Google revenue for Q4 2018 soars, but there’s a dark cloud on the horizon

A Google logo.

Alphabet just published its financial report for the fourth quarter of 2018. Google revenue soared even higher than Wall Street estimates, bringing in over $39.2 billion, representing a 22 percent increase as compared to the same quarter in 2017.

That totals $136.8 billion in revenue for 2018, up 23 percent over the whole of 2017.

Google’s revenue within each of its main segments grew in the previous quarter, including ad revenue, properties revenue, and even its “other” revenues, which includes things like Pixel devices and services like Google Cloud.

However, despite revenue beating expectations, Google stock still went down after the release of the financial report.

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The likely reasons for this are two-fold. The first reason is the fact that Google’s costs of doing business are going up. For example, traffic acquisition costs were higher this previous quarter than the same time last year. TAC refers to money Google spends to keep its top-dog status, such as the fees Google pays Apple to be the default search engine on iPhones.

The second reason — and likely the one causing the most concern — is that Google’s costs-per-click for its ad sales is going down. In fact, CPC went down 29 percent as compared to 2017 and nine percent compared to Q4 2017.

In other words, Google’s costs of running its business are going up while its competitors in the ad space are driving its margins down. That’s a bad combo.

A third, smaller reason for Wall Street to be a little nervous about Google’s report is the fact that Alphabet’s “Other Bets” category — which houses experimental projects like those stemming from Google’s X division — pulled in less money than Wall Street hoped.

There’s no question that Google’s revenue is very healthy. However, rising competition and costs-of-doing-business are making investors nervous.

NEXT: We ranked 50 failed Google products from best to worst

End of Google+ is close: No new profiles starting next week, full schedule here

If you were thinking about joining the hot new social media platform Google+ next week, we have some bad news for you: starting February 4, this coming Monday, the creation of new consumer-level Google+ profiles won’t be possible.

Google revealed the profile creation termination date in a new support article. The post also describes other notable dates coming up for the previously announced planned demise of the beleaguered consumer version of the social network.

Check out the notable dates below:

  • February 4, 2019 — You will no longer be able to create new Google+ profiles, pages, communities, or events.
  • February 4 to March 7, 2019 — The Google+ feature for website comments will be removed by Blogger on February 4 and other sites by March 7.
  • Mid-February or early March 2019 — Google+ sign-in buttons will stop working, but in some cases will be replaced by a Google sign-in button.
  • Early March 2019 — Google+ Community owners and moderators who are downloading data from their Community will gain additional access to data such as author, body, and photos for every community post in a public community.
  • April 2, 2019 — All Google+ comments on all sites will be deleted. Additionally, all Google+ accounts and pages will be shut down and Google will begin deleting content from consumer Google+ accounts. Photos and videos from Google+ in users’ Album Archive and Google+ pages will also be deleted. Photos and videos backed up in Google Photos will not be deleted.
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Google is providing plenty of ways for you to prepare for the shutdown of Google+. You can use the company’s Takeout program to back up some of your data, but Google is also providing a Google+ backup tool that will do a more thorough job. The Google+ Exporter app will export your data and keep everything nicely organized. It’s free for the most recent 3,000 posts in your Google+ profile.

It should be noted that Google+ for G Suite users isn’t going anywhere. In fact, the platform received a promise of new 2019 updates in October 2018.

While the end of Google+ is no doubt sad, especially for the small subset of users who still use it on a day-to-day basis, there’s no way around it, now: Google+ is coming to a close. It’s time to start backing up your data and moving on.

NEXT: Here lies Google+: Why it never scored (a lasting audience)

You can now use YouTube Music with your Sonos speakers

YouTube Music icon

If you’ve been waiting to use YouTube Music with your Sonos speaker, today’s your lucky day — Google announced that the music streaming service is now available to play on all Sonos speakers.

So long as you have either a YouTube Music Premium or YouTube Premium subscription, you can play your entire YouTube Music library through the Sonos Controller app. You also have access to YouTube Music’s “recommended” listening suggestions, new releases, YouTube Charts, and the “Your Mixtape” personalized playlist.

