The recent history of Windows 10 updates doesn’t exactly infuse a lot of confidence, considering its broken critical functionality, including internet connectivity for a lot of users.
Last Updated: May 25, 2020, 10:39 AM IST
This week could be an important one for Windows 10 users. Microsoft is set to release the biggest update for Windows 10 PCs for far this year, and it is expected to be rolled out this week. It is expected that the Windows 10 May 2020 update, as it is known, will bring the new Chromium-based Edge web browser, end of support for 32-bit versions, new icons for system apps such as Explorer, improvements for graphics performance and the ability to reinstall Windows 10 from the cloud, among other things. That’s all fantastic news but hang on for a moment.
The recent history of Windows 10 updates doesn’t exactly infuse a lot of confidence, considering its broken critical functionality, including internet connectivity for a lot of users. With the new update on the horizon, you might want to hang on for a while and not update—just to see what feedback the new update gets from other users who do. You can pause updates from downloading and installing on your Windows 10 PC for up to 7 days at a time or select a time frame up to 35 days to stay update-free. Here is how to do it.
Click on the Windows 10 icon on the bottom left of the screen to open the start menu. Here, select the Settings menu, which opens a new app window. Here, either scroll down to find Windows Update or search for it. This opens the update page, which shows the list of pending updates if any, and the download as well as install status for each of these. Look a bit further down on this page, and you will see the “Pause Updates for 7 days” option. This is the ticket. You can select this option to pause the automatic download and install of the Windows 10 updates for up to a week at a time, and you need to keep repeating it for the paused situation to continue.
Have you also read?
Windows 10 Updates Are a Mess, Again: You Might Want to Pause These Updates Right Now
Work From Home Buying Guide: Best Laptops Under Rs 40,000 With Windows 10 & Chrome OS
If you want a bit more freedom in terms of selecting the window in which you don’t want Windows 10 to update, you must scroll a bit further down on the Windows Update page and select the Advanced option. This takes you to a further set of options, and here you can select a date up to 35 days from that time, to keep Windows Update from doing any automatic installations.
Just recently, Windows 10 users have had bad luck with the updates rolled out for their PCs. Over the past couple of months, we have had the KB4554364 update and the KB4549951 update for instance, which saw users reporting on Microsoft’s own community forums about errors with the installation, some report serious performance hit, some say critical apps are no longer working while some report the updates broke Wi-Fi and Bluetooth functionality. This can be a big problem for people working from home right now and have a PC or laptop they rely on extensively right now to get work done.
Microsoft has confirmed that the new Edge will roll out to all Windows 10 users in the coming weeks.
Last Updated: May 20, 2020, 10:55 AM IST
Microsoft has announced a bunch of new updates that are incoming for the Edge web browser. Extension sync across devices, sidebar search and better handling of Progressive Web Apps (PWA) are on the horizon. At the BUILD 2020 conference, Microsoft unveiled the new line-up of features for Edge which will be rolled out to developers in the coming weeks.
For starters, there is extension sync which will allow you sync all the add-ons and extensions across computing devices running the Microsoft Edge web browser with your account signed in. This was one of the areas where Edge was still catching up to Google Chrome in the web browser stakes, but that is also set to change. The Extension sync feature will be available in the Sync menu in the Edge settings, and you will have the option to enable it or leave it disabled. We do not still know whether this will work for all extensions—but the expectation is that it will.
Microsoft is also making Progressive Web Apps work a bit better on Edge now. The new update will allow Edge to open PWAs in a standalone menu and Windows 10 users will be able to add these apps to the Start Menu and the Taskbar. “We’re working on updates to make this integration even smoother—you’ll be able to manage them from settings, use them to share (and receive shared content), and more,” says Microsoft.
Have you also read?
If You Haven’t Already, Microsoft Just Gave You Another Reason to Switch to Edge From Google Chrome
Microsoft is also making the Sidebar more powerful for quick web searches. The new implementation will allow users to select any word or text on the web page, choose the ‘search in sidebar’ option from the right-click menu and see the search results in the sidebar without closing the already open web page or having to switch tabs or open another window.
