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Royole FlexPai Review: Hands-on

The Royole FlexPai is the first flexible phone, but it shows that we still have a long way to go before bending your phone becomes routine
Should I Buy The Royole FlexPai?
‘Fun but flawed’ is really the only sensible reaction to the FlexPai right now. The foldable display tech is genuinely impressive, but you can’t escape the feeling that it’s not quite there yet.
Laggy software, a plasticky finish, and worrying evidence of screen burn mean that right now the FlexPai feels like a sign of where phones are going - but proof that they’re not there just yet.



Google Home 2 Release Date & Specification Rumours

Google Home is already a great device, but Echo - now in its second-generation - is cheaper. We outline features we'd like to see in a Google Home 2, and speculate on its release date and price.

Announced in May 2016 the Google Home finally went on sale in November 2016 (UK in April 2017). Initially a fierce rival to the original Amazon Echo and undercutting it by £20/US$30, it's difficult to ignore the fact that Amazon has since updated its smart speaker and slashed its price - especially when you consider that Amazon still has the majority market share in the UK.

Even taking into account the improvements Amazon has made with the Echo 2, we think Google Home remains a brilliant device. Its Google Assistant AI is much smarter than Alexa, and it still offers excellent value at £129 (buy it now). But Google could look to make some changes that would help it win over more consumers.

In this article we'll explore when we might see a Google Home 2 and how much it might cost, as well as our wish list of new features to be added in the second-generation.

When is the Google Home 2 release date?
Smart speakers are a relatively new product category and, as such, there is not the same annual release schedule that we see with other consumer tech. Smart speakers aren't the type of device you look to upgrade every year in any case - although Amazon is beginning to adopt much more frequent updates for its Echo family with a raft of new products announced in September 2018.

The Google Home was first announced at the Google I/O software developer's conference in May 2016 as Google introduced its smart assistant, Google Assistant. However, hardware announcements are usually reserved for its October event - but this year the only new Google Home hardware announced by the company was the Google Home Hub.

The Google Home eventually went on sale in the US in November 2016 and UK in April 2017, and was followed by a Google Home Mini and Google Home Max in October 2017. 

With Amazon having already updated its Echo, you'd think that Google will want to follow suit sooner rather than later. But with no new Google Home at its October 2018 hardware launch we could be waiting until 2019.

How much will the Google Home 2 cost?
If Amazon hadn't announced its Echo 2 at a reduced price of £89.99/$99.99, we'd guess that Google would keep its pricing constant at £129.99/$129.99. However, if it wants to truly compete with Amazon it will have to drop its price to match the new Echo.

New features we'd like to see in the Google Home 2
Battery base
There are probably few occasions you'd want to take Google Home away from home, but being able to tether it to your phone's data connection and use it away from the mains without running a long power cable would be a cool trick. Google Home already has a detachable base with different colours and materials available as optional extras, so why not introduce an optional battery base that lets us use Google Home wherever we like?

New design
Those customisable bases make it easier to get Google Home to blend in with your kitchen or wherever you have it set up, but we prefer Google Home Mini's approach in that you get to choose the overall colour of the device. Rather than a white top with a black, grey or other base, we'd like the opportunity to buy an all-black Google Home as well as the standard white model. 

More mics
Google Home is usually pretty good at hearing our instructions, but a lot of background noise can throw it or make it misunderstand our commands. Amazon builds in seven omni-directional mics to Echo - why can't Google do the same?

AUX port
Audio quality is better than on the Google Home Mini, but the Google Home still cannot match some of the best standalone speakers. We'd like to be able to quickly and easily connect our home sound system using an aux cable.

Enhanced audio quality
Following on from our previous point, we'd always want to see improved audio on any new generation of speaker. However, if Google needs to cut costs to bring down the price to match the Echo 2, we'd at very least like to see no compromises here.

A more natural wake word
"Hey Google" and "Okay Google" become a real tongue-twister over time. We'd like to be able to wake up Google Assistant inside the Google Home using a wake word of our choice. 

What would you like to see in a Google Home 2? Let us know in the comments.


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