Created by Google, Android is a smartphone OS and platform that is open-source and open for any manufacturer to use to make a smartphone. Most Android phones use a version that is mostly provided by Google and requires Google services. Android phones can run Android apps, available from the Google Play Store, or, optionally, from other sources.
Twitter today made it easier to publish tweet storms, or threads. The use of threads, a way to string together a series of tweets to tell a longer story, has risen in popularity over the last few years. In order to simplify the process of composing these threads, Twitter has a new "plus" button in the tweet composer that allows users to connect tweets and publish an entire thread all at once. Even after a thread is published, the author can add to it thanks to a new "add another tweet" button. Further, threads will be easier to discover thanks to new labels that point to complete tweet strings. Twitter says the new threading tool is rolling out to everyone on Android, iOS, and Twitter.com in the coming weeks.
YouTube TV has expanded once again to 34 new markets around the country. The additional cities, some of which include Flint, Green Bay, New Orleans, Rochester, San Antonio, San Diego, Savannah, Shreveport, Tulsa, and Tucson, make for a total of 83 markets. YouTube TV originally launched in just five markets in April. YouTube TV costs $35 per month and includes up to six personal accounts all with unlimited DVR recordings and access. The number of channels is still limited to about 50. YouTube TV is available on Android and iOS mobile devices, as well as via the Chrome browser on desktop PCs. A YouTube TV app is expected to reach the Apple TV shortly.
Instagram today rolled out a new tool that allows people to follow hashtags in addition to individual accounts. The idea is to make it easier to discover photos, videos, and people. Hashtags are generally tied to subjects, events, locations, and other interests. The tool lets users search for hashtags and then follow the tag thanks to a new button that appears on the hashtag's main page. Instagram says posts that include the hashtag will then start to filter into users' main photo feed. People can unfollow hashtags whenever they wish. The tool is being added to the Android and iOS mobile apps over the days ahead.
Google today released three photography "appsperiments" that are meant to be fun ways to use your smartphone's camera. The new apps "rely on object recognition, person segmentation, stylization algorithms, efficient image encoding and decoding technologies" to create interesting and unique experiences. Storyboard, available only for Android, takes videos and turns them into single-page comic layouts. The app will automatically scan videos to select what it considers to be interesting video frames and then lay them out in one of six styles. The comics are easy to save or replace by filming new video. Selfissimo (pictured), available to Android and iOS devices, is a budding model's dream. The app is an automated selfie photographer that snaps shots as you move around and make poses. The app encourages you to pose as you go and will create a contact sheet with all the results. People can save individual images or the entire shoot. Last, Scrubbies, available only to iOS devices, lets people adjust video playback speed and direction quickly and easily with their fingers. It works sort of like a deejay turntable to create video loops that highlight action. Google says the appsperiments are in a trial phase and it welcomes feedback from early adopters.
Both Amazon and Best Buy are rolling back the price of the BlackBerry KEYone starting today. The GSM and CDMA variants of the keyboard-equipped smartphone are on sale for $449, a savings of $100 off the normal retail price of $549. The KEYone has a 4.5-inch screen, 12-megapixel camera, Snapdragon 625 processor, Android 7.1 Nougat, and advanced security software. BlackBerry Mobile said the promotion will run though December 24, or as long as supplies last.
Apple today announced that it has acquired Shazam, the song-identifying service, for an undisclosed sum. The deal was first revealed last week in a report from TechCrunch. The Shazam mobile application is available to iOS and Android devices. "Apple Music and Shazam are a natural fit, sharing a passion for music discovery and delivering great music experiences to our users," said an Apple spokesperson to Reuters. "We have exciting plans in store, and we look forward to combining with Shazam upon approval of today’s agreement." Apple didn't say if the purchase would impact Shazam's availability on Android. Shazam has a worldwide user base of hundreds of millions of people. The deal will need to clear regulatory hurdles before it can be finalized.
