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5
Nov

Won’t get fooled again: Chrome 71 to block all ads on abusive sites


Google is looking to foil ads that trick, deceive, and hoodwink web users by blocking them entirely. Starting with the Chrome 71 release slated for December, the browser will automatically remove any ads on certain sites which deliver “consistent abusive experiences.” Website owners concerned that they might be caught up in this ad-blocking program can use Google’s new Abusive Experiences tool to determine if their sites will trigger it.

In November 2017, Google introduced protections in Chrome against so-called “trick to click” links which attempted to redirect web visitors to sites they didn’t intend to visit, to make money from ads or steal identities. The Chrome 71 update is an extension of that. Instead of stopping forceful redirects, Chrome 71 will simply weigh whether a website contains ‘abusive’ content, and if it does, it will block all of its ads.

Following its own internal investigations into abusive web practices, Google claims to have identified the tactics that are being used. Such ads may act like system warnings, or use fake “X” close buttons to try and encourage a web user to click on the content erroneously. Such scams can lead to phishing attacks, as well as attempts to steal the personal information of a user.

Chrome 71 will look to do away with that by punishing website owners who publish such content in the first place, by removing all adds wholesale. Any website caught out by this will have 30 days to fix any of the experiences flagged by Google’s tool before Chrome removes all ads from the site entirely.

Such protections will not extend to those using alternative browsers, of which there are a few. Mozilla’s Firefox recently introduced better tracking protection of its own, targeting adverts that use trackers to glean information from web users that they might not otherwise be happy sharing.

Chrome 71 won’t be released until December, but it will bring with it a number of additional changes. One that will please many is new autoplay policies, which will look to reduce the number of videos and audio content which automatically play when a website is opened, giving users much more control of the content that runs in their browser.

If you want to try Chrome 71 out now, you can download it as the Chrome beta release.



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5
Nov

Audi gets animated with a cartoon concept car for ‘Spies in Disguise’


It’s not unusual for car manufacturers to mock up cars of the future, but you’ve probably never seen one quite like this Audi. The German automobile maker has created a concept car that will appear on the big screen in the upcoming animated film Spies in Disguise.

The Audi RSQ e-tron is an entirely electric and entirely fictional vehicle crafted by the Audi Design team in collaboration with Blue Sky Studios — the production company behind Spies in Disguise. According to Audi, the RSQ e-tron features a hologram speedometer, fully automated driving technology so spies can go hands-off while on the road, and is packed with special features that only secret agents would need.

“Audi takes a digital, forward-looking approach to the design process, both in developing fictional content and in the production modeling studio,” Frank Rimili, head of exterior design for concept vehicles at Audi, said in a press release. “At Audi Design, we combine state-of-the-art digital visualization techniques with handmade precision. These processes enable us to implement futuristic design ideas with the same precision in the development of a fictional virtual concept vehicle such as the RSQ e-tron.”

The RSQ e-tron will be driven by Lance Sterling, a secret agent who is described as “the world’s most awesome spy.” Sterling will be voiced by Will Smith. He’ll be joined by Tom Holland, who you might know as the most recent kid to play Peter Parker and Spider-Man. Holland will voice Walter Beckett, an awkward scientific genius who creates all the gadgets that Sterling uses on his missions.

“Audi and Fox have been great collaborators over the years and we’re thrilled to evolve our relationship, bringing Audi into the world of animation for the first time. This project was the perfect opportunity to highlight Audi’s e-tron technology and give our intrepid spy, Lance Sterling, his own signature spy mobile,” Erin Williams, vice president of marketing partnerships for Twentieth Century Fox Film, said.

If you’d like to get behind the wheel of the RSQ e-tron, well, you can’t — at least not any time soon. You can, however, try out one of Audi’s other e-tron vehicles, which are actually real. As for the RSQ, you can see it in action when Spies in Disguise hits theaters in September 2019.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • Audi funnels its racing heritage into an electric supercar concept
  • How Audi took its ambitious e-tron concept from dream to driveable
  • Audi is finally taking the wraps off its Tesla-fighting e-tron electric SUV
  • Volvo’s vision for the future puts you in this private first-class transport pod
  • Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Take a shower with Alexa and skating on snow



5
Nov

The iRobot Roomba 675 robot vacuum cleaner drops to $248 today


The iRobot Roomba 675 robot vacuum is down to $248 on Amazon. The Roomba 675 has been selling for around $270 for the last month or so, but it was going for as much as $300 before that. The drop to $248 is the lowest we have ever seen.

roomba-675-aofg.jpg?itok=91_mZECmTarget does have this Roomba for around $250, which is nice if you’re taking advantage of Target’s free two-day shipping during the holidays as well. Most retailers are selling it for around $269 like Home Depot.

