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3 years ago

Google introduces conversational search in Chrome and an expanded Knowledge Graph

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Google has shown off what's new in search at Google I/O and during the keynote they announced improvements to conversational search,  Google Now and the Knowledge Graph. We've had conversational search on Android and iOS for some time, but now you'll be able to access it through Chrome on any laptop or desktop. You can click the mic to start talking or simply say "Ok Google". It looks pretty slick.

In addition, they also announced support for 4 new languages for their Knowledge Graph: Polish, Turkish, Simplified Chinese and Traditional Chinese. The Knowledge Graph is the search iteration they unveiled a while back that presents relevant, immediate data based on what you're searching for.

Follow our live coverage of the Google I/O keynote for the rest of the day's news!

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3 years ago

Google Play Music updated, includes UI overhaul and All Access subscription service

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Google announced a music subscription service today called Google Play Music All Access. It provides unlimited access to music for $9.99/month (or $7.99/month if you sign up for the free trial before June 30th.)

The Google Play Music Android app has been updated to reflect the All Access subscription service, but also provides an entire UI overhaul that is very slick. It's simplified and much easier to navigate, in my opinion. There is a navigation pane to the left that allows you to select between Listen now, My Library, Playlists, Radio and Explore. You can quickly swipe it away to view your choice, which will be taken over by larger album art.

The update is available via the Google Play Store. If you don't see it just yet, sit tight, you'll see it soon. Follow our Google Play links for the update.

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3 years ago

Google previews next major version of Maps for Android

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New look, new features for Google's mobile mapping software

At the Google I/O keynote in San Francisco, Google showed a sneak peek at the "next major version" of Google Maps for Android. Visually, it looks a lot like the iPhone Google Maps app, with a big search bar front and center, and re-vamped, smoother graphics. There's also a new Zagat experience built-in, with a new five-point rating scheme. Google Offers are now built into the app too, allowing offers to be saved directly from the Maps app.

The tablet maps UI has been overhauled too, with a UI tweaked to take advantage of the additional screen realestate. And in big news for iOS, there's finally a dedicated iPad app for Google Maps.

The company also showed off a re-vamped version of Google Maps on the web, with WebGL-based vector graphics as standard, and a bigger focus on search, through a large search bar at the top of the screen. There's been a complete UI overhaul too, designed to make features like navigation and public transit directions easier to use. For the first time, Google Earth-like 3D imagery is included in Maps on the web, too.

The new Google Maps experience for Android is due to launch "this summer."

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3 years ago

New Google Now cards and 'hot words' for voice search launching today

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Reminders. Music albums. TV shows. Public transit. Books. Video Games.

Update: The newest version of Google Search has just been pushed out to the Play Store

In among the host of other search features unveiled at the Google I/O keynote today, Google announced that six new cards will be coming to its card-based predictive search system, Google Now. Reminders -- like "get milk" -- details for music, TV, books and video games and public transit messages.

Google also demonstrated "hot words" in Google voice search, allowing potentially ambiguous queries such as "show me my photos from New York" or "when does my flight leave" to produce accurate results based on the information at Google's disposal. The demo ran remarkably smoothly and quickly, and with seemingly perfect accuracy.

The new Google Now cards will begin rolling out from today. Remember we're still liveblogging the I/O keynote, so head over there to see everything as it happens.

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3 years ago

New Google+ picks out your best photos

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At the Google I/O keynote in San Francisco, Google VP Vic Gundotra demonstrated a ton of new features for the company's social network, Google+. Among these is a bevy of photographic capabilities, chiefly Google Photo Highlights. If you've ever uploaded a massive cache of photos to a social network and had to sort through to pick out the best ones, you may appreciate this.

Google's algorithms can cut down a large group of imperfect images and pick out the best-looking ones, reducing potentially thousands of image to a smaller collection of only the very best.

We're still covering the event live from Moscone West, so stay tuned for continuing coverage.