Here are the full instructions to add YouTube Music to the Sonos Controller app:

  1. Open the Sonos Controller app.
  2. Tap More from the menu on the bottom of the screen.
  3. Tap Add Music Services.
  4. Select YouTube Music > Add to Sonos.
  5. Tap I’m already a member.
  6. Tap Authorize and paste the code presented on the previous screen.
  7. Tap Next and sign in to or select your YouTube Music account.
  8. Return to the Sonos app.
  9. Enter an account and then click Done.

You’ll have to go back to the YouTube Music app if you want to search for songs and videos, however. The announcement post doesn’t mention the ability to use the standard YouTube Music app with Sonos speakers, so keep that in mind.

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Also keep in mind that you can use YouTube Music with your Sonos speaker if you have a Google Play Music subscription. YouTube Music is free to use, but you’ll need some sort of premium subscription to use it with your Sonos speaker.

On a related note, Sonos speakers already work with Google Play Music if you don’t like YouTube Music.

Soon, you might be able to use Google Duo on the web

So far, using Google Duo has been limited to smartphones, tablets, and the majority of Chromebooks. In the near future though, the Google Duo video chat service could work on your laptop or desktop computer through your internet browser.

This new rumor comes from an anonymous source speaking with 9to5Google. According to the source, the web version of Duo will work in the Google Chrome browser (naturally) as well as other competing browsers like Mozilla Firefox and Apple Safari.

Since the service will be browser-based, we can assume there will be browser notifications for incoming calls and other alerts.

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However, it’s unclear how fully-functional the web version of Duo will be. For example, we don’t know if it will support the “knock knock” feature or the popular video messaging feature.

The anonymous source claims that we should see Google Duo for the web at some point in the coming weeks.

Google recently brought Messages (formerly known as Android Messages) to the web, which is one of its other consumer-focused messaging services. With Google Duo and Messages both available via a browser, it should encourage user adoption. That’s good news for Google, as other messaging services — especially those owned by Facebook, which are joining forces — are way ahead of the game.

What do you think? Will you use Google Duo on the web if and when it arrives? Let us know in the comments!

NEXT: Google Duo reaches one billion downloads

Everyone seems to be making high-end headphones except Google

Microsoft Surface Headphones Microsoft

  • Microsoft released a set of high-end wireless headphones at the end of 2018.
  • Now, both Apple and Sonos are reportedly also making premium over-ear headphones.
  • Why don’t high-end headphones made by Google exist?

In October last year, we found out that Microsoft had secretly developed a set of high-end over-the-ear headphones which eventually hit the market as Microsoft Surface Headphones. The noise-canceling cans are intended to directly compete with the industry-standards of the Bose QC35 and Sony WH-1000XM3.

Today, we’ve heard two new rumors regarding high-end headphones from major tech companies. The first is not-so-surprising, which is that premium speaker manufacturer Sonos is planning to release a set of headphones that will also likely compete with Bose’s and Sony’s flagships. Those could launch sometime in 2020.

Second, we heard a more surprising rumor, which is that Apple might be dipping its hat into the premium headphone market by releasing a pair of Apple-branded cans. This is surprising because Apple paid $3 billion for Beats in 2014 and has sold that brand’s products in its own stores and elsewhere ever since. In essence, a set of Apple headphones would place the company in competition with itself.

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Microsoft entered the ring last year, and now Sonos and Apple are likely getting into the premium headphones game, too. Meanwhile, general electronics companies like TCL are branching out into the budget and mid-tier market.

This all begets the question: where’s Google?

Granted, there are already two sets of Google headphones: the Google Pixel Buds and the Google Pixel USB-C earbuds. However, neither of these products would be considered high-end and neither have the premium aura that only over-ear, noise-canceling, totally wireless headphones can give. It also should be said that the Google Pixel Buds, in particular, didn’t get the greatest reviews.

The headphone market is crowded, yes, but that doesn’t seem to be stopping Apple. So why would it stop Google?

Google might not see any reason to get into the already-crowded premium headphone market, but this news from Apple and Sonos might force its hand, so to speak. After all, Apple’s iPhone revenue isn’t where the company would want it to be, so it needs new products to bring in new cash. If Apple makes a big push with a set of headphones that carry the Apple name, Google might have no choice but to respond if only to keep parity with the world’s most successful company.

