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printed July 23, 2017
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Alexa Arrives In Amazon's Android App

Thursday, 2:44 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Amazon is making Alexa, its artificial intelligence, available to the Android mobile shopping application beginning this week. Any Android device with the Amazon app aboard will have access to Alexa, allowing people to search for and buy goods simply by asking Alexa. Amazon brought this functionality to the iOS Amazon shopping app earlier this year. Amazon says Android users can search for paper towels or reorder batteries and Alexa will do those things within the confines of the Amazon app. The app also lets people listen to music and play Kindle books, ask basic questions, add skills, access Smart Home features, and check the news, weather, and traffic via voice requests. The app works with Android users' Amazon accounts and subscriptions to services such as Amazon Prime. Android device owned can access Alexa by tapping a microphone built into the app. Separate Alexa-powered devices, such as the Amazon Echo, are not required. The Amazon mobile shopping app for Android is free to download from the Google Play Store.


YouTube TV Reaches 10 More Markets

Thursday, 12:25 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today made good on its promise to expand the reach of YouTube TV to more markets. YouTube TV is now available in the 10 markets it announced last month, which include Dallas-Fort Worth, Washington, D.C., Houston, Atlanta, Phoenix, Detroit, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Miami-Fort Lauderdale, Orlando-Daytona Beach-Melbourne, and Charlotte. YouTube TV costs $35 per month. The service includes live TV streaming of local channels, unlimited DVR use, and up to six individual user profiles per account. The service has expanded the selection of content, too, which now stands at about 50 channels. The service initially launched earlier this year in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, Philadelphia, and the San Francisco Bay Area. YouTube TV is available on smartphones, tablets, PCs, and select television sets. It can be cast from handsets to set-top-box devices such as Apple TV and Chromecast.

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Google Play Protect Now Securing Android Devices

Thursday, 12:17 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Play Protect, a security tool Google announced earlier this year, has made its way to many of today's Android smartphones. Play Protect is a set of features that Google created to keep Android phones safe from malware and other malicious applications. For example, Play Protect scans apps before they are published to the Play Store to ensure they are secure. The tool then continuously scans the apps installed on individual Android devices for potential security problems. The service will alert users to risky apps. Google Play Protect encompasses the Find My Device tool, as well, which allows people to remotely locate, lock, or erase their device. Last, Play Protect secures the Chrome browser on many Android handsets and will warn and/or protect against dangerous web sites. Google Play Protect is available to devices running Play Services 11, and should already have been installed automatically on the majority of Android smartphones. It is accessible via the Google account settings.


Google's Motion Stills App Now Available to Android Phones

Thursday, 10:05 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today made its Motion Stills GIF-making application available to Android handsets for the first time. The app, first released last year, has until now been reserved for the iPhone. It was initially meant to help iPhone owners make shareable GIFs of their Live Photos. The Android version of Motion Stills takes a different approach. Google says the app includes its own recording experience to instantly capture and transform video into short clips that are easy to watch and share. People can capture 3-second clips with a simple tap and turn them into looping GIFs. Motion Stills for Android also includes a tool called Fast Forward, which accelerates longer recordings into shorter time-lapse bursts. Fast Forward can compress up to 1 minute of video and speed it up between 1x and 8x. Users can also string together a bunch of Motion Stills to create short movies. The app automatically stabilizes recordings, and the improved algorithm helps prevent pocket shots. Google says its new recording process can smooth out each frame immediately and produce shake-free GIFs near instantly. People can share the Motion Stills via text, email, and social networks. Motion Stills for Android is free to download from the Play Store.


Google Offers More Fine-Tuned App Curation in the Play Store

Wednesday, 12:54 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today improved the Editors' Choice section of the Google Play Store with what it calls "better curation to help you find high-quality apps." In short, Google has added new editorial pages to the Editors' Choice section, which provide more fine-tuned recommendations for apps and games. Recommendations now explore specific game genres and app categories with reviews on each theme. Some include Get Motivated With These 5 Fitness Apps, Oh, Snap: 5 Photo Editing Apps to Make Your Pics Pop, Puzzle Games to Test Your Logic, and Pedal to the Metal: 5 Awesome Racing Game. Google says the revamped Editors' Choice lists are available on mobile devices and desktop PCs in Australia, Canada, Great Britain, Japan, South Korea, and the U.S. Google expects to expand to more countries over time.