The robot vacuum uses a three stage cleaning system and multi-surface brushes to make sure it picks up everything, including larger debris and smaller dust particles. The Roomba’s sensors help it determine places that have more dirt so it can focus on those spots. That’s helpful for high-traffic areas around the house. It comes with an edge-sweeping brush that helps get debris out of corners. The Roomba can be controlled and scheduled through the free app, and it’s compatible with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. It will work for up to 90 minutes before automatically returning to its base to dock and recharge.

We’re going to see plenty of Roomba deals leading up to Christmas. If you’re looking for a robot vacuum cleaner with a few more features, you can check out our Roomba Roundup. However, this price is $50 better than the more advanced models right now.

See on Amazon

5
Nov

Keep track of the time and your health with Samsung’s $279 Galaxy Watch


Beautiful watch. Better looking price.

The Samsung 42mm Bluetooth Galaxy Watch is down to $279, which is the cheapest it’s ever been. You can find this deal price at several retailers like Best Buy. The watch normally sells for around $330. The price is available in Black and Rose Gold, and this beats the only other deal we’ve seen on these by $20.

galaxy-watch-ekcn.jpg?itok=aR1ex_7U

You can also upgrade to the 46mm watch, which is on sale for the first time today, too. Get it from Amazon for just $299. You can find it on sale at B&H and other retailers.

The Galaxy Watch is a brand new smartwatch just released in early September. Our review gave it four out of five stars and called it the “do-everything smartwatch”:

The Galaxy Watch continues to offer excellent hardware, a beautiful display and software that’s uniquely tailored to the form factor and glorious rotating bezel. Its software is more advanced than Wear OS, and can be configured to offer just as much — or as little — as you need it for.

The watch has built-in health tracking, a stylish design, and a three-day battery life with wireless charging. It even comes with a wireless charging dock. The Bluetooth connection helps it pair with both Android and iOS smartphones, and it comes with a one-year warranty.

See on Amazon

5
Nov

The Pixel 3’s memory management issues will be fixed ‘in the coming weeks’


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

November 5, 2018 — The Pixel 3’s memory management issues will be fixed ‘in the coming weeks’

As much as we love the Pixel 3 + 3 XL, there’s no doubt that both phones have their fair share of issues — one of which being that neither phone uses is 4GB of available RAM particularly well. Apps tend to force close far too often on the Pixel 3, going to the point where music being streamed on Spotify will simply stop if you try to take a picture while it plays in the background.

Thankfully, Google’s finally addressed what’s going on.

According to a Google spokesperson that sent a statement to 9to5Google:

We’re rolling out a software update in the coming weeks to keep background apps from being prematurely closed in certain situations.

That fix will be available in a monthly security patch, so while we could see it as soon as December, we could also be looking at January or later before it’s patched.

October 29, 2018 — A fix is coming for the second notch bug on Pixel 3 XL

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Earlier this month, reports started popping up on Twitter about a bug with the Pixel 3 XL that caused a second notch to appear on the right side of the display — creating for one of the most horrifying things we’ve ever seen a smartphone. Seriously, just look at that thing. 🤮

Thankfully, Google’s aware of the issue and working on a fix!

According to a spokesperson that contacted Android Police, a patch for this odd bug is “coming soon.”

Have you noticed this behavior on your Pixel 3 XL?

October 23, 2018 — Google explains Pixel 3 wireless charging confusion

After it was discovered that the Pixel 3 requires a Pixel Stand to charge at its allotted 10W fast charging speeds, and that other chargers — even those that technically support the Qi standard at 10W — only charge the phone at 5W, Google released a statement:

We don’t limit third-party devices, in fact, we’re working with our partners in the Made for Google program to get fast 10W chargers certified for use with Pixel 3 (Belkin announced its 10W Pixel 3 charger already which will launch in the coming weeks). Pixel Stand and Pixel 3 work together through the protocol we’ve developed for fast charging. Everything else charges at the industry standard Qi 5W.”

