Plus incredibly useful YouTube tips — whee!
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Android Intelligence
  The Latest Android Intelligence: How the Pixel 4 epitomizes Google's hardware gamble — and making sense of Google's Pixelbook strategy
  3 Things to Know This Week: New Nest gadgets, Assistant in your ears, and the end of a powerful Pixel perk
  Tips o’ the Week: YouTube's hidden powers and a noteworthy new note-taking shortcut
  Test Your Knowledge: Paging all Nexus wizards...
  Plus the triumphant return of Donkey Kong — who's ready to hit the Oregon Trail?
 A Word of Welcome

Sometimes, hyping up a big moment too much can lead to a sense of disappointment when it finally arrives. Wait — that was it? It's over?! No more excitement and anticipation?


It's certainly true of technology and the launch events around it (and it's often true in other, uh, more intimate moments of life as well). But y'know what? Despite the intense buildup and the emphasis we tend to put on the mobile-tech "reveal" — the moment when a company officially announces some shiny new gadget and brings it out into the world — that's not the moment we should be focusing on. That's a carryover from an earlier time, when pompous people in pretentious turtlenecks would parade products and shower their devotees with over-the-top adjectives to make everything seem incredible.


Here in the real world, especially in 2019, what really matters is the moment when we get a gadget into our sweaty primate paws. That's when the magic actually begins — when we can start seeing what these devices are truly all about and how they might help our day-to-day lives.


I'm glad this week's big Google event is behind us. Now we can stop focusing on the silly speculation and meaningless details and start thinking about what all this stuff actually means for us — and for the greater Google ecosystems around it.


Let the real games begin.

[email protected]
 The Latest Android Intelligence
How the Pixel 4 Epitomizes Google's Hardware Gamble

 The Short Version: With the Pixel 4, Google's showing us why it started making hardware — and showing off the type of value it alone can deliver.


 Know More: People have been talking about the idea of "the Google phone" for almost a decade now. For the first time, Google itself is now embracing it — with a device that finally seems to live up to the name. But if you're thinking of the Pixel 4 simply as a phone, you're missing the bigger picture of what it really represents.


 Read more: The full column is here.

Making Sense of Google's Pixelbook Strategy

 The Short Version: The missing piece of the puzzle that explains Google's curious-seeming new Chrome OS laptop has finally fallen into place.


 Know More: For weeks, I've wondered how the Pixelbook Go, a less premium- and versatile-seeming version of Google's existing Pixelbook, made sense as a sequel to Google's flagship Chromebook. Turns out the answer is all about the shekels — and the fact that this latest laptop isn't exactly a sequel after all.


 Read more: The full column is here.

This is only scratching the surface.

Hey! Don't forget: Android Intelligence is now much more than just this newsletter and my columns.


I put out a trio of totally independent, ad-free, reader-supported publications every week as part of my Android Intelligence Platinum package. The part everyone's loving the most right now is the latest addition — a special collection of advanced tips and app recommendations I prepare exclusively for Platinum members every Monday. I call it the Platinum Power-Up, and it's pretty forkin' awesome, if I say so myself.


Platinum membership also gives you access to my resource-packed Platinum Lounge, where I'm currently chatting with folks and answering questions about the Pixel 4 and Pixelbook Go as I get to know both devices.


It's everything you love about this newsletter and my articles, amplified — and without any of the usual distractions. And it sets you back a mere 40 cents for every premium publication you receive — pennies that add up to cover my expenses and make all of this possible. (Three cheers for independent journalism!)


Come check it out for a month on me and see whatcha think. I promise you won't be disappointed.


 3 Things to Know This Week
1. Google's got a new smart speaker and networking system

 The Short Version: In addition to the high-profile phone and laptop, Google's launching new and improved versions of its Nest Mini (formerly Home Mini) speaker and Nest Wifi (formerly Google Wifi) networking system — and the two products actually overlap in a pretty interesting way.


 Know more: The new Nest Mini is a nice if somewhat unflashy update to the first-gen Home Mini product, with plenty of improvements in all the right places. Among other things, the speaker has better sound — supposedly with twice as much bass as the (often-tinny-sounding) previous model — and it boasts better microphones, too, along with a new chip that lets the device handle frequently used commands without having to connect to the internet. The Nest Wifi, meanwhile, basically brings a Nest Mini into every access point in your home, complete with a microphone to talk to Assistant and a speaker to hear responses (or even to stream music). Tapping into that type of system and using it to expand Assistant's reach is an almost painfully sensible move for Google to make — one that further emphasizes how almost everything the company's doing right now ultimately boils down to Assistant.


 Read more: You can find the full set of details on both products in Google's official Nest Mini and Nest Wifi announcements. If you want a more thorough look at what's new with the devices, The Verge's hands-on impressions (for Nest Mini and Nest Wifi) paint a pretty vivid picture.

2. The new Pixel Buds want to bring Assistant into your ears

 The Short Version: Google's second-gen earbuds — going on sale sometime next spring — are fully wireless and allow you to summon Assistant into your headspace simply by speaking into thin air.


 Know more: The new Pixel Buds have some impressive-sounding technological features — like being able to adjust their volume automatically based on the level of ambient noise around you and being able to detect when you're talking via sensors that watch for jaw movement — but make no mistake about it: This product, just like the other new Google devices, is ultimately all about bringing Assistant into as many areas of your life as possible. And it's no wonder Google's doing it: The time when you're on the go and not actively looking at your phone is one of the few remaining areas where Assistant isn't readily accessible. Google may not be making much headway with getting onto wrists with smartwatches, but if it can get into ears with earbuds, well, that's arguably even better.


