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Google is Supposedly in Talks with Ford to Build their Fleet of Self-Driving Cars

Dec 22, 2015 - 1:09 PM - by dgstorm

While Tesla is at the cutting edge with electric cars and are even including self-driving features in their updates to their vehicles, they are still a long way off from realizing a fully functional, tested and vetted self-driving autonomous vehicle. Meanwhile, Apple has been heavily investing in self-driving car engineers which pretty much guarantees they plan to offer something for that market, once it eventually materializes.

Of course, Google is way ahead of the game on this front. They have been thoroughly testing complete self-driving autonomous cars for some time. Their biggest problem is they have no infrastructure to actually mass produce their smart car once it settles on a finalized design. What good is a working and viable prototype if you can never convert it into a market viable consumer product? Google's answer to that conundrum could be Ford.

According to a report from Reuters, Google and Ford are in talks to team up on the manufacture of Google's self-driving autonomous vehicle, and, if they can work out the details, the partnership might be announced as early as CES 2016. Industry speculation suggests that Google plans to create a new business under the Alphabet corporate umbrella that will oversee self-driving car operations. This new company may include a rides-for-hire business model, similar to Uber and/or Lyft.

The report also indicates that Google has been talking to the world's top auto-makers on this project, and their plan is to introduce the self-driving cars to market by 2020. Here's a quote with a few more details regarding the possible partnership between Google and Ford,

"Ford, although lagging behind most competitors, ramped up its pace to develop self-driving cars earlier this year and said it would expand advanced safety technology, including automatic braking, enabling hands-free operation of cars under certain conditions by automating such basic functions as steering, braking and throttle.

This was to be included across its global lineup over the next five years." ~ Reuters
  0 Replies | 807 Views

The Nexus 6 is Now Getting Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow Rollout

Dec 15, 2015 - 11:04 AM - by dgstorm

The latest update to Android Marshmallow is pushing out OTA to the Nexus 6. This is Android 6.0.1 and the official firmware is build MMB29K and MMB29M. The features and fixes included in this update are:
  • December security fixes
  • A new font to Android at a system level
  • A large smattering of new emoji

If you are on stock (official) firmware, you can use these download links below to manually move from a current build to the new one:

Be sure to stop by our dedicated Nexus 6 section for further discussion and tips on manually grabbing the update: Motorola Nexus 6 | Android Forum at DroidForums.net
  0 Replies | 889 Views

Walmart Announces Their Mobile Pay Competitor: Walmart Pay for iOS and Android

Dec 10, 2015 - 11:43 AM - by dgstorm

Ever since Apple jumped head first into the mobile payment market with Apple Pay, everyone and their dog has followed suit. Other mobile pay competitors had already been in the market for sometime, but their services never quite took off (like Google Wallet). Even Google changed their payment system to Android Pay. Whether you love it or hate it, it took Apple entering the market to "legitimize" mobile payments.

The latest entrant could actually give all of them a run for their money (at least in a particular niche). Walmart has thrown their hat in the ring by announcing Walmart Pay. This new service will be built into the Walmart app for both iOS and Android. It will roll out in select Walmart stores in the U.S. later this month, and then get a nationwide rollout during the first half of 2016.

What sets Walmart Pay apart (for now) is the way it processes the transaction and emails you the receipt. Here's a brief quote with the details,

"With Walmart Pay, you open an app on your phone and scan a barcode on the register screen at checkout. That sends a signal to the register you will pay via the app and allows the backend system to send you an itemized receipt of your purchases to the smartphone. It also means payment is handled seamlessly by whatever credit or debit card you’ve linked to the app. The implementation is a bit clunkier in that you have to trigger the app and complete a scan. But the receipt functionality isn’t yet available from Apple and is a nice addition." ~ Forbes

The other thing worth noting about Walmart pay is that it supports any major credit, debit, pre-paid or Walmart gift card. On top of this new mobile payment system, Walmart is one of a handful of retailers who have refused to support Apple Pay. Walmart is actually taking the lead on a standardized-for-retail mobile payment setup called the Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX) consortium. MCX is trying to get the entire retail industry to standardize under something called CurrentC.

