Categories
Uncategorized

What wireless earbuds are you using in late-2019?

Let’s chat with the AC forums.

With the 3.5mm headphone jack being eviscerated from the face of the earth, it only makes sense that truly wireless earbuds have quickly dominated the accessory market. Apple, Samsung, Huawei, and plenty of other companies are all throwing their hats in the ring, resulting in plenty of solid options.

With so many to choose from, however, it can be difficult to find just the right pair for you.

Our AC forum community recently got to talking about which wireless earbuds they’re using in late-2019, and this is what they had to say.

j_hansen
09-17-2019 02:01 AM

Jabra Elite 65t (not the Active version)
I have a pair of Tozo waiting for me when I get home in a weeks time, they only cost 50 quid or so but Tozo seem to make good products so I’m curious to see how they compare

Reply

ZDK
09-16-2019 08:11 PM

Peace…

I’m using the Huwaeii Honor Freebuds Lite (I also ordered the pro version cause I liked these so much). The call quality is good, sound quality–>not the best, and not as loud as I would want, but decent…they say the Pro version sounds alot better (I’m just afraid they’ll fall out my ears)
Pics of both below:
1st pic: Honor FlyPods (I have these now)
2nd pic: Huwaeii Freebuds 2…

Reply

bbgpsuser
09-16-2019 09:05 PM

Lately Galaxy Buds when I am sitting at my desk.

Since the Buds aren’t fully waterproof, for running I use Soundcore Spirit Sports Earphones by Anker or Jaybird X3. The battery in the Soundcore Spirit Earphones lasts much longer than the X3 though.

Reply

Fr0gburp3r
09-16-2019 10:24 PM

TBI I6 Pro – 28hr battery life between charging, bluetooth 5.0, water resistant, supports Dobly Atmos, Aptx HD, very loud if you want, triple driver system, clear phone calls, very clean,full and clear sound with punchy bass. $44.95.

Reply

What about you? What wireless earbuds are you using in late-2019?

Join the conversation in the forums!

from Android Central – Android Forums, News, Reviews, Help and Android Wallpapers www.androidcentral.com/what-wireless-earbuds-are-you-using-late-2019
via IFTTT

Categories
Uncategorized

The Fire TV Cube offers Dolby Vision for even better pictures

Best answer: Yes. The all-new Fire TV Cube (2019) features several HD technologies, including Dolby Vision for a top-of-the-line viewing experience.

What is Dolby Vision?

Dolby Vision is a proprietary HDR 4K format developed by Dolby Labs that promises an enhanced high dynamic range experience with wide color gamut support. Similar to Samsung’s HDR10+, it uses Dolby’s years of experience in the audio and visual space to intelligently and automatically deliver brighter brights, darker darks, and vivid color all-around.

Does the All-New Fire TV Cube have Dolby Vision?

The Fire TV Cube (2019) packs all of the latest and greatest specs you’d expect from a modern streaming device, including Dolby Vision. You will also find support for 4K UHD, HDR10 and HDR10+, and Dolby’s unique Atmos surround sound technology.

In order to enjoy all of the audio and video goodies that the Fire TV Cube (2019) supports, you’ll need to have a TV (or plan on getting a TV) that has 4K support with a high-speed HDMI connection, capable of 2160p at 24/25/30/50/60 Hz and HDCP 2.2, or high definition TV with HDMI capable of 1080p or 720p at 50/60 Hz. If you want to stream that high-quality content, you’ll also need to have a high-speed internet connection of at least 15 Mbps.

If this matches what you have in your living room, then you’ll be set to enjoy all of the great Dolby Vision content on Amazon Prime, Netflix, and other streaming services through your Fire TV Cube device.

Why get the Cube over another streamer?

Aside from the standard answer of “get whatever device fits with the ecosystem you’re comfortable in,” there are a handful of other good reasons to pick up the Fire TV Cube (2019) as your streamer of choice. Sure, you can get many of these high-end specs from a Roku Ultra, Apple TV 4K, Nvidia Shield, or even the Fire TV Stick 4K. But with those devices, you don’t get a built-in smart speaker too.

Unlike those other devices, the Fire TV Cube has eight onboard microphones and a speaker, and can thus function as a stand-alone Echo device. That means that not only can you use it to control your TV, but you can use it when the TV is off as you would any other Echo or smart speaker. Control your smart home devices, ask it random bits of trivia, or play your a playlist from your preferred music service. Speaking of music, because the Fire TV Cube is basically an Echo on steroids, you can connect it to other Echos in your house for multi-speaker and multi-room audio groups. Now your whole house can jam out!

Fire TV Cube (2019)

Double the Dolby

$120 at Amazon

See and hear it all

The Fire TV Cube (2019) features some pretty significant specs to enhance your streaming experience, including Dolby Vision (and Dobly Atmos) for the best audio-video experience you can get.

from Android Central – Android Forums, News, Reviews, Help and Android Wallpapers www.androidcentral.com/does-all-new-fire-tv-cube-support-dolby-vision
via IFTTT

Categories
Uncategorized

Regulate the temperature of your home without even trying

Heating and cooling are some of the biggest factors of your monthly energy bill, so it makes sense for most people to consider picking up a smart thermostat that better manages the temperature of your home. The Nest Learning Thermostat is the best overall option, offering a sleek and modern design that fits into any home and automated schedule creation based on your habits.

