Google adds one-button group chats for Calendar meetings

Ever wish you could quickly share notes before a Google Calendar meeting, or follow up afterward? You can now. Google is trotting out updates to Workspace and G Suite users that let you easily create a group chat with everyone from your organization attending a given meeting. You just have to tap a button near the guest list to start the conversation directly from the event, whether you're on the web or your phone.

This won't work with people outside your organization. You may also have to be patient. Web users on a rapid release track are in the midst of a 15-day rollout that quietly began on September 20th, while mobile users and more cautious companies will have to wait until October 4th.

It's a welcome move, if also an expected one. Google is increasingly unifying its Workspace web apps, including Gmail's growing role as a hub for office conversation. The Calendar expansion is a logical extension — it could make Google's chat service an easy choice for meeting organizers who want to message colleagues.

The original Surface Duo will get Android 11 by the end of this year

If you're the early adopter sort who bought the original Surface Duo, you'll soon get an Android update — if not the one you'd expect in late 2021. Microsoft told The Verge in a statement that it expected to upgrade the first Duo to Android 11 "before the end of this year." The company didn't say what to expect with the update, although it wouldn't be surprising if some Surface Duo 2 features carried over to the older dual-screen phone.

Android 11 on the Duo 2 refines the multitasking experience, such as prioritizing the right-hand screen. Google's OS also includes generally improved support for dual-screen devices, potentially improving support for third-party apps. You might also see Microsoft iron out the Duo's still-buggy software, although that's not guaranteed.

The issue, as you might guess, is the timing. Microsoft is delivering Android 11 right as Google is close to releasing Android 12. Surface Duo owners will still be roughly a year behind their counterparts with conventional phones. That's understandable given the challenges of supporting a dual-screen device, but it won't be much consolation to Duo users wanting to try the latest Android features.

Razer’s Kaira X is a lower-cost headset for console gamers

You're in luck if you liked Razer's Kaira headset but didn't want the added cost or pairing of a wireless model to your console. Razer has launched a $60 Kaira X line that offers the core functionality of its predecessor to PlayStation and Xbox gamers, just with a 3.5mm wired connection — and, of course, a $40 lower price. You'll still get the 50mm "TriForce" drivers (albeit without a titanium-coated diaphragm), cardioid boom mic and on-headset controls, and the cable opens the door to virtually any device with a standard headphone jack.

The differences beyond that largely boil down to color. The Kaira X for PlayStation is available only in a Sony-friendly black-and-white design, while the Xbox variant is available in five hues that include black, white, and three eye-searing colors (blue, red and "volt" green) that match official Xbox Wireless Controllers. Only the more somber colors of either version are available now, though, as the three brighter Xbox options will only be available for pre-order on October 14th.

Don't worry if you're happy to spend more. Razer has also introduced a "White Suite" of Xbox peripherals that include new shades of the Kaira and Kaira Pro as well as a Wolverine V2 gamepad. They're on sale now for the same $100, $150 and $100 respective prices as other versions. You can also pick up a Universal Quick Charging Stand for Xbox controllers for $40, or $50 if you buy one in an Aqua Shift colorway.

Pixel-only Photos and Gboard features are coming to more Android devices

You won't need a Pixel phone to use some of Google's handiest (and in one case, face-preserving) features. Google is rolling out a batch of Android feature upgrades that include perks previously reserved for its in-house devices. Google Photos' Locked Folder is coming to Android 6 and newer devices, for instance — you can create a passcode-protected space to keep certain photos and videos separate from the rest.

Similarly, Gboard's Smart Compose is coming to Android 11 and newer hardware. If you're writing a common phrase or just want to save time, you'll get suggestions to complete messages. And there's good news if you're prone to walking into lamp posts — the Heads Up anti-distracted-walking feature is available through Digital Wellbeing on all Android 9 or later devices.

