The final version of Android 11 is finally here and although it brings with it some new features and technologies, most of them are for the quality of life changes and they are not really groundbreaking.
Still, there is a lot to be excited about Android’s new iteration, and today, I am going to go over all of the things that you need to know about the new update.
People, Privacy, Controls
In Google’s official developer blog, the company didn’t introduce any groundbreaking features, but instead, they focused more on the overall experience. That is why you can expect a lot of quality of life improvements in the new release.
The new update is centered around PPC or People, Privacy, and Controls. The ‘People’ aspect of it revolves around communication and how to make it easier for you to see and reply to any messages that you may have received.
For ‘Privacy’, Google has given more granular control to the user in that you can allow certain apps to run with full permissions only for one time and that permission will be revoked after use. If that application is ever used again, the OS will prompt you to do the same.
While that new feature might seem cumbersome, it is actually quite useful, especially since applications will no longer be able to give data back to its servers when it is not being asked.
Lastly, the ‘Control’ part of the equation provides you with the ability to turn on or enable your smart home devices. If you have a smart lock, for example, you are given the chance to unlock it using your smartphone.
That is basically Android 11 in a nutshell, but of course, I will give you more details about the new features in the next part of the article.
You can always expect new things coming in every operating system update and in Android 11, the features are more centered around quality of life and ease of use.
Here are just some of the most useful features that the new update provides:
This was implemented in the earlier betas and I am glad that Google has finally polished this.
By now, you’ve probably used (or are still using) Facebook Messenger as a means of communicating with your friends and family, right? Well, think of ‘Bubbles’ as similar to the chat bubbles that the said application makes- the only difference is that it now houses all of the supported messaging apps.
For instance, if you’ve received a text and if someone from your Skype list has messaged you at the same time, each entry will be placed inside that bubble and once you tap on it, you will be presented with different bubbles similar to how Facebook Messenger shows it. This allows you to quickly and easily reply to each person without any hassles.
In the previous versions of Android, whenever you receive notifications, it will just present you a bunch of different stuff and they appear in the order that you receive them. This presents the problem of clutter and you might not be able to go to the most important messages that you need to attend to.
Well, in Android 11, notifications are now categorized based on the nature of said notifications. The three categories are Conversations, Alerting, and Silent.
Conversations are any notifications that come from your messaging apps, so if there are multiple people messaging you all at once, all of those new notifications will be bunched up under this category.
In the ‘Alerting’ section, these are just the usual alerts that different apps will give you. For example, if you’ve used a ride-hailing app to call a cab, any notifications that it produces will be placed under the Alerting tab.
Finally, the Silent notifications are usually system notifications that most users will just ignore anyway. The beauty about creating this section, though, is if there is something that you want to know, say, how much battery you have left, you can still see it just by looking under this section.
Alerting and Silent notifications can be set to not notify or produce a sound whenever you receive new ones, so this saves you the trouble of not looking at your phone all of the time just to see if someone messaged you or not.
So, you looked at your notification shade and because there are so many different things, you swiped some of the notifications away. But, this also presents the possibility that you may have accidentally swiped away a certain notification that you should have read.
Well, the new update actually helps you find that particular notification and more thanks to the nifty Notification History.
Notification History basically records all of the notifications you have received in the past 24 hours so that you can get back at them whenever you have the time or if you have accidentally removed them from your notifications panel.
This feature is turned off by default, so if you want to enable it, you should go to Settings->Apps & Notifications->Notification History. From there, you just toggle the option.
4.Better Media Controls
In the previous version of Android, every time there is media playing in the background, you can just swipe down your notifications shade and you can play or pause your music from there. The problem with this implementation is that you can accidentally close the app if you are swiping away certain notifications.
Well, to prevent that from happening, any music or video that is currently playing will now have its small interface placed under the quick settings menu.
The cool thing about this is that you can do a lot more things now. You can launch the application from there, skip to a particular time frame in the song that you are currently listening to, as well as many others.
I actually love this implementation and I am pretty sure that you will. Now, I do not have to remove my wireless headphones if I want to pause my music track because I can do that quickly and easily.
The screen recorder app was actually an implementation in Android 10 but Google decided to not include it in the final release because of apparent bugs that needed ironing out.
Thankfully, Google has finally released a working version alongside the new update and you can now enable screen recording from the quick settings menu.
Keep in mind that this is a rather simple recorder, so if you want more specific features, you will have to download a dedicated app for that.
