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Not OK, Google: Assistant will be exclusive to Pixel

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Google came out with the Pixel and Pixel XL smartphones this week, with one of their main attractions being Android 7.1 Nougat, which no other phone has for now.

And while we expect the software update to roll out later this year (presumably to Nexus and Android One devices first; the beta version will launch later this month), it’s imperative to talk about Nougat on Pixel because both handsets will reportedly have some software features that may not be found anywhere else. Features you’ll want to use with regularity, or at least try out.

Android Police has put together a list of “Pixel-exclusive and non-exclusive changes” that are baked into Android 7.1 Nougat. The list is surprisingly long — well, for a small tick up on the upgrade ladder — so take a deep breath before reading through the entire change log. Oh, and spoiler alert: You won’t like what you read, for reasons we’ll explore later.

Pixel-specific features:

  • Pixel Launcher—swipe up for all apps, new Search Box, date/weather header on home
  • Google Assistant
  • Unlimited original quality photo/video backup to Google Photos
  • Smart Storage—when storage is full, automatically removes old backed up photos/videos
  • Phone/Chat support (new support tab in settings), screen-share functionality
  • Quick switch adapter for wired setup from Android or iPhone
  • Pixel Camera:
    • Electronic Image Stabilization (“video stabilization”) 2.0
    • Pro Features
      • White Balance Presets
      • Exposure Compensation
      • AE/AF Locking
      • Viewfinder grid modes
    • HW-accelerated (on Qualcomm Hexagon coprocessor) HDR+ image processing
    • Smartburst
  • Sensor Hub processor with tightly integrated sensors (accel, gyro, mag) + connectivity (Wi-Fi, Cell, GPS)
  • Cosmetic
    • Solid navbar icons with home affordance for Assistant
    • SysUI accent color theming
    • Wallpaper picker with new wallpapers and sounds
    • New setup look and feel
    • Dynamic calendar date icon

Android 7.1 features (not Pixel-specific):

  • Night Light (this shifts the color temperature of your screen a la iOS’ Night Shift mode or f.lux)
  • Touch/display performance improvements
  • Moves (Fingerprint swipe-down gesture—opt-in)
  • Seamless A/B system updates
  • Daydream VR mode
  • Developer features:
    • App shortcuts/shortcut manager APIs
    • Circular app icons support
    • Keyboard image insertion
    • Fingerprint sensor gesture to open/close notification shade
    • Manual storage manager Intent for apps
    • Improved VR thread scheduling
    • Enhanced wallpaper metadata
    • Multi-endpoint call support
    • Support for various MNO requirements
      • PCDMA voice privacy property
      • Source type support for Visual Voicemail
      • Carrier config options for managing video telephony
  • Manual storage manager – identifies apps and files and apps using storage

So yeah, in case it wasn’t already clear, Google Assistant — the voice-activated digital assistant honed and refined by years of us using Google services, the single product Tuesday’s keynote address hinged on — won’t be coming to non-Pixel handsets and tablets.

Which is a head-scratcher, to say the least, because Google executives devoted much of their speech to outlining a future powered by voice. They conveniently left out the part about that future depending upon the general population choosing the Pixel over the similarly priced Samsung Galaxy S7 or Apple iPhone 7, or even the OnePlus 3.

It should’ve been the other way around — the benefits of Google’s artificial intelligence needs to reach all Android devices going forward, not just two. Regardless of whether or not people are ready and willing to have conversations with their phone.

However, Google isn’t closing down possibilities with Pixel’s best features, including Assistant. Some features could trickle down to other devices running Android Nougat; Google could release a diluted app version of Assistant that could be installed onto Androids and iPhones. That might happen in 2017. Speaking to TechCrunch, a Google spokesperson said: “Our goal is to make the Google Assistant widely available to users, and we’ll continue to launch new surfaces over the course of the next year.”

[irp posts=”8575″ name=”Android made downloading from Google Play much easier”]

Source: Android Police

Image credit: NPR

Apps

Disney+ expanding to more than 50 places this year

Check out the list here

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Emerging as one of the biggest streaming platforms today, Disney+ is expanding its operations to more countries and territories this year. Starting in the summer of this year, the platform will find its way to 42 more countries and 11 new territories.

Despite the popularity of its content, Disney+ doesn’t have the widest global market owing to its limited availability. Currently, the platform is available only in 64 countries. Obviously, the biggest markets — like the United States and the United Kingdom — already have it. That, however, leaves out smaller territories that have expressed interest in the platform. But the expansion hasn’t stopped.

As announced via The Hollywood Reporter, Disney+ is expanding to over 50 new places. However, despite the size of its expansion, Disney has not announced exact launch dates or pricing schemes for any of the below countries.

The full list of new countries, arranged alphabetically, include the following: Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Bahrain, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Egypt, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kosovo, Kuwait, Latvia, Lebanon, Libya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Malta, Montenegro, Morocco, North Macedonia, Oman, Palestine, Poland, Qatar, Romania, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Tunisia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Vatican City and Yemen.

