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4 years ago

New Google Maps updated with offline maps button

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User feedback prompts new 'offline maps' card and 'where's Latitude' button

When Google launched its new Maps app for some users yesterday, it was criticized by some for the way offline maps had been handled. The feature, accessible via menus in earlier Maps versions, could only be activated by searching for "OK Maps" in the new app, in a sort of Easter egg.

Today the app has been updated once again with an easier way to download offline map caches — tap the (empty) search bar and you'll find "Make this map area available offline." It's perhaps not the most obvious place to put this feature, nor the most elegant-looking card, but we can't fault Google's fast turnaround on this issue. (The "OK Maps" shortcut will continue to function in the new version, Google says.)

In addition, there's now a "Where's Latitude" button in the main menu area linking to Google's support page on Latitude's retirement. The service, which is absent from the new Maps app, will be closed entirely on Aug. 9.

If you're running the new version of Maps, you should see an update to your app this morning. As an aside we're now starting to see the new Google Maps 7.0 on more of our devices, so if you're not updated yet you might want to check your Play Store app for updates.

Source: Google+

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4 years ago

Sony IFA press conference slated for September 4

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This year's IFA — the annual consumer electronics show held in Berlin, Germany — is still a little under two months away. But it seems invites are already going out to the Japanese press for Sony's big IFA booth unveiling and press conference, which is set for Sep. 4 in hall 4.2 of the Messe Berlin exhibition center.

An invite received by Japanese blog RBMen indicates things will kick off at 4pm local time (3pm BST, 10am EDT, 7am PDT) at the Sony booth. IFA is of course a general consumer electronics trade show, but on the mobile front we'll be expecting to hear more about the rumored "Xperia i1" (Honami) device, said to pack a 20-megapixel camera with advanced optics. We'll be on the ground in Berlin once again this year, so keep it locked to AC this September for full IFA coverage.

Source: RBMen; via: PhoneArena

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4 years ago

LG announces world's slimmest full HD smartphone display panel

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It takes thin parts to make a thin smartphone, and LG is leading the pack when it comes to display technology

LG is showing off a new 5.2-inch LCD display that they claim holds the title of world's slimmest full HD display. Checking in at only 2.2mm in thickness, they also feature an ultra-slim 2.3mm bezel. This means your great-big smartphone can be a little less great-bog overall.

They credit their new technology, dubbed Advanced One-Glass-Solution, for enabling such a thin panel. It uses dual flexible printed circuits (opposed to a single circuit) that have been inserted between the glass itself and the touch film. This reduces the number of lines etched onto the panel circuit by more than 30-percent. In addition, LG is has a new bonding system using optically clear resin to mate it all together into one very thin piece.

These panels are said to offer superior visibility outdoors, along with a better contrast ratio and an increased brightness of 535 nits. The 1080x1920 panels are use a true RBG pixel layout -- none of that pentile silliness here. Combined, these features make the new panel outperform every other current HD LCD panel, and we don't have to take LG's word for it -- Intertek has officially certified the results.

I'll stick my neck out and say it -- I'll bet we'll see these panels in the upcoming LG G2. It should be an interesting Q3 in the mobile space. Hit the break for the full press release.

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4 years ago

Contest winners: Element Case Galaxy S4 cases!

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If you're a registered member here at Android Central then you know we always have a contest happening. And if you're not registered, well -- now is as good a time as any. Winners of our contest sponsored by Element Case are posted below, and if you were chosen watch your email as we'll be following up to get your info. Stay tuned for more upcoming contests folks. Congrats to the winners!

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4 years ago

Google expected to spend $500 million marketing the Moto X in US and Europe

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New Motorola flagship to be available on all major carriers at launch

We may not have many details on the handset itself, but rumor has it that Google is ready to put $500 million behind marketing the upcoming Moto X. According to sources of The Wall Street Journal, Motorola has the go-ahead from Google to spend several hundred million dollars promoting the new handset both in the U.S and Europe. Sources say that it will also be priced competitively to current high-end handsets -- $199 on-contract and $599 off-contract -- and will make its way to all four major carriers this Fall.

Not much new about the Moto X is being revealed at this point that was not already known, but the WSJ claims that Motorola has succeeded in seriously reducing the amount of pre-installed bloatware on the device across carriers, which is a huge plus if it turns out to be the case. Sources indicate that morale at Google is high about the potential success of the Moto X, and we're certain that those of us in the Android crowd are looking forward to the launch of the device as well.