Best Overall — Nest Learning Thermostat

Like most smart thermostats, Nest’s offering can be controlled by your phone or through a voice assistant like Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa (though notably, the Learning Thermostat isn’t compatible with Apple’s HomeKit service). You can set the temperature remotely, or simply rotate the stainless steel dial around the frosted glass display. The Nest Learning Thermostat can also detect when you’ve left the house to automatically shut down heating and cooling, and resumes things when you return.

The Nest’s defining feature, though, is its ability to learn your preferences by keeping track of when you change the temperature throughout the day, along with factors like the current temperature outside of your home, so it can automatically create its own schedule so that you never have to think about it.

It also optimizes energy with Eco Mode, where the Learning Thermostat turns on heating and cooling periodically to maintain optimal settings without wasting power. Nest even keeps track of your energy savings, and provides you with helpful analytics throughout the year.

Pros:

  • Sleek stainless steel design
  • Controllable via phone or voice assistant
  • Eligible for rebates through most energy companies
  • Learns from your behavior

Cons:

  • Room sensors not included
  • No HomeKit compatibility

Best Overall

Nest Learning Thermostat

The sleek thermostat that does most of the work for you.

With automatic schedule creation and Eco Mode, Nest’s third-gen Learning Thermostat can shave a significant amount off of your monthly energy bill.

Best With a Room Sensor — Ecobee4 Smart Thermostat

Ecobee is a hugely popular alternative to Nest that offers touch screens on its smart thermostats, with a flatter, more squared off design. You won’t get Nest’s automatic schedule creation with the Ecobee4, but most of the other features are here.

It can detect when you leave the house and turn off heating/cooling automatically, and the included room temperature sensor comes in handy for homes with multiple floors — an especially good add-on considering the Ecobee4 sits around the same price as the Nest Learning Thermostat. With Alexa built directly into the unit, you can even call out temperature change commands to it without needing a dedicated smart speaker.

Pros:

  • Room sensor included
  • Amazon Alexa built directly in
  • Touch screen display
  • More affordable than Nest

Cons:

  • Less sleek design
  • No automatic schedule creation

Best With a Room Sensor

Ecobee4 Smart Thermostat

A better value without the automated schedule creation.

The Ecobee4 is a popular alternative to Nest’s Learning Thermostat. For roughly the same price, it includes a room sensor and has Amazon Alexa built in.

Value Pick — Nest Thermostat E

The Thermostat E is a great alternative to Nest’s higher-end model for considerably cheaper. The display isn’t as sharp and the Thermostat E doesn’t work with quite as many HVAC systems, but from Auto Away to Eco Mode and automatic schedule creation, it’s a nearly identical experience to the Learning Thermostat in a white plastic body.

Like its more expensive counterpart, the Thermostat E is eligible for rebates through most participating power companies, and the lower cost opens you up to buy Nest’s Temperature Sensors for keeping track of the temperature throughout your house. It’s simple to operate, using the same rotating bezel design, and the white hardware might blend in better with some homes.

Pros:

  • Still includes Auto Away and Eco Mode
  • Cheaper than the Learning Thermostat
  • Eligible for rebates from power companies
  • Compatible with Nest Temperature Sensors

Cons:

  • Supports fewer HVAC systems
  • Lower quality plastic design
  • Lower resolution display

Value Pick

Nest Thermostat E

$169 at Google

Automated temperature controls for tighter budgets.

If you aren’t concerned with the Learning Thermostat’s stainless steel design, the Thermostat E offers nearly all the same features for considerably less.

Even Cheaper — Ecobee3 Lite

Even the most affordable smart thermostat goes a long way over the ones included with your home. The Ecobee3 Lite doesn’t have Alexa built in like the Ecobee4, nor does it include a room sensor, but you can still create schedules and control the thermostat from your phone or voice assistant. Unlike Nest’s thermostats, the Ecobee3 Lite is compatible with Apple’s HomeKit.

Visually, it’s nearly indistinguishable from the more premium Ecobee4, with the same full-color touch screen interface. This is easily the best value smart thermostat around, making it easy to quickly make your money back on energy bill savings.

Pros:

  • Most affordable smart thermostat
  • Allows for temperature scheduling
  • Compatible with Apple HomeKit
  • Detects when you leave the house

Cons:

  • No room sensor included
  • No built-in Alexa assistant

Even Cheaper

Ecobee3 Lite

$169 at Amazon

Great thermostats don’t have to cost an arm and a leg.

The Ecobee3 Lite is remarkably similar to the Ecobee4, though it doesn’t have Amazon Alexa built in, and you won’t find a room sensor in the box.

Bottom line

Even without an included room sensor, the Nest Learning Thermostat is hard to beat with its sleek aluminum design, Google Assistant integration, and automatic schedule creation based on your usage habits. The screen turns on as you walk up to the thermostat, and you can easily adjust the temperature manually by rotating the dial around the display. With remote control via your phone, you’ll never have to come home to an icebox in the winter — or a sauna in the summer — again.

As we previously mentioned, the highlight feature is still its learning abilities, which allows it to track your habits and create a schedule for you. This not only makes your life easier, but can save you money by helping you to conserve energy.

