HP goes up against the iPad Pro with its $599 Chromebook x2

HP goes up against the iPad Pro with its $599 Chromebook x2

Image: HP

Two weeks ago, Acer announced the first tablet running Chrome OS. And today, HP is announcing the second — and it’s a lot higher end.

It’s called the Chromebook x2, and it’s very much designed to go after the iPad Pro. It has a 12.3-inch screen (the larger iPad Pro has a 12.9-inch screen), docks with a keyboard cover, and supports stylus input.

The big benefit here is that the full package is available for much, much cheaper: the Chromebook x2 costs $599 in its base configuration and comes bundled with the keyboard cover and stylus. The iPad starts at $649 for the (smaller) tablet on its own, and you’ll have to spend $1,067 if you want the 12.9-inch model with a keyboard and pen. So if you’re thinking about using a tablet (with a non-traditional operating system) as a portable computer, HP will get you there for way cheaper.

In a briefing, HP also emphasized that the keyboard was designed to hold firmly enough to the tablet that it should feel like a clamshell laptop when the two are connected. I haven’t seen the Chromebook x2 in person, but HP’s images make it look relatively nice — like a combination of Google’s Pixelbook, with its metal and glossy white top, and Microsoft’s Surface Laptop, with its soft and colorful keyboard.

The Chromebook x2 seems to have a lot of potential, but there are some big questions — and not just around whether the hardware is as good as it looks. The real open question is whether Chrome OS is cut out to work on a tablet. Google has been overhauling the operating system to work better with touchscreens for a couple years now, but it’s still very much a desktop system (it’s based around the Chrome desktop browser and its display of desktop websites, after all). That’s likely to limit how useful it is, especially in comparison to an iPad, which was designed for touch from the ground up.

And while the Chromebook x2 looks like a bargain compared to the iPad, it’s expensive for a Chromebook, which people often buy for around $300. At $600, you enter into the world of lower-cost Windows computers, which this product will have to compete with, too.

HP plans to launch the Chromebook x2 sometime in June. And from the looks of it, we could see a few more Chrome OS tablets before then.

Everyone Wants A Secure Web

A secure web is here to stay.

by Emily Schechter, Chrome Security Product Manager

For the past several years, we’ve moved toward a more secure web by strongly advocating that sites adopt HTTPS encryption. And within the last year, we’ve also helped users understand that HTTP sites are not secure by gradually marking a larger subset of HTTP pages as “not secure”. Beginning in July 2018 with the release of Chrome 68, Chrome will mark all HTTP sites as “not secure”.

In Chrome 68, the omnibox will display “Not secure” for all HTTP pages.

Developers have been transitioning their sites to HTTPS and making the web safer for everyone. Progress last year was incredible, and it’s continued since then:

  • Over 68% of Chrome traffic on both Android and Windows is now protected
  • Over 78% of Chrome traffic on both Chrome OS and Mac is now protected
  • 81 of the top 100 sites on the web use HTTPS by default

Contact us today to make your visitors comfortable by securing your website.

Chrome is dedicated to making it as easy as possible to set up HTTPS. Mixed content audits are now available to help developers migrate their sites to HTTPS in the latest Node CLI version of Lighthouse, an automated tool for improving web pages. The new audit in Lighthouse helps developers find which resources a site loads using HTTP, and which of those are ready to be upgraded to HTTPS simply by changing the subresource reference to the HTTPS version.

Lighthouse is an automated developer tool for improving web pages.

Chrome’s new interface will help users understand that all HTTP sites are not secure, and continue to move the web towards a secure HTTPS web by default. HTTPS is easier and cheaper than ever before, and it unlocks both performance improvements and powerful new features that are too sensitive for HTTP. Developers, check out our set-up guides to get started.

Here’s Everything New in Android P Developer Preview 1 for the Google Pixel/XL and Pixel 2/XL

Here’s Everything New in Android P Developer Preview 1 for the Google Pixel/XL and Pixel 2/XL

Here’s Everything New in Android P Developer Preview 1 for the Google Pixel/XL and Pixel 2/XL

Google dropped a bombshell on us today—the first Android P Developer Preview. Widely expected to release this month, the first Android 9.0 builds are now available for the Google Pixel, Google Pixel XL, Google Pixel 2, and Google Pixel 2 XL. Unfortunately, support has been dropped for the Google Pixel C, Google Nexus 5X, and Google Nexus 6P. Android P Developer Preview 1 brings a plethora of changes to the mix, and in this article we’ll be diving in to list most of what we’ve found on the surface level.


What’s New in Android P Developer Preview 1 for the Google Pixel and Pixel 2 series

Summary

Here’s a summary of all of the changes below in bullet point format. We recommend you take a cursory glance at this, but scroll down to see screenshots/videos and a description of each new change.

