to solve the world’s biggest problems—from creating better air quality monitoring systems to speeding up emergency responses.

Our vision to build a more helpful Google for everyone can’t be realized without our amazing global developer community. Together, we’re working to give everyone the tools to increase their knowledge, success, health and happiness. There’s a lot happening, so make sure to keep up with all the I/O-related news.

Source: Android


Sharing what’s new in Android Q

 This year, Android is reaching version 10 and operating on over 2.5 billion active devices. A lot has changed since version 1.0, back when smartphones were just an early idea. Now, they’re an integral tool in our lives—helping us stay in touch, organize our days or find a restaurant in a new place.

Looking ahead, we’re continuing to focus on working with partners to shape the future of mobile and make smartphones even more helpful. As people carry their phones constantly and trust them with lots of personal information, we want to make sure they’re always in control of their data and how it’s shared. And as people spend more time on their devices, building tools to help them find balance with technology continues to be our priority. That’s why we’re focusing on three key areas for our next release, Android Q: innovation, security and privacy and digital wellbeing.

New mobile experiences

Together with over 180 device makers, Android has been at the forefront of new mobile technologies. Many of them—like the first OLED displays, predictive typing, high density and large screens with edge-to-edge glass—have come to Android first. 

This year, new industry trends like foldable phone displays and 5G are pushing the boundaries of what smartphones can do. Android Q is designed to support the potential of foldable devices—from multi-tasking to adapting to different screen dimensions as you unfold the phone. And as the first operating system to support 5G, Android Q offers app developers tools to build for faster connectivity, enhancing experiences like gaming and augmented reality.

We’re also seeing many firsts in software driven by on-device machine learning. One of these features is Live Caption. For 466 million deaf and hard of hearing people around the world, captions are more than a convenience—they make content more accessible. We worked closely with the Deaf community to develop a feature that would improve access to digital media. With a single tap, Live Caption will automatically caption media that’s playing audio on your phone. Live Caption works with videos, podcasts and audio messages, across any app—even stuff you record yourself. As soon as speech is detected, captions will appear, without ever needing Wifi or cell phone data, and without any audio or captions leaving your phone.

On-device machine learning also powers Smart Reply, which is now built into the notification system in Android, allowing any messaging app to suggest replies in notifications. Smart Reply will now also intelligently predict your next action—for example, if someone sends you an address, you can just tap to open that address in Maps.

A phone screen showing a message coming in with an address, and a chip in the notification that opens the address in Google Maps.

Security and privacy as a central focus

Over the years, Android has built out many industry-first security and privacy protections, like file-based encryption, SSL by default and work profile. Android has the most widely-deployed security and anti-malware service of any operating system today thanks to Google Play Protect, which scans over 50 billion apps every day. 

We’re doing even more in Android Q, with almost 50 new features and changes focused on security and privacy. For example, we created a dedicated Privacy section under Settings, where you’ll find important controls in one place. Under Settings, you’ll also find a new Location section that gives you more transparency and granular control over the location data you share with apps. You can now choose to share location data with apps only while they’re in use. Plus, you’ll receive reminders when an app has your location in the background, so you can decide whether or not to continue sharing. Android Q also provides protections for other sensitive device information, like serial numbers.

Finally, we're introducing a way for you to get the latest security and privacy updates, faster. With Android Q, we’ll update important OS components in the background, similar to the way we update apps. This means that you can get the latest security fixes, privacy enhancements and consistency improvements as soon as they’re available, without having to reboot your phone.

Helping you find balance

Since creating our set of Digital Wellbeing tools last year, we’ve heard that they’ve helped you take better control of your phone usage. In fact, app timers helped people stick to their goals over 90 percent of the time, and people who use Wind Down had a 27 percent drop in nightly phone usage.

This year, we’re going even further with new features like Focus mode, which is designed to help you focus without distraction. You can select the apps you find distracting—such as email or the news—and silence them until you come out of Focus mode. And to help children and families find a better balance with technology, we’re making Family Link part of every device that has Digital Wellbeing (starting with Android Q), plus adding top-requested features like bonus time and the ability to set app-specific time limits.

Phone screens showing new Family Link controls in Android Q.

Available in Beta today

Android Q brings many more new features to your smartphone, from a new gesture-based navigation to Dark Theme (you asked, we listened!) to streaming media to hearing aids using Bluetooth LE. 

A grid of logos that demonstrates which devices and brands Android Q beta is available on, including Pixel, Sony, Nokia, Huawei and LG.

