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18
Oct

The regular Pixel 3 uses an LG OLED display


From specs, pricing, features, and more, here’s the latest on the Pixel 3 and 3 XL.

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Following months of leak after leak, Google’s officially taken the wraps off its Pixel 3 and 3 XL smartphones. The two handsets look exactly like what we saw in all the early photos and renders, and while the element of surprise may be gone, we’ve still got two impressive Android handsets to talk about.

Without further ado, this is everything you need to know about the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL!

The latest Pixel 3 news

October 18, 2018 — The regular Pixel 3 uses an LG OLED display

Earlier this week, a teardown of the Pixel 3 XL revealed that it’s using an OLED display made by Samsung. The folks at iFixIt recently put the smaller Pixel 3 through that same treatment, and while doing so, discovered that its OLED panel is sourced from not Samsung, but LG.

If you remember the Pixel 2 series, this is a total flip-flop of what was going on last year in which the Pixel 2 had a Samsung panel and the Pixel 2 XL had an LG one.

In that situation, the Pixel 2 XL’s screen was noticeably worse with greater burn-in potential, color shifting, and more. That’s not the case for the LG panel on this year’s Pixel 3, and in fact, both displays have been tuned to look nearly identical to one another. Even so, it is interesting to see that Google’s still not relying on just one supplier when it comes to its smartphone displays.

October 17, 2018 — Google explains how the Pixel 3’s Titan M security chip works

The Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL have a lot of tech packed inside them, and while it’s easy to get excited about their new OLED displays and improved cameras, one of the most important features is the new Titan M security chip.

Titan M is an all-new chip that’s designed with the single goal of keep the Pixel 3 secure, and in a post on the Android Developers Blog, Google recently dived into further detail about just how Titan M works.

The chip is a security module that was made by Google itself, and it works to protect the Pixel 3 + 3 XL against all sorts of potential threats. Since Titan M is a physical piece of tech, it’ll help protect against hardware-specific exploits such as Spectre, Meltdown, and Rowhammer much more efficiently than phones without it. On the technical side of things, Google explains the following:

Titan M’s CPU is an ARM Cortex-M3 microprocessor specially hardened against side-channel attacks and augmented with defensive features to detect and respond to abnormal conditions. The Titan M CPU core also exposes several control registers, which can be used to taper access to chip configuration settings and peripherals. Once powered on, Titan M verifies the signature of its flash-based firmware using a public key built into the chip’s silicon. If the signature is valid, the flash is locked so it can’t be modified, and then the firmware begins executing.

With the chip, Google notes that it hopes to achieve “transparency and building a platform for future innovation.”

Custom hardware allows us to provide new features, capabilities, and performance not readily available in off-the-shelf components. These changes allow higher assurance use cases like two-factor authentication, medical device control, P2P payments, and others that we will help develop down the road.

October 16, 2018 — The Pixel 3 XL uses a Samsung OLED display

While last year’s Pixel 2 XL had one of the worst displays for a phone in its price range, that’s an issue that’s been completely squashed with the Pixel 3 XL.

The screen on this year’s larger Pixel is brighter, colorful, and has less blue shift + burn-in potential compared to the 2 XL. The reason for this? A Samsung OLED panel.

Google opted for an LG-made OLED display with the Pixel 2 XL, but thanks to a recent iFixIt teardown, we now have confirmation that the Pixel 3 XL is using a Samsung one.

October 16, 2018 — Google explains how the Pixel 3’s Super Res Zoom feature works

The Pixel 3 comes chock-full of neat camera tricks, but perhaps one of the coolest is Super Res Zoom. This is the name of Google’s process for improving the clarity of digital zoom by collecting data from your hands shaking as you hold the phone in preparation to snap a photo.

Recently, the Google AI team took to their official blog to detail how exactly this works.

The Super Res Zoom technology in Pixel 3 is different and better than any previous digital zoom technique based on upscaling a crop of a single image, because we merge many frames directly onto a higher resolution picture. This results in greatly improved detail that is roughly competitive with the 2x optical zoom lenses on many other smartphones. Super Res Zoom means that if you pinch-zoom before pressing the shutter, you’ll get a lot more details in your picture than if you crop afterwards.

If Super Res Zoom detects that the camera isn’t shaking (e.g. the Pixel 3 is on a tripod or propped up on a table), it’ll actually start moving around on its own to simulate natural hand movement.

The post goes on to dive into of color filter arrays, multi-frame super-resolution, and a bunch of other nitty-gritty details. If that sounds like something you want to dig into, you can check it out here.

All the big details

Check out our full review!

Here it is, folks — the full Android Central review of the Google Pixel 3 and 3 XL!

These are easily two of the best Android phones you can buy right now, and no matter if you opt for the regular or XL model, you’ll be getting a fantastic display, an excellent software experience, and some of the best cameras on a smartphone in 2018.

They may not look like much on the outside, but these are two really special phones.

Google Pixel 3 review: Fewer features make incredible phones

Here are the specs!

If you’ve got a Pixel 2, a lot of the specs for the Pixel 3 and 3 XL will look very similar. There’s still 4GB of RAM and a starting storage amount of 64GB, but the Snapdragon 835 processor from last year has been replaced by the newer 845.

For a full rundown on both phones, check out the link below. 👇

Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL specifications

The displays are a lot better

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Shortly after its release, one of the biggest controversies that popped up for the larger Pixel 2 XL was its poor display. We have an LG-made OLED panel once again, but the year-over-year difference is huge.

Google’s touting 400+ nits of brightness for both phones, 2X less burn-in potential, and less color shifting.

There are still three different color profiles to choose from so you can fine-tune your experience, and out of the box, both the Pixel 3 and 3 XL have been optimized so that their displays look identical next to one another.

For an extremely detailed analysis of the Pixel 3 XL’s display, check out DisplayMate’s full in-depth review in which it received a top A+ rating.

The Google Pixel 3 addresses our biggest complaint with the Pixel 2: its display

There are three colors

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Google’s probably the best when it comes to naming its device colors, and this year we have Just Black and Very White. New this year is a pink hue that’s been aptly named “Not Pink.”

All three colors are available for both the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL no matter where you decide to buy them.

An all-glass back brings wireless charging support

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For the past two years, Google’s used a mixture of aluminum and glass on the back of its phones. This year, the Pixel 3 shakes things up by adopting an all-glass construction.

There’s still an etched section near the top that adds a nice matte finish that allows for more grip and fewer fingerprints. Google’s also integrated Qi wireless charging support and selling a new Pixel Stand wireless charging accessory that’ll charge the Pixel 3 + 3 XL and put them into a new “dashboard” UI that shows a slideshow of pictures on Google Photos and various Assistant info.

The Pixel Stand is a $79 wireless charger for Pixel 3 that unlocks special display modes

Google’s made a ton of camera improvements

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The Pixel 2 and 2 XL have some of the best cameras we’ve ever seen on a smartphone, and with the Pixel 3, Google’s making the camera experience even better.

Perhaps the biggest change includes the addition of a second front-facing camera. You now have access to a regular and wide-angle lens for all of your selfies and portrait mode works no matter which one you use. Google’s also integrated an algorithm to remove any distortion caused by the wider lens.

Other changes include:

  • 40% faster HDR+ processing
  • Improved detail retention while zooming
  • Night Sight mode improves low-light shots
  • Top Shot mode captures multiple frames before and after your picture and then recommends an alternative shot compared to what you actually captured

Along with all this, Google Lens is also built right into the Pixel 3’s camera app and works automatically when it detects something.

