Google’s Live Caption Tool Is Now Available as a Hidden Feature in Chrome

Illustration for article titled Google's Live Caption Tool Is Now Available as a Hidden Feature in Chrome

Screenshot: Sam Rutherford

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.

Illustration for article titled Google's Live Caption Tool Is Now Available as a Hidden Feature in Chrome

Screenshot: Sam Rutherford

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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.

Live transcriptions works for both videos and pure audio sources like podcasts.

Live transcriptions works for both videos and pure audio sources like podcasts.
Screenshot: Sam Rutherford

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.

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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.

How Android’s Nearby Share Compares to Apple’s AirDrop

Illustration for article titled How Android's Nearby Share Compares to Apple's AirDrop

Image: Google

Android finally has its own version of Apple’s AirDrop. It’s called Nearby Share, and it makes it easy to quickly send files to another Android device.

Using a file-sharing app requires deep access to your devices to work properly, and going with the official Google option means you don’t have to put your trust in a third-party solution that may not be as secure as it seems. As we’ve seen with an extremely popular Android file-sharing app’s recent malware revelations, you may be putting yourself at risk.

Nearby Share’s Android integration means that it’s very easy to access, too. Based on the time that we’ve spent testing it so far, the tool works as advertised, without any noticeable problems in terms of connectivity or speed. If it’s anything like AirDrop, it’s likely to become the default local file-sharing choice for a lot of Android users.

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Nearby Share and AirDrop use a mix of Bluetooth and wifi technologies to quickly move data between two devices. This data could be a photo, a document, a web link or an Android app for example. There are a bunch of app options for sharing files, from Dropbox to WhatsApp, but Nearby Share and AirDrop work as device-to-device connections, so you don’t need to be connected to wifi or even a cell network to drop your photos.

Illustration for article titled How Android's Nearby Share Compares to Apple's AirDrop

Screenshot: Android

Nearby Share works on all devices running Android 6.0 Marshmallow or later, which should be just about all of the devices still in widespread use. It doesn’t work with iPhones or iPads, just as AirDrop doesn’t work with anything running Android. There’s no sign that Apple or Google would ever want to make our lives that easy and convenient.

The instructions here are for Nearby Share on the stock version of Android 11 that Google installs on its Pixel phones—if you’re using an older version of Android or a phone made by a different manufacturer, some of the menus and screens might vary slightly, though Nearby Share should still be available if you’re running the latest software.

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For Nearby Share to work, your device needs to have both Bluetooth enabled (Connected devices, Connection preferences and Bluetooth from Settings) and location reporting enabled (Location from Settings). You can then enable Nearby Share by opening Settings and tapping Google, Device connections, and Nearby Share. You can also just initiate a share to turn the feature on.

You can also tap Google, Device connections, and Nearby Share from Settings to customize how the feature works in more detail. Tap Device name to change the name that other users see during a share, and Data to set whether or not Android can use wifi and cell networks to transfer files if necessary. You can disable this and keep shares fully offline if you want to.

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Illustration for article titled How Android's Nearby Share Compares to Apple's AirDrop

Screenshot: Android

Tap Device visibility to set how easily you can be found by other people. Pick All contacts, and everyone in your contacts list will be able to see your device when they start a share; pick Some contacts, and only the people you select will be able to see your device. This is assuming you have Nearby Share enabled on your device of course—if you don’t, no one will be able to see you, and you won’t get any prompts to receive shares.

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The final option is Hidden, which means no one can see you until you make your device visible. The difference between this and just turning Nearby Share off completely is that you will get a notification prompt if an Android device in close proximity has started a share. You can then tap the prompt to show your device.

Whichever option you choose here, you’ll always be asked to confirm the file transfer once the sender has picked your phone as a destination, so you won’t suddenly find your phone bombarded with pictures or videos that you didn’t ask for. These options don’t affect your ability to send files with Nearby Share either, or which devices you’ll be able to see when you do.

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Nearby Share will appear as an option whenever you hit the standard share button anywhere in Android. You might see a Nearby button or a Nearby Share button, depending on the app. If you don’t see the option, you might have to tap the More button to see it, or double-check the feature is actually enabled on your device.

