Google Pixel XL
Google released the final version of Android 10 today, after several months of public beta versions. It's available now for all of Google's own Pixel phones, and will be available for other phones in the coming weeks and months. The new OS offers a system-wide dark mode, new gesture navigation, and new privacy controls, among many features and improvements. For the new gesture navigation, a swipe in from the left or right edge of the screen performs the "back" action, while a swipe up from the bottom edge takes users to the home screen. Some apps will need to be updated to avoid triggering the back action accidentally. Users will also be notified when an app requests location data while running in the background, and users can decline those requests. Google recently changed the version naming scheme for Android, switching to simple numbers instead of letters and dessert names.
Google has ceased selling the original Pixel and Pixel XL smartphones on its web site. The phones were available as recently as last month, but have since been removed. Now, people shopping for phones via Google's online device store will only find the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL. The Pixel and Pixel XL were first released in the fall of 2016 and are at the end of their retail life. The phones are still available from some third-party sellers, such as Amazon, Best Buy, and Verizon Wireless. The phones will continue to receive support from Google through October 2019.
Google today made its monthly security patches available to select Android devices. October's patches plug a handful of security holes that threaten Android devices. Google found several dozen vulnerabilities, most of which were classified as moderately dangerous. Some of problems are related to specific hardware and the associated software drivers that control them, such as components from HTC, Motorola, Huawei, Qualcomm, and Broadcom. Other vulnerabilities impact the kernel, system, and media framework directly. Google is pushing a patch dated October 5 to resolve these issues. Google said the Pixel, Pixel XL, Pixel C, Nexus Player, Nexus 5X, and Nexus 6P devices will receive the October security patches directly over the air. The factory images are available for download from Google's developer web site. As far as Google knows, none of these security holes have been exploited. Google has already supplied the patches to its handset partners.
HTC will cease trading shares of its stock in anticipation of a significant announcement to be made tomorrow. The news was first revealed by the Taiwan Stock Exchange, which said "shares of HTC Corporation ... will be halted starting from Sept. 21, 2017 pending the release of material information." HTC confirmed the halt in share trading, but did not provide a reason behind the action. Earlier this month, Bloomberg suggested that Google might acquire HTC, or a portion thereof. It is possible that HTC plans to announce a takeover by Google during the announcement, which is being made town-hall style at its Taipei headquarters. The company's response to the Taiwan Stock Exchange alert read, "HTC does not comment on market rumor or speculation." HTC, once a dominant maker of Android handsets, has been fading for years in the face of competition from Samsung, LG, Huawei, ZTE, and others. The company's financial health has been in question many times due to weak sales. HTC never stopped making compelling smartphones, such as the One series, the U11, and Pixel devices for Google. Google may want to bring HTC's handset division under its wing for future Pixel smartphones.
Google today kicked off a teaser campaign for a phone-based announcement that will take place on October 4. The company launched a web site with the address of madeby.google.com, and it specifically asks people what they want from their phones. A similar-themed billboard appeared in Boston in recent days, more or less confirming that the company will announce its 2017 smartphones on October 4. At the same time, a new handset from LG was recently approved by the FCC that could be a new Pixel model. Though the FCC documentation reveals no details about the handset itself, the FCC does potentially give away the name. The LG phone approved by the FCC this week carries the FCC ID of ZNFG011C, which is similar to that of the HTC-made NM8G011A. In this naming convention it is important to note that the first three digits are the manufacturer codes (ZNF for LG, NM8 for HTC) while the latter five digits (G011A and G011C) are the model numbers. The HTC G011A, approved by the FCC in August, is believed to be a Pixel-branded device for Google similar to the HTC U11. The newly-approved LG G011C could be a variant of the LG G6 or V30, or a completely new handset. Google has relied on both HTC and LG to make Nexus- and Pixel-branded handsets in the past.
