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3 years ago

Google Maps brings navigation to 9 new countries in Europe and Africa

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Voice guided, turn-by-turn navigation available for millions more people today on Google Maps for Android

The Google Maps team has taken to Google+ and announced the addition of voice navigation for 9 new countries today. Users in the following countries will be able to use the Google Maps app on their Android phone with the new (to them) feature, starting right now:

  • Ghana
  • Kenya
  • Côte d'Ivoire
  • Senegal
  • Estonia
  • Bulgaria
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Slovakia

There was no word on when to expect the same for other locations, nor about how the process is done. We tend to take Google services for granted in Western Europe, and especially, North America, but for many folks Android devices are missing some of what makes them so special. We're glad to see Google address this issue, even if it's a bit slower than we would like.

Source: +Google Maps

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3 years ago

Droid Bionic Jelly Bean soak test invites rolling out now

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Turns out that Motorola support page may have been right after all

After a puzzling update to Motorola's support documentation for the Droid Bionic that indicated it would receive Jelly Bean in Q2 2013, soak test registration emails are being sent out to some users for the update. Soak tests, if you're not familiar, are a last level of testing with a small portion of users willing to give new firmware a try before it moves out to everyone. Like previous soak tests, this is a good indication that we're headed towards an official release of the update to the general public soon. 

Remember though, Q2 just started a couple of days ago, so if previous updates are any indication we may be waiting a little while to see it all out there officially. The soak test registrations go out to a small number of people and won't be available for long, so keep an eye on your inbox if you're expecting to see one.

More: Droid Bionic ForumsThanks, shayne6717! 

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3 years ago

Google forks off WebKit to create new rendering engine 'Blink'; will power Chrome and Chrome OS

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Initial work focuses on internal improvements and brings very little change for web developers

Update: Chrome developer Alex Russell has an excellent read on this for those interested.

On the Chromium blog, Google just announced that they have split off WebKit to create and further develop the open source Blink rendering engine. Blink will, over time, diverge away from WebKit and evolve in "different directions" with a focus on speed and stability. If all goes according to plan, developer channels of Chrome and Chrome OS should see a Blink-powered version in short order.

The reason behind the decision, according to the Chromium blog post, is that Chrome handles all the different processor architectures a bit differently. Forking their own model will alleviate future issues in both the WebKit code and Chrome itself.

Chromium uses a different multi-process architecture than other WebKit-based browsers, and supporting multiple architectures over the years has led to increasing complexity for both the WebKit and Chromium projects. This has slowed down the collective pace of innovation - so today, we are introducing Blink, a new open source rendering engine based on WebKit.

Because WebKit is open source, Google has long been one of the main contributors. Blink will also be open source, and qualified developers will be able to become "official" contributors if nominated by the group. 

On the surface, Blink won't bring much, if any, visual change. The changes are under the hood, and users should see no difference. Of course, with software anything can happen. This is a big undertaking, and we wish the best of luck to the entire Chrome team.

And yes, Blink sounds very Google Glass specific. There is no mention of the wearable device, and we're not going to speculate.

Source: Chromium blog

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3 years ago

Shadowgun: DeadZone 2.0 update hits with loads of new features

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Game adds localization for several new languages; remains free-to-play for everyone

As one of the most popular mobile-only online multiplayer games, Shadowgun: DeadZone is keeping the experience fresh with a 2.0 update in the Play Store today. The update brings new maps, weapons and stat boosters for things like armor, damage and accuracy. Also new is a "friends" menu that lets you invite friends to your game or view real-time stats while they play. First time players will like the new "tutorial" mode to help get acquainted with the game.

The update also localizes the game for several new languages, including Spanish, French, German, Italian, Russian, Chinese, Korean and Japanese. If you haven't yet given the multiplayer version of Shadowgun a try yet, now may be the time.

