Jessica Lee Star/Digital Trends
The Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge may be two generations old, but it’s still a capable beast that’s worth your time. So regardless of whether you’ve got an S7 Edge you’re happy to hold on to, or you’ve just spotted a bargain, you probably want your S7 Edge to last you a good while — and a big part of a device’s longevity is having capable protection.
We’ve already highlighted a whole bunch of great Galaxy S7 Edge cases that will keep your phone well protected, but what about the screen? A curved 5.5 inches of display is a lot, and no one wants to be viewing their Twitter feed through a spiderweb of cracked, scratched, or dirty glass. That’s why we’ve put together a list of the best Galaxy S7 Edge screen protectors that you can buy to keep your phone looking as pristine as the day you bought it.
Otterbox Alpha Glass ($12)
Otterbox is the brand you turn to for amazing protection, and that reputation applies just as well to Otterbox’s collection of screen protectors. The Otterbox Alpha Glass is a tempered glass screen protector, so you can trust it to take more major blows than a film protector, while it’s also been treated to ensure it doesn’t shatter should the worst happen, keeping its shape and preventing glass shards from injuring users. It’s easy to apply to the screen, retains the AMOLED display’s clarity, and curves around the S7 Edge’s signature curved edge.
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Spigen Curved Crystal HD ($25)
Looking for something a little less heavy-duty than a tempered glass screen protector? Spigen is another well known name with a great reputation, and its Curved Crystal screen protectors are a great addition to Spigen’s range. They’re made from PET film, and come with everything you need to attach them quickly and easily — Spigen even has a guide video to help. The protector fully covers the front and sides of your phone, including the capacitive buttons, and comes with no reduction of clarity or touchscreen sensitivity. Film won’t take a blow quite like tempered glass will, but it will protect against greasy fingerprints, minor scratches, and keep dirt from coming into contact with your screen. Best of all — it’s a twin pack.
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Ringke Invisible Defender ($12)
Do you want even more coverage? You can’t handle more coverage! Just kidding, you can totally get it from Ringke’s Invisible Defender. Made from PET, like the Spigen film protector, this Ringke protector comes with two additional wings on either side that wrap around your phone, keeping dust and dirt from getting underneath the protector. Since it’s so thin, it works well with any protective case you might be using, and helps create a fully sealed-in feeling. It’s made from non-yellowing material to thwart that older screen protector look, and it even comes in a twin pack, just in case you need a replacement.
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InvisibleShield Glass Curve ($55)
Another great name with a solid reputation, InvisibleShield is primarily known for the quality of its display protection — and the Glass Curve is perhaps the best example of why that is. It’s made from 9H-hardness-tempered glass with a multi-layer construction, making it supremely tough and resistant to damage, it’s gently curved to match your phone’s edge, and the top quality glass ensures the display’s clarity shines through. It’s smudge-resistant, and comes with a finish that’s smooth to the touch — and the tabbed application means you can see exactly where you’re applying your protection. It’s expensive, but it’s also covered by a lifetime guarantee.
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Skinomi Techskin Full Coverage Protector ($13)
Still not enough coverage for you? Check out this protector from Skinomi that covers the entire S7 Edge, front-to-back and edge-to-edge. According to Skinomi, the Techskin protector is made from a special film used to protect luxury cars, military aircraft, and even space shuttles. Suddenly spreading it across your entire phone makes sense. It won’t provide much protection against larger bumps and drops, but it will provide good all-around scratch protection, as well as keeping those unsightly fingerprints away from your phone’s glossy body. It’s pretty much invisible once applied, and has an anti-yellowing layer to prevent unsightly aging.
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Zizo Tempered Glass Screen Protector ($14)
Want the protection of glass, but don’t want the hassle or the high price tags of some? Zizo’s tempered glass screen protector comes with the 9H hardness you expect from a glass screen protector, doesn’t impair screen clarity, and doesn’t cut down on the responsiveness of the touchscreen. It comes with an easy-install tray for super-easy and fast installation, it’s colored to match your S7 Edge, and since this is glass, it should protect your display for a long time. Those are a lot of features for a very reasonable price.
