Trying out the new Pixel 8A features.

By: Cara Jurkowski

George gives us a live demo. Plus, Srini Kalapala joins us to share how you can shape the future of our business.

Full Transparency

Our editorial transparency tool uses blockchain technology to permanently log all changes made to official releases after publication. However, this post is not an official release and therefore not tracked. Visit our learn more for more information.

Learn more

On today’s issue of Up To Speed Live:


🤳 This guy … we can’t get him to STOP talking about the Google Pixel 8a!

George Koroneos is the guy to talk to when it comes to tech, but when it comes to the new Pixel 8a with Google AI technology, we can’t get him to stop talking! Today, he stopped by Up To Speed to share more details about this affordable dynamo that just might make you start talking tech as well. 

Among the features covered are:

  • Search tools like circle to search, which does exactly what the name indicates;
  • Photo tools like Unblur, Magic Eraser and Best Picture, which allows you to shoot a burst of photos and then combines the best part of each shot to create a single, amazing photo;
  • And other tools, like Translate, which automatically listens and translates your conversation without having to switch back and forth between languages (definitely a game-changer if you’ve ever found yourself needing to find a restroom in another country). Trekkies, we are this close to universal translators!

See it in action: If you want to see some of these features in action, head over to our instagram page and get the added bonus of seeing the cutest dog, pretty much ever. Note: if you don’t have access on your work computer, be sure to check it out on your phone, just go to user insideverizon and click on reels.

Get it today: That’s right, it’s available in stores and online today and comes in three colors, bay (blue), aloe (green) and obsidian (black).


🛜 The future of home automation is here and it all starts with Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) [05:01]

If you watched our 1Q24 Earnings Webcast, you’ll remember that we grew by our Consumer business by roughly 400,000 net additions, and if you are really going for brownie points, you’ll remember that more than 350,0000 of those adds were driven by FWA, contributing to the more than 3 million business and consumer FWA users. Wow!

👉 By the way, if you don’t have a perfect memory for numbers (much like this author), you can get this easy reference infographic and sound like a whiz next time it comes up.

Automation is the name of the game: We live in a time when it’s hard to underestimate the value of a connected home, but if you want to really see a fully automated home in action, you’ll want to click ▶️play above [5:00]. You’ll find out about numerous integrated technologies to help with your families entertainment, work, healthcare, security and much more.

💬Yak back: Do you have a video doorbell? Automated climate/temperature control? Tell us in the comments what you have and what you enjoy most about having a connected home.


🎤 Mary J. Blige knows the Strength of a Woman, and so do these strong executives [8:45]

This weekend, Mary J. Blige’s Strength of a Woman Summit was held in New York City – where a few of our amazing women leaders from Verizon Business took the main stage. Aparna Khurjekar, Sonal Patel and Dawn McNellis spoke in a panel discussion about women in small business and why it’s so crucial to support minority-owned businesses.

About the summit: The Strength of a Woman Summit, now in its third year, is designed to empower women and women of color to pursue their passions and prioritize their own wellness. As a sponsor of the event, Verizon Business had the opportunity to be on the ground and meet with the thousands of entrepreneurs in attendance.


🧑‍💻 Want to get your hands on our new products and technology? Here’s how. [9:46]

Tech and Product Development leader Srini Kalapala joined us in the studio today to talk about our new tech and technology, and how you can get involved in trying and testing those products.

How you can help: Join our new Technology and Product Development (TPD) Test Force - where we test, test and retest our products to make the best product possible for our customers. 

If you are part of the TPD, you’ll:

  • See and experience new and improved Verizon products before they are generally available. You might even be selected to see the earliest ideas and concepts for cutting-edge technology.
  • Exploring the great products Verizon offers today such as SmartFamily, Gizmo, Care Smart, Verizon Cloud, Digital Secure, Call Filter and more. These products are available via the employee phone program. Involvement is optional.
  • Tell us what you think about these products – what you like, what you don’t like, and how we can make them better, through the TPD Test Force slack channel #testforce-tpd-products.

