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5 days ago

Google Photos gets smarter and more social: Top 4 announcements from Google I/O 2017

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The new features will certainly be helpful for loyal users, but they also exist to help you to spread the word on what Google Photos can do.

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Google has more than half a billion active users uploading over a billion image files to Google Photos daily, so it's no surprise that the company is doubling down on what's turning out to be a successful photo-sharing platform.

At Google I/O 2017, the company announced a host of new features coming to the feature-filled photo sharing service. Here's a quick jaunt through what's new with Google Photos, as well as some of the new features that are coming later this summer.

Watch Google's explainer on what's new with Google Photos.

Suggested sharing

You're using Google Photos to store your photos, so naturally Google wants you to share them with other people. Suggested sharing uses machine learning to actively suggestion who to share a picture with. If your friend Brad is in the photo, for instance, Google Photos will suggest that you send the photo to him so that he knows how silly he looked at the pool party last Saturday. Additionally, Google's machine learning will give Brad suggestions when he sees this photo, so that he can share it with anyone else who might be interested.

You can invite anyone to see a photo, even if they don't have the Google Photos app installed. iPhone users, for instance, will receive a notification with a link to the photo, and be invited to add others to share the photo with, too. It's a share-share situation!

Shared libraries

Google Photos' Anil Sabharwal shows the crowd at Google I/O 2017 what Shared Libraries are all about.

Got a giant extended family? That's fine; now you can share an entire photo library with them all so that anyone can share photos of each other whenever there's occasion to. Shared Libraries work akin to shared photo albums, though they'll stay integrated in your own camera roll. You'll be able to search through those pictures without having to navigate to a particular photo album, too, and with the machine learning engine working behind the scenes in Google Photos, any extra, non-interesting photos you snap won't be filed in there.

Google Lens

Google Lens is coming soon, and it's going to add more functionality to Google Photos.

The Google Lens features aren't ready for Google Photos yet, but the machine learning engine is coming later this summer. Google Lens will be able to understand what's in an image, identify what you're looking at, and help you edit photos on the fly. It'll even get rid of obstructions in an image — in the event you actually catch your finger ruining an an otherwise amazing photo, for example.

Photo Books

You can order a Photo Book now from Google Photos.

Photo books are a major thing for many families, and they're especially helpful if you just want to show a number of choices photos from your last trip, for example. Google Photos will be able to identify the best photos you've taken from any album and curate it into a worth-to-share picture book.

A 7-inch softcover will cost $9.99, while the hardcover version will cost $19.99. The books are 20 pages by defaults and features 40 of the best photos. Additional pages will cost $0.35 in the softcover, and $0.65 on hardcover. Photo Books are available now for Google Photos on the web and will come to iOS and Android soon.

The easiest-to-use photo app

The latest announcements for Google Photos should be no surprise if you've been utilizing the service since its major revamp two years back, particularly with regards to its machine learning capabilities. Shared Libraries are also merely evolutions of a sharing feature that's already existed — you've been able to share individual photos and albums before, but now it's more inviting to those who may not be privy to the Photos' existence.

It's obvious Google is committed to making its photo-storage service soar, which is why it's intent on getting the word out on its usefulness. These features have been added to encourage its veteran users to share photos while inspiring the uninitiated to switch to the service and take advantage of what it can do.

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5 days ago

Google's 'Find My Device' app is the next-gen Android Device Manager

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Android Device Manager is now Find My Device, and it has a few new features to keep it useful and relevant.

One of the less publicized announcements at Google I/O was the rebranding of the popular Android Device Manager — the app that allows you to find or reset a lost or stolen phone — to Find My Device, with a new design and some additional features.

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The fundamentals of the app haven't changed — you still use it to look up the current location, or last GPS location, of any Android device associated with that particular Google account. But the app looks new, with a nice dose of Material Design, and the ability to check the battery and Wi-Fi status if the phone is searchable.

If the phone isn't accessible to Find My Device, it shows the last known location, which could prove incredibly useful when searching for a phone that's been stolen or lost under the proverbial seat cushion.

Find your phone: the ultimate guide to Android Device Manager

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5 days ago

Kodi 18 Leia: What you need to know about the next version of Kodi for Android

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Everything you need to know about the next version of Kodi that's heading to Android.