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Zizo Wireless Amazon
Top Trade US Tempered Glass Privacy Protector ($8)
Sick of feeling like people are looking at your screen from the corner of their eyes? Need to protect your privacy while you’re out and about? Check out this privacy-focused screen protector that places a filter over your display that means it can’t be seen from angles of over 90 degrees. It does dim the screen a little, but if you need to keep your bank details or clandestine meetings secret, then that’s a small price to pay. It’s made from film, and resists scratches and grease well, and the special design means it matches the look of your phone perfectly.
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iOS 12 may not be out yet, but that isn’t stopping Apple from beginning work on its 2019 operating system, likely to be called iOS 13. We’ve already started hearing some rumors about the new operating system, including some of the awesome new features that it’ll have on offer.
According to a Tweet from Bloomberg reporter Mark Gurman, the 2019 operating system will bring a number of helpful new features to the iPad version of iOS 13. These include the likes of side-by-side split view — which you can currently find on MacOS — as well as a revamped Files app. There are even improvements to how the Apple Pencil works.
The news makes some sense. Gurman previously reported that Apple was holding off on some new features in iOS 12 so that it could focus on operating system stability, and pushing those features to iOS 13, which is currently code-named Yukon. These could be some of the features that Gurman was referring to.
Somewhat. iOS 13 “Yukon” will have a big iPad-focused feature upgrade as well, including an updated Files app. some other things in the works are tabs in apps like in MacOS, same app side by side, Apple Pencil stuff. The home screen redesign is iPad focused.
— Mark Gurman (@markgurman) May 4, 2018
It’s possible that there’s another feature that Apple could introduce in iOS 13: cross-platform apps. Apple has been rumored to be working on introducing a way for iOS and Mac apps to work on other devices for some time now, and latest rumors suggest that the feature has been pushed a little later than expected.
It also makes sense that Apple would want to revamp the Files app. The company introduced the Files app in iOS 11, and updating it two versions later should come as no surprise.
iOS 12 is set to be a pretty significant update even without the major features being pushed to iOS 13. The new operating system will reportedly feature things like new Anomoji, FaceTime support for Animoji, new parental controls, a Digital Health tool that will help parents monitor how much their kids are using their devices, and more.
iOS 12 will be unveiled at Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference on June 4, alongside updates to its other operating systems — including macOS 10.14, tvOS 12, and watchOS 5. Of course, iOS 12 won’t be available to consumers until later in the year, when it’s pushed alongside Apple’s new range of iPhones.
We’ll update this story as we hear more about iOS 13.
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After months of rumors and speculation, the LG G7 ThinQ is finally here. As LG’s newest flagship, it has a lot of competition in the premium smartphone market. While the LG G7 ThinQ will undoubtedly be compared to other Android smartphones like the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus, we decided to mix things up a bit: We’re pitting the LG G7 ThinQ against Apple’s top-of-the-line iPhone X to see which flagship comes out on top.
LG G7 ThinQ
153.2 x 71.9 x 7.9mm (6.03 x 2.83 x 0.31 inches)
143.6 x 70.9 x 7.7 mm (5.65 x 2.79 x 0.30 inches)
162 grams (5.71 ounces)
174 grams (6.14 ounces)
6.1-inch IPS LCD
5.8-inch Super Retina AMOLED display
3,120 x 1,440 pixels (564 ppi)
2,436 x 1,125 pixels (458 ppi)
Android 8.0 Oreo
MicroSD Card Slot
Yes — up to 2TB
Tap To Pay Services
Qualcomm Snapdragon 845
Dual sensor 16MP & 16MP rear, 8MP front
Dual 12MP rear, 7MP FaceTime HD front
Up to 4K at 30 fps
2160p at 60 fps, 1080p at 240 fps
3.5mm headphone jack, USB-Type C
No – Face ID
Google Play Store
Apple App Store
T-Mobile, Sprint, Verizon, AT&T
T-Mobile, AT&T, Verizon, Sprint
Platinum Gray, Aurora Black, Moroccan Blue, Raspberry Rose (varies by market)
Space Gray, Silver
Verizon, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, Sprint
AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Apple
4.5 out of 5 stars
Performance, battery life, and charging
Genevieve Poblano/Digital Trends
In terms of performance, there is a lot to love about the LG G7 ThinQ. The LG flagship features a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor and an impressive 4GB or 6GB of RAM depending on the model you pick. But how does that stack up against last year’s iPhone X? Not as good as you may think.
