Google Kills Off Nest Thermostat App for Apple Watch

Google has killed its Nest app for Apple Watch, meaning Nest smart thermostat owners can no longer control the device's target temperature and operating mode directly from their wrist.

The deprecation of the wearable apps for both Apple Watch and Wear OS coincides with version 5.37 of the Nest mobile app, which was released on Tuesday.


Any mention of the Apple Watch app has since been removed from the Nest App Store listing, while Wear OS device users who try to launch the app from their watch are now met with the message "Nest is no longer supported for Wear OS" and are advised to uninstall the app.

Google's reason for the watch app's demise is simple. According to the company (via 9to5Google), "only a small number of people" used the watch apps, therefore Nest will focus on developing its full mobile app and Wear OS-only Google Assistant functions going forward.
We took a look at Nest app users on smart watches and found that only a small number of people were using it. Moving forward our team will spend more time focusing on delivering high quality experiences through mobile apps and voice interactions.
Google advises Nest owners that they can no longer adjust their thermostat or change the Home/Away mode from their Apple Watch, but these actions can still be controlled remotely via the Nest mobile app, which can also still deliver notifications to their watch.

The Nest app joins a long line of high-profile Apple Watch apps that have met their demise over the last two years. Beginning in 2017, Twitter, Google Maps, Amazon, and eBay all quietly removed their Apple Watch apps from the App Store, after seemingly concluding their continued development was no longer worth the effort because not enough people were using them.

In a bid to rekindle interest in developing Apple Watch apps, Apple has added an App Store in its upcoming watchOS 6 that can be accessed right on your wrist, allowing apps to be downloaded on the Apple Watch independent of an iPhone.

This means developers won't need to create Apple Watch client extensions as part of their iPhone apps, and can instead create truly standalone versions for Apple Watch, or even create watch apps that don't have iPhone versions at all. Still currently in beta testing, watchOS 6 is due to be released in the fall.

Tags: Nest, Google

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Google Maps for iOS Gains Live Traffic Info for Buses, Transit Crowdedness Predictions

Google today announced a major update for Google Maps on both Android and iOS, introducing new transit-related features.

Google Maps will now provide details on live traffic delays for buses in places where real-time information doesn't exist from local transit agencies, which will let Maps users see if a bus will be late, how long the delay might be, and how long travel might take.


The app will provide details on exactly where delays are on the map so riders will know what to expect before getting on a bus.

Along with live traffic information for buses, Google is adding crowdedness predictions for transit routes. Based on past ride information, Google Maps will offer up details on how crowded a bus, train, or subway is likely to be.


The new Google Maps features are rolling out today on Android and iOS in close to 200 cities around the world.


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Google Now Rolling Out Auto-Delete Controls for Location History

Google in May announced a new privacy-focused auto-delete option for automatically removing Location History and Web & App Activity after a set period of time, and the feature is now rolling out to Google users.

Google users who have these options enabled can choose to delete their information manually, every three months, or every 18 months. Opting in to auto-delete will allow Google to regularly clear out stored data at either the three or 18 month mark.


Prior to the implementation of the new feature, Google allowed Location History and Web & App Activity to be disabled or manually deleted, but there were no controls for regular deletion, which may encourage more people to use functions like Location History.

Location History tracks the locations that you've visited, while Web & App Activity tracks websites you've visited and apps that you've used. Google uses this information for recommendations and cross device syncing.

Auto-delete options for Location History are rolling out around the world starting today on iOS and Android, with the rollout expected to take a few weeks. Auto-delete options for Web & App Activity will be coming later.

Tag: Google

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Google’s Not Going to Make Tablets Anymore

Google has no future plans to release additional tablet devices and has even canceled two models that were in development, the company confirmed to Computerworld today.

Google has not released a tablet in 2019, but did come out with the Pixel Slate in 2018. Google was working on two smaller tablets, but ultimately decided to stop focusing on the tablet form factor in favor of laptops.


The Pixel Slate was Google's first Pixel-branded tablet offering, and as Computerworld clarifies, Google considers a tablet to be a device that detaches completely from a keyboard base or has no physical keyboard at all. Google considers its two-in-one convertible devices like the Pixelbook to be laptops, not tablets.

Google announced its plans to discontinue work on tablets to employees yesterday, and those working on tablet-related projects will be reassigned.
A Google spokesperson directly confirmed all of these details to me. The news was revealed at an internal company meeting on Wednesday, and Google is currently working to reassign employees who were focused on the abandoned projects onto other areas. Many of them, I'm told, have already shifted over to the laptop side of that same self-made hardware division.
It's not clear why Google has ultimately decided not to pursue the tablet form factor, but the company may be finding it difficult to compete with Apple and Samsung, the top two tablet vendors worldwide.

Apple's iPad is responsible for the most worldwide shipments, and over the course of the last few years, Apple has been aiming to hit all price points with the 6th-generation iPad, iPad mini, iPad Air, and iPad Pro models.

