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Created by Google, Android is a smartphone OS and platform that is open-source and open for any manufacturer to use to make a smartphone. Most Android phones use a version that is mostly provided by Google and requires Google services. Android phones can run Android apps, available from the Google Play Store, or, optionally, from other sources.

by:  Google


Qualcomm Refreshes Smartwatch Chips

Jun 30, 2020, 4:35 PM   by Rich Brome

Qualcomm's latest chipset to power smartwatches is the Snapdragon Wear 4100 Platform. The new platform brings improved performance and efficiency. An optional Always On (AON) co-processor chip brings new always-on features, including continuous heart rate monitoring and sleep tracking. The new AON chip also supports always-on displays with 64,000 colors (up from 16 in the previous generation) and faster tilt-to-wake responsiveness. The main Snapdragon Wear 4100 chip offers 85% faster performance compared to Snapdragon Wear 3100 platform and supports cameras up to 16 megapixel. The 4100 uses a 12nm manufacturing process, offering much better efficiency compared to the 28nm process used for the 3100. The Category 4 LTE modem supports dual antennas for better data performance. The Snapdragon Wear 4100 platforms support both Wear OS by Google and the Android Open Source Platform (AOSP). Devices using the new chips are expected to ship later this year.


Google's Phone App can Tell You Why a Company is Calling Before You Pick Up

Jun 26, 2020, 11:44 AM   by Rich Brome

Google is rolling out its own call verification system that will allow the incoming call screen on Android phones to not only confirm that a call is legitimate, but also display the calling business' reason for calling and company logo. The feature requires that the phone's default phone app be set to Google's Phone app, that businesses supply this information to Google's servers before each call, and that users have the phone's mobile number associated with their Google account.


iOS 14 Will Allow Quick Biometric Login for Web Sites

Jun 26, 2020, 11:34 AM   by Rich Brome

Apple's Safari 14 web browser — part of the forthcoming iOS 14 for iPhones — adds support for the Web Authentication (WebAuthn) API, part of the industry-standard FIDO2 specification. This will allow mobile web sites to add an option for users to quickly log in via fingerprint or Face ID instead of entering a username and password. This feature is already available in the Chrome browser on Android, and within full apps on both iOS and Android.


Google Photos Adds Map View

Jun 25, 2020, 12:05 PM   by Rich Brome

The Google Photos app and service has been redesigned, and now includes a map feature that lets you explore all of the photos you've ever taken as pins on a map. The map feature is part of a new Search tab in the redesigned app interface. The new Search tab also includes automatic shortcuts to specific people and pets that you frequently photograph, using automatic facial recognition. The new Google Photos app "rolls out over the next week" on Android and iOS.


OnStar Extends its Service to Phones

Jun 25, 2020, 11:53 AM   by Rich Brome

OnStar, the roadside- and emergency-assistance service for GM vehicles, is now available as an app for iOS and Android phones. The new OnStar Guardian app uses phone sensors to detect when you've been in a vehicle crash, including non-GM vehicles without OnStar. It will then automatically connect you with an OnStar Advisor who can provide emergency assistance. On Android, the connection is fully automatic, while on iOS, OnStar will call your phone when a crash is detected. The app also lets you contact an OnStar Advisor at any time for roadside or emergency assistance. Finally, the app has a location-sharing feature for families. The app is available free for six months for any existing OnStar subscriber and up to seven additional family members. OnStar did not disclose what the app may cost after the first six months.


ZTE Brings Entry-Level Blade A3 Prime to Visible

Jun 22, 2020, 7:00 AM   by Rich Brome

Visible is now offering the ZTE Blade A3 Prime for $99. This entry-level Android phone has a fingerprint reader, dual LED flash, and USB-C. Its 5.45-inch display has HD resolution and a tall, modern 2:1 ratio. Other specs include a 2,660 mAh battery, MediaTek Helio A22 processor, dual-band Wi-Fi, 2 GB RAM, 32 GB of storage, memory card slot, and a 3.5mm headset jack. The rear camera is 8 megapixel while the front is 5 megapixel. It runs Android 10.


T-Mobile's REVVL 4+ Will Be Made by TCL

Jun 18, 2020, 4:13 PM   by Rich Brome

Regulatory filings for a new phone from TCL bear the name "REVVL 4+" and describe a phone supporting all of the network bands unique to the T-Mobile/Sprint network. Since 2017, T-Mobile has offered a series of white-label phones under its own "T-Mobile REVVL" brand. Most of the first and second generation REVVL phones were made by TCL. Last year's REVVLRY and REVVLRY+ were the third generation, and the first to be made by Motorola. The filings reveal very few details about the phone, except the FCC approval confirms it will have NFC, and the Bluetooth SIG approval confirms it will have Bluetooth 5.0. The Bluetooth approval for this phone is shared with the TCL 10L, indicating the REVVL 4+ may be based on the 10L. The TCL 10L is a mid-range Android phone with a Snapdragon 665 processor, 48 megapixel main camera, wide-angle camera, and "Super Bluetooth" supporting up to 4 simultaneous connections.


Twitter Starts Rolling out Audio Tweets

Jun 17, 2020, 7:32 PM   by Rich Brome

Twitter has started to roll out a new audio feature that lets users record and share voice clips. It's similar to recording a video of yourself. However, on iOS, when playing them, you can play the audio while continuing to scroll and read other tweets. Audio clips can be up to 140 seconds long. For now, only users of the iOS version of the Twitter app can record and attach audio, but the clips are playable on other platforms, including Android.


App Helps NYC Commuters Find Less-Crowded Train Cars

Jun 16, 2020, 11:39 AM   by Rich Brome

The Long Island Railroad (LIRR) has updated its TrainTime app with real-time visualizations of how crowded each car is on each train, as well as real-time train locations updated every three seconds. Commuters in New York City can use the app to position themselves on the platform so they'll board a less-crowded car when their train arrives, helping riders practice social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic. The new technology is the first of its kind to be deployed in North America. LIRR is using different technology to measure passenger loading depending on train car model. Older trains effectively weigh the car using sensors in the train car suspension. Newer trains use door sensors to count passengers entering and leaving at each stop. The data is reported to a central server, which powers the app. The app displays the data visually as a train, with crowded cars in red, and emptier cars in green. The updated app is available now for both iOS and Android.


Google Stadia Now Works With Most Android Phones, and Without a Controller

Jun 11, 2020, 4:01 PM   by Rich Brome

Google has updated its Stadia game-streaming service to work with almost any Android phone, instead of just a select list. Although there is still a list of "officially supported" phones, and a bunch of OnePlus phones were just added, users with other phones can now opt in to an "experimental" "Play on this device" mode. Also, the Stadia app for Android now works without a physical controller, thanks to new virtual controls overlaid on the screen. The option for these "Mobile touch controls" is presented automatically when starting the app without a physical controller connected. Stadia also now supports device-specific resolution settings.


Google Releases Public Beta of Android 11

Jun 10, 2020, 1:34 PM   by Rich Brome

The first public beta version of Android 11 is now available for Pixel phones. The release contains several new features not previously announced, in addition to features announced in February. Long-pressing the lock/power button will now bring up smart home controls, in addition to Google Pay and power options. New media controls make it easier to switch audio and/or video outputs. To enhance privacy, app permissions will automatically reset when an app hasn't been used for "an extended period of time". Also improved are keyboard suggestions, Voice Access, the Share menu, and features for developers. The beta is available now for Pixel 2+ phones, and other devices in the coming weeks.


Google's Sodar Uses AR To Visualize Social Distancing

Jun 1, 2020, 11:35 AM   by Rich Brome

Google has launched an experimental project called Sodar that uses AR on your phone to show you what 2 meters of distance looks like where you are. The project uses WebXR, a relatively new API for implementing AR and VR in web browsers. Sodar is therefore a web site, not an app. It currently works only in the Chrome browser on Android devices. Once launched, it launches the camera and simply overlays a white circle showing 2 meters of distance from where you are standing. 2 meters is a little over six feet, the CDC-recommended distance for practicing social distancing, to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus during the current pandemic.