While the LG G7 ThinQ features a top of the line processor for 2018, it’s no match for Apple’s own proprietary A11 Bionic chipset. In addition to the A11 Bionic outperforming the Snapdragon 845 in most benchmarks, it also offers smoother performance in real-world situations.
So with both a 4GB and 6GB RAM option for the LG G7 ThinQ you could assume it would definitely trounce the iPhone X, however that doesn’t seem to be the case. Although the iPhone X only ships with 3GB of RAM, iOS 11 operates more efficiently than its Android competitor, making this comparison a wash.
Finally, in terms of battery life and charging, things are neck-and-neck. While the LG G7 ThinQ ships with a 3,000mAh battery compared to the iPhone X’s 2,716mAh battery, it also has a slightly larger display at 6.1 inches versus 5.8 inches. As for charging, both phones offer a fast charging option, as well as wireless charging.
Overall, both phones do a respectable job in terms in this category. However, Apple’s A11 Bionic processor gives the iPhone X the win.
Winner: iPhone X
Design and durability
Julian Chokkattu / Digital Trends
From the front, you may have a little bit of difficulty seeing the differences between the LG G7 ThinQ and the iPhone X. Both are mostly display with a small top notch (though this can be turned off on the LG G7 ThinQ). The bezels are absolutely tiny on both phones and there’s not a fingerprint sensor or home button to be found.
Flip the phones over, however, and the differences become apparent. The LG G7 ThinQ features a centered camera array and fingerprint sensor while the back of the iPhone is much more minimalist, featuring only dual camera lenses nestled on the left side of the phone. While aesthetics are largely subjective, we believe the iPhone X is a more attractive phone overall. It also has a little more heft compared to the LG G7 ThinQ, making it feel like a more premium product.
From a durability standpoint, these phones are pretty similar. Both feature a body that is mainly comprised of strengthened glass (Gorilla Glass 5). Both are also resistant to dust and water, however, the LG G7 ThinQ features an IP68 rating while the iPhone X comes in at IP67; while the difference is minor, the LG G7 ThinQ is likely to fare better if dropped in deep water.
While this category is a close call, we’re giving it to the iPhone X. In terms of design, the iPhone X simply looks more polished than the LG G7 ThinQ and its additional heft makes it a little more balanced providing an overall better feel in hand. Though LG G7 ThinQ may be slightly more durable, the difference wasn’t enough to sway this category in LG’s favor.
Winner: iPhone X
The LG G7 ThinQ packs a massive 6.1-inch IPS LCD display with a 3,120 x 1,440-pixel resolution. The iPhone X, on the other hand, has a slightly smaller 5.8-inch Super AMOLED display with a resolution of 2,436 x 1,125 pixels. Looking at the specs, you will also see the LG G7 ThinQ has a sharper display than its iPhone foe, coming in at 564 pixels per inch versus 468 pixels per inch.
While most of the display specs seem to be in the LG G7 ThinQ’s favor, there’s one major issue: The display technology on the LG G7 ThinQ is inferior to the iPhone X. Even though LG is one of the brightest displays ever made, coming in at 1,000 nits, it just can’t match the AMOLED screen you will find on the iPhone X and other flagships. When comparing AMOLED and LCD displays side by side, the difference is obvious: The AMOLED display consistently provides more vibrant colors and deeper blacks that just can’t be reproduced on an LCD screen.
Not surprisingly, the AMOLED display on the iPhone X makes it the clear winner for this category.
Winner: iPhone X
While LG’s G-series phones have always featured perfectly respectable cameras, the smartphone manufacturer went all out with the LG G7 ThinQ. In addition to updating the hardware on the G7 ThinQ, LG incorporated artificial intelligence into this year’s update in hopes of helping people get the perfect shot in any condition.