 Read more: Impressions of the Pixel Buds are pretty sparse right now, since the product isn't coming out for another several months yet — but you can get all the basic info in Google's official announcement and get a good overview of what they're like to try on in Android Central's hands-on report.

3. One of the best Pixel perks is being phased out

 The Short Version: From the get-go, Google's Pixel phones have included unlimited original-quality storage of videos and images in Google Photos. With the Pixel 4, that benefit is no more.


 Know more: Pixel 4 owners will still have unlimited "high-quality" photo and video backups, like everyone else, but that means the content will be compressed when it's uploaded instead of being stored in its original, full-resolution form. Now, realistically, that probably isn't that big of a deal for most people; the difference between full-res images and compressed images isn't especially noticeable in most scenarios. But still, there's something to be said for knowing you're hanging onto your media in its original (and the highest possible quality) version. So, yeah, this is definitely a bit of a bummer. The upgraded Photos storage was a nice perk of Pixel ownership and one that seemed like a natural fit for the whole "best of Google" concept the Pixel phone embodies. It's a shame to see it go.


 Read more: There's really not a heck of a lot more to say about the move, but this comparison of Photos' original and compressed formats is worth revisiting. If you want to voice your disappointment, meanwhile, stop by this petition.

 Tips o' the Week
Tap into YouTube's hidden powers

When I dig around for interesting ways to make the most out of apps, I tend to focus on productivity-oriented services — things like Gmail, Slack, and other such serious entities. This time, though, I thought it'd be fun to go in a different direction and dig around a little in YouTube.


Hey, we all use it. And just because a site is meant for procrastination doesn't mean you have to waste your time while moving throughout it.


Check out my latest Fast Company feature, "16 Incredibly Useful Things You Didn't Know YouTube Could Do," and get ready to see your favorite video service in a whole new way.

Start a new note in no time

You know about Google's handy shortcuts for starting new documents, spreadsheets, and presentations — right? (Just in case you don't, they're,, and Type any of those into your browser's address bar, say "abracadabra" for good measure, if you want, and then hit enter. Handy, no?)


Well, as of this week, Google's got another noteworthy way to jump directly into a draft — and this one's all about notes.


If you use Google Keep, take note: You can now type into your address bar to be beamed right into the Keep note editor. You can also use or, if you'd rather.


Ahh...that's just the type of time-saving tweak that sets my heart a-titter.

Make Assistant more finger-friendly and enhance your Android privacy options

I love finding crafty ways to make our technology work better, and this week, I've got some good'uns — including an awesome little tweak that makes it infinitely easier to interact with Assistant by typing (and with totally silent, on-screen-only answers in return!) and an invaluable addition to Android that lets you upgrade your privacy options and claim more control over how apps are able to access your info.


I break down all the steps for bringing both improvements onto your own devices in this week's Platinum Power-Up, my weekly digest of next-level tips and app insight. Read it now and get extra knowledge in your inbox every Monday by signing up for a free trial of my premium resource package, Android Intelligence Platinum.


Tons of good stuff awaits!

Quiz Time
 Test Your Knowledge
Which company made the most Nexus phones?

Right-o! LG worked with Google on three phones: the Nexus 4, Nexus 5, and Nexus 5X. Samsung made two, meanwhile, while HTC and Moto each made one. D'oh! Wrong answer. Try again.

 Test your friends (and/or imaginary soulmates)

This interactive quiz is optimized for Gmail on Android or the web. If you're using another mail client and nothing's happening when you click or tap a choice, don't despair: You can find the right answer at the bottom of this email.


If the quiz isn't appearing correctly at all for you (hi, Windows Outlook/Mail users!), open this issue in your browser instead. It'll work A-OK there.

Know someone else who might enjoy this issue?



 And Just For Funsies...

If you're old enough to remember the good ol' days of MS-DOS, my goodness, have I got the treat for you. (And if you aren't old enough to remember that, well, get off my lawn, junior. Just kidding. You can stay. In fact, you might like this stuff, too.)


The generous folks at the always-useful Internet Archive website (y'know, that place where you can look up old versions of almost any web page imaginable) have expanded their collection of classic DOS games to include a whopping 2,500 new titles. All of them are converted into a web-friendly format and available to play right within your regular browser, with nothing more than a couple clicks required.



In addition to mainstays like Oregon Trail (YES!), Pac-Man, SimCity, Donkey Kong, and — of course — Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego, the collection includes new gems like the delightfully 90s-looking Mr. Blobby (which may or may not have also been my nickname in middle school). Seriously, the graphics and music on that one alone are worth everything.



You can browse through the entire collection in the Internet Archive's Software Library. Just be warned: Once you open this virtual gate, there’s no going back. Hours will be wasted.

Happy Trails to You

Thanks as always for reading and having me over to your inbox. Don't forget to stop by the Platinum Lounge with any Pixel 4, Pixelbook Go, or Nest Mini questions that come to mind — and to check out the latest Platinum podcast for even more mobile-tech noodling.


I'll see ya back here before you know it. Have yourself a spectacular weekend, won't ya?




The answer to this week's quiz is: LG

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