About Arol Wright
Arol is a tech journalist and contributor at Android Police. He first began writing online for the short-lived portal of Spanish-language gaming forum Emudesc in 2013. Years later, in 2017, he got his true start in tech journalism working for a small Google-focused site called Pixel Spot. He transitioned to a news and feature writer role at XDA Developers that same year, where he worked until 2021 before making the jump to AP. Arol brings half a decade of writing experience, and the occasional hot take, to his writings. While he's a technology lover at heart, he holds Android phones, and smartphones in general, close to heart. You'll normally find him covering news, although he has also written the occasional deal, buyer's guide, how-to post, and round-up. In addition to his role at AP, Arol also writes for sister sites MakeUseOf and How-To Geek, where he writes mostly about computing. He's also a Pharmacy student. When he's not writing, you'll probably find him hitting the gym, trying to ace a new hobby, reading his textbooks, or traveling. You can reach him at email@example.com.
Try Android 13, it has a lot of great features, we're sure it'll be great
There are two kinds of Android phone owners out there. We have the kind of people who eagerly take an update to the next Android version as soon as it's available, and then we have the kind that will just ignore the update until it becomes too hard to ignore. There are an awful lot of people in the latter crowd, and if you don't have a friend or relative who does this, then it's probably you. Android's distribution numbers are already bad enough because of uncommitted OEMs, and these people definitely drag the stats even lower. Good news, though — Google is coming up with ways to entice them into updating, and this latest one is looking great.
This is like the polar opposite of a country selector
Google's in-house VPN, which is a part of its Google One subscription, is a bit different in philosophy to other VPNs. While most other VPNs allow you to transport yourself to any part of the world you want, Google's own VPN doesn't believe in that. There's no country or region selector, and instead, you just fire it up and get to browsing again. It's meant to shield yourself and your IP address online, and it's probably the most solid option if you don't really need to hop around countries for any reason. And if you've ever wondered whether this would change, it will not — in fact, the servers you'll connect to are now getting even closer to you.
Think of Li-Fi as Wi-Fi, but without radio waves and like, ultra-fast
Wi-Fi is a basic part of our lives at this point, but back in the 90s, it was a groundbreaking concept. Internet without wires? The thought of connecting your computer to the World Wide Web without hooking it up to a modem was surreal until Apple did it with the iBook in 1999 (which in classic Apple fashion it made into a proprietary thing for its devices, called AirPort). By now, though, it's a concept we're all familiar with. That doesn't mean there can't be more innovation, however. Wi-Fi uses radio waves, but what if there was a better way? Li-Fi was just made into a standard, IEEE 802.11bb — and it harnesses the power of light to give you connectivity.
It's closed, though — so closed you need to sign an NDA
The TicWatch Pro 3 was launched all the way back in 2020, while the TicWatch E3 and Pro 3 Ultra were launched a year later, in 2021. Owners of these watches have been awaiting an update to Wear OS 3, Google's current watch experience, for a very, very long time. We got news about updates for Mobvoi's older range of smartwatches back in April, saying that users should expect to see Wear OS 3 in the third quarter of this year. Just as we're about to step into that third quarter, Mobvoi is officially opening a (restrictive) closed beta for those who are interested in seeing how well Wear OS 3 runs on their watches.
Tell your co-pilot to help you get there
Google Maps has joined us faithfully in our road trips for well over a decade now, helping us get to places we don't know how to get to. And paired with Android Auto, you get a solid navigation experience that lets you stay focused on the road while getting places. Even then, if you're using Android Auto, there is a strange restriction — you can't use Google Maps on your phone and your Android Auto dashboard at the same time. Now, though, this finally seems to be changing, as some users are reporting that they're able to use Google Maps on both their car and their phone.
From your old phone to your new phone with no middlemen
WhatsApp has always had one big shortcoming (or advantage?) compared to messaging apps like Facebook Messenger or Telegram. Instead of storing your messages on the cloud, in a server, your message history is instead only saved in your smartphone's local storage. This made it tricky to get things such as multi-device support working well and also meant that uninstalling the app or installing it on a new phone required you to start with a clean slate or manually restore a previous backup. On Android phones, the intermediary for this is Google Drive. Now, though, you can pass on a backup from one device to the other, no Google Drive required.
The black colorway you've been waiting for could almost be here
The Nothing Ear 1 earbuds, launched by a startup called Nothing and founded by no other than Carl Pei of OnePlus fame, got a lot of press when they first came out. Thanks to their good feature set at a competitive price, they were quickly some of the best earbuds around, but they also got plenty of attention because of their unusual transparent design. The company launched a black version of those earbuds, but that black colorway has yet to land on the earbuds' successors, the Ear 2. That's set to change, though — and it might change as soon as next week.
The way Android looks has changed drastically over the course of the last few years. And with Android's constant changes, its brand identity has also adapted over time. We've seen a few changes to Android's logo and brand identity over the years, with the bugdroid remaining a staple of Android's brand. The last change was in 2019, and saw Google use only the bugdroid's head in addition to a slightly refreshed font. We're used to getting a logo change every few years or so, and if you were worried Google was going to settle for what it has right now, it's not happening. Google is yet again redesigning Android's brand — and this time, it's going for a rather radical one compared to what we've seen before.
