Created by Google, Android is a smartphone OS and platform that is open-source and open for any manufacturer to use to make a smartphone. Most Android phones use a version that is mostly provided by Google and requires Google services. Android phones can run Android apps, available from the Google Play Store, or, optionally, from other sources.
Google will shut down its Stadia cloud gaming service on January 18th, 2023. The service launched in 2019, offering high-quality gaming streamed over the internet to any Chrome-capable device, including Android phones. Google will offer full refunds for all Stadia games, add-on content, and even hardware purchased from the Google Store.
Google has announced an update to the Google Maps app with several interesting new features. The augmented-reality Live View feature now works in a search mode to find and show you specific places nearby, instead of just overlaying walking directions during ongoing navigation. From the main screen, a camera icon will appear in the main search box. Tapping that icon opens the new mode, which starts by showing landmark info overlaid on the real-world view from the phone's camera. It gives a few default search options, such as finding restaurants or ATMs within a five-minute walk. Those search results appear overlaid on the real-world view, with options view more details, such as hours, how busy a place is, and services offered. The feature "starts rolling out in London, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Paris and Tokyo in the coming months on Android and iOS." Google also announced a new "neighborhood vibe" feature that displays a visual guide to local highlights when searching for a neighborhood by name. That feature is also rolling out "in the coming months", but will be available globally.
Google Fi has improved the international roaming offered with its plans, and improved overall iPhone compatibility. Google tripled its 5G coverage abroad, bumping the number of countries where users can roam on 5G from 26 to 39. (Full-speed 4G is available in over 200 countries.) Fi's Unlimited Plus plan has no extra roaming charges, so all your 50 GB of monthly full-speed data is available even overseas. Google also extended international 5G service to Samsung phones, instead of just its own Pixel phones. For iPhones, Google added international mobile hotspot and Wi-Fi calling, features that previously only worked with Android phones on Fi. Google Fi plan pricing remains unchanged.
Following T-Mobile's announcement that customers of other carriers can switch to T-Mobile quickly and easily using only the T-Mobile app and eSIM technology, Verizon wants to remind people that it offers the same feature within its My Verizon app. Customers of other carriers with a Verizon-approved, unlocked, eSIM-capable phone can download the My Verizon app to set up a new account and activate the phone with Verizon right away, without needing to visiting a store or have a physical SIM card mailed to them. eSIM-capable phones include most recent Apple iPhones and Google Pixels, as well as certain recent Samsung phones. Customers can use either the app (for iOS and Android) or perform the same process via Verizon's BYOD web site.
T-Mobile has updated its main T-Mobile app to enable customers of other carriers to switch to T-Mobile "in as little as a few minutes." The feature is able to activate the phone on a new T-Mobile line from right within the app, using eSIM technology. eSIM is found in recent Apple iPhones, Google Pixels, and many recent Samsung phones. Optionally, users can use this feature to activate a free three-month trial of T-Mobile's network as a second line, while keeping their existing service on the phone's primary SIM card. The feature is available for both consumer and business customers. The updated T-Mobile app is available now for both iOS and Android.
T-Mobile has launched the Wiko Voix, a new Android phone that runs just $126. The phone is also launching with Metro by T-Mobile for $120. The last Wiko-branded phones for a US carrier were the Ride series for Boost. Wiko is a brand of Tinno, which has a history of making affordable white-label phones for US carriers, including the AT&T Calypso series and Cricket Icon series. Although Tinno has not traditionally touted its own brand in this part of the world, the company has launched a new US web site. Key specs of the Wiko Voix include Android 12, 6.5-inch HD+ display, 3,400 mAh battery, 13 megapixel camera, rear fingerprint reader, 3 GB RAM, 32 GB storage, and a memory card slot.