In other words, Google made a proprietary wireless charging standard that isn’t Qi, and uses it with the Pixel Stand and other wireless chargers that are part of the “Made for Google” program. The Pixel 3 does support Qi wireless charging, but only at 5W. Disappointing? Yup. Confusing? Yup, yup. Totally Google? Yup, yup, yup.

October 23, 2018 — Early Pixel 3 Night Sight photos are beyond impressive

The Google Pixel 3’s camera is one of the best you’ll find on a smartphone, but one of its most impressive features — Night Sight — won’t actually arrive until sometime in November.

However, a user on the XDA Developer forums modified the latest version of the Google Camera app and has enabled the feature ahead of its official release. XDA then put Night Sight to the test on the Pixel 3, 3 XL, and 2 XL, and the end results are simply amazing.

As you can see in the example above, the first photo without Night Sight turned on is barely visible at all. The second shot with Night Sight enabled looks like a completely different photograph. The amount of detail and light Google’s able to pull in with this new mode is literally jaw-dropping, and it’ll be even more exciting to see how it evolves and improves over time.

If you want to try out Night Sight early for yourself, download this APK to your Pixel phone. After you open it, tap More -> Night, and you should be good to go.

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.

Bugs happen — these are the latest ones

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No matter what smartphone you buy, chances are you’re going to be faced with a bug or two (be it big or small) at some point down the road. Google’s Pixel line isn’t an exception to this rule, and right now, these are the latest bugs/issues you’ll want to keep an eye out for:

  • Double notch bug on the Pixel 3 XL — Some Pixel 3 XL owners discovered that a second notch was appearing on the right side of their display after messing with developer settings or restarting the phone. On October 29, Google said that the company’s working on a fix and that it’s “coming soon.”
  • Pictures aren’t always saved to Google Photos — After many users reported that some pictures they captured weren’t being saved at all to Google Photos, Google responded on October 22 saying that a software update will be available “in the coming weeks” to address this.
  • Speakers sound distorted/make a buzzing sound — Similar to the Pixel 2 XL last year, we’ve seen quite a few complaints about how the speakers on the Pixel 3 XL make a buzzing noise/sound distorted sound when listening to audio (even at lower volumes). Google’s yet to officially address this one, but if it’s really bothering you, you can always try to send your device in for a replacement and see if that fixes things.
  • The Pixel 3 series has terrible RAM management — As noted by Android Central’s own Daniel Bader, the folks at Android Police, and so many others, the Pixel 3 and 3 XL seriously struggle with RAM management. In other words, both phones fail to keep multiple apps open at once and often force shut them down if you have more than a few open and running at once. In some cases, this even means Spotify music that’s playing in the background will completely stop if you try taking pictures while it’s running. On November 5, a Google spokesperson said that a fix will be available for this “in the coming weeks.”

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, it’s available for purchase right now. The regular 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 is being 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

5
Nov

OnePlus 6T vs. Google Pixel 3 XL: Which should you buy?


If you’re looking for a high-end phone with minimal bloat, your choices are limited to OnePlus and Google. We’ve used the OnePlus 6T and the Pixel 3 XL extensively and are here to help you choose the ideal phone for your needs.

OnePlus 6T

Great value

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$549 at OnePlus

Pros

  • Large AMOLED display
  • Waterdrop notch isn’t annoying
  • Top-notch performance
  • 128GB storage as standard

Cons

  • No headphone jack
  • In-display sensor is slow
  • No IP rating
  • Average cameras
  • Vibration motor is squirrelly

The OnePlus 6T undercuts the Pixel 3 XL by a significant margin while still offering top-notch hardware and an incredible software experience. You miss out on a few features, and the camera isn’t great at low-light scenarios, but if you’re looking to maximize value, the OnePlus 6T is the phone to beat.