Google today made its monthly security patches available to select Android devices. September's patches plug a significant number of security holes that threaten most Android devices. Google found dozens of vulnerabilities, including a number of which classified as critical, or able to remotely execute code. Some of problems are related to specific hardware and the associated software drivers that control them, such as components from MediaTek, Qualcomm, and Broadcom. Other vulnerabilities impact the kernel, system, and media framework directly. Google is pushing two separate patches to cover these problems, one dated September 1 and the second dated September 5. Google said the Pixel, Pixel XL, Pixel C, Nexus Player, Nexus 5X, and Nexus 6P devices will receive the September security patches as part of the upgrade to Android 8 Oreo. Google has already posted factory images for download from its web site. Google's handsets will receive both patches in a single download. As far as Google is aware, none of these security holes have been exploited by hackers or other entities. Google has already given the patches to its device-maker partners. Phone manufacturers are responsible for updating their own smartphones with the patches.
Google plans to reveal the name of Android 8 on August 21. The company has timed the revelation with the total solar eclipse that will occur in North America on that day. Google has so far only indicated that Android 8 will start with the letter "O" and guesses range far and wide as to what the name will be. Google typically names major Android versions after desserts, such as Nougat, Marshmallow, and Lollipop. Some believe the new version of Android will be called Oreo, while others think it will be Orangina or Oatmeal. Google released a penultimate version of Android O through its developer channel earlier this summer and is expected to release the final version of the operating system when the name is revealed next week. As per the norm, Google-branded Nexus and Pixel devices will be the first to receive the new operating system. Google will make the announcement at 2:40pm Eastern Time.
The native Google Camera application, most often found on Nexus and Pixel phones, now includes a selfie flash. The flash works similar to that of the iPhone in that it fires a burst on the screen itself. The flash does not appear to test for white balance like the iPhone's does, and instead maintains an off-white cream color when it fires. The selfie flash can be set to on, off, or auto, and can help provide more light when taking selfies in dark spaces. The Google Camera app also gains a new zooming behavior. Quickly double-tapping the screen will cause the camera to zoom in. Double-tapping again will cause the camera to zoom out. A single tap still sets focus and exposure. Google Camera 4.4 is rolling out in the Google Play Store now.
Google today provided details about its July 2017 security patches for Android devices. The patches plug a significant number of security holes that threaten all Android devices. Google found a significant number of vulnerabilities, of which it classified a dozen as critical, or able to remotely execute code. Many of the problems are related to specific hardware and the associated software drivers that control them, for example, a Broadcom WiFi driver, an HTC sound driver, and an Nvidia video driver. Google is pushing two separate patches to cover these vulnerabilities, one dated July 1 and the second dated July 5. Google is distributing the patches directly to its own Nexus- and Pixel-branded devices first. Google has already posted factory images for download directly from its web site. Over the air downloads will appear soon. Google's handsets will receive both patches in a single download. Google said to its knowledge none of these security holes have been exploited. Google has already given the patches to its OEM partners. Android handset makers are responsible for updating their own hardware with the patches.
Google today released all the tools developers need to create applications and update apps for Android O. The company made the final Android O APIs available through an updated SDK. Developers can grab these tools through Android Studio 3.0. To coincide with the finalized APIs and SDK, Google updated the developer preview of Android O. The Android O Developer Preview 3 can be installed on the Nexus 6p and 5x, Pixel, Pixel XL, and Pixel C, and the Nexus Player. Google says the updated beta should be more stable for use as a developer platform, though it may not be ready for daily use. Some of the core features of Android O include picture-in-picture, notification dots, widget picker, new emoji, and revamped settings tools. The final version is expected to arrive later this summer. Google still has not revealed what dessert the "O" will be.
