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Tech News
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Google is allegedly trying to suborn developers into sticking with the Play Store. During the Epic Games' antitrust lawsuit against Google it came to light that, Google had started a program, titled “Project Hug”, in order to pay game developers millions of dollars as an incentive simply to keep their games and apps on the platform.  

This is possibly a reaction to, Epic Games releasing ‘Fortnite’ exclusively outside of the Google Play Store three years ago. Users using the Play Store had to take an unusual route to get the game on their device. Google takes around 30% of a game’s profit, and Fortnite was a big hit at the time. In a nutshell, it was quite a blow for the tech giant.

After the incident, Google came up with the “Project Hug” to ensure developers continued to use the Play Store. The program would offer extra promotional benefits to top developers and games.

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Tech giant Google has confirmed that it will be shutting down its standalone ''Android Auto for Phone Screens'' app from Android 12 onwards.

Google stated, "For those who use the on phone experience (Android Auto mobile app), they will be transitioned to Google Assistant driving mode. Starting with Android 12, Google Assistant driving mode will be the built-in mobile driving experience."  There are also reports that the ''Android Auto for Phone Screens'' app now says it's incompatible with Pixel devices running on Android 12.

According to The Verge, anyone who wants a driving-friendly interface for their Android phone needs to use the Google Assistant driving mode, which is available within Google Maps, or the native Android Auto interface available in selected cars.

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Google is introducing an option to its Calendar service to let users show where they're working on any given day of the week. 

The feature will start rolling out at the end of this month for users on selected Google Workspace plans, and will be accessible via Calendar’s settings menu alongside its existing working hours options, as well as on the weekly calendar view below where it shows each day’s dates. Available work locations include “Office,” “Home,” “Unspecified,” or “Somewhere else.” Though the new working locations feature will be switched off by default, users will have to enable it after it starts to roll out.

Due to the surge in the popularity of home and hybrid working, employees increasingly find it hard to keep track of people’s working hours, along with their location while planning in-person meetings and other events. Google Calendar’s new feature should help here.

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Google is introducing dark mode for Google Chat on the Desktop App and Web Client as well as the Google Chat Progressive Web App.

The feature will soon be available to Google Workspace users along with G Suite Basic and Business customers. Users can simply enable it by selecting "Dark Mode" in Theme Settings in the 'Settings' menu. The goal is to offer its users a better viewing experience in low light and reduce eye-strain.

The Android and iOS apps for Google Chat and the version of the messaging platform built into Gmail already support the dark mode theme.

On a side note, Google also announced a new feature to allow admins limit external messaging to trusted domains in Google Chat.

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Google is developing a set of accessibility features for Android future versions which will let users to control their phones using facial expressions.

The new feature titled “Camera Switches” in the Android Accessibility Suite app will support setting gestures to specific controls. It will help users to interact with their Android device without using the touchscreen. For example, the app can detect when a user will open their mouth and map that to open the notifications panel, or users can raise their eyebrows to return to their home screen. Possible facial motions include smiling, opening the mouth, looking right, left or down.

This feature is currently in beta mode and is going to be more useful for users with disabilities. Also it will require the device’s camera to be switched on, and Android 12 enabled devices will show a status bar notifying the camera is being used.

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With Independence Day on August 15, Krafton’s ‘Battlegrounds Mobile India’ is all set to kick off celebrating Independence Day with an in-game event named ‘Independence Day Mahotsav’.

Players will be rewarded daily for logging in till August 20. Some of these rewards include In-game Currency, Classic Crate Coupon Scrap, Green parachute trail, Supply Crate Coupon and many more. On the last date of the event, all players will receive an ‘AWM sniper rifle skin’ as a participation bonus reward.

Meanwhile, the game has crossed 49 million downloads since its availability in mid-June. Earlier this month, developer Krafton has announced a “50M Downloads Rewards Event” in anticipation of reaching 50 millions milestone on Google Play store.

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Google is testing a cheaper premium subscription tier for YouTube named as “Premium Lite”.

It is to offer users an ad-free viewing experience. However, it will not cover other Premium features such as offline downloads, background playback or any YouTube Music benefits like ad-free listening. Premium Lite includes ad-free viewing across YouTube’s main app on iOS, Android, Web, Smart TVs, games consoles along with the YouTube Kids app.

Premium Lite is currently available in Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden. There is no official word regarding its availability in the global market.

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Short-form video app, YouTube Shorts has now crossed 15 billion daily views, Alphabet and Google CEO Sundar Pichai mentioned.

"The app continues to gain momentum. We've been rolling it out everywhere YouTube is available, in more than 100 countries worldwide," Pichai said. In the June quarter, YouTube's advertising revenue nearly doubled to $7 billion compared to $3.8 billion from the same quarter last year.

YouTube rolled out the Shorts app feature in India near the end of last year.

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Google is all set to replace Backup and Sync for individuals with its unified Drive for the desktop app. Starting July 19, Google will begin transitioning to the new Drive app for Windows and macOS users.

With Drive for desktop, users can access files directly from the cloud on their Mac or PC, which will free up disk space and save network bandwidth.

The Backup and Sync will receive in-app notifications guiding users to transition into the new Drive app from August 18. Google seeks to complete the transition by September and also set to shut down the Backup and Sync apps by early October this year.

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Google has enforced a 60-minute time limit on Google Meet Group Video Calls for those who are using it for free.

All ‘calls with 3 or more participants’ will be limited to 60 minutes. At around 55 minutes, everyone will get a notification that ‘the call is about to end’. To extend the call, the host needs to upgrade the Google account. The upgrade mentioned is currently available in five countries including the US, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, and Japan.

Though one-on-one calls are still free and there is no 60-minute time limit. As per the search giant, all the one-on-one calls can continue for up to 24 hours and it is applicable for both free and enterprise accounts.