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Adobe Illustrator (2024) review
4:54 pm | May 18, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Pro Software & Services | Tags: | Comments: Off

For those who don’t know this 37-year old piece of software, Adobe Illustrator is a vector graphics editor and design program, and the fact it’s still around after all this time just shows how powerful, versatile, and ubiquitous it is. We explored version 27 around a year and a half ago - and we found it one of the best graphic design software we’ve tried. But a lot’s changed in the digital art world since then, so we put the 2024’s version 28 to the test.  

Adobe Illustrator: Pricing & plans

  • If you know Adobe, you know you can only subscribe to its professional products, so the same goes for Illustrator.

As always with a professional-grade Adobe product, you can’t own it outright: you have to subscribe. To get your hands on Illustrator, you have a choice of either getting a standalone subscription or as part of the Creative Clouds All Apps package which includes over 20 different apps both for desktop and mobile use. Useful if you’re working across apps like Photoshop and InDesign, too.

On top of that, the prices vary depending on whether you choose to pay on a month by month basis, or get a yearly plan, which you’ll also pay monthly, albeit at a vastly reduced rate. Also, Adobe offers different rates for individuals, businesses and if you’re in education.

The best price individuals can have is the yearly one, which comes to $23 per month just for Illustrator, or $60 for the lot. Students and teachers can only get the full package, but it’s reduced to $20 per month. As for businesses, the cost is per license, and will set you back $38 for a single app, or $90 for all apps, per month. 

You do get a free trial with the ‘app apps’ package, but not for the individual plan.

  • Pricing & plans: 3/5

Adobe Illustrator: What is it?

Using Adobe Illustrator during our review

Apply your design onto an object, and see it warp as you move it around (Image credit: Adobe)
  • An excellent, powerful and versatile piece of software to help you create detailed and intricate vector-based images.

Vectors are resolution independent, which means, unlike with Photoshop, they won’t get blurry or pixelated the bigger you upscale them. This makes Illustrator extremely valuable for design work, but also makes it somewhat harder to use than the usual image compositing program.

Illustrator is immensely versatile. It boasts one of the best logo makers for businesses. You can create icons, and graphics with it, design 3D artwork, build complex interwoven shapes, complex brush strokes, gradients, bezier curves, and more. The flexibility is there for you to create whatever you can imagine, without worrying about the size of your canvas.

Over the years, Illustrator has become an extremely powerful piece of software, with a huge number of intricate tools at your disposal, giving you immense freedom. The interface will feel very familiar if you're ever used another Adobe design product, with movable and customisable toolbars and properties inspectors. Just like Photoshop, it’s pretty much become the go-to standard for vector-based illustrations.

If you’re new to such creations, Illustrator can be a little daunting, but thankfully, you’ll find a series of integrated tutorials that will help you hit the ground running.

  • Score: 4.5/5

Adobe Illustrator: What’s new?

Using Adobe Illustrator during our review

The new measuring tool makes it easy to find out the dimensions of the objects you’re creating (Image credit: Adobe)
  • A lot of small new features designed to improve your workflow.

Version 28, and its follow-up updates, boast improved enhancements, including faster live edits, panning and loading times, which, even compared to version 27 were noticeable, but as always, this will also greatly depend on your own computer’s configuration.

As a side note, it’s always good to point out that Adobe allows you to retain the previous version of your app when upgrading to a new full version number. This allows you to keep working with what you know, while acclimatizing yourself with what’s new. Most useful, especially when you’re in the middle of a project.

Some other useful improvements include the ability to measure and plot dimensions easily: choose between the distance, angle, and radius tools, then mouse over your design. The cursor is content aware, being able to deduce the curve or angle you’re after. Distance is the easiest: just click on one point then another. You also have the ability to select the measuring unit. Could be a great time saver.

There have also been improvements with how Illustrator deals with embedded files. It’s now easy to delete linked and embedded files from a project, and unembed multiple files in one go. You now have more control over object selection, text hyphenation is now off by default (thank you), and you can (finally) use an A5 preset in the Print section.

Of interest is the Retype option, which is a great way to help you figure out what font is being used in an image you found, without you having to do all the legwork yourself. Just go to the Type menu, select Retype, and Illustrator will find it for you (or as close to it as it can manage).

There’s an interesting addition which is still in beta called Mockup. With it, Illustrator can apply your creation onto an image of a real-life object. You're able to resize it and move it around, and your chosen object's angles and curves should affect how your design is seen.

  • Score: 4/5

Adobe Illustrator: GenAI tools

Using Adobe Illustrator during our review

Generative AI can create intricate and complex scenes in seconds (Image credit: Adobe)
  • When used properly, Adobe Illustrator’s Generative AI can greatly speed up your workflow, creating designs in seconds, which you’re then free to edit and customize to turn them into something more unique.

Adobe Illustrator meet Artificial Intelligence. From one Ai to another. The way it works is incredibly simple - although bear in mind this tool is still in beta. You access it from the Window menu (look for ‘Text to Vector Graphic’). From there, you get to choose the Type you’re after, such as a subject, a scene, an icon or a pattern, whether or not to provide the algorithm with some artwork to draw from, how much detail you wish the output to have (from Minimal to Complex), and then there’s the text-based prompt; type in what you wish to see with as much detail as you can, and wait a few seconds for your instruction to be generated.

As always, you’re given a couple of extra variations in case the first choice wasn’t to your liking. If you’re not happy, just type in something else and see what the machine churns out next.