Google today provided details about its June 2017 security patches for Android devices. The patches, dated June 1 and June 5, plug a significant number of security holes that threaten all Android devices. Google found dozens and dozens of vulnerabilities, of which it classified several as critical, or able to remotely execute code. Many of the problems are related to specific chipsets and the associated software drivers that control them, such as components from MediaTek and Qualcomm. Google is offering the patches directly to Nexus- and Pixel-branded devices first. Google has already posted factory images for download directly from its web site. Google's handsets will receive both patches in a single download. Google said that, as far as it is aware, none of these security holes have been exploited. Google has already given the patches to its OEM partners. Individual phone makers are responsible for updating their own hardware with the patches.
Google today distributed a bug-fixing update to the Android O beta. The small patch, weighing it at about 55 MB, is meant to smooth out some performance issues present in the initial build. People enrolled in the Android Beta program should see the fresh update hit their devices shortly. The Android O beta works on the Pixel, Pixel XL, Nexus 6P, and Nexus 5X.
Google this week released the first public beta of Android O, the next version of its core mobile platform. Android O has a handful of interesting new features, including picture-in-picture, notification dots, autofill for app logins, easy text selection, and much more. Android O may not be huge on hallmark additions to the platform, but it shows an excellent level of refinement from Google. We downloaded the Android O beta and took it for a quick spin. Here are our first impressions of this super early build of Android O.
Google has released the final, public build of Android 7.1.2 for the Google Pixel, Pixel XL, Pixel C, Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P, and Nexus Player devices. Google says Android 7.1.2 focuses on refinements, bug fixes, and other unspecified optimizations for both end users and carriers. Google has been testing the platform with developers since January. Google posted factory images and OTA links to its web site, though the update will reach devices automatically in the days ahead.
Google today provided details about its April 2017 security patches for Android devices. The patches plug a significant number of security holes that threaten all Android devices. Google found more than 60 vulnerabilities, of which it classified eight as critical, or able to remotely execute code. Many of the problems are related to specific hardware and the associated software drivers that control them, such as a MediaTek touchscreen driver and a Qualcomm crypto engine driver. Google is pushing two separate patches to cover these vulnerabilities, one dated April 1 and the second dated April 5. As always, Google is pushing the patches directly to its own Nexus- and Pixel-branded devices first. Google has already posted factory images for download directly from its web site. Google's handsets will receive both patches in a single download. Google said that, as far as it is aware, none of these security holes have been exploited for nefarious purposes. Google has already given the patches to its OEM partners. Phone makers are responsible for updating their own hardware with the patches.
Google has released a second beta update for Android 7.1.2. Build NPG47I is rolling out to the Google Pixel, Pixel XL, Pixel C, Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P, and Nexus Player devices, as long as those devices are enrolled in the public beta program. Google says Android 7.1.2 focuses on refinements, bug fixes, and other unspecified optimizations for both end users and carriers. Google has been testing the platform with developer betas since January. Build NPG47I will reach beta testers in the days ahead.
Google today provided some information about its March 2017 security patches for Android devices. The patches plug a significant number of security holes that threaten all Android devices. Google found dozens of vulnerabilities, of which it classified 10 as critical, or able to remotely execute code. Google is pushing two separate patches to cover these vulnerabilities, one dated March 1 and the second dated March 5. As always, Google is pushing the patches directly to Nexus- and Pixel-branded devices first, and has already provided factory images for download. Google's handsets will receive both patches in a single download. Google said that, as far as it is aware, none of these security holes have been exploited for nefarious purposes. Google has already given the patches to its OEM partners. It will be up to individual hardware makers to offer the patches to their own devices.
Unlocked smartphones let you use your device on the carrier of your choice, whether at home or travelling overseas. Though unlocked phones tend to be pricey, you can't really put a price on the freedom they offer. Here are our picks for the five best flagship-class unlocked phones available right now.
