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This week’s top stories: Bubbles in Google Messages, early Pixel 4a and Galaxy S20+ renders – 9to5Google

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In this week’s top stories: Google Messages update brings Android 11’s “Bubbles” feature, the Google Pixel 4a makes its first visual debut, and renders for the Samsung Galaxy S11+ have been updated with a new camera layout.

In the beta builds of Android 10, Google tested a new feature called “Bubbles,” which is similar to Facebook Messenger’s chat heads. While this feature is now slated to arrive in Android 11, Google Messages has been shown to be experimenting with Bubbles.

XDA was able to manually enable the Bubbles feature on an Android 10 device. Once enabled, Bubbles in Google Messages immediately pop-up on screen in a floating bubble which can then be expanded to a window which shows your message thread, quick replies, and all of the outgoing message features you’d see in the full app.

In Made by Google news, with just a few days left in the year, the Google Pixel 4a has allegedly been revealed in very early renders. The renders show the Pixel 4a to have a fantastic combination of the designs of the Pixel 3a and the Pixel 4, bringing, among other things, the familiar square-shaped camera array.

The display is perhaps the biggest change here. Unlike the Pixel 3a, it has very slim bezels all around and utilizes a punch-hole for the front-facing camera sensor. Apparently, the display on the smaller model will be somewhere between 5.7 and 5.8-inches, only a slight increase. The Google Pixel 4a apparently measures in at 144.2 x 69.5 x 8.2mm.

We’ve also seen a bit of movement on the Samsung side of things, with two rumors about the Galaxy S11. Firstly, we’ve gotten a clean look at what may be the S11’s final camera array. The more interesting of the two rumors states that Samsung may actually name the phone the Galaxy S20, to give the series “a new beginning” which has a variety of implications.

For one, Samsung distances itself a bit from other “ten” brands. Recently, we’ve seen iPhone X, Android 10, and more. Further, Samsung gets to match the name with the year which makes these phones even easier to keep track of. Likely most important to Samsung, though, is that it puts the company’s numbering scheme back in front of the iPhone. In 2020, Apple will have the iPhone 12, but Samsung will have the Galaxy S20.

Android TV fans can rejoice this week, as Sling’s affordable AirTV Mini dongle has gained support for the Amazon Prime Video app, joining the limited ranks of supported devices. As you would expect, Amazon Prime Video can be installed via the Google Play Store.

With the AirTV Mini adding support for Prime Video, it’s a big win for the Sling TV-centric dongle. It packs Sling TV, of course, as well as support for Netflix, YouTube, Disney+, and more. Prime Video also helps fill a gap since Hulu isn’t supported on the device for reasons unknown. Luckily, that app can still be sideloaded.

Finally, a beta update to the Google app on the Pixel 4 briefly broke the new Google Assistant experience this week. Until Google rolled out a fix on Thursday, Pixel 4 owners were unable to communicate with their Assistant via voice.

The underlying bug [was] Assistant not being able to accept voice input. Interestingly, you can pull up keyboard entry by going to Updates and choosing one of the commands in the top carousel of suggestions. This brings up an Assistant UI that lacks a working microphone. Text commands do work and fire like usual.

The rest of this week’s top stories follow:

Android |

Apps & Updates |

Chrome / OS |

Google Pixel 4 |

Google Search |

Google Stadia |

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Huawei P40 Pro rumors: Release date, specs, 5G support, colors and 10x optical zoom – CNET

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This is the Huawei Mate 30 Pro released last year, the company is scheduled to launch the P40 Pro in March.


Ian Knighton/CNET

Huawei isn’t letting the last-minute cancellation of Mobile World Congress stand in the way of its 2020 launch plans. Amid the extraordinary circumstances stemming from the novel coronavirus now dubbed COVID-19, Chinese telecom giant Huawei is pushing forward with plans for its latest generation of flagship phones, the Huawei P40 and P40 Pro, which will be unveiled in Paris on March 26 with an expected release date soon after. Just like its predecessor the P30 series, the upcoming premium phones won’t feature Google’s suite of services (which includes Google Play Store, Gmail, Google Maps and so on) nor will it have the full might of Google’s Android operating system behind it due to the ongoing trade ban with the US. Instead, the phones are expected to operate yet again on Android’s generic open-source operating system and consumers will have to download apps via Huawei’s App Gallery as a substitute for the Google Play Store, which isn’t the case for fellow Chinese phone makers such as Realme.

It is worth noting however that Huawei seems to have a plan to wean the company off its reliance on Google. According to Reuters, Huawei has banded up with Xiaomi, Oppo and Vivo to build a challenger to the Google Play Store known as the Global Developer Service Alliance  — and it too will reportedly launch in March.

The launch of the P40 handsets will mark Huawei’s second and latest flagship launch since the US slapped the Chinese telecom giant with an export ban last May. But until official announcements are made in the coming weeks, we leave you the with the most credible rumors of the much-awaited Huawei P40 and Huawei P40 Pro

The P40 Pro may come with a 10x optical zoom camera

Although Huawei’s software (or more specifically its glaring lack of Google apps) may prove to be a dealbreaker for many outside China, it looks likely the Chinese phone maker will continue to push the envelope as far as cameras are concerned. Images shared on Twitter by widely followed leaker Evan Blass purport to show the P40 Pro equipped with a rectangular camera module containing what appears to be five sensors on the back. 

huawei-p40-prohuawei-p40-pro

Leaked images of the Huawei P40 Pro in a black and white color scheme.