Everything created is fully editable, so you can fine tune and customize it until you’re fully satisfied with the results. It will certainly greatly speed up your work. Whether you think this type of ‘creation’ is a good or bad thing is beyond the scope of this review, but we were impressed with how well it worked, and how accurate the results can be, as long as you type in enough detail and your input can be easily understood by a machine.

Using Adobe Illustrator during our review

The AI tools can also create a simple sharp logo, all based on your typed description  (Image credit: Adobe)
  • AI tools: 4/5

Should I buy?

Using Adobe Illustrator during our review

Adobe Illustrator is a very powerful and versatile vector drawing package. (Image credit: Adobe)

Buy it if...

You need to create professional vector images in a very powerful, and versatile software with an excellent track record behind it.

Don't buy it if...

You don't want another subscription package, plus you’re not too sure about all this AI being included in the latest releases.

Adobe InDesign (2024) review
4:16 pm |

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Pro Software & Services | Tags: , | Comments: Off

If you’re a page layout designer, magazine-maker, or print artist, you’ll be very familiar with Adobe InDesign - a page layout tool that stole the best DTP software crown from QuarkXpress many decades ago, and never looked back. Since then, it’s become an industry-standard for digital design, and Adobe has maintained a steady stream of updates. 

We were impressed with InDesign when we last reviewed the software - and we wanted to know how the DTP app compares in 2024. 

Adobe InDesign: Pricing & plans

  • As with any other Adobe product, you can only rent it, but you do have a few options on how to do so.

Adobe rents its software out to customers, so rather than paying a one-off high price, you pay a smaller amount every month. The main advantage of this concept is that you get all future updates, large or small, completely free. The downside obviously is that you have to keep on paying the piper, and the moment you stop, you lose access to the software.

There are various options open to you to get your hands on InDesign. One of these is simply paying to use that app on its own, which would cost you around $23 per month (through a yearly plan); paying month to month is considerably more expensive at $34.50.

Alternatively, you can opt for the full ‘Creative Cloud All Apps’ package, which includes InDesign along with over 20 other software packages such as Photoshop, Illustrator, and many more. This will set you back $60 a month (on a yearly plan) or $90 on a month by month basis.

In addition to that, teachers and students get a discount - they can only get the full package, but it’s greatly reduced to $20 for the yearly plan. Schools, universities and businesses get different rates.

  • Pricing & plans: 3/5

Adobe InDesign: What’s It All About?

Adobe InDesign during our review and testing

Adobe InDesign is a powerful and versatile multi-platform desktop publishing application (Image credit: Adobe)
  • A powerful, highly versatile piece of software, that allows you to design pretty much anything, from the simplest of leaflets, to intricate magazines, and more.

InDesign is a desktop publishing powerhouse. You could use it to design something as simple as a business card, to a detailed magazine containing hundreds of pages, and anything in between. It’s incredibly versatile, and if you’re used to any other software from Adobe, you’ll understand most of the interface straight away. You have a toolbar down the left-hand side, properties panels on the right, and your canvas taking up most of the screen real-estate in the middle. The interface is highly customizable, allowing you to detach panels from one place, and reattach them elsewhere, move them around, remove the ones you don’t need, have some as floating windows, until you’ve created a workplace that suits your needs exactly.

InDesign was created to work seamlessly with other Adobe products such as Photoshop, for instance. This means you can insert a PSD document in InDesign, go back to Photoshop to make alterations, and those changes will appear in your InDesign project after a few clicks. It’s also integrated with InCopy allowing the writer to get on with writing, while the designer works on the pages’ layout. You can see what we thought of this companion app in our Adobe InCopy review.

You can get to grips very quickly with the various tools on offer, and design simple to complex projects relatively easily. On top of that, Adobe offers numerous tutorials, either directly within the interface itself, or via their Creative Cloud app.

  • Score: 4.5

Adobe InDesign: What’s New?

Adobe InDesign during our review and testing

One of the new features is ‘Style Packs’ which allow you to create and share template styles which you can apply to any text box in seconds (Image credit: Adobe)
  • A plethora of small improvements which are all very welcome to make this powerful DTP program more versatile, flexible, and accurate.

The last few updates have brought a lot of interesting new features, and we thought we’d highlight those that got our attention…

We found a lot to like, especially when it comes to customisation possibilities. You have Style Packs for one. Go to Window > Styles > Style Pack and choose a pre-saved collection which you can apply to your selected text boxes, with headers, styles, fonts, sizes, etc, changed instantly. Even better, you get to create your own packs which you can then export and share with other members of your team, or take with you when working on another machine.

Add to that the ability to import and export user settings is now a possibility, meaning that if you’ve configured your preferences just the way you like them on your machine, you’ll be able to replicate that on any other computer you’ll work on. That’s a huge plus for wandering designers.

Speaking of being on the go, it’s now possible to access and edit your files via InDesign Cloud Documents, which also lets you share these projects and collaborate with others easily.

If you need to share your work in progress, but there’s a few pages that aren’t yet ready to be seen, you now have the option of hiding specific spreads: right-click on a thumbnail and choose ‘hide spread’. That way, all concealed pages are skipped when in Presentation Mode, or when exporting a document.

Working with Indic or MENA languages comes with its own set of challenges, and the latest version of InDesign has worked to greatly improve its rendering of those glyphs by bringing in Harfbuzz as the default shaping engine. From the examples we saw, the improvements are very noticeable.

