We took the day off yesterday because it was all about the Pixel. And that's OK, because the Pixel was a pretty big deal. I couldn't help be caught up in the excitement, enjoying the dual-toned finish of the phones, and the promise of the best phone camera ever (though, probably not). I even enjoyed Google's rather cheesy Assistant demoes, which showcased the artificial intelligence at its most benign.

I think people are underestimating just how important Assistant is going to be to Google's future. Sundar Pichai opened the keynote by saying that "it is clear we are evolving from a mobile-first to an AI-first world." That sentence alone places Google far ahead of companies like Apple and Samsung in its product strategy, since it's clearly developing hardware to showcase both local and cloud-based software, and not the other way around. Samsung has little in the way of software prowess, and relies on Google's advances in Android, year after year, to leverage its increasingly capable design chops. But to say that Samsung understands the internet, that it takes advantage of its position in the mobile space to push services, would be untrue. Now that Google is launching its first phones, that so-called synergy can finally happen.

The problem is that Samsung is so far ahead — like way, way further ahead — in both market share and brand recognition, that Google's advantage is, at least right now, largely moot. The next few months is going to be very interesting, especially as the fallout from the Note 7 recall plays out into 2017.

And with that, the top stories you need to know from October 4 and 5.

Replacement Samsung Galaxy Note 7 reportedly explodes on a (still-grounded) plane

Well, this isn't good. A Galaxy Note 7 — one of the shiny new ones, with the black square and green battery icon and everything — reportedly caught fire on a Southwest flight prior to taking off. The phone's owner says that he powered down the device, as per the flight attendant's request, but it caught fire shortly after putting it in his pocket. Very worrisome indeed. More

Cruise lines ban Galaxy Note 7 following recall

They're somewhat late to the party, with the Note 7 recall now wrapping up in many countries, but several major cruise lines have banned the device from use aboard their vessels, according to The Telegraph. In some cases the ban only applies to unreturned, recalled Notes; in others, it's all Note 7 phones. It's unclear how the ban will be enforced onboard, but it's largely in line with the guidance for Note 7 use (or lack thereof) aboard airplanes.

Samsung acquires AI-assistant built by creators of Siri

According to TechCrunch, Samsung has acquired Viv, a next-generation AI assistant product developed by Siri creators Dag Kittlaus, Adam Cheyer and Chris Brigham. The three left Apple in 2010 and founded Viv in 2012. Viv will continue to operate as its own company that will provide services to Samsung as well as other companies. Viv has been touted as a better version of Siri, and the move gives Samsung a jump towards the front of the line for AI products to compete with Apple, Amazon, Google and Microsoft.

Motorola reveals which phones are getting Nougat

A total of 15 devices are set for an Android 7.0 upgrade, including the latest Moto Z phones — but not the Moto E and Moto G from 2015. More

Nexus is officially dead

Going forward, Google's new internal hardware division, under Rick Osterloh, will produce in-house Pixel hardware. So long, Nexus! More

Galaxy Note 7 back on sale at T-Mobile U.S.

With the recall beginning to wrap up, T-Mobile is the first U.S. carrier to put the Note 7 back on sale. Pricing is unchanged, but now T-Mo's product page lets you know you're buying the non-exploding version. More{.cta}

Google may make its own custom cores for upcoming Pixel phones

Google has started to assert control over hardware with the Pixel and Pixel XL, and it looks like the company will build its own silicon for upcoming handsets. That's according to Bloomberg, citing VP of Android engineering Dave Burke:

Going forward, more and more of the phones' guts will be developed in-house. Burke says the company will eventually be able to ship its own custom "silicon," a buzzword for customized processors that make devices work better.

Google's Quick Switch Adapter lets you easily move from iOS to Pixel

Google is bundling a Quick Switch Adapter with every Pixel and Pixel XL that makes it easy for those switching from an iPhone to Android. The Lightning-to-USB-C adapter lets you move contacts, iMessages, photos, videos, calendar events, music, and more.

Verizon is packing the Pixel and Pixel XL with its delightful bloatware

We apologize for the bit of editorializing above, but dang! A report from CNET answers the question we've all been pondering: Will the Verizon-exclusive Pixels be stuffed to the brim with Big Red's own application suite? The answer is yes, and the Pixel and Pixel XL will come bundled with apps like Verizon Messaging, Go90, and MyVerizon. It's too bad the Pixels won't get the same treatment as Apple's iPhones.

Unlocked Moto Z available in the U.S.

After a period of Verizon exclusivity, the Moto Z is now available unlocked in the U.S. It's not necessarily any better than the Verizon model — it's actually more expensive — since that version is SIM-unlocked and works on AT&T and T-Mobile, but the unlocked model is bloatware-free. Get it for $699.99, if you dare. See at Amazon

Moto Z and Moto Z Play go on sale in Canada

Canadian carriers have launched their versions of the Moto Z and Moto Z Play, which have been available since July and September, respectively, on Verizon. Thanks to a weak Canadian dollar, the phones are $900 and $650 when purchased outright (ouch!), but they're much less encumbered with bloatware than Verizon's options. Yay?

The Moto Z is available at Bell, Koodo (Online Only), Rogers, Sasktel, TBooth, TELUS, WIND, and WirelessWave for around $400 on contract.

The Moto Z Play is available at Koodo, Rogers, TBooth, TELUS and WirelessWave.

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