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3 years ago

Google Play Sound Search now available in the UK

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"What's this song?" working in Google Now as well

Google's Sound Search, which lets users identify music tracks and artists by letting their phone listen to them, is branching out from the U.S. to include users in the U.K. In addition to the stand-alone app and widget for Sound Search, the same functionality also seems to be working within Google Now for U.K. users. Saying "What's this song?" then letting it listen will field results.

While the app's changelog hasn't been updated to reflect it, there has been an update in the Play Store and our own Alex Dobie in the U.K. is confirming that it does work now. Head to the Play Store link above to grab your download and test it out, and let us know in the comments if it's working in any other new countries.

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3 years ago

Chrome for Android gets password and auto-fill sync in latest update

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Chrome 26 for Android hits the stable channel, also brings improved performance and bug fixes

Google Chrome for Android has hit version 26, bringing with it the ability to sync passwords and auto-fill data from the desktop browser. If you've been running the beta version of Google's browser then this may sound familiar, as it's been in testing in the beta channel for a few weeks now.

Chrome 26 also fixes a bug where a blank page would be displayed instead of the requested URL. In addition, there's the standard assortment of performance improvements -- and we have to say Chrome for Android feels pretty speedy on this latest build.

Head to the Google Play Store app to update, or hit the link above if you're a first-time installer.

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3 years ago

Wallaby: Get the most out of your credit card rewards

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A wallet full of credit and debit cards, each with different rewards; Wallaby shows you which one to use

When you have several different credit and debit cards in you wallet, it can be hard to choose which one to use to maximize the rewards and savings associated with it. Each restaurant, shop or store you visit may have a particular card that will work out to your advantage -- so how do you choose?

Wallaby hopes to help solve the problem by giving you recommendations as to which card to use to maximize value when you shop, and it's doing so in a much cleaner way with version 2.0 of its app. Read on past the break and see what the new Wallaby has to offer.

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3 years ago

Sony Xperia ZL goes on sale in Germany

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€549,99 inc. VAT or subsidized on contract, now available at Phonehouse.de

After going on sale in Canada yesterday, Germany now gets a chance to order Sony's premier smartphone, as the Xperia ZL is currently shipping from Phonehouse.de in black only. Those looking for a red or white version of this phone will have to wait a little longer, as is stock listed as "available soon." The phone is priced at €549,99, but can also be purchased with various subsidy prices on contract.

Potential buyers only have one option at present, because Phonehouse.de is the only retailer taking orders for the ZL at this time. Amazon.de has no launch date listed on their site, and Cyberport.de is reporting they will start taking orders and shipping phones in May.

While we here in the states are still waiting for our launch, time can be well spent looking over a close relative of the Xperia ZL, the Xperia Z, in our detailed review. Be on the lookout for a our review of the Xperia ZL, in the near future.

Source: XperiaBlog

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3 years ago

New Nexus 4 accessories debut on Google Play

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Headphones with line mic, charger and microUSB cable now available separately

Google has launched three new accessories for the Nexus 4 through the Google Play devices store. Well -- of the three, only one is really new -- the wired headset with line mic -- but it doesn't hurt that the official charger and microUSB cable are now available alongside it.  The charger and cable are exactly like what you'll find boxed up with your Nexus 4, while the headset is a new addition, consisting of earphones and a flattened cable containing a mic for calls.

A quick breakdown of pricing in the U.S., U.K and eurozone --

The Nexus 4 bumper is also still available, priced $19.99, £15.99 or €19.99

via Android Central Forums

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3 years ago

Looking back on one full year since Instagram for Android launched

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One year on, almost half of all Instagram use comes from Android

Today marks exactly one full year of Instagram on Android. The hipster filter, photo dedicated social network has its fans, and its critics alike. Love it or hate it, it's one of those 'must have' apps for a mobile platform -- just take a look at the number of BlackBerry 10 and Windows Phone users screaming out for it. To mark the year, the Instagram team has shared some numbers with us. 

Despite the critics, despite the whole #TeamAndroid and #TeamiPhone deal back in the early days, Instagram for Android is booming. Booming to the point where almost half of all use comes from the Android app. Less than a day after launch the app had been downloaded 1 million times, and to date has in excess of 50 million downloads. 

