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op-ed

42

The smart light bulb problem no one is talking about

The smart light bulb problem no one is talking about

Kitting out my new house with smart home gadgets has been a blast coming from the rigid confines of a rented apartment. But one particular issue affecting the simplest of all smart home hardware is driving me a little nuts. I was actually a little shocked to see it hasn't been talked about more, and while I wrestle with trying to get hardware that behaves a little better, I'd like to rant for the public record about how inconsistent smart bulbs are.

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26

Is it too late to buy a Pixel 4a in 2021?

Is it too late to buy a Pixel 4a in 2021?

The Pixel 4a has been out for seven months now, and leaks for a successor are beginning. It's usually at around this time that a phone starts to be a bad deal. Halfway through the typical year-long retail-available life, the launch price value proposition for most phones starts to wane. But the Pixel 4a bucks that trend, and I don't think it's too late to buy one. In fact, based on the leaks for the Pixel 5a, many of our readers may even want to pick one up now rather than wait.

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159

Google doesn't want to kill Stadia, just Stadia as we know it

Google doesn't want to kill Stadia, just Stadia as we know it

Yesterday's Stadia news has some fearing for the future of the platform. While the company hasn't announced that it's killing Stadia itself, some wonder if this step away from first-party games could be the beginning of the end. But it's the licensing news that's the most important detail: Google is opening itself up to a pivot that could be an incredibly smart move. In the long run, Stadia's original business model may have been doomed to fail.

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225

Apple is holding back messaging progress across the entire world with iMessage

Apple is holding back messaging progress across the entire world with iMessage

Google's rollout of its RCS-based "Chat" in the Messages app is now complete, delivering on the years-long promise of a better, universal messaging standard on Android. But, it's still not the "iMessage for Android" many of us hoped it might be. And, perhaps ironically, it's Apple that's standing in the way of that.

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69

Next year's Pixels need to charge faster than 18W

Next year's Pixels need to charge faster than 18W

Since the very first Pixels in 2016, the fastest any of Google's flagship phones has charged was limited to 18W. Back then, it wasn't an issue: Fast-charging standards of the time like Qualcomm's Quick Charge 2.0 could ostensibly go higher, but they practically topped out at a similar speed, and it wasn't a huge gap. In the end, Google elected for the better and more universal USB Power Delivery standard. But now, four years and five Pixels later, 18W doesn't cut it.

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144

Opinion: OnePlus has jumped the shark

Opinion: OnePlus has jumped the shark

OnePlus has come a long way from the scrappy, super-disruptive startup it used to be. For years, its phones posed the best spec-to-price "anti-flagship" value ratio of pretty much any Android phone, with software that was praised for its simple and stock-like appearance, supplemented by frequent and consistent updates. More than just a poor-man's Pixel, OnePlus phones had an enthusiastic (if not rabid) following for their confluence of features and price. But somehow, in the last year or so, OnePlus has lost its way.

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41

The Pixel 4a 5G hits the value sweet spot of 2020

The Pixel 4a 5G hits the value sweet spot of 2020

It's nearly the end of the year, and while many of us are waiting for the expected autumnal/Black Friday sales to upgrade phones, it's time to put that list together and consider just which models you'll be keeping an eye out for. And if you're still on the fence examining the 2020 lineup, we've got a specific recommendation: The Pixel 4a 5G. At $500 bought outright and unlocked, it offers a nearly ideal balance of value to performance.

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156

Google needs to set an example and go beyond three years of Android updates

Google needs to set an example and go beyond three years of Android updates

I admit, I held hope that Google might surprise us with the Pixel 2 and 2 XL. They were only guaranteed updates until this month, but Google was able to bring the original 2016 Pixels Android 10 last year even though they weren't promised to get it. Secretly, I wanted that to be a trial run for the Pixel 2, dreaming that Google might surprise us with an extra year of updates. After all, 2017 wasn't that long ago, and the hardware has the headroom for at least another year or two of updates. But, though the phones commanded a premium $650-750 price tag at launch, they're being left behind.

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174

It's time for Google to kill the rest of its 'Play' branding

It's time for Google to kill the rest of its 'Play' branding

Mixed in among the Pixels, Chromecast, and speaker yesterday was another important tidbit. Google is essentially rebranding Android TV to Google TV over the next few years. But "Google TV" is more than just a software skin, it's also the new name for Google Play Movies & TV. That's makes it the second Play-branded service to get the boot in the next month if you consider Play Music, and I don't think this change goes far enough. It's been eight years, and it's time for Google to kill the "Play" branding across the board.

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489

Ads are taking over Samsung's Galaxy smartphones — and it needs to stop

Ads are taking over Samsung's Galaxy smartphones — and it needs to stop

I've used a Samsung Galaxy smartphone almost every day for nearly 4 years. I used them because Samsung had fantastic hardware that was matched by (usually) excellent software. But in 2020, a Samsung phone is no longer my daily driver, and there's one simple reason that's the case: Ads.

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