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4
Oct

HTC Ocean: What’s the story on HTC’s next flagship?


With the HTC 10 getting long in the tooth, and 2016 drawing toward its winter, it’s time to look forward to the next big thing from HTC.

The HTC 10 was something of a rebirth for the struggling company. Offering a cleaner Android experience and a simple but solid design, the HTC 10 surpassed the One M9 in many ways to offer a desirable flagship experience. 

So what can we expect from HTC’s next handset? Rumours suggest that it might be codenamed HTC Ocean and here’s how the threads of this story are weaving themselves together.

HTC Ocean: Design

The HTC Ocean first appeared when a video surfaced showing an HTC handset with no physical controls, instead relying solely on gestures, touch and voice.

The video purports to demonstrate the “Sense Touch” user interface and was discovered on Danelle Vermeulen’s website. Vermeulen is a visual and motion designer, although it is declared that the phone is a concept, raising some doubts as to how much can be drawn from this video.

The design perhaps has to be taken with a pinch of salt, but it sees a phone with no buttons, suggesting a range of interactions we’re yet to see in smartphones so far.

The physical design doesn’t look too far removed from the HTC 10, with a metal body and chamfered edges around the display. There are two cameras on the rear with an LED flash, but there’s no knowing if HTC is going to go back to a dual camera arrangement. 

The video suggests that there will be touch-sensitive zones around the phone and demonstrates a heavier use of voice than we might typically go for. 

As this is an HTC flagship, we’d fully expect a full metal unibody.

HTC Ocean: The name

What’s interesting about the HTC Ocean name – and makes this a rumour worth running with – is that no sooner had notorious leaker Evan Blass shared the HTC Ocean concept video, but another familiar name in HTC leaks joined the party.

Codenames OCEAN MASTEROCEAN NOTEOCEAN SMARThttps://t.co/r4FY9I0Ske

— LlabTooFeR (@LlabTooFeR) September 21, 2016

In isolation, a single leak could be dismissed, but with LlabTooFeR adding three codenames to the mix, it makes things more real. 

So HTC Ocean should be taken as a codename and the three versions suggest different devices with different skills: Ocean Master, Ocean Note and Ocean Smart.

The obvious thing is Note, perhaps following Samsung’s lead with a larger stylus-equipped device. Exactly what Master or Smart would bring to the party is anyone’s guess. 

As is the final go-to-market name. With HTC dropping the One moniker for its flagships and adopting HTC 10, logic would suggest it will be called HTC 11.

That may well explain the choice of Ocean for a codename, a sideways nod to Ocean’s 11?

HTC Ocean: Hardware and specs

Currently there’s no suggestion of what the HTC Ocean might have sitting at its heart, but it’s likely to be a Qualcomm Snapdragon chipset from the 800 series. The most recent is the Snapdragon 821, but that could change, with rumours of a Snapdragon 828 and Snapdragon 830.

We’d expect 4GB of RAM and storage from 32GB, with support for microSD card expansion.

One of the things that’s likely to dictate the hardware specs of HTC Ocean is compatibility with Google’s new VR platform Daydream.

  • What is Daydream and when is it coming? Google’s Android VR platform explained

There’s no mention of display sizes yet, but HTC opted for a 5.2-inch 2560 x 1440 pixel resolution on the HTC 10. We’d see that as an optimal choice for the Ocean, but with three codenames circulating, there may well be a range of sizes. 

HTC Ocean: Software

One thing that’s certain is that HTC’s next flagship will launch with Android Nougat. For the HTC 10 the company took a lighter approach, stripping away a lot of the additional bloat for a cleaner Android experience, turning to stock Android apps rather than duplicating with its own. 

With a complete change in interaction with Sense Touch, the experience might be different, but judging by that video above, it’s still very much about the core Android experience. 

HTC Ocean: Cameras

HTC’s track record with cameras has been a little rocky over the past few years. Currently, there’s no indication of where the company might turn. 

The leaked video, however, did feature a dual camera setup on the rear of the HTC Ocean. Whether this is just for fun, or a serious consideration, we have no way of knowing. 

HTC was one of the first companies to put a dual camera on a smartphone with the HTC One M8. That wasn’t a huge success, but things have moved on and recently we’ve seen the likes of Apple adding a dual camera to the iPhone 7 Plus. 

HTC is a company that’s keen on innovation and we wouldn’t be surprised to see the company take a different approach to cameras again in 2017.

  • Dual lens smartphone cameras: The history running up to iPhone 7 Plus

HTC Ocean: Release date

HTC is likely to target early-2017 for the launch of its next flagship handset. The key dates to note would be around Mobile World Congress 2017, say the 26 February. 

However, HTC eschewed the conference this year, running with its own virtual event which it may well repeat, to avoid the noise of the big launches at that show. If that’s the case, we’d expect it to some time in March 2017. 

