About Manuel Vonau
Manuel Vonau is Android Police's Google Editor, with expertise in Android, Chrome, and other Google products — the very core of Android Police’s content. He has been covering tech news and reviewing devices since joining Android Police as a news writer in 2019. He lives in Berlin, Germany.
Manuel studied Media and Culture studies in Düsseldorf, finishing his university career with a master's thesis titled "The Aesthetics of Tech YouTube Channels: Production of Proximity and Authenticity." His background gives him a unique perspective on the ever-evolving world of technology and its implications on society. He isn't shy to dig into technical backgrounds and the nitty-gritty developer details, either.
Manuel's first steps into the Android world were plagued by issues. After his HTC One S refused to connect to mobile internet despite three warranty repairs, he quickly switched to a Nexus 4, which he considers his true first Android phone. Since then, he has mostly been faithful to the Google phone lineup, though these days, he is also carrying an iPhone in addition to his Pixel phone. This helps him gain perspective on the mobile industry at large and gives him multiple points of reference in his coverage.
Outside of work, Manuel enjoys a good film or TV show, loves to travel, and you will find him roaming one of Berlin's many museums, cafés, cinemas, and restaurants occasionally.
The 2022 OS came with some much-needed refinements
Android 13 was released in August 2022 and became available on all the best phones over time, including the flagship Google Pixel 7 and Google Pixel 7 Pro, which were both launched with it preinstalled. The release is as good as obsolete due to its successor, Android 14, which launched in October 2023 and offers thoughtful enhancements to a solid existing system. It's slowly making its way to all recent Android phones. You might still want to learn everything there is to know about Android 13 and all the quarterly feature drops it received while it was still getting new updates.
Google's custom silicon goes big on AI features
Tensor is Google's custom processors for its Pixel phone and tablet lineup. The original Tensor chipset made its debut on the Pixel 6 series in 2021. The company followed up a year later with the much-improved Tensor G2 that still powers big chunks of the company's lineup, including the Google Pixel Fold and Pixel Tablet.
Google has fixed lingering issues with Chrome displaying content behind the navigation bar
All the way back in Android 10 in 2019, Google introduced its full gesture navigation system with a single bar at the bottom of the screen to indicate multitasking and home gestures. Since then, it’s best practice to draw content behind this navigation bar rather than adding another non-transparent bar behind it. Google itself is pretty slow to adapt this change in its own apps to this day, four versions later on Android 14, with only a handful fully supporting this more immersive look. The latest experimental Chrome version finally joins this exclusive club.
You can experiment with reading your body temperature on the Pixel 8 Pro ahead of the FDA approval, but results fluctuate widely
The Google Pixel 8 Pro’s most controversial feature is likely its temperature sensor, which seems like an idea someone had at the height of the pandemic and then nobody stopped to think if it’s still necessary in 2023. On top of this, this feature isn’t FDA-approved yet, meaning it can't officially read your body temperature. When you attempt to measure your skin temperature right now, you’ll notice that it’s far below regular body temperature. There is a trick you can try right now to get an approximation of your body temperature even before the FDA approval, though the results have us scratching our heads even more.
The Pixel 8's local multilingual dictation is better than the competition, but voice typing in general leaves a lot to be desired
Google is priding itself for its impressive machine-learning capabilities, particularly when it comes to breaking down and optimizing large models enough to run them locally on phones. The new Google Pixel 8 and 8 Pro are chock-filled with new features in this field. The one that stood out to me immediately was the addition of advanced local voice dictation for multilinguals, a feature that was previously restricted to single languages on the Pixel 6 and 7.
The 6GHz band could enable improved peer-to-peer data transfers and novel AR and VR applications
6GHz networks have been available for a while now, with the FCC only opening the band for Wi-Fi and other unlicensed use cases in 2020. The regulatory body is now opening another 850 megahertz of spectrum to low-power devices, enabling fast and largely interference-free wireless transmissions at short distances. Google is excited about this change, as it may allow the company to add some enhanced peer-to-peer data transfer capabilities to its devices.
There are new settings and you might soon see loyalty cards pop up when you visit appropriate stores
Google’s At a Glance widget is a hard-coded part of Pixel phones, including the brand-new Google Pixel 8 Pro, showing up on both the first home screen and the lock screen. Other than displaying the current date and weather, it gives you contextual information about upcoming events, weather warnings, flight details, timers and stopwatches, and more. While a big design update is rolling out to non-Pixel phones, Google’s handsets have to make do with a settings redesign and the addition of a location-based loyalty card shortcut.
The company could make Chromebooks updateable beyond their official end-of-life date
Google’s Chromebooks have carved out more than a niche for themselves, having long become a viable alternative to Windows laptops and MacBooks for many. The one caveat that’s attached to Chromebooks is their limited software support, though. While Google vows to update the latest and greatest Chromebooks for up to 10 years from the moment sales start, this still leaves far too many current devices becoming obsolete before the hardware dies. Google might fix this by bringing ChromeOS Flex to those machines.
