samedi 17 février 2018

BQ Aquaris X/X Pro Receiving Android 8.1 Oreo Beta Before Most Flagship Phones

BQ, a Spain-based budget smartphone vendor, has a presence in Europe and the US, but it tends to fly under the radar when it comes to media coverage. That’s partly because its smartphones aren’t particularly competitive against models from China-based rivals such as Xiaomi, Honor, and Motorola. However, in regions where it’s hard for customers to buy phones from the aforementioned companies, BQ has a foothold.

The BQ Aquaris X and the Aquaris X Pro, two of the few mid-range smartphones in the company’s product lineup, have virtually the same specifications: a Qualcomm Snapdragon 626 system-on-chip, a 5.2-inch Full HD (1920×1080) IPS display, a 16MP rear camera with a f/2.0 aperture, a 8MP front camera, and  a 3,100mAh battery. The difference is that the Aquaris X has 3GB of RAM paired with 32GB of storage, while the X Pro comes with 4GB of RAM and up to 128GB of storage. They’re also aesthetically different: the Aquaris X has a plastic back, while the X Pro has a glass back (both phones have a metallic frame).

The phones were announced in March 2017. The Aquaris X’s launch price was €280 ($347), while the X Pro cost €360 ($446) and €400 ($496) for the 64GB and 128GB storage versions, respectively. They shipped with stock Android 7.1.1. Nougat, the latest version available at the time.

Now, it appears that both phones are receiving an update to Android 8.1 Oreo. It’s surprising news considering that Nokia (HMD Global) and Essential are the only other non-Google OEMs to have released Android 8.1 Oreo updates. (The Nokia 8 started receiving its stable Android 8.1 update earlier this month, while the Essential Phone recently received its first beta of Android 8.1.)

BQ Aquaris X Android Oreo

Lorenzo Ori is an external collaborator who makes custom kernels for BQ devices. According to him, the OTA update comes from BQ, and is only available in the beta channel. The screenshot shows that the update includes Android’s January security patch.

It’s great news for owners of the Aquaris X and the X Pro, and serves as a reminder that it’s not necessary big OEMs which are first to roll out Android updates. Sometimes, smaller OEMs beat them to the punch, and we hope that this serves as a motivation to all other Android OEMs to start releasing Android software updates on a timely basis.

Thanks to Lorenzo Ori for the tip!



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Facebook Loses Lawsuit Against Belgium, Fined €250,000 A Day Until it Complies with EU Privacy Laws

Facebook has long been under scrutiny over its privacy policies. The company was fined €1.2 million last year by a court in Spain for privacy violations, for example. Now, a Brussels judge has found it guilty of violating European Union privacy laws.

The decision issued this week, which stems from a 2015 lawsuit alleging that the social network illegally monitored users’ internet activity, says that the company ran afoul of EU privacy laws by failing to state which user data it saves, how long it stores the data, and how it uses it.

As a consequence, Facebook has been ordered to pay up to €250,000 a day (up to a maximum of €100 million) until it complies with Belgium’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and delete the illegally collected user data. In addition, it is required to publish the complete court verdict on its website.

It’s one of the largest fines imposed on Facebook since the social network was ordered to pay €110 million for misleading European regulators during the company’s acquisition of WhatsApp.

“We’ll comply with this new law, just as we’ve complied with existing data protection law in Europe,” Richard Allan, a spokesperson for Facebook, told HLN.

Belgium’s privacy watchdog and a plaintiff in the lawsuit, the Belgian Privacy Commission, applauded the ruling, stating, “Facebook has just launched a large campaign where they stress the importance of privacy. We hope they will now make this a reality,”

Facebook announced that it will appeal the court’s decision. “In recent years, we have worked hard to help people understand how we use cookies to display relevant content and protect Facebook,” Mr. Allen said. “We have formed teams that focus on protecting privacy, engineers developers and we have developed tools that give users choice and control options.”

It’s unclear if the company’s request for appeal will be granted.


