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Material Design rolling out to Google Maps in coming days


Here comes another wave of Material Design from Google. This time, it is Google Maps receiving the special treatment to resemble Android’s new design guidelines. Users of both the Android and iOS versions of the application will notice the design overhaul in the coming days. While the look of the app is different, Google has made some functionality changes. Google says that Material Design adds life to Maps.

Hit the break to see what Material Design for Google Maps looks like.


The information sheet of a place glides up from the bottom of the display. The information sheet of a place has things like descriptions, photographs, and reviews. Then, if you have yet to figure out a specific pace to go to, there is an Explore button that is accessible at all times. It suggests local places to give a look. The Explore area has fields for driving/walking distances and time of day.


Making a reservation with Google Maps just got way easy. To be honest, it cannot be any simpler. With integration from OpenTable, the app displays times for available tables after inputting a party size.


Finally, data from Uber has been brought over. Along with estimating driving, walking, and bus times, Google Maps estimates how long an Uber ride would take. In addition to the time of arrival, Google Maps shows the estimated pickup time and cost.

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Source: Google Lat Long

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Amazon commits to Fire Phone after acknowledging failure


The Fire Phone has performed poorly critically and commercially. An Amazon executive admitted to the handset’s pricing being off; however, it was much more than that. The company’s vice president of devices in Europe, Jorrit Van der Meulen, had no issue acknowledging the Fire Phone is a failure. The expectations were high for Amazon and the handset did not deliver on any level. Van der Meulen sat down with The Guardian to discuss the Fire Phone’s status.

The company has gained a ton of knowledge from analyzing the performance of the Fire Phone. Amazon is “undeterred, but we’re not immune to the criticism either.” Specifically, Van der Meulen clarifies that the company has put its ear close to customer and journalist reviews. With this understanding, Amazon is suited to deliver a much better product in the future.

Not every product Amazon launches is an instant success. Look no further than the Kindle e-readers. The first version was not very good and Amazon kept at it. Now, it is the most dominant e-reader line in the market and has spawned best-selling tablets. Van der Meulen says “The number of times we’ve been written off or received lumps because of short-term speed bumps – the list is really, really long.”

The Fire Phone is a project for the long-term; therefore, Amazon is not worried about the immediate results being poor. While there has been a considerable amount of backlash due to Amazon locking Fire Phone users into its ecosystem, nothing will change. Amazon makes money “when people use the devices” and not when the device is actually purchased.

Source: The Guardian
Via: Business Insider

Come comment on this article: Amazon commits to Fire Phone after acknowledging failure


Get an Inbox invite today by 5pm PT guaranteed


Still trying to snag an Inbox invite? Google is guaranteeing you an invite today through their Inbox Happy Hour. All you have to do is email your invite request to between 3 and 4 pm PT and you will get your invite by 5 pm PT. That’s all there is to it. A lot easier than trying to order a Nexus 6, and it won’t cost you a penny.

source: @inboxbygmail

Come comment on this article: Get an Inbox invite today by 5pm PT guaranteed


New Chrome Extension lets you open files in Compatible PC & Mac Apps

As an Android user you probably also use the Google Chrome browser on your Mac or PC. With Chrome you get a lot of cross compatibility and access to the same goods and services that you do on your phone, tablet and Chromebook. A new extension has been announced and released by Google that is sure to make power users at least a little happier than before. The extension is called Application Launcher for Drive (by Google). Pretty long name that really isn’t all that catchy. What it does though could be quite useful.

Google Drive Open With Chrome Extension

The extension will add in an “open with” option for your files saved in Drive when you right click the file. This will allow you to open images, documents and videos in compatible apps on your PC or Mac. For instance, opening a photo directly from Drive with Photoshop or Illustrator. It also lists some suggested apps like Pixlr Editor for photos.

Google Drive Chrome Extension

It isn’t as easy as just installing the extension though. You will need to do a few things. You will need to make sure you have the latest Google Drive app on your PC and all your files will need to be synced before hand. Your Drive client on your PC needs to be v1.18 or newer. Once you are set up and synced, you should be able to visit Drive on the Chrome browser and right-click on any file and see a list of options to open the file with. In my case, it took an install of the new Drive and a PC reboot before it gave me the access. I already had Drive installed so I didn’t have any sync time to really worry about.

You can grab the latest Google Drive app for your PC at and the new Application Launcher for Drive from the Chrome Web Store.

Source: Google Drive Blog via 9to5Google


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TIMEX IRONMAN ONE GPS+ Headed to AT&T, Pre-Orders Begin November 7th

TIMEX IRONMAN ONE GPS+If you had any doubt in your mind that connected wearables, especially smartwatches, wasn’t going to be a ‘thing’, you might want to rethink that a bit. Android Wear and the eventual release of the Apple Watch will inevitably be the driving forces behind the movement. Now more and more manufacturers are getting into the mix with their own designs and wearables. Many are geared towards a specific target group with a lot of fitness pushes. A new one to the scene comes from a classic watch company, Timex, with the release of the TIMEX IRONMAN ONE GPS+ watch.

