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Google’s Radical Pixel 6 Pro, Design Your Own Galaxy Z Flip 3, Windows 11 Turns On Android

Google’s Radical Pixel 6 Pro, Design Your Own Galaxy Z Flip 3, Windows 11 Turns On Android

Google’s Radical Pixel 6 Pro, Design Your Own Galaxy Z Flip 3, Windows 11 Turns On Android

Taking a look back at seven days of news and headlines across the world of Android, this week’s Android Circuit includes all the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro details from the Tensor mobile chip and security updates to the real tone face detection and voice typing, the Pixel Pass Program announcement, Samsung’s custom Z Flip 3, Oppo plans new system on chip, Android 12 arrives for older Pixels, and Windows 11 debuts Android app support.

Android Circuit is here to remind you of a few of the many things that have happened around Android in the last week (and you can find the weekly Apple news digest here). 

Highlights Of Google’s Pixel 6 and 6 Pro Launch

Following the preview earlier this year, Google this week held the ‘big launch’ of the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro handsets. Unashamedly a premium experience to rival flagships from other manufacturers (at some incredibly competitive prices), Google has leaned into three key areas to promote the handsets.

First up is the Tensor processor, and the machine learning capabilities it offers, as well as the extra processing power on offer:

“Until now, it has used chips designed by chip firm Qualcomm. But it says the Tensor chip is up to 80% faster than the Pixel 5 from 2020, as well as being power-efficient. One significant advantage to its new chip, Google says, is that it can do more on the phone itself, without being connected to the internet – particularly through Google’s popular virtual assistant.”

(BBC News).

While a full analysis of the camera images will have to wait for any review embargo to lift, Google has – like many manufactures – used the camera technology in its smartphones as a representative for all of the hardware and software in the new device. The most eye-catching will be the ‘magic eraser’ that promises to remove distractions (such as an inquisitive dog, a parked car, or clouds in a sunny sky) simply by highlighting them. The real benefits are far more nuanced, such as Real Tone:

“[following face detection], Real Tone then ensures that the auto white balance in photos is improved, so that darker skin tones don’t look paler than in real life. Plus, the auto-exposure has also been improved, which makes it easier for the camera to capture your skin tone accurately, without making a person look unnaturally lighter or darker. Plus, improved colour balance also better captures various skin tones, with reduced stray light also helping to stop darker skin tones from looking ashy or washed out.”

(Trusted Reviews).

Google has promised five years of security updates to the new handsets, but in terms of Android Updates it has only announced three years of support. That would take it to October 2024, with Android 15 potentially the last update. Given Google now controls the software and system on chip, this feels a missed opportunity.

“That’s a year more than what most smartphone vendors are willing to commit to, but it’s also a year short of what Samsung just promised. One could argue that Samsung is only applying that big promise to a number of its smartphones, but Google has a significantly smaller number of phones to support anyway. Samsung isn’t Android’s creator either, so Google’s inability or unwillingness to do one better doesn’t exactly do it favors.”

(Slashgear).

As for the smaller features, Ben Schoon looks at some of the points that are easy to fall in love with; such as car crash detection, the powerful voice to text engine, and abilities to predict how long you could be on hold for:

“Google has shown how confident it is in these phones, and based on early impressions, it seems like a perfect foundation to build a new era of Pixel phones on. But people won’t switch unless they have good reason. While an upgraded camera and absurdly great prices will probably result in a lot of upgrades, it’s the features Pixel 6 brings with it that Google needs to tell people about to catch the interest of new buyers. The Pixel cannot take another year of dull “Smooth Stream” advertising.”

(9to5 Google).

All Your Monthly Google With A Pixel

Alongside the new Pixel hardware, Google has also launch the Pixel Pass, a bundle of subscriptions and services for US consumers looking to buy the new handsets with an extended warranty, Google One, Google Play Pass, and YouTube Music Premium in a single bundle. Similar to Apple’s iPhone Upgrade Program, you can also stay up to date when new Pixel phones are released:

“Additionally, customers should take note of what those regular upgrades entail. Like similar programs, you are essentially renting a Pixel phone, which you can then trade-in for a new one easily when the time rolls around. Once the phone is paid off, it’s yours like any other phone would be. However, you then need to decide whether you want to stay subscribed to the plan and receive a new Pixel phone, or cancel the plan.”

(Lifehacker).

Make This Flip Your Own

Samsung’s ‘Part 2’ Galaxy Unpacked event this week saw the launch of a bespoke edition of the Galaxy Z Flip 3. At the point of ordering, you can make decisions over the colors on the frame and both upper and lower sections. Going down this route adds $100 to the phone price:

“You won’t be able to customize the Bespoke Edition with any color you want, but Samsung is offering a lot of options. You’ll be able to choose a black or silver phone frame and front and back colors (aka the top and bottom, if the phone is open) of blue, yellow, pink, white, or black.”

(The Verge).

Oppo Prepares For The New Chip Wars

The longer term implications of Google launching its own Tensor chip in the Pixel 6 family should not be lost. Certainly competitors are working hard on their own designs; you can see that in the rise of Image Signal Processors, but the full system on chip will be next, with Oppo reportedly joining the party:

“Oppo has been ramping up its chip investments since the U.S. crackdown hit Huawei. It has hired top chip developers and artificial intelligence experts from MediaTek, Qualcomm and Huawei, and is continuing its recruiting efforts in the U.S., Taiwan and Japan, according to industry executives and job postings.”

(Nikkei Asia).

Android 12 For All You Older Pixel Owners

Alongside the release of the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro, Google started to offer Android 12 updates to Pixel handsets going back to the Pixel 3. These handsets of course are under Google’s control, but Android 12 is ready to show up across the full ecosystem. Given the number of carier/manufacturer combinations, it will take some time, but it’s happening:

“This is the last OS upgrade and security patch the Pixel 3 and 3 XL are set to receive. The Pixel 3a and 3a XL will receive their last patch next May. The company has also teased out Android 12 releases for Samsung, OnePlus, Oppo, Realme, Tecno, Vivo, and Xiaomi devices in addition to others “later this year.””

(Android Police).

And Finally…

The ability to run Android apps on Windows 11 was one of the big features of the updated operating system, even though it was tagged as ‘available in the near future’. Well, if you’re happy to go with a beta from the Windows Insider program, you can start doing that right now, albeit on a small pool of 50 apps while the system is tested.

“Running Android apps and games on Windows 11 will feel familiar, effortless, and integrated – just as you would expect. You can easily run these apps side-by-side with the help of the new Snap Layouts feature, pin them to your Start menu or Taskbar, and interact with them via mouse, touch, or pen input. Android apps are also integrated into Alt + Tab and Task view to help you quickly move back-and-forth between the apps that matter most to you.”

(Microsoft Blogs).

Android Circuit rounds up the news from the Android world every weekend here on Forbes. Don’t forget to follow me so you don’t miss any coverage in the future, and of course read the sister column in Apple Loop! Last week’s Android Circuit can be found here, and if you have any news and links you’d like to see featured in Android Circuit, get in touch!

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