4
Oct

Google Pixel and Pixel XL official: Bye, bye Nexus


Google has officially revealed its new pure Android smartphones in the form of the Pixel and Pixel XL. They are also the first phones to come with Google Assistant, the company’s new voice-activated helper, built in.

The two devices launch in place of the Nexus handsets, carrying simplified “G” branding representing the tagline “Made By Google”. It is widely thought HTC is the manufacturer behind the smartphones, acting as a contractor for Google, rather than a partner as has been the case with Nexus devices in the past.

The Pixel is the smaller of the two new smartphones, but the design and many of the specifications are identical to the larger Pixel XL. The Pixel has a 5-inch Full HD display, while the Pixel XL has a 5.5-inch Quad HD display.

  • Google Pixel XL vs Pixel: What’s the difference?
  • Google Nexus vs Google Pixel: What’s the difference?

Both offer AMOLED technology, both are protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 4 and both devices feature a metal build with a glass panel covering the top third of the rear, housing a circular fingerprint sensor.

There is a 12-megapixel rear camera, featuring an aperture of f/2.0 and 1.55µm pixels on the rear of the two devices, along with an 8-megapixel sensor on the front and both come with optical image stabilisation. They also feature HDR+ with zero shutter lag, so shots can have excellent contrast in all lighting conditions.

Video stabilisation is also included to keep footage as smooth as possible.

  • Google Pixel vs Nexus 5X: What’s the difference?
  • Google Pixel XL vs Nexus 6P: What’s the difference?
  • Google Pixel and Pixel XL: Release date, specs and everything you need to know

The Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 processor is under both hoods, supported by 4GB of RAM and 32GB or 128GB of internal storage and they both offer USB Type-C charging. The Pixel has a 2,770mAh battery, while the Pixel XL has a slightly larger capacity at 3,450mAh. It’s claimed that they can both be charged for up to seven hours in just 15 minutes.

There is 24/7 customer care on tap for Pixel users.

The Pixel and Pixel XL will launch with Android 7.1 Nougat from the box, offering users a raw Android experience and all the latest features Google has to offer. And there are a whole slew of differently designed rear shell cases on offer.

It’s available in the UK through EE and Carphone Warehouse, and Verizon in the States, in three colours: blue, black and silver. It starts at $649 in the US, as rumoured previously, and is now available on pre-order. An actual shipping date is yet to be announced.

4
Oct

Daydream View VR headset will be first with Google’s new tech and out in November


Google has expanded upon its Daydream virtual reality concept with further details of how its mobile system works and the unveiling of its first, reference grade headset.

The Daydream View VR headset is the company’s own device and is made differently from other headsets on the market – not least because it’s covered in material rather than plastics. It is likely to be followed by many similar products made to the same set of standards by other manufacturers in future, but we suspect this will be the only device that matches your socks.

It works in conjunction with Daydream-enabled phones, of which Google’s Pixel and Pixel XL are the first. They are needed to provide the screen and processing, while the dedicated Daydream software provides the hub through which to access VR experiences and apps.

  • What is Daydream and when is it coming? Google’s Android VR platform explained

It also works with a separate motion remote control, so you can scroll through and interact with content on the screen without touching the device.

The Daydream View VR headset will be available from November from multiple retail outlets, including the Google Store, EE and Carphone Warehouse. It’ll cost $79 for the headset and remote in the US, £69 in the UK and Google has said that there will be new colours coming later this year too. Crimson and a lighter grey crossed with beige versions will follow the slate edition available initially.

4
Oct

Google Pixel mocks iPhone with ‘Quite Black’, ‘Very Silver’ and ‘Really Blue’ colours


Fed up to the back teeth with overthought product colour names? iPhone 7 Jet Black or Rose Gold a step too far for you to say out loud?

The new Google Pixel phone points a bit of fun at such typically pompous colour names, by introducing three finishes that state exactly what they are: Quite Black, Very Silver and Really Blue.

We needn’t explain those any more than that, eh?

The Pixel phone, which is immediately available for pre-order, is Google’s push in its Made by Google campaign, which sees the end of Nexus branding.

Although Google doesn’t technically make the phones – that job goes to HTC – it takes full control (hence the colour name branding) and features its own “G” logo to the rear to show off that it’s Google through and through.

The Pixel is the first phone to push Google’s new Daydream virtual reality abilities, too, although it seems the VR team doesn’t share quite the same sense of humour – the Daydream headset will be launched in ‘Slate’, with ‘Snow’ and ‘Crimson’ following at a later date. Or, to everyone else, that’s grey, white and red.

The Pixel phone will be priced from £599 when it launches in the UK. And, no, we’re not kidding.

