In this week’s top stories: we get our best and clearest look yet at close-ups of both the front and the back of the Google Pixel 4, Gmail for Android gains a new swipe gesture to quickly switch accounts, Google Camera 6.3 releases with a transparent top bar, and more.
Thus far, the only clear images we’ve gotten of the Pixel 4 have been from official renders from Google and incredible artistic renders of close-ups from the community. Otherwise, we’ve only been able to see the Pixel 4 in distant, zoomed-in photos. That changed this week, as two crystal-clear close-up images of the Google Pixel 4 surfaced online, showing off both the front and the rear.
On the actual screen, it’s clear that this device is running Android 10 due to the gesture navigation bar and the Assistant handles. There is an interesting black background with geometric shapes that could easily be a live wallpaper. Two notifications on screen are for “Pixel Setup” and the Play Store, while Sprint is the carrier in the top-left corner.
Gmail for Android got a surprisingly useful quality-of-life update this week to complement the recent Google Material Theme redesign. The Google Account indicator in the search bar can now be swiped vertically to rapidly switch between your email accounts, along with another exciting upgrade.
While not enabled in the main app, Gmail has a darkened homescreen widget with this release. If the system-level Dark Theme is enabled on Android 10 (Night mode on Pie), the widget switches to a dark gray background. Meanwhile, the folder name and compose email button adopts a very light shade of red.
With Android Q Beta 6, Google included version 6.3 of the Google Camera app, which features a number of minor changes to make the photo taking experience on Pixels more straightforward. Now, a few weeks later, another update to Google Camera is rolling out via the Play Store. This minor update offers a quality-of-life improvement by making the top bar transparent to not obscure part of your photos.
This version targets Android 10 and requires the absolute latest version of the OS. Android 9 Pie is not supported like it was when the first 6.3 release leaked. This should not be an issue as all Pixel phones are getting updated to Android 10.
Android Auto got an update this week that further confirmed that the app’s on-phone UI is being killed in favor of the Google Assistant’s upcoming Driving Mode. While we had already known this replacement was happening, this update shows us that Google is going to set a formal date for the phone-based UI for Android Auto to cease to work.
Once this final deprecation date for Android Auto on phones has passed, you’ll be treated with an announcement popup informing you to switch to driving mode. This popup will have two options, one to open the Assistant Driving Mode, and one to dismiss and likely close Android Auto. This seems to line up with a recent “glitch” that had the Android Auto app icon disappear for many.
In other Android Auto news, Google Maps received an update that added a set of new buttons to the Android Auto interface. Using these buttons, you can quickly look at alternate routes, search destinations, browse around your current location and more.
From what we can tell, these new shortcuts are widely rolling out as of this week based on numerous reports on Reddit, so you should see them very soon if you haven’t already. This also comes just a few weeks after Google recently unveiled a complete redesign for Android Auto which you can check out in our hands-on review.
Google says Huawei Mate 30 can’t be sold w/ Android or Google apps
As you may recall, Huawei has been thoroughly barred from using technology from U.S. companies including Google software like Android and Play Services, as part of an ongoing trade war between the United States and China. A Google spokesperson confirmed this week that Huawei’s upcoming Mate 30 series phones will not be able to be certified by Google or ship with Google Play Services unless the ban is lifted.
Surprisingly, Huawei representatives tell Reuters that it still plans to launch new “high-end smartphones,” aka the Mate 30 series, without Google’s help. The launch, which is apparently scheduled to take place on September 18, would mark the first major launch from the company since the ban took effect. The Honor 20 Pro, which we recently reviewed, did go on sale after the ban, but was already certified by Google.
Header image credit: @PhoneDesigner