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When you think about it, though, a set of premium Google headphones would likely do very well, especially if Google baked-in Google Assistant. And I’m not talking about having fast-access to Assistant on your phone through the headphones — I’m talking about Google Assistant working with the headphones even if your phone isn’t connected. Over-ear headphones would likely be big enough that Google could feasibly put enough hardware inside to make them kind of like a smart speaker you wear on your head.

That’s just an idea, but it does show that just because the premium headphone market is crowded doesn’t mean Google couldn’t offer something truly enticing.

What do you think? Would you buy a pair of Google-branded over-ear ‘phones if they were similarly priced to something like the Bose QC35? Let us know in the comments.

NEXT: USB-C audio is dead

Think you can spot a phish? Take Google’s fun new quiz to find out

Phishing scams are a real problem, and the number of phishing emails sent each year has been on the rise recently. To help prevent the success of phishing scammers, Google now has a quick, fun quiz anyone can take to test their skills at detecting when an email is…well…fishy.

If you want to jump right to the quiz, click the blue button below. If you want to learn more (and get some tips on how to pass with flying colors), read on before clicking over!

Phishing scams are when a scammer sends you a message — usually an email — that looks legitimate. However, links within the email take you to a false destination, usually a page that requests you to enter sensitive information like credit card numbers, passwords, etc. The scammers use this page to harvest your inputted data and then use that data to fraudulently pretend to be you.

With that in mind, this Google phishing quiz is very simple: Google presents you with email messages which are either legitimate or a phishing scam. Using the information in the example emails, you choose whether it’s real or fake. After you choose, the quiz will inform you of the correct answer and then tell you why the message is a phishing scam or not.

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As you can see from the header image of this article, I got seven of the questions right, failing on just one. I consider myself to be pretty good at phishing detection, and I must admit that this Google quiz was pretty tough.

The most efficient way to pass the quiz is to use your mouse to hover over any links in the message (long-press with your finger if you’re on mobile). Look to see if the link is secure (if it features “https” it’s secure) and also check to see if the link goes where you think it’s going to go. Pay close attention to URLs that look legit at first but are easy to spot as a fake if you read the whole thing.

Above all, don’t be discouraged if you get a low score: in fact, that’s what Google wants. The whole point of the quiz is to show people how incredibly good scammers are at creating legitimate-looking emails and present you with tools on how to spot them.

Feeling ready to try your luck? Click the button below to start your quiz! Let us know in the comments how you fare:

One-month test: Can a Chromebook replace my main computer?

Ever since Chromebooks started coming out, the most common question has been, can they really replace your main computer? Many users have already done it, especially those who don’t need much more than something for checking emails, going through social media, and doing light browsing. But using a Chromebook full time in a professional setting, that’s another question.

I’ve tried before to fully replace my PC with iPads, Android tablets, and Chromebooks. It’s never worked, mostly because I need a decent way to edit photos and videos for work, but also because of the many kinks these type of products tend to bring to a larger screen. However I’ve felt that if one of these platforms was to get it right, it would be Chrome OS.

I thought running the same experiment again would be a waste of time, but things have changed and this time I took on the month-long test with much more enthusiasm. Is this the year I can finally dump my PC?

I think so.


Experiment dynamics

Test device: Google Pixel Slate

If you want to replace a PC, you need a device that is powerful enough to compete with a good laptop. The Pixel Slate I used is the $999 version with an Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, and 128GB of internal storage. Other specs include a 12.3-inch 3,000 x 2,000 display, dual speakers, dual microphones, an 8MP camera, a fingerprint sensor, and up to 12 hours of battery life.

Chromebook

Experiment duration: 1 month

I used the Google Pixel Slate as my only work computer through the month of December. I put my Windows and Mac OS machines away and didn’t touch them for the duration of the experiment. Whatever I had to do, whether personal or work-related, it was done with the Google Pixel Slate (or my smartphone).

What we’re focusing on

Putting a Chromebook against a traditional computer can be a bit of an unfair competition. There are Windows, Mac OS, and Linux computers in every price range, and the same can be said about Chromebooks.

Putting a Chromebook against a traditional computer can be a bit of an unfair competition.