  • User Interface changes in Android P Developer Preview 1
    • New UI for settings/quick settings
    • New notification style for messages
    • New transition/notification expansion animations
    • Updated Pixel Launcher with voice search icon and more prominent dock
    • Battery saver no longer shows orange warning
    • Always on display shows battery info and centers notifications
    • New Easter Egg.
    • About phone screen now shows additional info in a popup window.
  • Quality of Life changes in Android P Developer Preview 1
    • Built-in screenshot editor.
    • Screenshot button in power menu
    • Text selection zoom (like iOS)
    • Battery saver can now be scheduled.
    • Do Not Disturb has been simplified down to a single mode
    • Volume buttons now control media volume by default
    • Adaptive Brightness is now much more useful as it actually changes the base brightness level
    • Hotspot can be turned off automatically if no devices are connected
    • Rotation can be locked to landscape mode
    • Multi-Bluetooth HFP/A2DP support
    • Individual Wi-Fi networks can now be set to metered/unmetered
    • Private DNS (DNS-over-TLS)
    • Vibration controls in Accessibility Settings
    • Accessibility option to disable all animations
    • SysTrace tool is now built-in
    • Recently posted notifications are now shown in notification settings

UI Changes

Material Design 2?

Although it doesn’t have a name yet (we strongly believe it will be called Material Design 2), Android’s user interface has received a fresh coat of paint. The most notable areas where Android P has made changes are to the quick settings tiles (now vertically paginated rather than horizontally) and to the settings pages, but there are also more minor changes to the status bar that we should take note of.

As you can see in the screenshots above, the icons in settings all have distinct colors now. In comparison, the settings icons in Android Oreo were a dull, muted gray color. The quick settings toggles, meanwhile, are all now rounded and are blue when enabled. Unfortunately, we’ve lost the ability to expand quick settings tiles within the notification shade.

If you look at the status bar, it looks like the clock has been shifted to the left. This may be in preparation for more devices with a display notch (…maybe the Google Pixel 3?), but I like the idea as it makes the status bar icons/text seem more evenly distributed.

(Oh, and if you’ll notice, Night Light now tells you when it will turn on in its quick settings tile).

New Notification Style for Messages

This one may be a bit controversial. As you can see in the screenshots above, notifications have a new style. Full conversations can now be shown as can stickers and images. Smart replies are also there, similar to what the Reply app offers.

Android P Developer Preview 1, Android 9.0, Google Pixel, Google Pixel XL, Google Pixel 2, and Google Pixel 2 XL

When you long-press on a notification, the buttons now show “stop notifications” or “keep showing.” A quick way to decide if you want notifications from an app without diving into settings.

New Transition Animations

This one is big, and almost immediately noticeable. There are new animations for transitioning between activities, and new animations for opening an activity from the notifications. We’ve captured them on video so you can see what they look like.

Media and USB Dialog Changes

A few more areas have gotten redesigned. The Bluetooth media output list can now show up as a popup when you press on the arrow key in the volume panel, and speaking of which, the volume panel now shows up on the side of the screen rather than up top! The USB settings page has also gotten a quick redesign.

Pixel Launcher

Android P Developer Preview 1, Android 9.0, Google Pixel, Google Pixel XL, Google Pixel 2, and Google Pixel 2 XL

A very subtle change in the Pixel Launcher (which has already been ported to other devices) is that the search bar now has a microphone icon so you can start a voice search. The background is now also more prominent, so it’s clearer where the dock begins and the rest of the launcher ends.

Battery Saver No Longer Shows Orange Warning Bar

Yes! One of the biggest visual annoyances is now gone. Previously if you enabled Battery Saver mode, it would enable an ugly orange overlay on top of the navigation and status bar. This is no longer the case in Android P.

Android P Developer Preview 1, Android 9.0, Google Pixel, Google Pixel XL, Google Pixel 2, and Google Pixel 2 XL

Google Pixel 2 Always on Display Now Shows Battery Info, Adds Divider Between Time/Notifications

The Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL are the first Google phones to have an always on display feature. In Android Oreo, the feature only shows you the current time, date, whether an alarm is set, and icons from current notifications. It also supported the phone’s “Now Playing” feature which added the title of the currently playing background song. At the very, very bottom, now Android P also adds information about the device’s charging state/battery life. Furthermore, there’s a new divider in between the time and notification information. Finally, the notifications themselves are centered.

 

Android P Easter Egg and New About Phone Behavior

Well, there’s a new Easter Egg. It’s definitely not the final thing, as the official name for P has not yet been confirmed. Something more interesting is the new behavior for the About Phone page. Information is now shown in a popup window when you tap on certain elements.


Quality of Life Improvements

Screenshot Editor

This is something that Android has sorely needed for quite some time. Before, if you wanted to edit a screenshot on a Google phone, you would have to install a third-party screenshot editing app. Now, taking a screenshot shows a new “Edit” button which opens up a basic screenshot editor. (It should be noted that most device makers have had such a feature for awhile now).

Screenshot in Power Menu

Android P Developer Preview 1, Android 9.0, Google Pixel, Google Pixel XL, Google Pixel 2, and Google Pixel 2 XL

No longer will you have to fumble around with key combinations to take a screenshot. It’s right there in the power menu!

