Google Pixel 4 – what’s sticking?

This year the Pixel 4 is mostly a safe release but it also adds some weird new features. Google released a new version of their flagship and tries to figure out, what sticks.

Samsung is known for trying new stuff before adding the features to the main flagships. Do you remember the original Galaxy Note with the massive 5,3″ display? They created a new category of devices just by trying if people like big screens. The original Note had an 81.4 cm² display area. The Note 10+ now has a 114 cm² one.

They also created a new trend with curved displays. The Note Edge, released at the same time with the Note 4, was a limited production curved screen variant of the Note 4. Now all of the Samsung flagships have curved displays.

What about Google? Where are their dual front facing cameras this year? Where is the single rear camera that can do all the things a multi camera setup could do? Where is the unlimited cloud storage for original quality photos? Where is the safe and quick fingerprint scanner? Where is the 3,5mm adapter? Where is the USB-C headphones? Where are the dual front facing speakers?

Google has been trying something new every year but this year it seems that they have ditched too much of the good features and added empty gimmicks.

I mean, who is ready to completely give up the fingerprint scanner for the face unlock? Not me at least. When I get my hands on the Pixel 4, I’ll no longer have my phone unlocked when it comes out of my pocket. Why can’t we have both?

The radar is another thing. If I understood correctly, the radar is used with the face unlock feature to make it more accurate. But it is also used for the reaching over the phone feature so the phone will detect when user is going to pick it up and unlock it. It’s used to skip songs and silence alarms. At the same time Google is promoting all the voice control features.

The entire keynote looked to me like Fiat Multipla design team was managing the Google hardware business. The features were not unified. The release looks like a collection of new stuff Google engineers were able to create this year. Some old stuff was left behind while doing this.

The biggest mess is the Google Photos backup. They got rid of the free original quality backups to get more people to buy the Google One subscription. If it only was an affordable option but it’s basically the price of the iCloud. This should not be that big of a deal as the high quality backups are still free but anyway, it has been the flagship feature of Pixel phones until now.

Google is testing, what will stick and I hope that some day, they will make the perfect combination of the features they have tried. While waiting, I’ll tease myself with the idea of switching to an iPhone and with that, getting a proper smart watch that does only exist in a fruit ecosystem.

Google Fuchsia – What should it be?

So, Google opened their Fuchsia developer page and it’s time for us to speculate. What should the Fuchsia be from customers standpoint?

There are a very little facts about the Fuchsia right now. Google just opened the developer page at fuchsia.dev but the site barely tells us anything. From Google I/O, we know that the OS should be working on many different kinds of devices and form factors.

Developers, software, applications

Image result for developers ballmer
Developers, developers, developers

How ever Google decides to make the apps work, they should work regardless of the form factor or device. Microsoft has got this wrong several times with its Windows Phone and RT systems. If a developer wants to build a great app for the Fuchsia, the app should work on all the form factors from desktop to tablet and smartphone, maybe even on the wearable devices.

The best way to get the developers interested is money. Money interests anyone but there are also other things, like trending languages and ways to create software that would attract developers. More ways to create apps, more apps, more users, more money. It is also probable that Google will promote the web apps that would work on any device like iPhones or Windows computers to generate profit for Google.

However, the cloud computing is growing all the time and it’ll be interesting to see, how Google will want to use that in Fuchsia. Could we see a cloud based video editing app or will the Stadia game streaming system be a big part of the new OS?

Android fragmentation

Android fragmentation is probably one of the most used geek terms on this site. It is used to describe the problem Android has with the older versions dominating the Android distribution chart.

One big task Google has with the Fuchsia is to prevent this kind of fragmentation from happening. It is essential to keep users safe, applications up to date and features widely spread.

Android has developed this problem over the years by leaving the system updates to the manufacturers, not Google. In the last few years, Google has tried to fix this but the cruel fact is that most Android devices are still running older version of Android than the project Treble, and very few manufacturers have updated their older models to support Treble anyway. In Android 10, there will be new features to fix this mess but it’ll still take years for them to reach the majority of the devices.

All this has of course allowed manufacturers to make their own customizations on their Android UI. It’ll be interesting to see how this will be introduced in the Fuchsia, or will the UI be similar on all manufacturers’ devices?

Security 

At this day and age, Google will need to make everything to keep Fuchsia safe. Running the OS on any device and form factor makes it vulnerable for issues that other companies have. For example Microsoft had to fix Windows for multiple times because Intel’s CPUs had big vulnerabilities.

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This is continuity to the fragmentation part because there must be a fast way to deploy these security updates when necessary. Our part is just to hope that Google isn’t trying to swallow a too big of a bite.

IoT integration

Wether we ask it or not, everything is going to be connected to the internet. You can already buy fridges and microwave ovens that are connected to the internet. Everything else is to follow. Creating a new operating system and skipping IoT would be foolish.