Evan Blass/via Twitter

According to known Apple leaker Ming Chi Kuo, a 10x optical zoom camera could be included as one of the sensors in the P40 Pros camera system, making it the world’s first phones to achieve such a feat. The Mate 30 Pro featured a quad-camera set-up, and included a 50x digital zoom and a 5x optical zoom, which catapulted it into the mobile hall of fame. 

Optical zoom is achieved by switching from a wide-angle camera to a telephoto camera. The magnification number is a reflection of the difference of those two lens lengths. Using the telephoto camera without “pinching in” results in a higher-quality image instead of using digital zoom which is what happens when you pinch the screen of your phone while using the main camera — or when you try to zoom in beyond the telephoto camera’s capabilities.

P40 Pro may be equipped with 52mp Sony camera sensor 

According to GizChina, the P40 Pro’s rear camera will come with a 52-megapixel Sony IMX700 sensor, which is 10 megapixels higher than  P30 Pro’s rear camera. The 52-megapixel sensor is significantly lower in terms of resolution than Samsung’s Galaxy S20 Ultra 108-megapixel sensor, but reports suggest this new sensor can bring bigger pixels and better low-light image quality.  

P40 will support 5G networks

Huawei has all but confirmed that both of its next flagship phones will support 5G, although in 2019 the vanilla P30 model couldn’t support the next-generation network. Two recent listings of what is understood be the P40 and the P40 Pro on TENAA’s certification website (China’s regulatory body for mobile tech) show the devices possessing 5G compatibility, according to MySmartPrice. Although 5G ran into hiccups last year, including patchy coverage, it’s expected to improve this year as coverage expands into new locations among other reasons.

P40 series could come in 5 colors, including blush gold 

The P40 series is understood to be available in five different colors: Black, Ice White, Deep Sea Blue, Silver Frost and Blush Gold, according to 91Mobiles. The blush gold in particular reminds me of the champagne-like color palette used in the iPhone’s newer models. It also comes after the Motorola Razr announced blush gold as its second color for the new Razr, which will be available from this spring.

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Xbox Series X Will Have A New Feature Called Smart Delivery, But How Does It Work? – GameSpot

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As part of a bundle of new details about the upcoming Xbox Series X, Microsoft has unveiled a brand-new feature called “Smart Delivery.” The feature is designed to make sure that players are downloading the version of the game that corresponds to their Xbox in order to have the best possible experience.

Microsoft says that it’s committed to using this feature on all its first-party games, including the upcoming Halo Infinite, which is also coming to Game Pass. This means that players will only have to purchase a given game once in order to play what Microsoft terms the “best available version” for the Xbox console they choose to play on–even if they upgrade to newer hardware later.

Smart Delivery will be available for all developers and publishers on the Xbox platform. The technology is intended for games that will release on Xbox One first and come to the upcoming Xbox Series X later.

It’s unclear if publishers will have the option to decline to use Smart Delivery in lieu of selling two different copies of the same game for the Xbox One and Xbox Series X. CD Projekt Red has already announced that it will use Smart Delivery for their hotly-anticipated Cyberpunk 2077. We’ll see if other publishers will follow suit.

The blog post included details on all sorts of new features that the upcoming platform will have, including ray-tracing and Quick Resume, as well as its specific hardware specs. It also confirmed more details about Xbox Series X backwards compatibility.

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EA bans ‘abusive’ FIFA player Kurt0411 from all its games and services – Polygon

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In November 2019, FIFA competitor and streamer Kurt0411 was banned from playing in FIFA 20 events by publisher Electronic Arts. Now, EA has banned the player from its entire portfolio of games and services.

In a statement released today, EA said Kurt Fenech (aka Kurt0411) is “banned from playing our games and accessing our services” due to “serious and repeated violations.”

The statement, released on Twitter, explained that Fenech had initially been banned from FIFA competitions and live events after he “threatened employees and other players.” In the days following that ban, various EA employees’ Twitter accounts were hacked, displaying rogue messages supporting Fenech. Support staff on FIFA reported significant levels of personal abuse.

Fenech is highly critical of EA on his YouTube channel and his Twitter account, which has 93.9K followers, accusing the company of “tyranny” and “bullshit.” In the past, he has been vocally critical of certain aspects of the latest FIFA game, recently stating that EA has “done everything this year but look at themselves and admit they fucked it. They killed their game and their ‘esport’.”

He responded to Monday’s ban with a series of tweets alleging a conspiracy. “I have never said anything I shouldn’t have,” he wrote. “This is just deeper than anyone thinks. They didn’t want me competing at events cos they were scared I’d win them.”

In its statement, EA said that Fenech has “continued to post abusive and threatening messages and videos about EA employees and competitive players on social media, and he has encouraged others to do the same. His messages have crossed a line of decency into very personal attacks.” The company added that it is “open to feedback and constructive criticism.”

We’ve contacted Electronic Arts for more information and will update this story.

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