Fraunhofer HHI, the institute that has created many of the world's most popular audio/video coding and compression standards, has finalized the next standard for video: H.266, AKA Versatile Video Coding (VVC). The new standard is supposedly twice as efficient as its predecessor, H.265/High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC). For example, it will be possible to store a 90-minute 4K video in just 5 GB, instead of the 10 GB that would be required with H.265/HEVC, with no loss of visual quality. The new standard can be used for saved as well as streaming video, and supports resolutions from 8K down to SD. It also supports HDR and 360º video. The standard will be licensed by an industry group that includes as its members Apple, Canon, Dolby, Ericsson, Intel, Nokia, Oppo, Orange, Sony, and Tencent. Companies are already designing chips for hardware-accelerated use of the new standard. Fraunhofer has committed to publishing the first software to support the standard this fall.
Sony will start accepting pre-orders for the $1200 4G flagship smartphone on June 1st. Those who pre-order by June 28th will receive a free set of Sony noise-canceling earbuds.
Sony has created a new lineup of phones designed specifically for professionals rather than consumers. The new Xperia Pro imagines a specific use case for 5G: broadcasting live video in the field. To that end, it has both mmWave 5G and an HDMI input for connecting to professional video cameras. Even though Sony Mobile has "de-emphasized" the US market in its general strategy, the Xperia Pro's specs list 5G frequency band support specific to US 5G networks: bands 2, 5, 66, 260, and 261. Sony has previously worked to have its flagship phones certified by Verizon, and the Xperia Pro fully supports Verizon's 5G and 4G network bands. The Xperia Pro has 5G mmWave antennas on all four sides for maximum mmWave connectivity. The Pro also has high-end video capture built in, including 4K HDR video at up to 60 fps, Optical SteadyShot, and SteadyShot with Intelligent Active Mode (5-axis stabilization). Otherwise, the Xperia Pro has specs that are nearly identical to the Xperia 1 II that was also announced today, except for more storage (512 GB) and no wireless charging. Release date and pricing are yet to be announced.
Sony has updated its Xperia 1 flagship phone with the new Xperia 1 II (mark two). Compared to last year's Xperia 1, the new model for 2020 adds sub-6 5G, wireless charging, and a 3.5mm audio jack. It's also the first Sony phone with Zeiss optics, which were previously exclusive to Nokia-brand phones. The Xperia 1 II has triple rear cameras — standard (f/1.7, 82º), wide (124º), and telephoto (34º) — all of which are 12 megapixel. It also has a unique auto-focus system that focuses up to 60 times per second. Its 6.5-inch OLED display sports 4K resolution (3840 x 1644 pixels) and HDR. It's powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 chipset with 8 GB of RAM. It also has 256 GB of storage, a 4,000 mAh battery, USB-PD fast charging, NFC, Bluetooth 5.1, and IP68 water resistance. Currently, Sony has only announced a version with support for European 5G networks, although it has 4G LTE support in most of the bands used by US networks.
Sony is updating its PS4 software this week for both console and mobile platforms. The new PS4 Remote Play app for Android will work on all phones with Android 5.0 and up; it was previously available only on Sony Android phones. Remote Play is already available for iOS. Sony is also updating its Second Screen app that turns your phone into a companion device while console gaming. Second Screen will now include a voice transcription accessibility feature for group chats, which converts party voice chat to text, and enables you to enter text that is read aloud to other party members. The new software is rolling out this week.
