Google is now update for the Google Assistant with “Hey Google, pay for gas” command, while Android Auto is getting new media and connectivity features. Once live, you can pull up to a gas station and say “Hey Google, pay for gas” to Android Auto, your Android phone, or — in the future — Assistant Driving Mode. Select your pump number and then use Google Pay for the transaction. After selecting a fuel grade, you can start fueling. Meanwhile, Android Auto is getting a handful of features. On the entertainment front, Google will show personalized media recommendations. They can be accessed by a new music icon that’s next to the existing player controls in the bottom bar. This opens a carousel of “Media picks for your device” from streaming apps, Assistant news, podcasts, and more. Additionally, users will be able to choose what app opens when Android Auto launches. Google Maps or other navigation applications are currently the default, but any experience can be selected in the future. Connectivity improvements to Android Auto start with being able to choose between SIMs when making calls and sending messages. Meanwhile, “Work Profile” support will let you see messages and calendar events from both the personal and work silo on your phone.
Google is working on a redesign of Android Auto that borrows elements from Material You and makes your notifications more easily accessible. On Android Auto today, you can only have one app or view on your car screen at a time. This means that checking your notifications or adjusting playback — things you shouldn’t be doing too often as the driver! — requires putting your Google Maps directions away temporarily. The latest beta update to Android Auto (version 6.9 rolling out now) includes work on something called “Coolwalk.” Once enabled, the usual Android Auto bottom bar — which includes a home button and media player widget on the driver’s side, and notification & microphone buttons on the passenger side — is replaced by a new arrangement that almost completely favors the driver’s side. The most important part of this change is a new dashboard button, which shows a preview of your notifications over the current app. That means you can quickly glance at your notifications without missing any instructions from Google Maps or any other navigation app. To get a more complete view, the current notifications button is still available, just moved to the left-hand side. Below your usual notifications in the dashboard, there is a card for controlling your current music/podcast app. For now, this card stays in place even if you aren’t currently listening to anything. Another notable aspect of the “Coolwalk” Android Auto redesign is the use of rounded-square shaped buttons.
The latest version of Google Search’s integrated bookmarking feature is called “Collections” gets redesign that makes the Google app tab much more useful. This new version shows people the content they recently visited and automatically organizes everything. It starts with a “Quick access” carousel that shows “Recently saved” places in Maps and shows/movies, as well as “Frequently visited” pages. “Edit” in the top-right lets you remove entries. “Shows & movies” comes after to surface media that you’ve recently looked up with a bookmark icon in the corner to save. There’s a shortcut to view your entire watchlist, but it’s more focused than just the Google Search result. A “Shopping” section at the end will show products you’ve been tracking (price drops). There’s a “Keep researching” carousel that shows high-level product categories. Other users also have a “Recipes” section that links to their cookbook.
Google has now updated Assistant with support for “Daylong Routines” that allow actions to automatically trigger at different times over the course of a day. When creating a “New routine” from Assistant settings or the Google Home app, you’ll notice a slightly tweaked page. Users will see a snack bar at the bottom of the screen asking if they “Want to schedule a Daylong Routine.” Tapping “Yes” will let you choose what days a Routine should run under “Starters,” as well as select a time zone. Under “Actions,” you first add a time and then choose an action. You can add more times and actions to create a daylong schedule, with each card draggable for easy scheduling. This is a much easier way to turn on/off smart lights compared to creating multiple single-action Routines. Meanwhile, Google now shows an “Enable Routine” toggle at the top of the screen to quickly disable since these daylong macros are invoked automatically on set days rather than manually with a Hey Google phrase. The new on/off switch is available for all Custom Routines.
Google has teamed up with Setu, a fintech specialising in providing application programming interfaces (APIs), to allow its users to book fixed deposits (FDs) through Google Pay. In the initial roll-out, FDs of Equitas Small Finance Bank will be offered for up to one year. The maximum interest rate is 6.35%. Users will have to complete an Aadhaar-based KYC (know your customer) through a one-time password (OTP). Setu has already created a beta version for the API. The beta version of the API offers FDs of various tenors including 7-29 days, 30-45 days, 46-90 days, 91-180 days, 181-364 days, and 365 days, with interest rates ranging from 3.5% for the shortest FD to 6.35% for the one-year FD.