But, for most intents and purposes, the default screen recorder should satisfy most users.
6.Smart Device Control
A lot of people are getting smart home devices now and because the ecosystem has developed considerably over the years, Google has decided to make things so much easier for people that have them.
You are now given an entire interface dedicated to controlling the different smart devices in your home and all you have to do is long-press the power button and that’s it.
Keep in mind that your smartphone would have to be connected to the same home network so that you have the ability to control all of your smart devices.
7.Granular App Permissions
There is always an issue about privacy whenever you use any mobile device that is connected to the internet, but the good thing is that Google now gives more granular control to the user, especially when it comes to app permissions.
Whenever you run an application, the OS will ask you whether you should give it full access all of the time or give it just a one-time pass. If you’ve chosen the latter, if you run the same app again, you will be presented with the same menu again.
In addition to more granular control, the operating system will also revoke all app permissions for applications that haven’t been run for quite some time.
8.Auto-Enable Dark Theme Based on Time
In the previous version of Android, Google has finally implemented a system-wide dark mode that you can enable in your phone’s settings. The problem was that it is just a simple toggle and that’s about it.
Well, with Android 11, you can now set the phone to enable dark mode based either on a certain time of day or a specific time that you’ve set.
For instance, you can have the phone enable the said mode if the sun sets and it will turn on light mode again during the morning.
You might not use this feature, but it is certainly a godsend for people that want to rest their eyes at night without having to manually enable or disable dark mode.
Have you ever wanted to share something that you’ve found on your newsfeed? I am pretty sure that you have and while you want to share it with your friends and family, it might be cumbersome to do so, especially if you have installed a lot of apps on your mobile device.
The new update has brought a nifty feature called ‘Share Sheet’ and it basically provides you with an interface that places all of your most-used apps conveniently so that you can share the things that you want to share quickly and easily.
The Google Assistant has become quite useful in its latest iteration and because the company deems is quite useful now, you can enable a feature called Voice Access to pretty much allow you to control your smartphone or tablet using only the power of your voice.
This feature is turned off by default so you will have to enable it in your phone’s settings. This new thing is not too polished, but I am pretty sure that Google will iron the kinks out in the future.
11.Control Android Auto Wirelessly
Android Auto is definitely quite useful, especially if you have connected your phone to your car. While Google Pixel devices can connect to any new car wirelessly, other phones will have to be connected in a different way.
Thankfully, Google has made your life easier because it now supports all other Android devices to connect to your car wirelessly. This is definitely some good news for Android Auto users!
Any person that is running a Google Pixel smartphone should receive a notification to download the new update. But, the good news is that, for the first time, Android 11 is also releasing in other smartphones as well.
Companies like OnePlus, Oppo, Xiaomi, and Realme will also receive the new update in some of their mid-range and high-end devices, so if you are using, say, a OnePlus Nord, for example, you should also receive a notification to get Android 11 as well.
All other Android phones will have to wait a little longer until their respective companies will receive the update, but it should be within a month or two.
Best Tech Deals in October 2020
Technology is always going to be there to help improve our lives. We at Startechnews will provide you with some of the best tech deals every month and today, I am going to be talking about some of the products that have received good price cuts.
Although Black Friday happens in the same month, most of these deals will not be a part of that special day.
Anyway, here are some of the best tech deals in October:
Best Tech Deals in October
1.Apple iPhone XR
Price: $550 (was $599) @BestBuy
If you are fond of using any devices under the iOS ecosystem, then I highly recommend that you get your hands on this Apple iPhone XR deal.
Yes, I know that this device is dated at this point but its specs, as well as its overall performance, are still really good in this day and age.
What I love about iPhones, in general, is that their Bionic chips outmatch the performance of any flagship Android device released in the same year, so you can rest assured that the XR can still be good for at least 2-3 years from now.
That being said, if you are okay with this, you can get head on over to Best Buy to get yours.
Lastly, if you have an old iPhone, you can also surrender that and get even more discounts as well!
2.Amazon Echo Dot
Price: $39.99 (was $49.99) @Amazon
The Amazon Echo Studio is always going to be the best in terms of Amazon’s line of Bluetooth speakers, but there are people who are okay with the convenience and the form factor of the company’s Echo Dot line.
The Amazon Echo Dot is currently sold for just $39.99 and although it is just a $10 discount, it is still pretty good nonetheless.
One of the reasons why I highly recommend that you get one for yourself is that you can actually use Alexa to help you do a lot of different things.
