Amazon will begin selling Chromecast and Apple TV

Back when the first Chromecast debuted in 2013, it quickly became the best-selling electronics device on Amazon’s shopping site. It’s no surprise that just a few years later with the release of the Fire TV, Amazon decided to stop selling competitors to its own streaming products and pulled Chromecast and Apple TV. That move turned around to bite the company in the rear, however, thanks to Google blocking YouTube on the Echo Show.

One of Google’s main complaints in the reason it gave behind the block was that Amazon didn’t allow competing products like Google’s Chromecast, Home, or even Apple’s TV to be sold alongside Amazon’s own offering. It seems Amazon is extending the olive branch to Google in an attempt to get YouTube back on Echo Show devices with this latest move.

An Amazon representative confirmed to CNET that the Apple TV and Chromecast will re-appear on Amazon’s shopping site, with listings for the Chromecast, Chromecast Ultra, Apple TV, and Apple TV 4K now showing up. They’re not on sale yet, but Amazon has confirmed they will be available shortly.

The ball is now in Google’s court on whether this will be enough of an olive branch to keep YouTube on the Echo Show and Fire TV.

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Google Flights and Google Trips Gain Price Tracking, Deal Alerts

Just ahead of the holiday season, Google’s rolling out updates to Google Flights and Google Trips that’ll make nabbing last-minute deals on airline tickets, hotel rooms, and local goings-on easier.

Starting Thursday, Google Flights, Google’s Search-powered airfare search tool, will start to analyze historical pricing data in order to predict when fares might rise or fall. Using some of the same machine learning techniques employed by Kayak, Hipmunk, Hopper, and other price-predicting travel planners, Flights will notify you when airline prices reach certain predefined thresholds. You’ll see a tip at the top of your Google Flights results if prices to a destination “won’t drop further”, for example, or “are less than normal”.

The artificial intelligence-powered predictions are heading to Google’s hotel-searching tools, too. When you’re searching for a room, you’ll get messages about events that might be impacting hotel reservations. And starting next year, you’ll be able to opt into Hotel Price Tracking alerts about trends.

And last but not least, Google Trips — the trip-planning application for iOS and Android that Google launched a little over a year ago — will soon start to show information about local events. In the coming days in English, French, Italian, German, Spanish, and Portuguese, the new Discounts tab will highlight deals on concerts, theater performances, and festivals nearby.

“Worrying about getting the best price for your vacation can be stressful,” Google Vice President Richard Holden wrote in a blog post. “A recent study we did indicated that travelers are most concerned about finding the best price for their vacations – more than with any other discretionary purchase. [These new features] can help you get out of town, even when you’re on a budget.”

The new Google Flights and hotel search tools are rolling out worldwide to desktop and mobile users. Folks who’ve installed the Google Trips application should start to see the Discounts tab in the coming weeks.

Google Trips - Travel Planner (Free, Google Play) →


Source: Google

Google’s PhotoScan App Updated with Auto Backup to Google Photos

PhotoScan, which launched back in October of 2016, is a handy little tool from Google that lets you convert your old, printed photos into high-quality digital copies using your phone’s camera. It’s not the most original idea — there are plenty of photo-scanning applications in the Google Play Store — but PhotoScan claims to deliver better results by leveraging Google’s artificial intelligence expertise. The app uses a custom algorithm developed by Google that automatically detects edges, straightens images, and eliminates glare.

It’s been a while since PhotoScan received its last update — version 1.4, which hit the Play Store in April,  brought in-app sharing functionality and the ability o turn off the glare-reduction feature. But that changed this week with the rollout of PhotoScan version 1.5, which brings some useful additions to the application.

The v.1.5 update makes it easier to capture and save printed photos, first and foremost. Previously, the process of saving scans was a bit unintuitive — you had to manually select the scanned photos you wanted to keep and then choose a destination in Google Photos. But that’s no longer — now, the app now automatically backs up scanned photos to your Google Photos library. The update also brings improvements to automatic cropping and adds the ability to drag and adjust the auto-detected free-form edges of around the image.

The newest version of PhotoScan is live in the Google Play Store. .

PhotoScan by Google Photos (Free, Google Play) →


All Pixel system apps on Play Store now show ’1-5′ installs

When official sales numbers are unavailable, people have been judging some device’s sales using the Play Store install count on some system apps. It’s an easy, though likely not very accurate, way to judge how many devices have been sold since those apps often auto update for most people.

Pixel-launcher-play-store-installs

Google seems to be unhappy with this method of judging sales, so it has changed the install count on all Pixel device system apps to “1-5″ on desktop and “1+” on mobile. Considering that every other app shows its install count, this method has people frustrated with Google abusing its control over the install count on its own app store. It’s also technically false information, which is not a great look for Google.

Removing that section entirely could be a better method to hide potential sale counts, but then it should be offered to all developers. Nonetheless, it’s a bit of a shady move by Google.