Google Expeditions Moves Beyond the Classroom

Wednesday, 12:30 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today made it possible for anyone to access and enjoy its 360-degree Expeditions. Until now, Google Expeditions has been limited to educational environments. Expeditions relies on Google Cardboard or Google Daydream viewers to interact with 360-degree and/or virtual environments. Google released a solo version of Expeditions today, which means everyone can tour more than 600 locations around the world, such as the Empire State Building, Taj Mahal, Thimphu Bhutan, Oriole Park at Camden Yards, the Great Barrier Reef, and much more. The Expeditions include self-guided tours, as well as "guide mode" for educators who may want to preview the content from a different perspective. Expeditions is available for Android devices and can be downloaded from the Play Store for free. Google says an iOS version of Expeditions will be available soon.


Google Bringing Search-Based Feed to Its Mobile App

Wednesday, 7:28 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today said its personalized feed will begin to appear in the Google mobile app for Android and iOS devices. The feed, which Google has been testing on Android since late last year, displays information cards below the search bar based on each user's individual search history. Google will also toss in information concerning trending topics both local and global. The more people take advantage of the feed, the more in-tuned it will become to individual tastes and interests. The new feed supplants Google Now, which delivered articles and information cards. The cards generated by Google Now will still appear, but fall under a new "updates" tab in the Google app. A new "follow" button has been added to search results so people can follow topics or interests (sports teams, artists, movies, TV shows, celebrities) more directly from their daily interactions with Google. News stories will be presented from a variety of viewpoints and Google says simple fact checking tools will be available to help combat inaccurate sources. Moreover, people will be able to dive deeper into their favorite topics via dedicated search tools. On the flip side, Google suggests that it will be easy to unfollow topics presented by the feed so they don't reappear. The Google app with the new fees is being updated for Android and iOS in the U.S. today, and will roll out globally over the next few weeks.


Snapchat Now Lets Users Record Multiple Snaps and Edit Pix

Jul 18, 2017, 12:14 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Snapchat today improved its Android and iOS mobile apps with new tools. First, the app can now record up to six 10-second clips over the course of one minute. Users can then select the segment they like best for sharing. People need only keep holding their finger down on the capture button in order to record multiple shots. Second, a new tool called Tint Brush lets people re-color small areas of their photos. The tool makes it simple to select an object or item in the photo and then apply a new color. Snapchat does the rest. The multi-snap recording tool is available initially to the iPhone app, but Snapchat plans to bring it to the Android app soon. The Tint Brush tool reaches both Android and iOS apps today. Snapchat is free to download from the Google Play Store and the iTunes App Store.


Lightroom for Android and iOS Earns More Photo-Tweaking Powers

Jul 18, 2017, 10:21 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Adobe today updated its Lightroom Mobile application for Android and iOS devices. Adobe says it overhauled the Android version from the ground up to give it a more native Android feel. Every screen has a new design that Adobe claims is faster and more efficient to use. The iOS version of Lightroom Mobile received several new features in this update. First, Lightroom for iOS now includes a selective brush tool to selectively pain enhancements into any part of an image. iOS devices that support 3D Touch can use the pressure-sentive screen to apply varied effects through the selective brush. The same functionality is available to the iPad Pro when used with the Apple Pencil. Lightroom Mobile for iOS also gains the ability to selectively erase both linear and radial gradients, and the refreshed details tab allows people to control sharpness and noise reduction over the entire image. Last, Adobe says the iPad version of Lightroom Mobile now takes better advantage of the tablet's screen real estate to make more controls accessible. Lightroom Mobile is free to download from the Google Play Store and the iTunes App Store.


Google Play Music Searches Reveal Playable Results

Jul 18, 2017, 7:52 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google has updated its Play Music app for Android devices and made it possible to play songs directly from search results. Now, when users search for a song, album, or artist, the top three results include a "play" button that lets them jump immediately to those songs. Google's own auto-generated search suggestions now appear further down the screen. Playing any of the results pushes the music player controls to the bottom of the screen. Google added this functionality to the Play Music web site earlier this year. In another change, Google Play Music has expanded the availability of the New Release Radio playlist tool (initially an exclusive to the Samsung Galaxy S8/S8+) to all Android devices. Google Play Music is free to download from the Google Play Store.


