Category: Google

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I see Tumbleweeds Rolling Across the Google+ Ghost Town

As the New Year approaches, and I contemplate 2016, my online social space surely will change; my like-affair with Google+ draws close to an end. Nearly six weeks ago, the service “reimagined“, as a  “fully redesigned Google+ that puts Communities and Collections front and center”.

Since then, my Google+ engagement has dropped by more than 90 percent. I don’t find as many posts to Plus-one, to share with others, or on which to comment. Similarly, I see shocking decline in the number of responses to my posts—not something I actively seek so much as by which to judge interest in what I write and also to interact with other Plusers. After years of misguided critics calling Google+ a ghost town, the tumbleweeds roll.

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Last-minute Tech Stocking Stuffers

Here we are, days before Christmas, and you’re thinking about last-minute stocking stuffers. I’ve got an eclectic selection of things I would want to get or give for December 25th. Some of them will demand rushing online to take advantage of last-minute shipping offers. Others require no shipping at all, like music subscription services. Confession: Some items will require a larger stocking but no wrapping.

I present the list alphabetically, and in no order of preference. 

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Pixel C Out-of-the-Box Impressions

Google’s first tablet arrived yesterday, and my review is forthcoming. I expected to have a wow reaction, but felt more meh. Some of that comes from my satisfaction using the smaller Nexus 9, which also runs Android 6 Marshmallow. Interestingly, my emotional quotient is considerably higher 24 hours later. This tablet could easily be a frequent companion. (Note: I typically rattle off thoughts about new devices here before posting full-on reviews to my work tech news site).

The search-and-information giant unexpectedly unveiled the Pixel C on September 29th. Sales started December 8th. Specs: 10.2-inch LTPS LCD touchscreen, 2560 x 1800 resolution, 308 pixels per inch, 500-nit brightness; nVidia Tegra X1 processor with Maxwell graphics; 3GB RAM; 32GB ($449) or 64GB ($599) storage; 8-megapixel rear and 2MP front cameras; four microphones; two speakers (sideways of screen in portrait mode on the bezel); USB Type-C port; WiFi AC; Bluetooth 4.1; accelerometer; compass; gyroscope; ambient-light, half-effect, and proximity sensors; Android 6. Enclosure is anodized aluminum that measures 242 x 179 x 7 mm and weighs 517 grams. 

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Google’s Sharing Spirit of the Season

Ho. Ho. Ho. Google gives early Christmas presents this holiday, by focusing on ways that families (or roomies) can better share that which is contextually precious: music, photos, online, payments, and videos. But Big G also trails Apple, which already offers its customers many of the same benefits.

Fresh today: Google Photos Shared Albums, which applies collaborative concepts that Apps users should find familiar. “People receiving the shared album can join to add their own photos and videos, and also get notifications when new pics are added”, according to the official announcement. “You can even save photos and videos from a shared album to your Google Photos library, so that you can hold onto them even if you weren’t the one holding the camera”. 

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Pixel C ships in time for Christmas

The rumor is fact. Today, Google started selling its first homegrown tablet, Pixel C. You can buy one directly from the company—until they sell out! Google typically struggles stocking new devices, like Nexus smartphones and the Chromebook Pixel. On November 30th, I asked: “Where is Pixel C?“, which was promised to arrive before the holidays. Now we know.

I hope to have the 10.2-inch tablet in possession within a few days and will subsequently post first-impression and full reviews. If you can’t wait for that, and shouldn’t, larger tech news sites already have their takes online. Search for the name, and you will find them. Don’t wait on me, if you’re thinking about one for Christmas! 

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OK, Google, Where Is Pixel C?

Black Friday is behind us, Cyber Monday is here, and Christmas shipping new purchases cuts off in about three weeks. Which makes me wonder: Where is Google’s new tablet? When announced at the end of September, Google product director Andrew Bowers said that the “Pixel C will be available in time for the holidays on the Google Store”. Eh, yeah—by whose measure is “in time”. The information giant typically sells out of new gear, which leaves little time to manage inventory. “Out of stock” notices will disappoint many shoppers, who may buy something else.

