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printed May 22, 2017
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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.

by:  Google


LG X Venture Delivers Inexpensive, Rugged Performance

Today, 9:38 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Today, 9:57 AM

LG today announced the X venture, an affordable Android smartphone that can take a beating. The phone has an IP68 rating for protection against water and dust, and a mil-spec 810g rating for durability against drops, bumps, scrapes, and other abuse. The phone features a 5.2-inch full HD screen with glove mode. The phone is powered by a Snapdragon 435 processor with 2 GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage. LG says the main camera has a 16-megapixel sensor with a standard field of view, while the front camera has a 5-megapixel sensor with a wide-angle lens. The phone packs a massive 4,100mAh battery with Quick Charge 2.0 for all-day battery life. Other specs include barometer with outdoorsy software, as well as Bluetooth 4.2, GPS, WiFi, FM radio, and NFC. The phone supports memory cards up to 2 TB and it charges via microUSB. The X venture runs Android 7 Nougat. AT&T plans to sell the LG X venture starting May 26, with support for its ePTT service, for $11 per month for 30 months, or about $330.


Small Company Takes Apple to Court Over Apple Pay Patents

Today, 7:45 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Universal Secure Registry, a small firm from Boston, has filed a patent complaint against Apple and Visa over the technology used to create Apple Pay. According to the lawsuit, Kenneth P. Weiss, CEO of Universal Secure Registry, holds 13 patents pertaining to the use of fingerprints and one-time tokens in order to authenticate secure financial transactions. Weiss pitched the technology extensively to Visa in 2010. Visa agreed to a 10-year nondisclosure agreement and even assigned engineers to understand how Universal Secure Registry's process worked. Visa never adopted the technology, but several years later worked with Apple, MasterCard, and American Express to create Apple Pay, which launched in 2014. Apple Pay relies on fingerprints and one-time tokens to facilitate iPhone-based mobile payments. Patent law firm Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan — one that represented Samsung and its fight against Apple over Android patents — suggested Universal Secure Registry take Apple to court over the patented technology. Apple has not yet responded publicly to the lawsuit.


5 Most Important Things Google Announced At I/O

Friday, 12:00 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google I/O, the search company's annual developer conference, is wrapping up after a whirlwind few days in Mountain View, Calif. Google hit attendees with a blitz of announcements centered around artificial intelligence, machine learning, and mobility. While much of what Google showed off is meant for its developer partners, plenty will reach consumers in the days, weeks, and months ahead — not only on Android devices, but iOS, the web, your car, your wrist, your headset, and more.

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Google Pushes Minor Update to Android O Beta

Thursday, 7:51 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today distributed a bug-fixing update to the Android O beta. The small patch, weighing it at about 55 MB, is meant to smooth out some performance issues present in the initial build. People enrolled in the Android Beta program should see the fresh update hit their devices shortly. The Android O beta works on the Pixel, Pixel XL, Nexus 6P, and Nexus 5X.

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Android Pay to Support Payments via Google Assistant

Thursday, 3:11 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google this week rolled out the Google Payment API, a new set of capabilities that will allow anyone to make in-app or online payments with any debit or credit card associated with their Google account. Google says this option will simplify the process for people to checkout and make purchases online, as it negates the need to fill out cumbersome purchasing forms. Moreover, the API will make it possible for people to send or receive payments via the Google Assistant. Whether the Assistant is accessed through a smartphone or Google Home, users can say, "Ok Google, send $10 for Jane for pizza" and Google will do exactly that. A separate payment tool for developers, called the Card Linked Offers API, smoothes over the process of supporting loyalty cards and programs. It gives developers a new channel for interacting with customers and rolling out targeted offers. From a consumer standpoint, it will be far easier to add loyalty cards to Android Pay once developers update their app with the Card Linked Offers API. Google expects these capabilities to roll out later this year.


