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NASA just gave Nokia millions of dollars to upgrade the moon's cell service - Android Police
Much like Gru, Nokia has always been obsessed with stealing the moon. Okay, maybe that's a stretch, but the company has taken a very keen interest in
Much like Gru, Nokia has always been obsessed with stealing the moon. Okay, maybe that's a stretch, but the company has taken a very keen interest in developing technology for lunar missions. Back in 2018, Nokia was working on a system that would bring LTE connectivity to everyone's favorite lumpy gray rock. Now NASA has agreed to hand over 14.1 million dollars to help make Nokia's dream a reality. The project, which involves Nokia building a 4G cellular communication network on the moon, is part of a series of new contracts NASA is awarding for lunar surface research missions. In total, $370 million is being awarded to companies like SpaceX and United Launch Alliance with the goal of making the moon a place that astronauts will want to call home by 2028. NASA hopes the system could "support lunar surface communications at greater distances, increased speeds and provide more reliability than current standards." Nokia's moon network could support better communication between lunar landers, rovers, and even astronauts. With the $14.1 million contract, Nokia will examine current terrestrial technology and investigate potential modifications to make it viable in the lunar environment. While this is cool and all, I can't help but feel a little dubious. The last time Nokia wanted to test new technology on the moon, things didn't work out. The launch, which was set for 2019, never happened, and one of the companies Nokia was working with filed for bankruptcy protection. And anyway, in this modern age of 2020, should the moon really settle for mere 4G? /s
Google made a video starring a sloth to promote Project Jacquard's newest smart backpack - Android Police
Google is all about ambient computing these days. From TVs to speakers, the company is prioritizing smarter, more connected technology. Google began
Google is all about ambient computing these days. From TVs to speakers, the company is prioritizing smarter, more connected technology. Google began making smart clothing when it started Project Jacquard back in 2015. Since then, the project has produced things like jackets with Levi and shoe insoles with Nike. Now Google is announcing its latest fabric-based innovation: two new backpacks developed with Samsonite. And they start at prices low enough for normal people to actually consider buying one. Unlike the previous $995 backpack made in collaboration with Saint Laurent, these new Google Jacquard backpacks begin at just $199. That's still spendy, but not outrageously so for a high-end backpack. For that price, Samsonite and Google will sell you the "Konnect-i Slim" model, and $20 more gets you the "Standard" size, which is a little bit bigger in every dimension and has a slightly different design. Both are also water-repellent, and they have the same materials and feature list. Above: Slim. Below: Standard. Each of the two new backpacks embeds the Jacquard sensor in the left strap, and they can perform different configurable actions when you brush up, brush down, and double-tap. There's even an LED light on the strap that lights up according to alerts you can set. Definitely one of the weirdest ads for a backpack that I've ever seen. While most of us probably don't need (or even want) a smart backpack, it's cool to see Google working to produce weird gear like this. The company says it's all in on the Jacquard platform, and hopes to make it even smarter over time. I wonder what everyday object they'll embed a chip inside next?
