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Android 11 Beta Features- Highlights, How to Install, and More

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Android 11 Beta Best Features

The Android 11 Beta version 1 is already available to the public. At the time of writing, it is only available on Pixel devices, but manufacturers such as Oppo and Xiaomi are going to join the fray anytime soon.

That being said, with any major update to the operating system, there are some new things that are going to be introduced.

Read further to find out all of the features in Android 11 Beta.

How to Install the Update

Before anything else, I want to point out that the first beta version of Android 11 is riddled with bugs. I wouldn’t say that it is a daily driver at all so if you can wait a little longer for the second beta, then that is better.

However, for those that want to tinker with their devices, you might want to try out the new Android OS right now. So, how do you install the update?

Well, there are actually two ways for you to install the new OS, but I will only highlight the easiest one.

Anyway, the first thing that you need to do would be to have a Pixel device. That means that any phone from Google Pixel 2 and above should work.

Next, you want to go to the Android Beta Program on your pixel device and sign-in with your Google account. Once that is done, you want to scroll down and tap ‘Your Eligible Devices’.

Find your specific phone’s model number and tap the option to opt-in. From there, you will be presented with some prompts and the OTA update should be available shortly after.

If you want to get out of the beta program, all you have to do is redo the steps and when asked to opt-in, simply just opt-out and that’s it.

Android 11 Features

In every new version of the Android operating system, there are always some new features and improvements being introduced on an annual basis.

That being said, while there aren’t that many changes in the UI, there are still some notable ones. Below are just some of the best features of Android 11.

1.Notification Groupings

Android 11 Notifications

It is really frustrating to sift through all of your notifications for specific ones, but Google has had enough of that. In Android 11, your notifications are now grouped into three categories: Conversations, Alerting Notifications, and Silent Notifications.

In the Conversations section, you will find all of your chat messages from your various apps. At the moment, only Facebook Messenger is not bugged simply because Facebook has already implemented the needed API for this feature to work.

Theoretically, your emails, chat messages, and texts should be grouped in the Conversations section.

All of the system notifications are automatically grouped in the Silent Notifications section. These are notifications that you’ve put to the said category, as well as system messages that you normally wouldn’t need to see (such as USB debugging, for example).

All of your other notifications that you haven’t put in the Silent category will be lumped together in the Alerting Notifications section. These include your news apps, RSS feeds, articles, emails (if you didn’t give it a priority), among many others.

I really love this new feature simply because it makes it easier for you to respond to conversations.

2.Chat Bubbles

Android 11 Chat Bubbles

If you’ve ever used Facebook Messenger, this new feature will be right at home. Chat bubbles are essentially similar to the previously-mentioned app’s feature with the major difference that it now supports all of your chat applications.

As mentioned earlier, only Facebook’s Messenger app utilizes this functionality, though expect other app developers to follow suit.

So, if you’ve received text messages or any notifications from your chat apps, then each notification will correspond to its own chat bubble so you can easily tap and reply to them.

Expect that this feature will become so much better in later beta versions of the OS.

3.Persistent Media Playback Controls

Android 11 Media Playback

Android 10 introduced a feature where media playback can be controlled by a card found on the notifications section of the device. Although it was good, there are some actions that would make it disappear, hence it is not as useful as one would hope it to be.

In Android 11, you can expect better media playback controls simply because the same feature is now put on top of the quick settings menu. Although it is still buggy and you have to go to the developer options to enable the said feature, I like the idea of a persistent media playback control panel.

4.Control

Android 11 Controls

Another standout feature that was introduced in the new Android operating system is Control. By simply pressing the power button, you will be presented with a new screen that offers some smart home features on the fly.

You can tap Google Pay if you have (and you can also add your preferred payment method as well).

If you have smart home appliances or even Google Home speakers, you can also control that on the same screen as well.

It seems that the company is making huge strides in making IoT more mainstream and accessible to the general public.

5.Improved App Permissions

Android 11 App Permissions

Also introduced in Android 10, the App Permissions have been refined in Android 11. By default, applications are granted one-time permission and that is when you fire up the app to use its features.

Other than that, you can also choose to permit the application indefinitely or completely deny it from using your phone, etc.

There is also a new feature that allows you to revoke permissions on apps that you haven’t used in quite a while. You will be notified which applications have their permissions revoked so that you won’t get surprised if you use them sometime in the future.

6.Screen Recorder

Android 11 Screen Recorder

A lot of people have to download 3rd party screen recording apps from the Google Playstore in order to record what’s on their screen. There was supposed to be a similar feature that should’ve been implemented in Android 10, but it seems that it was buggy back then so it was ditched entirely in the final release.

However, I am pleased to inform you that the built-in screen recorder is back and the feature is not buggy at all. Hopefully, this will be released in the final version of the OS.

7.Better Gesture Navigation

Android 11 Gesture Navigations

As smartphones become bigger and bigger, people love to use gesture navigation for better ergonomics and usability.

Gesture navigation is already built into the Android OS starting last year, though Google has improved it even more.

With Android 11, you can easily adjust certain parameters like the sensitivity, as well as how big or small you want the gestures area to be.

8.Dark Theme

Android 11 Dark Theme

Although the dark theme is nothing new, you can now easily toggle between dark and light themes by enabling/disabling its quick settings icon.

In addition, more and more applications are embracing the darker aesthetic, so no more buggy UIs.

One unique feature is that you can set your phone’s theme to dark immediately based on the time that you’ve set in the settings menu.

Lastly, you can also change the icon’s shapes for your quick settings as well. You can use the default, squircle, and a whole lot more.

Conclusion

The Android 11 Beta version 1 is already here. It is still quite buggy and app developers would have to incorporate the new API for them to take advantage of the new features.

As of the time of writing this article, only Google Pixel devices are supported, though some phone companies have already expressed their desire to join the program as well.

All of the new features are just quality of life changes. Perhaps, we can expect more in the next set of beta versions before the final release.

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Vizio Smartcast TV 2020- Everything That You Need to Know

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Vizeo Smartcast

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?

Vizeo Smartcast 2020

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.

Quantum Display

Vizeo Quantum OLED 2020

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.

Conclusion

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.

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Microsoft Surface Duo- Release Date, Specs, Features, Price

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Microsoft Surface Duo Review

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.

Design

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.

Operating System

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).

Microsoft Surface Duo Review 2020

Features

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.

Specifications

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.

Microsoft Surface Duo

Conclusion

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.

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Xiaomi Mi Band 5 Fitness Tracker- Release Date, Notable Features, and More

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Xiaomi Mi Band 5 Fitness Tracker

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.

Release Date

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

Xiaomi Mi Band 5

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.

Battery

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.

Specs

  • 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).

Notable Features

Xiaomi Mi Band 5 News

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.

Conclusion

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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