About the Author

Ben Schoon


Ben is a tech geek with a soft spot for Android, Pixel/Nexus in particular. Constantly switching between devices that literally surround him, he can be found reviewing the latest smartphones on the 9to5Google YouTube channel and writing up the latest news. Ben also started a small publication called YourTechExplained, which still runs today. You can get in touch with him over on Twitter or by Email.


Ben Schoon's Favorite Gear


GOOG: 988.20


Google Assistant is a powerful tool, but its usefulness depends on the hardware you use it on. You can take Assistant everywhere with your phone or watch, but nothing beats how convenient a Google Home is. Now that Assistant is extending to more form factors, we’re really going to see how well it can integrate into our lives, and the TicHome Mini by Mobvoi is one of the most flexible pieces of Assistant hardware to date.

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Google is capable of some ridiculously impressive software tricks that basically no one else is capable of, and one of those on the Pixel 2 is the “Now Playing” song identification feature.

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Everyone can use an Echo Dot: Just $50!

Among other interesting software tricks, the Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL also both pack the ability to launch Google Assistant with a quick squeeze of the phone itself. It’s a neat if gimmicky feature, and now the ability to remap it has been figured out.

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October 19

GOOG: 984.45


Monument Valley 2 will land on Android November 6th [Video]

Monument Valley was one of the more popular casual games to hit mobile devices in the past few years, so fans were obviously excited to get news of a sequel. While it debuted on iOS to start, the developers promised an Android release at a later date. Now, we finally know when that is.

Google’s Pixel 2 XL is a good phone, but between reviewers and early adopters, the general consensus is that it has one flaw — the display. Between a blue tint when the angle is shifted and pretty dull colors overall — both of which were pointed out in our initial review — people aren’t in love with the 6-inch OLED display. Google has heard those complaints, and now it’s apparently open to solving them.

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Google’s customizable search bar is rolling out more widely in latest update

A couple of weeks ago we revealed that Google was bringing an interesting new feature to its search widget — the ability to customize it. At first, this was a pretty limited rollout, but in the latest version of the Google app, the functionality has rolled out more widely.

October 18

GOOG: 992.81


Motorola’s Moto X4 is a pretty interesting device, bridging the gap between mid-range specifications and a premium build. It recently made its US debut on Project Fi as part of the Android One program, but today it’s joining Amazon’s collection of Prime Exclusive phones.

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You can now buy the Nvidia Shield TV for $179 without the game controller

One of our favorite Android gadgets this year has been the Nvidia Shield TV, and with features like Assistant on board, it’s just getting better. Today, the company has launched a new Shield TV bundle that’s just a bit more affordable.

Google just gave Play Music a fresh redesign on Android TV [Gallery]

Android TV has largely been neglected in a lot of ways, but with a fresh redesign incoming and Google Assistant’s recent debut, things are looking up. Now, in a recent update, Google has given the Play Music app on Android TV a fresh makeover.

You can now access your Plex library in Android Auto

Android Auto’s list of compatible services continues to increase and in its most recent update, Plex finally joined the list.

Update: It turns out that, unsurprisingly, this was a bug. Google confirmed to CNET that a fix will be coming in a future software update.

Back in Android’s early days, the menu button was one of the most used buttons on the navigation bar. Eventually, Google ditched it in exchange for recent apps, but it stuck around for while on devices all the way up to the Galaxy S4 and others. At this point, everyone uses recent apps, but Google has quietly added a menu button to the Pixel 2…

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October 17

GOOG: 992.18


Google’s latest flagships start shipping this week and our initial reviews of each are live today. However, the biggest question we see a lot of people asking is which of the two new Pixels to get. While we gave you the simple answer in the title of our initial review of the smaller one, we thought we’d take a closer look to see how they compare.

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Google’s latest flagships, the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL, start shipping later this week to early adopters. We’ve been messing around with the phones for a little while and our initial reviews of both are already live, but let’s take a minute to see what comes in the box.

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OLED technology has gotten a lot better over the years, especially when you look at what Samsung has been doing. One big fear for users, however, is burn-in. Google’s new Pixels both ship with OLED displays and a new always-on display. Here’s how they avoid burn-in.

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ZTE isn’t afraid to experiment with new ideas when it comes to smartphones, and today, it’s proving that with the debut of the ZTE Axon M — the first dual-screen smartphone we’ve seen in years.

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Google Home now has a sleep timer for automatically turning off music

I love listening to music as I fall asleep, but for obvious reasons, it’s not a good thing to leave on all night. Google Home is a very convenient way to fire up a playlist, but until recently, it just kept playing all night long. Now, Google has finally brought a sleep timer to its smart speaker.

Theming is an Android feature many have wanted for a very long time, but outside of OEM customizations and clever developers, it hasn’t really arrived. Oreo has added some capabilities for this in the background, and Google is actually taking advantage of it on the Pixel 2 — sort of.

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Last year’s Pixel XL was one of my favorites phones of all time, if not my favorite. It had stellar performance, great specifications, comfortable hardware, and lots of software features I could appreciate. On top of that, it had what is still one of the best cameras on a mobile phone, but it wrapped all of that in a design that wasn’t very good-looking and did have some missing features.

Now, we’ve got the Pixel 2 family, and Google has made some major improvements. The larger of the two phones, the XL, is the one getting all the attention, and rightfully so…

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October 16

GOOG: 992.00


The Google Pixel 2 has a weird new power menu [Video]

Google’s new Pixel phones ship with a pretty clean version of Android, but it’s definitely not completely stock. There are several changes hidden beneath the surface, and one of those is a brand new power menu.

The Google Pixel 2 has nearly twice as many volume steps for more precise control

Audio performance is a bit of a mixed bag on the Pixel 2. We now have front-facing speakers, but there’s no headphone jack. Quietly, though, Google also brought along another small audio feature. In short, Pixel 2 owners will have much more precise control over volume levels compared to just about every other Android phone.

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