Andy Rubin has returned to his duties as CEO of Essential Products after a very short leave of absence, reports Recode. Rubin took leave from Essential in late November after a relationship he had with a coworker during his time at Google became public. Rubin insists the relationship was consensual, though it involved an employee on his Android team at Google. Rubin was moved to a different division at Google and later left to found Playground Global, a venture capital firm, and Essential Products. Earlier this year, Essential debuted its first handset, the PH-1. The PH-1 is an all-screen Android device made from high-end materials and top specs.
Google recently provided a list of Android-based wearables that have or will receive the Android 8 Oreo update. According to Google, Oreo is already available to the Fossil Q Venture, LG Watch Sport, Louis Vuitton Tambour, Michael Kors Sofie, and the Montblanc Summit. Watches that are testing Oreo include selections from Casio, Diesel, Emporio, Fossil, Guess, Huawei, Hugo Boss, LG, Michael Kors, Movado, Polar, Tag Heuer, Tommy Hilfiger, and ZTE. As always, the exact timing of the update is up to each individual manufacturer. Android 8 Oreo for Android Wear is a minor update that tweaks some notification behaviors and vibration settings, and adds new languages and notification channels for improved battery life.
Verizon and the NFL today said they've agreed to a new multi-year deal that will see NFL content reach more people on mobile devices. Verizon says it will stream national and local football games across several of its media properties to fans on any mobile network. Via the Yahoo, Yahoo Sports, go90, and NFL mobile apps, people will be able to watch pre-season, regular season, playoff games, and the Super Bowl from their smartphone. The partnership kicks off in January with this season's playoffs. Beyond weekly games, Verizon will give fans access to NFL highlight reels, news, and other content throughout the year, such as the NFL Draft. Last, Verizon said it intends to work with NFL teams to deploy smart stadium technology in their stadiums for better on-site mobile experiences. The new live mobile NFL experience will first be available from the Yahoo Sports app for iOS and Android in January. The partnership is valued at more than $1.5 billion.
Google has updated its Android Wear platform to Android 8 Oreo. The number of new features is limited. For example, Oreo for Android Wear makes it possible to control the notification vibration strength and set a touch lock option for wet conditions. The platform now supports seven new languages and countries, and adds to the list of notification channels in order to help save battery life on Android-based wearables. Google made the refreshed operating system available to its smartwatch manufacturer partners. It will be up to each individual hardware maker to work the code into their own devices. With respect to when end users might see their Android watch updated to Oreo, Google said plainly that "timing is determined by each watch’s manufacturer."
Google today rolled out Android 8.1 Oreo and with it a version specifically for its Android Go platform. Android Go represents a simplified variant of Android for low-powered handsets. Specifically, Android 8.1 Oreo Go Edition makes optimizations to memory management so apps run better on hardware with 1 GB or less of RAM. The platform supports more targeting options for developers, which means they can cater their apps to specific hardware features. Android Go with Oreo also includes rebuilt and optimized apps from Google to ensure they use less memory, less storage, and less mobile data. Last, Google Play on Android Go Oreo devices will provide greater visibility for apps that are optimized for the Go platform. The first Android Oreo Go handsets are being released in India. One of the only Android Go devices available to U.S. consumers is the Project Fi variant of the Moto X4. Google did not say if or when the X4 will receive his particular software update.
Google today made Android 8.1 Oreo official. Google had made the final developer preview of the refreshed platform available at the end of November. Most prominently, Android 8.1 unlocks the Pixel Visual Core on the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL smartphones. This lets app developers put the Pixel phones' HDR+ mode to use in their own imaging apps. Android 8.1 Oreo also includes a significant number of under-the-hood changes. For example, apps can take advantage of hardware acceleration for on-device machine learning operations. Android 8.1 makes changes to notifications, helps developers target low-RAM devices, and improves Oreo's autofill behaviors. Developers gain new tools, too, such as the Safe Browsing API for detecting threats, the Shared Memory API for creating apps that are able to share memory resources, and the Wallpapercolors API for tweaking wallpapers. Android 8.1 Oreo is available to the Pixel, Pixel XL, Pixel 2, Pixel 2 XL, Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P, Nexus Player, and Pixel C. The update will be available over the air in the days ahead.