There are other new additions, like adding Google analytics in a published document, automatically including specific suffixes to JPEG and PNG exports, and password protecting InDesign files. These are not big tentpole features, but they all contribute to making InDesign a more powerful, versatile and accurate DTP, which can only be good news.

  • Score: 4.5/5

Adobe InDesign: AI tools

Adobe InDesign during our review and testing

AI’s come to ID. It’s well integrated and incredibly easy to use… perhaps too easy… (Image credit: Adobe)
  • AI is everywhere, and with generated images now accessible from within InDesign, who needs photographers?… but is that truly a good thing?

Version 19.4 of InDesign, released in April 2024, brings AI to the page layout tool. You can’t run away from it: AI is going to be everywhere. So what does ‘Text to Image’ bring to InDesign? As you might expect, it’s powered by Adobe Firefly. There’s one big caveat though: it only works with the English International and English North American versions of the software.

If you’re used to AI in other Adobe products, you’ll know what to expect: select an image placeholder to have a floating field appear. Type in a description, and Firefly will generate three variations for you to choose from.

Every time we try Firefly we find it gets better and better, giving us more accurate results without having to type in lengthy descriptions. It’s good in some ways, troubling for the industry in others. However to quickly create mockups without having to even leave InDesign, it’s fantastic. The interface is incredibly easy to use, you get to choose between photorealistic or a more artsy output, as well as the image’s aspect ratio, and the various generated images and their variations are preserved in a list for you, so you can choose to use them elsewhere in your project should you want to. We’ll just leave the controversial debate surrounding AI in general for another day.

  • AI tools: 3/5

Should I buy?

Adobe InDesign during our review and testing

Need to share your draft but some pages really aren’t ready to be viewed? No problem: you can now hide them when presenting or exporting the document (Image credit: Adobe)

Buy it if...

You need a powerful, versatile and flexible DTP to design anything from a simple leaflet to a full imagazine.

Don't buy it if...

The options are above and beyond what you’re after - maybe a high-end word processor would be better suited to your needs, and you’re not a fan of renting the software you use.

For more design tools, we tested the best Adobe InDesign alternatives

Google Pixel 8a review: more future for less money
6:22 pm | May 17, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Google Pixel Phones Phones | Tags: , | Comments: Off

Google Pixel 8a: Two-minute review

Google Pixel 8a in aloe green showing

Pixel 6a, Pixel 7a, and Pixel 8a (left to right) (Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)

The Pixel 8a is the best budget option for Android enthusiasts, and especially Google fans. It makes a case for itself against the pricier Pixel 8, and if you've been dying to try all of Google's coolest new Android and Gemini AI features, the Pixel 8a is the cheapest entry into this virtual world. You can find slightly better specs in a phone this cheap, but you can't find Google's innovative software and seven years of promised software updates.

I've been using the Pixel 8a with Gemini Advanced, Google’s premium AI and large language model, and it works just as well as my Pixel 8 Pro. I get the same cool AI wallpapers feature that I love. I even have Gemini baked into the Gmail app on this phone, so Google's AI can compose an email right in the proper text box. 

For the Pixel 8a’s price, there are Android phones to consider from Motorola and OnePlus, but Apple and Samsung don't make anything worth buying in the $500 / £500 / AU$800 range. The iPhone SE is cheaper, but I'd avoid that old phone since it's fairly out of date (home button?!).

Samsung Galaxy S23 FE in purple with books behind

For only $100 more you can have the Galaxy S23 FE with DeX (Image credit: Future / Philip Berne)

Samsung's Galaxy S23 FE is a bit more expensive, and it has tons of business and professional features, if you're going to be mixing work and personal life on your phone. It's also a bit overcomplicated, and it won't get the latest AI features like the Pixel 8a (probably) will. 

If history is any guide, the Pixel 8a will eventually get some compelling deals and this great price will drop even lower, but for $499 / £499 / AU$849, I think the Pixel 8a is worth what Google is charging. The Pixel 8 is only a little more expensive, which makes sense because it's only a little more great; it has better cameras, and marginally better battery life and charging, but that's it. 

The Pixel 8a performed well across the board in our tests, matching and occasionally beating the Pixel 8 on our metrics for processor speed, graphics performance, even display quality. If the Pixel 8a uses a cheaper display than the Pixel 8, I certainly couldn't tell.

Google Pixel 8 review back angled case

It's much harder to recommend the Pixel 8 these days (Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)

That's great news because the Pixel 8a also gets the same seven years of Android updates that Google promised for the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro, and all of these phones use the latest Tensor G3 chipset. The Pro model has more RAM, but the two cheaper Pixel 8 phones are identical in RAM and storage.

If you're considering the Pixel 8, you might just save money and buy the Pixel 8a, unless you need a better camera (or you really prefer the Pixel 8 colors). But that's the only reason to spend more on the Pixel 8. You'll probably be just as happy with the Pixel 8a, and even happier when you have money leftover to spend on cases and accessories.

Google Pixel 8a review: Price and availability

Google Pixel 8a in aloe green showing cameras

(Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)
  • $499 / £499 / AU$849 for 8GB RAM, 128GB storage
  • Available in sweet Bay blue and Aloe green (also black and white-ish)

The Pixel 8a costs $499 / £499 / AU$849, which is a relief for our American readers but now Australia knows how we felt last year. In the US, that’s the same as the Pixel 7a cost a year ago, but £50 more in the UK and $100 more in Australia. Google raised the price for the Pixel 7a in the US, but kept things stable for Americans this year, and that's great because the Pixel 8a feels like a better value than ever before. 

