Do you have an Android phone? As you all know, Google, the company that is responsible for creating the Android operating system, releases a new version of the mobile OS each and every year.
While they’ve already ditched the alphabetical food naming scheme, they’ve stuck with the numbering scheme since Android 10 was launched last year.
This year, the company calls it simply as Android 11 and it is currently in beta and early access. This article is for the Android 11 Beta Review.
How to Get It?
The new Android 11 is still in its early beta stages. In fact, it was just released not too long ago. That being said, only Google Pixel phones have access to it for the time being, so any other Android device would have to wait in line.
The first thing that I will talk about is something that you will notice right away: UI changes. The most notable one would be for the notifications section.
Isn’t it frustrating where you had to sift through your notifications just to find the right ones that are important to you? Well, Google has lumped notifications into three categories: Conversations, alerting notifications, and silent notifications.
Under ‘Conversations’, you will find all of the notifications that are produced by your chat applications. This includes Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Skype, and a whole lot more.
That provides you with a great way to easily respond to any person that tries to keep in contact with you and that is a really nice change.
In ‘Alerting Notifications’, these are notifications from your other apps that you haven’t included in your silent notifications list. In other words, these are messages that are normally produced by all of your other apps.
Lastly, silent notifications are notifications that are produced by the applications that you have lumped into the said category. They do not produce any sound and will silently just pile up if you don’t deem them as important.
Anyway, all of the notifications under your Conversations tab will create a sort of chat bubble that is like what Facebook Messenger is doing. You can easily tap on the bubble to respond to your chats or emails immediately.
Furthermore, you can also set more priorities for some people as well. Should you prioritize certain things, they will notify you even if you’ve set the phone to ‘Do Not Disturb’.
People that listen to audio and other media will also love the fact that the media playback controls are now more persistent.
When you swipe down the notification shade, you will find the playback controls quickly and easily. They persist so long as there are some media running in the background which is really nice. Gone are the days where you have to fire up the app again just to skip tracks, etc.
Native Smart Home Integration
There is really a huge push when it comes to the Internet of Things (IoT) and Google just makes it so much easier for you.
If you have any smart appliances or Google Home products, you can easily toggle those things on and off. If there are additional settings, you can toggle that on the same panel as well.
Built-in Screen Recording
Fans of this particular feature were saddened by the fact that the Android 10 didn’t come with native screen recording when it was released to the public (though beta versions had this, it was not present in the final one).
Fortunately, Google seems to have fixed anything that broke screen recording before and has re-integrated it back to Android 11.
It does what it says it does, so hopefully, it will be available once Android 11 finally releases on all mobile phones later this year.
New ‘Recents’ Action
When you go to the ‘Recents’ menu, you will find three new actions: Screenshot, Select, Share.
Pressing the ‘Screenshot’ button will automatically grab a photo of the app that you are currently on. You can either edit the resulting image or share it on your social media accounts.
When you press the ‘Select’ option, you will be able to see what things you can highlight on the image so that you can easily copy your chosen text to the clipboard.
Then, the ‘Share’ button just makes it easier for you to share a particular image to your friends and family.
Stricter App Permissions
By default, there are only three options you can choose from if you fire up an app that asks for certain permissions.
First is the ‘allow only this time’ which means that you only grant whatever permission the app needs only at the time you fire it up.
Next, is the ‘while using the app’ which essentially grants permission to the app indefinitely. The last option would be to deny the application of any access to your system.
If you’ve given an app certain permissions indefinitely, you can toggle the option to reset it, but you will have to go deep down the settings menu in order to do that.
I really love the new ‘permission reset’ setting simply because it automatically resets all app permissions if you want to.
Okay, while all of the aforementioned new features of Android 11 are pretty exciting, keep in mind that it is still the first beta version of the upcoming OS. That means that bugs are to be expected until the final release.
From what I’ve experienced, not all applications can support the new notifications settings. They may be updated to suit the new Android ecosystem, but it may take some time.
