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Android Intelligence
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IN THIS ISSUE:
 
  The Latest Android Intelligence: Google's Pixel 3 strategy and the week's unexpected standout gadget
  3 Things to Know This Week: What's missing from Google's new goodies, the phone robot of the future, and a wacky new direction for Essential's next product
  Tips o’ the Week: A new on-the-fly transcription system and a fancy new home control center
  Deal Intelligence: $20 free from Google and $40 off a Nest favorite
  Plus the magical and revolutionary instant notch-making machine — prepare to be dazzled!
 
 
 A Word of Welcome

Launches are falling like leaves this week — and guess what? Google isn't the only one with a special somethin'-somethin' to unveil.

 

I can't even begin to tell you how excited I am to share a new project I've been plotting and planning for months now. It's the brand new Android Intelligence Platinum experience, and its doors are officially open and waiting as of today.

 

Platinum membership is a next-level option for anyone who enjoys this newsletter and wants to get even more out of it (while actively supporting its creation!). First and foremost, the membership upgrades you to an expanded Platinum Edition of the newsletter that's bursting at the seams with bonus knowledge — deep reads, quick hits, and other interesting tidbits that won't be available to everyone else.

 

And that's just the start. The membership also gives you access to the exclusive new Platinum Lounge, which is just jam-packed with awesome extras — things like my private Q&A forum, where I'm always available to answer your questions and offer advice (or you can just peek in on what other people are asking), a sprawling and searchable collection of tips, and detailed tours of my own personal setups for making the most of Android and Chrome.

 

The Lounge has regularly updated guides to my must-have apps and extensions, too, along with an offline-ready archive of the entire newsletter collection, an exclusive series of Android Intelligence wallpapers for your phone, and other members-only perks.

 

Pretty forkin' spiffy, right? And all of that is available for a mere five bucks a month or $55 a year — money that directly supports this independent editorial effort (just little ol' me here!) and helps keep this train a-runnin'.

 

Oh, and I almost forgot: If you sign up before the end of October, you'll get 10% off your entire first year of membership and get a free Android Intelligence decal sticker. Stick it on your laptop, your phone, your face, or even atop your femur to show off your Android Intelligence to the world!

 

Head over to AndroidIntel.net/Platinum to learn more and get started. And be sure to put in the promo code EARLYBIRDM (for the monthly plan) or EARLYBIRDA (for the annual plan) to get those October freebies.

 

Thanks as always for reading, and I hope to see you in our expanding little community. (And if it's not for you, no worries: This regular, free edition of the newsletter isn't going anywhere.)


Now, onto those other October launches...

 
JR
jr@androidintel.net
 
 
 
INSIGHT
 The Latest Android Intelligence
 
With the Pixel 3, Google Is Playing Its Own Game

People used to say that Apple didn't try to compete with Android phone-makers; instead, it played a completely different game.

 

After this week's Pixel 3 launch, I think it's safe to say that Google is now following that very same strategy.

 

 Read more: Computerworld

 
 
Google's Most Exciting New Gadget Is Neither Phone Nor Tablet

Some kinda funky food for thought: The most interesting Google launch of the week is the one getting the least amount of attention.

 

See if you agree:
 

 Read more: Computerworld

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PERSPECTIVE
 3 Things to Know This Week
 
1. Google's got a whole bunch of new stuff to tempt you

 Here’s the deal: In addition to the new Pixel 3 phones and stand, Google unveiled a detachable Chrome-OS-running Pixel Slate, a Home Hub Smart Display, and a modestly updated Chromecast at Tuesday's launchapalooza extravaganza.

 

 Know more: This is all pretty much what was expected, thanks to the gushing stream of leaks in the weeks leading up to this launch. But you know what's interesting to me? The hotly rumored and heavily documented item that's missing from the list.

 

I'm talking about the regular Pixelbook refresh everyone was expecting to see. Remember, ample evidence suggested Google was cookin' up an incremental update to its swiveling-hinge Pixelbook that kept the same basic form but slimmed down the bezels considerably. And yet, no such device ever appeared.

 

So what gives? It's hard to say for sure. But honestly, the idea of Google putting out an incremental refresh to a high-end laptop just a year after its launch seemed a little strange from the start. Laptops traditionally go on a minimum two-year refresh cycle, and for good reason: Hardly anyone replaces a laptop more often than that (or even that often), and not much changes with laptop standards or technology from one year to the next.

 

Debuting a detachable tablet complement to the Pixelbook this year, on the other hand, makes a lot of sense. It expands the product line instead of marginally improving what already exists.

 

And despite many reviewers treating the Pixel Slate as a revolutionary new concept — whoa, look! Google made Chrome OS look like Android and turned it into a true tablet platform! — you and I know all too well that these ideas have been in the works for a long time now, not only on the Pixelbook but across Chrome OS in general. What we're seeing here is essentially just an alternate configuration of what already existed.
 

 Read more: For official details on all the new Google goodies, click over to Google's full hardware announcement (which has individual links to product-specific breakdowns). If you want to dive deeper with some hands-on impressions, I'd check out this Pixel 3 assessment and this Pixel Slate discussion. As for the new Chromecast, there's really not much to say, as Google's own overview makes abundantly clear.

 
 
2. That wild A.I. phone robot is coming to the real world — with a really interesting twist

 Here’s the deal: Remember Duplex, that controversy-sparking artificial intelligence service Google created to make mundane phone calls for us? The sci-fi-like technology is about to become a reality  — and it's gonna do even more than we initially suspected.