You can find some of these features today in Android Q Beta, and thanks to Project Treble and our partners for their commitment to enable faster platform updates, Beta is available for 21 devices from 13 brands, including all Pixel phones.

Source: Android


Easier phone calls without voice or hearing

Last year, I read a social media post from a young woman in Israel. She shared a story about a guy she was in a relationship with, who was deaf, struggling to fix the internet connection at their home. The internet service provider’s tech support had no way to communicate with him via text, email or chat, even though they knew he was deaf. She wrote about how important it was for him to feel independent and be empowered.

This got me thinking: How can we help people make and receive phone calls without having to speak or hear? This led to the creation of our research project, Live Relay.

Live Relay uses on-device speech recognition and text-to-speech conversion to allow the phone to listen and speak on the users’ behalf while they type. By offering instant responses and predictive writing suggestions, Smart Reply and Smart Compose help make typing fast enough to hold a synchronous phone call.

Live Relay is running entirely on the device, keeping calls private. Because Live Relay is interacting with the other side via a regular phone call (no data required), the other side can even be a landline.

Of course, Live Relay would be helpful to anyone who can’t speak or hear during a call, and it may be particularly helpful to deaf and hard-of-hearing users, complementing existing solutions. In the U.S., for example, there are relay and real-time text (RTT) services available for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. These offer advantages in some situations, and our goal isn’t to replace these systems. Rather, we mean to complement them with Live Relay as an additional option for the contexts where it can help most, like handling an incoming call or  when the user prefers a fully automated system for privacy consideration.

We’re even more excited for Live Relay in the long term because we believe it can help all of our users. How many times have you gotten an important call but been unable to step out and chat? With Live Relay, you would be able to take that call anywhere, anytime with the option to type instead of talk. We are also exploring the integration of real-time translation capability, so that you could potentially call anyone in the world and communicate regardless of language barriers. This is the power of designing for accessibility first.

Live Relay is still in the research phase, but we look forward to the day it can give our users more and better ways to communicate—especially those who may be underserved by the options available today.

Follow @googleaccess for continued updates, and contact the Disability Support team (g.co/disabilitysupport) with any feedback.

Source: Android


From puzzles to poster-making: 2019’s Google Play Award winners

To kick off this year’s Google I/O, we hosted our fourth annual Google Play Award ceremony to recognize the most innovative developers behind the top apps and games on Google Play over the past year. These apps and games had stiff competition across nine categories, including new additions like Most Inventive, Best Living Room Experience and Most Beautiful Game. We’re sharing the winners that rose to the top for providing the best experiences for fans, making an impact on their communities and raising the bar for quality content on Google Play.

Standout Well-Being App

Apps empowering people to live the best version of their lives, while demonstrating responsible design and engagement strategies.

Best Accessibility Experience

Apps and games enabling device interaction in an innovative way that serve people with disabilities or special needs.

The Envision AI logo with a dark green background and "e" in the center.

Envision AI by Envision Technologies BV

Best Social Impact

Apps and games that create a positive impact in communities around the world (focusing on health, education, crisis response, refugees, and literacy).

The Wisdo logo with a purple background and "w" in the center.

Wisdo by Wisdo LTD.

Most Beautiful Game

Games that exemplify artistry or unique visual effects either through creative imagery, and/or utilizing advanced graphics API features.

The Shadowgun Legends logo with two robots.

SHADOWGUN LEGENDS by MADFINGER Games

Best Living Room Experience

Apps that create, enhance, or enable a great living room experience that brings people together.

Most Inventive

Apps and games that display a groundbreaking new use case, like utilize new technologies, cater to a unique audience, or demonstrate an innovative application of mobile technology for users.

The Tick Tock logo with 2 hands holding pocket watches.

Tick Tock: A Tale of Two by Other Tales Interactive

Standout Build for Billions Experience

Apps and games with optimized performance, localization and culturalization for emerging markets.

Best Breakthrough App

New apps with excellent overall design, user experience, engagement, retention and strong growth.

The Slowly logo with a mailbox with a letter in it.

SLOWLY by Slowly Communications Ltd.

Best Breakthrough Game

New games with excellent overall design, user experience, engagement, retention and strong growth.

Marvel logo with colorful background

MARVEL Strike Force by FoxNext Games

To check out this year’s winners, head over to play.google.com/gpa2019.