Illustration for article titled How Android's Nearby Share Compares to Apple's AirDrop

Screenshot: Android

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With a share initiated, you simply choose the device you want to share with. The recipient will then be asked to confirm the file transfer, and off it goes. You don’t have to keep the Nearby Share panel open while the data is sent and received, because the process will carry on in the background until it’s completed.

“Nearby Share then automatically chooses the best protocol for fast and easy sharing using Bluetooth, Bluetooth Low Energy, WebRTC or peer-to-peer wifi—allowing you to share even when you’re fully offline,” Google explains.

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The feature is also rolling out to Chromebooks in the near future, though it hasn’t gone live quite yet. You can enable it with the right flags.

Nearby Share and AirDrop are very similar, though the options for keeping your phone visible differ slightly. If you pick General then AirDrop from Settings, you can choose Receiving Off (no one can see your device), Contacts Only (only contacts can see your device), or Everyone (everyone can see your device).

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Unlike Nearby Share, you won’t see a prompt to become visible if you’re hidden and someone is using AirDrop nearby—you’re either visible or you’re not. Like Nearby Share, no matter what your visibility settings, you’re still going to have to manually approve transfer requests before any data gets moved over.

Google Maps Dark Mode and More Useful Android Features Are Rolling Out Today

Illustration for article titled Google Maps Dark Mode and More Useful Android Features Are Rolling Out Today

Image: Google

While we wait for Android 12 to officially go live later this year, Google has a bunch of tweaks and updates coming to Android this spring.

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.

Gif: Google

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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.

Finally, an official dark mode for Google Maps.

Finally, an official dark mode for Google Maps.
Image: Google

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.

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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.

Here’s what the new scheduled sending options will look like in Google Messages.

Here’s what the new scheduled sending options will look like in Google Messages.
Image: Google

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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.”

Chrome Beta Lets iOS Users Lock Incognito Tabs With Face and Touch ID

Illustration for article titled Chrome Beta Lets iOS Users Lock Incognito Tabs With Face and Touch ID

Photo: Kimihiro Hoshino (Getty Images)

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.

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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.

Chrome Removed The Great Suspender Extension, But Don’t Mourn Your Lost Tabs Just Yet

Illustration for article titled Chrome Removed The Great Suspender Extension, But Dont Mourn Your Lost Tabs Just Yet

Photo: Mark Lennihan (AP)

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.

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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”.

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.

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Android TV Is Getting a Big Update With a New Discovery Page

Illustration for article titled Android TV Is Getting a Big Update With a New Discovery Page

Image: Android TV

The Android TV experience is getting an upgrade.

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.

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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.

Firefox 85 Ditches Flash and Boosts Privacy Protections

Illustration for article titled Firefox 85 Ditches Flash and Boosts Privacy Protections

Photo: LEON NEAL / Staff (Getty Images)

Do you hear that? It’s the last dying breaths of Adobe Flash, which might finally be rendered obsolete by Mozilla’s release of Firefox 85 on Tuesday.

Up until now, Firefox had been the last of the old guard to support Flash. Apple first dissed the software in 2010 by banning it from iPhones and then again in 2020 by refusing to support it with Safari 14, and Google and Microsoft both jettisoned it earlier this year with the releases of Chrome version 88 and Edge 88, respectively. Although the software was an early pioneer for gaming, video and animation on the web, Adobe had previously announced a long-term strategy to halt updates to and distribution of the Flash Player, encouraging creators to migrate any reliant content over to the more modern open formats.

In addition to some notable omissions, Firefox 85 has also added some interesting new features, including network partitioning that works to protect users from supercookie tracking by splitting the browser cache on a per-website basis.

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“Over the years, trackers have been found storing user identifiers as supercookies in increasingly obscure parts of the browser, including in Flash storage, ETags, and HSTS flags,” Mozilla wrote in a blog post. “The changes we’re making in Firefox 85 greatly reduce the effectiveness of cache-based supercookies by eliminating a tracker’s ability to use them across websites.”

Other big additions include changes to how bookmarked pages are stored within the browser and an option to remove all saved credentials by clicking a single button, which could make life easier for users who share a computer or need to clear out their browser for privacy reasons.

