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Show Notes: Android tablets and the definition of insanity

Before every episode of The Vergecast I sit down, read through a bunch of news, and take a bunch of notes. It’s one of the most enjoyable parts of my week, and I started thinking it might be fun to do every day on the site. So, every day this week I’m sitting down and writing some notes on the news as though I’ll be talking about it later. Are you into this? Am I into this? I don’t know. But it’s fun to do! Give me some feedback and we’ll keep mutating this into something good.

Apple and Google had a bunch of news yesterday, and today it’s Samsung’s turn…. although I doubt the company is happy that so much of the S8 is leaking out before launch. Here we go.

THE DEFINITION OF INSANITY

  • What is the biggest problem in trying to replace your laptop with an Android tablet? It’s not the keyboard, or the speakers, or the stylus… it’s that Android still isn’t really optimized for tablets. Jake Kastrenakes reviewed the new Samsung Galaxy Tab S3, and ran headfirst into that issue. Which Dieter ran headfirst into when he reviewed the Pixel C way back when. This might be a pattern. Maybe.
  • What’s more, Samsung didn’t do a great job on the keyboard, and the speakers fire sound off to the side in a weird way — I just watched a video on the thing and it’s very noticeable. If you’re going to be hobbled by software that can’t do what you want, the hardware should be basically perfect. And the Tab S3 is very nice hardware — it’s very refined in terms of design and finish — but these are odd little problems to have.
  • Especially when your competition is the iPad Pro, which is perfectly executed, if too limited for me compared to a Mac or PC.
  • Dieter:

JUST SHOW US DEX INTERFACE AND GIVE US THE S8 ALREADY

  • At this point we know basically everything about the Galaxy S8 due out next week on the 29th — pricing, colors, design, seemingly-insane fingerprint scanner location.
  • Official details on Bixby, your ever-present phone butler.
  • We’ve seen even the retail packaging and details on the screen’s resolution.
  • But now there’s a leaked photo of the Dex dock that will turn the phone into a desktop computer.
  • And that’s really the point here — all this other stuff can leak, whatever, but if Samsung has done a good job with Dex and moved us closer to the phone-as-a-modular-unit-of-computing dream, that is a huge deal. And we haven’t seen anything about that yet.
  • So there’s still plenty to be interested in as the phone rolls out and we actually get a shot at using Dex. But the big if — has Samsung managed to pull off what Motorola and Microsoft so far haven’t? — is still very much up in the air.
  • The thing holding back the Tab S3 is Google’s lack of support in Android for better tablet functionality, and app developers not supporting what is available. And now Google is moving in a different direction with tablets, while Samsung is out on its own with the Tab S3. Samsung going out on its own with Dex without Google supporting it in Android feels awfully similar.
  • But we’ll see! I’m really excited for this phone, actually; I love crazy new ideas and Samsung obviously has a lot to prove after the Note 7. I hope they come out swinging.

LIGHTNING ROUND

  • Natt Garun dove into the Android O developer preview, which is very much not ready for daily use yet — but there are a bunch of neat customization hooks in there that signal something bigger to come.
  • Russell Brandom took a look, and it seems like all the security work Google did with Android after the Stagefright scare in 2015 is starting to pay off. Good on them.
  • The International Space Station’s operational deadline hits in 2024, and Loren Grush reported on today’s Congressional hearings on what to do after that. One idea? Turning it over to private space companies. It’s a fascinating read.
  • The Amazon Kindle app for iOS now has a save-later extension for the web, which means you can send articles to your Kindle much faster. I love this; I save so many things to my Pocket queue but I never want to stare at a backlit screen when I actually have time to read longer things. If I can read it all on a Kindle without resorting to all of the various hacks that have come up I’ll be very happy.

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