Ahead of Pixel smartphones launch in India, Google partners with HTC India for after sales services

Google is marketing the Pixel and Pixel XL smartphones as its own, but the company realizes it won’t be able to provide all the required customer support on its own in every region. Such is the case in India, where Google has tied up with multiple companies to ensure its smartphones are widely available and customers get proper after sales service.

Google will sell the Pixel smartphones in India through Flipkart and over 1,000 retail stores including retail chains like Reliance Digital, Croma and Vijay Sales. The pre-order for the phones will begin tomorrow. For after sales service, the company has partnered with HTC India, it told Mashable India in an emailed statement.

Google says it will offer support for Pixel smartphones at 56 HTC India walk-in service centres in more than 30 cities in India. The company will also offer a toll free phone support service at 18004190655 in India. The number will be functional all days of the week between 9:00 am and 6:00 pm (local time).

“Pixel devices come with dedicated Phone support – Toll free number: 18004190655 and support hours are 9:00 am to 6:00 pm, seven days a week. We will also offer support at 56 walk-in service centres across 30+ cities in India. For after-sales support, we are partnering with HTC India,” a Google spokesperson said.

Apart from brick and mortar service centres and phone support, Google is also debuting online support directly from the phone itself, where the phone will initiate a screen sharing feature with a service representative. This could come handy in troubleshooting common issues users face.

Unlike with Nexus brand of smartphones and tablets, Pixel is being marketed as “made by Google”. Google is also assuming more control over how these phones are sold and supported in different regions. In the United States, for instance, it is providing after sales support for the Pixel smartphones. With Nexus smartphones, its manufacturer partner was tasked with offering repair and other services for the phones as well.

While pre-orders for the Pixel smartphones go live tomorrow, they will ship by the end of the month, coinciding with Diwali festival.

Read more: http://mashable.com/

Apple is betting a drone fleet can make its Maps as good as Google’s

Image: AP

In news that should make anyone who’s experienced an Apple Maps fail a little less angry, Bloomberg reports that unnamed sources say that Apple is taking steps to overhaul its Maps service.

The report’s sources claim Apple is building a new team of robotics and data-collection experts with the directive to use drones to capture and update map information. Up to now, Maps data has been collected by a fleet of street-bound cars, so taking to the sky would immediately expand the effort.

The drones would be especially helpful for up-to-the-minute road monitoring for accurate traffic information, an area where Apple Maps has lagged behind Google Maps. The data collected will be sent to Apple teams, which will be tasked with updating the app for the highest level of accuracy possible. According to Bloomberg‘s sources, at least one person from Amazons Prime Air division has been brought in for the work.

But do we really want a bunch of flying Apple cameras patrolling the skies across the country? The company will have to abide by the Federal Aviation Administration’s commercial drone-use regulations, which Apple committed to when they were rolled out back in August.

Those regulations might make the drone initiative in cities near impossible, since flying over people and buildings are two of its strongest prohibitions. But in countries where there aren’t commercial restrictions, Apple can fly all it wants.

Along with the drones, Bloomberg‘s sources said that Apple is also developing new Maps features for use indoors and for its in-car navigation service. In a move that went largely under the radar last year, Apple acquired Finnish startup Indoor.io, a deal now confirmed.

That purchase, along with the more well-known acquisition of WiFiSlam (whose tech looked to be behind a mysterious mapping app that popped up last year) point to improved indoor navigation on Apple Maps.

In the future, Appel Maps users might be in for a new indoor mapping view for high-traffic buildings (think airports and museums).

BONUS: Keep this mini camera drone inside your phone case for the best aerial selfies

Read more: http://mashable.com/

The Google Pixel cameras may not be the best, but they’re really damn close

Both Pixel and Pixel XL have identical cameras: 12 megapixels on the back and 8 megapixels on the front.
Image: dustin drankoski/mashable

Before the mobs come out and put a hex on me, remember that photography and image quality is subjective. What looks better to me might not to you.

That said, let’s get on to the camera comparisons between Google’s new Pixel and Pixel XL and the iPhone 7/7 Plus and Samsung Galaxy S7/S7 Edge.

