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Weekly Photo Contest: Flowers

Announcing the 'Weekly Photo Contest: Flowers' winners!

Dozens of fantastic flower photos this week made it nearly impossible to pick just 2 winners Flowers are clearly in bloom if you take a look through the entries in last week's photo contest, and the pictures of those flowers on display are quite incredible. It's a great time of year to see what...
Google Camera

Google Camera: What's new, and a guide to the latest features

The only complaint you can make is that Google didn't release these features sooner. Google has dropped a pretty notable update to its stock camera app, given it a proper name and at the same time opened it up to non-Nexus devices running KitKat in the Play Store. While the interface still isn't...
youtube android central

YouTube for Android updated to support casting live videos to Chromecast

Head into the Google Play Store and you'll see YouTube sitting at version 5.5.27. The last time we covered an update for YouTube on Android was in late November when the app improved search results and channel pages. The changelog listed is old, but there are reports that there is now support for...
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Sony is set to bring Android 4.4 (KitKat) to consumers this coming May, according to the Sony website. Those who own older Xperia Z products will be updated to the later version of the operating system. This covers the Xperia Z, ZL, ZR and the Xperia Tablet Z. We previously looked at the company's plans to bring Android 4.3 and 4.4 to its portfolio of Android hardware, which revealed a mid-Q2 launch for KitKat on older Xperia Z-series devices.

Unfortunately, no firm date within the next month has been provided and we'll just have to wait until May hits before we can begin searching for these promised upgrades. We'll let you all know when 4.4 hits older Xperia Z hardware as soon as we know ourselves. Not long to go now, folks.

Source: Xperia Blog

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How to disable My Magazine on the Samsung Galaxy S5

We love features - and the ability to turn them off

Samsung's My Magazine feature on the Galaxy S5 is similar to HTC's BlinkFeed feature. It can filter in news stories and social updates from various networks for easy access in just a swipe. However, if you don't like My Magazine you can easily disable it altogether. Here's how:

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AT&T owners of the LG G Flex might find themselves mashing that check for updates button tomorrow, as a new support doc from AT&T indicates that an update to Android 4.4.2 KitKat should be rolling out starting on April 17th. The AT&T G Flex last saw an update back in February, but it was a small bug fix release for Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean. This update will be chock full of KitKat goodness.

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Weekly Photo Contest: Focus and Blur

With more ways than ever to get the sharpest or smoothest shot possible, we're ready to see what you can do with your phone camera this week.

With today's release of the Google Camera app, more than a few people are thinking about the great things that are possible with camera hardware and software in today's leading smartphones. You have more options than ever to take amazingly crisp and clear pictures, or selectively apply an artistic blur to them if you see fit. For that reason we're making this week's photo contest prompt "Focus and Blur" — and whether it's an amazingly sharp and in-focus shot or a smoothed-out picture with a shallow depth-of-field, we can't wait to see entries this week.

True to the spirit of what this contest is looking to do, we're going to give away a prize that is capable of taking some beautifully sharp and selectively defocused pictures — an HTC One M8 Google Play edition! We have just one to give away, so make that picture count!

Entering is easy. Just drop your entry in a forums post at the link below. Tell us what Android you used to get the picture, and any back story you want to add to it. We'll pick a winner Tuesday (April 22) night at 11:59 PM ET, and announce them on the blog with next Wednesday's contest.

Enter this week's photo contest

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Flowers are clearly in bloom if you take a look through the entries in last week's photo contest, and the pictures of those flowers on display are quite incredible. It's a great time of year to see what nature is showing off, and every one of the entries across seven pages in the forums are spectacular.

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Google Camera

The only complaint you can make is that Google didn't release these features sooner.

Google has dropped a pretty notable update to its stock camera app, given it a proper name and at the same time opened it up to non-Nexus devices running KitKat in the Play Store. While the interface still isn't mind-blowing, it has changed pretty dramatically from what you'd be used to if you used a Nexus 5 just yesterday. Google has overhauled the picture-taking interface for regular shots, panoramas and Photo Spheres, while also adding a brand new feature called "Lens Blur."

We've taken some time to walk through the new interface, and you can color us impressed with the changes that have been made. While we know most of you will be able to get your hands on the app right away and give it a try for yourself, we're going to take a run through all of the latest features of the Google Camera app and give you a few tips for getting the best shots possible.

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Head into the Google Play Store and you'll see YouTube sitting at version 5.5.27. The last time we covered an update for YouTube on Android was in late November when the app improved search results and channel pages. The changelog listed is old, but there are reports that there is now support for casting live videos to Chromecast.

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Over on Twitter, smartphone leakster evleaks has shared a new image of an upcoming Android handset from LG. It's called the LG L65 and appears to be a device aimed at emerging markets.

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Samsung Galaxy S5 help: Blocking mode

Samsung's do-not-disturb option is oddly named but easy to use

Sometimes Galaxy S5 features need quite a bit of explanation. This isn't one of those times. Blocking Mode is a poorly named but extremely useful function that serves as the phone's do-not-disturb mode. You'll find it in Settings>Personalization, or as one of Samsung's numerous quick settings in the notification pull-down.

