In talking with Google and learning more about the Pixel Tablet, my biggest takeaway is that pulling double duty as an Assistant Smart Display will be its path to success. It all comes down to execution, which of course is harder said than done given that Google basically tried with Assistant Ambient Mode two years ago. Meanwhile, Apple is rumored to be right behind the Pixel Tablet and following the same strategy for the iPad.
Opinion Stories October 16, 2022
Opinion Stories May 30, 2022
More than other streaming services, YouTube Music is defined by its algorithmic suggestions on what to listen to next. This feature is great in the Up Next queue but downright annoying in the Home feed. YouTube Music constantly juggles the order, if not the outright appearance, of carousels from one refresh to the next.
Opinion Stories April 17, 2022
Branding is always remarkably revealing. When you open Gmail, the splash screen shows that it’s part of “Google Workspace.” That brand was introduced in 2020 and compared to G Suite makes very clear that Gmail, Meet, Chat, Calendar, Drive, Docs, Keep, and Voice help you be productive. People obviously utilize Gmail for work, but many more are using it in their personal lives, and that use case, as of late, has been somewhat ignored by Google. One way to address that lack of new innovation can be found in Gmail’s past: Inbox.
Opinion Stories April 14, 2022
Elon Musk started by tweeting out – if not demanding – Twitter feature requests/changes in a truly remarkable moment for technology and corporate governance. This led to a rejected board seat and this morning’s acquisition attempt, complete with “Plan B” if/when the board rejects. Decrees-by-tweet and hostile takeovers cannot be a sustainable way to run a product, and these events play into my long-held belief that Google should have bought Twitter years ago. It would have certainly been a more orthodox turn of events compared to what’s going to play out very publicly over the coming weeks.
Opinion Stories March 26, 2022
Following the redesign in Android 12, calls from Pixel owners that want the option to remove At a Glance have only increased. It’s unlikely that will happen anytime soon as Google is very much in the middle of justifying At a Glance’s existence and making it a pillar of the helpful Pixel experience.
Opinion Stories March 20, 2022
You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression. The latest impression that Google wants to impart is that Android will power the wave of large screen devices to come. Besides proclamations, the biggest sign of Google’s commitment to this effort is Android 12L, a version of the mobile OS especially for foldables and tablets. It launched at the start of this month, but it has so far only been a drop in the ocean and feels like a missed opportunity for Google to make a big splash about where Android is heading.
Opinion Stories March 11, 2022
It probably doesn’t need to be said, but the delayed update schedule for the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro not only hurts those of us that value prompt support. It cheapens and chips away at the perceived “flagship” experience being sold to prospective buyers.
Opinion Stories March 4, 2022
It’s been clear for some time now that Assistant Snapshot “does not have the same level of vision, central on-phone placement, or wide backing” as Google Now. It was never going to be game changing, but its upcoming demise officially closes the chapter on what could have been a radically different way to use smartphones.
Opinion Stories November 17, 2021
The Jackbox Party Pack, a series of games meant to be played with friends both near and far, and Stadia, a platform with built-in YouTube streaming, seem like a match made in heaven, but the current voice chat options hold it back from perfection.
Opinion Stories October 1, 2021
Compared to the last design language revamp, Google’s rollout of Material You is happening at a much faster pace. That Material You app update blitz comes amid a barrage of Pixel 6 advertising and that’s no coincidence. It’s the sign of a well-under-way vision at Google that has been sorely missing.
Opinion Stories August 31, 2021
In the midst of Hurricane Ida, I’ve found that RCS is not ready to be depended upon, while Google Messages has not thought out all the edge cases for the future.
Opinion Stories July 29, 2021
Google’s decision to only include a severely limited amount of storage in the Chromecast with Google TV is already standing in the way of updating my apps.
Opinion Stories March 5, 2021
With work from home becoming more prevalent over the years — the last one especially, Android OEMs have repeatedly tried to make their tablets more productive and work-ready. This past week, I tried to use an Android tablet — Lenovo P11 Pro with keyboard cover — for work instead of my usual Chromebook, and it didn’t go well.
Opinion Stories February 22, 2021
For years, Google’s Pixel phones have enjoyed three years of updates, the longest lifespan this side of the Android/iOS divide. Now Samsung has pushed the envelope, offering four years of security updates, beating Google’s Pixel phones at their own game.
Opinion Stories January 23, 2021
Last week, our APK Insight team uncovered mentions in the Google Stadia app of an ominous “Project Hailstorm.” Since then, the Stadia community has been abuzz with speculation about what Project Hailstorm could be. Here are some of my own guesses.
Opinion Stories April 16, 2019
New research this week revealed a surprising statistic – Google has surpassed LG as the third largest premium smartphone OEM in the United States. I think that they deserve it, and here’s why.