Text Selection Zoom

When you use the text selector to move back and forth through text, it will now zoom in to better show the text you are scrolling through. Here’s a quick video:

Scheduled Battery Saver

Android P Developer Preview 1, Android 9.0, Google Pixel, Google Pixel XL, Google Pixel 2, and Google Pixel 2 XL

By default, Android Oreo only allows you to schedule battery saver mode at 5 and 15% of remaining battery. Android P expands on that by giving you a slider to choose a precise battery level you want battery saver to activate on!

Do Not Disturb Simplification

Android P Developer Preview 1, Android 9.0, Google Pixel, Google Pixel XL, Google Pixel 2, and Google Pixel 2 XL

The Do Not Disturb quick settings toggle now shows the duration activity, which is nice for you to quickly modify its state. They’ve gotten rid of the 3 modes, total silence, alarms only, and priority only, and instead there’s only a single mode that you can customize in settings.

Media Volume By Default

Android P Developer Preview 1, Android 9.0, Google Pixel, Google Pixel XL, Google Pixel 2, and Google Pixel 2 XL

Rejoice! When you press the volume keys, media volume is now the default volume stream that is controlled! No more need to remap keys or use any funky workarounds! As for call volume, it is now separate, and only active when you’re in a call.

Adaptive Brightness Now Actually Changes the Base Brightness

Google’s Adaptive Brightness now appears to change the brightness percentage now, making it behave more like the previous Automatic Brightness feature. This means you won’t have to manually change the brightness when you go outside to even see the display!

Turn Off Hotspot Automatically if No Devices are Connected

Android P Developer Preview 1, Android 9.0, Google Pixel, Google Pixel XL, Google Pixel 2, and Google Pixel 2 XL

This will be a welcome addition to the hotspot feature. You can now have hotspot automatically turn itself off if there are no devices currently connected. This will ensure you don’t drain your device’s battery when hotspot isn’t actively being used.

Thanks Jay Kapoor.

Rotation can now be Locked to Landscape Mode

This change is very, very subtle and easy to miss. I missed it initially, but one of our readers tipped us that if you disable “Auto-rotate” and try to flip the screen, a new navigation bar button will be shown which changes the orientation to landscape and locks it there. Previously, rotation lock would only lock the device to portrait mode. Here’s a quick video:

Thanks Jay Kapoor.

Multi-Bluetooth HFP/A2DP Support

Android P Developer Preview 1, Android 9.0, Google Pixel, Google Pixel XL, Google Pixel 2, and Google Pixel 2 XL

A new developer option has been added which allows your device to connect to up to 5 Bluetooth Hands-Free or A2DP devices. This does not allow you to stream to multiple devices at the same time, but it will make switching between active Bluetooth connections much more seamless as you won’t have to wait for the disconnection/connection process each time.

Set Wi-Fi Network as Metered/Unmetered

Android P Developer Preview 1, Android 9.0, Google Pixel, Google Pixel XL, Google Pixel 2, and Google Pixel 2 XL

If you are connected to a Wi-Fi network that is metered (AKA there’s a data limit), then you have to be careful with how much you download or upload. Android can automatically detect when a network is metered, but in those rare cases where it doesn’t, you can now manually specify a network as metered.

Private DNS (DNS-Over-TLS)

Android P Developer Preview 1, Android 9.0, Google Pixel, Google Pixel XL, Google Pixel 2, and Google Pixel 2 XL

If you have a DNS that supports TLS, meaning the service won’t record the domains that you visit, then there’s a new setting you can change to enable a private DNS provider hostname.

Vibration Controls

Within Accessibility Settings there’s a new vibration control setting. This allows you to set whether or not you want vibrations on or off for ring & notifications, or for touch. You can also choose a low, medium, or high duration vibration.

Quickly Disable Animations

Android P Developer Preview 1, Android 9.0, Google Pixel, Google Pixel XL, Google Pixel 2, and Google Pixel 2 XL

Also within Accessibility Settings is a setting that turns off all animations. We’re not sure how useful this will be since most of us know how to do so from Developer Options, but hey it’s there if you want a quick universal toggle.

SysTrace Tool

Android P Developer Preview 1, Android 9.0, Google Pixel, Google Pixel XL, Google Pixel 2, and Google Pixel 2 XL

This one should interest only developers, but Google now offers a way to easily capture SysTrace from the device. No need to hook up your phone anymore. This will allow you to collect traces that you can then analyze later. This comes in the form of a new quick setting tile.

Last Shown Notifications

Android has always kept a record of notifications (in the notification log), but it has been hidden from users for years. In the notification settings, Android P will at least show a history of a handful of notifications, but it won’t show you the content. Instead, the aim is to have a brief record so you can remove access from a nasty notification that you accidentally dismissed.

Feature Flags to Test In-Development Settings

Android P Developer Preview 1, Android 9.0, Google Pixel, Google Pixel XL, Google Pixel 2, and Google Pixel 2 XL

This might disappear in a subsequent release, but in developer settings you can toggle a few flags much like Google Chrome’s feature flags. Currently it’s not very useful, but this may include more in-development settings in the future.