Google Pixel 3 XL

Quality with a price

pixel-3-xl.jpeg?itok=BVPmNigt

$899 at Google

Pros

  • The best smartphone camera
  • Gorgeous OLED display
  • IP68 dust and water resistance
  • Stereo speakers
  • Fast fingerprint sensor
  • Great haptics
  • Wireless charging

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Notch is distracting
  • No headphone jack

The Pixel 3 XL highlights Google’s vision for what a smartphone should be. Front and center of that experience is the camera — Google’s computational photography is leagues ahead of everyone else, and that’s immediately evident from the second you start using the Pixel 3 XL.

OnePlus has established itself as the go-to value player, and the OnePlus 6T furthers that belief by offering an in-display fingerprint sensor and higher base storage. With the Pixel 3 XL, Google has created a phone that offers the best camera on Android, but does it justify the added $350? Let’s find out.

Should you buy a OnePlus 6T or Pixel 3 XL?

OnePlus has come a long way over the last two years, particularly on the design front. The OnePlus 6T looks just as polished as the Pixel 3 XL, and the build quality is similarly top-notch. Both phones have large displays with notches and glass backs, but they vastly differ in terms of the execution. The notch on the Pixel 3 XL is extra wide to accommodate the stereo speakers and dual cameras, whereas OnePlus switched to a narrower “waterdrop” cutout on the 6T.

Then there’s the back: the 6T comes with either a matte or glossy finish at the back, and although the Pixel 3 XL also has a glass back, there’s a textured finish that mimics the feel of metal. Photos don’t do the device justice — you have to hold the Pixel 3 XL to appreciate just how different it feels to the sea of glass-backed phones in the market today.

The Pixel 3 XL is made out of the same materials as the OnePlus 6T, but it feels better to hold and use.

The coating on the Pixel 3 XL not only makes it better to hold and use, but it cuts down on the number of fingerprint smudges it accumulates over time. The accented power button is also a nice touch that gives the phone added flair. There are a few other areas where the Pixel 3 XL wins out: the stereo speakers on the phone sound fantastic and the device has an IP68 rating.

It was disappointing to see that the OnePlus 6T included a single loudspeaker even though there are two grills at the bottom (it’s purely for aesthetics). The sound quality from the single speaker was also a letdown, and this is particularly accentuated when you hear just how good the Pixel 3 XL is in this area.

The 6T is water resistant for “everyday scenarios,” but the device doesn’t have an IP rating. The Pixel 3 XL, meanwhile, has IP68 dust and water resistance, allowing it to weather the elements much better. Another area where the Pixel 3 XL takes the lead is haptics. The vibration motor is the best I’ve used on Android so far, and the haptic engine on the 6T pales in comparison.

The Pixel 3 XL not only has a larger vibration motor, but Google was able to fine-tune haptic feedback by tweaking the drivers. The result is clearly evident when using the Pixel 3 XL next to the 6T — there’s a drastic difference in the way both phones handle haptics, and OnePlus has a long way to go.

The Pixel 3 XL has stereo speakers, IP68 rating, and the vibration motor is one of the best on Android.

Speaking of features that aren’t fully ready yet, the OnePlus 6T comes with an in-display fingerprint sensor. OnePlus touted the optical sensor as one of the fastest around, but that has not been the case in my usage. I’ve found that the sensor on the 6T is nowhere as good as the in-display solutions on the Vivo NEX or the V11 in spite of using the same hardware, so it’s clear that OnePlus has some way to go in this area.

As for the Pixel 3 XL, Google stuck to a traditional rear-mounted sensor that’s just as good as any you’ll find in this segment. It is quick to authenticate, and the gesture to pull down the notification shade is particularly handy given the phone has a tall display.