Google Hopes New API Will Improve Android Wear Complications

Thursday, 3:00 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today announced a new version of its Complications API for developers in order to help them create better experiences for Android Wear. Complications are dynamic data sets that appear on watch faces, such as step counts, notifications, weather alerts, and similar. Specifically, the refreshed API can now auto-size text to fit in bounds defined by watch face makers and it includes a full rendering tool to handle style and layout factors for complications. The API adds more sample code that developers can cut-and-paste into their apps, as well as a new test suite for checking that watch faces can handle all the fields and complications together. The new Complications API is for Android Wear 2.0 and up. Google released the second-generation wearable platform earlier this year. Google also said it is offering developers a new Wear UI library for handling user interfaces. Notably, Google is killing off the card pattern and multi-directional UIs for Android Wear devices. This change will occur over time.


First Look: What's New In Android O

Thursday, 2:15 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google this week released the first public beta of Android O, the next version of its core mobile platform. Android O has a handful of interesting new features, including picture-in-picture, notification dots, autofill for app logins, easy text selection, and much more. Android O may not be huge on hallmark additions to the platform, but it shows an excellent level of refinement from Google. We downloaded the Android O beta and took it for a quick spin. Here are our first impressions of this super early build of Android O.

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Chrome for Android to Support VR Browsing

Thursday, 12:10 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today said it plans to bring full virtual reality support to its Chrome browser for Android handsets. With Chrome VR, people will be able to experience full web sites in virtual reality, watch web-based videos in virtual reality, and interact with web sites through their VR headset. Google suggests that Chrome VR can pair with augmented reality tools when, for example, shopping for furniture in order to help define whether or not things will fit in your house. A new version of Chromium is available to developers from GitHub so web writers can get started in creating VR experiences for the web. Google didn't say when it expects to offer a final version of Chrome VR to the general public.

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Google Updates Daydream to Version 2.0 Euphrates

Thursday, 11:57 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Thursday, 12:20 PM

Google today provided some insight on its Daydream virtual reality platform and says a new version of Daydream will soon make its debut. Daydream 2.0 Euphrates targets standalone VR headsets and is powered by Android O. The entire experience is handled in virtual reality. Daydream 2.0 updates the home experience for standalone headsets and smartphones. Euphrates includes a new dashboard that will appear on top of any app and lets people remain in VR even when checking settings, reading notifications, and multitasking. Euphrates also adds Google Cast support, allowing people to pick a destination and cast from Daydream to other devices such as television sets. Daydream 2.0 makes it possible to capture screenshots and then share them via social networks. Google said there are eight Daydream compatible handsets right now, and it expects that number to increase significantly by the end of the year thanks to new entries from LG, Motorola, Asus, and others. Google believes tens of millions of Daydream devices will be in the market by the end of the year.


Facebook Streamlines Messenger

Thursday, 11:16 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Facebook today said it is simplifying the main screen of Facebook Messenger, returning the app's focus to messaging. Facebook has over the last year added numerous features to the messaging tool and the app's usability has suffered somewhat as a result. The app introduces tabs along the top for all the different actions and features, rather than cramming them in small slots on the home screen. The tabs will also show users which of their friends are available for conversations, as well as a dedicated place to host group conversations. The bottom bar now offers shortcuts for making calls, taking pictures, searching or people, playing games, and, later, exploring the forthcoming discover tab. Last, Messenger includes a red dot to help people see what's new. "These changes are designed to make Messenger simpler for you — to help you get to your contacts quickly, jump into your conversations where you left off, start new chats, and stay up to date," said Facebook's David Marcus. The new Messenger is hitting Android and iOS devices this week.


Cricket to Sell LG Stylo 3 Starting May 19

Thursday, 11:04 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Friday, 3:23 PM

Cricket Wireless today said it, too, will sell the LG Stylo 3 beginning May 19. A CDMA version is already available from Sprint and Boost, and a slightly higher-end Stylo 3 Plus is available from T-Mobile. The Stylo 3 has a 5.7-inch 720p HD screen, 13-megapixel main camera, 5-megapixel front camera, and fingerprint reader. The phone includes LG's stylus and dedicated pen software. The phone runs Android 7 Nougat. Cricket Wireless has priced the LG Stylo 3 at $170.