The Edge web browser is also getting the automatic profile switching feature. As the name suggests, Automatic Profile Switching will detect if you are trying to visit a site you usually visit from your work profile, but instead you are using your personal profile this time—and Microsoft Edge will prompt you about the detection. If you respond in the affirmative, Edge make the switch automatically for that particular website. All the profiles and their data will also be synced across devices, depending on which accounts you sign in with on your phone, laptop and tablet, for example.
According to the latest numbers by research firm Netmarketshare, Microsoft Edge now has 6.44% share among desktops and PCs and growing, while Firefox isn’t far ahead with 8.21% share. It is still some way to reach Google Chrome though, which has cornered 68.06% share. But that could change because Microsoft has confirmed that the new Edge will roll out to all Windows 10 users in the coming weeks. This plan was confirmed in January itself, and we will now see the new Edge being made available via Windows Update—this will be for all Windows 10 machines except enterprise and education ones.
E-commerce is open again. This means you can now order from Amazon and Flipkart and the orders will be delivered to you in all parts of the country, except in containment zones. This must come as a great relief for those who suddenly shifted to the world from home routine ahead of the lockdown to flatten the COVID curve, a few weeks ago. Chances are, you may not have had a good laptop or PC at home, for it perhaps wasn’t really a critical requirement thus far. But now, you can buy a new laptop or PC to rock the work from home situation, and not be bogged down by an aging and sluggish PC, a bad keyboard, a cracked screen or something you were simply bored of. It is also expected that work from home will be quite a regular thing for a lot of workers in a lot of companies, which means you should be armed with a good computing device.
Do not make the same mistake again of thinking the smartphone can be a PC replacement, because when it really comes down to it, you will need a laptop to get genuine work done. Here are some of the best budget laptops, some running Windows 10 and some Google Chromebook options, which you must add to your arsenal of work from home tools. So that this purchase remains light on your pocket, we are looking at laptops under the Rs 40,000 price point—to get the perfect blend between performance and longevity without breaking the bank. Plus, they should look good too.
HP Chromebook x360 – 12b-ca0006tu
The biggest advantage of the Google Chrome OS software for computing devices is the sheer simplicity of everything. It is incorrect to assume that you must be locked into the Google ecosystem to be able to use a Chromebook—the variety of apps available for the Chrome OS is as wide as Android phones. That is why the full-fledged Play Store is also available on the Chromebooks. Microsoft’s Word, Excel and PowerPoint apps? The Spotify app? Video streaming apps. You name it, and the whole wide world of productivity, utility and entertainment apps are available. For any Android phone user, the switch could prove to be close to seamless—and that is a genuine value addition. In fact, this works brilliantly with the Intel Celeron N4000 processor with 4GB RAM, 64GB internal storage and a card slot if you wish to use that for adding more storage space. What’s most interesting is the square-is aspect ratio of the 12-inch display, and the hinge allows it to be folded all the way back into a sort of a tablet mode. Windows machines have never performed as well on this sort of hardware.
Dell Inspiron 14 5490
Around Rs 35,585
This started out with a price tag above the Rs 40,000 mark but price corrections have now pushed this beneath that virtual ceiling we have for this buying advice. That means you get the newer 10th generation Intel Core i3-10110U processor with 4GB RAM and a fast 512GB SSD. There is a 14-inch Full HD display which should do well for most productivity and entertainment tasks. The keyboard is not backlit though—perhaps you need to keep that in mind in case working in a dimly lit room is your thing. Dell’s ExpressCharge Boost tops up a fully discharged battery to 35% in 20 minutes and up to 80% in 60 minutes—great if you need to splash and dash. Then there is the Dell Mobile Connect app which pairs your iPhone or Android smartphone with your laptop, which mirrors most things from your phone on the laptop itself, thereby reducing distractions.