How to Use the New Chrome Actions to Boost Your Browser Productivity

Illustration for article titled How to Use the New Chrome Actions to Boost Your Browser Productivity

Screenshot: Google Chrome

Chrome 87 brings with it a very handy new capability: Chrome Actions. Essentially, it turns your browser’s address bar (or omnibox) into a command prompt, so you can access various tools and functions without having to delve into menus and navigate around dialog boxes.

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The trick is in knowing what actions are Chrome Actions, though you’ll see suggestions for some pop up as you type. Google says the feature is rolling out slowly, so you might not see it just yet, but you can at least make sure you’re upgraded to the latest version of Chrome first by selecting Help then About Google Chrome from the browser menu. (We outline the currently available Chrome Actions below, but there are apparently more on the way.)

Once you’ve typed out a phrase, you should see the relevant action button underneath, which you’ll need to click to confirm (in our version of Chrome, at least, it’s not enough to just type out the phrase and then hit Enter). As XDA Developers points out, each action can be launched in many different ways.

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Give these a try in the omnibox with Chrome Actions enabled.

“Clear browsing data”

As you would expect, this one takes you straight to the browsing data pop-up, where you can wipe your browsing history, cookies, hosted data, and more. You can choose which types of data get erased, and you can choose how far back through Chrome history you want to go using the drop-down at the top.

You’ll automatically be taken to the Advanced tab of the dialog, which gives you a little bit more control over the information that you’re wiping. Note that if data is being synced between devices (such as your browsing history), then it’ll be wiped from all your devices at once, so double-check what you’re deleting before clicking on Clear data.

Individual Chrome Actions can be phrased in a variety of ways, but they all lead to the same shortcut. You can also type in “wipe cache, “wipe data, “remove history, “info erase, “history clear,” and “delete history” to trigger this action, but they all lead to the same place inside Chrome.

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“Manage passwords”

Chrome has evolved into a capable password manager in recent years, and you can use this text shortcut to quickly view all the passwords the browser has saved. You’ll be taken to your main password list, where you can search through the passwords you’ve stored (using the box in the top right corner) and check if any of your passwords may have been compromised.

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Click the eye symbol next to any password to view the login credentials, or click the three dots to the side of any password to copy or remove it. Whenever you try and reveal or interact with a password, you’ll need to enter the password for the user account on your computer to prove you are who you say you are for an added layer of security.

Other phrases you can deploy here include “change password, “credentials edit, “show passwords, “password view, or “view credentials”—they will all bring the same action button up and lead to the same screen.

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Illustration for article titled How to Use the New Chrome Actions to Boost Your Browser Productivity

Screenshot: Google Chrome

“Manage payment methods”

Chrome can store your card details and autofill them when needed, and this shortcut lets you get straight to the list of saved cards. You can edit your current payment methods, add new ones, and more—basically, it’s the same as choosing Settings then Payment methods from the Chrome menu.

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Editing any of your saved payment methods involves launching the Google Pay site, but it only takes a few clicks. You can also tell Chrome not to save your payment information after you enter it on the web, and completely remove any of the listed cards and accounts if you don’t want them stored any longer.

You can bring up the same Chrome Actions box with a variety of other commands, including “edit credit card, “cards edit, “update payments, “change browser payments, “manage cards, and “save cards.

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“Incognito”

One word is all it takes to bring up this particular Chrome Action, although there are other options. You no doubt know how incognito mode works at this stage: None of your browsing history is saved while you’re incognito, and Chrome won’t permanently store cookies on your computer either.

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Remember the limitations of incognito mode as well, in that you’re still going to get tracked if you sign into Facebook, Google, Amazon, or wherever. Downloads are still kept, and your internet service provider will still know all about the various sites you’re visiting (unless you’ve enlisted the services of a VPN).

You can launch it in numerous ways: Type “private window, “enter incognito, “start incognito, “start private mode, “open incognito mode, “private tab launch,” and “private tab” (though you can’t actually have a single private tab—it always has to be a separate window).

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Illustration for article titled How to Use the New Chrome Actions to Boost Your Browser Productivity

Screenshot: Google Chrome

“Translate this”

Google Chrome usually does a good job of translating pages in a foreign language on the fly, but you can also bring up the translation pop-up on demand with this phrase. Chrome will attempt to detect the language that the website is written in, and will give you the choice of converting it to your default language.

