AC News Weekly

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News Weekly is our column, where we highlight and summarize some of the week’s top stories so you can catch up on the latest tech news.

This is Android Central’s News Weekly, your go-to source for a concise roundup of the week’s most significant tech stories. This is where we delve into the top headlines that provide the latest developments and innovations contributing to the digital landscape. 

This week, Motorola launched two affordable phones, TikTok gets a last shot at staying in the U.S., Chrome ups its security on phishing emails, the Galaxy S24 Plus is a surprise hit, and Google Messages gets custom-colored chats.

Hello Moto

Moto G Power 5G 2024 front and back view

(Image credit: Motorola)

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Earlier this week, Motorola launched its budget-friendly phones, the Moto G 5G 2024 and the Moto G Power 5G 2024. Both these phones offer upgraded specs and run Android 14 out of the box with improved displays, cameras, and processors compared to its previous models. 

The Moto G 5G is smaller in size and has a 6.6-inch HD LCD display and a 5,000mAh battery that supports an 18W charger. It uses a Snapdragon 4 Gen 1 chip with a 2GHz octa-core CPU paired with 4GB RAM that can also be doubled to 8GB using RAM Boost. The device has a 50MP main camera, a secondary 2MP macro unit with no ultrawide angle, and an 8MP front camera. This year’s device is cheaper at $199, a significant drop from last year’s $249 model.

The Moto G Power 5G, the slightly more expensive model, has a 6.7-inch FHD+ LCD display and a 5,000mAh battery that supports 30W wired charging and 15W wireless charging. The phone is powered by a MediaTek Dimensity 7020 processor, which features a 2.2 GHz octa-core CPU. It has 128GB of internal storage and supports a microSD expansion of up to 1TB. There are two rear cameras—a 50MP main camera with optical image stabilization and an 8MP ultrawide lens with a 118-degree angle and macro support. On the front is a 16MP selfie camera. This year’s device costs $299. 

These phones will be available starting March 21. 

Time is ticking… Tik…Tok

TikTok app logo on Android

(Image credit: Jay Bonggolto / Android Central)

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On Wednesday (Mar.13), the U.S. Congress passed a bill that would have major implications for TikTok, an app used by at least 170 million Americans.

The U.S. House of Representatives voted in favor of the Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act. Although the bill mentions TikTok, it is applicable to any app controlled by foreign advisories in the U.S.

TikTok has been given 180 days to ensure that its China-based parent company ByteDance will have to sell TikTok within the U.S., or it will be banned in the country. This means it will become illegal for any app stores or web servers that host TikTok.

“We have given TikTok a clear choice,” said Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash. 

This move was taken after the U.S. government raised concerns about risks to national security and the data of users on the platform. A spokesperson from TikTok is calling this bill a “ban” and hopes that the Senate will consider facts before taking any action.

The bill is currently being considered by the Senate, and its fate remains uncertain until then. 

Samsung’s S24 Plus a hit

The Galaxy S24 Plus in hand outside

(Image credit: Derrek Lee / Android Central)

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The popularity of the newest Galaxy S24 Plus model has become the talk of the town, and we aren’t surprised.

Samsung’s sales of the Galaxy S24 series are up when compared to the Galaxy S23 series, and the latest numbers show us why. According to the latest data from Counterpoint Research, sales of the Galaxy S24 series rose by 8% in the first three weeks when compared to last year’s early sales numbers, and the S24 Plus is driving up these numbers

“And in Samsung’s biggest market – the US – we’re seeing YoY growth in the mid-teens – solid numbers, especially considering the tough February. And considering we’re still really at the beginning stages of the coming GenAI smartphone boom, there is plenty of runway for more growth,” said Jeff Fieldhack, Counterpoint Research’s research director for North America.

Over the years, Samsung’s Plus model has been seen as nothing more than a larger version of the base model, complete with a larger battery and faster charging. The device did not offer much difference. However, this year’s version has QHD+ resolution, offers better picture quality, bumps in RAM to 12GB, and, let’s not forget the magic of Galaxy AI.

You can’t get Phished on Google Chrome 

Google Chrome security feature

(Image credit: Google)

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Google announced on March 15 that it is going to increase the Standard protection mode in Chrome’s Safe Browsing feature so that everyone gets real-time protection against phishing and malware attacks.

Google upgraded Chrome’s protection system, Safe Browsing, last year, adding real-time protection to the mix.

This feature, which was previously only available in Safe Browsing’s Enhanced Protection mode, keeps a lookout for the URLs you’re browsing and instantly warns you if you wander into a sketchy part of the internet.

The update is now up and running for anyone using Chrome on desktop or iOS. And Google also plans to bring it to Android users later this month.

Google rolls out custom chat colors for RCS

Google Messages blue logo

(Image credit: Jay Bonggolto / Android Central)

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Google Messages is letting beta testers set custom colors for RCS chats.

Back in November, Google introduced color options for chat bubbles, letting users personalize their chat colors. Now, it seems like the update is gradually rolling out to beta testers.

To explore the fresh color choices, just tap the three-dot menu button in any Google Messages thread and pick “Change colors” from the overflow menu. Another way to do it is to head to the overflow menu, tap on Details or Group details, and look for the “Change colors” option just below the images and videos section. A full-screen preview UI will pop up, offering nine choices that include the default color, blue, purple, green, orange, and pink, among other options.

Once you choose a new color for a thread, a message pops up at the bottom of the screen saying, “You changed the theme.”

Those are some of the biggest stories from this week. Meanwhile, here are some other stories that are worth catching up on: