Android 10 Code Confirms Pixel 4 90Hz Display


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We don’t even have to assume a new Pixel flagship phone is coming this year — for the first time, Google has announced features of its new phone before the big reveal. Google already showed off the back of the phone and talked about the Soli radar sensor, but we haven’t heard any official details on the screen. The next best thing after an announcement is code features from Google engineers, and XDA found some lines in Android 10 that support the report of a 90Hz screen. 

The standard for mobile device screens has long been 60Hz. It took a long time for Android to even hit 60 frames per second in the UI consistently, but Google has prioritized smoothness in the last few versions of Android, and it optimizes Pixel phones aggressively. Laptops and desktop monitors have long advanced beyond 60Hz with 100, 144, and higher refresh rates readily available for a small premium. However, computers have a lot more power at their disposal, and phones need to remain efficient and pocket-sized. 

It has only been in the last 12-18 months that high refresh mobile displays have become viable. Razer launched the original Razer Phone with a 120Hz display, but that was an LCD with serious efficiency problems. It ran at 90Hz out of the box, and even that drained the battery quickly. Asus improved matters with the ROG Phone, which had a 90Hz OLED panel. OnePlus launched the OnePLus 7 and 7 Pro earlier this year with a high-refresh OLED as well. 

Several weeks back, the first reports of the Pixel 4’s 90Hz “Smooth Display” appeared. Now, XDA has spent some time digging through the just-released Android 10 open source code and found supporting evidence. Android contains a service called SurfaceFlinger, which links apps and system UI with the display controller. Naturally, the SurfaceFlinger service needs to be aware of the display refresh rate. SurfaceFlinger in Android 10 includes a manual 90Hz toggle that wasn’t present in previous versions of the OS. 

In the current build of Android 10, the 90Hz mode exists as a temporary solution for testing purposes — a permanent version is already in AOSP, too. The code notes that the switch should only be used on “P19 devices.” Presumably, that means the 2019 Pixels, and not the Pixel 3a. Those budget phones launched last Spring, and they’re 60Hz. So, it’s a foregone conclusion that the Pixel 4 and 4 XL will indeed have 90Hz displays.

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Google releases Android 10 – gpgmail


Android 10 is now available, assuming you have a phone that already supports Google’s latest version of its mobile operating system. For now, that’s mostly Google’s own Pixel phones, though chances are that most of the phones that were supported during the beta phase will get updated to the release version pretty soon, too.

Since the development of Android pretty much happens in the open these days, the release itself doesn’t feature any surprises. Just like with the last few releases, chances are you’ll have to look twice after the update to see whether your phone actually runs the latest versions. There are plenty of tweaks in Android 10, but some of the most interesting new features are a bit hidden and (at least in the betas) off by default.

The one feature everybody has been waiting for is a dark mode and here, Android 10 doesn’t disappoint. The new dark theme is now ready for your night-time viewing, with the promise of improved battery life for your OLED phone and support from a number of apps like Photos and Calendar. Over time, more apps will automatically switch to a dark theme as well, but right now, the number seems rather limited and a bit random, with Fit offering a dark mode while Gmail doesn’t.

The other major tweak is the updated gesture navigation. This remains optional — you can still use the same old three-button navigation Android has long offered. It’s essentially a tweak of the navigation system the launched with Android Pie. For the most part, the new navigation gestures work just fine and feel more efficient than those in Pie, especially when you try to switch between apps. Swiping left and right from the screen replaces the back button, which isn’t immediately obvious, and a slightly longer press on the side of the screen occasionally opens a navigation drawer. I say ‘occasionally,’ because I think this is the most frustrating part of the experience. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. The trick to opening the drawer, it seems, is to swipe at an angle that’s well above 45 degrees.

Also new is an updated Smart Reply feature that now suggests actions from your notifications. If a notification includes a link, for example, Smart Reply will suggest opening it in Chrome. Same for addresses, where the notification can take you right to Google Maps, or YouTube videos that you can play in — you guessed it — Youtube. This should work across all popular messaging apps.

There are also a couple of privacy and security features here, including the ability to only share location data with apps while you use them and a new Privacy section in Settings that gives you access to controls for managing your web and app history, as well as your ad settings in a slightly more prominent place.