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Android O Adopts New Emoji Design

Wednesday, 7:05 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Android O replaces the squishy emoji blobs that have long been a part of Google's stock operating system with more traditional, circular emoji. Many of Google's handset partners include their own emoji on Android phones, but the clean version of Android that runs on Pixel and Nexus devices includes the blob-style emoji. Android O puts the basic design and shape of the emoji in line with what other companies offer. The redesigned emoji are included in the new Android O beta release that Google made available earlier today.

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Google Updates, Renames Android Device Manager

Wednesday, 5:10 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today updated its Android Device Manager application. The app has a fresh design and, more importantly, a new name. Moving forward the app is called Find My Device. As before, it's a tool to help people find, lock, or erase lost or stolen Android devices. Some of the new features include the ability to check the lost device's wifi and battery status, as well as view the last known location in the event the phone has lost power or been turned off. Find My Device is free to download from the Google Play Store.


Android O Beta Now Available

Wednesday, 3:19 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Wednesday, 3:58 PM

Google today made the first public beta version of Android O available for download. The updated operating system is available to the Google Pixel, Pixel XL, and Pixel C, and the Nexus 6P, 5X, and Nexus Player. In order to access the beta, people will need to register via the Android.com web site. The beta is open to anyone. Some of the hallmark features of Android O include picture-in-picture, improved security, quick app loads, autofill, better power management, and more. Google warns that this initial public beta may not be stable enough for everyday use. Google expects to release the final version of Android O later this summer.


Android Go Targets Entry-Level Handsets

Wednesday, 1:44 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today introduced Android Go, a lite version of Android meant for the most basic hardware in environments where mobile data is expensive. For example, it does things such as save mobile data in Chrome by default. It includes a new version of YouTube called YouTube Go. It compresses videos to cut down on data usage, but also allows people to download videos over wifi for offline viewing. The Google Play Store will soon include recommendations for "lite" versions of apps that are designed to run on low-cost devices. Android Go will target all devices with 1 GB of RAM or less, and each version of Android moving forward will include an Android Go release. Google expects to see the first Android Go devices reach the market later this year.

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Android O to Feature Picture-In-Picture and Improved Security

Wednesday, 1:36 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today provided more details about the next version of Android at its I/O developer conference. One of the biggest additions to the platform is picture-in-picture for mobile phones. It works with apps such as YouTube and video calls and allows people to minimize the video in a small window while opening and using other apps. Notification dots are a simpler way for people to manage incoming notifications. Another tool headed to Android O is called autofill. It works with most third-party applications and eases the process of filling login details. Another function improves text selection, Android O will automatically select phone numbers, addresses, and business names or titles with a single tap. TensorFlow Lite, a new developer tool, will let developers create more powerful applications for the latest hardware. Google is investing in what it calls vital tools in Android O. For example, Google is using machine learning to scan 50 billion apps every day to ensure they are secure. Google Play Protect will scan apps installed to devices automatically. Google improved app boot times for Android O. Google says the Pixel, for example, will load apps twice as fast with Android O. Wise limits put boundaries on app usage to free up memory and protect battery life. Play Console Dashboards, a tool for developers, will give app writers far more insight into their apps' performance, including crash reports, CPU usage, and power consumption. Last, Google added the Kotlin developer language to the Android platform. This lets developers rely on Kotlin rather than Android Studio to create their applications. Google said Android O will arrive for end users later this summer. Developers can download a beta build of Android O beginning today.

