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Google sets a date, feds flex, and WhatsApp goes pin-crazy in this week’s news

The biggest announcements of the year for the Android platform are coming in a matter of weeks, as Google has finally set a date for I/O 2024. At the same time, Apple’s dragging its feet, holding Google back from releasing a feature we’ve been eagerly anticipating for months. But we finally got official word on the next big midrange phone, and it won’t be from Samsung — at least in the US. Speaking of, the American government exerted a bit of power on the tech world, and WhatsApp seems to think the pin is mightier than the sword in this week’s top five Android headlines.
Don’t Miss Catch up on last week’s biggest Android headlines here Android loses its emulator edge as Apple trims the hedge on its walled garden in this week’s news
Google’s Find My Device network is coming, if only Apple would let it
Google already has a Find My Device feature that lets you locate or remotely wipe lost and stolen phones, but it has fallen behind Apple’s Find My Network in recent years. We got wind of a new Find My Device network for Android last year that will let you locate a phone even when it’s not connected to the internet, and in some cases, when it’s powered off completely.
The breadcrumbs kept piling up in the ensuing months, and we learned that Google and Apple were working together on one aspect of this new system that would help put an end to AirTag stalking — and this week, we found out that Apple’s dragging its feet on its end of this deal, and that appears to be the only thing holding Google back from debuting its revamped Find My Device network. But it should be worth the wait, even for existing devices, as we also learned that Android 15 will bring the Powered Off Finding feature to select models like the Pixel 8 series.
Full Story Android 15 will let you find your Pixel 8 even when it’s off The feature could launch with the Pixel 9 and expand to older phones — just don’t hold your breath for Pixel Fold support
The US government flexes on tech
After sitting on the sidelines watching our EU counterparts benefit from their government’s consumer-friendly measures, those of us in the US got to see our leaders stand up to Big Tech this week — we’re just not so sure their motivations are pure. The US House overwhelmingly voted in favor of forcing the sale of TikTok, paving the way for a potential ban on the social media app if ownership isn’t transferred to a company the government doesn’t see as a security threat.
In less xenophobic news, the FCC actually did something to help consumers for once — it increased the threshold required for telecoms to advertise their internet service as “Broadband” from 25Mbps to 100Mbps. This move is meant to keep the industry moving forward with bandwidth-widening efforts, and it also sees the minimum upload speeds to qualify as broadband skyrocket from 3Mbps to 20.
Full Story The House has taken a key step toward banning TikTok in the US Legislators are threatening a ban if the app isn’t sold by its China-based owner
WhatsApp goes pin-crazy
In 2017, WhatsApp debuted the ability to pin up to three conversations to the top of your chats list. From there, there was radio silence on the pin front for years, but this week, Meta’s messenger made it the object of its attention with multiple beta releases.
First, WhatsApp started allowing users to pin up to five chats to the top of the app’s main menu for easy access to your favorite conversations. Then, after debuting a separate feature last month that allowed you to pin a message to the top of an individual chat or group thread, WhatsApp decided that threshold needed to be upped, too, as it has now started allowing users to pin up to three messages within a chat.
Pixel 8a gets confirmed, but it won’t have to face off against Samsung in the US
With the Pixel 7a going up for sale in early May last year, we had a pretty good idea that the Pixel 8a might be coming soon. Now, we still don’t know the exact release date, but we’re certain the phone is coming, as Google slipped up and officially confirmed the Pixel 8a in an Issue Tracker comment. Earlier in the week, Samsung announced its new Galaxy A55 series, preemptively giving the Pixel 8a a run for its money in many global markets. However, we then learned the A55 won’t be making its way to the US this year, so it looks like the 8a might be running largely unopposed there.
One less competitor in its home market is good news for Google, as Samsung’s flagships have been selling like hotcakes this year in the US. And while its midrange phone may not have to face stiff competition, it’s looking like the Google Pixel Watch 2 could have to square off against a rectangular Galaxy Watch 7.
Full Story Samsung isn’t bringing its Pixel 8a competitor to the US this year Galaxy fans will have to pick between the A35 or the S23 FE
Google I/O 2024 is less than two months away
Finally, Google released its annual I/O teaser puzzle this week, urging us to “Twist, turn, and teleport” our way to the answer (when I say “we,” I’m obviously referring to the Android community on the whole, because I totally got stuck on level 7), and now we know that Google I/O will take place on May 14, 2024. The puzzle is still up, though, and it’s pretty addicting, so you might want to give it a go while you’re waiting.

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