Google announces updates for Duo, Allo, Photos, and Google Search in Brazil

google material design color tools 1198185278 122e155a23 o resized
TopRank Marketing / Flickr
In some regions of the world, speedy internet is scarce or inaccessible. That makes high-bandwidth apps like video chat platforms a challenging proposition, but Google is doing its best to work around the developing world’s infrastructure limitations. At an event in Sao Paulo, Brazil, today, the Mountain View, California company announced updates for video chat app Duo, messaging app Allo, Google Photos, and more.

Duo’s big new feature is audio calling. When the app detects a sub-par connection, it will let you switch from a video call to an audio-only one, and once streaming conditions improve, you can switch back with a tap.

Duo already handled weak connections fairly well, but the new Duo goes further. “Duo audio calls work well on all connection speeds and won’t eat up your data,” Google’s vice president of product management, Mario Querioz, said in a blog post. “[In] those moments when video calling isn’t an option — like when you’re about to hop on a crowded bus or you have a poor network connection — you can stay connected with family and friends through audio calling.”

Google Allo, meanwhile, is gaining the ability to share files. The new and improved app will let you attach documents and other files (.pdf, .doc, .apk, .zip, and .mp3) with chat participants. And Allo’s machine-learning-powered Smart Smiley feature, which rolled out to English-speaking countries in November, is launching in Brazil — a tap of the Smart Smiley button surfaces emojis and stickers.

In tow with the Duo and Allo updates is an upgraded Google Photos app. Now, on low-speed 2G connections, photo albums will back up in a “lightweight preview quality” mode. They’ll be replaced with high-quality versions when a faster connection becomes available, and the same applies to sharing. On slower connections, you can share pictures by sending a low-resolution version that’ll be replaced with a high-resolution version when “connectivity permits.”

Finally, Google is letting select users in Brazil post directly on search results. When you search for museums, sports teams, sports leagues, movies, and musicians in Brazil, you’ll see custom content from participating organizations.

Those developments dovetail with Google’s other Brazil-specific announcements. Google Assistant is rolling out Brazilian Portuguese on Android phones running Marshmallow and higher; Google is giving a $5 million grant to the Lemann Foundation for an education project in Brazil; Google is adding the São Paulo Museum of Art to the Google Arts & Culture app; and it’s planning to roll out Waze Carpool in Brazil.

The company says that the widespread initiative is the result of research into “mobile-first” developing countries. “[It will] result in great products for everyone, everywhere,” a spokesperson said.

Deals

Walmart drops prices on Google Home Hub and Lenovo smart displays

Walmart slashed the prices of Google Home smart displays for two highly regarded Lenovo models and the original Google Home Hub. We can't think of a better way to improve your smart home setup and these deals can help you save up to $100.
Smart Home

Walmart serves up a rare deal on the Google Home Max at $100 off

Some deals are predictable and others are pre-announced, but today Walmart posted a rare deal: $100 off the powerful Google Home Max. Since it rarely goes on sale, waiting may not be prudent. If you want one, grab it.
Mobile

Google Fi: Phones, plans, pricing, perks, and more explained

Google's wireless service, formerly Project Fi, now goes by the name of Google Fi, and it's now compatible with a majority of Android phones, as well as iPhones. Here's everything you need to know about Google Fi.
Gaming

Here’s all the news from the Google Stadia GDC presentation

Google announced its new game streaming service Stadia during GDC 2019. Here is all the news from the event, including news on YouTube streaming and quickly accessing your favorite new games.
Wearables

Fossil is working on a smartwatch with BMW, and it’s coming next year

Fossil, the watch company that makes smartwatches under its own name and partners with other major brands too, intends to launch a smartwatch with car manufacturer BMW in the future.
Social Media

A Facebook, Instagram bug exposed millions of passwords to its employees

Facebook, Facebook Lite, and Instagram passwords weren't properly encrypted and could be viewed by employees, the company said Thursday. The network estimates millions of users were affected.
Mobile

Diesel’s denim-inspired smartwatch straps are a casual, colorful must-own

Diesel will release two new versions of the On Full Guard 2.5 smartwatch later this year, with seriously cool, denim-inspired straps in classic Diesel colors. We tried them on at the Baselworld 2019 show.
Movies & TV

Apple’s next big event is set for March 25: Here’s what you can expect

Apple's next big event takes place on March 25 in Cupertino, California. The company is expected to make several announcements related to its services, including Apple TV, so follow our guide to get ready for the big event.
Wearables

Tips and tricks to get you started with your new Fitbit Inspire HR

The Inspire HR may be an entry-level fitness tracker in Fitbit's lineup, but the device still has plenty of features to explore. These are our favorite tips and tricks to help you use the Inspire HR to its fullest potential.
Mobile

How three simple words could be the difference between life and death

What3Words’ app-based address system gives a three-word code to every three-meter-square patch on the planet, with its accuracy and ease of use now catching the attention of first responders in the U.K.
Mobile

The Moto G7 Power, with its massive battery, is now available for purchase

After a number of leaks and rumors, the Motorola Moto G7, Moto G7 Play, and Moto G7 Power are finally here. The devices represent quite a spec bump over the previous-generation Moto G6 phones, yet still come at a reasonable price.
Mobile

Got gadgets galore? Keep them charged up with the 10 best USB-C cables

We're glad to see that USB-C is quickly becoming the norm. That's why we've rounded up some of the better USB-C cables on the market, whether you're looking to charge or sync your smartphone. We've got USB-C to USB-C and USB-C to USB-A.
Computing

Get ready to say goodbye to some IFTTT support in Gmail by March 31

If This Then That, the popular automation service, will drop some of its support for Gmail by March 31. The decision comes as a response to security concerns and is aimed to protect user data.
Mobile

5G's arrival is transforming tech. Here's everything you need to know to keep up

It has been years in the making, but 5G is finally becoming a reality. While 5G coverage is still extremely limited, expect to see it expand in 2019. Not sure what 5G even is? Here's everything you need to know.