How to enable native Chromecast support in Chrome

 

Google’s own product, the Chromecast, has required an extension to stream content from your Web browser to your TV since its release. However, as AndroidPolice points out, a recent update to the Chrome browser will let you enable a flag to get the same functionality. Here’s how:

Step 1: Head to chrome://flags/#media-router from your Chrome address bar.

Note: If you don’t see the flag, make sure you are on the latest version of Chrome by heading to Menu > Settings > About to check for updates. This change is available in the stable release.

Step 2: Toggle the setting to Enable and then relaunch Chrome.

Step 3: Start casting by using the Cast option in the right-click menu.

If you have the Google Cast extension installed, it will be disabled once you relaunch Chrome, and can be removed whenever it’s convenient to do so.

Adding support for Chromecast into the browser helps make the streaming setup process easier and faster for users.

How to use Google Drive on Android, iOS

Since its launch in early 2012, the Google Drive app has seen many changes. When it originally launched it replaced the Google Docs app, didn’t allow you to actually edit documents on iOS, but allowed for creating and editing Google Docs files within the Android app. Now it better serves as a hub for accessing the various types of files you store within Google Drive.

The basics

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The main screen of Google Drive provides a few options for navigating your files. You will have quick access to files in your Drive, any documents that have been shared with you, any files or folders you have starred, recently opened or edited as well as any files you have downloaded for offline access.

When you first launch the app, you’ll find a list of your folders and files stored in Google Drive. The default thumbnail view (pictured on the left above) can be changed to a list view (middle) by tapping on the list icon in the top menu bar.

Naturally, tapping on an item will open it. Tapping on the “i” icon, however, will open the details screen (pictured right) for the respective file or folder for Android users. iOS users will need to tap on the three-dot icon, followed by “i” to view the same information. On this screen you can view who has access, when changes were made, who made them and other important details. Additionally, you will find options for sharing, moving, deleting, renaming, starring (for quick access) and for files the option to download it to your device for offline access.

Creating, editing

To create a document using Google Drive, tap on the floating “+” button. On iOS, it’s blue. On Android, it’s red. The options for creating a new document include uploading a file from your device, scanning a document with your camera, creating a folder and lastly, creating a Docs, Sheets or Slides document.

The last three options require the respective app to be installed on your device. Be sure to install Docs (Android | iOS), Sheets (Android | iOS) and Slides (Android | iOS) on your device. Should you try to create a document without the accompanying app installed, Google Drive will prompt you to install it before continuing.

Viewing documents without the above apps installed is still possible, though your editing options will be limited.

When selecting upload, you are able to browse and upload any type of file to your Drive account directly from your device. It’s important to note — on Android installing a file manager, such as Astro File Manager, is required to browse all files stored on your device. By default you can access images, videos, audio, and downloads. iOS users can upload files stored on iCloud Drive, Dropbox, or stored within third-party apps, in addition to uploading photos and videos.

Keep in mind if you want to place the new item in a specific folder, you will need to navigate to that folder in the app before you upload or create it. Otherwise the new file uploaded item will be placed in the root directory of your Google Drive account.

Menu and settings

Slide out the menu from the left side of the screen, where you can then switch accounts or view files that are shared with you, recently accessed, starred or downloaded, your Google Photos account as well as those you’ve uploaded from your device.

Scrolling down the menu’s list on an Android, you’ll find an option to view the apps settings along with the current amount of Drive space you’re using with each account. Within the settings for the Google Drive app, you can set the amount of data you will want the app to cache, topping out at 250MB. You can also enable or disable encryption of offline documents as well as set your device to only upload or update files over Wi-Fi in an effort to help save your mobile data plan.

iOS users can access the Settings menu in the same location, however data storage numbers and is in its own “Storage” category just below Settings. In Settings, iOS users can add a passcode, enable or disable notifications for shared files, and auto-backup of photos on your device. Lacking in iOS is the ability to cache items or restrict uploads to Wi-Fi only.

No One Knows How to Use This Genius iOS Feature

“What’s AirDrop?!” You’d be surprised at how many times we’ve heard that from iOS-loving friends, and considering that it was the top “how-to” search on Google in 2014, they’re not alone. Since it’s a pretty genius feature, we’re putting it in the category of most underrated iPhone features (along with the Control Center, of course). Think of it as the easiest way to share photos, videos, contacts, music, and more with other iOS devices.

Here’s a cheat sheet for using AirDrop on the iPhone, but note that you can use it on any device with iOS 7 and up. There’s also an AirDrop for Mac, but you can’t share between iOS and OS X devices. Now let’s get to it!