Image result for internet of things

Most likely, Google is going to add their own IoT control environment to the Fuchsia. That’ll be another interesting thing to follow.

Device management for enterprises

One thing where Google is way behind Apple and Samsung, is mobile device management. From enterprises standpoint, it’s quite easy to buy Samsung and Apple phones and manage them via Knox or Apple DEP / MDM. Although Google is trying to catch up, it’s going to take time before Google’s solution will be the number one solution for most companies.

Image result for device management

That’s why I hope that Google is taking this seriously and creates a full on management system for all devices from desktops to smartphones and company cars. The management system should have everything from AD to remote connections, software deployment and remote device actions. This is an enormous task that Microsoft has worked years and years to improve.

The enterprise market could do with a competitor. Easiest way for Google to start is to make the device management better than any competition on the market with a competitive price tag. That would get them more customers and resources to create the full on server ecosystem.

 

I’ll just hope all the best for the Fuchsia project and wait impatiently writing these speculations.

Google finally releases the Android Wear 2.0 along with new LG Watches

watch-sport-and-style

The long awaited Android Wear 2.0 update is finally here. The LG Watch Sport and Style are the first devices to launch with it. 

The Android Wear 2.0 update is the first major update since the launch of the OS. It brings many new features and promises to make the most of every minute. Possibly the biggest new feature is the new way to use apps. There is now a Play Store app for the watch and the apps are installed directly to the watch. That means way better app experience for the iPhone users.

The watch faces also get new features. They now bring more information and actions from apps. The Google Fit can now – finally – really track your pace, calories, distance and heart rate. The messaging has been improved drastically as the new Android Wear 2.0 brings keyboard, handwriting, emoji drawing and Smart Reply alongside the voice dictating. Google Assistant is also built into the OS as is Android Pay.

The new LG Watch Sport and Style are the first devices to launch with Android Wear 2.0. The Sport variant is the more high-end one with a larger 1.38″ P-OLED display, 768 MB of RAM, 430 mAh battery and IP68 certification.

The Style has a 1.2″ P-OLED display, 512 MB of RAM, 240 mAh battery and IP67 protection. Both watches are made out of metal and have Snapdragon Wear 2100 SoC, 4 GB of Storage and a bunch of sensors. Although, the Style doesn’t get the heart rate sensor.

The LG Watch Sport is priced at $349 and Style at $249. Sales will start on 10 February in the US.

The Android Wear 2.0 will be available for the supported watches in the coming weeks.

Current watches getting Android Wear 2.0 include: ASUS ZenWatch 2 & 3, Casio Smart Outdoor Watch, Casio PRO TREK Smart, Fossil Q Founder, Fossil Q Marshal, Fossil Q Wander, Huawei Watch, LG G Watch R, LG Watch Urbane & 2nd Edition LTE, Michael Kors Access Smartwatches, Moto 360 2nd Gen, Moto 360 for Women, Moto 360 Sport, New Balance RunIQ, Nixon Mission, Polar M600 and TAG Heuer Connected.

Source: Google

Upcoming Nexus Launcher leaks

 

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Android Police has released leaked images and animations that show upcoming changes to the home screen of Nexus devices. 

Android Police reminds that the leak is not absolutely sure but is at the same time very confident. This is the very first leak so we have no idea how correct it is.

According to the leaks, Google will remove the app drawer icon and replace it with a sliding gesture and a tiny arrow. The search bar would also be replaced by a G button on the top left and a date information widget on the right.

If the leak is correct, the new home screen design would be available for the 2016 Nexus phones first as a Nexus Launcher. There’s no information if it would became available for non-Nexus devices later.

Source and the animation: Android Police

Upcoming smartphone trends of 2016

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Finally Superzeppo is back and we take a look at the upcoming smartphones of 2016. Prepare your reading muscles.

The 2016 smartphone market looks quite stagnant at the moment. The best seller seems to be the Samsung Galaxy S7, a mild update to last year’s S6. iPhone 6s (& Plus) is, of course, selling well despite its age. HTC doesn’t seem to do to bad either with HTC 10, possibly the best smartphone of 2016 so far.

Lenovo just launched their flagship Moto Z phones and is getting great response. OnePlus 3 stepped up the company’s game in build quality category and still offers excellent price-to-features ratio costing half of the other flagships.

Trends

The year 2016 pretty much continues the trends of 2015. From the mid-range to the absolute flagships, consumers can expect brilliant build quality and excellent materials. The flagship phones are expected to be better than the phones that cost half as much and that’s how modularity has popped up this year. LG G5 brought the replaceable battery / module slot and Lenovo’s Moto Mods take the modularity to easier level.

Processors seem to finally be powerful enough that pretty much no one cares to talk too much about them. However this year seems to be the year of Qualcomm again as the Snapdragon 820 easily beats Samsung competing chip.

Dual cameras are the thing of 2016. Next iPhone will have some kind of dual camera setup and for example the Huawei P9 has dual cameras to let more light to the sensor.

