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YouTube is killing its in-built “Messages” feature

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Google has announced that the in-built messages feature available on YouTube will be discontinued on the web, Android and iOS apps. This follows Google’s tradition of launching some products and features to the general public without particular interesting use and then discontinuing it later.

This feature was announced in 2017 and served to be a quick way to share and discuss videos directly on YouTube and it supports both individual and group conversations.

Related: YouTube Originals will soon be free for you to watch

Recent updates on the platform has been to favor public conversation over the private sharing of messages. YouTube didn’t state the exact reason it was discontinuing this feature but there are a number of reasons to consider.

First, Google has always had an issue with messaging apps. After discontinuing recent apps like Allo, Google’s option is to allow its users’ communicate via Hangouts, Duo and Android Messages (which will support RCS). With this number of messaging apps for its users’, YouTube Messages seem like an unnecessary update. And it probably is because it doesn’t seem to be a feature that many people use anyway.

Secondly, YouTube has had issues with pedophilia and other related crimes on its YouTube for Kids platform. It makes complete sense to favor public sharing of messages and totally discontinue such feature on the platform to avoid future controversies.

Recent updates to the platform has focused on features like YouTube Stories for creators to offer an Instagram and Snapchat-like experience that is not as produced as videos.  This feature is available channels with over 10,000 subscribers.

Once this feature is discontinued next month, you’ll have to share videos through other messaging apps if you’ll need to.

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Google Play Store receives Material Design overhaul

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Google has rolled out a server-side update to all Android users on their Google Play Store. The application is now updated with the familiar material design theme which is now common to a growing number of Google’s products like Google Search app, Maps and Gmail.

The end-goal of this Material Design theme update is to create “a cleaner, more premium store that improves app discovery and accessibility for our diverse set of users”.

As similar to other Google products, the PlayStore has now been “whited-out” and Google’s Sans font has replaced the previous font.

This complete overhaul comes as Play Store has over two billion active monthly users.

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Android Q is officially named Android 10

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Google has announced the official name for Android Q and it’s not any of what we’ve previously considered. In a blog post, Google has revealed that it would be changing the way it names each update to its operating system starting with Android 10.

We’ve speculated that Android Q will stand for Quiche, Quinoa or Quesadilla which are dessert names starting with the letter Q as Google has done since Android Cupcake.

In that blog post, Google explains that it has received feedback over the years that the Android names weren’t always understood by everyone in the global community. For example, L and R are not distinguishable when spoken in some languages. The blog post reads, “So when some people heard us say Android Lollipop out loud, it wasn’t intuitively clear that it referred to the version after KitKat. It’s even harder for new Android users, who are unfamiliar with the naming convention, to understand if their phone is running the latest version”.

As a global operating system, it’s important that these names are clear and relatable for everyone in the world.

Google

Related: top features coming to Android 10

It’s especially easier to interpret that ‘Android 10’ is the tenth generation of the software than ‘Android Q’, especially in regions with non-Latin alphabets.

This name change also brings an aesthetic change to the official Android logo. The text was changed from green to black to make it easier to read, switched fonts and used a close-up of the Android robot that’s now colored in a new shade of green.

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Google Go search app now available worldwide

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In 2017, Google launched a lightweight version of its Search app on Android phones in India and Indonesia. The new search app, named Google Go, was designed to be able to run on low-powered devices and even under slow internet connection.

Now, in 2019, Google is making its Google Go app available worldwide. For just 7MB, the Google Go offers the basic features available on the main Google app – it could even save your search offline and remind you when you’re back online if you lose your internet connection. Interestingly, it has the ability to read out webpages aloud. Furthermore, the Google Lens functionality was baked into this app.

You’d require an Android Lollipop (5.0) and above to be able to download this app and install this app that’s available now on the Playstore.

Related: Google will now allow Android users log in without passwords

Google Go is one of the several lightweight version of apps released by the Google for emerging markets. Other apps include YouTube Go, Maps Go, Gmail Go and even the recently released Gallery Go.

A lightweight version of Android named Android Go is also available for devices with low memory options. An example of devices running the Android Go variant include the Nokia 2 which has 1gb of RAM.

The efficiency of these Google’s lightweight apps especially on cheaper phones has made them develop quite a number of fans around.