Ready to get involved? Just submit our short online form to become part of TPD. You can also learn more about products that we are testing at the BetaPortal, and of course, you can always submit your own great idea at the Verizon Innovation Hub.


🎓 A very special graduation and reason to be proud. [14:45]

Graduation season is here, and there’s no better feeling than to watch someone special in your life walk across the stage. Today, we present the story of Minu Patel, one of our very first Verizon Innovative Learning students ever, who in 2014-15 participated in her Philadelphia middle-school classroom.

This weekend, she graduated from Temple University with a degree in Information Science and Technology, a field that she gravitated to after VIL helped to spark in her a love for science and technology. 

▶️ Click play on the video above; Minu’s story starts at [15:46].

Minu is just one of the 7 million students that Verizon Innovative Learning has reached through numerous programs, including Verizon Innovative Learning Schools, Verizon Innovative Learning Labs, the Verizon Innovative Learning STEM Achievers summer program, and the online platform Verizon Innovative Learning HQ. All of our VIL programs are designed to help close the digital divide for students and teachers at underserved schools. 

Congratulations Minu! We can’t wait to see where your accomplishment takes you next.


🏪 Celebrating a Small Business Digital Ready Program milestone. [17:17] 

Thriving small businesses is the measure of a good economy, and we are proud to do our part in helping communities and people prosper. Today, our Small Business-o-meter rolls over for the third time as we celebrate reaching 300,000 businesses across the U.S.A.

What it is: A program that provides resources for small business owners and grants access to over 50 courses, expert-led workshops, in-person and virtual networking and more.  

Where we’re going: Today’s announcement shows great progress towards our goal of reaching 1 million small businesses by 2030

Who’s involved: Of the 300-thousand businesses reached, 51% are women-owned, 62% are Black-owned or Hispanic-owned businesses, and 40% have been in business for 2 years or less – often the most difficult time for new small businesses. 

What’s next: Small Business Digital Ready users who have completed at least two resources on the platform this year are also eligible to apply for the program’s national $10 thousand dollar grants. Our current grant cycle is now open and will be until June 28. 

🔗 If you know someone who has a small business, be sure to share this story with them and encourage them to take advantage of the program!


🌱 Plant yourself a Mindful Minute. [19:34]

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and we want to help you find ways to take care of yourself by sharing science-backed tips vetted by our very mindful hosts!

Today’s tip: Go outside and enjoy some form of nature. The American Psychological Association, exposure to nature has been linked to a host of benefits, including improved attention, lower stress and even upticks in empathy and cooperation – all very important. 

It doesn’t get easier than this: Even just seeing greenery can help you be your best you. The Journal of Environmental Psychology researchers asked students to engage in a simple task in which they pressed a computer key when certain numbers flashed on a screen. The students who looked out at a flowering green roof for 40 seconds midway through the task made significantly fewer mistakes than students who paused for 40 seconds to gaze out at a concrete rooftop. Now there’s a lifehack that’s only drawback is hayfever!

Click here for a transcript of the webcast.

Tell us what you think of Up To Speed.

About the author:

Cara Jurkowski is a failed standup comedian who made up for her lack of comedic success by spending the past two decades telling stories about the communications industry and the amazing people who work to connect the world. When she is not writing about Verizon, she lives in an unofficial Lego museum, slowly working through a steadily growing backlog of unbuilt sets at a perfectly acceptable pace.

Related Articles


Today on Up To Speed Live: Copa America: Who are you rooting for? Hola!, ViX Premium! Gift Guides: Dads and Grads and V Teamer Spotlight: Meet Mike and Shannon Arroyo.


Verizon gets its own BBC Documentary, show support for Verizon’s STEM Stars,i t’s National Safety Month, Meet the Gizmo Watch 3 – Adventure, calling all cricket fans and a V Team wedding!