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Google is Considering a 'Name and Shame' for Slow-to-update Android Vendors

May 26, 2016 - 3:18 PM - by dgstorm

We aren't sure if this strategy would work, but we are all for Google trying just about anything to get Android device vendors to release Android updates in a more timely fashion. The latest rumors suggests Google is considering a "name and shame" to light a fire under the proverbial butts of any lagging vendors *cough*rhymes with horizon*cough*.

Apparently, Google actually keeps a detailed database on the Android releases from the various Android vendors and OEMs, but they have always kept it to themselves. Google execs are considering making that list public to see if PR shaming will spur faster work. Google has supposedly also been pushing vendors to automatically release any security updates and skip tests entirely.

Of course, all of this is just rumor at this point, so who knows if it will actually happen. What do you folks think? Is this something Google should do, or would it be bad etiquette?

Source: Engadget
  0 Replies | 60 Views

NVIDIA Shield Tablet LTE Finally Gets Marshmallow

May 25, 2016 - 11:41 AM - by dgstorm

Owners of the LTE version of the NVIDIA Shield Android tablet might be pleased to know that their device will soon have a tasty and fluffy, white treat on it. Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow has started pushing out to that version of the device. The NVIDIA Shield K1 and the WiFi version already received the update, so it's good to see that NVIDIA finally finished up with Marshmallow for all of their Shield tablet devices.

Here's a breakdown of some of the highlighted features included in this update:
  • Updated Emojis
  • Better button layout in landscape mode
  • Fixed compass issues
  • Shifted Lasso Capture icons
  • Fixed Gamepad mapper issues
  • Fixed SD card app issues
  • Android Doze support
  • Doom 3 HDMI-out fix
  • USB MIDI support
  • Do Not Disturb Until Next Alarm
  • Various performance and functionality fixes

The LTE Shield Tablet now also includes full support for NVIDIA's own Vulkan Graphics API, which is their latest 3D computing API designed to enhance your gaming experience. Even if you don't like real life Marshmallows, this is one Marshmallow it's easy to enjoy!
  0 Replies | 124 Views

Android N Still Doesn't Have a Name, but it Has Several Improvements

May 18, 2016 - 3:34 PM - by dgstorm

It looks like Google is having a hard time settling on a name for Android N. Despite that hiccup, actual development is moving along rapidly. Here's a highlight of just a few of the deep improvements in Android N:
  • Performance improvements from the new graphics API called Vulcan - lower GPU overhead - software’s JIT compiler will make apps install 75% faster and the code size is reduced by 50%.
  • Improved security - includes file-based encryption, media-hardening framework and seamless updates (this means system images will download automatically without a dialog notification (should you leave that option on).
  • The apps carousel has been overhauled - recent apps beyond the last seven you used will be added to a list.
  • A ‘Clear All’ button
  • Split screen mode coming to both Android phones and tablets
  • A long tap on the square button lets Android N users open two screens at a time
  • A Picture-in-Picture for Android TV.
  • Direct replies will let users respond to notifications, and they won't even need to open the app
  • Unicode 9 emoji support - emoji that look much better

That's just a small smattering of the over 250 new features which will be added in Android N. The new OS from Google is already available to beta test, and will launch sometime this summer.
  0 Replies | 416 Views

Google Plans to Completely Remove Flash from Chrome in Stages Starting This Year; End

May 16, 2016 - 10:54 AM - by dgstorm

Google is ramping up their campaign to eliminate Flash. They figured out a way to strip him of his speed force powers, and have teamed up with Eobard Thawne to implement their dastardly plan... Seriously though, Google really is planning the death of the ancient, defunct and insecure animation platform originally created by Adobe. HTML5 is far superior and far more secure, so there's really no reason to hold on to the old technology. All Flash does is open up users to malware and other security vulnerabilities.

Google's master plan involves shutting down the use of the Flash plugin in Chrome later this year in most situations. To help with the transition, Google plans to allow the top 10 websites which use Flash to continue to use it temporarily. This "whitelist" will include the following web-based companies:

  1. YouTube.com
  2. Facebook.com
  3. Yahoo.com
  4. VK.com
  5. Live.com
  6. Yandex.ru
  7. OK.ru
  8. Twitch.tv
  9. Amazon.com
  10. Mail.ru

Apparently, Google's engineers are programming Chrome to activate the Flash plugin temporarily, when it sees Flash content from these 10 sources. Even though these companies will still be able to use Flash, even the time for this whitelist will run out soon. By the end of 2017, Google plans to completely remove Flash plugin functionality from Chrome altogether, regardless of whether any websites have removed Flash or not.

Source: Google Blog
  0 Replies | 476 Views

Google Sends Out Their Last Minute I/O 2016 Invites

May 06, 2016 - 11:33 AM - by dgstorm

It looks like Google is looking to pack the house at Google I/O 2016. They are sending out the last minute invites so folks within the mobile industry can attend the press and developer conference. Students wishing to attend will be able to pay the $300 discounted fee for the event, while everyone else must shell out $900. The Google I/O 2016 conference will be held May 18-20th.

Here's a link to the Google I/O 2016 mobile app: Google I/O 2016 - Android Apps on Google Play
  0 Replies | 518 Views

Viv Digital Voice Assistant to be a Better Conversationalist Than Siri

May 05, 2016 - 3:46 PM - by dgstorm

In the world of artificially intelligent digital voice assistants, it looks like there will be a new girl/guy in town soon. There's a startup company working on something called Viv that is meant to be an eve better conversationalist than Apple's Siri. What's especially intriguing about this project is that it is being developed by most of the former project leads of the original Siri found on the iPhone.

This requires a bit of background... basically a non-profit named SRI International developed Siri back in 2010 as a third party app for the iPhone. Of course, Apple was impressed and needed a competitor to what Google was working on, so they grabbed up the company and ran with the ball.

SRI's version of Siri was conceived as a true digital personal assistant that uses normal conversational language for voice commands. Although the current iteration of Siri is pretty good about handling important tasks, its conversational speech patterns need to be verbally massaged to get the prefect outcome sometimes. One of Siri's co-creators, Dag Kittlaus, describes the current version of Siri as a chatbot instead of a full-fledged natural speaking voice assistant.

At some point in the past few years, the original concept for Siri was basically lost in the shuffle of the Apple takeover and the way the project evolved. Unhappy with how things turned out, Kittlaus and several of the other original creators of Siri left Apple to pursue their real goal of creating the perfect digital voice assistant. Thus was born, Viv, which will be demonstrated publicly for the first time on Monday, May 9th. They have been working hard to make the normal human conversational understanding of Viv so advanced, that you could order a Pizza and even customize the toppings in the same sentence and have the AI handle that seamlessly for you.

Of course, since then, new competitors have entered the market (like Microsoft's Cortana, and the Amazon Echo), and old rivals have further evolved (like Google Now). Viv still requires a search engine for much of what it does, but the developers are also partnering up directly with various other companies to customize the speech patters of Viv to match various topics, products and services. It will be interesting to see how effective Viv will be and if it can compete with the other AI assistants in the market.

The Washington Post article on Viv is quite long and in-depth, so be sure to check it out for even more info: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/...thing-for-you/
  0 Replies | 550 Views

YouTube is Introducing 6 Second Un-Skippable Bumper Ads

Apr 27, 2016 - 9:07 AM - by dgstorm

Here's a story from yesterday that we didn't quite get to at the end of the day. YouTube just announced they are planning to implement their new 6 second un-skippable micro-ads. They are called bumper ads and Project Manager Zach Lupei described them as — “a new six-second video format […] ideal for driving incremental reach and frequency, especially on mobile, where “snackable videos” perform well.”

Luepi also shared, “We like to think of Bumper ads as little haikus of video ads – and we’re excited to see what the creative community will do with them." While we appreciate his passion for his job, we can imagine that being un-skippable might irritate YouTube users. You can check out an example of the Bumper ads above. Let us know what you think of them.
  2 Replies | 782 Views

Project Fi App Gets a New Update with Data Usage Widget and Call Forwarding Toggle

Apr 22, 2016 - 11:27 AM - by dgstorm

Project Fi, for those who have tried the service, is easily one of the best values for many consumers. Not only does it offer excellent and reliable service in most areas of the country now, it also is very affordable. In fact, for moderate to light data users, it's easily the least expensive option in the entire U.S. market (assuming it's in your area).

Besides the excellent and affordable service, the Project Fi app happens to bring extra value as well with some slick and useful features. As of today, there is even more extra value to be found in the Project Fi app. Two new features are being added in an update to the app. The first is a widget which gives you a handy dial displaying your data usage. Not only does it display how much data used in your current billing cycle, it even shows you how many days you have left before it resets.

The second slick feature that Google added to the Project Fi app is a call forwarding toggle. This feature lets you easily activate or deactivate call forwarding for any number you have with just the touch of a button. You don't even need to reverify anything each time you reenable it. Nice!

Source: Reddit
  0 Replies | 760 Views

Sony Releases Android N Developer Preview for Specific Xperia Z3 Models

Apr 21, 2016 - 11:23 AM - by dgstorm

It looks like the Nexus owners will not be the only folks who get to try out the Android N Developer Preview early. Sony has released it for consumers to try it out on specific Xperia Z3 models. The Android N Developer Preview for Sony devices will only work on the D6603 and D6653 models of the Xperia Z3.

Here's a breakdown of the steps if you have one of these devices and would like to try out Android N Developer preview on it:
  • Connect your compatible Z3 device to a computer with a USB cable.
  • Xperia Companion will open automatically
  • Make sure you have Xperia Companion version 1.1.24 or later. If not, download the latest version from here.
  • Hold down the ALT key on your computer and click on Software repair on the home screen, then follow the guide.
  • You’ll be asked to disconnect and turn off your device, then to reconnect whilst holding down the volume down key to start the software flashing.
  • You can return to factory settings at any time by connecting back to Xperia Companion and following the Software repair

For more info, here's Sony's landing page on the subject: Android N Developer Preview – Xperia Z3 Series | Sony Developer World
  0 Replies | 706 Views

EU Officially Charges Google with Anti-Trust Violations over App Bundling & Android C

Apr 20, 2016 - 10:31 AM - by dgstorm

The European Union has moved from investigating Google to charging them for supposedly violating anti-trust regulations. This charge is in reference to the way Google has bundled apps with Android, and for the aggressive contracts with Android OEMs which forced them to do so.

Margrethe Vestager, EU's commissioner for competition, specifically explained that Google violated EU anti-trust laws by "requiring manufacturers to pre-install Google Search and Google's Chrome browser and requiring them to set Google Search as the default search service on their devices, as a condition to license certain Google proprietary apps;" and by "preventing manufacturers from selling smart mobile devices running on competing operating systems based on the Android open source code;" and finally by "giving financial incentives to manufacturers and mobile network operators on condition that they exclusively pre-install Google Search on their devices."

Basically, the EU contends that Google's contracts force Android OEMs to bundle Google's Apps, like Chrome and Google Search by creating a host of requirements in order to use and license these apps. The EU believes this hurts competition by taking away choices from the OEMs to bundle apps from other developers besides Google.

The EU's other main problem is that they believe Google made it nearly impossible for any potential rivals to design a competing search engine, app store, or browser for Android. They claim Google did this by requiring the Play Store installed in order for Chrome or Google Search to be installed.

Of course, Google has a counter-argument which is pretty convincing. Google points out that OEMs are only required to agree to design their device to ensure that Android apps will function properly on any device which uses the Android base OS. Google explains their intent is to make sure the user experience is good if customers choose to use their apps on an Android device.

Furthermore, Google also pointed out that device OEMs can use the Android OS without agreeing to anything except the terms of use document you read before downloading AOSP code. They can then fork Android in any way they choose, and make their own apps prominent instead of Google's apps.

Google highlighted Amazon as the prime example of this, since they use the base Android OS for their Fire tablets, yet do not feature any Google apps prominently as the primary choice for users of the tablets. Owners of Amazon Fire tablets can side-load Google apps on their device, if they choose to.

Google's final argument pointed out that any OEM who chooses to use Android can choose to load the suite of Google apps to their device at any time, and they are perfectly free to add other apps as well. For example, phones today come loaded with a plethora of of pre-installed apps from various sources, including Facebook, Microsoft, Google, Amazon, and even the mobile carriers themselves. The gist of Google's argument is that they provide the Android OS (and support for it) for FREE, and all they ask in return is that OEMs that choose to use it make sure that Google apps will function properly on the device which uses it.

What do you think of Google's chances of beating the EU in court?

Source: Google Blog & ... [Read More]
  0 Replies | 681 Views

Man Uses Raspberry Pi to Activate Siri by asking Amazon Echo to ask Google Now how to

Apr 19, 2016 - 10:13 AM - by dgstorm

The video above shows off the silliest (and perhaps funniest) method for activating Siri ever. We will let you decide if this is a clever or crazy way to get your various digital assistants to work together. Perhaps he could have added Cortana to this loop, somehow? :D
  1 Reply | 813 Views

Huawei Files Trademark for a Nexus 7P - What do you folks think it will be?

Apr 14, 2016 - 10:30 AM - by dgstorm

This news is so exciting we stopped what we were doing to create a new forum section for it and then tell you folks about it! Huawei just filed a trademark for a device called the Nexus 7P! We have no idea what it is. It could be a new smartphone, a tablet, or something else entirely. Either way, it's thrilling news because the Huawei Nexus 6P is easily considered the best Nexus phone ever created, and some consider it to be one of the best Android phones ever made too!

Obviously this is more likely to be a tablet device, but we would only be mildly surprised if it turned out to be a giant smartphone. Larger sizes in smartphones has been the trend lately. What is especially curious about this is that HTC was rumored to be the big Nexus creator for 2016, so that leaves us wondering if this is a device which will come out this year or next year.

Please share your speculation on what this device will be and when we will see it (if at all). Here's a link to our new forum section for the Nexus 7P: Huawei Nexus 7P

Source: Phandroid
  0 Replies | 864 Views

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