Google plans to continue offering support and updates for the Pixel Slate until June 2024, and the Chrome OS team will continue to focus on tablets and laptops in its software development. Though Google is discontinuing its own tablets, there are other manufacturers who produce Chrome-based tablets.

Google will be shifting focus to laptops, with a laptop-oriented Pixelbook product planned before the end of the year, and will also continue focusing on its Pixel line of phones.

Tag: Google

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Google Confirms Pixel 4 Will Feature Square-Shaped Camera Bump

Google today confirmed that its upcoming Pixel 4 devices will feature a square-shaped rear camera bump, a feature also rumored to be coming to the 2019 iPhones.

A case maker's mockup for the Pixel 4 smartphones leaked earlier this week, and today, Google confirmed the news itself in a tweeted image showing off the new design.


Google's rear camera setup appears to include two lenses, a microphone, a flash, and a "spectral sensor" at the top that accounts for things like light flicker when filming an LCD display.

Apple too is planning to use a square-shaped camera bump for its 2019 devices, based on leaked rumors, renders, and cases. Just this week we checked out some cases designed for the 2019 iPhone lineup that have large square cutouts to accommodate the new camera arrangement.

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Apple's square-shaped camera bump is expected to house triple-lens camera setups for the iPhone XS and XS Max successors, along with a dual-lens camera setup for the iPhone XR successor.


Based on leaked information, the three lenses in Apple's camera arrangement are set into a triangle shape. There are two lenses at the left as on the current flagship iPhones, along with one lens in between them set off to the right and a flash above that.

Google's setup, meanwhile, has the two lenses for its camera arranged horizontally with a flash at the bottom. Both of these setups provide more space between the flash and the lenses and there may be other benefits to square-shaped arrangement that both companies are taking advantage of.

Apple is expected to launch its 2019 iPhones in September, while Google's are also rumored to be coming in the fall. Historically, Google's new Pixel phones have come out in October, so while Google has beaten Apple to the punch officially showing off a square-shaped rear camera design first, Apple's 2019 flagship smartphones should launch first.


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Craig Federighi Responds to Google’s Subtle ‘Luxury Good’ Dig About Apple Products and Privacy

In a recent op-ed for The New York Times, Google CEO Sundar Pichai said that "privacy cannot be a luxury good offered only to people who can afford to buy premium products and services," a comment that some viewed as a dig at Apple.

Craig Federighi at WWDC 2018

Apple's software engineering chief Craig Federighi has unsurprisingly disagreed with that position in an interview with The Independent, noting that Apple aspires to offer great product experiences that "everyone should have," while cautioning that the values and business models of other companies "don't change overnight."
"I don't buy into the luxury good dig," says Federighi, giving the impression he was genuinely surprised by the public attack.

"On the one hand gratifying that other companies in space over the last few months, seemed to be making a lot of positive noises about caring about privacy. I think it's a deeper issue than then, what a couple of months and a couple of press releases would make. I think you've got to look fundamentally at company cultures and values and business model. And those don't change overnight.

"But we certainly seek to both set a great example for the world to show what's possible to raise people's expectations about what they should expect the products, whether they get them from us or from other people. And of course, we love, ultimately, to sell Apple products to everyone we possibly could certainly not just a luxury, we think a great product experience is something everyone should have. So we aspire to develop those."
Federighi emphasizes Apple's commitment to privacy throughout the interview, noting that the company aims to collect as little data as possible. When it does collect data, Apple uses technologies like Differential Privacy to ensure that the data cannot be associated with any individual user.

Federighi also refutes criticism about Apple's products and services being worse off because of its pro-privacy position:
"I think we're pretty proud that we are able to deliver the best experiences, we think in the industry without creating this false trade off that to get a good experience, you need to give up your privacy," says Federighi. "And so we challenge ourselves to do that sometimes that's extra work. But that's worth it."
As an example of Apple's privacy efforts, the article provides a look inside Apple's "top secret testing facilities" where its Secure Enclave chips for devices like the iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple Watch are said to be "stress tested" based on "extreme scenarios" like ice-cold -40ºF or blazing-hot 230ºF temperatures.

One of Apple's chip-testing labs (Brooks Kraft/Apple via The Independent)

Within these testing facilities near Apple Park is said to be "a huge room" with "highly advanced machines" that heat, cool, push, shock, and abuse chips before they make their way inside Apple devices, but no further details were shared.

The lengthy interview goes on to discuss Apple's dispute with the FBI over its refusal to unlock an iPhone used by the shooter in the 2015 San Bernardino attack, as well as Apple's decision to store iCloud data in China on servers overseen by GCBD, a company with close ties to the Chinese government.


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Food Ordering Features Now Available in Google’s Mobile Apps

Google has incorporated food ordering features into its mobile apps, allowing iOS and Android users to order food directly from a range of companies without having to install an additional app or visit a website.


