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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

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

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 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

Android Central App Version 1.1 brings landscape support, scrollable widget

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Updates are always good, and this one is filled with some of the things you've been asking for

Our awesome Android Central app just got .1 more awesomer, as we've pushed out an update that addresses some of the things you've been asking for. With version 1.1, you've got a sexy new scrollable widget (which is also resizable and will work with your lock screen if you're running Android 4.2.2) that puts the latest Android news right on your home screen, keeping you up to date. (It currently refreshes every half-hour -- we're looking at making that more frequent in a future update.)

Normally, that in and of itself would be enough to make a new release, but that's not how we roll here. In addition, you've got landscape support throughout the entire app, including the settings panel tucked on the left side. That same side menu now works on all screens, too. 

One last thing -- when we write a story that includes a link to Google Play, you'll now have a shiny Google Play Store icon in the Action Bar across the top of the app. Tap it, and you can open the link to the app directly in Google Play using Android's powerful intents system. 

We think you'll enjoy this latest version, and we're already hard at work on the next -- using your feedback as a guideline. Update your copy of the Android Central app through Google Play, or you can just tap the link above to check it out. You'll also find a handful of screenshots after the break.

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3 years ago

SwiftKey keyboard updated to version 4.1 with new themes, bug fixes

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Paid version also half-price for a limited time

Popular keyboard replacement SwiftKey has hit version 4.1, and the new version is now rolling out through the Google Play Store. SwiftKey 4.1 adds three new themes -- dusk, pitch and regal -- and fixes a variety of bugs and other issues. Glitches with Facebook personalization are reportedly fixed, as are bugs with the ".com" button in Google Chrome. The Opera browser also receives better support in SwiftKey 4.1. On top of that, there's a wide variety of crash fixes.

To celebrate the launch of version 4.1, the paid version of SwiftKey is now half-price for a limited time. That brings it down to an insanely cheap $1.99 / £1.49 / €1.99.

To grab the latest version of SwiftKey, hit the Google Play Store link up top. If you've already got an earlier version installed, just head to "My Apps" in the Play Store app. You can find the full SwiftKey 4.1 changelog down in the source link.

Source: SwiftKey 4.1 changelog

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3 years ago

HTC Backup now available for the AT&T HTC One

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A bit of good news tonight for those who have the AT&T HTC One. AT&T decided not to use HTC Backup -- which deftly does exactly what it says, backing up your phone via Dropbox -- in its version of the HTC One, which is a shame, because it works quite well. AT&T instead went a different route.

But tonight HTC has released the backup tool as a standalone app. You'll need to sign in with your HTC account, and it'll then back up and restore your phone through Dropbox instead of through Google, which previously was the only option. 

Repeat: If you don't have the AT&T HTC One, you don't need this.

And a quick note for those with the developer version (and quite possibly the developer version) of the HTC One: Having an AT&T SIM might let you install the app, but not let you run it, says ol' Jerry.

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3 years ago

Google I/O 2013 app updated with DashClock support, session feedback form

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Making it even easier for attendees to find and interact with sessions

On the eve of Google I/O 2013 kicking off in San Francisco, Google has just updated the official I/O 2013 app with a few tweaks to make following the conference a little easier. There's now a session feedback form for attendees to let Google know how a session went after the fact, as well as improved Maps functionality to let you navigate the expanses of the Moscone Center and find those sessions. The update also upped the resolution of speaker photos, and added DashClock widget support -- presumably to let you keep tabs on upcoming events.

We'll be awake bright and early tomorrow morning to cover the three hour long marathon of a keynote starting at 9am PT, so be sure to set a reminder from that Google I/O app so you don't miss a minute. We'll see you there.

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3 years ago

BlackBerry 10 Android Runtime on track to support Android 4.2.2

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Update to Jelly Bean for the Android Runtime is still on track and scheduled to land in June

Back in February at BlackBerry Jam Europe we first heard talk of BlackBerry updating their Android Runtime environment from 2.3.3 Gingerbread, to 4.1 Jelly Bean. All has been quiet on that front since then, but today during the BlackBerry Jam keynote at BlackBerry Live, developers were presented with an updated roadmap that confirms the update is still planned, and is running on schedule. Only, it won't be Android 4.1 anymore that the Runtime will be based around, BlackBerry is going straight to 4.2.2. 

Until Google introduces a new version of Android -- quite possibly tomorrow during the Google I/O Keynote -- 4.2.2 is the latest build, and BlackBerry should be commended for that. With the update due to hit in June, there's a strong possibility that BlackBerry 10 devices will have access to 4.2.2 before a number of Android devices. OK, so it's not exactly the same, but impressive nevertheless. 

Android developers looking to move their apps to BlackBerry by way of re-packaging will benefit hugely from this. Apps designed around Gingerbread feel horribly outdated by current standards, and updating the Runtime to 4.2.2 will open the door to many more developers, with many more apps, and ultimately the BlackBerry 10 users should see a much improved experience. For more from BlackBerry Live, be sure to head over to CrackBerry for all the coverage you can handle. 

Source: BlackBerry via CrackBerry

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3 years ago

Adobe Connect Mobile adds support for Presenter, interactive tools

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View, present and interact with meetings all from your mobile device

Adobe is making a few useful updates to its Adobe Connect apps today that will improve the experience for those joining meetings from mobile devices. First up, users on phones and tablets can now both deploy and join webinars and meetings being conducted in the Adobe Presenter format, with additional features therein. Presentations can now be interactive for people viewing on a mobile device, letting them tap on questions and answers to give their input. Video conferencing has also been improved to let the users view both their own video feed as well as the person talking, on top of viewing paused feeds of everyone else in the meeting.

Small improvements to the experience such as presentation backgrounds and new graphics are also small but useful changes that make Adobe Connect users on mobile feel like they're getting a complete experience. While you may not be using Adobe Connect Mobile on a daily basis, those in the education and enterprise markets will want to give this a look.

More: Adobe

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