4 years ago

Motorola updates its camera app in Google Play


When Motorola started updating device to Android 4.4 KitKat, it also slipped in an updated camera app that gave better control over focus and exposure with that little reticle that turns green when you're in focus. (Jerry wrote about it in detail here back in November.) Today, Motorola updated the app in Google Play to keep everything on the same track.

The official changelog reads thusly:

  • Manual control of focus and exposure
  • Locked exposure during Panorama capture
  • Enabled additional language support
  • Bug fixes 

So the focus stuff we already knew about — and that's really the main thing you'll notice if you've not already been on the newer camera app. Regardless, Motorola's doing the right thing here, offloading system apps and keeping them updated in Google Play.

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4 years ago

12 Days of Christmas giveaway day six: Win a Galaxy Note 3 from AC and Sprint

On the sixth day of Christmas AC and Sprint gave to me ... A Samsung Galaxy Note 3

The good people at Sprint have partnered with us to do something awesome for the holidays, and we're giving away a great Samsung phone or tablet every day for the next 12 days.

We've got a pile of great stuff, including the Galaxy Tab 3, the Note 3, the Galaxy S4 and the Galaxy S4 mini. Winning one is easy, but you'll need to follow the rules.

  • Leave a comment on this blog post for a chance to win today's prize. Only one comment. 
  • We'll close the comments after 24 hours and pick a winner at random. 
  • Make sure the contact details you have entered when you signed up at AC are good, because that is how I will get in touch with you. 

Today's prize is a Sprint Samsung Galaxy Note 3. It's the best big phone you can buy, so winning one would be sweet, right? Don't miss out on this one.

The 12 days of Christmas giveaway is brought to you by Sprint, and their truly unlimited plans.

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4 years ago

Want snow on your Google+ photos? Just shake your phone


Add a little on-demand holiday cheer to any photo you take

The latest update to the Google+ app (and therefore the Photos app) lets you add on-demand animated snowfall to any picture you take. If you've been using Google+ to share photos lately and have "Auto Awesome" effects turned on you may notice many of your holiday-themed pictures adding snowfall and twinkling highlights automatically, but you can now do that under your own direction with the latest update.

Simply grab the new version of Google+, rolling out gradually today, and view one of your pictures in the app (or the Phtoos app, same thing). Give your phone a little shake while viewing the photo full-screen, and you'll see the same falling snow animation that was applied by Auto Awesome. Shake your phone again, and you'll save that new version of the photo and can share it out to your circles.

It's a fun little holiday-themed update to the app, and we're sure more than a few people will take advantage of the new feature.

Source: +Paul Sowden

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4 years ago

'Instagram Direct' private messaging is now official


Direct messages from strangers require extra step before receiving

Following a general rumble of expectation for weeks, Instagram has just launched its own private messaging service. With the latest update to version 5 of the app, you can now send images and videos directly to individuals and groups rather than your entire follower base.

You'll be able to select where your image goes — to "Followers" or "Direct" — after you've taken and edited your picture or video, and if you select Direct you'll have a choice of sending to just one or several people you choose. Once sent, you'll see an indication underneath the picture of who has seen and liked the photo, along with a standard Instagram comment thread underneath. It's the same Instagram experience you know, but with a smaller audience.

You can go straight into the Direct portion of the app with a new inbox button in the top left of the home screen, where you'll see both read and unread messages, along with "Direct Requests" from people that you don't follow. The latest update is already live in the Play Store, so have at it.

Source: Instagram

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4 years ago

Google unveils its inaugural 'Players' Choice' app awards


Lists are inescapable this time of year, and Google today announced the winners of its "Players' Choice: Top Google Play Apps and Games" poll.

The categories included "most addictive game," "best Google app" and "best franchise game," among others,  Some of the winners you likely know. Some might be your introduction to something new and special. Check out the list after the break, and be sure to swing by the collection on Google Play. And while you're at it, there's still time to nominate your favorite hardware and software in our year-end awards, too.

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4 years ago

Gmail will automatically show images in e-mails


Google today announced that it is (for better or worse) finally going to get rid of that annoying "show images" button in Gmail

The gist is that embedded images will be routed through Google's severs and then transcoded, ensuring you won't get hit with any malware. If you're worried about bandwidth — or just don't want to fix something that's not broken for you in the first place — you'll be able to keep the status quo in the settings.

The web version of Gmail is up first, and the mobile apps will see this feature early next year.

