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Opinion: Even if you can, you probably shouldn't buy a Google Pixel anymore

The Google Pixel is a notoriously hard phone to get a hold of. Persistent stock issues have plagued Google's first "in-house" handset from day one, and things really are little to no better six months after the launch event. Honestly, it's a bit embarrassing just how consistently incompetent Google seems to be at keeping a reasonable inventory of phones available for purchase. But setting that aside, as one of the Pixel's most ardent evangelists, I think there's something it's probably time for me to come clean on: Even if you could buy a Pixel today, I really think you shouldn't.

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Google's messaging mess is about money, not making your life easier (opinion)

I have a simple rule in life—if something does not seem to make sense, look for the money. What I mean is that profitability is often the simplest explanation for a decision that might seem to make little or no sense to someone on the outside of a company looking in. How does this rule apply to Google’s messaging mess? Much ink, and possibly much blood, has been spilt over Google’s recent messaging app strategy (or lack thereof). To some, it is a mangled and unfocused mess of half-baked concepts sent out into the world for us to shill to our increasingly impatient friends and family.

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What happens when you have more than one Google Home? Chaos.

The Amazon Echo was my pacifier as I waited for Google’s entry into the home assistant space.

Setting my Google Play Music library aside, I suffered through using Amazon’s attempt at a music service devoid of most of my own library. I connected my Google Calendar to Alexa and it offered a glimpse into my future relationship with Google’s assistant.

Finally, in early November, I could get my hands on a new Google Home. I had pre-ordered from Google and then discovered I could pick one up at my local Best Buy. The very morning it hit the shelves, I immediately bought one.

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Stuck Pixel: How Google is dropping the ball with its "consumer" phone strategy (opinion)

I admit it. I am a Google fanboy. It’s not that I love Google at the exclusion of any other company. I appreciate the merits of Apple’s business model as well as the thoughtful design of Microsoft's Surface devices. However, there’s something about that #4885ed Google Blue that spices up my life more so than #3b5998 Facebook Blue could ever do. Is it bias? Considering I am legally color blind, the answer is an affirmative yes. However, this bias has not blinded me to the fundamental difference between a company like Google and one like Apple. At Apple, the customer - the revenue generator - is you and me, the consumer.

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Google and Samsung will be rivals more than ever in 2017 (opinion)

While Google and Samsung have long sought to talk up their various partnerships over the years, there is little doubt for me that 2017 will be the year in which the two giants go after one another more aggressively than ever before in their history. Samsung actively presents a threat to Android's diversity, and Google must step in to stem the bleeding of an increasingly unprofitable device ecosystem. Samsung's challenges in wearables, television, and smart home also are a major cause for concern to Google as Samsung increasingly leverages its smartphone dominance.

Samsung and Google have been close collaborators from the days of the original Galaxy S, a phone launched almost seven years ago.

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OnePlus 3T review addendum: Proof that OnePlus can be a major player in 2017

OnePlus started its existence as a brash upstart, and today it's... a brash upstart. It is, however, a brash upstart that has produced a very good 2016 flagship phone. The OnePlus 3 and 3T are basically the same phone, but the 3T has more power under the hood and dollars on its price tag. Both phones offered similarly good experiences at launch, and now they're even better with Nougat.

So, how do these phones (specifically the OnePlus 3T) hold up? Quite well, but OP's actions in 2017 will be telling. This will be a pivotal year for the company. It could become a staple of the smartphone industry or prove to be just another middling player that will eventually fade away.

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Which unlimited data plan sucks the least?

Unlimited smartphone data is back! Roll out the barrels, re-download Netflix, and disable all those "Wi-Fi only" settings options, happy days are here again. But don't throw away your data meter just yet: the new batch of unlimited data plans from American carriers isn't what it used to be. A lack of limits now comes with an asterisk, like your favorite sports star "enhancing" his performance. So the question is no longer, "which mobile unlimited plan is the best?" Instead, it's "which carrier is going to put the least amount of petty restrictions on my so-called unlimited data?"

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Speculation around Google's Fuchsia OS and Andromeda is creating confusion and misinformation

 

A very hot article is currently circulating around the web in which a relatively unknown tech analyst concludes that Fuchsia, Google's new operating system, is the end game of what we dubbed Google's "Andromeda" initiative last year. Unfortunately, despite the excitement it is generating, the post's conclusions are largely speculative, not revelatory, in nature.

The article is seemingly based on the available technical material, code repositories, and various news stories written about Fuchsia to date, cobbled together into a hypothesis that Fuchsia must be the Andromeda project of lore. And it is stated in no uncertain terms: "Fuchsia is the actual name of the [Andromeda] operating system, while Magenta is the name of the kernel, or more correctly, the microkernel."

But the author starts with a faulty assumption: that it is known that Fuchsia is being developed as a replacement for Android and or Chrome OS.

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Google Daydream hasn't done anything to fix VR's biggest problem - it's just not very good (opinion)

Today, I uninstalled the Daydream app from my Pixel XL, because I hadn't used it in nearly three months. When I reviewed the experience in November last year, I had the sneaking suspicion this is where I'd end up. Not because I felt Daydream was uniquely lacking in some way, or even that the sparse content ecosystem would quickly be depleted through my use. It's because the exact same thing has happened with every Samsung Gear VR I've been sent to evaluate over the years. And Gear VR's Oculus Store has tons of stuff - hundreds of experiences, games, 360-degree videos.

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Google Assistant, four months later: Still fragmented, still unfinished, still the best

Back at Google I/O 2016, we got a first look at Google Assistant. It was designed to be a conversational assistant, as opposed to the search-based Google Now. Then when Allo was released in September, it shipped with a beta version of Assistant. Finally when the Google Pixel phones were released in October, Assistant was a major selling point.

Google has a tendency to rush products out the door without fully finishing them, and Assistant was no exception. So now that about four months have passed since the official introduction of Google Assistant (roughly five months if you count the Allo beta), has anything changed?

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