Source: Android


The ultimate account security is now in your pocket

Phishing—when an attacker tries to trick you into turning over your online credentials—is the most common cause of security breaches. Preventing phishing attacks can be a major challenge for personal and business users alike. At Google, we automatically block the overwhelming majority of malicious sign-in attempts (even if an attacker has your username or password), but an additional layer of protection can be helpful.

Two-step verification (or 2SV) makes it even harder for attackers to gain access to your accounts by adding one more step to the sign-in process. While any form of 2SV, like SMS text message codes and push notifications, improves the security of your account, sophisticated attackers can skirt around them by targeting you with a fake sign-in page to steal your credentials.

We consider security keys based on FIDO standards, like our Titan Security Key, to be the strongest, most phishing-resistant method of 2SV on the market today. These physical security keys protect your account from phishers by requiring you to tap your key during suspicious or unrecognized sign-in attempts.

Now, you have one more option—and it’s already in your pocket. Starting today in beta, your phone can be your security key—it’s built into devices running Android 7.0+. This makes it easier and more convenient for you to unlock this powerful protection, without having to carry around additional security keys. Use it to protect your personal Google Account, as well as your Google Cloud Accounts at work. We also recommend it for people in our Advanced Protection Program—like journalists, activists, business leaders and political campaign teams who are most at risk of targeted online attacks.

Using the built-in security key in a Pixel 3 to log into your Google Account.gif

To activate your phone’s built-in security key, all you need is an Android 7.0+ phone and a Bluetooth-enabled Chrome OS, macOS X or Windows 10 computer with a Chrome browser. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Add your Google Account to your Android phone.
  2. Make sure you’re enrolled in 2SV.
  3. On your computer, visit the 2SV settings and click "Add security key".
  4. Choose your Android phone from the list of available devices—and you’re done!

When signing in, make sure Bluetooth is turned on on your phone and the device you are signing in on.

We recommend registering a backup security key to your account and keeping it in a safe place, so you can get into your account if you lose your phone. You can get a security key from a number of vendors, including our own Titan Security Key.

Now on Android, your phone is a security key to protect your accounts from phishing. Christiaan Brand, product manager on the Google Cloud Security team, explains why protecting your identity is top of mind for Android.

Here’s to stronger account security—right in your pocket.

Source: Android


Supporting choice and competition in Europe

For nearly a decade, we’ve been in discussions with the European Commission about the way some of our products work. Throughout this process, we’ve always agreed on one thing一that healthy, thriving markets are in everyone’s interest.

A key characteristic of open and competitive markets一and of Google’s products一is constant change. Every year, we make thousands of changes to our products, spurred by feedback from our partners and our users. Over the last few years, we’ve also made changes一to Google Shopping; to our mobile apps licenses; and to AdSense for Search一in direct response to formal concerns raised by the European Commission.  

Since then, we’ve been listening carefully to the feedback we’re getting, both from the European Commission, and from others. As a result, over the next few months, we’ll be making further updates to our products in Europe.

Since 2017, when we adapted Google Shopping to comply with the Commission’s order, we’ve made a number of changes to respond to feedback. Recently, we’ve started testing a new format that gives direct links to comparison shopping sites, alongside specific product offers from merchants.  

On Android phones, you’ve always been able to install any search engine or browser you want, irrespective of what came pre-installed on the phone when you bought it. In fact, a typical Android phone user will usually install around 50 additional apps on their phone.

After the Commission’s July 2018 decision, we changed the licensing model for the Google apps we build for use on Android phones, creating new, separate licenses for Google Play, the Google Chrome browser, and for Google Search. In doing so, we maintained the freedom for phone makers to install any alternative app alongside a Google app.

Now we’ll also do more to ensure that Android phone owners know about the wide choice of browsers and search engines available to download to their phones. This will involve asking users of existing and new Android devices in Europe which browser and search apps they would like to use.

We’ve always tried to give people the best and fastest answers一whether direct from Google, or from the wide range of specialist websites and app providers out there today.  These latest changes demonstrate our continued commitment to operating in an open and principled way.

Source: Android


Shaping the future of mobile with Android

Android's mission has always been to work closely with a broad and open ecosystem of partners to push the boundaries of hardware and software, bringing new experiences and capabilities to your mobile device. Together with manufacturers, carriers, chipset makers and developers, we want to build mobile experiences that are both productive and helpful—whether that’s giving you new ways to explore the world, helping you stay on top of a busy day or providing the tools to maintain a healthy relationship with technology.

This week, we’re at MWC Barcelona to celebrate new milestones with our Android partners, from the latest flagship devices to their vision and strategy for 5G.  

