Google Brings More Pixel-Exclusive Features to All Android Phones

Google Brings More Pixel Features to All Android Phones

Google’s promotional video for the Assistant’s new Reminders ability.

If you’ve ever wanted to bring up your reminders on your smart display a little more easily, Google added a Reminders hub to the Assistant. You can pull it up by saying, “Open my reminders,” and the Assistant will present you with the list of things you reminded yourself to do. Eventually, the Assistant will start to offer suggestions for reminders based on your activity.

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There are also some changes coming to Android Auto, which I wrote about in more depth here.

The accessibility features will be rolling out this week, with Google’s other Android features landing in the coming weeks.

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New Pixel 6 Leak Reveals Much Faster Wired Charging Speeds

Google Pixel 6 Rumors: Leaked Faster Charging, New Camera, More

Other Pixel 6 rumors include mention of a new 50-MP main camera, and the use of not one but two ARM Cortex X1 cores in Google’s new Tensor chip, which represents a notable departure from the single X1 core used in current mobile chips like Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 888. 

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But what might be the juiciest rumor comes in an update from @Evleaks, who claims that a “trusted” source says that Google’s foldable Pixel—codenamed Passport—will indeed launch sometime this year. The source claims Google has been working on Passport for more than two years, and with new updates coming in Android 12.1 expected to include improved software for foldable phones, suddenly the idea of a foldable Pixel in 2021 doesn’t seem quite so outlandish.

Regardless, after Google CEO Sundar Pichai promised “significant product updates” prior to Google I/O, between a recent major update to its line of Nest cams, the Pixel 6, and potentially a foldable Pixel on the way, Google seems like fully set on backing up Pichai’s big talk with a range of new devices scheduled for release between now and the end of the year.

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Apple’s Stranglehold on In-App Purchases Smacked Down in Epic Court Decision

The injunction will take effect in 90 days. Apple could, and likely will, appeal the decision.

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In an emailed statement to Gizmodo, an Apple spokesperson wrote, “Today the Court has affirmed what we’ve known all along: the App Store is not in violation of antitrust law. As the Court recognized ‘success is not illegal.’ Apple faces rigorous competition in every segment in which we do business, and we believe customers and developers choose us because our products and services are the best in the world.”

“We remain committed to ensuring the App Store is a safe and trusted marketplace that supports a thriving developer community and more than 2.1 million U.S. jobs, and where the rules apply equally to everyone,” the Apple spokesperson added.

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In late August, Apple had already proposed a settlement in a separate lawsuit that would have allowed developers to use registration data such as email to inform users of ways to pay outside the App Store—which would serve as a workaround of sorts to shelling out nearly a third of every transaction to Apple but would be a far cry from the kind of changes ordered by the new injunction. In a settlement in yet another case with the Japan Fair Trade Commission announced last week, Apple conceded that it would allow developers of subscription-based apps that provide content like movies, music, newspapers, and e-books to link within the app to other payment portals. However, that settlement did not cover iOS games—a massively lucrative market for in-app purchases.

It’s not clear, as of this moment, how wide the ramifications will be beyond the App Store specifically. Google, which also booted Fortnite from its Play Store in response to Epic’s moves, is facing a similar lawsuit that has yet to be resolved.

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As flagged by the Verge, Gonzalez Rogers also resolved another baffling dispute in the case: Whether or not the Fortnite character Peely the banana, who is technically naked because his bare peel is his skin, would have to wear clothes while appearing in court. The issue arose when an Apple attorney cross-examining an Epic executive quipped that Apple had opted to show Peely wearing a tuxedo in his “Agent Peely” cosmetics, as it was more appropriate for federal court. (No one wears tuxedos to court but My Cousin Vinny, but hey.) An attorney for Epic, responding to the joke, later asked the executive if there is “there anything inappropriate about Peely without clothes,” to which he responded, “It’s just a banana man.”

Gonzalez Rogers wrote in an aside in the ruling that the court agreed that “as Peely is ‘just a banana man,’ additional attire was not necessary but informative.” So that’s settled.