Source: WSJ

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4 years ago

Opera browser updated with faster startup, video downloads, and more

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Multiple features added for file handling and performance

A new update to the popular Opera browser has hit the Play Store, dubbed Opera 15 to those keeping count. The browser switched to being Chromium based in a previous release, which has been updated to Chromium 28. Time from icon press to actual web browsing has improved, making this release noticeably faster at startup.

Some interesting new features have been sprinkled throughout the latest version of Opera. It is now possible to download videos that can be played in Opera by either long pressing or using the download button. The location of where said videos -- and any other downloadable files -- are download to is now configurable, allowing the user to choose what device folder is used. It is also possible to browse external SD card folders and open files for use in Opera. Those with something to hide will be happy to see the new "open in private tab" context menu, as shown above.

Under the hood Opera gets an improved Cookie clearing mechanism, a fix for the unintended-uninstall-bug for Samsung devices, and memory leak plugs with stability improvements.

Check for updates directly in the Play Store or use the Play Store button at the top to get the latest version of Opera.

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4 years ago

Google Maps gains swipe-to-access gestures in latest update

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Get easy access to Views, place details, search results, and alternate direction routes

Many have heard about it, but few have received it. The new Google Maps app that was previewed at Google I/O hit the Play Store yesterday, with a reported rollout starting today. A lot of new changes come with a sizeable update (to version 7.0) such as this. Many, like the loss of Latitude and the 'relocation' of the offline maps feature have taken center stage in this update. Others, like the new gestures, were simply posted on one of Google's support pages.

These gestures come in two varieties: two-finger and one-finger. To access satellite imagery, public transit, and traffic, use two fingers to swipe from left to right, and the Views portion of Google Maps will open right up. The remaining gestures all use a single finger. Place details -- such as information about businesses -- can be accessed by swiping up on the info sheet header. To view additional search results, a left or right swipe can be used on the bottom info sheets. Alternate direction routes can also be summoned with an info sheet swipe to the left or right.

Source: Google Support

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4 years ago

This week's sidebar poll: Are you interested in converting your HTC One or Galaxy S4 into a Google Play edition device?

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To hack, or not to hack? That is the question.

People who order a Google Play edition Galaxy S4 or HTC One are starting to see their devices delivered today, and one of the things that goes along with that is the hacking that's going to happen to slap the operating system from the Google Play edition devices onto their carrier counterparts. It may turn out to be relatively easy (for the end user, that is) or it may be more difficult, but we're sure it will happen. And that means people with the carrier or OEM models of these two have a decision to make -- to hack or not to hack? 

You lose a lot of functionality that comes standard on the versions with HTC and Samsung's firmware, but to many people that's all just extra fluff they never wanted in the first place. In the other camp, you have the people who have no desire to lose these and take what they feel would be a step backwards to a bare-bones build of Android. It's something to think about, especially if you're tied to your current phone for two (or more) years.

We can't make that decision for you, but we are curious about just how many are going to take the plunge. There's a poll in the sidebar to the right, or you can just click through the break and find it. Take a second and answer it, and feel free to say why you voted the way you voted in the comments here.

Before we go, a look at last week's poll.

What is your top social networking feature?

For the two-thirds of us that enjoy social networking, it looks like the quality of our Android app is the most important feature, Are you listening Facebook and Twitter?

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4 years ago

Google Play edition HTC One bootloader and recovery now available

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The first step of turning your HTC One into a Google Play edition is now ready

Hey there sports fans, if you're thinking of taking your existing HTC One and converting it into a bona fide Google Play edition HTC One, the work has already begun. The stock bootloader and stock recovery have been pulled off the device, and they're uploaded with all the instruction you need to get them flashed.

Doing this, along with using a complete system image (which I'm told is coming soon) on your HTC One will turn it into a Google Play edition device -- and get it on the track for OTA updates along with the new One's people are recieving today.

Of course you'll be giving up a lot by losing HTC Sense, but you have the choice if you're willing to take the chance and understand the risks. You'll find full instructions at the source link below. Happy flashing!

Source: XDA; via: Android Central forums

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4 years ago

Chrome for Android updated with full screen tablet browsing and automatic page translation

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Version 28.0.1500.64 has been promoted to the stable channel, now rolling out to devices via Google Play

Google is pushing out an update for the Chrome (stable branch) browser, with two very nice changes for Android users. The first, and one that everyone with an Android tablet will love, is full-screen browsing for Android tablets. This works the same as we've seen for phones, and the title bar disappears as you scroll down the page. Letting your tablet make full use of the screen real estate is a welcome change.

