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3 years ago

Google+ for Android updated with new photo enhancements, improved location sharing

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Official Google+ app hits version 4.0 with Snapseed photo tools and more

Update: The new version of Google+ is now live!

Following on from the 41 new Google+ features announced at Google I/O last week, Google has unveiled one more to bring the count up to 42 -- a new Google+ app for Android. The new Google+ version 4.0 incorporates many of the photo management and enhancement features of the latest update to G+ on the web. Specifically, Google+ will automatically show you "highlights" of each photo gallery, saving you from digging through large galleries of imperfect shots. It'll also allow you to preview or undo automatic photo enhancements. "Auto-awesome," the tool that lets you create animations or panoramas from still shots, is included as well.

But the biggest news for Google+ photo sharing might be the addition of Snapseed photo enhancements directly within the app. A selection of filters including Drama and Retrolux can be accessed from with in the app, alongside bread-and-butter tweaks like cropping, rotating and exposure changes.

Location sharing is also a bit smarter in Google+ 4.0, allowing you to see friends who are sharing their location directly on a map, in a new "locations" section. Automatic hashtags, added to Google+ on the web last week, makes its way to Android in this latest update too.

Source: Google+ blog

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3 years ago

T-Mobile Samsung Galaxy S3 LTE reportedly launching June 5

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Galaxy Exhibit also tipped for May 29 arrival

With the Samsung Galaxy S4 launch over and done with, T-Mobile USA is looking to bolster its smartphone line-up with an LTE-capable version of the Galaxy S3. T-Mobile internal screenshots obtained by TmoNews show a Jun. 5 launch date for the device. No word on pricing yet, but TmoNews speculates that the carrier will likely replace its current HSPA-only S3 with the new 4G LTE model. T-Mobile currently sells the Galaxy S3 on its instalment plans with a $69.99 down payment.

Alongside the S3 LTE, T-Mobile looks set to debut the Galaxy Exhibit, a phone we first saw leaked back in February. With a dual-core 1GHz CPU and a WVGA screen, the Exhibit looks like T-Mo's answer take on Galaxy S3 Mini. The Exhibit is listed with a May 29 launch date.

Source: TmoNews

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3 years ago

Is this the Samsung Galaxy S4 Active?

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New pics purport to show water-resistant, ruggedized device with S4 specs

The Samsung Galaxy S4 Active has long been rumored, with publications including the Wall Street Journal reporting that Samsung will release a ruggedized, water and dust-resistant version of its flagship phone this summer. Today GSMArena has obtained pics of a device that would certainly seem to fit that bill. The shots seem to show a large-screened device with a sturdy red back and physical menu, back and keys on the front.

A further image confirms the GT-i9295 model number previously associated with the Galaxy S4 Active, along with the presence of a 1.9GHz Snapdragon 600 CPU. GSMArena reports that the screen is a 5-inch 1080p SuperAMOLED unit, just like the vanilla GS4. The shot of the back also reveals a remarkably thin handset, in contrast to most water-resistant phones, which are smaller and chunkier. So it looks like Samsung hasn't skimped on hardware specs in creating this ruggedized beast.

The Galaxy S4 Active might be just one of several Galaxy S4 models to make its way onto the market in the coming months. The Galaxy S4 Mini has been extensively leaked, and recent leaks also point to a larger "S4 Mega" variant.

Would you be in the market for a reinforced, waterproof phone with these kinds of specs? Hit the comments and let us know.

Source: GSMArena

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3 years ago

Sony Xperia UL announced for Japan, 5-inches and 1080p display

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Sony's latest only headed for Japan at present, but packs some good looking specs

Yet another Sony smartphone has been formally announced, but like the Xperia A before it, this one too is destined only for Japan at the moment. Previously rumored, it's called the Xperia UL, and appears to be cut from a similar mould to the Xperia Z. 

