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Google Pixel ‘5G’ teaser leaks, shows Pixel 5 and Pixel 4a 5G

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2020 has been a weird year for the Google Pixel lineup, and as we’ve learned more, things have only felt more complicated. Today, a leaked teaser image is giving us a bit more context on Google’s plans, as this “Pixel 5G” teaser hints at two phones packing the connectivity.

Ishan Argawal shared the image below which teases that there are two Google Pixel smartphones coming with 5G connectivity. There’s not a lot to see here, but we can make some conclusions based on previous leaks and common sense.

For one thing, we know we’re not looking at a Pixel 4a in this image because that device has a green power button and nether of these devices do. So, what are we looking at? I’d bet the Google Pixel 5 and the Pixel 4a 5G. Looking at the clear texture difference — let’s assume the Pixel 5 will use the same matte as the Pixel 4 did — we can probably assume that the 4a 5G is the bigger device here (on the right) with the Pixel 5 being the smaller one (on the left).

This makes some sense, too, as 5G devices on the affordable end of the spectrum are typically on the larger side because it’s a bit easier to build out that support in a larger casing.

Considering detailed spec leaks have confirmed that the Pixel 4a will be a pretty small device, a larger Pixel 4a 5G might be a good option for a lot of people who would have preferred an XL model too.

There’s another interesting tidbit to note here, the size of the cameras. It’s a little hard to tell, but both camera modules look roughly the same size. This would line up with some findings from an app teardown earlier this year which hinted a Pixel 4a would come with two cameras, something we know the 4a obviously doesn’t have.

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Microsoft Surface Duo to release September 10th w/ $1,399 price-tag

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Microsoft has quietly and most importantly officially confirmed the pricing and release date of its first foldable Android device — the Surface Duo.

As we have been teased with the book-like device for quite a long time already, we’re sure that ardent and interested fans can now breathe a sigh of relief that a release is near. This revelation has come via a Surface IT Pro blog post in which several other key hardware specifications were made public.

The post confirmed that the Microsoft Surface Duo will release on September 10th for a substantial $1,399 outlay. It looks as though Microsoft will beat the recently unveiled Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 to the punch, shipping before the second-generation foldable from the Korean firm.

For that entry price you’ll get two 5.6-inch displays that when unfolded will essentially become one large 8.1-inch PixelSense Fusion display. Unlike the first wave of foldable Android devices, the Surface Duo includes a 360-degree hinge that will allow you to put displays on opposing sides like a ring-bound notebook.

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Unveiled today and shipping September 10, Surface Duo represents the next wave of mobile productivity, inspiring people to rethink what is possible with the device in their pocket. Surface Duo delivers the easiest way to multitask on the go, bringing together the power of Microsoft 365 experiences and the full ecosystem of Android mobile apps.

Starting at $1,399, Surface Duo opens into the thinnest mobile device on the market with an 8.1″ PixelSense Fusion display connected by a revolutionary 360-degree hinge, allowing you to use each 5.6″ display individually or together, across a variety of modes. Do more wherever you are with Surface Duo.

The Surface Duo will also come with Windows Virtual Desktop cabilities, which allows you to run a full instance of the desktop operating system in the cloud. Weirdly, there were no mention of device specifications in official documentation.

Rumors suggest the folding device will rely on the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 chipset, 6GB of RAM, and either 64 or 256GB of storage. The battery was rumored back in May to measure in at 3,460mAh but, alas, no confirmation has been forthcoming within the announcement.

Upon release, the Microsoft Surface Duo will go on sale at several online and brick-and-mortar retailers including Verizon Wireless, and online from the Microsoft Store. We’re hoping to learn more when the Surface Duo gets a “proper” or “full” unveiling in the coming weeks.

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Google is re-adding a Calendar app to Android Auto so you can see how to get to your next appointment

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Google is releasing a new update to Android Auto that allows the car software to regain some of its smarts. This includes bringing back the Calendar app, which allows you to view information on your next appointment and get driving directions if you’d added a location to the calendar entry. Google previously removed the Calendar app from its last redesign in 2019, replacing it with a button that simply read your appointments out loud using the Google Assistant instead of showing you anything on the screen.

The new update also adds relevant shortcuts to the Calendar app — so if you need to pick up a birthday cake, for instance, you will have the option to either call the bakery or pull up directions to get there. Apple introduced a similar calendar feature in 2019 that allowed its CarPlay users to pull up directions and see appointments as part of its iOS 13 update.

Aside from bringing back the smarts to its Calendar app, Google also announced today that it is working with “early access partners” to help create new apps and categories for Android Auto, including navigation, parking, and electric vehicle charging. Google has not said how those apps will be distributed. If the tests are successful, Google will make those APIs publicly available, so other software developers can start building new apps for its car software.

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Report: TikTok used loophole to collect MAC addresses on Android

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At the start of this month, President Trump announced that the US would “close down” TikTok on September 15 unless it was acquired. Data privacy and security concerns have always shrouded the app, and a new report reveals one particular loophole that TikTok exploited on Android to collect MAC addresses. 

The Wall Street Journal today detailed how TikTok for Android “collected MAC addresses for at least 15 months, ending with an update released Nov. 18 of last year.”

In 2015, Google prohibited Android apps distributed through the Play Store from connecting “personally-identifiable information or associated with any persistent device identifier.” This includes MAC addresses and IMEIs.

However, TikTok leveraged a workaround that the WSJ describes as being “circuitous.” That identifier, a device’s advertising ID, and other data are sent to ByteDance the first time you open the app — before users can provide any consent. While the ad ID can be reset, there’s no real benefit if any new ones can be associated with an existing MAC address.

The MAC address is useful to advertising-driven apps because it can’t be reset or altered, allowing app makers and third-party analytics firms to build profiles of consumer behavior that persist through any privacy measure short of the owner getting a new phone.

Meanwhile, TikTok also leverages an “unusual added layer of encryption” to conceal collected data. Researchers quoted in today’s piece say there is no real security benefit. Rather, this practice makes it difficult for third-parties to examine what information is being transmitted and whether the social media app is following its stated privacy policy. 

The company said that the “current version of TikTok does not collect MAC addresses” but otherwise did not comment on its past practices. Meanwhile, Google said it’s examining today’s report. 

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