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Downdetector shows outage information for websites and services

Downdetector shows outage information and status for widely used websites and services such as  mobile and internet service providers, social media sites, banking and financial services, etc.    This includes:

Android Apps and Utilities Google Operating Systems Smartphones

Android custom distributions (ROMs) for smartphones and tablets

Android custom distributions (ROMs) are replacement operating systems for Android smartphones and tablets.  This allows users to customize older devices that may not have available Android updates and extend their service life.   This may erase data and void your device’s warranty.  Available security updates are usually based on the Android Open Source Project (AOSP).  More information is at

Google Hardware Operating Systems

Chrome OS automatic updates may not be available for older devices

Google’s Chrome OS is a secure choice for an operating system, but older devices may no longer be supported.  When a Chrome device reaches its Auto Update Expiration (AUE) date, automatic updates from Google will no longer be provided.

IFixit has instructions on how to convert a working Chromebook past its expiration date to use CloudReady.

Apps and Utilities Facebook Google

Google Meet, Skype Meet Now and Facebook Messenger Rooms video meeting tools

Google, Microsoft and Facebook all announced changes or updates to their video meeting tools in April 2020.   These are alternatives to the popular Zoom video chat software.

Video meeting tool Google Meet is now available free of charge for all users.  This will be a gradual rollout within the next few weeks. Users must sign in with their Google account, but Meet works entirely in a web browser and does not require downloads first.

Skype Meet Now is a different video meeting tool which does not require a sign-up or installation.  A unique Meet Now link can be requested from Skype or a web browser.

Facebook has also announced its new meeting tool – Facebook Messenger Rooms. Invited attendees do not need a Facebook account to attend the video meeting and downloads are not required. Rooms is not end-to-end encrypted. This is in addition to their Facebook Workplace and Facebook Work Groups services.

Apps and Utilities Google

Google services outages tracked on G Suite Status Dashboard

Google experienced some outages on March 26th 2020 that were tracked on its G Suite Status Dashboard. This included Gmail, Google Drive, Google Docs and other services.

Apple Google Hardware

Major tech companies working on new smart home device standards

Apple, Google, and other tech companies have announced the formation of a new project to set up new common communication standards for smart home devices.   Project Connected Home over IP will allow smart home devices from different manufacturers to communicate with one another using an open standard with built-in security.

Apps and Utilities Cloud Google

Google Drive and Gmail free storage limited to 15 GB

Google accounts start with 15 GB of total storage spread across Google Drive, Gmail, and Google Photos.   Once this limit is exceeded, users have the option of upgrading to a Google One plan.

You may check the total amount of storage currently used for your Google account at   Google also provides instructions on how to free up additional storage.

Google Web Browsers

Dynamic email coming to Gmail on July 2nd 2019

Google announced the upcoming general availability of Dynamic email for Gmail on July 2nd 2019.  AMP for Gmail allows email users to use emails like web pages for data entry and other purposes.  Users who wish to send this type of email must be approved by Google first.

Google Hardware Security

Google offers free replacement BLE Titan Security Keys for security issue

Google issued a security notice on its Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) Titan Security Keys and is offering a free replacement for affected keys.  A new key may be requested at

Apps and Utilities Google Smartphones

Google Duo video phone call app

Google Duo is a high quality video phone call app that works with smartphones, tablets, and computers.  It is available using web access with a Google account, and is also available at iTunes and Google Play.

Online help for Google Duo, including setup and making calls, is available here.