Operating system Android 9.0 Pie Android 9.0 Pie
Display 6.41-inch Optic AMOLED 2340×1080 (19.5:9)Gorilla Glass 6 6.3-inch OLED2960x1440 (18.5:9)Gorilla Glass 5
Processor Snapdragon 845Adreno 630 Snapdragon 845Adreno 630Pixel Visual CoreTitan M security module
RAM 6GB/8GB 4GB
Storage 128GB/256GB 64GB/128GB
Expandable No No
Rear camera 1 16MP (IMX 519), 1.22-micron, f/1.7, OIS, 4K/60 12.2MP, 1.4-micron, PDAFf/1.8, OIS, 4K/30
Rear camera 2 20MP (IMX 376K), 1-micron, f/1.7 NA
Front camera 16MP (IMX 371), 1-micron, f/2.0 8MP, auto focusf/1.8, 75-degree lens
Front camera 2 NA 8MP, fixed focusf/2.2, 97-degree lens
Connectivity Wi-Fi 802.11ac 2×2 MIMO, Bluetooth 5.0 LE, NFC, GPS Wi-Fi 802.11ac 2×2 MIMO, Bluetooth 5.0 LE, NFC, GPS
Audio USB-CSingle speaker USB-CStereo speakers
Battery 3700mAhNon-removable 3430mAhNon-removable
Charging USB-CDash Charge 18W USB-C PDQi wireless
Water resistance No rating IP68
Security In-display fingerprint sensor Rear fingerprint sensor
Dimensions 157.5 x 74.8 x 8.2 mm185 g 158.0 x 76.7 x 7.9mm184g
Colors Mirror Black, Midnight Black Just Black, Very White, Not Pink

OnePlus has positioned itself as the go-to manufacturer if you care about performance, and that’s well-deserved. The 6T is one of the fastest phones in the market today, and it manages to outshine the Pixel 3 XL in terms of sheer performance. Google didn’t do itself any favors by sticking to 4GB of RAM on the phone, and OnePlus meanwhile is leveraging the generous amount of RAM on the 6T to boost app load times.

Things are on a similar footing when it comes to the software. OxygenOS continues to be one of the best third-party skins around, and Google is differentiating the Pixel 3 XL’s software experience with the Pixel Launcher and features like Now Playing and call screening.

There’s only one choice if you’re looking for great photos.

The most drastic change between the two phones is the camera experience. OnePlus hasn’t altered the camera hardware from the OnePlus 6, and that’s noticeable from the low-light shots. Google is the only company still offering a single rear camera, but the photos that come out of the Pixel 3 XL are outstanding.

More than anything else, it’s the consistency that makes the Pixel 3 XL stand out — you’re guaranteed to get great shots regardless of the lighting condition. The Pixel 2 XL was already one of the best phones for taking selfies, and by adding a second camera up front, Google has raised the ante in this category. If you take a lot of selfies, there isn’t a phone that comes close to the Pixel 3 XL.

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OnePlus 6T on the left, Pixel 3 XL on the right.

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The Pixel 3 XL managed to deliver better highlights and detail even in daylight shots, and it was also better at portrait mode. The 6T’s edge detection wasn’t quite accurate all the time, leading to a meaningful lack of background blur.

For all of the features on offer on both phones, there’s a lot missing as well. The notable omission is the headphone jack — Google got rid of it last year, and despite mocking other companies for doing so, OnePlus followed suit with the 6T.

Then there’s also the fact that neither device has a notification LED. With both phones featuring AMOLED panels, Google and OnePlus and positioning Always On Display as an alternative to the notification LED, but long-time Android users will find that to be a poor consolation.

The Pixel 3 XL is undoubtedly better than the 6T, but whether it’s twice as good is a matter of preference.

The speaker quality and haptic feedback are features you don’t really notice until you use both phones next to each other, and while they may not matter to a majority of buyers, the little things combine to make a huge difference in day-to-day usage.

At the end of the day, the narrative hasn’t changed much. The OnePlus 6T still delivers great value for its asking price, and while you don’t get the same amount of refinement, the phone does cost $350 less than the Pixel 3 XL. If you’re looking for the 128GB option, that’s a $450 difference. The Pixel 3 XL does have better speakers, vibration motor, IP68 rating, a more usable fingerprint sensor, and a camera that outshines every other phone today, and its retail price is indicative of that.

If you want the best phone, then you’ll have to shell out in excess of $899 for the Pixel 3 XL. If you want to maximize value, you’ll have to settle for the OnePlus 6T.

OnePlus 6T

Best of Android

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$549 at OnePlus

Excellent value, but you’re missing out on a few key features

The OnePlus 6T manages to deliver high-end specs and a great software experience for several hundred dollars less than the Pixel, but there are trade-offs along the way to justify the savings. If you’re okay with that, then the 6T is a great choice.

