News

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

India

Xiaomi forays into personal grooming with a water resistant trimmer

A basic product that doesn’t disappoint

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Xiaomi is known for its value-packed phones and accessories, but it is slowly making its mark in the lifestyle space as well. The brand sells almost any device imaginable, from umbrellas to toothbrushes, but they’ve been restricted to China so far.

But that’s slowly changing, and one of the first countries outside of China to benefit is India.


Today Xiaomi launched the Mi Beard Trimmer, marking its foray into the personal grooming space.

The Mi Beard Trimmer comes with two combs and a total of 40 length settings. This makes it suitable for every kind of beard style and gives the user more options to choose from. Xiaomi claims the blades are made of heavy-duty stainless steel and are self-sharpening in nature, meaning they remain sharp for an extended period of usage.

It can be used sans any wires thanks to a built-in battery but can work plugged in as well. Xiaomi says you get 10 minutes of use with just a five-minute charge. A full charge will deliver up to 90 minutes of usage on the go.

It’s also safe for shower use, with an IPX7 water resistance rating, it is designed to withstand submersion of up to 1 meter for 30 minutes.

The Mi Beard Trimmer is now available for pre-order and will start shipping from June 27 via Mi.com, Amazon, and Mi Homes. With a price tag of INR 1,199, it might just give Philips a run for its money.

A few weeks back, Xiaomi announced the availability of Mi LED Smart Bulb in India. The smartest thing about the bulb is that it comes with both, Amazon Alexa as well as Google Assistant support. It pairs with the Mi Home app that can also be used to control other Mi Home products.

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Computers

Raspberry Pi 4 offers more power for the same price

Now with support for 4K

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Image credit: Raspberry

The Raspberry Pi Foundation has announced the fourth version of its popular and very useful miniature budget computer. The Raspberry Pi 4 keeps the same form-factor and starting price of its predecessor, but it has more power to offer. This would mean wider applications and nifty inventions for those who like to tinker with a Raspberry Pi.

The most notable upgrade of the Raspberry Pi 4 is its CPU. The new chipset features faster and more efficient four Cortex-A72 cores clocked at 1.5GHz. This will deliver three times better performance. Memory has also seen an upgrade from the LPDDR2 standard to LPDDR4. It now comes with up to 4GB of memory, which is four times that of any previous Pi.


Complementing the new CPU is a better GPU. The new VideoCore VI GPU can handle 4K/60fps HEVC video playback. It can support dual-monitor setups at up to 4K resolution as well using the micro HDMI ports. Moreover, the board now has two USB 3.0  and two USB 2.0 ports, and now charges via USB-C.

Image credit: Raspberry

As for wireless connectivity, there’s Bluetooth 5.0 and dual-band Wi-Fi. Additionally, there’s a Gigabit Ethernet for an even faster internet connection.

The Raspberry Pi 4 is available starting today through Approved Resellers worldwide and directly at the Raspberry Store. It comes with 1GB, 2GB, or 4GB of RAM for US$ 35, US$ 45, and US$ 55, respectively.

SEE ALSO: One man’s trash is another man’s treasure: Dell embraces a circular economy

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Laptops

Apple releases public betas of iOS 13, iPadOS, and macOS Catalina

Dark mode, new UI, period tracking, and better security

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Apple iPhone XR | GadgetMatch

Earlier this month during the company’s annual developer conference, Apple introduced a number of updates for its mobile, tablet, and laptop operating systems. While developers and risk takers already have access to these yet-to-be-finalized updates, the general public is yet to try them out.

Today, those who would like to experience the new iOS 13, iPadOS, and macOS Catalina can now download the public beta. Like always, nothing is final; but, these public betas are close to what Apple will formally launch in the coming months.


For users to be able to download these updates ahead of anyone else, they have to sign up for Apple’s Beta Software Program. After installing the first public betas of the said software versions, users will keep receiving follow-up beta builds until the final release, which should come in Q4 2019.

iOS 13 in dark mode | Image credit: Apple

With the release of the public betas, Apple aims to catch more bugs and make sure the software works great before it’s rolled out to a broad audience. Beware of the small errors the public betas might have, but they should be just minimal.

For iOS 13, Apple is making a pretty big leap. The updated version of its mobile operating system features a much-awaited dark mode, Sign In with Apple, swipeable keyboard, and cooler Memoji avatars. It also has an updated Maps app and photo tools in the gallery. Siri is promised to be better as well.

iPadOS | Image credit: Apple

The new iPadOS is probably the best update we saw for the iPads. It’s still based on iOS, but it finally lets Apple’s tablets to fully utilize the home screen with visible widgets and delivers desktop-like experience.

The MacBook’s macOS Catalina will bring new apps that’ll replace iTunes and it’ll let Mac users download and run iPad apps from the Mac App Store. Also, the iPad can now be used as a second screen.

SEE ALSO: Huawei and Apple make the strongest phones, research says

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