Android 9 Pie is available out of the box

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As you’d expect, Android 9 Pie is running on the Pixel 3 and 3 XL from day one. This is the same Android Pie we’ve been using on the Pixel 2 phones, including the new navigation gestures, quick settings panel, etc.

The Pixel 3 does bring a handful of new software goodies, including the full release of Digital Wellbeing outside of its beta state and a slightly updated UI for the camera app.

There’s also a new call screening feature that’ll allow you to send your caller to a system that asks them to provide information about who they are and why they’re calling. What they say comes through in real-time and you can choose to hang up or pick up at any point.

There are already a ton of accessories

The Pixel 3 and 3 XL are great phones, but you can make them even better with a good collection of accessories.

Whether you’re in the market for a heavy duty case, screen protectors, or something else entirely, here are a few helpful links to get you started with outfitting your new phone.

  • Best Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL Accessories
  • Best Cases for Google Pixel 3
  • Best Cases for Google Pixel 3 XL
  • These Are The Official Cases for the Google Pixel 3 lineup
  • Best Screen Protectors for Google Pixel 3 XL

Here’s when and where you can buy it

If you want to pick up the Pixel 3 for yourself, pre-orders are open right now. The Pixel 3 costs $799 for the 64GB model and goes up to $899 if you get the 128GB variant. For those same storage configurations on the Pixel 3 XL, you’ll pay $899 and $999, respectively.

The Pixel 3 series will be sold at Verizon, Best Buy, the Google Store, and Project Fi.

See at Google Store

Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL

  • Google Pixel 3 and 3 XL review
  • Google Pixel 3 and 3 XL: Everything you need to know!
  • Google Pixel 3 vs. Pixel 3 XL: Which should you buy?
  • Google Pixel 3 and 3 XL specifications
  • Join our Pixel 3 forums

Best Buy
Verizon
Google Store
Project Fi

18
Oct

Best clear cases for the Google Pixel 3 XL


I know, I know, no one wants to hide their sexy new phone under a case, but it’s okay! Clear cases can keep your Google Pixel 3 XL safe while showing off that two-tone glass back for all the world to gaze upon and weep at its loveliness.

Crystal-clear drop-protection

Tech21 Evo Check

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$40 at Google Store

Do you drop your phones a lot, but still want to show yours off? Grab an Evo Check case, rated to keep your phone safe from repeated 12-foot drops. Its clear construction still shows off your Pixel’s perfection, and it comes in purple and clear.

Like nothing’s there

Cimo Slim Grip

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$8 at Amazon

Cimo’s Slim Grip’s translucence lets the Pixel branding and two-tone glass shine through one of three cool colors — blue, purple, and traditional crystal clear — while the TPU offers extra grip so you can keep your Pixel 3 XL safely in hand.

Affordable crystal

MoKo Clear Case

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$8 at Amazon

MoKo’s clear case displays the Google Pixel 3 XL’s beauty with a hard polycarbonate back while a more flexible TPU bumper hugs the Pixel’s glossy frame. Moko’s case is a little tougher to get on and off than a pure TPU case, but its hard back is great for phone grips or card sleeves.

Crystal Clear

Spigen Liquid Crystal

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$12 at Amazon

Eschewing hard polycarbonate backs that have a tendency to produce oily rainbows and stiff cases, Spigen uses a flexible TPU is easy to apply and easier to grip. The light protection of Spigen’s Liquid Crystal is as thin as it is beautiful.

Air cushion corners

TGOOD Slim Grip

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$8 at Amazon

Want a thin case but still want more protection for your Pixel 3 XL and those dreaded corner-drop shatters? TGOOD has your answer with their Slip Grip case, which stays thin, clear, and beautiful on the back and sides of the phone where you’ll grip it most often while sporting some serious air cushions on the four corners of the case.

The X factor

Ringke Fusion X

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$10 at Amazon

Sporting a beefy bumper and reinforced corners for extra protection, the Ringke Fusion X is military grade protection for the price of a pizza. While the Black bumper is solid, the Ruby Red bumper is translucent, giving your Pixel 3 XL a bloody beautiful glow when it catches the light.

While traditional clear cases like the Spigen Liquid Crystal work with pretty much any phone color or wardrobe, they can also discolor over time. I prefer colored clear cases like the Cimo Slim Grip, as they tend to discolor less, hide smears and scuffs better, and they add some personality to your Pixel 3 XL

18
Oct

Google Keep gets a big UI overhaul with its latest update


Keep’s long-awaited redesign has arrived.

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Google Keep is undoubtedly one of the best note-taking apps on Android, but its UI has had the same general look and feel for quite a few years now. Thankfully, Google’s finally given Keep the design overhaul we’ve been waiting for with its latest update.

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The new Google Keep

Rolling out now as version 5.0.411.09, this update refreshes Keep with the same Material Theme UI that we now have in the Google Home, Messages, and Contacts apps. The background is now a stark white versus a light gray and some of the colors for notes have been updated, too.

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The old Google Keep

The core functionality remains mostly the same, with controls at the bottom for creating a new note and a hamburger menu to the left that allows you to see your reminders, custom labels, and more. If you want to switch to a different Google account, you’ll now need to tap your profile icon at the top right of the screen from the home page.

These Material Theme updates have caused for some mixed feelings among users, but once again, I really, really like the direction Google’s going for here.

Are you a fan of Google Keep’s new look?

Download: Google Keep (free)

18
Oct

Should you buy a Google Pixel Stand?


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Best answer: The Pixel Stand is a great wireless charging stand that works great with your new Pixel 3, but it’s expensive. Unless you need the Ambient Mode and Google Assistant features, you may be better off buying a reliable fast wireless charger from Samsung or a similar brand.

  • Google: Google Pixel Stand ($79)
  • Amazon: Samsung Fast Charge Wireless Charging Stand 2018 ($42)

Why the Pixel Stand is better than a typical Qi charger

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The Google Pixel Stand is an outstanding piece of equipment. At its core, it’s a standard Qi charger, supporting speeds of 10 watts, which is faster than the typical wireless charging stand or puck. You can place any compatible phone on it, from the Galaxy S9 to the iPhone X, and it’ll work at whatever charging speeds that phone supports.

However, what’s most interesting about the Pixel Stand is what it can do while charging a Pixel 3. Once paired with Google’s new phone, it begins an “Ambient Display on steroids” of sorts, providing quick access to Google Assistant by voice or touch, along with shortcuts to popular Assistant commands like “What’s the weather” and “Play news”. These options cycle on a regular basis, prompting you to tap them when you want to take a break from work, for instance.

If you have a Nest Hello doorbell, which I do, the Stand also acts as a conduit for talking to the person at the front door. I didn’t even know about this feature until I received a UPS package a few days ago and the delivery man’s face showed up on my desk. I tapped the blue “Talk” button on the screen and told him I’d be right now. It was a pretty seamless, high-quality experience, and one that I didn’t know I wanted until it happened.

A better photo frame

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Perhaps the best — and my favorite — feature of the Pixel Stand is its ability to turn the Pixel 3 into a digital photo frame. Like Chromecast’s Ambient Mode, which was recreated on Google’s Smart Displays, a Pixel 3 on the Stand can show albums and highlights from Google Photos, which makes for a memorable distraction while working at a desk or when waking up in the morning.

While the “photo frame” feature doesn’t display at all times — the phone cycles between showing photos and the regular ambient display throughout the day, it’s a truly delightful addition to the Stand’s feature set, and in my opinion, justifies the charger’s relatively high price on its own.

