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5 keys to making the Google Pixel 2 a success

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I make it no secret that the Google Pixel was, to me, one of the best smartphones of 2017along with the OnePlus 3 and 3T, of course. And yet, it came with its fair share of flaws that the successor could potentially rectify for an even better experience.

The Pixel 2 and its larger equivalent (Pixel XL 2? Pixel 2 XL?) will arrive on October 4. Unlike the iPhone X launch, however, leaks for the pair have been scarce, with only a handful of renders floating around the web giving us clues.

Even info on the partner manufacturers have been kept under wraps. Rumors point to HTC coming back to create the smaller Pixel, while LG will try their hand at making a Pixel from what they’ve learned designing the V30.

In any case, we’re half a month away from the big reveal, and I’ve compiled my wishlist for what will hopefully be 2017’s best phone.

Please trim the bezels

I think we can all agree that no phone looks more last year than the original Pixel. The thick bezels on the top and bottom with nothing maximizing their space — like stereo speakers or a fingerprint scanner — got scrutinized by critics and consumers alike.

Now that most major brands have jumped on the near-borderless bandwagon, it’s only natural for Google to follow suit. The render above was leaked by Android Police a couple of months ago; it still has that Pixel aesthetic minus the unsightly bezels, but we can’t say for certain if this design will fly. Hopefully, Google has more planned out.

Please make them water-resistant

Another weakness the Pixel phones shared was the lack of any level of water and dust resistance. Yes, this was 2016, but rivals Samsung and Apple added the feature on their own phones at that point after Sony popularized it.

With HTC and LG expected to take the helm and having produced the water-resistant U11 and V30, respectively, chances are high for this feature to pull through for both Pixels. They better.

Please don’t touch the 3.5mm audio port

What do the newly released iPhone X, Essential PH-1, and HTC U11 have in common? You guessed it: no port for headphones and speakers.

Leaked case renders for the Pixel 2 hint at the exclusion of the port, since there’s only one gap that’s seemingly reserved for the more vital USB-C port. I’ve already invested in Bluetooth headphones in anticipation of this year’s complete shift to wireless audio, but unless Google promises a much larger battery capacity in exchange for the loss, I’d rather keep the hole.

Please make them easier to buy

Whether it was Google’s fault for not anticipating the demand of their first-ever smartphone (not counting the Nexus line) or HTC simply not being fast enough in manufacturing, the Pixel and Pixel XL were so difficult to find in stores — especially for the larger storage variants and that Really Blue color.

With more experience under their belt and the possibility of two factories producing the Pixels, this shouldn’t be an issue anymore. And if we’re going to be optimistic, more widespread international availability would be great, as well.

Please focus on designing the best smartphone camera ever

Fun fact: The two top-rated smartphone cameras in the world are created by Google and HTC, based on DxOMark’s ratings. We shouldn’t expect anything less than stellar from the next flagship produced by the two companies.

The question is: Do we want dual cameras on the new Pixel pair? I’m a firm believer that two cameras working in tandem don’t necessarily equate to better image quality — as the original Pixel has proven — but settling for a single shooter may hold back certain sought-after features, something like the iPhone X’s portrait mode and Galaxy Note 8’s optical zoom. Whatever the case, I hope Google applies the same setup for both the regular- and XL-sized models like they did last year.

I’ll be looking back on this list come October 4. Make these happen, Google!

SEE ALSO: HTC U11 Review: Better than the Pixel

Apps

How to hide from Instragram’s new Activity Status feature

It’s on by default!

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Instagram silently rolled out a new feature of its app. If you don’t like your friends to know that you’re online (and also protect your privacy), you might want to take action. Why? Because it’s automatically turned on.

If you have the latest app, you probably noticed something new inside the Direct Messages section. This new feature dubbed “Activity Status” lets your Instagram buddies know if you’re online. If you happen to be scrolling through your timeline moments ago, the status will show that you’ve been available earlier.

This is switched on by default but the data is only shared with users that you follow and those you message privately. There’s no need to panic if you think a stalker will know that you’re online — unless you follow them, too.

How to turn it off?

You can easily switch it off inside the app. Just go to your profile page and tap the top-right icon for Options.

Next, scroll down until you see “Show Activity Status” and switch the toggle button beside.

That’s it! Now that it’s off on your end, your status will not show up to your buddies. Although, you won’t be able to see the status of other accounts as well.

Since the new feature was smoothly included in the recent updates from the Play Store or App Store, it’s not clear when Instagram introduced the function. Some might not have it yet, which could mean it’s still an experimental approach with a limited number of users.

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Automotive

The Best Car Tech of CES 2018

Exciting times ahead!

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We recently wrapped up CES 2018 (see our top picks) and even though the trade show originally revolved around consumer electronics, a big chunk of what was introduced was directed towards connected cities with a focus on making driving a lot smarter.

The idea of self-driving cars surely isn’t new and has been around for quite some time now. It’s basically the concept of what the future is like in addition to flying cars. At this year’s CES, brands who participated made us realize that this “future” isn’t too far away.