On the back of the G7 ThinQ, you will find a dual camera array with 16-megapixel lenses. The primary lens features an f/1.6 aperture that should work well in low light. Like the G-series phones, the secondary lens on the LG G7 ThinQ is a wide-angle lens with a 107-degree viewing angle and f/1.9 aperture. Flip the LG G7 ThinQ over and you will find an 8-megapixel wide angle lens with an 80-degree viewing angle and an f/1.9 aperture.
In addition to the hardware, the LG G7 ThinQ packs in some new software features. For starters, LG added a suite of A.I. features called AI CAM that was first seen on the LG V30S ThinQ in February. AI CAM identifies individuals and objects and selects one of 19 different shooting modes. There’s also a portrait mode for both cameras on the G7 ThinQ.
As for the iPhone X, you will find a dual camera setup on the back with 12-megapixel lenses. Like the LG G7 ThinQ, you will find one wide-angle lens with an f/1.8 aperture, and a secondary telephoto lens with an f/2.4 aperture. You will also find dual image stabilization and optical zoom.
We’re giving this round to the iPhone X. Although the iPhone X lacks the A.I. camera features found on the LG G7 ThinQ, it doesn’t seem to need it: Photos on the iPhone X had more vivid colors, better depth, and finer detail than what we saw on the LG G7 ThinQ.
Winner: iPhone X
Software and updates
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends
Both the LG G7 ThinQ and iPhone X run the latest versions of their respective operating systems, and while Android and iOS offer different overall user experiences, the features on both are largely similar at this point. So basically, we’re judging this category on software upgrades.
First off, we would be remiss if we didn’t tell you LG can be a little slow to update its phones. LG just started rolling out the Android Oreo updates for the G6 last month, nearly eight months after it was announced. Since Apple, on the other hand, creates both the hardware and software for its phones it doesn’t need to work with carriers to push updates, meaning it can quickly push updates to everyone using iOS.
With that said, LG recently opened a software update center and committed to providing more frequent, and meaningful, updates for its devices in the future. In short, LG claims it wants to provide updates to its phones that will actually make them better over time.
For this category, we’re reluctantly calling it a tie. While Apple has an excellent track record of providing frequent updates to its phones, LG’s track record is a little more checkered. However, we do believe LG’s vision of providing updates that will continually improve its devices sounds like an excellent strategy for consumers.
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends
In terms of special features, the LG G7 Thin Q comes in strong. It is the first phone we have seen to feature a boombox mode, creating immersive sound with actual bass. It also features a dual camera setup with a 107-degree wide-angle lens. Finally, it’s the first smartphone to feature DTS:X audio via earphones.
On the iPhone X, you will find a few awesome special features as well. Perhaps its most popular feature is the TrueDepth camera that powers FaceID. It’s also the tech behind Apple’s Animojis.
Overall, LG takes the special features category by a long shot. From its impressive audio technologies to the wide-angle lens we’ve come to love on the G-series phones, the LG G7 ThinQ simply offers a wider variety of special features compared to the iPhone X.
Winner: LG G7 ThinQ
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends
When comparing prices between the LG G7 ThinQ, we’re anticipating a pretty drastic difference between the two. While pricing for the LG G7 ThinQ has yet to be announced, we’re pretty confident it will be at least a few hundred dollars less than the iPhone X, which starts at $1,000.
Overall winner: iPhone X
Let’s be honest, both the LG G7 ThinQ and iPhone X are excellent smartphones. Both should be able to accomplish the most demanding smartphone tasks with relative ease. But when we put the two phones side by side, the iPhone X comes out as the clear winner.
With a speedier processor, better display, and guaranteed software updates for at least several years, the iPhone X is an incredibly hard phone to beat. If you’re planted firmly in Google’s ecosystem, however, the LG G7 ThinQ is an excellent option.