Lenovo IdeaPad 330
Around Rs 19,990
If you really are on a strict budget, the Lenovo IdeaPad 330 (model number: 330-15IKB) could be a steady enough pick. Do not expect this to be powerful or do anything more than basic computing, but what you get is a comfortable 15.6-inch HD display. This runs an Intel Celeron processor, along with 4GB RAM. There is a 1TB hard drive, and these basic specs are really all you should expect at this price. While there are many similarly priced laptops that don’t give you a preloaded Windows 10 operating system, this one does—and that is very important. A keyboard that is well laid out and the build quality doesn’t really betray its budget price tag.
Acer Aspire 5 A515-43
Around Rs 38,369
This started out in life with a price tag around Rs 50,000 and that means you get specifications which are quite powerful. This runs the AMD Ryzen 5 3500U quad-core processor (for some reason, many potential laptop buyers still have a bit of mistrust towards AMD machines). This has 4GB of RAM to get Windows 10 and your apps purring along. What should also make a difference is the 512GB SSD, which will speed up performance. You get a 15.6-inch Full HD IPS display. The keyboard isn’t backlit. The laptop weighs around 1.8kg. You should probably also consider this if you are taken in by the large screen goodness of the Lenovo IdeaPad S145 (model number 81W800FXIN).
Lenovo IdeaPad S145
Around Rs 35,010
We are specifically talking about the Lenovo IdeaPad S145 (model number 81W800FXIN) which runs the Intel Core i3-1005G1 processor with 4GB RAM and 256GB SSD. It looks like it means business and has the sort of serious personality that most good productivity centric machines have. This is ideal if you prefer large displays—this has a 15.6-inch Full HD screen for you to work on. Not the lightest, tipping the scales at 1.85kg, but that’s the compromise for a large screen laptop. You will quite like the keyboard, which has the sort of inspiration from the more expensive ThinkPad laptops, which make these genuinely good to type on. Lenovo also doesn’t clutter Windows 10 too much by preloading apps, which should also be good in the long run.
HP Notebook – 15s-du0093tu
And this price point, you get multiple laptops running the older generation Intel Core processors as well as some Celeron versions. However, this HP Notebook – 15s-du0093tu should hold up well with the Intel Core i3-8145U processor, with 8GB RAM and a 1TB hard drive. What you get is a 15-inch Full HD display, Windows 10 preloaded and six months of 25GB bundled Dropbox storage. This weighs 1.74kg and is 19.9mm thick. You also get a fingerprint sensor as an added authentication layer to keep your data safe. The HP Fast Charge feature charges a fully discharged laptop battery to 50% in 45 minutes, which should be handy in case you need to get stuff done in a hurry and don’t have access to power at the time. Oh, and the keyboard is backlit too.
Integrating Duo with Chrome could help Google expand its reach to millions around the world.
Last Updated: May 14, 2020, 4:16 PM IST
Video conferencing apps have been making headlines ever since the COVID-19 pandemic forced people to stay indoors. It all began with the fairly new Chinese video meetings app Zoom that attracted a lot of limelight thanks to its simple controls and the ability to add 100 participants, thus forcing existing players to ramp up their apps.
Recently we saw Facebook launching Messenger Rooms that allows group video calls of up to 50 people. It even updated WhatsApp’s video call feature to support up to eight participants with plans to expand to 50. Eventually, Facebook plans to integrate Messenger Rooms with WhatsApp for Web.
Google has also been trying its level best to stay in the competition. While it has multiple apps for consumers, it is now said to be integrating Google Duo with its Chrome web browser.
Google recently expanded the maximum number of participants in a Duo video call to 12 and by pushing it to the world’s most popular web browser could be a smart move. The feature is said to be in preview at the moment, which means that it should launch soon to all users post the beta testing. Considering Chrome is used by about 67 percent of all desktop web users, with just a simple integration, Google could expand the reach of Duo to millions. Google recently made its video conferencing app Meet completely free for anyone with a future integration with Gmail on the cards.