A faster charge

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The Pixel Stand charges the Pixel 3 at 10W, which is slightly faster than most wireless chargers on the market, many of which top out at 5W or 7.5W. This means you can get your phone back to 100% faster than most other wireless chargers, though just over half as quickly as the Pixel 3’s included 18W wired cable.

At the same time, you can get 9W charging from the cheaper Samsung Convertible Charger, which also allows for horizontal or vertical charging orientation. You may not even notice the difference in top-up speeds.

Is it too expensive?

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Maybe, unless you need all the features. I really like the Pixel Stand’s design and its feature set. I like that it charges via USB-C cable, which is included in the box. I appreciate that it doesn’t display a bright, distracting LED as many other wireless chargers do, so it’s safe to keep next to your bed.

At the same time, $79 is a lot of money to pay for a thing that does the same thing as a much cheaper product, so if you can live without the ambient display and photo frame, you can safely spend less on a wireless charger.

Pixel 3 synergy

Pixel Stand

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$79 at Google Store

Great on its own, better with a Pixel 3

On its own, the Pixel Stand is an attractive, functional Qi wireless charger. Paired with Google’s latest phone, it’s one of the best desk accessories around.

For a bit less

Samsung Fast Charge Wireless Charging Stand 2018

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$42 at Amazon

One of the best wireless chargers around

Samsung knows a thing or two about wireless chargers, and its latest stand is attractive, fast, and has a fan to keep your phone cool.

18
Oct

Red Dead Redemption 2’s launch trailer teases tense conflicts ahead


The wild west has never looked this good.

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Yes, it’s finally happening my fellow outlaws. Red Dead Redemption II is real and it’s coming to PlayStation 4 this year. After Rockstar Games’ massively successful open-world cowboy game set during the death of the Wild West, fans began clamoring for a follow-up that continued the story of the Marston family or embraced a new gunslinger.

After years of rumors and silence on Rockstar’s end, they finally surprised the world on one random morning in 2016 by announcing a sequel to their critically acclaimed western. It took over a year to get any actual concrete details regarding the game and frankly, it’s still a bit of a mystery but it sounds like it could be a mix of a story of a new outlaw and also fill in a massive gap in John Marston’s story.

See at Amazon

What’s new with Red Dead Redemption 2?

Rockstar Games has been quiet lately regarding the highly anticipated sequel, but with Red Dead Redemption 2’s imminent launch approaching in just a few short months, the studio is starting to discuss the game some more. We’ll keep you up to date with everything you need to know as it’s released.

October 18, 2018

We’re in the homestretch now and Rockstar has released Red Dead Redemption 2’s launch trailer a week ahead of its anticipated release. At only a minute long, it’s short and sweet, but it teases some tense conflicts with the Van der Linde Gang.

October 15, 2018

A little less than two weeks out from Red Dead Redemption 2’s release, Vulture recounted the highly-anticipated titles making in a new article published today.

One of the most notable pieces of information to come out of the publication’s interview with Rockstar co-founder Dan Houser is that the development team was apparently working 100-hour weeks to get the game done on time. This has caused quite a stir and a renewed conversation surrounding the unsustainable working conditions that game developers suffer through.

Rockstar additionally employed over 1,200 SAG-AFTRA actors to bring to life the game’s massive 2,000-page script. This ended up requiring 2,200 days (a little over 6 years) of motion-capture work.

Despite 700 of these actors being brought on for speaking roles, the studio decided that it wouldn’t bring big name actors onto projects anymore because of their egos. “I don’t want to speak ill of the dead, poor bugger,” said Houser, “but we don’t bring in name actors anymore because of their egos and, most important of all, because we believe we get a better sense of immersion using talented actors whose voices you don’t recognize.”

Red Dead Redemption 2 features 300,000 animations, 500,000 lines of dialogue, and “many more lines of code.” Hundreds of versions of its trailers were produced until perfected. According to Houser, this immense amount of work results in “this seamless, natural-feeling experience in a world that appears real, an interactive homage to the American rural experience. (It’s) a vast four-dimensional mosaic in which the fourth dimension is time, in which the world unfolds around you, dependent on what you do.”

As for how long the game’s main campaign will take, you can expect to put in roughly 60 hours. It used to be closer to 65, but as release day approaches the team cut 5-hours of content because “they were never going to work technically or be quite slick enough, or they felt superfluous. We removed a mission on a train where you had to deal with bounty hunters, because it was fun at first, but then it wasn’t. This part of the process is always about compromise and horse trading. Everyone always loses bits of the game they love.”

October 12, 2018

The Wild West was filled to the brim with its own unique weapons for the time period, so Rockstar is ensuring that Red Dead Redemption 2 is full of authentic weaponry as well. The developer recently detailed the game’s weapons and their customization systems.

Red Dead Redemption 2 will feature over 50 unique usable weapons, from classic revolvers to sawed-off shotguns. If you gravitate toward one specific weapon, you’ll be happy to hear that the more a weapon is used, the better it will perform. The drawback to this being that weapons in Red Dead Redemption 2 will degrade over time, so you’ll need to clean your weapons to keep them in pristine condition.

The game boasts “a myriad of customization options ranging from visual upgrades like new metals, woods, varnishes and engravings to performance upgrades like new barrels, grips, sights and scopes.” Performance upgrades can improve your damage output, accuracy, reload speed, and more. It’s best to take the time and consider what’s best for your playstyle, or what suits a particular weapon type the most.

October 10, 2018

Rockstar has clarified some recent news surrounding Red Dead Redemption 2 and how its NPCs will react to players whether they have their mini-maps and HUDs turned on or off. Previous reports stated that if players turned off their mini-maps that NPC dialogue would change, giving them more directions and information about where to go. This appears to have been false. According to Rooster Teeth employee Alanah Pearce, “they’ll always give you directions, people likely just noticed them more when their HUD was off.”

Seeing as NPCs will provide context and dialogue regardless of your mini-map status, it could end up working out similarly to Assassin’s Creed Odyssey’s exploration mode. Whether you have this mode enabled or not, NPCs can and will give you directions should you ask.

October 1, 2018

Rockstar has released its second Red Dead Redemption 2 gameplay trailer showcasing just a few of the illegal activities that the Van der Linde Gang can commit. What would a Western be without a good old-fashioned train heist? You won’t just be out and about committing crimes all the time though. The world that Rockstar created feels alive, and as Arthur, you can go into taverns, have a nice meal, play some cards, and even decide when to shave or bath.

This trailer also gives us a new look into the game’s revamped Dead Eye system, which will now progress in stages. Players will be able to slow time, mark multiple targets, and view critical or fatal points of their enemies. According to Rockstar, “how and when you use it is up to you.”

Near the end, we even got a better glimpse of Red Dead Redemption 2 in its 1st-person mode, which will launch with the game unlike its later introduction into Grand Theft Auto V.

September 24, 2018

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Sony has announced a new PlayStation 4 Pro bundle featuring Rockstar’s upcoming Red Dead Redemption 2. Pre-orders begin today for $400. The console will release alongside the game on October 26.

See at Amazon

September 19, 2018

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Rockstar has officially announced Red Dead Online, a multiplayer component for Red Dead Redemption 2 similar to that of Grand Theft Auto Online.

According to the developer, Red Dead Online is “an evolution of the classic multiplayer experience in the original Red Dead Redemption, blending narrative with competitive and cooperative gameplay in fun new ways. Using the gameplay of the upcoming Red Dead Redemption 2 as a foundation, Red Dead Online will be ready to be explored alone or with friends, and will also feature constant updates and adjustments to grow and evolve this experience for all players.”

