Google

Should I get the ASUS ZenPhone AR or the Samsung S9?

Samsung Galaxy S9

Episode 1471

Sam from Las Cruces, NM

Sam was looking at the ASUS ZenPhone AR because of Tango and Daydream from Google, but Leo says it's terrible, and he should not get it. Tango is Google's imaging capability that they have since stopped supporting. It's kind of like Apple's face recognition technology, but it pointed outward instead of inward and it had 3D mapping. It turned out that no one wanted to make a phone with the Tango hardware because it was too expensive, added too much complexity, and required too much battery.

Can I connect an external drive to a Chromebook?

Acer Chromebook 15

Episode 1465

Nam from Lake Forest, CA

Nam is debating whether to get a Chromebook or a laptop. Leo says that you can pretty much do anything on a Chromebook that he could do on a laptop, within reason. There are some higher-end professional uses, like video editing and gaming, that are better on a Windows computer. But most other activities can be done in ChromeOS through a browser.

Why am I getting different keyboards when launching apps on my Google Pixel phone?

Android keyboards

Episode 1465

Mark from Grand Rapids, MI

Mark wants to know why he gets a different keyboard whenever he launches an app on his Google Pixel smartphone. Leo says this is a feature that developers can take advantage of so that the keyboard can be more contextual. For instance, when a number needs to be entered, the keyboard that comes up can be just a number pad. But there is a bug that causes keyboards to change randomly, so maybe that's the problem. More likely, it's something the app developer has done. Mark can try installing Swiftkey and see if that helps.

Tech Companies Announce Quarterly Earnings

yellow bar chart

Episode 1459

Tech companies announced quarterly earnings last week, and everything was up. Alphabet's revenue was up 24%, but because of the new tax law, it actually lost money. Alphabet had an additional tax expense of $9.9 billion, but that money went toward taxes on funds that were kept overseas to avoid that tax. Ebay lost money because it had to pay $3.1 billion, and Lenovo lost money because it had to pay $400 million in taxes.

How can I track my family with my phone?

Episode 1450

Deena from Manhattan Beach, CA

Deena wants to track her family with her iPhone. Leo says that a smartphone has GPS, an always on internet connection, it's designed to be a surveillance device. Always remember to have permission of the person you're tracking. For the iPhone, there's Find My Friends. There's also Life360. But her husband's phone is on Android, so how does he keep track of their son? Google Maps will let you share your location. Open Google Maps, tap the blue dot and select share location. It will time out after awhile though. That's the best option because it's free and cross platform.

How can I keep my phone from always listening?

Motorola Moto Z

Episode 1452

Pat from San Gabriel, CA

Pat upgraded to a Motorola Moto Z with Android 7, but when he listens to music at home, it displays what he's currently listening to on the screen. How does it know? Leo says that the Android has an always listening feature that will pick up the ambient sound in the room and identify it. It's basically for the OK Google feature.

Pat had an issue with it playing a video unexpectedly as well. Leo says he can train it to just listen to only his voice, or he could even disable "OK Google" entirely. It'll be under Settings > Google.

Why is Google's voice command feature sending audio to my Gmail account?

Google Assistant logo

Episode 1451

Mark from Loris, SC

Mark has a low end Android phone running Marshmallow. Ever since the last update, any time he uses the voice command feature, he's noticed a message that says it's sending audio to his Gmail account. Leo says it's a normal function of Google voice command. It's just letting him know what account that service is associated with. It's not emailing him, it's just letting him know what account it's using. The phone isn't really doing the dictation, it's sending the voice data to Google servers. It looks like Google is being transparent about it.

Google's Latest AI Can Teach Itself How to Play Go and Chess

Chess

Episode 1447

Google's latest artificial intelligence, AlphaGo Zero, now has the ability to teach itself how to master board games after only knowing the rules, and without any human intervention. While previous AI took months to beat the world champion Go player, this latest system was able to master these games in less than a day.

Read more at engadget.com.