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This is a breaking news story and will be updated…

Facebook’s Ray-Ban Glasses Leaked and They Look Awfully Familiar

Facebook’s Ray-Ban Glasses Leaked and They Sure Look Familiar

None of this should come as a surprise. We’ve known that these glasses were coming since 2019. We also knew this pair wouldn’t have the advanced AR features you’d associate with the term “smart glasses.” The company blatantly told the Verge that the glasses wouldn’t have an AR display last year. In a recent earnings call, Zuckerberg also said the glasses would have Ray-Ban’s “iconic form factor” and would “let you do some pretty neat things.” He also commented that he was looking forward to “full augmented reality glasses in the future.” The main question is whether those “pretty neat things” include anything other than taking short videos.

Facebook hasn’t been shy about its AR and VR ambitions. Facebook Reality Labs Research, the division that works on these projects, has published several deep dives into how the company envisions how AR will shape our technological future. That includes everything from “smart audio” and facial recognition, to soft wristbands to control AR with your mind. Based on the images, however, it’s probably safe to say that these glasses won’t be that much different from the smart glasses we’ve already seen.

The Echo Frames, Bose Frames, and Razer Anzu are all similar glasses—though they lack the ability to record video. They function more like headphones in that they let you take calls, listen to music, and use your phone’s digital assistant. It’s possible the Ray-Ban Stories will also do these things, though we’ll have to wait for the official details to know for sure.

Another question is how comfortable people will feel about wearing sunglasses made by Facebook with cameras built-in. The Portal gave people the heebie-jeebies. Back in 2014, a woman in San Francisco was also assaulted for wearing Google Glass at a bar. A big reason why that happened? People at the bar were reportedly upset at the possibility of being recorded. Combine those two things, and it’s easy to see why Facebook branding is largely absent from the glasses themselves.

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We’ll have to see how the Ray-Ban Stories do. So far people haven’t seemed particularly keen on this type of smart glasses, and technically, we’ve been here before with the Snap Spectacles. But who knows? Maybe Facebook’s figured something out.

Microsoft Will Take the Wraps Off Windows 11 Hardware On Sept. 22

Microsoft Announces Hardware Event Sept. 22

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Microsoft could also use its September event to announce the Surface Book 4. Windows Central reported that it might not get the Surface Book moniker, however. Instead, Microsoft could rebrand it as the Surface Laptop Pro. The company could also update its Surface Pro lineup to showcase Windows 11.

Invitations have been sent out to the press, and Gizmodo will be covering the event right here. Be sure to join us on Sept. 22 to see everything Microsoft announces.

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Eavesdroppers Can Hear What Speakers Are Playing By Watching Their Power LEDs Flicker

Glowworm Attack Captures Audio From Power LED Light Flickers

Pairing the sensor with a telescope allowed the security researchers at Ben-Gurion University to successfully capture and decipher sounds being played by a speaker at distances of up to 35 meters, or close to 115 feet. The results aren’t crystal clear (you can hear the remote recordings the researchers made on Ben Nassi’s website), and the noise increases the farther away from the speaker the capture device is used, but with some intelligent audio processing, the results can undoubtedly be improved.

The researchers tested the Glowworm Attack on speakers from several different manufacturers, including the Google Home Mini and Google Nest Audio smart speakers, as well as offerings from brands like Logitech, Sony, Creative, and JBL (who have all been informed of the attack.) It’s not limited to just speaker hardware, however. The researchers were also able to successfully capture audio by remotely analyzing the LEDs on USB hubs that desktop speakers were plugged into, as well as connected devices like the Raspberry Pi.

Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to foil the Glowworm Attack, with the easiest being a strategically placed piece of opaque tape preventing the power status LED from being seen. On the manufacturer side, the solution might be a little harder, but as Hackaday suggests, introducing some randomized power noise to the LED while the speaker is operating should properly obfuscate what it’s revealing to eavesdroppers nearby.