Source: HLN (in Dutch)



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vendredi 16 février 2018

The Huawei P20 Plus will have a beefy 4,000 mAh battery to power its Always on Display feature

Huawei, the third largest smartphone manufacturer in the world, is preparing to launch the P20, P20 Plus, and the P20 Lite at an event in Paris on March 27th. The company was previously expected to launch the 3 smartphones, code-named “Emily,” “Charlotte,” and “Anne” respectively, during the upcoming Mobile World Congress event in Barcelona. However, those plans were scrapped, allegedly due to fear of being overshadowed by Samsung’s Galaxy S9. As the P20 series announcement approaches, we are continuing to see more information about the devices leak from various sources, and today we can reveal some new information about the P20 Plus: it will have a beefy 4,000 mAh battery and an Always on Display feature.

We have found evidence for these findings based on firmware files obtained by @FunkyHuawei, the man behind the FunkyHuawei.club service, which allows users to updateunbrick, or rebrand Huawei and Honor phones for a fee.

Digging into the firmware, we discovered that the P20 Plus’ product partition contains Huawei’s Always on Display APK. This means that the app will be pre-installed on the device at launch. Previously, the only other Huawei phone to feature an Always on Display feature is the Mate 10 Pro—which happened to be its first flagship phone with an OLED screen. Whether or not this means that the P20 Plus will have an OLED screen is unclear, though the possibility is strong. The Huawei Mate 10 featured an LCD screen in contrast with the Mate 10 Pro, so it wouldn’t be unusual for two Huawei phones in the same series to have drastically different display technologies.

Huawei P20 Plus

Huawei Mate 10 Pro’s Always on Display Feature

As for the battery, we uncovered that the P20 Plus battery capacity is set at 4,000 mAh. This is the number that is reported to apps through Android’s APIs. Further, we also found that the regular P20’s battery capacity is registered as 3,320 mAh—a fairly substantial difference between the two models. We aren’t sure about any RAM/storage discrepancies between the two devices, but it’s likely that the P20 Plus will have a slight advantage in that regard.

We previously exclusively reported on the biggest design change of the upcoming P20 flagship smartphones: the controversial inclusion of an iPhone X-style notch. We believe that this notch will be where Huawei implements their new Point Cloud Depth Camera to compete with Apple’s Animoji and Face ID features. We also recently found that the latest P20 firmware is running on Android 8.1 Oreo with EMUI 8.1, though we do not know what new features EMUI 8.1 will bring. Both the P20 and the P20 Plus will feature Huawei’s latest HiSilicon Kirin 970 SoC, the same SoC in the Huawei Mate 10 series and the Honor View 10.

There are a lot of rumors about these two devices, and with the launch date creeping up next month, more will come. The alleged designs of all 3 devices recently leaked, so there probably isn’t much left to learn about these devices. If we do learn more information about the Huawei P20 devices, we will update you on our findings.



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Google Maps v9.72 Beta Prepares to Add Uber Account Creation, Improves Transit Guidance and Road Closure Reporting, and More

Google Maps v9.72 beta is rolling out to users via the Play Store. User-facing changes are far and few between, but we did an APK teardown of the app and discovered a lot of information about upcoming features. In short, Google is adding native Uber integration to Google Maps, meaning users will be able to create Uber accounts from within Maps. Alerts about car parking, directions, and transit guidance are being improved, and there are new notifications. Finally, users will be able to submit more information about road closures.

There is a lot to get into, so let’s get started.

An APK teardown can often predict features that may arrive in a future update of an application, but it is possible that any of the features we mention here may not make it in a future release. This is because these features are currently unimplemented in the live build and may be pulled at any time by Google in a future build.


