Using Google’s Search app might be second nature to some of use, but, now and then it learns some new tricks. Google has posted some videos that show off the app’s ability to link web search requests to other apps such as the Calendar app and Google Maps among others.
The ‘Meet the Google app’ videos cover three themes, Breakfast, Halloween and Moving (house), and they are pretty good at showing off the things that Google does better than anyone else. You check out the videos below, and if you haven’t used Google Now in a while, it’s a great time to see what it can do.
Come comment on this article: Google’s ‘Meet the Google app’ videos show how useful the Search app has become
Porsche has announced that its forthcoming 2017 Porsche 911 Carrera and Carrera S will support Apple’s CarPlay platform. According to Moto Trend (via AppleInsider), Porsche selected CarPlay over Android Auto because under the agreement of partnering with Google, certain amounts of data would have been sent to the search giant.
Some of this data would have included vehicle speed, throttle position, and engine revs, all points of information that would constantly be flowing back to Google’s headquarters each time a driver gets in the car. Comparatively, all Apple’s CarPlay requires to know is whether the car is accelerating while the system is being used.
There’s no technological reason the 991/2 doesn’t have Android Auto playing through its massively upgraded PCM system. But there is an ethical one. As part of the agreement an automaker would have to enter with Google, certain pieces of data must be collected and mailed back to Mountain View, California. Stuff like vehicle speed, throttle position, coolant and oil temp, engine revs—basically Google wants a complete OBD2 dump whenever someone activates Android Auto. Not kosher, says Porsche.
Porsche’s reasoning behind the decision points to not wanting to share the information with Google that could include the ingredients to its “secret sauce that makes its cars special,” along with the fact that Google is reportedly building its own car at the moment. A few other vehicle manufacturers have announced support for CarPlay, but the service is just this year beginning to see a wider release despite being announced — as “iOS in the Car” — over two years ago.
Each month, Google organizes the distribution of Android into a very simple pie chart. The data shows which the versions of Android that are still active on device’s today. On Monday, Google finished collecting data for September 2015. Things are how you’d expect them to be: Lollipop is still growing while KitKat is the most popular version of Android.
Despite being released in 2012 and 2013, respectively, Jelly Bean (31.8%) and KitKat (39.2%) remain at the forefront of Android distribution (71% combined). Lollipop, which debuted in late 2014, has grown a few percentage points to 21%. Companies are getting on top of updating their devices at a better pace, but it seems that the many low-end and mid-range devices with KitKat are weighing down better growth for Lollipop.
Next month could be the first time we see Android 6.0 Marshmallow appear on the pie chart.
Source: Android Developers
Come comment on this article: Android distribution numbers for September show more growth for Lollipop
Google Translate is notorious for spewing out either oddly worded or overly formal results, but the company says it’s getting better thanks to people’s help. Mountain View’s online translator is now more adept at figuring out informal speech — for instance, it can tell if you want to ask “Is everything alright?” when what you’ve typed in has another more literal translation, as you can see below the fold. That’s all made possible by the volunteers who spend time translating phrases and checking the quality of other people’s submissions on the Translate community website. The company promises to incorporate more and more translations over time as its service learns each language better. Hopefully, that means locals won’t look at us funny next time we try to use it overseas.
[Image credit: shutterstock]
Source: Google Translate
We haven’t got any new hardware, but Google made it up to us with a ton of software and platform news. We already covered most of the big stuff, but if you just want everything in one place, you’ve come to the right place.
Here are the top news from the Google I/O keynote today.
Android M preview
As expected, Google launched the M preview version of Android, with a consumer release scheduled for Q3. Read more or check out the main features:
- Chrome custom tabs – WebView got an update, with Chrome state preservation and support for custom buttons on top of the frame. Read more.
- Granular permissions – Apps developed for Android M will feature granular permission control, in-app and in-settings. Read more.
- Doze mode – when in Doze mode, Android M devices will consume less power, without interfering with notifications or alarms. Read more.
- USB Type C support – Android M will support USB Type C connectors out of the box. Useful for reverse charging and more. Read more.
- Fingerprint sensor support – stock Android now supports fingerprint sensors out of the box; any app can use the feature for authentication. Read more.
- Android Pay – built into Android M, Android Pay will allow fast, secure, contactless payments across US retailers and online. Read more.
- App state backup – apps running on Android M now have their state backed up to the cloud, making it easy to transfer your settings from device to device. Read more.
Android M developer preview images
Google has made developer preview versions of Android M available for the following devices:
Project Brillo is Google’s Internet of Things operating systems. Based on a barebones version of Android, Brillo will give developers and manufacturers an easy way to create and run connected devices. Read more.
Inbox by Gmail
Inbox by Gmail is finally available without an invite. New features coming are availability for Google apps accounts, trip bundles, undo send button, custom signatures, swipe to delete option and more. Read more.
