“Hey Google” Voice Command is Now Widely Rolling-out in Google Assistant

Users have been able to search Google via voice using the ‘OK Google’ voice command since 2013. In 2016, Google released Google Assistant, although it was initially an exclusive for Pixel devices. While Google Assistant on smartphones continued using the same voice command as always, the company offered another command to wake the Google Home device. The “Hey Google” voice command could be used to wake Assistant on Google’s lineup of smart speakers, but it took quite a while for Google to bring the new command to phones.

In October, we first reported the existence of the ‘Hey Google’ command in the APK of the Google app we found on the Google Pixel 2. The inference from the strings in the app was that you could now use two wake up commands: ‘OK Google’ and ‘Hey Google’.

Then, reports emerged that “Hey Google” had started slowly rolling-out to devices. However, at that time, only Google Nexus and Pixel devices seemed to be able to retrain their devices to listen for the “Hey Google” wake command. This seemed to point towards staged roll-out for the new command, much like the complete release of Google Assistant, which only recently became available on Android tablets.

Hey Google Voice Command Google Assistant Hey Google Voice Command Google Assistant

Now, it seems that “Hey Google” is widely rolling-out to more Android devices. We were able to confirm that the voice command is now available on the ZTE Axon M running Android 7.1 Nougat. It is expected to work on other non-Google branded devices as well. If it arrives on your device, you should see a notification from the Google app asking you to retrain your device so it can recognize “Hey Google” as a wake-up command.

The addition of “Hey Google” brings the total number of voice wake-up commands on Google Assistant up to two, which is good for those who find it easier to say than “OK Google.” Some may see this as an annoying addition especially in households with multiple Google Assistant-enabled devices.

Assistant is increasingly getting more versatile with features such as broadcast, commute preferences for better navigation suggestions, and more. Additions like the new voice command will increase convenience for those who rely on it to answer questions, perform hands-free tasks, or listen to music.

Google Assistant is Testing Commute Preferences for Better Navigation Suggestions

In 2012, Google Voice Search  was integrated with Google Now. The combination of both products functioned as Google’s primitive assistant competitor to the likes of Apple’s Siri and Microsoft’s Cortana. Google Now and Voice Search were part of the Google app on Android devices, and had extensive, ever-growing functionality. Then, in 2016, Google released Google Assistant as the company’s new AI-powered personal assistant, and renamed Google Now to Google feed in the process. Originally, it was temporarily exclusive to Google’s first-party Pixel devices, and played a significant part as being promoted as one of the Pixel’s exclusive features.

However, it was available for all Android users in Google Allo — Google’s newest messaging app. In March, Google made Assistant available to all devices running Android Marshmallow and higher. Since then, it has continued to get feature updates, including the broadcast feature, local delivery and home service support in the US, integration with Google Lens, and more. The number of countries supported by Assistant keeps increasing. Also, Google recently made Assistant available for Android tablets as well.

Google Assistant has the capability to give navigation suggestions on the basis of users’ data given to Google. Now, Assistant has started to test commute preferences in order to give better navigation suggestions as well. To better understand commute routines, Assistant will ask how the user normally gets to work: by car, public transport, bike or walk. It will also ask how the user normally gets around, giving the same set of options. The second question will play a role in deciding default navigation behavior for directions other than home and work.

Google Assistant Commute Preferences Google Assistant Commute Preferences

By getting access to a user’s commute information, Google Assistant will then feed that data into its system to give navigation suggestions using the user’s preferred type of commute. This is an improvement for Assistant’s capabilities, and it’s sure to increase convenience as navigation will require less fiddling to achieve the right result. As there still remains a long way to go for personal assistants to start feeling complete, Google’s effort to provide better navigation suggestions is welcome news for Assistant users.

Facebook Adds a Snooze Feature to Temporarily Unfollow a Friend

Have you ever been annoyed by someone posting twenty different photos of the same event on your Facebook feed? Ever had to unfollow a friend because, while you feel obligated to have them added as a friend, you just don’t want to see what they post at that particular time? I’m sure a lot of us have been there. Sadly, people also tend to forget when they unfollow someone on Facebook, but now there’s a solution for that rolling out on the social media platform.

Slowly rolling out globally, a temporary “Snooze” feature is coming soon to Facebook’s news feed. This allows users who may be slightly put off by the things a friend is posting to simply temporarily unfollow the user, rather than permanently unfollowing a friend (and forgetting about it). What’s more, when the snooze time is nearly up, you’ll be notified about it if you wish to extend it. You can also end the snooze period any time you want.