Other additions are new to all Android devices. Google Assistant now has a central Reminders hub. Nearby Share now includes a much-needed privacy control that can limit visibility to no one, contacts only or everyone. Gboard, meanwhile, can automatically suggest pasting addresses, phone numbers, web links and even screenshots. Over 1,500 new Emoji Kitchen stickers are due in the fall. And if you have an Android TV, you'll find remote control features built into Android on your phone.

This strategy is a familiar one for Google. It tends to bring features to Pixels first before a wider release, whether it's to help sell phones or just to ensure they work well before reaching other devices. Whatever the reasons for the staggered launch here, the greater availability might just be welcome if you're privacy-minded or in a hurry.

Facebook’s chief technology officer is leaving the company after 13 years

Facebook is about to close an important chapter in its history. CNBCreports the social network's chief technology officer, Mike Schroepfer, is stepping down from his role after a total 13 years at the company. He'll move to a part-time position as Facebook's first Senior Fellow at some point in 2022, when he'll help foster talent and improve the development process. The move will let Schroepfer spend more time with his family and philanthropy, according to the CTO's social post.

Hardware lead Andrew "Boz" Bosworth will gradually replace Schroepfer as CTO in 2022. The departing executive made clear that his exit was voluntary — it was a "difficult decision" for someone still excited about Facebook's prospects, he said. Accordingly, company chief Mark Zuckerberg said Schroepfer played a "critical role" and was a "close friend."

Schroepfer first joined Facebook in 2008 as a vice president of engineering. He took the CTO position in 2013.

Bosworth's ascension makes sense for a company increasingly focused on hardware like smart glasses, VR headsets and Portal displays. It's not without some controversy, however. The soon-to-be CTO has authored controversial internal memos in the past, including a 2016 memo seemingly justifying growth at any cost and a 2020 write-up expressing reluctance to fact-check politicians. Boz later said he'd changed his views in response to critiques, but he wasn't exactly known for sensitivity to privacy and misinformation issues in the past.

Whatever the new CTO's current stance might be, it won't be surprising if Facebook shifts its technology priorities. Zuckerberg added that a "few other groups" will join Bosworth as part of the transition, helping Facebook develop its metaverse. While the social media giant is already focusing much of its attention on virtual spaces, they might take an even higher priority under Boz.

Facebook’s chief technology officer is leaving the company after 13 years

Facebook is about to close an important chapter in its history. CNBCreports the social network's chief technology officer, Mike Schroepfer, is stepping down from his role after a total 13 years at the company. He'll move to a part-time position as Facebook's first Senior Fellow at some point in 2022, when he'll help foster talent and improve the development process. The move will let Schroepfer spend more time with his family and philanthropy, according to the CTO's social post.

Hardware lead Andrew "Boz" Bosworth will gradually replace Schroepfer as CTO in 2022. The departing executive made clear that his exit was voluntary — it was a "difficult decision" for someone still excited about Facebook's prospects, he said. Accordingly, company chief Mark Zuckerberg said Schroepfer played a "critical role" and was a "close friend."

Schroepfer first joined Facebook in 2008 as a vice president of engineering. He took the CTO position in 2013.

Bosworth's ascension makes sense for a company increasingly focused on hardware like smart glasses, VR headsets and Portal displays. It's not without some controversy, however. The soon-to-be CTO has authored controversial internal memos in the past, including a 2016 memo seemingly justifying growth at any cost and a 2020 write-up expressing reluctance to fact-check politicians. Boz later said he'd changed his views in response to critiques, but he wasn't exactly known for sensitivity to privacy and misinformation issues in the past.

Whatever the new CTO's current stance might be, it won't be surprising if Facebook shifts its technology priorities. Zuckerberg added that a "few other groups" will join Bosworth as part of the transition, helping Facebook develop its metaverse. While the social media giant is already focusing much of its attention on virtual spaces, they might take an even higher priority under Boz.