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Google Photos Debuts Suggested Sharing, Photo Books

Wednesday, 12:58 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Wednesday, 1:11 PM

Google today made it easier to share photos with others. The new suggested sharing tool relies on machine learning to recognize faces in photos and match them with known contacts. The app will automatically select the best shots from events/locations and offer personalized sharing suggestions to family and friends. The app can, for example, eliminate duplicates and select images that are in focus and then instantly push them to those in the photos. Google Photos can share albums and images with anyone, no Google Photos account required. Google Photos is adding a shared libraries feature, as well, allowing people to share and contribute to specific libraries. Photos added to shared libraries will instantly appear on all devices/accounts linked to the library. Last, Google added a tool called Photo Books to Google Photos, which lets people create photo albums that can then be printed in soft- or hard-covered albums. The tool can automatically pick the best shots among those selected, lay them out instantly, and then print and ship the album. Google said these features will reach Android, iOS, and the web in the coming weeks.


Google Dials Up Voice Calls for Google Home

Wednesday, 12:44 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Wednesday, 1:09 PM

Google today said its Google Home device can now make free voice calls to landline and mobile phones in the U.S. and Canada. There are no apps, set-up, or apps required. Google Home owners simply need to ask the Assistant to call anyone in their contact list. The tool is smart enough to discern between six users and their individual accounts by their sound of their voice. By default it will dial out from a private number, but users can configure it to display their own number for outgoing calls. Google Home is also adding support for Spotify for music streaming, and will soon support Bluetooth for streaming from any Android and iOS device. Home is gaining more compatibility with Chromecast, too, and can display information requests on connected TVs. These updates are expected to reach Google Home over the coming months.


Verizon Nixes LG Watch Sport

May 17, 2017, 11:18 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless has cancelled plans to sell the LG Watch Sport wearable. The device, announced earlier this year, was meant to reach Verizon's network this spring with LTE support. Verizon did not say why it chose to drop the device, though it is offering those who preordered the smartwatch $100 off other connected wearables. The Watch Sport is a circular, fitness-focused smartwatch that can track workouts and health data, such as distance covered and heart rate. It is still available from AT&T. Verizon is focusing on the Watch24 wearable, which is Verizon-branded smartwatch running Android Wear 2.0.


T-Mobile Kicks Off Sales of LG Stylo 3 Plus

May 17, 2017, 11:09 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today added the LG Stylo 3 Plus to its lineup of Android smartphones. The device is a minor update to last year's Stylo 3. For example, it improves the 5.7-inch display to full HD resolution and jumps from a MediaTek processor to a Qualcomm Snapdragon 435 with 3 GB RAM, 32 GB of storage, and support for memory cards up to 2 TB. The main camera has a 13-megapixel sensor and the front camera has a 5-megapixel sensor. The phone has a fingerprint reader on the back and include NFC for Android Pay. The Stylo 3 Plus includes a pen stylus and LG's latest pen-based features. It runs Android 7 Nougat. T-Mobile is selling the phone for $225 at full retail or for $9 per month on an installment plan. The LG Stylo 3 Plus will reach MetroPCS stores in June.


BlackBerry Offering Privacy Shade Tool to All Hub+ Subscribers

May 15, 2017, 3:13 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

BlackBerry today outlined several changes headed to its suite of Android applications, including the general availability of the Privacy Shade. The Privacy Shade was first made available only to BlackBerry-branded handsets, but will soon be available to any Android handset that relies on the BlackBerry Hub+ service. The Privacy Shade lets users adjust the transparency of the filter to suit their surroundings and activate it from the convenience key. Along with the wider availability, Privacy Shade users will also be able to re-size the window. Other new tools include Quick File for moving messages, Google Hangouts notifications, GroupWise mail server out-of-office messages, enhanced message previews when roaming, and the dark theme for the Hub widget. The updates will hit Hub+ in the Google Play Store in the days ahead.


