Well this isn’t a great look — but there’s an explanation.

A concern from earlier this year over how much data OnePlus has been collecting has resurfaced this week, pointing to the fact OxygenOS on all recent OnePlus phones keeps track of all sorts of information on the phone and sends it back to the company. Despite this being something that’s been happening for some time on OnePlus phones and that’s several months since first being discovered, users have just now been reminded of it and are (rightfully) concerned over just how much is being collected and what’s being done with it.

OnePlus, just like any other phone manufacturer, collects information on how your phone is being used, what apps are installed, and what issues may arise — and it’s often tied to that phone and your user account in particular. The report from earlier this year clearly shows how a OnePlus phone (a OnePlus 2 in this case) was collecting how long apps were used for, what Wi-Fi networks were being connected to, the phone’s associated user account and much more. It was sending the data back to OnePlus as well — and mostly for good reason, as it helps OnePlus improve its software and help with customer support should the need arise.

When asked for a comment on the matter, OnePlus responded with exactly as we’d expect:

We securely transmit analytics in two different streams over HTTPS to an Amazon server. The first stream is usage analytics, which we collect in order for us to more precisely fine tune our software according to user behavior. The second stream is device information, which we collect to provide better after-sales support.

While it may seem like a massive treasure trove of information that shouldn’t be leaving the phone, this sort of diagnostic and usage data is collected routinely, with rare exception, on smartphones. In this case, some of the data collection can actually be turned off. The first “stream” of information, which includes things like which apps are installed and how the software is used, can be disabled by going to Settings, Advanced and turning off “Join user experience program.” The second “stream” cannot be turned off, as is typical on phones.

Now the fact that this wasn’t something that was clearly explained to the user during setup or even in the settings where you turn it off is something that’s worth being a bit upset about. As is the fact that personally identifiable information like user accounts and IMEI numbers are being tied to the data, as shown by the research. But OnePlus is hardly alone in what it’s collecting from its phones, and the core issue of the data itself being collected isn’t something we should be surprised or alarmed by — and taking OnePlus as its word, it seems to be handling the data appropriately as well.

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Google Home Mini is only shipping on October 19, but a major bug has already been reported — and fixed.

Google is no stranger to problematic hardware launches — recall how difficult it was to get a Pixel last year, or how frustratingly bad the Nexus 5′s camera was in 2013 — but this one may top it all.

According to Android Police owner, Artem Russakovskii, review units of the new Google Home Mini had a bug that caused it to intermittently listen to everything in its surrounding area, even when not explicitly called using the “OK Google” hotword.

Russakovskii discovered the bug after realizing that his Home Mini was responding to dialogue from his television. He then checked his My Activity Portal, which is where Google stores all the data obtained by its various services, including Google Assistant. That’s how he discovered that thousands of commands had been entered in the database without his knowledge.

The bug, which has since been fixed, turned out to be a malfunctioning touch panel on the fabric top of the Home Mini itself. See, the device, like the larger Google Home, can be manually activated by holding down on the center of the fabric; some early units were too sensitive and saw this touch panel activate with no actual human input.

Google has since released an update to fix the issue, and hopefully no retail units will have the problem.

Google has since released an over-the-air update to all early reviewer units (including mine) to disable the manual activation command entirely and plans to create a long-term fix before the product ships on October 19.

Of course, such a bug just reinforces the cliché that Google knows too much about its users, and that connected speakers like the Amazon Echo and Google Home are constantly listening to its users. The reality is that these units are always listening to its users — that’s how they detect the activation word — but they don’t keep any of the data except for the terms expressly said after the hotword itself. In fact, there’s no connection to the internet at all until “OK Google” is activated. That’s an important distinction here, but some people are still going to be reticent to invest in a system that could be storing personal information it wasn’t authorized to store.

Google Home Mini: Everything you need to know!

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 | Posted by | Categories: Android |

64GB or 128GB of storage? That is the question.

Google’s Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL are both great phones ready to deliver an excellent Android experience. When it comes to figuring out which storage size is the right one for you, though, there are a few questions to ask yourself. What will you be storing on your phone? How long will you be using your new phone?

You’ve got two options for the storage on your new Pixel 2 or Pixel 2 XL, and we’re here to help you pick the right one!

Two options: 64GB and 128GB

Whether you’ve been eyeing up the Pixel 2 or the Pixel 2 XL, you’ve got the same options for storage size on your phone. You’ll be able to choose between a 64GB model or a 128GB model. While both of these are solid options, there are definitely some differences.

While 64GB is the smaller of the two options, it definitely isn’t a size that is going to fill up in a few short weeks. It’ll give you plenty of space to store your apps, photos, videos, and schedules without having to worry about anything. Of course, the 128GB option gives you access to nearly twice as much space for everything that you store on your phone.

It is important to keep in mind one of the big perks of having a Pixel 2 is that sweet, sweet, photo storage with Google Photos. Unlike with most phones, Pixel owners get to upload an unlimited number of full-resolution photos — at least until December 2020. This means that considering how much space your photos are going to take up on your phone is less of an issue since you can back all of them up automatically.

Choose wisely

The Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL maintain a few controversial design decisions from the last Pixels, namely a lack of microSD expansion. This means that once you have purchased a phone you’re locked into the size that you pick up.

Features like unlimited photo storage can help, but knowing what kind of space you’ll be needing in the future. If you’re one of those folks who tend to update their phone every year when a shiny new device is announced, then the 64GB model should be solid. However, if you prefer to stretch out the life of your phone for as long as possible, then picking up the 128GB storage size is the better option in the long-term.

It’s also worth keeping in mind that even the 64GB model will only have around 54GB free out of the box, since Android itself takes up a fair amount of space.

Which size are you considering?

Both the 64GB and the 128GB models of the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL deliver tons of storage space. Neither of these storage sizes is going to do a bad job of having space to store everything that you need to get through the day.

In the end, this is a personal decision that nobody else can make for you. Does storage size make a big difference when you are considering a phone? Let us know about it in the comments below!

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 | Posted by | Categories: Android |

Android Wear 2.0′s new update process is here, and new features are expected to be available “in the coming months.”

Although Google introduced a lot of new features and UI elements with the Android Wear 2.0 update in February, the platform is still in an awkward position. There’s no true Android Wear flagship from Google like we have with the Pixel, and despite all the progress made with 2.0, there’s still work to be done for the OS itself.

Timely software updates are critical for any platform, and Google is striving to make these much speedier and efficient with the new ability for features to now be added to Android Wear 2.0 via Play Store updates. In other words, Google will be able to introduce bug fixes and add entirely new features via a simple update to the Android Wear app on your phone via the Play Store rather than having to push out an entire OTA upgrade for your watch.

Googler Hoi Lam shared on Google+ that many new updates would be coming to Android Wear via this new delivery system in the coming months, and the latest update to the Android Wear app adds the following items:

  • 3rd party chat app support in Contacts
  • Reduce accidental entry into the watch face picker
  • Improve Play Store discoverability for new users
  • Other features and bug fixes

Lam didn’t dive into what other sorts of features we can expect to see in the next few months, and while this one change won’t completely revive Android Wear on its own, it’s definitely a step in the right direction.

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 | Posted by | Categories: Android |