In this week’s top stories: a simple trick can enable RCS on any Android phone, our reviews of the Google Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL arrive, Qualcomm announces the Snapdragon Wear 3300 for Wear OS, and more.
The world of messaging on Android has been set ablaze over the past week, as a group of redditors discovered a trick that can enable RCS, the tech underpinning of Google’s “Chat” initiative, on any Android phone, on any carrier. Using this Google Messages app trick, you can enable RCS on your phone in a matter of minutes, without root.
It’s more than likely that Google will shut down this Android trick to enable RCS in Messages given that carrier partners are getting sidestepped. That said, it provides a taste of what the future of Chat messaging looks like in an ideal world. New features include typing indicators with read receipts, high-resolution photos, sending over Wi-Fi and mobile data, larger group conversations, and business messaging.
We’re not sure how long this RCS trick will be possible in Google Messages, however. Midway through the week, without warning, many devices (OnePlus phones especially) had their RCS connection fail entirely, but this issue quickly resolved itself.
The Google Pixel 4 and 4 XL officially hit store shelves and pre-orderers doorsteps last week, but with the various complaints early reviewers had for the phones, many remained skeptical. Our Ben Schoon and Damien Wilde each spent a great deal of time getting to know the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL, respectively, and published their reviews this week.
Google is four years into making its own self-branded Android smartphones and, for the most part, they’re all great devices with one or two glaring flaws. Unfortunately, even after four years, Google’s Pixel 4 is another device with that same problem, but at the end of the day, it’s also the best experience you can get on an Android smartphone – for a limited time only.
Halloween was this week, and the latest version of Google Photos on Android got into the spirit by adding a fun little Easter Egg that appears when you search for the word “Halloween.”
This Halloween Easter Egg takes advantage of Google Photos’ search capabilities on mobile. Entering that query sees a pumpkin roll in from the left side of your screen. Stopping at the center, it winks before lighting up and rolling away. The treat also doubles as a reminder that you can naturally browse your photo library.
In exciting Wear OS news, Qualcomm appears to be developing a wearable variant of their Snapdragon 429 processor from 2018, as the “Snapdragon Wear 3300.” The new SoC would bring the Snapdragon Wear hardware line five years forward, and gives us hope for Wear OS’s future.
The current Snapdragon Wear 3100 is still based on the same platform as the Snapdragon Wear 2100. That 2016 chipset was based on the Snapdragon 400 processor designed for mobile phones which was actively used in 2013. Qualcomm clearly refuses to try using something brand new in its wearable processors, but a 5-year jump would be a welcome upgrade.
Over a month ago, it was revealed that Fitbit was up for sale, and our Abner Li noted that such a sale created a fantastic opportunity for Google. Midway through the week, it was uncovered that Google’s parent company, Alphabet, had made an offer for Fitbit. Finally, on Friday, the deal was finalized, with Google purchasing Fitbit for $2.1 billion.
Addressing privacy concerns, Osterloh says that, with wearables, Google will “be transparent” about the data they collect and why that data is collected. Google will not sell personal data to anyone and Fitbit health and wellness data will not be used for Google ads either. Fitbit users will also be given the choice to review, move, or delete their data.
Our Stephen Hall and Abner Li spent a great deal of time diving into the ins and outs of the Fitbit deal and what it means for Wear OS on this week’s Alphabet Scoop.
The rest of this week’s top stories follow:
- [Update: Wider rollout] EMUI 10 beta road map confirms update heading to over 30 models from November
- Motorola Razr folding phone allegedly appears in the wild following render leaks
- [Update: US rollout begins] November 2019 security patch already rolling for the Samsung Galaxy S10
- [Update: Rolling out now] Android 10-based MIUI 11 road map revealed w/ Poco F1 update date
- [Update: Displays] Here’s the first official-looking image of Motorola’s folding Razr phone
- More Motorola Razr images leak w/ specs: Snapdragon 710, 2,730 mAh battery, more
Android TV |
- Nvidia Shield TV (2019) Review: Smaller, cheaper, still the best streaming device
- Where to buy Nvidia Shield TV (2019) and Shield TV Pro, and which is right for you
- Nvidia Shield TV Pro costs $199 w/ Android TV, AI upscaling, Tegra X1+, more
- [Update: Fix rolling out] Android TV screensaver bug pushes ‘Chromecast built-in’ off-screen
- Apple TV app arrives on Android TV by way of some Sony models
Apps & Updates |
- [Update: Rolled out] New Google Home app for Android, iOS adds centralized ‘Feed’
- Google testing drastically redesigned Assistant Updates feed
- OnePlus Launcher update adds step counter, ability to disable app drawer
- YouTube Music rolling out desktop PWA with keyboard shortcuts
- Google.com rolling out refreshed design for account switcher on web
Google Chrome |
- [Update: Flags] Google is developing a ‘heavy ad’ blocker for Chrome [Gallery]
- Google addresses ‘misconceptions’ about Chrome’s encrypted DNS push
Google Nest |
- Google Home, Home Mini now support stereo speaker pairing
- Google Home 2.15 preps Nest Wifi support, Google Wifi migration, Stadia settings [APK Insight]
Google Pixel |
- Google Pixel 3 vs Pixel 4 comparison: Should you upgrade?
- ‘Googler-only’ November OTA rolls out to some Pixel 3 devices
- Here are 4K desktop versions of some of Google’s wallpapers from Pixel phones
- The Google Recorder will head to older Pixel devices in future software update
- How to use the Astrophotography mode on the Pixel 4 [Video]
- Pixel 4’s astrophotography unofficially ported to original Google Pixel, Pixel 2
Google Stadia |
- Google reaching out to Stadia pre-orderers for research study
- Family Link preps for Google Stadia, revealing new details [APK Insight]
- Destiny 2 adds Stadia login option, hints at ‘Stadia Player Portal’
- Google talks native Stadia games, minimizing latency, and roadmap in deep dive [Video]
Wear OS |
- Xiaomi teases upcoming Wear OS smartwatch for November w/ Apple Watch design
- Xiaomi Mi Watch shows off Snapdragon Wear 3100, UI for China in latest teasers
- Xiaomi shows off design and specs for its Wear OS smartwatch in more teaser images
- The Moto 360 is being re-released for 2019 w/ new internals, familiar design
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