Hayato has been blogging about mobile technology for over five years, and following for many more. In the past, he’s worked for Pocketnow and Tech4Geeks, reviewing smartphones and covering trade shows such as CES and IFA. Hayato now provides coverage for 9to5Google, including news, editorials, and videos on the latest mobile technology.
Google hotel search results now include vacation rentals
Google has useful search tools for quickly finding the best deals on flights, movie tickets, and more. With a recently added filter for vacation rentals, hotel searches have become even more helpful.
Chrome OS’s app launcher is a bit old hat compared to some of Google’s other UI designs. We’re still waiting on Chrome OS’s touchscreen-optimized overhaul to better support 2-in-1 laptop designs, but the new app launcher, dubbed “Peeking Launcher,” is already available with a little work.
The default keyboards on Android phones aren’t always the best. Some have overly aggressive autocorrect, while others have even started showing users ads. Luckily using a different keyboard is as simple as downloading it from the Google Play Store — you just have to figure out which keyboard is best for you.
Everyone can use an Echo Dot: Just $50!
Motion Stills has been on the iOS App Store for over a year now, but today the popular GIF/video generator finally made its way to Android. On iOS, its primary function was to make Apple’s Live Photos easier to share across the web, but since Android phones don’t take Live Photos, this version is a little different.
ZenWatch 2 finally getting Android Wear 2.0
If you own the 49mm ZenWatch 2, you might want to check for a software update. After missing its initial Q2 target, ASUS is finally rolling out Android Wear 2.0 to ZenWatch 2 and 3 users, bringing the smartwatches up to speed with Material Design, improved notifications, Google Assistant, and more.
Google Duo adds call log integration in version 14
Duo hasn’t quite become the ubiquitous video calling solution Google might have hoped for, but it still has a decent user base thanks to a feature set closely resembling Apple’s FaceTime. Unlike FaceTime, however, there hasn’t been a way to keep record of who you’ve been talking to, until now.
Google Now Launcher is a popular way for Android users on nearly any device to get an experience similar to using a Nexus or Google Pixel, but it’s often criticized for not having enough customization options. Luckily, XDA developer Deletescape decided to create a new launcher based on AOSP called Lawnchair that replicates the Google Now Launcher and adds dozens of settings to help personalize your home screen.
Meizu is set to announce its first flagship smartphone of the year on July 27th, and we’ve already seen a bit of what it can do. According to Android Central, the Meizu Pro 7 will feature MediaTek’s first 10nm SoC, the Helio X30, along with a 5.2-inch 1080p display and two 12 MP cameras around back. The real highlight feature, however, is the secondary display beneath the cameras.
Google Drive has had a desktop syncing tool for years on both Mac and Windows, but up until recently, syncing Google Photos across devices had been a more difficult task. With the release of the new Backup and Sync tool, however, it’s become easy to sync files of all kinds from Google’s cloud services to a computer.
Moto E4 coming to MetroPCS for free with rebate
The Moto E4 was already one of our top recommendations for shoppers on a tight budget, thanks to its decent build quality, fast performance, and excellent fingerprint sensor. Now, MetroPCS is further sweetening the deal. Available July 31 on the T-Mobile-owned prepaid carrier, the Moto E4 will run just $49 after instant rebate for existing customers (MSRP $129 for device-only sales).
Samsung just announced a new partnership with PayPal, bringing support for the online financial giant to its popular mobile payment service. Starting today in the US and coming to other markets soon, PayPal users will be able to add their account and use funds just like any other bank to make purchases wherever Samsung Pay is accepted. Customers will also still receive Samsung Pay benefits like rewards points and gift cards.
By far, the most common gripe about today’s smartphones is that they don’t last long enough. Consumers clamor for a bigger battery, even at the cost of added thickness, yet manufacturers continue to do the opposite, making phones thinner and offering the same or an even smaller capacity battery.
The new Moto Z2 Play is no exception; it sheds a millimeter from its already crazy-thin predecessor, and shrinks the battery by 15%. For years, the Play tag has symbolized great endurance, so on the surface this sounds like a mistake, but there’s still a lot to like about the Moto Z2 Play.
Sony has never had a strong presence in the Western smartphone market, but that doesn’t mean its phones aren’t worth your time. The Japanese company was one of the first to introduce water resistance on a smartphone, as well as a two-stage camera button (at least on the Android front), and now it’s the first and only manufacturer with a 4K phone.
These days, 1080p is still perfectly fine for the vast majority of users, and a lot of people can’t even tell the difference between 1080p and QHD on such a small screen anyway. So why is Sony cramming even more pixels into its latest superphone? Well, simply put, because it can.
The OnePlus 5 has been making constant headlines these past few weeks, and not all of it has been good; there have been reports of OnePlus cheating at benchmarks and attaching the display upside-down, along with complaints of a “jelly effect” when scrolling, to name a few mishaps.
I was also surprised to see the overwhelmingly negative comments on my OnePlus 5 review over the weekend. Nearly every comment criticized the phone for being too close in cost to traditional flagships, not doing enough to stand out, and being a worse value than the LG G6, HTC U11, or Galaxy S8 … but the thing is, I just sold my personal Galaxy S8 and moved to the OnePlus 5 full-time.
OnePlus has a reputation for making high-performance phones — self-branded “flagship killers,” at abnormally low prices. Those prices have climbed with each new phone the company puts out, and the OnePlus 5 sits in the same price range as some “true” flagships like the LG G6.
That might not necessarily be a bad thing, though. The higher cost also means OnePlus was able to put better specs in the 5, and it’s starting to look less like a flagship killer … and more like a proper flagship.
No matter your workflow, you probably use a number of productivity apps throughout the day — or if you don’t, there’s a good chance they’d make your life easier. Finding the right apps can be difficult though, and some of the more advanced ones can just be too complex and intimidating for a lot of users. To make things a little easier, we’ve put together a short list of simple, approachable apps that could help make you a bit more productive.
The Moto Z2 Play just arrived at my doorstep, and it came with a couple of new Moto Mods. The original Z Play was celebrated for its excellent battery life and good performance for the price. A lot of people are worried about the smaller battery in the new model, but I’m hopeful that better software optimization will still offer similar performance.
Connected security cameras are becoming more and more common these days, with the highest priority being remote access to your video feed via your smartphone. There are a number of good security cameras on the market, and Nest has always been one of the top players. The Alphabet-owned company’s latest product, the Cam IQ, adds a 4K sensor and even more smart functionality, but its $100 premium over Nest’s other models might not feel justified to everyone.
Action Launcher has always been a popular third-party launcher; in fact, I’ve been using it almost exclusively for years. Recently, developer Chris Lacy released the June update, a major overhaul that could make it an even bigger success. The update includes Android O stylization, improved shortcut menus, and more.
The wait is almost over for the official rollout of Bixby Voice, but we have the beta version running on our Galaxy S8 right now. Users who registered their Samsung account for beta testing should be receiving an OTA update, prompted by opening the Bixby feed app. It’s not fully functional yet, and we’re still unsure of when the final version will be released, but the beta software provides some insight as to what we can expect.