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3 years ago

All new Google+ Hangouts app unveiled, cross-platform messaging service

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Much rumored service becomes official, available today for Android, iOS and the web

Messaging has been one of the hot topics leading up to Google I/O, and today Vic Gundotra took to the stage and introduced the all new Google+ Hangouts. A cross-platform messaging service available starting today for Android, iOS and the web. 

We'll be taking a closer look at Hangouts once the dust settles, but one of the headline features is group video chat, available at no extra charge. We're also getting photos stored in albums, the ability to turn off history or save your chats, regular old group messaging, typing notifications, and notifications that will sync across all of your devices. 

A new messaging platform has been one of the most talked about items heading into Google I/O, and the app itself looks pretty nice. We're looking forward to putting it through its paces. It's a stand alone application, breaking free of the main Google+ app.

Follow our live coverage of the Google I/O keynote for the rest of the day's news!

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3 years ago

Google+ for the web taking on new look similar to current apps

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A unified design across different screen sizes provides a better experience

In working to unify its different platforms, Google is rolling out updates to Google+ on the web and mobile apps to create a more consistent experience across screen sizes. The big focus from the keynote is on the web component, which has taken on a view with multiple "cards" and columns in the same way that you'd expect to see on the Google+ app on a tablet. The design is responsive and resizes based on the size of your screen and webpage to give more or less information. The cards feel more "alive" and move as you scroll along them. 

Google is also introducing new features for these web cards, such as auto hashtagging for images you post, related hashtags and posts based on cards you see, and many more. These features are just hitting the web starting today, but we would expect many of the same features to be folded into the mobile apps in their own way soon as well.

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3 years ago

Google announces Google Play for Education

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Google making strides into the classroom with new education focused Google Play service

Google is making a push to get technology, more specifically tablets into schools with the announcement today of Google Play for Education. Officially launching in the fall, submissions will be accepted soon. 

Google Play for Education will allow for the mass deployment of apps to education tablets. Not just apps either, books, videos, all available through Google Play for Education with mass licenses chargable against school purchase orders. 

6 elementary schools have been involved in a pilot scheme, with 550 different third-party apps deployed in a single day. This is huge for the education sector, and its great to see Google making strides into improving education with technology. 

Follow our live coverage of the Google I/O keynote for the rest of the day's news!

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3 years ago

Google Play Music All Access live on the web

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Earlier in the still-ongoing Google I/O keynote, Google announced Google Play Music All Access, a new subscription service aimed at providing any music you want for a monthly fee of $9.99 ($7.99 if you try the free trial before June 30th). The service will be available on both mobile devices and the web. The web version just went live for US users (internationla is coming 'soon') is asking us to join the free trial. We're not seeing it on Android just yet, but it's a safe bet that we'll be seeing it very soon.

Follow our live coverage of the Google I/O keynote for the rest of the day's news!

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3 years ago

Chrome for Android adds data compression option, Youtube now supports VP9 video

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Save substantially on your mobile data usage when using Chrome and Youtube

As the Google I/O 2013 keynote gets moving along, Google is getting into some of the new technology it is using to save users data when using their products. First up is an update to the beta channel of Chrome for Android, which adds a "data compression" option in the settings to cut down on data usage. When turned on, it will use a compression proxy to pass pages through, converting images to the WebP format (which are 30-percent smaller than JPEG) and compressing all components of the page. The example given over a month of browsing with this Nexus 10 tablet above is a 46-percent savings in data usage. That's a big deal on today's limited data plans.

Also on the data usage front, Google is announcing that Youtube will start making the move to supporting the VP9 video format as a possible replacement for H.264. You don't have to know much about what VP9 does behind the scenes, but the end result is raw data savings with no loss in quality. Google used the example of a short HD video clip in VP9, which used about half of the bandwidth (~150MB vs. over 300MB) when compared to H.264. 

