Posts tagged “Pixel

Samsung Galaxy S10, the best Android smartphone right now

There, I said it, there is really nothing else to read — unless you want to learn about how smooth interacting with the device is, how it matches up to the competition or the hole punch for the two front facing cameras actually interact with the device.  It’s a quick takeaway, but Samsung is truly doing something great here and it should not go unnoticed.

S10Plus_BB

Samsung Galaxy S10+


Design and Use

(*My main interaction and time was spent with the Galaxy S10+, which this hands-on will focus on.)

Samsung knocked the ball out of the park here with an incredibly light design housing a massive 6.4″ AMOLED display that is industry and class leading.  For full specifications of the Galaxy S10E, S10 and S10+, go here.  This display stretches to each side, curving over to the edge and going almost to the top and bottom as well — almost.  There is a small bit of continuity cut off due to the hole-punch cutout for the front facing cameras and in my use and to my surprise, were not too impeding in the use of the device.  The cameras essentially sit in the notification space and leave the rest of the screen open as a gigantic media-centric canvas.

What does this mean for daily interactions on the device?

Plain and simple — the hole-punch does not get in the way, unless you really, really want it to.  Even during expanding a YouTube video from regular pillarbox to full-screen, the camera cut out doesn’t kill the viewing experience — say that about a traditional “notch”.  See below:

Video on Galaxy S10+.  No zoom versus zoom.

Using the Galaxy S10+ is a breeze with apps opening fast and seamlessly, as someone who has tested out most of the flagship Samsung phones in recent memory, the optimizations put in place by the company get better and better and One UI is certainly helping out here.  One UI is Samsung’s attempt at simplifying the user interface of a smartphone on a big display.  With that being said, touch points are larger and placement of items on the display make it much easier for one-handed use, which is something most of us wish to do.  Additionally, One UI seems to cut out a lot of the “crap” and jankiness that older Samsung smartphones included out-of-the-box and looks and feels a lot easier on the eyes.  Although One UI is an improvement in performance, we still see the usual shutter lag present in most Android smartphones and the S10 camera is no exception.  While the photos turn out excellent and going between all three camera modes (2x, 1x and telephoto) are a breeze — when I tap the shutter button, I expect a photo then not a milli-second or two later.


Wrap-up

When it’s all said and done, if you want a great all-around performer, this device is for you.  Samsung keeps getting better and better and while us techies, including myself, constantly talk about the Pixel — many seem to forget that.  This years Pixel 3 XL is an absolute abomination to look at and many argue that the only reason to even buy the phone is for the camera; however, when Samsung has put together the most complete Android phone of the year, it’s simply too hard to ignore.

Welcome Samsung Galaxy S10, the current best Android smartphone of 2019.

Made by Google Event 2017

Google has done it again.  They got on stage, as only Google does, and have shown us an array and beautiful new products that will be available in a few weeks, Fall 2017.


Google opened the event with Sundar Pichai expressing sorrow for all of the recent events taking place in the world, from the hurricanes that have swept through coastal cities and islands to the act of terrorism in Las Vegas.  From there it was back to back product announcements that showed the prowess of Google’s machine learning and artificial intelligence skills, in addition to their growing maturity at “Made by Google” hardware.

Google Home

Users of the Google Home love it, from the ability to start playing songs from Google Play Music or Spotify, to playing a YouTube video directly on your ChromeCast enabled TV, Home does an amazing job at connecting you to your “things”.  Updates to Google Home and Google Assistant including the following:

  • Voice Match — Google Home will now identify all users of the device, simply by their voice.  This means that you and your partner’s contacts do not get mixed up when trying to place a call or calendars don’t get intermingled when asking about your day.
  • Integration into an array of new Nest products, while connected will allow the user to view the stream of an entrance to a home and more all from the power of their Voice.

Updates to the Assistant that’s built into Google Home surely mean a new device right?

Absolutely.

Enter Google Home Mini.  The Google Home, in a smaller package, all for $49 and housing the power of Google Assistant.  This could turn out to be a huge game-changer for Google in their quest to capture the living room.  (Especially since this device is included with purchase of another that was released later, read more below.)

