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Wednesday, September 16, 2020
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Google partners with Lenovo for Meet hardware kits

Google on Tuesday announced new Google Meet videoconferencing hardware as part of a partnership with Lenovo. The new Series One hardware comes in the form of a bundle which are slated for pre-order soon.The entire kit is powered by a Compute System which has a version of Chrome OS designed for Meet. The platform uses AI to provide a smarter and more user-friendly way of conducting meetings. Features include joining meetings using voice, enhanced noise reduction, and participant framing.The Series One hardware is comprised of a 12-megapixel Smart Camera; an alternate 20.3-megapixel Smart Camera XL is offered for larger conference rooms.A Smart Audio Bar houses a 2.5-inch woofer, one-inch tweeter, and eight beam-forming microphones that Google says can process “up to 44 channels simultaneously.” It advises that it can filter out distracting sounds such as typing and snacking.This isn’t Google’s first approach to workplace tech, nor is it the first attempt at hardware for Google Meet. Asus introduced gear for Google Meet back in May.Depending on what version of the Series One hardware you purchase, you’ll may also be able to control meetings via a rechargeable remote control or a 10.1-inch display. Both of support Google Assistant for hands-free meeting controls.Companies interested in adding one of the Series One kits to their conference rooms will soon be pre-order one. Exact timing isn’t known yet, but pricing starts at $2,699 for the Small Room Kit.For the money, you’ll get a Smart Camera, Smart Audio Bar, Compute System, and remote control ($2,699). Alternatively, a $2,999 Medium Room Kit and $3,999 Large Room Kit will be sold. Color options include “charcoal” (black) and “chalk” (white).

Google Pixel 5 expected to launch September 30

Google is expected to introduce its Pixel 5 smartphone, Pixel 4a with 5G, and a handful of other products on September 30, according to an invitation being sent out.The “Launch Night In” event takes place at 2PM EST/11AM EST and promises details on a new Chromecast, a new smart speaker, and new Pixel phones.Google has previously indicated that the Pixel 5 and a 5G-ready version of the Pixel 4a were coming this fall. According to Google, the 5G variant of the Pixel 4a will start at $499. The Pixel 5’s price remains a mystery.Google’s new smart speaker is likely the one that leaked in July, which appears to be somewhat of a cross between the Nest Mini and the Google Home Max from a few years back.As for the new Chromecast device, it may be one of two that were recently spied at the FCC. Google has been working on tweaking its Android TV and Chromecast experience; a TV dongle with codename “Sabrina” is the likely candidate and figures to blend the two.Given there are a couple of weeks separating now and the September 30 launch chances are good that a few leaks could spoil the surprises.

Second opinion Google Pixel 4a review: Buyer’s remorse

I was in love with the Pixel 4a. That is, until Google's release schedule made me fall out of love.

Android 11 Go Edition released by Google

Hot on the heels of its Android 11 release this week, the Go Edition of Google’s platform is being released. Google indicates it will be available starting in October.Android 11 Go Edition, like its predecessors, is built for phones with limited hardware. Often released in emerging markets, the handsets are occasionally offered at prepaid and no-contract carriers.Many of the features baked into Android 11 are present in this slimmed-down version of the platform. This includes, but isn’t limited to enhanced security and privacy, more intuitive messaging and notifications, and gesture navigation.Whereas earlier versions of Android Go Edition were targeted at devices with 1GB RAM, this release is geared for those with 2GB RAM. As to why, some of that is to accommodate hardware features like fingerprint readers and additional cameras.According to Google, apps will launch 20% faster through Android 11 Go Edition. Google has managed to streamline the operating system, giving users an additional 270MB of memory to work with and allow for better multi-tasking.