Credits — The team that worked on this guide

Hayato Huseman is a recovering trade show addict and writer for Android Central based out of Indianapolis. He can mostly be found complaining about the cold and enthusing about prog metal on Twitter at @hayatohuseman.

Andrew Martonik is the Executive Editor, U.S., for Android Central. Keeping you up to date with mobile news and analysis since 1989. You can follow him on Twitter at @andrewmartonik.

Joe Maring is Android Central’s News Editor and has had a love for anything with a screen and CPU since he can remember. He’s been talking/writing about Android in one form or another since 2012, and often does so while camping out at the nearest coffee shop. He’s on Twitter at @JoeMaring1.

from Android Central – Android Forums, News, Reviews, Help and Android Wallpapers www.androidcentral.com/best-smart-thermostat
via IFTTT

Categories
Uncategorized

Alexa finally gains Hindi support in India

You can now talk to Alexa in Hindi, and the digital assistant will respond back in the same language.

What you need to know

  • Alexa is now rolling out Hindi for Alexa.
  • You’ll be able to switch languages on the fly, and the update is going live later today.
  • It’s the same voice that you get with the English India variant of Alexa.

Amazon has introduced Alexa in India two years ago, and while the digital assistant has been great at picking up Hinglish (sentences in Hindi with a few English words mixed in), you couldn’t converse in Hindi. That’s changing today, as Amazon has rolled out Hindi for Alexa in India. Starting today, you’ll be able to converse with the assistant in Hindi, and get responses back in Hindi as well.

That’s a big deal for Amazon as it looks to continue its momentum in the country. Amazon beat Google to market in India, but Google rolled out Hindi language for Google Home nearly a year ago. With Amazon now offering the same feature, it is finally at parity in this area.

The update will be rolled out today, and you can either ask Alexa to switch language to Hindi or change it from the settings in the Alexa app. It is a pretty big addition, and the little that Amazon showed off at the event today suggests the retailer invested a lot of effort in building out the feature.

from Android Central – Android Forums, News, Reviews, Help and Android Wallpapers www.androidcentral.com/alexa-finally-gains-hindi-support-india
via IFTTT

Categories
Uncategorized

Facebook is reportedly working with Ray-Ban to create its smart AR glasses

Ray-Ban parent company Luxottica had previously worked with Google for the first generation Google Glass.

What you need to know

  • Facebook is reportedly partnering with Ray-Ban parent company Luxottica for its smart AR glasses.
  • The glasses, codenamed “Orion”, are being designed to replace smartphones.
  • They are expected to become ready for consumers between 2023 and 2025.

A new report from CNBC claims Facebook is teaming up with Ray-Ban parent brand Luxottica for its AR glasses that are internally codenamed Orion. Unlike augmented reality glasses that are currently available, Facebook’s smart AR glasses are apparently designed to replace smartphones.

As per the report, Facebook’s smart AR glasses will lets users receive phone calls, show information in a small display, and live-stream their vantage point to friends and followers on social media. Users will be able to input information with the help of a ring device featuring a motion sensor as well as an AI voice assistant that Facebook is currently working on.

The smart AR glasses are expected to become available between 2023 and 2025. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is said to have a strong interest in the AR glasses and has asked the company’s hardware chief Andrew Bosworth to prioritize them. Despite that, some believe that there is no guarantee that the glasses can be completed on time or ever ship.

However, if a report from The Information is to be believed, Luxottica is working with Facebook for a pair of smart glasses codenamed Stella and not “Orion”. The Stella glasses will be similar to Snap Spectacles, allowing users to record to capture their surroundings with the help of built-in cameras. They are expected to begin shipping “within the next couple of years” and will help test whether people would be comfortable wearing a Facebook branded product on their faces.

Ten ways to avoid getting murdered using Facebook Dating

from Android Central – Android Forums, News, Reviews, Help and Android Wallpapers www.androidcentral.com/facebook-reportedly-working-ray-ban-create-its-smart-ar-glasses
via IFTTT

Categories
Uncategorized

The ASUS Chromebox 3 is the best you can buy right now

The ASUS Chromebox 3 is the best Chromebox you can buy right now. It’s available in several configurations, but all models feature a true M.2 SATA SSD for years of worry-free storage and upgradability should you need it.

Best Overall: ASUS Chromebox 3

The Chromebox 3 is ASUS’ newest model, and it’s one of the company’s best ever. You can get the base model for less than $300, but we think the N019U model with a faster processor and more memory hits the sweet spot of price versus features — all for just a couple hundred bucks more. All models come with a full set of ports for connection to monitors or televisions — including current-generation USB-C ports — so you can use your favorite mouse and keyboard or an external storage drive filled with movies.

The ASUS Chromebox 3 is a Chromebox for the whole family that’s future proof, secure, and dependable. We do have a few issues — there isn’t any compatibility with Windows apps and there aren’t any internal speakers (so you’ll need to pay extra). This might be an issue if you’re on a budget, since the Chromebox 3 is still expensive compared to others on the market. However, based on what you get in terms of features, you can’t go wrong here.

