Archive for Google
Google has introduced some new changes to its Play Magazine app, which now has been bumped up to version 2.0. The change comes on the back of a similar effort towards Google Play Music and its Play Store, both of which received their respective updates recently. As part of the enhancements brought about at the Play Magazine, the app now sports a cleaner and organized look and the interface looks brighter. A new slide out bar has been introduced to switch views from Read Now, Library, and Shopping mode. Purple has emerged as the theme color for the Play Magazine, though it still lacks features such as bookmarking, copy and paste, or highlighting.
The 2013 edition of the Google I/O event was without any fancy hardware launches, something that many analysts had predicted. There wasn’t even a new Android update announced, which analysts were definitely expecting. Many are now suggesting that Google I/O might just have returned to the way it used to be, with the focus back on developers instead of the products or the consumer oriented approach it had developed in the last few years.
However, that does not mean it has been all about boring lectures or discussions that exclude the consumers. Rather, Google did have some nice features to announce, some that are sure to have industry wide ramifications. Mentioned below are some cool features that the Google I/O 2013 has yielded.
Google Play Music All Access: It’s the answer to the likes of Spotify, Rdio, or even the upcoming Apple’s iRadio. It combines your personal music tracks to the millions present in Google Play Music so you can have what is best described in the words of Chris Yegra “radio without rules.” The system is also programmed to find stuff that you might like based on your listening preferences. Users will also have the option to create personalized radio stations based on songs or artists they like, or just through a specific genre. The song list can be pulled up with a single tap, and if All Access’ recommendations are not to your liking, you can remove them from the list with a single swipe of your finger. The service is priced quite conveniently at $9.99 per month, after month long free trial period. Or for those who just can’t wait to hop on to the All Access bandwagon, Google will reward them with a subscription fee of $7.99 per month before June 30. In the end, Google’s ability to strike a deal with the big time music labels before Apple is quite impressive.
Maps: This is another area where Google has put in a lot of effort. This has led to the map being more informative and detailed than ever before. When you search for a place, Google not only pulls up the map, but also provides you with useful recommendations for the area. A pop-up also provides you with a 360 degree view of the place you have searched. Videos can be accessed right from the map, which is now transformed into an interface. Also, the maps are now more personalized so that users will be able to highlight areas or create landmarks as per user’s choice. And once you have clicked on a suggestion or landmark, a new map pops up to show related attractions as well. The map’s navigation features have been enhanced, as it now provides not only driving directions to a place you have selected, but also walking and biking directions, including public transit. Users are also warned of traffic jams and will be provided with alternate routes to avoid them.
Google Now: This has been a cool addition to the Jelly Bean package and now it has become even smarter thanks to the Knowledge Graph based search that has been fine-tuned even further. As such, the Google virtual assistant will be able to answer not only questions you have directly asked, but will also anticipate details that you may want to know about. This was demoed at the conference by asking Google Now the population of India. In such a scenario, Google Now will not only answer the query but will also furnish details of how the population compares with other related countries and so on. The virtual assistant will also accept voice commands for tasks like setting reminders and so on.
Photo Tools in Google+: Google has introduced some cool photo editing tools to its two year old social networking platform Google+ in a bid to rake up some excitement around it. Among the features introduced is Highlight, which can identify if the pictures are hazy or overexposed, identify landmarks, or even find faces sporting a smile. The Auto Enhance feature eliminates noise from low light images while also softening wrinkles. Auto Awesome is another cool feature that can identify a photo scene and provide corrections accordingly. In short, it is designed to automatically make a photo awesome.
Lastly, while Google was expected to launch a slew of hardware, which includes next gen versions of Nexus 7, Nexus 4, or even a new Chromebook, the lone hardware announcement during the conference was the Samsung Galaxy S4 running the stock Android version. The S4 will reach markets towards end June, but is priced a hefty $650.
The 2013 edition of the Google I/O Conference may not have been about fancy hardware launches or even a new iteration of Android (both of which were hotly anticipated), but that does not mean there weren’t any important or interesting announcements made. There is the very interesting new feature that Google launched aimed primarily at the educational sector. Google Play for Education marks an entirely new addition to the Google Play Store and comprises of apps aimed at making learning a fun filled experience for the kids.
Not surprisingly, the Google Play for Education section also integrates Google+ groups, and the inherent benefit is that a teacher can push a single app to all their students to form a particular group in a single push. As long as the teachers create the groups and direct the apps, Google will have the app delivered to all the devices in that group.