Instagram today introduced several new tools that will allow users to hold onto their fleeting stories more permanently. First, Stories Highlights let people create a featured story that can be pinned to their profile. It can be used to create a mini autobiography of sorts that plays when others view your profile. The idea is to let people share a highlight reel of their favorite memories and keep it at or near the top of their account. The second tool will automatically save users' stories to their archives. Until today, stories expired completely after 24 hours and were not kept or saved at all. Moving forward, all stories will be saved once they expire from the user's profile. Only the user will be able to view their archived stories. Instagram says archived stories can be used together with the new Stories Highlights to compile content on the user's profile if they wish. These new features are rolling out to the latest version of Instagram for Android and iOS devices. It will become available over the next few days.
Google today released the final version of Files Go, its new file-management app for Android. The app serves multiple purposes: it includes a file browser, local file transfer tool, and a tool to help free up storage on your phone. The file browser is arranged by file type: images, videos, audio, document, and apps. The file browser also includes multiple views, plus sorting and filter options. The file-transfer tool lets you send and receive files with nearby Android phones also running Files Go. It's similar to Apple's AirDrop feature. It automatically creates a temporary mobile hotspot to transfer files quickly over Wi-Fi. The storage cleaner tool uses a simple card interface with visual previews to suggest various types of apps and files that may be unnecessary. Tapping a card deletes that data, freeing up storage space on the phone. Manufacturers have recently been adding their own, similar storage-cleaning tools to Android phones. Files Go was released in beta one month ago.
Huawei said its Honor 7X handset will be available to U.S. consumers beginning today. Anyone interested in the phone can pre-order it from the Honor web site. Available in black, gold, and blue, the Honor 7X costs $199 and is sold unlocked with support for GSM networks such as AT&T and T-Mobile. The 7X has an aluminum unibody chassis with 2.5D curved glass and a 5.9-inch 2:1 aspect ratio display. It is powered by Huawei's Kirin 659 processor and has dual cameras, a fingerprint reader, a 3,340mAh battery, and Cat 6 LTE. It runs Android 7 Nougat with Huawei's EMUI 5.1 user interface on board.
Google today made its monthly security patch available to some Android devices. December's patch plugs a handful of security holes. Google found a dozen or so vulnerabilities, most of which were classified as moderately dangerous, or able to execute code remotely. Google is pushing a patch dated December 5 to resolve these issues. Google said the Pixel, Pixel XL, Pixel 2, Pixel 2 XL, Pixel C, Nexus Player, Nexus 5X, and Nexus 6P devices will receive the December security patches directly over the air. The factory images will be available for download from Google's developer web site shortly. As far as Google knows, none of these security holes have been exploited. Google has already supplied the patches to its handset partners.
Target today made it possible for people to make in-store payments with their smartphones through the Target mobile app. Similar to Walmart’s offering, shoppers can link their debit cart to the new Wallet function within the Target app. At the register, users call up a code on their device that the cashier then scans to complete the sale. Target’s new system does not rely on NFC, used by Apple Pay or Android Pay, or NFC/MST, used by Samsung Pay, for tap and go payments. The new functionality of the Target app can be paired with existing tools, such Cartwheel, for discounts and sales. The new Target app is available to both Android and iOS devices and is free to download.
Facebook today rolled out a new messaging service for children under the age of 13. Messenger Kids is a mobile application that gives kids the power to communicate via text and video with approved family members and friends. The app works on smartphones and tablets, but is controlled through the parent's Facebook account. Messenger Kids first available to the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. Children can use Messenger Kids for one-on-one or group video chats. The UI gives kids a clear indicator of who they are allowed to communicate with and when those friends or family are online. Kids will not be able to connect with anyone not green-lighted by parents. A parental account is required for children to use Messenger Kids. Setting up the service does not create a Facebook account for the kids, and kids will not have access to their parents' Facebook accounts. There are no ads served to kids in the app, nor are their in-app purchases. It includes masks, emoji, and sound effects, and supports photos, videos, or text. Facebook says it created a library of kid-safe GIFs and other content for sharing. Adults who receive these messages will see them in the regular, full version of Facebook Messenger. Messenger Kids is only available to iOS devices in the U.S. to start, but Facebook says it will expand to Android devices soon.