Foldables: Expanding the definition of smartphones

We’re constantly evolving Android to support our partners in building devices in a variety of shapes and sizes. Last fall, we announced that Android will power the emerging category of phones with screens that can bend and fold. Along with this trend comes new smartphone capabilities—for example, multitasking on a phone can become even easier; with more available, expanding screen area, you can watch a video on one side and take notes on the other. Tablets can be more portable, folding to easily fit into your pockets or purses.

Foldable1

This week, the world’s first foldable screen devices are launching on Android, with Samsung’s Galaxy Fold announced at Galaxy UNPACKED, and Huawei’s Mate X which was just announced earlier today here at MWC Barcelona. We look forward to seeing more Android-powered foldable devices from other manufacturers, and we'll continue to make improvements to the operating system for a smooth experience on these phones.

Unlocking new ways to learn, communicate and be entertained with 5G

As the industry progresses towards faster and better connectivity with new devices and chipsets, 5G will accelerate the potential of richer entertainment and communication experiences. Our partners like Samsung, Xiaomi, LG, Huawei, Qualcomm, Sony, HTC, OnePlus and Vivo are revealing their plans for 5G, including new devices launching later this year. We’re excited that Android is enabling the world’s first 5G smartphones, helping accelerate its adoption in 2019 and beyond.

5G

Better mobile messaging for everyone

To improve the standard messaging experience on Android, we’ve been working with many of our partners, including Samsung, Huawei, America Movil, Deutsche Telekom, Orange, Telefonica, Telenor, and Vodafone to make RCS (Rich Communication Services) more widely available. Google has helped to launch RCS with partners in 24 countries, bringing enhanced features in your conversations like group chats, read receipts, and high quality media sharing. We will continue to work to bring better messaging to every Android user, across a broad range of devices and carriers.

Delivering a software experience that is up-to-date and secure

As we continue to see new mobile trends emerging on Android’s open platform, we also know people and businesses want more clarity and assurance that their smartphones have the latest software and security updates. Over the last year, we worked with partners to offer reliable smartphone experiences on Android for more people and business customers globally.

The Android One program represents a collaboration with manufacturers to bring devices that deliver its key attributes: faster access to the latest version of Android, regular security updates and a software design that’s intuitive and streamlined. Thanks to our partners—including Xiaomi, LG, Motorola and HMD Global—Android One activations grew 250 percent year over year. With the addition of the Nokia 9 PureView, Nokia 3.2, Nokia 4.2 and more, Android One will continue to bring people a consistent smartphone experience that’s fresh and secure.

To help businesses discover the best devices and services Android has to offer, the Android Enterprise Recommended program has validated more than 80 devices that meet elevated enterprise requirements for hardware, software and security updates. Just a few days ago, we expanded the program to include Managed Service Providers, who are mobility experts equipped to help customers build and support their Android enterprise deployments.

Android (Go edition), an optimized version of Android tailored for smartphones with 1GB of RAM or less, has helped bring the power of computing to everyone by delivering a powerful, fast and secure experience specifically optimized for entry-level smartphones. Our most recent release, Android 9 Pie (Go edition), is powering the new Nokia 1 Plus and the BLU Vivo Go. Today, over 50 percent of entry-level Android devices are now activating with Go.

Easier access to the power of AI on mobile

Alongside our partners, we’ve also brought more AI capabilities to the mobile ecosystem. Last year, we took the first step in working with LG to launch a dedicated button for the Google Assistant on its flagship devices to help people get things done on the go—whether it’s staying on top of your day or finding directions with just your voice.

This year, we’re  bringing the Google Assistant button to the full portfolio of new Android devices with LG and Nokia, including the LG G8 ThinQ and K40 and the Nokia 3.2 and 4.2. New phones from Xiaomi (including the Mi MIX 3 5G and Mi 9), TCL and Vivo (including the V15 Pro) will also launch with the Google Assistant button later this year. With these partnerships, we expect over 100 million devices to launch with a dedicated Google Assistant button.

And to support future AI-driven mobile experiences, we worked with manufacturers like Qualcomm and Mediatek to bring support for Android’s Neural Networks API and ML Kit. This integration lets phone manufacturers and app developers build faster, smarter and smoother experiences on mobile. For example, LG adopted these technologies to bring Google Lens suggestions into the camera app on the LG G8 ThinQ, allowing people to simply point the camera, and with a single tap, call or save a phone number on a takeout menu, send an email right from a flyer, or open an address in Google Maps.