Google Pixel 4a review

Much of the money spent advertising smartphones typically centers around flagships, and that makes sense for the most part. It’s the bleeding-edge tech, heavy with hardware and coupled with the latest software. It’s big sexy designs with curves and gorgeous colors.On the opposite end of the spectrum are low end phones which typically come with more generic designs. They’re not as flashy, tend to cut corners, and tend to run just a little behind in terms of software. The thing is, though, this is where a huge swath of buyers reside.Somewhere in the middle is Google’s Pixel “a” series. What began in 2019 with the Pixel 3a, we see continued in 2020 with the Pixel 4a. That is to say a moderately powerful phone with up-to-the-minute software. And then there’s also the incredible camera experience, too.Pixel 4a ReviewAfter having spent the last few weeks living with the Pixel 4a as my daily driver, I am happy to put forth my review of the device.As someone who has used the Pixel 3a as my main phone for the last 15 months, making the transition was seamless. See, I’m more of a casual phone user who cares more about having a great camera than playing games. Not that I don’t have a few favorites, mind you.While I can certainly appreciate how awesome a phone like the OnePlus 8 Pro is, there is hardware that largely goes untested. I don’t need that much RAM or processing power, but I do like having it.Similarly, I can see how less powerful hardware matters in day-to-day usage. Apps and games are slower to open and they’ll start to close on you in the background. Get too many Chrome tabs open and your browser feels sluggish.The TL;DRThe Pixel 4a ($350) is all the phone I will need for the next year or more. I’d venture to say it’s more than enough phone for a huge segment of the market.SoftwareGoogle’s stock Android software experience has been my preferred user interface ever since the Nexus One launched back in 2010. It’s come an incredibly long way over the decade and has folded in tons of great features, but it continues to be the benchmark for clean, clutter-free software.Having spent a few years living with various Nexus and Pixel phones I know what I am getting as it pertains to updates. Whether that’s major annual software releases or monthly patches and fixes, it’s consistent and timely. You can’t ask for more than that.One feature that I do miss in the Pixel 4a that was present in its predecessor is the Active Edge. Being able to squeeze the sides of my phone for a quick Google search or to activate Google Assistant was one of those things I never expected to use. In fact, I thought it was a wasted feature when it was first announced. Alas, here I am a few years later, missing it. Nevertheless, there are other ways to activate or trigger Google Assistant.DesignThe design for the Pixel 4a is similar to last year’s model but the rear camera is different enough to quickly tell the two apart. It, like the standard Pixel 4, has a square in the top left corner, but doesn’t have the secondary telephoto lens. More on that later.One of the first things we tend to do with our phones is tuck them away in a protective case. It’s unfortunate that we might spend upwards of $1,000 on a phone with some gorgeous glass or metal materials only to cover it in plastic or fabric.I want to knock the Pixel 4a for being bland and utilitarian looking, but I can’t. I mean, in all fairness the black design is rather uninspiring but none of that matters with a case on the phone.Google has opted to keep the 3.5mm headphone jack for the Pixel 4a, and that’s something I’m pretty about. I may be behind the times or in need of an upgrade, but my car stereo doesn’t have a Bluetooth connection. It has an auxiliary input and I’ve used it over and over with the Pixel 3a. Really, this is one of the reasons I’ve held onto it as a daily driver.PerformanceGeneral performance has never been a pain point for me in the Pixel 3a and the Pixel 4a just kicks the proverbial can down the road. Thanks to a punchier processor and more memory, the Pixel 4a is more than adequate for my needs.Storage is doubled as compared to last year, going from 64GB to 128GB. That’s a good move in my opinion, even with cloud storage and backup so readily available.I love when phones have a snappy facial recognition system for unlocking and security, I do. But, thanks to the ongoing pandemic that is COVID-19, masks make that all but useless. And you know what? That’s one of the first things that began to bother me with the Pixel 4. Forgoing a fingerprint reader altogether was a risky move and couldn’t have come at a more troublesome time.I was really happy to see that the fingerprint reader is still present in the Pixel 4a. It might be a little more flush and harder to identify blindly at first, but muscle memory (and the right protective case) makes it easy to adapt to over time.Do I care that the Pixel 4a is not waterproof or water resistant? Eh, not really. That often comes with having the right protective case. And because of my line of work and lifestyle, I don’t really get into precarious places or environments.The battery is a tad bit bigger this year and that’s always welcome. Getting a full day of usage out of the phone has not been an issue yet and charging is quite fast. A few minutes here and there throughout the day is all that I need to ensure I’m heading to bed with juice left over.While on the subject, I would love to see wireless charging added to the next generation of Pixel “a” phones. I feel by then we ought to be at that point where it should be standardized.When most phone makers are going with ultra-wide and macro sensors for their additional cameras, Google opted for a telephoto one in the Pixel 4. And having used that phone semi-regularly over the last year, I can tell you that the telephoto is rarely used. I say all of that to say that I don’t miss it one bit in the Pixel 4a.The camera experience in the Pixel 4a is as good as anything I want or need. I will often use portrait mode when taking pictures of just about anything so that it adds the depth. But, even when I don’t, and just snap off a bunch of pictures using the automatic settings, I love the results.A big part of this is due to the software. Google not only has excellent hardware and extremely smart chips in its phones, but it keeps the camera app simple and straightforward. As much as I like the settings that come with many flagships with AI and Pro modes, I rarely used them. Along those lines, these features are often hidden away or not placed in intuitive places.The Pixel 4a puts forth a number of camera settings, including Night Sight, Top Shot, Portrait Mode HDR+, and more. There’s a lot to play with and some of these can produce seriously good results. The best part is that I often don’t have to think about what I am shooting or spend much time switching settings.ConclusionIf you were to tell me that Google iterated on its Pixel 3a for 2020 and kept the price the same, I would have said, “fair enough, I expected as much.” But that’s not what happened. Google not only pushed things forward a bit in a few areas, it dropped the price by $50 in the process.I quickly warmed to the Pixel 4a. If you’re holding onto a Pixel or Pixel 2 and are ready for something new, this is a great start. You’ll have no problem getting up to speed and appreciate spending about half the money this time around.As an unlocked phone that’s readily available, it’s an excellent option for pretty much any consumer. It’s affordable enough to add a few to your family plan yet powerful enough to keep you from repeating this one year from now.AvailabilityYou can purchase the Google Pixel 4a for $350 from Google’s store as well as through Verizon and retailers like Best Buy.