Spec wise, we're looking at another 5-inch, 1080p display. Underneath, propelling everything along is a 1.5GHz Snapdragon S4 Pro, 2GB of RAM and a 2300mAh battery. On-board storage is 16GB, and cameras come in at 13MP on the back and 3.1MP on the front. And, in true Sony fashion the Xperia UL is waterproof and dustproof. 

The Xperia UL retains some of the same design features as the Xperia Z too. That same on/off button on the side, but the glass back is gone. It appears to be available in three different colors -- black, white and pink -- and is said to be heading to both KDDI and NTT Docomo in the coming weeks. 

Source: Sony via Phonearena

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3 years ago

Galaxy S4 Mega, S4 Active and S4 Mini hinted in app update text

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New Samsung handsets outed in changelog for WatchON TV application

Rumors have been circulating for a few weeks that Samsung is working on a "Galaxy S4 Mini," as well as a ruggedized version of its current flagship device. Today an app changelog entry for the Galaxy S4's pre-loaded TV app could indicate that both are on the way, along with another device known as the "S4 Mega."

The shot above, sent our way by tipster Paul, shows that the recent 5.0.4 update for Samsung WatchON adds "support for [the] upcoming S4 Mega, S4 mini and S4 Active." The changelog has since been updated to remove the reference, suggesting that someone let the cat out of the bag a little early. The S4 Mini name has been rumored for some time, and the device is refers to extensively leaked. The S4 Active name would seem to refer to the rumored "waterproof" S4 variant. But the S4 Mega is a bit more of a mystery -- could the existing Galaxy Mega have been renamed? Or might this be a different large-screened S4 variant -- or simply a typo?

Whatever the case, the fact that WatchON has been updated with support for all three devices suggests that they'll likely include the S4's TV-controlling capabilities.

We'll have to wait and see if and when the Galaxy S4 Active, Mini and Mega emerge. Whatever form these handsets take, Samsung looks set to fully capitalize on the halo effect of its high-profile Galaxy S4 launch.

Thanks to Paul for tipping us the image above through the new Android Central app!

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3 years ago

Japan's KDDI gets HTC J One with microSD slot

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HTC flagship comes to Japan with oft-requested removable storage

HTC and Japanese carrier KDDI have announced the HTC J One -- a new variant of the HTC One designed fro the Japanese market. The J One packs much the same internal hardware as its international cousin, but with the addition of a microSD slot, allowing storage to be expanded by up to 64 gigabytes.

The HTC J One also supports FeliCa NFC-based wireless payments and 1Seg digital terrestrial TV broadcasts. (There's a new opaque area below the camera lens which may be part of the internal hardware for one of these two features.)

HTC's also debuting some new accessories alongside the J One. There's a hard shell cover with kickstand, and the HTC J One Mini -- a version of the HTC Mini handset already released in China, or a "phone for your phone," if you prefer.

This isn't the first localized HTC One we've seen with removable storage. Last month a Chinese variant of the phone appeared with a removable back cover, microSD support and dual-SIM capabilities. It isn't clear whether the J One will incorporate a similar removable back, but as HTC's already manufacturing this kind of device for China, we'd bet that's probably what's going on here.

The HTC J One is due to go on sale in Japan from early June.

Source: KDDI via Engadget, YouTube, HTC

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3 years ago

Samsung Galaxy S3 Android 4.2.2 firmware leaked with Galaxy S4 features

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Lock screen widgets, re-vamped settings, driving mode and more

Samsung has a track record of bringing key software features to older phones with major firmware upgrades, and it seems last year's Galaxy S3 is about to see such an update along with Android 4.2.2. Leaked firmware obtained by SamMobile brings the international Galaxy S3 -- the quad-core Exynos-powered GT-i9300 -- up to Android 4.2.2, and adds many features previously reserved for the Galaxy S4.

New features include a familiar array of lock screen widgets and unlock effects, new display modes, a re-tooled quick settings area in the notification pull-down, a new driving mode and an updated version of the S Voice assistant app. Some of the headline Galaxy S4 features like "Air view" hover-touch abilities aren't included -- that's because they're dependent on the S4's internal hardware.

