Category: Google Pixel XL

Google Photos Update Ends Confusion on Pixel 2 Original Quality Uploads

When the Google Pixel 2 lineup was released a couple of weeks ago, the new phones, like the first generation, were announced to have free uploading of original quality photos to Google Photos.  For those not familiar with Google Photos, original quality photos normally count against your Google Drive quota (which is leveraged by Photos) but compressed, high quality photos, don’t count against it.  Normally for photos under 16MP high quality is a great option because it is pretty lossless.

After the release of the Pixel 2 phones, it was noticed that the original quality uploading for free ended in 2020.  It cause a lot of confusion:  What happens to my photos I’ve uploaded already?  Do they get deleted?  Do they get compressed?  Thanks to an APK tear down by the Android Police team, we have a clearer answer.

Check for Update Really Works in Oreo on Nexus & Pixel Devices

So here’s a concept:  A button that actually does something.  For years, the “Check for update” button in Android pretty much did nothing.  Sure you could hit it but the odds of you getting an update were pretty slim.  Why?  Because manufactures like Google, Samsung and others as well as carriers phase updates out to their customers.  The result?  The “Check for update” button was, by-and-large, useless.

That’s changing under Android Oreo, specifically for the Google Nexus and Pixel devices.  Now when you tap that button in Settings>System>System Updates, it actually, really goes out to Google’s servers and download the latest OTA update.  No waiting on phasing.

Google Pixel Trade-In Program Goes Live

After being leaked a couple of days ago along with a slew of other leaks, the Google trade-in program for the Google Pixel is now live at the Google Store.  The program allows you to trade in previous Google Nexus phones, LG, Samsung, and iPhones to get a credit towards the purchase of a new Google Pixel or Pixel XL.

With the new Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL only a few weeks away, it is a little surprising to see Google open this program up now.  The assumption was that it would start when the next generation phones were announced.

As for the value that you get, it largely depends on how new your phone is and its condition.  For example, if I wanted to trade in my Nexus 6P with 64GB of storage, I would get back $155 since it is in working condition and doesn’t have a broken screen.  If I trade in my wife’s iPhone SE 128GB, that would get me $87.

YouTube HDR Slowly Rolling Out to Compatible Devices

Several current Android phones are starting to see the long awaited YouTube HDR content come to them.  YouTube rolled out HDR content at the end of 2016 but to this point, virtually no devices were able to render it.  That has changed throughout the course of 2017 and now several reports indicate that multiple devices are seeing an HDR option on video playback.

For those who don’t know, HDR stands for High Dynamic Range.  Images and video shot in HDR have more contrast, a wider color palette and greater brightness levels.

As for devices that are now reportedly able to show HDR content, it is growing rapidly.

Google Further Clarifies End of Support for Nexus & Pixel Devices

Google has once again updated their support matrix for the Nexus and Pixel lineup of devices.  Previously the company had outlined dates of when major updates and minor security updates would cease for the devices.  There is nothing new here in that regard.  What is new is the dates for the end of online and phone support for the devices.  The good news, or at least the non-confusing news, is that online & phone support ends when security updates end on the devices.

Take the Nexus 6 for example.  There are no guaranteed Android updates to the device since October 2016.  No, Android O is not coming to the Nexus 6.  Sorry, I loved it too.  In October 2017, guaranteed security updates end and that is also when online and phone support ends for the device.  Other devices follow this same timing.

Google Pixel Lineup Security Support Ends in October 2019

Following the process set for the last Nexus lineup, Google has updated their Android software update page with information on the Google Pixel lineup.  Major version support for the devices will end next year, October 2018 while Android security updates will end a year later in October 2019.  While Google phrases this as “not guaranteed”, it is pretty much a lock that the devices won’t see updates after these dates.

This shouldn’t be a surprise to Pixel owners.  Google has said they will support phones for 3 years after release or 18 months from when the device was last sold in the Google Store, whichever is longer.  This is the cadence they setup on such updates with the release of the Nexus 6P and 5X although it had been somewhat implied prior to those devices. As an owner of a Pixel XL, I’d love to see support longer but the reality is, for Google, developing an Android build for a 3+ year old device is expensive with little incentive for them to do it.  Remember that they, just like any other manufacture, want you to upgrade at some point.

Google Pixel XL – A Benchmark Six Months On

The Google Pixel XL, and its smaller sibling the Pixel, were released in October 2016.  At the time of their launch, they were lauded by many as the benchmark for other Android phones.  Samsung at the time was still dealing with the debacle that was the Galaxy Note7 while companies like Huawei had solid phones but less-than-stellar user experience in EMUI 4.0.  Even the younger kids on the block like OnePlus were touting their phones but from an overall experience, none of them matched the Pixel XL.

Fast forward six months.  Is the Pixel XL still a benchmark device?  In my opinion, absolutely.  It is from many perspectives:  Performance, photo quality, and perhaps most importantly, the upgrade experience.  If there is one thing that the Google Pixel lineup offers that virtually no others do, it is a pure, as Google intended it, Android experience.  Others are close – Motorola and OnePlus – but none are unadulterated Android.  When the Pixel was announced, the immediate response was “iPhone copycat” and, to be fair, it is a bit true.  If you hold a Pixel up to an iPhone 7, minus the Home button, they look strikingly similar on the front.  Is that a bad thing?  I don’t think so.  Apple, love them or hate them, has done a great job of selling iPhones these past few years and it is a proven look for a smartphone.

Unlike deep dive reviews of phones I’ve done here on the site, I’m not going to do that with the Pixel XL.  Instead, I’m going to highlight three key areas that I think make the phone a benchmark by which to measure other phones in the market.  You may feel different, and that’s okay.  We are all adults and can have a healthy debate on it.

Verizon Bound Google Pixel and Pixel XL Seeing Nougat 7.1.2 Update

After being released on Monday for the unlocked variants, the Android Nougat 7.1.2 update for the Google Pixel and Pixel XL on Verizon has now been released.  The build for the Verizon Pixels is NHG47K, slightly different than the release for the unlocked devices.  That build was N2G47E.  The update is under 500MB in size but it is a good idea to download via Wi-Fi for speed and data plan savings.  Once downloaded, the update will take about 15 minutes to install and your phone will reboot once it is completed.

Th update for the Verizon variants contain the same updates as the unlocked versions of the Pixel and Pixel XL.  This includes improvements around Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, backup improvements to restore data from 1st-party apps like Calendar, and the April 2017 Android Security Patch.

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