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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

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Xiaomi takes over selfie smartphone brand Meitu

What could this mean for the future of Meitu’s selfie phones?

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Meitu and Xiaomi have just inked a deal.

If you like taking selfies, you’ve probably heard of Meitu. Worldwide, the brand is synonymous with selfie enhancing beauty apps. In China, where selfie culture is big, it’s a smartphone brand that markets luxury selfie phones.

The Meiti V6: A luxury selfie phone with 4 cameras, calfskin leather, and gold rivets

Today, Meitu has just announced a Strategic Cooperation Agreement with Xiaomi which gives the latter control over the brand’s hardware. This effectively gives Xiaomi control over the design, research, development, production, business operation, sales, and marketing. Meitu, on the other hand, remains in control of image-related algorithms and camera technologies. The agreement entails Xiaomi pay Meitu 10 percent of the gross profit from each phone sold in the next 5 years.

This comes as no surprise as despite the selfie craze, Meitu smartphones have catered to a very small niche audience  — they’ve only sold 3.5 million smartphones since their launch in 2013. Even getting hold of a device outside of China can be pretty hard as they’re only available there. The same cannot be said for Xiaomi as the smartphone brand it steadily conquers Asia.

According to Meitu, it has always been the group’s mission to “to inspire more people to express their beauty.” The statement continues with the group saying that they “realize that working with a partner who has a scalable smartphone business can significantly accelerate [our] pace in realizing the vision of putting [our] smartphones in the hands of tens of millions, or even hundreds of millions of users.” With this partnership in place, they explained, they can instead focus on the next image processing tech.

What could this mean for the coming Meitu phones? I guess we’re going to find out. I, for one, am deathly excited. At the very least, we can expect to see more Meitu phones in the market.

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Mislatel confirmed as Philippines’ new telco

In partnership with China Telecom

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After the long wait, the Philippines finally has a new major telco: Mislatel. After the controversial bidding process, the country’s National Telecommunications Commission finally confirmed the telco. All the appeals against Mislatel’s selection have been dismissed, which paved way for the much-awaited confirmation.

Mislatel, which stands for the Mindanao Islamic Telephone, is a consortium by Udenna Corporation, Chelsea Logistics Holdings Corp. and China Telecommunications Corporation. Officially, Mislatel is now Philippines’ New Major Player.

Based on the consortium’s proposal, Mislatel will spend PhP 258 billion for five years to build a telco network that’ll cover 84 percent of the Philippines’ population. They’ll be offering a minimum average internet speed of 27Mbps on their first year, and they’ll bump that to 55Mbps in the succeeding years.

The country’s New Major Player now has 90 days to submit the remaining requirements including their rollout plan.

Department of Information and Communications Technology Acting Secretary Eliseo M. Rio Jr. urged Mislatel to tap existing small players such as Converge ICT Solution and even those of disqualified bidders Philippine Telegraph and Telephone Corp. (PT&T) and Sear Consortium to help them meet their promise.

Source: DICT

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Galaxy Note 10’s screen is larger than iPhone XS Max’s, leaks say

6.66 inches!

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Size does matter. In 2018, Apple and Samsung got into a relatively quiet war with screen sizes. Headlined by their respective premium models, both companies have pushed the envelope a tiny bit further with every succeeding release. This year, the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 topped out with a 6.4-inch screen. However, Apple released a slightly larger 6.5-inch iPhone XS Max. In doing so, Apple created its largest iPhone to date, winning this year’s size contest.

Next year is a different story. With the notch’s inevitable death, screen sizes will likely reach an all-time high. Contrary to Steve Jobs’ “smaller is better” philosophy, the smartphone industry is continuously getting bigger year after year. Pretty soon, if not already, the smartphone industry will completely cannibalize phablets. In fact, “phablet” has been a lost word since the introduction of large screens.

Now, a rumor confirms this trend even more. According to Korean sources, Samsung’s upcoming premium lineup will extend their reach further. Supposedly, next year’s Galaxy Note 10 will have a damning 6.66-inch screen. Further, the upcoming smartphone is attached with the codename “DaVinci.” If true, this will be Samsung’s largest Note to date.

Regardless, screen size accounts for only one part of the smartphone equation. Since the current-gen Note 9 was just launched recently, more details are surely few and far between. However, according to the same source, the Note 10 might come with an upgraded Snapdragon 8150 chip. Who can say? Samsung can pack a lot into this humongous phone.

Of course, the industry is no stranger to extremely large phones. The market has skirted with the 7-inch border before. Funnily enough, Samsung’s Galaxy Note 10 isn’t even the first Note 10 to go extra-large. Earlier this year, Huawei launched the Honor Note 10, a massive 6.95-inch beast of a phone.

We are now approaching a world wherein it’s perfectly normal to ask: How big is your smartphone?

SEE ALSO: 24 Hours in Los Cabos, Mexico with the Samsung Galaxy Note 9

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