Sync. The Oxford Dictionary describes being in sync is defined as ‘moving or working at exactly the same time and speed as someone or something else’. Over time, it has not only used when referring to people, ideas or things, but is equally applicable to the technology that we use too. In fact, being in sync is one of the primary requirements of the modern-day productivity workflow that may involve a computing device, a smartphone, a tablet and even a smart watch. Quite complicated then, for beginners. The thing is, it shouldn’t be, if you have the right tools in place. Right, being used subjectively here, of course. For me, I am yet to find an ecosystem as slick and reliable as the one that Apple has, to provide the very foundation of this experience. Foundation being the operative word. As it is, this has been reaffirmed with the whole work from home routine that we are all a part of.
That being said, I do attempt to create a picture of how exactly I manage to weave all the computing devices I use into the same web of productivity and utility—and believe me, there are many that keep changing regularly, since that is part of the job. The default however remains the Apple MacBook Pro, the MacBook Pro 16 at the time of writing this. On the software side, it can all be a rather complex web that involves a variety of apps and services, including Microsoft 365, Google Drive, Pocket, Spotify and more.
The matter of hardware: I have reasons to trust the Apple MacBook
Let us get this out of the way first. The choice of computing device, for me, does entirely depend on what I find more comfortable to use on a daily basis. And more reliable. There are things about the macOS, which simply fits like a glove. It is not just the fact that we don’t have monthly updated on macOS which break basic functionality, such as Wi-Fi or VPN access (looking at you, Microsoft). One such example is Mission Control, and the ability to have multiple desktop windows with separate apps assigned to each—and the simple swipe gestures that let you switch seamlessly. For instance, I keep my web browsers on one window, a document editor on another, an image editor on the third, Apple Music on the fourth and so on. Hot Corners let you configure macOS to quickly glance at and switch application windows, put the display to sleep and so on. Over time, Microsoft has considerably improved Windows, but Windows 10 still does not allow this slick functionality for what I need, and in the way Apple macOS does.
Then there is the small matter of the keyboard. For me, the MacBook keyboards over the years, have offered just the sort of responsiveness, travel and spacing that I find comfortable. Yes, including the Butterfly keyboard, which has been very reliable for me. In the Windows ecosystem, Microsoft Surface Laptop and some HP notebooks come close, but the jarring change with most others is just an unnecessary learning curve which keeps me away from using them as a daily driver.
Safari Has Thrown Instagram Off my Scent & Microsoft Edge is Quite Lovable
For web browsing, there are two tiers of web browsers that I prefer. Apple’s own Safari has improved leaps and bounds when it comes to privacy features. While this also helps me keep everything in sync, including open tabs across devices, on my Mac, iPhone and iPad, there are some observations over time which do indicate my web browsing history is more secure than before.
The Safari web browser, for instance, has something known as Intelligent Tracking Protection. “It works by separating the third-party content used to track you from other browsing data, so what you look at on the web remains your business — not an advertiser’s,” says Apple. The AI and machine learning work is done on the device itself (which means no data is shared with any third-party services) and this feature is on by default on all Safari browsers. I can say with certainty that with Safari as my default browser on the iPhone, iPad and on the Mac, apps such as Facebook and Instagram have been completely thrown off my scent. I browse for some product on the web or search something on a shopping website, and unlike before when using Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox browsers, no eerily similar and targeted adverts pop up for me on Instagram and Facebook. Even the adverts that other websites serve up aren’t an ode to my actual web searches.
The thing is, and it is quite funny—Facebook and Instagram as well as online adverts that I get are still stuck in the past, and they have no clue what I am searching for now. Except the ads that I may click on either of the platforms, and they latch on to that with great hope!
Yes, Safari may be a bit restrictive for you if you rely heavily on extensions and add-ons. I prefer to keep my browser streamlined, with the Pocket extensions (earlier known as Read it Later) to save web links for reading later, being the only extension. If you still need a web browser that lets you bolt things on in greater variety, I’d recommend the Microsoft Edge web browser.
