MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. (AP) The Latest on Google conference in California (all times local):
The next version of Google’s Android operating system will include more features to help people prevent mobile apps from shadowing them.
Location-tracking by Google and other digital services have become a hot-button topic as people have become more aware about how that data can be used to sell ads and create profiles about the way they live and where they go.
To address that, the forthcoming “Android Q” update will include settings to help users prevent different apps from tracking their whereabouts as they carry their device during their travels.
Meanwhile, more people are becoming worried about becoming too addicted to their phones. Toward that end, Android Q will add a “focus mode” that will allow people to turn off apps that lure them into doing unproductive things. There will also be more parental controls to limit the time that children spend on their devices.
Google is releasing cheaper versions of its smartphone in an effort to appeal to budget-minded consumers who aren’t willing to spend $800 on the Pixel 3.
The more affordable phones are a response to a worldwide slowdown in smartphone sales, which has been partially driven by people’s reluctance to splurge on the increasingly expensive models from Apple, Samsung, Google and other manufacturers.
The price for the Pixel 3a will start at $399. There’s also a larger, XL model at $479. Both are available immediately.
Google announced the long-rumored mid-range phones at its developers conference Tuesday in Mountain View, California, five months before it’s expected to release the next generation in a product line it created in 2016.
The new versions of the Pixel will have the same camera as the top-of-the-line model, but the glass back will be replaced with plastic.
Although they have been praised in reviews, Pixel phones still haven’t made a significant dent in the smartphone market. The research firm IDC says Google had only sold 8.2 million Pixels through — a drop in the bucket of total smartphone sales.
Google’s new smart home display will be able to make video calls on a bigger screen.
The company unveiled the larger and more versatile device, called Nest Hub Max, on Tuesday at its annual conference in Mountain View, California.
The Nest Hub Max has a 10-inch display that offers a wide field of vision that’s designed to make it easy to conduct video calls even while walking around. That’s a feature unavailable on a 7-inch display called Home Hub that Google released last year.
The previous model primarily serves as a digital frame for photos. With video calling, Google’s device becomes more competitive with similar smart home displays made by Amazon and Facebook that already include that option.
People can enable facial recognition if they want the Nest Hub Max, so that the device can distinguish identify members of the household and offer personal reminders. Google says the analysis is done on the device, with nothing sent to Google’s servers.
Google is retiring the Home name and shifting to the Nest brand best known for its line of internet-connected thermostats and cameras.