I watched for this baby to drop before Thanksgiving, particularly with Apple iPad Pro already available—three weeks now. Granted, the devices target different markets, if for no other reason than size (12.9 and 10.2 inches, respectively). But each is innovative and stylish and would make great presents for someone. I’m ready to buy, Google. As surely are many Android fanboys.I reached out to the PR staff there today and was told to “stay tuned”, which could be interpreted as soon. We shall see, eh? 

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The 5 Smartphones of Christmas

If you’re smartphone shopping this holiday and wondering what to buy, my primer can assist—with caveats. I focus solely on Androids that are higher end but affordable, and I ignore iPhones. No slight against Apple devices is intended. I figure that people who want an iPhone won’t likely consider an alternative. Also: The differences aren’t as pronounced. For example, the major benefit choosing 6s or 6s Plus over the two previous models is slightly lower price (3D Touch is an unnecessary gimmick). The major benefit picking 5s over the 6 or 6 Plus is again price but also smaller size.

Among Androids, differences abound—and many, such as older OS versions or custom UI skins, are carrier or manufacturer imposed. That’s without considering the bloatware that either or both parties might impose. I intentionally focus on devices that offer the most value for price paid, which includes upfront or payment-plan purchased unlocked. 

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Google, Give Thanks!

Another Thanksgiving is upon us, as Americans stuff their bellies with turkey and vittles, before falling asleep during the afternoon football game. It’s the day of family feuds, too much food, and setting the mood for the holiday season ahead.

We also count our blessings and give thanks for the year behind. I got to wondering what Google can be grateful for and compiled a short list for you. Perhaps you would like to add to it in comments or lash out at my lack of sensitivity on this special day. Please do. With that brief introduction, I present 5 things for which Google can give thanks, served in no particular order of importance. 

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Virtual Reality in a cardboard box?

Today the New York Times spammed my inbox: “We’ve just launched an innovative virtual reality platform that will transform the way you experience stories. As one of our most loyal digital subscribers, you are entitled to a complimentary Google Cardboard virtual reality viewer for an enhanced viewing experience”.

I took advantage of the freebie, thinking that this thing, which literally is a cardboard box, should be an April Fool’s hoax. I kinda heard about it before but ignored. Cardboard boxes are for Amazon packages and cat play after they arrive. High-tech gadgetry, c`mon? What? Is this the newest thing in recyclable tech? 

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TAG Heuer Connected makes Sense?

In a post to Google+ this AM, journalist Kevin Tofel asks: “Who else doesn’t think many people will buy a $1,500 Android Wear watch simply because it’s made by TAG Heuer?” His question is spot on. The timepiece maker introduced its new line of smart wristwear earlier today.

I see TAG Heuer Connected differently. The high-end brand is carried in fine jewelry stores everywhere. This watch will make Android Wear visible to millions of buyers who might never see the platform. Demographically, many of these same people might never encounter or consider purchasing Apple Watch, either. 

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Nexus 9 Revised Review

My May, lukewarm assessment begins: “t want to love Google-branded, HTC-manufactured Nexus 9. But ours is a contentious relationship”. I didn’t see value for the cost, particularly comparing performance to other tabs similarly priced. On Oct. 29, 2015, Amazon delivered a new N9, and the user experience dramatically differs from the previous device—so much I must revise my review.

Days earlier, I parted with iPad Air 2 LTE. The family hopes to change cellular carriers, and there was opportunity to amicably relinquish my payment responsibility to Verizon. I would love to replace the Apple with Google Pixel C, but the tab’s forthcoming release date is uncertain. I reconsidered Nexus 9 and found the 32GB white model available from Amazon for $130 less than list price. I ordered, knowing that the device could be returned for refund if Pixel C imminently released or if N9 dissatisfied again. Lower price made buying and trying again an easy decision.