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. Read More
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. Read More
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. Read More
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. Read More
Yesterday, I posted (and shared via Android Police's official Twitter account) that Android Police will no longer be accepting any access from Andy Rubin's startup Essential. That means no more press conferences, briefings, embargoes, or review devices. This came in light of Rubin's announcement of the company's new phone, apparently called GEM.
In the time between the announcement of the PH-1 over two years ago and yesterday's tease of GEM, a significant story about Rubin was published: The New York Times reported he was paid $90 million to leave Google in connection with a serious and, according to Google's own internal investigation, "credible" allegation that he coerced another Google employee into having sexual relations with him. Read More
Microsoft fans have been holding out for a 'Surface Phone' for years. Yesterday, it could have almost appeared — if you squinted hard enough — that Microsoft gave it to them. But the Surface Duo is barely a phone at all, and hardly what rendered fantasies have imagined a Microsoft smartphone could be. It's way weirder and way more daring than that. And, counter-intuitively, a strong reason to temper your excitement for Microsoft's big leap into the world of Android. Read More
Today, Microsoft announced a bunch of new Surface products — and they all look very, very good (and some of them look very weird). Perhaps the least sexy, but most utilitarian, of them was the new Surface Laptop 3. But in one fell swoop, Microsoft proved that it had both the platform and the vision to build a professional-grade laptop that Google could only dream to. And it was in that moment I knew, whatever the next Pixelbook will be (and we have a pretty good idea), it will be a disappointment.
I say this not for the sake of being harsh, but as someone who has lived with and loved Google's original Pixelbook from the day it was available. Read More
I have 500 words to tell you whether or not I think you should get Google Play Pass for $5 a month or if you're better off with an alternative solution. Frankly speaking, if you're the type that constantly uses a wide array of apps and games and are always curious enough to try just one more every so often, you should pull the trigger. But let's not get ahead of ourselves, here. Read More
Google announced a new "unlimited" plan for its Fi cellular service this morning, and on paper, it's an improvement in most ways over the company's current pricing model for heavy duty users. Data caps have been increased to 22GB before throttling, while pricing for individuals has been lowered to $70 per month (previously, Fi maxed out at $80/mo for individual users). The catch is that it's $70 per month, full stop — Fi's dynamic data pricing doesn't apply to unlimited subscribers. For those who want to stick with Fi's old dynamic model, they'll still be limited to 15GB per month before throttling may occur, and enjoy the same per-gigabyte pricing they always have. Read More
Today, Apple will announce some new iPhones. Before the year is through, it will sell tens of millions of these phones worldwide, with each sale averaging a price any other smartphone maker could only dream of. Around a month from now, Google will offer its retort, in the form of the Pixel 4. The Pixel 4 will not be the source of any grand claims about sales figures, because Google will probably be lucky to even crack a million units before 2019 ends, if the Pixel 3's struggles are any sort of evidence.
After three years and soon four generations of Pixel smartphones, Google has failed to generate meaningful marketplace traction for its in-house smartphone brand. Read More