Source: The Verge


Google Home Max

Ever wanted a speaker that really “thumped” with the power of Google Assistant baked in?  Meet Max, the newest member of the Google Home family.  Starting at $399, this is a powerful (20x more powerful than the standard Google Home) speaker that’s meant to take on Apple HomePod, Sonos and others.  The device features dual 4.5″ subwoofers for deep bass pulses, a sturdy housing, which means no creaks from the speakers, custom tweeters and acoustically transparent fabric.

Google Home Max listens to where it is in the room and adjusts the audio to just the right levels so that it’s output is perfect for any room.  Additionally, the microphone is extremely sensitive, so it allows for the user to interact with the device without the need for yelling and shouting.

HomeMax_23109-28810-Screen-Shot-2017-10-04-at-124601-PM-l

Google Home Max.

Starting at $399.


Google Pixelbook

Chromebooks, we’ve all heard of them.  How about the fact that now, every child in a classroom can have their own personal laptop — thank Google.  How about the fact that you now have a device that can be essentially virus free with a keyboard — thank Google.  Also, how about the fact that you are  one sign-in away from all of your content, bookmarks, movies and email — thank Google.

Source: The Verge

These are just a few things that make the Chromebook an excellent device, but Google had to make one too.  Say hello to the Pixelbook, the all aluminum, 10 hour battery, core i5 and i7 packing, glass trackpad wielding laptop from Google.  This device is nothing short of beautiful and of course, this is the first Chromebook experience where Google Assistant is baked in.  Additionally, many Android apps are coming out of beta and should run smoothly with powerful Intel chips behind them.  Google is really pushing Chrome OS hard here, especially with the latest feature of this device, which allows you to tether automatically if you have a Pixel phone nearby and wifi signal isn’t strong — Instant Tethering.  Throw in the Pixelbook Pen, which allows you to annotate, pull out content and more all with the lowest latency currently on the market.

Source: Made by Google

Starting at $999 for Intel Core i5 with 8 GB RAM.


Google Pixel 2 & Pixel 2 XL

Building off of the success of the original Google Pixel and Pixel XL, which featured arguably the best camera on an Android device and maybe on a smartphone (Don’t believe me? Look at some pictures for yourself!) Google gives us Pixel 2.  Below is a breakdown of specs:

Pixel2_Screenshot from 2017-10-04 19-48-31

Google Pixel 2 & Pixel 2 XL key specs.

This device looks to have packaged all of the good things of “Pure Android” into a device that just works for the end user adding no gimmicks, just a device that works well without the extra bloat of apps that are trying to replicate a standard Google experience.  Additionally, adding water resistance to this years’ model is huge, which is something I have vocally criticized numerous times due to the fact that Google charges a premium for a device; yet, can’t protect us from a splash….Really?

Similarly, Google has added Portrait Mode into the camera software, which will allow the user to capture photos with realistic (one shot they showed on stage was brutally awful) shallow depth of field.  Pixel 2 is able to achieve this without the need for a second lens due to how the camera captures pixels of the shot and of course some excellent AI.

Overall, the product looks to be a top-tier device that is in contention for Android device of the year.  As said in the below video, “We make it look easy!“.

Source: Made by Google

Starting at $649 for Pixel 2 and $849 for Pixel 2 XL.


Google Pixel Buds

Wireless ear buds with the intelligence of Google Assistant built right in, giving you the capability to translate on the fly.  Yep.  That’s pretty fancy and they are here, built by Google.

Source: Android Authority

While the earbuds are not single ear buds like Apple Airpods, they are tied together; however, the buds follow a similar design scheme that we’ve seen from other Made by Google products.  Since Google Assistant is on board, a quick swipe of the right bud will get you access and you’ll be able to jam out or chat with Google for an estimated 5 hours per day while the case can further charge the headphones.

Google-Pixel-Buds-crop-780x445

Google Pixel Buds (shown in case)

Starting at $159.


Google Clips

A small camera, designed for parents and pet owners alike — that’s built to capture those special moments, with privacy built in that only saves “clips” once you’ve confirmed and stored on the camera fully encrypted before it’s transferred.  Clips is a “smart” camera and recognizes expressions, the appropriate lighting and framing of it’s objects — all automatically when the camera recognizes something that you’d like to capture all while being in the background and non-invasive (no microphone and an indicator light that shows when it’s on).