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Gionee M7 Lite review: a nice budget-phone to have

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Very recently, I decided to go into the smartphone market and get myself a budget smartphone that will not frustrate me. I had several options but I was very particular about this challenge. I didn’t want to spend about #30,000 on the phone. Shortly, I was stuck on two phones to use – Gionee M7 Lite and Tecno Pouvoir 3 Air. I eventually got both of them and use each one for a week to know which one is the best to get. Both phones have similar prices so I was expecting identical performances. A look at the specs-sheet of both phones and I couldn’t be more surprised.

The Gionee M7 Lite is a 5.5” HD display with a resolution of 1132 x 540 pixels and a notch which houses the front camera. That might sound awful on paper when you compare with a phone like Tecno Pouvoir 3(not the Air variant) which costs about #10,000 – #15,000 more. However, the display is quite okay – I’m not quite sure of what I was expecting but the phone really didn’t disappoint me on that aspect.

Key Specifications

5.5-inch LCD Display, 1132 x 540pixels

Rear Camera: 8MP camera with flashlight

Front Camera: 5MP camera

1.25 GHz processor

2gb RAM

16gb internal storage with support for up to 128Gb SD-card

Android 9.0 Pie

4,000 mAh battery

The phone measures 141.80 x 68.30 x 11.35mm and weighs about 183g. This means you have a small phone that weighs a lot. The Tecno Pouvoir 3 Air looks a lot bigger when placed side-by-side with this phone. However, I didn’t really miss a big screen as this phone has its 5.5” display in an aspect ratio of 19:9 so that it is compact and taller. I was quite unnerved by the weight at first but I got pretty used to it after a while.

The Gionee M7 Lite looks absolutely beautiful at the back. I got the mixed purple and blue color and it looks great in my palms. The polycarbonate finish at the back was also neatly polished so it gives you a nice touch and feel. The camera and single flash-light was situated at the left corner and the fingerprint scanner was at the center.

I was quite surprised there’s a phone in 2019 with a removable battery but I couldn’t judge because this is the budget-phone range. I had to remove the back case and remove the battery before I could install my nano-sim cards and SD-card. It wasn’t as smooth as using a sim-ejector pin to remove the sim-tray from the side of the phone like you have on other phones but it wasn’t really a headache.  

On the software side, Gionee M7 lite is powered by a 1.2GHz processor, 2Gb RAM and 16Gb internal storage. This is exactly what a phone like the Tecno Pouvoir 2 offers. It runs on Android 9 Pie which is the latest Android OS update, with Android Q still in beta mode. I was pleased to notice that the phone doesn’t run any custom Android skin and bloatware. The preinstalled applications were Google’s apps like Playstore and Chrome, and other proprietary applications like Clock, Messages and Phone. I was quite unsatisfied with using Files app by Google and Google Photos for my pictures but this isn’t any problem because there are a lot of amazing applications of the Google Playstore.

The phone runs neatly without a lag in my two weeks of testing and it could keep applications fairly well in memory. I tested its memory management and I found it kept apps remained in their state about 40% more than the Tecno Spark 3 2gb RAM variant.

Speaking of camera, I knew there would compromise on this department and I wasn’t wrong. The Gionee M7 Lite comes with 8MP rear camera and 5MP camera for selfies. I was honestly disappointed with the selfie camera by just looking at the specs-sheet and I wasn’t expecting it to be a good shooter. Unfortunately, I was right. The rear camera works just fine – don’t expect a lot of details in your pictures though. The selfie camera was, however, disappointing. The stock camera app would force the pictures you take to flip without even giving you the option to turn it off. You could solve this by downloading another camera app from the Google Playstore though. It’s important to also note that there is no flashlight present on the front of this phone.

Before comparing this phone directly with the Tecno Pouvoir 3 Air, let’s discuss the battery and accessories. Gionee M7 Lite ships with a 4,000 mAh battery which sounds pretty cool on paper. I wasn’t too impressed with the battery life, however. I found my battery getting lower sooner than I expected but maybe it’s one of the compromise I’d have to make.

I was totally pissed by the quality of headphones Gionee shipped with this phone. It provided very little or no bass and it was not noise-cancelling at the very least. I had to get another headphone before I could properly enjoy the 3.5mm headphone jack present on the phone. Surprisingly, both headphone jack and USB-C port are at the top of the phone.

