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3 years ago

Hands-on with Hangouts, Google's first step towards unified messaging

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Lots of great new features, but this may not be the unified messaging service some hoped for

We've heard a whole lot about "Hangouts" as a headline feature of Google+ since its launch, but Google is repurposing that branding today for its latest group chat service. There was a whole lot of crazy speculation and expectation leading up to Google I/O about a unified messaging platform from Google, and unfortunately Hangouts just isn't that service quite yet. As if Hangouts coming to phones as an update to the Google Talk app wasn't a good indication, this is more of an instant messaging client then an all-encompassing messaging service.

That being said, if you and the people you talk to most are all-in with Google, this update just gave you a whole bunch of new features. Read on with us past the break for a little introduction to Hangouts, Google's next step in messaging.

More: Android Central @ Google I/O 2013

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3 years ago

Android Studio is what's new in Android development tools

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To build great apps, you need great tools. The folks at Mountain View are giving us those tools

After this morning's epic three-hour Keynote event, it was just a quick trip next door to see Xavier Ducrohet and Tor Noybe give what is always one of the most popular developer sessions of the conference -- What's New in Android Developer Tools. 

If you were paying attention during the Keynote, we got a quick look at Android Studio, seeing how the new IDE can make the life of a hard working Android dev easier. Based on IntelliJ IDEA, Android Studio is a free and open source IDE specifically designed for building Android apps. Complete with templates, wizards, and some awesome WYSIWYG-style layout editing, it looks like someone at Mountain View is very serious about devs getting the tools they need.

Eclipse isn't gone, and in fact there's still plenty that has not made it's way to Android Studio just yet. But clearly, this is the future of Android app development. It's great to see the tools developers need to build the next set of great apps! If you're a developer or just want to have a look at things, visit the link below to check out an Earl Access Preview of Android Studio.

Getting Started with Android Studio

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3 years ago

Google Play Books updated with new design, PDF and EPUB uploading

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Keep up to 1,000 of your own PDF and EPUB files in the cloud for free

Caught up in all of the hullabaloo around the keynote, Google Play Books received a notable update in the Play Store to not only bring new UI elements but also a new way to view your own documents. First up is the design, which follows many of Google's latest design principles with a new left edge slide-in navigation panel and high contrast blue and white design. The interface on Play Books has always been simple, but it can't get much cleaner than it is now. You can "Read Now" (remember you can "Listen Now" in Play Music), view "My Library" or go "Shop". Very simple.

The big back-end feature that was enabled by this update is user uploads, which lets you now upload from the web (at play.google.com/books/uploads) or directly from Google Drive any PDF or EPUB document of your choice. Those documents uploaded on the web are then available for sync and download on your phone or tablet to read at any time. Users can store up to 1,000 documents at once with the service, and uploaded documents have their page position, bookmarks and notes completely synced across devices.

Play Books may not be on of the fanciest or most talked-about Google apps today, but these are huge improvements in usability that make the entire Android platform (and Google ecosystem) more compelling.

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3 years ago

Sprint Galaxy S4, HTC One and Galaxy Note 2 now have Google Wallet support

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Google and Sprint team up again to allow three of the most popular devices to have Wallet access

Not everything makes it into the Google I/O keynote, but that doesn't mean it's not still important. As a tweet from the official Google Wallet account, it announced that the Sprint Galaxy S4, HTC One and Galaxy Note 2 (also on U.S. Cellular) will all be given access to the Google Wallet app directly from Google Play. This is pretty big news, as those are likely three of the most high-profile and best selling devices available on Sprint today. The carrier was originally one of the few partners that has stuck with Google through the ups and downs of Wallet, so it's good to see that the two companies are still working together.

Users on any of the three aforementioned devices should be able to grab a direct download of the app from the Play Store, which can be found at the link above. Now all you have to do is find somewhere to actually use those NFC payment abilities.

Source:  Google Wallet (Twitter)

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3 years ago

Android Central 134: Google I/O Podcast Special!

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Audio-only stream below

 

Jerry and Phil catch up on the first day of news from Google I/O 2013 in San Francisco! We've got new Android features. New Google+. New Google Maps. New Chrome. New Google Music. And the one podcast to cover them all.

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3 years ago

Relive the mammoth Google I/O keynote in full

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Clear your evening, you'll need in excess of three hours for this one!

If you missed todays mammoth keynote from Google I/O 2013, there's no need to be disheartened. You've got a couple of options. The first -- and one we recommend -- is to hit the Android Central Google I/O portal to catch up on all of the days news. Once you've done that, Google has put the whole thing online for you to watch back at your leisure. 

