User feedback or user annoyance?

A few days ago we pointed out that Google is running customer surveys in the Pixel 2 XL’s settings page, which turned out to be a pretty polarizing subject. Though it doesn’t seem like many Pixel 2 owners are seeing the settings page survey, some are seeing a very similar one pop up in other Google apps — in this case, the Android Messages SMS client. And not just in Pixels — this particular example is on a ZTE Axon 7.

Somehow a survey inside an app you chose to download is a bit more natural than one in your phone settings.

Unsurprisingly, the dialogue box looks near-identical to the one from the settings page on the Pixel 2 XL, with a similar prompt of a few questions about your satisfaction with Google’s app. On one hand, it feels somehow more … expected to see a survey inside an app that you chose to download, whereas it feels a bit more forced when it pops up in the settings page on your phone.

In either case, I think there could be a more graceful way to ask for feedback than putting a banner in either place — perhaps a regular app notification, or since we’re talking about Google, an email to your registered Gmail account. Regardless, it could easily be seen as a positive that Google’s soliciting feedback on its products and is working to improve them.

Are you seeing customer satisfaction surveys in any other Google apps? Whether you have or not, let us know in the comments how you feel about Google running them!




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The future looked way cooler than it really is.

Officially, Google isn’t finished with Android Wear, and neither are the companies that build watches powered by it. But I’m pretty sure that Android Wear’s time has come and gone.

Barring some major breakthrough that will fundamentally change the way we use the platform, there’s not much more to be done with it. On the technical side, there is a lot of cool stuff that can happen; things like integration with other IoT gear, point-to-point networking, and things that people smarter than me will think up. But to a consumer who has a fistful of money and an itch to buy something really cool, there is not a lot more that can be put on a wrist that’s not already there.

This makes me wonder — why isn’t Android Wear — heck, wearables in general from all companies — more popular than it is?

Don’t get me wrong, I know a lot of people love their smartwatch. Android fans, Samsung fans, Apple fans, that last Pebble fan. There are millions of people who are very happy that they bought a smartwatch, and may even buy another one. Maybe. Millions of anything is not a failure, and I’m not calling Android Wear a failure. But billions of people have a phone. Billions have a traditional computer or laptop. Billions have a TV. When we first heard companies talking about putting a tiny computer on our wrists, the group mind said that billions would buy one. Billions > millions.

New smartwatches do all the things we wanted them to do and don’t suck.

It’s not because they don’t work, either. If you haven’t checked out the latest Android Wear watch, or Samsung Gear or Apple Watch, you should. They do exactly what we all wanted them to do and do it fairly well. At least with no more bugs and technical limitation nonsense than any other tiny computing product.

I have an LG Watch Sport and it can almost replace my phone and makes a great companion product to my phone. Other brands from other companies do the same and while we always want more it’s tough to say that a smartwatch doesn’t do the stuff we expect a smartwatch to do. They even tell time.

The only reason I can come up with is (drum roll) … money. Few people want to spend more than they need to, and I get the feeling that smartwatches are just too darned expensive for a whole lot of people to justify the purchase. Cheaper smartwatches exist, but they will never get much of a following because they just don’t do a lot outside of notifications, and for a thing that only tells you when you have a message they are probably too expensive for a lot of people, too.

Are smartwatches too expensive, or do they just not do enough to make us want them?

This is a big nasty Catch-22 situation because if you make a product that can be a tiny phone, a fitness tracker, an authentication device, a music player, and everything else a good smartwatch can do you spend a lot of money doing it and need to charge a lot of money for it. Then when people see it on a shelf or online store they balk at the price. I don’t how you go about fixing that or even if you can. Hey, I’m good at tearing gadgets apart, programming stuff and playing Skyrim. I leave economics to the professionals.

Maybe I’m wrong and it’s not the price, or maybe I’m completely wrong and a gazillion people got a smartwatch as a gift last month. So I’m going to ask you — why do you think wearables didn’t take off and become the new thing nobody can live without? Take a minute and let me know what you think because this is one of those things I think about when I can’t sleep and would love to have a reasonable explanation for.

Until next time.




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Here’s a combo you won’t want to miss.