Here are some of the most promising cars and car technology that we’re excited to see in the near future.

Assistance

Multiple brands showed off their new toys left and right. There’s the announcement of Amazon’s Alexa coming to cars for voice assistance and content consumption. Toyota will be the next to adapt voice assistance in addition to BMW, Ford, and Hyundai. Meanwhile, Waze has also been integrated into select infotainment systems.

Nissan, on the other hand, is taking the user-machine a step further by introducing the brain-to-vehicle (B2V) technology. It basically uses a system that could read your brain patterns and signals to better prepare for what you’re about to do next while driving.

Platforms

In terms of services, Ford is slightly stepping out of the shadow of car-making and plans to be the new platform for autonomous vehicles. It has partnered with Lyft, Domino’s Pizza, and Postmates to create an operating system which small to large businesses can use for their unique services.

Speaking of unique services, Toyota unveiled its e-Palette concept vehicle which has all the potential to go big in the future of mobility. It’s envisioned as a self-driving vehicle running on Toyota’s tech and platform that other brands can use for food deliveries, as a moving boutique, or even a mobile hotel that you can rent.

As far as ride-sharing goes, expect it to join the bandwagon as smart cities are developed. During the trade show, car tech company Aptiv was present and was hand-in-hand with Lyft as they demonstrated their self-driving cars to the participants of CES. The public could just hail a ride from the Las Vegas Convention Center using the app and enjoy the view of the Strip to their destination.

Additionally, NVIDIA has also added Uber and Volkswagen to their growing roster of brands that will run on the company’s self-driving computer platform.

Cars

Apart from the new platforms, there were cars — quite a lot, actually. From concept to actual models on display, we got a peek at these vehicles that probably want to take on Tesla.

Derived from Bytes on Wheels, BYTON wants to blur the line between digital and automotive with their electric intelligent SUV concept. The new-gen smart device communicates with users and pedestrians via lights and patterns on its grille and recognizes the driver and passengers by face.

Kia was also present with its very own Niro electric crossover. This concept is basically an electric version of the Niro Hybrid but gets a new grille design. Like BYTON, it is now an interactive panel with a built-in Active Pedestrian Warning System, but what makes this something to look forward to is its range. It can go as far 383km (238 miles) before needing to charge again — beating what the Tesla Model 3 can offer.

Car designer Henrik Fisker gave another shot at making vehicles; this time in the form of the EMotion luxury sedan. The vehicle is a level 4 autonomous car and is equipped with the world’s first Butterfly Doors. Fisker also wants to set standards for other EVs so they made the vehicle last up to 644km (400 miles) on the road.

Meanwhile, Hyundai is continuing its push to go green and introduced the NEXO fuel cell electric vehicle. It has a more efficient engine, is a lot quieter, and maintenance is kept to a minimum. Although the best thing about it is that it emits nothing but water vapor. Features-wise, it has autonomous driving, self-parking, self-retrieval — the whole shebang.

In-vehicle Networking

Software updates are an important aspect of vehicles relying on digital systems. Tesla has somehow established its system already but for other car brands, updating hundreds, even thousands of vehicles across a country, is still not an easy task.

Hyundai and Cisco addressed this and aims to overhaul the process of in-vehicle networking. With the use of Ethernet connectivity and the Automotive Linux platform, they promise to be able to roll out updates remotely and it’s as simple as pushing a button.

 

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CES 2018

GadgetMatch Awards: Best of CES 2018

And the winners are…

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Every year at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, we get a glimpse of the best technology of today and tomorrow.

At 2018’s show, there was no shortage of excellent consumers products and innovations. These are our favorites!

Here are the recipients of GadgetMatch’s Best of CES 2018 Awards.

 

Best Consumer Laptop: Acer Swift 7 (2018)

How do you make the world’s thinnest laptop even thinner? Just ask Acer. The new Swift 7 is a refined version of an already superb laptop, making it the most attractive consumer notebook you can buy today.

 

Best Convertible Laptop: Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

Designed with content creators in mind, the Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 is a spectacular computing machine and possibly the most complete 2-in-1 you can buy today. We love its 4K near-borderless InfinityEdge display, new high power graphics chip, and MagLev keyboard!

 

Best Business Laptop: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon

Lenovo continues to stand atop the business laptop segment with their legendary ThinkPad line. The Thinkpad X1 Carbon in particular is a glorious machine that combines traditional precision with technologies of the future. This year’s model comes with an HDR display and Dolby Vision making it very much a machine for play as it is for work. We love Lenovo’s offering of three different flavors: clamshell, 2-in-1, and convertible tablet models.

 

Best Television: LG AI OLED TV with ThinQ

There were a lot of eye-catching televisions, but none were as impressive as LG’s AI OLED TV with ThinQ. LG’s OLED TVs are among the best in the world and now with deep Google Assistant and Alexa integration, you’ll feel like you’re watching with your best friend inside your living room.