As you see, this camera is focused on freeing the user from the device and has an emphasis on privacy, something of which people think Google takes for granted — read their privacy policy if you believe that.

Starting at $249.

Source: The Verge


TLDR

Google announced an impressive array of devices, which time will only tell if the company will continue taking hardware seriously — for now and the past couple of years it has by creating solid incremental updates to existing devices and pushing out thoughtful new ones.

Good job, Google.  Good job.

Google Pixel First Impressions

Google’s latest flagship smartphones have been revealed with the monikers Pixel (5″ version) and Pixel XL (5.5″ version). Nexus is officially dead. You heard it here first folks. The Nexus team will still be providing support; however, these phones note the end of an era of vanilla Android goodness and Pixel will take it’s place.

Features:

  • Google Assistant built in with Android 7.1, first device with this software addition.
  • Camera bump gone with a unique tapered design.
  • Best scoring camera of any smartphone….ever.
  • Newly designed Pixel launcher to getting to your favorite apps quickly and accessing Google Assistant in a moment.

Bottom line:  The new Pixel devices from Google seem promising.  Another step at taking back Android from OEMs and making a solid entry into doing that.  With phones made by Google, users can expect a lot more from their devices such as quality support, updates when they are released and non-crippled experience that wouldn’t be bogged down by carrier and manufacturer bloat.

Google Pixel Devices, what to expect

This is what we’ve been waiting for for YEARS.  True Google devices, not necessarily labeled Nexus — but labeled as Google devices and to be sold as such.  Devices with marketing behind them to show the power of a true Google Android device that gets updates, is secure and puts user-experience (not bloatware or cookie cutter apps) at the forefront.  This is not only important to Google but paramount to users — at the end of the day, we (you) derserve a quality device that isn’t overrun with carrier software and will be secure and supplied with updates, which keep your device relevant, for years and in time.
Why does this matter?  Simple.  Everyone knows who Google is, having their name on the phone will be huge, rather than an OEM acting as if Android does not exist, when it’s actually powering the phone.

HTC made Google Pixel devices.

HTC made Google Pixel devices.


Quality
Device quality has skyrocketed over the past few years with better devices costing less and less.  This is doing two things, keeping device manufacturers competitive and making those that are producing high-quality devices on their toes.  Google understands the ramifications of creating a poor quality device, and the recent Nexus devices have shown that the company has commitment to creating devices that are solid in build quality.
Software
Two reasons we buy a device from Google is to get a pure Android experience and receive timely updates.  When other major manufacturers put Android on a device the code is modified and differentiated so that it can look different from another.  Up front, most users think that this is a good thing; however, over the course of years we have seen that this has created the word that has haunted Google and Android — fragmentation.  Fragmentation occurs when a piece of software is different from one device to the next, since this phenomenon happened, Google is simply unable to get updates out to all of its users due to the many channels that it must go through.  First, Google releases the code to the latest version of Android (either a full version upgrade or a monthly security update).  Next, the OEM receives that update and merges the changes to the ROM that it is using — sometimes there can be issues because on the OEM side they’ve usually modified the stock Android code to look or behave in a certain way.  Finally, the carrier has to test and push it out to the devices.
When it comes to updates and keeping your device secure, it is in your best interest to buy a phone directly from Google, like the upcoming Pixel or Nexus devices.
Experience
The stock or “Google” Android experience is usually better than that of a manufacturer in many ways — primarily because it is simple and lightweight.  Lightweight in terms of how much space the software takes up on the device and the fact there are simply less processes on these devices that run, which in turn makes for a quicker operating system because less things are being held in memory.  When it all boils down, a user simply wants their device to work well and usually when carriers and manufacturers get their hands on a device, expect a performance degradation.

Bottom line:  We are expected to see the HTC made Google Pixel phones on October 4th — let’s hope that this spirals Android into the right direction and forces OEMs to do a better job.  Perhaps it is best if some of them get left behind by increased standards.  It is simply best practice to care about and protect those that support you with secure and high-performing devices rather than refusing to update phones and tablets.