Huawei Mate 20 Pro update brings better face unlock, more natural colors in AI mode

Huawei Mate 20 Pro camera app.

The Huawei Mate 20 Pro is arguably the most feature-packed smartphone in the last 12 months, offering everything from a triple camera setup to reverse wireless charging. The company has delivered several noteworthy updates too, and it’s not quite finished yet.

Huawei has just issued another update, labelled, according to GSMArena. Huawei’s new update weighs in at 482MB, so what does it bring to the table?

For starters, the company has optimized face unlock for “certain scenarios.” In plain English, this should mean facial recognition is better in tricky conditions. But the improvements go beyond facial unlocking.

Huawei has also tweaked photo quality when using the Master AI option, saying photos should now have “more natural, authentic colors.” For what it’s worth, our own Bogdan Petrovan didn’t notice a big difference between AI and non-AI shots in his Mate 20 Pro review. Nevertheless, Huawei’s camera app also lets you switch between three color modes, so you can always go for a more saturated appearance if you prefer.

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The camera tweaks don’t stop there, as Huawei has also fixed discrepancies between the preview and the actual photo, as well as the camera failing to launch in “certain scenarios.”

Finally, the Chinese manufacturer has included Google’s December 2018 security patches in the update. You might have to wait a few days or weeks to see this update, especially if you’re on a carrier version of the Mate 20 Pro.

It marks the latest in a series of updates for the late 2018 flagship. Previous updates have enabled AI Zoom, better in-display fingerprint scanning, improved photo quality, and several video-related effects.

NEXT: Xiaomi MIUI camera app teardown reveals ultra wide angle support, beauty mode for body

AMD-powered HP Chromebook 14 launching later this month

The HP Chromebook 14 has been through several changes over the years, but this may be the biggest bump yet.

CES is here and that means it’s time to unwrap a new generation of Chromebooks! This year’s crop features the first two AMD Chromebooks we’ve seen: the Acer Chromebook 315 announced earlier today, and the now latest model of the HP Chromebook 14, which will be available for purchase later in January starting at $269.

We’ve seen 5 generations of the HP Chromebook 14, but this will be the first to feature an AMD A4 or A6 processor and an AMD Radeon R4 or R5 GPU, and the specs first published by LaptopMag are mostly straightforward. This 14-inch AMD-powered Chromebook will be available in 1366 x 768p non-touch and 1920 x 1080p touchscreen models — and at $30 more, the touchscreen is indeed the model you should be grabbing.

Category Spec
Model number db0020nr
Operating system Chrome OS
Processor AMD Dual-Core A4-9120
Integrated Graphics AMD Radeon R4
AMD Radeon R5
Memory 4 GB DDR4-1866 SDRAM
Storage 32 GB eMMC
Display 14.0-inch HD SVA anti-glare WLED-backlit (1366 x 768)
14.0-inch 1920 x 1080 (touchscreen)
Wireless Qualcomm® Atheros QCA6174A-5 802.11a/b/g/ac 2×2 Wi-Fi and Bluetooth® 4.2 Combo (MU-MIMO supported)
Camera Front-facing HP TrueVision HD Webcam with integrated dual array digital microphones
Sound B&O with dual speakers
Ports 2 USB 3.0 ports
2 USB Type C 3.1 ports
microSD card reader
3.5mm combo jack
Battery life Up to 9 hours and 15 minutes (mixed usage)
Dimensions 13.27 x 8.93 x 0.72 inches
Weight 3.4 lbs
Colors Charcoal Grey
Ink Blue
Snow White

While many laptops are choosing to forgo USB-A ports altogether for USB-C, the HP Chromebook 14’s choice to keep 2 USB-A ports alongside the 2 USB-C ports — as well as a microSD slot and a headphone jack — is as refreshing as it is appreciated. This port configuration will serve users well as we all try to make that transition to USB-C.