Google is offering seven years of Android OS updates for the Pixel 8a. Let's be honest, you probably won't have this phone in seven years, but somebody might, and they'll get the latest software. Whether you pass this down to a kid or trade it for your next phone, the Pixel 8a should last longer than before, and that's a huge vote of confidence from Google.

Android phones don't hold their value as well as Apple iPhones, and while longevity isn't the biggest reason, having longer support could help Android’s reputation, which could improve value in the long run.

Google Pixel 8a in front of Pixel 7a and Pixel 6a

You can barely see the two-tone greens on the Pixel 6a (left) (Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)

The Pixel 7a and the Pixel 6a were continually offered at a discount, usually at Amazon first, and it's likely that you'll find the Pixel 8a available cheaper, eventually. 

Don't wait, the Pixel 8a is worth buying now. In the past I recommended waiting for a sale, but this feels like a phone that performs above its price range, so there's no reason to wait if you want one now. 

For the same price, you can get a OnePlus 12R. While there is much to recommend that phone, I think most people should stick with the Pixel 8a. The OnePlus 12R is faster, with a bigger, better display. It has a huge battery, and it charges much faster than almost any other smartphone you can buy, let alone the Pixel 8a.

The OnePlus 12R isn't water resistant, though, so it's less durable, and that makes a huge difference to me. It also doesn't get the same seven years of Android OS updates, and OnePlus isn't even trying to make AI features that compete with Google. In terms of software, OnePlus does a nice job, but Google still rules the Android roost.

  • Value score: 5 / 5

Google Pixel 8a review: Specs

Google Pixel 8a in aloe green showing lock screen always-on display

(Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)

The Pixel 8a has the same Google Tensor G3 chipset as the two more expensive Pixel 8 phones. It comes with 8GB of RAM, just like the Pixel 8. In processor and graphics benchmarks, performance was effectively identical between the Pixel 8a and the Pixel 8.

The Pixel 8a also has a bright display like the Pixel 8, and in our tests both phones reached above 1,450 nits at 100% brightness. 

Where the Pixel 8 pulls ahead and earns its premium, aside from the improved cameras, are in the smaller details. The Pixel 8 uses Gorilla Glass Victus, which is stronger than the Gorilla Glass 3 on the Pixel 8a. The Pixel 8 has Wi-Fi 7, though that's only useful if you also have a new Wi-Fi 7 router.

Google Pixel 8a review: Design

Google Pixel 8a in aloe green showing USB-C port and speakers

(Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)
  • It’s a Pixel, and every Pixel looks the same
  • Plastic back holds its own against glass

If you wanted a cuter, more curvaceous version of the Pixel 8, the Pixel 8a delivers. Sure, it looks like every other Pixel phone since the Pixel 6, but that's brand identity. I actually like the camera bar, I prefer its symmetry to the camera bump on most other phones. 

The Pixel 8a has nicely rounded corners, and some flashy color options, including the brighter-than-expected Aloe green of my review sample, a nice step into the light from the more subdued Mint green Pixel 8.

Google Pixel 8a in aloe green from side showing SIM card slot

(Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)

The back is plastic, not glass, but the matte finish and great colors make it look much more premium than the ugly plastic phones of yore. Glossy plastic is out; the Pixel 8a is in. 

Otherwise… it's a Pixel, and you know what that looks like by now. It looks like every other Pixel. I miss the two-tone options of the Pixel 6 phones (check out the green and yellow-green Pixel 6a in my photos), but it's still a pretty phone that’ll stand out just enough from the herd of Galaxy and iPhones.

  • Design score: 5 / 5

Google Pixel 8a review: Display

Google Pixel 8a in aloe green showing bright AI wallpaper

(Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)
  • Bright display matches the Pixel 8
  • You can find bigger (and brighter) on competing phones

Google's new so-called ‘Actua’ displays were a key selling point for the Pixel 8 family, so I'm pleased to report the Pixel 8a earns its spot in the lineup with a bright, colorful display that doesn't skimp on specs. It has a 120Hz refresh rate and the same 2,000-nit peak brightness potential as the Pixel 8.

The bezel is a bit thick, but you won't notice unless you hold it up next to another phone. The smaller size of the Pixel 8a, with its 6.1-inch OLED display, is one of my favorite aspects of its design; it's a nice, compact phone. 

In fact, the phone was so easy to hold and use that I decided to use the Pixel 8a to write the first draft of this review on my flights back from Google I/O 2024. I wrote a few thousand words on the Pixel 8a display, and it was comfortable thanks to the smaller size. 

I had some trouble seeing the display in the bright California sunshine in Mountain View, which made some photography hard, but this was only a problem on the clearest day with the sun overhead. Indoors, the display seemed exceptionally bright, so perhaps it just needed a better reflective coating.

Google Pixel 8a in front of OnePlus 12R both showing TechRadar home page

OnePlus 12R (6.7-inch) behind the Pixel 8a (6.1-inch) (Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)

The OnePlus 12R does have a larger, 6.7-inch display, and OnePlus claims it can hit an eye-piercing (no, seriously) 4,500 nits of brightness, but we haven’t seen it achieve this in our tests. Still, for the same price you can get a larger display, but the compact size is part of the Pixel 8a appeal.