Motorola Debuts the Entry-Level Moto C and Moto C Plus

May 15, 2017, 10:49 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated May 15, 2017, 11:35 AM

Motorola today unveiled two low-cost Android smartphones, the Moto C and Moto C Plus (pictured). Both phones are intended to serve as entry-level handsets for first time and/or cost-conscious buyers. Shared features include Android 7 Nougat, 3.5mm headset jacks, MediaTek 6737 processors, Bluetooth 4.2, and GPS. Some of the Moto C's specs include a 5-inch FWVGA display, 2,350mAh battery, LTE 4G, 5-megapixel camera with LED flash, 2-megapixel front camera with selfie flash, and a 1.1 GHz quad-core processor with 1 GB of RAM and 8 GB of storage. The C Plus has a larger 4,000mAh battery and higher-resolution 720p HD 5-inch screen. It also improves the main camera sensor to 8-megapixels with LED flash, but keeps the 2-megapixel selfie camera. The Moto C Plus includes a 1.3 GHz quad-core processor with 1 GB of RAM, 16 GB of storage, and supports microSD memory cards. The devices will ship in Latin America, Europe, and Asia Pacific later this spring. Motorola said neither phone will be made available to U.S. buyers. The Moto C is priced at approximately $110 and the Moto C Plus is priced at about $130.


Audi and Volvo to Adopt Android Auto

May 15, 2017, 8:57 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today said carmakers Audi and Volvo plan to build Android Auto into their next generation of cars. The companies already offer limited support for the platform in select cars. Moving forward, all their vehicles will include Android Auto. "That means your [future Audi or Volvo's] built-in infotainment system could allow you to control your air conditioning, sunroof, and windows, find the nearest restaurant with Google Maps, listen to Spotify or NPR, or just ask your Google Assistant for help — even when you leave your phone behind," said Google. Android Auto, Google's in-dash navigation, communications, and entertainment software, is already available to some 300 car models worldwide in addition to after-market stereo systems. Other auto brands that support Android Auto include Cadillac, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Ford, GMC, Honda, Jeep, Kia, Mercedes-Benz, and Subaru. Android Auto is also available from the Google Play Store as a stand-alone app.


Google Says 'Project Treble' To End Device Update Woes

May 12, 2017, 1:24 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today announced Project Treble, which it hopes will solve the pain of updating smartphones to the latest version of Android. As it stands today, the process is multifaceted and includes a number of moving players, including Google, silicon makers, manufacturers, and carrier partners. The complexity of all the pieces translates into lots of time and money for the ecosystem to test, certify, and release new system builds for existing phones. Project Treble, which will work with Android O and subsequent versions of Android, rearranges how the operating system is configured at a base level in order to simplify the process. "The core concept is to separate the vendor implementation — the device-specific, lower-level software written in large part by the silicon manufacturers — from the Android OS Framework. This is achieved by the introduction of a new vendor interface between the Android OS framework and the vendor implementation. The new vendor interface is validated by a Vendor Test Suite, analogous to the CTS, to ensure forward compatibility of the vendor implementation." Put more plainly, device makers will be able to update their devices to newer versions of Android underneath their custom UI without disturbing it, and without requiring help from silicon manufacturers. Google says some aspects of Project Treble are already included in the Developer Preview of O running on Pixel phones. The company plans to work with its silicon and device partners to ensure a smooth transition to the new architecture for future phones. Google expects to release full details of Project Treble with the launch of Android O later this summer.


Sony's Xperia L1 Available from Amazon for $200

May 12, 2017, 7:30 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sony recently made the Xperia L1, an inexpensive Android smartphone, available unlocked through Amazon.com. The phone was first announced in March. The L1 features a 5.5-inch 720p HD display and is powered by a 1.4 GHz quad-core MediaTek processor with 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB of storage. The main camera has a 13-megapixel sensor and the front camera has a 5-megapixel sensor; both have an aperture of f/2.2. Other specs include support for memory cards, dual SIM cards, 2,620mAh battery with Qnovo adaptive charging, USB-C, Bluetooth, WiFi, and Cat 4 LTE. The Xperia L1 runs Android 7 Nougat. It's available in black, white, or pink.