Here’s when your phone is getting Android 11

Google has launched Android 11, and a few phones have already received the update. More are part of an Android 11 beta. Here are all the phones with Android 11.

Android 11 makes its formal debut

After spending much of 2020 kicking about in various developer previews and beta releases, Google has made its Android 11 officially available.Starting immediately, Android 11 will begin rolling out to select Pixel, OnePlus, Xiaomi, and realme handsets. Additional devices and partner announcements are expected in the coming months.As outlined by Google, some of the more noteworthy features in Android 11 include the following.Messaging apps and conversations are changed to include bubbles for pop-up chat and actionable notifications. Chatting can be done much easier and without switching apps.Privacy is improved as users can grant applications a one-time access to sensitive permissions. Moreover, apps can automatically reset their permissions if they have not been used in a long time. This way an update doesn’t sneak past you which lets an app do something you don’t like.A new screen has been designed for when the lock button is pressed, providing quick acces to smart home device controls.Google is also expanding its screenshot tools to allow for built-in screen recording on all devices running Android 11. Additionally, there is platform-level support for digital IDs such as driver’s licenses, wireless Android Auto connection for compatible vehicles, new media controls, and personal and work profiles.According to Google, nearly all Pixel phones will pick up additional features, including organizing and managing phones. Specifically, any from the Pixel 2 and newer will have app suggestions for the home screen based on routines as well as new “overview actions” that allow users to take screenshots of apps and select text, images, and more.On Pixel phones a new Live View with Location Sharing feature lets you share a precise location with others. Using AR, it will guide users to that person wherever they happen to be, even if tucked away back in the corner of a park.

Google launches Android 11, and it’s coming to more than just Pixel phones

Google has launched Android 11, and it's available to select Pixel, OnePlus, Xiaomi, Oppo, and Realme phones. That's a much wider launch than in previous years.

Microsoft rumored to launch a 12.5-inch Surface Laptop for under $600

Microsoft is working on a budget-friendly Surface Laptop model, with the same premium design but a smaller screen.

Australia Opens Antitrust Inquiry Into Apple’s App Store

Australia is now investigating app store policies as part of yet another antitrust inquiry into Apple and Google (via Gizmodo).The

Google Pixel 4a review: This camera is astounding

Unfortunately, the rest of phone, excluding software, is desperately ordinary.

Google Wifi vs. Nest Wifi

Which is better -- Google Wifi or Nest Wifi? We take a look at each unit's speed, coverage, and features.