Nest Audio review: Throw your Google Home in the trash - Android Police
Google's first Assistant speaker, Google Home, turns four this year. The company says that device was designed primarily as a means to access the Google
Google's first Assistant speaker, Google Home, turns four this year. The company says that device was designed primarily as a means to access the Google Assistant, and music playback was secondary. But the de facto second generation, the new Nest Audio, was purpose-built as a media device — and boy, does it ever show. Design, hardware, what's in the box The first Google Home had an iconic (if funky) design that kind of looked like an air freshener. The Nest Audio trades that eccentric character for a more discreet look, and while that's probably going to disappoint some, I like the direction. The Nest Audio is kind of a featureless, rounded rectangle, coated in the same "acoustically transparent" recycled fabric used on the Nest Mini. Shaped and textured the way it is, it reminds me of a throw pillow, and it blends easily into home decor. You can get it in five colors: Chalk (light gray, seen here), Charcoal (dark gray), Sage (green), Sand (kind of an earthy pink), or Sky (blue). Chalk and Charcoal are both pretty low-key and easy to hide; the other three stand out more. With its new fabric-coated design, the Nest Audio more closely resembles the Nest Mini and Google Home Max than the original Google Home. There's nothing on the front side of the speaker — it's just an expanse of fabric. The top edge houses capacitive touch controls: tapping the left or right corner will adjust the volume down or up, and tapping the middle will play or pause. There's no way to activate the Assistant by touch, presumably because of the always-listening fiasco from the Google Home Mini's launch. The Nest Audio's backside is home to a physical microphone mute switch and a barrel plug port for the included 30-watt power brick — but no auxiliary jack, unfortunately. While it's only about an inch taller and wider than the Google Home, the Nest Audio weighs more than twice as much: two pounds and nine ounces to the Home's one pound and change. The increase in weight is because there's so much more stuff packed into the speaker's housing. It's got a 75-millimeter woofer and a 19-millimeter tweeter, whereas the first Home only had one 50-millimeter "full-range" driver. Audio quality Those improved drivers coupled with a jump from 300 to 520 cubic centimeters of back volume (the hollow space behind the drivers) mean the Nest Audio can muster a whole lot more oomph than the Google Home could. Google says it can produce 75 percent more volume and 50 percent more bass, and while I have no means of scientifically testing those claims, they sure seem to hold water. This thing gets surprisingly, neighbor-botheringly loud, and the low-end frequency response feels extremely robust compared to the Google Home. It just sounds larger than you'd expect for its size. The word that came to mind as I listened to the Nest Audio was big. It just sounds larger than you'd expect for its size. That's not only because it's louder and the bass is stronger, but also because it doesn't have the compressed, slightly muffled flavor Google Home had. (Google says that muffled sound was because the Home's two passive radiators — essentially internal vents that let sound leak out the sides in addition to the direction the driver faced — caused low frequencies to reverberate for longer. The Nest Audio has no passive radiators.) The Nest Audio also uses new Google-developed software to limit compression and improve the sound further. Across genres, I was consistently impressed by how well-represented highs, lows, and mids are. Bass really thumps in '90s R&B and jangly indie rock guitars are clear as a bell. Dynamic range is wild for a speaker this size, too. Even in busy arrangements, little details come through: I was taken aback to pick out guitar parts in my favorite metal album that are all but inaudible when listening on Google Home. I had two first-generation Google Home speakers in two separate rooms when my Nest Audio review unit arrived. I figured I'd make them a stereo pair in my office, where I listen to music more often, and stick the Nest in the bedroom. After testing the Nest Audio, though, I've decided to swap that setup. It's that good. Should you buy it? Hard yes. At $99, the Nest Audio is a bargain, especially when you remember that the Google Home launched at $129 back in 2016. It does everything you've come to expect of the Google Assistant just as well as Google Home — better, even, thanks to improved on-device processing that speeds up certain commands like music controls. It also sounds fantastic for its size, and it's able to hear hotwords startlingly well, even with the volume maxed. I'm probably going to buy a second one to make a stereo pair. That stereo pair will be solely wireless, though, because Google didn't include wired input in the Nest Audio. That's a real shame, because two of these would be great hooked up to a turntable. If you want to make a wired stereo with Google speakers, you'll have to shell out for two Google Home Maxes — which will run you $598 at retail. Not only is that super expensive, it's also overkill for most rooms, especially smaller ones. By contrast, you can get a two-pack of Nest Audios for a small discount: $179. It's very hard to find fault with the Nest Audio. But unless you really need to hardwire your speaker to an audio source, it's very hard to find fault with the Nest Audio. It's damn near the perfect smart speaker, and a sensible upgrade for anyone using the original Home. (Don't really throw your old speakers away, though — donate or recycle them, please.) Buy it if:
- You've had your Google Home(s) a while and want to upgrade.
