Sunday, August 4, 2019

“This week’s top stories: Pixel 4 bezels explained, Pie for Nvidia Shield, more - 9to5Google” plus 1 more

“This week’s top stories: Pixel 4 bezels explained, Pie for Nvidia Shield, more - 9to5Google” plus 1 more


This week’s top stories: Pixel 4 bezels explained, Pie for Nvidia Shield, more - 9to5Google

Posted: 03 Aug 2019 10:10 AM PDT

In this week's top stories: Google shows us the front of the Pixel 4 and accounts for its bezel, Nvidia releases Android Pie for the Shield TV, Android Auto rolls out a fresh redesign, and more.

Google blew away our expectations once again on Monday by revealing more about the Pixel 4. Specifically, we now know what the front of the Pixel 4 looks like and what Google is hiding under the top bezel. As our Stephen Hall had first reported, the Google Pixel 4 will indeed feature a Project Soli radar sensor. A short video preview of how Soli will be used on the Pixel 4 was also provided by Google.

With the Pixel 4, Google says it is "engineering [face unlock] differently." A full lift of the device or pose — a likely shot at the iPhone's Face ID — is not required to get into your phone.

On the security and privacy, image data for facial recognition is processed on your device and "never saved or shared with other Google services." All face data is stored on the Pixel's Titan M chip.

Our Ben Schoon was quick to point out that this massive swath of features and sensors more than justifies what some had been calling a "large" upper bezel on the Pixel 4.

What's especially impressive to me is that this is more tech than what you'd find in the iPhone X's notch. One of the biggest complaints about the notch on most Android phones is that it's used just for a camera and nothing more, but few people complain about the same (if you ask me more intrusive) design choice on the iPhone, simply because it's justified by some of the same sensors Google is now using. If Apple can get away with less in a worse design, how can anyone complain about what Google has opted for?

The Nvidia's Shield TV devices continued to make waves this week, as the company rolled out its big Android Pie update. In fact, the Nvidia Shield TV is the first consumer Android TV device to offer Android Pie. Unlike previous major updates, however, Android Pie doesn't offer much in the way of major, visible changes to Android TV.

Android Pie adds a redesigned Settings menu to Android TV with updated colors and tweaked organization. Nvidia notes streamlined set up for new users, which might be useful following rumors that a revised device is in development.

Android Auto has been testing a redesigned version of its interface for some months now, but this week Google launched it to the public. The new, darker UI simplifies the key features of Android Auto, but as noted in our hands-on review, loses some of its proactive smarts.

One of the biggest improvements is a dark theme with colorful accents. There is a new launcher with recents up top, and all other applications below in a grid. The Android Auto revamp also features a new navigation bar with home button at the very left. Depending on the context, media controls, directions, or incoming call buttons follow.

In other redesign news, the Google Play Store's Material Theme is once more rolling out to phones, tablets, and Chromebooks alike, this week. This isn't the first time the Play Store's Material Theme has rolled to devices, as Google, perhaps mistakenly, shipped the redesign to some users. With as many as are seeing the redesign now, hopefully it's here to stay this time around.

The most striking aspect of this Material Theme Play Store is how the app is now stark white. Google has removed the green (apps & games), red (movies & TV), and blue (books) accent colors from the app and status bar. This bright color is particularly striking in the "My apps & games" list and listings. App names are now much more prominent, while the "What's new" section sees better spacing.

Two years ago, Hulu rolled out a complete overhaul of their UI and design language across almost all platforms. One of the major holdouts, however, was Android TV. This week, Hulu announced and subsequently rolled out their new Android TV app with the long-missing ability to watch live TV.

With the updated app, Hulu subscribers ditch the aging interface that Hulu hasn't supported for quite a while. It also opens up the platform to Hulu's Live TV service which is one of the better alternatives to Google's own YouTube TV. Presumably, this updated app will also support newer features of Android TV such as homescreen channels, but the company's post doesn't mention that. Hopefully, 4K support won't be too far behind either.

The rest of this week's top stories follow:

Android |

Chrome / OS |

Google |

Google Assistant |

Google Pixel |

OnePlus |

Samsung |

Videos |

Google will charge search providers to be the Android default in Europe - The Verge

Posted: 01 Aug 2019 11:38 PM PDT

Starting in early 2020, Google will present a new search provider choice screen to Android users in Europe when first setting up a new phone or tablet. The selection will then be the default search provider that powers the search box on the Android home screen as well as the Chrome browser if installed. Search providers will be required to pay Google each time a user selects them from the choice screen. Inclusion on the choice screen will be determined through a sealed-bid auction, with the top three bidders added alongside Google search.