Yes, Steve Ballmer actually said ‘toilets, toilets, toilets’

What has Steve Ballmer excited now that he can't channel his boundless enthusiasm into Windows developers? Lavatories, apparently. As ZDNetnotes, the former Microsoft chief (and now LA Clippers owner) told The Washington Post and others that he has been obsessed with toilets at the Clippers' upcoming stadium, the Intuit Dome. And yes, Ballmer declared "toilets, toilets, toilets" — when he repeats a word multiple times, you know he's serious.

This doesn't mean the toilets are about to run Windows or flush water in Microsoft colors. Rather, it's that the Intuit Dome will have an NBA-leading ratio of toilets (one for every 27 seats in the upper deck). Ballmer hates waiting in line for the washroom at a sports arena, and that high ratio will make sure you spend more watching the game than doing your business.

It won't surprise you to hear the Clippers used technology to solve that problem, however. The team used a computer model to estimate how long it would take a fan to use the washroom, grab food and return to their seat. That high toilet-to-fan ratio should help you get back in the space of a typical NBA timeout. Don't laugh too loudly about Ballmer's toilet fixation, then, as you might just appreciate it when nature calls in the middle of a playoff game.

Yes, Steve Ballmer actually said ‘toilets, toilets, toilets’

What has Steve Ballmer excited now that he can't channel his boundless enthusiasm into Windows developers? Lavatories, apparently. As ZDNetnotes, the former Microsoft chief (and now LA Clippers owner) told The Washington Post and others that he has been obsessed with toilets at the Clippers' upcoming stadium, the Intuit Dome. And yes, Ballmer declared "toilets, toilets, toilets" — when he repeats a word multiple times, you know he's serious.

This doesn't mean the toilets are about to run Windows or flush water in Microsoft colors. Rather, it's that the Intuit Dome will have an NBA-leading ratio of toilets (one for every 27 seats in the upper deck). Ballmer hates waiting in line for the washroom at a sports arena, and that high ratio will make sure you spend more watching the game than doing your business.

It won't surprise you to hear the Clippers used technology to solve that problem, however. The team used a computer model to estimate how long it would take a fan to use the washroom, grab food and return to their seat. That high toilet-to-fan ratio should help you get back in the space of a typical NBA timeout. Don't laugh too loudly about Ballmer's toilet fixation, then, as you might just appreciate it when nature calls in the middle of a playoff game.

Now you can use emoji to search for food in Uber Eats

Do you pepper your messages with emoji like they're going out of style? You'll now have an easier time ordering food. Uber Eats has introduced searchable pickup maps that lets you find restaurants by typing not only text, but emoji — a single hamburger or sushi roll could be all you need to locate an eatery. This should save time, of course, but it's also helpful if you're traveling to another country and don't know the word for a given dish.

The map itself shows restaurants relative to your location, with symbols that make it clear what kind of food you'll get. You'll know if a pickup is just around the corner, or if it would be smarter to request delivery instead.

 You can find the searchable map in Uber Eats' app and the web. The addition is well-timed — now that the pandemic is (slowly) easing up, you may be more inclined to pick up your food than wait for a courier. If nothing else, this could improve searches for anyone who grew up with emoji and might not be keen on writing whole words.

Now you can use emoji to search for food in Uber Eats

Do you pepper your messages with emoji like they're going out of style? You'll now have an easier time ordering food. Uber Eats has introduced searchable pickup maps that lets you find restaurants by typing not only text, but emoji — a single hamburger or sushi roll could be all you need to locate an eatery. This should save time, of course, but it's also helpful if you're traveling to another country and don't know the word for a given dish.

The map itself shows restaurants relative to your location, with symbols that make it clear what kind of food you'll get. You'll know if a pickup is just around the corner, or if it would be smarter to request delivery instead.

 You can find the searchable map in Uber Eats' app and the web. The addition is well-timed — now that the pandemic is (slowly) easing up, you may be more inclined to pick up your food than wait for a courier. If nothing else, this could improve searches for anyone who grew up with emoji and might not be keen on writing whole words.