Sony today announced the Xperia 5, a new phone that puts the high-end specs of the Xperia 1 into a smaller form factor similar to the Xperia 10, carrying on the tradition of small, high-power phones such as last year's XZ2 Compact. Like Sony's other 2019 phones, it has an unusually tall, narrow display, allowing the phone to fit a 6.1-inch display into a body only 2.6 inches wide. (Many phones today are 3 inches wide.) Although the Xperia 5 is only being announced today for Europe, and Sony recently revealed plans to de-emphasize the US market, the Xperia 5 does support many US LTE bands, including bands 2, 4, 5, 12, 13, 25, 26, 29, 41, 46, and 66. The 5 sports a Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 processor, 6 GB of RAM, 128 GB of storage, and a memory card slot. It has three 12-megapixel cameras on the back: a main camera with f/1.6 aperture and OIS, a telephoto camera with OIS, and a 130º wide-angle camera. The phone can record 4K video in HDR. The selfie camera has f/2.0 aperture and 8 megapixel resolution. It has a 3,140 mAh battery. The USB-C connector supports PD fast charging, video-out up to 4K at 60 fps, and USB 3.1 data. The 6.1-inch OLED display sports full-HD resolution and HDR. The 5 also features Cat. 19 LTE, NFC, a fingerprint reader, water resistance, and stereo speakers. It comes in Black, Blue, Gray, and Red.
In a recent presentation to investors, Sony revealed new plans for its struggling phone business. The company will continue making phones, but focus exclusively on four markets: Europe, Japan, Taiwan, and Hong Kong.
The Sony PlayStation 4 Remote Play app is now available for iOS, accompanied by a corresponding update to the software for the PS4 itself. The app allows users to stream games from their PS4 console to an iOS mobile device over Wi-Fi. The graphics for compatible games are streamed in real-time, overlaid with on-screen controls. The app also lets gamers use the mic and keyboard of their mobile device to interact with games. It requires an iPhone 7 or later, and iOS 12.1 or later. An Android version of the app has been available for several years, but is restricted to Sony's Xperia phones.
Sony's new phones for 2019 have an unusual display aspect ratio that makes them unusually tall. The Xperia 1 and 10 Plus are a normal width, but much taller than other phones, thanks to extra-tall displays plus a "forehead". The Xperia 10 is a similar shape but smaller, giving it a normal height but narrow width. That makes my impressions of the 10 much different than the other two. Read on for my full hands-on first impressions.
Sony's new phones have unusually tall screens with a 21:9 aspect ratio. The company today announced the Xperia 1, 10, and 10 Plus. The 1 is the new flagship, while the 10 and 10 Plus fill out the mid-range. All three phones ship with Android 9 Pie, support USB-C PD fast charging, and have at least two rear cameras, NFC, Bluetooth 5, memory card slot, and a fingerprint reader.
- Xperia 1: The company's new flagship has a 6.5-inch HDR OLED display with 4K resolution (1644 x 3840). It has three rear cameras: standard, wide, and 2x telephoto, all of which are 12 megapixel. The main camera supports 960 fps slow-motion video. It's powered by a Snapdragon 855 processor and 6 GB of RAM. It has a 3,330 mAh battery, water resistance, LTE Cat. 19, USB 3.1, Miracast, and support for PS4 Remote Play.
- Xperia 10: This mid-range model has a 6-inch full-HD+ display, 13-megapixel main camera, 5-megapixel depth camera, 2,870 mAh battery, Snapdragon 630 processor, 3 GB of RAM, 64 GB storage, and Cat. 13 LTE.
- Xperia 10 Plus: A step up from the 10, it has a larger 6.5-inch display, 3,000 mAh battery, Snapdragon 636 processor, 4 GB of RAM, a better 12-megapixel main camera, and 8-megapixel 2x telephoto camera.
T-Mobile has successfully tested 5G technology on three different radio frequency bands, including 600 MHz (band 71), in a real setting outside of a lab. The company is working toward offering 5G service nationwide in 2020. T-Mobile worked with Ericsson and Intel to complete the recent test, which involved three users participating in a video call, using 600 MHz, 28 GHz and 39 GHz bands. While the GHz bands offer greater speed and capacity, the 600 MHz band offers better "blanket" coverage. During the tests, the teams generated a 5G signal capable of covering more than a thousand square miles from a single tower.
Sony has boosted production of its 3D sensors to meet heavy demand from phone makers going into 2019, according to Bloomberg. The sensors can be used for secure facial recognition, mid-air gesture recognition, object scanning and recognition, and even room mapping. Sony's 3D sensor technology provides greater accuracy and distance (up to 5 meters) than competing technologies that use structured light or stereo vision. Instead, Sony's sensors use a pulse of invisible laser light, paired with a camera-like sensor that measures the precise time that the light takes to reflect off surfaces, instantly providing a detailed 3D map.
