Live Captions is one of the most useful features on Android phones, allowing your mobile device to automatically transcribe any audio it’s currently playing. And now it seems Google is bringing Live Captions to Chrome, with the feature already available as a hidden option in the browser.
First noticed by Chrome Story, Live Caption can actually be activated now in Windows, macOS, and Chrome OS versions of Chrome 88. But if you want to try out Live Captions for yourself, you’ll need to manually enable it as it’s currently still listed as an experimental feature. To activate Live Captions, you can paste this command chrome://flags/#enable-accessibility-live-caption into Chrome’s search bar, and then search for Live Captions to see the toggle option.
Once you have Live Captions turned on, you’ll be asked to relaunch Chrome. From there, to get it working, all you need to do is browse over to a video or something like a podcast in Chrome, and a small bar should automatically pop up along the bottom of the browser displaying live captions.
That said, Live Captions is still an experimental feature and there are a few bugs. The first is that it doesn’t seem to work with YouTube at all (unless you are running Chrome Canary), though that’s not necessarily a huge deal as YouTube already offers automatic closed captions for many videos.
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Additionally, depending on the audio source, transcriptions may not automatically appear as you expect or might stop working if you pause a video, so you may have to restart the Live Captions feature by turning it on and off from Chrome’s Global Media Settings controls (the music note icon in the top right corner of Chrome). And on Chromebooks and other Chrome OS devices, Live Captions doesn’t seem to work for audio coming from Linux or Android apps either.
Still, some bugs are to be expected for something that hasn’t been officially released yet, and even though in my experience the accuracy of Google’s Live Captions can be somewhat hit or miss, the feature is still a valuable upgrade for general accessibility.
Following the 2019 update to Chrome, Google is now bringing Password Checkup to Android to help alert you about potential leaks or data breaches that may have exposed your existing passwords to hackers. Password Checkup will be rolling out to devices with Android 9 and above, and will automatically check passwords already saved in Android along with any new ones. If Google detects that your password has been exposed, you’ll get an alert strongly suggesting you change it.
Password Checkup is important, but let’s get down to the good stuff: Google Maps is finally getting the long-awaited official dark mode. And in Google Messages on Android 7 and above, Google is adding the ability to send scheduled messages, similar to Gmail’s scheduled email feature. All you have to do is write a message as normal, and then hold the send button, which makes a new menu appear allowing you to set an exact time for when your text will go out.
Even the Google Assistant is getting a small upgrade, with the ability to make calls, set timers and alarms, and play music on your phone using voice commands. This means your Android phone can now kind of double as a smart speaker, and helps expand the role of the Google Assistant as something that simply answers questions with these additional automation features.
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Android Auto is also getting a refresh. Google added new car-inspired backgrounds and voice-activated games like Jeopardy to help those long road trips go by a little faster. And to help make things like contacts easier to access, Google is also adding shortcuts to Android Auto, and cars with widescreen displays get a new split-screen mode so you can see Google Maps and your media controls at the same time.
Finally, for folks who are blind or have low vision, Google is also releasing a new version of its Talkback app featuring a redesigned menu, more intuitive gesture recognition, improved reading controls, and more.
Google’s new Android software updates will start rolling out today, with Talkback version 9.1 available now in the Google Play store and the update to Android Auto expected to be available “in the coming days.”
It’s my laptop! It’s my tablet! It’s my laptop and my tablet! Lately, I’ve been seeing more and more hybrid laptops that can fold up into a a freestanding tablet. The idea here is to offer the best of both worlds with a keyboard for computing and a touch screen for just casual chillin’. It’s a neat premise for those who want a computer device, but don’t need power. If that’s you, check out this Asus 2-in-1 Chromebook. It features a 14″ full HD touchscreen that can be flipped around 360 degrees. With 4GB of system memory and 64GB of flash memory, this isn’t a device you can get really complicated with, but it’s all you’ll need for some basic multitasking.
Google appears to be testing a tool to make Incognito browsing even more private in Chrome for iOS.
