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2 years ago

Google app updates continue as Currents and Drive step up for their turn

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The mid-I/O Google app updates continues, this time round it's the turn of Google Currents and Google Drive. Both have updates waiting for them right now in the Google Play Store. So, what's new? 

In the case of Google Currents, the biggest change is that finally, it fits into the Android 4.x design guidelines. That pesky menu, it's up top where it ought to be. You might also notice, that it's got a new, less colorful logo too. The full changelog for Currents reads a little like this: 

  • User interface - updated to Android standards
  • Top navigation bar - auto hide, touch to show
  • Library/trending toggle - moved to navigation bar
  • Performance enhancements
  • Bug fixes

Sweet, so, what about Google Drive? Well, an update was to be expected, after the cloud service was heavily featured in todays Chrome based Keynote. One of the biggest new features available in Drive on Android, is the ability to upload, and download, all file types to and from your Drive. Pretty much a standard requirement for cloud storage. The changelog for Drive reads as follows: 

  • Quickly find files that have been recently opened, edited or shared with you
  • Upload/Download all file types to/from your Google Drive
  • Selecting contacts to share with is easier
  • Faster navigation of folders when syncing in the background
  • Choose text alignment in the documents editor

Add these two the lengthy list of Google apps that received updates yesterday, and we've been pretty well spoiled. Some may be more significant than others, but updates are updates nonetheless. Head on over to Google Play and snag yourselves a copy of these two. 

Download: Google Drive, Google Currents

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2 years ago

Google+ SDK for Android and iOS is coming, along with a handful of APIs

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Google has made it clear at Google I/O -- they love Google+ and are going full steam ahead with the social platform. We don't blame them, as we think with the right nurturing it can stand out among the rest. What's been sorely missing is options for third party applications to integrate with G+ as the do with Facebook and Twitter. Google has made that one step closer to reality today with the announcement of the upcoming Google+ API for Android and iOS. Based on the platform notes, supported out-of-the-box are Google+ sign-in, a share plug-in to share your app content to the G+ stream,  +1 button integration, Google+ history functions, and a personalization feature, which will allow developers to pull in public G+ content and use it in their app. 

It's not exactly perfect, but it's very close to what everyone was asking for. Now we just need to see the SDK and some apps built with it.

Source: Google+ Developers

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2 years ago

HTC on Jelly Bean updates

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So you just got that shiny, new HTC One X or One S (or One V outside the U.S.), and suddenly it's no longer running the latest version of Android. That's no good. Neither is it HTC's fault, but still.

So what does the Taiwanese manufacturer have planned in the way of updates for Android 4.1 Jelly Bean? Here's the official word:

"We are excited about Android Jelly Bean and are planning to support it across a variety of our devices.  We are reviewing the software to determine our upgrade plans and schedule, so please stay tuned for more updates on specific device upgrade plans."

Nothing surprising there. It's a pretty safe bet that we'll see the HTC One line get updates. But after that? And how long will it take?

News at 11, folks.

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2 years ago

Google Play device store launches in the UK, Nexus 7 priced at £159

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The Google Play device store has launched in the UK, with pre-order pages now up for both 8 and 16GB flavors of the new Nexus 7. And Google's being just as aggressive with its British pricing. The 8GB model's up for pre-order at just £159, with the 16GB version selling for £199. The £159 price point will make the Nexus 7 a stand-out device, as previously you'd be lucky to get a super low-end unbranded tablet for this kind of money. It's also less than half the UK price of the iPad, making it much closer to impulse purchase territory than anything with an Apple logo.

The UK Google Play Store says devices should start shipping in 2-3 weeks, which fits with the mid-July timeframe announceed on the U.S. Play Store.

Fore more on the Jelly Bean-powered Nexus 7, be sure to check out our hands-on article and initial review.

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2 years ago

Jelly Bean brings a new permission along - 'read external storage'

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You might have heard that Google tossed out the next version of Android yesterday, and Jelly Bean is now official. We're pouring through things to find what's new, what's good, and what's not. One thing we stumbled across got our attention, as it's an app permission and security related. We've said before that external storage on a mobile device, by it's very nature, is insecure. If you format it in a way that you can apply the standard permission model, Windows computers (well over 90-percent of the computer market) can't read from them. Up until now, the default has been the same as many other operating systems, and that is to let applications read what's stored on an SD card without anyone caring. This has lead to several sky-is-falling moments where people suddenly realized that the wide open model is, well, wide open. The best way to fix things is to simply do away with external storage and all it's security baggage, and Google has done that with their own devices as of late. But OEM's are going to do things differently, so in a "future release" applications will need explicit permission to read from external storage, much like they do for writing to storage now. Here's the relevant bit from G -- 

READ_EXTERNAL_STORAGE
Provides protected read access to external storage. In Android 4.1 by default all applications still have read access. This will be changed in a future release to require that applications explicitly request read access using this permission. If your application already requests write access, it will automatically get read access as well. There is a new developer option to turn on read access restriction, for developers to test their applications against how Android will behave in the future.

So when (if) your phone gets updated to Jelly Bean, and you see the new setting in the developer options, you'll know what you're looking at and why.