The new release of Android P Developer Preview 1 for the Google Pixel, Google Pixel XL, Google Pixel 2, and Google Pixel 2 XL is massive. We’re doing our best to find everything we can, but it’s possible we might miss something. Please, if you install the update and notice something new that we haven’t already found, send us a tip and you could get a free month of XDA Ad-Free if we write an article based on your tip!

Love the new look of Android P? Here’s how you can get it on any Android phone right now

The idea that Google would release the first developer preview of its next-generation mobile operating system on Pi Day (March 14 — or 3/14) was a nice one. After all, rumors suggest that Android P could end up launching as “Android Pie,” so serving up the first developer build on Pi Day would’ve been a very Googly thing to do — whether the move was a hint at the new version’s release name or just some fun trolling. Instead, Google decided to surprise everyone with an unexpected Android P release on Wednesday, and Android fans spent the rest of the day checking out all of the new features baked into Google’s newest OS.

While there will likely be several additional new features added to Android P before it’s released to the public this fall, it seems clear that Android P will not be a massive update. As a matter of fact, many of the new features Google is highlighting in Android P are, dare we say, a bit boring. 2018 may turn out to be a year of refinement for both of the world’s top mobile platforms though, because Apple is also rumored to be shifting focus in iOS 12 away from exciting new features so that it can work on improving stability and performance.

Even still, there are definitely some great new additions in Android P, and one of them can be yours right now.

Even if you have a Pixel or Pixel 2 smartphone that’s able to run Google’s first Android P Developer Preview, we strongly suggest that you fight temptation. It’s natural for Android enthusiasts to want to check out Google’s latest and greatest Android features as soon as possible, but the first build of Android P is nowhere near being ready for public consumption. It’s best suited to developer devices, not the phone you carry with you all the time.

Even if you fight the urge to update your Pixel phone — or if you have some other Android phone that isn’t even compatible with the Android P Developer Preview — there’s still a way that you can get a taste of Android P.

Everyone seems to love the new look of Android P’s home screens, which have gotten a terrific refresh in Android P. The top of the screen is largely unchanged, but the dock is completely different. The new look is great, but far more important is the fact that it puts the Google search bar right at the bottom of the screen where users can easily access it. Here’s a screenshot from Android news blog Droid Life:

We love it, but not quite enough to install an incomplete, potentially buggy version of Android P. Luckily we don’t have to. Droid Life has managed to get its hands on the official Android P launcher, which is an updated version of the Pixel Launcher found in Android Oreo. Want to check out the awesome new launcher on your own Android phone? You can download it right here

5 Reasons To Buy Samsung’s Galaxy S9 Over The Apple iPhone X

Galaxy-s9-and-galaxy-s9+

The Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+. Photo credit: AP Photo/Manu Fernandez

The launch of Samsung’s new flagship Galaxy S9 means it’s time to ask the only question that matters – is it worth your money?

Or, more specifically, is it worth your money instead of the iPhone X? Don’t forget to check out my breakdowns and comparisons for most recent flagship smartphones.

It’s jacked

Who knew something as simple as the headphone jack would become such a contentious battleground for smartphone makers? With the other major Android phone – Google’s Pixel 2 – following Apple’s lead by removing the headphone jack, Samsung has smartly kept the 3.5mm connection.

Of the three big smartphone makers – Apple, Google and Samsung, only the latter has kept this technology, which is good marketing for the Korean company. Also, as someone who has tested various devices and lived with no headphone jack for the last year – this is a good consumer move.

Forget arguments about audio quality and design principles, having the headphone jack is better than not having it in purely practical terms – especially if you don’t want to venture into the murky world of wireless headphones yet.

Fingerprint scanner

Another feature that has disappeared – or is at least disappearing – from the Apple line of smartphones. Whilst Apple paves a new biometric path, Samsung revisits familiar ground by keeping its fingerprint scanner with a small location improvement.

Perhaps “location improvement” is a bit unfair, the much-maligned slightly-off-center reader was always an odd choice. It almost perfectly reflected the Galaxy’s image as a left-of-center choice of smartphone against the ever-popular iPhone.

But with a lower, central position, it’s easier to reach for small hands, more intuitive and gives users a familiar option to log-in to their device or authorize mobile payments. And, whilst Samsung is pushing its own biometric security tech “Intelligent Scan”, the Galaxy maker is smart enough not to force it upon its users as the only unlocking option….yet.

Super, super slow motion

Samsung’s new snapper has some impressive specs and features, more on that below – but one feature that stands out is the 960 fps slow motion. Check out my colleague Ian Morris’ hands-on below to see how good it is in action.

This isn’t exactly breaking new ground, Sony had similar slow-motion tech at a higher resolution (1080p) in the XZ Premium, but it’s still excellent on the S9 and obviously, it’s better than the iPhone X’s 240fps slow motion.