- You're looking to start a whole-home smart audio setup. The Nest Audio is a great place to start.
- You want a speaker with auxiliary input.
- You already have Google Home Maxes in every room of the house.
LG teased a slide-out phone in the Wing announcement and no one noticed - Android Police
LG officially revealed its new 'Wing' smartphone in a livestream earlier today, following weeks of leaked videos and several teasers. The pre-recorded
LG officially revealed its new 'Wing' smartphone in a livestream earlier today, following weeks of leaked videos and several teasers. The pre-recorded event was over an hour in length, so it's not too surprising that a teaser for a new slide-out device at the very end went unnoticed by most people. The end of the livestream shows off an animation of what looks like a phone sliding outwards. There's very little detail visible, so it's not clear if the section sliding out is a keyboard (perhaps for people mourning the death of TCL's BlackBerry-branded phones), a covered display, or something else entirely. I'm guessing an Xperia Play-style gamepad is off the table, given there's very little clearance between the sliding component and the outer shell. The teaser brings back memories of the LG G5, which had a removable chin for accessing the battery compartment and attaching 'Friends' modules. LG said during the Wing's unveiling that it was developing several other phones under the 'Explorer Project' banner, so perhaps the slide-out device will be the next to market.
Increasing reports of Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL battery swelling damaging phones - Android Police
We're seeing many reports of Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL phones with swollen batteries — enough to cause the backs of the phones to lift off. There are
We're seeing many reports of Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL phones with swollen batteries — enough to cause the backs of the phones to lift off. There are quite a few reports in Google's support forum and reddit. The issue also affected big boss Artem's 3 XL (#artemsluck, anyone)? The Google support thread in question has been up since May of this year and has over 60 replies. The thread is full of images of swollen Pixel 3s with varying degrees of damage. Interestingly enough, the issue even affected the Platinum Product Expert who's been responding to everyone. There are also a few reddit threads describing the issue (and one similar thread on a Pixel 4 XL). It seems like many people never even noticed that their battery had begun to balloon since they had a case on their phone, which is understandable. Nobody mentioned their phones having gone through any major impacts. Our own Artem (and a few others) only noticed when his phone stopped wireless charging. Obviously, this is a pretty major safety hazard, with the potential for the battery to catch fire or explode. It also compromises the phone's IP68 rating against water and dust immersion. Should a Pixel 3 owner be unaware of the problem because of their case and take the phone into heavy rain or drop the phone into water, their phone would probably turn into a paperweight pretty quickly. Oh wow... just found out why the wireless charging stopped working on the Pixel 3... check out the battery bloat that pushed the back cover out. I had this happen on several phones before but not in many [email protected] Yikes. pic.twitter.com/j4YftGQlWy — Artem Russakovskii (@ArtemR) August 9, 2020 Many are speculating that the use of a Pixel Stand or some other wireless charger is accelerating this issue, as it might be causing the battery to get a little too warm. A good amount of people reporting the issue did, in fact, note that they only noticed the problem when their phones' wireless charging functionality stopped working. I have two Pixel 3 XLs in my household, neither of which has been wirelessly charged, and neither is exhibiting the issue. Of course, we don't know how many Pixel 3s are affected in the first place. Luckily, Google does seem to be offering complimentary device replacements, even to those out of warranty, for those who escalate the issue through chat and emails. Google is also telling customers this is a one-time thing, so it remains to be seen what will happen if the replacement phone has the same issue in a year or two. We've reached out to Google and will report back when we hear something.