SamMobile has published the new -- and very much pre-release -- firmware version I9300XXUFME3 online, and it comes with all the usual warnings associated with using unfinished software on your phone. In addition, it'll increase your binary counter (the difficult-to-reset counter telling you how many unofficial ROMs you've installed) by one, even though it's marked as an official Samsung firmware.

If you want to live dangerously, you can find the download and installation details over at the source link. If not, you'll find video after the break.

Source: SamMobile

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3 years ago

From the Editor's Desk: After Google I/O

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Three days just isn't enough to absorb all the info from Google I/O. In fact, it's physically impossible to get to every session, be it due to overlaps, overcrowding (only so many seats) or overexhaustion. It's a good problem to have, though, and Google handles it quite well.

In case you've been living under a rock, in addition to streaming a number of the key sessions live, Google also records them, so you can watch at your leisure. And that's what I've been doing since returning home from San Francisco, the better to get a grasp on all the new features and services announced. And if you've never seen one of these developer sessions before, you might be surprised just how entertaining and engaging they can be. This was my fourth Google I/O, and it still catches me a little off guard.

You can watch the developer sessions on YouTube.

Another surprise this year was the keynote address. Consolidated into a single address this year (as opposed keynotes the first two days at previous events), it went a whopping 3.5 hours. (Longer if you could the time spent waiting in line.) And it was time well-spent. There was so much information crammed into our brains in far less time than it took many of us to even get to San Francisco. But between all the new Google Play services, and the new Google Maps, and the improved Google+, and the Google Play game services -- and that's just the major Android stuff -- I could have gone another hour, easy. 

There's not a lot I can say about Larry Page's appearance -- his first such speech at Google I/O in the years I've attended -- that you can't get from watching the recording. (And I recommend you do.) But I will say this: I've always believed a good CEO should overreach a little. The more Apple-friendly pundits love to poke fun at some of the things Eric Schmidt has said over the years, and perhaps rightfully so. There's certainly a fine line between cheerleading, inspiring and downright crazy talk. And occasionally crossing that line opens you up to jokes and criticism, but I love the sort of head-first-into-the-wall mentality. It's what makes Google Google, it's what gets things done, and it's what moves us forward.

A few more thoughts on the week that was:

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3 years ago

Apps of the Week: Hubble Space Center, Sonic the Hedgehog, Field Trip and more!

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A game and a couple of tools highlight this abbreviated list of picks

The combination of Google I/O going on in San Francisco and BlackBerry Live in Orlando this week has our team a little sparse, but we think there are a few great picks to be seen this week regardless. Whether its just four apps or ten, we do our best every weekend to bring you apps that each of the Android Central writers have been using regularly the previous week.

Stick around after the break and see how this week's picks stack up against the rest.

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3 years ago

Verizon increasing data allowances on prepaid plans

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New plans available to existing customers now; new customers can take advantage June 6

As an update to a previous blog post detailing changes to its prepaid plans, Verizon stealthily made yet another change that will give prepaid customers even more data. Verizon keeps things simple on its prepaid smartphone offerings, with two tiers -- $60 and $70. Both have unlimited talk and text, and previously either 500MB or 2GB of data. Verizon is now bumping those up to 2GB and 4GB, respectively, with no price increase. The plan changes go into effect right away for existing customers that have either of the two plans, but new customers will have to wait until June 6th to have the option available when starting a line.

If you're new to Verizon's prepaid plans, you have to also remember that they are restricted to just its 3G service, and there's no indication of when (if ever) LTE will be included. With that being said, these are still a couple of good options that just got a little more competitive in the steadily expanding prepaid market.

Source: Verizon

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3 years ago

Mystery Google media player drops by the FCC

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Could a Nexus Q successor be on the way?

