Just when it appeared Google's recent run of Android updates had come to an end, a new version of the Play Store pops up with new features in tow. Android Police got its hands on the app, running it under a microscope to find new social and recommendation features that make finding and downloading the best apps less of a hassle. To that end, Google now warns you when an app you're about to download contains in-app purchases, also making it easier to review apps with a larger star selector and dedicated edit and delete buttons. Opting for improved social recommendations, a new activity feed combines your +1s and ratings and connects them to your Google+ profile, letting you peak at those made by your friends to find apps you might otherwise have missed. Google's already begun rolling out the Play Store update, but if you can't wait for it to come over-the-air, hit up the source below to get the jump on everyone else.
Source: Android Police
HTC's 5.9-inch One max is comparatively modest when it comes to the oversized smartphone horserace; it's actually dwarfed by Sony's monstrous Xperia Z Ultra. Still, if your hands are big enough to accommodate the One max's bulk and you're a Verizon subscriber, today's the day you can call it your own. The Big Red operator's offering the device for $300 with any new two-year agreement, or for $25 monthly installments on its Edge upgrade plan. Verizon's even bundled in a special SIM that's "ISIS-ready" so you can take advantage of the carrier's contactless payment (read: Google Wallet) alternative. The One Max offers mostly everything we love about the OG One it shares a heritage with, just in a heftier metallic chassis and with an oddly-placed fingerprint scanner. Sure there's plenty you can do with a big 'ol screen, but in this case, we'd argue the size of your hand matters more.
16/11/2013 - If you're in the UK, you, too, can now view Google's info cards within the Play Movies app
It's been several months since Google introduced info cards to the Play Movies Android app, with the handy feature being limited to folks living Stateside ever since. That's about to change, however, as Google today updated Play Movies & TV in the UK and brought info cards to the application. For those in the United Kingdom, what this means is that you'll now be able to pause any video being watched and easily learn the filmography of the humans behind your favorite characters. Of course, this also means you'll have some extra time to spare during the day, since the Google Now-inspired feature is definitely going to save you a few trips to IMDB.
Via: The Next Web
Source: Google Play
Google showed off its refreshed search experience last week, and now we're starting to see it on our Android devices. As is usual, with its staggered updates different people may see the features at different times, but the changelog just got an update today. In case you missed it, one tweak Android Police first noticed last week is that the hotword for voice search has changed to "Ok Google," similar to the "Ok Glass" command for the company's headset. The new "more beautiful" search results are rolling out gradually according to the notes, so you may not see those right away. Finally, you can add "notable people" (we haven't seen our own names listed, clearly that's just an omission) to the list of items Google Now will keep you updated on, via a button on their card when you search for them as seen above. If you've been living with the new experience already, let us know how you like it, others should just keep an eye on their devices as it slowly rolls out.
Source: Google Play
In a country that has no shortage of vending machines, Google Japan has decided to join the fray. The company has announced three dedicated Google Play machines that will sell 18 different gaming titles which are a mix of free-to-play and paid-for titles. To use the machines, you'll need a smartphone running Android 4.0 and NFC -- and that's about it. You rest the phone on the tray below the screen, and NFC pairing takes care of the rest. We put the machine to the test with our LG G2 on hand, and had no troubles choosing and downloading a free game through the machine. There's a slick unified animation from the giant touchscreen (which looks almost identical to drinks machines elsewhere in the country) to your Android phone of choice when the download kicks in. Also, for trying out another Google app, you'll get a 'present' which 'drops' down from the screen and into the vending tray once your download is complete.
Not an Android user? Don't worry, because the vending machine will offer up a Nexus 4 for you to try out, although you do have to give it back, however. Several boiler-suited Google employees will man the machines when they're switched on tomorrow in front of the Parco department store in Shibuya. For now, it looks to be a Japan-only promotion -- but it's another great excuse to hit up the country's vending machines. %Gallery-slideshow99512%
If you've been paying much attention to Google+, you already know that the social network is doing its damnedest to become the go-to destination for photographers. Accordingly, it's attracted a number of RAW format enthusiasts -- thanks to the ability to store full-size photos -- and to make their lives a little better, Google+ is introducing a new RAW-to-JPEG conversion method that offers noticeably better results. Over 70 cameras from Canon, Nikon, Olympus, Panasonic and Sony are supported as of today, and Google says that it'll add additional models over time. Since Google+ automatically converts RAW photos to JPEG for viewing purposes (while retaining the original), the new conversion method should be readily apparent. You can view the complete list of supported cameras after the break, and as for the improved quality of conversions, go ahead and have a look for yourself. Hopefully your eyes agree with Google's claim.