Microsoft Edge is the second, and a very reliable, tier for my web browser preferences on the iPhone, Mac and iPad. But if it is an Android phone or a Windows PC, then Edge becomes the default web browser. It is lighter on the resources than Chrome, which means better battery life—yes, I don’t use desktops, which is why battery life is important for me. This does not load the system as Chrome so often does, slowing everything down and heating everything up in the process. And it also offers more detailed tracking prevention. I’ve chosen Strict, needless to say, across devices.
If you still want choices, Mozilla Firefox, the new Vivaldi and Brave are some very capable options available across all of your devices.
Gone Overboard with Google, OneDrive and iCloud Storage
Then there is the small matter of cloud storage services, to keep my files synced across all devices. This is absolutely critical, because at times, some document from work needs to be accessed while at home, and vice-versa. And l like backups, properly sorted. Here, I have gone a bit overboard, admittedly. My cloud storage requirements for work are handled by Apple iCloud and Google Drive, the latter being important because the app is available for Android too. And it is still the free tier for Google Drive, which I am using purely for the recent documents—you’ll run out of the 15GB of storage, which also includes Gmail, quite quickly. Though if Android devices are never in the mix for you, iCloud does equally well on iOS, macOS, iPadOS and Windows 10 devices.
Then there is OneDrive, as a backup for the backups, because I have the Office 365 subscription, and that bundles cloud storage as well. However, and I’ve tried this time and again, the OneDrive app just doesn’t work as well on Macs as Google’s Backup & Sync app and of course, the integrated iCloud. If it did, I wouldn’t hesitate to use the humongous 1TB of cloud storage. Get that macOS app sorted, Microsoft.
There was a time when Dropbox was my go-to cloud storage, but last year they decided to add limits to the free subscription tier, and that wasn’t entirely appreciated. It now charges $9.99 per month for 2TB storage, something I don’t feel the need to splurge on with robust alternatives already in place.
Paying For Microsoft 365 Family Subscription Simply For The Convenience
The Microsoft 365 Family subscription costs me Rs 530 per month and is a critical link in my workflow chain. Microsoft Word and Excel are two apps I need more often than not, and to be honest, I’m not exactly the most comfortable accessing Google Docs via the web browser all the time. I prefer an uncomplicated offline solution, with access to my files and a document editor to work on when needed even if there is no internet connectivity available.
As for Apple’s own Pages, Numbers and Keynote, they work perfectly fine. That being said, word editor Pages still only save files with the “.pages” extension, for instance, and there is no option to set that to save files as “.docx” if you want that. In an environment where I need to also share files with others who use Windows machines and Microsoft Word, this just becomes incredibly inconvenient.
Noting it all down on Notes and Microsoft To-Do
While I prefer the Apple Notes app, there are times when I need to access some data on an Android phone or a Windows PC, for instance. That is where the Microsoft To-Do app just works very well for me. Syncs across all devices you have signed in with the app, can share lists with colleagues and family and more.
For some reason, I’ve tried but never really taken to Google Tasks. It is a neat app, no doubt, but To-Do seems more intuitive and powerful.
The soundtrack for work and play shifts between Apple Music and Spotify
Quite often, music is what you need to calm your nerves. Or take your mind off things. Or to simply just ignore what is unfolding around you. Or simply for the life beyond work. Music streaming services aplenty, but long before most of these concepts became fancy and cool, I’ve been an Apple Music subscriber—the Family subscription too @Rs 149 per month, mind you. That ropes in the music requirements of everyone else at home as well. Apple Music as an app on a Mac, an iPhone and an iPad, just simply works. All my music is there, painstakingly curated over the years.
It is also not easy to simply let go of one music streaming app in favor of another. That is the challenge which I had when Spotify arrived in India last year. I am a subscriber there also, because Spotify has that rather unique way of curating the music recommendations, that I end up discovering more music. That’s building the Spotify library as well, and soon enough, I’ll have Apple Music and Spotify equally armed.
Apple Music also can be set as the default music source on the Amazon Echo smart speakers and smart displays too—and that is exactly what I have done. And if you have an Apple HomePod smart speaker at home, then the choice really isn’t up for debate anymore.