Though Red Dead Redemption 2 releases in October, players won’t be able to hop into Red Dead Online until the following month, where it is set to initially enter a public beta sometime in November.

September 7, 2018

Rockstar has revealed new plot details surrounding Red Dead Redemption 2 in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter

“Dutch’s presence loomed over the original Red Dead Redemption, and his influence on events was a big inspiration for the setting and direction of Red Dead Redemption 2,” said art director Josh Bass. “We all wanted to know more about him and the gang —what was it like riding in that gang? What led them to the events of the original game? What happened to them along the way?

“In Red Dead Redemption 2 you get to see that gang, including Marston, at the peak of their notoriety and at the very moment things begin to fall apart,” he continued. “This story focuses on Arthur Morgan, Dutch’s most trusted enforcer. Adopted into the gang by the Dutch when he was a young boy, Arthur considers the gang to be his family — Dutch has given his life some much‐needed purpose, and the gang has served as the one positive and constant in Arthur’s life.”

Since this is the tail end of the Wild West, Dutch’s gang is struggling with their old ways of life coming to an end as they flee through the country.

“We’ve aimed to capture a wide slice of American life in 1899, a rapidly industrializing nation that would soon have its sights on the world’s stage — and would do whatever possible to ‘modernize,’ ” said director of art Aaron Garbut. “It’s a brutal landscape with a sordid history, but also one that’s full of opportunity. One of the most satisfying aspects of creating a world of such scope and scale is the ability to experience a whole range of stories and characters in your journey across that world. The gang’s journey and the game’s epic scope makes room to touch on all aspects of turn of the century America in a meaningful, substantial way.”

Though Rockstar’s previous title, Grand Theft Auto V, switched between the perspectives of a few different characters, Red Dead Redemption 2 is centering all on Arthur Morgan.

“Sticking with a single character felt more appropriate for the structure and narrative of a western,” said Bass. “Arthur lives with and fights alongside the other members of the Van der Linde gang, and they are a group of fully realized characters with relationships to each other and to Arthur, but this is Arthur’s story and we are placing players firmly in Arthur’s boots as he and the gang deal with a rapidly changing world. We think people will really love the feeling of being in the gang. It isn’t like anything we’ve done before.”

Rockstar also revealed the entire Van der Linde gang, all 23 members, along with short character bios for each.

August 15, 2018

Digital Foundry has given us our best look yet at Red Dead Redemption 2 running on a PlayStation 4 Pro. According to the outlet, which analyzed a 68mbps version of the trailer provided by Rockstar, RDR2 appears to run at native 1920×2160 on the PS4 Pro, “halving the pixel count on the horizontal axis from a proper 4K.” This is still a 12.5% increase in pixels over a 1440p image.

They were unable to get a reading on gameplay performance as the game is set to run at 30FPS and the video itself only supported 30FPS.

August 10, 2018 — New Red Dead Redemption 2 gameplay has arrived!

Rockstar today released new gameplay footage for Red Dead Redemption 2, giving us our deepest look at the wild west open world game yet. The 6-minute trailer showed us a great deal of the gameplay mechanics, a bit of the world, and more.

For starters, we got to see the sheer scope of the open world. Red Dead Redemption 2 will be massive in size, and there will be a variety of environments to explore both on foot and on horseback. From mountainous terrain and forested countrysides to those growing towns chock full of saloon-goers and merchants, it appears players will be able to take in the full breadth of the cowboy experience.

Rockstar says it was important for the game to be massive not just in size, but also in depth. That means the player — taking the reigns as Van Der Linde gang member Arthur Morgan — will have a living, breathing society around him to interact with.

Red Dead 2 may set a new standard for open-world gameplay.

You can go into shops and sell the pelts you’ve skinned off the back of your latest game hunting prey. And if you get caught trying to steal or shortchange the shop vendor, well, don’t be surprised if you have to knock him out in the street. That the townspeople gathered around to watch the confrontation as it went down is a testament to the emphasis Rockstar is placing on immersion.

That sort of interaction can be coerced out of the game by your own will, too. You can interact with almost everyone and everything. Meet some passersby on the road with a quick greeting and be on your way, or question someone you think might be doing dirt in the city. These interactions seemingly have the potential to escalate into something more, whether that be a new opportunity for Arthur Morgan and Co. or more fisticuffs to keep people in their place. And yes, that also means you can defuse certain situations.

Should the fighting become so fierce that you resort to weapons, you’ll find a new combat system that makes the deed more fluid and fun. Hand-to-hand combat, especially, seems far more involved than the original game. As far as shooting is concerned, Dead Eye is back, and it’ll be cooler than ever to put bullets into the heads of six of your enemies simultaneously.

At the end of your daily musings, you’ll head back to camp to meet up with your gang. This is likely where you’ll be getting the bulk of your missions, but it’s also a chance for the player to get to know the other characters in the group. They’ll share stories and sing and dance with you as you eat, and you can also play various games to keep morale high. There’s a gameplay benefit to all this, as Rockstar says spending time with these people could unlock new secrets.

As a pillar of the gang, you’ll be tasked with helping keep them afloat by regularly replenishing food, water, and other supplies. We’re not sure what would happen should their morale get too low, but apparently that will play a part in how others in the gang approach you.

Red Dead Redemption 2 is slated for an October 26th release on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Head to Amazon and pre-order yours today.

See at Amazon

August 8, 2018

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Rockstar has announced that we will see new gameplay for Red Dead Redemption 2 on August 9. This should be our first significant look at gameplay since the game’s announcement. The trailer will air 11AM Eastern, and can be viewed on Rockstar’s website or YouTube channel. We’ll be updating this post with details about the gameplay announcement once it arrives.

August 6, 2018

The big question on everyone’s mind: When are we finally getting gameplay? All signs point to soon. Rockstar has recently sent out Red Dead 2 care packages to members of the press, and with Gamescom taking place in just a few weeks, the developer could be gearing up for a big reveal. Red Dead II was notably absent at E3 2018, so the next biggest gaming convention seems like a good bet for it to make an appearance.

During a recent financial call, Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick took the chance to hype up Red Dead 2 even more, saying, “My belief is that Red Dead Redemption 2 will shatter expectations and that the online experience also will be extraordinary, but unexpected.”

Its online aspect was a bit contentious when rumors of its existence began floating around since Red Dead’s identity was tied to its single-player, but it looks like Rockstar may have something special they’ve got cooking up if they’re hyping it up so much.

He continued by saying that Red Dead II will “redefine the industry” and “captivate audiences around the world.”

PC release?

Though Rockstar only announced PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions of the game, there’s still hope it could come to PC. It appears that a programmer at Rockstar, who previously worked on GTA V and L.A. Noire, listed Red Dead II on his LinkedIn profile with its platforms being labelled as “PS4/Xbox1/PC.” This was eventually amended once word got out, but it’s unknown if this was a simple mistake or a PC version is indeed in the works.

The story so far…

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Rockstar Games appears to be returning to the traditional one playable character route after successfully experimenting with three playable protagonists in Grand Theft Auto V but he’s not John or Jack Marston. Players will travel back to 1899 (12 years before the first game) to fill the boots and don the hat of a much less noble man that goes by the name of Arthur Morgan, a brute that’s running with Dutch van der Linde’s gang during their prime. While little is known about Arthur, we know he’s a much more sinister cowboy who doesn’t mind getting his hands dirty. In the second trailer, we see him interrogating and roughing up several people who appear to owe money to Dutch’s Gang, perhaps for protection. He’s a brutal force that is loyal to Dutch and likely only Dutch.

It’s likely we’re going to see the rise and fall of the gang, with Arthur Morgan playing a pivotal role.