The device is a stand-alone wireless watch. Meaning it connects to the AT&T network without the need to carry your phone with you. The display is touchscreen and allows you to access your stored music, send and receive texts and emails, live GPS tracking and a bunch of other stuff.

  • Storage: 4GB of memory with a built-in music player, so that you can play music via a Bluetooth headset
  • Fitness: Ability to track speed, distance and pace in real-time and instantaneously share performance metrics through popular online fitness platforms
  • Durability: Water resistance up to 50 meters, an essential feature for water exposure, training in the rain or swimming****
  • Display: Always-on, sunlight-readable, high-resolution Qualcomm® Mirasol™ touchscreen display
  • Battery: TIMEX® IRONMAN® ONE GPS+ has a 450 mAh battery that offers users up to 8 hours of power with GPS & WAN, and three days of standby

AT&T will start taking pre-orders for the TIMEX IRONMAN ONE GPS+ watch starting November 7th in stores and November 10th online with a retail price tag of $399.99. You get 1 year of AT&T data service for the watch when you purchase it.

Source: AT&T

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The post TIMEX IRONMAN ONE GPS+ Headed to AT&T, Pre-Orders Begin November 7th appeared first on AndroidSPIN.


iMessage and FaceTime Ranked as Most Secure Mass-Market Messaging Options

The Electronic Frontier Foundation or EFF, a non-profit digital rights group, has investigated the security of various messaging apps and created a new Secure Messaging Scorecard, ranking messaging apps and tools like iMessage, FaceTime, BlackBerry Messenger, Skype, Snapchat, and more, based on seven different factors:

– Is a message encrypted in transit?
– Is it encrypted so the provider is unable to read it?
– Can you verify contacts’ identities?
– Are past communications secure if keys are stolen?
– Is the code open to independent review?
– Is security design properly documented?
– Has the code been audited?

Unsurprisingly, the apps that score highest on the EFF’s chart are those dedicated to secure messaging, such as iPhone apps ChatSecure, Signal, and CryptoCat, both of which scored checkmarks in all categories.

Apple’s iMessage scored five out of seven checkmarks, earning points for encrypting messages in transit and encryption that’s unreadable by Apple, but the messaging app was faulted for an inability to verify contact identities and the fact that Apple’s code is not open to independent review.

FaceTime was scored in the same way as iMessage, also offering encryption but no contact verification/independent review capabilities. Outside of dedicated secure chat messaging apps, both FaceTime and iMessage scored higher than competing messaging platforms like Skype, WhatsApp, Viber, Snapchat, Kik, Google Hangouts, and BlackBerry Messenger.

Few of the competing messaging services offer encryption that prevents the companies offering the services from accessing messages, though all encrypted messages in transit. Most iMessage/FaceTime competitors also fail to secure past communications if keys are stolen, and few had properly documented security design. QQ, a highly popular Chinese messaging app, failed at providing any of the qualities the EFF was looking for in a secure messaging app, not even bothering to encrypt messages.

According to the EFF, Apple’s iMessage and FaceTime products were the “best of the mass-market options,” which is not much of a surprise given Apple’s unparalleled focus on user privacy. Apple has a comprehensive privacy site that details all of its privacy policies and the security of various apps and services, including iMessage and FaceTime.

On the site, Apple specifically says iMessage and FaceTime calls “are your business, not ours.” The company offers end-to-end encryption and Apple has no way to decrypt it. “Unlike other companies’ messaging services, Apple doesn’t scan your communications and we wouldn’t be able to comply with a wiretap order even if we wanted to,” reads the site.


Just how secure are your messaging apps? The EFF knows.

Like it or not, your messages — those funny, tragic, productive, intensely personal missives you fire off without a second thought — aren’t nearly as safe as we all thought. That’s why the Electronic Frontier Foundation decided to do a bit of digging into how secure all those messaging apps we use actually are, and it threw its results into this handsome little scorecard. Unsurprisingly, few entrants (like the security-minded calling and texting apps from outfits like Whisper Systems and Silent Circle) scored full marks on the EFF’s rubric. What’s even less of a surprise is how many well-known services – services we probably all use everyday – don’t fare particularly well by the EFF’s standards.

Messaging mainstays like AIM, BlackBerry Messenger, Viber and the once-buzzy trash-talking app Secret brought up the rear with a single point because all they do is encrypt messages as they move from device to service (though the metadata associated with those messages might not be scrambled). Facebook Chat, Whatsapp, Snapchat and Google Hangouts encrypt missives in transit too, but they only gain one additional point because the companies involved audit their code. Comparatively speaking, Apple’s doing pretty well, since the content of your iMessages are shielded from eyes in Cupertino, and because attackers can’t piece together extended conversations from multiples ones you’ve already deleted.

And what about the losers? As it turns out, only two apps tested manage to fail on every front. The first is MXIT, a smaller South African social service with just a touch under 5 million users. And the other? QQ, the world’s second most widely used social message service, with close to 900 million people pinging each other monthly.