Furthermore, there are some settings that do not work. That is to be expected given that it is still a developer preview anyway.
How to Install?
To be honest, Android 11 is still not a really good operating system to be using at this time. You may want to wait for a new beta version to be released in order for the developers to have fixed the bugs that are present in the first version.
Anyway, if you still want to try it out for yourself, you should have a Google Pixel device. If you do have one, you can go ahead and enroll your device on ‘Android Beta for Pixel Program’. Then, you will be able to download the operating system to your phone.
While it is far from perfect, the new features are pretty good. The new notifications panel just makes it so much easier for you to discern the most important ones from the others.
Aside from that, the new UI improvements are always welcome. Its integration with your smart appliances would really improve IoT in a major way.
I certainly hope that there will be more features added to Android 11 before release, but from what I can see so far, what Google is offering is pretty good.
Vizio Smartcast TV 2020- Everything That You Need to Know
The world is transitioning towards SmartTVs because such displays offer a lot more than analog TVs in the past.
While heavyweights such as LG and Samsung are at the forefront, there are others that definitely need more recognition.
Vizio is actually the third largest TV manufacturer in the US and they have set to release new displays that everyone will surely love.
Read further to find out more about the company’s latest Vizio Smartcast TVs and what they have to offer.
What is Smartcast?
When you are running an Analog TV back in the day, you can actually improve it by using a casting device such as Google Chromecast.
Now, what that device can do is allow you to project whatever is on your Android phone’s screen onto your TV. The problem with this approach is that you’d have to buy the device separately and sometimes, there is no available device in your area.
Fortunately, SmartTVs have become more ubiquitous and as people transition to the newest standard, you get a display with a casting feature already built-in. There is one problem though.
You see, while almost all SmartTVs give you the ability to cast whatever content is on your mobile device to your TV, its implementation is somewhat rough in the sense that the overall user experience is not ideal.
Vizio has actually implemented a casting feature on their displays since they rose to prominence in the early 2010s, but it is only in 2020 that they have vastly improved on that front.
Enter the Visio Smartcast. The new feature intends to improve upon what the company has incorporated into its displays for quite some time now.
Expect fast response times, drastically lower loading times, and better integration with popular streaming platforms.
The company said that their new TVs will support Apple Airplay as well, so iPhone users will not be left out.
All OLED TVs
LG was the leader when it comes to OLED technology. The said company was the first to release OLED displays on the market and while they were the pioneers, other companies have certainly improved upon the said display panel.
That being said, all Vizio SmartTVs that are released from 2020 onward will come with OLED displays. That means that you get better contrasts and more vibrant colors thanks to the inherent nature of the technology.
You can expect that even Vizio’s more budget-friendly offering will come with OLED panels, so that is truly an interesting thing.
Other Notable Features
OLED TVs have a problem when it comes to overall brightness. It used to be a limitation of the said technology, but it has certainly improved over the years.
The new Vizio Smartcast TVs will offer panels that can go beyond 800 nits of brightness and that is quite respectable, given the fact that they have just implemented the said panels into its product stack.
Aside from an increased peak brightness, the company’s new OLED TVs will also support Dolby Vision, as well as HDR10+, and HLG. Keep in mind that to take advantage of the aforementioned technologies, the content that you are going to watch should support it natively.
Of course, since the new TVs are going to support more features now more than ever before, they should also come with a processing package that can help bring things to the fore without any problems.
That is why the new Vizio products will come with what is known as the IQ Ultra Processor that is able to handle 64-bit image processing and machine learning to improve whatever content is on display.
As new game consoles are going to be released later this year, the company is sure to future proof their TVs by incorporating new features that are intended for gaming, in general.
For one, Vizio is adding a ProGaming Engine that supports AMD Freesync, Virtual Reality, low-latency mode, an Auto Game Mode, and real-time HDR tone mapping, to name a few.