Create an Uber account from Google Maps

Uber integration

<string name="ACCOUNT_LINKING_CONTINUE">Continue</string>
<string name="ACCOUNT_LINKING_GOOGLE_SIGN_IN"&gt;Get started</string>
<string name="CANCEL_ACCOUNT_LINKING_MESSAGE">You need to link your accounts to book a ride</string>
<string name="CHOOSE_ACCOUNT_CONTINUE_AS_NAME">Continue as %1$s</string>
<string name="CHOOSE_ACCOUNT_LIST_TITLE">Choose account</string>
<string name="CHOOSE_ACCOUNT_OTHER_ACCOUNT">Use a different %1$s account</string>
<string name="CHOOSE_ACCOUNT_SUBTITLE">Link %1$s to your Google Account</string>
<string name="CHOOSE_ACCOUNT_TITLE">Book a ride in less than 30 seconds</string>
<string name="CHOOSE_PHONE_NUMBER_ADD_NUMBER">Add phone number</string>
<string name="CHOOSE_PHONE_NUMBER_LIST_TITLE">Choose another phone number</string>
<string name="CHOOSE_COUNTRY_CODE">Choose country</string>
<string name="CONTENT_DESCRIPTION_COUNTRY_CODE">Country code: %1$s %2$s</string>
<string name="COUNTDOWN_TIMER">%1$d:%2$02d</string>
<string name="COUNTRY_CODE">(%1$s)</string>
<string name="CREATE_ACCOUNT_CANCEL_BUTTON">Cancel</string>
<string name="CREATE_ACCOUNT_COARSE_LOCATION">Current city</string>
<string name="CREATE_ACCOUNT_CREATE_BUTTON">Create account</string>
<string name="CREATE_ACCOUNT_DISCLAIMER">By continuing, you agree to %1$s &lt;a href=%2$s>Terms&lt;/a> and &lt;a href=%3$s>Privacy Policy&lt;/a> and agree Google may access your %4$s account information. &lt;a href=%5$s>Learn more&lt;/a></string>
<string name="CREATE_ACCOUNT_LOCATION_LABEL">Location</string>
<string name="CREATE_ACCOUNT_PHONE_LABEL">Phone number</string>
<string name="CREATE_ACCOUNT_SUBTITLE">Your %1$s account will be created with the following information</string>
<string name="CREATE_ACCOUNT_TITLE">Almost done</string>
<string name="ENTER_PHONE_NUMBER_DISCLAIMER_FULL">"You'll get a code via SMS. Carrier rates may apply."</string>
<string name="ENTER_PHONE_NUMBER_ERROR">Something went wrong. Try entering a different phone number.</string>
<string name="ENTER_PHONE_NUMBER_NO_EXISTING_NUMBERS_SUBTITLE">To create one, enter your phone number</string>
<string name="ENTER_PHONE_NUMBER_NO_EXISTING_NUMBERS_TITLE">"You don't have an account with %1$s"</string>
<string name="ENTER_PHONE_NUMBER_TITLE">Enter phone number</string>
<string name="LINK_ACCOUNT_DISCLAIMER">By linking, you agree Google may access your %1$s account information. &lt;a href=%2$s>Learn more&lt;/a></string>
<string name="LINK_ACCOUNT_LINK_BUTTON">Link accounts</string>
<string name="LINK_ACCOUNT_TITLE">"Let's link your %1$s account"</string>
<string name="RESEND_SMS_ERROR">"Can't get a new code with this phone number. Try entering a different phone number."</string>
<string name="VERIFY_CODE_ERROR">Wrong code. Try again.</string>
<string name="VERIFY_CODE_RESEND_SMS_BUTTON">Get new code</string>
<string name="VERIFY_CODE_SMS_DELAY_LABEL">"Didn't receive a code?"</string>
<string name="VERIFY_CODE_SMS_DELAY_TIME">Wait %s and try again</string>
<string name="VERIFY_CODE_SUBTITLE">Sent to %1$s</string>
<string name="VERIFY_CODE_TITLE">Enter verification code</string>
<string name="CREATE_UBER_ACCOUNT_DISCLAIMER">"By continuing, you agree to Uber's &lt;a href=%1$s>Terms&lt;/a> and &lt;a href=%2$s>Privacy Policy&lt;/a> and agree Google may access your Uber account information. &lt;a href=%3$s>Learn more&lt;/a>"</string>

This is the headlining new feature we discovered in our teardown. Currently, booking an Uber ride from Maps requires installing and signing into the Uber app, but the new strings indicate that Google is adding support for Uber account creation to Maps.

When the feature goes live, users will be able to create Uber accounts without leaving the Maps app. It’ll prompt them select their country code, enter their phone number, and type in a text verification code. It’ll also show a disclaimer letting users know that when they create an Uber account in Maps, they’re also agreeing to Uber’s Terms and Privacy Policy and allowing Google to access their Uber account information.

Car parking

<string name="CAR_PARKING_DIFFICULTY_EASY">Easy</string>
<string name="CAR_PARKING_DIFFICULTY_HARD">Limited</string>
<string name="CAR_PARKING_DIFFICULTY_MEDIUM">Medium</string>
<string name="CAR_PARKING_DIFFICULTY_ONSITE">On-site</string>

In 2017, Google Maps gained a feature that lets users know if car parking is likely to be available near a location, and how difficult it might be to get that parking. These strings suggest that Google is planning to expand on this: a future version of Maps will let users know if on-site parking is available at a location.