President Donald Trump is weighing new action against Chinese telecommunications equipment makers Huawei and ZTE, says Reuters. The President might issue an executive order that would bar U.S. companies from buying telecom gear from either. Some in the U.S. government insist Huawei and ZTE have deep ties to the Chinese government. That relationship could give China the power to spy on the U.S., a claim Huawei has denied many times. Trump has been considering the executive order for more than eight months. The order would rely on the Department of Commerce to block equipment purchases from "foreign telecommunications makers that pose significant national security risks," say Reuters' sources. Huawei and ZTE themselves may not actually be named in the order. Such an order would hinge on the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, which gives the President power to govern commerce directly when a national emergency threatens the U.S. Trump has already barred the U.S. government itself from purchasing equipment from Huawei and ZTE. The four largest carriers mostly rely on equipment from Ericsson, Nokia, and Samsung, but smaller, rural operators do use gear from Huawei and ZTE. They are worried the Trump administration will force them to rip out existing Chinese-made gear at their own expense. Reuters says Trump may issue the order as soon as January.
Sony Mobile today said Android 9 Pie is now available to the Xperia XZ2 Premium. Sony debuted the XZ2 Premium earlier this year. In October, Sony said the XZ2 Premium would receive Pie on November 7. Android 9 Pie includes features such as Adaptive Battery, a new Ambient Display, and Digital Wellbeing for controlling phone use. Sony said owners of the XZ2 Premium can check for the update via the settings menu
Netflix has added more smartphones to the list of those capable of supporting HDR10 playback. The newest phones include the LG G7, and the Sony Xperia XZ2 Premium and Xperia XZ3. These phones have the high-contrast displays needed to boost colors and improve the visible range between bright and dark regions of each frame. HDR10 playback is already available to a number of flagship-grade devices, including the LG G7 One, V30, and V35; the Samsung Galaxy Note9, Note8, and S9; the Sony Xperia XZ Premium, XZ1, and XZ2; and the Huawei Mate 10 Pro, P20, and Honor 10. In order to view HDR10 content on mobile devices, people need to subscribe to the premium Netflix plan.
Google today said movies people own via the Google Play Store will automatically be upgraded to 4K at no extra cost. When Hollywood studios make their titles available in 4K, Google will upgrade previous purchases, even if those purchases were for originally SD or HD resolution. Google indicated that 4K movies will begin to cost less when purchased in the Play Store. The 4K content should be easier to watch on 4K TVs, according to Google, without additional hardware. It has updated the Play Movies & TV app for the majority of Sony's Bravia 4K TVs and Samsung's 4K Smart TVs, and Google is doing the same for LG. The app allows connected TVs to access the Play Movies service directly for streaming programs. Google will continue to make improvements to the app and bring 4K movies and TV shows to more devices over time.
Sony today made it clear which phones will receive Android 9 Pie and when they'll receive it. The update has already reached the Xperia XZ2 and XZ2 Compact, and Pie ships on the new XZ3. Sony says Android 9 Pie will be available to the XZ Premium, XZ1, and XZ1 Compact starting October 26. The XZ2 Premium should get Pie November 7. These will be followed by the XA2, XA2 Ultra, and XA2 Plus on or about March 4. Android 9 Pie includes features such as Adaptive Battery, a new Ambient Display, and Digital Wellbeing for controlling phone use.
Epic Games today made its popular Fortnite game available without an invitation. The app has been available in beta since August, though an invite was required for access. Epic Games has dropped the need for an invitation and most anyone can download the game. Fortnite is not available in the Google Play Store. Instead, people interested in the game will need to go to Epic's web site to download an installer. The installer then puts the game on the phone. The game started as an exclusive to the Samsung Galaxy Note9 and was later discovered to have a major security flaw in the installer (since patched). Fortnite is best played on high-end devices that have Android 8 Oreo installed. Some compatible phones include the Samsung Galaxy S7, S8, and S9 series; all Google Pixel phones; the LG G5, G6, G7, V20, and V30; the Asus ROG Phone and 5Z; the Essential Phone; the Huawei Mate 10, Mate 10 Pro, Honor 10, and Honor Play; the OnePlus 5, 5T, and 6; the HTC 10, U Ultra, U11+, U12+; the Sony Xperia XZ1, XZ2, and XZ3 series; as well as a handful of others from Xiaomi, ZTE, Nokia, and Lenovo.