 

Best Smart Vehicle: Byton Concept Car

Artificial intelligence was the thread that tied many CES 2018 announcements together, and no car maker pulled the technology off better than Byton. The Byton smart intuitive concept car takes AI integration to another level with some of the best tech we’ve ever seen in the modern automotive industry. Everything about this concept car screams the future: unlocking doors with your eyes, a spacious screen filled cabin, and autonomous driving.

 

Best Smartphone: Honor View 10

Huawei continues to make rivals shiver with the unveiling of the Honor View 10. This midrange smartphone offers the same artificial intelligence-backed Kirin 970 processor found on Huawei’s top-of-the-line Mate 10 Pro which also made its US debut at CES this week. We’re excited about the promise of AI on phones at this price point. Thanks to AI, the View 10 will also have the same smart camera that can detect subjects and scenes for the best shot every time. In its price segment, there’s nothing quite like the Honor View 10. It’s a beast!

 

Best Home Product: LG InstaView ThinQ Refrigerator

This isn’t your typical refrigerator. LG’s new InstaView refrigerator is one of several new appliances in their artificial intelligence-capable ThinQ lines. Not only can you knock on its 29-inch transparent display to see what’s inside, this fridge can now intelligently communicate with other household devices. We love how it suggests recipes and sends the exact settings to your ovens. With the LG InstaView refrigerator, the kitchen gets a whole lot smarter.

 

Best Gaming Product: NVIDIA BFGD

Here’s something we never thought we would see: a 65-inch 4K 120Hz HDR display with G-Sync technology. It’s a mouthful, but that’s exactly what NVIDIA was able to assemble for its new Big Format Gaming Display (BFGD) format. We can’t wait to see this connected to our gaming setup!

 

Best Audio Product: Sony Xperia Ear

Even earphones are getting smarter! No device exemplified this more than Sony’s Xperia Ear with its intelligent features. These wireless fitness earbuds are noise-canceling and have Google Assistant built in. Combined with awesome sound and a snug fit, there weren’t any other earphones that we wanted more at CES 2018.

 

Best VR/AR Experience: Lenovo Mirage Solo with Daydream

Finally, a VR headset that doesn’t need a smartphone or messy cables to operate! The Lenovo Mirage Solo makes virtual reality so fun and easy — just like it’s supposed to be. We love how it’s designed for the most comfortable and secure fit, and how it’s World Sense positional tracking system ensures that what you feel in a scene matches your position in the physical space. You have to try them on to see what we mean!

 

Best Camera: Panasonic Lumix GH5S

Panasonic really went all out this time. The Lumix GH5S is designed for incredible low-light photography and cinematography. Not necessarily meant as a replacement to last year’s model – this new mirrorless camera is designed specifically with video content creators in mind! Of particular note is the camera’s flippable screen, and ability to shoot in Cinema 4K at 30 or 60 frames per second.

 

Best Wearable: Sgnl smart strap

With this smart strap, you can make phone calls using just your fingertips. How cool is that? The Sgnl smart strap can be attached to any smart watch allowing you to take smartphone calls by just touching your finger to your ears. And just like that, all your sci-fi calling dreams have come true!

 

Best Lifestyle Product: AirSelfie2

The AirSelfie2 brings together two of the most important tech trends in recent memory: drones and selfies. Forget selfie sticks, whip out the AirSelfie2, let it take off from the palm of your hand, and have it shoot selfies like no other. This next-generation pocket drone is on our must-have travel list of adventure companions and it should be on your list, too!

 

Best AI Product: Lenovo Smart Display

We’re not going to beat around the bush. Lenovo’s Smart Display is our favorite Google Assistant-powered device of CES 2018. If smart speakers aren’t enough for you, then you should definitely try the Smart Display of Lenovo. This device delivers the best of Google Assistant with a portable screen. It can do everything Google Home can and more: make video calls, ask for help with recipes in the kitchen, view maps with directions, and plan your day.

 

Best Robot: Sony Aibo

The Sony Aibo may as well win the award for cutest product of CES 2018, too! This robot dog can view things around it and obey your commands, just like a real dog. It has artificial intelligence built in, so it learns from interactions, meaning no two Aibos are the same. We love how it’s got OLED displays for eyes that convey a whole lot of different emotions. Now, who’s a good doggie?

 

Best Health Innovation: Eargo Max

The Eargo Max eliminates all the traditional hassles of hearing aids and provides a product like no other. What’s most special about these hearing aids are how they are both small and invisible. If you’ve seen how big traditional heading aids can be, you’ll understand how revolutionary of a product this is. The product comes with fluffy flexible fibers that ensure a comfortable fit in your ear canal, battery life of about 20 hours on a single charge, and a charging carrying case. Best of all, they just work!

 

Best Beauty Product: Foreo UFO Smart Mask

Foreo has one goal: to eliminate the need for facial masks and offer a better, smarter solution. The UFO Smart Mask can give you a spa-worthy facial treatment in just 90 seconds. We’d love to go into all high-tech magic, but are just too giddy about this completely awesome beauty tech, not to mention glowing from our recent skin treatment. Where has this been all our lives?

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