Google Allo Gains Message Reactions

Jul 18, 2017, 7:11 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google updated its Allo messaging app for Android devices this week and added the ability to react to individual messages. A little heart symbol now appears below received messages. Tapping it reveals a selection of possible reactions to show the sender what you think about the message. Allo still offers reply suggestions thanks to the built-in Google Assistant. Allo is free to download from the Play Store.


Google Brings Chatting to Its Video Conferencing Tool

Jul 17, 2017, 12:10 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today said Meet, its video conferencing service, will soon have the ability for participants to send and receive text and web links via chat. Google relaunched its video calling and chatting services earlier this year with an emphasis on business users. At the time, Google said chatting would come to Meet later this year; now, Google has made good on that promise. The text/link chatting tool is available to Meet both via desktop browsers and the mobile client. Google Meet is free to use. The new functionality should reach all users within two weeks.


HTC Brings Alexa to the U11

Jul 17, 2017, 7:03 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Owners of the HTC U11 can now take advantage of Amazon Alexa on their smartphone wherever they happen to be. HTC made its HTC Alexa app available to the U11 via the Google Play Store. Once installed, U11 owners will be able to use voice commands and queries to interact with Alexa, Amazon's artificial intelligent assistant. HTC says people can configure Alexa to suit their needs, such as answering directly to voice commands, or waiting until activated via the U11's Edge Sense squeezable sides. Some of the actions include listening to Amazon Music, receiving weather and news reports, managing shopping lists, and interacting with smart home devices. Together with the Amazon Alexa app, U11 owners can enable and configure some 15,000 skills — all accessible through voice commands. HTC announced Alexa integration when the U11 was first launched. The company has now brought the functionality to the device. The HTC Alexa app is free for U11 owners to download.


Google Builds Booking Tools Into Google Search and Maps

Jul 13, 2017, 8:19 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Jul 13, 2017, 8:38 AM

Google today made it possible to book appointments at salons and spas via Google Search and Google Maps. Search results now include a "book" button in the business listing that will let people contact the business in question to set an appointment. Google has also added the salons and spas to its Reserve with Google web site, which is dedicated to helping people find local businesses and make reservations. Google said the feature is made possible thanks to partnerships with third-party booking services, such as Genbook, SalonRunner, Rosy, Yocale, and Wellness Living. Google plans to add other booking services, including Books, Envision, MyTime, Schedulicity, Setmore, Shore, SimpleSpa, SuperSalon, and TimeTrade. Google Search and Google Maps are free to download from the Google Play Store.


Microsoft Redesigns Mobile Outlook App for Android and iOS

Jul 13, 2017, 7:55 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Microsoft has released an overhauled build of its Outlook mobile email application for both the Android and iOS platforms. The update targets several specific functions of the app to smooth over performance. For example, the new app makes it much simpler to switch between email accounts or folders within email accounts thanks to a redesigned nav bar. The help and settings tools are surfaced higher up within the app so they can be reached more easily. Microsoft also targeted threaded conversations. The app now shows more of the conversation at once, with clearer borders between messages. Outlook will automatically open the first unread message in a thread, while still allowing people to open other messages in the conversation. Replying to everyone in a thread should be easier, too, thanks to a quick reply function built into the app. Last, Microsoft plans to add a universal search bar to Outlook that can be used to find names, addresses, emails, and more. While the first two features are reaching Android and iOS this week, the search tool will be added at a later date. Outlook is free to download from the Google Play Store and iTunes App Store.


Google Home Lets People Access and Play Uploaded Tunes

Jul 13, 2017, 7:47 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google has updated its Google Home product and given people greater flexibility to access their own music. Owners of Google Home who have uploaded songs to Google Play Music can now access and play those songs. Google allows people to store up to 100,000 tracks online. Previously, Google Home would only stream music from the Google Play Store or other streaming service. This means people who don't subscribe to Play Music can at least listen to the tracks they've stored in the cloud. Radio stations and playlists from Google Play Music are still available. According to Google, those who don't use Google Play Music as their default player will need to say "OK Google, play on Google Play Music" to hear their own songs. The feature is rolling out to all areas where Google Home is supported.


Google Enables HDR Streaming from Play Store

Jul 12, 2017, 3:38 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today made it possible to stream 4K movies in HDR from the Play Store to the Chromecast Ultra. In order to view HDR content, people will need an HDR-compatible TV, a Chromecast Ultra, and an HDR movie. HDR content has a wider range of brightness and color when compared to normal content.


