Google is working on custom lock screen shortcuts in Android 13

Google is testing custom lock screen shortcuts in Android 13, though it’s not guaranteed to make it to the final build.

Custom lock screen shortcuts are something that a lot of other device OEMs have figured out by now, but for Google Pixel owners, it’s not a feature that’s available. That may be changing though, as with Android 13 QPR2 Beta 3, the next Pixel feature drop update, it seems that Google is finally toying with the idea of introducing custom lock screen shortcuts for its smartphones running Android 13.

As shown in the above screenshots (from Mishaal Rahman on Twitter), you will be able to set a custom shortcut on both the left and the right side from the Wallpaper & Style UI settings. You can choose to launch the camera, launch device controls (though the option is grayed out), or toggle do not disturb mode. To interact with them, you hold down on the buttons that appear on your lock screen, exactly like you would on an iPhone. Mishaal shared a video of the feature in action below.

However, there’s no guarantee that this feature will actually roll out with Android 13 QPR2, if at all. The above options aren’t accessible in the most recent build either and were accessed through other means. Google tests features that don’t always make it to final builds, and it could be the case that this feature is shelved in the future. It’s a good sign though that Google may be providing a feature that other OEMs (such as Samsung) have offered for a while. It may be the case that Google recognizes that it’s a little bit behind the times, so it would be a bit strange if the company were to kill off this feature and not release it.


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Google may turn your Android phone into a plug-and-play USB webcam

Pixel 7 Pro selfie with rear camera through viewfinder edited

Hadlee Simons / Android Authority


  • Data was found in Android’s open-source operating system project repository that suggests Android is adding a “DeviceAsWebcam” service.
  • The feature would turn an Android phone into a USB webcam without the need for an app.
  • This would be the first time Android supported using a phone as a UVC device.

It’s no secret that the webcams that come installed on computers aren’t great. That’s why people often choose to use an external webcam. A lot of people have even started using their phones as webcams, but that requires installing third-party apps. Now it appears that Google could be working on a way to turn your Android phone into a plug-and-play USB webcam.

Frequent Android analyst Mishaal Rahman went on Twitter today to reveal that Google could add support for turning your Android phone into a USB webcam. Discovered in the Android Open Source Project (AOSP) repository, Rahman found data that says Android is adding a “DeviceAsWebcam” service.

Android is adding a new “DeviceAsWebcam” service that “turns an android device into a
webcam.” Specifically, Android devices that support the standard UVC (USB video class) gadget mode will be able to send video data that hosts can read from /dev/video* nodes.

If you’re unfamiliar with AOSP, it’s the open-source operating system development project for stock Android, which Google maintains. It allows anyone to review and contribute code and fixes, under Google’s direction and oversight.

This “DeviceAsWebcam” service is described as “a new service that turns an Android device into a webcam.” As Rahman explains, this would work on Android devices that support the standard UVC (USB video class) gadget mode, which allows the sending of video data.

Turning your phone into a webcam wouldn’t necessarily be something new for Android. As mentioned earlier, there are

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Google will hold a Search and Maps AI event next week

The company hasn’t shared many details about it just yet

Google has shared that it will host an online event on February 8 at 8:30 am ET, called “Live from Paris.” In the 45-minute event, the company will talk about how it will use AI to reshape search and how people interact with information, as the company told Android Police. It will be livestreamed on YouTube.

Google specifies in the YouTube description that the event will revolve around “Search, Maps, and beyond.” Further, exploring and interacting with information is supposed to become “more natural and intuitive than ever before to find what you need.”


The timing of the event is interesting, given that Google I/O is only about three months away when it takes place in its usual slot sometime in the beginning or middle of May. The developer conference itself is also rumored to primarily feature new AI features, with up to 20 to be released this year.

It’s possible that Google wants to react fast to AI advancements from other companies. OpenAI’s ChatGPT, a natural language chatbot, has taken the internet by storm, and Microsoft has announced that it will bring the tech behind it to its search engine Bing.

There are reports that ChatGPT caused an internal code red alert at Google, with founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page summoned for an emergency meeting on how to accelerate Google’s own AI projects. Google is reportedly now pushing internal teams tasked with overseeing fairness and ethics in AI to approve projects faster.