Today's announcement follows the record-setting $5 billion fine against Google for antitrust violations in the EU. The July 2018 ruling required Google to stop "illegally tying" its Chrome and search apps to Android. The European Commission then left the means of compliance up to Google, which the Commission continues to monitor.

An illustrative version of the choice screen that will vary by European country.
Image: Google

Here's how Google describes the new auction process in a blog post published today.

In each country auction, search providers will state the price that they are willing to pay each time a user selects them from the choice screen in the given country. Each country will have a minimum bid threshold. The three highest bidders that meet or exceed the bid threshold for a given country will appear in the choice screen for that country.

Google does not say what the minimum bid threshold is. However, it does say that the number of bidders, and their bids, will be kept private. If fewer than three search providers meet the minimum bid threshold then Google will fill the available slot(s) randomly from the pool of eligible search providers. Providers will also be randomly ordered on the choice screen.

Eric Leandri, CEO of Qwant, the privacy-focused search engine based in Paris, said he'd look into participating in the auction. But Leandri called it "a total abuse of the dominant position" to "ask for cash just for showing a proposal of alternatives," in statements published by Bloomberg.

DuckDuckGo CEO Gabriel Weinberg also weighed in on the auction process.

Google justified the auction process in a FAQ:

An auction is a fair and objective method to determine which search providers are included in the choice screen. It allows search providers to decide what value they place on appearing in the choice screen and to bid accordingly.

Google had previously argued that it needed search tied to Android and the Chrome browser in order to monetize its significant investment in the operating system. The Commission rejected that assessment, noting the billions Google earns in the Play Store alone, as well as the data it collects in order to increase the value of its advertising business.

Android users in Europe will be able to switch their default search provider at any time after the initial setup, as is the case already.

The deadline for search providers to apply for eligibility and submit bids is September 13, 2019, with winning bids for each country, and inclusion on the choice screen, confirmed by October 31, 2019.

Update August 2nd, 7:08AM ET: Updated with quote from Qwant.

Update August 2nd, 10:40AM ET: Updated with quote from DuckDuckGo CEO Gabriel Weinberg.

“This week’s top stories: Pixel 4 bezels explained, Pie for Nvidia Shield, more - 9to5Google” plus 1 more


This week’s top stories: Pixel 4 bezels explained, Pie for Nvidia Shield, more - 9to5Google

Posted: 03 Aug 2019 10:10 AM PDT

In this week's top stories: Google shows us the front of the Pixel 4 and accounts for its bezel, Nvidia releases Android Pie for the Shield TV, Android Auto rolls out a fresh redesign, and more.

Google blew away our expectations once again on Monday by revealing more about the Pixel 4. Specifically, we now know what the front of the Pixel 4 looks like and what Google is hiding under the top bezel. As our Stephen Hall had first reported, the Google Pixel 4 will indeed feature a Project Soli radar sensor. A short video preview of how Soli will be used on the Pixel 4 was also provided by Google.

With the Pixel 4, Google says it is "engineering [face unlock] differently." A full lift of the device or pose — a likely shot at the iPhone's Face ID — is not required to get into your phone.

On the security and privacy, image data for facial recognition is processed on your device and "never saved or shared with other Google services." All face data is stored on the Pixel's Titan M chip.

Our Ben Schoon was quick to point out that this massive swath of features and sensors more than justifies what some had been calling a "large" upper bezel on the Pixel 4.

What's especially impressive to me is that this is more tech than what you'd find in the iPhone X's notch. One of the biggest complaints about the notch on most Android phones is that it's used just for a camera and nothing more, but few people complain about the same (if you ask me more intrusive) design choice on the iPhone, simply because it's justified by some of the same sensors Google is now using. If Apple can get away with less in a worse design, how can anyone complain about what Google has opted for?

The Nvidia's Shield TV devices continued to make waves this week, as the company rolled out its big Android Pie update. In fact, the Nvidia Shield TV is the first consumer Android TV device to offer Android Pie. Unlike previous major updates, however, Android Pie doesn't offer much in the way of major, visible changes to Android TV.

Android Pie adds a redesigned Settings menu to Android TV with updated colors and tweaked organization. Nvidia notes streamlined set up for new users, which might be useful following rumors that a revised device is in development.