Motorola has taken the wraps off its new Edge phone for 2022. This is the little sibling to the Edge+, the company's flagship phone. It keeps many of that phone's best features, including a 50 megapixel main camera, large FHD+ OLED display with 144 Hz refresh and HDR10+, 30W fast charging, two-way wireless charging, 5G, Wi-Fi 6E, and NFC. And yet it's half the price at $500. It also represents a big win for Motorola as the first time since 2017 that a Motorola phone this high-end will be offered by all three top-tier US carriers. To achieve the lower price point compared to the Edge+, the new Edge (2022) uses a MediaTek Dimensity 1050 chip, the wide-angle camera is 13 megapixel instead of 50, the selfie camera is 32 megapixel instead of 60, and it drops stylus support. Camera features include 960 fps super-slow-motion and 4K HDR video capture. Its 6.6-inch main display hides an optical fingerprint reader and is protected by Gorilla Glass 3. The rest of the body is plastic, but with a back that looks like matte glass. Motorola boasts that this is one of its thinner and lighter phones, despite having a large 5,000 mAh battery. It supports Ready For, Motorola's unique software for hooking the phone up to large displays and other accessories for big-screen-optimized video streaming, gaming, and productivity apps. It ships with Android 12, but Motorola has improved its software commitment to three full OS upgrades and four years of bi-monthly security updates. It will come in one color: Mineral Gray. T-Mobile will launch it first, "in the coming weeks", offering it with 8 GB RAM and 128 GB storage for $498. Verizon's version will have 8 GB RAM and 256 GB storage, and of course adds mmWave 5G. AT&T will offer its own unique variant with 6 GB RAM and 128 GB storage. US Cellular, Spectrum Mobile, and Visible will also offer it. Motorola's unlocked version will have 8 GB RAM and 256 GB storage; it will sell for $500 for a limited time, after which it will run $600. It will be available from Best Buy, Amazon, and Motorola.com.
Google has announced that a final version of Android 13 is available starting today for recent Pixel devices (Pixel 4 and newer). Version 13 doesn't bring huge changes, but rather a long list of small improvements, primarily around privacy and visual personalization. Public beta versions have been available for a few months. The final release will roll out for newer third-party phones over the next few months.
Bold (a sub-brand of Blu) has announced its first phone with 5G optimized for a US network: the Bold N2. The N2 is an affordable unlocked phone with very good support for T-Mobile's 5G and 4G networks, including mid-band 5G (bands 41 and 77). The N2 has a 6.6-inch, full-HD, curved-edge AMOLED display. It has a 4,200 mAh battery and supports 30-watt fast charging. It's powered by a MediaTek Dimensity 810 chip paired with a generous 8 GB RAM and 256 GB storage. On the back is a 64 megapixel main camera and 5 megapixel wide camera. The front sports a 16 megapixel camera with its own dedicated depth camera for portrait-mode selfies. It has an in-display fingerprint reader and runs Android 11. The teal-tinted body is "designed with deluxe textured leather and metal housing using premium, high-end materials". It will sell for $349 on Amazon, but Blu is offering a launch-day "flash launch deal of $100 off where early birds can snag it for $249 while supplies last."
Samsung has announced its newest generation of foldable phones: the Galaxy Z Fold4 and Galaxy Z Flip4. Both have similar designs and features compared to their predecessors, with a slew of small updates and refinements across the board. Both have been updated with Qualcomm's newest, best Snapdragon chip: the 8+ Gen 1. Both also have upgraded main cameras that perform better in low light. Both have a "slimmer hinge", although the difference appears to be slight. Both are constructed from Armor Aluminum and Gorilla Glass Victus for durability, in addition to IPx8 water resistance.
- The Galaxy Z Flip4 has slightly slimmer bezels on the main display, a larger (3,700 mAh) battery, and 14% faster charging. The cover display has been enhanced with more functionality, including SmartThings home controls and Quick Shot in camera mode. Similarly, Flex Mode — when the phone is half-folded — now provides a special split-screen interface for more apps, particularly third-party social and video apps. Like the Z Flip3, it has dual 12 megapixel rear cameras, display refresh up to 120 Hz, mmWave 5G, and two-way wireless charging. Also like the Z Flip3, the Z Flip4 will start at $1,000 for the base model with 128 GB storage (and 8 GB RAM). A 256 GB version will also be available, as well as a new 512 GB option. It will come in Bora Purple, Graphite, Pink Gold, and Blue. On samsung.com, a Bespoke Edition will allow users to mix and match frame and cover colors in 75 different possible combinations.