On paper, Google, Apple and Samsung’s flagship phones appear to have the same cameras: 12 megapixels on the back. The front cameras differ in resolution: 8 megapixels for the Pixels, 5 megapixels for the S7 Edge and 7 megapixels for the iPhone 7.

But as I’ve said a million times and I’ll say a million times more: megapixels (aka resolution) aren’t everything. Having more megapixels doesn’t make a camera necessarily better. Resolution matters, but if it’s at the detriment of image quality and performance, what’s the point?

To me, the best phone camera has to be a few things:

  • Fast to autofocus and capture: Because you don’t want to miss a shot.

  • Produce realistic colors with wide dynamic range: Because reality is not a comic book

  • Produce sharp details with little image noise: Because details matter.

  • Take great low-light photos: Because we like the dark and we like photos in dark places.

The iPhone 7 checks off all of these. Its cameras and image quality are well balanced across the board. The iPhone 7 Plus also has a fancy dual-lens camera that gives it 2x optical zoom and a fancy Portrait mode. Samsung’s Galaxy S7/S7 Edge is better with low-light performance and the camera is faster to launch and autofocus, but it also saturates colors more.

The Pixel and Pixel XL’s cameras falls somewhere in-between the iPhone 7 and Galaxy S7. They’re super fast. Images look incredibly crisp and have great dynamic range and low-light performance is damn good. So what’s not to like? I’m not a fan of the oversaturated colors, but that’s just me.

Testing method:

I left all camera settings on their defaults. In the past, I’ve always turned off HDR on all smartphone cameras before shooting with them, but I’ve now had to change that testing method since most people never bother to fiddle with them.

Not only that, but phones rely heavily on software processing to help produce the final photos. HDR+ is so vital to the Pixels’ final image quality that my reviewers guide actually warned me that turning it off would result in poorer-looking photos and slower camera performance. Yikes!

As such, all photos below were shot with HDR set to auto. I couldn’t tell you which ones actually had HDR on or off and I don’t really care because what you see is what the camera considered the best shot.

Way warmer tones

The Pixel cameras’ biggest weakness is color reproduction. Android is doing so much processing to the images that all the colors end up artificially pumped up and oversaturated. I’ve noticed it’s a common symptom that plagues most Android phones like the Galaxy S7 and LG G5 and OnePlus 3.

How is it that in 2016 no phone maker can match the iPhone’s realistic colors?

I personally don’t like the saturated colors. They don’t look real. Skies are always way too blue. Yellows are too deep. Reds all blend into each other. I’ll take photos with lifelike colors over saturated colors any day.

But if you’re into the boosted colors or crank up the saturation in post anyway, you’ll love the Pixel’s pictures.

Compare these two photos below. Just look at how much bluer the sky in the upper right corner is and how much more yellow the building is.

Galaxy S7 Edge

Image: RAYMOND WONG/MASHABLE

Pixel XL

Image: raymond wong/mashable

Here’s another example where the blues and yellows are dialed up on the Pixel:

Galaxy S7 Edge

Image: RAYMOND WONG/MASHABLE

Pixel XL

Image: RAYMOND WONG/MASHABLE

Turning off HDR+ mutes the saturation to some extent, but not by much. And turning HDR+ off on the Pixels isn’t worth it since the camera start to lag a little.

Though most photos are way warmer than on the iPhone, sometimes the rear camera goes cooler for some reason. There just isn’t much consistency for white balance:

iPhone 7

Image: RAYMOND WONG/MASHABLE

Pixel XL

Image: RAYMOND WONG/MASHABLE

But, at least the dynamic range is wider on the Pixel XL. The details on the fountain grass (that’s the fuzzy plant) are softer on the Pixel XL compared to the iPhone 7, but look at how vibrant the purple leaves below it look. The same leaves in the iPhone 7 photo look totally dull in comparison.

iPhone 7 (left) vs. Pixel XL (right).