Google forming separate Virtual Reality division led by Clay Bavor to take on its rivals

Google forming separate Virtual Reality division led by Clay Bavor to take on its rivals

Facebook and Microsoft made their Virtual Reality (VR) intentions quite clear last year, and now Google wants to ensure it is at par with the rivals.

So, Google has announced a separate division that will solely focus on virtual reality. The search giant has now announced to ramp up and build a VR division. Citing a Google spokesperson, Re/code confirms that Clay Bavor will lead the VR team.

Clay Bavor is the VP, Product Management for Google’s apps like Gmail, Drive and Docs. He has also been incharge of Google Cardboard ever since it was launched. Now, he will be leading the VR team and completely focus on virtual reality products in 2016. Enterprise chief Diane Greene will be stepping into his shoes to overlook apps.

Interestingly, the announcement comes just when Facebook decides to finally start shipping the Oculus Rift. Sony, HTC and others are expected to follow suit with their own headsets too. In fact, the year 2016 is projected to be a big one for Virtual Reality. Apple is also known to be quietly building its VR arsenal.

Many recent reports have been predicting that the year 2016 is going to be all about virtual reality. VR is  a computer-simulated reality (in a device) that replicates, via photos, an environment that simulates a physical presence in places in the real world or an imagined world, allowing the user to interact in that world. Virtual reality artificially creates sensory experiences, which can include sight, hearing, touch and smell.

For example, with a VR device you can climb Mount Everest making your way gingerly across a shaky bridge while trying not to look down into an icy chasm — all while sitting on a couch in your house.

Google Maps will now try to guess where you are going

Google Maps will now try to guess where you are going

Google is known to add timely tweaks to its products, and the latest is Maps. The company has updated Maps to add a new Driving mode feature. This feature takes into account the web history of the user as well as current location, in order to figure out where you are headed. It will offer route information including traffic and other details, without even having to add the destination.

The new updated Maps version 9.19 is yet to be made available on the Play Store. Those who cannot wait, can check out the apk here. The app is already buggy and makes it had to enable to feature. One will have to find driving notifications and add a driving shortcut in the Navigation settings. But, one will not find a standard way to make them appear.

AndroidPolice points out, “Driving mode has to be enabled through some arcane set of steps on each device before it can actually be used. This is probably just a bug that will be fixed in a new release later this week, but for now I haven’t been able to pin down exactly which steps (or in what order) have to be taken to turn it on.”

For now, one will have to simply dabble to get the settings and add Driving mode shortcut. You will find Start Driving option in the Maps slide-out drawer.

Google’s self-driving cars had 13 near-miss incidents

Google’s self-driving cars had 13 near-miss incidents: Report

Google has published its annual report about its self-driving car program where it analysed that if a human had not taken over, there likely would have been 13 “contacts” with other vehicles or objects.

According to the report by Google, the cars can also determine the severity of the rain, and just like human drivers they drive more cautiously in wet conditions when roads are slippery and visibility is poor. It also pointed out that for now, it is particularly stormy in California, and the cars automatically pull over and wait until conditions improve. The report also stated that the number of disengagements declined significantly during the period, going from once every 785 miles in the first quarter of testing, to once every 5,318 miles in the most recent.

However, the report points out that Google has not mentioned a few things. When the car sees an accident, Google goes into a great detail as to why the collision occurred and who was at fault. Out of the total 341 total disengagements, 272 were reportedly due to the “failure of autonomous technology”, wherein the company detects a fault of some sort. Though, the company points out that at the moment, Google’s main focus to not to reduce the number of disengagements, but gather as much as data as to possible to improve the self-driving system respectively.

Google Cardboard SDK now supports spatial audio

Google Cardboard SDK now supports spatial audio

Developers working with Google Cardboard apps can now create realistic sounds the way humans experience them like when a fire truck zooms by or when an airplane is overhead. Google has announced that the Cardboard SDKs for Unity and Android support spatial audio so developers can create immersive audio experiences in their virtual reality (VR) apps. Users will not need any additional equipment, just their smartphone, a regular pair of headphones and a Google Cardboard viewer, explains Nathan Martz, Product Manager, Google Cardboard in a blog.

Many apps create simple versions of spatial audio — by playing sounds from the left and right speakers. But this SDK update, says Martz, combines the physiology of a listener’s head with the positions of virtual sound sources to determine what users hear. For instance, sounds that come from the right will reach a user’s left ear with a slight delay and with fewer high frequency elements, which are normally dampened by the skull. Martz also explains how the SDK will let developers specify the size and material of the virtual environment — both of which contribute greatly to the quality of a given sound. This will ensure that a conversation taking place on-board a virtual spaceship will be different from that taking place in a virtual cave.