Google Pixel 3 XL

Best of Google

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$899 at Google

The best phone available today, albeit at a premium

The Pixel 3 XL combines a fantastic camera with a well-rounded set of features that allow it to hold its own in the premium Android segment. $899 is a lot of money to pay for a phone, but you also get a lot of features.

5
Nov

Niantic’s massive reboot to Ingress, called Prime, is finally here


Fire up your scanner, Agents. Your faction needs you more than ever before.

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Long before Pokemon Go took over the world, Niantic was a small team inside of Google eager to make a game that got people out in the world and exploring the hidden secret cool things around them. Ingress grew steadily in popularity, and a huge percentage of its userbase remains fiercely loyal to this day. The Enlightened and Resistance factions continue to wage war around the world for control over the mind power of those unaware a fight is even happening, and gather regularly for massive planned missions with real world guilds numbering in the hundreds.

It’s incredibly cool to see how well Ingress as a game has held up since its launch almost exactly six years ago, but very little about the core features have changed in a while. Niantic is addressing this starting today with a massive effort to not only change the face of the world’s fist massive global augmented reality game, but but also breathe new life into its warring factions. The update is called Ingress Prime, and what you’ll have access to starting today is just step one of a massive effort to grow and shape the entire game over the next year.

Lets start with the basics. As soon as you open Ingress Prime, existing players will see everything is going to look familiar yet strangely different. The entire interface has been updated, the scanner now using higher resolution maps with greatly improved animations and sounds. It’s as though your phone was just upgraded to HD, and it’s all very rich and dynamic feeling. Gone are the somewhat confusing long press shortcuts for weapons and hacks, instead now relying on a more friendly swiping system for interacting with the interface. Swiping from the sides reveals the tools you need to use while working on the fly, which means you can still drop blasters and hack portals with one hand as you quickly move from target to target. It’s different, to be sure, but very easy to get used to.

Ingress Prime is going to continue to grow and change over the next year.

Veteran Ingress players, particularly those who have earned their level 16 achievement long ago, will be able to take part in a new Prestige-like program in Ingress Prime. You’ll earn a special badge and some unique perks if you turn in your 16 rank and reset your progress, a gameplay mechanism not terribly dissimilar from Call of Duty and others. There’s nothing saying you must go this route, but Niantic made it clear there would be benefits to doing so, and after testing this part of the game with a bunch of loyal Ingress players it seems like a popular move forward for those who have maxxed out their level long ago.

It’s important to make sure the existing players feel right at home, but Niantic is working overtime to make sure new users are given the tools they need to start quickly and grow more effective over time. A long needed tutorial system is now a part of Ingress Prime, and instead of dumping the entire UI on you with tap instructions like most games, users will be slowly introduced to new mechanics and tips on how to improve. These tutorials don’t get in the way of gameplay, but the slow burn for effectiveness is going to make what is a fairly complicated yet fun system a lot easier to digest.

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Coupled with this new onboarding process, Niantic has a whole new story and tons of new mysteries for users new and old to sink their teeth into. In Japan right now an Ingress-based anime is in the middle of its first season run in a primetime slot, and will be coming to Netflix in English eventually. This is coupled with a new web-based video mystery featuring a young woman who thought she was coming in to help with a research project, and of course a new ad featuring a grand introduction to this mysterious war happening in plain sight you can expect to see over the next couple of weeks. It all adds up to Ingress Prime, this massive effort to improve what has worked and get new folks eager to play alongside excited veteran players.

One thing Niantic was very clear about was the way this game update and Intel website update was only Step One. Ingress Prime is going to continue to grow and change over the next year, including a shift to a similar codebase as Niantic’s other existing and upcoming games, as well as a huge new story which will change as one faction or the other wins events throughout the world. Niantic also treated us us to a sneak peek at a passthrough-camera Augmented Reality map which allowed teams to better visualize larger areas of terrain to plan out more elaborate campaigns through their phones, which was cool as hell. Ingress Prime is available for both Android and iOS starting today, but if you want to keep using the existing Ingress app you’ll be able to through the Ingress Classic app hitting the store soon. Both apps give you access to the same core features, so veteran players will have plenty of time to adapt to these new systems while new players learn the basics and start to offer new hope for the success of their faction.

