YouTube rolls out new tools to help you stop watching

YouTube rolls out new tools to help you stop watching

Google’s YouTube is the first streaming app that will actually tell users to stop watching. At its Google I/O conference this week, the company introduced a series of new controls for YouTube that will allow users to set limits on their viewing, and then receive reminders telling them to “take a break.” The feature is rolling out now in the latest version of YouTube’s app, along with others that limit YouTube’s ability to send notifications, and soon, one that gives users an overview of their binge behavior so they can make better-informed decisions about their viewing habits.

With “Take a Break,” available from YouTube’s mobile app Settings screen, users can set a reminder to appear every 15, 30, 60, 90 or 180 minutes, at which point the video will pause. You can then choose to dismiss the reminder and keep watching, or close the app.

The setting is optional, and is turned off by default, so it’s not likely to have a large impact on YouTube viewing time at this point.

Also new is a feature that lets you disable notification sounds during a specified time period each day — say, for example, from bedtime until the next morning. When users turn on the setting to disable notifications, it will, by default, disable them from 10 PM to 8 AM local time, but this can be changed.

Combined with this is an option to get a scheduled digest of notifications as an alternative. This setting combines all the daily push notifications into a single combined notification that is sent out only once per day. This is also off by default, but can be turned on in the app’s settings.

And YouTube is preparing to roll out a “time watched profile” that will appear in the Account menu and display your daily average watch time, and how long you’ve watched YouTube videos today, yesterday and over the past week, along with a set of tools to help you manage your viewing habits.

While these changes to YouTube are opt-in, it’s an interesting — and arguably responsible — position to take in terms of helping people manage their sometimes addictive behaviors around technology.

And it’s not the only major change Google is rolling out on the digital well-being front — the company also announced a series of Android features that will help you get a better handle on how often you’re using your phone and apps, and give you tools to limit distractions — like a Do Not Disturb setting, alerts that are silenced when the phone is flipped over and a “Wind Down” mode for nighttime usage that switches on the Do Not Disturb mode and turns the screen to gray-scale.

The digital well-being movement at Google got its start with a 144-page Google Slides presentation from product manager Tristan Harris, who was working on Google’s Inbox app at the time. After a trip to Burning Man, he came back convinced that technology products weren’t always designed with users’ best interests in mind. The memo went viral and found its way to then-CEO Larry Page, who promoted Harris to “design ethicist” and made digital well-being a company focus.

There’s now a Digital Wellbeing website, too, that talks about Google’s broader efforts on this front. On the site, the company touts features in other products that save people time, like Gmail’s high-priority notifications that only alert you to important emails; Google Photos’ automated editing tools; Android Auto’s distracted driving reduction tools; Google Assistant’s ability to turn on your phone’s DND mode or start a “bedtime routine” to dim your lights and quiet your music; Family Link’s tools for reducing kids’ screen time; Google WiFi’s support for “internet breaks;” and more.

Google is not the only company rethinking its role with regard to how much its technology should infiltrate our lives. Facebook, too, recently re-prioritized well-being over time spent on the site reading news, and saw its daily active users decline as a result.

But in Google’s case, some are cynical about the impact of the new tools — unlike Facebook’s changes, which the social network implemented itself, Google’s tools are opt-in. That means it’s up to users to take control over their own technology addictions, whether that’s their phone in general, or YouTube specifically. Google knows that the large majority won’t take the time to configure these settings, so it can pat itself on the back for its prioritization of digital well-being without taking a real hit to its bottom line.

Still, it’s notable that any major tech platform is doing this at all — and it’s at least a step in the right direction in terms of allowing people to reset their relationship with technology.

And in YouTube’s case, the option to “Take a Break” is at the very top of its Settings screen. If anyone ever heads into their settings for any reason, they’ll be sure to see it.

The new features are available in version 13.17 and higher of the YouTube mobile app on both iOS and Android, which is live now.

The changes were announced on May 8 during the I/O keynote, and will take a few days to roll out to all YouTube users. The “time watched profile,” however, will ship in the “coming months,” Google says.