AT&T today announced that it plans to roll out mobile 5G service in parts of Houston, Jacksonville, Louisville, New Orleans, and San Antonio by the end of this year. The company previously announced plans to bring 5G to Atlanta, Charlotte, Dallas, Indianapolis, Oklahoma City, Raleigh, and Waco this year. Early next year, the company's mobile 5G network will expand to parts of Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Nashville, Orlando, San Diego, San Francisco, and San Jose. The company reached a milestone over this past weekend when it made its first 5G mobile data connection "in the wild" over millimeter wave frequencies, using a Qualcomm smartphone-form-factor test device and Ericsson 5G-NR tower equipment. The test, and AT&T's planned rollout, are compliant with the 3GPP Release 15 global 5G NR standard.
Sony’s latest flagship smartphone packs tons of features into its metal-and-glass body. It offers a 6-inch screen, Snapdragon 845 processor, 19-megapixel camera, and advanced audio capabilities. It boasts new camera software and Android 9 Pie. Here are our first impressions.
Sony today announced the Xperia XZ3, the company’s latest flagship phone. The device improves upon its predecessor, the XZ2, by amping up just about everything. The XZ3 has a metal-and-glass design with series 7000 aluminum forming the frame and Gorilla Glass 5 covering the rear. The 6-inch OLED screen has quad HD+ resolution with an aspect ratio of 18:9. Like many Sony flagships, the XZ3 is certified IP68 for protection from water and dust, and it features a fingerprint reader on the rear for security. Sony has updated its Motion Eye camera for the phone, with a 19-megapixel main camera with HDR, 4K video capture, super slow motion, and Google Lens. Sony says the camera software has been tweaked for easier use. The selfie camera has a 13-megapixel sensor at f/1.9 with bokeh / portrait capture and beauty mode. Picking up the phone and holding it horizontally will automatically turn on the camera. Sony increased the size of its S-Force Front Surround speakers to improve bass response. The phone supports high-resolution audio and includes Sony’s dynamic vibration system for refined haptic feedback. It is powered by a Snapdragon 845 and includes a fast-charging 3,330mAh battery. A tap of the right edge calls up a drawer with app shortcuts, similar to Samsung’s Edge screen. The Xperia XZ3 will ship with Android 9 Pie. It costs $900 and will be available from Amazon and Best Buy in October.
Sony plans to begin updating a number of its mobile phones to Android 9 Pie beginning in November. The devices first on deck for the refreshed operating system from Google are Sony's flagships, the Xperia XZ2, XZ2 Premium, XZ2 Compact, Xperia XZ Premium, XZ1, and XZ1 Compact. Sony says the mid-range XA2, XA2 Ultra, and XA2 Plus devices will receive Android 9 in early 2019. Android 9 Pie introduces machine learning and more predictive behaviors to the OS, as well as a Digital Wellbeing suite meant to help people use their devices less. Pie is already available to the Google Pixel phones. Motorola also recently committed to updating some of its phones to Pie.
YouTube has begun to recognize what it calls Signature Devices, or phones that deliver the best-in-class experience for YouTube content. YouTube says these phones have the latest technology and provide optimal viewing. In order to qualify as a Signature Device, a phone must include features such as high dynamic range, 4K, 360 video, reliable DRM performance, and a high frame rate. YouTube says it has worked with select manufacturers to verify a handful of Signature Devices. They include the new Samsung Galaxy Note9, as well as the S8, S8+, Note8, S9, and S9+; the LG V30 and G7 ThinQ; the Sony Xperia XZ2 Premium, XZ2, and XZ2 Compact; the HTC U12+; the Huawei Mate 10 Pro; the Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S and Mi 8; the HMD Global Nokia 8 Sirocco; the OnePlus 6; and the Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL. People who own these devices don't need to do anything in order to enjoy a good YouTube experience. YouTube will add devices to the list over time.