Extending Digital Wellbeing tools to more devices

Last summer, Android 9 introduced a set of new tools to help you achieve the balance with technology you might be looking for. Since the release, people have told us that getting better visibility into their habits has helped them take more control over their phone usage.

Today, Digital Wellbeing is expanding to more phones beyond Pixel and Android One, starting with the new Moto G7 family. We're working with partners to bring these features to even more phones, so more people can use them to strike a better balance and focus on what matters to them the most.

AR brings Android Partner Walk to life

Every year at MWC Barcelona, we offer the Android Partner Walk, where attendees have the chance to collect character pins from our partners across the show floor. This year we decided to bring those characters to life with augmented reality. If you’re at the show, you can see and collect 3D pins using the Android Partner Walk app. This app is powered by ARCore, Google’s platform for AR experiences.

When it comes to Android, we're focused on improving smartphones in ways that help people in their day-to-day lives—and we couldn’t do this without our partners. We’re proud that Android is powering many of the most exciting trends that push what mobile is capable of, and we cannot wait to see them in the hands of people around the world.


Source: Android


Encryption for everyone: How Adiantum will keep more devices secure

Editor's note: February 5 was Safer Internet Day, but we’ll be talking about it all week with a collection of posts from teams from across Google.


Encryption is incredibly important. It underpins our digital security. Encryption encodes data so that it can only be read by individuals with a key. With encryption, you are in complete control of this key, and you can store sensitive information such as personal data securely.

But encryption isn’t always practical, since it would slow some computers, smartphones and other devices to the point of being unusable. That changes with Adiantum, which we are introducing today in the spirit of Safer Internet Day.

Adiantum is a new form of encryption that we built specifically to run on phones and smart devices that don’t have the specialized hardware to use current methods to encrypt locally stored data efficiently. Adiantum is designed to run efficiently without that specialized hardware. This will make the next generation of devices more secure than their predecessors, and allow the next billion people coming online for the first time to do so safely. Adiantum will help secure our connected world by allowing everything from smart watches to internet-connected medical devices to encrypt sensitive data. (For more details about the ins and outs of Adiantum, check out the security blog.)

Our hope is that Adiantum will democratize encryption for all devices. Just like you wouldn’t buy a phone without text messaging, there will be no excuse for compromising security for the sake of device performance. Everyone should have privacy and security, regardless of their phone’s price tag.

Source: Android


Making audio more accessible with two new apps

The World Health Organization estimates that by the year 2055, there will be 900 million people with hearing loss. We believe in the power of technology to help break down barriers and make life a little easier for everyone. Today, we’re introducing two new apps for Android designed to help deaf and hard-of-hearing people: Live Transcribe and Sound Amplifier.

Bringing captions to conversations with Live Transcribe

Dimitri Kanevsky is a research scientist at Google who has worked on speech recognition and communications technology for the last 30 years. Through his work, Dimitri—who has been deaf since early childhood—has helped shape the accessibility technologies he relies on. One of them is CART: a service where a captioner virtually joins a meeting to listen and create a transcription of spoken dialogue, which then displays on a computer screen. Dimitri’s teammate, Chet Gnegy, saw the challenges Dimitri faced using CART: he always carried multiple devices, it was costly and each meeting required a lot of preparation. This meant Dimitri could only use CART for formal business meetings or events, and not everyday conversations.

That inspired Chet to work with the Accessibility team to build a tool that could reduce Dimitri’s effort spent preparing for conversations. We thought: What if we used cloud-based automatic speech recognition to display spoken words on a screen? A prototype was built and Googlers across a bunch of our offices—from Mountain View to Taipei—got involved. The result is Live Transcribe, an app that takes real-world speech and turns it into real-time captions using just the phone’s microphone.

Live Transcribe has the potential to give people who are deaf or hard of hearing greater independence in their everyday interactions. It brought Dimitri closer to his loved ones—he’s now able to easily communicate with his six-year-old twin granddaughters without help from other family members. We’ve heard similar feedback from partners at Gallaudet University, the world’s premier university for deaf and hard of hearing people, who helped us design and validate that Live Transcribe met needs of their community.

livetranscribe

Live Transcribe is available in over 70 languages and dialects. It also enables two-way conversation via a type-back keyboard for users who can’t or don’t want to speak, and connects with external microphones to improve transcription accuracy. To use Live Transcribe, enable it in Accessibility Settings, then start Live Transcribe from the accessibility button on the navigation bar. Starting today, Live Transcribe will gradually rollout in a limited beta to users worldwide via the Play Store and pre-installed on Pixel 3 devices. Sign up here to be notified when it’s more widely available.

