TIME TO KICK off the weekend with some matters of moderate import (tops) as we take another trip to the Alphabet Castle for the best of the weeks news-in-brief from Google. The big Google news is here, and you can bookmark it to update every time something Googly comes up.
Android TV to start – no, stay with us – and it seems that Google is trying to not only flog the dead horse but latch it to a live horse and drag it along until it falls to bits.
Sony Smart TVs and the Xiaomi Mi Box 3 Android box (it’s like a cheap Nvidia Shield) have started to show “sponsored channels”, which is a posh way of saying “ads” on the home screen and they are taking up a lot of space – a whole row in fact. Given that some of these tellies cost several thousand quids, the arrival of what Google is billing as a “private programme” is not going down too well.
We’ve already seen Chrome OS gain support for Linux apps, and now Linux can return the favour. A new containerised system called SPURV has been released that allows users to run Android apps on Linux. It does mean you’re effectively running two operating systems at the same time, which means you’ll need to watch your CPU and RAM usage, but if there are a few things that you just can’t live without, then this is a cracking solution.
There’s not much to get excited about with Android One if you’re a fan of flagships – they’re designed for emerging markets, but that near-as-dammit stock experience does have some advantages. Word on the street is both Nokia and Motorola are about to add the call screen feature that currently only works on US Pixel devices, to Android One handsets. It certainly gives hope that it’ll come to the rest of us one day.
Good news for contractors working at Google – after a year of debate about how it treats those not on the main payroll, it has confirmed that from now on they’ll get the same as everyone else – including the $15 minimum wage, healthcare, 12 weeks parental leave, 8 sick day allowance and $5000 stipend for higher education. Given that over half of Googlers are actually contracted, that’s some good news. Unfortunately, however, it won’t be fully rolled out until 2022. Maybe there are a few publishers that could learn from all this.
Finally this week, there’s some new code in the Chrome Canary build for Android that suggests that Android Q will be getting some seriously tight integration with Google Assistant. What that entails remains to be seen, but we suspect that the age of touch-free browsing could be nigh. We’re bound to find out at Google I/O.
Avanti. Don’t go switching to Bing.