Google won’t be releasing its own smartwatch this year

Google has confirmed to Tom’s Guide that it has no plans to release its own smartwatch this year. Earlier rumors had pointed to a likely release of a so-called “Pixel Watch” and many were expecting it would be announced alongside the Pixel 3, Pixel 3 XL, and whatever else Google has planned for an expected October 9th hardware event.

If you are still holding out hope for some reason, Tom’s Guide didn’t leave much room for doubt in Google’s plans, confirming the news with the company after interviewing one of its executives:

Miles Barr, Google’s director of engineering for Wear OS, said Friday during an interview that Google has no plans to release a smartwatch this year.

“To think of a one-size-fits-all watch, I don’t think we’re there yet,” Barr said. “Our focus is on our partners for now.”

After the interview, Google confirmed that it will not release a smartwatch this year.

Back in May, Evan Blass tweeted that Google would be releasing the watch. Blass is usually reliable with leaks, so it’s possible that the watch had been planned and has been delayed or cancelled.

Instead, as Barr says, it looks like Google is going to put as much focus as possible on watches made by partners — the biggest of which is Fossil Group. Several smartwatches were just announced a IFA this week, including watches from Skagen, Casio, and Diesel. All of those are running on an older Qualcomm processor, however.

Until this news, hopes had been high that Google was ramping up to a big smartwatch launch — it just revamped Wear OS and Google Fit, for example. Qualcomm is also expected to unveil a new processor on September 10th that would allow Wear OS watches to break out of the variations on a chunky circle we’ve been seeing for the past couple of years. We won’t see a Pixel Watch this year, but perhaps Qualcomm’s new announcement will lead to newer, better Wear OS watches in the near future.

We’ve reached out to Google to see if it has any more information to add and will update this post if we hear back.

The Honor Play is a gaming phone with ‘GPU Turbo’ and AI-powered rumble

Huawei sub-brand Honor has announced its first gaming phone, the Honor Play. It has a 6.3-inch notched 19.5:9 1080p display, a 3,750mAh battery, and a Kirin 970 processor alongside 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage.

Those aren’t super high-end specs — in fact, they’re very similar to the mid-range Honor View 10 that came to the US early this year. But Honor says the major innovation with the Play is “GPU Turbo,” a hardware-software integration that supposedly boosts GPU performance by 60 percent while reducing energy consumption by 30 percent.

The Kirin 970’s AI capabilities are also leveraged to provide a “4D gaming experience,” analyzing images and audio in real time and giving vibration feedback accordingly. AI is apparently used to help simulate 3D surround sound, too. We haven’t had a chance to try any of this, but Honor says the features will work in games like PUBG, Asphalt 9, and more.

The View 10 was a solid phone, and the Play should be much the same even without the gaming features. It keeps the headphone jack and USB-C port, while the fingerprint sensor has been moved to the back to allow for a larger screen-to-body ratio. The rear camera is still 16 megapixels with a f/2.2 aperture, though the 20-megapixel monochrome secondary sensor has been replaced with a more pedestrian 2-megapixel component.

We’ll have to see whether Honor’s claims about performance pan out, especially because the Kirin 970 is almost a year old at this point and likely to be succeeded soon. Pricing will also be important, but Honor isn’t sharing that information just yet.

Samsung announces its first Android Go phone

Samsung has announced the Galaxy J2 Core, the company’s first phone to run Android Go. As previously leaked, that doesn’t mean stock Android in this case — Go is a stripped-down version of the operating system with lighter versions of Google apps and optimizations for lower-end devices, but there’s still a layer of Samsung UI on top. The J2 Core is based on Android 8.1 Oreo, not the upcoming Android 9 Pie version of Go.

Here’s the list of specs for Samsung’s Galaxy J2 Core:

  • 960 x 540 LCD
  • an Exynos 7570 processor
  • 2,600mAh battery
  • 8-megapixel f/2.2 rear-facing camera
  • 5-megapixel f/2.2 selfie camera
  • 1GB of RAM
  • 8GB of storage

You’re not going to be playing Fortnite on this Galaxy, then, but Android Go should help make the most of the limited storage, memory, and battery capacity.

The Galaxy J2 Core is coming to India and Malaysia first and will go on sale from today, though pricing information isn’t immediately available. Samsung’s regular Galaxy J2 sells for a little over $100, but it has better specs than the Core, so a price below 7,000 rupees / $100 wouldn’t be unreasonable to expect.