Direction preferences

<string name="DIRECTIONS_AVOIDING_FERRIES">Avoiding ferries</string>
<string name="DIRECTIONS_AVOIDING_HIGHWAYS">Avoiding highways</string>
<string name="DIRECTIONS_AVOIDING_HIGHWAYS_FERRIES">Avoiding highways, ferries</string>
<string name="DIRECTIONS_AVOIDING_HIGHWAYS_TOLLS">Avoiding highways, tolls</string>
<string name="DIRECTIONS_AVOIDING_HIGHWAYS_TOLLS_FERRIES">Avoiding highways, tolls, ferries</string>
<string name="DIRECTIONS_AVOIDING_TOLLS">Avoiding tolls</string>
<string name="DIRECTIONS_AVOIDING_TOLLS_FERRIES">Avoiding tolls, ferries</string>

These strings polish the route options experience. Maps will explicitly say that it’s routing around highways, tolls, and ferries when users set their preferences in the route options setting. (The options appear in the overflow button when a user taps on the Directions button.)

New notifications

<string name="NOTIFICATION_SUBTEXT_GENERIC">Tap to correct your transport mode for better updates</string>
<string name="NOTIFICATION_SUBTEXT_SPECIFIC">Tap to correct your commute mode for better updates</string>
<string name="NOTIFICATION_TITLE_DRIVE">"Don't drive to work?"</string>
<string name="NOTIFICATION_TITLE_GENERIC">How do you commute?</string>
<string name="NOTIFICATION_TITLE_TRANSIT">"Don't take transit to work?"</string>

Maps will ask users questions such as, “How do you commute?”, “Don’t drive to work?” and “Don’t take transit to work?” via notifications. Another new notification will let users quickly change their transport and commute preferences.

Improving the “Questions and Answers” feature

Questions and answers

<string name="PLACE_QA_ACCESSIBILITY_YOUR_ANSWER_OVERFLOW_MENU_DESCRIPTION">Overflow menu for your answer: %1$s</string>
<string name="PLACE_QA_ACCESSIBILITY_YOUR_QUESTION_OVERFLOW_MENU_DESCRIPTION">Overflow menu for your question: %1$s</string>
<string name="PLACE_QA_ALL_DROPDOWN_MENU">All</string>
<string name="PLACE_QA_ANSWER_DROPDOWN_MENU">Answers</string>
<string name="PLACE_QA_ANSWER_QUESTIONS">Answer questions about places</string>
<string name="PLACE_QA_ANSWER_QUESTIONS_HELP_TEXT">Share your knowledge and help others by answering questions about places.</string>
<string name="PLACE_QA_ASK_OR_ANSWER_QUESTIONS">Ask or answer questions about places</string>
<string name="PLACE_QA_ASK_OR_ANSWER_QUESTIONS_HELP_TEXT">Need more info? Ask questions about businesses and places on Google Maps. You can also help others by answering their questions.</string>
<string name="PLACE_QA_ASK_QUESTIONS">Ask questions about places</string>
<string name="PLACE_QA_ASK_QUESTIONS_HELP_TEXT">Need more info about a place? Ask a question and let others lend a hand.</string>
<string name="PLACE_QA_DELETED_QUESTION_PLACE_HOLDER_TEXT">[Deleted question]</string>
<string name="PLACE_QA_INACTIVE_PLACE_ERROR_MESSAGE">This place has been removed or deleted</string>
<string name="PLACE_QA_INACTIVE_PLACE_SUBTITLE">Place no longer exists</string>
<string name="PLACE_QA_INACTIVE_PLACE_TITLE">Inactive place</string>
<string name="PLACE_QA_NO_ANSWERS_YET_HELP_TEXT">Anyone can answer questions to help others learn more about a business or a place. Just search for a place, select a question and tap &lt;b>Add an answer publicly&lt;/b>.</string>
<string name="PLACE_QA_NO_QUESTIONS_OR_ANSWERS_YET">No questions or answers yet</string>
<string name="PLACE_QA_NO_QUESTIONS_OR_ANSWERS_YET_HELP_TEXT">Anyone can ask or answer questions to find out more about a business or a place. Just search for a place and use the &lt;b>Questions &amp; answers&lt;/b> section.</string>
<string name="PLACE_QA_NO_QUESTIONS_YET_HELP_TEXT">Anyone can ask questions to find out more about a business or a place. Just search for a place and tap &lt;b>Ask the community&lt;/b>.</string>
<string name="PLACE_QA_QUESTION_DROPDOWN_MENU">Questions</string>
<string name="PLACE_QA_SEE_THE_QUESTION">See the question</string>
<string name="PLACE_QA_SUCCESS_MESSAGE_ANSWER_DELETED">Your answer was deleted</string>
<string name="PLACE_QA_SUCCESS_MESSAGE_QUESTION_DELETED">Your question was deleted</string>