  • Display score: 4 / 5

Google Pixel 8a review: Software

Google Pixel 8a in aloe green showing Quick Settings Menu buttons

(Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)
  • All of Google’s cool AI features are here, for now
  • Google’s Android is clean and easy to use

Google makes the best Android phone software, much better than Samsung’s OneUI. While OnePlus and Motorola stay close to Google’s designs, you can't beat the House of Android for simplicity and ease of use.

Maybe it's getting too easy? Android used to have many more customization options to organize your home screens and your app list. Most of these are gone now. You can't even put apps into folders in Google's app menu.

On the other hand, Google does the best job with things like notifications. If I get a notification I don't want, I just hold my finger on the message and I get a robust settings tool that lets me turn off all notices from an app, or just certain categories of interruptions. I get to pick what each app notifies me about, and I don't have to dig to find the options. They just appear with a press.

Google Pixel 8a showing AI wallpaper creation tool

(Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)

The new AI tools keep getting better. I make a new AI wallpaper every few days. Even better, I now let Google's AI answer most of my impersonal phone calls, and I can see what my caller says in a live transcript as the AI handles them. 

The Gemini AI features are good, and it isn't a perfect Google Assistant replacement, but Gemini can use Google Assistant as one of its tools, to make up the difference. 

The AI features are constantly growing. Gemini can now help compose email messages in the Gmail app, and I'd expect it will soon offer help in the mobile Docs, Sheets, and maybe Slides apps. 

Unfortunately, the Gemini app stopped working for me suddenly a few days before this review published. I have reached out to Google to make sure that this is an isolated issue, and I will update if I get a response.

The Pixel 8a also carries forward the best of Google's AI image editing in Google Photos. You get the classic Magic Eraser and the newer Magic Editor AI features as well.

Google Pixel 8a showing Gmail app with Gemini AI prompt

Google Gemini will offer suggestions in apps like Gmail (Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)

The reason it can handle all these features is because the processing is done by Google in the cloud. You’ll eventually be able to load the Gemini Nano language model onto the phone to handle some generative writing locally, but it will be hidden as a developer option. I suspect that's more because of the audience and target market for this bargain phone, and not because of any performance deficit. 

Will Google really support the Pixel 8a for seven years? I had concerns, so I spoke to Google before this phone arrived at my door. Google’s Pixel reps assure me they have a roadmap for Tensor G3 phones that will last 7 years. In 2031, the Pixel 8a will retire with Android 21 on board, because Google has a plan. Android yellowcake, perhaps.

  • Software score: 4 / 5

Google Pixel 8a review: Cameras

Google Pixel 8a showing camera app focused on living room

All the photo modes from the Pixel 8 Pro are here (Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)
  • Photos look very similar to shots from the Pixel 8 Pro
  • A bit grainy close up, and blurry at night

Google’s Pixel A-series phones are usually an easy pick for the best bargain camera phone because they are unfussy and produce great images that are perfect for sharing online. By that, I mean they don’t look great if you zoom in too close, but for viewing on smaller screens, the Pixel 8a makes photos that look surprisingly good. 

How good? To test the Pixel 8a camera, I compared photos against the Pixel 8 Pro, Google’s best camera phone and one of my favorites. The photos were remarkably similar. If I didn’t zoom in on a shot, I often couldn’t tell which photo was taken by the Pixel 8a and which by the Pixel 8 Pro. Google’s color and light balancing are nearly identical on both phones. Only in the darkest conditions was the Pixel 8 Pro advantage clear. 

To compare with the Google Pixel 8 Pro, here is a sample that shows more detail from the Pro camera, but both images look good. The color and lighting is very similar across both devices. 

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Google Pixel 8a camera sample photo of a tile mosaic with leaves

Google Pixel 8a photo (Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)
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Google Pixel 8a camera sample photo of a tile mosaic with leaves

Google Pixel 8 Pro photo (Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)

This low-light photo shows the clearest distinction between the Pixel 8 Pro and the Pixel 8a. The Pixel 8 Pro is clearly better in dark conditions, but when I looked at the photos on my phone screen, this was the only photo I found easy to determine which phone took the shot. 

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Google Pixel 8a camera sample showing a Diner sign Open 24 hours

Google Pixel 8a photo (Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)
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Google Pixel 8a camera sample showing a Diner sign Open 24 hours

Google Pixel 8 Pro photo (Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)

That’s a pretty remarkable feat, and good for Pixel 8a buyers because these phones both take great photos. You’ll see the difference in fine details, though. The Pixel 8 Pro has a 50MP sensor, after all. 

The Pixel 8a uses a 64MP sensor but it only outputs 16MP images. It combines four pixels into one in a process called 'pixel binning,' and there’s no way to get full-resolution, 64MP shots from the Camera app. Even RAW image files (why on a bargain A-series phone?) only have a 16MP resolution. 

The Pixel 8a offers all the same shooting modes as the Pixel 8 Pro, including Night Sight for nighttime shots around town, and long exposure, for cool shots of moving traffic and running water. 

It also has all of the same AI editing tricks in the Google Photos app. You get Magic Eraser, to remove unwanted people, and Magic Editor, to turn them into giants or move them to one side. There’s Best Shot, which replaces faces in a group photo when somebody has their eyes closed. It even has the amazing Audio Eraser for videos, to remove background noise and distractions. 

What’s especially cool, if you’re new to Pixel phones, is that you can edit photos and videos that you didn’t shoot with your Pixel phone. Anything in Google Photos is fair game. Upload all of your old iPhone photos to Google, go buy a Pixel 8a, then use Unblur to make them all as sharp as new. 

