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google-maps-explore

With so many updates to Google Maps these days, users of the app are likely to feel a little spoiled. Everybody knows they should rely on Google Maps when they need directions, but what if you aren’t actually sure where you want to go? We all think of exploration while on holiday, but consider that with the tap on the new Explore button, you could be well on your way to finding a new favourite place to eat in your own neighbourhood.

Exploring with Google Maps is about more than just restaurants; you could also find things to do or points of interest depending on the weather, how far you are willing to go, or the time of day.

Once you arrive at your destination, tapping on My Location will fill you in on the details (include things like restaurant reviews or transit schedules). Do you agree with Google’s recommendation (or you know you just can’t live without that poutine with the BBQ pulled pork shredded on top)? Save locations in the app that you’d like to return to later. As an added bonus, the more you visit and save locations, the better Google Maps will get at predicting what you’re going to love!

If you haven’t yet embraced Google Maps for Android, download it now for free.

Categories : Android News
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giigke

Next month, Spring and Google will begin working together for the good of enterprise customers. According to a new agreement, Sprint business users will be granted full access to Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Sites, Google Drive and Google Docs.

Mike Fitz, vice president of business solution commercialization at Spring Business made a statement regarding the new relationship with Google, stating: “Sprint offers a variety of mobile tools to accommodate multigenerational work styles within the workplace, helping people to boost productivity and collaborate from virtually anywhere.” With the addition of Google services, Sprint has the largest offering among its competitors, AT&T and Verizon Wireless.

From Google’s side of the table, the comments were equally positive. Murali Sitaram, director of strategic partnerships for Google Enterprise noted: “Google Apps helps businesses work better together with familiar tools they can trust. We are pleased to welcome Sprint to the Google Apps Partner Program, where they will provide Google Apps and added services to help customers work the way they live.”

In order to purchase the Google Apps suite, users are not required to be current Sprint customers –but clearly the company is hoping that everyone eventually will.

Categories : Android News
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google-play-android

Every person with a smartphone or tablet has experienced the frustration of a free (but not so free) app; you download it, you install it, you go to run it… and find that it’s so bogged down with ads and purchase options that it’s nearly impossible to use. In North America, many classify these apps as being Freemium. Beginning in September, Google has reached an agreement with the European Union that indicates no title offering in-app purchases (IAP) can be labeled as free.

The approach Google will take involves a change to the way app pricing is listed. Once implemented, a title will not be designated as free unless it also carries no IAP.

While it is easy to understand the motivation behind these changes, the main catalyst appears to be parents whose children have unwittingly racked up serious charges by downloading game add-ons. What isn’t being considered is that no price listing is a replacement for supervision and education: any child capable of entering payment information (even by way of just knowing the password) will download any app they want, regardless of the way a price is listed.

Apple has also been tapped to make these changes, but the company has yet to commit to anything specific, indicating they have no “concrete and immediate solutions”.

Categories : Android News
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flash-serp-note

In the early days of the Internet, using Oh Flash was a sign that a website was ahead of the times. It was impressive and sought-after. These days it is akin to a technologically-transmitted-disease –we’ve all heard about Flash content and we all know of websites that feature it, but for the most part we really just hope to avoid it. Thanks to Google, users searching from an Android or iOS device will now receive a warning when a website in their results is built on the Flash platform. From there it becomes your choice: take your chances and try it anyway, or move on to the next result.

Once upon a time, many people chose Android devices because they supported Flash –but that all ended with JellyBean when security and performance concerns outweighed the perceived benefits (something Apple felt strongly about since iOS began). Of course, it doesn’t hurt that technologies like HTML 5 now exist that are equally dynamic and entirely cross-platform.

In order to display this warning, Google has developed an algorithm that aims to detect websites whose content is based mostly in Flash. It’s likely this will result in a few false-positive hits, but that accuracy should improve with time (especially as legacy sites start to die out or face redesigns)… but there is another side-benefit that shouldn’t be overlooked: Flash content is difficult for search engine spiders to crawl –meaning the overall quality and accuracy of your search results should also improve.

As somebody who uses iOS devices as often as I do Android, I can tell you firsthand that it is frustrating to hit a website and only see portions (or nothing at all in some cases). Are any of you as excited as I am to hear this news? Do you see any downsides?

