Android Police

Editorials

504

I'm an Android user who tried the Apple Watch for a month — it's now the only smartwatch I'll recommend

Smartwatches as a concept are not something I've ever really been able to get into. It turns out that's mostly because they're all pretty terrible — once you've tried an Apple Watch.

Two years ago, I tried using an iPhone as my full-time smartphone for the first time ever. I wasn't a complete iOS novice — I've owned iPads in the past — but it was the first time I'd actually had to live inside Apple's walled garden. There were a lot of things I didn't like about the experience, and many of them still hold true today. But the Apple Watch was new territory for me.

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466

Google is trying to build phones for "80% of users" — and it's leading to stupid mistakes

This weekend, I watched a clip of The Verge’s podcast featuring one of Google’s product managers for the Pixel 4, Isaac Reynolds, discussing the decision to omit 4K 60FPS (and 4K 24FPS) video recording from the phone. In and of itself, I don’t think it’s a very interesting topic, and I don’t believe anyone thinks Google made the “right” call in excluding it. But Reynolds’ answer regarding that decision hinges on an argument Google has abused for years: 80% of people will never use this feature.

I suspect the 80% rule (which I'm guessing is also the 85/90/95% rule, depending on who you ask) is an unspoken philosophy at Google.

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229

Opinion: Screw the carriers, Google should roll out RCS messaging worldwide

I don’t know how many people have taken advantage of the RCS “hack” recently discovered in Google Messages, which allows almost anyone to hop onto Google’s Jibe servers for RCS/Chat messaging, but it must be a pretty insane number given the attention our walkthrough has received. For some of those folks, this last week has been a source of anxiety, too, as all of us enjoying the new “Chat” features are left wondering whether or not Google will let this carrier circumvention fly. There was even a small hiccup that stirred up some panic. But if Google really wants what is best for consumers, it should do more than just ignore this apparent workaround.

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210

Buying Fitbit won't save Google's failing Wear OS

Google announced earlier this week that it would purchase Fitbit, the ailing manufacturer of fitness-focused wearables and smartwatches, for $2.1 billion. As tech acquisitions go, this one was small: Google valued Fitbit at a price equivalent to that of budget TV manufacturer Vizio back in 2016, a company whose value exists largely in its retail distribution network.

As I alluded to in the opening line, Fitbit isn't doing well. Its stock peaked shortly after its IPO in 2015 around $45 per share, and even after the announcement of Google's acquisition, sits at just over $7 today. This is because Fitbit's newest products aren't, well, good: its most ambitious yet, the Versa 2, has been subject to criticism almost entirely for the software it runs, while the hardware does little to set it apart meaningfully from manufacturers like Samsung and Apple.

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34

Samsung DeX remains an interesting concept with rough edges, even after three years

Earlier this year, I purchased a slightly-used Samsung Galaxy S10e, which has become my personal favorite phone. My last experience with Samsung phones was the 2011-era Galaxy Player 5, so I was curious to try out some of the features the company has developed since then, including DeX.

If you're not familiar with it, Samsung DeX was originally released in 2017, alongside the Galaxy S8. With the aid of a $150 dock, you could connect your phone to an external monitor, keyboard, and mouse for a PC-like experience. It was perhaps the first mass-market implementation of phone/PC convergence, after both Canonical (maker of the Ubuntu Linux operating system) and Microsoft tried to make it happen.

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37

Meet the new guy: Manuel Vonau

Hello folks, Manuel here. You're probably wondering why I'm writing one of these 'Meet the new guy' pieces just now – avid Android Police readers like you have probably been reading my articles for quite a while now. But we've noticed that I didn't properly introduce myself, so this is it, finally.

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206

Pixel 4 hands-on: Remember what they say about pre-orders

A lot is riding on Google's Pixel 4. Last year's Pixel 3 didn't sell well, to put it lightly, and we've made it clear that the phones need to grow up when it comes to the historical laundry list of issues that seem to debut with each new model. While you'll need to wait a bit longer for our full, embargo-bound assessment, we have some preliminary thoughts about Google's latest phone.

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135

With the Pixel 4, Google's smartphones have to grow up

I've been using the Pixel 4 XL for the better part of a day now. I could tell you about that experience, what it's been like, and how the phone's handled. Those kinds of articles are generally what you expect alongside a smartphone launch. But the more I use the phone, the more I realize that, like so many smartphones, the Pixel 4 XL is basically just a phone. Most phones are so much more similar than they are different in 2019, and those differences that do remain are becoming vanishingly small. Many of them also center on questions that I simply can't answer yet — questions that speak to how mature, how grown up Google's smartphone division has become.

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66

Google is not going to make the Chromebook of my dreams, and I have to let it go

I wanted so much more for Chrome OS. But when Google announces the expected "Pixelbook Go" on October 15, I expect to be left wishing for something that will simply never be.

From the moment they came on the scene I was excited about the concept behind Chromebooks: a light operating system that can run on cheap hardware and handle just about all of a person’s computing basics. Introduced at a time when Windows Vista was still a painful and recent memory and Apple was beginning to alienate longtime OS X devotees with frustrating changes (I still recall repeatedly shaking my fist at “El Capitan”), the idea of a simplified OS on commodified and trivially replaceable hardware seemed to me to be just what the industry, and millions of consumers, needed.

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114

I bought a Galaxy Fold and used it for ten days—here are my thoughts

For the last several years, smartphone manufacturers innovated primarily in the way of camera technology, while the form factor has increasingly stagnated into a bunch of boring, glass-backed slabs. Many have been asking for more innovation, and with the Samsung Galaxy Fold we see a radical departure from the ordinary. But phones that fold are, in a way, a return to the past.

Nearly a decade ago, we had foldable phones like the Nokia E7 and T-Mobile Touch Pro 2. They were known as "slider" phones, and featured displays that folded away to reveal physical QWERTY keyboards, with email and texting first in mind use cases.

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