Android 11 update for Google Pixels includes September security patches - Android Police
Lost in yesterday's Android 11 hullabaloo was another bit of news: Security patches for Google's Pixel series were released together as part of the
Lost in yesterday's Android 11 hullabaloo was another bit of news: Security patches for Google's Pixel series were released together as part of the Android 11 update. This month's security-oriented fixes are more numerous than usual, with plenty of "high" and "critical" vulnerabilities included, so be sure to install the Android 11 update sooner rather than later. Functional patch notes for this release are simply a repeat of Android 11-related features, though you can peruse the full list here. In short, Pixel owners can look forward to a new conversation notification section, bubble notifications, built-in screen recording, improved media controls, and plenty of privacy-related enhancements on top of some Pixel-specific features. For a deeper dive, you can take a look at our Android 11 series coverage and a (slightly outdated) roundup of features. This month's release might seem later than usual, and it is. Normally, these releases happen on the first Monday of the month, but since the first Monday was Labor Day, this was all pushed back until the 8th. Humorously, Samsung is beating Google to release monthly patches these days. Factory images and sideloadable OTAs for Android 11-based September patches are available now for Pixel devices. Build numbers and availability vary slightly based on carrier, region, and device. Curiously, they also indicate a build date for earlier this summer. Something similar happened with the first Pixel 4a images, so perhaps Google has changed how it's handling build numbers again going forward — the company has done it before.
LineageOS 16.0 arrives for Pixel 2 and 2 XL, 17.1 coming soon for more Pixel phones - Android Police
It's probably been a while since most of you have even thought about the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL, but LineageOS has just pushed the official version of
It's probably been a while since most of you have even thought about the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL, but LineageOS has just pushed the official version of 16.0, based on Android 9 Pie, for the duo. In addition, the Android 10-based LineageOS 17.1 is on the way for the Pixel 2, 3a, and 4 lineups. The arrival of LineageOS now for the Pixel 2 and 2 XL is pretty timely given that official Google updates are slated to end in October of this year, so those of you still rocking the second-gen Pixel phones should be able to keep up with the latest Android features. Only the older Pie-based 16.0 is available in stable for Pixel 2s right now, but an eagle-eyed r/LineageOS subreddit follower noticed that official LineageOS 17.1 support is coming for the Pixel 2 and 2 XL, 3a and 3a XL, as well as the 4 and 4 XL. The original Pixel and Pixel XL already had official Lineage support, and the Pixel 3 and 3 XL recently got it as well, so that leaves the brand-new Pixel 4a and currently unreleased Pixel 5 as the only Pixel phones that official Lineage support has not yet been confirmed for. Additionally, two Moto G7-series phones, the G7 Play (channel) and G7 Power (ocean) have just received LineageOS 17.1. We'll be sure to update you guys when 17.1 arrives for those Pixels.
Find My Mobile for Samsung Galaxy phones updated with 'offline finding' feature like iPhones - Android Police
The latest version of Samsung's Find My Mobile app comes with a pretty fantastic new feature: Offline support. As in, you can find your phone even if it
The latest version of Samsung's Find My Mobile app comes with a pretty fantastic new feature: Offline support. As in, you can find your phone even if it doesn't have a data connection — assuming everything works right and another Galaxy device stumbles upon it. The change was first spotted by XDA Developers' Max Weinbach, and it' tied to the latest update to the Samsung Find My Mobile app (v7.2.05.44 according to our testing), which started rolling out over the last few days. Once installed, you'll receive a notification prompt asking if you'd like to enable the feature: Tap that notification on the left, and you're taken to the (new) setting on the right. Toggle it on, and you get the benefits — but also a responsibility. Not only will it let other Galaxy devices locate your phone even when it doesn't have a data connection, the feature will also use your phone to scan for other such devices. Essentially, Samsung's building a sort of crowdsourced, sneakernet location system. The feature will also work with Galaxy Watches and earbuds (implying it might work by identifying things like Bluetooth broadcast details like a device's MAC address) and has an "encrypt offline location" setting. We're not sure what that does, except maybe make your offline location data more secure in some undefined, abstract, and apparently optional way. The feature may be exclusive to the US and Korea for the time being, and those that have experimented with it claims it works pretty well. It sounds pretty similar to Apple's "Offline Finding" feature for Find My iPhone that rolled out with iOS 13, down to the name. The update with this feature should be rolling out now. You can download it via Samsung's Galaxy Store or over at APK Mirror, if it isn't showing up for you.