Categories : Android News
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GooglePlus-banner-640x312

If you’ve been holding off on using Google+ because you couldn’t use the display name you wanted (or maybe you just found the rules a little annoying), starting today those restrictions have been lifted. Some are speculating that the changes to Google’s terms of service are related to the departure of Google+ lead, Vic Gundotra, but it may just be that it was time.

Google made comments on this update on their Google+ profile:

“We know you’ve been calling for this change for a while. We know that our names policy has been unclear, and this has led to some unnecessarily difficult experiences for some of our users. For this we apologize, and we hope that today’s change is a step toward making Google+ the welcoming and inclusive place that we want it to be. Thank you for expressing your opinions so passionately, and thanks for continuing to make Google+ the thoughtful community that it is.”

Google+ turned 3 years old last month and still isn’t winning the social networking race against the reigning leader, Facebook. While I doubt many people were truly holding out because of the names that were allowed, fewer restrictions may provide a more welcoming atmosphere for would-be joiners.

Which social networking site do you like best? Do you try to keep up with all of them?

Categories : Android News
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GPS

At the Google I/O conference this year, we were treated to news that the latest version of Android would also come with a new Material Design UI –complete with an updated look and feel that would persist through to most of Google’s apps as well. A full tour of the design changes won’t be possible until the fall, but until then we will have to have our curiosity satiated by sneak peeks. To that end, we’ve seen a little bit of what the new Google Play Store will look like.

The primary difference with Material Design is whitespace (and lots of it) combined with large header images that make it easy for users to skim the content.

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It goes without saying that these leaked images should be considered part of the rumour mill at this point, Google may surprise us with something else entirely when the time comes.

Categories : Android News
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Android-Virus

Useless might be a strong word, but when it comes to being protected from security threats it would seem that the issue is necessarily black and white: you’re protected or you aren’t. So imagine the surprise (heard, read) around the world when Google’s chief security engineer for Android, Adrian Ludwig, announced that anti-virus apps may not be terribly valuable on that platform.

Not to be misunderstood, Ludwig’s claim isn’t that viruses and malware don’t exist. His assertion is that if users rely on Google and their own Play Store, they will be protected by his team and their checks and balances performed against every app. True? Not entirely, from what we’ve seen malware still seems to seep through their sensors and into those downloads (albeit only occasionally). Staying protected also requires you to have the latest version of Android installed on your device –something that isn’t necessarily within your control when the fragmented Android ecosystem means every manufacturer delivers updates at a different rate.

So what is within your control? Protect your phone from yourself: when an app requests permissions as you install it, don’t blindly allow them access. Don’t install software from shady looking app stores. Keep an eye on the usual behaviour for your device: if your battery starts dying hours earlier than it did a few days ago, it may signal a problem.

Other than potentially taking a few dollars out of your pocket (and running the risk of it behaving only as a placebo), there is no actual harm that comes from installing an anti-virus or malware protection app; just try to remember that even if you build a better mousetrap, hackers and malicious developers will just engineer a better mouse.


Categories : Android News
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Samsung-GALAXY-Apps

Samsung has had their own app store for quite some time, but now instead of carrying the “Samsung Apps” label, it is called “Galaxy Apps.” It may seem like a trivial change, but with the company diversifying their product line to include both Tizen and Android devices, a single Samsung app store couldn’t accommodate both.

Rebranding isn’t the only change Samsung has in store (if you will allow the pun), there are also hundreds of new apps that are exclusive to Galaxy mobile devices (arranged into a few categories, including: Best Picks, Top and For Galaxy). Of particular interest is that last ‘For Galaxy’ section that gives easy access to Galaxy Gifts, Galaxy Essentials, Apps for Professionals, and Galaxy Specials (those created by using Samsung SDKs).

Samsung claims they are trying to aid consumers in customizing their mobile devices, but most expectations are that the company is trying to make a play for Google Play market-share.

If you want to take Galaxy Apps for a spin on your Samsung Android device, open up the app store and the interface will ask you to update it (which means you will lose the home button).

