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3 years ago

TestFlight beta testing platform killing Android support March 21

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At least two popular beta testing platforms still available for all

Not too much to report here, really — app beta testing service TestFlight will shutter Android support on March 21st, 2014. If you're not familiar with TestFlight, it is a free platform for developers and teams to deploy early versions of their apps for testing among users, collect feedback and iterate on apps more fluidly. "No user will be able to upload any Android builds to TestFlight" after that date, but there isn't any indication of how long you'll still receive analytics and feedback from participants of previous builds.

We're not entirely sure if this is a response to Google Play having proper beta testing support or another reason, but the end result is the same. We now have one fewer beta testing platform — alternatives such as HockeyApp and of course Google Play exist, so we expect those to pick up the slack with ease.

Update: Turns out TestFlight has been bought by Apple.

Source: TestFlight

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3 years ago

Manually install Android 4.3 on your HTC EVO 4G LTE with HTC's blessing

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ROM Update Utility public download link now available

While HTC originally said they were going to do a user-trial of the 4.3 update for the HTC EVO 4G LTE, VP Martin Fichter has since let loose the official download link on Twitter so everyone can give it a try.

The link will download a 866MB executable that will get your EVO 4G LTE up to version 4.3, with Sense 5. A few things you will need to know about the process:

  • The program needs run on a Windows computer while your phone is connected via the USB cable
  • All your internal storage will be wiped
  • There is currently no path back to what you're running now
  • This will be the only method to update your EVO 4G LTE to Android 4.3 and Sense 5

Fichter said on Twitter than "hundreds of people" have already done the deed, and apparently they feel it's bug-free enough to send it out into the wild Internet.

If you have any questions about the process or the requirements, the forums are your best place to find answers. Good luck, and enjoy the fresh new Jelly Beans!

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3 years ago

Samsung's Magazine Home is a fresh take on the tablet interface

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With the addition of the tablet-centric Magazine Home, TouchWiz takes one step closer to a total revamp

With the introduction of its Galaxy PRO line of tablets , Samsung has quietly taken a small step in overhauling its TouchWiz UI with the addition of Magazine Home, a vibrant and engaging user interface designed to aggregate content onto your homescreen. It's the first time that TouchWiz feels comfortable on a larger display, and it's a first look at the direction in which Samsung is taking its custom UI — away from bulky features and closer toward clean and accessible user-friendly content.

We spent the weekend exploring the strengths and weaknesses of this new interface approach, and while there's still a lot more to dive into, here's a few initial impressions.

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3 years ago

Weekly Photo Contest: Cooking

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Show off the process of making those culinary creations with your Android

We just wrapped up another successful weekly photo contest, Night, with dozens of fantastic entries and its time to do it again. We like to follow a broad prompt with our weekly photo contests so that as many people as possible can participate. This week we're going with "cooking" photos, and considering that it's a pretty important part of life for us all we're sure there will be no shortage of entries this week.

Entries this week will be put in the running to win one item of their choice from our Android Central CafePress store. We'll be picking four winners this week to pick up some AC swag!

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 (February 25) 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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3 years ago

Facebook to acquire WhatsApp for $16 billion

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Company to continue to run independently, CEO to take seat on Facebook board of directors

Facebook has announced that it will buy cross-platform messaging service WhatsApp for a total of $16 billion, split between cash and stock. The deal was announced today by Facebook as a definitive agreement, with the messaging service receiving $4 billion in cash and aonther $12 billion in Facebook stock, with the option for another $3 billion in restricted stock units also available to be vested in four years. If for some reason the deal is cancelled due to regulatory issues, Facebook will pay a breakup fee of $2 billion split between cash and stock to Whatsapp.

WhatsApp, which has over 450 million monthly active users, is one of the biggest players in the messaging wars today. Facebook quotes some statistics, stating that WhatsApp is adding one million users to its service every day, with a total message volume on the network approaching that of global SMS traffic.

As was the case with Instagram, WhatsApp will continue to operate as a separate company and keep its branding in tact. Co-founder and CEO Jan Koum will remain at the company, but will also take a seat on the Facebook board of directors. In a post on its company blog, WhatsApp reiterates that nothing will change from a user perspective after the buyout, and the word "partnership" is being regularly thrown around from both companies.

Source: Facebook; WhatsApp

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3 years ago

Google I/O 2014 scheduled for June 25-26

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New registration system aims to avoid the usual rush for tickets

Android head Sundar Pichai has just announced the dates for the 2014 Google I/O developers conference. This year, things are a little later than usual and the event will be on June 25 and June 26.

Things are still at Moscone West, and like recent years the events will be lived streamed for everyone to watch. What has been changed is the registration system.

This time around, folks will be able to express their interest and selected participants will be chosen and notified. This should alleviate some of the hassles we've seen in recent years, where tickets sold out moments after they became available.  It should also weed out the folks who go with the sole intent of selling any hardware giveaways on eBay, which happens far too often for our tastes.

