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1 month ago

Microsoft rolls out official Xbox app with revamped experience

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Microsoft has rolled out an official version of its Xbox app for iOS and Android. Already available for the company's own Windows platform, those rocking competitor mobile handsets will now be able to remain up-to-date with all things Xbox. With the app installed, it's possible to track accomplishments, see what your friends are currently playing, as well as purchase new titles from the Xbox Store.

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1 month ago

AC editors' apps of the week: Yummly, NappingPolar, Zumper and more

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It's Appday Sunday and that means we're back with more of our favorites to share. Every week we bring a handful of great apps to the table and share them with everyone. Sometimes they are new apps, sometimes old standards, but every time they are apps we love to use.

Give these a look and then take a minute to tell us all about the apps you are using and love so we can give them a try. We all find some of our favorites right in the comments on these posts!

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1 month ago

Amazon will reportedly launch a standalone music streaming service

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A new report claims Amazon is preparing to launch a standalone streaming music service that would compete with Spotify, Apple Music, Google Play Music and others.

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1 month ago

You can now reply to comments on Facebook with a video

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If you're an avid Facebook user, you'll be glad to know that the social network has enabled video replies to posts and status updates. The camera icon — which let you add photos in replies — now allows you to record and share videos as comments.

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1 month ago

Facebook now lets you upload and share 360-degree photos

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Facebook is now allowing the many users of its social networking service to upload 360 degree photos to their accounts and to share them with others.

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1 month ago

Uber begins Scheduled Rides rollout in Seattle, more cities coming soon

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Uber has started rolling out its new Scheduled Rides feature, starting in Seattle, for its business customers. It will allow those users to schedule a pickup date from the shared ride service from 30 minutes to 30 days in advance.

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1 month ago

This new app uses neural networks to choose the perfect emoji

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Choose the right emoji, faster.

A new app from Toronto-based Whirlscape taps into neural networks to choose the best emoji while you're typing. That may not sound like an impressive feat, but a long more goes into predicting which emoji you'll use than you think.

The app is called Dango, and it's a sequel of sorts to an app that many Android users may be familiar with: Minuum. If you cast your mind back a couple of years, you may recall that Minuum made a name for itself as one of the smartest keyboard apps on the Play Store — even when shrunk down to a single line, or what creator Will Walmsley calls a "one-dimensional plane." While the keyboard failed to gain enormous market share, it showcased a predictive text algorithm that derived sense from a jumble of letters.

Dango is quite different: it is a floating app that sits atop any keyboard input, suggesting emoji, stickers and GIFs based on what you're writing. According to Walmsley, Dango doesn't just base its suggestions on the words you string together, but attempts to find context and meaning. The key is a neural net that gets smarter the more people use it.

A neural network is taught by randomly initializing these parameters and then showing the network millions of real-world examples of emoji use taken from across the web, like "Hey how's it going (hand emoji)", "Want to grab a (beer emoji) tonight?", "Ugh (angry face emoji)", and so on. At first the network just guesses randomly, but over time with each new training example, it slightly adjusts its millions of parameters so it performs better on that example. After a few days on a top-of-the-line GPU, the network starts outputting more meaningful suggestions.

Dango appears in any app where you are inputting text, unless you explicitly tell it not to. And because, like Facebook's Chat Heads feature, it disappears once its use is expired, system resources are spared and users don't have to contend with opening a separate app. That is why Dango is so much more useful than merely using the existing emoji selector on your keyboard — even those, like SwiftKey, that predict emoji while you write.

Walmsley predicts that apps like Dango represent the future of language, since the proliferation of smartphones have made language much less reliant on text.

Language is becoming visual. Emoji, stickers, and GIFs are exploding in popularity, despite the fact that it's still labour-intensive to use them in an advanced way. Enthusiasts create personal collections of images for every situation and have memorized every page of the emoji keyboard, but the rest of us rely on using emoji immediately accessible on our "most used" menu and sometimes forward a GIF here and there.

The same way Dango predicts emoji it also suggests GIFs, powered by Giphy, or stickers, from packs that the company is constantly adding to.

Download: Dango (Free)

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1 month ago

YouTube offline now lets you pick a time to download videos

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Google rolled out the ability to take YouTube videos offline in India in 2014, and the search giant is now adding a Smart Offline feature that makes it easier than ever to download videos. Cellular networks in the country offer reduced data rates for late night hours (usually between 3AM and 5AM), and you can now take advantage of the savings by scheduling videos for download during off-peak hours.

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1 month ago

Nextbit Robin update now rolling out with June security patch, speaker volume fix

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If you happen to be using a Nextbit Robin, it's time to check for a software update. A new update is now rolling out to the smartphone, bringing along the latest Android platform security patch, along with a fix for a speaker volume bug and more.

Here's the full log of what's new, from Nextbit:

  • Speaker volume: We have totally revamped the speaker volume after the audio enhancements last month. The minimum volume is much softer and as you increase the volume, it follows a nice linear progression.
  • Camera: Primarily a fix to improve stability when sharing pictures to the Line app.
  • Custom ringtones: We've included the custom ringtones - Patricia by Lauren Loh Sung and Breeze by Giraffage - in the ringtone pack. You no longer need to sideload them.
  • Security: As a bonus, the Android Security Patch is now updated to June 1.

The just started rolling out, so you should be able to pull it down to your phone in short order. Once you've updated, be sure to let us know what you think in the comments and on our forums!

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1 month ago

Snapchat overhauls Discover and now lets you subscribe to channels

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Snapchat has received a bit of a facelift in its latest update — at least for the app's Discovery page.

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1 month ago

Twitter for Android gets easier to navigate with new design and swipe gestures

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The official Twitter app for Android has received a bit of a visual refresh that should make navigating the app easier overall.

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1 month ago

Replay: The growing struggle of playback controls via Bluetooth

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Music is the most important function of my phone. No, I am not kidding.

It is what I use at work, home, in bed, in the shower and everywhere in between to keep me sane and happy. Music makes me better, and since music is such a large part of my Android experience, there's been a slow decline that I've been painfully aware of over the last few years, and especially the last few months.

Sometimes I turn on my Bluetooth headphones, hit play, and nothing happens. And nothing happens a lot more than it used to.

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1 month ago

AC editors' apps of the week: Giphy, Toolwiz Photos, Sky Force Reloaded, Flipp and more

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It's Appday Sunday and that means we're back with more of our favorites to share. Every week we bring a handful of great apps to the table and share them with everyone. Sometimes they are new apps, sometimes old standards, but every time they are apps we love to use.

Give these a look and then take a minute to tell us all about the apps you are using and love so we can give them a try. We all find some of our favorites right in the comments on these posts!

Read more and comment

 
1 month ago

Flamingo for Twitter beta arrives in Google Play with tons of customization options

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Flamingo is the latest Android Twitter client that offers a highly customizable interface, a Material Design and much more. The app is now available on Google Play for 99 cents, which is a great price for the features that are being offered. The developer, Sam Runston, is also known for the great weather app, Weather Timeline.

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1 month ago

How Android N addresses security

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Google is making three big changes to Android with the coming "N" version.

There are a lot of code changes coming in Android N. Some of them we can see — like the new notifications — and others we can't (but are still big deals). We see the same thing with every update. There are refinements and changes in the interface, but under the hood adjustments and changes are made to make Android run better, and safer.

We've been playing with the Android N beta, and sat through some sessions at Google I/O (and talked to some of the folks who actually work on things) to learn about the new stuff. That includes new changes to make Android even more secure: seamless updates; hardening of the media server; and file-level encryption. Let's talk about what those are, and why they matter.

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