See in Google Play

5
Nov

Ingress has a huge Google+ problem


Niantic might need to run its own social systems if it wants to communicate with its audience.

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If you ask Niantic CEO John Hanke what surprised him most about building his first augmented reality game, Ingress, he’ll tell you a great story about the way people started forming what he calls “IRL Guilds” to approach the game on a wider scale. Ingress came with its own chat interface at launch, but for for involved planning sessions there needed to be something a little more complex. Community tools detached from the core service allowed “guilds” to form in their native languages and with their own rules, which is important when supporting a global audience.

Because Niantic was a Google company when Ingress launched, and everyone at Google was being pressured to include it in everything at the time, these “guilds” largely formed on Google+. And now, with the largely abandoned social network being shut down in nine months, this massive network of players is hoping Niantic offers them a viable alternative in time.

The Ingress account on Google+ has over 4 million followers, and regularly sees six times the engagement per post as its Twitter account.

Because Ingress started out as an Android-only game and catered largely to early adopters in the Google ecosystem, Google+ was a fairly logical place to build a community. And while the rest of the world moved on from the network in fairly short order, the Ingress community thrived. When Google announced it was shuttering the service within the next ten months, Ingress was the fourth largest community on the platform with thousands active daily. Individual posts within the Ingress community continue to get hundreds of comments and interactions, all separate from the planning sub groups for players plotting their next attack on the opposing faction.

This kind of active forum system is something Google+ has always done very well, especially when compared to the other large social networks. Losing it as a resource causes a lot of problems not only for the players who have been using it as a team message board for so long, but also for Niantic itself when trying to get the message out about new features and events outside of the app. The Ingress Twitter account, for example, has less than 100k followers and sees a little over 100 likes, retweets, and comments per post. The Ingress account on Google+ has over 4 million followers, and regularly sees six times the engagement per post. This includes calls to action for upcoming global events, which is a huge part of the Ingress gameplay experience. While it’s unlikely shutting down Google+ is going to seriously impact attendance, it’s certainly going to cause far fewer people to be aware of these events and the repercussions of one faction winning over the other in real-time.

So what is Niantic doing about this? At the moment, that’s worryingly unclear. During the reveal of Ingress Prime, Hanke noted this was a fairly serious issue they were looking into.

“You think of Google+ as this shopping mall where almost all the stores are empty, and there’s this one anchor store where there’s a huge amount of activity still . That’s the Ingress store, in the Google+ shopping mall, but the mall is closing and the builders have decided to bring in the wrecking ball to the mall.”

What Hanke and the rest of his team didn’t have was a concrete plan to communicate with its audience after Google+ is pulled down. This is a unique problem for the company, which until this point has been happy to let its users pick their own system for communicating instead of building something itself. This same strategy was used as Pokemon Go launched, with Niantic regularly commenting it made more sense for the community to organize itself with the third-party tools it preferred. The ravenous popularity of Pokemon Go lead to something more centralized though, The Sylph Road. While individual communities and chat groups are all over the place, this bigger service offers tools for connecting with new groups and makes it easier for new players to find these “IRL guilds” hiding all around them. If The Sylph Road were to shut down tomorrow, Niantic would be facing a similar dilemma to the one it now faces with Google+, because it’s not managing or building this part of the community itself.

Those who follow the spree of companies Niantic has been Aqui-hiring over the last couple of years will remember the folks at Evertoon were absorbed to help build a social infrastructure into Pokemon Go. While there’s been no public mention of specific features headed to Ingress with similar intent, Hanke and his team have noted their intent to standardize a set of features across all Niantic games, including the upcoming Harry Potter: Wizards Unite. Some Ingress players have reported seeing surveys in which Niantic has asked if players would consider using a in-house developed community tool, so it is possible the folks Evertoon folks who are now Niantic folks are working on this kind of thing in the background, but if you ask anyone at Niantic for details all you will hear is that they don’t know what any of this will look like yet.

