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editorial

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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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A brief history of Verizon's hatred for unlimited data

Unlimited data is back at Verizon. There's much merriment to be had throughout the land, as data-hungry power users once again return to their streaming music and video services without fear of sudden charges or slowdowns. It's been over five years since Verizon cut off access to unlimited data, and the number of customers hanging on to their grandfathered unlimited plans has dwindled down to a few grizzled veterans. It's a good day for wireless customers.

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Until we have an Apple Watch of our own, no one is going to take Android Wear seriously (opinion)

Yesterday, Google announced what many hoped would be the first "proper" Android Wear smartwatches - designed from the ground up to provide the best Wear experience possible by the very team behind Android Wear. But what we received increasingly appears to be two LG smartwatches with hints of Google design influence, with far more of Google's effort being felt in the marketing and media campaigns than on consumers' wrists. Our reviews of the LG Watch Style and Watch Sport haven't yet landed, and I don't wish to taint their conclusions (my opinions here are my own), but to me they show Google's strategy with the struggling Android Wear platform is deeply misguided.

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Does Android One have any chance at success in the United States?

Android One is an ambitious smartphone initiative launched by Google in 2014. To date, it's been limited to a handful of countries - mostly in Asia - and it remains at best unclear if it's actually been successful. The idea was nice enough: Inexpensive Android phones built by typical handset-makers, but with Google lending a helping hand on the messy business of software updates. Of course, the carrot also came with a stick. In exchange for this software support, those handset companies agreed to use what Google decided constituted a good, proper Android - no bloat, stock look and feel, and regular security patches.

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David's CES 2017 post-mortem: "Just add Wi-Fi"

2017 marked my sixth consecutive attendance at the world's largest technology event, and for the sixth year, I left feeling like phones weren't really a very important part of it all. I have come to accept that's just what CES has become, especially given it sits in the shadow of the much more mobile-focused Mobile World Congress show in Barcelona, which is happening about seven weeks from now. But before we start looking ahead, let's talk about what happened last week.

CES has always been a proving ground for bold ideas from companies big and small. In 2017, the bold move is to take normal products that consumers use and smartify them.

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The slow, uninteresting death of Android tablets is unfolding, and it is no one's fault (opinion)

Android tablets are dying. There are signals that bear this out: sales estimates, web traffic, an utter absence of meaningful innovation or even competitive products in the segment. We've watched Android tablets struggle from day one: when Samsung's Galaxy Tab was utterly panned for its subpar performance and pricing, to the years of Honeycomb suffering under the yoke of underpowered chipsets and endless bugs, and finally to the unspoken abandonment of Android tablets by Google's own app teams over the past few years. Android tablets have never been particularly lively, but in 2016, I think we've finally watched the market's pulse near flat-line.

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[Editorial] Why I'm thankful for Android Police, a story of sad and happy coincidences

What you are about to read is unlike anything I have ever written for Android Police before. There are no coupon codes, reviews, leaks, specs, or APKs in this article. Instead, this is a story that I have wanted to share with you, our readers, for quite some time. Today, as I reflected on the things I am grateful for in my life, I made the decision to sit down and write the story of one of the most random, timely, and wondrous things that have ever happened to me, all because I was an Android Police reader. If you have a few minutes to read a story, then sit down, and I'll tell you one.

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Verizon's 'unlimited' PopData scheme is all kinds of bullshit

Sprint has unlimited data. T-Mobile has unlimited data. AT&T has unlimited data. True, all of these offerings have limits on unlimited, like T-Mo's extra charges for HD video and tethering and how AT&T will only give you unlimited data if you also pay for a bloated DirecTV contract. But Verizon's staunch refusal to allow customers access to the unlimited data spigot, not to mention pushing grandfathered unlimited data customers away, has been a big point in favor of its competitors. Verizon feels so insecure about its lack of unlimited plans that its advertising tries to tell customers why unlimited data sucks.

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It's time to talk about Google, the Pixel phones, and feelings of abandonment

First, I'd like to invite everyone to take a deep, calming breath. I mean that sincerely, not sarcastically: Google's Pixel phones have proven rather literally to be an emotional topic in the tech community over the last few days. In looking over Android Police's comments, the sentiment around these phones has been a veritable tidal wave of negativity - and not all of it is unwarranted. There are clear and legitimate reasons to find Google's new smartphones uncompelling as a consumer.

But much of the anger, the frustration, the rage seems directed not at the Pixel phones themselves. And of that which is, is often through the lens of Nexus, not of the Pixel phones as products in their own right.

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Editorial: Google Allo looks a lot like WhatsApp, not Hangouts, and that's not necessarily a bad thing

... and a lot like Telegram. And Facebook Messenger. And plenty of other messaging apps too. But enumerating those would make for a very long title so I had to restrict it to the most popular messenger out there.

Google Allo, unlike its sister app, Duo, has its work cut out for it. While Duo doesn't have a clear competitor in the simple one-on-one mobile messaging field, especially on Android, Allo faces a roadblock of established opponents that have had years to develop their featureset, userbase, and public image. On the one hand, this gives Allo the opportunity to start fresh without any unnecessary remnants that other apps and services carry because of their older origins and the room to learn from what has and hasn't worked for them, but on the other hand, it also puts Allo at the very bottom of a very steep hill.

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