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Google Assistant for Google Maps lets you share your ETA, reply to text messages, play music and more

Starting to roll out today, the Assistant can help you navigate in Google Maps for Android and iOS. With just your voice, you'll be able to share your ETA with friends and family, reply to text messages, play music and podcasts, search for places along your route, add a new stop and auto-punctuate your message.

On Android, the Assistant works with messaging services from the following providers: SMS, WhatsApp, Messenger, Hangouts, Viber, Telegram, Android Messages and more. And when you’re driving, the Assistant automatically calculates your ETA from Google Maps if you want to send your arrival time to friends. Just say “Hey Google, take me home,” to open Google Maps and get help from your Assistant on your journey.

Read: Hey Google, what's new with the Assistant at CES this year?
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Smart Reply now available in Hangouts Chat

You may recognize Smart Reply from Gmail, which uses sophisticated machine intelligence to propose responses that help you reply to email conversations quickly. Thanks to similar technology, now you’ll be able to do the same thing in chat threads within Chat. Simply select one of three response options surfaced in a chat or customize your response before you click send.

Hangouts Chat is currently only available for G Suite accounts.

Learn more from Google about why you should try Hangouts Chat:
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The latest on Google messaging: Allo will be retired in favor of Messages, Hangouts Chat and Meet will eventually be available to consumers

Google will shut down Allo in March 2019. They will "take what they’ve learned from Allo and put it to work to make Messages even better."

How to export your conversation history from Allo

Google has been working with the mobile industry to develop RCS in Android Messages - enhanced text messaging with features like the ability to chat over WiFi, create rich group chats, see typing indicators and read receipts, and share high-resolution photos and videos across platforms.

Some Allo features like Smart Reply, GIFs and desktop support usage already been added to Messages.

Google's latest news about RCS

Duo will continue to be Google's consumer video calling service. Duo is available for Android, iOS, and Chromebooks, and allows one-to-one video calling.

Classic Hangouts will be around until Hangouts Chat and Hangouts Meet are available to consumers

Hangouts Meet and Hangouts Chat are designed for team collaboration, and are currently only available to G Suite customers.

Google says ”at some point [Hangouts Meet and Chat] will be made available for existing Hangouts users, too. We’re fully committed to supporting Hangouts users in the meantime."

My thoughts:

Despite the jokes about Google's proliferating messaging services, this actually represents a simplification of what they offer:

Messages: SMS and RCS, phone number based accounts

Duo: 1:1 video calling, phone number based accounts and Google accounts (with mobile phone verification)

Classic Hangouts: group video calling and text conversations, Google account based

Hangouts Meet: group video calling, currently G Suite only, user account based

Hangouts Chat: text based conversations, both direct messaging and "Rooms" for collaborative group projects, correctly G Suite only, user account based

Read the full update:
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Skype introduces live captions and subtitles; translation coming soon

Live captions & subtitles are optimized to be fast, continuous, and contextually updated as people speak. Currently, the captions and subtitles auto-scroll in your call, but coming soon, you’ll find additional viewing options, including the ability to scroll through them in their own side window, so you don’t miss a moment—be it in a video or in the live subtitles.

Captions are rolling out in the Android and iOS apps, and Skype for Linux, Mac and Windows. Learn how to use them:

In the coming weeks Skype will be releasing translations that support over 20 languages and dialects, so the subtitles will be in the language you choose.

Read the announcement: Introducing live captions & subtitles in Skype
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Hangouts Meet now allows G Suite Enterprise users to organize meetings with up to 100 participants

G Suite Business users can host up to 50 participants in a Hangouts Meet video call.

Learn more on the +G Suite Updayes blog
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Android Auto now supports apps with MMS and RCS messaging

In addition to SMS messaging, Android Auto now supports apps that use MMS (multimedia messaging service) and RCS (rich communication services). This means that your favorite messaging apps can now offer additional capabilities, like support for group messaging.

You can also enable a short preview of the text when your vehicle is stopped.

That's in addition to improvements to the media player and search.

Learn more about the Android Auto updates
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Facebook's new Portal offers Messenger Video Calling with Amazon Alexa

Powered by AI, Portal’s Smart Camera and Smart Sound technology take all of the guesswork out of video calling, letting you enjoy a more convenient, hands-free experience. Whether you’re cooking in the kitchen or chasing the kids around the living room, *Smart Camera* stays with the action and automatically pans and zooms to keep everyone in view. *Smart Sound* minimizes background noise and enhances the voice of whoever is talking, no matter where they move. It’s like having your own cinematographer and sound crew direct your personal video calls.

The AI technology runs on the local Portal device, and
Facebook says they don’t listen to, view, or keep the contents of your Portal video calls. 

You can also listen to music, watch a limited selection of videos, use Alexa to control your smart devices, order groceries and more.

Read: Introducing Portal From Facebook: New Video Calling Devices to Connect You With Friends and Family
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Learn about Google's Hangouts Meet with +Kyle Salewski and +Michael Daniels .

Live in 15 minutes (5pm Pacific, 8pm Eastern).

Watch it here:
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Switch from the Hangouts Chrome App to the Hangouts Chrome Extension

This is likely due to a change in Chrome, not Hangouts. In 2016 it was announced that Chrome apps would stop working in "early 2018". Apps were, in fact, removed from the Chrome Store for Mac, Windows and Linux in December 2017, but the final deprecation date was postponed.

If you are using the Hangouts Chrome App, and you have updated to Chrome 69, you probably are seeing a notification in the app that it will stop working "soon", although there isn't a specific date given. Eventually you will have to switch to the Extension.

The primary difference between the Hangouts App and Hangouts Extension functionality is that the Hangouts Extension doesn't have a "Transparent UI" option.

The width of the non-transparent UI window can be resized into a relatively narrow column, but there is no way to get the conversation bubbles.

More information in the Hangouts help center:

Get the Hangouts Chrome Extension:

Note that it is not recommended to run both the Extension and the App at the same time.

Announcement in 2016 on the Chromium blog:
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You can now search Android Messages by contact or type of content

After tapping on the search icon, you'll be able to select a specific contact and see your messaging history with them, including one-to-one and group conversations, and all the photos, videos, addresses or links you shared with each other.

The update is rolling out this week.

Get Android Messages, Android's official app for texting (SMS, MMS) and chat (RCS)

Learn more on the Google Blog
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