Android Auto has been testing a redesigned version of its interface for some months now, but this week Google launched it to the public. The new, darker UI simplifies the key features of Android Auto, but as noted in our hands-on review, loses some of its proactive smarts.

One of the biggest improvements is a dark theme with colorful accents. There is a new launcher with recents up top, and all other applications below in a grid. The Android Auto revamp also features a new navigation bar with home button at the very left. Depending on the context, media controls, directions, or incoming call buttons follow.

In other redesign news, the Google Play Store's Material Theme is once more rolling out to phones, tablets, and Chromebooks alike, this week. This isn't the first time the Play Store's Material Theme has rolled to devices, as Google, perhaps mistakenly, shipped the redesign to some users. With as many as are seeing the redesign now, hopefully it's here to stay this time around.

The most striking aspect of this Material Theme Play Store is how the app is now stark white. Google has removed the green (apps & games), red (movies & TV), and blue (books) accent colors from the app and status bar. This bright color is particularly striking in the "My apps & games" list and listings. App names are now much more prominent, while the "What's new" section sees better spacing.

Two years ago, Hulu rolled out a complete overhaul of their UI and design language across almost all platforms. One of the major holdouts, however, was Android TV. This week, Hulu announced and subsequently rolled out their new Android TV app with the long-missing ability to watch live TV.

With the updated app, Hulu subscribers ditch the aging interface that Hulu hasn't supported for quite a while. It also opens up the platform to Hulu's Live TV service which is one of the better alternatives to Google's own YouTube TV. Presumably, this updated app will also support newer features of Android TV such as homescreen channels, but the company's post doesn't mention that. Hopefully, 4K support won't be too far behind either.

The rest of this week's top stories follow:

Android |

Chrome / OS |

Google |

Google Assistant |

Google Pixel |

OnePlus |

Samsung |

Videos |

Google will charge search providers to be the Android default in Europe - The Verge

Posted: 01 Aug 2019 11:38 PM PDT

Starting in early 2020, Google will present a new search provider choice screen to Android users in Europe when first setting up a new phone or tablet. The selection will then be the default search provider that powers the search box on the Android home screen as well as the Chrome browser if installed. Search providers will be required to pay Google each time a user selects them from the choice screen. Inclusion on the choice screen will be determined through a sealed-bid auction, with the top three bidders added alongside Google search.

Today's announcement follows the record-setting $5 billion fine against Google for antitrust violations in the EU. The July 2018 ruling required Google to stop "illegally tying" its Chrome and search apps to Android. The European Commission then left the means of compliance up to Google, which the Commission continues to monitor.

An illustrative version of the choice screen that will vary by European country.
Image: Google

Here's how Google describes the new auction process in a blog post published today.

In each country auction, search providers will state the price that they are willing to pay each time a user selects them from the choice screen in the given country. Each country will have a minimum bid threshold. The three highest bidders that meet or exceed the bid threshold for a given country will appear in the choice screen for that country.

Google does not say what the minimum bid threshold is. However, it does say that the number of bidders, and their bids, will be kept private. If fewer than three search providers meet the minimum bid threshold then Google will fill the available slot(s) randomly from the pool of eligible search providers. Providers will also be randomly ordered on the choice screen.

Eric Leandri, CEO of Qwant, the privacy-focused search engine based in Paris, said he'd look into participating in the auction. But Leandri called it "a total abuse of the dominant position" to "ask for cash just for showing a proposal of alternatives," in statements published by Bloomberg.

DuckDuckGo CEO Gabriel Weinberg also weighed in on the auction process.

Google justified the auction process in a FAQ:

An auction is a fair and objective method to determine which search providers are included in the choice screen. It allows search providers to decide what value they place on appearing in the choice screen and to bid accordingly.

Google had previously argued that it needed search tied to Android and the Chrome browser in order to monetize its significant investment in the operating system. The Commission rejected that assessment, noting the billions Google earns in the Play Store alone, as well as the data it collects in order to increase the value of its advertising business.

Android users in Europe will be able to switch their default search provider at any time after the initial setup, as is the case already.

The deadline for search providers to apply for eligibility and submit bids is September 13, 2019, with winning bids for each country, and inclusion on the choice screen, confirmed by October 31, 2019.

Update August 2nd, 7:08AM ET: Updated with quote from Qwant.

Update August 2nd, 10:40AM ET: Updated with quote from DuckDuckGo CEO Gabriel Weinberg.

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