I left my Pixel 4XL for the Pixel 3a and I feel right at home

As you may have read in other editorials and opinion pieces here, I’ve been questioning just what the Pixel 4 XL really has to offer as a flagship over other Pixels.From the weird gestures and face unlock to the missing fingerprint scanner, I’ve found myself ready to accept the Pixel 4a as my next device. But to further this thought process, I asked myself another question: How good is the Pixel 3a as compared to the 4th-gen models?You’d be surprisedI’ve not skipped a beat in my daily driver. I moved to a Pixel 3a because I miss having a phone that’s easy to wield one-handed. I enjoy the bigger screen when watching media, but those are few and far between for me for extended periods.My daughter has been rocking a Pixel 3a XL since it launched last year, so I thought I had a decent idea of where my mind was headed. I’d notice a pretty big drop in performance. I’d miss the premium builds. The camera would be slightly worse. At least, that was the idea.Instead, I’ve noticed no big drops in performance. Yes, it’s slightly slower, but you’d never notice if you didn’t have them side by side. Honestly, in some regards, it seems better. Even with the smaller footprint, Pixel 3a is giving me a slightly better battery life with the Snapdragon 670 than the notoriously bad Pixel 4 XL.And while the Pixel 3a is not the tank of the Pixel 4 XL when it comes to materials, Google did a great job of making the plastic body not feel cheap. I have also noticed I don’t constantly cringe when I set my phone down as much. I’m not a case guy and always leary of full glass phones like the 4 XL.Camera… can you tell the difference?This is the main reason I’m never leaving the Pixels. It was also my biggest reservation with downgrading. Thankfully, I have the same point and shoot success with great photo results on the Pixel 3a in comparison to the 4 XL.Portrait mode seems just as solid. Normal auto-focus shots seem to have that same patented Pixel post-processing. Even Night Shot is legit. Now, all the processing does take a little more time to prepare your photo afterward, but it’s not like you’re getting a coffee in between.Don’t believe me? Then take a look for yourself to see these shots taken by both phones.What do I miss?Qi wireless charging. That’s it. I’ve invested heavily in wireless charging over the years. From the first time I saw it on the Palm Pre, I was hooked. It’s been a true selling point for me on choosing phones for almost a decade.I believe Qi should just be mandatory on any phone over $300 these days. If Anker and many other accessory makers can squeeze it into $80 earbuds, then I think the billions of cash Google has in the bank can make it happen on the entire Pixel line.Just feels rightAs I said in the intro, I’ve really been thinking about how much of a premium I’m willing to spend on devices of late. I’ve also recently traded my Dell XPS 13 for an older Dell Latitude. Are the metal and glass accents of top-tier devices great? Sure. But do I need them? Probably not.The Pixel 3a, and presumably, the Pixel 4a hit a sweet spot for me that simply may not be worth going for the standard Pixels moving forward. As long as the camera continues to offer very similar results, I’ll make sure it’s a Pixel, but it may not be the most expensive model has to offer for my pocket.Could I be coaxed back with the right combination of pricing, materials, and wireless charging? You bet. However, for now, I feel right at home with this little Pixel 3a at my side.

How to rotate the screen on a Chromebook

Learn how to rotate the screen in three different ways and set the screen so it behaves however you prefer.

Google’s own employees were confused by its privacy controls, lawsuit docs show

"Definitely confusing from a user point of view," read one employee's email

Huge Google Chrome update includes improved tab groups and a built-in PDF reader

Designed to help you stay more productive and make the browser 10% faster

Google Pixel 5: Everything we know so far

The upcoming phone may have a Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G