Opinion Stories June 3, 2018
Earlier today, we had the opportunity to go hands-on with the RED Hydrogen One. During this 45-minute demo period, we got a feel of the handset and saw a demo of the company’s “4-view” 3D display technology. But even with this limited time, it was clear to me that this isn’t a device that should be marketed to consumers.
Opinion Stories March 9, 2017
Comment: A few months later, and my Google Home is indispensable – and I’ve only scratched the surface
Plenty of new and exciting Google products launched over the last few years have left me underwhelmed. About anyone can tell you that I was high on the Google Glass train for a while (even though I didn’t actually own a pair until it was basically dead), and I’ve written countless times about how I just can’t find any use for Android Wear (or frankly, most wearables). And other more-recent new Google products, like Daydream View, have simply sat in my drawer for months on end.
I don’t know if, until now, any single tech product has entered my life since the smartphone that has ended up being just completely indispensable and necessary. Something like (forgive my rough estimates) 75% percent of my interactions with consumer tech over the last few years have been with either my phone or my laptop. That other 25 percent has been filled with things like traditional television, tapping around on a smartwatch, playing video games, or using some kind of tablet.
With the Google Home now a part of my daily routine, though, these numbers are changing. It’s a minor shift to be sure, but I’m starting to be able to assign a noticeable percentage of my tech interactions to this new product and I’ve found myself feeling somewhat more free from my phone lately…
Opinion Stories February 17, 2017
We showed you some more hands-on images of the LG G6 earlier today, and they got me thinking a bit more about LG’s coming MWC launch event, where the company will show us the successor to its unfortunate failure of an attempt to make modular smartphones mainstream.
In short, I can’t help but wonder why the LG G6 exists. It’s basically just a rehashed LG V20, and that makes the G6 even more boring than it would have already been if the LG V20 never existed.
Opinion Stories October 20, 2016
Opinion: Google Pixel is the best Android phone ever because it’s the least frustrating Android phone ever
I had a lot of thoughts in my 4,000+ word Google Pixel review, but after a few more days using the phone as my primary device I’ve come to realize the significance of something else that’s just different about it. Some have touched on this subject, but I think I need to make it perfectly clear. The Google Pixel is the least frustrating Android phone ever. That’s something the Android community has devalued over the years in an obsession over raw specs, and it’s something that the iPhone — forgive my comparison — has quite frankly dominated in. That is, until now…
Opinion Stories May 21, 2016
At Google I/O 2016, the Mountain View company decided — although admittedly not an entirely new theme — that it would be a good idea to spread its announcements across three days. The keynote showed off Google’s vision for the future: virtual reality, its new AI and machine learning initiatives, Google Home hardware to take advantage of them, and a few sprinkles of Android Wear 2.0 goodness. The second day saw the announcement of the Play Store coming to Chrome OS.
But the third day was ATAP day, admittedly my favorite day of Google I/O. Last year the Advanced Technologies and Projects group at Google showed off Project Jacquard, Project Soli, some more details on Project Ara, and more. And then the company went silent. For pretty much an entire year.
Maybe that’s a good thing, as Google tends to show its projects and technologies off a little early in general. It’s not exactly out of Google’s character to show a product or service, say that it’s coming in 6 months, it not arrive for 12 months or 18 months, and then the final product share hardly any resemblance to what was originally announced. Admittedly that’s happening with some of ATAP’s projects either way (I’m looking at you, Ara), but at least it’s not a constant barrage of teases and false hope.
Anyway, Google ATAP finally came out of hiding on the third day of I/O yesterday, and with it came updates on Project Jacquard, Project Soli, Project Ara, and Spotlight Stories. Jacquard brought the announcement of the first retail product based on the tech, Ara brought a little update on how progress is coming including the most current prototype device with new module connectors (and promise of a dev kit coming soon), and the Spotlight Stories mention came with some progress in VR storytelling. All cool stuff.
But Soli is what makes my jaw drop.
Opinion Stories May 1, 2016
I’ve long be intrigued about the potential of virtual reality, and as such, I’ve been dying to try the Oculus Rift or the HTC Vive. Sadly, I’ve yet to have the opportunity to try either.
I humbly settled on Google Cardboard, which is a nice novelty, but a less than ideal experience. For all that Google Cardboard lacked, it made it clear that VR is more than just a passing fad, and that it features some serious potential.
Google Cardboard, for all of its merits, doesn’t do the idea of VR justice. Fortunately, you don’t have to spend ~$1500 to enjoy a proper VR experience. Samsung’s Gear VR, an idea brought to reality via a partnership with VR pioneer Oculus, is a legitimate VR experience that makes me downright excited about the future of this technology.