Google stated that the apps that have been included are those that have been recommended by teachers, which adds a lot of pedigree to the Play for Education section. It also allows the apps to be purchased via the school’s (or even a school system’s) billing account rather than via a single person’s credit card. That does make a lot of sense, considering any apps purchased will be paid for by the school authorities rather than having to use an individual’s credit card and reimbursing them later, thus saving a lot of hassle.
Lastly, Google also has stated the new Education segment won’t just be limited to apps, but will also comprise of books and videos as well. All of which will be organized by genre and the intended age group. Overall, it’s a nice move that will help students and teachers make the best of digital tools in furthering the cause of education.
Some inquisitive sleuthing by the folks at Android Police with the Google Glass app ‘MyGlass’ codes has come up with unexpected results. The information included codes that pertain to real-time and turn-based multiplayer games. This was the biggest indication of something like Apple’s Games Center coming from Google, and is confirmed just days ahead of the Google I/O conference.
All of it points out to a new addition to the Google Play Store dubbed “Play Games.” All of the finer details are missing at this point, though from what we do know now, the prospect of being able to save game progress in the cloud does seem awesome. Then, of course, there will be active syncing across all devices, which will ensure you will be able to catch up with the game regardless of the device. Other cool aspects of the game include matchmaking, achievements and goals, player invites, leaderboards, and scoreboards for tracking progress, as well as many other features.
Google’s plans seem pretty exciting, and many believe Play Games could be better than the iOS Games Center, which in itself is quite comprehensive. Expect the full details from the Google I/O conference, which kicks off this Wednesday.
Tablet shipment figures for the first quarter of 2013 are already here and they present an interesting scenario. For instance, according to a Digitimes report, tablet shipment reached 31.93 million for the first three months of this year, which represents a decline of 26.1 percent on quarter but increased by 66.1 percent on year. However, IDC is reporting an even more optimistic shipment figure of 49.2 million for the quarter.
However, both Digitimes and IDC seem to be unanimous regarding the iPad, reporting shipments of 19.5 million of the Apple tablet during the period. However, while the iPad continues to be at the top of the heap, the trend seems to be on the slide. Apple still has 39.6 percent of the tablet market to itself, though it used to be 43.6 and 58.2 in the last two preceding quarters. Analysts claim it’s quite normal, as Apple generally records a weaker first quarter after strong sales during the holiday season. Apple has recorded a year over year growth of a healthy 65 percent.
Samsung and Asus make up the second and third slot with sales of 8.8 and 2.7 million respectively. The individual figures might not be too inspiring, but both companies have reported 288.7 and 267.6 percent increases in sales respectively compared to the same period a year ago. Microsoft, according to IDC, managed to make it among the top five tablet makers with shipment of 900,000 of its Surface devices.
However, there are some contradictions that come to the fore that pertain to the operating system that dominates the tablet segments. While Digitimes is claiming the Apple iOS accounts for a dominating 61 percent of the total tablets shipped in Q1, IDC is pegging the figure at lower than 40 percent for iOS, with the Google Android making up 56.5 percent of all the tablets shipped. According to Digitimes, Android and Windows make up 31 and 8 percent of the total tablet shipment.
Another interesting finding of the Digitimes research is that the smaller tablets measuring 7 inches or so that are in greater demand, accounting for 56 percent of the tablets shipped in Q1. Tablets measuring 9 and 10 inches make up 22 and 20 percent of the shipments.
Google has introduced some changes to its Play Store regulations that now make is mandatory for all applications to update after having gone through Google’s specified methods. This comes in the wake of Facebook attempting to offer users of its Facebook Home app an update bypassing Google Play Store. The change has been brought about by a seemingly small but significant update that now stands at version 4.0.27. Most apps already comply with that, except for one, Facebook, which prompted Google to promptly bring about the change.
Google Play Program Policies have been updated. See “Content Policies” section, which clarifies that “An app downloaded from Google Play may not modify, replace, or update its own APK binary code using any method other than Google Play’s update mechanism.” Google Play is a trusted source for Android application downloads, and we are committed to providing a secure and consistent experience, revealed Google’s new policy towards app updates.
Gadget sales only make a company money once, and that’s if the devices aren’t sold at cost, but the app stores account for a sustained source of steady income. That is how things stand for the biggies in the business, with Apple raking in $1.48 billion from sales via its App Store during the first quarter of the year. That accounts for a dominating 74 percent of the $2.2 billion dollar revenue that app store sales have generated during the first three months of the year. Google Play store came in at second with 48 percent of the revenue.