Martz says that the updates will not hamper performance as such because the SDK is optimized for mobile CPUs and will compute audio in real-time on a separate thread, outside the primary CPU where most of the processing takes place. Also, developers can choose to allocate more processing power to the critical sounds, while de-emphasizing others.

Talking about ease of use, Martz says, “It’s really easy to get started with the SDK’s new audio features. Unity developers will find a comprehensive set of components for creating soundscapes on Android, iOS, Windows and OS X. And native Android developers will now have a simple Java API for simulating virtual sounds and environments.”

Google clearly has its work cut out for building on its VR capabilities in 2016. The company recently took a major step towards fulfilling its VR world domination dreams by announcing a separate division that will solely focus on virtual reality led by Clay Bavor who is the VP, Product Management for Google’s apps including Gmail, Drive and Docs. He has been overseeing the Cardboard project too.

Nest thermostat glitch leaves users to freeze, company says issue fixed for most

Nest thermostat glitch leaves users to freeze, company says issue fixed for most

In India, winters aren’t as severe as they are in North America. We still do have freezing winters up north, but very few have homes with sensors. And if tech is laden around us to keep us warm, no one wants their thermostats to give up on them during such freezing winters.

But that’s exactly what happened to those using the Nest Learning Thermostat by Google. Turns out, the culprit was a software glitch.

Yes, a software bug led the Nest thermostat battery to drain out completely and eventually get deactivated. This bug left many users ‘cold’ and angry. Many took to the social media to vent out their frustration.

Nest soon acknowledged the problem and started working on a fix. “We are aware of a software bug impacting some Nest Thermostat owners. In some cases, this may cause the device to respond slowly or become unresponsive. We are working on a solution that we expect to roll out in the coming weeks,” the company said in a statement.

The latest announcement by the company reportedly claims that the problem has been fixed for 99.5 percent users, but those still facing such an issue would need to perform a manual reset. The reason for the occurrence of the problem was with thermostats updated to the version 5.1.3 or later.

Google self-driving exec says needs proposals to share research

Google self-driving exec says needs proposals to share research

John Krafcik, the head of Google’s project to develop self-driving vehicles, said on Thursday he would have to see specific proposals before entering into a consortium including automakers.

Krafcik appeared with U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, who spoke of working with companies to develop safety guidelines for self-driving vehicles.

Krafcik was asked whether Google would enter into a consortium of automakers that Mark Rosekind of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will announce on Friday, and share technology including intellectual property.

“I’d guess I’d want to see more and understand more. It’s the first I’m hearing about it,” said Krafcik.

U.S. regulators could waive some safety rules for self-driving cars

U.S. regulators could waive some safety rules for self-driving cars

The U.S. Transportation Department said on Thursday it may waive some vehicle safety rules to allow more driverless cars to operate on U.S. roads as part of a broader effort to speed up development of self-driving vehicles.

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx unveiled the new policy guidance for self-driving vehicle testing in Detroit.

Major automakers, and technology companies led by Alphabet Inc’s Google, are racing to develop and sell vehicles that can drive themselves, but they have complained that state and federal safety rules are impeding testing and ultimate deployment of such vehicles.

The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which Foxx oversees, told automakers it is willing to exempt up to 2,500 vehicles industry-wide from some auto safety standards for up to two years in a move that could allow Google to get its self-driving cars on U.S. roads.

Safety regulators will write guidelines for self-driving cars within six months, Foxx said. The administration may seek new legal authority to allow deployment of autonomous vehicles “in large numbers,” when they are deemed safe, the department said.

Sen. John Thune, (R-South Dakota), chairman of the Senate committee that oversees transportation, said in a statement on Thursday that Congress and the Obama administration should collaborate on efforts to accelerate vehicle automation.

Automakers backed the changes, including General Motors Co and Ford Motor Co. “We are committed to working with the government and the rest of the industry on standards,” GM said in a statement.

“Good roads need a clear path and they need guardrails,” said John Krafcik, head of Google’s self-driving project. “What we heard from the secretary today was their willingness to provide both of those things.”

The agency will also consider requests by automakers for approval to go ahead with specific technology. NHTSA said a BMW remote self-parking feature meets federal safety standards.

Regulators will require that companies demonstrate that their autonomous cars can operate safely.

Under current California rules, for example, Google test cars must have steering wheels and pedals – a requirement the company said excluded people “who need to get around but cannot drive.”

Krafcik would not say whether Google will ask regulators to allow vehicles without brake pedals and steering wheels.

“Our obligation is to make sure that everyone who is going to inform the discussion and decision on this really understands how our technology works,” Krafcik said.