An update to Google Voice today brings a useful, if not earth-shattering, new feature: support for SMS short codes. If your primary phone number is the one associated with your Google Voice account, this means you'll finally be able to use these codes for online banking and other services without your message showing up as sent from your carrier number. Today's update also adds a warning message whenever you type the 911 short code -- a handy safeguard, if you ask us. Nab the Android app update via the source link below.
Via: Android Central
Source: Google Play
19/09/2013 - YouTube's offline video for mobile explained
Need more clarification on how YouTube's offline video feature for mobile will work? Well, All Things D has shed a little light on the process via a memo Google sent to its YouTube partners. Turns out, offline video will be enabled by default in the YouTube app when it goes live in November, but wary partners do have the option to opt-out and can make that change right now. On the viewer end, all cached videos, accessible through the YouTube app's "on device" section, will be available for a 48-hour offline window that refreshes whenever the app reconnects to the internet. And, yes, there will be ads, but they'll be of the in-stream variety only. The new functionality doesn't apply to any movies or TV shows that Google offers for rent or sale and it's also still unclear if music videos will be whitelisted. But, hey, at least now you'll have one more way to watch this glorious weirdness when you're out of signal range.
Source: All Things D
06/09/2013 - MAKEwithX offers Moto X owners the tools to 3D print accessories for even more customization
If all of the possible combos afforded by MotoMaker just aren't enough to properly outfit that Moto X handset, MAKEwithMOTO has a tool that's ready to lend a hand. During the course of some recent make-a-thons, the crew has wrangled software and 3D printing tech to further customize those shiny new phones. MAKEwithX allows those that have splurged for that Android smartphone to design and 3D print unique accessories and cases with the help of generators like Radiolaria -- furthering the user-designed motives behind the entire Moto X line. These add-ons include NFC-enabled topographic dog tags and tessellation bracelets as well as backplates and clear cases that keep that custom color visible. Output colors are said to match up with MotoMaker's accent hues. Code for many of these generators are open source and built on the Cubify platform from 3D Systems. Tagging tweets with #makewithx if you're in the northeast US (mostly between Boston and NYC) will put you in the running for a chance to construct your own creations with the MAKEwithMOTO crew. For a bit more info about the whole project, venture on to the coverage link that follows.
Source: MAKEwithX Hangout
04/09/2013 - Google's KitKat statue unveiling may have leaked a new Nexus phone (update: video removed)
We always enjoy Google's new statues for each version of Android, however the one posted just now for KitKat / 4.4 may have a bonus treat. The Googler in the green shirt is holding a device that reads Nexus on the back, however compared to the woman conveniently holding a Nexus 4 just inches away, it's clearly not the same. The word Nexus is spelled out in a different direction, the camera looks different, and it looks bigger than the Nexus 4. The video
is embedded after the break, you can catch a glimpse of the mystery unit about 38 seconds in. It's certainly curious timing for a new device to pop up, right after the old one dropped in price and is out of stock for at least one version.
Update: Well, you could have seen it in the video but Google has suddenly yanked it from YouTube, adding even more intrigue to the situation. We've contacted the company for a statement and will let you know if we hear anything.
[Thanks, Mike and everyone else who sent this in]
03/09/2013 - 8GB Nexus 4 is sold out at Google Play and it won't be coming back, new Nexus handset on the way?
If you were still holding out before committing funds for a Nexus 4, seems like you missed your chance at the 8GB version. The $200 handset has sold out at Google Play in the US and the folks in Mountain View tell The Verge that it's not coming back. Those still eyeing the device can splurge for the 16GB option, while 8GB phones remain available in other global locales until the current stock is depleted. This certainly begs the question: is a new Nexus device on the way? With the Nexus 4 quickly approaching the year-old mark in October and a new version of Android on the horizon, this could be a signal that the new Nexus is just around the bend. We've reached out to Google on the matter and we'll update here as soon as we hear back.
Source: Google Play
The cheapest unlocked stock Android phone you could buy just got even cheaper: Google has dropped the price of the Nexus 4 8GB to $199 from the original price of $299, and the 16GB model to $249 from $349. It's fast approaching the anniversary date of the latest Google phone, so the timing is about right for the discount. However, we do wonder if this means a replacement is nigh. After all, Google has yet to introduce the next Nexus successor, and we certainly don't think the Moto X is all the Mountain View company has to offer. Until then, the Nexus 4 is pretty much the best deal for stock Android lovers who wish to be untied to a carrier. So if you feel like snatching one up now, you had best hit the source link before, you know, it sells out again.