Image: RAYMOND WONG/MASHABLE

Wider field of view

Compared with the iPhone 7, the Pixel XL’s camera has a wider field of view thanks to its wider angle lens.

In English, it means you can fit more into a photo. The Pixel XL’s wider angle lens makes it a more versatile camera for landscape photography.

It’s perfrect for taking photos of tall landscapes, like the Bank of America building below:

iPhone 7

Image: RAYMOND WONG/MASHABLE

Pixel XL

Image: RAYMOND WONG/MASHABLE

The Pixel XL and Galaxy S7 Edge have roughly the same wide field of view:

Galaxy S7 Edge

Image: RAYMOND WONG/MASHABLE

Pixel XL

Image: RAYMOND WONG/MASHABLE

Both photos look pretty sharp on their respective phone displays. It’s only when you view them at 100% crops on a computer monitor that you can really see some of the differences in sharpness.

The Galaxy S7 Edge (left) is a hair sharper than the Pixel XL (right). But just barely.

Image: raymond wong/mashable

Honestly, the differences in sharpness are so minor, nobody but a nerd like me would care.

You can see the Pixel XL (right) render the bricks more yellow compared to the S7 Edge (left).

Image: RAYMOND WONG/MASHABLE

Here’s another comparison showing how much more the Pixel XL cameras can capture:

iPhone 7

Image: RAYMOND WONG/MASHABLE

Pixel XL

Image: RAYMOND WONG/MASHABLE

And another close-up crop showing the barely noitceable sharpness differences:

iPhone 7 (left) vs. Pixel XL (right). Enlarge the image and you can see the Pixel XL is just a hair sharper.

Image: RAYMOND WONG/MASHABLE

Strong selfie game

As for selfies, I think the Pixel XL does a better job than the iPhone 7:

iPhone 7

Image: raymond wong/mashable

Pixel XL

Image: RAYMOND WONG/MASHABLE

My skin looks smoother and healthier in the Pixel XL selfie since it’s brighter:

100% crop of iPhone 7 (left) and Pixel XL (right).

Image: Raymond Wong/mashable

Shoots well in low light

The Pixel XL performs quite good night shots. As expected, photos are a yellower than the iPhone 7:

iPhone 7

Image: RAYMOND WONG/MASHABLE

Pixel XL

Image: raymond wong/mashable

You can click the below comparison to see how the Pixel XL stacks up against the iPhone 7 and Galaxy S7 Edge:

iPhone 7, Pixel XL, Galaxy S7 Edge

Image: raymond wong/mashable

Notice how the sky is more washed out on the Pixel XL photo and the Galaxy S7 Edge turns all the bricks on the building in the left red:

iPhone 7, Pixel XL, Galaxy S7 Edge

Image: raymond wong/mashable

The Galaxy S7 Edge preserves sharper details of the Empire State Building, but the image noise is greater, too:

iPhone 7, Pixel XL, Galaxy S7 Edge

Image: raymond wong/mashable

See that building just between the water tower and that skinny high-rise condominium on the upper right? The Pixel XL brings the green color out best, but the rest of the image is kind of a wash.

iPhone 7, Pixel XL, Galaxy S7 Edge

Image: raymond wong/mashable

Impressive video stabilization

While the camera attention is almost always focused on still photography, the Pixel XL boasts impressive video recording capabilities. Like most smartphones, it records at up to 4K resolution.

That’s nothing special. What is crazy is how well the camera stabilizes video. Phones like the iPhone 7 and Galaxy S7 rely on optical image stabilization (OIS) to compensate for shake in different directions, but the Pixels uses electronic image stabilization (EIS) to outstanding effect.

EIS is normally inferior to OIS, but not so on the Pixels. Through software even the shakiest footage appears smooth even smoother than the iPhone 7. Here’s a video stabilization comparison between the Pixel XL and iPhone 7 (both originally shot in 4K and then downsized to 1080p):

Best smartphone cameras ever?

I don’t think so, but they’re so damn close. The color saturation bothers me too much, but again, that’s personal preference. And that’s fine, too, because if you prefer the artificially amplified colors, then the Pixel cameras will be perfect to your eyes.

