Daily Briefing: If Microsoft is now Apple, what is Google?

Microsoft held its annual hardware event today, and I have to say, the company delivered. Not only did it impress with the cross-platform potential of manipulating real 3D objects on a 2D plane using specialized phone apps (and 3D objects on a 3D plane using affordable Windows-powered VR headsets), but it injected life into a tired category with the Surface Studio.

Our friends at Windows Central have the whole story, but I think Google's renewed focus on building hardware and releasing products under its own name — Chromecast, Pixel, Home, Wifi — makes a lot more sense when you see the year-on-year improvements in quality and confidence from a company like Microsoft. The Surface was kind of mocked when it debuted in 2012 — no one is doing that anymore.

And with Apple's own fall hardware event tomorrow, where the tech giant is expected to show off a newly-designed MacBook Pro, it's clear that as focused on software, AI, machine learning and, above all, search, as Google is, hardware is a huge opportunity for the company.

And now, today's big news stories.

Rumors suggest the Galaxy S8 will be the first to employ optical fingerprint recognition

SamMobile reports that certain "whispers out of China" suggest the Galaxy S8 will be the first smartphone to feature optical fingerprint recognition.

How is this is different from the current implementation? Well, instead of placing your thumbprint on the Home button, you could be logging into your phone by simply placing your finger on the display. We're bigger fans of the rear-facing fingerprint method, but perhaps Samsung is onto something here. Regardless, it's all speculation until the phone's official launch next year.

Speaking of Samsung...

We did a survey about Samsung's Note 7 recall, and you told us that you thought Samsung did pretty well! More

Xiaomi's latest hot phones are not coming to America

Xiaomi says that it would be too much trouble, and far too costly, to bring its new Mi Note 2 and beautiful concept Mi Mix to North America — or anywhere outside China for that matter. More

End Screens are the hippest, hottest way to end your YouTube video

If you're into the more popular shows exhibiting on YouTube, you might have noticed that some of them have end screens of sorts that help direct you to more of the channel's latest content. Soon, this will become the norm for many prolific video-makers as YouTube has launched End Screens for all of its creators. The best part is that this feature is totally mobile-friendly.

Allo has been updated to support Nougat's new features

If you're running Nougat and you've got Allo, today's update enables built-in split screen support, as well as inline replies directly from the notification shade. The update also includes landscape mode, a GIF keyboard, and Incognito key alerts for older versions of Android.

Allo 2.0 is slowly rolling out in the Play Store. Check here to see if you're up.

OnePlus 3 Pro coming soon

A mid-cycle OnePlus 3 refresh is reportedly coming soon, according to Evan Blass. Android Central has heard similar things about such a device, which would up the phone's 5.5-inch display to QHD resolution and bump the Snapdragon 820 to an 821.

Other than that, a possible camera overhaul and larger screen is also possible. No word on an announcement timeframe, but look for this so-called OnePlus 3T, or OnePlus 3 Pro, in the coming weeks.

Google Cast is now Google Home

First it was 'Chromecast', then 'Google Cast', and now Google's hub for all things streaming has been rebranded Google Home. Obviously this is in preparation for the company's eponymous home speaker-hub that is shipping early next month, but we like the rebrand, and new icon, all the same.

Your home's Wi-Fi is about to get a lot faster

The Wi-Fi Alliance (yes, that's a thing) just certified the new 802.11ad standard under the name WiGig, which operates at the 60GHz spectrum and can transfer data at speeds up to 8Gbps. To give you some context, that's ten times faster than the average 802.11ac-based Wi-Fi solution found in many homes today. While its range will be much more limited than existing in-home Wi-Fi channels — think more like whole-room rather whole-home — it will work in conjunction with existing technologies to offer ultra-fast transfer speeds for things like wireless VR and 4K video streaming.

Look for the first WiGig-enabled products next year.

Google set to "fix" Pixel camera flare issue with software update

Some Pixel owners are complaining that their new camera flares when taking photos directly into the sun. This is not a new issue for smartphone cameras — or any sensor that picks up light refracted through layers of glass (ie. all of them) — but Google says that an update will improve, if not fix, the issue. A Google engineer posted in the company's product forums:

You can expect a software update in the next few weeks that will improve the effects of this issue. We're working on some algorithms that recognize the halo/arc flare, characterize it mathematically, and then subtract it from the image. :-) You will need to use HDR+ to see the benefits of this software.


If you break it, they'll fix it

uBreakiFix, a chain focusing on repairs for damaged phones and tablets, has inked an exclusive deal with Google to provide same-day repairs for Pixel and Pixel XL throughout the U.S. and Canada. With 250 stores in 187 cities, screen repairs will run $129.99 for the Pixel and $149.99 for the Pixel XL. Or you can just get Device Protection insurance through Google for $99. Up to you! More

That's it for today! See you tomorrow, and take good care of yourself.

Daniel Bader

Daniel Bader was a former Android Central Editor-in-Chief and Executive Editor for iMore and Windows Central.