The gaming mode should provide gamers with a 120hz screen refresh rate, though it remains to be seen if you need to be at a certain resolution to take advantage of the feature.
It is also worth noting that the top of the line TVs from Vizio will also come with HDMI 2.1 support, as well as eARC support for Dolby Atmos technology. If you have TV Soundbars that use an HDMI ARC slot, you can plug it into the display without any problems.
The company’s P-Series Quantum X lineup will come with 4K Quantum-Dot displays. It can reach up to 3,000 nits of brightness, as well as 792 dimming zones for impeccable display performance.
Of course, such TVs would be top of the line so you can expect a high price tag as well. The company is aiming to sell its 65-inch Quantum X TV for $1,500 and a 75-inch variant at $2,000.
Vizio is definitely stepping up with the release of its new SmartTVs. The new TVs aim to improve in a lot of areas, such as improved casting, better display panels, gaming features, HDMI arc support, and so much more.
The new TVs are expected to be released in Q4 of 2020.
Microsoft Surface Duo- Release Date, Specs, Features, Price
There are a lot of smartphones in the market now. Most of them have bigger and vibrant displays, while some focus on more cameras than others.
But, just when we think that we cannot revolutionize smartphones anymore, there are some companies that try to push the envelope even further.
It all started when Samsung created the Galaxy Fold- a phone that held two screens together to form a bigger unit.
Microsoft also followed suit and they, too, created their own in the form of the Microsoft Surface Duo.
In this article, I will talk more about what Microsoft is offering and I will give you all of the information you need to know about this upcoming product.
Release Date and Price
In 2019, Microsoft announced that they are going to release their foldable phone/tablet in the Holidays 2020. That means that it could ship anywhere between November and December, but what’s interesting is that there are rumors circulating in the space that the product could ship much earlier than that.
Some industry pundits have gotten samples of the product already, indicating that it might release much sooner than we think. People have speculated that it could be released in August, but because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Microsoft Surface Duo might definitely be pushed until later this year (or early next year depending on the production).
Anyway, how much would this phone cost? Unfortunately, the company didn’t disclose any pricing yet, but if we were to look at similar products on the market such as the Samsung Galaxy Fold, for example, the Surface Duo could probably be sold at the $1500-$2000 range.
The Microsoft Surface Duo is the company’s foray into the foldable smartphone market. It aims to rival the Samsung Galaxy Fold and Microsoft intends to create a much better product.
You see, while the Samsung Galaxy Fold and Huawei Mate X fold only in one direction, the Microsoft Surface Duo can be folded 360 degrees. This solves the problem with durability, especially since there were some concerns that the aforementioned products could break if folded in the opposite direction.
There will be a noticeable crease or hinge in the middle of the device that will glue the two screens together. The hinge is a polished metal material which indicates that the smartphone has a premium build.
The Microsoft Surface Duo is reported to have dual 5.6-inch screens- both of which are AMOLED panels. The screen resolution will be about 1800 x 1350 and pixel density is rumored to be 401 pixels (though this is still not confirmed by the company itself).
Although this foldable smartphone tries to be as thin and svelte as possible, the materials used in the construction of this device might add heft to it.
This foldable phone is reported to run on the Android operating system. If the company is correct in that they will release this product in the Holidays, it could potentially be shipped with Android 11 as it is the newest mobile operating system by then.
If it would be shipped much earlier than that and the said version of the mobile operating system hasn’t been released, it might be available on the market using Android 10 (but could potentially be upgradeable to Android 11 once the operating system is available to the masses).
Information about the Surface Duo’s features is still sparse, but I have collected some data that will give you an idea about how this foldable smartphone works.
Its main feature would be to use the Android operating system to fluidly shift the content between the two screens. In fact, Microsoft has released guidelines for app developers to build applications that would utilize the two enjoined screens together in a way that is not seen before.
Content consumption will also be one of its amazing features. Since it is rumored to have two AMOLED displays, the graphics on the screen will be vibrant and clear.
