You can now grab the Daydream View VR headset from the Google Store

Back when Google announced the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL, it also took the wraps off some other goodies as well. The recently released Google Home Mini was one, but another was the updated Daydream View VR headset. We weren’t given a release date at the time of the announcement, but it looks like the headset has just gone live. 

You can now head over to the Google Store (link below) and pick up the headset in either Fog, Charcoal, or Coral. If you want yours sooner rather than later, the Charcoal and Coral headsets are expected to ship by October 22, while the Fog headset is back ordered by two to three weeks. 

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The headsets all come with free shipping and will run you $99. That’s $20 more than the first generation model, but Google made some improvements on the headset so it obviously feels like it can charge a little more. Those improvements include an added head strap, a new heat sink to keep things cool, and controller storage. It also comes with a wider field of view to accommodate the trend of bezel-less phones and a game bundle that is valued at more than $40.

If you’re looking to get a free Daydream View VR headset, keep in mind that LG and Google have teamed up to give them away when you purchase an LG V30. The purchases must be made before November 6, 2017, and you have until November 20, 2017, to complete the registration form here

This is how the Google Pixel 2’s Now Playing Feature Works

Earlier this month Google officially launched the Pixel 2 and the Pixel 2 XL which ship with a new feature known as “Now Playing”. The feature listens for music in the background and if it recognizes one of the songs, it shows you the name and the artist on the lock screen. When the feature was initially announced, there wasn’t much information publicly available about it. Today, though, we have more details about how exactly the exclusive Now Playing feature works on the Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL smartphones.

We initially thought that the Now Playing feature utilized a technology called “AmbientSense” to detect and inform the user of what song is currently being played. This suspicion derived from the package name of the Pixel Ambient Services application that was pre-installed on the Verizon Google Pixel 2 models. Since the name of the pre-installed APK in /system/priv-app was called “AmbientSense” and details about the technology seemed to match up, we felt this was a fair assumption. However, Google reached out and told us that the Now Playing feature is not based on that technology.

We followed up on Google’s statement to us for more details on Now Playing. A Google spokesperson later reached out to us with additional details on the feature, stating that the offline song recognition database contains a list of songs in the 10s of thousands, though they did not give an exact figure but promised it was in the higher end. This means that the database we pulled from a Verizon Pixel 2 model does not represent all of the songs that the Now Playing feature can recognize.

We further learned from our contact that the Now Playing feature is only activated when it hears music. If the Pixel 2 detects music being played (using a combination of software, hardware, and machine learning), it will then look up the audio fingerprint in the database residing on the phone then show you the song name or artist. This database, by the way, is updated with music each week and is based on the most popular songs from the Google Play Music catalog. It is also localized according to market, thus, the database is not personalized to the user’s Google Play Music account.

VentureBeat reached out to Google independently to learn some additional details about the Now Playing feature. The audio sampling occurs once every 60 seconds in an attempt to save battery life (as opposed to running all the time) and as a result you will sometimes see the song that was played last still on the screen. They also learned that the database update only occurs over WiFi and only replaces the outdated parts of your regional-specific database.

The Google Pixel 2 XL gets high marks for modularity in its teardown

iFixit

If you’re waiting on the brand new Google Pixel 2 XL, we have something that might tide you over until you can get your hands on it. Today, iFixit published its teardown guide and repairability score for the phone and gave us a look inside the device.

There are several interesting facts we can glean, like exactly how modular the components are and which parts will be the hardest to replace.

If the battery goes bad in your unit, you’re probably going to want to take it to a professional. Points were deducted from the repairability score due to how tightly walled-in the battery is. Additionally, it no longer has the pull-tab adhesive under the battery that the Pixel and Pixel XL employed. This makes separating the battery from the adhesive much harder in the Pixel 2 XL. The teardown also reveals that the battery capacity is 13.6 Wh, which is slightly more than last year’s 13.28 Wh.

See also: Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL vs the competition

Another area that iFixit criticized is the display. No, we’re not talking about the issues Google recently addressed, but how thin and poorly supported it is. The problem is especially bad around the phone’s grilles. Luckily, LG used foam to secure the display this year and it can be easily sliced through during repairs. This should make removing the display that much easier.

On the positive side, the phone does get high marks for its modularity. The Pixel 2 XL used parts that snap onto to the motherboard instead of being soldered onto it. That means repairs for minor issues will be much cheaper and easier to perform. Instead of replacing an entire motherboard, you can simply pop off the bad module and replace it. The phone also got high marks because it uses Phillips #00 screws instead of proprietary or a less common type of screw.

One of the smartest things that LG did in the entire process was attaching the USB Type-C port via its own board instead of soldering it to the motherboard. The USB port is a high-wear item and can easily go bad or break away from the motherboard. These problems would have been made even worse in the Pixel 2 XL’s case since Google removed the headphone jack and you must use the USB port for wired headsets. Putting the USB port on its own board will cut down on the difficulty and cost of repairs.

The Google Pixel 2 XL comes in with a repairability score of 6/10, slightly lower than last year’s 7/10 (higher is better). While this certainly isn’t an improvement, it is far better than some of its competitors like the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 (4/10), Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus (4/10), and the Essential Phone (1/10).

You can now buy Google’s new Daydream View VR headset

Earlier this month at Google’s most recent event, the company unveiled a brand new, slightly tweaked Daydream View VR headset.

If you’ve been eagerly anticipating the headset’s arrival, the big day has arrived. You can now head over to Google’s online storefront and order the new Daydream View. The VR headset is priced at $99, which is $20 more expensive than last year’s model. There are three colors: Charcoal, Fog, and Coral. Each headset comes with an included controller.

If you want to go with the Fog color option, you can buy it right now but it won’t ship for two to three weeks. The Charcoal variant will ship out on October 22 and the Coral color option will ship out immediately.

Google is also throwing in a bundle of VR games worth more than $40 if you purchase the new Daydream View VR headset by December 31, 2017.

As far as what Google changed in the new headset, there is a new fabric and new lenses, and Google says the new headset should be even more comfortable than the first generation headset.

Even with the small price hike compared to the original model, at $99 the Daydream View VR headset is certainly worth picking up if you want a VR experience. Do you plan on picking one up?