Always listening, desperate to be liked

This is less of a phone specific reason and more of a reason to buy Samsung devices over Apple devices in general. Simply, Samsung listens. Let’s take the S9 for example, Samsung took the criticism of the fingerprint sensor and moved it, it also kept the headphone jack – which is a debate that’s yet to be settled.

Samsung has form here, too. It kept the removable battery in the Galaxy S5 when others were heading over to a locked design, it also brought back expandable storage after removing it in the Galaxy S6. Where Apple forges ahead with new concepts – that may or may not work – and forces it upon iPhone fans, Samsung is so eager to please its entire strategy and roadmap is completely malleable. For consumers, that’s a good trait.

Price

Both the S9 and S9+ are cheaper than the cheapest iPhone X ($719 and $839 Vs. $999). That’s a big saving for an arguably on-par device.

 Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.

Jay McGregor is the editor-in-chief of a new documentary publication called Point. He also reports for The Guardian, TechRadar, BBC Radio and others. Follow on YouTube: youtube.com/pointreport

So you think you’re careful? It can happen to you.

Scam artist hacker using laptop. Hacking the Internet - high resolution.

Someone on Reddit described how he was the victim of a very sophisticated social engineering attack. Wow, this is crafty. This is the story:

“I have different passwords for every website I log into, 2-factor authentication when possible; I thought I knew all the scams and could spot them a mile away. This one still got me.

I was meeting a friend at a bar. Two drinks in I got a call from someone identified by my phone as Wells Fargo. I’m fully aware this could be spoofed, but it did not raise alarm bells yet. I was at a bar I did not frequent and have gotten calls from my bank before on suspicious charges that were legit, so I answered expecting this to be the case.

The person I spoke with said they were with Wells Fargo and they’ve identified fraudulent charges on my account but they need to verify my identity before they can discuss details. They said they sent me a text message (via the cell number they just called, which is my first clue this is phishing). They asked me to read back to them the 6-digit number just texted me to verify my ID.

Being two drinks in, slightly expecting what this was about, I had zero alarm bells going off. My bad, this was stupid of me. I read the number to them. They suggested it timed out and I needed to read another number they texted to me. Minimal time had passed, a mild spidy sense was tingling, but I still was not concerned enough to ask questions and read them a second 6-digit code.

This person then read off 5 recent charges on my account, 4 of which I recognized as legit and a 5th that was a $1000 charge to a credit card I did not own. I immediately identified this as a fraudulent charge and they said: “no prob dude, we’ll freeze your card and send you a new one”. They even gave me the last 4 on the card it was coming from. I was appeased enough to continue (sadly).

Finally, they said they sent me one final 6-digit code to confirm that they were crediting my account back with the $1000 fraudulent charge. I just needed to read off the final code they texted to me. At this point, things seem weird to me but they got me at a good time. I was 2 drinks in, was interrupted from hanging with a close friend I hadn’t seen in months and was outside trying desperately to avoid the loud noise inside the bar but still dealing with traffic noise outside. I just wanted to be done with this. I read them the final code and they thanked me and hung up.

At this point, I see why my phone had been vibrating constantly through this call. I had 4 emails from Wells Fargo. 1) Your username has been reset, 2) your password has been reset, 3) Welcome to Zelle! an awesome $$$ forwarding service, 4) You’ve just forwarded $1000!!!!!

I called Wells Fargo via the number on the back of my card. After being on hold for 45 min trying to get the fraud department, I start to tell my story only to have the call drop (I’m pretty sure they hung up on me). I called back and was on hold for 1 hour 20 min (my account has been compromised >2 hours by this time) to get a second person. He told me this was a scam they’ve been dealing with for 3 months and I needed to go into a branch with 2 forms of ID to deal with it. There was nothing he could do tonight.

TL;DR: Dude spoofed Wells Fargo when calling me on my cell, requested a reset of my username, password, and approval for $1000 transfer. I stupidly read off the confirmation numbers I received via text to him, he entered them into Wells Fargo website to approve all these requests. Wells Fargo has known their customers have been getting scammed for 3 months and didn’t bother to warn anyone. I now have to go into a branch, hang my head and tell my shameful story to a person and beg for access to my account because someone else has control of it all night tonight.”

Good lesson to be learned: Never, ever give any kind of confidential data to someone WHO CALLS YOU. Always call back to the number on the back of your card.

Samsung Galaxy S9: Everything you need to know

Samsung will announce the Galaxy S9 in just a few days. Here’s everything we currently know about the upcoming smartphone.

 

In a few days, Samsung will announce its latest smartphone. It will be the first announcement from the company in 2018 and since Apple unveiled the iPhone X.

In previous years, Samsung has opted to announce its flagship smartphone during Mobile World Congress, or it would host a separate event shortly after. This year, it looks like we will get at least a glimpse of Samsung’s new phone in February, with the potential to have the phone in our hands a few weeks later.