If you are following some sports teams, for example, you can ask Alexa to search for scores and any news about the teams that you are truly passionate about.
The device’s always-on microphone is there to take your voice commands and Alexa will do the rest for you.
Although it is relatively okay as an audio solution, there is more value when it comes to using its ‘smart’ features.
Price: $275 (was $299) @Amazon
The Nintendo Switch is considered to be one of the company’s best gaming consoles yet. The beauty about this particular game console is that you can either play it as-is (handheld) or you can wire it to your TV via HDMI to enjoy your games at a higher fidelity screen.
This deal is for the new version of the Nintendo Switch that aims to fix the joycon drift issue that has plagued the first version of the console and it has a bigger battery life so that you can play untethered for a longer period of time.
You can buy the discounted Nintendo Switch at Amazon.
4.Beats by Dr. Dre Solo Pro
Price: $199.95 (was $299.99) @BestBuy
The Beats by Dre Solo Pro is a really good pair of wireless headphones that have active noise canceling. Although you might not like its on-ear design, this pair of cans is still quite comfortable to use for hours.
You get a lot of different color options to choose from and its ergonomic design allows you to use these headphones without any issues.
The Beats by Dr. Dre Solo Pro currently retails at a discounted price of $199.95 down from $299.99. If you are a fan of the brand or just for good Bluetooth headphones, in general, this is a really good choice.
5.Apple Airpods Pro
Price: $219 (was $249) @Amazon
The Apple Airpods Pro needs no introduction. It is one of the best Bluetooth headphones that you can buy not only for your iPhone but also for your other mobile devices as well.
Part of the reason why so many people love this particular product is due to its active noise-canceling feature. Normally, you can only expect great performance if you are using over-ear headphones, but not the Airpods Pro.
Its active noise-cancellation is really good because it shows you a warning that you shouldn’t enable the feature when you are walking on a busy street. It is really that effective.
It has consistently been compared to other Bluetooth audio solutions on the market, but nothing compares to it unless, of course, if you are talking about high-end over-ear solutions.
If you are interested in getting your hands in an Apple Airpods Pro, you can head over to Amazon to purchase this thing for only $219.
Price: $229 (was $329)
If you want to get your hands on an Android TV that is really good and it doesn’t break the bank, then I suggest that you look at the TCL 43S425.
This is a 43-inch 4K TV that has the famous Roku operating system built-in. That means that you can enjoy a ton of different features, movies, and TV shows without ever having to download any application to do those things.
Although TCL is a relatively new brand in the US, you can rest assured that the build quality and the materials that are used in the making of these television sets are of high-quality.
7.Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2
Price: $229 (was $279) @Amazon
We considered the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 as one of the best smartwatches for Android and even though it is a year and a half old at this point, it is still pretty good regardless.
You are looking at a smartwatch with great build quality and you can use this no matter what activities you are going to do.
Its battery life is okay, though not that great. The good thing is that you can top this device up quickly and easily using its included charger.
If you want a smartwatch that allows you to track your physical activity really well, get this product as soon as possible.
8.Bose QC 35 II Wireless
Price: $239 (was $349)
Consistently regarded as one of the best Bluetooth headphones for quite some time now, the Bose QC 35 II Wireless is great both in terms of comfort and sound quality.
Although its overall performance does not rival that of the company’s higher-end models, this is not to downplay whatever this thing is offering because it still provides you with some really amazing features- one of which is its award-winning active noise-canceling capability.
You should get the Bose 35 II Wireless right now because you can have the chance to get a limited edition Rose-Gold color if you order this month.
Best Laptop Deals in October 2020
I think that at this point, Laptops have become an essential part of our lives. This is true especially during a time where most businesses let their employees work from home.
Because it is a necessity, I understand that not a lot of people have the money to buy the most expensive laptops out there. The good news is that there are plenty of affordable options to choose from and today, I am going to be providing you with the best laptops deals in October.
I have scoured the internet for the best deals in order for you to get one that is in line with your budget. Without further ado, let’s get on, shall we?
Best October Laptop Deals
1.Microsoft Surface Pro 7 w/ Type Cover Keyboard
Price: $699 (was $959) @Best Buy
The Microsoft Surface Pro 7 may not be a ‘true’ laptop, per se, but this tablet is actually a 2-in-1 device wherein you could add its keyboard attachment and make use of its gorgeous display.
The beauty of a 2-in-1 device is that you can use the display for more portability but you can also choose to utilize the keyboard if you want to type documents or even play some games.