How to enable Linux apps on Chrome OS

As many of you may know, Chrome OS has been a long-time project for Google. Since its introduction, it’s seen many iterations over the year. And while Android gets the big headlines for updates, Chrome OS can sometimes appear to be forgotten in the portfolio at times. That definitely changed recently with Google bringing Android apps and now support for full Linux applications.Why do we need Linux apps?Linux applications bring Chrome OS a more robust catalog of software than the traditional web-only roots to Chrome devices. It’s a bit of an ironic turn to see Chrome OS go from a glorified web browser to a jack of all trades running three app ecosystems.Despite this, Linux adds some really great applications that you may want to add to your app drawer. We’d like to take the time to walk you through the steps to make sure you get there successfully.How to install Linux appsI hope that I don’t make it sound too daunting. With a few steps and setup pages, you will be ready to install Linux apps.Find Settings in the application menu or from the quick settings menuSelect the “Linux (Beta)” option to the far leftClick the “Turn on” buttonFollow the pop-up prompts to choose a usernamePrompt should end with you in a Linux command-line terminal 1 of 7 You’re ready for Linux appsCongrats! You now have the ability to install thousands of apps built for Linux. There are a few things to keep in mind when delving into the Linux app ecosystem. First, you should check this list to see if your Chrome OS unit supports this Linux runtime.Also, if using the command-line or online downloads, the apps need to be compatible with Debian Linux. For those unaware, Debian is one of the oldest and stable versions of Linux. It is the building block for many other variants such as Ubuntu and Pop_OS!. Any apps you Google for need to be available in .deb file format.Think of these of .exe files from the Windows ecosystem. Once downloaded, you can double-click the file and you’ll be prompted by Chrome OS to install the .deb file. After a few seconds of behind the scenes package management, you should then get a notification of completion and if you’d like to launch the fresh new Linux app. 1 of 4 I think that’s it! Have fun exploring the amazing new options you have from awesome Linux app developers.

New leaks offer the best look at Google’s Pixel 5 and Pixel 4a (5G) phones

The Google Pixel 5 will have reverse wireless charging, claims a new leak

Korean Startups Call for Investigation into Apple and Google In-App Purchases

Multiple startup companies in Korea are calling for an investigation into Apple and Google's in-app purchase practices, reports The Korea

Latest Reviews

Upgrade your WFH setup with this three piece bundle

Things have changed in the US workforce. Even after this pandemic is over and the situation gets back to the old definition of “normal”, things will be different in the work space.A lot of companies and organizations have warmed to the idea of remote working and will likely keep it as a permanent part of doing business. Many people who work from home will probably continue to work from home.While you may have gotten used working remotely, chances are you could do better in the way of proper tools and devices. Getting in front of a camera is one thing, but having the right lighting, camera angles, and perspective is another.Whether you’re looking to connect with your team once a week or present a quarterly slide deck for upper management, you’ll want to invest in the right equipment. The Pictar Home Office Kit is that right equipment.The bundle, just $89.99 in the AG Deals Store, is comprised of three components: a Pictar Wide-Angle Smart Lens, Splat 3N1 Flexible Tripod, and Pictar Smart Light. Together, these three will help eliminate the hassles of clumsy and less than stellar calls.The smart lens doubles the viewing on your mobile device, so you’ll capture more than just a closely cropped image of your head. It connects to an app and allows for precise and easy adjustment; it also has 20 different shooting modes.The tripod has five flexible legs that allow for mounting just about anywhere and everywhere you take your phone. The smart light clips onto your phone or camera to enhance the quality of your video footage.AvailabilityYou can purchase your three-piece Pictar Home-Office Kit from the AG Deals Store for just $89.99 right now. That’s a 35% discount off the normal retail price.Best SellersEarn Credits!For every $25 you spend in the AG Deals Store you get $1 credit added to your account. And, if you refer the deal via social media or an email that results in a purchase, you’ll earn $10 credit in your account.First Time Buying?If this is your first time buying, you are also eligible for 10% discount! Just be sure to subscribe for email updates.Free StuffNot looking to spend any money today? No worries. You can still visit the AndroidGuys section for freebies and pick something anyhow.

LG Wing arrives with swiveling two-screen experience

LG on Monday announced its first handset under the “Explorer Project”, the LG Wing. And just as the rumors told us, it features a unique two-screen experience.Currently there are two main ways that phone makers are working with dual displays. There’s the “two phone screens that make a tablet screen” approach and then there’s the “flip phone” design that opens to reveal a full-screen experience. The LG Wing is neither of those.The LG Wing features a 6.8-inch full HD OLED main display that swivels up to reveal a secondary 3.9-inch screen underneath. Resembling a Tetris T-block, it leads to unique use cases.The LG Wing is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G processor with 8GB RAM and 128GB/256GB storage options. A microSD expansion card slot allows for external media.The rear houses a 64-megapixel main camera, accompanied by a 12-megapixel wide-angle and 13-megapixel wide-angle camera. One is mounting in standard portrait orientation while the other is rotated 90 degrees. A 32-megapixel camera pops out for selfies on the front side of the phone.The hinge mechanism in LG WING has proven to be reliable even after 200,000 swivels – this averages out to about 100 motions every day for five years.Given its unique design, the LG Wing allows for some interesting camera modes. Grip Mode ignores accidental touches while recording video when the phone is opened. Gimbal Motion Camera Mode adds a joystick, lock, and follow controls on the secondary display.The design also allows for watching full-screen video content on the big display while messaging, commenting, and other features are available on the secondary screen.Other prominent features in the LG Wing include a 4,000mAh battery with wireless and Quick Charge 4.0 and an IP54 rating against dust and water.The LG Wing will be offered in Aurora Gray and Illusion Sky when it goes on sale. Pricing and exact availability has yet to be revealed. With that said, Verizon will have first dibs on the unique phone with AT&T, T-Mobile, and others following later.