- The Galaxy Z Fold4 is slightly lighter and more compact than the Z Fold3, while offering wider displays inside and out. The 7.6-inch main flexible display panel is brighter, 45% "stronger", and better hides the under-display camera. The main camera is upgraded to 50 megapixel, while the telephoto camera is now 10 megapixel instead of 12. The software has been overhauled thanks to Android 12L, Google's new version of Android optimized for foldable and large-screen devices exactly like this one. A new task bar floats at the bottom of the main display, and there are new options for split-screen multi-tasking and Flex Mode. Some apps can now be opened in two side-by-side instances of the same app. Other features and specs are similar to the Z Fold3, including the 6.2-inch HD+ AMOLED outer display with 120 Hz refresh, UWB, S Pen compatibility, 12 GB RAM, and two-way wireless charging. The Galaxy Z Fold4 will start at $1,800 with 256 GB storage. It will also be available 512 GB or a new 1 TB option. It will come in Graygreen, Beige, and Phantom Black, as well Burgundy exclusively from samsung.com.
Google has notified developers that they need to prepare their apps for a new way the "back" gesture will work in a future version of Android, possibly Android 14. Google calls it a "predictive back gesture", and it will display an animation as the user performs the swipe gesture that shows a preview of the screen that "back" will take them to. This will allow users to pause mid-gesture and decide whether to continue or cancel the action.
T-Mobile has announced it latest series of T-Mobile-branded affordable phones, the REVVL 6 5G and REVVL 6 Pro 5G. They will sell for $170 and $220, respectively.
- The REVVL 6 5G has a 6.52" HD+ display, 4,500 mAh battery, 13 megapixel main camera, 4 GB RAM, and 64 GB storage.
- The REVVL 6 Pro 5G has a 6.82" HD+ display, 5,000 mAh battery, wireless charging, 50 megapixel main camera, NFC, 6 GB RAM, and 128 GB storage.
Google has released Android 13 Beta 4, the last public beta before the final release, which is now "a few weeks away", according to Google. Android 13 will feature support for Bluetooth LE Audio, as well as new personalization and privacy features.
Google's Switch to Android app for iOS now makes it easy for iPhone users to move data like contacts, calendars, and photos to any new Android 12 phone. The app initially supported only Pixel phones.
Samsung has revealed the Galaxy XCover6 Pro, a new "enterprise-ready smartphone powerful enough to support today's most demanding businesses". Its rugged design carries an IP68 water and dust rating, and MIL-STD-810H certification for drops, altitude, humidity, immersion, salt fog, dust, and vibration. Corning Gorilla Glass Victus+ protects the display, which is designed to work with gloves and wet fingers. The phone also has a removable 4,050 mAh battery, yet is only 9.9mm thick. The body includes two customizable shortcut buttons and POGO pins for dock charging. DeX support lets the phone offer a PC-like experience by connecting an external display, keyboard, and mouse. The phone comes with Android 12 plus four OS upgrades and five years of security updates. Specs include a 6.6-inch LCD display with 120 Hz refresh, 5G, Wi-Fi 6E, NFC, and a fingerprint reader. It has 6 GB RAM and 128 GB storage, expandable via microSD card. The main camera 50 megapixel, paired with an 8 megapixel wide-angle camera and 13 megapixel front camera. North America is not in the list of markets where the phone is launching this July, but Samsung promises "availability expanding to other regions at a later date". A version has been approved by the FCC with excellent support for US 4G and (sub-6) 5G networks. AT&T has offered the XCover series in the past.
Arm has revealed 2022 Total Compute Solutions (TCS22), its next-generation CPU and GPU designs for mobile devices including phones, with a focus on improved mobile gaming performance. All-around performance of this year's solution is up to 28% better, with up to 16% power reduction. The new second generation Armv9 CPUs are designed to improve performance, efficiency, and scalability across the board, but "especially for gaming". Complementing those are a new range of Arm GPUs for advanced 3D graphics, including a new Immortalis brand for flagship GPUs that are even more powerful than the Mali line. The Immortalis-G715 is the first Arm GPU to offer hardware-based ray tracing support on mobile, while the new Mali-G715 supports Variable Rate Shading. The new Mali-G615 improves on the Mali-G610 and rounds out the lineup. All of the new GPUs offer a 15% performance improvement compared to the previous generation. On the CPU side, the new Arm Cortex-X3 delivers "a 25% performance improvement compared to the latest Android flagship smartphone". The new Cortex-A715 replaces the A710, offering 20% better energy efficiency and 5% better performance. For context, this matches the performance of the Cortex-X1. Meanwhile, an updated Cortex-A510 "little" core offers a 5% power reduction. A newly updated DSU-110 interconnect supports 50% more CPU cores (up to 12) and supports a high number of Cortex-X3 cores. With TCS22, Arm is also introducing two new security technologies to address memory safety vulnerabilities: Asymmetric Memory Tagging Extension (MTE) and Enhanced Privileged Access Never (EPAN). Apple, Qualcomm, MediaTek, Samsung, and Google all use Arm's designs and technology as a starting point for their own processor chips that power essentially all of today's phones.