Be warned though, you'll need to clear your evening. All of it. Or watch it in two parts. The keynote clocks in at well over 3 hours long if you count the Q&A time at the end with Larry Page. Which you should, because it's Larry Page. So, enjoy it, and drop into the comments below and let us know what your favorite part was out of everything you saw today.

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3 years ago

Google TV gets updated to Android 4.2.2, swifter updates promised for the future

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Google TV also now moves on to the latest version Chrome, jumps onto the six-week regular Chrome update cycle

Despite being omitted from the 3-hour Google I/O keynote completely, there is some good news coming out of San Francisco for Google TV. Google already pushed out the update to their YouTube app for the platform, but also announced today is the bump up to Android 4.2.2. And, with the jump to the latest version of Android, the latest version of Google Chrome is also on board, with Google TV joining the regular six-week update cycle for Chrome. 

Chrome for Google TV also gets support for hardware based content protection. Simply put, this means that developers have the ability to include premium high definition TV content within web apps for Google TV. 

The good news doesn't end there either. Alongside the software updates Google is also announcing that they have refactored Google TV so that OEM partners can update to future versions of Android in "a matter of weeks rather than months." 

The update to 4.2.2 is expected to roll out to current Google TV devices "in the coming months" with new devices expected to be seen later this year. Great news for the Google TV fans out there that Google continues to push the platform forwards.

Source: Google TV Developers

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3 years ago

Hands-on with the new Google Play Music app and All Access subscription service

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Improvements in design highlight the latest music subscription service

At today's massive Google I/O keynote, one of the bigger announcements was centered around music. Not only did we get the rumored Google Music subscription service -- now called "All Access" -- but we also got a completely refreshed Play Music app and web interface to go along with it. Google is making a pretty compelling push with its new music service, which goes beyond just radio and just streaming to offer customizable playlists with unlimited skips as well as unfettered online and offline access to any music in the Play Store catalog. You can also now access that music through  a beautifully redesigned Android app and web player that just tie the entire experience together.

Hang with us after the break for a closer look at Google's refresh of Play Music, one that is likely to be a hit well after the Moscone Center empties this week.

More: Android Central @ Google I/O 2013

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3 years ago

YouTube for Google TV gets updated with a whole new homescreen UI

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New home screen UI, paid subscriptions and enhanced playback controls the name of the day

While all eyes were on the 3+ hour monster keynote at Google I/O, Google quietly slipped out a decent looking update to their YouTube app for Google TV. Top of the order is a nice looking new user interface for the homescreen, that simplifies everything and makes it all a little more user friendly. 

Official support for Google's new paid subscription channels is also included, with Google TV surely being a prime option to take advantage of the new content. Playback video controls are also improved, and it's easier to subscribe to that content creator's channel. Grab it now from the Google Play Store, and be sure to let us know what you think of it. 

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3 years ago

Google adds 'Send Money' option to Gmail and Google Wallet

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Send money to anyone for free from a linked bank account; with small fees via credit cards

It wasn't a headline part of the Google I/O 2013 keynote, but the Google Commerce Blog has just dropped a pretty sweet feature on us -- the ability to send money to anyone from Gmail with Google Wallet. The option is being rolled into Gmail as just another thing that you can attach when sending a message. Right next to the paperclip for attaching files you'll see a "$" icon where you can click and send money free of charge to the recipient -- who doesn't have to have a Gmail account -- if you have a bank account connected to your Google Wallet account. Transfers sent by an attached credit or debit card are assessed a small transaction fee, and it is clearly shown when sending whether or not there will be a fee.

The ability to send money via Gmail will roll out over the coming months to U.S. residents over the age of 18, and won't be available on mobile through the Gmail app but will be possible with the Google Wallet mobile website. We would expect that once the security aspect of sending money on mobile gets figured out that the feature will hit the Gmail for Android app eventually.

Source: Google Commerce Blog

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3 years ago

Hangouts app now available in the Play Store, comes as update to Google Talk

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Google's new cross-platform group messaging service is pushing out to devices

Hangouts, the long-rumored messaging service from Google that pulls together text, photo, video and group chat all into one service, is pushing out in the Play Store today as an update to the Google Talk app. The app is a serious departure from the old-school design found on talk, with an all new layout that focuses first on conversations and then on individual contacts. The main screen is a list of your different ongoing conversations -- "Hangouts" -- with pictures of the people involved in them. When you start a new hangout you can search people by name, email, circle or even phone number and start a chat.

Right now it looks like it's basically building on just the previous Talk system of chatting, and although it does ask to confirm your phone number and you can search contacts by their numbers, there's no SMS support here just yet. Go grab a download of the new Hangouts app from the Play Store link above.

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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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