The Google Pixel 5s, explained

The 2020 Pixel story took an interesting turn earlier this week, with the emergence of an apparent “Pixel 5s” variant. An apparently turbocharged version of what could be one of the year’s best Android phones. The images, leaked on Twitter, show an EVT Google phone resembling a Pixel 4a with dual cameras and slimmer bezels. EVT means this is a very early device intended to iron out bugs in the Pixel’s hardware before moving onto the later stages of development. A sticker on the back of the device points to a manufacturing date of April 8. We can also tell it’s an older unit because it’s running a pre-beta version of Android 11, which in the photos is still calling itself “Android R.”

*EVT: Engineering Validation Test

Google Pixel 5s
Source: Andrew Martonik / Android Central

We’ve seen this kind of pre-production Pixel leaked before, with the Google “G” logo on the back twisted into something from an alien alphabet, and other identifying marks to thwart leakers.

The conventional wisdom when this “Google Pixel 5s” first leaked was that it could be a higher-end version of the Pixel 5, possibly with millimeter-wave 5G tech built-in. But the fact that this is an old unit, clearly running old firmware, gives us clues as to its true origins.

Another clue came to Android Central recently, as news of the Pixel 5 and 4a 5G’s arrival broke. Our sources revealed that, in fact, the names of Google’s 2020 Pixels had changed throughout 2020, as the company grappled with delays to the Pixel 4a’s rollout caused by COVID-19.

Google’s fall 2020 phones started out as Pixel 5 and Pixel 5s.

The original plan, we’re reliably informed, was for the Pixel 4a 5G (codenamed Bramble) to arrive as the Pixel 5; while the second, more premium Pixel (codenamed Redfin) would carry another name to signify its higher status. Based on the timeframe for Redfin entering the EVT stage. And the fact that this device is running old firmware, I’m pretty confident we’ve solved the riddle of the Pixel 5s. At some point the plan was for Redfin to ship as Pixel 5s — a smaller and more premium version of the base model Pixel 5 (Bramble, the phone we now know as Pixel 4a 5G).

We’re told the names for Bramble and Redfin changed multiple times throughout the phones’ development. Indeed, XDA’s Mishaal Rahman found evidence that Bramble at one point was called Pixel 4a XL.

So the timelines for both devices might’ve looked something like this:

Pixel 5 -> Pixel 4a XL -> Pixel 4a 5G

Google Pixel 5s -> Pixel 5


The original naming convention — Pixel 5 and Google Pixel 5s — makes more sense in the alternate-universe good timeline of 2020, where there’s no COVID and the Pixel 4a launched on-time at a jam-packed Google I/O. The 4a could enjoy a solid four months of sales before the premium Pixels arrived. But in our current, bad 2020 timeline, Pixel 4a phones are just now making their way out to customers, only three weeks before the expected arrival of the two new models.

It’s a weird year for Pixels in general, as Google hits the reset switch.

Google, understandably, might have felt that launching two phones with “5” in their name so soon after the Pixel 4a would make the latter seem unnecessarily dated.

What’s more, it’s just a weird year for Pixel hardware in general. As Google hits the reset switch on the traditional “small” plus “XL” dynamic used in every previous Pixel release cycle; and eschews a Snapdragon 800-series chip in its higher-end models. Bramble and Redfin defy Google’s usual Pixel naming conventions.

Although all three 2020 Pixels share design similarities; the internal hardware of Bramble and Redfin are close enough to basically make them two variants of the same phone — we’re expecting both to be powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 765G chipset, for instance.

But with its plastic body, 60Hz refresh rate and larger screen borders, Bramble also has quite a lot in common with the Pixel 4a. The naming was always going to be awkward, with Bramble straddling both Pixel 4a and Pixel 5 territory. Hence the slightly clumsy compromise name we ultimately ended up with: Pixel 4a 5G. (And as such, the Pixel 5s reverts back to just plain old Pixel 5.)

As for the Google Pixel 5s name, this week’s leak shows us that Google was, until recently; still grappling with how its new and very different lineup of phones should be presented to the world.

How Google Meet bulked up capacity to meet demand during coronavirus

The Zoom rival reached 100 million daily meeting participants during the pandemic.

Google Meet reached 100 million daily meeting participants

Google has revealed how it scaled its Google Meet to meet the demand for online meetings during the coronavirus pandemic.

“As COVID-19 turned our world into a more physically distant one. Many people began looking to online video conferencing to maintain social, educational and workplace contact.” – Samantha Schaevitz, staff site reliability engineer at Google explained, in a blog post. “The virus’s growing impact on how people were working, learning and socializing with friends and family translated to a lot more people looking to services like Google Meet to keep in touch.”

On Feb. 17, Google’s Meet Site Reliability Engineering (SRE) team was being notified about regional capacity issues on the service. “Because Google’s user-facing services are built with redundancy, these alerts didn’t indicate ongoing user-visible issues.” – Schaevitz explained, in the blog post. “But it soon became clear that usage of the product in Asia was trending sharply upward.”