The company wants to make sure regulators don't make it collect too much data
Child safety on the internet has become a big topic, with different regulators proposing different solutions to keep minors safe from harmful content they may come across on the web. Google is chipping in this discussion with a new framework of its own that prioritizes appropriately designed products over mandatory age verifications in many cases, limiting more intrusive identification measure to higher-risk services.
The Pixel 8 Pro makes almost all the right tweaks
The Google Pixel 8 Pro is official, and it’s taking the spot that the Pixel 7 Pro previously had in Google’s lineup. It represents the top-of-the-line and the best the company currently has to offer. In doing so, it doesn’t rest on the laurels of the already great Pixel 7 Pro but instead improves on the key aspects that were routinely criticized on its predecessor.
The company is testing a new security measure to stop scammers from accessing one-time passwords
Google is increasingly hardening Android, with the company only recently adding more sideloading restrictions with Android 14. This makes it more difficult for bad actors to extract data from your phone, but there are always creative ways around all kinds of security features. That's likely why Google Messages is experimenting with a new measure to stop scammers from taking a look at valuable one-time passwords sent to you via SMS.
Google wants to remind you that Assistant can help you with system settings
Google Assistant has supported device controls for a long time now. It lets you turn on or off Bluetooth and Wi-Fi via voice, and you can even search for system updates like Android 14. With the Google Pixel 8 and 8 Pro, the company wants to supercharge these capabilities all while rubbing them under your nose in system settings.
No, it's not the curved screen, but yes, it has something to do with the display
The Google Pixel 8 and 8 Pro are finally available for preorder, and both phones are the most refined to ever come from Google. They look and feel a lot like their predecessors. Plus, they fix the biggest issues we've found with them, including a flat display rather than a curved-edge display on the Google Pixel 8 Pro and a small-hands-friendly form factor for the Pixel 8.
Google appears to be testing its ambient mode in more places
Last year, YouTube introduced a facelift across all the platforms it’s available on. Apart from embracing rounded corners a little more and adding new icons, the company also added a glow effect to the video player when using its dark theme, called “ambient mode.” While this was previously only at the top and bottom of videos when viewing the small horizontal preview on Android, it looks like Google is now experimenting with bringing it to the fullscreen video player.
The Pixel 8 doesn't need every feature the 8 Pro offers, it's packing more than enough
The Pixel 8 is finally here, and it’s likely Google’s most distinct non-Pro model just yet. It’s significantly smaller and lighter than its predecessor, giving it a proper different touch and feel than the Pro model. It also misses some key features compared to its bigger Google Pixel 8 Pro sibling, giving the $300 price gap between the two make a lot more meaning than in previous generations. It’s clear that Google has learned a lot from the last two generations of its new hardware design and its own chipsets, and the Pixel 8 is the culmination of all the things Google stands for: It’s a software-first handset that can set itself apart from the competition with some incredible features, and it’s the one to get if you’re looking for a new flagship Pixel phone.
Your Google speakers may just get back some long-lost features
Google and Sonos have been engaged in a patent dispute for years now, with Sonos claiming that Google infringes on its intellectual property around audio casting and smart speaker management. In the course of time, Google was forced to remove a few features from Android phones and ultimately had to pay a multi-million dollar penalty. A California judge has now thrown that previous verdict out of the window, saying that the patents in question were not enforceable.
Tab groups are becoming more and more useful
Just a few days after Google Chrome 118 launched in stable, the next Chrome release is here in beta: Chrome 119. The new version of the browser is slated to go stable in as little as two weeks on October 25 due to a change in Google’s release schedule, but in the meantime, we can dig through the beta to see what’s new and what’s being worked on with this browser release.
Three custom processor generations in, issues are far less forgivable
After months of hype, leaks, and rumors, Google has finally released the Pixel 8 and 8 Pro this week. In our hands-ons, we established that Google made some big strides all while keeping the core look and feel, and I’m more than happy to see it. The Pixel 8 Pro finally has a fully flat display — gone are the curved edges. And the smaller Pixel 8 is significantly smaller than its predecessor, making it a great contender for the best small flagship crown. But at the same time, I’m still skeptical about the company’s hardware. Seven years into its Pixel lifecycle and two years into Tensor, it’s time that Google proves it doesn’t only nail the software, but the hardware, too.
The new standard has the potential to transform how we hear in public
You’ve likely heard of Bluetooth Low Energy Audio (LE Audio), the new and much improved standard for wireless audio transmission that’s slowly showing up in all the best earbuds and your favorite phones. Apart from improved battery life, better audio quality, and enhanced multi-device connectivity, there is also another part to this new spec that has the potential to be an even bigger game changer: Auracast.
There are a lot of interesting features in Android 14's QPR beta releases
Google finally released stable Android 14 alongside the Google Pixel 8 and 8 Pro this week, but this is not the only new software coming our way. The company has also updated its QPR1 beta program with a second beta, QPR1 Beta 2. The software is slated to go live as the December Feature Drop later this year, but in the meantime, you can already try it out on your Pixel if you're daring enough. Here's everything new we found in the QPR beta program.