Right now, most of what we know about the upcoming smartphones is from leaks, rumors, and speculation. However, the sources of the various leaks have shown to paint a general picture of what we should expect when Samsung announces a new device.

Here’s everything we currently know about Samsung’s latest smartphone, which will be updated as we continue to learn more — and eventually see — the announced product.

 

WHEN WILL GALAXY S9 BE ANNOUNCED?

At a special Unpacked event in Barcelona, Spain, Samsung will announce the Galaxy S9. The event will be held on Feb. 25 (the day before Mobile World Congress 2018 is set to start) and will be live-streamed on Samsung.com starting at 12pm EST.

The back looks to be the most dramatic change to the overall design, according to images posted by Evan Blass on Twitter (more on that in a minute)

One of the loudest complaints about the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy Note 8 was the placement of the fingerprint reader. In order to make room for the bigger display Samsung now uses, the sensor was moved to the back of the phone. Only, instead of putting the sensor in the middle of the phone, as most of its competitors do, the sensor was placed up high, next to the camera.

With Galaxy S9, however, it appears Samsung is moving the sensor closer to the middle of the back — just underneath the camera.

We first saw a glimpse of the new fingerprint sensor location when the company announced the Galaxy A8 (2018), which was later seemingly confirmed in render leaks from Evan Blass on Twitter.

Facial recognition

Samsung has featured both facial recognition and iris-scanning technology in its phones for a while now, but the technology has been nowhere near as complex as Apple’s Face ID feature on the iPhone X.

With Galaxy S9, rumors suggest the phone will combine facial recognition with iris scanning to improve the feature and add an extra layer of security to the phone.

Cameras

In early January, a photo leaked of what’s reportedly the Galaxy S9’s box on RedditSamMobile saw the photo and was the first to report on it. On the box, of course, are the phone’s specifications.

According to the leak and the report, Galaxy S9 will boast a super slow-mo mode and a super-speed, dual-pixel, 12-megapixel camera with apertures of f1.5 and f2.4.

Currently, there’s some confusion about which model will feature a dual camera, or if both models will have the same exact lens setup. One thing all rumors currently agree on is that the Galaxy S9 Plus will have two rear-facing cameras.

Stereo speakers

That same photo posted on Reddit, as well as a more recent report from ETNews, have each claimed both Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9 Plus will finally gain stereo speakers.

Apple’s iPhone line has had stereo speakers for a few years now, and the additional output makes a huge difference when listening to music or talking over speakerphone.

Predicted specifications

According to The Inquirer, the spec sheet of the Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus appears to add up to one impressive phone.

  • Display: 5.8-inch or 6.2-inch QHD+ Super AMOLED
  • Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 in the US
  • Processor: Samsung Exynos 9810 everywhere else
  • Memory: 4GB RAM, 6GB RAM
  • Storage: 64GB, 128GB, 256GB (likely region specific)
  • Connectivity: Cat 18 LTE support (1.2Gbps download speeds), wireless charging, FM radio
  • Fingerprint: Rear-mounted fingerprint scanner
  • S9 Rear Camera: 12-megapixel dual pixel camera with OIS (f/1.5, f/2.4)
  • S9 Plus Rear Camera: Vertical dual rear-facing camera
  • Front Camera: 8-megapixel front-facing camera
  • AI: Bixby assistant with a dedicated button
  • Ports: USB-C, 3.5mm headphone jack
  • Sound: Stereo speakers
  • Waterproof: IP68 rating

Business features

Last year’s crop of flagship smartphones from Samsung worked with DeX, a dock that turns the phone into a full-fledged computer. This year, rumor has it the company will release a revamped dock, called DeX Pad, that uses the phone’s display as a trackpad.

Software improvements

A more recent report from ETNews claims that Samsung will copy the iPhone X’s Animoji feature and offer “3D Emoji” with the Galaxy S9 duo.

Apple’s Animoji feature uses the front-facing cameras on the iPhone X to animate various emoji characters, such as a dog and a cat.

Also included in the report is the release of Bixby 2.0 on a mobile phone, which jives with what Samsung had previously announced in regards to Bixby 2.0 at CES in January 2018.

Read also: Samsung Gear Sport review: Smartwatch and activity tracker with enterprise-focused functionality

Teaser videos

On Wednesday, PhoneArena spotted a few teaser videos posted on Samsung Mobile Korea’s YouTube channel. The brief videos seem to confirm a super slow-mo camera, an improved low-light camera, and, yes, 3D emoji are indeed ready for the Galaxy S9.

You can watch all three videos herehere, and here.

Google’s Big Ad-Blocking Update Comes to Chrome Tomorrow: Here’s What We Know

Image Source: Google, Adblock Plus

It’s been in the works for nearly a year and Google’s great ad-pocalypse is now upon us. On Thursday, the Chrome browser will begin to automatically filter out ads that don’t meet certain quality standards. Your browsing experience is about to change a little bit. Here’s what you need to know.

