The Chromebook Pixel is not dead after all!

Looks like Google is still working on the Chromebook Pixel line, they just aren’t sharing anything about it at this time.  I hope this means that we will see a Chromebook Pixel Tablet at this spring’s upcoming Google IO.  Like I have said before, it is important for Google to lead with the Pixel line to show what their operating systems can do, just like what Microsoft is doing with their Surface line.

 

 

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Android Wear 2.0 – Do more

Google has announced their new operating system for smart watches, Android 2.0.  Here is a quick rundown on some of the new features.

 

Android Wear 2.0 Watch Face

More personalized, helpful watch faces

You can now personalize your Android Wear always-on watch face with information and actions from your favorite apps. Simply glance at your wrist to check your next appointment, stock performance, progress on fitness goals, or whatever is important to you. A quick tap on your watch face lets you instantly order an Uber ride, start a workout, or get in touch with your significant other. Interested in different info throughout the day? Just swipe to switch your watch face as you go from the office to the gym to dinner with friends and home again.

Better ways to work out

Google Fit, the pre-installed fitness app on most Android Wear watches, now lets you track your pace, distance, calories burned and heart rate* as you’re walking, running or cycling. You can also measure weight-lifting reps, in addition to push-ups, sit-ups and squats. When you work out with a cellular-connected Android Wear watch, you can stay in touch with calls and messages, stream tunes from Google Play Music and still use your favorite apps right on your watch.

New ways to use apps

With Android Wear 2.0, you can choose which apps you want on your watch and download them directly from the new on-watch Google Play Store. If your watch has a cellular connection, you can make calls and use your watch apps no matter where your phone is. Whether you use an Android phone or iPhone, you’ll be able to use apps built for Android Wear 2.0, like AccuWeather, Android Pay*, Bring!, Foursquare, Google Fit, Google Messenger, Google Play Music, Lifesum, Robinhood, Runkeeper, Runtastic, Strava, Telegram, Uber and many more.

More ways to respond to messages

Now it’s easier than ever to read and respond to a message right from your watch. When you receive a message, you can expand the notification and tap to respond by dictating, typing or handwriting your answer, or drawing an emoji. Try it out on apps like Facebook Messenger, Glide, Google Messenger, Hangouts, Telegram or WhatsApp. Need to respond quickly and discreetly? Use Smart Reply, which instantly and intelligently suggests different responses based on the message you received.

The Google Assistant on your wrist

Android Wear 2.0 brings the Google Assistant to your wrist, so you can find answers and get things done—hands free. Ask your Google Assistant about the weather or remind yourself to bring an umbrella. Make a restaurant reservation or navigate to work. You can even update your shopping list right from your wrist. To ask for help, just hold down the power button on your watch or say “Ok Google.” The Google Assistant is available in English and German on Android Wear and will be available in other languages in the coming months.

source – Google Blog

No new Chromebook Pixel this year?

In a report by techcrunch.com, Google is not planning on bringing back the Chromebook Pixel Laptop this year.  They sat down with Google’s senior vice president for hardware, Rick Osterloh, and he said “we have no plans for Google-branded laptops.” Maybe it’s just me being optimistic, but I’m hopeful that they have no plans for a Google branded laptop this year because they are going to be releasing a Google branded Pixel Chrome OS tablet.

Update: Never say never! Osterloh sent us this additional comment after we published: “Regarding the future of Google-branded laptops (whether called Pixel or not), I should clarify that we don’t have any plans to discuss at this time.”

Google Announces new VR games

 

Its great to see more games come to the Google Daydream VR platform

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“For the first time ever, you’ll be able to communicate and interact directly with the larger-than-life Rabbids embarking on new wacky adventures. This lighthearted game makes full use of the controller to show what Daydream can do, while capturing the humor and antics of the original Rabbids series.”

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“Won Standout Indie at the inaugural Google Play Awards in 2016 for their word puzzle game, Alphabear. Beartopia is a fun co-op village game that will bring you together with other players so you can form friendships and build a bustling and prosperous society. It will be Spry Fox’s first foray into VR, and we love indie games like this that push the envelope of what’s possible and bring new ideas to growing platforms. Indies have long been a key pillar of Google Play, and we’re excited to see that continue on Daydream.”

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“Try on different VR headsets, and the Virtual Labor System will help you identify a suitable artificial intelligence client match.”

Along Together by Turbo Button is a game about being an imaginary friend. Using the Daydream controller, you’ll help your pal safely navigate treacherous 3D puzzles.”

 

source – Google Blog

Get a free Chromecast, when you purchase a Google Home

The Google store is running a great deal, when you buy a Google Home and a Chromecast.  Just add both items to your cart and Google will discount your total by 35 bucks giving you the Chromecast for free.

