Rumored 'mid-range' Pixel 3 might include a headphone jack

Rumors have swirled for months of Google developing a lower-cost Pixel 3 that would offer the core experience at a lower price, and there might be evidence it’s real. Rozetked (which posted accurate Pixel 3 XL leaks) claims to have obtained photos and details of “Sargo,” a mid-tier Pixel 3 device. It would share some style cues with the regular Pixel 3, but would use a 5.5-inch 2,220 x 1,080 LCD in place of the OLED screen, a plastic body, an upper-mid-range Snapdragon 670 instead of the 845 and 32GB of storage rather than 64GB. Even the stereo front-facing audio would be gone. However, it might have an addition that would make some people happy — a headphone jack.

The photos show a conspicuous 3.5mm port at the top of the phone. It’s not certain why Google would throw in a headphone jack when it doesn’t do the same for its flagships, so take this with a grain of salt. However, it might make sense if Google is aiming the phone at developing markets where Bluetooth audio and third-party USB-C headphones aren’t as practical.

Crucially, the signature Pixel 3 camera would remain intact as well .

There’s no certainty this phone will launch, whether or not the scoop it accurate. Google has made references to “Sargo” (and an earlier counterpart, “Bonito”) in its code, though. And simply speaking, this would address one of the loudest complaints about the Pixel 3 — that Google raised the baseline pricing by $150, shutting out people who chose the ‘entry’ Pixel for its relative affordability. This could make Google’s phone lineup more accessible than it has been for a long, long time.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Link to original source

Barnes & Noble's latest Nook tablet can turn into a makeshift laptop

Earlier in November, Barnes & Noble unveiled the Nook Tablet 10.1, a slate whose main appeal is its sheer value for money — $130 gets you a 1,920 x 1,200 screen and 32GB of expandable storage. However, it may be the just-released accessories for the tablet that catch your eye. Most importantly, there’s a $40 Smart Folio Cover with Keyboard that, for the first time, turns the Nook into a pseudo-laptop. Much like with a Surface or iPad Pro, there’s a physical connector that provides power and data without cables or a finicky Bluetooth connection. You probably won’t be using a Nook as a productivity machine, but this might help if you want to write a review of a book mere moments after you’ve finished reading it.

There’s also another first for the Nook. A $35 Charging Dock can power the tablet (if you already have a wall adapter and cable) while it remains in landscape mode, helping you through lengthy Netflix marathons and video chat sessions. Between this and the keyboard, it’s evident that Barnes & Noble wants to expand the roles for its tablet. While there’s no doubt that the Nook Tablet 10.1 is ultimately a vehicle for the company’s e-book service, it can be much more of a general-purpose device if you’re willing to spend extra.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Link to original source

Google may add public comments for searches


Chesnot/Getty Images

Google+ is shutting down in the wake of a data privacy flaw, but that doesn’t mean Google is now uninterested in social features. The 9to5Google crew has discovered what appears to be in-testing support for comments on search results. The feature would be limited to live sports matches (at least at first), but it would separate feedback from both pro commentators and viewers and would include filters to highlight the top comments. And yes, there would be moderation to cut down on spam and other abuse.

We’ve asked Google if it can say more about its potential plans. There’s no certainty this will arrive soon, if at all. With that in mind, the allure is clear for Google. Comments on specific events could keep people engaged on Google well after they’ve run a search, rather than just the few moments it takes to check scores or visit another website. That, in turn, could help with advertising, sports deals and other aspects of Google’s bottom line.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Link to original source

Verizon app puts four extra numbers on one phone


Evan Rodgers/Engadget

Multi-SIM phones are all fine and dandy, but they have their limits: you rarely get more than two lines, and they may be overkill if you just want a new set of digits rather than a wholly separate connection. Verizon (Engadget’s parent company) thinks it has a fix. The carrier has launched a My Numbers app for Android and iOS that puts as many as four extra numbers on your phone. You can divide them by personal and work lines, and use them for unlimited domestic calling and texting.

In some ways, though, the pricing is the hook. You can add lines for $15 each. That’s not trivial, but easier to justify than a full line. Be aware of the catches, though. This won’t help if you want service on another carrier (for backup or better rates, as an example). And if you decide to switch carriers, you’ll have a headache on your hands trying to move those lines over — yes, it’s a classic case of lock-in. However, this might be helpful if you want a separate work line with relatively little fuss.

