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Weekly Update - October 29, 2022: Workspace Individual features, YouTube update, Twitter sale


Are you ready for Halloween? There are lots of spooky features across the web that should help get you into the mood. 

Also this week: Elon Musk takes over Twitter, Google Workspace Individual gives solopreneurs more features (and 1 TB storage), YouTube launches a new design for more immersive viewing, and much more.

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Goodbye to Hangouts

This is it, the final week for Hangouts. It’s currently only available at and that will start redirecting to Google Chat on November 1. Here’s what you need to know.

Halloween Treats

Here are some options for getting into the Halloween spirit: 

Get a website ready for next Halloween. Starting November 8 you can register a .boo domain to use for a spooky site.

YouTube says #HalloweenMood is a new trend in Shorts. Creators show themselves or an object, then when the beat drops to the song “Zombie Rave” there’s a transformation into something Halloweeny.

And don’t forget the YouTube Audio Library has free sound effects you can use to add a spooky ambiance to your videos (on and off YouTube).

Google Trends for Halloween is Google Frightgeist site. See top searched-for costumes in your area (of the US) or use the Costume Wizard to get a costume suggestion that’s unique in your area.

Emoji Kitchen (unofficial site) mashes up different emoji to create new ones. You can use it to create jack-o’-lanterns with all sorts of faces. If you use the Gboard keyboard on your Android device, Emoji Kitchen is built in, and will mash up the emoji you select.

At you can also create Emoji Wallpaper, like the background for this week’s newsletter header. You can get that for yourself here.

Use Halloween Art Filters in the Google Arts and Culture app to give yourself a scary look. These are 3D augmented reality filters based on works of art. And go to their Halloween page for seasonal games and art from around the world.

Meta's Facebook, Messenger and Instagram are partnering with the new Halloween Ends movie. Start a chat with @HalloweenMovie on Facebook, then upload your scariest #KillerReels to enter to win a meetup with Jamie Lee Curtis in a custom Meta Horizons World. There’s also a Spooky Vibes chat theme in Messenger and Instagram.

TikTok has spooky effects to use when creating a video, and Halloween hashtags to use or view.

Snapchat has Halloween Lenses, new Bitmoji costumes, and on October 31 they are bringing back the haunted theme Snap Map.

There are zombies on Waze. You can either drive with the zombies or try to escape.

At The Verge, Jennifer Pattison Tuohy shows how to use your smart home devices to make your house more haunted. She has suggestions for Google Nest, Alexa and Ring and more.

More Google Workspace Individual Features

Google Workspace Individual has been updated to include 1TB storage and more features. A Workspace Individual subscription can be added to your personal Google account to give you access to premium features in Google Meet (including breakout rooms, live streaming to YouTube and recording), Gmail, Calendar and Docs.

I’ve written up an overview of Google Workspace Individual features here.

I personally think it’s worth it just for the Meet video calling features, and 1 TB storage makes it even sweeter.

Note that if you only want longer meetings, recording and live streaming to YouTube, those are included with a Google One 2 TB+ subscription in 24 countries.

More immersive video viewing on YouTube

This week YouTube started rolling out an updated more immersive design.
  • Ambient mode, where “gentle colors” from the video spill out on the the background in dark theme. (Yes, you can opt out)
  • Dark theme is darker
  • Playlist pages have a new design, with a larger cover thumbnail image and more information about the videos in the list
  • YouTube links in video descriptions are now buttons
  • Like, share, download and subscribe buttons have a new look
  • Thumbnails have rounded corners on your channel, subscribe feed, home page, playlists and so forth
  • Pinch to zoom lets you zoom in on the video you’re watching up to 8x (Android and iOS YouTube app only)
  • Precise seeking lets you find a precise moment in a video
  • For channels with Memberships, the “Join” button will be shown after someone subscribes (mobile only)

The new design should be available to you in the next few weeks.

More YouTube and Video Updates

Your YouTube channel’s content is being split into three separate tabs: video (long form), Shorts, and live.

Creator Music will soon be available to YouTube creators in the US. This new video from the YouTube Creators channel has a good overview on how it works. It will give creators an easy way to license music for their YouTube videos. But there are some limitations and complexities. Watch the video for all the details.