However, while the above figure might seem to be overwhelmingly in favor of Apple, things look impressive for Google from a different perspective. For instance, Google’s income from its Play Store grew at 90 percent compared to what it was just a quarter ago. A separate report by the analytics firm, App Annie, pegged Google’s revenue from Google Play to be 38.5 percent that of Apple. However, Google still has a lot of time, as analysts project it will be 2016 before the search giant can surpass Apple in terms of revenue from app store sales.
“Although Google is catching up, Apple has such a head-start in revenues that, on present trends, we would not expect Google to overtake Apple until sometime in 2016,” said Adam Daum, chief analyst at Canalys to Reuters.
This proves the steady growth of Android brought about by the rising sales of Android based tablets and smartphones. However, in revenue terms, Apple still leads. Apple’s success is attributed to its payment system, which is considered much simpler than that of the Play Store. With Apple, users of the iPhone and iPad have registered their credit cards with the Apple App Store, which makes it easier for them to carry out a purchase. With Google’s Play Store, the options are many, such as Google Wallet, credit card purchases, and carrier billing, which analysts believe is often detrimental to higher sales.
The research also predicted Japan and South Korea, two of the biggest Android consumers, could be seen fueling the next wave of growth of the Play Store. Android consumers in both countries are most interested in games, something Android ought to remember.
The official Google Play eBooks app for Android seems to get the most new features and enhancements. The iOS version seems to be the least supported, but got a major update today.
The new Google Play Books 1.5 update brings Japanese vertical layout support, which makes manga and traditional ebooks more accessible. Speaking of books, the app now has support for Fixed Layout EPUB books. Fixed Layout means it now supports kids books, comics, and other image heavy content. This change was to set the stage for the upcoming newspaper service. Finally, the iOS app now has official Google Maps support, and you can click on interactive maps.
Google has come up with an update for its Play Store that promises to make things simpler and more organized than ever before. Google claims the entire operation has been designed to ensure anyone who makes it to the Play Store gets finds what they are looking for in the most hassle free manner. Towards this, the changes that have been introduced include bigger images and grouping similar content together. So whether you are looking for the latest bestseller ebook or the newest movies or games, the new update will ensure you have it on your device as quickly as possible. As Michael Siliski, group product manager for Google Play, mentions in the company blog, the updated Play Store ”helps you find great entertainment, fast.” The checkout process to has been simplified as well. The update is already available and can be seen on devices running Android 2.2 and above. However, Google insists it might take some days or even weeks for the update to be evident on your tablet or smartphone, so don’t panic yet.
The rumor world is abuzz with news of Google being on the hunt to acquire the popular mobile chat program WhatsApp. The entire deal is pegged at an astounding one billion, with WhatsApp reported to be playing hard to jack up the price further. The negotiations are said to have started almost a month ago, though we have yet to hear anything concrete on this. So far, both the parties involved had maintained a studied silence on the entire thing except the almost customary “We do not comment on rumors” thing. If that is not enough, an entirely new twist to the story has come in the form of WhatsApp denying outright they are negotiating with the search giant on a possible takeover.
All the confusion aside, the deal does make a lot of sense for Google that already offers related services, such as Google Voice, Gmail, Google+, and so on. A free messaging service like WhatsApp would be a nice fit to the lineup. Also, of course, with a company as successful as WhatsApp that consistently features among the top paid apps category, Google would save time and money by avoiding having to build one from scratch. WhatsApp commands a huge user base in more than 100 countries across 750 mobile networks. The company boasts of more than 100 million active users on a daily basis, according to an Oct 2011 estimate, and is serving about a billion messages every day on average. During New Year’s Eve in 2012, the company set a new record by processing 18 billion messages, which marks a significant improvement over its previous single day record of 10 billion message a day.
Another factor that makes WhatsApp extremely popular is its ultra-low cost, which stands at just $0.99 while doing away with ads. iPhone users pay that amount once to download the app, though there is a new subscription model that is being developed. Under the new plan, users will be able to download and use the app for one year free of cost, but will have to pay an annual subscription of $0.99 thereafter. The service is available for Android, BlackBerry, iOS, Symbian, and the Windows platform.
The next gen Nexus 7 will be ready for launch towards July, reports Reuters. The news agency further revealed Google and Asus will be banking on Qualcomm to power the new Nexus 7 device. Sources said chips from both NVIDIA and Qualcomm were put to test, and the latter made the cut reportedly due to its power saving credentials.