LG Debuts Q Series with FullVision Displays

Jul 11, 2017, 7:02 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

LG today announced the Q series, a new range of handsets that offer high-end features at more affordable price points. The first devices in the Q series are the Q6+, Q6, and Q6α, which take cues from the G6. All three devices feature a 5.5-inch, 18:9 display with full HD+ resolution (2,160 by 1,080 pixels) and minimized bezels. The phones are protected by 7000 series aluminum frames with rounded corners that match the curvature of the display, much like that of the G6. The Q6 and variants offer many the G6's software features, such as Android 7.1 Nougat, the square camera, and Google Assistant, while adding facial recognition for unlocking the phone. The main camera has a standard-angle 13-megapixel sensor and the front camera has a 100-degree, wide-angle 5-megapixel sensor. The Q6 handsets are powered by a Snapdragon 435 processor and include a 3,000mAh battery, microUSB, Bluetooth, WiFi, and NFC. The Q6+ has 4 GB of RAM and 64 GB of storage, the Q6 has 3 GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage, and the Q6α has 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB of storage. These variants allow LG to set different price points for the phones. LG said the Q6 series will go on sale in Asia shortly, followed by Europe, Latin America, and North America.


Google to Crowd-Source Accessibility Data for Maps

Jul 6, 2017, 11:01 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today added a tool to Google Maps that makes it easier for people to add details concerning accessibility. The Google Maps app for Android allows people to add this data via the "Your Contributions" section by tapping "uncover missing info." Sorting options under that heading include accessibility, where people can add details such as whether or not locations have wheelchair-accessible entrances, wheelchair-accessible elevators, wheelchair-accessible seating, and wheelchair-accessible parking. Once this data is entered into location details, Maps users on both desktop and mobile devices will be able to discover it in the description data about places. Google said contributors have already supplied accessibility information about some 7 million locations around the world. It hopes this new too will expand that data resource dramatically.


Instagram Adds Photo and Video Replies to Stories

Jul 6, 2017, 10:16 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Instagram today made it possible to use photos or videos to reply to friends' stories. Users will need to tap the new camera button while watching a story to record a new image or video. People can then dress up the photo or video with all the normal tools, such as filters and stickers. Instagram says the replies include a moveable, resizable sticker of the story. Replies will appear in the original poster's inbox, where they can be viewed privately along with the original story. Instagram will alert people if the reply is replayed or captured via screenshot. Instagram version 10.28 with photo and video replies is free to download from the Google Play Store and the iTunes App Store.


Android's July Security Patches Are Here

Jul 5, 2017, 1:07 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today provided details about its July 2017 security patches for Android devices. The patches plug a significant number of security holes that threaten all Android devices. Google found a significant number of vulnerabilities, of which it classified a dozen as critical, or able to remotely execute code. Many of the problems are related to specific hardware and the associated software drivers that control them, for example, a Broadcom WiFi driver, an HTC sound driver, and an Nvidia video driver. Google is pushing two separate patches to cover these vulnerabilities, one dated July 1 and the second dated July 5. Google is distributing the patches directly to its own Nexus- and Pixel-branded devices first. Google has already posted factory images for download directly from its web site. Over the air downloads will appear soon. Google's handsets will receive both patches in a single download. Google said to its knowledge none of these security holes have been exploited. Google has already given the patches to its OEM partners. Android handset makers are responsible for updating their own hardware with the patches.


Google Says Affordable Phone Coming to Project Fi

Jun 29, 2017, 1:48 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today indicated that Project Fi will be accessible from reasonably priced handsets before too long. At the moment, Project Fi requires people to use the Google Pixel or Pixel XL, or the Nexus 6P or Nexus 5X smartphones. The Pixel XL has a price tag that reaches as high as $870. Responding to questions posed to its Project Fi Twitter account, Google said, "We hear you loud and clear. Keep an eye out for a new Fi-compatible device at a mid-tier price from one of our partners later this year." Google didn't say which phone maker might be involved, nor did it name the potential handset in question. Google recently expanded the availability of Project Fi to its G Suite customers. The two bits of news together show Google may be taking the fledgling service more seriously.


