Family Link is Google's solution for giving children under the age of 13 access to its services. Parents have to set up their kids' accounts and are responsible for what they do on the web and their phones. There are also control instruments that allow parents to impose restrictions like bedtime and daily app limit timers, and get an exact breakdown of what children are using their devices for. Needless to say, kids hate the service, and they're vocal about it: The Family Link app for kids has a staggering 1.4 rating average on the Play Store, as pointed out by our regular tipster Anthony (thanks!).
2020 has been a standout year in more ways than one. On personal, national, and global levels, many of us have faced hardships and had to adapt to new realities and life-altering changes. On this day, though, I'd like to put the negative thoughts aside and focus on what has kept us rolling here at Android Police despite it all.
We love gadgets (duh), we love Android, and we love digging, finding, and reporting on the smallest and biggest features that come to those metal and glass sheets that we carry with us everywhere. Some of them are bad, bad, evil changes; others are much more welcome.
We learned a lot in 2020. About face coverings, about entertaining ourselves in our own homes, about staycations, and probably about making bread — or at least personally net carbohydrate profiteering off of someone who did. But in the realm of smartphones, one trend markedly stood out amidst a global economy (and frankly, just a globe) in turmoil: good, relatively inexpensive phones.
The OnePlus Nord, Galaxy S20 FE, and Google Pixel 4a shine brightest in the collective "value" Android smartphone cosmos right now here in the West, being from the three names most synonymous with the tech enthusiast circle in the handset space.
Imagine if every time you opened Gmail in the morning, you got a notification reminding you that you could attach files from Google Photos to your emails. Wouldn't that be incredibly annoying? On an unrelated note, ever ask your Google Home what the weather is, only for it to then "helpfully" suggest you set up the "Good morning" feature? Or check sports scores? Or tell you how to play the news? Or one of a handful of other not-very-useful tips and tricks you in no way asked for? You're not alone, and neither are you alone in the realization that there is no guaranteed way to stop these useless engagement experiments.
You could say with the Google Pixel 4a, Google was already up against long odds facing the outgoing Pixel 3a, a phone we also named our Editors' Choice phone of the year in 2019. And yet, the Pixel team did exactly that: the 4a is faster, better future-proofed (more RAM and storage), lasts longer on a charge, and is simply better designed than its predecessor, featuring a more modern display with impressively little bezel. Oh, and Google did all this for $50 less than the Pixel 3a. It was the definition of a smartphone homerun, and seven out of eight Android Police editors agreed (someone voted for the Z Fold2 ಠ_ಠ).
People who own Sonos speakers aren't having the best time dealing with the death of Google Play Music. YouTube Music, the app meant to replace it, has yet to adopt the seemingly basic ability to cast audio from mobile devices to robust thousand-dollar soundbars, much less achieve the promise of complete feature parity. As with many conflicts, there's no good reason for this chasm to exist and everyone to blame. But who should fix it?
Amazon has dominated the e-reader industry for so long that most of its competitors have either become niche products or faded out of existence entirely. I'd forgive you for thinking Kindles were the only e-readers sold in the United States, but not only is Barnes & Noble still around, but the company continues to release new Nook readers. And I bought one.
Every Sunday, we assemble the latest headlines, editorials, and exclusive content into the Android Police Newsletter and send it out to thousands of readers. If you're not one of those readers, you could be missing out on the most important stories of the week, as well as content you'll only find in the newsletter, like the free wallpapers we're giving out from now through the end of the year. Here's all the important stuff featured in the Android Police Newsletter from November 29, 2020.
When it announced the new Chromecast, Google heralded its new Google TV interface layer as an excellent content discovery experience aimed at helping you find what to watch without worrying about the logistics of the 'where' and 'how.' In many ways, the promise is fulfilled and we think you won't be disappointed at all by your $50 purchase. But if you don't live alone and have kids, a roommate, or a partner with a different taste, the experience is far from ideal. Google TV is clearly built for a single user, from the homescreen to Assistant and various other apps.