The story will see Morgan and Van der Linde’s gang stealing, running, and fighting to survive the rugged and cruel world that is the Wild West. Order has not yet been established, technology is slowly beginning to evolve into something far more advanced, and people like Dutch believe it’s important that things stay the way they are. The Van der Linde gang was always viewed as a Robin Hood-type of bandits, stealing from the rich to give to the poor and resisting the government in favor of a structure where it was an “every man for himself” situation.

The gang eventually evolved into something far more dangerous and unhinged according to an anecdote provided by John Marston, leading him to realize their Robin Hood act was all a front for their evil actions and crimes. The event that likely leads to the start of the downfall of the gang seems to be a heist in Blackwater which later became known as the Blackwater Massacre. In the plot synopsis for the game provided by Rockstar, it’s revealed that the gang is being hunted after they botch a robbery in the wealthy town that is seen toward the end of the first RDR.

Within the lore of the series, the Blackwater Massacre was a massive shootout that took the lives of over 30 people. Civilians, cops, and criminals were among the casualties of the bloody shootout, actual details of why the battle took place remain a mystery to the residents of Blackwater because the officials went to great lengths to cover it up. Why? Well, we’ll likely find out in Red Dead II.

Most people involved died or were criminals who escaped but one of the few survivors was the legendary lawman, Landon Ricketts. Ricketts is in the first game and Marston teams up with him in Mexico, Marston knows him for his status but the two don’t seem to know each other. It’s entirely possible that Marston was uninvolved in the heist or was playing coy and using him to further his quest for redemption.

How does it connect to the original Red Dead Redemption?

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So, what’s the connection to the first Red Dead Redemption? Well, Rockstar is being very, very careful not to say much about this game and how it connects to the first game but it will shed light on the stories John told in the first game as well as provide more depth to the men we hunt down in that same game.

John Marston is indeed in the game but Rockstar has noted that this is Arthur Morgan’s story, not John’s.

Given this game takes place long before the events of the original game and has a direct link to it via Dutch van der Linde and his gang, it’s hard to imagine Rockstar isn’t trying to expand John Marston’s story in some way. With games like Grand Theft Auto, there have been very subtle connections tying the games together but none of them are direct sequels or relate to each other in any way. With Red Dead Redemption II, Rockstar had the chance to name the game something like Red Dead Revolution, Red Dead Retribution, or something along those lines given that the series so far has gone Red Dead Revolver and then Red Dead Redemption. They purposely named it in a way that links the two games.

Marston was also a substantial part of Dutch’s Gang, he was taken in by Dutch when he ran away from the orphanage he lived in. He was raised by this gang and lived with them for a large majority of his life and in the fallout of him abandoning the gang, it all went to hell and it was more or less disbanded. John Marston is indeed the game, he’s heavily featured in new screenshots and is seen in the newest trailer once or twice but Rockstar says this is Arthur’s story, not John’s. That doesn’t mean that we can’t expand on the character, it just means he will not be the focal point of the narrative.

Major gameplay innovations are coming in the western sequel

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Since Rockstar has been pretty prude about Red Dead Redemption II, we only have the word of the press who have seen the game in action to understand how the game plays. There will be more details in the future regarding what the gameplay will look like but for right now we’ll just give you the basic rundown of what we know. For starters, Rockstar seems to be creating their most realisitic world yet and abandoning some of the most video game-y aspects in their formula for something with more depth.

According to Rockstar, they’ve been developing Red Dead Redemption II for eight years, starting as they were wrapping up the first game. In that time, they’ve been handcrafting a world with lots of detail and creating systems that may be fairly unexpected from them. A large portion of the game is centered around managing the gang, Arthur is Dutch’s right-hand man and he helps keep everything running smoothly. This means you’ll help perform odd jobs for gang members, go hunting to get food for the camp or get money to line their pockets with, and so on.

Rockstar has been very clear that you don’t have to do this and you won’t be severely punished if you don’t but the gang will make comments if you leave them hanging for days on end. If you do choose to take care of your gang, you’ll be rewarded in ways that have not yet been revealed and your gang will grow stronger.

Also on tap is a new dialog system that allows you to approach situations with more options than just shoot and kill. Each NPC has their own set of branching dialog, with the player able to talk niceties or show a degree of impatience in any given encounter. And this isn’t just a black and white morality system either. Some choices will be gray areas, some will be lore-advancing, some will lead to friendships, and others will most certainly erupt into bloodbaths. It’s unclear if there will be any more to this system – such as a relationship mechanic that gauges each NPC’s level of warmth toward you – but it’s something.

If you do choose to go off and do things like hunting, you’ll be able to see the amount of depth that Rockstar has added to its hunting system since the original game and Grand Theft Auto V. You’ll find yourself stalking animals, choosing your weapon carefully so you don’t damage pelts/meat, and tracking an animal by following blood trails after you’ve hit it. Once you’ve tracked the animal down, you may find it still alive, bleeding out and yelping. Arthur will then take out his knife and stab the animal in the heart to end its suffering and take what you want from it.

You can then string up your kill on the back of your horse and take it back to camp to feed your people or sell it in town and take the money for yourself. Regardless of what you choose, your hunt will rot and decay over time so the longer you have it on the back of your horse (yes, it’s literally on your horse, not in an invisible pouch), the less valuable it’ll be. If you were to kill an animal (or even a person) behind and let it sit in the wild, vultures, coyotes, and other creatures would come and munch on the remains.

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It looks as if Rockstar will be carrying over the heists from GTA V as we see Arthur Morgan robbing a bank and holding up a train in the second trailer. It’s unclear how much of a focal point these will be in the game since it was the core of GTA V’s campaign but one has to imagine it plays a similar role given you’re a gang of notorious western criminals.

We do know there will be some depth to those heists, though. Players can go loud or quiet, create distractions, choose who you bring with you (some can be done solo but isn’t recommended), and use a bunch of other different variables to create different outcomes throughout the heists. All of this will result on if and when law enforcement shows up amongst other things. It’s unclear if you can have gang members die or get critically wounded in these heists like in Grand Theft Auto V or just how dynamic these systems are. Grand Theft Auto V’s heists were heavily scripted, if you chose a certain crew member to come with, they’d always die on the same mission in the same spot because it was coordinated by Rockstar’s writing. It was more of the illusion of choices having consequences rather than them actually having any meaning at all.

Some major changes are also coming in combat with the ability to dual wield weapons like Max Payne, bows and arrows used for hunting and maybe even some stealth combat as we see Arthur Morgan taking a knife to someone’s back in the dead of night. We also see Arthur brutally beating people up in the third trailer, suggesting Rockstar has refined their melee combat to create more intense and fun brawls.

A cowboy’s best friend

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A cowboy’s best friend isn’t his fellow outlaws/lawmen, it’s his horse. In the original Red Dead Redemption, your horse was almost supernatural in the sense it teleported to you and was basically immortal. You didn’t have much of a connection to it because outside of its speed and stamina, there was nothing too special about the horses. In Red Dead Redemption II, Rockstar plans on changing that.

Your horse in the sequel will be very special. Perhaps the most significant change from the first game or any Rockstar game for that matter is that you won’t be able to carry every single weapon with you. The joke of pulling an RPG out of your rear end in GTA wouldn’t apply in this game as you’ll only be carrying small weapons such as handguns on your person, rifles and other gear will travel via your horse. We’re not sure if you can sling at least one rifle over your shoulder while walking around but you can expect most of your guns to be unavailable if your horse isn’t nearby.