“The SRE team began working with the capacity planning team to find additional resources to handle this increase. But it became obvious that we needed to start planning further ahead, for the eventuality that the epidemic would spread beyond the region,” Schaevitz added.

Italy began its COVID-19 lockdown shortly after, as it attempted to combat the novel coronavirus. Usage of Google Meet in Italy also picked up.

As the Mountain View, Calif.-based firm prepared Google Meet for the demands of the pandemic. Many aspects of the situation were still unknown.

“Most of the social effects of COVID-19 were unknown or very difficult to predict,” Schaevitz added. “Our mission was abstract: we needed to prevent any outages for what had become a critical product for large amounts of new users, while scaling the system without knowledge of where the growth would come from and when it would level off.”

How Google Meet bulked up capacity.

Like many companies around the world, Google was also transitioning to employees working from home. “Without the ability to sit in the same room as everyone else, it became important to manage communication channels proactively to ensure we all had access to the information needed to achieve our goals,” Schaevitz explained.

They set up incident commanders, communications leads and operations leads in both North America and Europe. Schaevitz was an incident commander.

They set up workstreams around capacity, dependencies, bottlenecks and ‘control knobs’ to handle any outages and production changes.

They used Google’s 21 data centers around the world to double the available capacity of Google Meet. However, it quickly became clear that resources would be needed as Google began working toward a 50x growth forecast.

In addition to scaling up its server capacity, Google also sought to make the process of supporting Google Meet more efficient. Schaevitz described this as “the most requests handled at the cheapest resource cost, without sacrificing user experience or reliability of the system.”

This enabled the service to handle 100 million daily meeting participants a day, according to Google. In April, Google CEO Sundar Pichai said the tech giant adding 3 million new users a day, which was a 30-fold increase since January.

Google racked up more than 600 million daily Meet participants in a single week, according to Pichai. (During the company’s second fiscal quarter, which ended on June 30).

Other teleconferencing services have also experienced massive growth as a result of the coronavirus lockdowns and work-from-home orders. Zoom, for example, reached 300 million daily participants by the end of April.

Fox Business’ Audrey Conklin and The Associated Press contributed to this article. Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers

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Google’s acquisition of Fitbit

Google‘s acquisition of Fitbit is about to face previous European Union scrutiny.

The European Commission has launched an investigation into purchases about concerns that Google may misuse Fitbit‘s health data to personalize search ads more and give the internet giant an advantage to be fair compared to the rivals.


Marketers and publishers may face higher prices and fewer choices, the Commission said. 

Officials are also concerned that melting the database of Google and Fitbit could skew part of new digital healthcare in Europe and Google could encourage limiting support for devices. Wear compatible Android rivals like Samsung’s Galaxy Watch series.

Google promised in mid-July that it would create a data silo data that would remove wearable data from other information. However, the Commission determined that silos would not be sufficient to offset the concerns – the container would not include all the data Google would receive through the deal.

In response, Google‘s VP Rick Osterloh published a blog post emphasizing his company’s point of view that the Fitbit deal is about devices, not data.


The CEO promised that Google would give Fitbit users control over their information. He further argued that there is strong competition between different groups between brands like Apple, Samsung, and Wear OS Fossil partner and the Fitbit deal will promote competition to improve quality while reducing prices.

The Commission has until December 9 to decide whether the Fitbit deal will be anti-competitive. It is a significant amount of time to wait but could be the last major barrier to the deal if EU regulators do not find a serious problem.


The US Department of Justice has not officially launched an investigation, despite previous whispers and Australia being quiet. However, if there is an objection, Google may have to make additional concessions or even risk the complete acquisition.

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Google will turn off Play Music by the end of 2020

Google has repeatedly warned that it will turn off Play Music to support YouTube Music and now the end is near. The internet pioneer has revealed that YouTube Music will officially replace its Google Play partner by the end of 2020.


The shutdown will start in September when users in New Zealand and South Africa will lose the use of the Google Play Music app. All other countries will follow in October.

The music library will remain the same until December, so you still have a chance to transfer your collection to YouTube Music for many weeks after.

Some features will disappear before then, Google will take options and pre-order in the Play store by the end of August. You will have to use the transfer tool to send purchases to YouTube Music or rely on Google Takeout to export your data and download all your purchased and uploaded tracks.


Google will also remove options for uploading and downloading Play Music songs through Music Manager. Customers who do not transfer, they will be unsubscribed at the end of the billing cycle when Google Play Music is deactivated in their country.

The company is encouraging more upgrades to YouTube Music as a driving force to leap, including edited player page, Discover tab, creating smarter playlists, and integration in platforms. like Android TV and Google Assistant.

Advance notice and improved feature list will help make the conversion relatively light. However, this may not do much to please those who think the YouTube Music transition is a mistake.

Critics say the alternative service is too focused on YouTube, with shortcomings in suggestions, offline mode, and autoplay, among other areas. If you decide to stay with a Google music service, you may have to accept some tough edges in the future.

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