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Google Pixel 2 XL: Promising flagship device with stunning camera

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Google Pixel 2 XL
Pixel 2 XL. (File Photo: IANS)

Tech Review

New Delhi, Nov 9 : As Google joined race in the premium smartphone segment by launching Pixel last year, Apple and Samsung, the two segment leaders, took immediate note of it.

The fight was no more between the two traditional arch rivals as Google entered the arena after bidding adieu to its Nexus line-up in favour of Pixel smartphones that it designed, developed and marketed on its own.

The first Pixel devices created a ripple in the market. Now, the tech giant has launched the second edition of the Pixel line-up and we got the bigger sibling — the Pixel 2 XL — for review.

At the starting price of Rs 73,000 (64GB variant), the device is set to give some tough competition to iPhone 8 Plus. Let’s see how.

Pixel 2 XL’s build and appearance will impress you the moment you hold it. Google has served up a metal unibody smartphone with a soft matte finish that makes the device extremely ergonomic. This is something all-glass and metal body phones lack these days.

The matte finish also ensures the device remains free of fingerprint smudges. This feature is, however, subjective and some might find it a bit “plasticky”.

Pixel 2 XL joins the bandwagon of bezel-less display smartphones and hence has a taller-than-wider frame to accommodate a 6-inch 18:9 screen in a smaller frame and has almost 76.5 per cent screen-to-body ratio.

However, this is not a flagship with the slimmest bezel as LG has fitted Pixel 2 XL with front-firing stereo speakers which is a refreshing change from usual bottom firing ones.

A major high point as well as the best feature is Pixel 2 XL’s camera. It doesn’t house a dual-sensor like Apple iPhone 8 Plus, but the single camera lens outperforms many flagship devices out there in the market.

There is a 12MP primary sensor and an 8MP fixed-focus selfie camera.

The rear shooter has been upgraded with a brighter f/1.8 aperture and optical stabilisation (OIS), as well as electronic stabilisation, resulting in detailed images with crisp colour reproduction and accurate tones.

Focusing on a subject happened in a snap and there was literally no shutter lag for us.

Low-light photography was pretty impressive albeit with a slight decrease in the focus speed.

It’s also interesting to see how the primary camera’s portrait mode churns out great images with blurred background sans dual sensors.

The front shooter too is capable of producing quality selfies and portrait shots.

We especially liked the hefty 3520mAh battery that enabled us to get a day-and-a-half usage on a single charge. It really took power-intensive tasks for us to drain the battery on this device.

Apart from unlocking the device in a snap, the fingerprint sensor on Pixel 2 XL can also be used to access the notification panel with a swipe down.

“Google Lens” uses machine learning (ML) capabilities to recognise places, objects and streets, etc, from the clicked images to give more information about them.

What does not work?

On the most-talked about “blue tint” issue, we did notice it the moment we tilted the phone at different angles. Also, the colours look a little washed out when compared to flagships like the Samsung Galaxy Note 8.

However, Google has promised to fix the issue via an update in the coming weeks.

We did not find the screen “burn-in” issue that some early users had reported during a week-long use.

The pressure sensors on the lower edges of the device activate Google Assistant which is similar to what we saw on HTC U11.

It is a bit disappointing to see it fire up only Google Assistant and silence incoming phone calls. However, the user can change the intensity of pressure to avoid activating it while pulling it out of pocket.

Conclusion: A great camera, timely updates and security patches (which other OEMs tend to miss), a plain understated design language, stock Android Oreo Operating System (OS) and top-notch Snapdragon 835 chipset make the device a promising, power-packed flagship over iPhone 8 Plus.

IANS

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HCL launches app dedicated to Indian classical music

Called “HCL Music”, the app is available for both Android and iOS users.

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New Delhi, June 22 (IANS) There is some good news for Indian classical music lovers as HCL has launched a free music app dedicated to catering to their taste in music.

Called “HCL Music“, the app is available for both Android and iOS users, HCL said in a statement.

The app features recordings of live performances from legendary artists, high quality studio recordings featuring maestros, forgotten collections of legends and an assortment of crowd sourced music by young and aspiring artists.

The app houses a collection of Indian classical music across genres including Hindustani, Carnatic and fusion music, HCL said, ading that the aim is to make the app the largest ever repository of classical content and also give upcoming artists a platform to showcase their talent.

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Facebook launches free version of ‘Workplace’ for NGOs

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San Francisco, June 21: Making inroads into the non-profit segment, Facebook has launched a free version of its enterprise communications app ‘Workplace’ to make work better, smarter and faster for charities and non-governmental organisations.

Named “Workplace for Good”, the app would donate work-essential mobile, video, communication and collaboration tools free of charge to organisations like World Wildlife Fund, United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) and more.

“We’re giving ‘Workplace for free’ to non-profits and staff at educational institutions globally, so they can build meaningful communities and create change around the world,” Annette Gevaert, Head, Workplace For Good, Facebook, wrote in a blog post late on Wednesday.

Additionally, the app also comes integrated with tools like “OxBot” which is a jargon-busting bot that provides a link to internal sources of information, increasing accessibility options.

“We’re also renewing our commitment to #ImpactCloud, a coalition of technology companies including Workplace, Salesforce, Box, Okta and Microsoft, working together to help accelerate digital transformation and impact for humanitarian and disaster relief organisations,” Gevaert added.

IANS

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‘Twitter Media’, a new home for publishers, is here

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San Francisco, June 20: In an apparent attempt to get close to publishers, Twitter has launched “Twitter Media” — a website dedicated to helping small publishers get the most from its platform.

Kay Madati, Global Vice President and Head of Content Partnerships officially introduced the new site.

“With Facebook disappointing publishers for the last few years Twitter saw an opportunity, and now it’s launching ‘Twitter Media’, a website dedicated to helping small publishers get the most from its platform,” tech website WeRSM reported late on Tuesday.

“Twitter Media” would feature best practices from content publishers across Twitter, curated by Twitter’s news, sports and entertainment partnerships teams.

The micro-blogging site said that “Twitter Media” will be updated regularly with case studies and success stories and will also feature a blog to help publishers stay up-to-date with tools for publishers.

The website would also include information about new products and features designed specifically for content publishers and there would be an easy-to-navigate help section curating answers to the most common questions Twitter gets from content publishers.

IANS

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