Cricket Launches Two New Nokia Phones

May 28, 2020, 12:04 PM   by Rich Brome   updated May 28, 2020, 2:43 PM

Nokia has two new affordable phones for Cricket: the Nokia C5 Endi and C2 Tava/Tennen. Both offer HD+ display resolution, multiple rear cameras, a dedicated Google Assistant button, Android 10, 3.5mm audio jack, and USB-C.

  • Nokia C5 Endi: Sports a 6.5-inch notched HD display, MediaTek Helio P22 processor, 4,000 mAh battery, 3 GB RAM, 64 GB storage, memory card slot, fingerprint reader, and a polycarbonate unibody design. Cameras include a 13 megapixel main camera, 5 megapixel wide camera, depth camera, 8 megapixel selfie camera. The camera app has AI scene detection and optimization, advanced portrait mode, and automatic multi-frame night mode. The Nokia C5 Endi will be available June 5th from Cricket for $170.
  • Nokia C2 Tava: Unlike the rest of Nokia's current global lineup, the C2 does not have an all-screen design; its display measures just 5.45 inches. Other specs include a removable 3,000 mAh battery, 2 GB RAM, MediaTek Helio A22 processor, 32 GB storage, and a memory card slot. It has an 8-megapixel main camera, depth camera for portrait mode, and a 5-megapixel selfie camera. The C5 Tava goes on sale with Cricket tomorrow, May 29th, for $110. The Nokia C2 Tennen is the same exact phone as the C2 Tava, but in a different color (Steel instead of Tempered Blue) and with different pricing for different sales channels. It will cost just $70 and be available from "select National retail stores" starting June 15th.


Google Launches Suite of New Accessibility Features

May 21, 2020, 1:57 PM   by Rich Brome

Google marked today's Global Accessibility Awareness Day with the launch of new accessibility features across several of its apps and services. Google Maps now indicates wheelchair accessibility for businesses and other destinations in the US, UK, Japan, and Australia. When the (opt-in) feature is enabled, search results will include a wheelchair icon for accessible locations, and full listings will show more detail, such as whether the entrance, parking, seating, and restroom are wheelchair-accessible. The updated Maps app is now available for both Android and iOS. Google also added several major features to Live Transcribe, its Android app that provides real-time, speech-to-text transcriptions of everyday conversations for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. You can now set your phone to alert you by vibrating when someone nearby says your name to get your attention. Live Transcribe can also now be customized with a personal dictionary of custom names or terms for different places and objects. Finally, an optional feature makes it easy to search all conversations from the past three days. Google has also improved its Sound Amplifier Android app to support Bluetooth headphones. Sound Amplifier clarifies the sound around you. Now you can leave your phone near the source of the sound, like a TV or a lecturer, and have your phone transmit clarified sound to your Bluetooth headset up to 30 feet away. Finally, Google announced a new Android app: Action Blocks. A simple shortcut interface, Action Blocks is designed to make multi-step tasks on your phone simpler. People with cognitive disabilities or age-related cognitive conditions can now perform tasks like "call my daughter" in one step, right from their Android home screen.


Apple and Google Launch COVID-19 Exposure Notification

May 20, 2020, 1:31 PM   by Rich Brome

Apple and Google have started to make their new, jointly-developed Exposure Notification technology available for public use. The technology automatically tracks which other phones your phones has been near for a certain period of time, using a new, Bluetooth-based system. When one user reports that they have tested positive for COVID-19, other users they have come into contact with are automatically alerted, so they can get tested. The system uses anonymous, frequently-changed tokens to preserve privacy. To use the system, users must install an official app from their local public health agency and explicitly opt in to the service. Apple and Google are only allowing one app per geographic region, and have multiple safeguards in place to protect user privacy, including a ban on collecting users' locations. The system is available now for public health agencies to develop and release their apps using the system, although not all governments plan to do so. It requires a new OS version to function. Apple released iOS 13.5 today, which includes Exposure Notification as well as other features specific to the ongoing pandemic. New versions of Android are expected soon that support Exposure Notifications. The two companies have promised a more comprehensive version of Exposure Notification in the coming months that will not require the installation of a special app, although it will remain opt-in.


