We’re not used to seeing so many hardware announcements from Google at once, which made the major event earlier today all the more special. It’s not going to be something we’ll fondly remember eight years from now (ahem, Google Senior VP), there were several needle-moving products unveiled. Let’s see which ones are hot, and which are not.
HIT: Google’s first real crack at smartphones
This is a given. When you’re willing to kill off your signature device lineup, the replacement has to be worth the sacrifice. The Google Pixel and Pixel XL stand as the new role models for all things Android, and it’s not just because of the high-end specs.
Their real highlight is the introduction of Google Assistant, which is Google Now on steroids. By using advanced artificial intelligence and machine learning to understand your every move, the virtual companion is a lot more intuitive than Microsoft’s Cortana and Apple’s Siri.
Another highlighted feature is their shared camera. While it doesn’t stand out for its features — there’s only a single lens and no optical image stabilization — the shooter gets lots of praise for topping the highly respected DxOMark rankings for smartphone cameras.
MISS: No Pixel tablet in sight
It was a bit of a long shot, but we were expecting an Android tablet to be announced alongside the Pixel phones. Rumors have stated that there’s going to be a Huawei-made slate in the works under Google’s guidance, yet not even a hint was made during the event.
Having a new Google-designed tablet to erase the memory of the overpriced Pixel C would be great. There’s a possible theory why the announcement was pushed to a later date; we’ll discuss that in the next miss.
HIT: Daydream View is the VR headset we’ve been waiting for
With the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive already available and Sony’s PlayStation VR headset coming out soon, virtual reality in our homes is finally a thing. Sadly, it’s an expensive thing. And even though Samsung offers a cheaper alternative in the Gear VR, the exclusivity with top-shelf Galaxy handsets prevents mass sales. Daydream View will sort of change that.
Emphasis on sort of, because a smartphone has to be Daydream-compatible to work with Google’s stylish headset. As of now, only the Pixel handsets and a handful of other smartphones are ready for Daydream. It apparently takes a lot of guts to handle Google’s pumped-up Cardboard.
What makes this a hit for us is the design and price. Fork over $79 when it goes on sale in November, and you get the comfy-looking headset bundled with a motion-sensing controller that has a touchpad and two buttons. It’s a complete solution for anyone wanting to dive into mainstream VR without spending too much. Oh, and it works with eyeglasses on!
MISS: No Andromeda operating system yet
This one disappointed us the most. We were spoiled by the news from last week, only for it to fly over the event without even a squeak. We’re talking about Google’s rumored Andromeda operating system, which is expected to merge Android and Chrome OS.
Introducing a mobile system catered to convertible notebooks would definitely shake up the crappy battle for market dominance between Windows 10 and iOS. Neither of Microsoft or Apple’s operating systems truly fit into the convertible mold, and are better off in desktops and tablets, respectively.
By putting together an ecosystem based on Android and Chrome OS, Andromeda could eventually fill in the gaps for ever-evolving convertibles. Although fragmented, Android still does a decent job of working fluidly across thousands of varied smartphone and tablet hardware, and an open-source Andromeda could one day do the same for hybrid laptops.
The delay in announcing Andromeda probably explains why Google didn’t bother introducing a flagship tablet or convertible, as mentioned earlier. The Nexus 9 tablet is too old for showcasing a fresh OS, and the Pixel C is better left forgotten.
HIT: A collection of home products
Google isn’t just after your pockets (as in putting its Pixel phones in your pockets, not taking your money — but the latter makes sense, too), the search giant also wants to take over your home, and will do so with Google Home, Google Wifi, and Chromecast Ultra.
Google Home is the company’s answer to Amazon’s Echo, letting you communicate with your connected devices through voice commands. With it installed at the center of your place, you may control your music, make it stream movies for you, and even have it answer questions about everyday things. It’s good at knowing what you need, thanks to Google’s intelligently adaptive Assistant. It’ll cost only $129, and will ship beginning November 4.