Data Stories are rolling out in the YouTube Studio App. These give you an easy to understand overview of your stats and some food for thought.

YouTube now lets licensed healthcare professionals apply for health product features, including having their content appear on the health content shelf. Other requirements include at least 2000 hours valid public watch time in the past year, a focus on health related content, and adherence to the monetization guidelines (even without monetizing their channel).

On Snapchat, “Director Mode” advanced video editing tools are being made available to all creators in the iOS app. It should soon be available in the Android app.


Google Chat is getting custom emojis. These will be available for Google Workspace for Business and Education. Admins can designate an “emoji manager” for their organization, who can delete any custom emoji that violate their organization's policies.

Google Meet has improved support for hearing aids on Android devices. If hearing aids are connected, Meet will default to using them. If the hearing aids have a microphone, that will be used by default as well.

Google Meet and Zoom conference room hardware are now interoperable. That is great news for businesses that are using both video meeting platforms.Meet will also work on Android-based meeting room hardware, as well as ChromeOS based hardware.

Social Media: Musk owns Twitter

It’s a done deal: Elon Musk is the new owner of Twitter. What will this mean for the platform? It’s all speculation at the moment. There may be few changes, at least for the time being. I don’t think that there will be a major purge of “fake” accounts (don’t want popular tweeters to have a big follower drop!), and Musk is reassuring advertisers that it isn’t going to turn into a “free-for-all hellscape”.

But cybersecurity expert (and former Chief Security Officer of Facebook) Alex Stamos points out that Musk has a significant conflict of interest. Tesla gets a significant percentage of its revenue from China, and needs minerals from Brazil, so he needs to cozy up to authoritarian governments to further his business interests. Those governments may pressure him to allow content that is usually removed as part of influence campaigns or to remove labels indicating state media accounts.

And it isn’t clear that Twitter under Musk will continue their legal work to defend free speech.

And it really isn’t clear if Musk fully appreciates that most of the problems Twitter has aren’t engineering problems, but rather people problems. It’s politics and complying with privacy and content laws and moderation. Especially moderation. As Nilay Patel at The Verge put it (read this!):
The essential truth of every social network is that the product is content moderation, and everyone hates the people who decide how content moderation works.
Meanwhile, an internal report suggests that Twitter has been losing its most active users “since the pandemic began”. A key takeaway: “"heavy tweeters" account for less than 10% of monthly overall users but generate 90% of all tweets and half of global revenue.” And all it takes to be a heavy tweeter is signing in most days and tweeting 3-4 times a week. It’s a bit scary to think that I’m in that top 10%!

Alienate the “heavy tweeters” who are generating the revenue and that could be Twitter’s demise. It will be interesting to see how it goes.

Social Media: Meta, Facebook and Instagram

Facebook Groups have new features to “build the culture” of the community. There are now Reels in Groups, you can share a Group Event to an Instagram Story, admins can highlight community contributions, and they are testing profile customization to highlight information you want to share with your community. There are also new tools to help admins moderate their Groups.

Apple updated the App Store policy to require iOS developers use in-app purchases for the sale of post “boosts” in social media apps. Apple takes a 30% cut of in-app purchases. This change mostly affects Facebook and Instagram, which let people pay to expand the reach of their posts.

Photos and Images

Has Getty Images killed free stock image site Unsplash with ads and upsells? Tim Denning says "As a result the good photographers ran for the hills. Where did they go? Over to Pexels dot com." Pexels and its sister site Pixabay are owned by design platform Canva.

Google has quietly acquired Alter (formerly Facemoji), an AI avatar startup. Someone “familiar with the matter” suggested Google will use Alter to improve its content offerings to “compete with TikTok”.

Google shared an overview of new Photos features for the Pixel 7 and 7 Pro. There are new collage templates, and you can edit old photos to improve lighting, make photos less blurry, add portrait blur and more (Some of the features may be available on other devices)

SmugMug acquired the This Week in Photos podcast, which will continue to host a group on Flickr.

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: Emoji wallpaper by (source)