Disney+ will also expand to these 11 territories: the Faroe Islands, French Polynesia, French Southern Territories, St. Pierre and Miquelon Overseas Collective, Åland Islands, Sint Maarten, Svalbard & Jan Mayen, British Indian Ocean Territory, Gibraltar, Pitcairn Islands and St. Helena.

Is your country part of the list?

SEE ALSO: Disney+ coming to the Philippines soon?

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Gaming

The Steam Deck finally launches on February 25

Starts shipping out February 28

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The Nintendo Switch was one of the boldest experiments in gaming. Could a console successfully meld home-based gaming with mobile gaming? The answer is: It certainly could! The Switch, despite its flaws, is still one of the most successful consoles that Nintendo has ever released. Now, years after its launch, other brands are finally returning or introducing themselves to the mobile gaming market. Valve, after announcing the device last year, is finally launching its own take, the Steam Deck, on February 25.

Last year, Valve, the company behind Steam, announced the Switch-like gaming console for PC gamers. As what that implies, the Steam Deck can play your Steam library inside its lithe but powerful frame. Squeezed in by two controllers, the 7-inch device blasts through games with a quad-core Zen 2 CPU, an AMD APU, 16GB of RAM, and up to 512GB of SSD storage.

Naturally, the Steam Deck incited a lot of hype for gamers. It was finally possible to easily play PC games while on the road. However, despite the hype, the device went through an unsurprisingly rocky launch schedule. Initially pegged for a holiday launch, it was pushed back due to ongoing shortages.

Now, we finally have a date. On February 25, Valve will start sending out order emails to those who previously bought reservations, as stated in their latest blog post. Customers will then have three days to push through with their order. Shipments will start flying out on February 28.

Those who haven’t reserved yet can still do so for US$ 5, but the waiting time might take a while since Valve is so close to launch. The Steam Deck will start selling at US$ 399 and will go up to US$ 649 for the most premium model.

SEE ALSO: Steam launches first portable console, the Steam Deck

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News

Redmi Note 11 series officially launches

Featuring 4 devices

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Redmi Note 11 series

Xiaomi just announced the Redmi Note 11 series. It’s a massive line that has four smartphones. These are the Redmi Note 11 Pro 5G, Redmi Note 11 Pro, Redmi Note 11S and Redmi Note 11. The series promises upgrades across the board from cameras, performance, and charging speeds.

Flagship-level camera setup

Each member of the Redmi Note 11 series is equipped with sensors that won’t leave you wanting in the camera department. The Redmi Note 11 Pro 5G, Redmi Note 11 Pro, and Redmi Note 11 feature 108MP primary sensors.

Specifically, they are using the Samsung HM2 with a 1/1.52″ sensor size. It leverages 9-in-1 pixel binning technology as well as dual native ISO to deliver incredible images with higher dynamic range and colour performance, with excellent results even in dim light.

AMOLED goodness

Members of the Xiaomi Redmi Note 11 series’ screen sizes vary. But they all have FHD+ AMOLED DotDisplay featuring DCI-P3 wide color gamut. There’s also 1200nits brightness. And last but certainly not the least, a 120Hz screen refresh rate with a 360Hz touch sampling rate. Impressive numbers, especially for the Redmi Note line.

The series is powered by more than capable Snapdragon and MediaTek chipsets. These are able to handle any task from the most basic like social media browsing, to the most demanding like playing games and multitasking.

Here’s a quick look at the specs.

Redmi Note 11 Pro 5G

Redmi Note 11 Pro

Redmi Note 11S

Redmi Note 11

Display

120Hz

6.67” FHD+ AMOLED DotDisplay

90Hz

6.43” FHD+ AMOLED

DotDisplay

Rear camera

108MP main camera

8MP ultra-wide camera

2MP macro camera

108MP main camera

8MP ultra-wide camera

2MP macro camera

2MP depth camera

50MP main camera

8MP ultra-wide camera

2MP macro camera

2MP depth camera

Front camera

16MP in-display front camera

13MP in-display  front camera

Dimension & Weight

164.19mm x 76.1mm x 8.12mm

202g

159.87mm x 73.87mm x 8.09mm

179g

Processor

Snapdragon 695

MediaTek Helio G96

Snapdragon 680

RAM+ROM

LPDDR4X

UFS 2.2

Audio

Dual speakers

3.5mm headphone jack

Security

Side fingerprint sensor

AI Face Unlock

Charging

5,000mAh (typ) battery

Supports 67W wired turbo charging

5,000mAh (typ) battery

Supports 33W wired Pro fast charging

Connectivity

SIM 1 + Hybrid (SIM or MicroSD)

NFC

IR blaster

Dual SIM + MicroSD

NFC**

IR blaster

Variant**

6GB+64GB, 6GB+128GB, 8GB+128GB

4GB+64GB, 4GB+128GB, 6GB+128GB

Available colors

(Depends on region)

Graphite Gray,

Polar White, Atlantic Blue

Graphite Gray,

Polar White, Star Blue

Graphite Gray,

Twilight Blue, Pearl White

Graphite Gray,

Twilight Blue, Star Blue

Pricing and availability details to follow.

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