The beta version of the iOS Chrome app introduced a feature to require Touch ID or Face ID to unlock Incognito tabs that you might not want others accessing. With the feature enabled, returning to Chrome after a closed session will show a blurred Incognito tab and will require verification to be accessed, per release notes screenshotted by 9to5Google. Google stated in the notes that the feature is intended to “add more security to your Incognito tabs.”
To enable the feature, head to Settings, navigate to Privacy, and select Lock Incognito tabs when you close Chrome. According to 9to5Google, the feature isn’t available for everyone running the beta version of the Chrome app on iOS. Google didn’t immediately return a request for comment about the feature and its wider rollout.
As 9to5Google noted, a version of this privacy setting is already available in the primary Google search app, though that privacy setting is triggered after you’ve left the session for 15 minutes. To enable it, open the main Google app, head to Settings, select Privacy and Security, and toggle on the option to Enable Face ID for incognito mode.
Google has reportedly blocked the popular extension The Great Suspender and removed it from its Chrome Web Store for containing malware. But if you were one of the many users who relied on the tab manager to keep your browser running smoothly, don’t freak out just yet. You may still be able to recover your lost tabs thanks to a workaround uncovered by the extension’s community.
On Thursday, users began receiving notifications that The Great Suspender was “disabled because it contains malware.” The extension, which was installed more than 2 million times before it was disabled, would force any tabs you weren’t currently using to sleep, replacing them with a gray screen until you returned and relaunched them with a click. That way, you could still keep a zillion tabs open without Google’s browser hogging up your device’s memory and potentially slowing down performance.
But, I hear some of you ask, couldn’t you just have fewer tabs open in general and that’d solve the problem too? And to that, my four dozen tabs of articles that I’ll probably never read and I ask that you please keep that logic to yourself, thank you very much.
Last year, The Great Suspender came under new management, and that seems to be where the problems started. Its creator, Dean Oemcke, sold the extension to an unknown third party in June, and subsequent version updates included an exploit that could be used to quietly run just about any type of code on users’ devices without their consent, per the Register. Microsoft Edge already kicked The Great Suspender from its extension marketplace following the discovery of this exploit, and now it appears Google has followed suit.
If you used the extension and are looking to recover your tabs now that it’s been disabled, you’re in luck. The extension’s community found a promising albeit annoying workaround to revive your lost tabs. Simply head to your browser history—either navigate to chrome://history or press Ctrl-H while in the browser—and search for the extension’s ID: “klbibkeccnjlkjkiokjodocebajanakg”.
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That will bring up all your suspended tabs, and at the very end of each result’s absurdly long URL is the actual address of the tab you had open. If you delete all the gibberish before that, you should be left with the URL of the page you were on. So if the URL starts with “https://”, deleting everything before that should give you the URL for your suspended tab.
It’s tedious, sure, but better than simply saying “RIP” to every tab you had up before the extension was disabled. Google and The Great Suspender’s developers did not immediately respond to Gizmodo’s request for comment.
Google today announced that it’s bringing better discovery features to Android TV with three new tabs: Home, Discover, and Apps. Situated at the top of the screen, these new tabs will help users quickly navigate to a page with all of their applications and services, see what’s new, and explore content in a dedicated discovery hub.
Key among these new tabs is the Discover page. One of the best things about the layout of Android TV is that it already allows you to see relevant titles and content from each of your individual apps from your home screen. That’s not changing. But with Discover, Google says it will bring Android TV users more personalized content suggestions that pull from what you watch as well as from trends on Google. Think of it as a more organized suggestion tool, or a single place to browse for something to watch.
The update began rolling out this week to Android TV OS devices this week in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, and the U.S. More countries will get the update in the weeks ahead, the company said. I didn’t immediately see the update available on either of my Android TV devices, so keep an eye out in the coming days if you don’t either.
It’s not a perfect copy of Chromecast with Google TV’s excellent interface—that one includes tabs for things like movies, shows, and live TV. But this latest update should make finding something to watch a little easier, particularly for those of us who subscribe to more services than we can count.
We’ve reviewed a ton of laptops and played around with even more. Whether you’re looking for a cheap device or a powerful gaming machine, we’ve gone ahead and put together a list of the very best laptops and convertibles you can buy right now.
