On Android phones, a feature called Smart Unlock allows phone owners to have their devices unlocked when certain requirements are met. For example, if you’re at home and within a preset geofence, your phone will stay unlocked. Another example of Smart Unlock is when you have a particular Bluetooth device connected, such as a set of wireless earbuds. It’s a very handy feature, something we always recommend people check out when first setting up their devices. In a bit of exciting news, it’s been essentially confirmed that Smart Unlock is indeed headed to the upcoming Pixel Watch, a first for Wear OS devices.
This news comes from code spotted within the latest Google Play Services beta, forcibly enabled by the good people at 9to5Google. With it enabled, a user would be able to quickly dive into their smartphone, so long as their Pixel Watch is “unlocked, on your wrist, and close to your phone.”
Additionally, the force-enabled menu states that there will be a dedicated Pixel Watch app, so it looks like a safe bet that Pixel Watch owners will get settings control via an app other than the existing Wear OS app. We suppose that’s cool, but we’re not sure why the Pixel Watch would require its own app, simply being another thing that Google has to support. Google does it for the Pixel Buds, too, so honestly I have no idea.
Smart Unlock for Pixel Watch. I’m here for it.
How Good is Android 13 on Pixel Phones?
The stable Android 13 update has been out since the beginning of the week and that means a couple of days for you to run it and establish first impressions. I’m curious what those are, as the update is somewhat minor in new features, but huge in terms of bug fixes from Android 12.
To recap, Android 13 dropped on Monday for the Pixel 4, Pixel 4a, Pixel 5, Pixel 5a, Pixel 6, and Pixel 6a. The update was available immediately if you felt like playing in adb, plus we’ve seen it rollout over-the-air as well to some phones. Tim, for example, says he can pull it yet I can’t on my Pixel 6 Pro. Rude, Google.
We talked about all of the new features in Android 13 that you’ll want to be on the lookout for and then spent a lengthy amount of time looking through the list of 150 bugs that Google fixed. Google says it was able to improve “performance, stability, and reliability,” fixed bugs related to charging and Gboard and touch screen palm detection and so much more. Google even says it addressed fingerprint reader performance on the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6a.
After browsing through reddit, I can see that a number of folks have been quick to share that their fingerprint reader is indeed faster (Do people really believe this?) and that overall performance and stuttering has improved, especially on older Pixel phones.
What about you? How has Android 13 been running on your Pixel phone this week? Or are you still waiting for it?
Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro Get Major Approval Ahead of Launch
The Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro stopped through the FCC this week, marking a big step towards launch that should happen around October, if previous launches are any indicator. The filings don’t reveal much, other than supported network bands and the presence of UWB again, but they do give us model numbers to pin on each phone going forward.
There are four FCC filings of note to dip into under Google’s FCC ID. Those filings give us model numbers of GVU6C, GQML3, GP4BC, and GE2AE. After looking through several of the documents at the FCC, I’m pretty confident in saying that the first two are the Pixel 7 and the last two are the Pixel 7 Pro. The GVU6C Pixel 7 also has an alternate model number of G03Z5 alongside it, as does the Pixel 7 Pro’s GE2AE, where GFE4J can be added to its list.
To recap, we have Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro model numbers as follows:
- PIXEL 7: GVU6C (G03Z5)
- PIXEL 7: GQML3 – mmW
- PIXEL 7 PRO: GP4BC – UWB
- PIXEL 7 PRO: GE2AE (GFE4J) – UWB, mmW
Each phone has all of the proper network bands to work well here in the US, with select models also supporting 5G mmW. The two models supporting mmW are GQML3 (Pixel 7) and GE2AE (Pixel 7 Pro). The others support sub-6 5G, just not the super speedy 5G mmW that you’ll never attach to anyway.
To tell the difference between Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro devices, we really are guessing (assuming) based on the fact that GP4BC and GE2AE have UWB or ultra-wideband support. In the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro, only the Pixel 6 Pro had UWB and it looks like that’ll be the case again this year. UWB is used for short-range communications in things like luggage trackers or to help a digital car key talk to a car.
The rest of the big network stuff can be see below, where you’ll find WiFi 6E, NFC, and WPT (wireless power transfer aka wireless charging).
Pixel 7 network bands
Pixel 7 Pro network bands
There isn’t much else to take from this because Google already announced each phone. We’re really just waiting for them to go official, so that we can start playing with their cameras, test Google Tensor 2, and see if Google took are of all of the Pixel 6 line’s modem issues.
If you were hoping this arrival at the FCC would tell us when the Pixel 7 will launch, I’m not sure that it does. The Pixel 6 line hit the FCC in September 2021 and then arrived in October. The Pixel 6a showed up at the FCC in April 2022, was announced in May, and then didn’t ship until July.
Verizon’s Visible Added a Sweet New Visible+ Plan
From the day it launched back in 2018, Verizon’s Visible has had a single plan that costs just $40/mo. Visible has continued to update and upgrade the plan over the years, but that price has always stuck and it remained the only plan option for those looking at Verizon’s “all-digital wireless carrier.” Today, Visible is making a big move – we now have 2 plans.
Visible announced today that they offer two plans: Visible and Visible+. Visible is a similar offering to the old Visible plan, only now it costs $30/mo instead of $40. For Visible+, a couple of additional features and upgrades will cost you $45/mo.
So what are the differences between Visible and Visible+? I have the visual breakdown for you below, but the basics are that the regular Visible plan is going to be for those who don’t need a super speedy 5G experience and who don’t travel outside of the US much. The only network access you get is on 5G nationwide and LTE, where your connection could be slowed if in heavy trafficked areas. It still has talk and text to Mexico and Canada.
The Visible+ plan adds unlimited calling and texting to Canada and Mexico, roaming use when in those two countries, calling from the US to 30+ other countries, texting to 200+ countries, and premium 5G connections. The “Premium Network Experience” from Visible+ means access to 5G Ultra Wideband (both mmW and C-Band) from Verizon’s network in an unlimited capacity. When on the 5G Nationwide of LTE networks, you’ll get 50GB of data to use before possibly being slowed.
Both plans also offer unlimited mobile hotspot with a 5Mbps speed cap and Spam Protection.
Visible vs. Visible+ Plans
Taxes and fees are included in both prices on these plans, so you’ll pay $30 or $45 each month. Both plans are also live right away, in case you want to sign-up. Visible supports eSIM now as well, so if you were interested in trying them, you can do so without a physical SIM card.
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