Google says an update to the Google Assistant app for Android and iOS will let people perform searches for more local information, businesses, and service providers. For example, people can say "Ok Google, find me a plumber" to their device, the app will ask some follow-up questions, and then supply a list of local options for plumbers on the smartphone screen. Results cards will include ratings and contact information, and Google says local providers in many cities will be prescreened by third-party organizations such as HomeAdvisor. This update is headed to Google Assistant in the U.S. over the coming week.
Microsoft today said its Edge browser for Android and iOS has exited preview and is now available as a final, public application. Microsoft Edge for mobile devices ports over popular desktop features, include Favorites, Reading List, New Tab Page, and Reading View. It can sync bookmarks and browser history with the desktop and includes a built-in QR code reader. This final version of the app adds Roaming Passwords, which allow you to save passwords on one device and sync them to others, such as from a phone to a PC and vice versa. The browser also gains a dark theme. Microsoft Edge is free to download from the Google Play Store and iTunes App Store.
Owners of the unlocked variant of the HTC U11 Life can expect to receive Android 8 Oreo over the coming days, according to HTC exec Mo Versi. HTC has made the system update available and will roll it out beginning today. Versi did not say if or when carrier variants of the U11 Life will receive the update. HTC's flagship handset, the U11, received Android 8 Oreo earlier this week. Other HTC handsets on deck to receive Android 8 Oreo include the 10 and U Ultra. Versi didn't say when Oreo will be available for those devices
Google today announced Datally, a new app meant to help mobile device owners manage their data usage thanks to fine-tuned controls. To start, the app lets people view their data usage on an hourly, daily, weekly, or monthly basis. The app will analyze usage over time and deliver personalized recommendations on how to save data. A built-in Data Saver tool automatically turns off background data usage for all apps and provides instant insight on data usage while people use their apps. Datally will scan for public wifi hotspots, too, and help people connect in order to avoid using the mobile network. Google has been testing Datally in the Philippines for several months and says many people have been able to reel in data usage by 30% each month when using the app. Datally is available for free from the Play Store. It runs on devices with Android 5.1 Lollipop and up.
Andy Rubin is taking some time away from Essential Products, where he is CEO. The company's day-to-day operations will be handled by president Niccolo de Masi during Rubin's absence. The timing of Rubin's leave coincides with a report from The Information that said Rubin had an inappropriate relationship with an employee during his time at Google. Google investigated the relationship in 2013 and concluded that "Rubin’s behavior was improper and showed bad judgement." He was moved after the investigation from the Android team to Google's robotics division. Rubin later left Google and founded Essential Products. Essential insists the timing of Rubin's leave is not related to The Information's report. "At our last regularly scheduled board meeting earlier in November, Andy asked for a leave of absence to deal with personal matters," said the company in a statement provided to The Verge. Essential makes the PH-1 smartphone, a high-end Android handset. The PH-1 went on sale earlier this year for $699, but has since been discounted to $499 amidst slow sales. The device is available unlocked from Essential, and it is also sold by Sprint.