Source: Mobile – Techcruch

Maps walking navigation is Google’s most compelling use for AR yet

Maps walking navigation is Google’s most compelling use for AR yet

Google managed to elicit an audible gasp from the crowd at I/O today when it showed off a new augmented feature for Maps. It was a clear standout during a keynote that contained plenty of iterative updates to existing software, and proved a key glimpse into what it will take to move AR from interesting novelty to compelling use case.

Along with the standard array of ARCore-based gaming offerings, the new AR mode for Maps is arguably one of the first truly indispensable real-world applications. As someone who spent the better part of an hour yesterday attempting to navigate the long, unfamiliar blocks of Palo Alto, California by following an arrow on a small blue circle, I can personally vouch for the usefulness of such an application.

It’s still early days — the company admitted that it’s playing around with a few ideas here. But it’s easy to see how offering visual overlays of a real-time image would make it a heck of a lot easier to navigate unfamiliar spaces.

In a sense, it’s a like a real-time version of Street View, combining real-world images with map overlays and location-based positioning. In the demo, a majority of the screen is devoted to the street image captured by the on-board camera. Turn by turn directions and large arrows are overlaid onto the video, while a small half-circle displays a sliver of the map to give you some context of where you are and how long it will take to get where you’re going.

Of course, such a system that’s heavily reliant on visuals wouldn’t make sense in the context of driving, unless, of course, it’s presented in a kind of heads up display. Here, however, it works seamlessly, assuming, of course, you’re willing to look a bit dorky by holding up your phone in front of your face.

There are a lot of moving parts here too, naturally. In order to sync up to a display like this, the map is going to have to get things just right — and anyone who’s ever walked through the city streets on Maps knows how often that can misfire. That’s likely a big part of the reason Google wasn’t really willing to share specifics with regards to timing. For now, we just have to assume this is a sort of proof of concept — along with the fun little fox walking guy the company trotted out that had shades of a certain Johnny Cash-voiced coyote.

But if this is what trying to find my way in a new city looks like, sign me up.

Source: Mobile – Techcruch

Watch Google I/O developer keynote live right here

Watch Google I/O developer keynote live right here

Google I/O is nowhere near done. While the mainstream keynote just ended, the company is about to unveil the next big things when it comes to APIs, SDKs, frameworks and more.

The developer keynote starts at 12:45 PM Pacific Time (3:45 PM on the East Cost, 8:45 PM in London, 9:45 PM in Paris) and you can watch the live stream right here on this page.

If you’re an Android developer, this is where you’ll get the juicy details about the next version of Android. You can expect new possibilities and developer tools for you and your company. We’ll have a team on the ground to cover the best bits right here on TechCrunch.

Source: Mobile – Techcruch

Android blatantly copies the iPhone X navigation gestures

Android blatantly copies the iPhone X navigation gestures

Google unveiled some of the new features in the next version of Android at its developer conference. One feature looked particularly familiar. Android P will get new navigation gestures to switch between apps. And it works just like the iPhone X.

“As part of Android P, we’re introducing a new system navigation that we’ve been working on for more than a year now,” VP of Android Engineering Dave Burke said. “And the new design makes Android multitasking more approachable and easier to understand.”

While Google has probably been working on a new multitasking screen for a year, it’s hard to believe that the company didn’t copy Apple. The iPhone X was unveiled in September 2017.

On Android P, the traditional home, back and multitasking buttons are gone. There’s a single pill-shaped button at the center of the screen. If you swipe up from this button, you get a new multitasking view with your most recent apps. You can swipe left and right and select the app you’re looking for.

If you swipe up one more time, you get the app drawer with suggested apps at the very top. At any time, you can tap on the button to go back to the home screen. These gestures also work when you’re using an app. Android P adds a back button in the bottom left corner if you’re in an app.

But the most shameless inspiration is the left and right gestures. If you swipe left and right on the pill-shaped button, you can switch to the next app, exactly like on the iPhone X. You can scrub through multiple apps. As soon as you release your finger, you’ll jump to the selected app.

You can get Android P beta for a handful of devices starting today. End users will get the new version in the coming months.