Google's Allo App Turns Your Selfies Into Custom Stickers

May 11, 2017, 3:45 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today announced a new feature for its Allo messaging app that will take your self portraits and convert them into personalized sticker packs. Google says it is relying on neural networks to perform the behind-the-scenes magic. The company has a lengthy blog post explaining how it all works. The illustrated stickers will be unique to each user and can be personalized further with a handful of tools being tossed into the app. Google says it is debuting a single style of "sarcastic" stickers today, with more sticker pack styles to follow over time. Personalized selfie stickers are available to Allo for Android starting today. The app is free to download from the Play Store. Google says the stickers will reach the iOS version of Allo before too long.


Verizon's Wear24 Android Wear Watch Now Available

May 11, 2017, 11:32 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless today said its Wear24 Android Wear 2.0 smartwatch is available online and in stores. Verizon announced the device earlier this year. The Wear24 costs $349 at full retail, or $299 with a two-year agreement. The Wear24 is compatible with Verizon's LTE network and can share a phone number with smartphones for seamless messaging and calls. The smartwatch has a 1.39-inch display with 360 by 360 pixels, NFC with support for Android Pay, a 450mAh battery, and a rating of IP67 for water resistance up to 30 minutes in 1 meter of water. Android Wear 2.0 includes advanced messaging tools, an on-device app store, and the Google Assistant. Verizon subscribers can add the Wear24 watch to their existing service plan for $5 per month or as a stand-alone device on Verizon's $10 Single Device Plan. For a limited time, Verizon will provide a $100 Visa gift card to those who trade in any old Android Wear smartwatch.


Cricket Wireless to Sell the ZTE Blade X Max On May 12 for $150

May 11, 2017, 8:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Cricket Wireless today added the ZTE Blade X Max to its roster of inexpensive Android smartphones, marking the debut of ZTE's Blade line with the prepaid carrier. The Blade X Max has a 6-inch full HD display and it is powered by a 1.4 GHz octa-core Snapdragon 435 processor with 2 GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage. The main camera has a 13-megapixel sensor with LED flash, panorama, HDR, time-lapse, and manual controls, and the front camera has a 5-megapixel sensor with screen-based selfie flash. Other features include a rear-mounted fingerprint reader, 3,400mAh battery with Quick Charge 2.0, FM radio with Dolby Audio, USB-C, and support for microSD memory cards. The phone runs Android 7.1 Nougat. The ZTE Blade X Max reaches Cricket Stores May 12 for $150, though ZTE says new activations can score the phone for just $99.

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Asus ZenFone 3 Zoom Goes On Sale for $329

May 9, 2017, 3:03 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Asus today made the ZenFone 3 Zoom available from its web site for $329. The phone was first announced in January. The device relies on two cameras much like the iPhone 7 Plus to create a zooming effect. Both the standard and 25mm and 59mm lenses have 12-megapixel Sony IMX362 sensors. The main lens has an aperture of f/1.7. Other camera features include portrait mode, OIS, laser focusing, PDAF, RAW support, and a dedicated color sensor for improved white balance. The phone's user-facing camera has a 13-megapixel Sony IMX214 sensor with a 140-degree panorama mode. The 3 Zoom includes a 5,000 mAh battery that can be used to charge other devices via USB-C. Specs include a Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 processor, 5.5-in full-HD display with Gorilla Glass 5, fingerprint sensor, memory card slot, and 3.5mm audio jack. It ships with Android 6 Marshmallow, but Asus indicated that Android 7 will reach the phone via update soon. The ZenFone 3 Zoom supports GSM/LTE networks, including AT&T/Cricket and T-Mobile/MetroPCS. The phone is sold unlocked.


