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Google would rather ruin its products than pay Sonos, and that's unacceptable

Cough up the dough or start sending customers refunds, Google

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The ongoing lawsuit between Google and Sonos probably isn’t in the forefront of anyone's mind right now, but after recently digging into a change YouTube made for the worse on its Chromecast app, I can’t really stop thinking about it. Did you know that if you have a Pixel phone and need to reset a Chromecast or connect it to a new Wi-Fi network, you’re basically screwed? One of the most popular streaming dongles in the world, noted for its simplicity and ease of use, now offers an inconsistent and degraded experience, adding to the other deficiencies Google itself announced for its Nest and Home speakers when it comes to volume adjustments and groups, taking away features and functionality customers paid for.

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Nothing's obnoxious Phone 1 marketing is vital for its success, the Xiaomi 12 Lite proves

The Xiaomi 12 Lite just launched with all the right specs, but none of the storytelling

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While Nothing was busy hyping up its Phone 1 launch for the last half year, Xiaomi released phone after phone, covering almost all price points you could imagine. The latest in line might just be the perfect contender to the Nothing Phone 1, save for the lack of an intriguing transparent back with lighting effects. The Xiaomi 12 Lite comes with a similar boxy design, a slightly lower price, and comparable specs — basically making you question what’s supposed to be so special about the Nothing Phone 1.

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My life in five LG phones

Meet (almost) all of my exes

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LG: one of Korea's famed dynastic conglomerates and a globally known brand for durable goods and consumer electronics. It was pretty good at making phones for a time — people might most fondly remember the Chocolate from 2006, but the more obscure and dirt-cheap KP100 candybar from 2008 outgrossed it in sales. Then came the groovy 2010s: the company went nuts with freaky form factors, fancy accessories, and a gutsy urge to stretch the limits of what a slabby-looking thing could be and do. Sure, one thing wrong after the other ultimately led to the mobile division's demise in 2021, but I think its efforts have been maligned it with a broad brush — much as I like AP alum Ron Amadeo, his LG obituary for Ars Technica straight-up trashed the company. Now, I'm no fanboy, but I do want to exhume the company's body of work from the dumpster for a more balanced, personal eulogy. I'll make room for a little romanticism, too.

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Although this year's Google developer conference was well over a month ago, today marks the tenth anniversary of I/O 2012, a landmark event for the company — in both good and bad. While we've lamented the loss of joy and whimsy from recent Google events, this particular occasion was anything but. Not only did the company announce some of its most and least loved products on stage within the span of a couple of hours, but it also took to the skies in one of the most daring — and infamous — stunts in I/O history.

Assistant Driving Mode is yet another lackluster replacement for a beloved Google app

Android Auto joins Play Music, Inbox, and other long-dead services that deserved better

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This week marked the final nail in the coffin for Android Auto on phone screens. Google launched the service as part of a big version 2.0 update way back in 2016, condensing the full car-friendly experience down into something that could fit on a Galaxy S7 or first-gen Pixel phone. It rendered third-party alternatives like AutoMate — which, at the time, filled the gap for owners of older cars looking to use their smartphones on the road safely.

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WWDC proves that Apple has replaced Google as the fun tech giant

Can we get back the Google that made us laugh?

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As Android enthusiasts, many of us have become accustomed to watching Apple announcements that bring in new products and features that look awfully similar to things Google did first—not to say Android hasn’t borrowed a few things too. But in recent years, there seems to be another thing Apple has borrowed from Google—is willingness to have fun.

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Pocket Operator for Pixel hands-on: I have no idea what I'm doing, but it sure is fun

The app from teenage engineering is an enchanting little AI experiment

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Google has endeavored to improve the value proposition of Pixels with regular "feature drops" over the past few years. These are usually new features built into the OS update, but the June 2022 drop included a new app exclusively for Pixels in the Play Store. It's called Pocket Operator by the well-known music design firm, teenage engineering, and it leverages the power of TensorFlow to make music. It's fun, and a little bit silly, but most importantly, you don't have to know a thing about music to have a good time.

A woman in a black sweater and black glasses sits on a linen couch. Her left arm is in front of her with a smartwatch in focus.

Why Google's Pixel Watch has to be the Apple Watch of Android to succeed

Unless the Pixel Watch offers a significant advantage over other Wear OS watches, it’s doomed

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Google announced the Pixel Watch during Google I/O in May 2022, though it's not available right now — it will launch alongside the Pixel 7 later this year. We’ve still learned a lot about the accessory thanks to the official announcement and some further rumors. While the early details of the hardware are extremely promising, the Pixel Watch will also need to offer the smarts, the health features, and the seamless integration that makes the Apple Watch so widely successful in order to lead the Android pack — especially as Apple has just announced a slew of new health features for the next version of its own watchOS during WWDC 2022.

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Apple kicked off WWDC today with a look at iOS 16, an update that promises to bring a whole lot of Android's customizability to iPhones. Nearly all of the features announced in today's keynote — from that fancy new lock screen to that sweet drag-and-drop feature we're begging Google to copy — will arrive this fall. That said, one thing teased today that will decidedly not arrive in the coming months — or even this year — is the next-gen version of CarPlay, a tool that seems to rival Android Automotive as tech companies duel it out for the fate of your next car.

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Safari is getting a new collaborative feature I desperately want Chrome to steal

Done right, it could work better in Google's ecosystem than Apple's

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In the wake of Apple’s WWDC conference, I’m struck by a particular feature that the company announced: shared Tab Groups. Past all the new hardware, the revival of lock screen widgets, Apple’s new love with customization — beyond all of that, this one dumb little feature sticks out to me as something with the potential to be really impactful in a thousand tiny and unanticipated ways. With how minor but potentially far-reaching it feels, I can’t understand how Google didn’t think of it first for Chrome, and I hope we get it soon.