Its convenient kickstand allows you to look at your documents or watch your favorite movies and TV shows without any issues.
Although this deal is just a modest setup with an Intel Core i3 CPU, 4GB of RAM, and just a 128GB SSD, the entire system is quite a steal, in my opinion, because it is now sold for only $699.
If you want a good laptop for productivity, I suggest that you take a look at the Surface Pro 7.
2.Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 4K
Price: $549 (was $999) @Samsung
If you fancy a Chromebook, I highly recommend that you check the Galaxy Chromebook 4K right now because it is on a huge discount.
The beauty of Chromebooks is that the platform has become more diverse than ever before- allowing you to do a lot of things from making your documents to playing some Android games.
The Samsung Galaxy Chromebook was one of our picks for the best Chromebooks because of its vivid display and really good specs.
Speaking of specs, this particular laptop is equipped with a 10th generation Intel Core i5-10210 CPU, 8GB of RAM, and 256GB SSD. Of course, you could choose to expand its storage by spending more money if you want to.
3.Asus Vivobook 15.6
Price: $479.99 (was $599.99) @Best Buy
A professional-looking machine with the specs to match its exuberance, the Asus Vivobook 15 is a laptop that I am sure a lot of people will love.
Here, you are looking for a machine that is built with a Ryzen 5 processor, 8GB of RAM, and 512GB SSD which, for a laptop that is sold under $500, is a pretty good deal.
I understand that not a lot of people are familiar with AMD Ryzen processors, especially if they have come from using Intel machines, but I am here to tell you that the Ryzen 5 chip that this thing comes with should be more than enough for most use-cases.
I would also like to add that the display of this thing is quite vivid and punchy and it is definitely one that I would recommend for most people.
4.HP Pavilion x360 14t
Price: $590 (was $690) @HP
If you are fond of using laptops with a capacitive touch screen display, then the HP Pavilion x360 14t might tickle your fancy.
What I love about this thing is that not only does it have a pretty good display, but you can also utilize it as an amazing touch screen with an included multipoint pen as well.
If you are interested to know more about its specs, you will be getting a portable workhorse that has the 10th generation Intel Core i5 chip, 8GB of RAM, and 256GB SSD.
Although its discount is not as high as the others on this list, this is still a pretty good purchase if you wish to buy this one.
5.Asus Zenbook S
Price: $1,099 (was $1,499) @Best Buy
If having a 4K screen is really something that you want in a laptop, I recommend that you look at the Asus Zenbook S 4K.
It’s got a really nice 4K display and I am quite surprised by how Asus has crammed a lot of amazing things inside a laptop with a relatively slim form factor.
Aside from its suave looks, you are looking into a portable machine that comes with an Intel Core i7-8565U, 16GB of RAM, and 512GB SSD. If you ask me, this is a pretty good deal.
6.Dell XPS 13
Price: $749.99 (was $858) @Dell
The Dell XPS 13 is one of my most favorite ultrabooks in 2020. It is lightweight but it definitely packs enough punch to handle almost any workload you can imagine.
Here, you are getting a laptop that has the 10th generation Intel Core i5 processor, 4GB of RAM, and 128GB SSD. Even though you are only getting a small amount of storage right off the bat, the good thing is that you can actually choose to expand it either by paying a little bit more or spending some money to get your own NVMe SSD.
Seriously, I am glad that Dell has given you the chance to get this thing because it is really that good.
7.Lenovo ThinkPad E15
Price: $729 (was $850) @Newegg
Lenovo’s Thinkpad line of laptops has always been known to be great productivity machines and the Lenovo ThinkPad E15 is no different.
It packs some punch because it is built with an Intel Core i5 10th generation processor, 8GB RAM, and 256GB of storage. This processing package should give you enough oomph to handle any workload you throw at it.
If there is one complaint that I have about this laptop, it would be its plastic chassis. It doesn’t feel as premium as the others on this list.
Still, I can recommend this in a heartbeat, especially if you are looking for a productivity machine that can do a lot of things.
8.Gigabyte Aero 15 OLED
Price: $1,589 (was $1,899)
The Gigabyte Aero 15 is one of those laptops that truly amazing displays. So much so that if you are a creative content creator, I suggest that you put this into consideration because it is really good for such workloads.
Here, you are getting a laptop with an Intel Core u7-9750H CPU, 16GB of RAM, 512GB SSD, and a dedicated Nvidia GTX 1660ti GPU which is good enough for both gaming and creative needs.
