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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.
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:
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
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
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/
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.
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!
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
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.
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]
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
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
Apr 06, 2016 - 10:10 AM - by dgstorm
After the FBI vs Apple debacle of the last few weeks, most of the major tech companies have vowed to improve the security of their products. The backlash over the DOJ's overreach of power has inspired companies like Apple, Google and Facebook to add or strengthen encryption on their devices. Facebook has already moved forward with this more secure initiative by activating end-to-end encryption in their WhatsApp instant messaging app.
To be clear, WhatsApp (which was acquired by Facebook not too long ago) was probably already working on this before the "crap hit the fan" with the FBI and Apple tussle; however, the debate likely spurred them to make it a greater priority to crank out the security feature faster. WhatsApp now uses Signal for its encryption method. This is an open source encryption used in the encrypted messaging app with the same name.
WhatsApp developers, Jan Koum and Brian Acton wrote in a blog post. "The idea is simple: when you send a message, the only person who can read it is the person or group chat that you send that message to. No one can see inside that message. Not cybercriminals. Not hackers. Not oppressive regimes. Not even us."
That means that consumer's devices using WhatsApp have both the encryption and decryption keys for any messages sent over the service, and law enforcement will not be able to ask WhatsApp or another service provider to obtain these keys.
It's possible that law enforcement could crack the software if they could find software vulnerabilities (as the FBI likely did with the San Bernardino shooter's iPhone). Also if a suspect were to share the phone's passcode, or if the passcode was obtained another way, then law enforcement could gain access.
It seems like the FBI has inadvertently forced companies into making more secure technology. Sound off and let us know what you think of that.
Apr 05, 2016 - 10:52 AM - by dgstorm
It looks like Google needed to patch some security holes on Android recently. They just started pushing out the latest security patch for Android 6.0/Marshmallow. Google promised to release a new security patch every month to stay ahead of the black hats. April's update came toward the end of the month instead of earlier, but at least it's here.
The new update fixes 13 high priority issues and 6 critical issues. The update will begin pushing out to the following devices: Nexus 5, Nexus 5X, Nexus 6, Nexus 6P, Nexus 7 (2013 WiFi and LTE), Nexus 9 (WiFi and LTE), Nexus 10, the Nexus Player, and the Pixel C.
Google also released the Factory Images for a few of these devices already. Here are some links:
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