Source: Gmail Blog

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4 years ago

UK Court of Appeal grants HTC stay on injunction


Manufacturer may resume shipping HTC One Mini into the UK

HTC UK has released a statement saying it's been granted a stay on the injunction preventing shipments of the HTC One Mini into the UK. This follows a High Court ruling earlier this month which found that a component in the device infringed upon patents owned by Nokia, resulting in an injunction against the handset. At the time any action against the HTC One, which was also found to infringe upon the Finnish manufacturer's patents, was delayed by the judge to give HTC an opportunity to appeal. With today's developments the HTC One Mini now finds itself in a similar situation.

HTC says it'll "continue to aggressively appeal" against the decision on the Nokia patent, while working with suppliers to source alternative parts.

We've got the company's statement in full after the break.

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4 years ago

O2 revamps 'Simplicity' and 'Refresh' plans - 4G now starts at £17 per month


More data for existing customers, and some 3G contract subscribers can transition to 4G at no extra cost

With competition in the UK 4G LTE marketplace heating up, network operator O2 has refreshed a couple of its contract price plans to tempt festive buyers. The main effect of the change is that O2's 4G LTE network just got a bit less expensive. 4G price plans now start at £17 per month on O2 Refresh, rising to £22 or £27 per month for 5GB or 8GB respectively — though as this is a "Refresh" tariff you'll pay a monthly fee of between £5 and £15 for your handset on top of this.

For customers wanting a 12-month SIM-only plan on O2 Simplicity, 4G prices start at £21 per month for 1GB, £26 for 5GB and £31 for 8GB. All O2's 4G plans come with unlimited texts and data, and the carrier also offers 3G-only Simplicity deals with unlimited texts — between 100 and 750MB for £8-16.

In addition, existing O2 4G customers will see an increase in their data limits, and existing 3G contract customers on at least a 1GB plan can transition over to 4G provided they have a compatible handset. Folks upgrading to 4G can also save 25 percent on outstanding line rental when they upgrade to a LTE-capable smartphone.

Source: Engadget; More: O2 4G

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4 years ago

SwiftKey 4.5 beta brings emoji support and number row option


Keyboard adds over 500 emoji images, emoji prediction and optional number keys added in latest beta

Popular Android keyboard app SwiftKey has rolled out a new beta version today with two frequently requested features. First up is emoji support, recently enabled in Google's own keyboard in the latest Android 4.4 KitKat release. Emoji can be accessed from the smiley menu in the bottom right corner, and SwiftKey says there are over 500 to choose from. What's more, SwiftKey now supports emoji prediction — type the icon you want exactly and one of the options will be an emoji. For instance —

And regular SwiftKey users might notice another change in the shot above. In SwiftKey 4.5 there's the option to add a dedicated number row above the standard keyboard rows — this can be activated from within the Themes & Layouts menu.

SwiftKey can also use emoji as part of its prediction engine, for instance, if you frequently use a certain icon after a word or name, you might start seeing it showing up in predictions. Emoji are only supported on KitKat and Jelly Bean — on the former, colored icons are used, while the latter has black and white icons.

The new beta, which also includes an updated installer, can be downloaded from the SwiftKey beta site.

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4 years ago

Sprint's Moto X appears to be getting its KitKat update this morning


And finally, Sprint's Moto X has begun getting its update to Android 4.4 KitKat, according to our inbox and folks in our Moto X forums. That makes all four major carriers (and US Cellular) to have updated the Moto X to the latest version of the Android operating system, within about six weeks of the code being made available.

The times, they are a-changin'.

More: Moto X forums

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4 years ago

Android 4.3 update reportedly hitting international Galaxy S3 LTE


4G LTE-capable global Galaxy S3 gets its first major update, and it's a big one

Over a year after its launch, the international Samsung Galaxy S3 LTE (GT-i9305) has started receiving its first major software update, bringing it up to Android 4.3 Jelly Bean. According to reports from SamMobile, the update brings the Galaxy S3 LTE up to firmware version I9305XXUEMKC, and is currently rolling out to unlocked German handsets. The S3 LTE, with an Exynos 4 Quad processor, 2GB of RAM and 4G LTE connectivity, launched in Europe in late 2012 where it was sold alongside the more common HSPA-only GT-i9300 model. Since then it's been running Android 4.1.2.

As with other Samsung Android 4.3 updates, the latest upgrade introduces Galaxy Gear smartwatch support, the ability to move certain apps to the SD card and enhancements to Samsung's TouchWiz UI, bringing it in line with newer phones like the Galaxy S4 . Samsung's KNOX enterprise security suite is reportedly not in this particular update, however.