The last few years, Google made clear that it is heavily investing in natural language AI, with its own general purpose chatbot LaMDA making headlines last year with a now-fired Google employee claiming that it was sentient, which the company

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Android 14 slated to start preventing old app installs

Google would rather developers keep their work updated to target as new an Android version as possible; in fact, its latest Play Store guidelines now specify that apps aim for the OS’ second-newest major upgrade at minimum.

Android 13’s transition to 14 is now said to get even more stringent in these terms. Citing the developer Dylan Roussel, 9to5Google asserts that Google intends to leave older apps behind by amending the impending OS upgrade’s API requirement level in a way that better enforces compatibility with newer Android versions.

The new requirements may not be that extreme at first, only allowing new installs of apps that target Android 6.x (Marshmallow) or newer, although this criterion will progressively exclude targets until Android 12 is the oldest approved version.

Therefore, users who want or need to use apps that are no longer under development may no longer be able to download them through the Google Play Store soon enough. Side-loading is usually the go-to work-around in this situation; however, Android 14’s new API thresholds will also apparently apply to them soon.

Then again, according to Roussel, some other workarounds such as manual loading via command shell, may still be options under Android 14’s new app-install restrictions, reportedly intended to curb malware on the leading mobile OS.

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You can now use Google app’s Material You design on your Galaxy phone

Last updated: January 27th, 2023 at 06:22 UTC+01:00

After being spotted a few months ago, Google is finally rolling out the Material You redesign for the Google app on Android in beta. You will instantly notice the changes in the bottom bar as it uses Material You elements, including pill-shaped indicators. This goes perfectly in line with the new Search filters carousel.

Sadly, Dynamic Color scheming isn’t used yet, and you will get the default blue accent. The indicators are short and aren’t as tall as they are in nearly every other Google app that has received the Material You makeover. Also, as noted by 9To5Google, the Google app is getting the modern account switcher, after Google Messages and the web.

When you tap on your profile avatar in the Google app, it will now show the switcher page, painted with Material You with Dynamic color. The application of Dynamic Color is inconsistent and should have been available in the bottom bar as well. The account switcher page shows, your logged-in accounts, followed by Search History, Delete Last 15 Minutes, Results About You, Reminders, Your Data In Search, Settings, and Help & Feedback options.

Moreover, the Google app Settings page has also been completely revamped. It now has an AMOLED black background in a dark theme. This goes in line with the Material You settings page of other apps. Under the header, you will find the pill-shaped ‘Search in settings’ search field. There are Material You toggles everywhere else as well. The new Google app is getting the new design with the latest beta version 14.4.

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Google publishes Pixel 7 series repair manuals because it has to

Est-ce que tu parles français?

The global right-to-repair battle received a major shot in the arm in France two years ago with the country mandating manufacturers of most electronics and appliances to provide a 1-10 repairability score, with 10 being the easiest to repair. This allows consumers to know what they’re getting into in terms of choosing whether to fix things themselves or hire out the job when the time comes. Additionally, smartphone manufacturers in the region are required to publish even more documentation for their products and that includes repair manuals. We came across the Pixel 6a manual last year — now, Google has published instructions for the Pixel 7 and the Pixel 7 Pro.


Users outside France are generally blocked from accessing the support page containing the repair manuals, but if you’re that curious about how to fix your phone, you can fire up any fine VPN to get around that hurdle. Interestingly, these geo-restrictions weren’t in place when the Pixel 6a repair manual surfaced last year, as 9to5Google notes.

Although the site is region-restricted, people can still download the repair manuals for the Pixel 7 and the Pixel 7 Pro from anywhere in the world. Inexperienced users or beginners are encouraged not to repair their Pixels themselves, considering the risks involved. If you’re in the US or Canada, Google already has a long-standing partnership with uBreakiFix to assist with out-of-warranty and in-warranty Pixel repairs. Customers everywhere else in the world can learn about the authorized repair partners in their region from this Google support page.

Google first announced its self-repair program in April 2022 for users in the US, UK, Australia, and Europe, enabling Pixel owners to order original device parts from iFixit. The service was also extended to the Pixel

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Google brings changes to Android in India, new MacBook Pros goes on sale, layoffs at Spotify and other top tech news of the week

After weeks of tussling with the Indian government, Google this week announced changes to Android and Google Play Store in the country. For those who are looking to buy new MacBooks, the new M2 Pro and M2 Max powered MacBook Pros have now gone on sale, and also, for iPhone users, the iOS 16.3 is now out. After layoffs at Google, Amazon, and other big giants, Spotify also sacked 6% of its workforce. All this and more in our top tech news of the week.