Google today added a feature to its Pixel and Nexus handsets that it hopes will help ease the process of using phones as mobile hotspots. Instant Tethering, as the feature is called, works because both the phone and secondary device (like a tablet) rely on the same Google account and can talk to one another via Bluetooth. "When you unlock a tablet such as the Pixel C, it will notice if there is no internet connection available, and will ask your Pixel phone if it has internet and battery life," explained Pixel Project Manager Omri Amarilio in a blog post. "If it does, we will give you an option to enable a secure hotspot and pair automagically, without even taking your phone out of your pocket." Once you stop using the tablet and lock the screen, Instant Tethering is smart enough to realize the hotspot is no longer needed and will turn it off on the phone in order to save battery life. Instant Tethering is limited to Google devices and works with the Pixel, Pixel XL, Nexus 5X, and Nexus 6P smartphones and the Nexus 9 and Pixel C tablets.
Google today announced the public availability of Android 7.1.2, what it calls a maintenance release. Google is pushing the first public beta of the operating system update to the Pixel, Pixel XL, Pixel C, Nexus 5X, and Nexus Player devices. Google says it is still working on a version for the Nexus 6P. Owners of these devices need only enroll in the public beta program to test the pre-release code. Google says Android 7.1.2 focuses on refinements, bug fixes, and other unspecified optimizations for both end users and carriers. Google expects to test the platform for a couple of months before releasing it to the general public. The update will reach devices enrolled in the beta program in the days ahead.
Google today expanded the number of third-party smart home apps that can be controlled by its Google Home product. Owners of Google Home can now control Belkin Wemo and Honeywell smart home products via Google Home. Users will need to add each smart home product to Home via the smartphone app manual. Once added, people can utter requests such as, "Ok Google, turn the temperature up downstairs" to adjust the thermostat. Home already works with Nest, Philips Hue, and Samsung SmartThings. Google says it plans to bring these Google Home control features to the Pixel and Pixel XL smartphones soon. The Pixel and Home both rely on Google Assistant for their voice-activated features.
Google today made a small security update available to Pixel, Pixel XL, Nexus 6P, and Nexus 5X that plugs some vulnerabilities. In total, some 95 fixes are in store for Google's handsets that also provide Google's Android smartphone partners "with the flexibility to more quickly fix a subset of vulnerabilities that are similar across all Android devices." Two patches are being issued, one for all Android devices in general (given to smartphone makers), and one for the Pixel and Nexus phones directly. As per usual, the vulnerabilities range from moderate to critical, with the most severe able to remotely execute code and/or take over impacted phones. Google says it has fielded no complaints or reports of these vulnerabilities actually being exploited. The over-the-air updates for the Nexus and Pixel phones will arrive in the next day or so.
OtterBox's Commuter case for the Pixel XL is a rugged, rubber-and-plastic shell that provides plenty of protection for your pricey smartphone slab. The Commuter delivers more safeguarding against drops than many other options for the Pixel XL. Here is Phonescoop's review.
Google's own Clear Case for the Pixel XL lets users focus on the phone rather than a busy design, but it falls short in covering some basics. It's an inexpensive option, to be sure, and yet you can probably find better ways to spend your money. Here is Phonescoop's review.
Google today made the necessary tools available that will let other companies build apps for Google Assistant and Google Home. The developer platform for Google Assistant is called Actions on Google. Developers can now create Conversation Actions for Google Home in order to push data, services, or help to end users upon request. Google says end users won't have to enable skills or install apps as they do with Amazon's Alexa; instead, people will be able to simply talk to Google Home to access the desired actions. Google is allowing developers to sign up for early access to the program, which entails a new API along with a collection of samples and voice user interface resources. Google says some of its early partners will roll out their Conversation Actions for Google Home in the coming weeks. Google Assistant is at the heart of Google Home, and that means Conversation Actions will reach the Pixel and Pixel XL smartphones, and the Allo messaging/assistant app down the road. For example, Google plans to add support for purchases and bookings via Google Assistant, as well as deep integration across other verticals. Google didn't say exactly when it might bring Conversation Actions to the Pixel or Allo. Developers can find more information via Google's developer web site.