What's very odd about Walmart's new Walmart Pay system is that it basically flies in the face of their own MCX initiative. Walmart even used some of the technology in the MCX system to create Walmart Pay. Could they be simply throwing in the towel on a standardized system? It's strange to ponder what their strategy is. Regardless, considering the massive volume of customers that Walmart has (except for folks like myself who almost never shop there), they have now placed themselves in the top three of the US mobile payment market, simply by offering the service.

Here's a final quote regarding Walmart Pay, and you can check out a video promo of it in the thread below,

“The simplicity and ease of Walmart Pay comes not only from how it works, but also in how it’s been built,” said Daniel Eckert, senior vice president, services, Walmart U.S. “We made a strategic decision to design Walmart Pay to work with almost any smartphone and accept almost any payment type – even allowing for the integration of other mobile wallets in the future. The result is an innovation that will make the ease of mobile payments a reality for millions of Americans.”
  1 Reply | 924 Views

Nexus 5X Will Remain On Sale for $50 Off Until the End of the Year

Dec 09, 2015 - 12:08 PM - by dgstorm

At just $380 bucks, the LG-Made Google Nexus 5X 16GB is a solid value buy. With a $50 discount, that solid value buy becomes an excellent one at just $330. The same $50 off applied to the (normally $430) 32GB model is equally impressive for a total of $380. That happens to be the case across the board at most retailers who sell the device. The Nexus 5X is on sale with this discount until December 30th.

While the specs of the device are not "flagship" mode, they are still very respectable. Here's a recap:
  • 5.2-inch phone with small bezel and small footprint
  • Snapdragon 808 system chip
  • 2GB of RAM
  • Android 6.0 Marshmallow
  • Natively supported fingerprint scanner
  • USB Type-C port

For folks who want to take advantage of this before the year ends, here are several links:

For further discussion regarding the Nexus 5X, here's our dedicated section: Nexus 5X (2015) | Android Forum at DroidForums.net
  0 Replies | 891 Views

Wave Goodbye to the Nexus 6

Dec 09, 2015 - 10:59 AM - by dgstorm

So long, Nexus 6. We hardly new you.

The Motorola-made Google Nexus 6 is now gone from the Google Play Store, and is "no longer available for purchase," at least on the Play Store. This means that Google has stopped ordering new Nexus 6 units to be built and that they probably ran out of stock.

Although the device has a monstrous size, for many folks, it was/is a remarkable device. It didn't have the adorable name "Shamu" for nothing. Google apparently wants to concentrate on the new Nexus 6P, so the old feller, the Nexus 6 is being put out to pasture.

If there are any folks who still wants one, there are still a couple of options left at good prices:

Once these are gone, that will be the remaining stock and the device will be extinct (unless they bring it back in the future).

Remember to check out our dedicated Motorola Nexus 6 section for further discussion: Motorola Nexus 6 | Android Forum at DroidForums.net
  0 Replies | 867 Views

Featured App: DashLinQ Converts Your Phone Into a Car Infotainment System

Dec 01, 2015 - 5:18 PM - by dgstorm

We wanted to take a moment to highlight an amazing new app from one of our awesome supporting vendors. The folks at GROMAudio put together a creative product called the DashLinQ Car Mode Dashboard. It's basically an app that converts your Android smartphone into a complete car infotainment system!

You will probably want some type of dash-mount to really get the full effect of this app, but once you do that, you will be treated to some very nifty features. DashLinQ even includes Bluetooth and/or GROM Link integration as well as voice controls. It can instantly control music playback, GPS navigation, hands-free phone calls and much more!

Here's a breakdown of the DashLinQ app's full features and pricing info:

* Full GROM HW integration (http://gromaudio.com/store/index.html)
* Home button mapped to DashLinQ while DashLinQ is active (Car Mode)
* Sticky icon always on launcher screen: Screen Lock, Brightness
* Voice command button
* Third party music players integrated for 4.4+
* Weather information for Current or selected location
* Large and contrast Clock
* Activate app via Bluetooth or GROM connection automatically
* Keep screen on while connected to power (optional)
* Metric or Imperial units
* Full screen mode with only most essential notifications enabled
* Large system status bar showing meaningful information only

"For more details, please visit http://gromaudio.com/dashlinq/ and contact us at dashlinq@gromaudio.com
To report issues, feedbacks and check tips & tricks, visit our community page:

We offer 30-day free trial for you to experience DashLinQ. After the trial period, you will be given options to either 1. Upgrade to premium version at $4.99 or 2. Continue premium version with Ads.