This is not rocket science
There you have it. Using a MacBook Pro doesn’t mean you are restricted in terms of services or apps, just as you wouldn’t be if you replaced it with a Windows 10 PC and replicated the services and apps that I use. It is all about having hardware that you think is powerful enough for your usage scenario and topping that up with the best possible apps to use. Some will be paid, but that is very much a reality.
Google has asked its users to upgrade to the latest version of the Chrome browser if they have not already downloaded.
Last Updated: April 21, 2020, 8:09 PM IST
Google was carrying a serious vulnerability for which it has released the much-awaited Chrome update v81.0.4044.113. In a blog post, Google also divulged that there existed an exploit identified as CVE-2020-6457, while adding a vague description: Use after free in speech recognizer. However, the tech giant has not revealed anything else on the aforementioned vulnerability, but after security specialists have dug into the details, they found that the exploit has been marked ‘Reserved’ by the National Vulnerability Database of the United States. This suggests that the exploit in question may be a zero-day vulnerability.
While Chrome 81.0.4044.113 is being rolled out for Windows, Mac and Linux based systems automatically, you can check your version by yourself too. To do so, click on the three dots at the right top corner of the browser window. Then, click on Help — About Chrome Browser. This reveals the present version, following which users can manually check for updates.
As for the flaw itself, cyber security experts suspect that the issue at hand is a zero-day hack because of the way Google is disclosing the issue. For such threats, if a hacker gets to know about the vulnerability code, they can easily tap into the source code, unearth the flaw and use it to breach a wide variety of data through the Chrome browser. Web browsers, as we have come to know, store a vast trove of personal data, which makes the situation more serious.
Alongside a new tab organisation feature that the update is bringing, it is imperative that users look out for this update keenly, and push the update to their systems promptly. Going forward, it remains to be seen if a future disclosure would reveal exactly what this threat may have brought with itself, and how this may have affected us had it not been for Google’s apparently timely update.
File photo of the Google Chrome browser installed on an Android smartphone.
The initiative is part of Google Chrome’s upcoming update, in response to the rampant increase in the easy spreading of malware.
Last Updated: February 12, 2020, 1:07 PM IST
Google has been attempting to increase its measures undertaken to to enhance security and safety features on its Chrome browser. In the latest update for Google Chrome, a newly introduced feature will attempt to block any download that comes via an http URL, or any website that does not follow the https secure website protocol. This is a step for Google to create a more secure web experience for users, which it aims to do by forcing audio and video downloads to use https connections only. As a result, all the downloads via non-secure servers will be blocked automatically by Chrome.
The announcement was made through Google’s official Chromium blog, where Google stated that it will start the roadmap to block the insecure downloads starting April 2020. It will first start off by warning users, subsequently moving towards automatically blocking the non-secure downloads. The move is being made to prevent the easy spread of malware, which happens when users unknowingly download corrupted or infected files from the internet, hence inadvertently giving access to sensitive data to attackers.
As per reports, Google Chrome is planning to begin experimenting with Microsoft’s power saver feature soon.
Image for Representation
It is a well-known fact that Google’s web browser Chrome is quite notorious when it comes to consuming battery, especially on Windows 10 devices. The browser is both resources and energy-intensive. Recently, Microsoft proposed a solution that can probably address the battery backup concerns of Chrome users. In August last year, Microsoft had stated that there is a possibility to reduce Chrome’s battery usage which can be done by eliminating unrequired disk caching while watching videos.
Another thing that the company has revealed is that it will add a check to verify that the device is running on battery. Another change is to compare the HTTP response content size to the backend maximum file size. This will not cache the content when size is larger than the maximum file size, according to reports.
The report asserts that Google Chrome is planning to begin experimenting with Microsoft’s power saver feature after a Google Chrome engineer, on the Chromium platform, confirmed that the search giant is indeed planning to do so. However, as of now, it is not known how the brand plans to test the battery saver feature.
