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12
Feb

Mitsubishi uses sound and WiFi to locate you indoors


There have been many attempts at locating you indoors when GPS fails, but they usually come with catches. WiFi alone isn’t very accurate, for example, while a ton of beacons isn’t always practical. Mitsubishi may have a good answer to those problems, however: using two techniques at once. It just developed an approach that determines your location based on the time it takes for sound to reach positioning-capable WiFi access points. It’s accurate to within 3.3 feet, and it works with as few as three hotspots — which, of course, can get you online at the same time as they get you from A to B.

As you might guess, a major car maker like Mitsubishi primarily sees this helping out in parking garages. The sound-plus-WiFi approach would help you find a free space when you’re driving in, and find your car when you’re ready to head home. This isn’t just a theoretical exercise, either. The company expects real-world use by April 2017, so the days of getting lost in a concrete maze might soon come to an end.

Source: Mitsubishi Electric

12
Feb

Game algorithm could help win elections


There’s a particular strain of game theory, Colonel Blotto, that many believe could predict the outcomes of everything from elections to sports matches. It asks two sides to distribute soldiers over a battlefield, and hands wins to whoever has the most soldiers in a given area. However, it has one glaring problem: there hasn’t been a way to get a firm solution. Well, computer scientists have finally found that last piece of the puzzle. They’ve developed an algorithm that can solve the Colonel Blotto game, making it useful as a strategic tool whenever there’s a one-on-one situation.

The trick was to scale things back. Rather than try to account for every possible strategy, the code limits itself to “representative” strategies that are likely to cover the bases. While this might not be best for very specific conditions (and won’t work at all for three or more sides), it’s genuinely effective at handling general situations.

If adapted for real life, the algorithm could be helpful across the board. A political candidate could have a better sense of how much campaigning they need in given areas, and a company could decide whether or not it’s devoting enough attention to key parts of its product. This isn’t going to produce surefire predictions, of course — you need to know what criteria to consider in the first place, and it can’t account for the wildcard factors that might creep up. All the same, it could provide some direction when human analysis and educated guesses aren’t enough.

Source: EurekAlert

12
Feb

Google is shutting down Picasa in favor of Photos


Google has been steadily migrating its resources towards the Photos ecosystem since the company first announced it at last year’s I/O developers conference. It’s already shut down Google+ photos in lieu of the newer service and linked Photos to your phone’s native camera app. Today Google announced that it will shut down Picasa. The move will occur over the next several months, beginning on May 1, 2016. Take note, however, that the Picasa desktop application won’t work after March 1st. Current Picasa users simply have to log into Photos — all of their content has already been moved over.

Source: Google (Picasa Blog)

12
Feb

Japan Display’s Upcoming Touch Screens Feature Slimmer Bezels, Wet Finger Support


Apple supplier Japan Display revealed some details on its second-generation “Pixel Eyes” LCD modules over the holidays, providing us with a look at some of the ways the display industry is advancing. Japan Display’s “Pixel Eyes” modules incorporate touch functionality into the display, and in the second-generation model, there are some exciting improvements.

Using a new sensor structure and new materials, Japan Display has managed to decrease the thickness of the bezel, going from 0.8mm to 0.5mm. A deeper black level is available, and the display can accept input with a stylus as narrow as 1mm for finer detail when drawing or writing.

Perhaps the most intriguing feature in the LCD module is its ability to operate with wet fingers. Many current smartphone screens are unable to work accurately under water and when fingers are wet as water is capacitive and confuses the built-in touch sensors.

iphoneinwater

iPhones, iPads, and the Apple Watch, for example, don’t respond well to touch with wet fingers or when placed in water, so technology like this could be essential if Apple wants to have a functional display in a device advertised as “waterproof.” Some iPhone 7 rumors have indicated the next-generation iPhone could be a waterproof device.

In a report earlier this week, The Motley Fool highlighted Japan Display’s second-generation “Pixel Eyes” technology and the possibility it could be included in the iPhone 7. Volume shipments on the displays will begin during the current quarter, making them available for possible inclusion in the iPhone 7 when Apple begins ramping up production during the summer months.

While Japan Display is one of Apple’s suppliers, it is not entirely clear if Japan Display screens are used in the iPhone and if the second-generation Pixel Eyes display technology will be used in future products. There have been rumors suggesting Apple and Japan Display have partnered up for a $1.7 billion display plant to produce screens for iPhones in 2016, so it’s not out of the question that we’ll see Japan Display screens in the iPhone 7 or the iPhone 7s.

Regardless of whether Japan Display’s technology ends up in the iPhone, the advancements made by the company serve as an interesting glimpse at features that could be adopted more widely by the display industry in the future, eventually making their way into Apple’s devices.