Edgar Cervantes

There are plenty of differences from computer to computer. Therefore, we won’t be focusing much on specs like screen resolution, sound quality, available ports, and so on. This experiment is mostly about Chrome OS’ capabilities as an operating system. Other specifics you will have to research on your own.


Performance

Just like with any other computer, you essentially get what you pay for with Chromebooks. Sure, a $999 Pixel Slate seems expensive, but if you put the same specs on a Windows or Mac OS machine, the price looks much more reasonable. It’s a matter of perspective.

What is true is that a Chrome OS device will always give you more bang for your buck in terms of general performance.

Edgar Cervantes

A Chrome OS device will always give you more bang for your buck in terms of general performance. That’s because the operating system is still pretty much a glorified browser, and a very quick one at that.

Chrome OS can boot in under eight seconds. The operating system is so light, you will rarely come across slow-downs or hiccups. This wasn’t solely because I used the expensive Google Pixel Slate. Chrome OS in general is light and fast, and requires much less power to run efficiently compared to other platforms. Often, $200 Chromebooks can feel faster (performing general tasks) than $600 Windows machines.

Often, $200 Chromebooks feel faster (performing general tasks) than $600 Windows machines.

Edgar Cervantes

You only start feeling a big difference when you move to Android apps and games that require a bit more power to operate. It’s not that the Slate can’t handle intensive mobile apps (this Pixel Slate runs on an Intel Core i5, after all), it’s just the experience can be buggy. Android apps and games are not all optimized for a Chrome OS device with a huge screen.

However, using the Google Pixel Slate for browsing was a breeze. Pair it with a stable internet connection and you should run across very few slowdowns or hiccups. Apps certainly had their issues from time to time, but I was using the browser most of the time anyways.

I only used Android apps for very specialized tasks like photo editing, and though there are some design discrepancies between Android and desktop apps, they worked amazingly in terms of performance. Lightroom CC actually worked better on the Pixel Slate than on my Windows and Mac OS computers.

Lightroom CC worked better on the Pixel Slate than on my Windows and Mac OS computers.

Edgar Cervantes

Chromebook


Software & apps

I am definitely a fan of the Chrome OS user interface. It’s simple and to the point. You can pin your favorite apps to the dock, or simply press the search button at any point and start typing what you need. Press the action button in the lower-left corner and you will find a search box, as well as options to see your recent apps or all apps. Settings and notifications will be accessible from the lower-right corner.

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That’s about it when it comes to the computer’s UI! It operates much like a desktop PC interface, but it is simpler and cleaner.

Now, let’s talk about the software topic that matters: apps. Chromebooks used to lack software, but now that Chrome OS supports Android apps it can do a lot more. It’s allowed me to do all the things I couldn’t do before.

Not only did Chromebooks get the ability to run Android applications, but Android started getting apps that truly competed with their desktop counterparts.

Edgar Cervantes

Most of my work can be done online, for which the Chrome browser worked seamlessly. I did have to replace a couple offline applications with cloud services. For music I went with Google Play Music, as opposed to playing it locally with iTunes. For documents I used Google Drive instead of the usual Microsoft Office.

A huge part of my job here at Android Authority is overseeing photography. I have to manipulate images all the time. I pay for Adobe’s Creative Cloud, which gets me access to Lightroom CC. I prefer the classic version of Lightroom, but the lighter iteration honestly doesn’t lack much. I had little to no issues creating pro-level photos using Lightroom CC on a Chromebook. Here are a few samples of images solely edited by the Google Pixel Slate.




For those who would rather not pay to use Lightroom CC, there is a plethora of options out there. My favorite free alternative is Snapseed.

I don’t edit much video, and didn’t have to during the month of December, but I have used PowerDirector in the past and it works like a charm.

What I will say is that I will always opt for the web version of a service if available.

Edgar Cervantes

There are also millions of other apps on the Google Play Store. Since most Android apps still aren’t optimized for Chrome OS, I usually opt for the web version if it’s available. Throw an unoptimized app on a large computer screen and they are bound to look at least a bit wonky. There is often a lot of dead space, or text is not proportionate to images. It can be a bit of a mess, depending on the app, which also results in an inconsistent experience.

However, the apps are all there, even if they aren’t perfect. I can now comfortably do every single part of my job using Chrome OS. I never felt like I needed to go to my Windows or Mac OS machines to get something done.