It feels like a total cop-out to say this, but we’ve reached a point where the differences outside of color reproduction between flagship phone cameras are so negligible that most people will be very happy with the image quality.

We’re all benefitting in the end. Android cameras have finally caught up to the iPhone with comparable performance and picture quality. Years of competition have pushed all phone makers to innovate harder and faster and now we’re all winning because we don’t have to look at crappy photos and videos.

Read more: http://mashable.com/

Google Pixel review: an iPhone beater but not quite an Android king

First smartphone designed by Google from scratch ticks many boxes, but isnt quite the stellar world beater some might expect

Google has finally launched an own-brand smartphone, the Pixel, to challenge Apple head on and provide a premium Android experience with the hardware tailored to the software by the people who actually make it..

The new smartphone succeeds Googles Nexus line of devices and the company claims that the Pixel is now 100% Google, unlike the Nexus devices where Google provided the software and had some input into the devices but not total control. The Pixel phone joins the Pixel C Android tablet and Chromebook Pixel as Googles first in-house devices.

But for Google, the Pixel isnt just a smartphone, its a referendum on whether Google as a brand sells.

Wedge shape

google
The Pixel is thicker at one end, but you might not notice unless someone pointed it out. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs for the Guardian

With an all-metal body, all-glass display, rock-solid build, fingerprint scanner and headphones socket, the Pixel ticks most of the boxes expected of top-end smartphone, except for a lack of waterproofing. Its slightly different looking too, with a glass panel covering the top third of the back and a wedge-shape thats thicker at the top and hides any camera lump. How attractive it is as a design divides opinion.

The Pixel feels great in the hand, with nicely curved edges and flat sides that make it easy to grip and hold on to. Its also not too thick, with the wedge shape meaning the bit you hold is thin and has good weight distribution.

At the Pixels base it is 7.3mm thick and it weighs 143g. In comparison to the competition, namely Apples 7.1mm thick, 138g iPhone 7 and Samsungs 7.9mm thick, 152g Galaxy S7, the Pixel is right in the middle. Its thinner than last years 7.9mm thick Nexus 5X and but 7g heavier.

The Pixel has a 5in full HD AMOLED screen on the front, which makes it one of the smaller premium smartphones available, with most others having 5.1in or larger screens. The display is crisp and vibrant, with deep blacks and excellent viewing angles. Its relatively easy to read in direct sunlight too, making it one of the best displays fitted to a smartphone, although not quite as good as Samsungs best.

Specifications

  • Screen: 5in 1080p AMOLED (441ppi)
  • Processor: quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 821
  • RAM: 4GB of RAM
  • Storage: 32 or 128GB
  • Operating system: Android 7.1 Nougat
  • Camera: 12.3MP rear camera, 8MP front-facing camera
  • Connectivity: LTE, Wi-Fi, NFC, Bluetooth 4.2, USB-C and GPS
  • Dimensions: 143.8 x 69.5 x 7.3-8.6 mm
  • Weight: 143g

DayDream ready

google
Googles Pixel still has a headphone socket, but doesnt actually come with any headphones in the box. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs for the Guardian

The Pixel is one of the first handsets to use Qualcomms new Snapdragon 821 processor, which is essentially a tweaked version of the 820 found in the OnePlus 3 and other smartphones.

Performance is not an issue. From Prisma images to graphically intensive games, the Pixel chewed through everything I threw at it, which youd expect for a 600 smartphone. Its one of the most powerful Android smartphones currently available. Its well optimised, snappy, fast and, perhaps most impressively, it doesnt get that hot when under load.

Most smartphones heat up considerably when downloading a lot of data, such as when setting up a phone, but the Pixel didnt. It also ran games such as Dan the Man without heating up in the slightest, where last years Nexus 5X became noticeably hot.

The Pixel is also the first smartphone to be certified for use with Googles new DayDream virtual reality platform. Whether that means anything in reality will depend on how successful Googles latest push for VR ends up being. Its not yet available, so how it performs is still unknown.