New mobile startup Nothing has released a photo showing the official design of its upcoming smartphone, the phone (1). The unique design has a transparent back that exposes several components, including the NFC coil antenna. The company will hold a launch event to reveal further details on July 12th. Nothing was founded by Carl Pei, the former co-founder of OnePlus. Videos that have been released subsequently show the lightest white parts lighting up and flashing.
WhatsApp now supports Apple's "Move to iOS" system, making it easy for users to switch from an Android phone to an iPhone without losing their WhatsApp chat histories. Move to iOS consists of an Android app that users can download from Google's Play Store. It moves contacts, text messages, photos, videos, web bookmarks, mail accounts, and calendars to a new iPhone. It transfers the data over a temporary, private Wi-Fi network between the two phones. WhatsApp is taking advantage of support for third-party data in Move to iOS. WhatsApp data transferred this way is encrypted and unreadable until the user signs in to WhatsApp on their new iPhone.
Apple has quietly announced WeatherKit, a new API that will let app developers integrate "hyperlocal" weather forecast data into their apps. This is the same kind of specific weather data previously offered by DarkSky, which Apple acquired in 2020. WeatherKit will be available across platforms — including Android — via a standard REST API. A Swift API will also be available on Apple platforms. The data available includes 10-day forecasts as well as a minute-by-minute precipitation forecast for the next hour. Wind and UV data will also be available.
Google has released Android 13 Beta 3, which brings the OS to a key milestone known as Platform Stability. This means that new APIs used by developers are now finalized and won't change, so devs can move full speed ahead with Android 13 versions of their apps.
Google is adding full support for most braille displays directly to Android 13. Phones with Android 13 will support this important accessibility hardware without needing any extra software like BrailleBack. Google is also improving the braille experience on Android with new shortcuts. "Now there are shortcuts for navigating so it's easier to scroll and move to the next character, word or line. There are also shortcuts for settings and for editing, like jumping to the end of documents or selecting, copying and pasting." The braille features are part of Talkback, the accessibility suite that assists blind and low-vision users. The new braille support will roll out first as part of the next beta version of Android 13.
Google is revamping the user interface of Android Auto, again. Split-screen mode will now be standard on all screen types and sizes, giving users immediate access to functions such as audio, messages, and maps, all on one screen. The interface will also flow to fill different screen shapes better, including ultra-wide and portrait displays. The new version of Android Auto will also update Google Assistant with new "contextual suggestions" for actions such as suggested replies, sharing arrival times with a friend, and playing recommended music. The new Android Auto will roll out "in the coming months".
Google has announced that it will bring end-to-end encryption to group conversations in its RCS-based Messages app, starting with an open beta "later this year". End-to-end encryption is already available for one-on-one conversations.
Google has introduced a new feature in Android that will let health and fitness apps securely access and share one unified set of health and fitness data across Android devices. The new Health Connect platform and API provides a central place on the device to store data such as activity, sleep, nutrition, body measurements, and vitals like heart rate and blood pressure. It also includes security, privacy, and permission features that give users "granular controls". Users must give permission for each app to have access, and users "will have the ability to shut off access or delete data they don't want on their device, and the option to prioritize one data source over another when using multiple apps." Google has developed Health Connect in partnership with Samsung. MyFitnessPal, Leap Fitness, and Withings have already started working with the platform, and it is now available to all developers.