In April of last year, the news first broke that Google planned to integrate some form of ad-blocking into its browser that would be on by default. Since then we’ve seen a gradualrollout of the feature, beginning with the ability to mute autoplay videos with sound on the sites of your choosing. Now, Google going all-in with a set of criteria for what ads will be kosher in Chrome.

Along with its fellow ad giant Facebook, Google is a member of the Coalition for Better Ads, an industry group that has performed research on what forms of web advertising annoys people the most. It’s created a list of the 12 types of web experiences that should ideally be avoided by advertisers. Now Google is going to enforce that list with Chrome, which is used by over half of all people accessing the web with a browser.

The 12 ad types that Google Chrome will block by default. Image Source: Coalition for Better Ads

On Wednesday, the company published a blog post detailing how the system will work. Initially, Google will take a sample of various pages on a specific domain and analyze whether that page is serving any of the offending ad categories. It’ll be given a score of “Passing, Warning, or Failing.” Sites that don’t manage to get a passing grade will be notified by Google and they can review an ad experience report for details on what needs to change. If a site ignores multiple warnings, its ads will be blocked by default after 30 days.

If a user visits a site that’s being filtered by Chrome, they’ll see a message in the address bar that gives them the option to still allow ads—on mobile, users will see a pop-up at the bottom of the screen that will give them the same option. Yes, pop-up ads are blocked, and Google will be informing you with a pop-up notification.

There’s plenty of reason to celebrate this change. The internet is getting harder to navigate, and more annoying with advertisers demanding more obtrusive experiences every day. Google claims that since it kicked off this initiative, “42% of sites which were failing the Better Ads Standards have resolved their issues and are now passing.” So it seems that a lot of site owners got the message before it could even become a problem.

There’s also cause to be skeptical of Google’s altruistic goals. Sure, it’s telling advertisers not to be evil, but it’s also hoping that a better experience will mean fewer people feel the urge to download a third-party ad blocker. That’s good for the internet, which is largely funded by ads. But it’s particularly good for Google, which controls around 42 percent of the US digital ad market and 75.8 percent of the search ad market, according to research from eMarketer. It wouldn’t be so great if Google, with all its power, decided to follow in the footsteps of services like Adblock Plus, which offers companies the opportunity to pay their way onto an acceptable ads list. Representatives for Google have assured us on multiple occasions that the company isn’t offering any kind of paid whitelisting now, and isn’t planning to do so. But things could change.

For now, enjoy the better web before Google fully consumes it all and does whatever it wants.

[Chromium Blog]

From:  Rhett Jones

What Developers Should Tell Clients About SEO Optimization

“Why isn’t our website ranking higher on Google?”

This often means you – the designer or developer – might receive questions like the above. Clients want to know why their site isn’t performing as well as it should.

After all, that’s what they’re paying you for, right?

But what happens when the website is finished to the client’s specs, but it’s still not performing well?

Sometimes the fault for an underperforming website falls back on you, even if it’s not directly included in your scope. That’s why it’s important to be able to identify potential reasons why a website might underperform, and know how to respond in those situations.

Here are a few things that might be hurting your client’s website performance.

“Your Domain Authority Is Too Low”

Appearing on the first page of Google’s Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) is a common concern for many clients, and it might be one of the reasons they came to you to build their site in the first place.

But according to RankBrain, the most search traffic goes to the first result, with click-through rates (CTR) decreasing significantly after the second position.

(Image Source)

Google also reports that 34% of search results – yes, even those on the first page – get no clicks at all, and that 12% of all clicks go to the top 100 search-traffic-receiving domains.

So not only is it important for sites to rank high, but they really need to be number one to see significant traffic from their SEO efforts.

But one of the reasons they most likely won’t see the first page SERPs is due to low page authority. As mentioned, unless you’re in the top 100 domains, you may not rank on Google.

It doesn’t matter if your site is the best designed, most beautifully crafted website in the world. If you don’t have high site (domain) authority – a predictive score dictated by Moz and used by Google to rank results – you won’t rank.

This is doubly true for new websites. New sites usually start with a score of 0-1. For reference, well-established sites, like Facebook and Wikipedia, are close to 100.

If you’re developing or designing a brand new site for a client, and they complain about not showing up in Google, tell them that they need to focus their energy on driving traffic in other ways.

Paid ads, more posted content (on a blog, typically), or social media traffic can all help to improve domain authority.

Another reason why a site may not be showing up as high on Google’s SERPs is due to low or poor quality backlinks – links that point back to your website.

According to Andrey Lipattsev, Search Quality Senior Strategist at Google, high-quality content and link building are the two most important signals used by Google to rank your website for search.

In fact, the top ranked pages on Google have an average volume of 100,000+ high-quality backlinks.

(Image Source)

High-quality backlinks can be notoriously difficult to get, especially for new sites, because they require other more popular sites (think top 100 domains for best results) to link to your landing pages or content.

The good news is that quality does make up for the lack of volume. A link from a relevant website in your niche, for example, might be worth 100 links from a lower quality source.

So how do you earn high-quality backlinks?

