Google Pixel 3 XL
Google today started rolling out a new software update for Pixel phones that adds new capabilities. A long-press of the lock/power button will now surface a simple Google Pay interface that lets you swipe to choose a card or pass before tapping. Another new feature will automatically detect airline boarding pass barcodes when taking a screenshot, and suggest the option to add them as a pass in Google Pay. There is also a new option to have Dark Theme enabled automatically when the sun sets locally. On Pixel 4 phones (which have a RADAR-based gesture sensor), a new mid-air "tap" gesture will pause/play music. Pixel 4 phones will also now be able to capture depth information with the selfie camera, "which improves Portrait Blur and color pop, and lets you create 3D photos for Facebook." Finally, new settings let you configure location-based actions, such as silencing the ringer when at work, or Do Not Disturb mode at home. These can be triggered by either standard location or being in range of a specific Wi-Fi network.
Google is rolling out a "feature drop" software update for its Pixel phones, which adds new and improved features to Pixel models going back to the Pixel 2. The Pixel 4 gains improved Call Screen; on-device intelligence will now detect robocalls and keep the phone from ringing at all. Other unknown callers will be screened as before. The Pixel 4 also gains improved Duo video calling. The phone will digitally track and frame your face automatically. It also uses machine learning to automatically fill in small audio gaps when the connection is spotty. A new Google Photos feature lets all Pixel users add portrait effects after a photo is taken, and Duo video calling gains a portrait effect as well. Google is also rolling out certain Pixel 4 features to certain older Pixels, including: Recorder app, Live Caption, Focus Mode, and Flip to Shhh. The update also improves memory management in all Pixel models, allowing more apps to stay open at the same time.
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 Fi is running a one-day sale today on the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL, offering both phones for half price. The offer is open until midnight PT tonight, and requires that the phone be activated on Google Fi within 30 days of shipping.
Google’s Pixel 3 may have one of the best cameras on a modern smartphone, but with no wide-angle or telephoto options, it isn’t as flexible as the cameras on competing devices. That’s why Moment has targeted the Pixel with a new case and lens system. If you want to take your Pixel photography to the next level, this is how you do it.
Verizon Wireless has sped up its timeline for deploying rich communications services (RCS). The company had previously said it would launch RCS in early 2019. Now, Verizon will seed RCS as soon as this week. "Verizon and Google will be rolling out enhanced messaging (RCS) in the Messages app on Google Pixel 3 and Google Pixel 3 XL beginning this Thursday, December 6th," said Verizon in a statement provided to The Verge. "This messaging service brings, for example, typing indicators, very large group chats and the ability to transfer large files between the owners of these smartphones." Google has been pushing the RCS standard on carriers for several years. RCS is the next-generation messaging system that was designed by the GSMA to provide media-rich messaging to Android devices. Carriers must support RCS on the backend, and convincing U.S. operators to jump aboard has taken time. Sprint and T-Mobile announced support for RCS earlier this year, and each is in various stages of deployment. AT&T supports a version of RCS, though not the Universal Profile, which is what makes RCS work across carriers. Verizon will use the Universal Profile, which is good news. Verizon already offers a media-rich texting app called Message+ to its customers. The RCS features will be added to the Google-made Messages app.
Google today provided details about the December security patch for Android devices, as well as fixes specifically being applied to its Pixel phones. Google discovered a number of vulnerabilities in Android's code, some of which could lead to remote attacks. To its knowledge, Google says no such attacks have occurred. The company already alerted its handset partners and will supply the updated code to the AOSP within 48 hours. The vulnerabilities were found in the media framework, system, and kernel, as well as in components from Qualcomm and HTC. As for the Pixel phones, Google is using the patch to resolve number of performance issues that have plagued the newer phones since their release in October. For example, the camera on the Pixel 3 should exhibit better autofocus, better shutter performance, and more stability. Compatibility with the Pixel Stand is improved thanks to more visible notifications and more reliable hot word performance. Other improvements impact Android Auto, Bluetooth, media playback, and the display. Google has made the update available to the Pixel, Pixel 2, and Pixel 3 series. Owners of these phones can download the update over the air. It is up to other phone makers to push the latest security patches to their own devices.
Google today said it plans to expand the availability of the eSIM technology that's built into the Pixel 3. Google's Pixel 3 has an eSIM inside, a virtual SIM card that replaces the need for a physical SIM card. The eSIM makes it easier to change carriers using software. Google has supported the eSIM on its own Fi network sine last year and now says Sprint will support the eSIM in the coming months. In addition to Sprint, a handful of international carriers, including Deutsche Telekom and Vodafone in Germany, EE in the U.K., Airtel and Reliance Jio in India, and Truphone and Gigsky in various countries, will also add support for the Pixel's eSIM. Google says it is developing a program so Android device makers can build eSIM-capable products in a way that's consistent across phones, watches, tablets, and laptops.
Google says all three generations of Pixel phones will soon be able to take advantage of Night Sight, Google's new low-light photo feature. Night Sight uses several techniques at once in order to improve the chances of capturing a successful shot in dark environments. Night Sight continually adapts to the movement of the Pixel phone and the surrounding light. The software is able to measure hand shake and motion in the scene to find the right exposure. Google says when the Pixel is held still, Night Sight will take longer exposures to minimize noise, but if the subject is moving Night Sight will use shorter exposures to minimize blur. Night Sight can compensate for some amount of motion in the shot by firing off a burst of photos and then merging the results to provide a bright, sharp photo. Night Sight also uses machine learning to balance color and create true-to-life images. Pixel phones will automatically suggest Night Sight when they detect low-light conditions, though users can also turn the feature on manually. Night Sight will be rolling out over the next few days through an update to the Google Camera app.