In the coming weeks, Google will roll out a new app called Google Wallet that replaces the G Pay / Google Pay feature of Android. It will continue to support digital credit and debit cards, boarding passes, tickets, transit cards, vaccine cards, and student IDs. But Google is finally adding official support for state and government ID cards, including Digital Driver's Licenses in the US. You will be able to present your Digital Driver's License to authorities via NFC or QR code. Google is also working to add office and hotel keys. The name change reflects the ambition that it could completely replace a physical wallet.
Google will update Android and Chrome this summer to automatically use a one-time virtual credit card number when entering credit card info using auto-fill. The feature reduces the chances that you will be the victim of credit card fraud due to a data breach.
Sony has revealed its latest flagship phone, the Xperia 1 IV. It's the world's first phone with a true optical zoom lens that can adjust seamlessly from 85 to 125mm. The phone also has standard (24mm) and wide (16mm) lenses. All three lenses have the same 12 megapixel, 1/1.7" Exmor RS sensor with "Eye AF" 60 fps continuous auto-focus and exposure, and the ability to shoot 4K HDR video at up to 120 fps. The standard and zoom lens also have OIS. There's also a dedicated shutter button. The front camera has been upgraded with a larger 12 megapixel sensor. Several features let you use the phone together with a professional Sony Alpha camera. Every other spec and feature is top-end. The Xperia 1 IV also has an OLED display with 4K resolution, HDR, and 120 Hz refresh. It's powered by Qualcomm's top-end Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor paired with 12 GB of RAM. It has 512 GB storage and a memory card slot. It also has a 5,000 mAh battery and two-way wireless charging. The body features Gorilla Glass Victus on the front and back, with a frosted finish on the back. It's also rated IP65/68 for water and dust. It has a 3.5mm headphone jack, stereo speakers, 360 Reality Audio, High-Resolution Audio, and is "ready for" Bluetooth LE Audio. The Xperia 1 IV has excellent support for Verizon and T-Mobile 5G and 4G networks in the US, including mmWave 5G, as well as Wi-Fi 6E. It will come with Android 12. Color options include black and purple (available exclusively from Sony's web site.) It will ship September 1st, 2022 and is priced at $1,600. Pre-orders start today and, for a limited time, include Sony's latest WF-1000XM4 true wireless noise cancelling earbuds (a $280 value.)
Android 13 has reached the public beta phase on the road toward a final release some time after July. Android 13 Beta 1 is available now for eligible Pixel phones. The first preview release was made available to developers in February. It introduced a new photo picker, themed app icons, and better quick settings tiles for third-party apps. The new Beta 1 introduces more granular permissions for media file access. This means that apps requesting access to your audio files will not also be granted access to your photos and videos, for example. Google promises they will have "more to share" about Android 13 at next month's Google I/O event starting May 11th.
Motorola has announced two new mid-range phones with 5G. Both are essentially 5G upgrades of existing 4G models already announced for 2022. Both will come to a wide range of US carriers, including AT&T, Cricket, Boost, US Cellular, and Xfinity Mobile. Both have a 50 megapixel main camera, 5,000 mAh battery, 10-watt fast charging, fast-refresh display, water resistance, fingerprint reader, expandable storage, and a headset jack.
- The moto g stylus 5G (2022) has a three key upgrades compared to both last year's model and this year's 4G model: a 120 Hz display (a first for the g series in the US), a Snapdragon 695 chip, and NFC. The LCD display measures 6.8 inches with FHD+ resolution. The phone also has an 8 megapixel wide/macro camera and 16 megapixel front camera. Naturally, it has a built-in stylus. While the base version has 4 GB RAM and 128 GB storage, versions will also be available with 6 or 8 GB RAM and 256 GB storage. Verizon will also offer a version with mmWave 5G. Motorola will sell it unlocked for $500 starting April 28th. Carriers are expected to sell it for less, at dates to be announced. It will come in two colors: seafoam green and steel blue.
- The moto g 5G is essentially a 5G version of the moto g power (2022). Like that model, it has a 6.5-inch LCD display with HD+ resolution and 90 Hz refresh. The selfie camera does get a bump up to 13 megapixel. Extra rear cameras are a depth camera and 2 megapixel macro camera. It's powered by a MediaTek Dimensity 700 chip paired with 4 GB RAM and 64 GB storage. An unlocked version will also be available with 6 GB RAM and 256 GB storage. Motorola will sell it unlocked for $400 starting May 19th. Carriers are expected to sell it for less, at dates to be announced.