Google today revealed that Android 9 will be called Pie and made the refreshed operating system available to its Pixel-branded phones. Android Pie makes use of artificial intelligence to anticipate user actions. For example, it includes adaptive battery and adaptive brightness. Toghether, these tweak the settings throughout the day to reduce power drain while making sure the user always has access to the phone’s full power. App Actions predict what users are likely to do next based on their context and displays that action on the phone. Android Pie introduces new navigational gestures that rely on swiping and flicking a small pill that appears at the bottom of the screen. The smart text selection tool now transports text more easily between apps, while the tweaked Quick Settings bar offers a better way to take and edit screenshots. The new dashboard is meant to help you use the phone less. It includes an app timer, wind down, and an improved do not disturb mode to make sure people spend time away from their phone without interruptions. These well-being tools are only available in beta. The new OS also includes a number of security improvements, such as a more secure way to handle biometrics. Google is distributing Android 9 Pie to the Pixel, Pixel XL, Pixel 2, and Pixel 2 XL via over-the-air download. The OS will also reach select phones from Sony, Xiaomi, HMD Global, Oppo, Vivo, OnePlus, and Essential, as well as all qualifying Android One devices, later this fall. It is up to individual phone makers to provide the latest platform their their hardware.
Sony today announced the IMX586, a CMOS camera sensor for phones that packs 48 megapixels into a unit that measures 8mm. The pixels of this sensor have been shrunk to 0.8 μm, which is what allows so many of them to fit onto a single sensor. Typically, packing together such a large number of small pixels would generate noise and cause low-light performance to suffer. Sony says it is using a Quad Bayer color filter array, which means adjacent 2x2 pixels all capture the same color. This raises sensitivity in order to create brighter images with less noise. The IMX586 includes Sony's exposure control and signal processing to improve dynamic range by a factor of four. Sony says scenes that include bright and dark areas can be captured with minimal blowout or loss of detail. Moreover, the high pixel count allows for cleaner photos when using digital zoom. As for video, the IMX586 can capture 4K video at 90fps, 1080p video at 240fps, and 720p video at 480fps. The suggested price of the module is $27. Sony is sampling the IMX586 now and expects to commence production later this year.
Sony this week announced the Xperia XA2 Plus, a new mid-range phone with a tall 2:1 ratio display, hi-res audio, and 23-megapixel Sony Exmor RS for mobile camera with 4K video capture. The 6-inch display has Full HD+ resolution and is protected by Gorilla Glass 5. It also has a Qualcomm Snapdragon 630 processor, large 3,580 mAh battery, rear fingerprint reader, fast charging, and an 8-megapixel wide-angle front camera. It will be available in Silver, Black, Gold and Green in late August.
Sony Mobile today said that its high-end flagship phone, the XZ2 Premium, will go on sale in July for $999. The phone will be available for preorder from Amazon and Best Buy starting July 9, with retail availability expected July 30. The XZ2 Premium has a 5.8-inch 4K HDR display (16:9 aspect ratio) that Sony says is 30% brighter than its previous mobile 4K screen. The XZ2 Premium includes a new Motion Eye Dual camera that is capable of capturing ISO 51,200 for photos and ISO 12,800 during video — which means the XZ2 Premium delivers more detail in nighttime pictures. The camera supports selectable bokeh, 4K HDR video capture, and 960fps super slow motion in 1080p HD. The user-facing camera has a 13-megapixel sensor with display-based flash. The XZ2 Premium includes S-Force Front Surround speakers and a Dynamic Vibration System so owners can "feel the action" in their hands. The phone is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor with 6 GB of RAM. The phone relies on a 3,540mAh battery with Qi wireless charging. Other features include NFC, USB-C, Bluetooth 5.0 with aptX HD, 64 GB of storage, and support for memory cards up to 400 GB. The XZ2 Premium has a glass-and-metal design with Gorilla Glass 5 on front and back. It boasts IP68 for protection against splashes and spills. The phone will be bundled with Sony's Xperia Ear Duo headphones.