Also in version 28.0.1500.64 is automatic page translation via Google Translate. If your web surfing takes you to a page that's not in your device's native language, Google Translate kicks in and translates the page for you -- just like it does on the desktop. 

There's also a new optimized interface for RTL languages (including Arabic, Farsi, and Hebrew), and the ubiquitous stability and performance fixes. Grab your update via the Google Play link above.

Source: Google

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4 years ago

T-Mobile announces 'JUMP!' upgrade plan, new LTE markets and devices

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LTE now available in 116 metro areas; new upgrade policy offers new devices twice a year

T-Mobile CEO John Legere and crew are currently on stage in New York giving a presentation about their "Boldest moves yet", where they have just unveiled a new phone upgrade system, LTE markets and devices. First up is what T-Mobile calls "JUMP!" (yes, all caps), which is a new system to help users upgrade devices more often. For $10 per month per phone, customers can now get into a cycle of upgrading their device up to twice every 12 months with no strings attached.

Customers simply trade in their working T-Mobile phone, have their previous installments for that phone eliminated and can then purchase a new phone on an installment plan. This way, current T-Mobile customers will never pay more for their device than a new customer -- even if they aren't done paying off their current handset. That $10 monthly payment also includes what is usually known as "premium handset protection" or device insurance, protecting it against loss or theft.

Additionally, T-Mobile is announcing some seriously impressive numbers related to its LTE network expansion. The carrier has announced that it beat its initial expectations for LTE markets launched by mid-year, now covering 157 million people across 116 metro areas. These aren't just any markets either, they're some of the biggest markets in the U.S.: New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, Dallas, Seattle, Atlanta, Miami and many others. T-Mobile still plans to hit 200 markets and cover 200 million people with LTE by the end of the year.

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4 years ago

The Xperia Z on T-Mobile: a watershed moment for Sony smartphones in the U.S.

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Sony finally has the smartphone it needs to become a major player in the U.S. mobile market.

Since its sweep at CES 2013, The Sony Xperia Z has become known in some circles as the best phone Americans can’t buy — thankfully, that changes next week when T-Mobile will add Sony’s flagship to its portfolio. Our own Alex Dobie put the Xperia Z through its paces back in March with a thorough review, and seeing as though the domestic version of the device is almost identical to the international one, we won’t waste your time with yet another teardown. We will, however, discuss how the Xperia Z fits into T-Mobile’s summer lineup — one of the more robust of all the major carriers — and examine what its addition means for Sony’s mobile footprint in the U.S. Hit the break for our thoughts and impressions.

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4 years ago

Live from T-Mobile's event in New York City

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We're live with T-Mobile's CEO, the Sony Xperia X and some major new upgrade news in New York City. 

Peep the liveblog after the break!

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4 years ago

T-Mobile launches Sony Xperia Z, available July 17 for $99 down

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Sony's waterproof flagship handset hits the magenta network

T-Mobile is finally taking the stage in New York to (among other things) announce the Sony Xperia Z for its network, and it will be available next week on July 17th. This is the same Xperia Z we know and love from before that has been available unlocked, with full waterproofing and top-end specs.

The Xperia Z hits T-Mobile for $99 down on an installment plan, with 24 monthly payments of $20. That breaks down to $579 in total if you'd prefer to buy outright. Customers buying online -- starting with a July 16th pre-order date -- will also get a free Bluetooth wireless speaker while supplies last.

Interestingly, Sony's own stores and online store will sell the T-Mobile branded Xperia Z starting today, something that Sony hasn't historically done. These orders are also up for the free Bluetooth speaker deal.

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4 years ago

NSA contributes to Android, but there is no secret backdoor

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All Android code is available for public review, and plenty of people are reviewing it

It came to light today (though it was never a secret) that the NSA (the National Security Agency), a U.S. intelligence service that's been in the news as of late for things nobody likes, is contributing code to Google's Android project. Of course, the Internet's first reaction was predictably "OMG PRISM! They're building in PRISM!!11one!"

You can relax folks. While the NSA has no official statement about what they call their Security Enhancements for Android project's link to the PRISM project, this isn't something new. They've been working on this Android code since 2011, which is an offshoot of their SE (Security-Enhanced) Linux project before that. Their SELinux code was peer reviewed by anyone and everyone, and the commits were generally accepted as being great additions that make a secure operating system even more safe.

While Android isn't developed in the open, upon release the code is all available. There are all manner of very smart and god-like code nerds pouring through it, and any shenanigans would be quickly uncovered. Let's just take a deep breath, and realize that the NSA could be very helpful writing code to keep systems secure. 

More: Bloomberg

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