Buying Forecast for Early 2021: After a ton of updated laptops with refreshed components were announced at CES 2021, anyone looking to get a new Windows PC (particularly gamers) may want to hold off on buying something until later this winter or early spring.
So while they aren’t out yet, most of these systems should go on sale by the end of Q1 2021, which makes a great time to decide if you want to save a buck on a slightly older laptop from 2020 or opt for a newer 2021 model with updated specs.
The Best All-Around Laptop
Who Are You?
A person who just wants a really good laptop that balances power, price, and design so well you won’t have buyer’s remorse.
The Dell XPS 13 has always been a fantastic laptop with a great design, some of the thinnest bezels around, and a wide range of builds that allow you to find the perfect laptop for the price you’re willing to pay. We thought the previous model was as perfect as it could get, Dell has refined the XPS 13 even further with a 16:10 screen, a larger touchpad and keycaps, slimmer bezels, and better performance. It may be slightly heavier, but unless you put the two models side by side on different scales, you won’t be able to tell just by holding them.
At base, the new XPS 13 comes with an Intel Core i5 10th-gen, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD, and a 500 nit, InfinityEdge display, which isn’t all that different from the previous model, save for the current-gen processor. It also has two Thunderbolt 3 compatible USB-C ports and a microSD card slot for those who do a lot of photo editing. We’d love Dell to provide larger storage or more RAM for the starting price, but these upgrades still improve the XPS 13.
A person who mostly uses a computer to browse the web, watch some movies, and edits the occasional photo in Lightroom or Photoshop. You don’t want the performance of a budget machine, but don’t mind compromising a little on design or other features.
The Yoga C740 is well-rounded with a nice set of features and specs for the price, and in addition to doing some creative work or checking emails, it’s a great little device for watching movies in bed or reading an ebook. Lenovo has added Dolby Atmos audio as an extra feature this time around, but also kept its stand-out clamshell hinges, long-enough battery life, and overall polished design.
Hardware-wise, if you’re willing to spend a little more, you can get up to an Intel 10th-gen Core i7, 1TB SSD, and 16GB RAM, although its base specs still make the Yoga C740 a do-it-all work productivity machine. Lenovo also likes to run deals on its products often too, so you could snag a higher-end model for low price, too.
While Apple’s big transition to homegrown ARM-based chips may have caused some anxiety among faithful Mac users, the addition of the M1 chip to the new MacBook Air has actually made it an even better general productivity machine. Not only has performance increased significantly, but its battery life now stands at more than 14 hours on a single charge. The addition of the M1 chip has also reduced things like wake up times and unlike the new 13-inch MacBook Pro Apple’s M1, the M1 MacBook Air is completely fanless, so you won’t have any unwanted noise ruining your movie watching. Even older legacy apps designed for Intel processors will work fine on Apple’s new silicon thanks to Rosetta 2, so unless you need native support for more demanding resource-intensive apps, the MacBook Air with M1 is the best value for Apple laptop fans.
The Best Cheap Laptop
Who Are You?
Price is the most important consideration when it comes to buying a laptop. You want to pay as little as possible without sacrificing everything.
With a 10.5-inch screen and weighing just 1.2 pounds, the Surface Go 2 is extremely portable, which makes it a great choice for anyone who needs a small but still very capable laptop for home or work. Like the original, the Surface Go 2 has excellent build quality, and unlike an iPad, it’s webcam is in the right place for making video calls. However, if you’re concerned about performance, you’ll probably want to upgrade from the Surface Go 2’s base Intel Pentium 4425Y CPU, and don’t forget to save $100 to buy one of Microsoft’s Type Cover, which you’ll need to really get the most out of the Surface Go 2.
Just when the Razer Blade 15 couldn’t get any better, it did, thanks to a refreshed range of CPUs and GPUs and support for either a 4K OLED or 300Hz LCD display. The battery life is still superior to any other gamer or workstation with discrete graphics that we’ve tried, and it’s both fast and slim enough that you won’t hate carrying it around in a bag. If you need a laptop capable of crunching video and hanging resource-intensive games, the found the 15-inch Razer Blade is up to the task.