NASA Weakly Defends Astronaut Following Russian State Media Accusations of ISS Sabotage

NASA Weakly Defends Astronaut Following Russian State Media Accusations of ISS Sabotage

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Lueders repeated her stance on Twitter, with Senator Bill Nelson chiming in with his support.

NASA’s official statement on the matter is a bit underwhelming, as it explicitly fails to dismiss the accusation being made in the TASS article:

All the International Space Station partners are dedicated to mission safety and the welfare of the crew. The International Space Station partners all participate in multiple reviews prior to every major station activity to assess and ensure the safety of all crew members. The hole that was detected in late August 2018 by the space station crew was quickly sealed, restoring air-tight pressure to the station. Russian cosmonauts conducted a spacewalk that December to gather additional engineering data for Russian specialists on Earth and to look externally at the effectiveness of the internal repair. The Soyuz spacecraft was thoroughly checked and deemed safe for the crew to return to Earth, which it did, on Dec. 20, 2018.

To protect their privacy, the agency will not discuss medical information regarding crew members.

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As Berger asserts, “NASA’s public relations folks apparently weighed whether they should stand up for their astronaut and respond to something obviously ridiculous or, for the sake of expediency, avoid getting into a pissing match with Roscosmos.” The space agency, it would seem, “chose the latter,” he wrote.

That approach is understandable but also infuriating. Stronger words in condemnation of the accusation and a full-throated support of an unfairly maligned NASA astronaut were absolutely warranted in my opinion. What’s more, the NASA statement, as far as I can tell, does not appear anywhere on the agency’s website. Unless there’s some context we’re missing, it seems that NASA could do more to defend its astronaut from this attack.

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We’re Liveblogging Samsung’s Foldable Phone Event Right Here

Update, 8/11/21, 9:55 a.m. ET: Our liveblog module is on the fritz, so welcome to a stream of consciousness as I watch the Samsung event!

I wanted to talk about the soothing intro music, but no time for that, the show is starting.

This is going to be a big day. Not only is Samsung really pushing foldables for the mainstream, we’re also getting a big update to Samsung’s watch line, with Samsung switching over to a Wear OS-based platform.

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Screenshot: Samsung

Galaxy Watch 4

And we’re just getting right into it: Here’s the Galaxy Watch 4.

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Screenshot: Samsung

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For the Galaxy Watch 4, Samsung teamed up with Google to create a new Galaxy Watch platform called Wear OS 3. Samsung layered One UI Watch over top.

One of the big advantages of the new platform is wider support for apps, with Samsung even adding the ability to auto install companion apps on your watch based on the apps you already have on your phone.

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Screenshot: Samsung

Another big update to the Watch 4 series is new health metrics, like snoring detection.

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And just like before, any metrics that get recorded by the watch can be easily viewed on your phone.

But for real health nuts, Samsung is also introducing a new BIA sensor on the Galaxy Watch 4 that can measure your body composition, telling you things like how much muscle you have versus fat.

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Screenshot: Samsung

Samsung says one of the big challenges with adding BIA sensors was making them small enough to fit in a watch. But it seems they managed to pull it off.

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And by measuring the speed of electricity as it passes through your body, in just 15 seconds, you can get an idea of your body composition.

Samsung even says its body composition scans are 98% accurate, which Samsung claims is as good as some professional scanning equipment.

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And just like previous models, the new Galaxy Watch 4 is going to be available with bluetooth and wifi, or with an optional 4G LTE connection.

OK, now we’re getting into the two different models, which is getting a bit of remix from previous generations.

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The standard Galaxy Watch 4 is a bit sleeker, and instead of a physical bezel, it has a virtual bezel that you can use by tracing your finger around the edge of the screen.

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However, for people who like the physical bezel (I’m one of them), there’s the Watch 4 Classic, which looks a bit more rugged, but aside from the bezel, has the same features as the regular Galaxy Watch 4.

Aaaaand here’s the pricing.

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Screenshot: Sam Rutherford

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Now here’s Samsung president TM Roh to talk about innovation.