Google today made the second and final developer preview of Android 8.1 Oreo available to app writers and beta testers. The refreshed beta represents the OS is final form according to Google, though some bugs remain. Notably, Android 8.1 unlocks the Pixel Visual Core on the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL. This will allow app developers to put the Pixel phones' HDR+ mode to use in their own imaging apps. This update to Android includes a significant number of under-the-hood changes. For example, apps can take advantage of hardware acceleration for on-device machine learning operations. Android 8.1 makes changes to notifications, helps developers target low-RAM devices, and improves Oreo's autofill behaviors. Developers gain a bevy of new tools, such as the Safe Browsing API for detecting threats, the Shared Memory API for creating apps that are able to share memory resources, and the Wallpapercolors API for tweaking wallpapers. Other updates include the ability to assign new behaviors to the fingerprint reader on Android handsets, such as permanently lockout users who fail too many times to unlock their device with a fingerprint. The Android 8.1 Oreo Developer Preview 2 is available to registered developers and Android beta testers. Google has made system images available for direct installation on compatible handsets, though an over-the-air update will also reach registered Google users in the near future. The beta is compatible with the Pixel, Pixel XL, Pixel 2, Pixel 2 XL, Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P, Nexus Player, and Pixel C. Google expects to release the final version of Android 8.1 Oreo to devices starting in December.
OnePlus has made software updates available to both its 2017 handsets. First, owners of the OnePlus 5 can snag OxygenOS Open Beta 1 for Android 8 Oreo. This update brings with it picture in picture, auto-fill, smart text selection, new Quick Settings design, parallel apps, the October security patch, notification dots, and a new app folder design. OnePlus' Open Beta program requires users to download the ROM and sideload it onto their device, which means some technical know-how is needed. One the initial install is complete, devices with beta software installed will receive future beta updates over the air. OnePlus warns there is no backward path for downgrading to the stable, public release channel without first wiping the device. Users will need to enroll in the Open Beta program in order to gain access to the code. In other OnePlus news, the company has updated its new handset, the OnePlus 5T, to OxygenOS 4.7.2. This is a maintenance update that chiefly fixes bugs and smoothes out performance. Notably, the update improves the fingerprint sensor and face unlock features. OxygenOS 4.7.2 is free to download over the air.
The Nokia 8 handset is now being updated to Android 8 Oreo, according to HMD Global exec Juho Sarvikas. The company tested Oreo on the Nokia 8 through its Open Beta Labs earlier this year. Sarvikas says the update, now fully certified, is being rolled out to the Nokia 8 over several days. It should reach most users by the end of the week. Sarvikas indicated that HMD Global plans to release Android 8 Oreo in beta to the Nokia 6 and Nokia 5 in the near future.
The HTC U11 is on deck to receive Android 8 Oreo beginning today, according to HTC exec Mo Versi. He tweeted the news over the holiday weekend. The unlocked version of the U11 will be first to see the Android 8 Oreo upgrade, though Versi said other variants, including Sprint, shouldn't be too far behind. Other HTC handsets that will receive Android 8 Oreo include the 10, U Ultra, and U11 Life. Versi didn't say when Oreo will be available for those devices
Instagram today made it possible for people to join the live video broadcasts of their friends. The app now includes a "request" button that will ping the person streaming live video. That person can review, accept, or reject incoming requests. Once accepted, users will be notified that they're about to go live. The joined live view jumps to split-screen with the original broadcaster in one window and you in the other. Either party can leave the shared video stream at any time. Facebook says live videos may be shared to stories or discarded immediately. The new feature is available to the Android and iOS mobile Instagram apps, which are free to download from the Google Play Store and iTunes App Store, respectively.
Verizon Wireless is offering big discounts on this year's top phones through its Black Friday sale. Verizon will cover up to $378 off the price of the Samsung Galaxy S8, S8+, or Note8, the Google Pixel 2 or Pixel 2 XL, or the Moto Z2 Force. Customers will need to sign up for Verizon's unlimited plan, but no trade-in is required. Customers will need to purchase the device, whether up front or financed, and Verizon will break down the $378 reimbursement in account credits over a period of 24 months. In other deals, Verizon will sell you a 32 GB iPad for $199 if you activate it on a two-year plan, or for $99 when purchased alongside an iPhone. These discounts are available online November 23 and in stores November 24 only. Verizon has other sales that begin Thursday and run through November 27. For example, customers can save $50 on a Google Home, $20 on a Google Home Mini, $20 on Google Daydream View, or $15 on a Chromecast Ultra. Verizon will discount the price of many Android handsets by $100 when activated with an unlimited plan. Last, Verizon is discounting tons of accessories, including FitBit wearables, Ultimate Ears and JBL Bluetooth speakers, and Nest smartphone products.