Gionee M7 Lite vs Tecno Pouvoir 3 Air

Choosing between both phones wasn’t very easy but I had a favorite and it was the Gionee M7 Lite. One of the turn-offs of the Tecno Pouvoir 3 Air was that it has only 1gb RAM and runs on Android Go. Android Go is the variant of Android that offers you the stripped-down basic versions of Google’s apps. You get the Google Go, Youtube Go, Maps go and others. Honestly, I spend my time watching a lot of videos on Youtube, using the Google app for News and other web searches and the Maps application for navigating, so it was frustrating to use the Go version of these apps. The applications could get better in terms of functionality and user-experience through software updates but I found myself longing for the full apps on my Gionee phone.

Furthermore, the Tecno customized skin, HiOS, has some funny but annoying way it handles memory management and like I’ve said earlier I couldn’t compare the experience of using both phones. If you care about these things more than camera and battery which the Tecno Pouvoir 3 is better at, then the Gionee M7 is a recommended buy. You won’t regret you made that decision. Well, after getting used to the weight of the phone.

Interested in this phone? Buy Now for #29,750:

Jumia Nigeria

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Google will now let Android users log in without password

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Google will now let Android users running 7.0 Nougat and later log in to some of its services without the need for password authentication. This feature allows you to log in on Chrome on Android with your fingerprint or any means you’d normally use to unlock your phone.

As tested above on the passwords.google.com on Chrome, the Google site will ask (by default) to log in using the device’s screen lock. This would require you to sign in with your fingerprint or whatever means you unlock your device when you tap to continue. You could just use your password by clicking on Try another way.

This feature employed the use of FIDO2 and WebAuthn, an open standard that sites can use to secure web-based logins. With this feature, Google is using your device as a two-factor authentication system.

Not having to remember a password means this is a much more convenient way to log in, and it’s also much more secure. Passwords have all kinds of vulnerabilities, even before you consider the fact that a lot of people reuse them across multiple sites. However, with this method, credentials are stored locally on your device so they can’t be intercepted or hacked off a company’s servers, and they’re also impossible to “phish” by tricking you into visiting a fake website.

Related: Who’s out to get your personal data?

For you to be able to use this feature, you’d need a phone with Android 7 and later. You’ll need to have a screen lock set up and you’d need to be logged on your Google app.

For now, it’s unclear if this feature will be rolled out to use the Face ID available on iOS devices.

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Huawei will launch its own Mapping service soon

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According to a report from China Daily, Huawei is set to launch its own Mapping service in October. This service will, however, not be a consumer side service like the Google Maps we all love and use.

Following the US trade war and the uncertainty of its business with American companies, Huawei has started to make moves to reduce its dependencies on the US. It has launched a micro-kernel based operating system which it calls HarmonyOS and would power IoT devices and could power its smartphones in the future.

The new service, called Map Kit is mainly intended intended for software developers, meaning apps that offer navigation or ride-hailing services could use Huawei’s planned mapping technology instead of building their own or using Google Maps’ data.

The Russian Internet service giant, Yandex, will provide mapping services data, which will be added to data taken from infrastructure that Huawei already has in place.

Developing a Mapping service has proven to be quite difficult for the big players like Apple and Microsoft in the past. In fact, it took a massive investment from Google for its Google Maps to be a wild success today.

Map Kit support augmented-reality mapping. While it’s not clear what that means, it does bring to mind the recently introduced feature on Google Maps which allows for AR walking directions. The report says that Map Kit will be unveiled in October, will cover 150 “countries and regions,” and will be available in 40 languages.

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YouTube Originals will soon be free for you to watch

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As promised earlier in the year, YouTube will be making its Original shows free for all users to watch after September 24 this year.

You probably don’t really know what YouTube Originals are since they’re mostly locked to YouTube Premium users – subscribers who pay about $12 monthly on YouTube – and most people use the free tier of YouTube anyway.

YouTube Premium gives you access to YouTube original shows and YouTube Music without ads. You could now have access to both services, at least the YouTube Music, on the free tier but with limited functions.

As expected, the free users will be served some advertisement and will have limited functions when it comes to the original shows. Premium subscribers will enjoy the better viewing experience. Ads will not be served to them and they’ll get immediate access to every episode in a show’s new season. Also, they’re the only ones who can enjoy director’s cuts and bonus scenes whenever they’re available. Non-paying members will have to wait for each episode in a series to be released to the public.

Although YouTube has the largest library of online video content and also has the highest number of users, it is largely not considered to be a competitor to the video streaming services like Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime video. And as the streaming wars rage on with the new Disney+ and Apple TV+ service being launched, this might perhaps be Google’s and YouTube’s plan to monetize from advertisement shown to users. I guess we’ll know after September 24!

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