The latest version of Duo began rolling out to users this morning, but there haven't been any visible changes popping up in the live app. As is tradition, especially with Duo, a teardown does turn up a few of the changes we can look forward to in the future. This time, we're looking at yet another camera effect, but this one may actually stick around and make it to users. There is also follow-up on some previous camera effects and the voicemail / videomail feature discussed in previous teardowns. Read More
'Tis the season for things to go on sale, and sometimes more than one sale. The Google Home Mini is already discounted $20 for the holiday season, and Target will also knock $20 more off if you also pick up a Wemo smart plug. It's quite a festive deal. Read More
Early last month, we started seeing the option to include Google Homes and Assistant-enabled speakers in rooms inside the Home app, just like you would for your lights and switches and thermostats. Now it seems that option has propagated to Android TV devices as well.
Artem spotted it this morning: in his Google Home app, his two SHIELD TVs appear in the Home control tab, under the Assistant section. Tapping on them lets him assign them to a room. Technically, that should allow him to turn on and off the TV along with the lights for example. That's one advantage I can think of. Read More
Ads are just a fact of life in mobile apps. You can't completely avoid them, but there are some ad implementations that are so annoying that Google has explicitly disallowed them from the Play Store. Remember Airpush? The current advertising scourge is ad-infused lock screens, which have shown up in previously safe apps like ES File Explorer, Peel, and Hotspot Shield VPN. Google has finally listened to our pleading, and lock screen ads are no longer allowed in the Play Store. Read More
Two years ago, when I started getting into smart home stuff, I had a small epiphany when I heard a podcaster say they set up their Christmas tree to turn on and off with their iPhone. Until then, I had considered smart plugs completely useless for me, since we use recessed ceiling lights a lot here in Lebanon and rarely have floor or desk lamps. But a Christmas tree and one you can turn on and off without kneeling, ruffling half the tree, and dropping several decorations in order to unplug and replug the lights?! That was a light bulb moment, if ever there was any. Read More
Android Auto and Apple Carplay keep making their way into more and more cars. The latest two to be announced with the smartphone connectivity integrated are the 2018 Nissan Kicks and the 2018 Jeep Wrangler.
The Kicks is a compact crossover and will have a centrally-mounted 7" display with Auto and Carplay support. It will come in three models: Kick S, Kick SV, and Kick SR, and will be available in spring of 2018. Pricing will be announced around then. Read More
It's getting ridiculous at this point. Google Home has been available for over a year and despite the slow initial rollout of video services, things have picked up with Netflix being joined by CBS, HBO NOW, YouTube TV, CW, and most recently Viki. Now there's another one joining the fold of video partners and, no, again, it is not Google Play Movies. It's Crackle.
Crackle is an online streaming service owned by Sony and, according to Wikipedia, it is available in 21 countries. It's free and ad-supported, and it features original content as well as movies and TV shows from partners such as Miramax, MGM, Universal Studios, The Walt Disney Company, and more. Read More
When HTC announced the HTC U11 Life about a month ago, it promised the device wouldn't be stuck on Nougat for long and would get Oreo soon. That was actually one of the positive points in favor of the U11 Life when David reviewed the phone, but as it turns out, many OEMs are using that strategy to avoid the requirements of Treble support when launching with Oreo directly. I don't know if HTC falls in that category, but it sure smells like that is the case.
Anyway, the good news is that the Oreo update is starting to roll out today to the unlocked HTC U11 Life in the US, according to Mo Versi. Read More
Audiobooks are great, allowing busier people to listen to books while on the go. Google seems to sympathize with this notion, having just added new options for audiobooks in Google Search. This news comes not long after we discovered mentions of audiobooks in the Play Store v8.4 APK teardown. Read More
In spite of its fancy dual camera setup, the Essential Phone did not take great photos at the time of our review. Since then, Essential has been working hard on updating various aspects of the phone, including the camera software. Amidst Andy Rubin's leave of absence, the company has just released a new version of its Essential Camera app that adds portrait mode, reduced compression, and some other things. Read More