For all the traction China’s many smartphone brands have gained globally in the past decade, it’s in China itself where they remain most popular. And for good reason: because Chinese consumers don’t have access to many Western products or services. Xiaomi is one of the most popular smartphone brands in China, and while the unique market in that country has encouraged the company to think differently than its more global rivals in some ways, its latest smartphone strikes me as one built by China, for China. There’s nothing wrong with that in and of itself, but it makes me question just what Xiaomi’s pitch to the rest of the world will be, or if the company’s phones will ever matter outside a few, select regions. Read More
It’s no secret that HTC, as a smartphone company, is hard up. And while the relative success of its Vive VR unit has warded off active ‘death watch’ speculation to date, there’s little doubt that HTC’s days as a smartphone maker are winding down. The company’s release schedule has become haphazard: it announced a “U Ultra” smartphone in early 2017 seemingly out of nowhere - that ended up being a complete flop. Six months later it revealed the U11 to largely positive reviews, but little in the way of consumer response. The “light” version of that phone, the U11 Life, wasn’t even worth a second glance, and now it seems HTC won’t even release a proper mainstream premium phone in 2018 at all. Read More
The so-called Active Edge functionality on the Pixel 2 and 2 XL which allows you to squeeze the body of the phone to activate Google's Assistant is pretty polarizing. Even here at Android Police, our general staff consensus is that we trigger it more frequently by accident than intent. Not being able to easily remap the trigger is also a huge downer. But worse than that is the fact that right now in Google's own Camera app, it doesn't even do anything.
Well, Google, I have a suggestion: Why not give us a squeezable shutter like HTC phones? Read More
Android Wear seemed like the right product at the right time when Google announced it back in 2014. Smartwatches were just starting to take off with products like the Pebble awakening our latent desire for wrist computers. Meanwhile, Apple's long-rumored smartwatch was still unannounced. After four years, dozens of watches, and a name change, Wear OS is in a tough spot. Read More
The mobile web can be frustrating. Smartphones and tablets are becoming faster every year, but modern sites usually outpace them by becoming more complicated. While there are efforts to improve site load times, smartphones have to deal with other obstacles as well. Cellular network connections can become congested, especially in densely-populated areas, and budget phones often aren't speedy enough for a good browsing experience.
There have been many different products and technologies designed to speed up mobile browsing. Some browsers, like Opera Mini and Amazon Silk, render most of the page on a server and send the result to the user's device. Read More
The Google Assistant is growing up, and beyond adding a smattering of extra functionality to what's increasingly becoming a list of every Google product and service under the sun, the Assistant is also picking up some new character. This year at I/O, Google introduced us to Assistant's six new voice options, in addition to the default female voice and the male option we saw arrive last year. But who are all these voices? Read More
OnePlus is a company that, historically, hasn’t been known for adventurous smartphone designs. And while much of the OnePlus 6 merely iterates on the same rather staid, minimal hardware language, there is one part that stands out: this is the first Android phone with a screen notch I haven’t felt repulsed by.
Now, I don’t mind screen notches, in theory. The iPhone X manages to incorporate one well, particularly owing to the fact that the rest of the screen bezel around the phone is equally thin. Which is to say, there isn’t a chin.
The OnePlus 6 does have a chin - and there are reasons for that - but I think it incorporates that element far better than, for example, Andy Rubin’s Essential Phone. Read More
Alarms and timers are probably two of the things I use the Google Assistant for most often. Voice commands make setting them dead simple (especially important for the kitchen, when my hands are often covered in food), and I can use them on my phone, my Pixelbook, or one of my Google Homes.
The problem is that, for all the endpoint ubiquity of setting and managing these timers via the Assistant, I can't actually control or set timers for one device from another. That's kind of silly, and it's a feature I've been wanting for years now. If the appeal isn't obvious to you, let me just put it this way: Have you ever wanted to set an alarm or timer on your phone, only to have your Google Home respond to the query instead? Read More
By some measures, Android Auto is a huge success. Google's infotainment system is available in cars from dozens of automakers, and consumers will be using these vehicles for years. That's a lot of people incentivized to use services like Assistant and Maps, but Auto is inherently limited as a projected interface from your phone. The car integration tab in Auto remains barren in virtually all vehicles. Google's solution is to build a version of Android that runs on cars, which it calls Android Automotive. We now have a better idea what that could look like.
I/O 2018 marks the second time Google has partnered with automakers to set up elaborate demos of what Android is like when it's actually running on a car. Read More