The 3GPP today ratified another piece of the 5G specification, termed the Standalone 5G New Radio, or SA 5G NR. This spec is for 5G networks that are developed on their own, apart from legacy or pre-existing networks. The Non-Standalone portion of the 5G spec was ratified late last year and covers 5G that hooks into existing LTE 4G systems. "The freeze of Standalone 5G NR radio specifications represents a major milestone in the quest of the wireless industry towards realizing the holistic 5G vision," said BalÃ¡zs BertÃ©nyi, chairman of 3GPP RAN. "5G NR Standalone systems not only dramatically increase the mobile broadband speeds and capacity, but also open the door for new industries beyond telecommunications that are looking to revolutionize their ecosystem through 5G." The SA 5G NR and the NSA 5G NR standards will together include the technology used by commercial entities, the air interface, and end users. The spec was approved by more than 600 delegates from the world's leading carrier, handset, and silicon vendors. Some participants included AT&T, DISH, Ericsson, Huawei, Intel, Kyocera, LG, MediaTek, Nokia, Qualcomm, Samsung, SoftBank/Sprint, Sony, Verizon, Xiaomi, and ZTE. The 3GPP said the technical specifications for the ratified SA 5G NR will be published in the days ahead.
Google today said more phone makers now part of its Android Enterprise Recommended program. The Android Enterprise Recommended program, which was launched in February of this year, "establishes best practices and common requirements for devices and services, backed by a thorough testing process conducted by Google." In order to qualify, devices have to meet a number of specifications concerning their hardware, deployment, security updates, and user help programs. For example, devices approved must run at least Android 7 Nougat, and receive security updates no later than 90 days from their release from Google. A handful of new phones makers and devices are now recommended by Google, making for a total of 39 devices from nine device makers. New entries include the Sonim XP8; Sharp Aquos SH 10-K; Sony Xperia XZ2 and XZ2 Compact; Motorola Moto G6, Moto G6 Plus, and Z3 Play; Huawei P20 and P20 Pro; BlackBerry KEY2; and HMD Global Nokia 3.1, 5.1, 6, 7 Plus, and 8 Sirocco. Several tablets have been certified for Android Enterprise Recommended, too, including the Huawei M5 8.4 and 10.8. Google says it will continue to update the list of devices recommended for business users as more phone makers commit to the requirements of the Android Enterprise Recommended program.
Sony this week said it putting its Xperia Home launcher, used on its mobile phones, into maintenance phase. The company said this means it won't add any new features to the launcher, though it will offer minor bug and security updates as warranted. The company is also closing the Xperia Home beta community, which will shut down in a few weeks. Along with the news, Sony released Xperia Home version 11.3.A.0.17, which focuses on resolving problems. For example, it corrects an issue that prevented widgets from updating, corrects wallpaper blurring, and improves search card visibility. The update also fixes a crash in photo search, and now better handles display size changes with respect to shortcut icons. Owners of Xperia-branded phones should expect to see the update hit their phones in the next few weeks, depending on device, carrier, and region.
Google today made Android P Beta 2 available to developers. Importantly, Google says this beta includes the final Android P APIs (level 28) and the official SDK, which means developers have what they need to customize their apps for the new features in Android P. Google says those who've already enrolled in the beta program will automatically get Android P Beta 2 over the next day or so. Android P includes features such as Adaptive Battery for smarter power consumption; App Actions, which rely on machine learning so apps are more engaging with users; Slices, which surface rich content in places like Google Search and Assistant; and new controls for notch-style displays. The beta so packs 157 new emoji. In addition to Google's own Pixel and Nexus phones, several other devices from OnePlus, Sony, and others will have access to the Android P Beta 2. Google expects to roll out the final version of Android P later this summer.