Read: The best Android apps that work great on a Chromebook


Are you a gamer?

Android has plenty of great games, but we all know the serious gaming scene is on Windows. Microsoft’s OS has the widest portfolio of available titles and Chrome OS will likely never beat it (unless Google integrates its cool game streaming service into it).

I found a workaround to do some serious gaming from the Google Pixel Slate.

Edgar Cervantes

In fact, gamers probably wouldn’t even bother to read this article. If by some reason you made it this far, though, let me tell you I found a workaround to do some serious gaming from the Google Pixel Slate.

I have a subscription for Shadow, which offers a virtual Windows 10 computer you can access remotely over the internet. This machine can be used with Windows, Mac OS, iOS, and Android apps. The remote machine has some serious specs too, including an Intel Xeon CPU, 12GB of RAM, a GTX 1080 GPU, and 256GB of dedicated storage. All for $35 a month.

This is probably an expense you would rather not have to deal with, but if you are serious about gaming and still want the benefits of Chrome OS, this is a way.

Shadow offers a full Windows machine, which means you could technically run any Windows program from it!

Edgar Cervantes

Naturally, the experience is better locally on a powerful Windows machine. The Android app can get a bit buggy, and it froze and slowed down on me about five or six times during the month-long test. Otherwise, it was actually quite fun.

The fact that you get to play any Windows game means you have the widest portfolio at your disposal. I got to play Final Fantasy VII, Batman: Arkham City, Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey, and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt with no issues. I got a 1080p@60fps experience, so you can’t really beat that. And don’t forget Shadow offers a full Windows machine, which means you could technically run any Windows program from it!

Of course, Shadow does have some recommendations for an optimal experience. They say you should have a 30Mbps connection, a strong 5GHz Wi-Fi connection (or wired connection), and more. I’ll have more to say about the service in the review I’m working on.


Battery life

We won’t delve too much into this topic, as it is technically something that will vary from machine to machine. I ended up getting about 9 hours of battery life, which is common to see in Chromebooks. These products are not as power hungry as most traditional laptops. Processors and software are getting better at managing energy, and some laptops will beat certain Chromebooks in this department, but the general consensus is that Chrome OS units will last longer.


Should you use a Chromebook as a main computer?

Windows, Mac OS, and Linux still offer benefits like a more refined UI, better optimized apps, and overall more streamlined experiences. Apps and games are also more readily available for them, especially if you have more demanding software needs.

Chromebook

Getting through the month took some compromising. I no longer had the full version of Photoshop or Lightroom Classic, though Lightroom CC and other compatible editing apps are great. I couldn’t really use Adobe Premiere, but PowerDirector is plenty powerful. No serious gaming is available for Chrome OS, but cloud services can compensate.

While my previous attempts to go with a Chrome OS laptop for an extended amount of time resulted in an elongated hair-pulling session, this time I was able to find a worthy solution for all my needs.

Edgar Cervantes

While my previous attempts to go with a Chrome OS laptop for an extended period amounted to elongated hair-pulling sessions, this time I could find worthy solutions for all my needs. I don’t think you should drop your full desktop OS and jump into the Chrome OS platform with both feet — I know I probably won’t be doing that anytime soon. However, now it’s actually possible to do it, and without too much trouble at that. That is saying a lot from someone who works entirely online.

Google is giving away Play Store credits (Update: Redux!)

this is the featured image for the best android apps list

Update, January 18, 2019 (3:29PM EST): If you missed the free Play Store credit the first time around, Google now offers a second opportunity for some Pixel 3 and 3 XL owners.

If you were selected, you should see a banner for a Play Store credit of $2 when you scroll down a bit in the For You tab. You can apply the credit at checkout and expires within 30 days of you saving the offer.

You can use the credit for anything on the Play Store, so long as it’s over $2. That said, not every Pixel 3 or 3 XL owner were selected for the credit.

Also, some folks received $3 of Play Store credit instead of $2.


Original article, November 5, 2018 (1:59PM EST): If you like free money (who doesn’t?), you should open up the Google Play Store app on your Android smartphone. You might find you’ve earned a free Play Store credit, worth anywhere from $1 to $5.

