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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

Lifestyle

Huawei showcases Gentle Monster Eyewear, other wearables

“Connecting Tech with Fashion”

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We’ve come a long way from wearables that people won’t exactly be proud to wear. But Huawei is taking it further by “connecting tech with fashion.”

During “The Showroom” event in Singapore, Huawei paraded their set of wearables. Each one we’ve likely seen before like the FreeBuds 3 and the different variations of the Huawei Watch GT 2.

But perhaps one of their more unique offerings is the Gentle Monster — Huawei Eyewear.

Gentle Monster — Huawei Eyewear: New kind of wearable

Huawei calls it “an elegant and minimalist intelligent assistant for daily wear.” With it on, you can listen to music, take calls, and get voice updates from your virtual assistant. Which you’ll do simply by double tapping on either side of the eyewear’s frame.

If you’re worried about the audio blasting out too much, of course, Huawei took that into consideration. The eyewear has dual speakers and a semi-open design so you can hear the audio properly. At the same time it has a “unique audio cavity” to make sure sound doesn’t leak out.

It’s also combining hardware and software to deliver clear audio communications. The linear beam noise reduction design along with AI speech noise-reduction tech helps in this aspect.

The device also has an IP67 rating which means it’s dust and water resistant. It also comes with a portable leather case that doubles as a charger for the device. The charging, interestingly, is done wirelessly thanks to NFC.

Partnering with Gentle Monster appears to be another masterful branding move, akin to how Huawei hooked up with Leica for their flagship’s cameras. This means that the Gentle Monster — Huawei Eyewear will come in an array of different designs. So you should find something that will look good on you — which was hard for me, but I digress.

The Gentle Monster – Huawei Eyewear will be available on November 28 in Singapore in two design options: Smart Eastmoon and Smart Jackbye. No word yet on exact pricing.

Different Huawei Watch GT 2 designs to match your needs 

Another thing showcased was the Huawei Watch GT 2 — our review is coming up soon so watch out for it. But initial impressions suggest it’s one of the better smartwatch options for Android. It comes in two sizes: 46mm and 42mm.

There are plenty of design options to choose from. Here are pricing and availability:

  • HUAWEI Watch GT 2 (46mm) Sport Edition in Matte Black now available at SG $298 here
  • HUAWEI Watch GT 2 (46mm) Classic Edition in Pebble Brown now available at SG$ 328 here
  • HUAWEI Watch GT 2 (42mm) Sport Edition in Lake Cyan available on 28 November, pricing to be released on a closer date.
  • HUAWEI Watch GT 2 (42mm) Elegant Edition in Refined Gold available in December, further details to come.
  • HUAWEI Watch GT 2 (46mm) Elite Edition in Titanium Grey available in December, further details to come

Freebuds 3: AirPods Pro but for Android

Last, but certainly not least, is the Freebuds 3 which bears a striking resemblance to the AirPods by Apple. This particular design allowed Huawei to put their Kirin A1 wearable chip on the wireless earphones which helps in noise cancellation, a stable, fast bluetooth connection and better power efficiency.

The FreeBuds 3 will be available on November 28, in Carbon Black and Ceramic White.

Huawei’s ecosystem

These new devices should also work well with the ecosystem that Huawei is building. The company is going towards the full Internet of Things (IoT) route and while they’re building their own hardware, they’re also inviting other developers and manufacturers to create products that will fit in their ecosystem.

SEE ALSO: Huawei Mobile Cloud will have free storage for some users

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India

Vivo Y19 is an affordable phone with triple rear cameras

A phone that gets everything right

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Photo by GadgetMatch

The affordable segment has seen a wide range of new phones this year thanks to a raging war between Xiaomi and Realme. While the two are constantly trying to undercut each other, brands are striving to take advantage of the situation.

Vivo has unveiled a new phone dubbed the Y19 and it’s being launched in India as well as the Philippines. The design is rather different and incorporates a 3D design that can mimic a wide range of reflective colors. The phone will be available in Magnetic Black and Spring White color options.

On the front is a 6.5-inch LCD Full HD+ display with a tiny water-drop notch on the top. Powering the phone is an octa-core MediaTek Helio P65 SoC, paired with 4GB of RAM and 128GB internal storage.

In terms of optics, the triple rear camera setup of the Vivo Y19 includes a 16-megapixel primary sensor, an 8-megapixel wide-angle lens, and a 2-megapixel depth sensor. The phone also gets a 16-megapixel selfie camera at the front.

It has dual SIM support and ships with Android 9 Pie-based Funtouch OS 9.2. For a better gaming experience, an Ultra Game Mode has been provided for optimization.

In India, the phone has been priced at INR 13,999 (US$ 195) and will be available for purchase via all major online as well as offline sellers.

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Phone case by castAway doubles as a secondary display

Any phone can fold!

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Folding displays have been the highlight of 2019 thanks to the Samsung Galaxy Fold, Huawei Mate X, and Motorola razr. From a use-case scenario, a small phone can be converted into a tablet that offers a bigger screen.

However, folding phones aren’t a new concept. A range of phones have been made that incorporate a secondary display. If the Surface Duo got your attention, this phone case is made for you.

castAway is a second screen for your smartphone that the creator’s claim will fit 95 percent of smartphones, giving you the dual-screen experience for less than US$ 200.

If the implementation looks familiar, that’s because we’ve sort of seen this before from LG with their Dual Screen handsets — the LG V50 ThinQ and the LG G8X ThinQ.

The small variant, the castAway One runs at 5.8-inches while a larger castAway One Plus 6.3-inch variant supports larger devices. Across both size categories, the case supports either iPhone or Samsung devices at launch. That’s not all though.

The case itself is like a very small Chrome OS tablet and is powered by a 1.5GHz ARM-based processor with 4GB RAM and 32GB of storage. You’ll be able to hold it like a book, turn it to a landscape orientation, and even close it up fully.

That comes complete with USB-C horizontal and vertical ports, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and an EMR stylus. The castAway case battery is comparable to a smartphone battery too, allowing standalone use.

 

The castAway case supports all Apple iPhone’s since the 6. Supported Samsung phones include the S7, S8, S8+, S9, S9+, S10, S10+, Note 7, Note 8, Note 9, and Note 10.

For early adopters of the case, the prices start out at US$ 129 for the smaller castAway One. Just US$ 10 more nets buyers the larger castAway One Plus. Shipping will start in May 2020, if everything moves forward smoothly.

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