Netflix has granted three newer phones the ability to stream HDR video. The latest devices include the Huawei Mate 10 Pro, the Huawei P20 Pro, and the Sony Xperia XZ2. HDR content has more contrast than standard content, creating deeper blacks and brighter brights for a richer viewing experience. Other devices already able to access HDR playback on Netflix include the LG G6 and V30, Sony Xperia XZ1 and XZ Premium, Samsung Galaxy S9 and Note 8, and the Razor Phone.
Sony fans can bring the Xperia XZ2 Compact to Verizon, according to the company. The XZ2 Compact has passed device certification at Verizon, which means it will function properly on Big Red's network. Verizon customers can buy the Xperia XZ2 Compact unlocked from Best Buy and bring it to their local Verizon store for BYOD activation. The XZ2 Compact may be small, but it has nearly all the features of the larger XZ2, including a Snapdragon 845 processor, 2:1 full-HD display, 19-megapixel camera, fingerprint reader, NFC, and memory card slot.
Google today released the first public beta of Android P. For the first time, Google is offering the beta to non-Google branded phones. While it is available to the Google Pixel phones, Android P Beta is also available today on the Sony Xperia XZ2, Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S, Nokia 7 Plus, Oppo R15 Pro, Vivo X21, OnePlus 6, and Essential PH”‘1. People interested in testing Android P will need to register with the Android beta program, which is free to do.
Google today made several changes to its Google Lens visual search tool. First and foremost, it is adding Google Lens directly to the camera app of Pixel phones. Several other phone makers, including LG, Motorola, Nokia, Xiaomi, Asus, and Sony, will add Lens to their camera apps in the near future. With Lens, Google is relying on machine learning to help power Google searches based on what the camera sees. Google is baking more searching and shopping tools to Lens, making it easy for people to discover where they can buy items such as clothing with a function called Style Match. A feature called real-time results provides instant search results as people move their camera over items. It scans text, images, and other data points to search things such as concert posters, books, and such. The results offer links to more information, videos, images, as well as the ability to make purchases. Google says this update will reach Google Lens on the Pixel in the next few weeks. Google's partner OEMs have not specified exactly when they'll update their own camera apps with Lens.
Sony Mobile said U.S. consumers can preorder its Xperia Ear Duo wireless headphones beginning today for $280. The wireless ear buds ship May 25. The Ear Duo are not traditional headphones and employ an open design that allows people to hear their surroundings and their music at the same time. The Xperia Ear Duo rely on a spatial acoustic conductor to push sound directly to the inner ear while leaving the ear canal open. Sound is generated by a unit that sits behind the owner's ear. Sony says the Xperia Ear Duo automatically adjust to environmental sounds to counter background noise. The Xperia Ear Duo support Bluetooth 4.2 are compatible with Android and iOS devices. Touch surfaces and voice commands allow owners to interact with Android Assistant and Siri. The headphones include a Daily Assist function on Android, which will read incoming notifications, offer calendar reminders, as well as listen for voice commands. Owners can nod or shake their head, respectively, to accept or reject incoming calls. The Ear Duo includes four microphones and beamforming to ensure proper noise reduction and voice capture. The headphones offer 4 hours of music listening or 2.5 hours of talk time per charge. The included charging case can recharge the Ear Duo up to three times for music and talk totals of 10 and 4 hours, respectively. The Xperia Ear Duo comes in black and gold and is available for preorder from Amazon.com.