Google has updated its Gboard keyboard application for Android devices and added a handful of new features along the way. Primarily, the app gains support for 40 new languages, such as Japanese. The app also adds to the default Gboard sticker selection, fixes bugs, and improvements performance. Gboard is free to download from the Google Play Store.
Honor today announced the 7X, a budget-friendly handset that adopts the 18:9 aspect ratio for its screen while offering mid-range specs. The Honor 7X features a metal chassis and 2.5D curved glass on front. The screen measures 5.93 inches across the diagonal and offers full HD+ resolution. Huawei's 2.36 GHz octa-core Kirin 659 processor is under the hood with 4 GB of memory and 64 GB of storage. The dual-camera array on the rear features a 16-megapixel main sensor and a 2-megapixel secondary sensor. Together, they can create portrait images with blurred backgrounds. An 8-megapixel selfie camera adorns the front of the phone and includes its own portrait tools and gesture controls. A 3,340mAh battery is buried in the chassis and Huawei says it supports rapid charging. The phone includes a rear-mounted fingerprint sensor, though it does not include NFC. The Honor 7X runs Huawei's EMUI 5.1, based on Android 7 Nougat. It comes in blue, gold, and black. Pricing and availability was not immediately revealed. Honor is Huawei's budget brand.
OnePlus said owners of its OnePlus 3 and OnePlus 3T smartphone are due for an Oreo treat. The smartphone makers begun pushing Android 8 out to the two handsets via OxygenOS 5.0. The new system build includes parallel apps, picture-in-picture, auto-fill, notification dots, and smart text selection from Oreo, as well as a redesigned Quick Settings menu, the September security patch, and a new app folder design from OnePlus. OxygenOS 5.0 with Android 8 Oreo is rolling out over the air, though OnePlus warns it is being distributed incrementally. It may take several days to reach all users.
Google has updated Google Assistant on its Pixel smartphones and added the Google Lens tool it first announced back in May. Google Lens is an image-recognition function that relies on mobile cameras to perform searches. Google Lens is a significant advancement to the old Google Image Search app. Google says its neural networks are better than humans at recognizing most objects. Using Google Lens, Pixel owners can aim their camera at just about anything and Google will instantly perform a search and suggest results. The tool works within Google Assistant on the Pixel handsets, as well as within Google Photos. For example, users can snap a shot of an old car on the street and immediately gain information about that car and discover where it might be available for sale. Google Lens can recognize objects such as flowers, vehicles, gadgets, and more. The update to Pixel devices is rolling out now. Google hasn't said when Google Lens might reach other Android handsets.
T-Mobile's relatively new REVVL brand is all about affordability and popular features, like large screens and fingerprint readers. The REVVL Plus is the second in the series, made by Coolpad. It has a massive six-inch, 16:9 display, a fingerprint reader, and dual cameras. Otherwise, it's a pretty standard affordable Android phone. What's it like in person? We checked it out.
OnePlus today announced the OnePlus 5T, an update to its 2017 flagship handset that adopts the 2:1 aspect ratio for the display. The new OLED screen measures 6 inches from corner to corner and includes 2,160 by 1,080 pixels. In order to accommodate the new display, OnePlus relocated the fingerprint reader to the rear of the phone. The device adds a facial recognition tool for security. OnePlus says it takes only 0.4 seconds to recognize the owner’s face and unlock. Other than these changes, the 5T is similar in terms of design and specifications to the OnePlus 5 from earlier this year. The 5T boasts a metal unibody design with a slim and rounded profile. The phone carries over the alert slider, USB-C port, 3.5mm headphone jack, and dual-camera array from the OnePlus 5. The camera configuration is changed a bit. The main camera is the same 16-megapixel sensor as the 5, and the secondary relies on a 20-megapixel sensor. Rather than include a telephoto lens, the secondary camera adopts better low-light technology. Both lenses share the same focal length and f/1.7 aperture. The 5T is powered by Qualcomm's Snapdragon 835 processor and the handset comes in two memory configurations: 6 GB of RAM with 64 GB of storage, and 8 GB of RAM with 128 GB of storage. Other specs include a 3,300mAh battery with Dash Charge, Bluetooth 5.0, NFC, GPS, WiFi, and Cat 12 LTE with 3x carrier aggregation and support for 34 worldwide LTE bands. The phone runs Android 7 Nougat with the latest build of OnePlus' OxygenOS UI on top. OnePlus said the 5T will have access to Android 8 Oreo as a beta in December. The phone goes on sale November 21 for $499.