A day between charges

google
The USB and single speaker at the bottom (the left-side hole). Photograph: Samuel Gibbs for the Guardian

Using the Pixel as my primary device, it lasted just over 24 hours without charging, managing three hours of app usage and browsing, hundreds of emails and push notifications, a couple of photos, five hours of music over Bluetooth headphones and the odd game of Dan the Man during my one hour and 20-minute train commute to and from work. It means youll get through a day and a night out, but youll have to charge it overnight or itll most likely be dead before you get to work the next day.

The Pixel has fast charging through USB-Cs power delivery specification, not Qualcomms QuickCharge or any other accelerated charging system. A full charge from completely flat took one hour 45 minutes, reaching 25% capacity in about 15 minutes, 40% in 25 minutes and 66% in about 50 minutes. Its not the fastest charging smartphone available, but its considerably faster than Apples iPhone 7.

Android 7.1 Nougat

google
Pixel comes installed with Googles latest launcher complete with a new-look homescreen and app drawer. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs for the Guardian

The Pixel comes with the latest version of Android 7.1 Nougat and is the first smartphone to do so. Most other smartphones are still running Android 6 Marshmallow, let alone version 7 or 7.1.

Android 7.0 Nougat introduced some solid battery and time-saving features, which are all present on the Pixel. Googles version of Nougat 7.1 introduces a few more new and useful things including the ability to block visual alerts when do not disturb is activated, such as the flashing LED notification light handy for those that charge their smartphone overnight next to their heads.

The Pixel also has a new version of Googles launcher previously known as the Google Now launcher which shipped with Nexus devices and is available for other Android smartphones and tablets on the Play Store. The Pixels launcher has a new-look Google search bar and home screen weather widget, neither of which can be removed limiting vertical icon space to four rows, and now hides the app drawer behind a swipe up from the five-icon-wide tray at the bottom of the screen.

google
Launcher shortcuts pop-up on a tap and hold, but can be dragged from the menu to make a dedicated icon for the shortcut on the homescreen. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs for the Guardian

The biggest functional change for the home screen, however, is the new launcher shortcuts, which mirror Apples 3D touch gestures on iOS, but without the need for a pressure-sensitive screen. Tapping and holding an app icon pops up a list of quick actions, from phone calls to specific people to recent text messages, options to jump straight to a selfie or video in the camera app, and other similar functions.

The launcher shortcuts can also be dragged from the main app to quick buttons on the home screen, meaning a button for jumping straight to the front-facing camera for a selfie can be placed anywhere on the home screen for one-tap access.

Most of Googles apps support the new feature, while some third-party apps, including Evernote will soon be updated to add quick actions of their own. How much utility you get out of them will depend on which apps you use, but being able to pin launcher actions as a separate icon to the home screen could be useful for some commonly used functions.

Googles also included a collection of attractive live wallpapers that change in real time while the screen is on. A collection of Google Earth shots pan across a view of fields in Kent or the Pantheon in Rome, while live data wallpapers display battery charge levels, the current weather conditions, or the time. Theres also the option to cycle through a collection of still images on a daily basis for various different topics such as cityscapes, aerial shots, landscapes and other themes.

Android 7.1 also now has a built-in night mode, which aims to reduce blue tones from the display to limit the amount of blue light shone into the eyes during the hours of darkness. Doing so is meant to help smartphone users sleep by stopping the blue wavelengths of light stimulating cells in our eyes and waking us up. Third-party apps have been doing similar for a while and Apple added a night mode to iOS 9.3, so its not a new feature, but it is good to see built into Android.

Google Assistant

google
Google Assistant hides under the home button, ready to answer questions and perform basic functions such as setting timers. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs for the Guardian

The most hyped feature of Googles new version of Android Google Assistant, formerly known as Google Now. The biggest difference is now it will talk back to you and is much more focused on conversational voice interaction. You ask a question, it answers but keeps listening for a follow-up command or further questions about the subject.

Activated by either a long press on the home button or by saying OK, Google, Assistant can perform quick tasks such as setting timers, sending messages and playing music, fire up searches and other standard virtual-assistant functions, but it is also the most personal Google assistant to date. It will actively learn from your preferences, either by your searches or by your explicit command.