Sony today announced the Xperia XZ2 Premium, a high-end Android phone that boasts some of the most advanced imaging features available in a mobile device. The XZ2 Premium has a 5.8-inch 4K HDR display (16:9 aspect ratio) that Sony says is 30% brighter than its previous mobile 4K screen. The phone relies on Sony's Bravia TV and X-Reality mobile technologies to help improve contrast and up-convert standard content to near HDR quality. The XZ2 Premium includes a new Motion Eye Dual camera from Sony, which puts two Exmor RS sensors to work: one 19-megapixel for full color capture and a second 12-megapixel for black-and-white capture with contrast info. Sony says the data from both sensors is combined by its AUBE fusion image signal processor to reduce noise. The Motion Eye Dual camera is capable of capturing ISO 51,200 for photos and ISO 12,800 during video — which means the XZ2 Premium is ultra sensitive to light and can deliver more detail in nighttime pictures. The camera supports selectable bokeh, 4K HDR video capture, and 960fps super slow motion in either 720p or 1080p HD. The user-facing camera has a 13-megapixel sensor with display-based flash. In addition to the high-quality audio capture and on-display playback, the XZ2 Premium includes S-Force Front Surround speakers and a Dynamic Vibration System so owners can "feel the action" in their hands. The phone is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor with 6 GB of RAM and an X20 LTE modem for (theoretical) speeds up to 1.2 Gbps. The phone relies on a 3,540mAh battery with Sony's Stamina mode and Qnovo Adaptive charging, in addition to Qi wireless charging. Other features include NFC, USB-C, Bluetooth 5.0 with aptX HD, 64 GB of storage, and support for memory cards up to 400 GB. The XZ2 Premium has a glass-and-metal design similar to the XZ2 and XZ2 Compact with Gorilla Glass 5 on front and back. It boasts IP68 for protection against splashes and spills. The Sony Xperia XZ2 Premium will go on sale later this summer with Android 8 Oreo. Pricing wasn't revealed. Sony said some features, such as Bokeh, will arrive during the third quarter via software update.
Security Research Labs says Android phone makers often miss security patches but still tell owners the phones are up-to-date. Researchers Karsten Nohl and Jakob Lell examined the code of some 1,200 phones from more than a dozen phone makers for every security patch released during 2017. They discovered phones from nearly all makers missed at least some patches. Phones from Google, Sony, and Samsung ranked fairly well, missing an average of just one patch. Phones from Xiaomi, Nokia, and OnePlus missed between one and three patches per update, while devices from HTC, Motorola, LG, and Huawei missed three to four, and phones from TCL (Alcatel) and ZTE often missed more than four patches per update. High-end devices with processors from Samsung or Qualcomm were more likely to updated properly, while low-cost devices with processors from MediaTek were less likely to be updated properly. Nohl and Lell say what's worse than the missed patches are the phone makers' claims to the contrary. "We find that there's a gap between patching claims and the actual patches installed on a device. It's small for some devices and pretty significant for others," said Nohl to Wired. "We found several vendors that didn’t install a single patch but changed the patch date forward by several months. That’s deliberate deception." The researchers claim this lulls consumers into a false sense of security, though they admit that hacking into Android phones through any of the missed patches is a difficult task at best. In response to the data, Google argued that not all the devices researched were Android certified, and that modern Android phones have other security measures in place to protect them. "Security updates are one of many layers used to protect Android devices and users," said Scott Roberts, Android product security lead at Google. "Built-in platform protections, such as application sandboxing, and security services, such as Google Play Protect, are just as important." Still, Google said it would work with Security Research Labs to investigate Nohl and Lell's findings.
Sony has indicated that its Xperia XZ2 and Xperia XZ2 Compact handsets will soon be available to U.S. consumers. The company lists both as "coming soon" on its U.S. web site, and U.S. retailers Amazon and B&H Photo Video also list the devices as arriving shortly. Best Buy will begin taking preorders for the phones on April 13, with shipments starting as soon as April 20. The in-store date for Best Buy brich-and-mortar retail locations is listed as May 6, with other retailers to follow May 20. The smaller XZ2 Compact (5-inch screen) will be priced at $649, while the larger XZ2 (5.7-inch screen) will be $799. The XZ2 and XZ2 Compact represents a change in direction for Sony as far as design is concerned. The devices adopt 2:1 screens and eliminate the bezels for which Sony handset have become known. Other features include 19-megapixel cameras, Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processors, and IP68 protection against water and dust.
Sony's new flagship phones for 2018 pack all the bells and whistles into a curvy new glass design. Both phones include top-end features like a Snapdragon 845 processor, 2:1 ratio display, stereo speakers, HDR video capture and viewing, water resistance, and advanced cameras. The larger XZ2 sports an advanced haptic engine and fast wireless charging. The smaller XZ2 Compact continues to be one of the only truly small Android phones available with top-end specs. Here are our first impressions checking them out in person.