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Ticketmaster envisions a future wherein you no longer need either a physical or a digital ticket to get into a venue. Its parent company Live Nation, has announced that the ticket sales giant has teamed up with and invested in a face recognition company called Blink Identity. In its first quarter financial report (PDF), Live Nation has explained that Blink has “cutting-edge facial recognition technology, enabling you to associate your digital ticket with your image, then just walk into the show.”
According to Blink’s website, its system can register an image of your face as soon as you walk past a sensor. Blink’s technology can then match it against a large database in half a second — in a blink, so to speak. It’s also apparently powerful enough that you don’t even have to slow down for its system to recognize you: Just walk normally, and if the technology gets a match, it’ll automatically open doors or turnstiles to let you in.
While some might find value in a ticketing system that relies on facial recognition, others are understandably concerned about its implications. Facial recognition is far from perfect and still has issues recognizing PoCs, which could lead to some event attendees not being able to enter venues they were supposed to have instant access to.
Further, if Ticketmaster collects data on facial recognition, then that’s one more potential source for the government’s surveillance efforts. It doesn’t help that Blink spent a decade developing and deploying large scale biometric identification systems for the Department of Defense. Finally, if hackers breach the company’s system, then they could get away with its customers’ face and details, maybe even including the payment method they used to purchase tickets.
Facial recognition is a growing technology, though, and we’ll probably have to get used to the idea of non-tech companies like Live Nation and Delta moving into the space. We’ll just have to wait and see how things work out from a privacy perspective.
Source: Live Nation (PDF)
No, Elon Musk isn’t done envisioning strange new ventures just yet. Hot on the heels of his cyborg dragon, a comedy project and the Boring Company’s flamethrower, the serial entrepreneur has declared that he’s starting a candy company. We’ve asked for confirmation, but Musk was quick to follow up with word that he was “super super serious.” Given that he announced the Boring Company in a Twitter thread about sluggish traffic, you shouldn’t be surprised if there’s a Musk-made confectionery in the near future.
Provided this isn’t just a lark, the main question is… why? And will any of Musk’s more grandiose projects play a role? We wouldn’t be surprised if the company delivered treats to stores with Tesla Semi trucks, but much of anything else remains a mystery. Just don’t expect SpaceX to send candy to Mars colonists… we think.
I’m starting a candy company & it’s going to be amazing
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 5, 2018
Source: Elon Musk (Twitter 1), (2)
The news that Facebook fired an engineer who abused his power to stalk women has raised a question: can the social network raise alarm bells if one of its workers accesses private data? The answer appears to be yes — though you’ll currently have to work at Facebook to get a warning. The Wall Street Journal has learned that Facebook has a “Sauron alert” (yes, like Lord of the Rings’ oppressive eye) that notifies employees when other staffers access their personal profiles. Everyday users only get notices of unusual login behavior, which could prove worrying if there is a case of abuse. However, Facebook may have a solution in the long run.
A spokesperson told the WSJ that Facebook has talked about offering “something similar” to Sauron for everyone, not just its own workers. The challenge is considering the implications, the company said. It doesn’t want to alert “bad actors” or spark “real world harm,” such as retaliation from an abusive partner.
The company’s internal policies are already designed to curb at least some abuse. Only a handful of employees have access to data without triggering the usual login alert, and those people are “closely monitored,” the WSJ’s sources said. When they use their powers to access other accounts, they’re required to provide a valid reason for looking at a profile (managers inspect those reasons later) and ideally get permission in writing. If a worker ever gets one of those alerts, they can track down the reasoning in a bug report or talk to Facebook’s security team. “Multiple” workers have been fired over the years as a result.
There were already clues this system existed. Paavo Siljamäki, part of the trance trio Above & Beyond, noted in 2015 that Facebook didn’t need his login details after he gave them permission to access his account. This appears to be the first time outsiders have learned the extent of Facebook’s access and its ability to fight abuse, however. And the stalking incident exacerbates things — there’s a clear gap between safeguards for Facebook staff and everyday users, and there are instances where users could benefit from that added protection.
Source: Wall Street Journal
Credit: Francois BeaufortThe search bar is getting a big upgrade in Chrome. After revealing a visual makeover for Chrome’s user interface, Google is now turning its attention to the search bar to make it even more useful and descriptive when you search.
