Friday , 21 September 2018
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Google Updates: New Android TV, Subscribe with Google, Instant Apps

ANOTHER WEEK of interesting little ‘in-brief’ stories from the Google/Alphabet family that you may have otherwise miss. You can get a list of full stories about Google from here.

We’ve also taken the decision not to run a three-for-free this week. We have no control over the apps that are made temporarily free, and occasionally there aren’t any that justify coverage. There a few good ones this week, but we’ve covered them at least once before, so we’d rather rest it and come back stronger next week.

First this week – what is the future for Android TV? It’s one aspect of the Google ecosystem that is still yet to set the world alight, and now we hear that the Google Nexus Player, the main set-top box for Android TV (not counting the evergreen Nvidia Shield console, of course) is not going to be upgraded to Android P, rendering it, in effect, end of life.

If we don’t get something to replace it in the pipeline soon, we could see Android TV fall even further behind. In the UK it still has a significant number of key TV apps that don’t support it.

That said, there is talk of a device codenamed ‘Elphin’ in testing that could be a Pixel/Google Home branded set-top box. Maybe. Just maybe.

A big launch this week was “Subscribe with Google” a new mechanism for news sites to manage subscriptions for their paywalls. We at INQ have constantly been looking at ways to keep the site going (proper journalism isn’t free, kids) but respect the dislike for cookies, trackers and other things related to adverts. Is this something that you’d be interested in us doing? We’d love to get your thoughts.

Another new launch this week which has also been a long time coming is the launch of Google Play Instant. It’s a way of testing apps without downloading and installing them.  There’s not much content as yet, but when it works, it means you can play something there and then using Android Instant Apps. We should see it expand in future weeks.

If you want to try it, you’ll need the Google Play Games app.

Users of the previously trouble-free Pixel (2016) phone are complaining of a problem with charging in the Oreo 8.1 OS release, which is causing a potentially huge problem – it’s telling the USB-C input to take too big-a-charge and theoretically fry the phone. Google says that the phone, original charger, and battery are all fitted with fail-safes and that it shouldn’t be an issue while a fix is sorted. µ  

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