Technology What You Get with a World-Class Phone That Can't Access Google
Google Lens can now read other languages out loud, and scan text to your computer
An update adds scanning, translation and search perks to your phone camera on iOS and Android.Google's new Lens update, which works on iOS and Android via the Lens app, can be used to scan text and paste it into Chrome on a computer. It seems like a practical idea, as long as you're using an updated version of Chrome. Google says it works with handwriting "if you write neatly.
What You Get with a World-Class Phone That Can't Access Google
What You Get with a World-Class Phone That Can't Access Google
What You Get with a World-Class Phone That Can't Access Google
It’s a weird situation when the second largest smartphone maker in the world is treated, but that’s precisely what Huawei is facing when it comes to selling gadgets in the U.S. And based on the current political climate, there’s very little chance that will change between now and November. However, that doesn’t mean Huawei’s latest flagship phone— —isn’t worth checking out. Because even though the P40 Pro isn’t officially sold in the U.S. and its lack of support for Google Mobile Services can be a real pain sometimes (more on that later), it also has world-class components and some of the best cameras you can get on a phone.
Google's learn-to-read app is now available in 180 countries
Last year, the company released an Android app called Bolo to help kids in India learn to read. It’s now expanding the app to many more countries and changing the name to Read Along. The app, which is in early access, taps into Google’s speech recognition and text-to-speech tech to understand how well kids are reading aloud. A virtual reading buddy named Diya provides visual and verbal encouragement. If a kid is struggling to pronounce a word or sentence, they can tap on Diya for help. The app will also recommend difficulty levels for stories and games based on reading performance.
Priced at 1,000 euros (around $1,100), the P40 Pro is actually the middle option among Huawei’s current flagship phone lineup, with the more expensive 1,400 euro ($1,600) P40 Pro+ offering a few extra luxury options including a 10x optical zoom cam, faster 40-watt wireless charging (versus 27-watt charging for the P40 Pro), and a special ceramic back. But aside from that, the two devices are quite similar, with the P40 Pro actually boasting a slightly larger 6.58-inch screen with a 90Hz refresh rate, which is a first Huawei.
From the moment you pick up the P40 Pro, it feels more like an expensive watch than a typical gadget. It has a noticeable heft and density that you don’t find in a lot of other phones, and it’s clear Huawei has paid a lot of attention to the P40 Pro’s finish with little accents like the red line on the power buttons and the corners of its chassis, which rise up and reach around to form what Huawei calls its quad-curve overflow display. It’s a really elegant look that also has a functional purpose, because by extending the sides of the P40 Pro’s screen almost halfway down the side of the phone, you get a really smooth, curvy surface when using Huawei’s gesture navigation, making swiping in from either side to go back or swiping up to home a treat every time you do it. And because the display’s edges are quite steep compared to other phones with rounded screens, the P40 Pro doesn’t suffer as much from distortion. In short, if you’re going to put a curvy screen on a phone, the P40 Pro is a great example of how to do it right.
Google makes smart displays easier for the less tech-savvy to control
To help the elderly stay connected to their loved ones when they're isolated at home due to the COVID-19 outbreak, Google announced Monday that Nest Hub Maxes will be gaining a handful of updates that will make them easier to control by those who struggle with technology. To address this issue, Google announced that it has launched new tools for Nest Hub Max smart home displays which simplify device control. The Nest and Google Assistant teams came together to create this new experience that brings people a pre-loaded shortlist of contacts to make initiating a video call more efficient and easier.
As for the screen itself, I think Huawei made a smart decision by splitting the difference between full HD and 4K and going with a 2640 x 1200 resolution, which means the phone doesn’t have to work as hard when playing games, but without having a resolution so low you can make out individual pixels. And with its OLED panel, the P40 Pro’s screen is both bright and wonderfully colorful.
Meanwhile, on the inside, you get Huawei’s Kirin 990 chip, 8GB of RAM, and at least 128GB of storage, offering plenty of room for stashing pics and videos locally along with strong performance. You also have a speedy in-screen fingerprint sensor and even support for 5G too, but because the P40 Pro wasn’t intended for sale in the U.S., you can’t really use it on local 5G networks like those from Verizon, AT&T, or T-Mobile. Huawei even tossed in a few features you don’t really get on other flagship phones anymore including an IR blaster.
Google releases Action Blocks to aid people with cognitive disabilities
Google’s flurry of accessibility updates goes well beyond improvements to Maps. It’s releasing its long-promised Action Blocks feature (above) as an Android app, greatly simplifying Google Assistant tasks for people with cognitive and motion disabilities. You can call a family member, turn the lights off or take a selfie with a single tap on the home screen. Live Transcribe is also considerably more useful for those who are deaf or hard of hearing. Its updated Android app can vibrate your phone when someone nearby says your name, allows custom names for places and objects, and makes it easier to search through past conversations.
Unfortunately, the P40 has a few weird quirks too. Because Huawei opted for an under-the-screen earpiece speaker for listening to calls, the phone only has a single mono speaker for normal playback duties. It’s not a big deal, but considering practically every other phone in this price range sports at least stereo audio, the P40 Pro’s lackluster speaker feels like a partial miss. Also, while the P40 Pro does have expandable storage, the phone uses special Huawei Nano memory cards, which means your standard microSD card won’t fit.
But the real stars on the P40 Pro are its cameras. The main camera uses a huge 1/1.28-inch 50-MP sensor, with the phone also packing a 12-MP telephoto cam with a 5x optical zoom, a 40-MP ultra-wide cam, and a 3D time-of-flight sensor for good measure. In bright light, the P40 Pro delights with sharp, rich photos that match or sometimes exceed anything the Pixel 4 can capture. My only real gripe is that sometimes Huawei’s processing pushes exposure a bit too far so that in certain scenarios like my shot of a nearby mural, you lose a bit a detail like on the texture of the wall.