There’s still more to explore with the newest HP Chromebook 14 and how well the AMD’s new A-series does with Chrome OS, but we won’t have to wait as long for it as we will for the Acer Chromebook 315. The HP Chromebook 14 will be available for purchase in three colors — I’m partial to the Inky Blue, but there are white and charcoal for the less adventurous — starting at $269 later this month.

Wear OS smartwatches can soon be used to control Whirlpool smart appliances

Whirlpool Smart Appliances

If you own a Wear OS smartwatch and own one of Whirlpool’s smart kitchen and laundry appliances, you should soon get some nice extra features. As part of its CES 2019 announcements, Whirlpool revealed it will be adding Wear OS smartwatch support for its smart devices sometime later in 2019.

In its press release, Whirlpool stated that once Wear OS support is added, those smartwatch owners will be able to control the company’s smart stoves with their wearable devices in addition to being able to see the current oven status.

For its smart clothes washer, Whirlpool says Wear OS device owners will be able to adjust any active cycle on the fly, so you can switch from a normal cycle to one focused on delicates or brights. Finally, its smart clothes dryer can be controlled with a Wear OS device, and users will be able to see how much time is left in the dryer cycle.

Unfortunately, Whirlpool has not announced when its Wear OS support will roll out.

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Whirlpool’s smart appliances already support Google Assistant voice commands. If you own a Google Home smart speaker that’s connected to the Whirlpool smart device, you can simply say, for example, “Ok Google, preheat the oven to 450 degrees”, and it will do as commanded.

Google Assistant support will be coming to many more countries soon, including Canada, Mexico, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Spain, Finland, France, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland, Sweden, the U.K., and India. Other device brands under the Whirlpool parent company, including Maytag and KitchenAid, are also supposed to add Google Assistant support at some point.

Mavin Air-X true wireless earphones pack next-generation performance at CES 2019

Taking the wraps off its new Air-X true wireless earbuds at CES 2019, Mavin now boasts one of the few units employing Qualcomm’s TrueWireless Stereo Plus feature. By doing this, the earphones avoid the most common pitfalls of true wireless headphones, and offer signal strength rivaling Apple’s W1 chip.

A manufacturer render of the Mavin Air-X.

The Mavin Air-X is among the first true wireless earbuds to make full use of Qualcomm’s latest Bluetooth features.

The Mavin Air-X has very small earbuds, weighing just 0.16oz each. However, they pack a lot of attractive features into one unit. They’re IPX5 rated (can take a splash), boast 50 hours of battery life, and have a class 1 (100ft. range) antenna. They even offer support for Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri.

However, the main reason you’d choose the Mavin Air-X over anything on the market currently is because they can use Qualcomm’s TrueWireless Stereo Plus feature. This means a phone with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 or 855 can connect to each earbud individually, which will bring better battery life and a stronger connection. The Air-X also employs the latest aptX codecs, so you won’t be stuck with AAC or SBC.

Pricing and availability have yet to be announced, but we’ll update this article when we get more information on the subject.

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Open new career doors in voice, chat, and vision automation

Voice Chat and Vision Automation Bundle

The world is getting smarter. You can unlock your phone with your face, and even talk to your fridge. Voice, chat, and vision automation technologies are on the rise, and it’s exciting stuff. We may not have rocket boots yet, but the future is arriving.

Naturally, growing tech industries such as these are throwing up intriguing career opportunities. You’ll need some training to pursue such roles, and that’s where today’s deal comes in. The Voice, Chat, and Vision Automation Bundle is a five-part masterclass in these disciplines, and right now it’s just $29.

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Voice, Chat, and Vision Automation Bundle

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The Voice, Chat, and Vision Automation Bundle:

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Acer’s new Chromebook 315 hits CES 2019 with custom AMD processors

Acer just introduced the Chromebook 315 during the CES 2019 trade show in Las Vegas. Scheduled to arrive this quarter, it will be the company’s first Chromebook based on an all-in-one “APU” processor manufactured by AMD. Acer typically guns for Intel-based processors in Chromebooks, but the company chose custom APUs for this model to better support Chrome- and Android-based apps. APUs (standing for “Accelerated Processing Unit”) combine a CPU and GPU in a single chip.