Kodi 17.1 "Krypton" is the current release that's available through the Google Play Store, but work on next version of the popular media server software is already well underway. In a break from the normal routine of choosing names within the community, Kodi 18 will be known as "Leia," in honor of everyone's favorite princess who sadly left us.

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5 days ago

Best Samsung Phones

If you're into Android, a Samsung phone is probably on your list. Here's what to consider.

Since the debut of the Galaxy S2, Samsung has ranked as one of the top selling manufacturers of Android smartphones. Over the years, the South Korean company has managed to positively iterate on its flagship offerings by offering new features and a better interface with every new model.

This year, it's the Galaxy S8 that takes the spotlight as the defacto Samsung device, but it's not the only Galaxy offering you can choose from. Here's a guide on the differences between the varying high-end Samsung devices you should consider adopting as your daily driver.

This article is updated periodically. It was last updated May 2017.

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6 days ago

Daydream Standalone: Everything we know so far

Google is upgrading Daydream in a big way.

On stage at Google I/O today, VR VP Clay Bavor announced the next step in Daydream's evolution. While using your phone to power a VR headset is convenient, and the experiences created there have been impressive, the next step will probably not be powered by your phone. Clay dubbed this evolution of Daydream "Standalone VR" and this is what we know about it so far!

Read more at VRHeads.com

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6 days ago

How to get the Android O beta on your Pixel or Nexus (and how to roll back to Nougat)

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Here's how to get the Android O beta on your Nexus or Pixel device.

The Android O Developer Preview 2 is here, and if you're looking to install it on your phone or tablet, you're now able to opt-in to the first public beta, which is also available as the second Developer Preview.

Which devices support the Android O Developer Preview?

The preview is supported on the following phones and tablets:

  • Pixel
  • Pixel XL
  • Pixel C
  • Nexus 6P
  • Nexus 5X
  • Nexus Player

Download the Android O beta

If you don't want to mess with unlocking your bootloader or the command line, the second Android O Developer Preview is also the first public beta. That means that if you have one of the above eligible devices, you can simply visit the Android Beta portal and opt-in to the beta, which will then prompt Google to send your phone or tablet an over-the-air update.

  1. Head to Android Beta program portal on your Pixel or Nexus phone or tablet.
  2. Sign into the Google account associated with that phone.
  3. Scroll down to Your eligible devices.
  4. Find the device you want to enrol in the Beta program and tap Enrol device.
  5. Follow the prompts to accept the over-the-air download.

Note: To leave the beta program, simply press the button on the Android Beta program page to unenroll. Your phone will receive an over-the-air update to return to the stable version of Android 7.1.2 Nougat, but your phone will be wiped clean upon rebooting, so back up your stuff.

Install the Android Developer Preview from the command line

What you need to know beforehand

The Android O Developer Preview 2 is also being released as a factory image, which you can download from the Android Developer Portal.

In order to update a phone or tablet to Android O this way, you need to first unlock your bootloader.

Before we go into these steps, it is strongly recommended that you have previous knowledge of working with the Android SDK (software development kit) and Terminal (OS X or Linux) or Command Prompt (Windows), as it is possible to harm your device if something were to go wrong in the following process.

You'll need to download an updated Android SDK that has the latest Android O tools and images, and you can grab it from the Android Development website and follow their instructions on how to install it correctly. For the following process all you will need is the adb and fastboot files which are located in the Platform Tools folder.

Additionally, all the following commands are written as they would be in Terminal on a Linux or OS X platform. If you are following this guide and using a Windows machine, you will not need to use the "./" seen in the guide.

Enable developer settings and USB debugging

Before you begin, you'll need to have a compatible Nexus or Pixel device running Android 7.x Nougat.

  1. Go to your Settings and scroll down to About Phone/Tablet
  2. Tap on the Build number seven times until the dialog box says you are now a developer
  3. Go back to the Settings menu and you should find a new option called Developer options. Click into the Developer options
  4. Make sure that the developer options are turned on and that USB debugging is checked on
  5. Make sure Enable OEM unlock is checked.
  6. Plug your device into your computer and click "OK" on the dialog box asking you to Allow USB debugging while connected to the computer. You can also select to always allow access on that computer

If done correctly, this will be everything you will need to do on your phone or tablet for the moment.