The new Google Play system updates, the company can now also push important security and privacy fixes right to the phone from the Google Play store, which allows it to patch issues without having to go through the system update process. Given the slow Android OS upgrade cycles, that’s an important new feature, though it, too, is an evolution of Google’s overall strategy to decouple these updates and core features from the OS updates.

Two other interesting new features are still in beta or won’t be available until later this year, but Google prominently highlights Focus mode, which allows you to silence specific apps for a while and which is now in beta, and Live Caption, which will launch in the fall on Pixel phones and which can automatically caption videos and audio across all apps. I’ve been beta testing Focus Mode for a bit and I’m not sure it has really made a difference in my digital wellbeing, but the ability to mute notifications from YouTube during the workday, for example, has probably made me a tiny bit more productive.

Oh, and there’s also native support for foldable phones, but for the time being, there are no foldable phones on the market.

Like with most recent releases, those are just some of the highlights. There are plenty of small tweaks, too, and chances are you’ll notice a few new fonts and visual tweaks here and there. For the most part, though, you can continue to use Android like you always have. Even major changes like the updated gesture controls are optional. It’s very much an evolutionary update, but that’s pretty much the case for any mobile OS these days.


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Report: Google Phone Sales Up Dramatically Thanks to Pixel 3a


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Reports earlier this year painted a bleak picture for Google’s smartphone efforts. The Pixel 3 and 3 XL arguably had the best version of Android on board, but sales were down from the year before. Google needed to give its phones a boost, and the Pixel 3a reportedly did just that. A new analysis claims Google is again one of the fastest-growing smartphone makers on the back of the 3a. 

For most of Android’s history, Google didn’t care much about selling its own phones. The Nexus series was little more than a way to show off unblemished Android and promote the platform to developers. When Google got serious about selling phones, it reorganized everything under the Pixel brand. It now designs and maintains the phones itself, and new features like Duplex and Call Screen have come to Pixel phones first. 

Despite all that, Google admitted earlier this year that its phone sales were down. So, the improved third-gen Pixels were selling worse than the second-gen. Companies like Samsung or Apple can cope with declining sales because they’re huge, but Google didn’t have enough market share to be losing already. 

The Pixel 3 started at $800, and the 3 XL is $900, but both have been discounted in recent months. Google may have missed the mark on pricing because the cheaper Pixel 3a turned the entire operation around, according to Counterpoint Research. The firm says Google saw an 88 percent year-over-year sales increase in the second quarter of 2019. That’s short of OnePlus’ 152 percent growth but better than Motorola (53 percent) and Apple (14 percent). 

SmartphoneSEEAMAZON_ET_135 See Amazon ET commerce sales overall fell 1.5 percent in Q2 with companies like Samsung, ZTE, and LG seeing lower shipments. Virtually everyone has a smartphone now, and they’re using those phones longer before upgrading. The Pixel 3 didn’t convince people to upgrade, but it seems the Pixel 3a offered the right combination of price and features. The Pixel 3a and 3a XL offer almost all the features of the more expensive Pixels, but they start at just $400. 

Google also seems determined not to let history repeat itself with the Pixel 4. Even with the announcement a few months away, Google has taken the unusual step of posting teasers and talking about upcoming features like 3D face unlock and the radar-powered Soli gestures. We expect the Pixel 4 to debut in October, but maybe the Pixel 4a will be Google’s next major launch.

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Googler Shares 20x Zoom Photo Probably Taken on Pixel 4


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In the last few years, Google’s phones have gone from mediocre cameras to the absolute, undeniable kings of mobile photography. That is impressive enough, but Google also managed this without adding multiple camera sensors like most other manufacturers. The Pixel 4 will have two rear-facing camera sensors, and that could make for some incredible zoom photos if a new teaser is to be believed. 

The key to Google’s camera success is machine learning — the same techniques that help an AI beat StarCraft II players or drive a car can power advanced image processing algorithms. It’s no longer about how many megapixels your camera sensors has, it’s about how the software manipulates all those megapixels after you snap a picture. 

Claude Zellweger, Google’s director of design, recently posted a photo on Instagram taken on a Pixel phone (see below). In the comments, he notes the photo was taken with 20x zoom. That’s higher than you can get with current Pixel phones, even at the maximum digital zoom setting. Naturally, this suggests Zellweger is using the Pixel 4. 