Source: Google Play Store
26/08/2013 - Moto X for Verizon officially available online August 29th, at stores in the coming weeks
If you've been eyeing a Motorola device on Verizon without the Droid branding, the Moto X is ultimately your best (and only) choice -- but when exactly will it be available to the masses? According to Verizon's official Twitter account, this Thursday, August 29th will be the day you can grab it online for $200 on-contract. As for stores, the company isn't willing to give a specific date just yet, so all we've been told is that we can expect it in the coming weeks. Still, this will come as good news for Big Red fans who have been patiently awaiting their turn, even if it means early adopters have to settle for a black or white option.
24/08/2013 - iFixit teardown of Moto X finds it plenty repairable
Mere hours after the Moto X made it to stores, the iFixit guys have already torn it apart, revealing its innards to all. The guts of the American-assembled handset aren't entirely a surprise: under the hood we've got a motherboard, 16GB of eMMC NAND storage, the usual rear and front camera modules, inductive charging coils and a 3.8-volt 2200mAH lithium-ion battery. The disassemblers praised the replaceability of various modular components, as the tablet uses only one type of screw throughout. Its taped-in battery, display-fused digitizer and sticky adhesives took the Moto X down a few pegs, but its final score of 7 out of 10 still makes this one of the more easily repairable smartphones on iFixit's list. To have a look at just how Google and Motorola's lovechild was put together, hit the source link below.
Motorola's new Skip NFC smartphone key is quite possibly the simplest gadget we've covered at Engadget. But simple as it may be, Skip is a time saver for Moto X users. The tiny device, comprised of an NFC tag, a small piece of fabric and a pair of magnets for securing to an article of clothing, such as a pants pocket or shirt sleeve, ships for free with all Moto Maker orders, and is available as a $20 add-on if you've purchased your Moto X directly from a carrier. It's also bundled with three NFC-enabled stickers that you can affix to your car, a piece of furniture or a personal accessory, like a purse or wallet.
Setting up Skip takes only a few seconds. Assuming you have NFC enabled, tap the Moto X to the Skip or one of the bundled Skip Dots, and a configuration screen will pop up prompting you to pair your device with the tag. You'll enter your password to complete the process, then any time you need to unlock your phone in the future, all you need to do is tap the two together. Skip might not be the best fit if you keep confidential corporate data on your handset, but assuming your password serves mostly to keep prying eyes away from personal email or text messages, it should do the trick. Catch Skip in action in our hands-on video after the break.%Gallery-slideshow73405%
22/08/2013 - Google applies for location-based security patent, toughens up your smartphone while outdoors
Google's knack with location services helps us to get around, but hopefully, that same tech will serve to keep our devices safe in the future. Mountain View has applied to patent a system that modifies your smartphone's security depending on where you are. If you're at home or work, for instance, then swipe-to-unlock will suffice, but if you venture into the unknown, then your handset will demand you enter a code or, you know, offer up a DNA sample. The only issue that we can find, of course, is that you'd better hope that the person who lives above or below you in the apartment block doesn't have their eyes on your Nexus.
16/08/2013 - Building a Moto X with Moto Maker (hands-on video)
We had a walkthrough with Motorola's dedicated Moto X assembly site during the company's launch event earlier this month, but we've since had a chance to log on and build our own device, selecting front, back and accent colors with a live preview updating along the way. Not much has changed since August 1st, but considering you'll be walking out of an AT&T store with a $200 scratch-off card and a two-year contract, it's worth taking another look at what you'll find when you get home. Click past the break for our hands-on video to see what we managed to make.
Skip for Moto X surfaced on Motorola's site briefly yesterday, giving us some insight into the company's new PIN-free unlocking tool before the $20 product was pulled. Today, though, Google's smartphone arm has returned to detail the new gadget, which is set to ship for free when you order a device through Moto Maker. According to this morning's blog post, the typical phone user unlocks their handset 39 times each day -- in theory, a device like Skip, which clips to your belt, shirt sleeve or anywhere else you want, will help you reclaim several minutes daily. After pairing the compact NFC accessory with your phone, simply tap your device to unlock it. Each kit also includes three Skip dots, which you can stick onto any surface and use in the same way. Initially, Skip will ship in gray with a black accent, but Motorola plans to make colored versions available as well, beginning this fall.
Google is fundamentally changing how an aspect of Wallet works. Again. On August 21st, Mountain View is turning NFC functionality off for Wallet-stored gift and loyalty cards and recommends spending any gift card balances before the deadline later this month (i.e., within 12 days from now). However, if you still have the physical cards, you're in the clear and can use them without worry. The search giant stressed that it's working with retailers on other options for gift and loyalty card redemption, and that this latest change would not affect other aspects of the Wallet service, including its ability to handle debit or credit card transactions.