Snapchat Adds Magic Eraser and Limitless Snaps

May 9, 2017, 12:20 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Snapchat today announced changes headed to its mobile apps that it hopes will entice people to enjoy the ephemeral messaging service. First, Snapchat added a magic eraser to the creative toolset. The eraser allows people to delete items from their photos before sharing. This can be used to create a fun effect, or to hide sensitive content. A new looping tool lets people set their videos to loop for as long as someone cares to view the video. Once that person moves on to the next Snap, the looping video will vanish. Last, and perhaps most significantly, Snapchat is now letting people set the time limit on Snaps (photos and videos) to infinity. "We’ve all felt the frustration of not being able to fully enjoy a Snap — even after replaying it — and we wanted to give you the option of allowing the recipient to enjoy your Snap as long as they’d like. After your friend finishes viewing the Snap and taps to close it, it will delete as usual," explained the company in a blog post. The new features will be available in the Android and iOS Snapchat apps in the days ahead.


Google Tweaks Chrome's Offline Browsing Tools

May 8, 2017, 12:30 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today updated Chrome for Android devices and made it simpler to download, find, and read offline content. Users can now long press any link or article suggestion to download the article to a new tab for offline access. Further, a "download page later" tools allows people to target web sites for download even while they offline. As soon as the device reconnects to the network, these pages will automatically download to the browser for later access. Last, a new tag reveals which articles and content has been saved to the device versus that which is live on the network. The latest version of Chrome for Android is free to download from the Google Play Store.


Google Says Android O Beta Coming Soon

May 8, 2017, 11:26 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google recently indicated via its Android Beta Program web site that a beta version of Android O will soon be available. Google released a preview version of Android O for developers earlier this year, though it is not stable enough for everyday use. The forthcoming build will be more stable for public beta testing ahead of Android O's full release. Google is expected to make this first beta build of Android O available as an over-the-air download later this month, coinciding with its I/O developer conference scheduled for May 17-19. The primary consumer-facing function of Android O is a picture-in-picture viewer for Android phones (this feature is already available to Android tablets). Most Android O tweaks favor developers, such as the new background limiter, notification channels, adaptive icons, and more. Google also indicated that the beta program for Android 7 Nougat is now concluded. All devices that are enrolled in the Android 7 Nougat beta program have been updated to the latest version of Android and will receive no more beta builds.


Nougat Reaches Smattering of AT&T's Galaxy S6 Variants

May 5, 2017, 8:04 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T this week began distributing Android 7 Nougat to the Samsung Galaxy S6, S6 edge, and S6 Active. Along with the new version of Android, the update introduces Samsung Cloud, Samsung Pass, and a wide range of bug fixes and performance improvements. According to AT&T, the update will remove the AT&T Address Book and MobiTV apps, while it brings the security patch level up to April 1, 2017. The new operating system is rolling out to these phones already. AT&T updated the Galaxy S6 edge+ to Nougat earlier this year.


Google Allo Picks Up A Few More Features

May 5, 2017, 7:34 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated May 5, 2017, 7:38 AM

Google this week updated its Allo messaging app for Android and in the process added several new features. According to Google's Amit Fulay, Allo gains chat backup and restore, incognito mode for groups, and link previews. Allo was the first app/service from Google to include the Google Assistant, which can help people with their chat conversations. Nearly a year from its initial debut, however, and the app still doesn't support the SMS protocol for text messaging. The latest update is available for free from the Google Play Store.


Gmail for Android Now Warns of Phishing Attempts

May 4, 2017, 9:15 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google has updated Gmail for Android with a new security feature. Moving forward, links within emails that lead to suspicious sites will call up a warning from Google. The tool specifically looks for phishing attacks and will warn people as they click links. The new security feature arrives just as a massive phishing scheme attempted to sucker Google Docs users. Google says this new Gmail security feature is being fast tracked to all users.