Google Maps may soon tell you not just which road routes have tolls in case you wish to avoid them, but also automatically display how much each toll costs. Having up-to-date information about tolls could be a major bonus for Google Maps users, allowing drivers to be more selective about which routes to take and helping them decide the trade-off between time savings and toll charges. The feature will display toll prices, and perhaps even total toll charges along a given route, before the user selects it. This has the potential to change route decision-making by providing more granular price information, as opposed to just informing users that one route has tolls and another does not. It also makes the road user’s trade-off between time and money a lot clearer.
GE Appliances (GEA), a Haier company, and Google Cloud announced a multi-year partnership to build innovative technologies to elevate the consumer experience in the kitchen and in homes. The two companies will work together to develop the next generation of smart appliances with Google Cloud Vision AI. And GEA will benefit from Google Cloud’s seamless integration with other Google platforms and technologies such as Android and Google Assistant. Google Cloud will also support GEA in enhancing its AI-enabled intelligent product platform, which provides appliance owners with personalized features, insights, and energy-saving recommendations. For commercial customers, the platform will help manage fleets of appliances, decrease unplanned downtime, extend product life, and ultimately reduce their total cost of ownership.
YouTube for Android and iOS is now testing instant comment translations for comments, provided you have a Premium subscription plan. You do need to opt in to access YouTube comment translation or the “Translate” toggle within the video comment section, and restarting the app should be enough to get the feature to start working correctly. When translation is live on your iOS or Android device, as long as YouTube detects that a comment is in a different language to your preset device/app settings, then a “Translate” toggle with the Google Translate icon will appear underneath the foreign text. Tapping converts it to your local language, and switching back is as easy as tapping “See original”.
- Giant Eagle has become the first grocery and convenience store retailer to enable PayPal and Venmo transactions at checkout. All 474 Giant Eagle supermarket and GetGo fuel/convenience store locations now accept PayPal online and Venmo mobile payments by allowing shoppers to scan QR codes at checkout. The retailer partnered with Blackhawk to integrate the two digital payment options in its stores. To use the new payment services at checkout, Giant Eagle and GetGo customers open the PayPal or Venmo mobile apps, click the “scan” button and select the “show to pay” option. PayPal users pay via stored debit or credit cards, bank accounts, their PayPal balance or PayPal credit. With Venmo QR codes, shoppers pay through stored debit or credit cards, bank account, their Venmo balance or Venmo credit card.
Aisle, a first of its kind cash-back rewards platform catering to the modern consumer, offers instant cash back rewards via Venmo on exclusive brand deals from some of today’s most recognizable brands. Unlike the majority of cash back platforms currently in the market, no app download is necessary to reap rewards as all communication takes place over text message. People join for the instant cash back but stay for conversations. There is also zero wait time on receiving cash back as all monetary transactions are sent instantly via Venmo after shoppers simply text Aisle a picture of their grocery receipt. The secret to Aisle’s early success can be found in platform functionality and ease of use. Users simply text a photo of their grocery store receipt and if a cash back offer is found, they are rewarded immediately with a direct Venmo cash payment. If no reward is found, Aisle will make reward-worthy product recommendations from its brand partner network that can be redeemed on a future grocery store run. Aisle has been purposefully built to provide a personable and informative service with round-the-clock customer support, an extensive and fast growing list of premium brand partners and endless, instant rewards up for grabs. Aisle enables brands to connect more instantly, intimately, and effectively with their in-store and online shoppers. The platform is the perfect marketing and communication tool for any CPG brand that is looking to grow its customer base and remain connected to loyal fans while expanding to mass retail in the modern landscape. Aisle operates on a business-to-business revenue model making it completely free for consumer use. Brands are charged a one-time set up activation fee and a fixed dollar amount on sales conversions.