In this week’s top stories: Google shows us the front of the Pixel 4 and accounts for its bezel, Nvidia releases Android Pie for the Shield TV, Android Auto rolls out a fresh redesign, and more.
Google blew away our expectations once again on Monday by revealing more about the Pixel 4. Specifically, we now know what the front of the Pixel 4 looks like and what Google is hiding under the top bezel. As our Stephen Hall had first reported, the Google Pixel 4 will indeed feature a Project Soli radar sensor. A short video preview of how Soli will be used on the Pixel 4 was also provided by Google.
With the Pixel 4, Google says it is “engineering [face unlock] differently.” A full lift of the device or pose — a likely shot at the iPhone’s Face ID — is not required to get into your phone.
On the security and privacy, image data for facial recognition is processed on your device and “never saved or shared with other Google services.” All face data is stored on the Pixel’s Titan M chip.
Our Ben Schoon was quick to point out that this massive swath of features and sensors more than justifies what some had been calling a “large” upper bezel on the Pixel 4.
What’s especially impressive to me is that this is more tech than what you’d find in the iPhone X’s notch. One of the biggest complaints about the notch on most Android phones is that it’s used just for a camera and nothing more, but few people complain about the same (if you ask me more intrusive) design choice on the iPhone, simply because it’s justified by some of the same sensors Google is now using. If Apple can get away with less in a worse design, how can anyone complain about what Google has opted for?
The Nvidia’s Shield TV devices continued to make waves this week, as the company rolled out its big Android Pie update. In fact, the Nvidia Shield TV is the first consumer Android TV device to offer Android Pie. Unlike previous major updates, however, Android Pie doesn’t offer much in the way of major, visible changes to Android TV.
Android Pie adds a redesigned Settings menu to Android TV with updated colors and tweaked organization. Nvidia notes streamlined set up for new users, which might be useful following rumors that a revised device is in development.
Android Auto has been testing a redesigned version of its interface for some months now, but this week Google launched it to the public. The new, darker UI simplifies the key features of Android Auto, but as noted in our hands-on review, loses some of its proactive smarts.
One of the biggest improvements is a dark theme with colorful accents. There is a new launcher with recents up top, and all other applications below in a grid. The Android Auto revamp also features a new navigation bar with home button at the very left. Depending on the context, media controls, directions, or incoming call buttons follow.
In other redesign news, the Google Play Store’s Material Theme is once more rolling out to phones, tablets, and Chromebooks alike, this week. This isn’t the first time the Play Store’s Material Theme has rolled to devices, as Google, perhaps mistakenly, shipped the redesign to some users. With as many as are seeing the redesign now, hopefully it’s here to stay this time around.
The most striking aspect of this Material Theme Play Store is how the app is now stark white. Google has removed the green (apps & games), red (movies & TV), and blue (books) accent colors from the app and status bar. This bright color is particularly striking in the “My apps & games” list and listings. App names are now much more prominent, while the “What’s new” section sees better spacing.
Two years ago, Hulu rolled out a complete overhaul of their UI and design language across almost all platforms. One of the major holdouts, however, was Android TV. This week, Hulu announced and subsequently rolled out their new Android TV app with the long-missing ability to watch live TV.
With the updated app, Hulu subscribers ditch the aging interface that Hulu hasn’t supported for quite a while. It also opens up the platform to Hulu’s Live TV service which is one of the better alternatives to Google’s own YouTube TV. Presumably, this updated app will also support newer features of Android TV such as homescreen channels, but the company’s post doesn’t mention that. Hopefully, 4K support won’t be too far behind either.
The rest of this week’s top stories follow:
- Android Q Engineering AMA Tidbits: Time-based Dark Theme, Screen Recording, more
- Nintendo Switch gets unofficial Android port w/ LineageOS and Nvidia Shield apps
- New Android Auto rollout officially starts today, available to all in ‘coming weeks’
- JBL Link Bar: 24 hours with the first Android TV soundbar
- Android prepping more RCS APIs for OEMs, not third-party apps
Chrome / OS |
- Google Chrome’s dark mode for the web is coming to desktop and Chrome OS
- Chrome 76 for Android rolling out: Harder to detect Incognito Mode, PWA tweaks, more
- Google opens 2019 nominations for fifth Material Design Awards
- Huawei is still working with Google’s Fuchsia OS, despite US sanctions
Google Assistant |
- Google begins replacing ‘Voice search’ on Android with Assistant
- Google Assistant Updates feed adds YouTube Music/Spotify and weather cards
Google Pixel |
- Google says RCS chat is fully rolled out in UK and France, more countries soon
- Google Phone app on Pixel adding emergency calling without having to speak
- Latest OnePlus 7 Pro update adds August patch ahead of Google Pixel, assorted fixes
- OnePlus 6T in 2019: 5 reasons it’s still worth picking up [Video]
- Android Q Developer Preview 4 released for OnePlus 6/6T, OnePlus 7/7 Pro
- [Update: More images, Watch Active 2] Galaxy Note 10+ hands-on images leak w/ near bezel-less design, punch-hole notch
- Hands-on images of the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 revealed by the FCC
- [Update: More images] Galaxy Tab S6 renders show docking stylus, keyboard accessory
FTC: We use income earning auto affiliate links. More.