Unlocking your bootloader

Nexus devices and Pixel phones bought from Google directly have a bootloader you can unlock. If you want to manually flash software, you'll need to do this.

To do this you must first boot into your bootloader. You can either manually turn off your phone or tablet and hold down the power button and the volume down button to enter your device's Bootloader Menu or you can enter the following commands into your terminal or command prompt.

Run the following command to make sure your device is properly connected to your computer. If it returns a string of characters it means that you are all set to start updating your device.

./adb devices

Now to enter into the Bootloader menu just run the following command.

./adb reboot bootloader

At the bottom of the screen there will be several things listed including the lock state of the device. This should say locked unless you have unlocked your bootloader in the past and never went back and locked it again.

To unlock your bootloader, which is required only when flashing a stock firmware image (not sideloading and update, which we'll get to soon), you must enter the following commands. Remember that when unlocking your Nexus' bootloader it will factory reset your device, so you will lose everything stored on it. If you have not yet backed up anything important on your device you can hit the power button while Start is highlighted in the Bootloader menu and this will boot you back into your device like normal. Now back to unlocking your bootloader.

Use the command:

./fastboot flashing unlock

A dialog will appear on the device asking if you are sure about unlocking. Again this will factory reset your device, so if you want to back out of the process you just need to select no with the power button. If you are ready to unlock your bootloader you press the volume up button and then the power button to confirm that you wish to unlock your bootloader.

./fastboot reboot-bootloader

It is recommended to reboot the bootloader just to give itself a check to make sure everything is working correctly before moving onto the next step.

Flashing the stock firmware image

Now that your bootloader is unlocked, it's time to flash the Android O image. To find the system images, head on over to the Factory Images page, find your device, and download the latest factory image available. It is easiest to then uncompress the file in the Platform Tools folder where the adb and fastboot files are so that you don't have to type the path to the different files when flashing the firmware. (Or if you know that you can drag a file into a terminal window to copy the path, just do that.)

To begin, make sure you are still in the bootloader menu on your device and double check that your bootloader is in fact unlocked.

First, make sure that your computer is communicating correctly with your phone or tablet. As long as your device's serial number comes back as a connected device you are ready to begin updating your device.

./fastboot devices

Now it is time to flash the updated bootloader with the following command.

./fastboot flash bootloader [bootloader file].img

You will not see anything on the screen of your device but there should be a dialog in your terminal or command prompt. When it is done flashing the bootloader you should reboot back into the bootloader as to make sure everything is still working correctly.

./fastboot reboot-bootloader

Next you flash the updated radios. This step is only necessary if you are updating the firmware of a phone or tablet that has cellular radios built into it.

./fastboot flash radio [radio file].img

./fastboot reboot-bootloader

Finally, it's time to flash the actual system image to your phone or tablet.

Warning: The following line of code will wipe your device. If you do **not* want your device to be wiped, remove the "-w" from the command. The update should still take just fine, and it will not wipe your user data.

./fastboot -w update [image file].zip

When this is done, your phone will restart itself and boot up normally. As this process clears all data from your device, it will take slightly longer for your device to boot up into Android O for the first time. Once you have been greeted with the device setup walkthrough process, you know you have successfully flashed a new version of the firmware.

If you do not want to enter the commands manually there are scripts included inside the compressed folder containing the system image that will do most but not all of the heavy lifting for you. The flash-all script files will automate the flashing of the bootloader, radios (if needed), and the system image. The problem with this process is that you must first make sure that your phone is in the bootloader menu and its bootloader must be unlocked before starting the script. Of course if these are not already done the script will fail to run and nothing will happen.

How to revert back to Nougat from the Android O Developer Preview

So you're not happy with an early beta and need to re-install Nougat. That's pretty easy! If you installed Android O using the factory image, all you need to do is find the right system image compatible with your handset or slate and run the same procedures as above but with the Android Nougat image.