Verizon owns Engadget’s parent company, Oath (formerly AOL). Rest assured, Verizon has no control over our coverage. Engadget remains editorially independent.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Link to original source

Google's Night Sight shooting mode for the Pixel 3 is mind-blowing

Literally looks like night and day shooting with Night Sight (right) and without (left).
Literally looks like night and day shooting with Night Sight (right) and without (left).
Image: Raymond Wong/mashable

Holy moly, has Google just changed the smartphone camera game with the release of the Night Sight mode for its Pixel 3 and 3 XL phones.

Announced at its October Pixel 3 launch event, Google boasted Night Sight as a significant leap forward for taking night photos — useful for exposing colors and details lost in the shadows.

I’ve only just tried Night Sight, currently rolling out to Pixel 3 phones via a software update, and my mind’s still piecing itself back together from being blown apart.

It’s no secret Google has been flexing its computational photography and machine-learning skills to enhance shots taken with its Pixel phones.

Though it’s questionable whether we, as photographers and creatives, should be letting Google decide for us what is a “good-looking” photo — the Pixel 3 tends to shoot pictures that are more contrasty, more saturated, and artificially sharpened than an iPhone or Samsung Galaxy — I don’t think anyone disagrees that the company’s leveraging of software to produce better pictures is a game-changer.

Unlike regular DSLRs or mirrorless cameras, where you can attach lenses of all different sizes with different-size apertures to shoot better low-light photos, smartphones are limited by their thickness.

The tiny image sensors inside of our phones can only collect so much light. Phone makers could make these image sensors larger so they could collect more light to take better low-light photos, but it’d also make phones balloon in size, thickness, and weight as well. 

So Google turned to software. And Apple’s done the same, too. And I’d bet good money other phone makers will soon make the move as well.

Does it really work like magic? Yes, and no. But mostly yes.

With HDR+, Google proved it could take one evenly-exposed money shot by combining a series of images taken at short exposures. The results were good and have only become better.

Night Sight uses the same HDR+ technology, but injects it with steroids. Depending on how dark the scene is and the amount of luminance available (measured in lux), the Pixel 3 will take up to 15 shots at varying shutter speeds (i.e. 1/15th of a second or 1 second) and then combine them all into one final picture.

In other words, Night Sight is the equivalent to a long exposure on a “real” camera. Google gets really technical and nerdy about the details in a blog post, but what you really want to know is: Does it really work like magic?

Yes. And no. But mostly yes.

While the Pixel 3 and 3 XL are Google’s best phones to show off the power of Night Sight because of improved camera components and a faster processor, the original Pixels and Pixel 2’s are also getting the new camera mode. 

I haven’t tried Night Sight on any Pixel 1 or Pixel 2 phones yet so I can’t speak to how well it works on older hardware (Google says there are some differences and shots won’t look as good as on Pixel 3). 

But on a Pixel 3 XL, however, Night Sight seemingly turns night into day. See for yourself in the shots below.

In the below photos, I pointed the Pixel 3 at a scene so dark I could barely make out what I was shooting. The Pixel 3’s camera brightens the viewfinder in Night Sight mode so you can see what you’re shooting, but it looks really noisy.

However, you won’t see that level of extreme image noise in your photo after it’s finished processing. 

Without firing the flash, the Pixel 3’s Night Sight mode exposed this faux Thanksgiving dinner scene, bringing out the colors that would be lost without the mode turned on.

It’s a lovely shot and would work just fine for posting to Instagram or Twitter, but the picture’s a little soft overall. In really dark scenarios, the Pixel 3 struggled to find something to autofocus on. There’s a button in the upper right corner of the mode that lets you manually change the focus to “near” or “far”. I’ll have to shoot more with it in the real world to see how well it really works, though.

Image: RAYMOND WONG/MASHABLE

Image: raymond wong/mashable

Night Sight enhances dynamic range. Similar to a long exposure, the colors can be more exaggerated. There wasn’t a green cast on the standup bass, but the instrument is more defined and pops in the image.

Image: RAYMOND WONG/MASHABLE

Image: RAYMOND WONG/MASHABLE

This candle-lit dinner scene wasn’t quite as dark as the one above, but you can still see Night Sight brings out the shadows nicely.

Image: RAYMOND WONG/MASHABLE

Image: RAYMOND WONG/MASHABLE

Night Sight isn’t always the best mode to shoot low-light photos with, though. Sometimes you want a little contrast and shadow to give a shot a certain tone. Night Sight can sometimes flatten the colors in an image like in the shot below. 