These strings are related to the Questions and answers feature in Google Maps. Maps will now let users know about whether a place is inactive or no longer exists (if it’s removed and deleted, for example). There are new accessibility strings for overflow menu answers, and when a user taps the delete button for a question/answer he or she submitted, the app will indicate whether the question/answer was deleted successfully

Detailed information for road closures

Road closures

<string name="RAP_DISAMBIGUATION_CLOSED_ROAD_OPTION_DESCRIPTION">Report issues like construction, crashes, or other closures on this road</string>
<string name="RAP_DISAMBIGUATION_CLOSED_ROAD_OPTION_TEXT">Road is closed</string>
<string name="REPORT_A_PROBLEM_PICKER_DIALOG_REPORT_ADDRESS_INFO">Address info</string>
<string name="REPORT_A_PROBLEM_PICKER_DIALOG_REPORT_CLOSED_ROAD">Closed road</string>
<string name="REPORT_A_PROBLEM_PICKER_DIALOG_REPORT_ROAD_INFO">Road info</string>
<string name="REPORT_A_PROBLEM_PICKER_DIALOG_SUBTITLE">Select an issue to report</string>
<string name="REPORT_ROAD_CLOSED_ADD_DETAILS">Add more details</string>
<string name="REPORT_ROAD_CLOSED_INSTRUCTIONS">Help people know more about this closure</string>
<string name="REPORT_ROAD_CLOSED_OPTIONAL">(Optional)</string>
<string name="REPORT_ROAD_CLOSED_ROAD_PICKER_SUBTITLE">Tap all sections of the road closure</string>
<string name="REPORT_ROAD_CLOSED_ROAD_PICKER_TITLE">Select the roads</string>
<string name="REPORT_ROAD_CLOSED_TOOLBAR_TITLE">Report a road closure</string>
<string name="REPORT_WRONG_ROAD_INFO_PICKER_TITLE">Select the road</string>
<string name="ROAD_CLOSED_ADD_SCHEDULE_PROMPT">Add closure dates and times</string>
<string name="ROAD_CLOSED_DIRECTION_ONE_WAY">One way only</string>
<string name="ROAD_CLOSED_DIRECTION_PLACEHOLDER">Which way is closed?</string>
<string name="ROAD_CLOSED_DIRECTION_PROMPT">Direction</string>
<string name="ROAD_CLOSED_DIRECTION_TWO_WAYS">Both ways</string>
<string name="ROAD_CLOSED_REASON_CONSTRUCTION">Construction</string>
<string name="ROAD_CLOSED_REASON_CRASH">Crash</string>
<string name="ROAD_CLOSED_REASON_EVENT">Local Event</string>
<string name="ROAD_CLOSED_REASON_NATURE">Nature</string>
<string name="ROAD_CLOSED_REASON_NATURE_FALLEN_TREE">Fallen tree</string>
<string name="ROAD_CLOSED_REASON_NATURE_FLOOD">Flood</string>
<string name="ROAD_CLOSED_REASON_NATURE_MUDSLIDE">Mudslide</string>
<string name="ROAD_CLOSED_REASON_NATURE_PLACEHOLDER">Choose which type</string>
<string name="ROAD_CLOSED_REASON_NATURE_SNOW_ICE">Snow or ice</string>
<string name="ROAD_CLOSED_REASON_NOT_SURE">Not sure</string>
<string name="ROAD_CLOSED_REASON_OTHER">Other / Not sure</string>
<string name="ROAD_CLOSED_REASON_PROMPT">Reason</string>
<string name="ROAD_CLOSED_SCHEDULE_ADD_DATE_TIME">Add details (optional)</string>
<string name="ROAD_CLOSED_SCHEDULE_CLOSED_NOW">Closed now?</string>
<string name="ROAD_CLOSED_SCHEDULE_END_WHEN">When will the closure end?</string>
<string name="ROAD_CLOSED_SCHEDULE_FROM">Start date</string>
<string name="ROAD_CLOSED_SCHEDULE_HEADER_PROMPT">When</string>
<string name="ROAD_CLOSED_SCHEDULE_INVALID">Change what you entered so the end date is in the future and after the start date</string>
<string name="ROAD_CLOSED_SCHEDULE_UNTIL">End date</string>