While it's possible you could get many of these features in multiple separate apps, what makes DashLinQ so impressive is that it brings them all together in one handy place! It's definitely worth checking out!

For folks who want to try GROMAudio's new DashLinQ app, here's a direct link to the Google Play Store: DashLinQ Car Mode Dashboard - Android Apps on Google Play
  0 Replies | 917 Views

AT&T Raises Prices on Grandfathered Unlimited Plans by $5 (Starting February 2016)

Dec 01, 2015 - 11:41 AM - by dgstorm

The big news back in October was that Verizon was planning to increase the price of Grandfathered Unlimited Data Plans by $20 per month (which they did as of November 15th). Although many of our members are on Verizon, we still have quite a few who are on AT&T. Sadly yet unsurprisingly, it looks like AT&T is following Verizon's lead.

AT&T just announced last night they plan to raise the rates of users on their Grandfathered Unlimited Plans by $5, (from $30 to $35 per month). This price increase will take effect starting in February of 2016. Folks on a Grandfathered Unlimited Data Plan for AT&T will still have their data throttled if they exceed 22GB per month (which was raised from a 5GB per month throttle not to long ago).

For more of the details, here is AT&T's full press release: AT&T
  0 Replies | 921 Views

NVIDIA Shield Android TV Sales: $50 Off Plus Free Shield Remote ($50 Value)

Nov 24, 2015 - 12:22 PM - by dgstorm

NVIDIA is hoping to entice folks into doing a little Black Friday (in person) or Cyber Monday (online) shopping with them. They are having two separate sales on the same device: the Shield Android TV console.

On Black Friday, if you go (in person) to Best Buy, Canada Computers, Fry’s, GameStop, Memory Express or Micro Center, you will be able to purchase the Shield Android TV for $50 off the normal price and get a free ($50 value) Shield Remote.

On Cyber Monday, you can jump online at shield.nvidia.com, Amazon.com, NCIX.com and NewEgg.com, and get the exact same deal. To be clear on pricing, that makes the 16GB Shield TV only $149.99 with a free Shield Remote, and the 500GB Shield Pro Android TV will be $249.99 with a free Shield Remote. Both consoles already come with one free Shield Controller.

For more info, here are a couple more links:
  0 Replies | 814 Views

Google and Asus Team Up with Chromebit; Turns Any Monitor Into a Computer for $85

Nov 17, 2015 - 4:08 PM - by dgstorm

As long as your monitor or TV has an HDMI input, the new Chromebit from Google and Asus will let you convert it into a fully functioning "Chrome-based" computer. It's not quite ready for retail, but it is coming soon. When it does land, it will come to Amazon, Fry’s and Newegg in the US. It will also become available in Australia, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan and the UK.

The Chromebit will only cost $85 USD and here are its full specs:
Rockchip RK3288-C with Mali T764 graphics
16GB of storage and 2GB of RAM
Dual-band 2×2 WiFi AC
HDMI-out, 1x USB 2.0, Bluetooth 4.0 LE
123 x 31 x 17mm
Chrome OS
The little conversion dongle does require a power outlet and will not power through USB, so there is one caveat. Despite that, this could be a handy little device for the right user(s). It comes in a variety of colors (including what you see in the image above as well as black). It will even let you watch various TV shows from Google Play, Netflix or Hulu, just like any other Chrome OS device.