We've got the rooms booked, and are ready for this year. Pichai says full details on just how to try your luck at registration will be coming next month.

Source: +Sundar Pichai

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3 years ago

New Google Maps web interface exits preview, now rolling out to everyone

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Improved keyword search, better directions for all transit modes and new imagery of more places

After working in a "preview" mode for nearly a year, the newest version of Google Maps on the web is rolling out to all users worldwide. The new interface is just a little simpler and more streamlined, making it easier to simply search by keyword and find what you need to find. You can perform basic searches for locations, food or services and get a detailed map overview along with recommendations based on your profile for what you'd be most likely to want.

Of course the best-in-class directions for driving, walking and public transit are still here as well, now with the power of better algorithms and traffic data behind them. You can find the most efficient route along with the shortest and fastest routes, and with real-time traffic reports you have a better idea of exactly how long it will take you to arrive in the real world.

Street View has also been expanded to stitch together more user-submitted photos, giving you a look at places where Street View cameras may not have made their way yet. When you get into Street View mode, you'll now see a "carousel" of images at the bottom of the screen you can search through — it's extra useful when you want to check out a landmark or a business before you leave on a trip.

The new Maps interface will be rolling out to everyone over the next few weeks.

Source: Google Maps Blog

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3 years ago

Announcing the 'Weekly Photo Contest: Night' winner!

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Nighttime doesn't have to be boring or bland, and this week's contest entries show that well

The photo contests keep on coming, and each week we receive dozens of fantastic entries. This week we were looking for "night" photographs, and there was no shortage of interesting pictures and perspectives taken in very low light situations.

This week took an extre-special picture to win as we were tasked with picking just a single photo to win an unlocked BLU Life One X phone. Hit the break and see who won this week and what picture got them the prize.

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3 years ago

Google Currents update kills Google Currents - long live Newsstand!

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Today's update wipes Currents from your device and points you at Newsstand

There's an update for Google Currents slowly pushing out, and it has a very simple change. When you install it, it will direct you to install [Newsstand(http://www.androidcentral.com/google-rolls-play-magazines-and-currents-play-newsstand).

All your Currents subscriptions are transferred over, and the Currents app itself is shrunk down to a stub, removed from your application drawer, and has all of it's data erased. The only thing you can do with it is uninstall it, which you probably should do.

Getting started with Newsstand is easy — especially with all your Currents subscruptions migrated over. One that you'll want to be sure to subscribe to is Android Central, which is pretty easy to do right from the Newsstand app via a quick search for us, or click right here if you're reading this on your computer.

Folks that want to keep using Currents should skip this update, of course, but with so much of the app done server-aide, chances are it will stop working eventually. You'll need to figure out what service you want to go with when that happens, and be prepared.

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3 years ago

Lynda.com launches redesigned app for phones and tablets, enables offline viewing

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App responds to the size of your device, lets you create playlists and download courses for offline viewing

Lynda.com, an online education company, has just launched a brand new version of its Android app, bringing a fresh look and a bunch of new features. If you're not familiar with Lynda.com, it's a service that gives you amazingly in-depth courses in a wide variety of topics for a single monthly subscription. The most noticeable change today is a redesign to work great on both phones and tablets in a single app, with proper use of design that makes the most of whatever screen size you're viewing courses on.

The new app also makes it easy to switch between devices and save your position in a course, as well as share courses to social networks. If you want to save on data, you can download courses for offline viewing, as well as create and manage playlists right from your phone or tablet.

The newly redesigned app is free in the Google Play Store at the link above or from the Amazon Appstore as well — you'll need a Lynda.com subscription to make the most of the service, but you can still get a good taste for the new app for free before you choose to get in on all of the content.

Via: Lynda.com

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3 years ago

Visa and MasterCard throw support behind NFC payments via Host Card Emulation in KitKat

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Simpler NFC payments with a wide variety of apps could be coming in the near future

The potential for NFC payments to grow has been increased with the move to Android 4.4 KitKat, and now both Visa and MasterCard are showing support. Using a new feauture of KitKat called "Host Card Emulation" (HCE), both Visa and MasterCard have announced they will be supporting various NFC payment apps with cloud-backed payment infrastructures. Rather than relying on a phone's "secure element" for storing card data, HCE now allows the payment information to be validated and stored off-site, enabling for more NFC payment options.

Visa plans to quickly expand its "Visa Ready Program" to include any app that wants to interact with its payment network using HCE on a KitKat device. Visa Ready provides tools, standards and services to ensure apps work seamlessly with the Visa payment network. MasterCard will also provide secure cloud-based processing of payments to be paired with custom phone-side software to interact with its network. Details on MasterCard's implementation are expected at some point in the first half of 2014.