LG Stylo 6 Comes to Boost

May 19, 2020, 1:02 PM   by Rich Brome   updated May 19, 2020, 3:28 PM

Boost Mobile is the first US carrier to launch the LG Stylo 6, an update to the popular Stylo 5 series. Compared to the 5 series, the Stylo 6 has a larger display, larger battery, more storage, and more cameras. It's about the same width and thickness as the 5, but taller. This, plus a modern all-screen design, allow an increase in screen size from 6.2 to 6.8 inches. It also has a 4,000 mAh battery and 64 GB of storage. The 13-megapixel rear camera has been joined by a depth camera and 5-megapixel wide-angle camera. The front camera, which sits in a small screen notch, has been upgraded to 13 megapixel. The Stylo 6 is powered by Android 10 running on a MediaTek Helio P35 processor with 3 GB of RAM. Other features are similar to the Stylo 5 series, including a pop-out stylus, full-HD display resolution, NFC, rear fingerprint reader, memory card slot, and 3.5mm audio jack. Boost is selling the LG Stylo 6 for $180, starting today. The FCC has also approved a different variant of the Stylo 6 that seems designed for T-Mobile's network. The Stylo 5 series was offered by all major US carriers and most prepaid brands.


TCL-Branded Phones Launch in US on May 19

May 14, 2020, 8:00 AM   by Rich Brome   updated May 15, 2020, 9:49 AM

TCL Communication, maker of Alcatel-branded phones, is launching its first TCL-branded phones in the US. The TCL 10 Pro and TCL 10L will launch as unlocked phones. TCL also makes televisions and their own display panels. TCL phones use TCL displays.

  • TCL 10 Pro: A mid-range phone with a flagship-level design, including a curved-edge OLED display and matte glass back. The 6.47-inch display sports full-HD resolution and Netflix-certified HDR10 color. The four rear cameras include a 64-megapixel main camera, 16-megapixel 123º wide-angle camera, macro camera, low-light camera, laser focusing, and separated dual LED flashes. The front camera is 24 megapixel. It's powered by a 4,500 mAh battery, Qualcomm Snapdragon 675 processor, and 6 GB of RAM. It has 128 GB of storage plus a memory card slot. Other features include Android 10, in-display fingerprint reader, 3.5mm headset jack, USB-C, and, unusually, an IR emitter. A fast charger and clear case are included. 4G LTE network support includes US bands 2, 4, 5, 12, 13, 25, 26, 41, and 66. The only color option at launch in the US is Ember Gray. It will sell for $450.
  • TCL 10L: A more affordable option at $250, the 10L has a 6.53-inch full-HD display, Snapdragon 665 processor, 6 GB of RAM, and a 4,000 mAh battery. It also has quad rear cameras like 10 Pro, including a 48-megapixel main camera, 8 megapixel, 118º wide camera, 2 megapixel macro camera, and depth camera. The front camera is 16 megapixel. It has a rear-mounted fingerprint reader and 64 GB of storage. Like the 10 Pro, it has a memory card slot, 3.5mm headset jack, USB-C, multi-stream Bluetooth, Android 10, and 4K video capture. It supports the same US LTE bands as the 10 Pro: 2, 4, 5, 12, 13, 25, 26, 41, and 66. It will come in Mariana Blue with a "holographic finish on the back that reflects an iridescent shine."
Both phones will be available from Amazon, Best Buy, and Walmart starting May 19th.


Motorola Razr Gains New Outer Screen Functionality

May 12, 2020, 3:52 PM   by Rich Brome

Motorola is rolling out a major software update for its new Razr phone. The update brings Android 10, as well as new features for the unique large outer display. The outer display now lets you access favorite contacts, and reply to messages with a full on-screen keyboard or Smart Reply. The outer display now also displays music controls for popular music apps, and turn-by-turn navigation from Google Maps. They've also added new modes to the camera when the phone is closed, such as Group Selfie, Portrait Mode, Spot Color, and others.