When finding your Nougat image, make sure you are downloading the correct one that corresponds with your device. If you're running a Verizon or Rogers Pixel, for instance, you'll have to make sure you download the right one.

If you opted into the beta and want to roll back, just unenroll from the beta and restart your phone.

Problems? Confused?

If you're having issues or want to ask a question, come join us in our forums for all the tips, tricks and advice you can handle!

Android O

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6 days ago

First beta release of Android O is available!

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First beta release of Android O is available today!

It was only mentioned in passing during the Google I/O keynote, but the Android O beta is live!

You can sign up for the beta here, which will be available on the following devices:

  • Pixel C
  • Pixel
  • Pixel XL
  • Nexus 5X
  • Nexus 6P
  • Nexus Player

We'll have more details on Android O soon as we dive into the beta ourselves.

Click here to sign up for the Android O beta!

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6 days ago

Google is bringing machine learning to job searches

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Google is making it easier to search for jobs by leveraging machine learning and AI.

Google is rolling out a new initiative called Google for Jobs that will make it easier for you to find relevant jobs in your area. When you type in a job search query, Google will start offering suggestions for openings at the top of search results. The company is partnering with LinkedIn, Facebook, Careerbuilder Monster, Glassdoor, and others, and will rely on its machine learning and AI expertise to deliver results that match what you're looking for.

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6 days ago

Google's Play Console Dashboards help developers pinpoint problems with their apps

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Google is helping developers get a better grip on problems with their apps thanks to new Play Console Dashboards.

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6 days ago

Google's educational Expeditions are expanding to augmented reality

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Having already taken on VR with Google Cardboard, Google has announced that its Expeditions program is expanding to the world of augmented reality (AR).

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6 days ago

The last year saw more than 82 billion Google Play app installs

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Google Play sees a huge uptick in app installs in 2016.

At I/O 2017, Google's VP of Engineering for Android, Dave Burke, revealed that over 82 billion apps have been installed from Google Play last year, a noticeable uptick from the 65 billion in 2015. Android itself now powers over 2 billion active devices, and is the largest operating system in the world.

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6 days ago

Google's Tango Visual Positioning Service is like an indoor GPS

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Google's Daydream VR platform got a lot of love on the Google I/O stage, but the company has some intriguing plans for augmented reality (AR) as well.

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6 days ago

Google Daydream does not work on the Galaxy S8 yet, but SOON!

One way or another, Daydream will work on the Galaxy S8.

Update 5/17/17: Google has announced Daydream support for the Galaxy S8 will be available via update this summer!

If you try to install Google Daydream on the Galaxy S8, a phone that exceeds the requirements for Google's VR platform in every conceivable way, you'll be met with an error message stating a compatible version is missing and will not be able to install Daydream. Just like we were, when trying this out during the event in NYC.

The bad news — a compatible version of Google Daydream doesn't exist for the Galaxy S8.

The good news — that isn't going to be true forever, but you're going to need to wait a bit.

Read more at VR Heads!

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6 days ago

Google Play Protect uses machine learning to detect and remove harmful apps

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Google Play Protect will use machine learning to scan for malicious apps.

A big theme at this year's Google I/O has been machine learning. Furthermore, we know that keeping our phones secure is more important than ever. Google uses its powerful machine learning tools within the Google Play Store to scan and verify the apps installed on your phone. If a malicious app is detected, the service will remove it before it causes harm. These services were already in placc, but will soon be more visible for users.

As explained by Stephanie Cuthbertson, Director, Product Management, Android, Google is launching Google Play Protect, a new suite of services that will help secure all your Android devices with Play Store access. Google will continue to use machine learning to scan all installed apps connected to your Google account, searching for harmful apps and remove them from your device if detected.

You will be able to see these service at work on your phone by navigating to the "My apps & games" section of the Google Play Store. This will making security more visible and accessible for all users and will be coming to all Google Play devices.

Google Play Protect is mostly a rebadged version of features that were already there, going back to Verify Apps, supported back to 4.2 — but this new feature will make the process much more visible to users.

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6 days ago

Google working with Qualcomm, HTC, and Lenovo on standalone Daydream VR headsets

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Google's Daydream VR platform is breaking free from its phone-based confines with the standalone headsets, Google has revealed.

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