Clarifying sound with Sound Amplifier

Everyone can use a little audio boost from time to time, especially in situations where there’s a lot of background noise—like at a loud cafe or airport lounge. Today, we’re launching Sound Amplifier, which we announced at Google I/O last year.

With Sound Amplifier, audio is more clear and easier to hear. You can use Sound Amplifier on your Android smartphone with wired headphones to filter, augment and amplify the sounds in your environment. It works by increasing quiet sounds, while not over-boosting loud sounds. You can customize sound enhancement settings and apply noise reduction to minimize distracting background noise with simple sliders and toggles. 

sound amplifier

Sound Amplifier is available on the Play Store and supports Android 9 Pie or later phones and comes pre-installed on Pixel 3. With both Live Transcribe and Sound Amplifier, our goal is to help the hundreds of millions of people who are deaf or hard of hearing communicate more clearly.

Source: Android


Find more balance in your life this year, with help from Google

With our phones constantly buzzing and our inboxes filling up, it can sometimes feel like we’re always logged in. It’s easy to forget the importance of making deliberate choices about when we want to use our phones, and to know when we can take a much-needed break from screens.

Looking for more balance in your life this year? Here are some tools that will help you better understand how you’re currently using your phone, get more out your tech and carve out time to be a little more zen in 2019.

1. Take a look at your Digital Wellbeing dashboard.

Android Time Spent feature

The Digital Wellbeing dashboard on Android devices helps you understand how frequently you currently use different apps, how many notifications you receive and how often you unlock your phone. By looking at your usage over time, it’s easy to think about whether you’re getting value from the time spent on each activity and make changes.

2. Cut down on all that scrolling with app timers.

Android app timer

Once you’ve identified apps you’d like to use less often, you can set up app timers so your phone will nudge you when you’re close to your self-imposed limit. The app icon button will then gray out, with a notification to remind you of your goal, when you’ve exhausted the time limit you’ve set for yourself.

3. Use Flip to Shhh on Pixel 3.

Shhh mode on Pixel

For Pixel 3 users out there, if you turn your phone over on a table — like when you’re at dinner — your device automatically enters Do Not Disturb mode so you can focus on being present, not mindlessly checking sports scores or playing a game.

4. Create more family time with Family Link and the YouTube Kids app.

Digital Wellbeing for family and kids

If you have kids, Family Link and the YouTube Kids app allow you to set the digital ground rules for everyone in the household. With Family Link, you can view your children's activity, manage their apps, find apps recommended by teachers, set screen time limits and even lock their devices when it’s dinner or “go outside and play” time.

With the YouTube Kids app, you can decide whether or not your kids can use YouTube Kids search, keep tabs on the videos they’re watching and even block videos or channels you don’t want them to see—along with setting time limits for how long they can play with the app.

5. Get stuff done quickly and focus on what matters to you.

Great technology should improve your life, not distract from it, and a bunch of Google tools are here to help. The Google Assistant offers you downtime from screens by letting you to use your voice to send messages, control smart home devices and play music when you just want to chill. Google Photos automatically stylizes your photos for you, Android Auto minimizes distractions while you’re driving and Gmail’s Smart Compose already helps people save over a billion characters every week by suggesting words and phrases for you as you write.

6. Practice mindfulness and take a break.

Try searching for “mindfulness” in Google Play to download relaxing apps like Headspace, Calm, and many others to kickstart your wellbeing journey. You can also say to your Google Assistant, “I want to meditate” to get a bunch of app recommendations and healing sounds, and the recently updated Google Fit app now has guided breathing exercises for you, too.

7. Keep up with the #GetFitWithGoogle challenge.

With all this extra time, you might even have time to sneak in an extra run this week. We’re now three weeks into the #GetFitWithGoogle global challenge, with just one week to go as our influencer teams race to earn the most Heart Points during January with Google Fit.

Congrats to Colombia for holding onto the lead going into the final week!

Get Fit With Google leaderboard, week 3

Keep an eye on the #GetFitWithGoogle hashtag on Instagram and follow the teams below to follow their fitness journeys. Will Team Switzerland make a final dash for the line? Just one week to go before we announce the overall winners.

Don’t forget to share your own Heart Points progress using #GetFitWithGoogle to help others like you stay motivated.


Source: Android