Pros:

  • Desktop-class Intel Core processors
  • High-speed DDR4 RAM
  • User-upgradable hard drive
  • Legacy HDMI and USB connections
  • SD card reader

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • No internal speakers
  • No compatibility with Windows apps
  • Base model is a bit underpowered

Best Overall

ASUS Chromebox 3

The best for everyone

You’ll be able to browse the web, shop online, do your taxes, or even play a game with the Chromebox 3 and stay safe and secure thanks to Chrome OS.

Best Value: Acer CX13 Chromebox

If you would rather grab one box with everything you need — including a hard-to-find Chrome customized keyboard — and save some cash, then the Acer Chromebox CX13 is a great buy. And because Google supports Chrome products for a full six years nobody thinks it’s crazy to buy last year’s model to save a few dollars.

You’ll still be able to surf the web and social media, stream your favorite movies and shows, or even get some work done if that’s what you need. It’s not as speedy as the newer and more expensive Chromebox 3, but the price makes it a perfect choice for a lot of people.

Pros:

  • Excellent price
  • Chrome-layout keyboard included
  • Easy connection to a TV or monitor

Cons:

  • Last years specifications
  • Can be sluggish under a heavy load
  • Base configuration can be hard to find

Best Value

Acer CX13 Chromebox

It’s all in the box

Acer’s CX13 Chromebox comes as a complete kit with matching Chrome keyboard and mouse so you won’t have to track down any peripherals.

Is it a good time to buy a Chromebox?

Yes! Chrome is constantly getting new features that make it more usable as a desktop and a Chromebox is the best way to experience it. By being a device that’s always plugged in you don’t have near the thermal throttling that you would find in a Chromebook with a monitor and keyboard attached and the result is a better experience from the same class of specs.

Google supports Chromeboxes with anutomatic updates for a whopping six years and it’s not hard to update them yourself after the official support is over so a purchase now will be good for years to come. If you want a desktop operating system with a world class browser, the best security, and plenty of apps and games available through Google Play you can’t go wrong with a Chromebox.

Bottom line

The ASUS Chromebox 3 is what we’ve always wanted to see in a Chromebox. Models and prices for everyone are available, and every configuration has the ports and power you need to have a great experience while staying secure and up to date with Google’s Chrome software. We think it’s the very best Chromebox for everyone.

If you would rather grab one box with everything you need — including a hard-to-find Chrome customized keyboard — then the Acer Chromebox CX13’s base model is a great buy, and because Google supports Chrome products for a full six years nobody thinks it’s crazy to buy last years model to save a few dollars.

The best upgrades

A Chromebox is great, but one thing makes our top pick even better — it’s user-upgradable. While you can’t swap out the CPU or mainboard, the RAM and hard drive are simple to swap using guides you’ll find on the internet. here’s the right gear to buy.

More RAM

Crucial 16GB Kit DDR3L 1866 MT/s (PC3-14900) Unbuffered SODIMM 204-Pin Memory

$90 at Amazon

The Right Stuff

Finding the right RAM is harder than actually upgrading it. This is the right RAM and with 16GB of it your Chromebox will fly!

More Storage

Crucial MX500 1TB 3D NAND SATA M.2 Type 2280SS Internal SSD

$108 at Amazon

Oodles of room

This M.2 SATA drive will snap right in to your Chromebox 3 and with its 1TB of space you’ll have room for all the cat pics and memes you ever wanted to download.

Credits — The team that worked on this guide

Jerry Hildenbrand is Mobile Nation’s Senior Editor and works from a Chromebook full time. Currently, he is using Google’s Pixelbook but is always looking at new products and may have any Chromebook in his hands at any time. You’ll find him across the Mobile Nations network and you can hit him up on Twitter if you want to say hey.

Andrew Martonik is the Executive Editor, U.S. at Android Central. He has been a mobile enthusiast since the Windows Mobile days, and covering all things Android-related with a unique perspective at AC since 2012. For suggestions and updates, you can reach him at andrew.martonik@androidcentral.com or on Twitter at @andrewmartonik.

Daniel Bader is the Managing Editor of Android Central. As he’s writing this, a mountain of old Android phones is about to fall on his head, but his Great Dane will protect him. He drinks way too much coffee and sleeps too little. He wonders if there’s a correlation.

from Android Central – Android Forums, News, Reviews, Help and Android Wallpapers www.androidcentral.com/best-chromebox
via IFTTT

Categories
Uncategorized

The ASUS Chromebox 3 is the best you can buy right now

The ASUS Chromebox 3 is the best Chromebox you can buy right now. It’s available in several configurations, but all models feature a true M.2 SATA SSD for years of worry-free storage and upgradability should you need it.

Best Overall: ASUS Chromebox 3

The Chromebox 3 is ASUS’ newest model, and it’s one of the company’s best ever. You can get the base model for less than $300, but we think the N019U model with a faster processor and more memory hits the sweet spot of price versus features — all for just a couple hundred bucks more. All models come with a full set of ports for connection to monitors or televisions — including current-generation USB-C ports — so you can use your favorite mouse and keyboard or an external storage drive filled with movies.

The ASUS Chromebox 3 is a Chromebox for the whole family that’s future proof, secure, and dependable. We do have a few issues — there isn’t any compatibility with Windows apps and there aren’t any internal speakers (so you’ll need to pay extra). This might be an issue if you’re on a budget, since the Chromebox 3 is still expensive compared to others on the market. However, based on what you get in terms of features, you can’t go wrong here.