Google Wifi does what you’d expect, but better. It’s a router that makes use of multiple access points to cover all the dead spots in a house or office. Everything still connects to one central internet host, and it’s smart enough to optimize your wireless connection depending on where you’re staying. It also has a price tag of $129, and will be available some time in November.
Finally, we have the Chromecast Ultra. If you’re familiar with previous Chromecast products, all you need to know is that the newest generation can now handle 4K streaming, HDR content, and Dolby Vision. Plus, it has an Ethernet port in case your Wi-Fi connection isn’t good enough. For those unfamiliar with Chromecast, it’s a little round device you can plug into your television to watch online content. It’ll retail for $69, and will come out in November, just in time for Google Play Movies’ 4K streaming debut.
[irp posts=”8314″ name=”5 Reasons why I love Google Home”]
Finally! Grab users may now pay directly using GCash
Starting February, users will be able to add GCash as a direct payment method on the Grab app, making cashless transactions on food and grocery deliveries, car transport, and other services cashless.
Prior to the collaboration, GCash users could only send money from their account to their GrabPay wallet, and vice-versa, causing a bit of hassle switching in between apps on one’s phone screen.
The partnership also means there will be no more transaction fees unlike before when Grab users have to cash in using their credit or debit cards or linked bank accounts.
Grab customers may also avail of GCash exclusive deals, and even get treats when they pay using the e-wallet.
Twitter is teasing an ad-free subscription tier
Will cost more than Twitter Blue
The days of a completely free Twitter are over. Back in 2021, the platform introduced Twitter Blue, a premium subscription service to introduce more features for paying users. Last year, new owner Elon Musk revamped the subscription and made the paid features more exclusive. Musk is not done. A future update will likely add a tier to eliminate all ads on the platform.
Ads and sponsored posts are persistent problems for all social media platforms as of late. Though already asking users to pay, Twitter Blue only cuts down ads for paying users by only half. As the company tries to get sponsors back on the platform, wading through a sea of ads will likely continue.
Musk, however, realizes the problem and is now dangling a carrot at those who want to get rid of ads for good. As a way to curb them, the platform’s owner teased an upcoming higher-priced subscription tier which will allegedly block out all ads.
Ads are too frequent on Twitter and too big. Taking steps to address both in coming weeks.
— Mr. Tweet (@elonmusk) January 21, 2023
The billionaire has not announced how much a tier might cost. Currently, the regular Twitter Blue subscription already costs US$ 8 per month. Additionally, he has not revealed if there are more plans on the docket for curbing ads.
Since acquiring the company late last year, Musk has introduced a lot of changes to the platform, often to controversial appeal. Cutting down on ads is certainly a welcome change but only depending on how much it will ask from users.
WhatsApp now allows users to talk to themselves
Can migrate through all devices
An unread notification triggers our inner FOMO. Once you see that red ping or that card, it’s almost impossible to ignore. Some users, to replace a traditional notepad, even message themselves on messaging apps to act as an impromptu bulletin board. Now, joining in the list of apps that allow users to do that, WhatsApp is letting users talk to themselves on the app.
Available today, WhatsApp has introduced a feature allowing users to message themselves from the list of contacts on the app. As with any other message, users can mark their conversation as unread and pin it on top of every other thread.
Compared to other developments from WhatsApp as of late, a conversation with yourself isn’t as groundbreaking, especially since other apps already offer the same function. However, the new feature does open a lot of possibilities for users.
Besides the aforementioned self-pinging system, users can also have a notepad that essentially migrates from device to device. As long as you have a WhatsApp account logged on in every device you can take with you, you can read your notes everywhere and on any device.
WhatsApp isn’t the only app to offer such a feature. Users can also do the same on Meta’s other apps including Messenger and Instagram’s private messaging feature.
SEE ALSO: WhatsApp has launched Communities
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