Lenovo announces a bunch of new budget Android tablets

Android tablets may not have the best run of late, but they’re not dead yet — at least, not if Lenovo has anything to say about it, with the company announcing no less than five new Android tablets to replace last year’s lineup. The new models are divided into three groups: the budget E series, which comes in seven-, eight-, and 10-inch models, the midrange M10, and the more premium P10 (both of which are 10-inch models). Here are all the details:

Lenovo Tab P10

  • 1920 x 1080, 10.1-inch display
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 450 processor (Octa-Core, 1.8 GHz)
  • Up to 4GB of RAM
  • Up to 32GB of storage
  • 8MP rear, 5MP front-facing camera
  • Four speakers, fingerprint sensor
  • Android Oreo

Lenovo Tab M10
Image: Lenovo

Lenovo Tab M10

  • 1920 x 1080, 10.1-inch display
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 450 processor (Octa-Core, 1.8 GHz)
  • Up to 3GB of RAM
  • Up to 32GB of storage
  • 5MP rear, 2MP front-facing camera
  • Two speakers
  • Android Oreo

Lenovo Tab E10

  • 1280 x 800, 10.1-inch display
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 210 processor
  • Up to 2GB of RAM
  • Up to 16GB of storage
  • Two speakers
  • Android Oreo (Go Edition)

Lenovo Tab E10
Image: Lenovo

Lenovo Tab E8

  • 1280 x 800, eight-inch display
  • MediaTek MT8163B processor (1.3 GHz)
  • Up to 1GB of RAM
  • Up to 16GB of storage
  • Android Nougat

Lenovo Tab E7

  • 1024 x 600, seven-inch display
  • MediaTek MT8167 or MediaTek MT8321 (for Wi-Fi and 3G models, respectively)
  • Up to 1GB of RAM
  • Up to 16GB of storage
  • Android Oreo (Go Edition)

Lenovo Tab E7
Image: Lenovo

As you can see, none of these tablets are exactly lining up to blow anyone’s mind with wildly powerful specs, but they’re all more designed as family devices, not productivity powerhouses. Fortunately, the prices reflect that, too.

The Lenovo Tab E7 is the cheapest, starting at $69.99 when it releases in October exclusively at The Tab E8 is next cheapest at $99.99, available now at Walmart, while the Tab E10 will cost $129.99 when it launches in October.

As for the more powerful Tab M10 and Tab P10, Lenovo hasn’t given any release date or pricing information yet, but promises preorders available later in the winter.

Android 9 Pie (Go edition) will make Android Go better this fall

Android 9 Pie may have gotten the headlines, but Google has also announced that its latest pastry-named OS is coming to its Android Go line with Android 9 Pie (Go edition).

The biggest change in Android 9 Pie (Go edition) is increased storage. According to Google’s blog post, the operating system for Android 9 Pie (Go edition) takes up less space on a device, giving users up to 500MB of additional storage out of the box compared to previous versions of Android Go.

Additionally, Google is promising faster device boot times, better security features (including verified boot), and a new dashboard for tracking and monitoring data usage, similar to what’s already offered on the full version of Android.

The first phones with Pie (Go edition) should hit stores later this fall.

Android Pie is coming to eight Motorola phones

Android Pie, the latest OS from Google which was previously limited to Pixel phones and the Essential phone, is arriving on Moto phones. Motorola announced yesterday that the updates will hit eight phones sometime this fall.

Notably missing from the lineup is the Moto E5, which launched earlier this year, and the Moto G5, a pretty great phone from last year. That means E5 and G5 owners are missing out on the latest Android Pie features like system-level gesture controls (though Motorola has its own), expanded AI smarts, improved notifications, and more. Android Pie is Google’s most conscious effort to reduce notification overload and help users develop better relationships with their phones, so hopefully it’ll start rolling out to more phones soon. The full list of Moto phones set to receive it is below:

Dark mode comes to the latest version of Android Messages

The next version of Android Messages brings an updated look, and more importantly, the ability to change to dark mode. The interface is a little bit cleaner and strips out some of the color and dull gray backgrounds in favor of a whole lot of white. There’s also now a toggle to ‘enable dark mode,’ which changes the background to black and darkens your text. The update is gradually rolling out now.

Besides the feature to enable dark mode, the biggest changes seem to be a new font, and a giant blue ‘Start chat’ button on the bottom right corner that’s replaced the old ‘+’ sign. Additionally, messages default your chat bubble to blue no matter what mode you’re in, which may be Google’s response to iMessage and the dreaded ‘green bubble’ stigma. Unfortunately, making this change seems to get rid of the option to customize conversation bubble colors, or change your Contacts’ color.

