Android Police

Editorials

34

Our 10 favorite Android features from 2020

Our 10 favorite Android features from 2020

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.

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88

I am very happy that budget smartphones finally, really don't suck

I am very happy that budget smartphones finally, really don't suck

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.

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81

Google Home's 'suggestions' are annoying and useless, and it's time for them to die

Google Home's 'suggestions' are annoying and useless, and it's time for them to die

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.

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83

The Pixel 4a is our 2020 Smartphone of the Year

The Pixel 4a is our 2020 Smartphone of the Year

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).

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90

The forced switch to YouTube Music is leaving Sonos users in the cold

The forced switch to YouTube Music is leaving Sonos users in the cold

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?

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16

I bought a Barnes & Noble Nook in 2020, and I didn't expect it to be this good

I bought a Barnes & Noble Nook in 2020, and I didn't expect it to be this good

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.

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2

How to give your phone the official Cyberpunk 2077 theme

How to give your phone the official Cyberpunk 2077 theme

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.

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59

Stadia one year later: The grass is looking greener from up here in the cloud

Stadia one year later: The grass is looking greener from up here in the cloud

It's finally here — the day when everyone who said Google's cloud gaming platform would be canceled in less than a year are officially wrong. That's right, Stadia is turning one today. It's been a rollercoaster of a ride with plenty of highs and lows. However, despite it all, I still believe Stadia has grown a lot in 12 short months, and it's time we give it some credit.

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42

Stadia is a year old today — and it's still not a viable alternative to console and PC gaming

Stadia is a year old today — and it's still not a viable alternative to console and PC gaming

One year ago today, Google launched Stadia, which, at the time, seemed like a promising new player in the gaming space. I reviewed it back then and found that while streaming performance was everything I could've hoped for, the selection of games and availability of basic features were both lacking. The number of available games on the platform has increased roughly fivefold since day one, and a lot of the features that weren't ready for launch, like achievements and family game sharing, are here — but against the backdrop of the new PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X, the service is still feeling half-baked.

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