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opinion

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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34

Opinion: It's too soon to tell what Android 12 will be, but it will be big

Opinion: It's too soon to tell what Android 12 will be, but it will be big

Yesterday, we got our very first glimpse at the latest version of Android, but if someone handed a Pixel running it to you right now, you'd be forgiven for confusing it with Android 11. Beneath that lightly altered exterior, with its developer-facing changes, notification tweaks, and subtly adjusted colors, a whole lot more is waiting to happen. And with the unfinished nature of those hidden changes, it's way too early to tell precisely what kind of an impact Android 12 will have — but it will be big.

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97

Android 12's biggest feature should be an easy upgrade to Android 13

Android 12's biggest feature should be an easy upgrade to Android 13

A big focus for Google in recent years when it comes to Android has been updates — specifically, in making them easier for hardware manufacturers to support. The two largest (public) efforts undertaken in service of this initiative to date are Projects Treble and Mainline, both of which have been designed to modularize and simplify the process of updating Android devices by making key portions of the OS less dependent on the underlying platform version. There's also clear evidence these initiatives are having a positive impact: Android 11 experienced the quickest adoption of any version of the OS to date.

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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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42

Stadia is a year old today — and it's still not a viable alternative to console and PC gaming

Stadia is a year old today — and it's still not a viable alternative to console and PC gaming

One year ago today, Google launched Stadia, which, at the time, seemed like a promising new player in the gaming space. I reviewed it back then and found that while streaming performance was everything I could've hoped for, the selection of games and availability of basic features were both lacking. The number of available games on the platform has increased roughly fivefold since day one, and a lot of the features that weren't ready for launch, like achievements and family game sharing, are here — but against the backdrop of the new PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X, the service is still feeling half-baked.

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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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