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source – Google Store

5 things I want – Google Pixel 2

Google made waves last year when they entered into the phone market by releasing their first Google made phone.  The Pixel stood out as one of the best phones of the year and even though it is a Verizon exclusive, it has far exceeded the sales numbers initially projected for the phone. Here is my wish list for the Pixel 2.

  1. Wireless Charging – I have enjoyed this on my Nexus 4, 5, and 6, but for some reason google left this feature off of the 6p and the new Pixel.
  2. Bigger screen, but not a bigger phone.  I love the size of the Pixel XL, but I think google could take better advantage of the wasted space and increase the screen to body ratio.
  3. Front facing speakers.  On the pixel, the audio seemed to be an after thought. With such a high quality phone, well thought out audio should be a priority.
  4. Integration of Tango.  I know that adding this would be a long shot, but it is such a cool technology and I would love to see it on my next Pixel.  Here is a link for more information on Tango.
  5. A little something extra as a surprise.  I would really love to see some feature take me off guard and excite me.  I can’t remember the last time a phone surprised me with a new feature that I didn’t see coming.  In a world of leaks we tend to know all about every device that is coming out before the official release.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the current Google Pixel.  It is one of the best phones from last year standing toe to toe with the s7 and iPhone 7, but there is always room for improvement.  Those are just my two cents on the matter. If you have other features you would like to see, please let me know.

Watch out Intel, AMD just might knock you down with Ryzen

Intel may soon find themselves in a place they haven’t been in 15 years.  AMD has been hard at work developing their next generation of CPU/APUs.  They will be splitting their CPU line up into 3 classes: Ryzen 3, Ryzen 5, and Ryzen 7.  Seems like they are trying to copy Intel’s scheme of i3, i5, and i7. That’s where the similarities stop. If the leaked benchmarks are true, the Ryzen 5 chips will directly take on the mainstream Intel i7 for a much cheaper price.  Take a look at this leaked benchmark.wp-1487448488156.jpg

This benchmark shows the AMD Ryzen 5 1600x chip, which is rumored to be priced at $259, beating an Intel i7 $610 chip in CPU performance.  I hope this is true. It would turn the industry on its head and finally there would be better competition.

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I am hoping to see some benchmarks on graphical performance soon. If they can similarly increase the performance of the GPU in the chips, we may be able to see the low end graphics card market drop off in favor of integrated graphics.

Don’t curve my phone screen!

Samsung seems to have gone all in with the curved screen.  Starting with the S6 edge, they have been pushing harder to make this the defining feature of a Samsung phone. I hope that this trend does not move to other cell phone manufacturers. It is not a good feature!

To me, it feels like more of a liability than a feature. There is a small novelty of seeing the LCD actually bend around the side without any practical use.  One the other hand there are many downsides.  First off, they are almost impossible to protect. Cases can’t do much to protect the sides, so if you drop your phone, you are almost guaranteed to hit the screen unless it falls flat on its’ back. Time and time again I have people asking me to fix their broken screen on their S7 edge, and the impact point is almost always on the curve.The second problem I have noticed is the distortion when images are show around the curved area.

Just give me a flat screen on my phone!  All the features that are touted on the edge phones can be accomplished similarly on a flat screened phone.  Plus, on a regular flat screened phone i am able to put a tempered glass on the front that in no way impedes the use of the phone followed by any case of varying protection.  Once those two accessories are combined on one phone it is much less likely to be broken.

In conclusion, I love having a feature rich phone that I can easily protect instead of a gimmicky curved screen that most likely won’t last two years.  Please, phone manufacturers, don’t follow Samsung and don’t curve my phone screen!

As an added bonus, I have put together a gallery of broken Samsung s7 edge phones.

Google Home and Amazon Alexa want to be your next home phone

In a report by the Wallstreet Journal both Google and Amazon are actively working on integrating phone capabilities into their popular devices.  For many, a home phone is a thing of the past, having been replaced by multiple cell phones.  Having the house phone integrated into our Google home would be a nice feature for us because it would allow our younger kids to call their grandparents and cousins.

Google already has the groundwork lain for this service via google voice.  If you didn’t already know, you can use almost any old Android phone as a free home phone.  I am currently working on an Article about how to set this up, so that you can cancel your home phone service and use this free option instead.  Keep checking back or follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google +.

source – Wallstreet Journal

Google Home, just added shopping

Google announced today that the google home will now allow you to order items, just by asking.

To configure this on your Google Home

  1. Open your Google Home app
  2. Open the menu and choose “More Settings”
  3. Scroll to “Payments”
  4. From there set your default card and delivery address
  5. Now you are ready to shop

source – Google