Google Lens Can Now Copy-and-Paste Handwritten Notes to Your Computer

May 7, 2020, 11:05 AM   by Rich Brome

Google has updated its Google Lens computer-vision app with several new features. The app already recognizes printed and hand-written text in the real world, letting you copy it into other apps on your phone, or translate it to another language. A new option lets you select text and send it to you computer's clipboard, where it can be pasted into other apps. The feature requires the Chrome browser on your computer, and that both devices be signed in to the same Google account. Also new in Google Lens is a feature that tells you how to pronounce translated words. Google Lens is available for both Android and iOS.


Apple, Google Lay Ground Rules for COVID-19 Exposure Notification Apps

May 6, 2020, 9:00 AM   by Rich Brome

Apple and Google are preparing to launch Exposure Notification, a new technology to address the COVID-19 pandemic based on the principles of contact tracing. The first phase will center around downloadable apps developed by various government public health agencies. These apps will have exclusive access to new Exposure Notification APIs in forthcoming versions of Android and iOS. Apple and Google recently announced special rules that will apply to such apps. The companies will only allow one app per geographic region. The apps can only be used for pandemic response and no other purpose. To protect privacy, the apps must minimize the amount of data they collect, and are barred from collecting location data. The apps must also gain explicit user consent for initiating Exposure Notification technology, which operates using Bluetooth in the background.


Boost Launches LG K51 for $90

May 5, 2020, 9:46 AM   by Rich Brome

Boost Mobile has launched the LG K51, a new affordable Android phone with triple rear cameras and a large 4,000 mAh battery for $90. It also has a 6.5-inch HD display with a small notch, fingerprint reader, 3.5mm headset jack, and USB-C. It's powered by a MediaTek Helio P22 processor and 3 GB of RAM. It has 32 GB of storage and supports memory cards. The three rear cameras are: 13 megapixel standard camera with PDAF, 5 megapixel wide-angle (115º) camera, and a depth camera for bokeh (portrait) effects. It comes with Android 9. It also supports VoLTE, which future-proofs it against the eventual shutdown of the legacy Sprint CDMA network.


iOS 13.5 Adds Face Mask Detection, Contact Tracing

Apr 29, 2020, 1:28 PM   by Rich Brome

Apple today released a beta version of iOS 13.5 to developers. The new software includes two key features specifically related to the COVID-19 pandemic. First, FaceID will now detect if you're wearing a face mask and automatically prompt for a passcode as an alternate way to unlock the phone. Second, the update includes the first version of Apple and Google's COVID-19 Exposure Notifications technology, which provides an automated, opt-in alternative to traditional contact tracing. Today's beta release will help public health authorities prepare their own contact-tracing apps that will be able to use the technology when iOS 13.5 is released to everyone. Google is providing Android developers with a similar beta release of Android. Germany has already announced that it will adopt this Apple/Google technology.


Smartphone Contact Tracing Tech to be Released Ahead of Schedule

Apr 23, 2020, 10:20 AM   by Rich Brome

A new contact-tracing technology developed by Apple and Google to address the COVID-19 pandemic will see its first release to developers on April 28th, earlier than originally planned. The technology uses Bluetooth to keep a history of which phones come near which other phones for certain periods of time, as an approximation of people who have come into contact, so that when someone tests positive for COVID-19, other people who need to be tested can be identified quickly. The technology is fully interoperable between iOS and Android phones, thanks to a unique collaboration between Google and Apple. The API being released next week will enable verified public health authorities to use the technology in their own apps. Such apps will need to be installed on a large percentage of phones for the technology to be useful in any given population. Later, Apple and Google plan to integrate a more complete contact-tracing technology into both iOS and Android, which would not require an app install. Apple and Google have designed the technology to be anonymous, voluntary, transparent, temporary, secure, and interoperable, and EU regulators are working with the companies to ensure the technology meets their strict standards in those areas.


Fortnite Goes Legit on Android with Play Store Listing

Apr 21, 2020, 9:52 PM   by Rich Brome

The popular battle royale game Fortnite is finally available via Google's Play Store on Android phones. Previously, those with Android phones had to jump through hoops to download and install the game, bypassing Google's security warnings. The game's developer has been protesting Google's 30% cut of Play Store purchases, including in-app purchases. Fortnite has been available via Apple's App Store on iOS for some time, even though Apple takes the same 30%.