Verizon Wireless and Asus today announced the ZenFone V Live, a social media-focused handset that includes a real-time blemish remover. With the ZenFone V Live, people can take advantage of the selfie camera's beautification options to soften complexions and remove skin blemishes when livestreaming to Facebook, Instagram, or YouTube. (Such effects are typically applied to still images after the fact.) Otherwise, the ZenFone V Live is a mid-range handset with curved glass and a metal body design. It has a 5-inch 720p HD display and is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 425 processor with 2 GB of memory and 16 GB of storage. The 13-megapixel camera includes features such as panorama, slow-motion, time-lapse, and bokeh modes with boosted low-light performance. Additional features include a fingerprint reader, 3,000mAh battery, USB-C, and support for microSD memory cards. It runs Android 7 Nougat. Verizon is selling the Asus Zenfone V Live beginning today for $168, or $7 per month for 24 months.
Google today announced a significant change to the appearance of Google Maps. According to Google, it has updated the look of driving, navigation, and transit maps in a way so ancillary information is more visible, such as gas stations when driving or train stations when riding the rails. Maps now relies on a new color scheme to define its legend and (hopefully) make it easier for people to differentiate between points of interest based on color alone. For example, orange signifies food and drink options, while green is for outdoor spaces, and purple is for roadside services. Google believes once people understand the color scheme, they'll be able to spot what they want or need quicker when using Google Maps. Google says this change will impact all versions of Maps (mobile, desktop), as well as other Google services that rely on Maps, such as Assistant, Search, Earth, and Android Auto. The changes will be rolled out over the next few weeks.
The Revvl Plus, made by Coolpad, is the latest smartphone to carry the T-Mobile brand. This big brother to the Revvl offers big features at a small price. The Revvl Plus cranks the screen size up to 6 inches with full HD resolution. The phone is powered by a 2.0 GHz octa-core processor with 2 GB of memory and 32 GB of storage. The Revvl Plus boasts dual cameras on the rear, a rare feature for a phone at this price point. The main sensor captures 13-megapixel HDR images while the secondary sensor captures 5-megapixel shots. The front camera has its own 8-megapixel camera. Other features of the Revvl Plus include fingerprint sensor, LTE, expandable storage, and 3,380mAh battery. T-Mobile plans to sell the phone starting November 17. It will cost $200, or $8 per month for 24 months with an $8 down payment. The Revvl Plus runs Android 7.1 Nougat.
Google is testing a new application for Android phones that can help people better manage on-device storage. Files Go, according to Google, can be put to use to clean up space and keep files organized. For example, it can identify rarely-used apps, spam, and duplicate images that can all be removed to free up storage. Files Go's built-in search tools can assist in finding photos, videos, and documents. The app also makes it easy to quickly and securely share files offline. The app itself is small at just 6 MB. Files Go Beta is free to download from the Google Play Store, though Google warns it may still be buggy.
Asus' mid-range ZenFone 4 and high-end ZenFone 4 Pro may look alike, but they differ quite a bit under the hood. Where the former is an affordable handset, the latter is closer in price to today's flagships. If you're looking for a finer Android phone from Asus, the ZenFone 4 and ZenFone 4 Pro are where you should start. Here are our initial thoughts.