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Google Nest teases that ‘something special’ is coming on Monday

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On Thursday, Google officially showed its rumored Nest speaker after the device was inadvertently revealed by a regulatory agency. Google Nest today is back with another tease for “something special,” thought it’s not clear if the two things are related.

At 9 a.m. PT, Google Nest on Twitter and Facebook posted the following tweet with an accompanying video:

Take a deep breath and prepare. Something special is coming this Monday.

The four-second long clip features comedian Fred Armisen in a long, white wig that could be straight out of sketch comedy series Portlandia. I can’t quite make out what he’s mouthing, but we then jump to a side shot of the funny man that reveals he is sitting cross-legged on a stole in a meditation-esque pose that fits the “deep breath” aspect of this teaser.

People are immediately jumping to the conclusion that the “something special” in question is the Nest speaker given how recently that occurred. A one-off hardware announcement is possible, but it would chip away at what could be announced — presumably — in the fall. That said, in the US and Japan, the speakers have received the necessary regulatory approvals to go on sale, while Google could always announce and ship later.

If Monday doesn’t see a hardware announcement, then software is the other possibility. Given the nature of the tease, Google Assistant and Nest devices could be getting some kind of relaxation/meditation feature, while one long shot is an Armisen celebrity Assistant voice. John Legend departed last year leaving Issa Rae.

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YouTube Music on Android TV gets ‘app’ for direct homescreen access

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Last month, the full YouTube app on Android TV gained a dedicated “Music” section. Google is now offering a direct shortcut to that experience with a new YouTube Music “app.”

Today, you get to YouTube Music on Android TV by scrolling through the YouTube app’s sidebar. While it’s the third icon in the list, Google is now offering a more direct way of accessing the carousel of albums, playlists, and music video suggestions.

Searching for “YouTube Music” on the Play Store surfaces a new listing. It downloads quickly as it is nothing more than a shortcut that adds a YouTube Music icon to the apps carousel.

That said, it leaves much to be desired as the experience remains quite basic — lacking features like music search and background playback — and being nothing more than a section within the broader YouTube application. My colleague Ben Schoon speculate the reason behind this approach:

Why did Google opt for this bizarre integration? I’d wager that it’s because YouTube’s Android TV app is essentially the same one found on Roku, smart TVs, game consoles, and other platforms. Eventually, all of those platforms will likely see this same Music integration.

YouTube Music would do well to get a dedicated app down the road. When searching Google Play, it does not appear as the first result so try scrolling the carousel until you come across the familiar icon.

Google today also made official the YouTube Music integration in Google Maps that we first spotted last in June, noting that it requires a paid Premium subscription. There’s also a new “Hey Google, play recommended music from YouTube Music” Assistant command that currently only works on Nest speakers. It specifically provides “personalized music suggestions across your favorite artists and genres based on your listening history.”

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How to use Google One to back up your Android phone

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Backing up your Android phone is always smart — and backing it up to the cloud makes it easy to reload your data even if your phone is lost, stolen, or broken. And now you can back up some of that data to Google’s cloud storage service, Google One, even if you aren’t on one of the company’s paid plans, which start at $1.99 for 100GB of storage. If you’ve got a personal Google account (not a G Suite account), you can get up to 15GB of storage for backing up your mobile data (although that can vary somewhat, depending on what other services / accounts you have).

Back up data with Android

Of course, you don’t need Google One to back up your app data, call history, contacts, settings, or SMS messages. You could already do that easily using your Android settings and your Google Drive storage. Just in case, here’s a reminder how to do that.

Note: Because Android phones can differ widely in how they handle various features, the procedure you use to enable the backup may differ depending on whether you use a Pixel phone, a Samsung Galaxy phone, or one from another manufacturer. This is the procedure if you’re using a Pixel phone; yours could vary somewhat.

  • Go to Setup > System > Backup
  • Toggle on “Back up to Google Drive.”
  • Just under the toggle, you’ll see the account to which your phone will automatically back up. If you have several Google accounts, and you have more free storage space in one of them, you may want to switch to that account.
  • Below that, you can check how long it’s been since the last backup. If you think it’s been too long, you can tap on “Back up now” to manually start a backup.

Once you’ve backed up your app history, etc. via the Android “back up to Google Drive” feature, you’re covered if you need to switch to a new phone or had to wipe your current one. Once you log in, you’ll be prompted to restore it all.

If you want Google to back up the photos and videos in your Photos app, you can arrange this as well.

  • Look for and tap on “Google Photos,” which is listed under “Photos & videos.”
  • Turn on “Back up & sync.”

This will provide you with unlimited backup for what Google calls “full resolution photos and videos.” In other words, they are not in the original resolution but are somewhat compressed. If you want to back up your photos in their original resolution, you can do that via the Google One storage plan, which is now available to Gmail users even if they don’t subscribe to a paid plan.

Back up with Google One

If you are using an Android phone, the free version of the Google One service will back up device data, multimedia messages, and photos / videos in their original quality (as opposed to the compressed format backed up in Google Photos).

  • Install and open the Google One app.
  • You should see a page that says “Storage and more with Google One.” If the feature hasn’t rolled around to your phone yet, all you’ll see is an offer to upgrade to paid storage. Try again in a day or two.
  • Tap on the button that reads “Setup data backup.”

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  • You can now use Google One for free storage up to 15GB.



  • To begin, tap on “Set up data backup”



  • You can then choose among three types of data to back up via Google One.

Here you can decide what data you want to be backed up to Google One, including device data, multimedia messages, and photos / videos in their original quality.

Once you’ve backed up your data via Google One, you can easily access it via the app.

  • Select the “Storage” tab at the top of the app’s screen. You’ll be informed how much free storage you have left, how much you’ve used, and for what.
  • Scroll down to find out when your last backup was. If you want to immediately do another, tap on “Back up now.”
  • If you want to restore data from your last backup, tap on “Get backup.”
  • Choose what data you want to restore.

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Google’s live-captioning feature will soon work with voice and video calls on Pixel phones

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Android’s real-time captions feature, Live Caption, is gaining the ability to work with voice and video calls, Google announced on Monday. Previously, Live Caption only worked with media that played on your phone, like a YouTube video, but this new functionality means you’ll soon be able to have a phone call with someone and get captions of what they’re saying as they say it.

If you want to see Live Caption with calls in action, check out my colleague Dieter Bohn’s video he posted to Twitter using the feature on the newly announced Pixel 4A. Google says the feature will be rolling out to the Pixel 2, 3, 3A, and 4 as well.

Google also announced that the new version of Google Assistant — which debuted with the Pixel 4 and brought a speed boost, a new design, and new capabilities — will be available in German, French, Italian, and Spanish. The company says they’ll be “available soon” on a Google Assistant support page. Google also said that more languages are coming “soon.”

In addition to announcing the $349 Pixel 4A, its new midrange phone, Google also teased two new phones coming later this year: the Pixel 4A 5G, a version of the Pixel 4A with 5G, and the Pixel 5, the company’s next flagship phone.

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