Google Enhances Duo Video Calling

Apr 21, 2020, 2:32 PM   by Rich Brome

Google has updated its Duo video calling service with several new features. First, the maximum number of people on a group video has been increased from eight to 12, and will be increased further in "the coming weeks". Google has also added a photo snapshot feature that will capture a moment and send the still photo of everyone to all participants, to save. Finally, Google is upgrading to the new AV1 video codec, "to improve video call quality and reliability, even on very low bandwidth connections." All of these new features work across both Android and iOS versions of Duo, and most work across other platforms as well.


Google Cracks Down on Sneaky Subscriptions in Android Apps

Apr 20, 2020, 10:51 AM   by Rich Brome

Google is tightening both its policies and practices regarding Android apps with subscriptions, including those with free trails or introductory offers. Under updated Play Store policies, Google will now require apps to make clearer disclosures up front about how a specific subscription works. Google will also pro-actively send timely emails to users to ensure they aren't billed for a subscription they may be unaware of, or have forgotten about. Google will now email users before a free trial or intro price ends, and also when a renewal is coming up for a 3-month, 6-month, or annual subscription plan. Google is also adding a specific notification to let users know that un-installing an app does not automatically cancel the associated subscription.


Facebook Launches Twitch Competitor

Apr 20, 2020, 10:31 AM   by Rich Brome

Facebook has launched Facebook Gaming, a new app for Android that lets users watch and comment on video streams from top gamers. It also has its own "instant games" built in, which are multiplayer. It offers community features around various games, and you can stream your own gameplay using the app. An iOS version is expected soon.


Google Highlights "Teacher approved" Apps for Kids

Apr 15, 2020, 3:39 PM   by Rich Brome

Google is updating its Play Store for Android with a new Kids tab, highlighting "'Teacher approved' apps that are both enriching and entertaining". The Kids tab lets you filter by age group. Each "Teacher approved" app has been reviewed by academic experts and teachers and meets Google's quality standards. A new section on the app's page lists specific reasons that app earned the "Teacher approved" badge. The feature is rolling out this week in the US, expanding internationally in the coming months.


Windows 10 Gaining Wireless File Transfer for Samsung Phones

Apr 13, 2020, 10:08 AM   by Rich Brome

The next update to Windows 10 will include the ability to easily transfer files to and from newer Samsung phones over Wi-Fi. Microsoft and Samsung have been adding numerous such features in recent years. Just last month, Microsoft added the ability to copy-and-paste between Windows 10 and a Samsung phone. The features are enabled by Microsoft's Your Phone app for Windows 10, and Samsung's Link To Windows software for its Android phones. The apps have long enabled phone notifications and calls in Windows 10.


Apple, Google Team up on Phone-Based Contact Tracing to Fight Pandemic

Apr 10, 2020, 12:25 PM   by Rich Brome   updated Apr 10, 2020, 3:46 PM

Apple and Google will work together to build interoperable contact-tracing technology into both the Android and iOS phone OSes. The technology will use Bluetooth — which has a typical range of about 30 feet — to keep track of everyone you come near, so that public health workers can quickly look for additional new infections when someone is diagnosed with COVID19 (Coronavirus). This new OS-level technology will have an API designed to integrate with official apps offered by public health authorities. Google and Apple have committed to making "user privacy and security central to the design". The technology will roll out in two phases. First, in May, both companies will release APIs that enable interoperability between Android and iOS devices using apps from public health authorities. Second, in the coming months, Apple and Google will build a full contact-tracing function into each OS that is opt-in and works without a special app.

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Google Adds Braille Keyboard to Android

Apr 9, 2020, 1:14 PM   by Rich Brome

Google is expanding the accessibility options in its Android OS with the addition of a braille keyboard option. It uses a standard six-key layout common for braille input. It works across all apps, supports braille grade 1 and grade 2 and is available initially in English. The feature is rolling out to Android devices running version 5.0 or later, starting today.