Google's kept pretty quiet about the Nexus Q since removing it from sale last summer. Last we heard, the company was still working on refining its streaming sphere, and that was back in January. In recent days, the lack of Nexus Q support in the new Google Play Music app had led some to believe that Google had abandoned the project. However, freshly-filed FCC documents indicate that Google could be preparing another media player device for release.

The "H840 Device" is revealed in FCC documents to function "as a media player," and was given with the model number H2G2-42, an apparent Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy reference. As is customary for unreleased products, Google has requested that diagrams and photos of the device remain confidential.

Testing documents reveal that it was tested hooked up to a 24-inch Dell monitor, and that it possesses Wifi a/b/g/n support and a USB port. What's more, it gets its power from a separate power supply unit, so we can safely assume this isn't a smartphone, tablet or wearable device.

Google unveiled the ill-fated Nexus Q at least year's Google I/O conference, where attendees were given complementary spheres. The Q went up for pre-order shortly afterwards, but before going on sale Google withdrew the device and shipped Qs out to pre-order customers free of charge. Despite being a no-show at this year's I/O, Google's official stance remains that it's "hard at work" improving the multimedia orb. So could this "H840" device be the result of the past year's efforts? We'll have to wait and see.

Source: FCC; via: Liliputing

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3 years ago

Google expanding mark up tools to select partners to influence Google Now cards

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Specific partnerships not yet named; hotels, flights and reservations are the focus

Speaking on one of the countless Google Developers Live talks at Google I/O, one of the creators of Google Now Baris Gultekin explained how select partners will get better access to Google Now going forward. When commenting on how Now can offer more useful information to users, Gultekin announced that certain Google partners will now be able to use mark up tools to put flags in emails that will get them directly noticed by Google Now. Similarly to the way Gmail currently looks for flight numbers, package shipment confirmations and hotel reservations, select third parties can now alert Gmail to look specifically at its email and find the relevant information to then push to Google Now.

Gultekin didn't mention any specific names in relation to this initiative, but he did note that it was focused on things like flights, hotels and dinner reservations. Getting all of the major airlines and hotel chains on-board with this program could help ensure that Google Now never misses an important event surrounding travel, which is very important if people are going to trust Google Now to give them relevant information.

The entire 22 minute talk (seen above) is quite interesting if you're at all interested in Google Now, but if you want to jump ahead to the specific part where Gultekin mentions the partnerships you can find it at about the 16 minute mark. This surely won't be the only little gem that gets noticed as people wade through the hours of footage coming out of GDL at Google I/O this year.

Via: TechCrunch

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3 years ago

Hangouts updated to correct tablet compatibility issues

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Nexus 7 and other tablet users can now update to replace the Google Talk app

Following its announcement at Google I/O, the new Hangouts app from Google has had a bit of a rocky rollout to certain devices. Because it replaces a pre-installed system app (Google Talk), there are some complications with pushing an update that makes so many changes. When the app first hit the Play Store many users wouldn't get the option to update, especially if they were on tablets. Google has just pushed out an update today that should fix those issues, making the app compatible with tablets of all sizes.

The app's description has also been updated to note that it is aware of some compatibility issues, and that Hangouts is actually being rolled out over the course of several days. That would explain why some users that were eager to install saw some hiccups. Rest assured that as of now most devices (using Android 2.3 and up) should be good to go with an update from the Play Store directly.

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3 years ago

Google Play Services gives control of Android back to Google

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With API services outside of the core operating system, Google is taking back control of Android

We didn't get a new version of Android this year at Google I/O. You can read all the lamenting and gnashing of teeth over this across the web, so I'll spare you the play by play of how it was supposed to happen (a proverbial lock), but didn't.

Instead, I'll tell you a little bit about what we did get -- a huge updated version of Google's service APIs, which turns out is much better.

Wait. Better? How can an app I never wanted that got magically pushed to my phone be better than a newer, higher number in my about phone screen? That's crazy talk, right?.

Turns out, that little app is a powerful beast. Read on.

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