Pros:

  • Desktop-class Intel Core processors
  • High-speed DDR4 RAM
  • User-upgradable hard drive
  • Legacy HDMI and USB connections
  • SD card reader

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • No internal speakers
  • No compatibility with Windows apps
  • Base model is a bit underpowered

Best Overall

ASUS Chromebox 3

The best for everyone

You’ll be able to browse the web, shop online, do your taxes, or even play a game with the Chromebox 3 and stay safe and secure thanks to Chrome OS.

Best Value: Acer CX13 Chromebox

If you would rather grab one box with everything you need — including a hard-to-find Chrome customized keyboard — and save some cash, then the Acer Chromebox CX13 is a great buy. And because Google supports Chrome products for a full six years nobody thinks it’s crazy to buy last year’s model to save a few dollars.

You’ll still be able to surf the web and social media, stream your favorite movies and shows, or even get some work done if that’s what you need. It’s not as speedy as the newer and more expensive Chromebox 3, but the price makes it a perfect choice for a lot of people.

Pros:

  • Excellent price
  • Chrome-layout keyboard included
  • Easy connection to a TV or monitor

Cons:

  • Last years specifications
  • Can be sluggish under a heavy load
  • Base configuration can be hard to find

Best Value

Acer CX13 Chromebox

It’s all in the box

Acer’s CX13 Chromebox comes as a complete kit with matching Chrome keyboard and mouse so you won’t have to track down any peripherals.

Is it a good time to buy a Chromebox?

Yes! Chrome is constantly getting new features that make it more usable as a desktop and a Chromebox is the best way to experience it. By being a device that’s always plugged in you don’t have near the thermal throttling that you would find in a Chromebook with a monitor and keyboard attached and the result is a better experience from the same class of specs.

Google supports Chromeboxes with anutomatic updates for a whopping six years and it’s not hard to update them yourself after the official support is over so a purchase now will be good for years to come. If you want a desktop operating system with a world class browser, the best security, and plenty of apps and games available through Google Play you can’t go wrong with a Chromebox.

Bottom line

The ASUS Chromebox 3 is what we’ve always wanted to see in a Chromebox. Models and prices for everyone are available, and every configuration has the ports and power you need to have a great experience while staying secure and up to date with Google’s Chrome software. We think it’s the very best Chromebox for everyone.

If you would rather grab one box with everything you need — including a hard-to-find Chrome customized keyboard — then the Acer Chromebox CX13’s base model is a great buy, and because Google supports Chrome products for a full six years nobody thinks it’s crazy to buy last years model to save a few dollars.

The best upgrades

A Chromebox is great, but one thing makes our top pick even better — it’s user-upgradable. While you can’t swap out the CPU or mainboard, the RAM and hard drive are simple to swap using guides you’ll find on the internet. here’s the right gear to buy.

More RAM

Crucial 16GB Kit DDR3L 1866 MT/s (PC3-14900) Unbuffered SODIMM 204-Pin Memory

$90 at Amazon

The Right Stuff

Finding the right RAM is harder than actually upgrading it. This is the right RAM and with 16GB of it your Chromebox will fly!

More Storage

Crucial MX500 1TB 3D NAND SATA M.2 Type 2280SS Internal SSD

$108 at Amazon

Oodles of room

This M.2 SATA drive will snap right in to your Chromebox 3 and with its 1TB of space you’ll have room for all the cat pics and memes you ever wanted to download.

Credits — The team that worked on this guide

Jerry Hildenbrand is Mobile Nation’s Senior Editor and works from a Chromebook full time. Currently, he is using Google’s Pixelbook but is always looking at new products and may have any Chromebook in his hands at any time. You’ll find him across the Mobile Nations network and you can hit him up on Twitter if you want to say hey.

Andrew Martonik is the Executive Editor, U.S. at Android Central. He has been a mobile enthusiast since the Windows Mobile days, and covering all things Android-related with a unique perspective at AC since 2012. For suggestions and updates, you can reach him at andrew.martonik@androidcentral.com or on Twitter at @andrewmartonik.

Daniel Bader is the Managing Editor of Android Central. As he’s writing this, a mountain of old Android phones is about to fall on his head, but his Great Dane will protect him. He drinks way too much coffee and sleeps too little. He wonders if there’s a correlation.

from Android Central – Android Forums, News, Reviews, Help and Android Wallpapers www.androidcentral.com/best-chromebox
via IFTTT

Categories
Uncategorized

Google Assistant gets new voices in nine more languages

A second voice option for the Assistant is now available in nine new countries.

What you need to know

  • Google is introducing a second voice option for the Assistant in nine more languages: German, French, Dutch, Norwegian, Italian, Korean, Japanese, English in the U.K. or English in India
  • All the new voices were built using Deepmind’s WaveNet technology, which make them sound natural.
  • You will be able to choose from the different voices by heading over to Settings in the Assistant app.

Google is rolling out a new way to personalize the Assistant in nine new countries. The company has announced the launch of new voices in German, French, Dutch, Norwegian, Italian, Korean, Japanese, and English in the UK as well as India.