 

 Know more: At its much-discussed demo this spring, Google showed Duplex being used to place calls for making restaurant reservations and random appointments. That part of the service will be showing up on all Pixel phones (not just the Pixel 3) by November, though it'll be limited to use only with restaurants in Atlanta, New York, Phoenix, and the Bay Area to start.

 

The more intriguing and broadly practical part, if you ask me, is a newly announced feature in which a friendly robot can actually answer your calls — and then transcribe what the caller says in real-time on your screen. You can jump in anytime and tap text responses to make the robot do your bidding. (And yes, it identifies itself as a computer from the get-go, telling the caller you are using a screening service and would like to know who they are and why they dared dial your precious digits.)

 

The idea is that you'd use the feature to answer calls from unknown numbers or companies you don't feel like talking to but also aren't entirely comfortable ignoring. This is one of those seemingly small innovations that could really make a meaningful impact on our day-to-day lives — and it's a perfect example of Google flexing its software muscle to move the smartphone experience forward in a really fascinating way.

 

 Read more: You'll find a thorough look at the Duplex calling system over at Wired — and to see the A.I. answering service in action, watch this official demo video or glance at the support page rundowns of the service's features and privacy considerations.

 
 
3. Essential's working on a crazy new kind of A.I. phone 

 Here’s the deal: The company started by Android creator Andy Rubin may have had some setbacks as of late — including the apparent cancellation of its planned second-gen phone and smart speaker system and some subsequent attempts to sell the company (!) — but now, Rubin and co. are charging forward with an ambitious plan to create a whole new kind of phone that learns your personality and then responds to messages on your behalf.

 

 Know more: This story gets even stranger: According to the ever-popular "people familiar with the matter," the new Essential phone would have an unusually small screen and would rely mostly on voice commands for interaction. It'd respond to emails and text messages on its own and also book appointments, a la Duplex.

 

The million-dollar question, of course, is: Would it actually work? And would anyone want to trust a system like this with so much independent communication power? We all know how often virtual assistants and even voice-to-text functions misunderstand our intentions, after all. This thing would have to have a near-100% success rate if anyone's gonna be comfortable letting it take the driver's seat.

 

For all the well-warranted skepticism, I will say this: If anyone could achieve this impossible-seeming task today, Andy Rubin is probably the guy. But, yeah: He's sure got his work cut out for him.

 

 Read more: The full report (which, let's be honest, probably "leaked" as part of a deliberate buzz-building strategy) awaits you at Bloomberg.

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Productivity
 Tips o' the Week
 
Add automatic on-screen transcription to your next presentation

Google's productivity suite is getting a really cool and potentially useful new option: As of this week, the Google Slides app has the ability to listen to you while you're giving a presentation (via your computer's microphone) and then transcribe your words in real-time and put them on your screen, right on top of the slides.

 

The feature has some obvious accessibility use, but it could also be invaluable in any large, noisy room where anyone might have a hard time hearing or even with an online presentation where some folks might not want to have their speakers turned up. Google says the system even takes into account accent, modulation, and intonation in deciding how to transcribe.

 

You can find it by looking for the new "CC" button while in Slides' presentation mode, so long as you're using Chrome on a laptop or desktop computer with a mic attached and U.S. English as the system language.

 
 
Find your Smart Display's fancy new home control center

Got one of those Smart Displays or thinking about picking up one of Google's Home Hubs? Take note: A fresh feature rolling out to the devices right now adds a home control center to the main user interface. Simply swipe down from the top edge of the screen, and you'll be able to see and control all of your connected smart home devices — without having to say a word.

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SMART TECH
 Deal Intelligence
 
$20 off almost anything from Google Express

From now through the end of the year, if you have a paid Google One storage plan, you have a Google Express coupon waiting that'll give you $20 to $25 off almost anything you buy through the site. There are certain exclusions — including all the devices sold by the Google Store itself — but there's still a ridiculous array of items included, and much of it is stuff you'd probably be buying, anyway.

 

Provided you have Google One on your account, you should see a notification pop up when you open the Google Express app or website. You can then click or tap the "Redeem" button within it to add the code to your cart — then just be sure to click or tap the "Apply" button in the checkout screen to apply the code to your order.

 

 Check it out: Google Express website or Android app

 
 
$40 off a Nest Learning Thermostat

The regular Nest Thermostat is marked down 40 bucks at Amazon right now, making it about $210 instead of its regular $250 price.

 

Personally, I prefer the even cheaper Nest Thermostat E model, which sells for a normal price of $169 — but if you like the shinier and more attention-grabbing look of the higher-end version, this is definitely a smart time to grab it.

 

 Check it out: Amazon

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 And Just For Funsies...
 

Notches are all the rage these days — but what if your favorite phone doesn't have an awkward inner bezel? How are you supposed to go about your days with your head held high without a notch on your mobile apparatus? HOW ARE YOU SUPPOSED TO LIVE, DAMN IT?!?!

 

Well, fret no more, for there is now an answer: the magical and revolutionary instant notch-making machine, which is on its way into the world thanks to Kickstarter.

 

I swear I'm not making this up: It's a sticker, actually for sale, that you can put on any phone, laptop, pet, child, or anything else imaginable to make it positively notchtastic.

 

 

The whole thing is pretty tongue-in-cheek and amusing, if you're looking for a laugh.

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That's a Wrap

Whew — what a week! Thanks for reading. I hope to see you in our spiffy new Platinum community soon, and I'll look forward to seeing you right back here in your inbox next week.

 

Fare thee well, my fetching friend.

Thoughts
JR

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