This isn’t a cause for panic, by any means. The launch of Ingress Prime is a rebirth for the game, with the shiny new paint job being the first step of many in overhauling the overall experience. Really, Google+ shutting down when it is lines up quite well with the Ingress Prime feature roadmap. As the underlying experience shift and grows with its community, a new tool for these small groups to communicate could arrive like any other feature. But if something isn’t in place well before time runs out on Google+, it could be a deeply frustrating time for everyone involved.

5
Nov

How quickly does the Samsung Wireless Charger Duo charge two phones?


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Best answer: The Samsung Wireless Charger Duo is capable of charging two phones at the same time at a max speed of 7.5W per phone. That’s the fastest many non-Samsung phones can charge wirelessly with any charger, but is slower than modern Samsung phones can charge on other Samsung Fast Charge wireless chargers. For the fastest possible speeds with a Samsung phone, you’ll want a single-phone Samsung wireless charging pad.

  • Amazon: Samsung Wireless Charger Duo ($102)
  • Amazon: Samsung Fast Charge Wireless Charging Stand ($50)

The Wireless Charger Duo is slower, but not by much

The Samsung Wireless Charger Duo is capable of charging two phones at the same time at the max speed of 7.5W per phone. You’ll notice that that isn’t as fast as Samsung’s other dedicated wireless chargers, which can charge newer Samsung phones (Galaxy S7 and newer) at up to 9W and get them filled up quicker.

What you do get is the ability to use just one charger to charge two phones simultaneously. If you want to charge two new Samsung phones as fast as possible wirelessly, you’ll need to buy two single-phone Samsung wireless chargers instead.

This isn’t the absolute fastest you can wirelessly charge a Samsung phone, but it’s good enough for most people.

How fast your phones will charge on the Wireless Charger Duo is dependent on the phones themselves. Older phones, such as the Galaxy S6 series and others from that general era, will only charge at 5W. Newer Samsung phones, many other Android phones and Apple’s latest iPhones, will charge at 7.5W — the max charging speed offered by most wireless chargers out there.

How those wattage numbers translate into actual charging times will vary widely by phone. If you have a wireless charger now, look at its power rating and compare it to the phones above — that’ll give you a great idea of how long the Wireless Charger Duo will take to charge it. If you don’t yet have a wireless charger, there is lots of information available to determine how long a full wireless charge takes — typically, it’s between two and three hours.

In order to get the fastest possible charging speeds, you must use the charger’s included USB-C power adapter since it has the extra output required to power both charging pads at their full speed. It’s much larger than most wireless charger adapters, which is unfortunate, but the Wireless Charger Duo really doesn’t like to charge two devices with any other plug.

Our pick

Samsung Wireless Charger Duo

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$102 at Amazon

Charge two phones at once

The Wireless Charger Duo can top up two phones simultaneously at 7.5W per phone. Older phones will charge at just 5W, and many modern phones will charge at the maximum 7.5W. That’s slower than other single-phone chargers that can charge Samsung phones at 9W, but that’s the trade-off for getting to charge two phones at once.

Faster charging

Samsung Fast Charge Wireless Stand

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$50 at Amazon

Fastest possible charging for Samsung phones

If you’re willing to forego having two devices charged at once, you can get faster speeds for a modern Samsung phone when you buy one of Samsung’s latest fast wireless charging pads. It just means you’ll have to find some other way to charge your second phone or watch separately.

5
Nov

Niantic drops a bundle of Ingress Prime tutorials


Learn how to harness this powerful new energy.

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Ingress Prime is launching today. It’s the next evolution of the trailblazing geolocation game that was eventually responsible for the craze that is Pokémon Go.

Returning Ingress players will feel right at home, but for many of you, this will be your first foray into an Ingress game. Even if you’re familiar with Pokémon Go, there are still a few things unique to Ingress Prime that you’ll want to know about, and that’s exactly why Niantic has dropped a boatload of helpful training videos to get you up to speed.

You’ll be learning about XM (short of exotic matter), where to find it, how to harness it, and how to use it. You’ll learn about the two warring factions whom each have their own motives and desires for controlling this substance.

Jump into the game for yourself and you’ll find a new onboarding experience there to help you even further. And for returning players, there’s a nice primer of everything that’s new. You can find all of those videos alongside a download link straight ahead.

Free at Google Play




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