Your horse won’t be disposable in this game, it’ll mean a lot more to you because it has lots of value. You’ll grow a bond that effects how scared it gets when put in danger, how far it gets from you, and more. Rockstar hopes that this bond won’t just serve a gameplay effect but a personal and emotional one to. If your horse gets critically wounded, you can attempt to heal it with medical supplies, if you don’t have any you can try and run into town quickly and gather some and run back. You may come back to your horse dead, making you realize that you left that poor animal that loved you to die thinking you abandoned it in its final moments. Brutal stuff, I know. Should it die, you’ll have to start that bond all over with a new horse and presumably any gear you can’t carry off of that horse’s corpse is lost.

It adds a whole new layer to an aspect that’s iconic to westerns but doesn’t have a lot of attention paid to it.

When you can play it and when we’ll know more

The only questions remaining are when we can play the game and when we can expect more firm details from Rockstar. The game is currently scheduled to release on October 26th, 2018 for PlayStation 4 as well as Xbox One, and we can likely expect some news regarding the game in June or July via a Game Informer cover story or a new breakdown directly from Rockstar. As of right now, we’ll just have to hold our breaths and keep waiting to saddle up again.

Where to buy Red Dead Redemption 2

You can now pre-order Red Dead Redemption 2 ahead of its October 27th release date. You’re in for some nice goodies if you decide to give Rockstar your cash early. All pre-orders for Red Dead Redemption 2 come with the War Horse mount and the Outlaw Survival Kit. The former is a grey-colored steed that has better courage and stamina than others, while the Outlaw Survival Kit gives you extra health kits, Dead Eye replenishment, and more.

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If you pre-order the digital copy on PlayStation 4 or Xbox One, you’ll also get some extra in-game cash to start your game, as well as a treasure map, though you’ll need to pre-order the game by July 31st to get those.

There’s also a special edition of the game available. It comes with 2 extra side missions, a black thoroughbred horse, gameplay bonuses through medllian and talisman charms, in-game cash bonuses, gameplay boosts, and discounts, a gunslinger outfit, and three additional weapons. You’ll also get a real map of the game world.

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If that’s not enough, the Ultimate Edition comes with everything that the Deluxe Edition does, but you can add two more in-game outfits, another black thoroughbred with an exclusive saddle, a Survivor camp theme for the game’s online mode, three additional free weapons, and XP bonuses for online play up to rank 25.

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As an added bonus for Grand Theft Auto 5 players, all digital pre-orders also come with in-game currency for GTA Online. Standard Edition gets $500,000, Special Edition gets $1,000,000, and Ultimate Edition gets $2,000,000.

Then there’s the big kahuna reserved for the most die-hard Red Dead fans. It’s a full-blown Collector’s Box, a red-tinted metal tithing box with a lock and key that comes with an assortment of real world goodies. There’s a collectible coin, a double-sized puzzle, a red bandana, a treasure map, a pin set, commemorative playing cards, a real 150-page Wheeler, Rawson and Co. catalogue, and 12 collectible cigarette cards.

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You can pre-order your preferred digital edition of Red Dead Redemption 2 at the PlayStation Store, Xbox Store, or direct from the Rockstar Warehouse. Those opting for the Collector’s Box, however, can only get it through the Rockstar Warehouse.

Wanting to catch up and play through the original Red Dead Redemption before the sequel drops? You can find the Game of the Year Edition for $20 at Amazon

See at Amazon

Updated October 2018: Rockstar has released a launch trailer for Red Dead Redemption 2.

PlayStation 4

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  • PS4 vs. PS4 Slim vs. PS4 Pro: Which should you buy?
  • PlayStation VR Review
  • Playing PS4 games through your phone is awesome

Amazon

18
Oct

Spotify update brings simpler navigation + offline radio to Premium users


The Search page is also more powerful.

Way back in August of this year, Spotify rolled out a new UI for its Android app that’s much simpler and easy to use. This was a very welcome change considering how cluttered the app used to be, but up until now, this new UI has only been available for free users. Now, Spotify’s expanding this to its Premium subscribers.

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The bottom navigation bar that used to have tabs for Home, Browse, Search, Radio, and Your Library has been cut back to just Home, Search, and Your Library. The Search page has been completely revamped and is now your one-stop shop for finding all sorts of new music. At the top of the page is a “Your top genres” section that’ll change over time based on your current listening habits.

Also new are revamped Artist Radios. Spotify says that these now “offer an endless listening stream personalized to the listener’s own musical tastes.” Artists Radios are “updated regularly to keep things fresh”, and if you want to take them with you wherever you go, you now have the option of saving them for offline use.

All of this is rolling out to Spotify Premium users for Android and iOS starting today, so keep an eye out for it!

Download: Spotify ($9.99/month)

18
Oct

Xperia XZ Premium, XZ1, and XZ1 Compact getting Android 9 Pie on Oct 26


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A new version of Android means it’s once again time to peer into my crystal ball.

Latest Updates

October 17, 2018 — Xperia XZ Premium, XZ1, and XZ1 Compact getting Android 9 Pie on Oct 26

Earlier in the month, Sony began rolling out Android 9 Pie to the XZ2 and XZ2 Compact. Now, we have official dates for when Pie will make its way to the company’s other handsets.

Starting first with the Xperia XZ Premium, XZ1, and XZ1 Compact, these phones will receive their update on October 26. The XZ2 Premium will follow them on November 7, and if you have an Xperia XA2, XA2 Ultra, or XA2 Plus, you can expect Pie to land on March 4, 2019.

October 12, 2018 — Android 9 Pie rolling out to Sony Xperia XZ2 and XZ2 Compact

On October 12, reports started coming in to show that Pie is making its way to Xperia XZ2 and XZ2 Compact handsets. The update changes the build number from 51.1.A.11.51 to 52.0.A.3.27 on both phones and weighs in at around 1.059 GB. In addition to the usual Pie goodies, there’s also a new camera app and the October 2018 security patch.

The full roundup

Did you hear? Android Pie is a thing now. And we know that everyone will want it and want it as soon as possible. That’s how it works and that’s how we are wired. We want updates, we want them to be spectacular and we want them right now.

The reality of the situation is a bit different. Most phones made in the last 18 months will see Android Pie, but some of them will only get updated when we see the first developer preview for Android Q (Quince Jelly or gtfo, Google!) come along. It’s a lot easier for manufacturers to update their phones to a newer version, but it’s still not any better. That’s another article for another time, though. This one is where I guess which phones will get updated sometime in the next 12 months.

Predicting anything Android-related is 10% science and 90% interpretation.

It’s not as easy as you think and many sudsy cold beverages worth of thought goes into my guesses each and every year. About one-third of them are no-brainers, but some of the others are basically the same odds as a coin flip. It seems like manufacturers only care about a few models that get a lot of press time. But I do have to toot my own hat (or something) and say I have a pretty good track record. Luck or skill? You decide. (It’s totally skill.)

Let’s break it down by the major manufacturers of the phones we love and make a few predictions. Remeber, these are just predictions and not any official word on anything from any company unless otherwise noted.

  • Google
  • Android Beta Program Partners
  • Samsung
  • LG
  • Huawei
  • Motorola
  • OnePlus
  • Nokia
  • HTC
  • Sony

Still waiting for Oreo? Check to see whether your phone will be upgraded!

Google

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I always start with Google because it’s easy and I’ll get it right every time. That’s what I want at the top of the page. I say it’s easy because Google has already told us which phones get updated and which won’t.

  • The Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL have already been updated to Pie.
  • The Pixel and Pixel XL have already been updated to Android Pie.
  • While not actually from Google, any Android One phones manufactured since October 2017 will also be updated to Pie “later this fall.”