Google has decoupled the Photos functionality from Google Plus into a standalone app that offers unlimited storage, improved auto-tagging, revamped autoawesome features and more. Read more.
Google Now on Tap
Coming with Android M, Google Now on Tap makes the virtual assistant accessible from any app through a home button long press. Now with more contextual awareness. Read more.
Google announced Android Studio 1.3, Polymer 1.0, a new Material design library and more tools to help devs create awesome apps. Read more.
Offline Google Maps
Full offline functionality is coming to Google Maps by the end of the year. Read more.
Android One updates
For developing markets, Google is serving optimized versions of websites to ensure the best possible user experience. Read more.
Want to learn everything about Android development? In six months, that is? Google’s new Nanodegree is for you. Read more.
Google Family Star
Family Star is a sort of G-rated section of the Play Store that kids can peruse without fear of bumping into something inappropriate. Read more.
Google now gives developers a nicer home in the Play Store and lets them A/B test app variants. Read more.
Google is releasing an improved version of Cardboard VR that is compatible with more devices, as well as Jump and Expedition, two programs designed to spur the development of VR. Read more.
Finally, HBO Now is no longer exclusive to iOS devices. The service is hitting Play Store this summer. Read more.
Woah, that’s a lot of news. And it’s not even all of it – keep it tuned to Android Authority as we look at what’s new in Android M!
Google introduced its Chromecast nearly two years ago and since then, we’ve seen a myriad of competitors also launched. Today, at its TechWorld keynote in Beijing, Lenovo has announced the Lenovo Cast, a competitor to Google’s streaming device with a difference as it also supports the DLNA and Miracast standards.
The puck-shaped Lenovo Cast is compatible with just about any Miracast or DLNA device and can be connected to any display that supports HDMI. The Lenovo Cast features a microUSB and a micro HDMI port along with dual-band Wi-Fi support (unlike Google’s Chromecast, which is limited to 2.4GHz Wi-Fi only), support for broadcasting in full HD and a range of 20 metres, including streaming through walls.
The Lenovo Cast comes measures 70mm diameter by 15mm thick and weighs just 50 grams; unlike the Chromecast, which just sticks out of your TV’s HDMI port, you can mount the Lenovo Cast to the back of your TV if you so wish. The Lenovo Cast is compatible with iOS, Android 4.3 and higher and selected Windows 8.1 devices.
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The Cast will launch at the beginning of August at a cost of $49, which – although higher than the $35 Chromecast – is cheap enough to still be an impulse-buy item that offers value for money.
The relationship between Google and Nestlé remains as strong as its ever been. Google released Android 4.4 in 2013 and applied the KitKat name, a product that Nestlé owns and licenses to Hershey in the United States. Now the two are back together to replace the KitKat name with YouTube’s on more than 600,000 packages in the United Kingdom. It is all part of Nestlé’s ‘Celebreate the Breakers Break’ campaign. Also, searching “YouTube my break” on a mobile device will return results with the top four videos trending from around the world. Google and Nestlé want people to make the most of their unused time.
Come comment on this article: Google, Nestlé come together again to stamp YouTube’s name on 600,000 KitKat packages
The latest distribution of Android was published earlier today and it shows that Lollipop has reached 3.3% of devices with Google’s operating system. This is an increase from January when Lollipop was not able to be registered, so it took the current version of Android about 3-4 months to become noteworthy. The most commonly found version is still Android 4.4 KitKat with 40.9% of the distribution. All of the other versions, with the exception of Android 2.2 Froyo, are continuing to fall.
Source: Android Developers
Come comment on this article: Android distribution for this month shows Lollipop on 3.3% of devices
Lenovo’s newest tablet is finally here and is very much a tablet we’ve seen before. Every year Lenovo takes its tablet and gives it some incremental upgrades that help improve the experience and this year’s edition is no different.
The last tablet that I reviewed from Lenovo was the Yoga Tablet 10 HD+. Throughout this review I’ll be referencing the previous a bit, so if you want to check it out, you can view it here.
The Yoga Tablet 2 looks like just its predecessors. The only real visual difference is that now there is no longer a Lenovo logo on the bezel. I don’t recall prior versions having this, but there’s a grippy plastic piece on the back, which while plastic, makes it a bit easier to hold and grip the device. The volume rocker was moved to the other side of the device, now above the power button and the port for the USB cable.