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Defocus all the things

New camera options bring a little extra to your pictures, but who does it the best?

The new rage in smartphone cameras these days is selective focus. Think of a really nice portrait you've seen of a friend or family member, where they were in focus and there was a lovely background that was slightly out of focus. It really makes the subject "pop" and photographers — both professional and amatuer — love the look. It's only natural that this made it's way onto our phones. It's not really something new, as there have been apps that do the same thing for a while now. But seeing the folks who make our phones get into the game means more adoption, and hopefully, better results.

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Google's first quarter 2014 results are in, and the company unsurprisingly made buckets of money. Revenue was up to $15.4 billion, a 19% increase from the same quarter a year prior. Earnings were also up, clocking in at $4.12 billion — 27% of revenues. That's an increase in the raw profit from last year, but also a drop in the share of revenue (it was 29% this time last year).

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Real Racing 3 has been updated to include a batch of open-wheeled cars. These new rides include the Caterham Seven 620R, KTM X-Bow R, Ariel Atom 3.5 and V8, plus the Porsche 911 RSR (2014) and Hyundai Veloster Turbo have been tossed in for good measure. That Turbo actually has a special event associated with it where you could win a real trip to Italy. There’s also a new Road to Le Mans live event with unique rewards to be won. Finally, you can now check out the collections of your friends, because who doesn’t like drooling with envy?

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Chrome Remote Desktop

Just a couple of weeks after a full-fledged Chrome Remote Desktop app entered closed beta testing it has been opened up for all to use through the Play Store. The completely free app will let your Android device — assuming it's running Android 4.0 or above — connect to and control any computer you have the Chrome Remote Desktop software installed on.

The client is simple, but mimics closely what you find doing computer-to-computer remote access with its existing Chrome and desktop clients. You can see all computers listed by the Google account they're associated with, connect by entering a PIN and control your computer from anywhere. You simply swipe around on the screen to move the cursor, tap to click and tap and hold to drag for selections or to move windows. The app offers a full on-screen keyboard for text input and a one-tap ctrl-alt-del button for those controlling Windows machines.

The app has worked pretty smoothly on our Nexus 7, but it's clear that you won't be getting any super heavy work done on a small screen controlling a full desktop operating system. For those who need remote desktop in pinch though, Chrome Remote Desktop is one of the simplest ways to go now.

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Even though it's not for another month, Google is holding a Mother's Day sale on the Google Play Store, offering major discounts on certain books, as well as magazine subscriptions.

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Google Camera

Google’s official camera app has received an update today with a few new things. We’ve got a new background blur effect that has become all the rage with SLR wannabes like the HTC One M8 and a new UI with extra-big capture button. It's also worth noting that the aspect ratio of the shot is properly reflected in the preview now, a longtime issue with the old stock Camera app. And the much maligned radial menu for controlling shooting modes has been dumped too, replaced with an overflow menu near the shutter key, which gives access to guidelines, HDR, flash and the front camera.

The new version has a lot in common with recent leaks purporting to show future Gmail and Calendar apps. It’ll be great to see what else gets updated in the near future, as Google appears to be exploring a new visual direction for its Android apps.

Photospheres have been updated as well and now support resolutions of up to 50 megapixels.

The update is available for phones and tablets on Android 4.4 and up, so you don't need a Nexus or GPe device to take it for a spin. Download it now and let us know what you think.

More: +EvanRapoport

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There have been many murmurs about the LG G3 lately, and a launch is creeping closer to reality with a leaked image of the retail packaging revealed by The Verge. Apparently the gold color on the front is going to match the device itself. There aren’t any new pictures of the G3, but a leaked LG handset due for Japan may give you an idea of what to expect. When reached for comment, LG would only confirm that their next handset would have the 1440 x 2560 display that we had glimpsed earlier, thought not the exact size.

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A few months back saw Sprint introduce their new Framily Plan discounts that allowed customers to see reduced per-line prices for each line added to their account, and now prepaid carrier Aio is firing back with their own version of the concept. They're calling it Group Save, and it could save Aio customers up to $90 when they have five lines on their account.

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After yesterday's open-to-all Google Glass sale, Google seems to have run out of the expensive headset. The Glass Explorer program, which previously was open for anybody to sign up (and then maybe be admitted by Google at a later point) is now closed.

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HTC has released the preview SDK for its Dual Lens API. The HTC One M8 Dual Lens system with a 4-megapixel "Ultrapixel" sensor, working in tandem with a smaller camera that senses depth to capture information about distance, allowing users to do things like defocus parts of an image. Developers will be able to use the APIs in the SDK to build new effects for the camera and use the dual-sensor set-up in their apps.

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A popular photography app called Frontback just found its way from iOS to Android today. Though it’s fundamentally another photo-sharing app, it’s got the resonably fun gimmick of shooting from both the front and back camera at the same time. Both images are posted, one on top of the other, leading to some interesting pairings.

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