We will keep an eye out and let you folks know when it becomes available.
  0 Replies | 1,188 Views

Google Now Has Evolved Further; Can Now Answer Even More Complex Questions

Nov 17, 2015 - 11:30 AM - by dgstorm

"The system goes online August 4th, 1997. Human decisions are removed from strategic defense. Skynet begins to learn at a geometric rate. It becomes self-aware at 2:14 a.m. Eastern time, August 29th. In a panic, they try to pull the plug." ~ Arnold Schwarzeneggar as The Terminator in the movie Terminator 2: Judgment Day

While the above quote is a gloom and doom scenario from an entertaining sci-fi movie, the reality is that our current "AI" systems are a far cry from self awareness. Despite that, the most used "digital assistants" keep getting better. Siri, Cortana, Alexa and Google Now are constantly improved by their respective designers.

For the most part Google Now still remains the top dog as far as usability and capabilities area concerned. It might not have the same lively personality as its competitors, but it is much more effective at offering up the information and data that we crave. With Google's latest improvement/enhancement, it has become even better.

According to the latest reveal straight from Google's engineers, the Google Search app can now understand and respond to complex questions that it couldn't before. It is even beginning to understand the intent of the person asking the question, as well as the meaning behind the question. This includes some of the following complex linguistics examples:
  • Superlatives (tallest, largest, etc.)
  • Ordered items (“Who are the tallest Mavericks players?”)
  • Points in time (“What songs did Taylor Swift record in 2014?”)
  • Complex combinations (“What was the U.S. population when Bernie Sanders was born?”)

With each new improvement, Google Now gets that much closer to being able to understand questions as if we were asking another human being instead of just a machine. Who knows if any of the various AI digital assistants will ever truly achieve sentience, but one thing is for sure: they keep getting more and more useful as they continue to evolve. For now, Google Now is still the top dog in capabilities and language comprehension, and it has only pulled further ahead of the competition.

Source: GoogleBlog
  0 Replies | 1,080 Views

Google Maps Getting Offline Navigation & Enhanced Speed on Android Today

Nov 10, 2015 - 11:37 AM - by dgstorm

Those genius Google Maps engineers are finally ready to pull the trigger on the offline navigation mode of Google Maps. According to their own blog, the feature will start rolling out today in an update to Google Maps.

It's remarkably simple despite it being years in development; it works by first prompting the user to save an area and then the app simply downloads an offline map for you to view at your leisure. The app will even update the map every 15 days. These updates occur when the phone is plugged into a charger and connected to Wi-Fi.

There are a couple of things wroth noting: you can't switch to a satellite view, and there aren't any offline walking or public transport directions. Also, businesses which are registered on Google Maps will appear with only their names, star ratings, and phone numbers. They will not have photos or user reviews (of course this will display if you use it online).

That's not all that we are getting in the update though. Along with adding these extra features with offline search and navigation to Google Maps, they are also improving the speed and performance of the app. Nice! Here's what Google project manager Amanda Bishop had to say about it,

We've been working on all of this stuff for two to three years. Google Maps happened to be really slow or completely unusable in many scenarios due to limited mobile internet. "Users now don't have to do all that screenshot jujitsu before they leave [in case they lose access], and there's much faster load times for search and driving directions.
She added, "everybody on our team who uses it can't stand it when they have to use the old app because it's crazy how frequently you find yourself seeing that spinner waiting for results. Once you get used to it returning them in a second every single time, you quickly get used to how snappy the app feels."

Nifty! We can't wait to try it out her at HQ!

Source: Google
  2 Replies | 1,012 Views

Google is Supposedly Planning to Co-Develop its Own Processor for Android [Rumor]

Nov 06, 2015 - 11:37 AM - by dgstorm

This morning has a strangely intriguing bit of rumint. According to the latest hot gossip, Google has been having talks with various microchip manufacturers to hammer out a deal to co-develop their own chip for future Android devices. The obvious conclusion from this rumor (if true) is that Google wants to have their own hardware so they can ensure that future iterations of Android works more smoothly across multiple devices.

This is basically the same approach that Apple takes with their iPhone and iPad products. It's not a bad idea and could help reduce the "fractured" Android landscape a tad. Of course, the biggest reason for the fracturing is that many OEMs take time to put their own "spin" on the Android UI. Still, if Google can ensure a more stable hardware architecture for future Android products, it could also mean they are planning on upping their game with fancy new features we haven't even thought of yet.

If this proves to be true, what do you think of this move from Google?

Source: The Information
  0 Replies | 1,052 Views

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