Natt Garun / The Verge

Google has been unifying its apps to fit the updated Material Design scheme, which we got a preview of earlier this year. Android apps have been getting subtle, more modern makeovers, and Messages is no exception.

Google is developing native hearing aid support for Android

For the most part, Bluetooth hearing aids have been easily compatible with iPhones, but Android fragmentation has made it difficult for hearing aid manufacturers to provide support to Android devices. Now Google is working to bring native hearing aid support for streaming on Android.

Google announced today that it’s working with Danish hearing aid manufacturer GN Hearing to create a new hearing aid spec for Android smartphones called ASHA, or Audio Streaming for Hearing Aids. It’s designed to be battery-efficient, while providing high quality audio with low latency. Hearing aids utilizing this spec will be able to connect to and stream from Android devices without having to use another intermediate device. ASHA will enable Bluetooth hearing aids to be utilized the same way as headphones, used to call friends or listen to music.

Google has published the new protocol specifications online for any hearing aid manufacturer to build native hearing aid support for Android. GN Hearing has announced that the ReSound LiNX Quattro and Beltone Amaze will be the first hearing aids to receive direct streaming support in a future update.

Android 9 Pie seems to be messing with the Pixel XL’s ability to fast charge

As with any major software release, Google’s recent launch of Android 9.0 Pie hasn’t gone off without some early bugs and issues. The company just pushed out an Android Auto app update to get its in-car experience working nicely again with Pie, but owners of the original Pixel XL are having some troubles of their own.

Users are reporting that Android Pie has seemingly stopped their phone from fast charging when plugged into many chargers. Even Google’s own charger isn’t working as it should in some cases. Other Pixel XL owners say the bundled charger still functions properly and displays “charging rapidly,” but third-party USB-PD (power delivery) chargers no longer juice up the XL as quickly as they did pre-update. Android Police first documented the ongoing problem.

Google has oddly marked a bug report on the problem as “won’t fix (infeasible),” which is likely alarming to see for those experiencing it, especially since it can very clearly be attributed to the Android 9.0 update. Things were working normally, then Pie came, and then something broke. A second thread has been posted with more users chiming in to confirm they’re affected.

Hopefully this is a bug that Google can fix as part of a monthly security update; those patches often include Pixel-only software tweaks that are separate from full-blown Android OS updates, which come less frequently. This approach would explain the “won’t fix” notice, since it applies specifically to Android software updates. The Verge has reached out to Google for more details on the situation. The smaller first-gen Pixel seems to be unaffected, as are the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL.

Many Android devices ship with firmware vulnerabilities, researchers find

Asus, Essential, LG, and ZTE have all vowed to patch security flaws found by mobile security firm Kryptowire, according to Wired. The firm’s research was meant to point out that some security meltdowns stem from code written by phone companies to modify Android.

Researchers found bugs in the firmware of 10 separate devices carried across the major American carriers, according Wired, which saw an early version of Kryptowire’s report. The security lapses could lead to everything from letting an attacker lock someone out of their device, to getting control over their microphone and more — though most of the attacks that the researchers detailed required users to download some sort of malicious app before they could take advantage of the holes present in the firmware. Their research, funded by the Department of Homeland Security, is being presented today at the Black Hat USA security conference.

According to Kryptowire, these vulnerabilities stem from Android’s open nature, which allows third-parties to tweak the code and modify the interference or create completely different versions of Android. However, as the researchers found out, this open-style system can also lead to gaps in the phones’ security. Wired says the research looks at these flaws as a problem endemic to Android.

“A lot of the people in the supply chain want to be able to add their own applications, customize, add their own cod,” Kryptowire CEO Angelos Stavrou told Wired. “That increases the attack surface, and increases the probability of software error.”

One particularly bad example was found in the Asus Zenfone V Live smartphone. According to Wired, Kryptowire found enough holes in its code to expose users to a complete takeover of their device — screenshots and video recordings could be taken of their screen, and someone could, theoretically, read and changing their text messages. Asus said it is “aware of the recent security concerns” and that it is “working diligently and swiftly to resolve them” with a patch.

Essential, LG, and ZTE all responded to Wired with statements saying they had fixed some or all of the problems identified by Kryptowire after being alerted by the firm. Whether those patches have been rolled out to all users is less clear, however, as only AT&T confirmed it had deployed any of these updates. And as the researchers point out, this update process is, itself, broken for many, with updates often taking months to put together and make their way to users.