Users are already able to report road closures via Google Maps, but these strings indicate that they will soon be able to add more detailed information about those closures — anything from why the road is closed to which section of the road is closed and when the closure will end. Users will also be able to report the cause of the road closure (e.g., construction, crashes, fallen trees, and local events).

Transit guidance

<string name="TRANSIT_DIRECTIONS_ONLY_ONE_STOP_SUPPORTED">"Can't give transit directions for multiple stops"</string>
<string name="TRANSIT_GUIDANCE_APPROXIMATE_DURATION">About %1$s</string>
<string name="TRANSIT_OCCUPANCY_CRUSHED_STANDING_ROOM_ONLY_DESCRIPTION">Crushed standing room only</string>
<string name="TRANSIT_OCCUPANCY_FEW_SEATS_AVAILABLE_DESCRIPTION">Few seats available</string>
<string name="TRANSIT_OCCUPANCY_MANY_SEATS_AVAILABLE_DESCRIPTION">Many seats available</string>
<string name="TRANSIT_OCCUPANCY_STANDING_ROOM_ONLY_DESCRIPTION">Standing room only</string>

Google Maps is getting improved transit features. The strings reference a feature called “transit occupancy”, but at this point, there’s not much else to go on. Future versions of Maps will also let users know when it can’t give transit directions for multiple stops, and show the approximate duration of transit guidance.

Error messages

<string name="CANT_FIND_A_WAY_THERE">"Can't find a way there"</string>
<string name="CANT_REACH_GOOGLE_MAPS">"Can't reach Google Maps"</string><string name="LOCATION_RESPONSE_ERROR">"Can't find your location. Try again in a few minutes."</string><string name="QUIT_BECAUSE_ANDROID_AUTO_RUNNING">"Your phone can't display Google Maps while Android Auto is running"</string>
<string name="SOMETHING_WENT_WRONG">"Something went wrong. Can't get directions there right now."</string>

Maps now shows more error messages. There’s a standard location response error and a “Can’t reach Google Maps” error, as well as a customary “Something went wrong” error (which will show up when Maps can’t get directions). There’s also a message about how Google Maps can’t display on the phone’s screen while Android Auto is running.

Miscellaneous

<string name="ACCESSIBILITY_FF_ENTRY_POINT">Question mark</string>
<string name="BUSINESS_HOURS_CLOSING_HOURS_TITLE_V2">Closing time</string>
<string name="BUSINESS_HOURS_OPENING_HOURS_TITLE_V2">Opening time</string>
<string name="TAB_BUTTON_BADGE_CONTENT_DESCRIPTION">Tab has new updates</string>

The first string adds to Maps’s existing accessibility features, while the second and third strings cryptically point to a “V2” feature business opening and closing times. The last one lets users know when a tab button has new updates (for example, when someone posts a new review posted on a point of interest’s Reviews tab).

Maps - Navigation & Transit (Free, Google Play) →


Let us know in the comments if you spot anything new, and follow our APK Teardown tag for more articles like this!



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Everything we know about the Samsung Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+

The new Samsung Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+ are scheduled to launch on the 25th of February ahead of Mobile World Congress 2018. Since so much attention is placed on these two devices, it’s hard for Samsung to keep everything under wraps until the announcement. We’ve seen everything from hardware specifications to pricing to even minute software features being leaked. All of that information can be overwhelming, so here is a roundup of everything we know about the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+.