Snag this award-winning personal air conditioner while it’s on sale

Although it’s the middle of September we still find those occasional days where it gets stupid hot outside. Or worse, really humid. While it might be tempting to crank the AC up in the home or office, you’d be wise to consider the alternative – a costly electric bill.Another option to consider is a personal air conditioner. Indeed, just as there are portable heaters for keeping your room warm, these are here to cool you down.The evaCHILL EV-500, is an ultra-lightweight and energy-efficient personal air conditioner that keeps you cool and leaves money in your wallet. For a limited time, you can pick it up on sale for nearly 20% off.Simply fill the water tank, plug it in, and the cartridge will generous amounts of water. The water disperses itself through the cooling pads while air blows through them. The result is evaporated water with no heat exhausted. The EV-500 can drop the air temperature up to 59º in just 10 minutes.It makes more sense to cool a room than to worry about the whole house, right?EV-500 FeaturesUltra-portable & leakage-proof w/ an integrated handleReaches full cooling power within 5-10 minutesSoft blue LED lights improve the moodSets up w/ just one buttonHumidifies the air creating a comfortable environmentFilters out dust particles to increase the air quality for better breathing & doesn’t create suitable conditions for bacterial growthCan increase your sleep qualityBuy Yours Today!Usually retailing for $99, you can get the EvaChill EV-0500 on sale for $79.99 — a savings of 20%. Take your pick from three colors: white, gray, and pink.Best SellersEarn Credits!For every $25 you spend in the AG Deals Store you get $1 credit added to your account. And, if you refer the deal via social media or an email that results in a purchase, you’ll earn $10 credit in your account.First Time Buying?If this is your first time buying, you are also eligible for 10% discount! Just be sure to subscribe for email updates.Free StuffNot looking to spend any money today? No worries. You can still visit the AndroidGuys section for freebies and pick something anyhow.

Google partners with Lenovo for Meet hardware kits

Google on Tuesday announced new Google Meet videoconferencing hardware as part of a partnership with Lenovo. The new Series One hardware comes in the form of a bundle which are slated for pre-order soon.The entire kit is powered by a Compute System which has a version of Chrome OS designed for Meet. The platform uses AI to provide a smarter and more user-friendly way of conducting meetings. Features include joining meetings using voice, enhanced noise reduction, and participant framing.The Series One hardware is comprised of a 12-megapixel Smart Camera; an alternate 20.3-megapixel Smart Camera XL is offered for larger conference rooms.A Smart Audio Bar houses a 2.5-inch woofer, one-inch tweeter, and eight beam-forming microphones that Google says can process “up to 44 channels simultaneously.” It advises that it can filter out distracting sounds such as typing and snacking.This isn’t Google’s first approach to workplace tech, nor is it the first attempt at hardware for Google Meet. Asus introduced gear for Google Meet back in May.Depending on what version of the Series One hardware you purchase, you’ll may also be able to control meetings via a rechargeable remote control or a 10.1-inch display. Both of support Google Assistant for hands-free meeting controls.Companies interested in adding one of the Series One kits to their conference rooms will soon be pre-order one. Exact timing isn’t known yet, but pricing starts at $2,699 for the Small Room Kit.For the money, you’ll get a Smart Camera, Smart Audio Bar, Compute System, and remote control ($2,699). Alternatively, a $2,999 Medium Room Kit and $3,999 Large Room Kit will be sold. Color options include “charcoal” (black) and “chalk” (white).