And that’s it. Prior to the Pixel, Google promised two years of full support and three years of security updates for phones they sell under their own brand. The Nexus 6P and Nexus 5X are just about three years old. Auf Wiedersehen, Adieu, Adios, Good Bye. They were great phones.

More: It’s time to say goodbye to the Nexus program for good

Android Beta Program Partners

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For the first time ever other companies have joined Google in supporting the Android Beta Program. When it was started for Android Pie (then known simply as P) the following phones joined Google’s Pixel and Pixel 2 family in supporting it:

  • Sony Xperia XZ2
  • Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S
  • Nokia 7 Plus
  • Oppo R15 Pro
  • Vivo X21
  • OnePlus 6
  • Essential PH‑1

That means that every one of these phones should see a full-on update to Android Pie in the very near future. In fact, the Essential PH-1 is saw its update at the same time the Pixel and Pixel 2 did.

We’re proud to bring Android 9 Pie to Essential Phone the same day it’s released! Check your phone now for the update. 🥧 pic.twitter.com/pniUDl9yr8

— Essential (@essential) August 6, 2018

Samsung

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Samsung makes more models of a single flagship line like the Galaxy S each year than Google has made in total, but it’s also pretty easy to know which phones Samsung will update because they’re predictable. Samsung offers four “premium” models each year. like 2018’s Galaxy S9, Galaxy S9+, the Galaxy S9 Active that we all know is coming, and the Galaxy Note 9. Even when Samsung sold 15 different models of the Galaxy S6, they were all treated the same when it came to expecting an update.

When to expect it is just as predictable, and it will happen about a year from the date this was first published (March 2018). Some models in Europe will see it first, about a month later it will show up somewhere else, and once Samsung is satisfied it’s not going to totally wreck about a gazillion phones they will give it the green light. Add in whatever time your carrier needs and the final result is just about a year from its initial release.

  • The Galaxy S9 and S9+ (and any S9 Active that comes in the future) will be updated to Android Pie.
  • The Galaxy Note 9 will be updated to Android Pie.
  • The Galaxy S8 and S8+, and the Galaxy S8 Active, will be updated to Android Pie.
  • The Galaxy Note 8 will be updated to Android Pie.

Here’s where it gets interesting. there are a handful of other Galaxy phones that have a huge regional fanbase. In India, for example, the Galaxy J models are huge hits because they offer most of the same experience you find in a Galaxy S at a lower price. Samsung will give them the same treatment the Galaxy S and Note lines receive. That’s not the most interesting part, though. That would be the seemingly random phones that Samsung decides to update. We don’t know why we see this every year (Carrier requests? Developer favorites? Aliens?) we just like seeing it. And we all wish we saw more of it.

LG

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LG has always been a wildcard when I write this post every year. Like Samsung, there are a few “important” models that get all the press coverage and plenty of other more inexpensive models that most of us aren’t talking about.

LG also mentioned some streamlining in the release cycle, which hopefully gives the development teams time to get an update out the door and have it be a good update.

  • The LG G7 ThinQ will be updated to Android Pie.
  • The LG V30 (including the V30S or whatever models we have seen or will see) will be updated to Android Pie.
  • The LG V20 will be updated to Android Pie.
  • The LG G6 will see Android Pie.

Older models like the G5 and V10 are done seeing any attention and won’t see any updates. LG makes a handful of phones that aren’t quite flagship material, and we know it is willing to spend the time and money on updating some of them even if your carrier isn’t and you never see it. That means nothing is a given.

I also think LG consolidating things and releasing phones when they think it’s time for a new model rather than by looking at a calendar will make a difference here and lead to longer support.

Huawei

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Huawei is tough to read. It hasn’t abandoned the Asian way of doing smartphones like LG and Samsung have for their U.S. divisions and sometimes that means the things the company does can be puzzling to those of us used to the Western way of thinking. Just when I think I have figured out exactly which phones are the company’s flagship models that will get the lion’s share of time and money spent, they change it all up. That’s a good thing.

Something made Huawei change the way it redistributes and maintains phones running the EMUI operating system (Huawei’s version of Android) in 2017 and I think that’s going to be reflected when it comes to Android P updates.

  • The Huawei Mate 10 will be updated to Android Pie.
  • The Huawei Mate 10 Pro is being updated to Android Pie while this article was being revised on October first.
  • The Honor 9 and Honor View 10 series will be updated to Android Pie. I’m hoping, but less confident, about the Honor 8 Pro and 7X.
  • The Huawei Mate 9 will probably be updated to Android Pie, but we’ll see.

This includes the various Plus, Pro, and Porsche models (I want a Porsche phone) as well, and because EMUI is so different than every other smartphone software available users will have no idea which version of Android they are running unless they look.

Besides, if the things a handful of little birds are saying happen to be true, EMUI 9 isn’t going to be able to run on any hardware older than what comes in these phones.

Motorola

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Motorola had a weird 2017. That’s putting it mildly. They released like 100 phones in the Americas and Western Europe (Editor’s note: it was actually 9) and they ranged from the surprisingly great $100 Moto E4 to the Moto X4, the first of hopefully many non-Google phones you can use on Project Fi, and all the Z and Force you can handle in between.. And they did it without compromising the G series which has been a company staple for years from the smartphone division.

Moto phones under Lenovo are slowly becoming like the Thinkpad — quietly chugging along in the background doing their thing. And doing it well.

On August 15, Motorola published a blog post outlining the handsets that’ll receive the official Pie update starting this fall. They include:

  • Moto Z3
  • Moto Z3 Play
  • Moto Z2 Force
  • Moto Z2 Play
  • Moto X4
  • Moto G6 Plus
  • Moto G6
  • Moto G6 Play

While that’s a strong list, the notable omissions include the Moto E5, E5 Plus, and E5 Play.

OnePlus

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OnePlus is on the verge of becoming more than just a niche brand. But it won’t forget where its early success came from — providing fast updates because its customers wanted them. And just because it is never as fast as we wanted doesn’t mean it wasn’t as fast as possible. Sometimes, too fast even …

Here’s the list of phones OnePlus is going to update to Android P.

  • OnePlus 3
  • OnePlus 3T
  • OnePlus 5
  • OnePlus 5T
  • OnePlus 6

Nokia

Hi, Android Pie will be available for the Nokia 3, 5, 6 and 8. Roll-out will be phased as usual to secure quality delivery. Nokia 7 Plus is part of the Android One program, which guarantees two years of software updates, including Pie.

— Nokia Mobile (@NokiaMobile) August 8, 2018

Nokia seems to understand that a substantial portion of its own customer base wants fast updates. Like OnePlus, they should listen to their current customers while trying to find new ones if they are to be successful. Here’s a list of phones expected to see Android Pie from Nokia.

  • Nokia 3
  • Nokia 5
  • Nokia 6
  • Nokia 6.1
  • Nokia 7 Plus
  • Nokia 8
  • Nokia 8 Sirocco

HTC

Disappointing sales have left the future of HTC’s smartphone business in uncertainty, but assuming the company doesn’t go under in the next few months, it’s announced that it’ll be updating four of its smartphones to Android 9 Pie. The list is as follows:

  • HTC U12+
  • HTC U11
  • HTC U11+
  • HTC U11 Life (Android One version)

We’re pleased as pie to confirm updates to Android Pie for the HTC U12+, U11+, U11, and U11 life (Android One). Timeframes for roll-out will be announced in due course. We can’t wait to know what you think of Google’s freshest slice of Android! pic.twitter.com/mPJePFegne

— HTC (@htc) August 10, 2018

Annnnddd…that’s it.