Google's More Social Photos App Now Rolling Out

Jun 28, 2017, 11:48 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today made its new Google Photos app available to Android and iOS devices, as well as on the web. The revised photo management application adds several hallmark features, including suggested sharing and shared libraries. The suggested sharing tool will automatically scan images and offer to share them with family and friends based on the content and location of the photos. The feature is off by default and needs to be manually switched on. The shared libraries tool is meant to help people more easily share and collaborate on collections of images and videos. Google first announced this new version of Google Photos at its I/O developer conference in May. Google Photos is free to download from the Google Play Store and the iTunes App Store.


OnePlus 5 Picks Up Another Bug-Fixing Update

Jun 28, 2017, 11:42 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

OnePlus has sent another build of OxygenOS to the OnePlus 5. Version 4.5.3 takes aim at correcting several bugs, such as those impacting screenshot behavior, WiFi, and Google Translate. The minor update also tackles system stability, camera effects and stability, the camera's auto-brightness tool, and data accuracy. The 54MB update to OxygenOS is free to download and install. The OnePlus 5 is the company's new flagship handset. It went on sale earlier this week. It's available online starting at $479.


Google Now Offering Project Fi to Really Small Businesses

Jun 27, 2017, 1:00 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today expanded the availability of Project Fi to its G Suite customers. G Suite users are those associated with businesses and use Google's email, calendar, contacts, and other products through their employer. Until today Project Fi has been available to individual users and families or other small groups, but moving forward G Suite customers can sign up for the monthly wireless service. Google says Project Fi is still limited to just six users per group plan, so it is not a viable option for medium or large enterprises. Google said Project Fi will be available to all G Suite users in the U.S. within the next few weeks. Project Fi relies on WiFi and LTE service from Sprint, T-Mobile, and U.S. Cellular to find the strongest/best signal. Project Fi only charges customers for data they use, rather than a large bucket. Plans start at $30 per month for talk, text, and 1 GB of data. A Pixel or Nexus Android smartphone is required.


Alcatel Announces the Idol 5S with Stereo Speakers

Jun 27, 2017, 8:36 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Alcatel today marked the debut of the Idol 5S, the latest in its flagship series. Like its predecessors, the 5S features an aluminum frame, curved glass front and rear surfaces, powerful stereo speakers, and a rear-mounted fingerprint reader. The phone has a 5.2-inch full HD screen and it is powered by the Snapdragon 625 processor with 3 GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage. As for photography, the Idol 5S includes a 12-megapixel main camera with two-tone flash, and f/2.0 aperture. The front camera has an 8-megapixel sensor and f/2.0 aperture. Both cameras can shoot full HD video. The stereo speakers are backed by 3.6W amplifiers and the Idol 5S includes dual microphones to help reduce noise when capturing audio. Other features include Bluetooth, GPS, and WiFi; USB-C and a 3.5mm headphone jack; and a 2,620mAh battery. LTE support for U.S. carriers is very good, as it includes Bands 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 12, 13, 17, 25, 26, 66, and 41. Alcatel said the phone will be compatible with AT&T/Cricket and T-Mobile/MetroPCS at launch, with Sprint and Verizon to follow later this summer through a software update. The Alcatel Idol 5S runs Android 7.1 Nougat and includes the Google Assistant. The device costs $280 when purchased from Alcatel, but can be picked up for $200 through Amazon Prime Exclusives. The Amazon price requires users to view ads on the lock screen. The phone ships July 10.


YouTube's Uptime App Hits App Store, No Invite Required

Jun 26, 2017, 2:10 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Uptime, an app that allows people to watch YouTube videos together, is now widely available to iPhone owners. Google initially announced the app, developed by Area 120, in March. Uptime purports to make YouTube more social and interactive. With Uptime installed, people can watch a video, interact and chat, curate favorites, and get daily recommendations together with friends who may be watching from somewhere else. Interactions include stickers, emoji, and other real-time reactions to videos. The app initially required an invite, but is now available to anyone from the App Store.


Google to Stop Scanning Gmail for Ads

Jun 23, 2017, 11:52 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today said it will stop poking through users' inboxes for ad customization purposes. Google has nearly always scanned the emails of its free Gmail users in order to help personalize and suggest advertisements. Google says the forthcoming change will put its free Gmail service in line with its paid G Suite business email. Google contends that ads are shown based on users' settings, which can be adjusted at any time — up to and including disabling ads personalization completely. The change will be put in place later the year. G Suite will continue to operate free of ads.