Huawei's Honor 6X Adopts EMUI 5.0 and Android 7 Nougat

May 2, 2017, 4:06 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Huawei today began updating the Honor 6X to Emotion UI 5.0 and Android 7 Nougat. The 6X, which shipped earlier this year, included EMUI 4.1 and Android 6 out of the box. Huawei's newer handsets, such as the P10, are shipping with EMUI 5.0 and Nougat. The system update brings the 6X's experience inline with Huawei's latest phones. EMUI simplifies the experience a bit, with fewer steps required to take most actions. EMUI 5.0 also runs more smoothly, is more secure, adds an app drawer options, and lets people use two account profiles within a single app. Huawei says all Honor 6X handsets should receive the update by the end of the month.


Instant Games on Facebook Messenger Begins Broad Roll Out

May 2, 2017, 12:26 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Facebook today said the Instant Games it announced last month are now available to Facebook Messenger users around the world. Instant Games on Facebook Messenger rely on AI-assisted bots that can play turn-by-turn games with single players, as well as help challenge others to games via Messenger. One of the first games to take advantage of bot-enabled gameplay was Zynga's Words With Friends, though more than 50 bot-enabled titles are now available worldwide. Facebook says users should begin to see even more features within games as developers add support for bots. The new Instant Games on Messenger will roll out over the next few weeks worldwide for both iOS and Android.


Blu R1 Plus Includes 5.5-Inch Screen, 4,000mAh Battery

Apr 28, 2017, 1:46 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Blu today announced the R1 Plus, an update to the R1 HD. The Plus builds on the R1 HD's foundation with a larger 5.5-inch 720p HD screen with curved edges and Gorilla Glass 3. The R1 Plus is powered by a 1.3 GHz quad-core MediaTek 6737 processor with the Mali T720 GPU. It ships with 3 GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage. Both the 13-megapixel main camera and the 5-megapixel front camera have flashes for low-light shooting. The selfie camera has an 84-degree wide field of view. The R1 Plus improves the battery capacity to 4,000mAh, which Blu says delivers more than a full day of use. This dual-SIM phone is being sold unlocked with support for the GSM/LTE networks of AT&T/Cricket, T-Mobile/MetroPCS, and others. The phone supports VoLTE and HD Voice when used on T-Mobile's network. Other specs include Bluetooth 4, GPS, WiFi, and an FM radio. The R1 Plus runs Android 6 Marshmallow, though Blu says an update to Android 7 Nougat is in the works. The Blu R1 Plus goes on sale via Amazon and BestBuy Saturday, April 29. The phone normally costs $160, but Blu is offering it for $110 during its first 24 hours of availability online.


Google to Let Anyone Build Assistant Into their Hardware

Apr 27, 2017, 12:57 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today released an SDK that developers can use to add the Google Assistant to all manner of different gadgets and devices. Assistant made its debut in the Allo messaging app, and later arrived on Pixel smartphones, Google Home, Android Wear smartwatches, and other hardware. These have the distinction of all being Google-made products. Thanks to the new SDK, developers, tinkerers, and device makers of all kinds will be able to bring Google Assistant to their gear, for example, Smart Mirrors. Google says this initial SDK is a preview and not everything will work. For example, it is still working to include features such as hotword support. Developers interested in Assistant should visit Google's developer web site.


GBoard for Android Adds Editing and Customization Tools

Apr 27, 2017, 7:37 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

GBoard for Android gained a handful of helpful new features thanks to a fresh update from Google. The keyboard application now comes with a dedicated text editing mode that includes buttons for common actions such as copy, cut, and paste. Moreover, cursor control has been refined and is simpler to use. These tools can be reached by pressing the G button. Gboard now also allows users to resize the keyboard and reposition it on the screen for improved one-handed use. This can be particularly helpful on phones with large screens. Last, GBoard adds a significant number of new Indic languages, including Hindi, Bengali, Telugu, Marathi, Tamil, Urdu, and Gujarati, complete with transliteration. Google says machine learning has helped it expand GBoard to a total of 185 languages, all with glide-typing support. GBoard for Android is free to download from the Google Play Store.


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