Because of the fact that it is built with an OLED display, you can expect impressive visuals at a relatively affordable price.
Amazon Luna- Everything You Need to Know About Amazon’s Cloud Gaming Service
It seems that cloud gaming is the future as a lot of companies are pooling their resources just to make things happen.
Amazon Luna is Amazon’s foray into cloud gaming and it is going to be available soon. Read further to find out more information about this new experience.
Google has paved the way for cloud gaming to come to the fore with the release of the Stadia not too long ago. Although it was mired with a lot of different issues, it seems that the company has found a way to make things work.
Amazon also wants in on the action and although there are some similarities with Luna and Stadia, there are also some stark differences as well.
Before I begin, I just want to explain the concept of cloud gaming. Basically, instead of downloading games to your gaming PC or whatever platform you choose to install them, you will just stream those games using data centers that are scattered all over the world.
It should go without saying that you need to have a fast internet connection to make this happen and so that you will not experience high latency (which was a huge problem when Stadia launched).
That being said, the premise of Google Stadia is that you need to either purchase an individual game so that you can play it at any time (forever) or you could subscribe to the monthly plan and play the games that are on offer every month (and continue to play them so long as you’re subscribed).
With Amazon Luna, you will be presented with different channels that you can subscribe to. Each of these channels has different games on offer which makes this quite appealing for game developers to show their mettle.
Right now, the platform is still in beta and there are only two channels available at the moment- Amazon’s own Luna Plus and the Ubisoft Channel. The latter will have 50 games that you can play right away and more Ubisoft games will be added in the future.
Keep in mind that this channel-based system makes it so that developers can price their services accordingly. It remains to be seen how much Ubisoft will charge individual users, so stay tuned for that.
1080p and 4K Gaming
Just like Google Stadia, Amazon Luna will support both 1080p and 4K resolutions. Of course, the latter would be more taxing and you will need a fast internet connection to be able to enjoy high-fidelity gaming. I suggest that you get a WiFi 6 router and a compatible device to make the most out of your experience.
Unlike Stadia, Amazon Luna is more flexible in that it supports a lot of different devices. Not only can you play on your PC, but you can also choose to play it using your iOS devices, Android phones, and you can even utilize the company’s own FireTV devices as well.
Now, there has been this entire debacle about Apple’s 30% cut on every app in its App store but the good news is that Amazon can circumvent that.
You see, when you are going to play on your iOS devices, the application will actually be a PWA or a Progressive Web App. Basically, the game that you want to play will run in a contained web browser instead of it being an actual application that you install in your device. This bypasses the whole 30% cut issue which is a good thing.
NVIDIA Hardware Use
According to a recent Steam survey, the vast majority of PC users are all using NVIDIA graphics cards. This is a good thing for Amazon Luna because it means that it can support a lot more people.
That is because the company’s cloud gaming service will use NVIDIA GPUs instead of AMD cards (which Stadia uses for graphics processing).
Supposing that Amazon Luna will be more popular than any other cloud gaming service out there, NVIDIA will enjoy huge profits as a result.
Can Be Streamed to Popular Sites
Twitch is arguably the most popular streaming platform today and Amazon is looking to forge a partnership with the said service to allow you to stream your games to the popular website.
The said platform is widely used as a means of generating revenue- something that is quite popular today due to the recent pandemic.
This move also makes it appealing as well as more and more content creators can use Amazon Luna to reach a broader audience.
New Controller with Alexa Support
Just like Google Stadia, Amazon Luna also requires you to get a special controller. The good thing is that the control will have a microphone so that you can use Alexa for specific voice commands.
What’s interesting about the Luna’s controller is that it is completely connected to the Cloud, which means that you do not have to pair it with the specific device you are going to use to play games online.
According to Amazon’s website, it should have a grippy texture and will feature low-friction thumbsticks that provide maximum performance across the board. By using the controller’s microphone, you can actually tell Alexa to fire up the specific game that you want to play, so long as it is inside the channel that you’ve subscribed to.
Amazon Luna is quite enticing, at least, on paper. It is shaping up to be a better cloud gaming service compared to its competitors but the service is still in beta, so there are more things that need ironing out before its official release.
Right now, there are only two channels that are available and Ubisoft hasn’t imposed its pricing yet. The Amazon Luna channel is priced at $6.99
If you are interested in getting in on the action, you can be an early beta tester by subscribing to the service.
Amazon Luna will be out sometime in October.
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