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Google Calendar is now more considerate of your impossibly messy schedules when setting up new appointments

A quality-of-life update for Workspace subscribers

Appointment scheduling in Google Calendar began life as an exclusive feature to Google Workspace for Individuals subscribers a couple years ago — it made sense with the boom in independent contractors who work with clients one on one. Then it came for more Google Workspace users last year to make prepping for office hours and meetings easier. It’s definitely a great addition to the toolset for many, but there’s been one particular conflict point that’s actually hidden multiple conflict points for a lot of users. Fortunately, Google’s gone and done something about it.


Starting today, the scheduler feature will be able to detect any conflict points from all of your associated calendars — whether you own them, can manage or edit them, or subscribe to them from your various other Google accounts — and not just the one tied to your Google Workspace account.

If you’ve put down, say, a dentist’s appointment on one account and it crashes into any of your appointment availability periods set up through your Workspace account, our handy friend Google Calendar will automatically block that time out of your availability by default — just as with any same-account time conflicts. It’s handle for all those schedules we’re on because, as we all know, we’re always on someone else’s schedule.

Multi-calendar availability checks

You may want to toggle some settings to make sure Google knows what to block from which calendar and that you have buffer times that ensure you’re not stuck in transit between your obligation and being open for appointments again.

Multi-calendar conflict tracking will be available starting today for Rapid Release domains and from February 7 for Scheduled Release domains, according to the Google Workspace Updates blog. Subscribers to Google Workspace Business Standard, Business

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Google Pixel 7 and 6 are finally getting the January 2023 Play system update

You might get an update, but it won’t bump the Play system build to January

Google has been rolling out monthly Play system updates for a few years now. Beginning in January 2022, the company started publishing detailed changelogs highlighting everything new in these releases. The problem is that despite being a monthly update, they don’t always roll out every month. The December 2022 Play system update never made it to Pixel devices, and while Google published the January 2023 update’s release notes right at the beginning of the month, the build was nowhere to be seen. Three weeks into January, Pixel 6 and 7 owners report getting the latest Play system build.


Multiple Pixel 6 and Pixel 7 owners on Reddit are seeing the January 2023 Play system update for download. On the Pixel 7, the update weighs around 63MB, while on the Pixel 6 series, it is about 59MB in size. However, many Pixel users report that installing the latest Play system update does not bump the build to January 2023. Instead, their phone remains on the 1 November 2022 release after the reboot.

We faced the same issue on two of our Pixel 7 units. The 63MB update appeared for download upon checking. After installation, though, the phone remained on the November build. The second unit was updated to Android 13 QPR2 Beta 2.1 after installing the Play system update, but that did not bump the build to January.

A section of Pixel 6 and Pixel 7 users are not seeing any update for download upon checking for the latest Play system build. If you are one of them, update your Google Play Store and Play Services first to see if that changes anything.

Google’s January 2023 release notes for the Play

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Chrome for Android rolling out address bar redesign

Back in September, Google started testing an “Omnibox Modernize Visual Update” to revamp a core part of the mobile browser. Chrome for Android is now rolling out a Material You address bar redesign that adds more Dynamic Color.

When you tap the Omnibox, Chrome’s address bar is no longer housed in the same pill-shaped container that’s seen when the field isn’t active. This new shape is slightly taller, more rectangular, and in line with Material You.

The search results, websites, and other suggestions that appear below are no longer just text on a light/dark background. Rather, each is now housed in a card that has a lighter background than the rest of the screen. This redesign introduces much more Dynamic Color than before (text and Omnibox only), while the borders help make the page appear less crowded with not too significant an impact on how much text appears.

This design is quite reminiscent of unified Pixel Launcher search, and brings that experience over to non-Google phones. Compared to the December iteration, it looks less like Launcher search as the field you’re typing now has a container. It previously had no boundaries, though the transition between pill to rounded rectangle is slightly jarring.

After appearing in the beta channel at the end of last year, we’re now seeing this address bar redesign in the stable channel with Chrome 109, though it’s a server-side update. All but one of our devices today has this new look, while we’ve yet to encounter it naturally on tablets.

If it’s not live yet for you, use the flag: chrome://flags/#omnibox-modernize-visual-update.

L: Pixel Launcher | R: Chrome

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