HTC says that it’ll release timeframes for its Pie updates “in due course”, and as those announcements are made, we’ll update this article accordingly.

Sony

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Sony announced its Pie update plans on August 16, 2018, and as expected, the phones that’ll be the first to get the new software treatment are the company’s high-end flagships. So far, the following phones have been confirmed to get an Android Pie update.

  • Sony Xperia XZ2
  • Sony Xperia XZ2 Premium
  • Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact
  • Sony Xperia XZ Premium
  • Sony Xperia XZ1
  • Sony Xperia XZ1 Compact
  • Sony Xperia XA2
  • Sony Xperia XA2 Ultra
  • Sony Xperia XA2 Plus

On October 12, reports started coming in to show that Pie is making its way to Xperia XZ2 and XZ2 Compact handsets. The update changes the build number from 51.1.A.11.51 to 52.0.A.3.27 on both phones and weighs in at around 1.059 GB. In addition to the usual Pie goodies, there’s also a new camera app and the October 2018 security patch.

But wait, there’s more!

The Xperia XZ Premium, XZ1, and XZ1 Compact will all receive their update on October 26. The XZ2 Premium will follow them on November 7, and if you have an Xperia XA2, XA2 Ultra, or XA2 Plus, you can expect Pie to land on March 4, 2019.

Must mentions

These may be the companies we’re most familiar with in the west that sell Android phones, but they aren’t the only companies doing it. Out of the literally hundreds of models available, a few stand out and need mentioning.

  • Any phone running the Android Go version will probably see an update once Google gets Pie optimized for the meager specs these devices have.
  • The BlackBerry KEYone probably won’t be upgraded to Android Pie, but we know the KEY2 will be.
  • Someone at XDA will update their Nexus One to Android Pie and I am going to do my best to get Google to send that person a brand new Pixel 3 NotchXL.

Like mentioned earlier, these are just educated guesses at this point. but one thing I know for certain is that no matter what the phone, any updates will feel like they took too long to make it into our hands. That’s just how we’re wired.

Android 9 Pie

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  • Join the Discussion

Updated October 12, 2018: Added details about Pie rolling out to the Xperia XZ2 and XZ2 Compact.

18
Oct

Beddr Launches iPhone-Connected ‘SleepTuner’ Device to Track and Improve Your Sleep


Startup Beddr today launched the “SleepTuner,” the first FDA-registered consumer sleep wearable that helps to assess and improve sleep quality. SleepTuner is a small accessory (about the size of a postage stamp) with Bluetooth Low Energy that attaches to your forehead to measure sleep duration, track heart rate, optimize nighttime breathing, and improve oxygenation, all viewable when synced to the compatible iOS app.

Specifically, SleepTuner was built to help capture and measure sleep apnea, a disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts during sleep. Beddr says that its tracker includes “the essentials of a traditional sleep lab” to measure blood oxygen levels, heart rate, sleep position, and stopped breathing events.

To use, SleepTuner is attached to the forehead by a hypoallergenic disposable adhesive, which the company says avoids the pitfalls of rival options that have numerous wires and other attachments. The device has a 50 mAh battery that provides up to 20 hours of continuous test time, and is rechargeable. SleepTuner has optical sensors and a 3-axis accelerometer to gather sleep data, which is saved in the Beddr Cloud until the user syncs it with the iOS app in the morning.


Once synced, the app gathers data from SleepTuner over the course of its use, providing users with helpful insights like determining their optimal sleeping position, overall sleep quality, pointing out how often they wake up, highlighting night-to-night improvements, and more.

Beddr compares SleepTuner to a few other sleep-tracking capable products on its website, including Apple Watch Series 4 and Beddit:


SleepTuner is available to pre-order on Beddr’s website for $149, including the sensor, 12 adhesive strips, a charging cable, and a protective case. The device will begin shipping next month.

Tag: Beddr
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18
Oct

Tim Cook Highlights ‘The Big Draw’ Sketching Sessions Taking Place at Apple Stores This Month


To celebrate The Big Draw Festival, a monthlong worldwide celebration of drawing held every October, eight Apple Stores are hosting special Today at Apple sessions related to the festival throughout the month.

A total of 108 sessions will be hosted by the end of the month at Apple Regent Street in London, Apple Piazza Liberty in Milan, Apple Dubai Mall in Dubai, Apple Michigan Avenue in Chicago, Apple SoHo and Apple Williamsburg in New York, Apple Orchard Road in Singapore, and Apple Union Square in San Francisco.


Apple CEO Tim Cook today tweeted about a session hosted by artist Marcy Smith, who helped customers learn how to draw and sketch with the iPad Pro and Apple Pencil at the Union Square store on Wednesday evening.

Artists like @MarcyMoji make #TodayatApple sessions so inspiring. We’re hosting @The_Big_Draw celebrations around the world this month, including Marcy’s masterclass on drawing with iPad last night at San Francisco’s Apple Union Square. pic.twitter.com/A37rRKskMN

— Tim Cook (@tim_cook) October 18, 2018

The sessions, which include Live Art and Sketch Walks, are free to attend as space permits. There are still plenty of sessions remaining through the second half of October, and those interested can browse and sign up for sessions on the Today at Apple page. Most sessions are scheduled to run 90 minutes.

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18
Oct

Tumblr promises it fixed a bug that left user data exposed


Tumblr says it has sorted out a bug on its site that could potentially have revealed user data.

The New York-based company said on Wednesday, October 17 that it had “some important information” that it wanted to share, before going on to explain about the security flaw.

First, it wanted to make clear that it so far had no concrete evidence that any data had been stolen. At the same time, the company promised that the issue had been resolved and no action — such as changing account passwords — was required on behalf of users.

So, what happened? According to the blogging platform, a security researcher reported the problem several weeks ago via Tumblr’s bug bounty program. Engineers fixed the issue within half a day, and since then the company has taken steps to improve monitoring and analysis procedures to help it identify and fix any similar bugs in the future.

The flaw in question was linked to the “recommended blogs” feature on the desktop version of Tumblr. Recommended blogs are powered by an algorithm that displays a short, rotating list of blogs by other Tumblr users that may be of interest, and only appears for people logged onto the Tumblr site.

According to Tumblr, if a user’s blog appeared in this module, it was possible, by “using debugging software in a certain way,” to view some of that user’s account information.

“We found no evidence that this bug was abused, and there is nothing to suggest that unprotected account information was accessed,” the company said.

It added that it couldn’t be sure which specific accounts were affected by the security flaw, but said that through its own analysis, “the bug was rarely present.”

At the worst, it’s possible that certain user account information could have been viewed, including email addresses, encrypted Tumblr account passwords, self-reported location (a feature that’s no longer available), previously used email addresses, the last login IP address, and the name of the blog linked to the account.

The company said it wanted to be transparent with its community about the security flaw, even though it’s confident that no user data was stolen while the bug was live. It’s early days, however, so no doubt Tumblr will be monitoring the situation closely to ensure that its assumptions are correct.

Not the first, won’t be the last …

Tumblr certainly isn’t the first social media service to get entangled in an issue linked to online security. Only recently, Facebook revealed a security vulnerability that gave hackers the chance to take control of as many as 30 million accounts, while Twitter said in September it’d squashed a security bug that leaked direct messages between users. And then there’s Google+, which said last week that a flaw had given hackers access to personal information linked to up to half a million accounts. The web giant said that following the hack, and because of lack of interest among users in the platform, it plans to completely shut down Google+ by August 2019.

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