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Editorials

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Opinion: Android apps are not the way forward for Chromebooks

Chrome OS was ahead of its time when it was first introduced in 2011. That's not to say Chrome OS was a revolutionary breakthrough, akin to the original iPhone, but rather that it was built for a future that didn't exist yet. Web apps were commonplace in 2011, but they could only do a tiny fraction of what traditional desktop programs were capable of. Many early Chromebooks had limited amounts of free 4G data to compensate for poor offline support in web apps.

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Using the HTC G1, 10 years later: 2008's smartphone is effectively a dumbphone in 2018

As you may have noticed, this post originally appeared on Android Police earlier in 2018. As much of the AP team is away for the holidays this week, we're showcasing some of our favorite posts of the year. Enjoy!

Going into this series, I hoped I’d get back to the T-Mobile G1/HTC Dream and be able to romantically wax about where Android came from. How the G1, though dated, still held up the promises made by Google's first Android effort back in 2008. Analytically, it's all true, but time has not been kind to the phone, and using it has made for a pretty rough week, even by my recent standards. 

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We're keeping smartphones longer - and it's going to make them crazy expensive

Every two years, we buy a smartphone. At least, that’s what we’ve been told is reasonable to expect of the Average Person. And while reality means that this figure varies widely between any given two people, we do know that the companies that make and sell smartphones have this expectation. That, once a smartphone is two years old, most people are probably ready to get rid of it for something better. But there’s a wrinkle: everything we know tells us that’s changing.

In the early days of the iPhone - when it was exclusive to AT&T - the carrier’s upgrade policy allowed you to buy a new device every two years at a substantial discount in exchange for locking yourself into another two years of service.

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The Oppo R17 Pro and OnePlus 6T are twins separated at birth - but why?

OnePlus is something of a Cinderella story in the smartphone world. It seemed to appear out of nowhere, releasing a phone with numbers that matched the best the likes of Samsung and HTC had to offer - and did it at half the price. The OnePlus One went viral in a way few products do, and the rest is history (well, as much as four years can be “history”). OnePlus just keeps improving on that formula, most recently with the excellent OnePlus 6T, which I’ve had a chance to use for the last few weeks. And it really is a great phone - we even gave it our ‘Phone of the Year’ award.

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Allo, is anybody out there? A brief history of Google's ill-fated messenger [Updated]

Back in April, it was revealed that development for Allo was temporarily suspended while Google redoubled its efforts at spreading the gospel of RCS. At the time, the company reassured consumers that it was still committed to supporting Allo, but the recent news of it's expected shutdown, paired with a total absence of updates for the last ten months, casts those earlier statements into severe doubt.

While Allo's fate hangs in limbo, let's take a look back at the service since its announcement, and speculate a bit on how it got here. 

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Beware when buying third-party Google Assistant speakers and Smart Displays, updates and features are not equal

Another year, another category of Google-compatible products has flooded the market. A few years ago, it was the Chromecast, then it was the Google Home and Home Mini, and now it's the Google Home Hub. With every first-party release comes a slew of third-party alternatives, boasting the same features, same integrations, same functions, but with different designs and prices. On paper, they should be equal to Google's, but time and time again, we've learned that they're not.

Never though have the lines blurred as much as with the Home Hub and its Lenovo and JBL brethren. They look almost the same, both on the outside and in their interface, and Google pushed them earlier than its Home Hub, advertising them and talking about them as if they were its own.

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The Google Pixel Slate is a Chrome tablet from the future - with all of today's problems

The Pixel Slate is one of the most confounding products I’ve used in my time at Android Police. On the one hand, it feels mature: Chrome OS truly is a real operating system in 2018, and using the Slate as I would any other Chromebook is a pretty great experience. On the other, it’s also frustratingly unfinished: Chrome OS isn’t much of a tablet operating system in 2018, and that’s not something that’s going to change overnight. That can make the whole “slate” part of the Pixel Slate seem like an afterthought. (Note: This isn't our review, which will go live later in the week, because I want some more time with this thing.)

And sure, you could have easily predicted as much the moment the hybrid detachable was announced last month.

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Which to buy: Google Home Hub or Lenovo Smart Display?

It's the most wonderful time of the year when everything goes on sale and retailers everywhere push hard to get their wares into your hands. If you've been holding out for a sale before choosing between the Lenovo Smart Display and the Google Home Hub, now is your chance to find a deal. We’ll tell you where to look if you want to save some cash. But before you go shopping, here are some things to consider before you decide whether to bring home Lenovo's 8- or 10-inch smart display, or Google's smaller Home Hub.

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A smart door lock might be the most sensible smart home gadget I've used

When it comes to home security, peace of mind and convenience are what matter to me, making a smart lock pretty damn appealing. We know that homes generally aren't targeted by burglars for a lack of obstacles, but for an abundance of opportunity (like an unlocked door!), and a smart door lock leaves one less thing to chance when you're away on vacation or at the office. All the locks in the world probably aren't going to stop someone truly determined to break into your home - so unless you're barring your windows and using solid exterior doors (and most US homes aren't), I don't think the physical security argument has many legs to stand on.

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What the Chromebook needs before it's going to be considered a real computer [Opinion]

I love Chrome OS. I use it every day, for nearly everything. But that’s the problem—it can only do so much. Everything else it can’t do has to be done on another computer, with another platform because the Chromebook doesn’t run the full suite of apps that I need to be consistently productive.

It isn’t just for my line of work. With the Pixel Slate running Chrome OS launching soon and poised to compete against the Microsoft Surface Pro and other related hardware, it’s a wonder if it can replace the full-throttle laptops that working professionals and creatives have long relied on.

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