Also in that year since we saw the Android launch, there was of course the much debated Facebook takeover that priced Instagram at $1billion. In fact, the Android launch and Facebook takeover all happened within the same week.

Over on the official Instagram blog, the developers have highlighted some pretty awesome looking snaps taken using Instagram for Android, so be sure to head on over and check them out.

Source: Instagram

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3 years ago

Google+ update adds better cover photo editing, fixes bugs

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Mobile users can now see strikethrough text formatting as well

Google has been knocking out some serious updates to both its mobile and web interfaces over the last few weeks, and today's Google+ update cleans up some odds-and-ends. Users now have better options for selecting and editing cover photos, which falls in line with the move on the web to big (well actually, huge) cover photos. You get a better preview of the photo you're choosing, as well as granular control over what part of the photo is displayed. Interestingly, this update also includes support for strikethrough text formatting, which is something you'll be used to from the web as well.

And what would an update be without a nice grouping of "bug fixes and performance improvements"? Those are here too, of course. You can grab a download or update to the Google+ app from the Play Store link at the top of this post.

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3 years ago

Twitter for Android updated with UI overhaul

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Official Twitter client gets a Holo-style re-vamp

The official Twitter app for Android has been updated to version 4.0, and with it the UI has been significantly overhauled to be more in-keeping with the Android 4.x "Holo" design language. The visual changes are plain to see -- new icons, a cleaner layout and generally closer to the native Android look -- though the layout remains much the same. Like other official Twitter apps, you can now swipe left and right to jump between the four main tabs.

The new app also includes the ability to load tweeted content from other apps -- such as Foursquare -- directly in that app using a special link. On the whole, it's a significant step forward for the long-neglected official Twitter app.

Unfortunately for HTC One owners however, the Black Bar of Doom (on-screen menu key) on HTC devices is still present in this release. Worse still, it now does absolutely nothing but take up space. Oh well.

Grab the new version of Twitter from the Google Play link above, or hit the Google Play Store to update.

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3 years ago

AT&T's LG Optimus G getting its Jelly Bean update today

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It's been a couple days now since the AT&T LG Optimus G got a mysterious Easter update. Today we've got something just as unofficial, but much more recognizable. Android 4.1.2 has begun to push out for the LG Optimus G on AT&T. 

AT&T's PR says no official update has started, but that's in disagreement with our inbox -- and with AT&T's own community forums, which sport several folks saying they're getting the 336-megabyte update to Android 4.1.2, Build E97020j.

If you've got an AT&T Optimus G, now would be a good time to check for an update. Just sayin'. 

More: LG Optimus G forumsThanks, tuckerman725!

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3 years ago

Canada's Telus gets the HTC One on April 19

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The HTC One had beenrumored for Canadian carrier Telus for a little while -- and now it's official. The HTC One hits Telus on April 19. No word on pricing just yet (figure it'll be in the usual range of the Canadian standard contract -- cheapest at 3 years), so stay tuned for that one.

In the meantime, be sure to hit up our HTC One forums for all the latest.

More: Telus

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3 years ago

'HTC First' Facebook phone UI pictured in leaked shots

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A minimalist mix of vanilla Android and Facebook influences

A day after we got our first look at the external hardware of the 'HTC First,' more leaked images claim to show the device's UI. Expectedly, today's images, released by 9to5Google in collaboration with @evleaks, put the new 'Facebook Home' home screen launcher front and center. That means your Facebook news feed becomes an integral part of the phone's main app. But what's a little surprising is that the rest of the phone's UI seems pretty close to vanilla Android -- the three leaked images show the stock Gallery, Camera, Phone and Settings apps, along with Google apps like Search, Chrome and the Play Store. Even on a Facebook phone, the Google influence is plain to see.

The big question remains, though -- besides a custom launcher, what is Facebook bringing to the table that requires its own hardware? We suppose we'll find out tomorrow at the company's launch event in California.

Source: 9to5Google

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