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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.

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Digimon ReArise: A new Digimon mobile game!

It comes with an exclusive Digimon!

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Bandai Namco Entertainment just posted a teaser video for its new and upcoming Digimon ReArise mobile game. The text in the video reads, “Here is the story where your Digimon becomes a reality.”

The teaser doesn’t say much but Digimon ReArise will be a free-to-play mobile game where you’ll be working closely with a Digimon to battle against “Spiral,” — a mysterious and unexplained power. The development team describes the game as both “the adventure story of tamers and their Digimon” and “a game for looking after and training Digimon at any time.”

On top of all that, Bandai Namco finally revealed the exclusive starter Digimon you meet in the game. Created by Katsuyoshi Nakatsuru, the new Digimon is named Erismon (エリスモン). He’ll be the main focus and will be your main companion in the game. Erismon is apparently an electric hedgehog whose attacks shoot out static needles from his back.

Digimon ReArise will be out this year in Japan. While this game is in the works, you can give Digimon Links a try. Digimon Links was launched in Japan in March 2016 and in English last October.

SEE ALSO: Sky: A new jaw-dropping mobile game coming out soon!

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Spotify plans to create their own smart speaker

Is this the Apple HomePod killer?

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As smart speakers emerge from all sides, Spotify is no longer satisfied with being “just” a streaming app. New job listings confirm that the music giant is working on its own device for the future.

Based on a new job opening recently posted on its site, Spotify is looking for an “Operations Manager — Hardware Product.” The listing states that “Spotify is on its way to creating its first physical products.”

Image source: Spotify Jobs

Besides an Operations Manager, the company is also looking for a Senior Project Manager and Project Manager on the same team. All three openings confirm that dedicated Spotify hardware is in the works.

Without its own hardware, the music-streaming app relies on third-party devices to distribute its services. This business model has been Spotify’s go-to since its inception. To its credit, this model works. Spotify still rules the music-streaming food chain atop competitors like Apple Music, Google Play Music, and Amazon Music.

However, as competing brands develop their own smart speakers, the need for a Spotify-exclusive device gradually turns into a do-or-die situation. Some smart speakers today don’t even offer Spotify as a default player. If Spotify hopes to survive into the future, they have to create their own hardware brand where they don’t have to play second fiddle to the competition.

As of now, the job listings are still open. They also clarify that Spotify is still in the process of creating the team. Given that it’s still in its infancy, this mystery device remains unknown. Besides a smart speaker, it could even be a wearable. For sure, it’ll still be a while before we even get a whiff of what Spotify is cooking.

For what it’s worth, Spotify offers information that the mystery device “will impact the way the world experiences music.”

SEE ALSO: 5 steps to making the perfect Spotify playlist

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Uber plans to sell Southeast Asian arm to Grab

In exchange for Grab’s stakes

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A massive deal is brewing in Southeast Asia. After a rocky 2017, Uber is gearing up to sell its Southeast Asia operations to Singapore’s Grab.

Despite posting a whopping US$ 7.5 billion in sales last year, Uber reported an even more surprising US$ 4.5 billion in losses. Uber’s worldwide demand couldn’t offset the costs that it incurred throughout the previous year.

This makes the rumored deal between the two ride-sharing apps a timely one. Further, reports indicate that Uber is also preparing for an eventual IPO sometime next year.

Should it happen, Uber will receive a substantial stake in Grab’s company. Currently, Uber hasn’t finalized the deal yet. Reports don’t include a timeline on when (or if) this deal will conclude.

The strategic move works in favor of Uber as a business. However, it remains unclear how this will affect commuters.

Southeast Asian commuters heavily prefer the convenience of Uber and Grab, compared to the bustle of traditional public transportation. The two apps share similar popularity ratings across the region.

For its popularity, Uber is pummeled with more controversies than Grab. The earlier has already suffered from multiple cases of drivers raping passengers, taxi protests, and a recent attempt to stifle autonomous driving. The company’s long-standing CEO Travis Kalanick also resigned last year.

Despite the mounting scandals, Uber remains one of the world’s preferred ride-sharing service. Regardless of whether the proposed sale will push through, Uber continues to be a watchword in today’s transportation economy.

SEE ALSO: Five Uber app alternatives for your daily commute

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