  • Camera score: 3 / 5

Google Pixel 8 Pro camera samples

Here are samples taken around New York City and at the Google I/O 2024 conference in Mountain View. 

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Google Pixel 8a camera image samples

(Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)
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Google Pixel 8a camera image samples

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Google Pixel 8a camera image samples

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Google Pixel 8a camera image samples

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Google Pixel 8a camera image samples

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Google Pixel 8a camera image samples

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Google Pixel 8a camera image samples

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Google Pixel 8a camera image samples

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Google Pixel 8a camera image samples

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Google Pixel 8a camera image samples

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Google Pixel 8a camera image samples

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Google Pixel 8a camera image samples

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Google Pixel 8a camera image samples

(Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)
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Google Pixel 8a camera image samples

(Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)
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Google Pixel 8a camera image samples

(Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)
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Google Pixel 8a camera image samples

(Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)
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Google Pixel 8a camera image samples

(Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)
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Google Pixel 8a camera image samples

(Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)
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Google Pixel 8a camera image samples

(Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)
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Google Pixel 8a camera image samples

(Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)
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Google Pixel 8a camera image samples

(Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)
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Google Pixel 8a camera image samples

(Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)
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Google Pixel 8a camera image samples

(Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)
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Google Pixel 8a camera image samples

(Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)

Google Pixel 8a review: Performance

Google Pixel 8a showing Android 14 screen with Android figurines beside

(Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)
  • Google’s Tensor G3 isn’t winning any contests
  • Seven years of Android support means Google trusts the chipset

Admittedly, the Pixel 8a and all of the Tensor G3 generation of Pixel phones are not top performing phones. Any phone with a Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 or newer Snapdragon, and any recent iPhone will outperform the Pixel 8 in benchmark tests. What does that mean in the real world? Not much. 

Unless you're playing the most-demanding games or using advanced photo or video editing tools, the Pixel 8a will be enough to keep up. It ran all of my games, including Call of Duty and Marvel Snap, with no trouble. It just didn't run games as smoothly as the Galaxy S24 can run them.

There was some delay with many of the AI features, but that's because the Pixel 8a needs to talk to Google before it gives you an answer. Even AI Wallpapers rely on Google's cloud for help, and there is a back and forth delay. My phone does not have access to Gemini Nano yet, so I'm curious to see if that speeds up any generative writing. 

I had some trouble using Bluetooth on the Pixel 8a. The phone kept finding and refinding my Pixel Buds Pro. I had to reconnect them three times in a week. It had trouble holding the connection with my car stereo, and twice it lost my Ray Ban Meta smart glasses. In a week or so of testing, I had only a small handful of issues, but it was annoying. 

  • Performance score: 3 / 5

Google Pixel 8a review: Battery

Google Pixel 8a in aloe green showing USB-C charging port

The USB-C charging port is 'faster' than before (Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)
  • The Pixel 8a’s biggest weakness
  • Also the Pixel 7a’s weakness, and the Pixel 6a’s weakness

Battery life is the Pixel 8a’s biggest letdown, which isn't a surprise considering the Pixel 7a and Pixel 6a suffered the same shortcoming. A compromise must be made to bring the price down, and Google apparently compromises on battery life. 

In my real-world testing, the Pixel 8a never lasted a full day of use. I used the phone at home, for work, and traveling by plane to Google I/O. It usually needed a top-up on the battery after dinner, if I was going to keep using it. 

Future Labs is still testing the Pixel 8a, but early rundown tests put battery life at just over 11 hours of use. To compare, the OnePlus 12R, our pick for best battery life, topped 19 hours of life on the same test, and it charges much faster. The phones cost the same, too. 

The Pixel 8 also charges a bit faster than the Pixel 8a, whether wired and wireless, and the Pixel 8 can charge other devices wirelessly, which the 8a can't do.

  • Battery score: 3 / 5

Should you buy the Google Pixel 8a?

Google Pixel 8a in front of Pixel 7a in white and Pixel 6a in two-tone green and yellowish green

Pixel 6a, Pixel 7a, and Pixel 8a (left to right) (Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)

Buy it if...

You were considering the Pixel 8
The Pixel 8a gives you just about everything you get with the Pixel 8, for less. The cameras aren't as good, but if the 8a gets a good discount, it's game over for the Pixel 8.

You want to try Google’s AI stuff
The Pixel 8a is the cheapest entry into Google's new AI world, with generative AI writing tools and image editing on board. And it will keep getting better, we hope. 

You care about durability and longevity
You can find better specs at this price (hello, OnePlus 12R), but the Pixel 8a is more durable than the competition, with 7 years of Android updates – unheard of at this price. 

Don't buy it if...

You want a big, fast flagship killer
For the same price, the OnePlus 12R gives you better performance, a bigger screen, and the best battery life. Just don't get it wet.

You need amazing cameras
The Pixel 8a took solid photos that were satisfying to share. It doesn't have long zoom or the fine details of the Pixel 8 Pro, however. 

You're really going to keep a phone for 7 years
Even if Google updates this phone with a new Android every year, in seven years this phone will be astronomically underpowered. Go for a faster device if you want to finish that marathon.

Google Pixel 8a review: Also consider

Google Pixel 8
The Pixel 8 has better cameras than the Pixel 8a, and you can see the difference. There aren't many other advantages that matter, but the cameras may justify the extra cost for some folks.