When you type your search in the omnibox (or the unified address and search bar), you’ll not only see auto-suggestions for potential results based on what you’re typing, but you’ll also find relevant images and text next to these results.
The new feature isn’t out for everyone just yet. Google is currently testing out this option for the Canary channel of Chrome.
“The Chrome team is experimenting with showing images and descriptive text about suggested entries in the address bar in Canary channel,” Chromium evangelist Francois Beaufort wrote in a Google+ post. If you want to test out the feature today, you can enable the experimental flag at chrome://flags/#omnibox-rich-entity-suggestions and then restart Chrome.
If all goes well during testing, the feature will likely enter the Dev and Beta channels before being released into the Stable channel to the public. It’s still unclear when the feature can be expected to be available for the Stable channel, 9to5 Google noted.
In a screenshot posted by Beaufort, typing in “blink-1” shows a few auto-suggestions for the band Blink-182 right below the omnibox. These auto-suggestions also feature images of the band and popular songs recorded by Blink-182 alongside album art.
Google has been working on updating a number of its popular web-based products head of its I/O developer conference this month. A recently published Material Design document revealed that the company is planning on some user interface updates to the look of Chrome, replacing its more angular tabs with a more bulbous look. The new Material Design Refresh interface also featured larger elements, leading some to speculate that Google is updating the UI to optimize it for touch, a move that makes sense given that Chrome OS now runs on some newer tablets and Chrome convertibles.
Additionally, Google also refreshed Gmail, giving it more features to make it more attractive to businesses and security-focused users.
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The 2018 class of games for the World Video Game Hall of Fame includes a renowned sportscaster and a globe-trotting archaeologist. This is the fourth year that The Strong National Museum of Play in Rochester, New York, has recognized pioneering achievements in video games, and four new games will join the ranks of classics like Pac-Man and Tetris to be enshrined.
In a press release, the museum announced that John Madden Football, Tomb Raider, Final Fantasy VII, and Spacewar! have been selected from a field of 12 finalists. The awards are determined via a Player’s Choice ballot and an advisory board comprised of scholars, journalists, and video game historians.
Games accepted into the hall must be iconic, must have stood the test of time, and must have worldwide appeal. Games that have transcended the genre and contributed significantly to pop culture or society in general may also be recognized.
John Madden Football from 1990 has influenced not just sports games, but sports in general. The unveiling of the cover athlete — and the ongoing debate over the “Madden Curse” — has become a yearly event. Its influence has even reached into broadcasting, with the “Madden-cam” a popular addition to NFL broadcasts over the past few years.
In 1996, Tomb Raider defined a new style of gameplay that combined a revolutionary 3D viewpoint with cinematic action and puzzle solving. The museum notes that Guinness cites Lara Croft as the most recognized female video game hero of all time. “The character is not without controversy for her early status as a sex symbol, but she’s evolved with the franchise to become the epitome of a strong female hero,” said curator Shannon Symonds.
Final Fantasy VII came out in 1997 and became the second-most popular game for PlayStation with more than 10 million copies sold. Many credit FF7 with pushing role-playing games (RPGs) beyond cult status and into mainstream popularity. Of course, it also introduced the world to Sephiroth.
You may not have heard of Spacewar!, but it certainly deserves to be recognized. Created in 1962 on a PDP-1 minicomputer by members of the MIT Model Railroad Club, it featured two starships in a top-down view firing torpedoes at each other as they orbit around a central star. The game “went viral” and was spread from computer to computer around the world. Computer Space, the first mass-market video game from Atari founder Nolan Bushnell, was based on Spacewar!
Nominated games that didn’t make the cut this time around include Asteroids, Half-Life, and Metroid. Nominations are now being accepted for the 2019 class, and you can include your suggestion here.
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Laptops all look the same. Yes, some are black, and some are silver, some are aluminum, and some are fake aluminum — distinguishing one laptop from another has been a job left to the logo on the back.
Still, the second I first saw the Pixelbook, I knew there something different about it. It wasn’t like other laptops, or even previous Google laptops. It felt designed in a way the sea of silver MacBook clones flooding store shelves don’t.