The functionality is available across U.S. cities in Google Search, Google Maps, and Google Assistant apps, and works through partnerships with existing delivery companies including DoorDash, Postmates, Delivery, Slice, and ChowNow.

In Google Search and Google Maps, there's a new "Order Online" button that appears when users search for a supported restaurant. Pressing the button lets you choose between pickup and delivery, and then select available food from the menu.

The feature works similarly in Google Assistant, which also supports reordering past selections. Users ask Google to order food from a specific restaurant, then they can choose a delivery service before selecting and paying for their order, all through the Google interface.

In addition to the partnerships mentioned above, Google plans to add support for Suppler and others in the future. As The Verge notes, major delivery services like Uber Eats, Deliveroo, Grubhub, and Just Eat are currently not supported.


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Google Launches New $999 Glass AR Headset for Enterprise Customers

Google today announced the launch of a new enterprise-focused Google Glass headset, the Glass Enterprise Edition 2.

The Glass Enterprise Edition 2 looks more like a traditional pair of glasses than a futuristic headset thanks to safety frames designed in partnership with Smith Optics, but for those who don't need safety glasses features, there's also a standard version that looks like the original.


Both versions feature a 640 x 380 Optical Display Module that displays augmented reality content over the real world view, while also offering up a smart voice assistant for getting tasks done.

Inside, there's an updated, faster Qualcomm Snapdragon XR1 processor, an improved 8-megapixel camera, USB-C port for faster charging, and a larger battery.


Google says the Snapdragon XR1 features a significantly more powerful multicore CPU and a new artificial intelligence engine for "significant power savings," improved performance, and support for computer vision and more advanced machine learning capabilities.

Google Glass 2 runs Android Oreo, which is meant to make it easier for businesses to develop for and deploy.

The new version of Google Glass is priced at $999, down from $1,599 for the original version, and like the prior Enterprise Glass option, it is not available directly to consumers.


Google originally released Google Glass in 2013 as a mass market product, but it wasn't well-received due to privacy and functionality concerns. Google then relaunched it as an Enterprise product for businesses in 2017, with the redesigned version available as of today.

Apple is rumored to be working on its own augmented reality smart glasses, which could be somewhat similar in design to Google's version. Apple has had AR smart glasses in development for several years now, and rumors have suggested we could see a launch in 2020.


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Google and Other Suppliers Begin Cutting Off Huawei Following U.S. Trade Ban

Last week, president Donald Trump signed an order to restrict Huawei Technologies from selling its equipment in the United States in an attempt to curb Huawei's access to U.S. markets. This included placing Huawei on a blacklist that could forbid it from doing business with American companies.


Now, the effect of the blacklisting has hit the China supply chain this week, with chipmakers Intel, Qualcomm, Xilinx, and Broadcom all telling their employees that they will not supply Huawei until further notice. Additionally, Google has cut off the supply of hardware and some software services to Huawei, specifically suspending all business with the company "that requires the transfer of hardware, software and technical services except those publicly available via open source licensing" (via Bloomberg and Reuters).

Google's suspension is particularly troublesome for Huawei's hardware business:
The suspension could hobble Huawei’s smartphone business outside China as the tech giant will immediately lose access to updates to Google’s Android operating system. Future versions of Huawei smartphones that run on Android will also lose access to popular services, including the Google Play Store and Gmail and YouTube apps.

“Huawei will only be able to use the public version of Android and will not be able to get access to proprietary apps and services from Google,” the source said.
Although Gmail, YouTube, and Chrome will disappear from future Huawei smartphones, anyone who owns an existing Huawei device with access to the Google Play Store will be able to download app updates from Google. The impact of the blacklisting is expected to be "minimal" in China, because most Google mobile apps are already banned in the Chinese market, where popular alternatives from Tencent and Baidu are more common.

In regards to the presidential ban, Huawei is said to have been stockpiling enough chips and other vital components to keep its business afloat for at least three months, in preparation for such an event. According to sources close to the company, executives believe Huawei has become a bargaining chip in the ongoing trade war between the U.S. and China and that things will go back to normal once a deal is reached.
Huawei “is heavily dependent on U.S. semiconductor products and would be seriously crippled without supply of key U.S. components,” said Ryan Koontz, an analyst with Rosenblatt Securities Inc. The U.S. ban “may cause China to delay its 5G network build until the ban is lifted, having an impact on many global component suppliers.”
Apple has a long history with Huawei, which hasn't been completely amicable over the past few months. Earlier this year, the U.S. Justice Department announced a series of criminal charges against Huawei for bank fraud, wire fraud, obstructing justice, and stealing trade secrets, sometimes aimed at Apple. Despite all of the issues for the company, Huawei remains a dominant force in the China smartphone market and was far ahead of Apple in the first quarter of 2019.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

Tags: Google, Huawei

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