OnePlus 12R
You want power and performance over software smarts. OnePlus isn't offering AI features or seven years of updates, but the OnePlus 12R gives you much faster performance and incredible battery life for the same price. It looks snazzy, too.

How I tested the Google Pixel 8a

I received the Pixel 8a from Google a few days before Google I/O 2024, so I used this phone as my only work phone for the conference, as well as the days before and after. 

I used the Pixel 8a to take product photos and news photos for our I/O live blog, to keep connected on Slack and Gmail, and to stay entertained on my flights.

I connected the Pixel 8a to a number of peripherals, including the Pixel Watch 2, Pixel Buds Pro, and Ray Ban Meta smart glasses.

I also wrote all of the copy for this review in Google Docs using the Pixel 8a and its on-screen keyboard. I don't usually bother with a stunt like that, but I had seven hours of flying ahead of me and I wanted to write on the plane, and the Pixel 8a is a great size for using in a crowded space like a middle seat.

Read more about how we test

First reviewed May 2024

Adobe Fill & Sign (2024) review
8:25 pm | May 9, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Pro Software & Services | Tags: , | Comments: Off

The PDF format is pretty much ubiquitous, and is ideally designed to preserve the layout of a document, which also makes it perfect when requesting someone to interact with it, like say filling in forms or signing contracts. As it’s an open standard, there’s a plethora of apps and services that allow you to do just that. 

But why go hunting for some third party software, when the creators of one of the best PDF editors (and the original, no less) provide an online service for that very purpose. We put Adobe Fill & Sign to the test.  

Adobe Fill & Sign: Pricing & plans

  • A free service, although you won’t be able to access it without logging in or creating a new Adobe account (which is also free to do).

Adobe’s eSignature software service is free, but you can’t get away from creating an account if you don’t already have one. Signing up will give you access to other Adobe services (both paid and free). You just can’t use Fill & Sign without one. You can login with your Apple ID, Facebook or Google accounts, but if you’d rather keep your digital selves separate, an email address will do just fine. Once sorted, all the tools necessary to make Fill & Sign work will become available to you.

The free PDF form-filler is available online by clicking here.  

  • Pricing & plans: 4.5/5

Adobe Fill & Sign: Filling and signing

Adobe Fill & Sign PDF form-filler during our review

Adobe Fill & Sign will automatically detect fields in properly formatted documents, but failing that you can always add your own (Image credit: Adobe)
  • Easy to use tools to fill and sign a PDF, with a few additional options like sharing, commenting and requesting signatures.

Using Fill & Sign, you’ll find yourself in a recognizable interface. To the right of the page are your uploaded documents, a small toolbar to its left, and a sidebar on the left.

Editable fields should be automatically selectable. You can find out if that’s the case by mousing over one of them. If your cursor changes from an arrow to an edit prompt, you’re good to go: simply click on the field and start typing. Thankfully, you’re able to create text fields if the PDF you need to work with lacks the above.

Other available tools include being able to add comments to your document, whether by highlighting a section, or creating a text field for that purpose, highlighting, underlining or striking through existing text, and drawing freehand.

This is above and beyond what you would need to simply fill in a form, but it’s highly useful should amendments need to be made prior to finalizing the deal. You also have the ability to send your document on to others for them to fill in and sign. 

When it comes to actually signing a form, the interface recognises which field needs your signature (or, as before, if it doesn’t, you can add such a field from the toolbar), and overlays the signature tools: by default, you type in your name and Adobe Acrobat will use a cursive font to simulate handwriting.

Alternatively, select ‘Draw’ to use your mouse or trackpad to attempt to sign that way. It’s never the most sensitive of methods, but it does have the virtue of being more unique than a cursive font. Finally, there’s ‘Image’. If you have a signature on file, upload it, and you’re done.

Once you’ve got a signature on the site, you don’t need to create another: just add that one to all the documents you’ll need to sign.

While you’re there, you’ll also find a place to create your initials. The process is exactly the same but will be saved as a separate file, enabling you to sign and initialize any PDF at will.

Adobe Fill & Sign: Additional features

Adobe Fill & Sign PDF form-filler during our review

AI is everywhere these days, and Adobe’s Fill & Sign service includes a handy version (currently in Beta) (Image credit: Adobe)
  • Aside from the AI assistant (which is currently in beta), everything else is locked behind a paywall. Great if you’re curious, frustrating if you aren’t.

When you click on the Adobe icon, top left of the page, you’ll be taken to your ‘Home’. From there you’ll see all the documents you’ve worked with, along with a series of available tools, most of which we’ve already explored, but there are a few additional ones that are worth mentioning, if only so you know what to expect.

One of these is the AI Assistant (currently in beta, but usable). Like all AI tools, your mileage will vary, but we found it a useful tool to grab a quick summary of a file. Best of all, it doesn’t just work with PDF documents, but can also open and interact with Word, PowerPoint, TXT and RTF formats. Definitely worth having a look, especially since it’s free and as long as you don’t mind AI crawling through your data.

The other features look intriguing, as they allow you to edit and manipulate existing PDFs, but sadly - as you might’ve expected - you’ll need to pay to play with these. Even the tools designed to convert a PDF to other formats, such as those from Microsoft Office, are restricted in that way, although we were able to use it once. Maybe that was the ‘try before you buy’ sample. It did allow us to turn a PDF into a Word document, even giving us access to multiple text editing tools. But if it only works once at that tier level, it’s not really the most useful of services. It’s a shame as even the best free PDF editors we’ve tested often allow you to convert files without charge.  