Google has changed the way it handles emoji in Android to eliminate the entire concept of new emoji being unsupported in older software and devices. Starting with Android 12, new emoji can easily be added with a minor update. Previously, new emoji only came with a major OS update. But Google is also bringing this emoji-update capability to older versions of Android via its AppCompat API for developers. AppCompat generally brings modern features to older versions of Android for apps that use it. Now apps using AppCompat will automatically have access to newer emoji as they are released. Apple still ties emoji updates to major new versions of iOS, but iPhones enjoy a much higher rate of adoption for new OS versions.
T-Mobile will launch the OnePlus Nord N20 5G next Thursday, April 28th. T-Mobile and Metro by T-Mobile will be the exclusive US carriers for this mid-range Android phone. PCMag confirmed that the phone will sport a 6.43-inch, FHD+ AMOLED display with an in-display fingerprint reader. T-Mobile will offer the N20 for $282. AMOLED displays are uncommon in this price range. The Verge reports that the phone will be powered by a Snapdragon 695 chip paired with 6 GB of RAM and 128 GB of storage. Other specs includes a 4,500 mAh battery, 33-watt fast charging, and a 64 megapixel main camera.
Google has updated its Lens camera-based search tool with an experimental feature that lets you type in extra search terms to refine your visual search. Google calls this new image+text type of search "multisearch". For example, you can take a photo of a mug and add the word "pink" to find pink mugs. Other examples Google gives are: "Snap a photo of your dining set and add the query 'coffee table' to find a matching table" and "Take a picture of your rosemary plant and add the query 'care instructions'". The new multi search feature is available within the Lens feature of many Android phones, or from within the main Google search app. To use it, look for the new "Add to your search" button at the top of the full "Visual matches" results screen.
Google is tightening its Play Store policies to require that apps be updated to newer APIs in order to remain listed for discovery and download. Newer Android APIs have "privacy, security, and user experience improvements". Google is making the change because users with newer and/or updated devices "expect to realize the full potential of all the privacy and security protections Android has to offer. [This change] will protect users from installing older apps that may not have these protections in place." While newly-submitted apps are already required to use the APIs of an Android version released within the past year, existing apps will now need to use the APIs of an Android version released within the past two years to remain in the Play Store.
Microsoft is overhauling and renaming its apps that let you connect your Android phone to your computer and access many of your phone's functions and content from within Windows 11. The Your Phone app for Windows will now be called Phone Link. It also has a new, tabbed interface that put more focus on notifications. The companion app for Android is being renamed from Your Phone Companion to Link to Windows. Both apps will now share an identical icon as well. In addition to notifications, Phone Link also lets you access messages and photos, while your phone stays in your pocket, and even make phone calls. v
Nothing has revealed the name and launch date for its first Android phone. The Nothing phone(1) will launch this summer. It will run a flavor of Android that the company calls Nothing OS. The company released a glimpse of the software (shown), and describes it as "distilling the operating system to just the essentials". It will have "bespoke fonts, colours, graphical elements and sounds. A first preview of Nothing OS will be available via its launcher that will be available to download on select smartphone models from April." Few other details of the phone were released; the design has yet to be shown. The company previously said the phone will be based on a Snapdragon "8 series" chip from Qualcomm. Nothing is a British company founded by Carl Pei, who previously co-founded OnePlus.
Trimble has launched a new, high-accuracy location solution for phones based on Qualcomm's top-end Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 and Snapdragon 888 chips. Trimble's RTX GNSS technology provides correction services that improve the accuracy of location data from GPS and other location data sources. Using RTX, phones can achieve meter-level accuracy, "a 5x improvement in location accuracy compared to typical accuracy available today." Trimble already works with Qualcomm to integrate RTX into Qualcomm's automotive solutions, where it provides lane-level guidance. Now it will be available to phone makers to include in flagship Android phones starting in the second quarter of 2022.