Until now, the ability to choose different voices for the Google Assistant was only available in the U.S. Users in the U.S. can already choose from 11 different English voices.

If you live in one of the countries that’s getting a second voice option, you can select your preferred voice by going into your Settings in the Assistant app. Thanks to DeepMind’s WaveNet technology, all the new voices that are being rolled out today sound like a native speaker.

Google claims each of the new voices have been trained to understand the unique way in which people in these countries talk, their accents, cultural references, and more. The Mountain View-based company has also come up with a unique way of displaying the new voices. Instead of displaying them by gender, they will be displayed by color.

To help more people experiment with different voices, users will be randomly assigned a voice when they first set up assistant. This will ensure everyone has a 50/50 chance of getting either the “red” or “orange” voice.

Nest Wifi with Google Assistant to launch at Google event on October 15

from Android Central – Android Forums, News, Reviews, Help and Android Wallpapers www.androidcentral.com/google-assistant-gets-new-voices-nine-more-languages
via IFTTT

Categories
Uncategorized

Here’s how OnePlus continues to perfect OxygenOS year after year

OxygenOS is the best third-party skin on Android, and that’s unlikely to change anytime soon.

Over the weekend, OxygenOS hit a big milestone: it completed 1,500 days. As part of the celebration, OnePlus partnered with the World Wildlife Fund to plant trees for every tweet posted using the OxygenOS hashtag. Over the years, OxygenOS has evolved to become the best third-party skin on Android, striking an ideal balance between simplicity and customization.

A large part of OnePlus’ success as a manufacturer revolves around OxygenOS. Sure, the manufacturer rose up the ranks over the years because of its ability to undercut the big players, but it wasn’t the only one to do so. There’s no shortage of phones that offer flagship-tier hardware at the same price point as OnePlus — devices from Xiaomi, OPPO, Huawei/Honor, Vivo and Realme come to mind — but the common theme among all of these phones is the software. As a general rule, the trade-off when buying a phone from a major Chinese manufacturer is a heavily customized user interface.

OnePlus has turned out to be the exception to this rule. From the very beginning, OxygenOS delivered a user interface that was close to stock Android, with a bloat-free design that’s focused on customizability. OxygenOS 1.0 rolled out back in April 2015, with the build based on Android 5.0.1 Lollipop. Four years and a few dozen builds later, OxygenOS 9.5 continues to deliver on those same principles. In that time, OnePlus has grown exponentially as a device manufacturer, and is now a leading player in the premium segment in India. The Chinese manufacturer is also the flagship brand for BBK in the U.S., and has a decent market share in the UK as well.

With the OnePlus 7T on the horizon, I sat down with Szymon Kopeć, Global Head of Software Product Growth at OnePlus, to talk about OxygenOS’ evolution and what we can look forward to from the next version of the skin. Before we get started, a little refresher on OnePlus’ foray into the smartphone segment. The OnePlus One was unveiled on April 23, 2014, with the company announcing its partnership with custom ROM maker Cyanogen several months prior. The phone launched with CyanogenMod 11S out of the box, with custom features and Cyanogen branding at the back.

It didn’t take long for OnePlus to ditch Cyanogen, because shortly after the OnePlus One launched in India, it was banned following a lawsuit by local handset maker Micromax. That led to a chain of events resulting in OnePlus deciding to develop its own skin. I started off by asking Kopeć about OnePlus’ decision to come up with OxygenOS:

In the very beginning, the decision that we should have something like OxygenOS was pretty important for us. Because it wasn’t that obvious for many people; we had CyanogenMod, and everyone liked it. Many people asked us at the time, ‘Is it really necessary to have your own ROM? Can you not just use Cyanogen?’ Another alternative for us was to go with Android Open Source Project (AOSP); that was doable. But we thought that to really differentiate our product, we needed our own ROM.

This is especially true after all this time. When we see phones in the market right now, the difference in the hardware between the high-end and mid-range devices is not that crazy, but the difference is software is more pronounced. So that’s why I think that our decision to launch our own ROM was a key point in our success.

OnePlus is obsessed about speed; there are few manufacturers that put such an emphasis on performance. Kopeć mentioned that the focus on speed is what continues to drive the development of OxygenOS. At one point, OnePlus thought of offering a more feature-laden interface, but it ultimately decided to stick to an aesthetic that was in line with pure Android. That was another key moment in the OxygenOS journey, says Kopeć:

When OnePlus was a smaller company, we were considering if we should go closer to pure Android or a little further away. We were trying to figure out a balance where we could introduce new features while at the same time keep the experience familiar. The goal was to make our community happy, because at that time everyone was a fan of pure Android. If you would’ve asked at that time whether OxygenOS or pure Android was better, 90% would’ve said pure Android. When we do our research now, we see that pure Android is not as preferred anymore, and OxygenOS is more preferred. We hear this from you guys as well, so our decision to balance feature additions while retaining the pure Android interface was a key moment.

