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Posts tagged ‘Android 4.4’


Google Photos update helps free up precious phone storage

google photos 1

Running out of storage space on a phone is a major pain point that affects millions of Android users across the world. Google understands that, and has come up with a simple solution that helps free up storage space on one’s phone.

Google has pushed a major update for Google Photos, which introduces two new features to the gallery app. While one feature helps free up space from your phone’s internal storage, the other allows users to downgrade previously uploaded “Original” images to “High quality”.

First up, Google has introduced the “Free up space” feature, accessible from within the app’s settings menu. Simply activate the feature and Google Photos will remove from your device copies of photos and videos that have already been backed up on the cloud. Alternatively, Google can keep a close eye on when phone’s storage space runs low, and then proceed to remove backed up copies of photos and videos that are older than 30 days.

Users can still access their entire media collection from within the Google Photos Android or iOS apps, or using the web app, as long as they are connected to the internet.

photos tweet - free up space

Version 1.9 of the Google Photos app also introduces a simple way to downgrade all your original quality photos, which you have uploaded before, to compressed high quality photos. Before this update, users had no way to have their previously uploaded photos get compressed to the smaller “high quality” standard. Do keep in mind that storing original quality photos still count against your storage space, whereas high quality photos have free unlimited storage.

Apart from adding these two features, the updated Google Photos app fixes a bug that prevented users from deleting photos stored on the microSD card, resulting in a frustrating experience for users who would continue to see photos in the gallery despite having deleted them.

Previous updates to Google Photos added features such as Chromecast support, labels and sharing, etc. The gallery app was originally released in May 2015, and has since surpassed 100 million active users, a metric that’s even more relevant than app downloads.

The latest version of Google Photos for Android is already rolling out, and is coming soon to iOS.


Google plans on attempting to end fragmentation in Android by controlling the hardware


Fragmentation in Android is a huge problem. As I mentioned in my things Android should steal from iOS article, fixing fragmentation was a big part of it. Google agrees and plans on fixing the situation by co-developing new chips and other sensors.

Google has reportedly talked to some microchip makers about developing chips based on Google’s own preferred designs. The main reason for this is to make Android a little bit more like iOS. They figure that if they can control the hardware and the software, Android will be a much simpler OS to update and keep control of.

In theory, it should work pretty well, Apple is doing a great job at it. However, Android has many other manufactures using it, while Apple is the only one using iOS. I’m sure any sort of effort to uniform the updating process will be beneficial to Android users, but I just don’t see it ever being as easy as how Apple makes it seem.

Source: The Information (1), (2)

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Over a dozen Google Play apps discounted for Halloween, mostly games

Halloween Android apps

Halloween is but a day away, and to celebrate the season several developers are slashing down their apps on Google Play to as low as $.49, with the majority hovering around the $.99 range. Considering that some of these apps price as high as around $7 normally – there’s some great deals here.

Most of these are games not apps, though there are a few fitness apps thrown in, many of which have a game-like twist, such as Zombies Run.

In addition to the games available through this sale, Amazon also has its own offer for those interested. And for those that aren’t necessarily looking for just sale items, be sure to check out Joe’s list of best horror games, and his list of best apps with Halloween in mind. 

What do you think of the apps listed above, any of them you’d recommend? Share your thoughts in the comments.


Google turns to new RankBrain AI to improve search results


Although Google has expanded to so many areas over the years that a larger, parent company Alphabet had to be created to handle things, at its core Google is still a search company. As important as search is to the company, Google is turning to artificial intelligence solutions to help in maintain a competitive edge. The use of AI inspired machine learning is not new to Google which is actually one of the largest investors in AI research, using it in products from videos to speech to translation. Now a new system called RankBrain is being tested with search functions.

Google has been testing RankBrain for several months now by letting it try to interpret a “very large fraction” of the millions of queries the search giant processes. One of the primary types of search that RankBrain is used for are the 15 percent of queries that Google’s systems have never encountered before. These are ambiguous for existing algorithms and may include unique words or phrases that require some interpretation. RankBrain is able to process this input and make a guess at meanings.

Even though RankBrain is new to the search scene for Google, it has already risen to become the third highest contributing tool in determining the results displayed on a Google search page. The faster than expected effectiveness of RankBrain was described as “having gone better than we would have expected” according to Google senior research scientist Greg Corrado.

A sign of how important AI is to Google’s future efforts can be detected by looking back at Sundar Pichai’s comments during the company’s recent earnings call. Pichai noted that “machine learning is a core transformative way by which we are rethinking everything we are doing.” Alphabet’s Eric Schmidt wrote a piece last month extolling artificial intelligence solutions and how they will make the world better.

Even as Google brings the power of AI to bear on their core search business, other companies are expanding their use of machine learning as well. Both Microsoft and Facebook are actively working on deploying these systems to help power their businesses.

source: Bloomberg

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Google’s ‘Meet the Google app’ videos show how useful the Search app has become


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.


Click here to view the embedded video.

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Porsche Chooses CarPlay Over Android Auto Due to Google’s Data Collection Policy

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.

Corvette CarPlay
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.


Android distribution numbers for September show more growth for Lollipop


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.

And it wouldn’t be a proper reporting of Android distribution numbers without mentioning that Froyo, Gingerbread, and Ice Cream Sandwich are still clinging on to a minor 8% combined.

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 gets more conversational

mountain view  ca usa   nov 2 ...

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]

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Source: Google Translate


Google I/O keynote roundup: all the announcements in one place

Google IO 2015 google photos avilable today

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

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 Photos

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.

For developers

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.

Android Nanodegree

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.

Developer pages

Google now gives developers a nicer home in the Play Store and lets them A/B test app variants. Read more.

Virtual reality

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!


Lenovo announces Lenovo Cast streaming device


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.


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