Google Maps is receiving an update to version 8.2 today, with a solid set of new features including in-navigation voice control, elevation change information for bicyclists and faster access to voice input from the main maps screen. The biggest change in this latest version is the ability to give Google Maps voice controls while you're navigating, something that hands-free driving advocates (and just frequent drivers) will be a fan of. While navigating you'll now see a small microphone button in the bottom left corner of the interface, which you can tap and then give commands to the phone with.
We've found a few different actions you can take:
How is traffic ahead?
Show route overview
What's my next turn?
Show alternate routes
When will I get there?
What is my next turn?
Navigate to [place]
After playing around with it the system doesn't seem too terribly smart just yet — for example you can't say "hide traffic" to remove the traffic display, or make other seemingly-natural language requests that deviate from the scripted queries. There also doesn't seem to be a completely hands-free wakeup phrase such as "OK, Google" that we're all used to. For now you're tapping the on-screen button, but that's miles ahead of performing several taps just to see what's coming up on the map.
As we close in on a week until the Amazon Fire Phone becomes available, Amazon has just released its first 30-second ad for the product. Building on the messaging that was put in the launch event of the Fire Phone, the short ad shows two children using the phone and talking up a few features to their older counterparts who don't yet know about the device. "It comes with Amazon Prime — tons of stuff, for no extra charge," the little girl says convincingly after going through her library of apps and content on the phone.
It looks like owners of the Xperia Z2 are starting to notice a minor firmware update being pushed out to them from Sony. The firmware version number is 17.1.2.A.0.314. Though the update is rolling out now, it doesn't bring the latest Android 4.4.4 to the table as it keeps the Xperia Z2 at Android 4.4.2.
Moto X owners on Verizon Wireless are beginning to receive soak test email notices. We've been tipped by loyal Android Central readers that these emails are beginning to go out, though no specifics were mentioned on what the soak tests will be for we are guessing that an update to Android 4.4.4 KitKat is imminent.
It's no secret now that Apple's iPhone 6 is rumored to come with a resilient and durable synthetic sapphire glass screen, though Apple may not be the only one to release a scratch- and shatter-resistant phone. Thanks to Kyocera's work on what is being branded as Sapphire Shield, various other Android OEMs may be able to source synthetic sapphire glass for their phone's screen as well.
Google has just released its Q2 2014 earnings, where revenues hit $16 billion, up 22 percent from the year previous. Operating income was $4.26 billion, 27 percent of revenues, up from $3.47 billion the year earlier. Net income was $3.42 billion in the end, up just slightly from Q2 2013. Earnings Per Share (EPS) came in at $4.99, up from $4.77. This all compares to the previous quarter, where Google posted revenues of $15.4 billion and profit of $4.12 billion (27 percent of revenues).
Google sites generated $10.94 billion of the company's total revenues, a 23 percent increase over Q2 2013, while partner sites accounted for $3.42 billion of revenues. Paid clicks for ads increased 25 percent over the last year, and cost-per-click was down approximately 6 percent in the same period.
When it comes to U.S. versions of the LG G3, the one most folks have asked us about is Verizon's. So, we picked up Verizon's LG G3, which we present to you now.
For all intents and purposes, what we're looking at is the same as the AT&T model we've had for nearly a week, as well as the Korean and European models we've had for a month or so now. Same 5.5-inch QHD (as in Quad, as in 2560x1440) resolution. Same rear buttons, same 13-megapixel rear camera with frickin' lasers for autofocus.
Three gigabytes of RAM, and 32GB (with about 24GB available) of on-board storage, with microSD card expansion. Same Android 4.4.2 on top of LG's UI and a number of custom apps. Same removable 3,000 mAh battery.
Korean electronics giants Samsung and LG compete in just about every area in which they operate. In the smartphone space, though, Samsung's Android-powered lineup remains top dog. Not only is it the world's top handset manufacturer, but it's Galaxy range, headed by the Galaxy S5, also represents the most familiar face of Android in the eyes of consumers. LG has had a comparatively shaky start in the smartphone world, but in past week it's finally brought its most compelling handset yet, the LG G3, to the U.S. market.
With eye-catching specs like a 5.5-inch "quad HD" display and an impressive optically-stabilized camera, the LG G3 represents one of the more credible challengers to the incumbent Samsung. But the GS5 itself is Samsung's strongest flagship yet — the manufacturer's first proper water-resistant flagship, with a built-in heart rate monitor and biometric security to boot. We've had both devices in our hands for some time now, so it's time to put them head to head and see how they compare.
We're more than halfway through July, which means we're more than halfway through the year 2104. We've seen some amazeball new phones from all the big names, and sales predictions and analyst speak aside, millions and millions of new Android phones have already been sold in 2014. Chances are, about half of the folks reading this were part of it, and have a shiny new Android in their clutches. Congrats on such a good choice, no matter which one you chose.
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