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Acer’s Chromebook 315 will rely on two seventh-generation AMD A-Series APUs: The A6-9220C and the A4-9120C. These APUs weren’t pulled directly from the shelf, but instead revised to consume less power. That means they enable a longer battery life and produce less heat, making them a great fit for ultra-thin laptop designs. The tradeoff is that you’ll see lower CPU core speeds versus AMD’s original off-the-shelf APUs released in Q2 2017.

Here’s a comparison between the tweaked “c” variants and AMD’s stock A-Series APUs:

  A6-9220 A6-9220C A4-9120 A4-9120C
Process node: 28nm 28nm 28nm 28nm
CPU cores: 2 2 2 2
Threads: 2 2 2 2
Base speed: 2.5GHz 1.8GHz 2.2GHz 1.6GHz
Maximum speed: 2.9GHz 2.7GHz 2.5GHz 2.4GHz
Graphics cores: 2 3 2 3
Graphics shaders: 192 128 128 128
Graphics type: Radeon R5 Radeon R5 Radeon R3 Radeon R4
Base speed: 655MHz 720MHz 655MHz 600MHz
Maximum TDP: 15 watts 6 watts 15 watts 6 watts

These tweaked APUs will power an IPS-based 15.6-inch screen with a 1,920 x 1,080 resolution. Acer will offer versions with touch (CB315-2HT) and without touch (CB315-2H). You’ll also see up to 8GB of system memory and up to 32GB of storage. Given you’ll likely consume most of that storage with Android apps, Acer threw in a microSD card reader to store music, videos, images, and other files.

Acer Chromebook 315

In addition to the card slot, the Chromebook 315 will include two USB Type-C ports (5Gbps), two USB Type-A ports (5Gbps), and a microphone/headphone combo jack. A full-size upward-facing speaker will reside on each side of the keyboard, providing crisp audio versus the annoying muffled audio typically heard with downward-facing speakers. The touch-capable version will feature a backlit keyboard, whereas the non-touch version won’t have any backlighting. Rounding out the multimedia aspect is an HD webcam with an 88-degree field-of-view.

“The Chromebook 315 features a stylish IMR top cover and palm rest that are durable and light enough for moving around the home or office,” the company said in a pre-show press release. “It can speed through demanding apps, while running multiple tabs and extensions, all during a battery life of up to 10 hours.”

Acer Chromebook 315

Acer also notes that parents can easily manage the Chromebook 315 using Google’s Family Link Android app for mobile. With this free service enabled, children can’t install apps and extensions from the Chrome Web Store, view violent and sexually explicit sites, or use incognito mode. There’s nothing parents need to install on the Chromebook itself, as all restrictions are controlled through the child’s Google Account.

Read: What is a Chromebook and what can it do?

Acer’s upcoming Chromebook will measure 0.79 inches thick and weigh a mere 3.79 pounds. It won’t be available until sometime during the first quarter of 2019 sporting a starting price of $280.

The new Acer Swift 7 Windows 10 notebook

In addition to its new Chromebook, Acer also announced a new Windows 10 laptop, the Swift 7. The 14-inch 1,920 x 1,080 touchscreen notebook has very thin bezels, allowing it to have a 92 percent screen-to-body ratio. The body of the notebook is also very thin at just 9.95mm and is incredibly light at just 1.96 pounds, as it is made of magnesium-lithium and magnesium-aluminum alloys. The display is also covered in Corning Gorilla Glass 6 for extra protection.