Quibi, the Mobile-First Premium Video Service, Launches Today

Apr 6, 2020, 2:34 PM   by Rich Brome

Today is launch day for Quibi, the new video subscription service with original content created exclusively for mobile devices. There are a number of original shows available including A-list celebrities. Episodes are ten minutes or less and are filmed so they can be viewed in either landscape or portrait orientation. The service is $5/month after a 90-day free trial. The ad-free version is $8/month. The app is available for both iOS and Android.


Apple Buys Dark Sky, Kills Android Version

Mar 31, 2020, 3:18 PM   by Rich Brome

Apple has acquired the popular weather app Dark Sky. Dark Sky announced that it is pulling its Android and Wear OS apps from app stores, and existing installations on those platforms will stop working on July 1st, 2020. The company is also phasing out its API service, which is used by other apps and services. Dark Sky won't accept any new applications to use its API going forward, and the API service will shut down at the end of 2021. The iOS version of the Dark Sky app will continue to be sold in Apple's App Store.


Planet's Latest Keyboard-Phone has a Unique Sliding Hinge

Mar 31, 2020, 2:50 PM   by Rich Brome

Planet Computers, known for its pocketable phones with "full" laptop-style keyboards, has revealed a new model — the Astro Slide — with a unique slide-and-tilt mechanism they call "RockUp". While the company's past models had a standard clamshell hinge that hid the main screen when closed, the main screen on the Astro Slide is always accessible, making it usable like a standard smartphone when closed. When slid open, the large backlit keyboard is available, and the screen can be tilted at an angle like a tiny laptop. The device has 6.53-inch display, MediaTek Dimensity 1000 chipset, 5G (sub-6), 4,000 mAh battery, and a 48-megapixel camera. It also has Android 10, two USB-C ports, a fingerprint reader, NFC, and wireless charging. The device is being crowdfunded on Indiegogo, with a starting price of $491 and an estimated ship date of March 2021.


Google Redesigns its Podcasts App, Brings it to iOS

Mar 25, 2020, 9:36 AM   by Rich Brome

Google has redesigned its Podcasts app, and made a version available in Apple's App Store for iPhone users. Google Podcasts now stays fully synced between all platforms, including Android, web, and iOS, so you can pause a podcast on your phone and automatically pick up where you left off on the web. The new interface design has three tabs: Home, Explore and Activity. The Home tab features a feed of new episodes and gives you quick access to your subscribed shows. When you select an episode you want to listen to, you'll now see topics or people covered in that podcast. In the Explore tab, you can browse popular podcasts by category, and the app will make personalized show and episode recommendations. The Activity tab displays your listen history, queued up episodes, and downloads. For each show in your subscriptions, you can now enable automatic downloading and/or push notifications for when new episodes come out. The new Google Podcasts is available on iOS today and rolling out to Android this week.


Nokia 5.3 Offers Quad Rear Cameras for $200

Mar 19, 2020, 12:36 PM   by Rich Brome

Nokia today announced the Nokia 5.3, a new mid-range Android phone. It has a 6.5-inch HD display with a small notch, 4,000 mAh battery, and is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 665 chip. It has four rear cameras: a 13-megapixel main camera with f/1.8 aperture, plus a 5-megapixel wide camera, 2-megapixel macro camera, and a depth camera for portrait effects. The 5.3 also comes with 3–6 GB of RAM, 64 GB of storage, a memory card slot, USB-C, fingerprint reader, dedicated Google Assistant button, and a 3.5mm audio jack. The version for the Americas will support Cat. 4 LTE in bands 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 12/17, 13, 28, 38 and 66. Color choices are Cyan, Sand, and Charcoal. It will ship globally in April for 189 Euros (approx. 200 USD).


New Phone for Teens is Sext-Proof

Mar 2, 2020, 10:34 AM   by Rich Brome

A new phone available in Japan uses onboard AI to detect nudity, and prevent users from taking or saving photos with nudity. The Tone e20 is an affordable Android phone aimed at parents who want to protect their children from "being deceived or threatened to photograph their own nudity, etc." The phone works to detect nudity in both photo and video camera modes, and prevents the saving of images with nudity. When nudity is detected, an alert can be sent to parents with the time, date, and location of the event, as well as a pixelated thumbnail of the offending image. The phone includes other parental controls and family-safety features. It is only available in Japan.