It’s hard to blame Google with this one as the iPhone X gestures are incredibly elegant and efficient — and yes, it looks a lot like the Palm Pre. Using a phone that runs the current version of Android after using the iPhone X is much slower as it requires multiple taps to switch to the most recent app.

Apple moved the needle and it’s clear that all smartphones should work like the iPhone X. But Google still deserves to be called out.

Source: Mobile – Techcruch

Google rolls out app time management controls

Google rolls out app time management controls

Google today announced at its I/O developer conference a new suite tools for its new Android P operating system that will help users better manage their screen time, including a more robust do not disturb mode and ways to track your app usage.

The biggest change is introducing a dashboard to Android P that tracks all of your Android usage, labeled under the “digital wellbeing” banner. Users can see how many times they’ve unlocked their phones, how many notifications they get, and how long they’ve spent on apps, for example. Developers can also add in ways to get more information on that app usage. YouTube, for example, will show total watch time across all devices in addition to just Android devices.

Google says it has designed all of this to promote what developers call “meaningful engagement,” trying to reduce the kind of idle screen time that might not necessarily be healthy — like sitting on your phone before you go to bed. Here’s a quick rundown of some of the other big changes:

  • Google’s do not disturb mode is getting additional ways to ignore notifications. Users can turn their phones over in order to automatically engage do not disturb, a gesture that Google is calling “shush.” Google is also reducing visual notifications in addition to texts and calls when do not disturb is activated.
  • Google is also introducing a “wind down” mode that activates before users go to bed. Wind down mode changes the screen color to a grayscale, and lowers the brightness over time. This one is geared toward helping people put their phones down when they’re going to bed.
  • Users can set time limits on their apps. Android P will nudge users when they are approaching that time limit, and once they it it, the app will turn gray on the launcher in order to indicate that they’ve exceeded the screen time they wanted for that app.

The launch had been previously reported by The Washington Post, and arrives at a time when there’s increasing concerns about the negative side of technology and, specifically, its addictive nature. The company already offers tools for parents who want to manage children’s devices, via Family Link – software for controlling access to apps, setting screen time limits, and configuring device bedtimes, among other things. Amazon also offers a robust set of parental controls for its Fire tablets and Apple is expected to launch an expanded set of parental controls for iOS later this year.

Source: Mobile – Techcruch

Google Assistant is coming to Google Maps

Google Assistant is coming to Google Maps

Google wants to bundle its voice assistant into every device and app. And it’s true that it makes sense to integrate Google Assistant in Google Maps. It’ll be available on iOS and Android this summer.

At Google I/O, director of Google Assistant Lilian Rincon showed a demo of Google Maps with Google Assistant. Let’s say you’re driving and you’re using Google Maps for directions. You can ask Google Assistant to share your ETA without touching your phone.

You can also control the music with your voice for instance. Rincon even played music on YouTube, but without the video element of course. It lets you access YouTube’s extensive music library while driving.

If you’re using a newer car with Android Auto or Apple CarPlay, you’ve already been using voice assistants in your car. But many users rely exclusively on their phone. That’s why it makes sense to integrate Google Assistant in Google Maps directly.

It’s also a great way to promote Google Assistant to users who are not familiar with it yet. That could be an issue as Google Assistant asks for a ton of data when you first set it up. It forces you to share your location history, web history and app activity. Basically you let Google access everything you do with your phone.

Source: Mobile – Techcruch

Watch Google I/O keynote live right here

Watch Google I/O keynote live right here
How did you find Microsoft Build yesterday? We don’t really have time for your answer because Google I/O is already here! Google is kicking off its annual developer conference today. As usual, there will be a consumer keynote with major new products in the morning, and a developer-centric keynote in the afternoon.
The conference starts at 10 AM Pacific Time (1 PM on the East Cost, 6 PM in London, 7 PM in Paris) and you can watch the live stream right here on this page. The developer keynote will be at 12:45 PM Pacific Time.
Rumor has it that Google is about to share more details about Android P, the next major release of its Android platform. But you can also expect some Google Assistant and Google Home news, some virtual reality news and maybe even some Wear OS news. We have a team on the ground ready to cover the event, so don’t forget to read TechCrunch to get our take on today’s news.

Source: Gadgets – techcrunch