As always, the update will roll out in stages based on region and carrier, so it'll probably take a few weeks to reach everyone.

Source: SamMobile

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4 years ago

Sony Xperia Z + ZL Android 4.3 updates leak out


First signs of newer Jelly Bean release for Xperia phones

Sony had previously promised Android 4.3 updates for some of its 2013 Xperia devices starting this month, and now a firmware package is available for those wanting to flash it onto the Xperia Z and ZL. The leaked updates are marked as "Commercial & Journalists" releases, meaning they're not necessarily intended for retail devices — but adventurous Xperia owners should be able to flash them onto any international LTE Xperia Z (C6603) or Xperia ZL (C6503) using the proper flash tool.

While it's possible this software build — version 10.4.B.0.569 — will be the same one to officially land via over-the-air updates before the end of the year, there's no guarantee this will be the case, and so caution is advised.

Sony's latest update advisory states that it plans to start updating the Xperia T, TX, V, Z, ZL, ZR, Tablet Z, SP, Z Ultra and Z1 from this month, though there's no sign of any Android 4.3-based firmware for other Sony devices just yet.

Source: XDA (Xperia Z), XDA (Xperia ZL); via: XperiaBlog

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4 years ago

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 now available on Google Play


Remastered port includes widescreen graphics, Hidden Palace Zone and Boss Attack mode

As promised, SEGA has today released a remastered mobile version of classic Genesis/Mega Drive platformer Sonic the Hedgehog 2 for Android and iOS. Like the updated versions of Sonic 1 and Sonic CD, Sonic 2 features widescreen graphics, 60fps gameplay and a few surprises for fans of the 90's console original.

Players take control of Sonic, Tails, Sonic & Tails or Knuckles and speed through a dozen zones, including one never before seen in full. The remastered port of Sonic 2 also includes a finished version of Hidden Palace Zone, a level partly revealed in a leaked beta of the game, but unplayable in the retail version. There's also a Boss Attack mode to pit players against Eggman/Robotnik's various contraptions. That's in addition to all eleven zones and seven special stages from the 16-bit original.

Sonic 2 for Android is available now on Google Play, priced at $2.99 in the U.S. and £2.18 in the UK; grab it at the Play Store link above.

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4 years ago

Holiday Photo Contest: Android mini collectible giveaway!


Two weeks of daily prize giveaways

'Tis the holiday season, and we're ready to give away more prizes with this photo contest than we regularly do. Because it's the holiday time of year, we're going to extend our normal photo contest to a full two weeks, going from today all the way to December 26th.

We'll still be taking photo submissions in the same way as before, via the forums, and the prompt for this contest will of course be "holidays" — whatever that means to you or whatever way you want to express it is fine, you'll be entered into the contest.

We'll be giving away one random Android mini collectible figurine every single day of the contest for those who enter that day — that means 14 mini collectibles will be given away over the course of the contest. We'll "close" entries for the day at 12am ET / 9pm PT each day (the end of Dec. 12th will be the first giveaway), and announce a winner each night on the blog and show off the picture that won that day's prize.

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 each night at 11:59 PM ET, and announce them on the blog.

Enter the holiday photo contest​

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4 years ago

Plants vs. Zombies 2 updated with 'loads of cool stuff'


215MB update brings more Gargantuars, new maps and more

PopCap and Electronic Arts have updated the popular Plants vs. Zombies 2 Android game this evening, and it looks like quite a big set of changes. The sequel has proven as popular as the original, and chances are you've spent a bit of time clearing the gardens of space and time of some undead yourself on your phone or tablet.

The basic premise hasn't changed, you still use powerful plants and boosts to kill the zombies before the reach your door. Tonight's changes include:

  • There's loads of cool stuff in our latest update! We have a new map, fun new features and we introduce a new foe!
  • We've upgraded the map to make game progression quicker and easier.
  • It's simpler to know how much you've done, where you're going, and what loot you'll get along the way.
  • You can invite your friends and send ‘em gifts.
  • Use the Turbo button to speed up your planting – and speed up the zombies.
  • Be warned: when we were upgrading the map, somebody let in the Gargantuars.

New maps and levels, friend invites and Turbo speed sounds like a winner to us. You can grab the update or try it for the first time using the Google Play link above for the North America version, or search "Plants vs. Zombies 2" in Google Play for international versions.

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