4
Oct

Google Chromecast Ultra launches with Google Play Movies in 4K


The rumours were true, Google has indeed unveiled a new Chromecast dongle that’s capable of supporting 4K Ultra HD streams with HDR and Dolby Vision. Called the Chromecast Ultra, the newest member of the Chromecast family sports a similar disc-shaped design so it can still be tucked away neatly behind your TV. 

The only real obvious difference is the removal of the Chrome logo, which has been replaced by a “G”, fitting in with Google’s “Made by Google” message.

  • Google Chromecast Ultra: Everything you need to know

So what can you do with the new Chromecast Ultra? Well you can stream all the apps you were already able to do with the original Chromecast: Netflix, Now TV, Spotify and Google Play Movies among many others, but you can now stream 4K content from supported services.

So far, only Netflix, Amazon Video and YouTube have 4K content available to stream but the Chromecast unfortunately still doesn’t support Amazon’s video service. Google has announced that Google Play Movies will stream 4K content from November.

It’s likely Amazon is being stubborn and holding its service back for its own uses, perhaps we’ll see a 4K Fire TV Stick in the not-too-distant future.

Casting content is the same as before, which is no bad thing seeing as it was already incredibly easy to do so. You’ll first need to connect the Chromecast Ultra to your wi-fi network, then it’s simply a case of loading up a supported app on your smartphone, tablet or computer running the Chrome web browser and tapping the cast icon in the top right of the screen.

And that’s it, your chosen content will be beamed to your TV and because the Chromecast Ultra connects to the cloud via wi-fi, it won’t run down the battery of your mobile device.

The Google Chromecast Ultra will be available from November for $69 and is likely to be £69 here in the UK

4
Oct

Google Wi-Fi router announced, pre-orders start in November


Google has announced a new Wi-Fi router at its Made by Google event.

Last year, Google introduced the OnHub router with TP-Link and Asus, but this year, Google has made its own device called Google Wi-Fi. Each base station looks like a Scandinavian-style, double-stacked hockey puck that Google described as a “visually subtle” disk.

You can buy multiple routers to form a mesh network. You basically put several of these disks around your home to boost your network, allowing you to get Wi-Fi signal everywhere, from your bathroom to your basement. Think of Google Wi-Fi as an expandable system for better coverage. Instead of one router, multiple routers work together to deliver fast input to throughout your home, Google said. It’s basically a modular system.

Google Wi-Fi has a feature called Network Assist that allows it to actively manage and optimise your network behind the scenes so you don’t have to adjust settings. Google Wi-Fi handles networking automatically, picking channels, etc, and it keeps the signal strong in every corner of your house by transitioning your device to the best router for less congestion and better speed.

Although Google Wi-Fi can optimise service without your input, you can still control it through a companion smartphone app. You can even manage several features, including the Wi-Fi access of your kids. Google said, “You don’t have to shut down the router, just go to the app and hit pause.”

Google Wifi is an expandable system that gives you great internet throughout your whole home. And it looks great, too. #madebygoogle pic.twitter.com/98nu94yDrF

— Google (@google) October 4, 2016

Google Wi-Fi will be available for pre-order in November in the US. It costs $129 for one base station or $299 for three and should ship in December. Google has said that Google Wi-Fi won’t be coming to the UK for now but “hopes to make it available in the future”.

Check out Pocket-lint’s Made by Google event roundup for more details.

4
Oct

Google Home, the $129 voice-controlled smarthome speaker, will launch November 4


It’s all about smarter homes – and Google wants a piece of the pie. Its Google Home speaker, priced $129 and launching on November 4 in the US, is a Wi-Fi-connected, voice-controlled speaker designed to act as the hub of the home.

The speaker, via Google Assistant, can action a range of requests – all powered by your voice. So whether you want to use it to play music, to answer questions, or to integrate with smart home devices – such as Nest, Philips Hue and Samsung Smart Things – to make things happen by the power of voice.

At its core, as a speaker, many will use Google Home for music. It’s compatible with YouTube Music and Google Play Music, of course, but also your favourite go-to services such as Spotify, Pandora and iHeart radio. It will learn your app preferences over time, rather than always defaulting to the Google-based apps.

Available in three colour variations – Mango, Marine and Violet bases join Carbon, Snow and Copper tops – there are options to suit a variety of homes. The top panel also houses a capacitive touch panel to trigger physical controls, so you don’t always have to shout.

The Google Home speaker arrives hot on the heels of Amazon’s Echo, which includes the Alexa voice assistant to handle many of the same kind of requests (defaulted to Amazon-based apps). It’s competition time in the world of smart home. Google, however, claims to have the best-in-class voice recognition and it’s possible to mute the mic for total control as and when you want it to listen.

  • Amazon Echo: What can Alexa do and what services are compatible?