Google has done amazing things with its lone camera sensor on Pixel phones, but there’s only so much you can do. We know the Pixel 4 and 4 XL will have a secondary camera on the back, and a recent leak claimed (credibly) that will be a 16MP telephoto camera. The leak didn’t include the effective zoom level of the lens — we often see 2x and 3x on phones. However, some recent devices have had “periscope-style” telephoto cameras that can do 10x optical zoom. 

A 20x zoom shot most likely taken on a Pixel 4.

So, how do you get to 20x zoom? It’s very, very unlikely this phone has 20x optical zoom. The photo does look sharp and low-noise, but it’s probably a product of Google’s excellent image processing. On current Pixel phones, you can use digital zoom, and the phone uses multiple exposures and your natural hand-shake to refine and sharpen the final image. What we’re probably seeing in this image is digital zoom to 20x with the aid of a telephoto lens — either something in the 2-3x range or possibly something higher like 10x. 

Whatever camera hardware the Pixel 4 brings to the table, it will probably continue to offer best-in-class results. We expect the Pixel 4 and 4 XL to land in October at Google’s annual hardware event.

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Latest Pixel 4 Leak Points to 90Hz Display, 6GB of RAM


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Samsung just announced its newest flagship phone, but if that’s not your speed, the Pixel 4 leaks are still flowing. A new report includes information about the basic specs like RAM and battery capacity, but we’re also learning some tantalizing details about the displays. 

Google’s Pixel 4 and 4 XL will be almost identical devices, more like the first-generation Pixels than the second and third iterations. The Pixel 4 will have a 5.7-inch 1080p OLED, and the Pixel 4 XL will have a 6.3-inch 1440p OLED. That’s all similar to the third-gen Pixel phones, but the report also claims Google is bumping the refresh rate. 9to5Google claims the phones will have a feature called “Smooth Display” that shows more frames per second than most devices. 

Smooth Display may offer a 90Hz refresh rate, the same as the OnePlus 7 Pro. That would make the Pixel 4 and 4 XL feel much more fluid than past devices. Google has always prioritized animation smoothness on Pixel phones, so the 90Hz display could really wow people. 

The leak also clarifies the camera situation. The main sensor will still be 12MP, and the secondary shooter will be 16MP with a telephoto lens. Google may also be working on a “DSLR-like” attachment that may launch as an accessory. It’s unclear what that may entail. 

Google caught flak last year for sticking with 4GB of RAM on both Pixel phones. Higher memory usage in apps like the camera could kill background processes and slow the phones down. This year, it’s reportedly increasing RAM to 6GB in both phones. However, the smaller Pixel 4 will have a slight drop in battery capacity. It’ll be 2,800mAh, down from 2,915mAh. The larger phone gets an increase from 3,430mAh last year to 3,700mAh this year. As expected, the phones will have the Snapdragon 855 and either 64 or 128GB of storage. 

Lastly, 9to5Google says it has confirmed the Pixels will have stereo speakers in spite of the obvious design changes. The last few Pixels have had dual front-facing speakers, but the small bottom bezel on the Pixel 4 doesn’t leave room for one. Instead, we’ll have one speaker at the top that doubles for the earpiece, and a second speaker on the bottom edge. That’s the same configuration Samsung currently uses. 

We expect Google to unveil the Pixel 4 and 4 XL at its annual hardware event in October. So, there’s still plenty of time for more leaks.

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Google’s Pixel Phones Will Soon Be Able to Speak to 911 Operators


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Google’s Duplex feature on Android phones can be a lifesaver if you just don’t have time to call and set up a reservation for yourself. A similar feature coming to select Android phones could be a real lifesaver, though. Automated 911 calls will soon be able to contact emergency services and relay your exact location without you saying a word.

While the new emergency calling feature is similar to Duplex, you don’t initiate it the same way. Duplex is built into Assistant, so you just ask it to call someplace and that all happens in the background. The automated call for help is part of the Google Phone app. After calling emergency services, the phone will show three buttons for medical, police, and fire. Tapping any of them will start the robot voice. 