But it's doing it the 'Telegram way'
Stories were one of Snapchat's biggest features until Instagram decided to imitate them in 2016. From there, everyone started adding stories. Some of them stuck, like WhatsApp's implementation, while others, like Twitter's or YouTube's, were less successful and actually a bit of an embarrassment. Nonetheless, even today, social media platforms are still toying around with the idea of adding stories if they haven't. One such platform is Telegram, which has just announced that, after actively resisting the change for a very, very long time, it will cave in to user feedback and become the latest platform to add stories. At least they'll come with some cool spins, though.
It's catching up to the competition
It's no secret that Samsung is coming up on another smartphone launch. Ever since the death of the Note, the second half of the year is usually reserved for the company's foldables, and this year will be no different. We've already seen plenty of Galaxy Z Flip 5 and Galaxy Z Fold 5 leaks over the last few months, giving us a rough idea of what both phones will look like and how powerful they'll really be. Now, if you're interested in the phablet-sized foldable, some new leaks have left little to the imagination.
It's time to organize that untidy mess of e-books
When it comes to keeping a collection of e-books neatly organized, there are many options out there. But if you're fully invested into the Google ecosystem, you've probably looked at the Google Play Books app at least once. It lets you buy and read all kinds of e-books, comics, and even audiobooks, though when your library gets bigger, it gets significantly harder to organize. After blessing the service with a new icon, Google is now adding some direly needed library management improvements.
Drag 'em, move 'em, stick 'em in place
Google Docs is an essential part of the Google Workspace experience and one of the most widely used solutions for reading and writing documents online. And of course, it lets you add tables to your document in order to present information in an easily digestible manner. That doesn't mean Google can't make them even better, though. Now, the company is introducing further enhancements specifically related to table positioning for documents in the pages format.
Find and install apps for your Chromebook or tablet as you look for new phone apps
Google has implemented a series of changes to the Google Play Store meant to enhance the experience for those who own some of the finest Chromebooks and/or tablets, with big-screen optimizations and multi-device installation. One section Google is now turning its attention to is the browsing and discovery experience for these devices. Because of this, the Google Play Store is adding dedicated sections (or filters) for Chromebook and tablet apps.
By the way, you can also swipe away persistent notifications now
Google has quietly put a lot of work into notifications with Android 14. Nothing major, but the smaller things add up: ringtones and notification sounds are getting separate volume sliders, you can hide notifications in screen recordings now, and there's even an accessibility setting that uses your camera flash for alerts. But the single biggest change is the fact that all notifications — even the persistent and ongoing ones — can now be swiped away. As it turns out, this has some implications for alarms, too.
The redesigned app sure looks a little too branded now
Google Messages has gone through several iterations as Google attempts to settle into a functional design that fits in its current Material You guidelines. So when Google introduced a navigation drawer to Google Messages after removing it from many apps to accommodate according to its own best practices, some were frankly pretty confused. Nonetheless, that's the design we've had for over a year at this point. Now, Google is once again getting rid of the navigation drawer, and moved its contents to what's probably a more familiar place at this point.
Third time's the charm
There used to be a time when OnePlus was known for its "flagship killer" smartphones with powerful specs and low pricing. It's crazy to think about, but the company introduced its first phone, the OnePlus One, a whopping nine years ago. Since then, it has branched out — you could argue it betrayed its principles by switching from those flagship killers and making proper flagships, but it has not left the cheap device market unattended, as it now makes budget and midrange phones as well. Its latest entry in this segment comes in the form of the OnePlus Nord 3 — and thanks to new leaks, we know pretty much everything there is to know about that phone now.
The tools are exclusive for Google One members with computers that have more than 4GB of RAM
The latest update to the web version of Google Photos allows Google One members to take advantage of an array of extra editing features directly in their browser, as announced by Google. Users can now enjoy a more comprehensive set of editing tools to fine-tune their photos, including advanced filters and some of Google's signature editing features. You could already do pretty comprehensive editing to photos using Google Photos from your phone, so really, what's changing here is that some of those features are becoming available on your computer as well.
Just upgrade already
It's time to upgrade your operating system if you have a Windows 8 or Windows 8.1 PC. Microsoft has been trying to tell you this for some time, but Windows 8.1 officially reached end-of-life earlier this year, on January 10th, 2023. Windows 8 and its slightly-better sibling were never really considered "beloved" Windows entries, with many having problems with its surprisingly mouse-hostile UI, which was prepared for a touchscreen future but completely forgot about mice users in the process. Now, it's the time when app makers and developers start dropping support for the deprecated OS family — and Google is one of them.
This doesn't look generative, Microsoft
Despite Microsoft's best efforts to make Edge the best web browser, it's still used by many as a means to download their actual browser of choice, Google Chrome. Over the years, we've seen and cringed at, Microsoft's best efforts to keep users from using its competitor's products, which has been going on for years. The browser, the search engine, and even the actual operating system will practically beg you to please keep using Microsoft's products. Now, using Bing's new AI-fueled experience to look up a download link for Google Chrome has yielded a new result.
Reels, Stories… whatever you want to call them, they’re finally being put out of their misery
The 24-hour "story" social media post format was first popularized by Snapchat, before Meta's Instagram copied the feature and actually became more popular than Snapchat's original interpretation. From there, everyone began doing it. And by everyone, we really mean everyone. Almost all social media platforms out there have, or used to have, some sort of temporary post feature similar, if not identical, to stories. YouTube was one of the first to hop on this bandwagon, and now they're hopping off. But I don't imagine most people reading this remembered YouTube Stories existed, anyway.