For users or any other Android smartphone, Assistant is essentially a slightly better Google Now with a much clearer name, but its also one of the most capable voice assistants available and makes Apples Siri look a bit behind the times. Googles voice recognition is top notch, and it has access to so much more data its more surprising when it cant answer a fact-based question than when it can.

google
Pixel, phone by Google. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs for the Guardian

It will apparently eventually be able to interact with third-party apps and services allowing users to simply say OK, Google, order me an Uber or similar, but theyre not available yet. You can also only directly interact with Assistant via voice from the launcher, but you can type text into the Google search bar or in Allo. It seemed an odd omission, as there were times when I wanted to silently ask it a question using the keyboard.

To get the most out of it you must give your digital life over to Google and that certainly has some privacy implications it knows where you are, what youre searching for, can read whats on the screen and collates all that data but that isnt a new phenomenon and is simply a progression of what Googles been doing for the last couple of years on Android. Whether that matters to you depends on whether you trust Google. You do not have to use Assistant, it can be turned off.

The real promise of Google Assistant, however, is that no matter where you interact with it, its the same assistant. For UK users the Pixel phone and Googles Allo app are the only two places Assistant is available for active interaction, but US users will also be able to buy Google Home, an Amazon Echo competitor. Home will also come to the UK next year.

Google Assistant isnt a massive step forward in the AI wars, but its a solid start for Google in the next phase of conversational assistants. If youre expecting it to know and be able to do everything about the phone, your life and other things a flesh-and-blood personal assistant might, youll be disappointed.

Fingerprint scanner

google
The fingerprint scanner on the back doubles as a pad to swipe down the notification shade. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs for the Guardian

Last years Google Nexus phones had brilliant fingerprint scanners on the back. The Pixel continues to use the same winning formula: its fast, accurate and can now be used to bring down the notification shade with a swipe on the pad something other manufacturers including Huawei have been doing for a while. The Pixel Imprint scanner is arguably the best in the business, but if you use your phone on a desk, you cant activate it without picking it up.

Camera

google
The camera app has a few more bells and whistles, but doesnt have the extensive manual controls third-party camera apps have from Samsung, Huawei, LG and others. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs for the Guardian

The Pixels 12.3-megapixel camera is cracking. Camera rating firm DxoMark ranked it slightly above all other smartphone cameras and its clear why, as its very difficult to take a rubbish photo with it.

In good light you get crisp, well judged photos with an excellent amount of fine detail. Googles HDR+ feature is particularly good, producing some of the best high dynamic range photos Ive seen and without the image blur that can creep in with other systems.

Low and poor light performance is also excellent, despite the camera not having optical image stabilisation, while the Google Camera app now has some much needed extra features, including the ability to switch the automatic white balance with the tap of a button and a golden ratio grid, which helps you frame your photos. The camera struggled to correctly identify office fluorescent lighting, however, leaving images with a yellow tint. Selecting the fluorescent lighting option corrected it.

Full manual control isnt included youll need a third-party app for that but it has most of what many will need on a day to day basis. Shooting burst photos by holding down the shutter button even creates a gif out of the resulting stills.

The 8-megapixel selfie camera is also very good, producing images with good depth and colour. Most selfie cameras are either soft and lack detail or hard and capture every wrinkle and pore on the face, but the Pixels treads that fine line with soft, flattering focus without losing too much detail.

Observations

google
The back has a glass panel covering the top third of the device. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs for the Guardian

  • The glass panel on the back aids grip by the index finger
  • It only has one down-firing speaker on the bottom, which is easily blocked by hands when gaming
  • Google Photos on the Pixel comes with free, unlimited full resolution photo and video backup, not just up to 16MP and 1080p video
  • The notification LED is not enabled by default, but is available in notification settings
  • Gif search is built into Googles Keyboard for apps that support it such as SMS Messenger app
  • The calendar app now shows the correct date on the home screen
  • The charging meter is inaccurate: at 96% it says four minutes until done but took 17 minutes to reach 100%
  • Wallpapers are normally things I set and forget, but I really liked the new live Google Earth images

Price

The Pixel costs 599 with 32GB of storage or 699 with 128GB of storage in black or silver. It is also available in blue in the US.