Inside, the Acer Swift 7 has the 8th generation Intel Core i7-8500Y processor and can support either 8GB or 16GB of RAM and either 256GB or 512GB of onboard storage. The battery life is supposed to last up to 10 hours on a single charge. The power button on the laptop doubles as a fingerprint reader so you can log onto Windows 10 as you power the notebook up, via Windows Hello. It has a push-to-open camera for webchats and video recording that can be closed back inside the notebook when not in use.

The Acer Swift 7 won’t be available for a little while. It will go on sale in April in Europe starting at €1,799, and also in China starting at ¥14,999. It won’t be available in the US until May, for the starting price of $1,699.

China runs on WeChat [#acpodcast]

Daniel Bader is joined this week by Carolina Milanesi, an Analyst for Creative Strategies. During their one-on-one conversation, they place a light on the broader smartphone market in relation to Apple — especially given Apple’s poor performance in mainland China. Apple is no longer the benchmark against which all others are judged. Many players have emerged as smartphones have transitioned from to luxury to commodity items. Additionally, ecosystem lock-in diminishes in value due to features/services that are geographically restricted.

They also talk about Samsung, AKA the “Apple of the Android World” and what’s happening with them around the world. Finally, they look at what you should (and should not) expect for CES.

Listen now

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Show Notes and Links:


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We asked, you told us: The Pixel 4 / 4 XL is the most anticipated phone of 2019

Google Pixel 3 XL Camera

As there can’t be constant advances in technology, we occasionally have years that are just kind of boring. That is exactly what 2018 was. 2019 is the year that we could actually see a lot of advances and growth in the Android market.

So with all of that in mind, we asked you what phone you’re most excited to see announced in 2019. Here is what you had to say.

What phone are you most looking forward to in 2019?


Sliding in just ahead of the OnePlus 7 / 7T, the Google Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL took the crown with 18.8 percent of the votes. While the search giant’s flagships have always been a safe but boring option, it offers the best in camera performance, Android updates, and more.

After a lackluster launch of the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL, we can only hope that Google doesn’t drop the ball with its 2019 handsets.

As mentioned, the OnePlus 7 / 7T came in second with 18.1 percent of the reader’s votes. As the Chinese company has been producing some of the best smartphones for the price, this result isn’t all that surprising. With OnePlus’ push into the U.S. market and desire to be at the forefront of 5G, it could easily be one of the most popular brands in 2019.

And coming in third, we have the Samsung Galaxy S10 and S10 Plus. As the South Korean company’s two flagships are the world’s most popular Android handsets, this isn’t surprising. While the Galaxy line hasn’t seen many changes over the last several years, we could see some changes with Samsung rumored to be using an Infinity-O display with the S10 handsets.

Noteworthy comments

Here are some of the best comments from last week’s poll explaining why they voted the way that they did:

  • I guess I’m not surprised the Pixel has the most. It’s such a boring phone though . Let me guess, it’ll look pretty much the same? I hate that I think this way as I was a huge Nexus fan and want to be excited about the Pixel, but that ridiculous price tag!
  • The Android One program is very promising and Xiaomi didn’t disappoint with it’s Mi A2. Let’s see what’s coming up.
  • The Xiaomi Mi A3. All the goodness of a ‘flagship killer’ without the ridiculous gimmicks for half the price.
  • Waiting for the Moto z4 (hoping for a force variant) or the Nokia 9 pureview.
  • IDK why, but Honor V20. Man this thing is sexy

That’s it for this week, everyone. As always, thanks for voting, thanks for the comments, and don’t forget to let us know what you thought of the results below.

Save over $100 and your important files with WD’s easystore 4TB hard drive

Keep your data secure.

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Easystore is Best Buy’s proprietary hard drive series. It’s not sold anywhere else first party. These drives are usually just internal drives covered with an external closure. So while it says portable, I wouldn’t jostle these around too much. Each has a USB 3.0 interface for easy on-the-go usage and uses WD’s Backup software to work quietly in the background to keep your files safe. You can use it on both a Mac and Windows PC.

This drive has 4.8 stars based on more than 1,200 user reviews.

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