It is expensive though. Putting all that performance in a decently small chassis means the Razer Blade 15 starts at $1,600 for a 6-core, 10th-gen Intel i7, 16GB of RAM, 256GB of SSD, and a GTX 1660 Ti GPU. If you want a more powerful 8-core, 10th-gen Intel i7, 512GB of SSD, and a RTX 2070 Super, the price jumps to $2,600.
If you don’t need something quite as powerful for work, but still want to casually play games, we recommend Lenovo’s IdeaPad Gaming 3i. It doesn’t boast the longest battery life, but it’s a near-perfect work/gaming machine for the specs and price. It starts as low as $840, but if you’d rather go cheaper, Lenovo will be releasing another model with an AMD Ryzen 4000-series processor that starts at $660.
The Best Chromebook
Who Are You?
A person who just needs the internet. No muss. No fuss.
While the Pixelbook Go is sort of oddly priced, considering you can’t use it as a 2-in-1 like other similarly-priced Chromebooks, the battery life is mind-blowing: 13.5 hours. It’s also just 2.3 pounds and 0.5 inches thick, which is lighter and thinner than the competitors.
ChromeOS is definitely not as robust of a platform as macOS or Windows, but more features are getting added all the time. Recently, Nvidia added ChromeOS to support to its GeForce Now cloud gaming platform, and it runs beautifully. So not only do you get a pleasantly-priced Chromebook with an insane battery life, you can also play games on it. Sort of makes that $650 price tag a little less od. And with so many Chromebooks currently sold out or unavailable, the Pixelbook Go is easily one of the best Chrome-based systems you can right now.
HP seriously improved on its previous Spectre x360 13 model by cutting the chassis size by nearly an inch and reducing the top and bottom bezels by 50 percent. The result is a much sleeker looking laptop that’s easy to recommend at the best 2-in-1. HP also kept its three USB ports (two with a Thunderbolt 3 connection), a headphone jack and a microSD card slot despite the Spectre’s slimmer size. There’s also a USB-C port on the tiny diagonal section on the back right of the laptop, which is rather clever, and with it now upgraded to an Intel 10th-gen processor, expect more computing power for a variety of different creative tasks.
Also Consider: Lenovo Yoga C930 or a Surface Pro 7
How has this list changed? Read back through our update history:
1/3/2019: We added a recommendation of the Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 for best all-around laptop. We removed the Surface Pro 6 and added the Surface Pro 7 as a suggested laptop for people in search of a 2-in-1. – Alex Cranz
8/27/2019: We replaced the Lenovo 700 series with the HP Envy 13 (Best good-enough laptop), and the Samsung Chromebook Plus v2 with the Asus Chromebook Flip C434 (best chromebook. – Alex Cranz
3/8/2019: We’ve replaced the Huawei Matebook X with the Dell XPS 13. – Alex Cranz
4/13/2020: We’ve replaced the Dell XPS 13 9380 with the new 9300 edition, and the Lenovo Yoga C390 2-in-1 with the HP Spectre x360 13 (2019). The Lenovo Yoga C740 also replaced the HP Envy 13. – Joanna Nelius
7/30/2020: We’ve replaced the previous generation Razer Blade 15 with the current Advanced model, which has a 10th-gen Intel CPU and up to an RTX 2080 Super GPU. The Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3i also replaced the MSI GS75 as a more affordable option for both work and gaming, while we’ve also added an update for the Best Cheap Laptop section featuring the Surface Go 2 – Joanna Nelius
9/8/2020:For the Chromebook top-spot, we swapped out the Asus Chromebook Flip C434 for our more recently reviewed Google Pixelbook Go. But we didn’t remove it entirely because it’s still great. Instead, the Asus Chromebook Flip C434 has replaced the older Google Pixelbook. – Joanna Nelius
1/22/2021: Updated the forecast with newly announced laptops post CES 2021, and added the M1 MacBook Air to one of our top picks for our favorite Good-Enough laptop. – Sam Rutherford
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