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Weekly Update - December 18, 2021: Holiday Meets, Twitter Video, Instagram Embeds

This week you can make your virtual holiday parties more festive, watch automatically captioned Twitter videos, and embed your Instagram profile on your website. Plus there are new features for Calendar, Docs, Drive and Slides to improve your productivity into 2022. 

If you are a YouTube creator and partner, be sure to check your AdSense US tax settings (go paperless!) and check out Qaya, Area 120's new merch storefront. Read the details below.

This is the last Weekly Update until 2022! The next edition will be Sunday January 2, then will return to the usual Saturday schedule. There will be an end-of-year round-up in the meantime. Have a wonderful holiday, a merry Christmas and on to the new year!

Reminder: you can get the Weekly Update in nicely-formatted email form by signing up for my newsletter.

Holiday Cheer

Use the new winter holiday background in Google Meet or the (slightly disturbing) Duo AR Christmas tree to make your Christmas meetups more festive.

Zoom has some holiday virtual meetup suggestions, from seasonal games to festive backgrounds.

If you have a Mac or iPad, you can download free customizable holiday Keynote templates from Apple to make your own holiday card.

And for last-minute gifts, Google Photos Print Store lets you order same-day photo prints from CVS, Walmart or Walgreens in the US or at 7-Eleven in Japan.

More Best of 2021

See last week’s post for the best from Google, Reddit, Pinterest and more.

PCMag UK looks at all the tech that died in 2021. Say farewell.

The 2021 Streamy Awards awarded MrBeast Creator of the Year and “30 Days With: Bretman Rock” Show of the Year. TubeFilter has a roundup of all this year's winners (there were many categories).

Snapchat shared their Lens of the Year report, with a review of their top 50 AR Lenses that “revolutionized the way Snapchatters created, explored, learned and played” in 2021.

Spotify’s #2021ArtistWrapped looks back at the year for artists (and lets artists see their own year-end “wrap”). Spotify also looked back at their 2021 updates for creators, including tools, promotions and educational information.

TikTok shared their top 2021 music tracks, from emerging artists to classic hits.

Check Your Settings

If you are a US AdSense publisher or a YouTube Partner with US tax withholding, you can now set up paperless tax documents. That means the end-of-year form 1099 or 1042 will be available in your account, rather than sent by mail. You need to change this setting before December 31 (and while you are there, make sure your address and other tax information is up-to-date).

To Try

Google’s Area 120 launched a new project, Qaya. This offers a web storefront for creators. They currently support both paid and free products, with tipping, subscription and other types of monetization coming soon. It offers analytics, integration with YouTube’s Merch Shelf (requires 10,000+ subscribers), and more. See what creators are selling, and request early access (if you are in the US).

While that might sound interesting, be aware that Area 120 projects often are discontinued. Case in point is Museletter, which announced their imminent shutdown . It was announced in September as a way to create a public profile for your Google Drive, letting you use it as a newsletter platform or offer downloads, but was never offered to the public. So it’s shutting down before it ever really launched.

Top Updates

If you use Microsoft Teams on your Android phone, be sure to update the Teams app. There is an odd bug that prevents some phones from calling emergency services (911) if the Teams app was installed, but not signed in. This update fixes the problem.

Twitter will now automatically caption all videos in the language of the device that uploaded the video. These appear automatically on muted videos on mobile (with no option to turn them off) and on desktop (where clicking the CC button turns the captions on or off).

Instagram has made it easier to promote your content. If you share a public Instagram post on Twitter, you will now see a preview. And if you have your own website or blog you can embed your Instagram profile on your site, with a preview of your most recent images (currently US only).

TikTok launched new video editing tools, including uploading video at 1080p HD, green screen GIFs from GIPHY, one-tap video enhancement, and new animal and musical effects.

YouTube and Video

The YouTube Studio mobile app has a bunch of recent updates in addition to a “fresh new look”: new search filters for comments, new analytics details, ability to appeal monetization limitations, and a currency setting for monetization stats.

YouTube advertiser-friendly guidelines have been updated to allow ads on content about gender identity devices (which resemble genitalia), as long as the videos do not show nudity. Get more details from Creator Insider.

There is a new Shorts grid view on channel pages in the YouTube mobile app.

YouTube Analytics will now show a card highlighting “Videos contributing to audience growth”. Learn more from Creator Insider.

There is also a new YouTube Analytics “Shorts Remixed Content” card, showing an overview of the number of Shorts and views of Shorts made with audio from your content. You can also view all Shorts created with your audio by clicking the pivot button in the bottom right corner of the Shorts player.

Twitch streamers can now see the geographic location of paid subscriptions by country in Channel Insights.

Bloggers and Publishers

Seven takeaways from Google’s Black and Latinx Publishers Summit.

WordPress’s “State of the Word'' highlighted the past year and demo’d some upcoming features. On the roadmap: native multi-lingual support and real-time collaborative editing. Watch the event.

WordPress will be running a blogging challenge in January - “Bloganuary” - with a new writing prompt each day.


Google Meet has improved breakout rooms. Meeting hosts and co-hosts can automatically move people from breakout rooms back to the main meeting room, and participants will see a countdown in the breakout room before they are moved. When people are automatically returned to the main call, their camera and microphone is turned off. This is available to all Google Workspace editions that support breakout rooms, except the Teaching and Learning upgrade (where it will be available next year).


Google Calendar has improved settings so that you can choose whether you automatically add all invites to your calendar, or only add those that you have RSVP’d to in the event email notification.

Add a Maps chip to your Google Docs document simply by pasting a Google Maps link. The chip lets you quickly open the location in Maps, view the location in the Google Maps side panel, and easily find directions to the location. Learn more.

Google Drive now notifies the owner of a file that has been restricted because of violations to the Docs and Drive program policies. Owners can submit an appeal if they believe the content has been incorrectly restricted.

Google Slides editing is now a bit easier, because you can hide the filmstrip that shows all your slides.

A tiny - but useful - update to the Google Calendar mobile app if you have more than one Google account: you will now be able to see your account profile photo at top right. You can switch between accounts by tapping your photo, then selecting a different account. This is available for both iOS and Android.

Search with your camera from Chrome in Android by tapping the Lens icon in the address bar.

The Feedly feed-reader service now lets you pin your favorite sources and boards to the top of your feed list.

Small Business

According to Joy Hawkins at Sterling Sky, the latest vicinity algorithm update in Google local search is seeing the “biggest change since the Hawk update in 2017”. Learn about the change.

Street Fight reports Google Local Guides write most of the reviews of businesses on Google, and their reports are shorter on average.


Parents can upload their children’s drawings to Meta AI Research’s animated drawings prototype to bring them to life. And yes, this works with grown-up’s drawings as well. Learn more.

That’s all the updates for this week. Subscribe to get the Weekly Update in your email inbox or favorite feed reader every week. Miss last week’s update? Get it here.

Image: Christmas tree lights photo by Brett Sayles from Pexels. Free for commercial use.


  1. Hello,,im getting error on step2 regarding adsense, it says Your associated AdSense account is missing required payment details...I have tried closing current adsense acount and deleting payment profile but issue persists...Kindly let me know what needs to be done.

    1. Hi Sandeep, post your issue in the official YouTube Help Community. I (or another Product Expert) will try to help you out there.
      Post your YouTube question here:


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