In this week’s top stories: Google Messages gains an alternate One UI-inspired design, the Chromecast with Google TV gets an April update, Samsung begins rolling out its May 2021 patch, and more.
Early this week, Google began rolling out a One UI themed alternate design of their Messages app, exclusively in the special build intended for Galaxy S21 series phones outside of the US. With a bit of luck, it was found that this special build of Google Messages could be installed on nearly any Android phone, bringing the redesign to the masses.
After that, you get a large header above the search field. The app’s name is noted, along with a rather useful count of how many unread SMS texts/RCS chats you have. That box has an off-white background that’s a very light gray. Similarly, when the dark theme is enabled, AMOLED black is used above, while the messaging list remains gray. This two-tone color also appears at the bottom of your screen if you don’t have a full list of messages.
The Chromecast with Google TV received a fairly major update this week, jumping from the December 2020 security patch to April 2021. With the update, the Made by Google dongle gains some advanced controls including fine-tuned control over HDR.
Bug fixes include HDMI hotplug improvements that help the Chromecast with Google TV detect the best display settings available. For the vast majority of owners that don’t use an Ethernet adapter, there are Wi-Fi enhancements for 5GHz and Mesh networks. Lastly, Google says there should be less Bluetooth Audio stuttering in “some” apps for those that pair headphones.
As has happened a few times before, Samsung began rolling out the monthly Android security patch a few days ahead of schedule, with the May update arriving in the last week of April. While nothing too major seems to have changed with this update, owners of the Galaxy S20 series, Note 20, and more can feel safer knowing their data is secure.
SamMobile reports that the May patch improves the camera performance and even the Quick Share feature for those with the Galaxy S21. These are likely the two most notable changes, but there may be added features for specific hardware.
After an across-the-board panning of the smartwatch by reviewers, a second batch of OnePlus Watch units went on sale this week. That said, we still cannot recommend that anyone buy it at least until the watch has received a few more updates.
Perhaps OnePlus quietly limited supply severely in response to reviews to give a couple of weeks to roll out updates, one of which is already out. A disclaimer added to the product’s listing mentioning upcoming updates is pretty telling, if you ask me.
Last week, we asked our readers how often they upgrade their Pixel phones. Taking a look at the data, it seems that the majority of respondents say they get a new Pixel every 2 or 3 years, while less than 10% upgrade annually.
The only other notable is that of the “other” category of Google Pixel owner. You told us things like, “I upgrade as long as the Pixel is a high-end phone” and that you have looked elsewhere as a result. Google’s focus on the a-series and the chipset downgrades from the Pixel 4 to Pixel 5 has been a real sore point for many fans. A lack of a proper “XL” variant was also cited numerous times. That is what makes the lower 4.92% figure so surprising, maybe former owners felt no reason to respond to our original poll.
The rest of this week’s top stories follow:
Google I/O |
- Pichai teases ‘significant’ announcements at Google I/O 2021 as product cycles return to normal
- ‘New look’ for Android 12 widgets, Wear drops the ‘OS,’ & more from Google I/O 2021 sessions
- Google posts I/O 2021 schedule, starting with Sundar Pichai keynote on May 18 at 10 a.m.
- Fearful of Google winning messaging, Apple executive argued for iMessage on Android in 2013
- Poll: How do you feel about the upcoming Android 12 UI redesign?
- Galaxy Tab S7 gets Samsung’s virtual video backgrounds, better S Pen support w/ April update
- Android 12 Developer Preview 3: Hands-on with more big features yet to arrive [Video]
Android / Google TV |
- Sony Bravia TVs are now getting Android TV’s ‘Discover’ homescreen
- Chromecast with Google TV picks up HDR10+ certification
Apps & Updates |
- [Update: Claim now] Google adds three Stadia Pro games for May 2021, including Trine 4
- Google Lens shortcut appearing for some in Pixel Launcher search bar
- Dashlane ‘Essentials’ password manager plan drops price to $3/mo in wake of LastPass debacle
- Google Discover redesign rolling out on Android 12, drops cards & descriptions
- Snapchat now has more users on Android than iOS after rebuilding its app
- Google: Roku ‘chose to renegotiate’ YouTube TV deal, calls accusations ‘baseless and false’
Chrome / OS |
- Mighty wants to ‘make Chrome faster’ by streaming a browser from the cloud, starting on macOS
- How to stop all websites from sending notification prompts in Google Chrome
- Opinion: Actually, the new ‘Mighty’ browser is the ‘Chrome Cloud Tabs’ feature I’ve been waiting for
FTC: We use income earning auto affiliate links. More.