YouTube to Automatically Adjust Playback Size to Fill Your Screen

Jun 22, 2017, 5:07 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google is about to make it easier to watch videos shot in different aspect ratios. With an update scheduled to arrive in the coming weeks, the YouTube mobile app will "dynamically adapt to whatever size you choose to watch it in. That means if you’re watching a vertical, square or horizontal video, the YouTube player will seamlessly adapt itself, filling the screen exactly the way they should." This means videos will automatically fill more of the screen as users move their phones around. Google said changes are coming to the desktop version of YouTube, too, which will focus on simplifying the look and feel of the service. For example, a new Dark Theme will offer a more movie-theater-like appearance to videos. Google is also prepared to expand some sharing tools that make it quicker to share videos directly from the viewing screen. Google didn't say exactly when these changes will reach the mobile and desktop versions of YouTube.


YouTube TV Expands to More Markets

Jun 22, 2017, 5:01 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

YouTube TV will soon be available to millions more people around the U.S. thanks to a significant expansion of the service. Google today said YouTube TV will reach 10 new markets, including Dallas-Fort Worth, Washington, D.C., Houston, Atlanta, Phoenix, Detroit, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Miami-Fort Lauderdale, Orlando-Daytona Beach-Melbourne, and Charlotte, over the next few weeks. People in these markets will be able to sign up for the $35-per-month service, which includes live TV streaming of local channels, unlimited DVR use, and up to six individual user profiles per account. YouTube says people can register to see when YouTube TV will be available in their markets. The service initially launched earlier this year in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, Philadelphia, and the San Francisco Bay Area.


ZTE's Axon 7 Mini Wins Android 7.1.1

Jun 21, 2017, 7:17 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

ZTE today began pushing Android 7.1.1 to its Axon 7 Mini smartphone. Like the same update that reached the larger Axon 7 earlier this year, today's update for the Axon 7 Mini adds support for T-Mobile WiFi Calling; a wider selection of gender-balanced emoji and GIFs; performance improvements to Google's Daydream VR; and the latest security patches. ZTE says it also fixed bugs and tweaked behaviors throughout the operating system. Android 7.1.1 Nougat heralds split-screen multitasking and better power management. People who own the Axon 7 Mini can download the update manually via the system settings tools on their phone or wait for it to arrive over the air.


Google Makes It Easier to Split Up and Pay Project Fi Bills

Jun 20, 2017, 1:44 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today simplified the process of managing monthly bills for subscribers to its Project Fi wireless service. Starting this week, Project Fi gains a new tool that helps the account manager easily determine what each member of the plan owes and send them a bill. Google says once the feature is enabled, Project Fi can automatically calculate the cost for each individual line. The service supports payment reminders, which it will send to each individual line. Further, Project Fi can accept payments through Google Wallet. Project Fi users need only tap the payment notification they may have received and follow simple steps to send their payment to the account manager. Owners can then cash out the payments to the debit card or bank account of their choice. Google says this new tool is rolling out to all Project Fi subscribers this week. Project Fi is available only to select handsets, including the Nexus 5x and Nexus 6p, and Google Pixel and Pixel XL.


Google to Drop Support for Android Market in Eclair and Older

Jun 20, 2017, 1:32 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today said it will no longer support the Android Market application on devices running Android 2.1 Eclair and older after June 30. Once the change takes place, devices running those operating systems will no longer have access to the Android Market, which was the original app store for Android devices. Google says this will impact only a very small number of users, as the vast majority of Android devices are running much newer builds of the operating system. Google will continue to support the Google Play Store app on devices running Android 2.2 for "as long as feasible." Practically speaking, Android 2.3 Gingerbread is the base operating system to offer full Play Store support via Google Play Services. The bulk of Android users needn't worry about Google's plan to cease supporting Android Market on Android 2.1 Eclair.


Samsung Pushes Security Update to Galaxy S8 and S8+

Jun 19, 2017, 7:21 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung recently seeded a software update to its Galaxy S8 and S8+ smartphones. The update applies the June security patches from Google, stabilizes memory card performance, and adjusts some user interface elements of Bixby. The update comes in at about 150MB and can be downloaded and installed over the air.

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Google Doing More to Promote the Best Apps

Jun 13, 2017, 1:01 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today announced the launch of Android Excellence, a new section in the Google Play Store that highlights the best of the best in terms of apps and games. Google says, "The new collections will showcase apps and games that deliver incredible user experiences on Android, use many of our best practices, and have great design, technical performance, localization, and device optimization." Some of the first apps and games highlighted in the section include City Mapper, Evernote, Golf Clash, Hotel Tonight, Kill Shot Bravo, Pictionary, Pocket, Skyscanner, and Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes. The collections will be refreshed on a quarterly basis and will be located in the Editor's Choice section of the Play Store.