In terms of other changes to the hardware, the biggest changes include the screen, the processor and a new feature with the kickstand. Starting with the display, while the Yoga Tablet had an HD screen with a 1280 x 800 resolution, Lenovo upped its game this year with a 1920 x 1200 resolution display. Just to note, the HD+ that we reviewed in July had a display with a1920×1080 resolution, so the HD plus bests that tablet as well. The colors on the display seem more true and it has much better viewing angles than the previous models. Moving on to the processor, the Yoga Tablet sported a MediaTek quad-core processor then the 10HD+ a Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor. The new tablet has a quad-core Intel Atom Processor Z3745 (2M Cache, up to 1.86 GHz), featuring Intel Burst technology that dynamically matches processing power depending on what you are doing to maximize battery life. Even with the new display and processor, the tablet still has excellent battery life. Lenovo claims you can get 18 hours of battery life, but if using at 40% screen brightness and using Wi-Fi, you should get almost 13 hours out of it. Overall, the tablet is very snappy and has handled all the games that I’ve tried with it with no real issues such as Modern Combat 5, Hearthstone, Goat Simulator and Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic. As I mentioned earlier, the tablet has a new mode with its kickstand. While previously you could either use it in stand, hold or tilt modes, now you can use it in “hang” mode, basically rotating the stand until it’s flat and then there’s a hole in it so that you can hang it anywhere such as in your kitchen, bedroom , office, etc.I’d just be sure to use a hook that is securely in the wall before hanging, you don’t want to break you brand new $300 tablet.
A few other highlights of the hardware upgrades is an improved rear-facing camera, now up to 8 megapixels from 5 megapixels, larger front-facing chamber speakers with Dolby Audio surround sound and Wolfson Master Hi-Fi audio processing. I forgot to mention but it also has 2 GB of DDR3 RAM as well as 16 GB of built-in storage that is expandable, supporting MicroSD cards up to 64 GB.
Moving on to the software, the Yoga Tablet 2 is running Android 4.4.2 KitKat, just like the 10 HD+ was and has a slightly different version of the Lenovo LauncherHD.
The launcher still doesn’t have an app drawer, so it has an iOS feel to it, but I think this is Lenovo’s way of trying to make the UI their own and simplify the experience. If you read my last review, you may remember that I mentioned a Smart Side Bar that could be accessed by swiping from the bezel onto the screen on either side. This side bar gave you quick access to your videos, photos and books, recently used apps and sound and visual modes. It is now nowhere to be found. The closest thing to it in the software is called the “Bottom Switch.” This can be accessed with a swipe upwards from the bottom and it gives users the ability to quickly turn various functions on or off as well as access to advanced settings. You can also access Lenovo Smart Switch to change different display and audio modes, as well as access the camera, take a screen shot and and lock your screen. Although it doesn’t give you quick access to your movies, photos and books like the previous iteration had, I think it that it has to and this actually is a nice experience. It seemed like previously it was trying to do too much and you no longer have that.
Aside from these changes, there is really nothing else different about the software. You can still run apps in multiple windows and the way to close apps is reminiscent of MIUI, also telling you the amount of available memory.
I still think that the Yoga Tablet 2 is a good choice for the general consumer. It may not be a powerhouse like the NVIDA Shield Tablet or the Nexus 9, but it’s not trying to be. The Yoga 2 excels where it always has and that’s offering a great user experience, a unique design and a decent price tag. I think that the kickstand adds a lot of it since you don’t need a case to stand it up to watch a movie or tv show or to prop it up on your lap to type. If you wanted to have it hanging on your wall, you could possibly make it like an interactive calendar or an easily accessible computer in the kitchen to play music while cooking or to display recipes.
If you are still waiting for Google to do something about the WebView vulnerabilities in older Android releases, you may not be a fan of their official response to the matter. Google says they’ve already fixed it, sort of, but at least offered ways that you can protect yourself and your data going forward.
In a recent Google+ post, echoing an older DevBytes video and our own take on the matter, Google has addressed the WebView issues that have been of growing target for complaints of the free and open source Android OS. Android releases prior to KitKat, that is, versions 4.3 and older, have a known code injection flaw in the WebView element.
WebView is broken, don’t use it
WebView is a tool within Android that allows apps to display web content within the app, you’ve all seen these before as ads at the bottom of a free game or an in-app web based help page. Although the Google+ post goes on to describe a few best practices, the underlying message is unforgiving and clear, WebView is broken, so don’t use it.
Perhaps Google’s advice is easier said than done, especially for the casual gamers in the crowd, but disabling the default Android browser and installing Chrome, Dolphin or another full web browser is good advice regardless the issues. Developers, please familiarize yourself with the best practices for your apps, to keep us secure.
Now, didn’t you say that Google fixed the issue? Well, yes, sort of. Google took the time in the Google+ post to explain that they have limited resources for working on older versions of Android. Plainly put, Android 4.4 KitKat included the fix to the WebView bug. Keeping in mind that KitKat is over a year old now itself, having been through versions up to 4.4.4 before giving way to Android 5.0 Lollipop, which is also a couple versions in already. Android 5.0.2 Lollipop is already shipping out to some devices.
Bottom line, users of devices running Jellybean and older are just out of luck. Please take the precautions discussed, or have a look at installing a custom ROM, if one is available for your Android unit.
Is this an acceptable response from Google, or should they dedicate more staff to fixing older Android releases? Before you answer, I might suggest taking a look at the latest Android distribution numbers.