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Roh says Samsung not only wants to focus on new form factors (foldables, anyone?), but it knows how important things like security and privacy are.

Roh says Samsung is also partnering with big corps like Google and Microsoft to help optimize apps on foldable devices.

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Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Galaxy Z Flip 3

So here are Samsung’s new Z series phones.

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Screenshot: Samsung

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First up, the new Galaxy Z Fold 3!

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Screenshot: Samsung

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One interesting thing is that Samsung says it noticed Z Fold owners used the exterior cover screen just as much as the flexible main display.

So this year, the Z Fold 3’s cover screen is getting a boost to 120Hz.

On the inside, the Z Fold 3’s screen is still 7.6 inches across. But to help remove any distractions, Samsung is adding a new under-display camera (UDC), which Samsung says is the first for any foldable phone.

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Samsung is also showing off some of the Z Fold 3’s app optimizations, showing how a dynamic menu is used to take up less space on the screen with UI elements, letting you better focus on the content you care about.

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Screenshot: Samsung

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And depending on the app, the Z Fold 3 will even let you drag and drop certain files and elements.

To start, Samsung says there will be more than 50 apps optimized to work on Samsung’s foldables.

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But wait, there’s more (I’ve always wanted to steal this line).

Now, for the first time, the Galaxy Z Fold 3 is getting IPX8 water resistance, which is no small feat on a phone with a hinge and a flexible screen.

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And it’s not just the Fold 3, the other new member of the Z series is getting water resistance too.

The other big new feature is STYLUS SUPPORT (but only for the Z Fold 3)!

This is really big, especially since Samsung has already confirmed there won’t be a new Galaxy Note this year.

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Screenshot: Samsung

To add stylus support, Samsung teamed up with Wacom to make a custom digitizer specifically for the Z Fold 3.

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Of course just adding stylus support isn’t enough, because the Z Fold 3’s screen still isn’t as strong as regular glass.

So Samsung also made a pair of new styluses that have the ability to automatically retract the stylus nib if the stylus detects that you’re pressing too hard.

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Screenshot: Samsung

Samsung didn’t forget about improving durability.

The company created a new type of aluminum called Armor Aluminum, while also switching to a more durable PET factory-installed screen protector, that’s stronger and stickier than before.

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Screenshot: Samsung

Hopefully that last part prevents the screen protector from peeling away, which is an issue I’ve been dealing with on my Galaxy Fold 2.

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Next up, the Z Flip 3!

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Screenshot: Samsung

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I gotta admit, even though I like the big screen on the Z Fold 3, the Flip is super stylish.

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Screenshot: Samsung

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For this year’s Flip, Samsung has made the outside cover screen a little bigger, so it’s easier to capture selfies or simply check notifications.

And if you’re trying to record a video by yourself, you can even prop the Z Flip 3 half open, and use it as a sort of tripod to record a vlog or selfie.

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Samsung is even making slick cases with a built-in hook and a stretchy band that gives you a better grip, and looks way better than a PopSocket IMO.

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Now Samsung is back talking about One UI 3, which, like apps, has been tweaked to deliver a better experience on Samsung’s foldables.

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OK, here comes the pricing, which is really gonna decide how popular these things become.

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And like last year, there’s also a special Thom Browne edition with a custom paint job, but it’s going to be extra expensive.

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Galaxy Buds 2

Wait, you thought we were done? Nope, Samsung’s got a new pair of Galaxy Buds too.

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And they’re call the Galaxy Buds 2.

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Screenshot: Samsung

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The new Buds 2 feature a super streamlined design, but the real upgrade is the addition of ANC.

Battery life is rated at five hours with ANC on, or around 7.5 hours with ANC off.

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And like previous Galaxy Buds, Samsung still included its Ambient Sound amplification feature, now with three levels of sound boost.

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Here are the new Buds 2 colors.

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Screenshot: Samsung

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The other big thing to note is that the Galaxy Buds 2 will cost $150.