Categories : Android News
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vevo-android-app

July has been a pretty big month for Vevo: Michael Cerda resigned (their product head), Demi Lovato celebrated 1 billion views, and now the music video service has announced that they have an overhaul ready to go that includes a host of new features and an updated design.

Vevo already delivers more than 5.5 million videos each month to viewers, but now a sleeker user interface and faster load times for HD videos makes it a more enjoyable experience. What else can you expect? A new video player delivers higher quality content, a new navigation menu makes the app easier to work with, create playlists with greater ease, and a real-time feed offers live-streaming channels (Hits, Flow and Nashville) that promise to bring you the biggest and best artists from the US and Canadian markets.

So what are these changes all about? It’s likely Vevo is trying to compete with the likes of YouTube –something they may just be able to do with major music labels like Sony and Universal on their side (giving them access to a library of over 100,000 licensed HD music videos). Of course, rumours are swirling around the Internet suggesting that the company owners are shopping Vevo around for a sale… which may mean all of these upgrades are just value-adds.

Have a few minutes (hours) to waste watching high-quality videos in the palm of your hand? Download Vevo for Android for free now.

Categories : Android News
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cc-chromecast

With an update to the Google Cast SDK, Chromecast now has full closed caption support for Android, Chrome, and iOS devices –as well as on the default and styled media receivers. Also available is a new version of the Media Player Library (0.8.0).

To take advantage of these updates, developers will need to properly provision their media and apps to include closed captioning to users who wish to turn on text during the playback of their cast-able media (sometimes it is nice to have this option even if you are just trying to watch something quietly while your children are sleeping or you are trying to figure out what the heck that character in the show just said).

Complimenting the closed-captioning addition is the release of the device screen mirroring feature for Chromecast. This much-desired feature was announced at Google I/O this year, designed to be in direct competition with the very popular AirPlay option available on iOS devices.

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One huge complaint against Google Now has been the lack of voice control support for using key features: especially playback for music apps like Google Play Music or podcast apps. Luckily for us, our wish is Google’s command –limited support has been added that allows you to stop and play music (using phrases like: “Okay Google stop music” and “Okay Google resume music”) as well as moving forward and backward through your playlists.

The limitation (and strength) is that this new feature works in any audio-enabled app… so if you were last listening to a podcast, that’s what will resume. It would be awfully nice if you could somehow specify the details for what you’d like played (though as a first-draft of the new feature, we’ll take it!).

Some Android users are already lucky enough to be using these new voice controls, give it a whirl to see if you are among them: start playing music and start issuing commands. Worst case scenario, you will see a note saying that the action is not supported along with a voice message that indicates “Controlling media is not supported on this device.”

In the land of wearables and hands-free functionality being needed in cars, voice commands are becoming increasingly trendy (and important, and safe).

Categories : Android News
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orkut-android

 

In the social-network beginning, there was Orkut (at least as far as Google was concerned)… but now there are a host of other apps and projects like YouTube, Blogger, and Google+. Unfortunately, Orkut never really caught on –so Google is dropping the axe and shutting it down come September 30 of this year (new account creation has already been suspended).

If you are an active Orkut user, Google Takeout will keep your profiles, posts, and photos alive and accessible until September 2016. In addition, all public communities will be placed in an archive that users can access following the shutdown (if you prefer your name or posts removed permanently, just remove Orkut from your Google account).

Does Orkut’s elimination make good sense given the limited adoption rate –or is this just another service Google ga\ve us and then took away? Do moves like this make it harder to trust Google? Are you any less likely to jump on board with Google+ knowing this?

Categories : Android News
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YouTube_movies

Google has made a few changes on their end (so no update is required on your devices) that let you watch any of your TV and movie purchases through the Android YouTube app. Effective immediately, all titles you own are listed in chronological order (based on the date you acquired them) under the Purchases section of YouTube –unfortunately there is no functionality in place yet to change the sort order (even alphabetical would make things a lot more user friendly).

While video content plays seamlessly through the YouTube app, the Play Movies & TV app is still in tact with plenty of features –leading me to wonder whether Google intends to full combine the two at some point (which may make sense when you consider it means they could consolidate and focus their efforts).

If you haven’t yet installed the YouTube app, you can download it now for free.

Categories : Android News
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