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Google Roundup: Eight New Features Plus A Major Security Upgrade For Chrome

Kevin MurnaneAugust 2018

Google Home supports URL and iCal calendars

The Assistant in Google Home will now tell you about events from URL and iCal calendars that have been imported into the Google Calendar app. After you’ve imported a calendar, tap the menu icon (upper left-hand corner) of the Home app, tap Settings and scroll down to Calendar at the bottom of the page. The calendars you imported should show up in your calendar list. Select the ones you want the Assistant in Home to tell you about.

The Chrome browser gets a major security update

This week Google unveiled a major security update for the Chrome browser called Site Isolation which protects users from malicious websites that steal sensitive data like passwords and encryption keys. With Site Isolation in place, content from a website’s domain is put in a sandboxed process that is prevented from sharing memory with other domains. Malicious websites can’t steal what they can’t access.

The Politics Of Friendship

Site Isolation is currently operating in Chrome for Windows, Chrome OS, Mac and Linux. Google estimates that 99% of Chrome users on these operating systems are protected. Site Isolation hasn’t rolled out yet to Chrome for Android.

Site Isolation increases memory overhead by 10 to 13% which may result in a performance decline for some users in some circumstances.

Site Isolation substantially reduces the danger from threats like Spectre that steal sensitive data. If you’re not using Chrome, Site Isolation is a good reason to reconsider.

Slow pages appear lower in mobile search results

Google is rolling out an adjustment to Search called Speed Update that uses page speed to adjust a small percentage of mobile search results. Speed Update does not weigh speed equally across all pages. Instead, pages with very slow speeds are identified and moved lower in Search results while all other page rankings are unaffected. Slow pages with content that is a good match for the search query do not lose rank because they’re slow.

Satellite view added to Android Auto

Android Auto head units now give users the option of displaying the map in satellite view. Previously, satellite view was only available when Android Auto ran on a cellphone. To use satellite view, tap the menu button in the upper left-hand corner of the infotainment screen, scroll down and toggle it on.

Satellite view looks good in the car but reading it may demand more attention than reading the standard map for some drivers. Also, satellite view can be costly to use because the images contain more data than the standard map.

Rating places from notifications added to Google Maps

Notifications from Google Maps now give you the option to give a place a star rating without comment and without leaving the notification. Previously, you had to open the Google Maps page for a place if you wanted to leave a rating.

Giving a rating without comment directly in the notification is obviously quicker, but it’s likely to result in average ratings that are even more meaningless than they are now. Although they’re popular, user-rating systems are easily abused and the addition of comment-free ratings made from a notification could make the problem worse, not better.

Google Pay upgrades

Google improved Google Pay with three upgrades:

  • The Google Pay Send app has been folded into Google Pay. Now Google Pay lets you send or request money if you live in the US. Support is coming “soon” to the UK.

  • Concert tickets and boarding passes are saved by Google Pay with a QR code that lets you use them at the ticket counter without printing anything out. Support for Ticketmaster and Southwest Airlines is in place with more on the way.
  • Google Pay is synced to your Google Account so that changes made via desktop, phone or the Google Assistant are reflected on any device.
    Google Assistant’s voices are color-coded

Google has chosen a politically correct method of helping users distinguish among the Assistant’s eight voices. Giving the voices names could arouse controversy because some might think ethnically-associated names were under or over-represented. Google avoided this potential problem by associating each voice with a color. The colors were randomly assigned to the voices which may explain why Pink and Blue are both male voices.

Google clips gets several new features

Version 1.6 brings several new features to Google’s tiny AI-driven Clips camera.

  • A Timelapse function takes a series of still pictures and combines them into a fast-forward sequence.

  • Facial recognition of smiles and funny faces has been improved.

  • The camera learns to distinguish the types of clips you save from those you delete and takes pictures based on what it learns.

  • Pictures taken during the previous seven days can be reviewed and restored if you change your mind after they’ve been deleted.

YouTube for Android gets an Incognito Mode

Cookies, your search history and your watch history won’t be stored on your device if you enable the new Incognito Mode in YouTube for Android. Tap the account icon in the upper-right corner of the screen to find the toggle for Incognito Mode. You will remain incognito until you either turn the mode off or stop using YouTube for a period of time.

YouTube’s Subscription, Library and Inbox features are disabled when Incognito Mode is on. Keep in mind that Incognito Mode only hides what you did on YouTube from people who have access to devices that have access to your YouTube account. It’s not a security or general privacy function.


Article Source: Forbes

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