While HCE has the initial benefit of opening up Google Wallet to more devices without bothering with a secure element, the interest expressed by Visa and MasterCard show we could be in store for many more NFC payment apps on Android in the near future. Considering KitKat still has relatively low adoption there really isn't any rush, but once more devices push up to Android 4.4 this could turn into an interesting space.

Source: Visa; MasterCard

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3 years ago

Xiaomi kickstarts their global plans with launch in Singapore

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Chinese smartphone powerhouse Xiaomi has long had eyes on the global market, and today they started making progress in expanding outside of the People's Republic with their first launch in Singapore. ZDNet reports that Xiaomi's mid-range Redmi Android handset is now on sale in Singapore for S$169 (that's around $134 USD), while the flagship Mi3 is expected on March 7 for S$419 ($332 USD).

The Redmi is launching on all three of Singapore's carriers — M1, SingTel Mobile, StarHub — and while their combined 8 million subscribers pale in comparison to even the smallest carriers in China, it's a start for Xiaomi's global plans. To celebrate the launch, Xiaomi customized its MIUI interface with "Singapore-centric app icons and a wallpaper of the city's skyline."

Xiaomi recently poached former Google Android VP of Product Hugo Barra to head up their expansion plans, and Barra was on hand in Singapore along with Xiaomi co-founder Lin Bin. Xiaomi's set up a service center for local customers and will soon be opening a regional corporate office and distribution center to serve the whole of southeast Asia with localized support and features.

For now, Xiaomi is focusing on Asia, targeting Singapore's neighbor Malaysia for their next launch. Jumping the Pacific Ocean for the Americas is apparently not in the near-term plans, though having gone from their first launch three years ago to 15 million devices last year and a target of 40 million sales this year, Xaiomi is certainly on a roll — the rest of the globe can't be too far off, eh?

Source: ZDNet

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3 years ago

Google maps out the nine US cities they're considering for the next Google Fiber deployments

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Google Fiber is the sort of thing that nerds lust over — who wouldn't want access to gigabit speeds? — and today they've laid out the nine cities they're considering for the next expansion of the network. So far Google has rolled out Google Fiber in Kansas City (both the Kansas City in Missouri and the one in Kansas) and Provo, Utah, as well as committed to launching in Austin, Texas.

But who is next? There are nine cities Google is considering across the nation:

  • Phoenix, Arizona
  • San Jose, California
  • Atlanta, Georgia
  • Charlotte, North Carolina
  • Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina
  • Portland, Oregon
  • San Antonio, Texas
  • Nashville, Tennessee
  • Salt Lake City, Utah

San Jose makes sense, being in Google's back yard, and Salt Lake City and San Antonio are right nearby existing Google Fiber deployments (Provo and Austin, respectively), so there's already local support infrastructure in place. Of course, part of Google's plan in announcing this is to keep potential customers in the loop, but more importantly they want to galvanize said potential customers into pushing their municipalities to offer the kind of support to Google Fiber has enjoyed in Provo, Kansas City, and Austin. That's sure to ruffle some feathers in the cable industry, but given the current state of the competition, we'll take whatever feather ruffling we can get.

Source: Google

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3 years ago

Meizu and BQ announced as Ubuntu smartphone partners

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More devices from other 'household names' to come in 2015

Canonical, the folks behind the Ubuntu project, has announced their initial hardware partners for the Ubuntu smartphone launch. BQ of Spain and the Chinese giant Meizu have signed on, and will both be delivering products running Ubuntu in 2014.

In a live-broadcast event this morning, Ubuntu founder Mark Shuttleworth made it clear that they wanted their initial partners to be specialists at penetrating the emerging markets. That means low-cost handsets are the goal, and while we don't know much about what BQ will be offering we do know that Meizu plans to build an Ubuntu version of the MX3 — which currently runs Android. He went on to say that both BQ and Meizu are a perfect match for Ubuntu

These are two great companies. Two Fiesty companies. Two companies that are great for Ubuntu

We have no details on availibility or pricing, or where these phones will be sold. Shuttleworth has spoken before that Canonical has excellent carrier support and backing, and that he wants Ubuntu smartphones available everywhere. We're going to catch up with Canonical at MWC, and see what else we can learn.

More: Ubuntu

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3 years ago

Four indie games set to strike it big on Android

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Indie game development is where many of the most exciting Android games come from nowadays. Sure, we all love big releases from Electronic Arts, Sega, and the like. But so many today’s most popular mobile games (including Flappy Bird) came from small development studios or even individual creators.

We caught wind of several exciting indie games during the recent Apps World event in San Francisco. Let’s Duel is a motion-controlled sword fighting game that you can get right now. In the near future, we’ll also be playing the eccentric and beautiful running game Mr. Runner 2, a match-3 game with actual controllable characters called Puzzle Raiders, and Zato – a slashing game starring a blind swordsman. See them in action after the break.

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