  • Additional features: 2.5/5

Adobe Fill & Sign: Final verdict

Adobe Fill & Sign PDF form-filler during our review

Aside from filling a document yourself, you can send it to others for them to fill it in too (Image credit: Adobe)
  • A good, simple and efficient service, that doesn’t really need to show you tools that are only available to paying customers.

It’s easy to get lost in the Adobe Acrobat service, and get disillusioned that everything seems to be behind a paywall, but that’s really because the Fill & Sign service has a very narrow focus. Yes, other tools are dangled in front of you and will certainly entice some, but if all you need is an online service to upload your PDFs to, fill them in, sign them, insert comments, share them with others, and maybe even get them to sign them themselves, then this works exactly as you would expect. 

For some power-users, however, Adobe Acrobat Sign or the best Adobe Sign alternatives may suit workflows better. For quick and easy form-filling, it does the job well. Maybe it would be good if Adobe didn’t try and get potential new customers to buy a subscription for more potential goodies, but otherwise, it’s a very simple and efficient tool that works well.

Adobe Fill & Sign: Scorecard

Should I buy?

Adobe Fill & Sign PDF form-filler during our review

Visit Adobe’s Fill & Sign service, and upload a document to get started (Image credit: Adobe)

Buy it if...

You need a simple online service to fill in a PDFs, and enjoy a few extra goodies bundled in for free.

Don't buy it if...

You don’t like online services, especially those which only seem to be there to entice you to get a subscription service to access additional tools.

MediaTek Dimensity 9300+ brings increased clock speed and improved AI processing
11:10 am | May 7, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Mobile phones news | Tags: | Comments: Off

Dimensity 9300+ is the latest flagship chipset from MediaTek and it brings higher clock speeds alongside improved APU compared to the Dimensity 9300. The all-big core CPU now features a prime Cortex-X4 core clocked at up to 3.4GHz compared to the 3.25Ghz on the Dimensity 9300. The new chip is fabbed on TSMC’s third-generation 4nm+ process node just like its predecessor and features the same Arm Immortalis-G720 GPU with raytracing. The updated APU 790 promises a 10% performance boost in AI tasks and features MediaTek’s new NeuroPilot Speculative Decode Acceleration technology. Dimensity...

Apple’s Safari browser will get an AI makeover this year
10:33 pm | April 30, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Mobile phones news | Tags: | Comments: Off

Apple's getting ready to overuse the AI buzzword just like everyone else has been doing for a while, and the big AI push is also coming this year to Safari, the company's web browser, according to a new report. The next version of Safari will be AI-infused, and it's expected to launch alongside iOS 18, which means it will most likely be presented at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference in June. Safari will get Intelligent Search, which will leverage on-device AI to identify topics and key phrases within a web page you're looking at in order to summarize its contents for you....

MediaTek will unveil the Dimensity 9300+ on May 7 with a focus on AI
6:01 pm | April 29, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Mobile phones news | Tags: | Comments: Off

We heard rumors that a new vivo X100s will be unveiled in May and that it will arrive with a Dimensity 9300+ at the helm. No specific date was given, but we now have a good candidate – MediaTek officially announced that the 9300+ will be unveiled on May 7 (Tuesday next week). There’s no mention of vivo, so the chipset may come ahead of the phone. What the company does mention is the AI functionality that will be a highlight of the new chipset – the theme of the conference is “AI for Everything”. Earlier today there was a huge leak showing the changes from the original Dimensity 9300 to...

Samsung and Google are working together on new AI features
9:09 pm | April 25, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Mobile phones news | Tags: | Comments: Off

Back in January, Samsung announced the Google-developed Circle to Search AI feature for its Galaxy S24 series before Google unveiled the it for its Pixels, signifying a strong partnership between the two companies in the AI space. In case you've been wondering whether there's more AI stuff to come from these two companies in the future, the answer is a resounding yes. Google and Samsung are working together on developing new AI features for their respective smartphones running Android, as can be seen from posts on X shared by both the official Samsung Mobile account, as well as Rick...

Motorola teases additional AI features for the Moto X50 Ultra
1:27 pm | April 22, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Mobile phones news | Tags: | Comments: Off

Back in February, Motorola posted an F1-themed teaser for the Moto X50 Ultra and specifically its AI functionality. The phone still hasn’t been unveiled, but a version of it has – the Motorola Edge 50 Ultra. It’s not clear that these two devices will be the same, though the latest teaser (also with a Formula 1 car) shows the exact same design. Moto X50 Ultra coming soon The Edge 50 Ultra already comes with some AI functionality, e.g. a generative model for custom wallpapers and a system that adjusts the camera settings based on the scene. By the looks of it, the X50 Ultra will...

Samsung unveils the fastest LPDDR5X RAM yet for mobile and server AI applications
4:15 pm | April 17, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Mobile phones news | Tags: | Comments: Off

A couple of years ago, Samsung announced 8.5Gbps LPDDR5X RAM that at the time was the fastest in the world. Technology progress marches on and today the company unveiled an even faster LPDDR5X. It runs at 10.7Gbps, surpassing the 9.6Gbps LPDDR5T variant that was introduced by SK Hynix last year. This represents a 25% increase in performance over the previous X variants, but speed isn’t the only upgrade. Samsung is building these chips on a 12nm class process, which means that the chips are smaller. This allowed the company to increase capacity by 30% and is now building 32GB packages...

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