LG V60 Includes 5G, Dual-Screen Accessory

Feb 26, 2020, 11:18 AM   by Rich Brome   updated Feb 28, 2020, 8:55 AM

LG today announced the V60 ThinQ 5G with LG Dual Screen. Its specs are flagship-level, but not quite as top-end as past V-series phones. Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and US Cellular will offer the V60 "in the coming weeks". As with the Samsung Galaxy S20, Verizon's version will supports both mmWave and sub-6 5G, while other versions will only support sub-6 5G (which offers better coverage but not the fastest 5G speeds.) The V60 will be packaged with LG's Dual Screen accessory, which adds a second display identical to phone's main display, connected to the phone with a 360-degree hinge, plus a 2.1-inch monochrome outer display. The V60's is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 chipset, and features a 6.8-inch full-HD+ OLED display, 5,000 mAh battery, 8 GB of RAM, 128 GB storage, memory card slot, and Android 10. It also features two rear cameras plus a ToF depth camera. The main camera is 64 megapixel (f/1.8), while the wide-angle camera is 13 megapixel (f/1.9, 117º). It can capture 8K video, as well as 4K time-lapse or 60 fps video. It has stereo speakers and 4 microphones, plus an ASMR recording mode. The phone also features an in-display fingerprint reader, 32-bit Hi-Fi Quad DAC, Quick Charge 4+, IP68 water rating, NFC, Bluetooth 5.1, Wi-Fi 6, and USB-C (3.1). It will be available in blue or white. Specific launch dates and pricing will be announced by US carriers in coming weeks.


Android Apps Will Soon Need Google's Permission to Access Your Location in the Background

Feb 19, 2020, 2:20 PM   by Rich Brome

To improve user privacy, Google is updating its Play Store policies to restrict the use of location data by Android apps when they're not actively running. Currently, any Android app can request permission for such access from the user. Starting in August, apps will only be able to do so with explicit permission from Google, having demonstrated a specific need for access to location data in the background. In November, Google will remove apps from the Play Store that have not complied with the new policy. Also today, Google announced the first Developer Preview of Android 11, which includes a new user option to allow apps to access location data on a one-time basis.


Android 11 Preview Brings New Messaging Notifications, One-Time Permissions

Feb 19, 2020, 1:56 PM   by Rich Brome

Google has released the first Developer Preview of Android 11. The list of features in this version provides a glimpse of what to expect when Android 11 becomes available to consumers later this year. Messaging receives the biggest update, with a new dedicated section of the notifications shade devoted to ongoing conversations. Messaging apps can also use "bubbles" to float a simple messaging thread window above other apps. System permission dialog boxes (for access to location, etc.) now have an "Only this time" option, similar to iOS. Android 11 also adds native support for secure storage and retrieval of verifiable identification documents, such as ISO 18013-5 compliant Mobile Driving Licenses. Call screening apps will now have standardized access to STIR-SHAKEN data, as well as a new screen that appears after each call, "to let users perform actions such as marking a call as spam or adding to contacts.". Also new are better support for pinhole displays, waterfall displays, animated HIEF image files, and low-latency video modes. Developers will benefit from new APIs for machine learning, as well as 5G network status and performance. Android 11 also advances Google's Project Mainline, moving additional components of the OS into modules that are quickly and easily updated via the Google Play Store, instead of requiring a manufacturer-supplied full OS update. The Developer Preview released today is not a "public beta" and is not intended for consumers; it will only run on certain Pixel devices and requires manual installation. Separately, Google announced that Android 11 will enhance Work Profile so that companies issuing company-owned phones to employees can give employees separate work and personal profiles on the same device. Companies still control the work profile and can set device-wide restrictions, but personal data is kept private from the employer. This feature was previously only available for personally-owned devices, not company-issued devices. Google is expected to reveal additional features of Android 11 at its developer conference in May.


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