Energy Ring brings hole-punch battery indicator to your new Pixel 4a and Note20 Ultra - Android Police
Energy Ring offers a neat way to put that obtrusive camera cutout to some good use. In the last few months, the app has moved beyond Samsung phones to
Energy Ring offers a neat way to put that obtrusive camera cutout to some good use. In the last few months, the app has moved beyond Samsung phones to cover a whole host of devices from other brands as well. In line with that, Energy Ring has now added support for two of the newest entries in the smartphone market — the Pixel 4a and the Galaxy Note20 Ultra. In addition to these two phones, the General Edition of the app now also supports the Galaxy M31s, Realme 6i, and Oppo Find X2 Neo, along with newer variants of the Redmi Note 9 and Note 9 Pro Max. These fresh additions come courtesy of a server-side update, as suggested in the revised app changelog. Changelog WHAT’S NEW100,000+ downloads, thanks for the support, everyone! Remote Update: Added support for Realme 6i, Note 9/ Pro Max (new variants), Galaxy M31s Note 20 Ultra, Find X2 Neo, Pixel 4A. * Added support for OnePlus Nord, Realme X50 Pro.* Now supports Redmi Note 9.* Fixed alignment for Redmi Note 9S/Pro/Max.* Added guide on how to prevent the service from being killed in the background. If your device has a punch hole camera, please reach out via email to get support added for your device. :) The Pixel 4a, Galaxy Note20 Ultra, and all other phones on the list will have access to the same set of customizable indicator rings that we’ve seen before. However, not all features will be available to free users; the app requires in-app purchases to unlock everything. You can download it from the Play Store widget below or APK Mirror.
Chrome 84 removes Duet interface, tests bottom tab switcher, blocks some intrusive notifications, and more (APK Download) - Android Police
Chrome 84 entered beta just a few weeks ago, but it's already rolling out on the stable channel across all platforms. This is one of the most significant
Chrome 84 entered beta just a few weeks ago, but it's already rolling out on the stable channel across all platforms. This is one of the most significant Chrome updates we've seen in a while, with a few removed features and new functionality for both regular people and developers. Let's dive right in! RIP Chrome Duet There have been variants of a bottom bar interface being tested in Chrome for Android for several years at this point. First was 'Chrome Home,' which moved the entire address bar to the bottom of the screen, which was later revamped into 'Duplex,' then renamed to 'Duet' to avoid confusion with the Google Assistant feature of the same name. Now it appears the long-running interface experiment is gone for good. Chrome Duet on Chrome 83 Chrome 84 has removed the two feature flags for Duet, #enable-duet-tabstrip-integration and #enable-chrome-duet. They can still be seen on the flags list in Chrome 84 if you enable #temporary-unexpire-flags-m82 and #temporary-unexpire-flags-m83, but even after that, the Duet flags don't seem to be functional. The unexpire flags also have a description that reads, "These flags will be removed soon," indicating that Duet is probably gone for good. While it does look like the Chrome Home/Duplex/Duet saga has finally come to an end, Google might have other ideas for what could go on the bottom of the screen... like a tab switcher? Conditional Tab Strip One possible replacement for Chrome Duet could be the 'Conditional Tab Strip,' which first appeared as part of Chrome's tab group feature (which has yet to fully roll out on Android). Google is de-coupling the tab strip from the tab group feature, so it can work whether or not tab groups are being used. Just head to chrome://flags#enable-conditional-tabstrip and set it to 'Enabled.' The "conditional" part of the name seems to come from the fact that it doesn't always appear, even when the flag is enabled. The flag doesn't work for me, but our own Rita El Khoury got it working on her phone, as did some Android Police readers who sent us tips about the feature. App shortcuts Native applications on Android have been able to set shortcuts, the quick actions that appear when you hold down on an app icon, since Android 7.1. Starting with Chrome 84, web applications added to the home screen can also have shortcuts. Just like with native apps, you can hold down on a shortcut to give it its own icon. Example of a PWA (PhotoStack.app) with app shortcuts It's not much work for developers to add shortcut support to their web apps — Twiter has already done so, and I added them to my own PhotoStack application in about 30 minutes (most of that time was generating the icons). Even though Google says app shortcuts should be available for everyone in Chrome 84, and they were functional for me on the beta release, I can't seem to get shortcuts to appear by default in the stable release. Perhaps it's tied to a server-side rollout, or it's a bit buggy. Web OTP API There are many services that use phone numbers for verification or two-factor authentication, but that usually requires leaving the current app and reading a message from your SMS app. Google introduced a way for native Android apps to automatically read verification texts in 2017, and now the company is bringing the same feature to web apps. Here's how it works: when a website sends you a verification text, it can add a string of characters to the end of the message that tells the browser which site/app it is intended for. Android then displays a prompt asking if Chrome should be allowed to read the message and pass it to the site. If you accept, Chrome will automatically fill it in — no need to switch to your messaging app. The catch is that, just like with native Android apps that use this functionality, websites have to be updated to take advantage of the new autofill API. I expect my bank will add support for it shortly before the heat death of the universe. Blocking some notification requests Chrome has already taken steps to prevent every site under the sun from creating notification popups, as you usually have to interact with the site for a while before it can show the browser-level prompt, but now the browser is going a bit further. Google is now cracking down on websites that block parts (or all of) the page until you allow notifications. "Abusive notification prompts are one of the top user complaints we receive about Chrome," the company wrote in a blog post. "A large percentage of notification requests and notifications come from a small number of abusive sites." Google will notify websites through Search Console if the company detects abusive notification experiences, at which point the site will have 30 days to remove the behavior or the quieter interface will kick in. Security changes Transport Layer Security, or TLS for short, is the technology used by HTTPS sites to ensure all data is transferred over a secure connection. TLS 1.0 and 1.1 are fairly old at this point — they were released in 1999 and 2006, respectively. TLS 1.0 is vulnerable to multiple types of attacks, including POODLE, while TLS 1.1 supports weak cryptography. Chrome deprecated support for TLS 1.0 and 1.1 back in early 2019, with the release of V72, but Chrome 84 adds an additional full-page warning to sites that don't support TLS 1.2 or later. You can still visit pages by pressing 'Advanced' and following the site link, but the browser warns that the workaround will be "disabled in the future." On a related note, Google has started to test blocking HTTP downloads from HTTPS websites. This was originally slated to begin in Chrome 81, but was delayed to V84. However, Chrome on Android won't begin blocking these downloads until Chrome 85. Other features As always, this update includes changes for both users and developers. Here are some smaller changes included in Chrome 84:
- Origin Trial: The new Cookie Store API allows Service Workers to use HTTP cookies.
- Spacing between items in CSS Flexboxes can now be created using 'gutters'.
- Origin Trial: The new Idle Detection API allows pages to accurately tell when the user is idle (mouse isn't moving, no key presses, etc.).
- Origin Trial: Websites can now opt into stronger isolation with the new Origin Isolation API.
- The Web Authenticator API can be used from cross-origin frames if enabled by a feature policy. Google said, "there is interest in banks using this to comply with PSD2 regulations in the EU where they have to authenticate their users inside the context of a 3rd-party service-provider's site. Secondly, some sites wish to outsource their authentication to 3rd-party providers."
- The Screen Wake Lock API is enabled by default, and allows sites to keep your screen on in certain situations.
- Chrome 84 includes a new flag for the Media Feeds API, which appears to be a content recommendation interface for websites to use, according to now-removed documentation. The feature doesn't seem to be functional yet.
- There's a new Raw Clipboard Access API hidden behind a flag, which allows web apps to copy/paste images and other raw data, instead of only text.