Loyalty program linking is something Google has been showing off since Wallet was first detailed, so it's curious to see the service suddenly being limited like this. When we asked for clarification, a company spokesperson replied that there wasn't much more they could share. Page and Co. said its working on a solution though, and will have details to talk about "soon."
[Thanks Anthony and Dan]
04/08/2013 - The After Math: Moto X edition
Welcome to The After Math, where we attempt to summarize this week's tech news through numbers, decimal places and percentages.
Motorola's got wood! Or at least that's what it said (and eventually unsaid) in conjunction with one of the most unique smartphone announcements we've ever seen. Not only is the Moto X almost literally one-of-a-kind, with its seemingly endless customization options and "assembled in the USA" status, but it's also not the hardware powerhouse you might expect from such a high-profile handset. Add to that Motorola's innuendo-laced marketing campaign and lack of a proper press conference to kick things off, and you've got yourself a healthy helping of digits for this week's After Math.
26/07/2013 - Moto X with T-Mobile compatibility gets FCC approval
Despite the fact that the Moto X hasn't even been officially announced (unless you count Eric Schmidt's Idaho flaunt-fest or Dennis Woodside's D11 talk as "official"), there's a lot we already know about the device. What we haven't heard for certain yet are which carriers in the US will offer the new handset, though FCC docs and other leaks have revealed AT&T, Verizon and Sprint as likely candidates so far. Does T-Mobile fit into the mix? Whether or not the UnCarrier will really pick it up, a variant of the Motorola X known as the XT1053 has made its way through the FCC approval process with all the bands you've grown to love and use on other T-Mo devices, such as AWS HSPA+ and LTE (along with bands 2 and 17, making this theoretically compatible with AT&T as well). This is a pretty clear indicator that worst-case customers will be able to purchase an unlocked version of the device with the right frequencies in tow. Additionally, we noticed evidence that 802.11ac will also make an appearance. Have a look at the docs for yourself below, if you so desire.
Bryan Biniak, VP and General Manager of Global Partner and App Development at Nokia, was in London today for the UK launch of JobLens, so we took the opportunity to sit down with him and talk Windows Phone 8, the basket in which Nokia has entrusted all its eggs. Being Microsoft's brother-in-arms, Nokia's heavily involved in building out the platform and, despite an increasing number of high-profile apps making the jump, the general health of the WP8 store was the main topic of discussion. Unsurprisingly, Biniak was keen to report the app catalogue and with it, competitiveness, is growing fast. There are still gaps to be filled, however, and if Biniak's claims are to be trusted, all the apps most common to iOS and Android home screens are headed to WP8 in the near future:
We're not having a single conversation with anybody, of any material application that's out there, that isn't going to be coming to the platform. It's not a matter of if -- I had those conversations, the "if" conversations, before -- all of our conversations now are "when."
24/07/2013 - Google's breakfast with Sundar Pichai liveblog
We've been invited to a breakfast with Sundar Pichai, the man with the [Chrome and Android] plan, and we think we know what you're dying to find out: will we feast together on bran muffins or jelly donuts? Coffee or orange juice? Kidding aside, we imagine one of the biggest fellas on Google campus doesn't just want to have us over for tea, so we're going to be there with our liveblogging hats on, ready to get you all of the latest product announcements and other news at a second's notice. Perhaps Android 4.3 and the latest Nexus 7? Or is it something else entirely? Will there be dancing?
24/07/2013 - New Nexus 7 surfaces in photos, packaging and all
You know that new Nexus 7 that's been leaked several times over the past few weeks? Well, it looks like someone just got their hands on it early, according to these newly released images on Reddit. There's not much else to glean from these snapshots aside from new packaging (we've included an image of that after the break), a SKU and what is obviously a new Nexus tablet. We're not sure how this guy got this so early, but this does signify the imminent arrival of Google's new tablet.
So when exactly will the Moto X make its formal debut? August 1st is the date, according to a Motorola teaser announcing the launch. There's been no shortage of leaks for the new flagship smartphone, which we know will be assembled in the US and will ship to customers in a variety of colors. So far, our best look at the device has come courtesy of Eric Schmidt himself, who was showing off his own sample at the Allen and Company Conference in Sun Valley. He declined to provide any specification details, but some attendees did sneak a peek at the handset's carbon fiber-like back and sleek curves.
Source: Ina Fried (Twitter)