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3 years ago

Google Play Music All Access unveiled

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Google launches subscription music service, $9.99 per month, 30-day free trial

We're live in San Francisco for the Google I/O keynote presentation, where the search giant unveiled its new music subscription service, Google Play Music All Access. All Access includes such features as Listen Now, which uses Google's data to create a "never-ending" list of music based on your tastes. Demonstrating All Access on-stage at the keynote, Google's Chris Yerga showed the app's music discovery features, including a re-orderable queue of music and music discovery based on your existing library. Yerga described the service as "radio without rules."

Google Play Music All Access will become available today in the U.S., with additional countries following in the future. The price is $9.99 per month, with 30-day trials available. Even better, if you start a trial by June 30, you'll only pay $7.99 per month.

Keep watching our Google I/O keynote liveblog for continuing coverage of all the day's announcements.

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3 years ago

Samsung Galaxy S4 Google Edition is real!

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The Samsung Galaxy S4. Plain old vanilla Android 4.2 Jelly Bean. It's real

Hugo Barra came back to the stage at Google I/O and dropped a huge bombshell on us. The Samsung Galaxy S4 'Google Edition' that has been rumored in the run up to the event is indeed real, and it's going on sale via Google Play! 

This Galaxy S4 runs Android 4.2.2 just as the regular one does, only this one has absolutely no Touchwiz on it whatsoever. This one runs pure, un-tampered, Google fresh Android. 

Available from Google Play on June 26 in the U.S, compatible with AT&T and T-Mobile US. 16GB of on board storage expandable via microSD card, LTE, unlockable bootloader, and prompt software updates. Google promises that this Galaxy S4 will provide a "Nexus user experience." Wow. All this will cost $649.

So, is this now the Galaxy S4 of your dreams? 

Follow our live coverage of the Google I/O keynote for the rest of the day's news!

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3 years ago

Developers can now manage Beta Testing & Staged Rollouts for their apps

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Carefully manage app updates for a small set of core users to squash bugs

Google I/O 2013 is plugging along today, and one of the biggest features from a developer point of view is that they can now manage both Beta Testing and Staged Rollouts for updates to their apps. Rather than using a third party system to offer plain .apk downloads to certain users, developers can now plug into Google+ to give certain users access to early updates directly from the Play Store that no one else can see. This way, only the people that developers want to beta test will have access to the latest. Staged Rollouts is similar, but isn't tied to specific users. With this function, developers can choose to only push an update to a specific percentage of their users -- say 10-, 20-, or 30-percent -- and ramp up over time. This way you can get a slow and steady stream of input from users to address.

Feedback and comments during beta testing and staged rollouts isn't posted publicly to the Play Store, but rather goes directly to the developer to manage bug reports and test out the new features. As the rollout picks up, things will eventually go public so users can give a proper review in the Play Store. We look forward to seeing how many developers take advantage of this.

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3 years ago

Google Play Store getting 'designed for tablets' category in top charts

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Android tablets are growing in popularity, and Google recognizes this and is setting out to make great tablet apps more visible in the Play Store. Starting today, there will be a new "designed for tablets" section in each of the top charts tabs in the Play Store when accessed from an Android tablet. Great news for Android tablet users and developers of great tablet apps alike. 

Follow our live coverage of the Google I/O keynote for the rest of the day's news!

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3 years ago

Android Studio unveiled at Google I/O keynote

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Brand new Android IDE to make it easier to build and preview apps

Google has launched a brand new IDE (integrated development environment) for building Android apps at today's Google I/O keynote presentation. Android Studio is based on the community edition of IntelliJ, and includes a number of unique tools designed to make the development and previewing process more easy.

Among these are the ability to preview strings in code as if they were hard-coded, see colors based on color codes and even preview layouts on different device sizes -- everything from a 3.7-inch phone to a 10-inch tablet. It's even possible to preview different languages and see if everything will fit right with overflowing.

The developers in the room seemed really excited about the new previewing capabilities of Android Studio, and we're sure this will be hugely useful to both seasoned devs and newcomers.

Keep watching our live coverage of the I/O keynote for more news from the show.

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