Interestingly, Facebook claim this change is a result of user feedback, based on complaints from users. “We’ve heard from people that they want more options to determine what they see in News Feed and when they see it”, Facebook say in their announcement post. This also isn’t the first customisation option for news feeds that Facebook has introduced. Users can also hide individual posts, along with adding friends to a “see first” category, meaning you will always see their posts in your news feed above everyone else. Users can also report posts or unfollow friends permanently, resulting in more control over their news feed. If that isn’t enough, browser extensions like FB Purity allow for even more feed customisation, such as hiding posts that use specific words.

You can check out the official press release by following the link below.

Source: Facebook News Room

Report: Samsung Galaxy Market Share will drop below 20% in 2018 thanks to Chinese OEMs

With the rise of Chinese based device makers such as OnePlus, Xiaomi, OPPO, and Huawei (who is now the number one device maker in China), some of the bigger OEMs such as Samsung are starting to see a dip in their global market share. The decreased market share isn’t a concern for Samsung yet, as the company has a significantly higher market share in Western countries—but the gap is closing quickly.

Last year, Samsung accounted for about 20.5 percent of all mobile shipments. That means just about 1 in 5 phones that were shipped across the globe were produced and sold by the Korean company. This percentage is expected to drop below 20 percent in 2018, and that’s largely thanks to the expansion of the Chinese OEMs into western markets.

The report from Strategy Analytics, a market research company, states that Samsung’s market share is expected to drop to around 19.2 percent, sandwiched between Apple’s iPhone line and budget Chinese smartphones. It’s been reported that each of the top smartphone manufacturers underneath Samsung will gain ground and ramp up the number of their units sold in 2018. That includes Apple, Huawei, Oppo, and Xiaomi which are all expected to raise their market share in the coming year.

And it’s not only the budget Chinese phones catching up either. Chinese OEMs are also supplying flagship level experiences at lower costs, which in turn competes with Samsung and other manufacturers. As consumers learn of cheaper, but similarly good options, they may switch to other brands which threatens Samsung’s market share as well.

With increases in market share across the board for competitors, it’s not alarming but it certainly has the potential to be worrisome for Samsung in the future. There are reports that Huawei and Xiaomi are seeking to finally enter the United States as early as 2018, though we’ll have to see how 2018 plays out and if the Korean tech giant’s dominance may be in contention.

Via: Business Korea

Samsung Galaxy A8, Galaxy A8+ and LG K10 may be Announced at CES 2018

Rumor had it that Samsung would give a sneak peek at the Galaxy S9 and the S9+ at the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show, but now, that seems increasingly unlikely. The Seoul, South Korea-based company’s not skipping the festivities altogether, though — according to a report in ETNews, Samsung will take the wraps off its mid-range Galaxy A (2018) series smartphones at a press event in January.

The Galaxy A8 and A8+ have been leaked incessantly, to the point where the Galaxy A8 (2018)’s manual was found on Samsung’s own website. The Galaxy A8+ (2018) appeared in leaked photos and a hands-on video recently, and its specifications have been more or less confirmed.

According to ETNews, both phones in Samsung’s new A8 series have 18:9 Infinity Displays, and they’re said to adopt the Galaxy S8‘s edge-to-edge design. When it comes to software, they’ll reportedly ship with ‘Split View’ and ‘Pop-Up View’ — Samsung’s split-screen and picture-in-picture modes, respectively — and Bixby Home and Bixby Remind services. Bixby Voice won’t be pre-installed, but that’s not too surprising — the leaked Galaxy A8 designs don’t have a dedicated Bixby key, unlike the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 Plus.

The Galaxy A8 (2018) series is said to come with Samsung Pay, fingerprint sensors (placed below the camera on the back), USB Type-C ports, and 3.5mm headphone jacks. The Galaxy A8+, meanwhile, will reportedly be the first Galaxy A series phone with a 6-inch Super AMOLED display.

In related news, LG, Samsung’s chief rival, is expected to announce the LG K10 (2018) at the Consumer Electronics Show. ETNews states that LG’s K new series phone will come with the company’s mobile payment solution, LG Pay, for the first time. (Up until now, LG Pay has been restricted to the company’s premium smartphone such as the G and V series). It’s also said to have an FM radio for broadcasting emergency signals during natural disasters.

The LG K10 will have a 5.3-inch Full HD display, 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage, according to the report. It’ll also have an improved grip, and a thinner design than the previous model.

None of this information is official, so take it with a grain of salt. But it won’t be long before we learn more.

Source: ETNews