Google has added a variety of new Daydream virtual reality applications and games to the Google Play Store. People who own the Pixel, Pixel XL, Moto Z, and Moto Z Force can access and download the new content directly from their phone. Some of the new titles include Lego BrickHeadz, HBO Now and HBO Go, Netflix, NextVR, and Need for Speed. Last, both the snow and crimson Daydream View headsets are more widely available online in the U.S., U.K., and Australia. The View costs $79.
Google today made Android 7.1.1 Nougat available to Pixel and select Nexus devices. The refreshed operating system is available to the Pixel and Pixel XL smartphones, the Nexus 6P and 5X smartphones, as well as the Nexus 9 and Pixel C tablets. System images for side loading are already available online, and the over-the-air downloads will appear shortly. The most obvious new feature for end users is support for GIFs and animations within the keyboard. The Android keyboard can interact with third-party apps to create and apply stickers, videos, and other expressive content. Android 7.1.1 also adopts a 3D Touch-style interactive tool that will let people access up to five secondary actions or settings that can be reached directly from the launcher.
Verizon Wireless today detailed a system update for its variants of the Google Pixel and Pixel XL smartphones. The update primarily installs the latest security patches from Google, but also includes a number of software tweaks to improve performance. For example, it resolves several problems that prevented Pixel owners from seeing voicemail notification icons and accessing visual voicemail messages. It fixes a bug that impacted inbound call performance and another that garbled some on-screen text in the dialer. Last, the update lets people to choose cellular or WiFi as their preferred calling method when traveling overseas. The update is free to download and install over the air, but Verizon recommends users connect to WiFi first.
Google today made an update to the Android 7.1 Developer Preview available to developers. Registered developers can download the refreshed operating system to their Nexus 6P or 5X smartphones, as well as the Nexus 9 and Pixel C tablets. System images for side loading are already available online, and the over-the-air downloads will appear within the next week. The most obvious new feature for end users is support for GIFs and animations within the keyboard. The Android keyboard can interact with third-party apps to create and apply stickers, videos, and other expressive content. Android 7.1 also adopts a 3D Touch-style interactive tool that will let people access up to five secondary actions or settings that can be reached directly from the launcher. Google calls this second preview "release ready" and says developers should rely on it to test their apps. Google expects to roll out Android 7.1.1 to the full lineup of supported devices, as well as Pixel and Pixel XL handsets, in December.
Google today delivered minor system updates to its Pixel and Nexus devices. The factory images made available from Google for the Pixel and Nexus handsets bring back the "check for update" button within the system settings. More importantly, the system update builds in the November security patch from Google. According to the latest Security Bulletin, the November patch resolves two critical issues and a large number of serious issues that could lead to remote code execution. Knowledgeable Pixel and Nexus owners can install the factory images manually; the over-the-air downloads have yet to appear. Separately, Google pushed the initial build of its Daydream VR services to Pixel and Nexus devices. Daydream VR services works directly with Google's new Daydream View and existing Google Cardboard virtual reality goggles. The updates are free to download.
Google today said its Daydream virtual reality headset will go on sale November 10. The goggles will cost $79 and will be available at Best Buy and Verizon Wireless stores. Daydream is Google's new virtual reality push. Only a few handsets are initially compatible with Daydream, including the Pixel and Pixel XL, and the Nexus 6P. A number of Google's partners have prepared content for Daydream ahead of launch, such as the Wall Street Journal, Star Chart, YouTube, the New York Times, Google Play Movies, and several gaming companies. People who preordered the Pixel and Pixel XL smartphones from Google in October will be given a promotional code for a free Daydream VR headset.
T-Mobile today announced a unique discount program for customers who buy an unlocked Google Pixel phone and switch to T-Mobile's new "One" unlimited plan. Customers will receive $325 back, spread out over 24 months, amounting to a $13.55 monthly discount for two years. The Pixel has excellent support for T-Mobile's LTE network, including Category 9 LTE and band 12. The offer is available to both new and existing T-Mobile customers.