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If the languages on screen haven’t been correctly identified, you can click the three dots on the right of the pop-up dialog to specify the language to use. It’s also possible to turn off translation completely for the page that you’re currently on.

Other ways that you can get this Chrome Action button to appear include typing “webpage change language, “translate page, “change language page, “browser translate page, “webpage translate,and “Chrome page translate.

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“Update Chrome”

Earlier we mentioned how to check to make sure you’re running the latest version of Google’s browser, but this Chrome Action makes the process even more straightforward. It’s a good example of how these actions can save you some time.

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You can see what version of Chrome you’re currently running and update it if necessary. Chrome is usually good at keeping itself up to date, but this is a handy backup.

Other commands that will work here are “browser update, “Chrome upgrade, “install browser, “upgrade browser, and “install Google Chrome. As long as your phrase is something close to that, the action will show up.

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YouTube, Gmail, and Everything Else Google, Is Down Right Now [Update: Everything Should Be Back]

Illustration for article titled YouTube, Gmail, and Everything Else Google, Is Down Right Now [Update: Everything Should Be Back]

Illustration: YouTube.com

It’s not just you. YouTube, Gmail, and just about every conceivable Google-based service, from Google Docs to Google Play Movies to Google Calendar, is down right now across several parts of the globe, including the U.S., UK, Japan, India, and Australia, among a host of other countries.

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Other services that appear to be impacted by the outage are Google Classroom, Google Home, and Nest, which is also owned by Google. Down Detector also reports that Discord has been having trouble since at least 7:04 a.m. ET. as well.

“We are aware that many of you are having issues accessing YouTube right now – our team is aware and looking into it. We’ll update you here as soon as we have more news,” Team YouTube said in a tweet Monday morning.

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We’d love to email Google for comment about this outage, but Gizmodo’s email also uses Google. Time to fire up that old Hotmail account from 1998.

Google search appears to be functioning, at least from the home page, though there were earlier reports that even search wasn’t working.

Google’s own Workspace Status Dashboard shows virtually everything glowing red, including Google Maps, Google Analytics, and Google Voice.

Curiously, YouTube appears to be working in Incognito mode on the Google Chrome browser, which is signed out of any accounts by default, though it’s not immediately clear why.

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The Google Home outage seems to be leaving some people quite literally in the dark, like former Gizmodo editor-in-chief Joe Brown, who can’t turn on the lights in his toddler’s room.

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Other users report the Nest outage is leaving them without the ability to turn on the heat.

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Update, 7:50 a.m. ET: Anecdotally, we can say that Gizmodo staffers in Australia and Canada both have access to Gmail and YouTube again. We’ve reached out to Google and are still waiting to hear back about the cause of the outage and what parts of the globe might still be experiencing trouble.

Update, 11:44 a.m. ET: Google sent Gizmodo the following statement:

Today, at 3.47AM PT Google experienced an authentication system outage for approximately 45 minutes due to an internal storage quota issue. Services requiring users to log in experienced high error rates during this period. The authentication system issue was resolved at 4:32AM PT. All services are now restored. We apologise to everyone affected, and we will conduct a thorough follow up review to ensure this problem cannot recur in the future.

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You Need to Update Chrome Right Now

Illustration for article titled You Need to Update Chrome Right Now

Photo: Alexander Hassenstein / Staff (Getty Images)

Google rolled out Chrome version 86.0.4240.198 on Wednesday in response to two zero-day vulnerabilities discovered in the wild—the fourth and fifth security flaws discovered in the browser in the last three weeks alone.

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Although Google has not made details about the attacks involving the zero-days public, the company was reportedly alerted to the vulnerabilities by anonymous sources on Monday and Wednesday. The first three zero-days, which were found on October 20 and November 2, were discovered internally by Google security researchers.

In the changelog for Chrome 86.0.4240.198, the security fixes are listed as an “inappropriate implementation in V8,” and a “use after free in site isolation” memory corruption bug.

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Generally, zero-days are only exploited in a small number of selected targets, meaning there’s no immediate cause for panic if your browser hasn’t been updated in a while. Still, its recommended that users protect themselves by downloading Chrome 86.0.4240.198 when they can by “help” and then “about Google Chrome” on the browser’s main menu.