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Google lauches “Circle to Search”

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Today, Google has globally launched the Circle to Search feature on the Pixel 8, Pixel 8 Pro, and Samsung Galaxy S24 series. This recently unveiled feature enables users to perform searches anywhere on their phones through gestures such as circling, highlighting, scribbling, or tapping.

The technology company sees the new feature as an effort to seamlessly integrate Google Search into everyday moments. Whether you’re watching a video or browsing images on a social app, the goal is to make it easier to pose spontaneous questions. As an illustration, while watching a video of someone enjoying a Korean corn dog, you can circle the corn dog and inquire, “Why are these so popular?”

The feature extends beyond circles to include various gestures. For instance, while conversing in a messaging app about a restaurant with a friend, you can effortlessly tap on the restaurant’s name to access additional details without exiting the app.

Circle to Search simplifies the process of looking up definitions for words or phrases. Imagine watching a video with a drink labeled “prebiotic,” and you’re unsure of its meaning compared to “probiotic.” Previously, you’d have to switch to your browser to search. Now, you can activate Circle to Search by long-pressing the home button or navigation bar, highlight “prebiotic,” learn more, and seamlessly resume the video with a swipe.

Circle to Search allows you to initiate searches from any app, eliminating the need to pause your current task and open a browser for a search. Additionally, if you typically take screenshots as reminders to search later, this is no longer necessary; you can search immediately without disrupting your ongoing activities.

On January 31, Circle to Search will debut on the recently unveiled Galaxy S24 Series smartphones at the Samsung event. Additionally, it will be accessible on premium Android devices like the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro, supporting all languages and locations where these phones are sold. Google anticipates expanding support to more Android smartphones over time.

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Android 15 Beta 2 Unveiled With Enhanced Features

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Google has just unveiled the second beta version of Android 15, offering users a glimpse into the exciting features and enhancements awaiting them in the upcoming software upgrade. The release, following the recent Google I/O 2024 keynote which predominantly focused on the tech giant’s AI aspirations, marks a significant step forward in Android’s evolution.

One of the key objectives of the Android 15 beta 2 is to elevate user productivity while prioritizing aspects like battery life optimization, app performance enhancement, accessibility improvements, and bolstered privacy and security measures. Moreover, Google has expanded the beta’s availability beyond its Pixel lineup, making it accessible to a wider range of Android devices, including those from manufacturers like iQoo, Lenovo, OnePlus, Oppo, Xiaomi, and more.

Enhancing Security: Private Space and Beyond

A standout security feature introduced in Android 15 beta 2 is Private Space, designed to create a secure enclave within the device for storing sensitive apps under an additional layer of authentication. This partition ensures that locked apps remain hidden from view, notifications, and system resources, providing users with heightened privacy and security.

Furthermore, the beta introduces improvements in selected photo access, preventing malicious apps from clandestinely accessing media files. It also addresses the issue of background app launches, implementing measures to thwart malicious apps from hijacking foreground activities—a crucial step in fortifying device security.

Efficiency at Its Core: Performance Enhancements

Android 15 beta 2 brings forth a plethora of efficiency enhancements aimed at optimizing system performance and resource utilization. Notable among these is the introduction of a time limit on certain foreground services, curbing excessive power consumption and prolonging battery life. Additionally, support for larger page sizes and efficient AV1 software decoding promises faster app launches and smoother overall system performance, especially on devices lacking hardware support for AV1.

The inclusion of ANGLE for the Vulkan graphics API is set to further enhance app and game performance, offering developers standardized tools to leverage the capabilities of Android’s graphics framework.

User Experience Refinements

In addition to bolstered security and performance enhancements, Android 15 beta 2 introduces several user-centric features aimed at enriching the overall Android experience. These include improved multitasking capabilities on larger screen devices, enhanced font support for various languages, and widget preview functionality, allowing users to preview widget layouts before placement.

Moreover, the update expands Health Connect’s capabilities, incorporating support for additional health and fitness data types, catering to the diverse needs of users engaged in health monitoring and fitness tracking.

Anticipating the Final Release

While the exact release date for Android 15 remains uncertain, Google’s roadmap suggests a tentative launch window towards the latter half of the year, possibly aligning with previous Android release schedules. As the beta progresses towards platform stability in June, developers will have ample time to fine-tune their apps for compatibility, paving the way for a seamless transition to the final release.

In conclusion, Android 15 beta 2 heralds a promising future for the Android ecosystem, with its focus on security, efficiency, and user experience poised to redefine the mobile computing landscape. As users eagerly await the official release, the beta offers a tantalizing glimpse into the innovative features and enhancements awaiting them in the next iteration of Android.