Over the years, OnePlus saw a shift in its userbase. When it started out, its users were almost entirely made up of enthusiasts, but as it started gaining momentum, it picked up a more mainstream audience. The community aspect is what drove the initial development of OnePlus devices as power users engaged directly with the brand, so I asked Kopeć how OnePlus manages to cater to its community now that it is a mainstream player:

Our process of introducing new features still relies heavily on our closed and open beta users; what you would call a geeky community. They have to approve of what we are doing, and we have a system in place with those users wherein if they don’t like a feature, we are just not doing it. So our goal is to find that sweet spot between what would be useful for a vast majority versus catering to beta users. This mindset definitely changed our approach; it’s much more difficult now than it used to be. Three years ago we could just ask on our forums and get feature suggestions, but now we need to get a deeper understanding of the market before we can introduce a feature.

It’s that shift to a mainstream audience that makes things interesting, because OnePlus now has to balance the needs of a vocal core community with that of a broader populace:

We need of think of our community in a broader sense than we used to. During the initial days of our brand, pretty much all of our users were on the forums, giving us lots of feedback and suggestions. It was very easy to make a product they were happy with, because all you had to do was ask them what they wanted. But our community has seen a shift in recent years; now less than 15% of our community would be on the forums and be classified as geeks. That’s very interesting, and a vast majority of our users now are people who want to have a great flagship device.

So the biggest challenge for us is understanding not just the vocal community that attends our launches and shares their opinions on forums, but the needs of the broader set of users. Core users are still an extremely important part of our community, but we need to be aware of pain points affecting a majority of users and designing products accordingly. That involves a lot of primary and secondary research and reaching out to our users that don’t participate in our forums.

This intricate juggling act of balancing the needs of the community means several features don’t ever make it to the final product. Kopeć mentioned that OnePlus was going to create a set of themes for a festival in India, but had to ultimately reject the plan following feedback from closed beta users:

Great products are not necessarily about making decisions of what you want to do, but what you should not do. So, I read this interview of Snapchat’s founder where he says 98% of features they’re working on never see the light of day. The percentage is not that high at OnePlus, but it’s high nevertheless. Especially at a closed beta level, a lot of the ideas that we’re working on end up on the chopping block. We had an idea of launching a few thematic designs for one of the festivals in India, and after evaluating feedback from our closed beta users, we decided to not do it. At the end of the day, that’s why we have them; they help us figure out what we should do and shouldn’t.

Localization has been an area of focus for OnePlus this year, with the company rolling out exclusive features to users in India. With an added layer of features aimed at a particular market, I asked Kopeć about how this would affect software updates going forward:

We have done this in a pretty smart way that doesn’t impact the frequency of updates at all. We have the global schedule for updates, so when we’re aiming to release an OTA update for a specific device, we have a timeframe of a few weeks to add localized features. We can choose to add the features at that time, or roll out the update without them. For us, fixing bugs or releasing a new Android version is the most important thing; localization comes second.

Another way we’re trying to do this is by putting our apps in the Play Store. That makes updates smoother, and right now our launcher is in the Play Store. Soon, our SMS app will also be on the Play Store, and that makes the development of localization features smoother. This way, we can also roll out updates faster and not wait for an OTA.”

Continuing on the subject of localization, I asked Kopeć about designing features tailored to an individual market:

Before we roll out localized features, we are first trying to understand user needs. This cannot be achieved with just a week-long trip to a country; that’s why I’m in India for the last two years. We have a team of product managers, researchers, and designers here so that we can understand the issues facing our users in India. Doing this allows us to make sure that the localization efforts we’re doing will impact their lives positively. That’s why before we can localize for other markets, we need thorough insights.

Right now, we’re localizing features for India, and if any of those have potential for being useful in other regions, we will test them there. Work-Life Balance is one of those features; we’re releasing it in India first, but there’s no reason why it can’t be available in other countries. We’ll likely release the feature to our closed beta users in other markets and see what kind of feedback we receive.

Get More OnePlus 7

OnePlus 7 Pro



From $670 at OnePlus

from Android Central – Android Forums, News, Reviews, Help and Android Wallpapers www.androidcentral.com/heres-how-oneplus-continues-perfect-oxygenos
via IFTTT

Categories
Uncategorized

Everything you need to know about Android 10

Android has new features and a more mature name.

The next version of Android is here. It’s chock-full of new features, has a renewed focus on privacy, and for the first time in Android history, doesn’t have a tasty dessert name to accompany it. 😱

That’s right. Android Q is officially called Android 10, and it’s bringing a lot of goodies to go along with it.

Eager to learn more? Here’s everything you need to know!

There’s no dessert name — Android Q is just “Android 10”

For the last few months, there’s been endless speculation regarding Android Q’s name. Ever since Android 1.5 Cupcake, every version of Android has had a tasty dessert name to accompany it. With Android Q, however, things are changing.

Google is officially done with dessert names and is instead shifting to a simpler numerical naming scheme. As such, Android Q’s official name is simply “Android 10.”

Yes, it’s a bit boring, but it’s all part of a bigger rebrand Google has for Android as a whole.

For the first time since 2014, Google’s refreshing the Android brand’s look and feel, consisting of a redesigned logo that prominently features a green robot head. Whenever you see the Android logo text, you’ll now also see that little robot.

While it’s cool to see that Google is putting such a big focus on Android’s robot friend, its head is the only part that’s sticking around — the rest of its body is gone for good.

Android as an operating system is staying the same, but its image is changing quite drastically. The logo is cleaner and more playful while dessert names are done for and being replaced by numbers. To get a more in-depth look at what’s going on here, be sure to check out both of Andrew’s articles on this subject.