So in a lot of ways they are slightly cheaper versions of the Galaxy Buds Pro, with almost the same set of features but for $50 less.

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Aaaaand now we’ve launched in a musical number?

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And now it’s time for the wrap-up.

As usual, Samsung is talking about its sustainability goals and promising even more new innovations to come in the future.

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But today, the overarching message is a new fitness tracking and a new platform for the Galaxy Watch 4, and a big push for foldables into the mainstream market.

Well, that’s all folks!

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Thanks everyone for tuning in, and once again apologies for the technical difficulties.

We’re doing our best over here!

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What to Expect From Samsung’s Big Foldable Phone Event

Will There Be Foldable Phones?

Yes, we already know there are folding smartphones launching at this event, as Samsung essentially laid out the plan by way of a blog post. Samsung President TM Roh teased the two new foldable devices, the third-generation Galaxy Z Flip and Z Fold.

A render of the Galaxy Z Flip 3

The Z Flip folds down like the feature phones of the past, while the Z Fold opens outwardly like a book to reveal a tablet-sized screen. Some leaks point to the Snapdragon 888 powering up both devices, with 8GB of RAM in the Z Flip and 12GB of RAM in the Z Fold. Both phones should have better water resistance, with the Z Flip guarded by an IP68 rating and the Z Fold protected by a more robust IPX8 rating.

Beyond the usual build improvements, we’re expecting the Z Flip 3 to have a main 6.7-inch internal flexible display and a 1.9-inch external display. That external screen is a bit larger than its predecessor’s current 1.1-inch display and will bode for those hoping for more phone functionality on the outside. Several rumors have alleged a 120Hz refresh rate for the Z Flip’s main screen, which would make even pocket-grinding games look smooth as butter. The Flip is expected to have two capable cameras, including a 12-megapixel rear-facing camera and a 10-MP front-facing one. And what would Samsung’s fun folding smartphone be without a pop of color? The Z Flip 3 is rumored to arrive in eight colors: black, white, dark blue, light purple, green, a pinkish hue, and gray for neutral lovers. It should also be more durable, which was a complaint about previous generations of the Z Flip.

A render of the Galaxy Z Fold 3 and the Galaxy Z Flip 3

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For those who want less of a traditional phone and more of a hybrid device, the Galaxy Z Fold 3 may very well be your next choice. The Z Fold 3 is expected to have a 6.2-inch display on the outside and a 7.55-inch screen inside. A recent FCC listing also revealed its compatibility with Samsung’s S Pen stylus, which will be a boon for anyone looking for some bonafide tablet-like capabilities. The S Pen won’t slot into the device like the Galaxy Note, but it will work with Air Actions.

Like the last version of the Galaxy Z Fold, the third-gen foldable tablet-phone device will likely have an array of cameras. The buzz leads us to believe there are three lenses, including a 12-MP primary, ultra-wide, and telephoto. There might even be an under-display camera making an appearance on the inside of the device.

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What About Samsung’s New Wear OS Watches?

A render of the three upcoming Samsung smartwatches

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Android users have been eager to hear the details on the next batch of Samsung watches after Google revealed the company would be the first to usher in the new version of the Wear platform. There have been numerous leaks about the forthcoming Galaxy Watches, expected to be the Galaxy Watch 4 Classic and Galaxy Watch 4, with the latter packed with fitness-centric features to fulfill the needs of the Watch Active-wearing crowd.

The Watch 4 Classic will, as expected, have a more classic look and come in three sizes: 42mm, 44mm, and 46mm. Small wrists, there’s a classic watch for you yet. It’s expected to sport the durable Gorilla Glass DX+ and will come in aluminum and stainless steel options, with three color selections: a white and silver model, a gray and silver model, and an all-black model.