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Android to Introduce Theft Detection Lock: Detecting When Your Phone is Snatched

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In its ongoing efforts to enhance user security, Google has unveiled a suite of new features with the release of the second Android 15 beta. Among these updates is the introduction of Theft Detection Lock, a feature aimed at curbing smartphone snatch-and-grab incidents. While some of these security enhancements will be bundled with the upcoming Android 15 release slated for this fall, others, including theft detection, will be made available to devices running older OS versions, extending their reach to a broader user base.

Picture this: You’re leisurely seated on a park bench, engrossed in your phone. Suddenly, it’s snatched from your grasp, and the perpetrator disappears into the crowd. While both Android and iOS already offer some level of security measures, there’s a crucial gap during those initial moments when the device remains unlocked. Can you act swiftly to remotely safeguard your data?

Recognizing the urgency of this scenario, Google unveiled Theft Detection Lock during its Google I/O 2024 developer conference. This AI-powered feature acts as a proactive defense mechanism, automatically locking the device upon detecting suspicious activity associated with theft. For instance, if the device experiences a sudden, rapid movement in the opposite direction, indicative of theft, the screen promptly locks, thwarting unauthorized access to sensitive data.

In addition to Theft Detection Lock, Google introduces Offline Device Lock, a safeguard against intentional disconnection from the network. Triggered by actions such as repeated authentication failures, this feature reinforces device security even in scenarios where connectivity is compromised.

Furthermore, Google addresses the issue of remote device reset by implementing measures to render stolen devices unusable. With the upcoming update, attempting to factory reset a stolen device becomes futile, as reactivation requires knowledge of the original owner’s device or Google account credentials. This deterrent significantly diminishes the incentive for phone theft, making stolen devices effectively unsellable on the black market.

To bolster security further, biometric authentication becomes mandatory for altering sensitive information when logged in from an insecure location. This additional layer of protection ensures that only authorized users can modify crucial device settings, mitigating the risk of unauthorized access.

In unveiling these security enhancements, Google reaffirms its commitment to safeguarding user data and combating smartphone theft. By integrating advanced features like Theft Detection Lock into its ecosystem, Android continues to empower users with tools to protect their digital assets in an increasingly interconnected world.

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Wear OS 5 Promises Significant Battery Enhancements 

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In a move set to redefine the landscape of smartwatch technology, Google unveils its latest innovation: Wear OS 5. The announcement, made during the Google I/O 2024 developer conference, signals a pivotal moment for wearable technology enthusiasts, promising substantial improvements in battery life and performance enhancements.

One of the most anticipated features of Wear OS 5 is its remarkable battery efficiency. Google asserts that users can expect up to a 20% reduction in power consumption during activities such as outdoor marathon tracking, compared to its predecessor, Wear OS 4. This advancement marks a significant stride forward in addressing one of the perennial challenges of wearable devices – prolonged battery life.

The development of Wear OS 5 is emblematic of the platform’s resurgence following its collaboration with Samsung, which bore fruit with the release of Wear OS 3 in 2021. This partnership, along with subsequent launches of devices like the Galaxy Watch 5 and Pixel Watch, has propelled Wear OS into a new era of growth, attracting a wave of developers eager to contribute to its evolution.

Underpinned by Android 14, Wear OS 5 introduces an array of enhancements tailored to both developers and end-users. For developers, updated tools for crafting watch faces, alongside revisions to Wear OS tiles and Jetpack Compose for building watch apps, promise a more intuitive and streamlined development experience. Meanwhile, end-users can anticipate expanded functionality within fitness apps, granting access to new data types like stride length, group contact time, and vertical oscillation – enhancements poised to refine the user experience and extend battery longevity.

A cornerstone of Wear OS 5 lies in its unwavering commitment to power efficiency. Developers are furnished with comprehensive guidance on conserving power when designing Wear OS apps, ensuring optimal performance while minimizing energy consumption. Additionally, Wear OS 5 devices boasting identical hardware are projected to consume 20% less battery power than their Wear OS 4 counterparts during active tasks such as running – a boon for users reliant on their smartwatches for sustained periods.

Health aficionados stand to benefit from Wear OS 5’s expanded Health Services, which now accommodate a plethora of new data types pertinent to running, including Ground Contact Time, Stride Length, Vertical Oscillation, and Vertical Ratio. These augmentations, coupled with updates to Health Connect and Health Services, underscore Google’s unwavering commitment to empowering users with comprehensive health insights.

Further fortifying its position as a beacon of innovation, Wear OS 5 incorporates updates to the Watch Face Format, the preferred tool for crafting Wear OS watch faces. Embracing new complications such as goal progress and weather forecasts, alongside configuration presets dubbed Flavors, the platform sets a new standard for customization and user engagement.

As Wear OS 5 embarks on its journey, speculation mounts regarding its imminent deployment. With whispers suggesting a potential launch alongside the Galaxy Watch 7 in July, followed by a rollout on the Pixel Watch 3 later in the year, anticipation reaches fever pitch. As the countdown to its release begins, Wear OS aficionados worldwide eagerly await the dawn of a new era in smartwatch technology.

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