Google Assistant does a lot of things. This invisible artificial intelligence residing (partly) inside our devices can answer all kinds of questions, control our homes, help us plan our day, play our favorite music, and, with the addition of features like What's on my screen and Google Lens, glean more from what we're looking at and provide contextual answers. What you may not be aware of, and something I recently discovered (though it isn't very new), is that Assistant can read your screen even when you don't explicitly ask it what's on your screen. That has the potential to be very handy, but also extremely creepy if you didn't know it was possible. Read More
A few days back, stories broke that Huawei had tried to pass off not just one, but at least two photos as part of teaser images for the upcoming P30's telescopic optical zoom. Both were professional DSLR shots, one of which was easily reverse-searched as being from a stock image repository on the web, the other outed as shot by someone back in 2009. The facts came to light quickly and without much effort: Huawei was caught red-handed, and its later attempts to sidestep an apology seemed half-hearted at best (which, no: Huawei has not apologized - its statement admits no fault of any kind). Read More
Android Q has a dark theme - but you wouldn't know it reading any of Google's posts about the newest version of its latest mobile OS. There's not even a deeply-buried way to enable it inside Android - the only access point is via command line over ADB. It's the sort of thing you might have expected in the Android of 10 years ago, but that is hardly consistent with the highly polished image of the operating system Google tries to communicate today. It is, in a word, janky.
All jokes about Android's stability the bugginess of Pixel phones aside, Google has generally become much better about introducing new features in a usable and largely finished state in recent years. Read More
"It's the first generation." I heard it over and over during Mobile World Congress whenever the topic of foldable smartphones inevitably arose. Everyone is talking about foldables (which yes, that's not a word, except now it is), and everyone has a take. They're the game-changing future our ever-expanding screens require. They're going to be huge with [insert demographic/region/niche here]. They're expensive now, but they won't always be. They're not going to be very good now, either, but just wait - this is only the first generation.
But it isn't - not exactly. Take a closer look at that image at the top of the post - do you recognize that foldable phone? Read More
We all wish our phones could do more from time to time, but you can't just add new features without buying a new device, right? Oh, you're forgetting about Moto Mods. You can add new hardware capabilities to your phone like a speaker, a zoom camera, or projector. It changed everything... actually, that's wrong. Smartphones are largely the same as they were in 2016, but Motorola is still at least going through the motions to pretend Mods are a good idea. The evidence is unavoidable at this point: they're not. Read More
It's early, but my least favorite news story of 2019 so far is this awful garbage from T3, a tech news site from the UK, about the Pixel 4 potentially being "modular." I won't link to it (nice try, T3!), but I will give you the title and a synopsis. Read More
The original Google Home speaker launched all the way back in late 2016. A lot has changed since then — Assistant has become more powerful and multi-lingual, the Home Mini has been a wild success, the Home Max became a great option for audiophiles, and dozens of third-party Assistant speakers have hit the market. Read More
In 2019, the most talked-about feature of any new smartphones is not the camera, processor, modem, or software. It is the shape and size of the area reserved for the sensors and cameras on the front - and it is time to just stop it.
Notches, punch holes, screen cutouts - whatever the hell you want to call them - are part of phones for the time being. They’re part of phones because the companies making the phones are desperate to find ways to excite us with new visual elements that keep our historically low attention spans long enough to sell us thousand dollar glass and aluminum bricks. Read More
5G is either the biggest change to our wireless world in decades or the most overhyped marketing spin from carriers in as long - and it all depends on just who you’re asking. Cynical tech journalists like me have real reason to downplay the technology’s importance and relevance to ordinary consumers, but we needn’t get into all that here. Carrier and phone manufacturers, meanwhile, believe it will usher in a new age of devices and use cases we can’t yet fully imagine. The reality is probably somewhere in the middle - closer to the cynical end, I’d argue! - but I think regardless of how 5G plays out, it means very bad things for struggling phone manufacturers. Read More
It's time to bid farewell to Google's audio streaming dongle, the Chromecast Audio. After a significant price drop late last year, its stock has since been depleted in the Google store and at Best Buy and other retail locations, and there are already eBay listings up asking for twice what the device was worth in its heyday.
The Chromecast Audio served as an incredible tool for those who merely wanted to sync their existing audio setups with the rest of their Cast-enabled devices. But it will soon become another relic of the past, leaving both novices and experienced audiophiles alike with fewer options for this kind of turn-key connectivity. Read More