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A render of the four purported new Galaxy Watch 4 smartwatches coming through the pipeline in black, green, silver, and gold

A render of the four purported new Galaxy Watch 4 smartwatches coming through the pipeline.
Image: OnLeaks/GizNext

The Galaxy Watch 4 will be geared toward folks who want a more fitness-focused watch. The Watch 4 looks like it will be made from aluminum and come in 40mm and 44mm sizes. It’s also expected to run on a 5nm processor, one that’s way more capable than what non-Samsung Android smartwatches are running now. The renders show four color options, including black, silver, green, and gold.

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Amazon Canada accidentally published a listing for the Galaxy Watch 4, which revealed more features. It showed body composition analysis, advanced sleep-tracking, VO2 Max, and SpO2, in addition to the usual continuous heart rate-monitoring. It will also have NFC and built-in GPS, as well as a 1.36-inch display and 361mAh battery.

A render of a Samsung smartphone communicating with a Samsung smart watch

The new One UI Watch software will help unify Samsung’s smartwatches with Google’s Wear OS.
Image: Samsung

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Samsung’s One UI Watch experience has also been leaked, as users are eager to know how Samsung will mold the new Android wearable operating system. One UI will have automatic app installation, meaning it’ll pick up on the apps you have already installed on your phone, so you don’t have to find the companion app in what will hopefully be a more well-stocked app store (one of the reasons for the Google-Samsung team-up). There’s an improved watch face tool coming, too, which will make it easier for developers to take advantage of other sensors and abilities of the Galaxy Watch for more dynamic watch faces.

Will We See New Galaxy Buds?

A render of the new Samsung Galaxy Buds in white

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The last of device we’re expecting to be announced at Samsung’s Unpacked event is the next-gen Galaxy Buds. They’ve been long overdue for a refresh, with the last pair launching two years ago.

The Galaxy Buds 2 were practically revealed in a series of leaked renders. Expect smaller earbuds without fin-shaped wings, and the charging case also looks to be a little bigger than the previous bean-shaped one. There’s no definite word on whether the earbuds will offer active noise cancellation, though a reveal in a published GitHub repository seems to suggest otherwise. The purported $100 to $150 price tag would make the Galaxy Buds 2 a competitor against a slew of other affordable buds on the market, namely the Pixel Buds Series-A and Nothing’s $100 earbuds.

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Stay tuned! We’ll be updating this as more info leaks ahead of the event. We’ll also be live-blogging the whole thing, so join us on Wednesday, Aug. 11 at 10 a.m. ET/7 a.m. PT to see what Samsung has in store.

Google’s More Affordable Pixel 5a Leaked Just Weeks Ahead of Launch

Google’s Pixel 5a Gets Leaked Ahead of Launch Later This Month

Other specs are rumored to include a Qualcomm Snapdragon 765 chip (which should mean the Pixel 5a will come with 5G connectivity), 6GB of RAM, and a decently large 4,650 mAh battery. Though sadly, unlike the Pixel 5, it seems the Pixel 5a won’t come with support for wireless charging.

Notably, the Pixel 5a is also expected to feature the same cameras used on last year’s Pixel 5, while also supporting an IP67 rating for dust and water resistance and a dedicated 3.5mm audio jack. As for the Pixel 5a’s design, based on recent renders, it seems Google is sticking with a very minimalist approach, with the Pixel 5a featuring a simple matte black body, rear fingerprint sensor, and a punch-hole selfie cam in the top left corner—which is basically the same as last year’s Pixel 4a 5G.

It’s also important to note that while Google has yet to reveal pricing for the Pixel 6, with Google’s upcoming flagship not only getting a fresh new design, a new custom-built SoC, an in-screen fingerprint reader, and improved cameras, it’s clear Google is positioning the Pixel 6 as a high-end premium device. And if the Pixel 6 comes out with a price tag of around $800 or more, that could make the Pixel 5a a more important alternative for anyone looking for an affordable mid-range alternative.

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Even though Prosser’s track record of leaks has been somewhat spotty this year (especially when it comes to his Apple leaks), he says that due to the nature of his source, he is “confident” that the details above will be what we get on the final device. Either way, with Prosser saying the Pixel 5a is due out on August 26, we should know a lot more before the end of the month.