Get the best of News18 delivered to your inbox – subscribe to News18 Daybreak. Follow News18.com on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Telegram, TikTok and on YouTube, and stay in the know with what’s happening in the world around you – in real time.
Google is testing a new Chrome-exclusive feature called ‘Suggest to Close Tabs’ which will remind users to close any open tab before it becomes stale.
Image for Representation
Google is testing a new feature on its web browser Chrome that will send a notification asking users to close some of the tabs that are open for a long time. According to a report, Google has been working on a new feature exclusive to Chrome called “Suggest to close Tabs.”
The report said that “Suggest to close Tabs” feature was earlier hidden behind ‘Chrome flags’. Now, the feature has been enabled by default on Chrome Canary.
The report added that the web browser will take notice of the last time a user opened a tab and used it. Once a tab crosses the stipulated time frame, the web browser will send a notification in the tab switcher, asking the users to close the tab. It will then ask a user to “review” the tab and then “close” it.
The report further stated that Google hasn’t finalized how long a tab should be opened before it becomes “stale”. However, as per the choices available via the flag, the periods that Google is considering are four hours, eight hours, and seven days.
Think about it. When you consider slim and light yet equally capable alternatives for your chunky laptop or PC, you would probably think of the Apple iPad or the iPad Pro, or something from the Microsoft Surface series or even something slightly larger but equally versatile in the form of the HP Spectre x360 convertible. However, conspicuous by their absence in such considerations are Android tablets. Or Android convertibles. Not to blame anyone else, but the way Google has remained completely nonchalant about developing Android for the typical work scenarios, is perhaps the primary reason. All that changes however, with the Samsung Galaxy Tab S6. Trust Samsung to do what Google should have done with Android in the first place, and then develop a mighty capable product around that.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 is available in two variants in India. The Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 (W-Fi) is priced around Rs 54,900 while the Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 (LTE) will cost around Rs 59,900. We would strongly recommend spending that little extra on the LTE version, since you get the priceless convenience of staying connected while on the move and not have to search for a Wi-Fi hotspot. The rest of the specifications remain consistent all through—under the hood is the very powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 processor, 6GB or 8GB of RAM, 128GB or 256GB of storage and a 10.5-inch Super AMOLED display.
For what is a fairly large 10.5-inch tablet that measures 244.5 x 159.5 x 5.7mm, the Galaxy Tab S6 is incredibly compact and light (tips the scales at around 420 grams). This can be slipped into almost any bag with absolute ease. The metal chassis is at par with what you’d expect at this price, and while the Wi-Fi version is available in just the Cloud Blue option, the LTE spec version can be had in either Cloud Blue or Mountain Gray. The bezels around the screen are quite thin, yet thick enough to let you hold this up as a tablet and not intrude on the screen space to elicit ghost touch.
The party piece still remains the ability to attach a keyboard and get this going as a more rounded computing device. However, unlike the Galaxy Tab S5e which had a more conventional magnetic docking mechanism, the Galaxy Tab S6 does things rather differently. Instead of the simple snap on, the Galaxy Tab S6 has what is called a BookCover keyboard. This is a two-part attachment, so to say. The first part is the layer that sticks to the back of the Galaxy Tab S6 and has a hinge mechanism that converts it into a kickstand to prop up the tablet. Within it, the S-Pen stylus can be cradled safely, using its magnetic docking system to attach with the tablet and then the BookCover protect it further. The second part of this is the keyboard itself, which then attaches to give you the whole productivity feeling. While such an elaborate method to use the keyboard with a tablet is never really ideal, there are certain specific issues with this particular implementation. First, we noticed that the adhesive for the back cover doesn’t stick on very well the first time around. You have to be a bit forceful while applying it (be careful about it being in a straight line too) and then leave some weight on this for about 10 minutes to ensure it is properly stuck on. Secondly, ideally you shouldn’t be taking this off, else the adhesive will not retain its primary abilities after a while. This means you are saddled with a back cover on the tablet at all times, even if you may not be using the keyboard. Perhaps, conventionality might have been a simpler option.