Over time you may naturally gain some links from other websites, especially as your organic traffic grows from regular content production or social traffic. But in order to gain the quality and volume needed to rank, you need to make some effort.

The first step is to focus on providing valuable and high-quality content on your website. This should ideally come from a blog that can be frequently updated, and not just landing pages.

Google looks for fresh content when considering rankings. Former Google Fellow Amit Singhal once explained that, “Different searches have different freshness needs.”

In other words, fresh content is needed for all your desired keywords.

You then need to find ways of sharing your content on other sites in order to create those backlinks.

Try posting content as guest blogs on larger editorial sites, or by linking to it on sites like Quora. You can also syndicate traffic from sites like Facebook and LinkedIn, both of which have domain authority ranks close to 100.

If you’re curious about your current site backlinks, you can use a free tool like Backlink Watch. Other paid sites like Open Site ExplorerMajestic SEO and Ahrefs will give you a lot more information as well.

If clients don’t know why their site isn’t performing, you might recommend they try some link-building strategies, like guest blogging on popular editorial sites or asking customers to link to you on their landing pages.

“You Need to Optimize Your Content”

Because content plays a big role in how Google ranks sites – from the freshness of the content to the links it contains and more – it’s important that sites are creating content that can be shared.

In other words, a pretty website is not enough. It has to have more content.

And that content needs to be optimized so Google knows what to do with it. CTR for content on Google’s first page SERPs increases by 667% for posts that appear as Featured Snippets.

Featured Snippets are selected search results that appear on top of Google’s first page in a special box.

If you’re not sure how to get a Snippet, or you don’t yet have the domain authority to get a Snippet, there are other ways you can optimize your content to rank higher.

Posting content that is engaging – keeps people on the page and has a higher number of conversions into another action, like an email subscription (etc.) – can also improve your relationship with Google.

Their algorithm can track how long someone stays on a page, and what other actions they take and whether or not they click on other content from your site.

Creating content that keeps people enthralled will help improve search results.

You can also help your odds by focusing on long tail keywords in your content in order to gain more organic search traffic and improve your odds of appearing in either a Featured Snippet or on the first page SERPs.

If clients want methods for improving their Google search rankings, tell them to produce more high-quality, optimized content.

Final Thoughts

It’s important to explain to your clients that creating a beautiful website won’t guarantee them a high ranking on Google SERPs.

Even if it’s fully responsive and includes SEO optimization, if it’s a new website, it needs more to be truly successful.

The top strategies they can focus on include an improved domain, adding backlinks and creating optimized content.

You should also remind them that it takes time to build a reputable and high ranking site, and they shouldn’t give up if they don’t see results right away. With a little effort, it will happen for them.

If you have a responsive site that’s relatively new, we can facilitate your site to help you, or us, create rich snippets, send your blog posts to multiple social media outlets and more.  Drop us a note and we’ll help you make it happen.

5 Steps for Building Your Reputation Strategy

by Jessica Seitz

5 Steps for Building Your Reputation Strategy

How does your reputation online affect your business offline?

We live in a day and age where consumers openly air their complaints online for all to see. Ask any business owner to think back to a negative review left online, and they’ll sigh, wishing they could have resolved their customer’s concern privately before public and permanent damage to their reputation was done. Studies show that businesses risk losing 22% of business when potential customers find one negative article on the first page of their search engine results. Two negative reviews on the first page? 44% lost. Four or more? You could lose up to 70% of potential customers.

by Jenna Treat

Why Automating Your Email Marketing Pays Off

Many business owners worry that automating their email marketing makes their business seem impersonal. In reality, when done right, email automation demonstrates to your customers just how well you know them. When you send your entire customer database the same email – the information may not be relevant to every customer. This runs the risk of customers disengaging with your emails, deleting them from their inbox, or even flagging the messages as spam. Instead, use automated email marketing to target key groups of customers with messages relevant to them.

 by Jenna Treat

Writing Emails with a Purpose

Do you ever get an email and think “what was the point of sending me this?” It wasn’t informative. It didn’t tell you anything you didn’t already know. It wasn’t actionable. So what exactly were you supposed to do with it?

by Jessica Seitz

Game’s on? Make sure your spot is the hotspot

If you run a bar, it’s never too early to start thinking about football season. We all want to make sure our spot is the go-to place to watch every game. So how do you get fans in the door? And how do you keep them coming back for more?

by Alyssa Wee

How to Get The Most Out of Your Restaurant Email Newsletter

A compelling email newsletter can be a very powerful tool for restaurants. They can inform customers about latest dishes and events and promote a restaurant’s unique personality to differentiate from other restaurants. But how can you ensure that you are creating an effective newsletter?

Look for our next blog post about creating compelling content.  Meanwhile, learn more about Spearhead Multimedia and Zenreach and how we create an automated, hands-off system to build your customer list, manage your reputation and keep your current customers informed. Learn more…

Special offer: Sign up between now and March 31, 2018, to receive a free first month and we’ll waive the cost of the access point (a $199 value). Sign up now.

 

 

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