Now, Microsoft also intends this foldable smartphone as a productivity device and because of that, the company will also include its own stylus that will help you get more tasks done in a single day.
As smartphones become more sophisticated on the camera front, no tangible information is available yet about the product’s camera at the time of writing.
The Surface Duo is a flagship device and, therefore, it should ship with the top of the line specs. It is very likely that the device will be shipped with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 865 processor unless Microsoft intends to create their own with the help of Intel, and in that case, that still remains to be seen.
The phone is also reported to have a single camera at the back of the device, though its specifics are not yet disclosed to the public (like what sensor it is, how many megapixels, and so on).
Its polished metal hinge will allow you to fold the device 360-degrees, thereby eliminating any worries about the product’s durability.
Since a foldable smartphone uses two screens at once, the product should definitely have a beefy battery to come along with it. According to a report by Windows Central, the Surface Duo could ship with a 3,460 mAh battery, but keep in mind that this is still a rumored specification and is not yet confirmed by the company.
What is the Surface Neo?
At the time when the Surface Duo was announced, it was not the only product that was showcased. The company also announced that it will have a bigger brother in the form of the Surface Neo.
When the Surface Duo is a foldable smartphone, the Surface Neo is a foldable tablet, which means that the device will have a much bigger form factor.
It is not only the physical form factor that’s changed though. The Surface Neo would use Microsoft’s Windows 10X operating system and it will have accessories available to the market that will basically turn this foldable tablet into a product that aims to go head-to-head with the Apple iPad Pro.
While both of the products have been announced at the same time, the Surface Neo will be delayed indefinitely as the company is focusing its efforts to make the Surface Duo run flawlessly.
The Microsoft Surface Duo is a foldable smartphone that will use the Android operating system. It aims to be better than the Huawei Mate X and the Samsung Galaxy Fold.
It is aimed for productivity tasks but the vibrant displays might also be great from a content consumption standpoint as well.
Pricing is still not official, but it could be shipped with a $1500-$2000 price tag if we were to compare it to its rivals.
The Microsoft Surface Duo is rumored to be released during the Holidays, but it could potentially be shipped much sooner than that.
Xiaomi Mi Band 5 Fitness Tracker- Release Date, Notable Features, and More
Xiaomi is a Chinese brand that actually makes a lot of different products. From smartphones to home appliances, you can expect to buy a lot of stuff from them.
One of the things that I really love about the company is that they provide much-cheaper products than their competitors, such as their fitness tracker, for example.
Today, I am going to talk about the Xiaomi Mi Band 5 Fitness Tracker and what we know about the product so far.
What is It?
The Xiaomi Mi Band 5 is the fifth version of the company’s popular fitness trackers. In fact, I am still using the Mi Band 3 which was released in 2018 and it has been pretty solid even after two years of rough use.
Its predecessor, the Mi Band 4, is actually pretty good as well. The display was colored and everything is much larger now thanks to the bigger display.
This time around, the company just makes that even better with the 5th version.
The company’s 5th fitness tracker was announced back on June 11 of this year and is going to be released locally in China on June 18. For the rest of the world, we will have to wait sometime in July for the products to come to our shores.
As for the pricing, that will depend on your locality as taxes and tariffs might influence the price. However, if we are to base it on its local pricing in China, you can buy the base version for just $25.
If you want the NFC version that also comes with the company’s virtual assistant, that will cost you anywhere around $30-$35.
Keep in mind that those prices are based on the company’s local pricing, so it is indeed subject to change when it comes to foreign shores. That being said, at least you now have an idea of how much it will (likely) cost once it hits your store shelves.
The Fitness Tracker
The Xiaomi Mi Band 5 borrows some aesthetics from its predecessor in that it still has that signature oblong-shaped interface. However, the company now opted for more vibrant colors to most likely appeal to its younger audience.
The tracker measures 47.2 x 18.5 x 12.4mm and weighs 11.9 grams for the base model. The NFC model might be a bit heavier, but not so much that you can actually feel the difference.