Gear VR is far from perfect, but it’s a huge upgrade over Google Cardboard, and cheap enough to where the masses can both experience and validate it. expand full story
Opinion Stories April 14, 2016
As an “Apple guy” the HTC 10 has been the one smartphone that I’ve immediately identified with in the Android ecosystem. That’s not to say that there haven’t been other Android devices that I’ve enjoyed or wanted to use, but I’ve always connected with HTC.
That probably has something to do with the fact that the HTC Wizard was the first “smart” phone I’ve ever owned. That phone ran the now defunct Windows Mobile and featured a resistive touch screen. Needless to say, I’ve long been a fan of the Taiwanese company, and its passion and desire to put out well-designed products continues to resonate with me in 2016.
So it’s with great empathy and concern that HTC has been struggling as of late. To be honest, the HTC 10 feels like the company’s make or break — the major fork in the road, if you will.
It’s very possible that the HTC 10 will be the release that paves a path to one of two destinations. Fortunately, I can report that this is a phone that’s good enough to pave that path in the right direction. It’s a phone that lives up to its billing, and in many ways exceeds expectations. It’s definitely not perfect, but it’s the best-looking and most complete HTC offering that we’ve seen thus far. expand full story
Opinion Stories February 18, 2016
Very quickly, USB Type-C has this year become a part of every phone’s spec sheet. Either a new phone has USB Type-C, or it doesn’t. And it’s already being seen as a pro (or a con) when comparing phones against each other. Before the introduction of USB-C, pretty much every handset was assumed to have the previous connector, microUSB. And pretty much every phone did. Now, that’s changing.
With the Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P, and the OnePlus 2 before that, Android smartphones have recently begun adopting the new standard en masse, and as far as we know, many of the phones set to be announced in the coming months — including the HTC One M10 and the LG G5 — are going to make the jump. For me, supporting USB Type-C is absolutely a requirement for my next phone. Here’s why…
Opinion Stories February 15, 2016
When looking at the landscape of Android flagship smartphones, I rarely find it easy to pinpoint a single manufacturer that, in one way or another, has consistently been able to meaningfully innovate one year after the other. More often than not, the OEMs have a go at things that are then removed the following year, or that in some way fail to broadly introduce a proper trend, like for instance the first attempts at fingerprint sensors or stereoscopic cameras…
Opinion Stories February 5, 2016
Opinion: BlackBerry PRIV’s keyboards make it one of most accurate & versatile Android-powered communication machines [Video]
I’ve almost lost count of the number of Android phones I’ve used over the past few years. Some are more memorable than others, but the one that really sticks in my mind is the original. The very first Android phone, the HTC-made T-Mobile G1.
There was something very unusual about it. It didn’t look like the Windows Mobile PDA-phone crossovers, it was nothing like a BlackBerry or an iPhone. It was that unique quirky factor that gave it its edge. Having a touchscreen which flicked out to reveal a full QWERTY keypad was something we’d only really seen on the Sidekick series.
Fast forward nearly 8 years later, and virtually every Android phone looks like every other smartphone. Of all the devices released over the past 12 months, I’d hazard a guess that 99.9% of them were the standard rectangle, touchscreen and no-keyboard affairs. Some might have curved dual-screen designs, but they’re still all-screen. Until the PRIV, we haven’t seen anything remotely decent with a physical QWERTY keyboard since the days of the G2…
Opinion Stories February 3, 2016
LG is a manufacturer capable of making brilliant hardware and well-considered smartphone designs. The LG G2 had impossibly thin bezels, unlike anything else on the market when it launched. Likewise, the G3 was the first mainstream smartphone to feature a Quad HD display. The G4 added to that with one of the best cameras we’ve ever seen on an Android phone and it gave us the option of really attractive, comfortable leather back panels.
Opinion Stories February 2, 2016
One of Google’s latest slogans created to showcase the essence of Android in a nutshell spells: “Be together, not the same.” It is both a testament to the company’s general embracement of diversity and arguably one of the most precise ways to describe the OS as a whole. Fans, however, have long had trouble trying to identify the ‘ultimate’ Android device, despite the sea of devices whose supposed heterogeneity should guarantee a perfect match for everyone.
In an endless fight among the various OEMs to come out at the top of the critics’ — as well as the fans’ — rankings, one trend has notoriously stood out. People love Android devices because of the software (specifically its flexibility), and in spite of the countless efforts made by manufacturers to tweak and enhance the OS in order to make it better, the pure, unadulterated experience offered by Google has long been preferred by virtually every enthusiast.