The iconic back button is gone

The back button, a navigation staple of Android, is officially going away with Android 10.

Following up on Pie’s gesture-based navigation that kept the aging back button around, Android 10 now features a fully gesture-based method of navigation. Swiping up goes home, a swipe up and hold reveals the multitasking menu, and a swipe from the left or right edge of your screen goes back.

That’s a pretty big shift for Android navigation, but if you aren’t ready to commit to 100% gestures quite yet, you don’t have to.

In addition to the new gesture navigation, Android 10 also allows you to switch back to Android Pie’s two-button system and the traditional three-button array. It’s unclear if these options will remain on devices like the Pixel 4 that ship with Android 10 out of the box, but at least for phones like the Pixel 3 and 3a that are updated to Android 10 from an older version, it’s up to you as to what navigation system you use.

There’s finally a system-wide dark mode!

HOOOORRRAAYYYY!!!

After years of begging and praying, Android 10 ships with a system-wide dark theme that can be turned on and off at any time via a Quick Settings toggle.

Even better, Google also created a new API that developers can use to have their apps go to a dark theme as well when the system-wide one is turned on.

It’ll likely take some time for all of your favorite apps to adopt the API, but right out of the gate, most Google apps and the main UI adhere to Android 10’s wonderful dark mode.

New theming options

Being able to customize our phones to the fullest extent is one of the things that makes Android so great, and with Android 10, Google is (kind of) giving users even more ways to tinker with the look of their device.

Buried in the Developer Options of Android 10, there’s a new Theming section where you can change your phone’s accent color. The device default is the iconic Pixel blue, but you can change this to any of the following hues:

  • Black
  • Green
  • Purple
  • Cinnamon
  • Ocean
  • Space
  • Orchid

In Beta 2, a new app appeared called “Pixel Themes.” While not functional quite yet, it’s possible this will be launched alongside the Pixel 4 later in the fall.

Live Caption transcribes media locally in real-time

Closed captions are crucial for deaf and hard-of-hearing people to understand what’s being said in a video, podcast, game, or any other form of media where words are spoken, and to make sure these are available virtually everywhere, Android 10 comes with a feature called “Live Caption.”

Live Caption is able to provide real-time captions for just about anything on your phone where someone is talking, and the best part is that it happens locally on-device. In other words, no internet connection of any kind is required.

You can turn Live Caption on through Android 10’s accessibility settings, and for a lot of users, this is a godsend.

Big changes for permissions

Privacy is a bigger concern than ever before, and with Android 10, Google is implementing some new features for app permissions to help give you a better understanding and more control over what exactly apps on your phone have access to.

Apps that ask for your location now reveal a new pop-up asking you if you want to grant location access all the time, only when the app’s being used, or not at all.

Furthermore, Google notes that Android 10:

Gives users even more control over apps, controlling access to shared files. Users will be able to control apps’ access to the Photos and Videos or the Audio collections via new runtime permissions. For Downloads, apps must use the system file picker, which allows the user to decide which Download files the app can access.

The “Permissions usage” page in Settings has been completely overhauled to show which permissions are being used by how many of your apps, there’s the option to filter by permissions to see which apps are using certain ones, and a new UI for the “App info” page.

An improved share menu

Android’s share menu has been a hot mess for a while now. The core functionality is fine, but it’s regularly slow to open no matter what phone you’re using. Thankfully, Android 10 addresses this. In a blog post, Google noted that “the share UI can load instantly when it’s launched” since the shortcuts are “published in advance.”

Speaking of sharing, Android 10 also introduces something called “Sharing Shortcuts.”

A Sharing Shortcut allows developers to create a new option in the share menu that will share a file/photo/etc. in a specific part of another app much faster than before.

Better support for foldable phones

2019 will be the year that foldable phones finally hit the market, and to ensure the experience of these new devices is as good as can be, Google’s optimized Android 10 with foldable-specific features and experiences.

According to Google:

To help your apps to take advantage of these and other large-screen devices, we’ve made a number of improvements in Android Q, including changes to onResume and onPause to support multi-resume and notify your app when it has focus. We’ve also changed how the resizeableActivity manifest attribute works, to help you manage how your app is displayed on foldable and large screens.

These changes are obviously meant for developers, but in the end, it should result in Android 10 being optimized correctly for foldables of all shapes and sizes.

Here’s when you’ll get Android 10

Following a public beta that started back in March and received six major updates, Android 10’s final build was finally released to the masses on September 3, 2019.

As of that date, Android 10 began rolling out to the Essential Phone and Google’s Pixel devices, including the newest Pixel 3a and going all the way back to the original Pixel that was released in 2016. At this point, the OTA update should have landed on your phone by now.

If you have a handset that isn’t a Pixel, you’ll need to wait a bit longer for OEMs to optimize Android 10 for their handsets.

The date of which you’ll get Android 10 all comes down to who makes your phone, what specific model it is, and whether or not it’s unlocked or tied to a carrier. To get a better idea of when you can expect Android 10 to land on your specific smartphone, check out our regularly-updated guide below.

from Android Central – Android Forums, News, Reviews, Help and Android Wallpapers www.androidcentral.com/android-10
via IFTTT