News Weekly: Fitbit Ace LTE launch, Google suffers a worldwide outage, and more

Fitbit Ace LTE promo hero
(Image credit: Fitbit / Google)
News Weekly

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(Image credit: Android Central)

News Weekly is our column, where we highlight and summarize some of the week's top stories so you can catch up on the latest tech news.

This is Android Central's News Weekly, your go-to source for a concise roundup of the week's most significant tech stories. This is where we delve into the top headlines that provide the latest developments and innovations contributing to the digital landscape. 

This week, Google launched its kid-safe Fitbit Ace LTE watch, some of Google's services suffered a massive outage, six new Chromebooks have arrived, Android dropped its June update, and some of the Samsung Galaxy Ring's features leaked.

Another kid friendly watch arrives

Fitbit Ace LTE

(Image credit: Google)

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Earlier this week, Google dropped yet another wearable, but this time, for a different audience—kids. The Fitbit Ace LTE arrived, but the hook is it comes with a subscription, like most gadgets these days. While it resembles the Fitbit Versa 4 or Sense 2, the Ace LTE comes with features similar to the  Pixel Watch 2

This new wearable is water resistant up to 50 meters, while the screen uses Corning Gorilla Glass 3. Regarding connectivity, the watch has 4G LTE, 2.4GHz Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0, and even NFC, which will eventually enable tap-to-pay functionality, likely via Google Wallet.

The watch comes with six games out of the box that will get kids moving. The goal is "at least 60 minutes of physical activity per day," and kids get "awards" for building streaks on the watch. 

When it comes to security, the new Fitbit Ace app allows parents to control and monitor everything their children are doing with the watch. This includes adding up to 20 trusted contacts for your kids to call or text, viewing their location, and more. Parents can set up School Time to keep apps/ notifications on the watch restricted to avoid distractions during school hours.

This new smartwatch, priced at $229.95, will be available from Google and Amazon starting June 5. Additionally, for cellular connectivity, parents must sign up for the "Ace Pass," which costs $9.99 per month or $119.99 per year.

A 'slow news' day at Google

The Google News outage on May 31, 2024

(Image credit: Android Central)

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Early Friday morning (May 31), users worldwide started experiencing issues with the Google News service, which compiles news specific to each user. 

The website Downdetector confirmed the outage, which was spotted by Android Central. When users visited the Google News page, it displayed upside-down ice cream cones with an error message: "Uh-oh, something went wrong. Please try again." 

It wasn't just Google News that was down—creating new documents in Google Drive was throwing up errors, too, and our staff wasn't able to get some two-factor authentication dialogs to appear on my phone, which also relies on Google services.

However, after multiple hours of downtime, Google's services began to stabilize. Eventually, the situation was resolved and users were able to get back into their Google services.

Chromebooks galore from Acer, ASUS, and HP

Acer Chromebook Plus Spin 714 Intel Core Ultra promo

(Image credit: Acer)

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On Tuesday (May 28), Acer, ASUS, and HP announced six new Chromebooks, including five Chromebook Plus models and a ChromeOS tablet. 

Acer is updating two of its offerings, including the Chromebook Plus moniker. The new Acer Chromebook Plus Spin 714 is powered by Intel's Core Ultra 5. It sports a 14-inch touchscreen display, a 1440p QHD webcam, and multiple ports.

Next up is the Chromebook Plus 516 GE—much like its predecessor, the Chromebook 516 GE, it continues to include many of the same design choices and features. This one can be used for cloud gaming due to the 16-inch, 2560x1600, 120Hz display. The Chromebook Plus 516 GE is powered by Intel's 13th Gen. Both of these Chromebooks will be available this month, with prices starting at either $699 or $749.

Asus is introducing two new Chromebooks. The Chromebook Plus CX34 is the company's flagship. It has a traditional 14-inch screen, is powered by the 13th-generation Intel Core i5, and can be configured with or without a touchscreen. 

Meanwhile, the Chromebook CM30 is the first ChromeOS-powered tablet for consumers since Lenovo's Chromebook Duet 3. The CM30 is bundled with a magnetic stand cover, keyboard, and a USI stylus, which is great for multitasking and switching between gaming to writing down notes or using the CM30 as a drawing tablet.

HP also refreshed its Chromebook lineup with the Chromebook Plus x360, a 2-in-1 14-inch touchscreen and long battery life. It also unveiled a budget-friendly option, HP Chromebook 14, featuring a 14-inch display, 1080p webcam, and over 12 hours of battery life.

Additionally, Google announced that Chromebooks are getting a slew of GenAI features powered by Gemini and that anyone who buys a new Chromebook Plus model will receive 12 months of Google One AI Premium for free.

Android's June feature drop brings all things fun

Google's June 2024 feature drop for Android.

(Image credit: Google)

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Android's June feature drop for Android kicks off with an edit button finally arriving in Google Messages. If you're texting in an RCS-supported thread, users can now long-press and edit the text message within 15 minutes of it being sent. 

A pencil icon (edit) will appear on the top bar of Messages. Tapping it will restructure the writing field to say "edit message," followed by the earlier drafted text. Users can correct mistakes or add to it and then hit the check mark. 

While we are on the topic of texting, this feature update will also bring "Emoji Sticker Combinations," which fuse two of your selected emojis for a unique new creation. For example, the company states users can pick the disco ball and headphones, which creates a glittery new emoji sticker.

Users with Wear OS devices, like the Pixel Watch or Pixel Watch 2, are receiving an update to better manage their "favorite" smart home devices. A Google Home Favorites tiles and complications will let users easily view and control device functions like unlocking your door, managing the lights, or changing the temperature.

The June update wraps up with a quick tease of the "Instant hotspot" feature that allows users to connect their Android tablets or Chromebooks to their phone's hotspot, which will be "coming soon."

Precious Galaxy ring might never go missing

Eyes on with the Samsung Galaxy Ring at MWC 2024

(Image credit: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)

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Unlike Sauron from "The Lord of the Rings," losing your Galaxy Ring will not send you on a hunt for it. 

According to an APK deep dive by Android Authority, the Samsung Find app has a "Lost Mode" for the Galaxy Ring. Certain strings in the code suggest the Galaxy Ring will feature a blinking light on its body so users can find it.

 A few string examples include "Tap start to make the light on your ring blink" and "Ring light is blinking."

Another string will appear if your phone can't reach the Galaxy Ring. The example reads, "couldn't connect to Ring to start blinking."

The publication's APK findings show that users must first enable "Lost Mode" through the Samsung Find app. The ring is also said to have a secure lock feature that will come in handy to safeguard user-specific data on the ring. 

Those are some of the biggest stories from this week. Meanwhile, here are some other stories that are worth catching up on:

Nandika Ravi
News Editor

Nandika Ravi is an Editor for Android Central. Based in Toronto, after rocking the news scene as a Multimedia Reporter and Editor at Rogers Sports and Media, she now brings her expertise into the Tech ecosystem. When not breaking tech news, you can catch her sipping coffee at cosy cafes, exploring new trails with her boxer dog or leveling up in the gaming universe.