No final word on UK pricing or availability for Google Home – other than it’s “coming soon”. But if it follows the footprint of Amazon’s path then we anticipate the US will kick things off with the UK following later down the line.

For the full ins and outs about Google Home, click the link below to read our full What is Google Home? feature.

  • What is Google Home, how does it work and when can I buy it?
4
Oct

Engadget giveaway: Win a Schlage Sense smart deadbolt!


Your front door may be feeling left out of the smart home scenario, and there’s little reason it should. Schlage offers a trio of intelligent door locks, with its Sense smart deadbolt as the top-of-the-line option. These can help you monitor comings and goings, as well as providing friends (or Airbnb guests) access without a key by storing up to 30 access codes. You can also keep potential Kramers at bay during off hours by adjusting code schedules, too. The Sense deadbolt works with Bluetooth and Apple’s HomeKit, so Siri can let you in just by asking, plus, you can program it using your Apple TV. Classic key access is still on board for any luddite relatives, too. The company has provided us with three of its top tier Schlage Sense smart deadbolts for a trio of lucky readers this week. All you need to do is head to the Rafflecopter widget below for up to three chances at winning this door lock upgrade to round out your smart home.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

  • Entries are handled through the Rafflecopter widget above. Comments are no longer accepted as valid methods of entry. You may enter without any obligation to social media accounts, though we may offer them as opportunities for extra entries. Your email address is required so we can get in touch with you if you win, but it will not be given to third parties.
  • Contest is open to all residents of the 50 States, the District of Columbia, and Canada (excluding Quebec), 18 or older! Sorry, we don’t make this rule (we hate excluding anyone), so direct your anger at our lawyers and contest laws if you have to be mad.
  • Winners will be chosen randomly. Three (3) winners will each receive a Schlage Sense smart deadbolt.
  • If you are chosen, you will be notified by email. Winners must respond within three days of being contacted. If you do not respond within that period, another winner will be chosen. Make sure that the account you use to enter the contest includes your real name and a contact email. We do not track any of this information for marketing or third-party purposes.
  • This unit is purely for promotional giveaway. Engadget and AOL are not held liable to honor warranties, exchanges or customer service.
  • The full list of rules, in all its legalese glory, can be found here.
  • Entries can be submitted until Oct. 5th at 11:59PM ET. Good luck!
4
Oct

Nike’s ‘Back to the Future’ shoes can be yours in a raffle


The Nike Mag, aka Back to the Future sneakers, have been a work in progress since 2011. However, it wasn’t until 2015 that they featured the self-lacing technology which made them a pop culture hit. Now, after a brief tease by Michael J. Fox last year, Nike today announced its plans for a general (albeit very limited) release of its second-gen Mags. Here’s how it works: The sportswear titan has opened an online raffle for people to have a chance at winning a pair, where they can buy an unlimited amount of tickets for $10 each.

And it’s all for a good cause too, as every donation will go to The Michael J. Fox Foundation, whose main goal is to find a cure for Parkinson’s disease. According to Nike, there are only 89 pairs available in men’s size 7, 9, 11 and 13. The Draw, as the company calls its online raffles, is open from today until October 11th, with the winners set to be contacted on October 17th.

Inspired by the Mag, Nike’s also now taking its “power-lacing” tech to more widely available products. A few months ago, it introduced the HyperAdapt 1.0, which are scheduled to go on sale November 28th. Yes, that’s right, soon enough you won’t even have to tie your own shoes.

Source: Nike (1), (2)

4
Oct

We’re live from the #MadeByGoogle launch event!


Not-so-cryptic teasers, seemingly ironclad leaks and a truly surprising advertising push have all led to this. Buckle up, folks: today might be a turning point for Google as an honest-to-goodness hardware company, and we’re bringing you all the news live from the company launch event in San Francisco.

By now, you probably know what Google’s going to unveil as well as we do: expect a pair of new Pixel smartphones that could spell the end of the Nexus legacy and more detail on Google Home, the Echo-like assistant that looks an awful lot like an air freshener. Throw in a new Chromecast that’ll stream 4K/Ultra HD content, a potentially tiny new wireless router and the first Daydream VR headset and we’ve got a hell of a day ahead of us. It might seem a little odd for Google to announce all this stuff on one day, but hey — what better way to celebrate the work pulled off by Rick Osterloh and the company’s new hardware division.

While Google has spent months marshalling its supply chains, the biggest announcement of the day might actually deal with software. Android and Chrome OS chief Hiroshi Lockheimer has said that we might soon look at October 4, 2016 with the same sort of historical respect as the day Android 1.0 launched — it’s big talk for sure, but I doubt we’re going to be let down. Maybe this is the day we finally get to see Andromeda, the hybrid Android-Chrome OS that has been the stuff of legend for years. Stay tuned: you’ll know everything just as soon as we do.

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