The untold story of Google’s most ambitious product is one of meticulous attention for detail, and an uncompromising vision for how a laptop should be used. We sat down with them to go behind the scenes of how, and why, the Pixelbook was brought to life.
The material break
The lead designer of the Pixelbook — and the Pixel phones before it — is Alberto Villareal. He described the contours and design features of the Pixelbook more like a sculptor and less like a laptop manufacturer. Hailing from Mexico City and learning design in Sweden, Villareal’s approach was to make the Pixelbook fit in with the world around us.
“We took influences from interior design or fashion or furniture — we’re applying it to the entire color portfolio of the product,” said Villareal, holding the laptop in his hand. “We very intentionally wanted something that was bright and light in terms of color, so that we have a more positive and happy view when you open the laptop, and you’re looking at the keyboard and trackpad.”
Nowhere is that more evident than the iconic “material break,” as Villareal calls it, which has become a distinctive, visual indicator of the entire portfolio of new Google products.
“We very intentionally wanted something that was bright and light in terms of color, so you have a positive and happy view when you open the laptop.”
“It’s a bold gesture that’s recognizable from a distance,” he told Digital Trends. “We could have taken the whole product in the same sort of grey and aluminum. But we wanted to make it in a more visual way, so that when you see this product from a distance, you can immediately tell which product this is.”
It’s not hard to guess where his influences came from. You’ll see clean lines and two-tone color breaks all down the aisles of Ikea, or on racks of Swedish-made Cos clothing.
It’s the simplest design flourish you could imagine — a horizontal line, separating the back of the product in two with color, material, or both. It’s become iconic of the entire Google family of products, whether you’re talking about the Pixel phone, the Pixelbook, or Google’s smart speakers.
The material break isn’t just skin-deep. Once you open the Pixelbook, the two-tone color and material separation continues onto the keyboard and palmrest areas. It’s subtle, but it’s once again a significant departure from what you’ll find on other laptops.
Alberto Villareal, lead designer of the Google Pixelbook and Pixel phones.
“We also wanted to take an approach that is semantically telling the user which areas are for which functions,” said Villareal. “The color break that is very intentional — the white portion on the front and the aluminum grey keys — are to visually separate and guide the user to which areas are for typing and which areas are for trackpad and resting.”
Of course, the story of design isn’t just about aesthetics. In the same way that a well-designed chair needs to be able to hold your weight comfortably, the design language behind the Pixelbook also needed to be linked, at the hinge, to its function as a laptop – and tablet.
One product, two purposes
The Pixelbook is a 2-in-1, meaning it can be used as either a traditional laptop or folded into a tablet. I wasn’t surprised to hear the choice to move to a 360 hinge was no arbitrary decision for Google.
“We do a lot of research,” Villareal said. “We look at how some of people’s behavior patterns have changed over time. We looked at how people are using these products not only on the desk or in the office but also working in a mobile context. Sometimes you don’t want to have to pull out your phone to open certain applications, so by combining the efforts on our software teams and hardware teams. We really want to bring these together.”
Think of it like a fully-reclining chair that must be comfortable both sitting and laying down. Instead of just throwing a 360 hinge on a traditional laptop design, Villareal and his team embarked on the mission to make every bump, edge, piece of material, and design flourish function in more ways than just one.
“Sometimes when we’re designing a laptop that is not 360, you might want to think of a form that looks good when it’s closed and looks good at a certain angle,” said Villareal. “But these had to work on all four orientations. That was a challenge. As we were negotiating some of the thicknesses with engineering and looking at those details, that’s where we found those solutions.”
Villareal and his team embarked […] to make every bump, edge, and design flourish function in more ways than just one.
The solutions came in finding ways to integrate things like antennas into the material break of the device, across both the top and the bottom. Most of the product is aluminum, which provides structural integrity and heft. But where the antennas are placed along the material break, it transitions to glass for the purposes of antenna transparency. After all, the antennas still must work when you’ve got it flipped around in tablet mode.