Google today provided details concerning the November security update for Android. Google says the newest patch solves a number of vulnerabilities in the Android source code impacting the framework, media framework, and core system. Many of the problems spotted were rated "high" or "critical" in terms of severity. The majority of "critical" issues could lead to remote code execution, wherein a hacker might launch malicious apps. As far as Google knows, none of the security holes have been exploited. Google revealed these problems to its phone-making partners last month. The company is providing two updates, one dated November 1 and the other dated November 5. These updates should reach Google's branded Pixel and Nexus devices over the next week or so. The company plans to distribute the patched code to AOSP within 48 hours. It is up to individual device makers to update their own hardware with the patched platform.
Verizon Wireless has removed the SIM lock from the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL. Some users had noticed the phone was locked before being activated on the network, something Verizon began doing earlier this year to deter theft. "At launch, there was an update related to an automatic overnight unlock on Pixel 3s, which also showed up on phones sold in Best Buy stores," explained Verizon to Droid-Life via email. "We have temporarily removed it from Pixel 3 and are assessing where it will be implemented in the future." This means all Pixel phones sold will be SIM unlocked and can be used on any network, not just Verizon's. Verizon is the only carrier officially selling the devices, though it is also available via Google's Project Fi MVNO.
Google designed a special wireless charger for the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL. Not only does the Pixel Stand charge your phone rapidly, it conjures up special features that turn the phone into a miniature desktop assistant.
Google has quietly updated its Google Assistant to make real-time translations available across a wider range of products. The real-time translations were initially limited to Google's own Pixel Buds. Now, any set of headphones that support Google Assistant can access the instantaneous translation function. The headphones that ship with the new Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL are among the first to support this feature.
Google says it plans to introduce support for external microphones for its line of Pixel phones. This will allow those shooting video to capture higher-quality audio to accompany their visuals. The feature will work with USB-C ports (Pixel 2, 3) and 3.5mm jacks (Pixel). The company confirmed the update in its forums, stating, "At the same time as Pixel 3 launch (October 18th), we will introduce support for Android-compatible plugged-in external microphones in the default camera app for all Pixels." Other Android camera apps have supported this feature for some time, but not the main Pixel camera app. Pixel owners can expect to see their app update with the new tool in the next few days.
Google has indicated that owners of the Pixel 3 XL will be able to effectively hide the notch with a software feature. "For people who prefer a more traditional smartphone look, we’ve added an option to hide the display cutout (the notch)," said Google via one of its Twitter accounts. Google didn't provide more detail. An option to hide the notch already exists in the developer settings of Android 9 Pie. It's not clear if Google was referring to this, or a separate, and hopefully easier to use, method for hiding the notch. Android phones from LG, OnePlus, and others allow you to hide the notch using software.
Google's flagship Android devices are here! The Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL carry forward Google's vision of AI-boosted mobile computing. The phones offer larger displays and new cameras with gobs of new photo-processing power — all backed by Google Assistant. Here is our in-depth preview of Google's new phones.
Google today announced Pixel Stand, a wireless charger for the new Pixel 3 phones. The stand charges the devices wirelessly, but also transforms the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL phones into Google Home Hub-style assistants. The screen of the Pixel can be set to display the weather, notifications, photos, and much more while the phone charges. It keeps the phone in a listening mode so it will always respond to "Hey Google" commands for search and other queries. It will display album art when listening to music, and offer native integration with Google Home smart products, and wake people; gently with what Google calls the Sunrise Alarm. The Pixel Stand costs $79 and is available for preorder today.
Google today announced a new batch of Pixel phones, including the Pixel 3 and larger Pixel 3 XL. The phones will come in sand, black, and white. Like preceding generations of the Pixel line, the Pixel 3 and 3 XL are made from a combination of metal and glass. The 3 has a 5.5-inch screen while the XL has a 6.3-inch screen. The phones feature improved cameras that work hand-in-hand with apps such as Google Photos and Google Lens. It includes Google's HDR+ for capturing rich, detailed images. The phone includes Google's dedicated Pixel Visual Core for processing images. A new tool called Top Shot captures images before the user presses the shutter button in order to ensure the best shot is taken. This feature has been on phones for several years. Another feature called Super Res Zoom to help with zoomed-in shot. Google says it merges slightly different photos to create brighter, cleaner images. The Pixel 3's Night Sight function which claims to negate the need for a flash. It uses machine learning to improve low-light shots and will come to the Pixel 3 and older Pixel phones next month. The Pixel 3 series includes a wide-angle front camera for better selfies. Other modes such as Portrait mode and autofocus gain new functions to perform faster. The new Pixel phones run Android 9 Pie and includes a rear-mounted fingerprint reader. Google is offering YouTube Music to Pixel owners for six months for free. The phones include a Call Screen function that is meant to screen calls with Google Assistant. It uses AI-based conversational tools to answer the phone and talk to the caller while the conversation is transcribed in real-time on the screen. People can read the transcription and pick up the call if they wish. Another tool called Flip to Shish will silence notifications when the device is flipped over on its face. The devices will be available for preorder later today.
Google has published a teaser web site for the Pixel 3 phones, widely expected to appear at an October 9 event. The web site features the silhouette of a phone in three color schemes, black, white, and mint green. It's possible these colors reflect the color of the phone itself. The first- and second-generation Pixel phones were offered in black, white, and blue. Google hasn't said anything about the teaser web site.