Thickness and battery capacity continue their fight. Lenovo decided to make both with Moto Z and Moto Z Force. The first is ridiculously thin and has smaller battery and the latter has some thickness and much more powerful battery.

There are a lot of new smartphones coming up this year. Let’s take a look at a few of them.

iPhone 7 or 6SE

iphone-7-leak

Rumor mill around the next iPhone is huge and no one is even sure about its name. Because the design is going to be very similar to the one’s before, the latest rumors even suggest the 6SE name, a change to Apple’s Tick-Tock just like Intel is doing.

Possibly the biggest talking point of the upcoming iPhone is the headphone jack. Even though some leaked chip images still suggest a 3.5 mm headphone jack, most of the renders, leaks and rumors claim that Apple will ditch the ancient audio connector and run the audio through the Lightning port instead.

Lenovo out-Appled Apple with their Moto Z devices but unlike the upcoming iPhone, the Moto Z is razor thin at 5.3 mm. Thickness should not be a reason to drop the headphone jack as the iPhone is rumored to be almost the same thickness as its predecessor. However, the headphone jack uses a lot of space inside the phone and we are also rumored to get a larger battery this year.

The iPhone 6SE or 7 is also rumored to say goodbye to the ugly antenna bands and add a new color, blue. The larger Plus or Pro version is going to have some kind of a dual camera setup but cameras in all renders are protruding. According to Evan Bass, the next iPhones will be released on September 16th.

Note 7

note-7

Samsung is going to make a name change with this year’s Note. The company wants to clarify their device smartphone lineup by skipping the Note 6 and having the S and Note at the same number.

According to the rumors and leaks, Samsung will bring the curved display and the S-Pen back together after one two years. The QHD AMOLED display will measure at 5.7 or 5.8 inches and be curved on both sides. In the current Samsung way, the back will also be curved and made out of glass.

Reportedly, Samsung will also bump the base storage option up to 64 gigabytes. After a few smartphones with 6 GB of RAM, it will not come as a surprise that Samsung will fit the Note 7 with 6 gigs as well. The processor will be either Exynos 8893 or Snapdragon 821 but after the difference in performance between the Exynos and Snapdragon Galaxy S7s, Samsung might choose just one chip even though the performance of both of the chips is more than enough for the current TouchWiz.

Cameras will be taken from the Galaxy S7, which is not a bad thing at all as the S7 is still the camera to beat at least on the rear camera competition. What will be new, is the iris scanner. Somehow I’m personally not sold on that, as fingerprint will be much much easier and faster way to use to unlock the device. Battery will be either 3600 or 4000 mAh and the phone will be released on August 2nd.

HTC Nexie

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We have heard various stories about this year’s Nexus phones. Some say that Huawei will be updating the Nexus 6P and HTC will only make the smaller Nexus. The most trusted rumor at the moment is that HTC will make both Nexus phones, a 5.2 Nexus 5X successor and a 5.5″ one to replace the 6P.

Besides the display size, we know very little. According, again, to Evan Blass, the smaller HTC Nexus will have a 1080p display and a Snapdragon 820 SoC. The logical upgrade to the larger Nexus would be a QHD display and a Snapdragon 821 SoC.

Sources:

Android Police, Seeko, Android Authority

Google releases Android N developer preview

android-n-developer-preview

Google has released the first developer preview of the Android N with Android Beta program. 

The next version of Android is now available for selected Nexus and Android One devices as a developer preview. It looks like the Nexus 5 will not receive the Android N update as it’s left out of the preview program.

There are two ways to update a Nexus device to the preview version. The image can be downloaded directly from Google and flashed to the phone with Android Studio. The second option is to join the beta program to receive updates over the air. The beta program site is currently down so we are not sure if it’s really an option.

The biggest new feature of the Android N is the multi-window or split-screen multitasking. The feature Samsung has had for ages is finally available in the stock Android. There are also some adjustments on the notifications and the Doze.

I’ll be joining the beta program when possible to be one of the firsts to try out the next Android.

Source: Google

HTC rumored to make 2016 Nexus phones

According to a Twitter rumor, HTC is going to manufacture the next Nexus phones later this year.

Rumors of HTC making the next Nexus phones started a while ago and now a trusted HTC leaker LlabTooFeR tweeted telling the codenames for the devices.

The codenames are T50 and T55. The closest codename to them is T6 which was sold as One Max, a 6″ phablet. If that is to be compared, the 2016 Nexus phones might have 5″ and 5.5″  displays.

So what to expect? Obviously HTC is known for its design and build quality as well as the Boomsound speakers. After two years Google probably doesn’t want to go back to LCD displays in its flagship so an AMOLED panel might be a necessity. Also the huge top and bottom bezels could be shrieked and the camera should possibly be made by someone else than HTC.

Source: LlabTooFeR on Twitter