The unfailingly calm robot lady will tell the 911 operator that it’s a robot calling on your behalf before giving your location and the reason for your call (medical, fire, or police). Importantly, your Android deviceSEEAMAZON_ET_135 See Amazon ET commerce is speaking to the emergency operator, not a Google server as in the case of Duplex. So, all the information relayed to the operator stays between you and emergency services. You can see the script on the screen as it’s read, and the call remains open the entire time. So, you can speak to the operator as well, should you be able to do so. 

Google says this feature could be invaluable in situations where someone cannot speak to emergency operators because they’re injured or under duress. Many emergency call centers get GPS information from phone calls automatically, but the address in the message can help confirm and get help to you faster. 

The bad news is that most Android users won’t have this feature. It’s coming to Pixel phones, of course. Google has full control over the software on those phones, and the automated emergency calls are part of the Google Phone app. It also says that select other phones will get the feature, but doesn’t list them. Many device makers like Samsung, LG, and OnePlus create their own phone apps separate from Google’s. Presumably, devices in the Android One program and Motorola’s almost stock phones could get this feature in the future.

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Google’s Pixel 4 smartphone will have motion control and face unlock – gpgmail


Google’s Pixel 4 is coming out later this year, and it’s getting the long reveal treatment thanks to a decision this year from Google to go ahead and spill some of the beans early, rather than saving everything for one big final unveiling closer to availability. A new video posted by Google today about the forthcoming Pixel 4 (which likely won’t actually be available until fall) shows off some features new to this generation: Motion control and face unlock.

The new “Motion Sense” feature in the Pixel 4 will detect waves of your hand and translate them into software control, including skipping songs, snoozing alarms and quieting incoming phone call alerts, with more planned features to come, according to Google. It’s based on Soli, a radar-based fine motion detection technology that Google first revealed at its I/O annual developer conference in 2016. Soli can detect very fine movements, including fingers pinched together to mimic a watch-winding motion, and it got approval from the FCC in January, hinting it would finally be arriving in production devices this year.

Pixel 4 is the first shipping device to include Soli, and Google says it’ll be available in “select Pixel countries” at launch (probably due to similar approvals requirements wherever it rolls out to consumers).

Google also teased “Face unlock,” something it has supported in Android previously – but Google is doing it very differently than it has been handled on Android in the past with the Pixel 4. Once again, Soli is part of its implementation, turning on the face unlock sensors in the device as it detects your hand reaching to pick up the device. Google says this should mean that the phone will be unlocked by the time you’re ready to use it, since it does this all on the fly, and works from pretty much any authentication.

Face unlock will be supported for authorizing payments and logging into Android apps, as well, and all of the facial recognition processing done for face unlock will occur on the device – a privacy-oriented feature that’s similar to how Apple handles its own Face ID. In fact, Google will also be storing all the facial recognition data securely in its own dedicated on-device Titan M security chip, another move similar to Apple’s own approach.

Google made the Pixel 4 official and tweeted photos (or maybe photorealistic renders) of the new smartphone back in June, bucking the trend of keeping things unconfirmed until an official reveal closer to release. Based on this update, it seems likely we can expect to learn more about the new smartphone ahead of its availability, which is probably going to happen sometime around October based on past behavior.


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Google says it doubled Pixel sales year-over-year – gpgmail


It looks like the mid-range Pixel 3a is the hit Google surely hoped it would be.

Alphabet reported some pretty good earnings today, but the company’s report tends to be pretty generic, given that it doesn’t provide details for its different business units inside of Google and its other segments. That’s not to say there isn’t good news there for Google. On today’s call, Google CEO Sundar Pichai shared some new stats for the company’s phone line.

“With the launch of Pixel 3a in May, overall Pixel unit sales in Q2 grew more than 2x year-over-year,” Pichai announced. Part of this growth, he noted, is due to Google greatly expanded its distribution network beyond its own store and Verizon to also include T Mobile, Sprint, US Cellular, Spectrum Mobile and others. He also stressed that the Pixel 3a received Google’s highest Net Promotor Score rating yet.

We don’t, of course, know, what the baseline for Pichai’s claim here is, since Google never shared any actual sales numbers, but it surely helps that the Pixel 3a is relatively affordable and compares well to flagship phones without any major trade-offs. When it launched, reviews were generally very positive, too, which surely helped as well. Unlike previous Pixel launches, the first batch of Pixel 3a phones also didn’t face any major hardware problems, something that regularly plagued Google’s earlier efforts.



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