G Suite users can make Google Voice calls right inside Gmail
Google will soon offer G Suite subscribers who use Google Voice a handy time-saver. You’ll be able to make and receive calls directly in Gmail, so you won’t have to bother hopping over to another tab or app to do so. On your browser, the Voice icon will appear alongside the other G Suite add-ons for Gmail on the right of your screen. The feature will start rolling out on June 3rd, and it could take a couple of days to hit your inbox. It’ll be available on the web, iOS and Android. You can also now transfer calls using the Google Voice mobile and web apps. Google will offer suggestions of people to whom you might want to transfer a call.
But at night is when the Huawei’s camera really impresses. In a head-to-head shootout of a flower in low-light, while the P40 Pro didn’t produce the same, vivid shade of blue as the Pixel 4 XL did, it did capture an overall sharper photo. And when it comes to editing, it’s easier to adjust color than focus. However, the shot that impressed me the most was probably the P40 Pro’s shot of a fountain at night. Based on the photo, you’d have a hard time telling how dark it was in real life, and even so, the P40 Pro’s picture sports more details and is just generally sharper than the Pixel 4 XL’s pic. When it comes to photography, the P40 Pro is every bit of a match for Google’s best, and with that 5x optical zoom and a boatload of special modes and features, it’s got a better overall toolkit than the Pixel 4 too.
Sadly, now we have to get to the P40 Pro’s biggest weakness, it’s lack of support for Google apps and Google Mobile Services. Not only does this mean you don’t have access to the Google Play Store (along with any content you may have purchased there), apps that rely on Google Mobile Services don’t work either. Right off the bat that eliminates a lot of really handy apps like YouTube, Drive, Photos, and Google Maps, but it also prohibits you from syncing a number of games that rely on Google Play to transfer profiles or store saved game info.
Google ‘experiments’ with Stadia access on more Android phones
Google Stadia is a good idea -- on-demand cloud gaming -- but it’s mostly been a disappointment thus far. The library is lacking, performance is iffy and the mobile app only works on certain Android phones. Google announced that it’s fixing that last complaint -- any Android phone that can access the Stadia app can try out the company’s gaming pipe dream. However, this is just a test -- or an “experiment” as Google calls it. To try it out,To try it out, download the app, go to the settings menu and find the “Experiments” tab, then choose “Play on this device.” Performance may be lackluster, depending on your phone, but it may be worth checking out if you’re desperate for some gaming on the go.
Instead, your main source of new apps is Huawei’s App Gallery, which is a growing marketplace for apps designed to run on Huawei devices. But even there a lot of big third-party apps like Twitter, Whatsapp, Philips Hue, and others are missing. Now it’s true you can circumvent some of these restrictions by sideloading apps or using Huawei’s Phone Clone app to carry over apps from your old Android phone to the P40 Pro. This worked to bring Twitter over, but there are still a lot of omissions. Furthermore, while it is possible with a lot of effort and a not-insignificant amount of expertise to, these loopholes don’t tend to last very long, which makes it feel like you are constantly running tech support on your daily driver.
In fact, because our traditional video rundown test uses YouTube, I couldn’t even run a proper battery life test on the P40 Pro. So while I was more than happy with its typical everyday longevity, I’m not able to make the same sort of battery life comparisons I usually do. The mapping situation on Huawei phones is especially dire. Obviously you don’t have access to Apple Maps, and with Google Maps also removed from consideration (along with Waze and the rely on Google mapping info), there simply aren’t any great options left to choose from. Even TomTom, which is supposed to be, isn’t available in the App Gallery yet.
Google Voice and Google Fi finally work with the same account
Google Voice and Google Fi have effectively been enemies for years — you could have a virtual phone number or aggressively-priced cellphone service, but not both on one account. At last, though, you won’t have to choose one over the other. Google now lets Voice and Fi coexist on the same account, so you can take advantage of Voice’s forwarding (among other features) without having to turn to a more conventional wireless carrier. The change isThe change is rolling out now and should be available to everyone within a few days by enabling call forwarding on Voice’s settings page. While there are only so many people who want both Voice and Fi, this does eliminate a barrier to adopting Fi in the first place.
For a lot of people, especially those of us in the U.S., this is a huge sticking point, because even though the P40 Pro’s hardware is great, the inability to run many of my most commonly used apps is a huge dealbreaker. It’s a sad state of affairs, because otherwise, the P40 Pro would pose a wonderful alternative to aor an . I have no doubt that in the future the app selection in Huawei’s App Gallery will improve and Huawei might even at some point get removed from the , but right now, the lack of support for tons of popular apps means the P40 Pro sort of feels like a lost generation for people in the west.
- Due to government regulations, the P40 Pro doesn’t have access to Google Mobile Services, which means no Google Play Store or support for apps that require Google integration.
- The P40 Pro only has a single mono speaker, which feels like a strange choice for a phone in this price range.
- Not only is the P40 Pro’s image quality excellent, it has more special modes and features than practically any other phone on the market.
- The screen on the P40 Pro is one of the best examples of curved glass done right.
Google's Phone app will tell you why businesses are calling .
If you’re using Google’s Phone app, you’ll soon be able to know why a business establishment is calling before you even pick up. In a new support page discovered by Android Police, the tech giant goes into detail about a feature called “Verified Calls.” Businesses that choose to go through and pass Google’s verification process will be able to send the dedicated Verified Calls server their phone number, your phone number and their reason for calling, such as “Scheduling your internet installation” or “Your food delivery.” Google will then show all that information on your Phone app.