Tile has launched a new feature that lets anyone with a smartphone check if they are being tracked surreptitiously with a Tile tracker. This mirrors a similar set of features offered by Apple for its competing AirTags and Find My service. Tile's new "Scan and Secure" feature is part of the main Tile app for iOS and Android. It can be used by anyone, even without a Tile account. The updated Tile app with Scan and Secure "starts rolling out this week".
Samsung today fleshed out more of its 2022 lineup of affordable Galaxy A-series phones. The new Galaxy A73, A53, and A33 are nearly identical in design and features, differing only in a few display and camera specs. All three models have a full-HD+ Super AMOLED display with a thinner bezel. The A73 and A53 have 120 Hz display refresh, while the A33 is 90 Hz. The screen sizes are 6.7", 6.5", and 6.4", respectively. The A53 has a 64 megapixel main camera with OIS, 12 megapixel wide-angle camera, 5 megapixel macro camera, depth camera, and a 32 megapixel selfie camera. The A73 bumps the main camera up to 108 megapixel, while A33 steps down the resolution a bit with a 48 megapixel main camera, 8 megapixel wide camera, and 13 megapixel selfie camera. All three models have 5G, a large 5,000 mAh battery, 25-watt fast charging, expandable storage (up to 1 TB), and a fingerprint reader. The stereo speakers have been made louder and support Dolby Atmos. The body uses Corning Gorilla Glass 5 and provides IP67 water resistance. Samsung has brought some key camera features from its flagship phones to the A series for the first time, such as 12-frame night mode, auto frame rate for better low-light video, and enhanced portrait mode with better edge detection. The phones ship with Android 12 (Samsung One UI 4.1), and Samsung will offer an industry-leading four generations of major OS updates. Samsung calls the new design Ambient Edge; both the A33 and A53 (shown in photo) will be available in black, white, blue, and peach. Samsung also announced an A23 for markets outside the US that steps down the specs with 4G and an LCD display. Samsung isn't commenting on US launch details for the A73 and A33 just yet, but the Galaxy A53 will be available on March 31st at T-Mobile and Verizon, as well as AT&T and Samsung.com on April 1st. It will start at $450 and come with 6 GB RAM and 128 GB built-in storage. Pre-orders start today and are eligible to receive a pair of Galaxy Buds Live.
Google is using the modular nature of Google Play Services to add new features to Android in-between major OS updates. In addition to major updates to the Messages app, Google is also adding grammar correction to the Gboard, Google's smart onscreen keyboard. Live Transcribe will now have the ability to work offline. Nearby Share is being updated to let you quickly share media or files with multiple people nearby at once, instead of just one person at a time. Finally, Google Assistant now understands a "pay for parking" command, which automatically pays for car parking if you are parked in a street spot enabled with ParkMobile, available in over 400 US cities. This feature also includes new commands "parking status" and "extend parking".
Google today started rolling out a major update to its Messages app, the default SMS and RCS messaging app on most new Android phones. It includes several major new features, but the biggest for most people may be automatic conversion and tidier display of emoji reactions from iPhone users. When an iPhone user "likes" or "loves" (etc.) a message in a conversation, it will now be displayed as a simple emoji attached to the original message, instead of a whole separate message with the original text repeated. Emoji reactions work between iPhones using Apple's protocol originally known as iMessage. They also work between Android phones using the open, industry-standard RCS protocol. But because iPhones do not support RCS and iMessage is a closed and proprietary, communication between iPhone and Android devices defaults to the outdated SMS/MMS protocols, which do not support newer features like reactions. So reactions are sent in plain text. This is still the case, but Messages will now intercept and "translate" these messages to present them properly. Another new feature is Organized inbox, which automatically sorts your messages into Personal and Business tabs. Messages can now also automatically delete one-time password messages after 24 hours, reducing inbox clutter. It can also help remind you to reply with "gentle nudges" when it detects that you may have stopped in the middle of a conversation for a period of time. Finally, when sharing a video, there will now be an option to share a link to that video on Google Photos instead of sending the video itself. That will enable users to share high-quality videos with iPhone users, instead of sending a very low-quality video via the outdated MMS protocol as before. (RCS allows sharing high-quality videos directly with other Android users.) Google says it will bring the link-sharing feature to photos as well in the future. Most of these features are available first for the English language only, with other languages to follow. The new version of Messages will "roll out over the coming weeks".