Source: Electronic Frontier Foundation


BBC’s Sport apps now deliver real-time F1 notifications

Formula 1

It’s been almost six months since the BBC updated its iOS and Android Sport apps to deliver real-time football notifications, giving fans the ability to receive goal updates while on the move. However, football isn’t the only sport the Beeb allocates a huge amount of resources to: it also shares live Formula 1 coverage with Sky. In an new update today, the BBC Sport team is giving F1 fans some mobile love by extending push notifications to cover practice, qualifying and results for the remaining F1 races of the 2014 season. Out for the day for the final double-point race in Abu Dhabi at the end of the month? The BBC now has you covered.

[Image credit: crazyoctopus, Flickr]

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Source: BBC Sport (App Store), (Google Play)


Five questions for the man who created a robot documentarian

We’ve spilled buckets of digital ink on headless horse bots, uncanny humanoids and the coming of the robot apocalypse, but there’s a softer, more emotional side to these machines. Social robots, as they’re referred to, are less mechanized overlords and more emotional-support automatons, providing companionship as well as utility. Robots like these are forcing us to consider how we interact with the technology that we’ve created.

Under the direction of artist/roboticist Alexander Reben and filmmaker Brent Hoff, a fleet of precious, cardboard BlabDroids, set out to explore the shifting boundaries of human-robot interaction. These tiny, wheeled machines aren’t automated playthings, but serious documentarians seeking an answer to a deceptively simple question: “Can you have a meaningful interaction with a machine?” We’ll dive deeper into the topic at Expand this weekend, but in the meantime, here’s a short Q&A with Reben on an incredibly complex topic.

Onlookers often assigned human attributes to Reben’s Two Mylar Balloons installation

Why are humans so fascinated with robots?
I think the fascination comes from the way we see ourselves in machines. Even if a robot does not appear to look like us, we still project our emotions and agency onto them. This is nothing new, if we look to loving a teddy bear or yelling at a car that has broken down. When things behave in a manner, which is not understood to us, we tend to assign that behavior a meaning to try to understand it. This tendency leads us to assign complicated meanings to even the simplest of machines. Robots seem magical, as they appear to exhibit attributes, which we tend to think of only living things having.

Can they fulfill human needs that other humans can’t?

With the rise of social machines, there are some tasks, which robots may do better but not necessarily anything a person can’t do.

Robots can certainly fulfill physical needs, as they can simply do tasks which people can’t. Things that are dangerous, dirty or dull have traditionally been mechanized. With the rise of social machines, there are some tasks, which robots may do better, but not necessarily anything a person can’t do. For instance, a recent study showed people feel less embarrassed to describe their medical problems to a robot or avatar rather than to another person, thereby describing more detail. This may lead to more conditions being caught sooner, leading to more lives saved.

What are the limits (if any) to human-robot interaction?
Right now, I believe the limits in social robots to be in software intelligence. Currently, a difficult problem is emotional recognition. It is a non-trivial problem for a robot to interpret the emotional state of a person. Even for people, let alone robots, things like sarcasm are sometimes hard to detect. I guess a more philosophical question, in regards to limits, is if a robot could ever really love.

How do we decide what is uniquely human? What is uniquely robotic?

Right now, robots and their functionality are a mirror of humanity.

I tend not to think of technology in general as something outside of humanity. We create most technology to enrich our lives in some way. Technology done right, and by extension robotics, has the quality of allowing us to be more human. Right now, robots and their functionality are a mirror of humanity.

What are the biggest ethical issues facing roboticists today?
For social robots, I think the biggest issue is not being able to foresee every individual contingency. Going back to the limits of emotional recognition, a robot may say or do something psychologically damaging to a person. This may occur even if there was not intent of malice. The more obvious issues involve robots, which literally take people’s lives into their “hands.” Examples include self-targeting and shooting drones and self-driving cars. The drones are obvious, but in the case of cars, there could be situations when it may decide to kill you by swerving off a bridge rather than striking pedestrians running across the road. This is not a new problem however, as philosophers have been pondering the ethics of the “trolley problem” for quite some time.

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Google Maps to get Material Design UI Update Over the Next Few Days

Google put another blog post up this morning detailing what is to come in the next update to Google Maps. The app will soon see an update in the Play Store that will bring a set of visual changes that will bring the app up to speed with the Material Design guidelines.

Google Maps

The bold colors, visual queues and animations will be a nice addition to maps, but that is not all we have to look forward too. The update will also bring in the ability to make reservations in the app at restaurants thanks to OpenTable integration and  as well as estimated arrival times and pricing for Uber.

Google Maps Google Maps The update to Google Maps will be rolling out to devices everywhere over the next few days. As usual, as soon as we get our hands on the APK we will be sure to share it with you all. Until then, what do you think of the Google Maps look from the images above?

Source: Google Lat Long

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The post Google Maps to get Material Design UI Update Over the Next Few Days appeared first on AndroidSPIN.

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