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Top 5 hits and misses from #MadeByGoogle event

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Made by Google event

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

Google Pixel colored cases

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.

There’s so much more to Google’s new Android flagships, so be sure to check out our full coverage and live blog for the complete scoop.

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

Google Pixel with Daydream View VR

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 Home, Google Wifi, Chromecast Ultra

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”]

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How to get NBA League Pass with your telco provider

There are two package options

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NBA action is in full swing. In fact, it has been since August when the season restarted following a shut down that was caused by the dreaded Coronavirus pandemic. As of writing, we’re in the thick of the Conference Finals series. If you want to catch all the action, here’s how you can get NBA League Pass through different telecomm providers in the Philippines.

It’s now easier than ever to get access to the games legally. All of Smart, PLDT, and Globe are offering the same price packages.

PhP 85 — Watch any three games of your choice
PhP 485 — 30-day pass for all games including live and on-demand

Here’s how to get the subscription for each provider.

Smart Postpaid and Prepaid
(Also works with TNT and SUN Postpaid)

  • Download the NBA app (iOS / Android /APKPure)
  • On the app, click on the icon at the top-right corner
  • Click sign-in
  • A banner on top of the page will appear for Smart, Sun and TNT subscribers
  • Click ‘Get Started’
  • Enter mobile number for verification and a one-time PIN which will be sent to your mobile number
  • Choose your provider: Smart, TNT or Sun.
  • Choose your NBA League Pass Package (3-game or 30-days) and enter mobile number
  • Confirm your payment by entering the one-time PIN sent to your mobile number
  • Click NBA logo and start watching

PLDT Home

  • Go to pldthome.com/nbaleaguepass
  • Select your preferred package
  • The amount will be added to your next bill
  • PLDT will give a voucher
  • Download and sign-in to the NBA app
  • Enter the voucher in the promotion code field
  • Click NBA logo and start watching

Globe

  • Open the GCash app
  • Go to Buy Load
  • Look for the PayTV tab
  • Choose your preferred package. (Note: The chosen package is valid for 90 days).
  • Confirm payment
  • Open the NBA app and enjoy!

As mentioned earlier, we’re no in the Conference Finals with four teams remaining. Dueling in the West are the Los Angeles Lakers and the Denver Nuggets. Meanwhile in the East, it’s a battle between the Miami Heat and the Boston Celtics.

A new NBA champion will likely be crowned in the next 30 days so now is the best time to subscribe!

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Twitter is probing its AI’s racial bias in picture previews

They’re working on improving it

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Twitter uses a neural network to show you relevant previews of all the pictures that are posted on the microblogging platform. If the image contains text, the area is prioritized for a preview. Similarly, human faces are also given preference.

The preview makes it easier for the viewer to get a gist of the tweet without the compulsion of opening the entire picture. Although, the feature isn’t up-to mark since a lot of users have complained about the AI’s racial bias.

Several users posted a picture that has both, a white man and a black man’s face. But the preview often shows the white man’s face only. Users noticed the difference after a similar anomaly was observed on Zoom, where the facial recognition technology failed to identify a black man’s face, but had no trouble when the skin tone was changed.

 

Liz Kelley from Twitter’s communication team said they had tested the neural system for bias, but didn’t come across gender or racial bias during testing. She also confirmed that they’ve got more analysis to do and shall be open-sourcing all the work for others to review and replicate.

Twitter’s Chief Design Officer Dantley Davis and Chief Technology Officer Parag Agrawal were quick to acknowledge the shortcoming and said they’re “investigating” the neural network.

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TikTok and WeChat will be banned from app stores in the US

So, did the Oracle deal go through?

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After months of escalating, the US Commerce Department has announced it’ll ban business transactions with TikTok and WeChat. The two apps are owned by Chinese giants ByteDance and Tencent, respectively.

Practically, you won’t be able to directly download the app via stores like Play Store and App Store. Furthermore, companies are also barred from hosting these apps in the US. Essentially, the user won’t be able to download the app from third-party websites that are hosted in the US.

It also blocks US companies from providing services through WeChat “for the purpose of transferring funds or processing payments within the U.S.”

However, it remains unclear whether the announcement means the Oracle-TikTok deal won’t be going through. The Trump administration wanted ByteDance to sell its local TikTok operations to an American company.

In the last few months, multiple American giants like Walmart, Twitter, and Microsoft were interested in getting their piece of TikTok. But things haven’t moved smoothly and the Chinese government isn’t keen on handing over TikTok’s algorithm to an American company.

While Oracle has been chosen for a deal with ByteDance, the latter continues to maintain that the ongoing process isn’t an acquisition and Oracle shall be a technology partner. This is in stark contrast to what President Trump envisions as a business takeover.

The app ban could be a tactic to pressure the Chinese, but we can’t be certain of that right now. Going by the latest statements, it’s clear that the administration wants to completely block user’s access to these apps and is willing to go the extra mile.

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