For comparison, Apples iPhone 7 costs 599 with 32GB of storage, Samsungs Galaxy S7 costs around 500, the Huawei P9 costs 449 and the OnePlus 3 costs 329.

Verdict

The Pixel is an interesting device. A phone designed by Google, the maker of Android. The software side is top notch: the smoothest, newest and best optimised version of Android available at the moment and most probably into the future, what with rapid updates coming straight from Google.

But the phone itself is only up to par with the best of the rest and not leagues ahead. The design isnt as innovative or interesting as that produced by Samsung. Its not waterproof, either, and it doesnt have expandable storage. The camera is great, so is the screen and the build quality is excellent, all things youd expect from a 600 smartphone in 2016.

If Googles aim was to beat Apple, it has done so on battery life alone. If it was to challenge the current king of Android, Samsungs Galaxy S7 line, then the result is less clear.

Pros: great camera, good screen, a days battery life, Android 7.1 Nougat, Google Assistant, great fingerprint scanner

Cons: not waterproof, no expandable memory, no front-facing speakers, no wireless charging, expensive

A review of the larger Google Pixel XL with a 5.5in screen, the smartphone competing with the iPhone 7 Plus and Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge, will be available next week

Other reviews

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/oct/20/google-pixel-review-smartphone-iphone-android

MashTalk: OK Google, should the Amazon Echo be scared of you now?

Image: google, mashable composite

We got a good helping of hardware and software this week. On the hardware front, we published our Google Home and new MacBook Pro (without Touch Bar) reviews. And on the software side, we got a first look at the 70+ new emoji coming to iOS devices in the upcoming iOS 10.2.

Mashable Tech Editor Pete Pachal and Chief Correspondent Lance Ulanoff joined me on MashTalk along with special guest Real Time News Reporter Nicole Gallucci to talk about it all.

The verdict is out on Google Home: It’s awesome. (2:00) Not that I was expecting anything less.

At Google I/O in May, Google didn’t hide the fact that it was blindsided by the Amazon Echo. Home, as it was introduced, and re-introduced in October, wasn’t going to be revolutionary, but a catch-up.

As I wrote in my review, there are some things Home does that the Echo can’t and vice versa, but the built-in Google Assistant is already more intelligent than Alexa, and the gap is only going to widen as Google injects more smarts into it.

Alexa and all AI are constantly getting smarter, but the Assistant has one thing Alexa doesn’t: access to Google Search.

Of course, it’s still debatable if it’s creepy or not to put a physical Google in your home.

The other big hardware drop was, of course, the new MacBook Pro (20:26). Apple lent Lance the $1,500 model with regular function keys and no Touch Bar or Touch ID sensor to check out.

Lance thinks it’s a great value. I’m not sure on what planet a $1,500 laptop with only two USB-C ports, no SD card slot and last-generation processors is a great value. I still think nobody should buy the that model; buy a new MacBook, an old MacBook Air or the new MacBook Pro with Touch Bar, but not this model. It’s neither affordable nor high-end.

About the only thing we could agree on the MacBook Pro he reviewed was that it’s hot. Apple’s still got it when it comes to design.

To wrap up this week’s MashTalk, we chatted about emoji (36:36). Our Watercooler Content Coordinator Brian Koerber summed it up best when the news broke: Apple just ruined sexting.

Yep, the peach emoji now looks more realistic and more like a peach, much to the disappointment of the internet. And we got a new selfie and facepalm emoji, and many more.

You really don’t want to miss out on Nicole teaching Lance how the cool kids talk with emoji and Lance telling us how he just recently discovered the real meaning of the eggplant.

Don’t forget to leave your questions and comments by tweeting @Mash_Talk with the #MashTalk hashtag. We welcome all feedback.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2016/11/04/google-home-macbook-emoji-mashtalk/