RavPower currently has its fast wireless charger on sale for just $11.99 when you use a coupon code during checkout. To sweeten the deal a little more, the company is also bundling in a free set of Micro-USB cables or USB-C cables, depending on your preference. All you have to do is add the wireless charger and the cables of your choice to your cart, then enter the coupon code. Be sure to pick the correct code from below based on the cables that you opt to pick up.

If you were to purchase the cables and charger separately, you’d be paying over $20. The pad itself normally sells for $15, so being able to pick that up at $12 is a great deal, then you add in the free cables and it makes it instant purchase worthy!




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Where we all resolve to chill out after a week of work.

I hope everyone had a great holiday, and the transition back to work after a few weeks of slacking off on the clock isn’t being too difficult. Sometimes the ramp up back to normal after the holidays can be horrible. And by sometimes I mean all the time.

Around here that means getting ready for CES and all the crapjunkcool things that will totally be awesome and not suck that come with it. We’ve got the regular crew on the way to the festivities and the rest of us are ready for the 2am emails from companies with news to share, and it’s always a rush to get things done (and done well) this time of year. I’m hoping to see some cool non-Android tech stuff in addition to the news about coming products or software from the companies we’re used to seeing it from, and have my fingers crossed that this year we will finally be able to buy our own authentic General Atomics Mr. Handy. Don’t judge, I have grass that won’t cut itself.

Since it’s a new year and the time to make promises to ourselves, it would be cool to share them here. I promise to eat more leafy green things and fewer things that also eat leafy green things. It’ll be tough because I loves me some rare meat, but if it gets my doctor and my wife to bug me about it less it will be worth it. Oh, the live longer part is kind of cool, too.

What about you? Share the things you’re going to do or not going to do in the comments!




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Act fast and get the phone for just $59.

If you wanted to buy an Android phone for $200 or less a few years back, you’d end up with something that had a good chance of breaking down within a week. We’ve thankfully left those dark days behind us, and as such, have devices like the LG Tribute Dynasty.

LG just announced the Tribute Dynasty ahead of CES 2018, and while there’s nothing here that’ll blow your socks off, the Tribute Dynasty does look like a respectable Android handset for tackling the basics. On the front of the phone is a 5.0-inch 1280 x 720 IPS display, and right above it is a 5MP front-facing camera for all your selfies and Duo calls. An 8MP camera is on the back with LED flash, and a 2,500 mAh removable battery promises up to 15 hours of talk time.

The Tribute Dynasty is powered by a MediaTek 1.5GHz octa-core processor and 2GB RAM. There’s 16GB of expandable storage (up to 32GB) for your apps, games, and pictures, and Android 7.1 Nougat is present out of the box.

You can get the LG Tribute Dynasty now from Boost Mobile and it’ll be available January 12 on Sprint. The retail price is set at $99, but if you buy the phone now, you can get it for just $59.

See at Boost Mobile




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HP returns to the Chromebox.

We saw some excellent Chromebooks in 2017, but the market for Chromeboxes has been much quieter. However, just in time for CES 2018, HP’s announced its all-new Chromebox G2.

For first impressions, the G2 doesn’t look all that exciting. In fact, if you quickly glanced at the thing, you might mistake it for an Apple TV. On the outside of the G2 is a solid selection of ports, including a 3.5mm headphone jack, one USB Type-C, three USB 3.0 and two USB 2.0 ports, one HDMI output, and one RJ-45 connector (not to mention a microSD slot).

Take a peek inside the G2, and that’s when you realize why you might want to consider buying the thing. You can choose to pick up a configuration with Intel’s Celeron 3865U, but we’d recommend going with the Kaby Lake Core i5 (7300U) or i7 (8650U). The Celeron model ships with Intel HD Graphics 610, but going for either the i5 or i7 will bump you up to Intel UHD Graphics 620.

You can get up to 16GB of DDR-2400 SDRAM that’s equipped thanks to two memory slots, and you have the choice of either a 32 or 64GB M.2 SSD for storage.

There’s currently no word on pricing for the HP Chromebox G2, but we should see a release at some point in April.

Chrome OS will finally let you run Android apps in the background




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