Samsung Galaxy S9/S9+ Design

The basic design of the Galaxy S9 will be similar to last year’s Samsung Galaxy S8. The front will be almost identical but with a slightly smaller front bezel at the bottom. On the other hand, the top bezel will be the same size. Also on the top, the earpiece grill will be a bit larger to make room for the new front firing AKG tuned speaker. According to our source who has seen and used the unreleased Galaxy S9, it will match the previously leaked renders perfectly.

galaxy s9

The Samsung Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+ as leaked by VentureBeat.

The rear of the device will change a bit, which has already leaked. The camera and fingerprint scanner  will be stacked vertically, and the heart rate scanner and LED flash will be placed next to the camera and fingerprint scanner. One radical difference between the Galaxy S9 and S9+ is that the latter will have a dual camera, a first for the Galaxy S line, that will also be stacked on top of the fingerprint scanner with the flash and heart rate monitor on the side.

The Samsung Galaxy S9+ in Coral Blue with a dual rear camera module. Source: Evan Blass.

The body of the phone is almost the same size as the Galaxy S8 and S8+, though a bit smaller. It will come in 4 colors: Midnight Black, Coral Blue, Lilac Purple, and Titanium Gray as reported by Evan Blass. Our source says the phones will be a bit lighter than the current Galaxy S8 and S8+, though the speakers in the Galaxy S9 will also be much louder and have a much better sound quality. Our source claims “A+++” sound quality.


Samsung Galaxy S9/S9+ Camera and Sensors

Galaxy S9

Press Invite for the Galaxy S9/S9+ Unveiling on February 25th.

According to the press invites Samsung has sent to reporters, the camera on the Galaxy S9 will see the largest upgrade. We know already that the rear-facing camera on the Galaxy S9 will be variable aperture. This will be the second Samsung phone to have a variable aperture. It will still be a 12MP sensor, though, but it will have 2 aperture values to switch from—f/1.5 and f/2.4. This will allow for more light intake when taking shots at night and less light for daytime shots. The Galaxy S9+ will have the same variable aperture camera but with another 12 MP zoom lens like the Samsung Galaxy Note8.

Samsung W2018 Flip Phone with a Variable Aperture Camera

These cameras will also support “Super Slow Mo” recording which is described as a 480 Hz slow-motion 720p video. This is from an unnamed source, so we can not confirm this.

3D Emoji

The upcoming Galaxy flagships will get support for Samsung’s new 3D Emoji. This was confirmed to be a feature, and it will allow you to create an avatar of yourself, like Bitmoji, and speak through it like Apple’s Animoji. Unlike Bitmoji or Animoji, however, you will be able to take a picture of yourself and import it in. It will also support Emoji just like Apple’s Animoji.

Facial Recognition/Iris Scanner

The front Iris camera is rumored to get an upgrade from 2MP to 3MP—increasing speed and accuracy. Our same source has also said that the facial recognition on the phone will use the same camera as the iris scanner. Our source also confirmed that Intelligent Scan, which we leaked through strings in the System UI of the unreleased Samsung Galaxy Note8 Android Oreo beta, will also be making its first appearance in the Galaxy S9.


Samsung Galaxy S9/S9+ Software Features

This is hardly a surprise, but Samsung will be launching the new flagship smartphones with Android 8.0 Oreo on board. We confirmed this several months back, but at the time could not tell you specifically what new features would be included in Samsung Experience. Now that Samsung Experience 9.0 started to roll out on the Samsung Galaxy S8/S8+ (albeit briefly put on hold), we know that the update will include features such as a new keyboard with built-in stickers and GIFs, App Pair, and much more which you can read about here. All of the standard Android 8.0 Oreo feature-set will be available, of course.

Bixby

Bixby will also be getting an upgrade with the S9. When you first turn on your device to set it up, Bixby will be able to assist you in the setup process. We discovered this from the Setup Wizard APK from the Galaxy Note8 8.0 Oreo beta. Along with the setup process, Bixby Vision will be getting an upgrade with new real-time translation, which our own source corroborates.

Our source states that Samsung will be partnering with Sephora to add a real-time 3D makeup augmented reality tester. It will scan your face and use Bixby Vision to let you try on makeup and see how you like it, then you can add it to your cart and checkout right through Bixby. Bixby will also be getting its own standalone app. According to ETNews, the Galaxy S9 might be launching with Bixby 2.0, which should improve the speed and accuracy of its voice controls.