Then there’s the soft silicon pads around the touchpad, which are working overtime. They serve as palm-rests while typing, feet while in tent mode, and raised support to keep the keys from touching the table in tablet mode. Even the built-in microphone serves double-duty as a hole through which the power LED shines.
To accomplish the dual-purpose functionality of every aspect of the Pixelbook, Villareal said the hardware teams and software teams had to be united in their efforts. “It’s a very, very collaborative process,” he noted. “It’s very organic where we’re thinking about crafting the product and bringing all those areas together. These industries are moving so fast and there’s technology developments happening so fast, that we can’t afford to first spend three months designing it and then pass it over to the engineering team to engineer it. We basically have to work together since day one.”
Merging Chrome and Android
While the hardware is important, the operating system, Chrome OS, had to ensure everything worked in unison, in both laptop and tablet modes. Trond Wuellner, Product Team Lead, believes that’s what makes the Pixelbook stand out from the competition.
“If you look at both Apple and Microsoft, neither have a compelling manifestation of a mobile ecosystem in their devices,” said Wuellner. “That’s something that’s going to be really difficult for both of those competitors to do effectively.”
“If you look at Apple and Microsoft, neither have a compelling manifestation of a mobile ecosystem in their devices.”
While Apple has been coy about its plans to bring iOS apps to the Mac, Google has stepped into it in full force. With the recent integration of Android apps onto Chromebooks, Wuellner argues that Google now has a platform for connecting the worlds of mobile and desktops in a meaningful way. “You’ve got to bring people the applications they know and love,” he said. “That was the center-point for how we started thinking about what we wanted to start doing differently with the hardware itself.”
Wuellner said such deep collaboration was only possible after a shift in organization behind the scenes at Google. Before the last few years, Chrome and Android weren’t integrated the way they are today.
“The DNA of the platform team is more unified and more together than it’s ever been in the past,” he remarked. “Everyone from the design teams to the product teams — and even the engineering and overall platform organization leadership — is the most tightly-coupled teams we’ve ever had working on these different approaches. It’s been a really important milestone in bringing a unified experience to our users.”
Still, Wuellner admits that Google’s use of Chrome OS as a touch-capable operating system isn’t perfect. Developers still must be courted to make apps more seamless, and the operating system itself must continue to evolve to make the mobile and desktop interfaces feel more unified. The Pixelbook must be the start of the journey, not the destination.
“We’ve done a lot of work with the Chrome OS team to iterate the OS forward so it’s more touchable than it’s ever been before,” Wuellner said. “That’s still a work in progress, but we really aspire to make the roots of it a productivity-focused OS, with the touch targets that just work better.”
The Pixelbook might not have the entire picture painted yet, but one thing is clear: Google intends to solve the problem through careful, concentrated design.
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Cambridge Analytica isn’t completely out of the woods just because it’s technically shutting down. The UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office has ordered Cambridge Analytica affiliate SCL Elections to provide the personal data of David Carroll, an American professor who became wary of how the company was profiling American voters. As Cambridge Analytica had processed his data in the UK, he filed a test case to see if he would receive access despite living on the other side of the Atlantic.
Carroll had requested his data in January 2017, well before the Cambridge Analytica data sharing scandal became public. However, he received significant pushback. Cambridge Analytica initially gave him just a small amount of data, and he wrote to the ICO in September concerned that the company wasn’t being honest. The firm “refused” to address questions, the ICO said, and “incorrectly” claimed that Carroll had to be a UK citizen or resident to access his data. It even denied that the ICO had any authority and likened its requests to harassment.
Cambridge Analytica hasn’t officially responded to the order so far, but it won’t have much choice. If there’s a “continued refusal” to cooperate, it may violate an Enforcement Notice and face criminal action.
It’s easy to understand why the company might fight back against the order. Now that Carroll is supposed to have access to his info, this opens the floodgates to requests from anyone who knows Cambridge Analytica handled their data. And when there are as many as 87 million affected people, the volume of requests could easily prove overwhelming. Now, however, it isn’t in a position to bargain — it either complies with requests or faces serious repercussions.
Via: Guardian, TechCrunch