Verizon Closes Yahoo Acquisition, Launches Oath

Jun 13, 2017, 9:54 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Communications today said it has finalized its purchase of Yahoo. Now that the deal is complete, Verizon is merging its Yahoo and AOL assets into a new media company called Oath. Oath encompasses some 50 brands, including HuffPost, Yahoo Sports, AOL.com, Makers, Tumblr, Build Studios, Yahoo Finance, Yahoo Mail, and many more. Yahoo CEO Marissa Meyer, a former Google exec, has resigned effective today. Yahoo's properties will be managed by Tim Armstrong, who already oversees Verizon's AOL business unit. The $4.8 billion deal was first announced in July 2016. The process suffered a major blow when Yahoo disclosed a material security breach that impacted more than 1 billion users. The two companies later agreed to drop the sale price by $350 million, with the final price tag landing at about $4.48 billion. Marni Walden, executive vice president and president of Product Innovation and New Businesses at Verizon, presided over the acquisition. Armstrong will report to her. The company is expected to shed as many as 2,100 jobs as it integrates AOL and Yahoo's properties. Verizon Communications is the parent company of Verizon Wireless.


BlackBerry Says CDMA Version of KEYone Now At Best Buy

Jun 13, 2017, 8:26 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

BlackBerry Mobile today said the Verizon-ready, CDMA model of its KEYone smartphone is available at Best Buy stores. The phone is sold unlocked with support for Verizon's 3G and 4G networks. Earlier versions of the KEYone supported only GSM-based 3G service. The KEYone runs Google's Android operating system with BlackBerry Mobile's security and communications software on board. The phone's defining feature is the physical QWERTY keyboard. It costs $549.


Google's GBoard App for Android Lets You Draw Emoji

Jun 12, 2017, 11:07 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today updated its GBoard keyboard application for Android handsets and made it possible for people to draw emoji. In the emoji search tool, GBoard can recognize finger-scrawled pictures and then automatically insert the correct emoji into your text. The keyboard app also introduces phrase suggestions to help speed up texting time. Once users have typed two or more words, the phrase suggestion tool can add several more to complete well-known phrases, such as "looking forward to it." This is available only in English for now, though more languages are on the way. GBoard also picks up expanded search tools. Now, searches performed in GBoard show multiple results cards that can open directly in other apps, such as Google Maps. Last, the app picks up a handful of new languages, pushing to total supported to more than 200. Some of the new ones include: Azerbaijani (Iran), Dhivehi, French (Belgium), Hawaiian, Maori and Samoan. GBoard is free to download from the Play Store.


Google Releases reCAPTCHA API to Improve Android Security

Jun 9, 2017, 1:29 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today announced a new tool developers can use to authenticate people securely while simultaneously improving the experience for mobile phone users. The company made available the new reCAPTCHA Android API as a part of Google Play Services. Google says this lets app developers and web sites better tell humans and bots apart from one another, particularly with respect to authentication. The API runs Google's new Invisible reCAPTCHA tech, which runs risk analysis behind the scenes to weed out bots and block spam and other abuses. The API is included with Google SafetyNet so mobile developers can manage both the device and user attestations from the same API. This eliminates risks, according to Google, and is more efficient across the board. For end users, the result will be a less intrusive experience when authenticating within apps and on the mobile web.


Google Finalizes Android O Developer Tools, Releases 3rd Beta

Jun 8, 2017, 12:58 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today released all the tools developers need to create applications and update apps for Android O. The company made the final Android O APIs available through an updated SDK. Developers can grab these tools through Android Studio 3.0. To coincide with the finalized APIs and SDK, Google updated the developer preview of Android O. The Android O Developer Preview 3 can be installed on the Nexus 6p and 5x, Pixel, Pixel XL, and Pixel C, and the Nexus Player. Google says the updated beta should be more stable for use as a developer platform, though it may not be ready for daily use. Some of the core features of Android O include picture-in-picture, notification dots, widget picker, new emoji, and revamped settings tools. The final version is expected to arrive later this summer. Google still has not revealed what dessert the "O" will be.


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