Project Fi Now Adds US Cellular to the Mix

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Project Fi just got a new benefit announced today. It was announced that US Cellular is going to be an added provider that Project Fi uses. This means better coverage for all Project Fi users. Google has said it will be rolled out in the coming weeks. That means it will most likely need an update for Nexus phones. It is interesting that Google could build phones that were ready for even more networks than they originally planned for with their cellular service.

Looking at the coverage map for US Cellular it looks like their primary network is in the Midwest and Northern California. There is also other partner coverage that shows up on their map, so it will be interesting to see how much more coverage is added to Project Fi. It can range from a few small areas to a lot more. We will see what happens in the coming weeks.

Nexus 5X only $199 with Project Fi Signup

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The Nexus 5X has always been a good value at $349. It has a 5.2 inch screen with a good camera, up to 32GB of storage, and other specs not found in low end phones. Now until June 9th, Google is having a sale on the phone and bringing the 16GB model to $199 and the 32GB model to $249 when you sign up for Project Fi.

Project Fi is Google’s entrance into the world of wireless carriers. They are not just another reseller of mobile networks like the other providers other than the big 4. Project Fi combines Sprint and T-Mobile’s wireless networks so you are able to get the best coverage in every area. It switches seamlessly between networks, and even allows for Wi-Fi calling when indoor reception is limited. The pricing starts at $30 per month for 1GB of data, unlimited calling and texting. Project Fi is not for heavy data users, but if you are looking for an affordable Nexus 5X and to try it out, it is a good deal.

Google Allo is the Coming of the Chat Bots

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Google announced Google Allo at their Google I/O developer conference. Allo is a new messaging app that learns the phrases and reactions you have in your normal writing and gives suggestions as to what it thinks you will say next. For example, if someone says they had a long day, it could suggest a couple options like “Why is that?”, “What happened”, or something else. You could then just touch the option, then hit send. This would greatly speed up messaging and give you the ability to write basic responses to situations and questions.

I think this could be something that could be beneficial if it was built into Android, or at least would work with SMS text messaging. Right now it looks like it will just be a separate messaging app that would need to be downloaded. Then if you are having friends download an app with chat bots it would be obvious that sometimes you would be talking to a chat bot instead of a human. That probably wouldn’t be the best idea.

Android Apps are Coming to Chromebooks

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Google just announced at Google I/O, their developer conference, that Chromebooks will be able to run Android apps natively in the future. Right now Chrome OS and Android are two completely separate universes. Chrome OS has the apps that live inside the Chrome browser, accessed through the Chrome store. Android has over a million apps accessible through the Google Play store.

This is exciting because Chromebooks will now be opened up to a world of new applications and capabilities. This makes the idea of a $200 laptop much more interesting if it can run over a million apps including games. It appears as though it will only be available for touch-screen Chromebooks, and will come sometime later this year. The Chromebooks will likely need a GPS sensor and other sensors smartphones have to enable all app functionality. Google may require new Chromebooks to have these features in the future.

Google Play Music App Now Runs Podcasts

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After announcing last year that Google Play Music would offer the ability to subscribe and listen to podcasts, it has finally come to mobile. This has worked on the web version, but until recently has not worked on the mobile version.

This brings the Android phone up to the same level of Apple when it comes to podcasting. Podcasting has always been a seamless experience on iPhone because the iTunes Store has been the most popular directory in existence. In the past you had to use separate podcasting apps, but now it is built-in. This will make listening to podcasts on the go easier for all Android users.

Google Photos Review

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Google retired its old Picasa Web Albums a while ago and replaced them with one all-encompassing web and mobile app called Google Photos. When it first launched in May of 2015 it had a limit on the quality of uploads that wouldn’t count against your Google storage space. It was around 10 megapixels as I recall, which was limiting since I was shooting with a DSLR at the time. The DSLR was a 20 megapixel camera, so I decided to pass on using Google Photos and stick with Flickr which offered 1 TB of photo storage space without limits. I didn’t want my pictures to be cut by 50%. Now Google bumped this limit to 15 megapixels so it makes it much more attractive since most cameras shoot at less than 15 megapixels.

The Google Photos app can automatically back up and sync the photos from your smartphone. This saves time and is a free alternative to Dropbox which does the same thing. It also allows uploads via the web interface if you have photos on your computer that need to be added.

The interface is simple and easy to use. You can create albums, and share them easily via Google+, Facebook, and Twitter. You can also create a quick link to the album for anyone to view them without an account. Unfortunately there are not many editing options for the photos once they are in the system. There is a crop function, several filters to add, and a few other settings. What would really set Google Photos apart is the ability to have many of the advanced editing options that their Snapseed app has.

Overall Google Photos is a great system and I would recommend it to anyone looking to easily back up their photos for free. It is something that even the most novice of users can try to get their photos in order.

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Company Tears Down House Due To Google Maps Error

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Shocking news out of Texas describes a situation where someone’s house was wrongly demolished by a demolition company. The company says it is because an error with Google Maps showed the house on the wrong street. Google has confirmed this error and said they fixed the issue as soon as it was brought to their attention. Now the demolition company is pointing the finger at Google!

I would say instead of pointing fingers at a piece of technology the company should have confirmed with the previous owner the place they were looking to demolish. Blaming Google for mapping errors is one thing for a missed turn or getting to a meeting late, but not for demolishing an entire house! The key when relying on Google Maps is to allow extra time in case you are late, and to inspect homes you are going to demolish!

Google Hangouts Will Soon Feature Better Call Quality

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I have recently started using Google Hangouts to keep in touch with other people in the Google realm. I have found though the voice calling to be inconsistent. I would have calls that were choppy, drop out, and have other issues all the time.

Google has just stated they are going to improve the quality of voice calls on the Android, iOS, and desktop apps. They said they will do this by establishing a peer to peer (P2P) connection instead of routing the calls directly through the Google servers. To me it sounds like it would work better the opposite way. That is the calls would be higher quality going through the servers than P2P. But I guess Google probably knows what they are doing!

Google Maps adding holiday hours

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Google Maps is rolling out on both mobile and on the web holiday hours for all businesses that publish them online.

So when you search for a business in addition to the regular hours you are used to seeing it will notify of any changes for the holidays.  Including the ability to search later at night for restaurants that are still open, say on New Years Eve for special extended holiday hours.