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4 years ago

Miss the Google I/O 2012 Day 1 Keynote? Watch it now


If for whatever reason you happened to miss out on the Google I/O 2012 Day 1 Keynote, you can now sit back, relax and take it all in. Google has posted the video to YouTube so you have no reason to not set aside some time and get yourself caught up. You'll get to see Android 4.1 Jelly Bean announced along with the Google Nexus 7 tablet and finally, the Nexus Q.

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4 years ago

Jelly Bean's new notifications take center stage at Google I/O


The above was pulled from the documentation for Android long past, but truer words were never spoken. Notifications can make or break a platform, and Google came up with a winning plan in their notification shade. After a few hours with Jelly Bean, I'm here to tell you things just got better. A lot better.

Notifications in Android 4.1 are now dynamic, feature more information displayed in a delightfully tactful way, are customizable for creative developers, and worth having a second look at. Phil and Alex will tell you, I've become enamored with the new notification system. The information I want need is there for me to see, and if I choose to interact I can take things a step further. To me, the new notifications are by far the best part of the update!

Miss a call? Google Voice can give you a notification to tell you who it was, and a quick way to get back in touch  -- either via the telephone or with a message. Want to see more than a sender's name for a Gmail notification? The two-finger magic will expand it and you can preview the message, without marking it as read. Developers also have plenty of options, a quick look through the gallery after the break shows you what companies like Spotify or Pulse can do in the notification bar now. This is progress. 

Of course, eventually a developer will abuse this and get creative with the spam in your notification bar. Google has you covered. Long press on any notification and you'll see exactly which app posted it, and a simple tap takes you the app management screen where you can uninstall the offender. 

We said that Jelly Bean would probably prove to add a bit of polish and character to ICS versus be a new UI overhaul, and things like the new notifications are a wonderful example of how a mature operating system can be fleshed out and improved. We only hope OEM's don't take it all away. Hit the break to see a gallery of the presentation slides showing it all off.

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4 years ago

Nexus 7 Guidebook available for free in Google Play Books


Read enough about the Google Nexus 7 yet? Just in case you haven't, and you need some light reading while waiting for your shiny new Nexus 7 to arrive, Google's got you covered. Downloadable for free, as we speak, is the official Nexus 7 Guidebook from Google. 

OK, so it's basically an instruction manual. But, there's a couple of really nice sections in there. There's a chunk on the new Google Now service -- and how to disable it -- and another section centered on the new notifications area in Jelly Bean. It's free, and worth a read just for  these two sections alone. To grab yourself a copy, fire up Google Play Books and go get it. 

Download: Google Nexus 7 Guidebook

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4 years ago

Hugo Barra on Nexus 7 first day pre-order numbers: 'It's Big!'


Little more than 24 hours has passed since the official unveiling of the Google Nexus 7, and the subsequent pre-orders becoming available in selected countries around the world. It's pretty much a given that it's bound to be a popular device within the Android community, but, how popular? 

The folks at Business Insider caught up with Hugo Barra last night at a press session at Google I/O, and asked the question a lot of people would be curious to know the answer to. How has the first days pre-sale gone? 

While Barra wouldn't disclose specifics -- hardly surprising -- but he did say they were really, really good. Pressed for a ballpark figure, he simply said, "it's big!" 

So, given Barra's position at Google, you'd be excused for thinking it's just a bit of positive PR. Well, we've some actual cause to believe him. 

Our contacts way up in Canada -- a guy called Chris, you might know him? -- have informed us that the 16GB Nexus 7 is no longer being accepted for pre-order. Seems for that, you now have to sign up to email alerts to let you know when they're available. 

So far, we've not heard any further reports of the pre-sale devices going off sale anywhere else in the world, but that's not to say they won't follow suit soon. If you want one at launch, it's looking like a pretty useful idea to pre-order as soon as you possibly can. 

Source: Business Insider

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4 years ago

How long before Google Now becomes your homescreen?


Let's just throw this out there. Google Now is pretty awesome. A little scary, maybe, which we talked about a bit in last night's Google I/O podcast, but awesome nonetheless. The ability to predict what it is you want to see in the form of widgets is some high-tech schtuff.

Right now it's just an app within Jelly Bean.

But what if it weren't. What if Google Now was your homescreen, giving you all that information you currently have to build manually with widgets and app icons, based of your search history. A scary proposition, but an intriguing one, too.

We'll talk more about this in the coming weeks, for sure. 

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4 years ago

Hands-on with 3D buildings in Google Earth at Google I/O 2012


Google Earth 7.0 has been released, introducing 3D maps for a selection of major cities around the world. Based upon 3D telemetry and textures taken from aerial photography, Earth 7.0 conjures a virtual city right onto your smartphone or tablet screen. What this means is you can now fire up Google Earth and zoom around any of the supported cities, which include San Francisco, Boston, Charlotte and Rome. There's also a dedicated tour mode which will give you a virtual fly-by view of major landmarks, including the Transamerica Pyramid in San Francisco.

As you might expect, the new 3D mapping capabilities require a fair amount of graphical power and bandwidth to use, though we demo'd the new Google Earth on the 18-month-old Motorola Xoom, and the app remained fairly smooth and speedy.

Check out our hands-on video above. Google Earth 7.0 is available to download now from the Google Play Store. For 3D building support, you'll need to be running Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich or later.

Download: Google Earth

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4 years ago

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


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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4 years ago

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


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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4 years ago

HTC on Jelly Bean updates


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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4 years ago

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


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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4 years ago

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


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 -- 

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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4 years ago

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


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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4 years ago

Bladeslinger video demo on the Google Nexus 7


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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4 years ago

New Google Play Store for Google TV coming later this year


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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4 years ago

Samsung to offer MHL cable adapter for Galaxy S III


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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