Hardware Specifications

The hardware of the Galaxy S9 will be getting a nice, incremental upgrade. The screen will be the same sizes as the Galaxy S8 and S8+, but will be getting brighter with better support for HDR10. The CPU for the U.S. Variant will be the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 and for the international variant, it will be the Exynos 9810. The Samsung Galaxy S9 will have 4GBs of RAM while the Galaxy S9+ will have 6GBs of RAM. The battery capacity will be the same as the Galaxy S8 and S8+—3000mAh for S9 and 3500mAh for the S9+ respectively. This battery capacity is not all bad though as the CPUs will be more power efficient so you don’t need to worry about battery life being worse than the previous generation.


Availability

The phone will be announced ahead of MWC 2018 on February 25th at 9 A.M. PST. You can view the livestream on Samsung’s YouTube channel or Facebook page. Our source claim that pre-orders will start on the 26th, a day after the announcement. This was the same as last year with the Samsung Galaxy S8. We cannot confirm this, but if true, that means pre-orders will start at 12:01 A.M. EST on the 26th and 9:01 P.M. PST on the 25th. According to our source, the phone is scheduled to be in stores on March 9th. I was also told by another source that Samsung usually allows carriers to ship pre-orders a few days early, so be sure to pre-order to get your phone as soon as possible.



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Sony is Removing Night Light from the Xperia XA1 in Upcoming Android Oreo Update

Android’s well-received Night Light feature, which was introduced alongside the Android N Developer Preview in 2016, inexplicably disappeared for certain devices in Android 8.1 Oreo. That motivated OEMs such as Sony to roll out replacements: the Xperia XA1 series featured its own take on Android’s Night Light. Unfortunately, it’ll be removed in an upcoming Oreo update.

Sony introduced the nightlight feature in a beta software build last year. (Sony’s Concept program is similar to Google’s Developer Previews in that it’s a testing ground for features that don’t always make their way to stable branches.)

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In one of the preview builds, Sony Xperia XA1, Xperia XA1 Ultra, and Xperia XA1 Plus owners uncovered a Night Light-like feature called “Good night actions” in the Xperia Actions settings menu. While it wasn’t as fully featured as Android’s native Night Light mode, it lowered the amount of blue light — which is thought to affect circadian rhythm and make it more difficult to fall asleep at night — emitted from the screen.

Someone recently reached out to the official Sony Xperia Twitter account and asked why the XA1 series had this feature while other Sony devices did not. A customers support representative said that it’ll be removed in an upcoming Oreo update for the XA1 series, and recommended third-party alternatives.

It’s unclear if the feature is being removed due to a technical reason, or if Sony’s aiming for feature parity across its devices. Whatever the case may be, it’s unfortunate to see it go.

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Source: Xperia Blog



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Google is offering “Loyal Nexus Owners” 20% Off the Pixel 2/2XL

For smartphone manufacturers, one of the advantages of launching a device toward the end of the year is that it gets an uplift from the holiday shopping season. However, it can also get lost in the fray conventions like the Consumer Electronics Show in January and Mobile World Congress in February. One way some companies combat the post-holiday dip is by offering promotions or putting the phone on sale, which is what Google looks to be doing with the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL. Some “loyal Nexus owners” are receiving emails offering 20% off the purchase of either of Google’s latest Pixel smartphones.

The email mentions “loyal Nexus owners”, but doesn’t lay out the criteria for who qualifies. It could be targeted at customers in specific countries, or Google might just be sending the email to random people who have purchased at least one Nexus device in the past.

It looks like Google is trying to entice those who have previously purchased a Nexus smartphone and/or tablet into buying a Pixel 2 or a Pixel 2 XL. It’s an interesting tactic — if the XDA forums are any indication, Nexus owners tend to be enthusiasts, and Google stands to generate lots of sales with this offer. One of the complaints we continue to hear about the new Pixel phones is that they’re too expensive (especially in some markets around the world), so offering 20% off the retail price could end up putting the Pixel 2 or Pixel 2 XL into buying range for a lot of people.

Keep your eye on your inbox to see if you end up receiving one of these emails. If Google’s promotion doesn’t float your boat, though, Best Buy and Verizon are offering $400 off the Pixel 2 XL today only. Customers who sign up for a 20-month installment plan (18.74 per month for 64GB, $22.91 per month for 128GB) get $300 in bill credits and $100 in Best Buy instant savings.


Source: Reddit user bukithd



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