Let me preface this post by saying that I love Android's notification shade. I love the toggles for things like airplane mode and dark theme, I love the platform's increasingly rich and smart notification quick actions, notification bundling, and just how Android handles notifications in general. But after three months of using the Pixel 4 XL, I've come to an increasingly annoying realization: the notification shade is having absolutely ruinous effects on the phone's facial recognition performance, something I've never experienced on the iPhone. And the simple reason is fingerprints.
Sensors that have to see things don't like fingerprints, for obvious reasons. Read More
Google collects vast amounts of speech data across all of its products, and while it hasn't been too transparent about the practice, we as users profit from it for the most part. Speech recognition has consistently gotten better over the years, which has allowed impressive sci-fi tech like smart speakers to enter our homes. There's one department where Google needs to step up its game, though: multilingual speakers are having a hard time using more than one language on any Google product. Read More
It takes a lot of applications to build an ecosystem. Google has all the essentials down — email, calendar, contacts, productivity applications, and so on — but the company has always struggled with creative tools. Most notably, Google is still lacking a proper video editor for its own operating systems, which is becoming even more of an issue as high-end Chromebooks gain momentum. Read More
I don't think it meant to, but Google has backed itself into a corner with the anticipated Pixel 4a. The previous Pixel 3a was a smash-hit of a phone, doubling the company's phone sales amid some serious troubles. The 3a was so great it even earned our 2019 Smartphone of the Year accolade over the company's "flagship" Pixel 4 series. But based on what we've heard so far, I think the upcoming Pixel 4a could be a disaster for Google. Read More
When the first OnePlus 7 Pro renders trickled out, showing off what appeared to be a pop-out camera mechanism, even I was critical of the concept. External moving parts on a device that suffers as much abuse as a phone seemed like a design that was destined to fail, even in just a mechanical sense.
Well, I'm not afraid to say that I was entirely wrong. OnePlus' pop-up selfie camera has proven to be a fantastic idea, and I'm upset it looks like OnePlus' next high-end "Pro" phone won't get one. Read More
Nearly ten years ago, Google shipped an unassuming, totally unbranded laptop to a large group of journalists and tech enthusiasts as part of a 60,000 unit pilot program. That laptop was the CR-48, and it was designed to showcase a project Google had been working on internally for well over a year. It was called Chrome OS.
I was among the first of those lucky folks to receive a CR-48, and I used it as much as humanly possible for almost a year. It was kind of the worst: constant crashes, an insanely slow single-core Intel Atom processor, and questionable build quality would make it clear to anyone that it was very much a product built for dogfooding, not as a replacement for your Windows or Mac notebook. Read More
As 2019 ends and we enter a new decade, I felt the story of OnePlus deserved a bit more examination. In an email interview with CMO Kyle Kiang, I probed the history of a company that is often as shocking in its successes as it is in its marketing misfires. As it crests its sixth year as a smartphone vendor, it's more competitive than ever, coming a long way from the days when it could barely manage to build enough $349 OnePlus Ones using a tightly controlled and very annoying invitation system.
OnePlus has also transformed in ways I don't believe any of us predicted, going from a scrappy, value-first smartphone maker to a legitimate competitor in a field that includes some of the world's most recognizable brands: Samsung, Apple, and Google. Read More
Google announced that it was killing Inbox all the way back in 2018. Though its death would ultimately be delayed until April of 2019, the news still hit hard for those that had grown dependent on the service's many exclusive email-managing tools — especially "bundling," which automatically sorted emails into adaptive categories for easy organization. In 2018, Google said that some of Inbox's features, including bundling, would be coming to Gmail, making our forced migration a little easier. But here we are a mere day from 2020, and Gmail still doesn't have it. Read More
After years of using mostly stock-Android phones, I bought a Galaxy S10e for myself a few months ago, and I've used it almost every day since that point. While the software experience isn't perfect, Samsung does usually provide options to disable functionality I don't care for. However, there's one software quirk that can't easily be fixed: screenshots are constantly backed up to my Google Photos library. Read More
Today, Vice published a story detailing the abysmal security practices of Amazon's Ring brand of smart home security and surveillance products after a spate of compromised passwords (which have been inaccurately described as "hacked," even by The New York Times, who should know much better) led to terrifying privacy breaches for consumers across the US.
Compromised passwords are an extremely common source of account breaches, whether as part of account dumps on the dark web or through simple social engineering. Passwords are, for all of their virtues, very bad as security measures. In a world full of bad actors looking to compromise your personal privacy for the sake of spying on you or taking advantage of you financially, your password should be one of several lines of defense protecting you. Read More