I love the fact that the company has opted to provide different colored straps this time around. Aside from the usual black, you will also find dual-color straps that will definitely appeal to the youngsters.
The 1.1-inch AMOLED display provides a bigger screen real estate (which is an upgrade to its predecessor’s 0.95-inch screen).
It is capable of reaching 450 nits of brightness which means that the on-screen elements are more legible even when you are outside.
According to the company, the Xiaomi Mi Band 5 comes with a 125 mAh battery that has a theoretical battery life of 14 days. Now, how you use the fitness tracker will have a bearing on how long it will last, but if we judge it from its predecessor, I’d say that that is a bit accurate.
Unlike the previous versions of the Mi Band product, the Xiaomi Mi Band 5 doesn’t come with a charging cradle. Instead, it now uses a magnetic dock that you can easily plug your tracker into and it should charge immediately after. This is a welcome change since you do not have to take the tracker off of its strap to charge it.
The company said that it will take roughly 2 hours to fully charge the device from 0% so it is still quite good.
- Display: 1.1-inch AMOLED 2.5D Color touchscreen, 126 x 294 resolution
- Sensors: Heart Rate Sensor, SpO2 Sensor, NFC, Barometer, Accelerometer, Proximity Sensor
- Storage: 16MB
- RAM: 512KB
- Chipset: Undisclosed, purportedly faster than Mi Band 4
- Battery: 125 mAh
- Water-Resistance Rating: 5 ATM
- Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0
- Sports Tracking: Treadmill, Outdoor Running, Walking, Freestyle, Elliptical, Pool Swimming, Yoga, Sleep, Blood Oxygen, Women’s Health, PAI Health Suite, Indoor Cycling, Rowing Machine
- Alerts and Controls: Message, Calls, App Notifications, Music Controls, Alarms, Remote Camera Control, Find My Device
- Charging Method: Magnetic Cradle
- Available Colors: Black, Orange, Purple, Yellow, Green, Pink, Gray, Blue, Possible Limited Edition Designs
As with every new version, you can expect that the Xiaomi Mi Band 5 is much better than its predecessor in every conceivable way.
Aside from a larger display, its chipset is purportedly faster as well (though it is still undisclosed at this time).
I love the different charger that comes with the device as it is much easier for you to top the device off when it needs some power.
There are also a lot of additional sports tracking features as well, including rowing machine, yoga, indoor cycling, and more.
Keep in mind that aside from the base version, you also have an NFC version that also comes with support for Alexa (if you are going to buy the global version).
Xiaomi’s newest fitness tracker comes with some new and exciting features. First, it’s got a better sleep tracker that can even tell you how long you’ve been in REM sleep (and how you can improve your sleep overall).
Aside from that, you get to choose a lot of different activity trackers so that you can tailor your fitness program the way you like it.
Its step tracker is going to be on point and it can also give you PAI or Personal Activity Intelligence scores if you want it to.
People that utilize their devices for cashless payments would love the NFC version, so if you have the money to spend, I suggest that you get that one instead of the base model.
While the fitness tracker has certainly improved in a lot of ways, it still doesn’t come with GPS unlike the Apple Watch Series 5. Though, to be fair, the latter is a smartwatch while the Mi Band 5 is just a fitness tracker.
The Xiaomi Mi Band 5 is going to be an exciting upgrade to the company’s fitness tracker portfolio. Not only is it improved across the board, but you also get to have a new charger that basically changes the way you top the device off when it needs some power.
Aside from that, you can get the NFC version that allows you to use your Google Pay or other cashless payment methods for ease and convenience.
Although it still doesn’t come with GPS, Xiaomi has a pretty good track record of supporting as many devices as possible. So long as you have an Android smartphone, you should be good.
At the time of writing, the pricing of the Xiaomi Mi Band 5 is still not established for the foreign market, but expect to pay as much as $40 for the NFC version (or more depending on certain economic factors).
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