Other details of the upcoming device include a thinner bezel design and an even better display, both of which play a significant role in enhancing a tablet’s appeal. Sources also claim Google and Asus are aiming to ship no less than 8 million of the new Nexus 7 by the year end, which seems quite achievable if they can keep the basics right. The first gen Nexus 7 proved to be the perfect combination of good design, excellent display, and slick performance, which together with an affordable price tag ensured it was among the highest selling Android tablets.
While the new Nexus 7 is expected to improve on this, prices will continue to be an important factor in ensuring its appeal remains high. Google is likely to continue with the same $199 and $149 prices for the new Nexus 7 devices. What remains to be seen is whether the first gen Nexus 7 will be scrapped altogether or will featured at a discount of $199, something that Amazon has done with the original Kindle Fire. That would be a great deal for a tablet that still has a lot of appeal.
As for its competitor, Apple is expected to release the next iPad Mini 2 around the same time, while a new Kindle Fire is also on the horizon. Samsung is readying a new Galaxy Tab variant with a high resolution display for release during fall, and a smaller 7 inch tablet running Windows 8 cannot be ruled out. In short, it’s exciting times ahead in the tablet segment.
Out of super cheap Android tablets, this is one of the most competitive devices. The Ematic Genesis Prime is a proper 7 inch tablet running the latest Android Jelly Bean, but at a tantalizingly low price tag of just $80. Ematic is already known for its pocket friendly attributes and it has even managed to get the Ematic Prime certified from Google, which means one can tap into the vast app world of Google Play.
The rest of the spec story isn’t anything exciting, which is quite understandable considering the ultra low price tag the tablet sports. With a 1.1 GHz dual core CPU, a dedicated GPU, 1 GB of RAM, and 4 GB of on-board storage, the Ematic Genesis Prime is designed to get most jobs done and not to impress with its speed. There is also 5 GB of cloud storage thrown in, along with a VGA camera at the front and an USB 2.0 port. Ematic is claiming a battery life of around 4.5 hours for the Wi-Fi only tablet, which is also capable of playing back 1080p HD video.
So there you are. The Ematic Prime offers a proper tablet at almost throw away prices, which makes it quite expendable.
Catch up with the PR below.
“With Google Play, we [Ematic] were able to bring an entirely new digital experience to our consumers,” says Roy Rayn, President of Ematic. “Intuitive and exciting, this tablet is ideal for work or play with faster web browsing capabilities and endless possibilities for entertainment.”
Google Play is a digital content experience providing access to music, movies, television shows, books, magazines, Android apps and games. Users can browse this online market from the web or Android device for content to stay entertained for hours. There are more than four million titles available in the eBookstore, thousands of TV shows and movies to stream directly to your tablet, and millions of music titles to peruse. Additionally, with music on Google Play you can upload 20,000 of your songs for free, discover new artists, browse millions of tracks and share music you buy with your friends on Google+.
Google Now gets you just the right information at just the right time. Cards appear throughout the day at the moment you need them. Google Now delivers the weather, Google Calendar appointments, reminders about when a user needs to leave their home or office to catch a flight, a heads up on nearby events, dinner reservations and much more. The Genesis Prime also includes other Google services such as Chrome, Maps, YouTube, and Google Talk.
Lightweight and portable, the Genesis Prime is designed with the active, on-the-go user in mind. The HD video player supports up to 1080p HD videos, and the tablet features a front camera to easily capture life’s memorable moments. The tablet is loaded with a 1.1 GHz processor with dedicated GPU lets you get the most out of your favorite games and apps. Additionally, the Genesis Prime has 4GB of internal storage available as well as 5GB of included cloud storage to store your important content and favorite multimedia.
The Genesis Prime is available at walmart.com for $79.99.
1.1 GHz processor
4GB on-board storage memory
5GB of included cloud storage
7” capacitive multi-touch screen
Built-in 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi
Front VGA camera
USB 2.0 port, 3.5 mm audio jack
Rechargeable battery- up to 4.5 hours of battery life
Dimensions: 7.56” x 4.92” x .39”
Android 4.1, Jelly Bean operating system
Other Google services: Chrome, Gmail, Maps, YouTube
Ematic is the leader in portable media and value tablets; offering high quality consumer electronics at an affordable price. Founded in 1985, the company offers a variety of technology ranging from designer headphones to MP3 players and tablets. Ematic prides itself on offering the latest in advanced technology that has undergone rigorous testing for quality performance and design.