Be it because of its simplicity and cleanliness, dedication to Google’s brand, or the sheer fact that updates are not hampered by carriers and other third parties, stock Android has always had the upper hand over UXs such as Samsung’s TouchWiz or HTC’s Sense — at least to those who even know what “TouchWiz” is. To this day, the problem with Google’s vanilla OS still resides almost solely in the hardware it runs on.
Opinion Stories December 5, 2015
The Huawei Watch is quite possibly one of this year’s best surprises. We didn’t know Huawei was working on an Android Wear watch until they showed it to us at MWC, and when it did, we knew it was going to take some beating. Now that it’s on the market and I’ve had my time with the final, released product, I can safely say my first impressions have lasted. This watch is fantastic, and easily a contender for the title of “best Android Wear watch.”
Opinion Stories November 16, 2015
I’ve been feeling up the Nexus 5X for about a week now, and I’m undoubtedly impressed. It’s been a while since we’ve seen a Nexus phone in this size range, and — as someone who used the Nexus 6 as his daily driver for a year — it’s really refreshing to once again have a handset to match my hands. That was the first thing I noticed about the Nexus 5X. I have little-to-no tolerance for third-party bloatware, skins, and gimmicks, and stock vanilla Android is almost a non-negotiable for me. And in this one area, the 5X — the 6P, as well — delivers, and that alone puts it in a league of its own in my eyes. That alone makes this phone, for me, one the cream of the Android crop.
But there’s one thing that has been a recurring theme in my first week with the 5X: performance. It’s just simply not good enough, and in 2015, OS stutters, frame rate drops, and lag while switching apps is quite simply inexcusable, (but especially in any phone that costs more than $100). It’s not that the 5X is a crippled experience — no, I’m sometimes in buttery smooth Android heaven. But in those times that my phone just slows to a crawl in the middle of my day, whatever the reason may be, I can’t help but want to throw the 5X at a wall…
Opinion Stories August 3, 2015
Google+ has largely been heralded as dead, and that isn’t for no reason. Most recently, Google has decided that it’s time to stop pretending like people want it, and has started decoupling its other services from the infamous social network wannabe. For those that just couldn’t stand the fact that Google was pushing them into something they didn’t want, I guess that’s great. Google is listening to feedback, and they’re acting on it. But for me, Google+ is an invaluable part of my daily routine. There is so much interesting commentary and conversation that happens there that I can’t imagine a day without it. I’ve made friends on Google+. I’ve had some of my most viral social media postings go viral on Google+. I’ve talked with Google employees personally on Google+. I have the ability to write about Google and its products in-depth partly because of Google+. And no, this isn’t satire. expand full story
Opinion Stories April 30, 2015
The Knowledge Graph is a controversial—but now fundamental—part of using Google, and for most casual browsers of the web, it’s nothing but an added convenience. It already does a great job of figuring out which pieces of information are most important and accurate, and gives them to you directly within the Google search page—there’s no need to go digging through countless results to find what you want. I myself even find it useful very often, usually when I’m searching for specific facts. Something like “When was George Washington born?” is a great example.
But I’m also wary of how intelligent it has gotten in recent years, and how much more integral to the Google experience it is becoming. Not only is Google pulling content from crowd-sourced Wikipedia articles, it is now getting smart enough to pull some of the content I’ve written on this website. Knowledge Graph has been known to bring death to many pages hosting all kinds of content, with lyrics websites being the perfect example. But what happens when Knowledge Graph and its Quick Answer box are so smart that you don’t need to browse the web at all?
Opinion Stories March 9, 2015
I love my Android Wear smartwatch—it’s a great extension to the Nexus 6 I use daily. But not many people I know have an Android Wear device, even fewer have reason to use one every day, and basically no one (outside of my circle of geeky friends) really understands why they’re useful when I try to explain what they do. My LG G Watch R is seen as cool, because I can flip between a couple dozen watch faces and reply to texts with my voice, but these things don’t really make my peers feel like they’re missing out. It’s cool, but that’s about it.
The Apple Watch was shown off again today—this time in a bit more detail—and it’s clear that the device is going to be competition to the half-dozen-or-so Android Wear devices that are on the market. It’s priced a bit higher, and that’s typical when it comes to Apple products, but there are definitely things that this device offers that Google hasn’t yet introduced. The big one—in my opinion—is Digital Touch, which Apple describes as a “fun, spontaneous way to connect with other Apple Watch wearers, wrist to wrist.”
Opinion Stories April 28, 2014
In 2012, Google unveiled a teaser video for what would eventually become Google Glass. About two and a half minutes long, the short walkthrough highlighted a day in the life of a “Project Glass” owner. Aside from working the internet into a nerd-fueled frenzy video, the confirmed popular rumors that Google’s super secret X lab was laboring away on a new piece of wearable technology.