Today, I uninstalled the Daydream app from my Pixel XL, because I hadn't used it in nearly three months. When I reviewed the experience in November last year, I had the sneaking suspicion this is where I'd end up. Not because I felt Daydream was uniquely lacking in some way, or even that the sparse content ecosystem would quickly be depleted through my use. It's because the exact same thing has happened with every Samsung Gear VR I've been sent to evaluate over the years. And Gear VR's Oculus Store has tons of stuff - hundreds of experiences, games, 360-degree videos. Read More
Back at Google I/O 2016, we got a first look at Google Assistant. It was designed to be a conversational assistant, as opposed to the search-based Google Now. Then when Allo was released in September, it shipped with a beta version of Assistant. Finally when the Google Pixel phones were released in October, Assistant was a major selling point.
Google has a tendency to rush products out the door without fully finishing them, and Assistant was no exception. So now that about four months have passed since the official introduction of Google Assistant (roughly five months if you count the Allo beta), has anything changed? Read More
Unlimited data is back at Verizon. There's much merriment to be had throughout the land, as data-hungry power users once again return to their streaming music and video services without fear of sudden charges or slowdowns. It's been over five years since Verizon cut off access to unlimited data, and the number of customers hanging on to their grandfathered unlimited plans has dwindled down to a few grizzled veterans. It's a good day for wireless customers. Read More
Yesterday, Google announced what many hoped would be the first "proper" Android Wear smartwatches - designed from the ground up to provide the best Wear experience possible by the very team behind Android Wear. But what we received increasingly appears to be two LG smartwatches with hints of Google design influence, with far more of Google's effort being felt in the marketing and media campaigns than on consumers' wrists. Our reviews of the LG Watch Style and Watch Sport haven't yet landed, and I don't wish to taint their conclusions (my opinions here are my own), but to me they show Google's strategy with the struggling Android Wear platform is deeply misguided. Read More
Android One is an ambitious smartphone initiative launched by Google in 2014. To date, it's been limited to a handful of countries - mostly in Asia - and it remains at best unclear if it's actually been successful. The idea was nice enough: Inexpensive Android phones built by typical handset-makers, but with Google lending a helping hand on the messy business of software updates. Of course, the carrot also came with a stick. In exchange for this software support, those handset companies agreed to use what Google decided constituted a good, proper Android - no bloat, stock look and feel, and regular security patches. Read More
2017 marked my sixth consecutive attendance at the world's largest technology event, and for the sixth year, I left feeling like phones weren't really a very important part of it all. I have come to accept that's just what CES has become, especially given it sits in the shadow of the much more mobile-focused Mobile World Congress show in Barcelona, which is happening about seven weeks from now. But before we start looking ahead, let's talk about what happened last week.
CES has always been a proving ground for bold ideas from companies big and small. In 2017, the bold move is to take normal products that consumers use and smartify them. Read More
When Google Assistant was first unveiled at Google I/O last year, it promised to be a more natural voice assistant - similar to Siri, Alexa, Cortana, etc. It also serves as an Alexa competitor, with Google positioning Assistant for use with third-party devices and services. Right now, Google Assistant is officially available on Google's Pixel phones, the Google Home, Google's Allo chat application, and soon Android TV. Read More
Fun fact: As of yesterday, T-Mobile is now the only carrier in the US that no longer allows you to buy a plan on the internet with high-speed tethering. Did you know that? With the utterly confusing and pointless splitting of T-Mobile's ONE plan (already split into ONE and ONE Plus), the carrier has officially hidden high-speed tethering behind a phonewall. You have to call T-Mobile's sales number to buy the new ONE Plus International plan, the only T-Mobile plan advertised with high-speed tethering anymore (Note: T-Mobile has clarified that existing T-Mobile customers can get ONE Plus International through the T-Mobile app, but was unable to provide any explanation why new customers needed to call). Read More
The Phab 2 Pro is the first phone to feature Google's Tango. Tango is, to put it lightly, not really ready for anyone aside from curious tech reviewers and maybe developers looking to get into AR content. The Phab 2 Pro itself also isn't a very good phone, and frankly costs too much to justify a largely gimmicky feature. In short, this product has "commercial flop" written all over it, and I think even AR enthusiasts and Tango phones can understand that. I honestly didn't ever expect it to be commercially marketed: this is a gadget that has some novelty and development value, but essentially zero real consumer appeal at this time. Read More