That being said, the keyboard itself is great to use. It has a nicely spread out layout with adequate key spacing which is easy to get used to. In fact, there is a touchpad as well, which is the closest an Android tablet has come to a full-fledged computing device experience thus far. The touchpad also takes care of perhaps the biggest flaws with the hybrid computing devices—you do not need to switch from a physical keyboard while typing to a touchscreen to navigate the same piece of software. The touchpad takes care of that, which means you are interfacing with the keyboard and the touchpad for most things.
And that neatly leads us to Samsung’s party piece, which greatly improves Android as it us. It is called the DeX Mode, and you can configure the Galaxy Tab S6 to switch to this mode as soon as the keyboard is attached. It is designed to replicate the desktop-like experience that you may be familiar with on your Windows PC. I’ve tried this on the Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e and now the Galaxy Tab S6, and DeX works like a charm. It has a very Windows-esque interface, complete with a ‘desktop’ where you can keep app shortcuts and files, a separate menu for apps and even a taskbar at the bottom where you can minimize the open apps. If the idea was to make the transition from a computer to a tablet smooth, Samsung has succeeded to the fullest.
A lot of the popular productivity apps are compatible with DeX—the list is growing, and the highlights include the Microsoft Office apps, Microsoft Outlook, OneDrive, Skype, Adobe Acrobat Reader, Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, Gmail, Google Drive, Chrome, Secure Mail and VMware Boxer. And not to forget Spotify and Alto’s Adventure game too, for instance. Yes, the apps that you run in the DeX Mode are still Android apps as we know them, but the new packaging they get when you are using the keyboard simply makes the experience more fluid than you’d imagine. To be honest, if Samsung were to replicate this on an even larger screen size (the way Apple has done with the iPad and the iPad Pro lines), the DeX experience as well as the push for productivity will an even bigger push.
The display is extremely impressive too. The 10.5-inch Super AMOLED display has the 2,560 x 1,600 resolution. The deep blacks help the colours pop out just enough, and the viewing angles are great too. This screen also ticks off the checklist for contrast, brightness and sharpness as well. Whether you may be working on documents, or spend a lot of time reading something on the Kindle app or the web, or even the binge watching session on Netflix and Amazon, the Galaxy Tab S6 does all of this with not even a hint of a compromise. For any video content that may support it, the HDR10+ support will make the experience richer still.
Performance is an aspect that doesn’t require you to ponder, at all. With a Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 processor under the hood, power will not fall short. Even with 6GB of RAM, the performance is quite smooth and a fairly heavy app load is handled with absolute ease. No complaints, whatsoever.
That being said, the Samsung One UI and DeX might still require a bit more work to come at par with the iPadOS that runs on the Apple iPad and the iPad Pro. Yes, the Galaxy Tab S6 has the Split View mode which allows you to open multiple windows and let them share the screen space or even the detailed S-Pen suite which gives you controls for Air Gestures which are basically hand gestures to control some of the tablet functionality and even the transparent Notes app that can be dragged on top of any other app so you can quickly jot down whatever needs remembering later. But, all this doesn’t feel as smooth as the multi-tasking on the iPad, for instance. This is not a criticism, but more a hope for better things from Samsung’s development of the Android experience.
Samsung claims about 15 hours of battery life, and for us, the Galaxy Tab S6 got close—regularly touched between 12 to 13 hours on a single charge, with brightness at 50% and a bunch of apps always open in the background. This should be enough for a typical day at work, without having to plug in, and yet retain enough charge to let you catch up on an episode of something you are watching on Netflix, on the commute back home.
Samsung has done for Android what Google hasn’t, in all this while. And that is make it more than capable as a work machine platform. The Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 won’t feel out of place on your workstation on a busy work day, purely because DeX is a timely reminder about the tasks at hand. The Galaxy Tab S6 is all work and no fun when you want it to be, and that is what should have the likes of the Microsoft Surface Go quite worried.