Verizon Wireless said the Google Pixel and Pixel XL are available at its stores today. The Pixel 32 GB ($650) and 128 GB ($750), and the Pixel XL 32 GB ($770) are in stores in black, white, and blue. The Pixel XL 128 GB ($870) is sold out and not available. Monthly pricing over two years breaks down to $27.08, $31.24, $32.08, and $36.24, respectively, for the Pixel 32 GB, Pixel 128 GB, Pixel XL 32 GB, and Pixel XL 128 GB. Verizon will offer up to $300 for select trade-ins, including the HTC One M9, iPhone 6 or 6 Plus, LG G4 or V10, Samsung Galaxy S6, S6 edge, S6 edge+ or Note 5. Customers who buy either Pixel device may also preorder the Daydream View virtual reality headset.
Verizon Wireless will not stymie system updates for the Google Pixel phones, according to Ars Technica. Earlier this month, Google said Verizon would be responsible for pushing system updates to its variants of the Pixel and Pixel XL. Typically, carriers are slow to push system updates. Verizon wants users to know that it will not delay updates for the Pixel. "First and foremost, all operating system and security updates to the Pixel devices will happen in partnership with Google. In other words, when Google releases an update, Verizon phones will receive the same update at the same time (much like iOS updates)," said the carrier. "Verizon will not stand in the way of any major updates and users will get all updates at the same time as Google." Verizon went on to note that its model will be carrier unlocked and will come with only three preloaded apps: My Account, Go90, and Verizon Messages — all three of which can be deleted. Google confirmed Verizon's statement, noting "OS updates and monthly security patches will be updated on all Pixel devices (Verizon and non-Verizon versions) simultaneously."
Google today made it less costly for users of its Project Fi wireless service to add multiple lines to their accounts. The first line still carries a $20 access charge, with data costing a flat $10 per GB. Moving forward, additional lines carry a $15 access charge (rather than $20) and they can be lumped into the shared data plan with the first line. Google charges per megabyte each month, so people who don't use their entire data allotment receive a refund at the end of the month. Project Fi doesn't throttle speeds for those who use more than their allotment, but those people will be billed for their additional usage. Project Fi, which relies on the wireless services of Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, and open WiFi hotspots, is available to the Pixel and Pixel XL, as well as the Nexus 6P and Nexus 5X. Google is now offering discounts on the latter two when people choose to buy and activate them via Project Fi. Project Fi’s group plan is available starting today.
Google today said that Verizon will be in control of system-level updates for the Google Pixel and Pixel XL smartphones. This means the Verizon-branded Pixels may not receive significant system updates alongside the unlocked versions sold by Google itself. "Monthly security updates will come from Google (for all models), and system updates will be managed by Verizon for Verizon models, and Google for unlocked models bought from Google Store," said Google in a statement provided to 9to5Google. Google typically exercises control over its own branded devices and distributes system updates when it wants to. In fact, this is the primary benefit of purchasing a Google Pixel/Nexus handset rather than a carrier model. Consumers who buy the Verizon-branded Pixel will be losing this benefit. Verizon also intends to install third-party apps — often called bloatware — on its version of the Pixel, though Verizon contends that users will be able to delete unwanted apps. Moreover, the Verizon variant will ship with a locked bootloader, which prevents owners from side loading their own system builds. The Pixel and Pixel XL are available unlocked from Google, and Google is offering financing for those who don't want to pay the full retail price up front.
Google today named Verizon Wireless as its exclusive carrier partner for the new Pixel smartphones. Verizon is accepting preorders for the Pixel and Pixel XL starting today. The Pixel 32 GB costs $650, the Pixel 128 GB costs $750, the Pixel XL 32 GB costs $770, and the Pixel XL 128 GB costs $870. Verizon is selling the black and white variants of the phone. Monthly pricing is available, too, which breaks down the cost over 24 months. Separately, Google is selling the Pixel and Pixel XL unlocked online. The unlocked model is compatible with AT&T and T-Mobile.