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opinion

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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227

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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70

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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42

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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152

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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122

Including expensive mmWave 5G on the Pixel 5 was a big mistake, Google

Including expensive mmWave 5G on the Pixel 5 was a big mistake, Google

When it launches, the Google Pixel 5 will cost $699 in the United States — easily making it the most expensive Snapdragon 765 device on the market globally. For comparison, OnePlus's Nord costs around $470 in Europe, while the US-sold LG Velvet retails for $600. Both phones have larger screens, more cameras, in-screen fingerprint scanners, and still support the actually-usable sub-6GHz 5G being deployed globally. And I think that pretty much tells us what we need to know about why the Pixel 5 is commanding such a premium — mmWave 5G no one asked for or needs.

Only the American Pixel 5 will ship with the antenna modules required for compatibility with mmWave 5G networks, and those antenna modules are expensive.

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20

The latest OnePlus leaks have me worried

The latest OnePlus leaks have me worried

OnePlus is gearing up for two new Nord-branded phones in the US market, according to leaks from Android Central in the last month, including what might be its first entry-level phone. If the details regarding the ~$200 "Clover" and sub-$400 "Billie" are both true (and they probably are), then OnePlus might have a problem on its hands. While the company was once known for its massively disruptive influence in the flagship space, now it's settled comfortably into the market it once upset. And its usual strategies won't work here.

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77

I did my entire job from the Galaxy Z Fold2 for a day

I did my entire job from the Galaxy Z Fold2 for a day

I really can't stress enough how game-changing folding phones are. I know they're frequently (and fairly) criticized for things like display durability and price, but once you actually use one and understand the experience, something just clicks — or, at least, it did for me. They're still not for everyone, but if you absolutely need to maintain productivity on the go, then the Z Fold2 will be as disruptive to your idea of work as the early Blackberry phones were. In fact, to prove a point, I was able to do my entire job here at Android Police from the phone for most of a whole day.

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