To see if you’ve got cash, open up the Google Play Store and scroll down a bit. If you’re one of the lucky ones who got a credit, you’ll see an image banner telling you so. If you scroll down all the way to the bottom of the page and don’t see anything except for suggested apps, unfortunately, you’ve missed out this time around.

Google didn’t make any announcement about the credits that we know of, so it’s hard to tell what this promotion is all about. It appears that owners of a Google Pixel 3 or Google Pixel 3 XL in the United States get a credit — but not all owners are seeing credits right now. It also appears people who don’t own a Pixel 3 who see the credit are a mixed bunch, with no obvious connection linking them.

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However, it does seem like all recipients of the free credit have one thing in common, which is they live in the United States.

If you do find yourself with some free credits, tap on the image banner and follow the instructions. The credit will go into your Google account and can be used towards any app or game on the Play Store. Keep in mind, though, that you can’t use the credits to pay for subscriptions or in-app purchases.

The credits will expire in two years, although you’ll likely spend $5 on the Play Store between now and then, won’t you?

NEXT: How to get a refund for apps purchased from the Google Play Store

Google Assistant Connect makes it cheaper and easier for companies to add Assistant to their products

Google Assistant Connect e-ink display concept at CES 2019

Google Assistant Connect e-ink display concept at CES 2019

Google Assistant will likely be available on 1 billion devices by the end of January, and it looks like the company is gunning for the next billion. Google just announced a new set of capabilities — called Google Assistant Connect — that will allow companies to add the Assistant to even more devices around the home.

Google Assistant Connect is a way for companies to bridge the gap between their existing products and an Assistant-powered smart speaker or Smart Display — without the need to add microphones and extra computing components.

Also read

Google gives the example of a company creating an e-ink display that can project the weather or a calendar, while harnessing the power of Assistant Connect to show you content from your linked smart speaker. In this case, the smart speaker would handle all the computing on its own while using Assistant Connect to transfer and display that content on the e-ink display.

At Google’s event at CES 2019, the company had a handful of e-ink display concepts with Assistant Connect. They weren’t working, but you could imagine sticking one of these displays on your fridge or bathroom mirror and always having access to your calendar or weather.

Assistant Connect will let integrated products respond to voice commands too, even if your smart speaker is in the other room. For instance, you could tap on your air conditioner and say “increase temperature by five degrees,” while the smart speaker in the other room handles the command.

The company will announce more details about Assistant Connect later this year. We might have to wait awhile for third-party companies release Connect-integrated products, but it seems like it shouldn’t be too difficult. After all, companies will now be able to spend less money and time producing expensive smart products. Instead, Google is planning on doing the heavy lifting for them.

Head here for more CES 2019 coverage!

January 2019 Android security patch arrives for Pixel devices and the Essential Phone

Update (Jan. 7, 2:40pm ET): As is the tradition at this point, Essential has announced that the January security patch is currently rolling out to the Essential Phone. While we continue to wait for some manufacturers to announce when Android Pie will make it to various handsets, Essential is rolling out firmware updates within hours of Google.

Original post (Jan. 7, 1:43pm ET): In the midst of CES 2019, Google has begun rolling out Android’s January security patch. This month’s update appears to be primarily focused on fixing video recording issues on the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL in addition to other bug fixes.

The January security patch fixes 13 various vulnerabilities in the Android Open Source Project. The most severe of these security bugs could “enable a remote attacker using a specially crafted file to execute arbitrary code within the context of a privileged process.” Fortunately, things were fixed before anyone could use the vulnerabilities to harm any users.

For Pixel devices, this update “Improved audio quality when recording videos” on the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL. No specific bugs other than two security vulnerability fixes were noted for the rest of Google’s hardware.

Unlike with the last two months, owners of the original Pixel and Pixel XL don’t have to wait for January’s security patch. This month, Google appears to have the updates prepared and available for every Pixel device.

Of course, with the new year, we have to say goodbye to the Nexus 6P and Nexus 5X. As Google only promises security updates for three years after the release of a phone, we have officially reached the end of support date for both handsets.

If you don’t want to wait for the January security patch to make its way to your phone or tablet, you can download the latest factory image or OTA file from the links below. From there, you can either flash a fresh build to your phone or sideload the OTA update.