Google's merger of Duo and Meet fixes one of the company's worst tendencies

What's good for the Google is good for the gander

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Google has been widely criticized in the tech blogs for two things in recent years: The “Google kills X” meme, and the company’s seeming obsession with messaging services. If Google isn’t killing a service that customers love like Google Reader, or Inbox, or Play Music, then it’s finding a new way to add a messaging system to Google Maps or Google Photos, or building yet another new one entirely. It’s partly a joke, but sadly all too serious, because Google actually does these things. Or, at least, it used to. Something about the recent announcement that Google Meet and Duo are merging strikes me as different, and maybe the company is starting to see the big picture and begin fixing these issues.

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US wireless carriers should get real with customers about software updates

We're actually losing information about these updates

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Wireless carriers like to brag about two things: their network and their deals. Something you won't often hear about is software updates. They were supposed to be easier than ever for Android device makers to deploy thanks to Project Treble framework, but when the phone is a model specific to an American carrier, it'll have to be sent to the carrier for extra checks before it gets passed along to the consumer. But you do get the feeling sometimes that the telcos just don't care, especially when major security patches from January only make it to your device in May. So, what gives?

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While we Android users might still be recovering from the whirlwind that was Google I/O, Apple fans are preparing for their own developer conference. WWDC's keynote address is next week, promising an early look at iOS 16 before its launch later this year, and already, rumors are starting to fly. Once again, analysts expect to see always-on display support finally come to iPhones, starting with the upcoming iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max. Unfortunately, all these rumors demonstrate just how behind the times Apple is, with a feature many of our readers rely on daily.

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Android Auto vs. CarPlay: Which is better?

Should you keep an iPhone in your car?

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Both Android Auto and CarPlay have tremendously improved the in-car infotainment experience for drivers. The two apps offer a more innovative and connected approach than most traditional systems, combined with a familiar and intuitive user interface linked to the user's data. No matter what vehicle they're in, drivers enjoy the same interface and don't have to set their preferences from scratch, which renters appreciate the most. Google announced a complete UI overhaul and a number of new Anrdoid Auto features at I/O 2022. We've addeed information about these features throughout the post, but haven't had a chance to test them yet. If you missed out on Google's Keynote, you can get up to speed in about nine minutes by watching the video below.

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The Google Pixel is no longer the phone to buy for long-term software support

Google's latest flagship will get fewer Android updates than the Samsung Galaxy A53

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A core strength of Google's hardware lies in its fast and reliable software support. Pixel devices always receive new Android versions before the competition, and, until recently Pixels would receive these updates longer than other Android devices. The mobile landscape is changing, and the software benefits afforded to the Pixels aren't as significant as they once were. Some might even suggest what was once unthinkable — Pixels are no longer the best Android phones to buy for long-term software support.

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The Pixel 6a marks Google's return to India, but its success hinges on one key factor

With the Pixel 6a, Google has a better chance of making headway this time

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The Pixel 4a came a few months late to India, but that didn’t keep it from becoming an instant hit— something you don’t often get to say about Google phones—by striking the value sweet spot. But that was two years ago, and the South Asian country hasn’t seen a Google phone since. After a two-year hiatus, the wait is about to end: the budget Pixel 6a will make its way to India in the coming months. There couldn't be a better time for the budget Pixel phone to re-enter the Indian market, but its success hinges upon one key factor.

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Today, at its annual I/O conference, Google briefly teased an upcoming Pixel-branded tablet. There were practically no hard details; all we know for sure is that it'll be powered by a Tensor CPU and that Google intends to launch it next year. But we also got a look at renders of the tablet, and it bears a striking resemblance to existing Nest devices. This has to be the rumored "detachable Nest Hub" we heard about this spring, and I'm excited it'll be a real product — sneaking back into the market with a smart home-focused device might be Google's ticket to actually selling some tablets.

The Pixel 4 may have killed Motion Sense, but Soli’s future is bright

Motion Sense was a debacle, but at least we have Soli

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When Google unveiled the Pixel 4 in 2019, people were excited to try its face unlock feature. Motion Sense, a new technology that used Google's custom Soli radar sensor, tracked motion and depth in real time. The feature showed promise; Motion Sense could detect your hand moving toward the Pixel 4 and would automatically unlock your phone when you picked it up. But that promise was short-lived, and the feature has been absent from every Pixel since. Does this mean we've seen the end of Motion Sense, or will it make other appearances? Why was it removed from the Pixel lineup in the first place? As is often the case, multiple factors led to the removal of Motion Sense from the Pixel lineup.

The Pixel 4's silliest feature would be right at home in Google's Nest speakers and displays

I don't want to wave my hands at my phone, but I do want to wave them at all of my smart speakers

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The Pixel 4 was a better phone than a lot of people give it credit for. Yes, it was overpriced, and yes, battery life on the smaller model sucked — alright, maybe it wasn't a great phone, but it was at least a very cool one. It marked a number of firsts for Pixels: it was the first with a high-refresh rate display (at 90Hz), it was the first to offer multiple rear cameras, and it was the first (and thus far, only) Pixel to offer secure face unlock. It was also the first consumer product to feature Soli, Google's radar tech. Its utility in the phone was... questionable, but I think a similar implementation in Nest speakers and displays could be a game-changer in how we interact with them.

Why is switching accounts in Chrome such a hassle on mobile?

Most Google apps let you swipe to switch accounts, but not Chrome

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Life must be easy if you have just one Google account. It must be nice to store all of your data and digital ephemera to a single Chrome profile. The sad truth, however, is that many of us juggle several accounts. We have our personal account and often another for work. There's also the family account, that Gmail account for junk mail, and maybe another left over from your days in college.