More: Android 4.1 APIs

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2 years ago

How Google pulled off that awesome Project Glass skydive/bike/rappelling stunt [video]

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Ever wonder how you get Wifi at 10,000 feet, have it work while falling to earth, then landing under the safety of a parachute? Google co-founder Sergey Brin showed us this morning during the Day 2 keynote at the Google I/O developer conference in San Francisco.

It was a redux of Wednesday's stunt, in which Brin decided he needed a loaner pair of Project Glass glasses back from a friend -- who happened to be in a bimp high above downtown. So, they all skydived their way to the roof of Moscone West, handed the glasses off to some bikers who then rode and flipped their way to the edge of the building, who then handed the glasses to some crazy cats who rappelled down the side of the glass exterior, who then handed the glasses off to more bikers, who then wheeled their way into the third-floor keynote hall.

It was, in a word, crazy. Crazy awesome. And today Brin showed us all how it was done.

It's tough to have Wifi repeaters in mid-air, of course, so they used directional RF to beam the Wifi directly to the skydivers. (Puffs of smoke ejected along with the parachutes helped the spotters keep things in line.) Then it's just a matter of aiming, and everything worked like a charm. Twice.

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2 years ago

Bladeslinger video demo on the Google Nexus 7

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The inclusion of an NVIDIA Tegra 3 CPU (and GPU) in the Nexus 7 tablet indicates that Google's betting on mobile gaming to generate sales of the device. That's only natural considering the slew of graphically-rich titles coming to Tegra 3 devices we've seen over the past six months.

One of the upcoming games Google chose to plug in its day-one I/O keynote was Bladeslinger, by Luma Arcade. With a horror-themed Western setting, Bladeslinger sees players taking on the role of William Glaston, who's returned home to find that his hometown overrun by the undead hordes. Gameplay is hack 'n'slash, with a little third-person shooting thrown in for good measure.

We caught up with the devs on the show floor to grab a quick gameplay demo of Bladeslinger on the Google Nexus 7. Hit the embed above to check it out. Bladeslinger is expected to arrive on Tegra 3 Android in a couple of months.

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2 years ago

New Google Play Store for Google TV coming later this year

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At today's Google TV morning presentation at Google I/O, it's been announced that Google TV will be getting a re-vamped version of the Play Store later this year. Because of the unique hardware used with Google TV, it's traditionally lagged behind on older versions of the app. Coming "later this year," the update for GTV will see subscription billing support added, in addition to enabling movie, music and TV show purchases.

The updates should bring Google TV in line with Android tablets and smartphones such as the Nexus 7, which Google is positioning as a leading content delivery device for Google Play services.

We'll bring you more on Google TV from I/O as the day unfolds.

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2 years ago

Samsung to offer MHL cable adapter for Galaxy S III

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A few weeks back we told you that the Galaxy S III would not be able to use the last-generation MHL to HDMI adapter cables because of hardware changes. Samsung has come forward with a much better solution than just telling you to buy a new cable, as they have built a 5-pin to 11-pin adapter that allows the old cable to work with the new phone. They also gave us a reason as to why the change was made -- newer accessories will need the 11-pin configuration. 

Samsung Galaxy S® III uses an 11-pin micro USB input, which allows it to support MHL output and USB on-the-go input simultaneously – an improvement over 5-pin capability. This means that customers can take advantage of new functions for accessories that are not supported by a 5-pin micro USB connector, allowing a deeper convergence between the Galaxy S III smartphone and a HDTV.

To ease this transition and to allow for greater innovation with Samsung accessories, Samsung Mobile will offer a 5-pin to 11-pin MHL Cable Adapter that will allow the original Samsung HDTV Smart Adapter to function properly with U.S. models of the Galaxy S III, as well as future Samsung premium smartphones. In addition, Samsung is offering consumers the ability to purchase the new adapter separately, or to bundle it with the original HDTV Smart Adapter. Our goal in offering these MHL adapter solutions is to provide consumers with the newest accessory technology while ensuring the highest level of device compatibility.

The adapter is available now for $9.99 direct from Samsung, and they tell us they will also be offering a bundle with an old cable and an adapter, which should be perfect if you have an older Galaxy phone or tablet and need the 5-pin cable, for $39.99. We're not seeing that one up for sale just yet, but you can hit the link below to see the adapter.

HDTV 5 to 11 pin adapter TIP

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2 years ago

Google announces Google Compute Engine - virtual Linux servers in the Google cloud

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Ever need more processing power than you currently have? Google has announced a solution for that problem with Google Compute Engine. The service was rumored to arrive this week at Google I/O, and we're glad to see it. Granted, you probably won't need something of this scale for your personal needs, but if you need "big iron" to run your apps (the demo was mapping the human genome with 600,000 CPU cores!). 

This is all done with virtual Linux servers running in Google's cloud. The hardware itself stays in some data center facility, and users (that's folks like you and me) log in remotely and do things like perform heavy math, run huge databases, or build Android ROMs. Virtual servers can do anything you could do locally.

The one thing missing here is the price. Google promises these will be competitive, but didn't throw out any numbers just yet. This isn't surprising, as an enterprise service like this is usually negotiated a bit. What we do know is that this will put Google directly in competition with Amazon on a whole new level, and we're excited to see how competition drives innovation!

Don't miss any of out Google I/O news!

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