Image: RAYMOND WONG/MASHABLE

Image: RAYMOND WONG/MASHABLE

Mashable Deputy Tech Editor Michael Nuñez looks more spritely here. His posture is more visible and the food looks more appetizing. 

Image: RAYMOND WONG/MASHABLE

Image: RAYMOND WONG/MASHABLE

Not a whole of image noise here too. There’s a teensy bit of skin-smoothening going on, but it still looks pretty darn good.

Night Sight made Mike look less tired!

Night Sight made Mike look less tired!

Image: RAYMOND WONG/MASHABLE

As good as Night Sight is, you don’t wanna use it all the time. In some night shots, the regular camera just produces a better look that’s less washed out and has less image noise (see black sky in on right side of photos below) IMO:

Image: RAYMOND WONG/MASHABLE

Image: RAYMOND WONG/MASHABLE

Night Sight also works with the selfie camera. On the left is what the scene looked like to my feeble human eyes. The image is a little soft, but still… like wow.

Image: RAYMOND WONG/MASHABLE

Image: RAYMOND WONG/MASHABLE

I can’t help but be really, really impressed by Night Sight, even though it can be hit or miss with photos sometimes coming out completely blurry, soft, or full of image noise.

These nitpicks aren’t enough to stain Night Sight because this is just the first version. It’ll only get better like HDR+ has and as features like optical image stabilization improve. Using a tripod should also improve sharpness.

Night Sight feels almost like black magic. It’s really not very different from Sony’s A7S II, which is beloved for its ability to to do the same. The difference is how the Pixels are doing it. Instead of hardware, Google’s doing it all with software. Night Sight puts the Pixel 3 cameras several steps ahead of the competition — at least when it comes to night photography.

At first, I was really concerned about Night Sight misrepresenting reality. And in many ways it does. Night Sight is like having night vision — it lets you see what your naked eyes can’t. But just like a long exposure, it opens up new creative expressions for mobile photography. You should use it sparingly, but it’s gonna be hard not to. I’d love to see a future version shoot both a Night Sight version and a regular version and let us pick the one we want.

Https%3a%2f%2fblueprint api production.s3.amazonaws.com%2fuploads%2fvideo uploaders%2fdistribution thumb%2fimage%2f86828%2f3f063f5d 8da3 4171 97e5 40125b07a217

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Link to original source

Sharp thinks two phone notches are better than one


Sharp

If the thought of one notch on a phone makes you apoplectic, you might want to sit down before you read this. Sharp has unveiled the Aquos R2 Compact, a 5.2-inch handset that crams in two notches — one for its front 8-megapixel camera and another for its fingerprint reader. The design helps make the most out of a relatively small body, but this is destined to give you fits if you dislike components jutting into the screen. It’s not even symmetric, either.

If there’s any consolation, it’s that the phone itself is a solid upper mid-range device. It touts a 2,280 x 1,080 120Hz IGZO display, a Snapdragon 845 processor, 4GB of RAM, a 22.6-megapixel f/1.9 rear camera and 64GB of expandable storage. The 2,500mAh battery isn’t spectacular, but it’s also driving a relatively small display.

The R2 Compact should be available in Japan in mid-January, with pricing unavailable as we write this. Given that Sharp’s smartphones rarely make it outside of the country, we wouldn’t count on it reaching a store near you. Not that this is entirely a bad thing… you don’t want other smartphone manufacturers getting any ideas.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Link to original source

Google: Android Pie will hit more devices in 2018 than Oreo did in 2017


Google

Google has long been criticised for the long delays between Android upgrades. While iPhone users are merrily chowing down on regular OS updates, Android users have to wait for long intervals, with lower cost handsets never seeing an update at all during their lifespans. Google’s update framework, Project Treble, seeks to rectify this, and the company has just announced that all devices launching with Android 9 Pie or later with be Treble-compliant. The picture above shows off a range of Trebled-equipped devices displaying the same Generic System Image.

In a blog post, Google says that thanks to Treble, it anticipates more devices running Android 9 Pie at the end of 2018, compared to the number of devices that were running Android Oreo at the end of 2017. Bear in mind that it wasn’t until February of this year that Google announced Nougat had become the most-used Android release, 17 months after its summer 2016 launch. Treble aims to close these kinds of gaps, and if the framework comes as standard on new devices going forward, it won’t be too long before more people are on better versions of Android, which is good news for features and security, and for staving off the competition.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Link to original source