Related Roundup: iPhone 7
Tag: Japan Display Inc

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12
Feb

iPad Air 3 and iPhone 5se to Be Available on March 18 Following March 15 Introduction


ipadairiphone5sApple is planning to begin selling the upcoming iPad Air 3 and the 4-inch iPhone 5se starting on March 18, reports 9to5Mac. The two devices will be offered in stores and online starting on Friday following their introduction at an event to be held on Tuesday, March 15.

Apple is not expected to accept pre-orders for the two devices, and the short period between announcement and launch suggests Apple expects supplies of the iPad Air 3 and iPhone 5se to be plentiful. It is unusual for Apple to offer an iPhone directly after an announcement, but this is the first time the company has launched a standalone non-flagship device.

Launching the new iPhone and iPad models so soon after introduction and not offering pre-orders would be a new strategy for Apple. Apple typically releases new iPhone models one or two weeks following the introduction events and an online pre-order period.

Rumors have suggested the iPhone 5se will be similar in appearance to the iPhone 5s, but with the curved cover glass used in the iPhone 6s. It is also expected to include an upgraded A9 processor and an 8-megapixel camera similar to the camera used in the iPhone 6.

The iPad Air 3 is rumored to take on design elements from the iPad Pro, offering a four-speaker layout and a Smart Connector that would work with iPad Air accessories. Size wise, it is expected to be nearly identical to the iPad Air 2, and i may also include a rear-facing flash.

Apple’s March event is also expected to see the debut of new bands for the Apple Watch, including a Black Milanese Loop that was spotted on the Czech Republic Apple Store website in January. Software currently in testing, including iOS 9.3, watchOS 2.2, OS X 10.11.4, and tvOS 9.2 could be unveiled shortly after the event.

Related Roundups: iPad Air 3, iPhone 5se, iPhone 6c
Buyer’s Guide: iPad Air (Don’t Buy)

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12
Feb

Deal: 50% off Google Play Music gift subscriptions


google-music

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, Google Play Music is holding a special sale on gift subscriptions, offering 50% off for its music streaming service. That means you’ll find one month for $4.99, 3 months for $14.98, and $29.97 for 6 months. In addition to getting access to Google Play Music, the subscription also includes access to both YouTube Music and YouTube Red.

When buying, all you need is the email of the person you want to give the subscription to. While this is ended for gifting, it sounds like it would be pretty easy to take advantage of the offer for your own personal subscription as well. Just keep in mind that this offer is only applicable for those markets that support Google Play Music subscription gifting.

Buy now

12
Feb

Android N features: everything confirmed, rumored and expected


Andy-Android-2

With Google I/O 2016 fast approaching, the new Android N release is not far away either. As confirmed at last year’s I/O, Google will now release major new Android updates yearly, following the path established with Lollipop. So for this year, we know we’ll see the Android N developer preview at I/O, followed by monthly(ish) updates until the full Android 7.0 release in October. Here are all the confirmed, rumored and expected Android N features.

Confirmed Android N features

Android N release date

As mentioned above, we already know that the Android N release date will be May 18, during Google’s annual developer conference, Google I/O 2016. The Android N developer preview will be shown off during Sundar Pichai’s keynote lecture on day one of the conference and the factory images will be made available later in the day.

The Android N release date will be May 18, after the Google I/O 2016 keynote.

The final Android 7.0 release date will coincide with the launch of the next-gen Nexus releases at the end of October or early November. This Android 7 release will be limited to Nexus devices at first and make its way to all other manufacturer devices and carriers networks over the next six months or so.

Multi-window mode

The first Android N feature to be confirmed was multi-window mode, with the confirmation coming, obscurely enough, via a Reddit AMA with the Pixel C team. During the discussion, Andrew Bowers confirmed that “split screen is in the works”. Of course, you can already get a version of stock multi-window mode in Android Marshmallow, but it’s far from polished.

android-6-0-multi-window-1

Better tablet support

During the same Reddit AMA, Pixel C team member Glen Murphy came right out and confessed: “we’re working hard on a range of enhancements for this form factor.” While he didn’t go any further, these Android N tablet features could include: more functional multi-tasking (and I’m not just talking about multi-window here), a real push for tablet-optimized apps (rather than just blown-up phone apps), customizable nav buttons, DPI switcher, stock floating mini-apps and tablet-specific System UI Tuner features.

Moving to OpenJDK from Java APIs

Following a sticky situation with Oracle over “rewritten” Java APIs , Google will officially be making the switch to OpenJDK in Android N. It’s still Oracle code, but OpenJDK is, as the name, suggests, part of the open-source Java Development Kit. As Google confirmed: “we plan to move Android’s Java language libraries to an OpenJDK-based approach, creating a common code base for developers to build apps and services.” The change should make development for Android N that much simpler and external changes will be negligible.

Android M Easter Egg-8

Rumored Android N features

Android N name

The Android N name is the biggest game of the year, even more so than “who will make the 2016 Nexus?” You don’t need to have a sophisticated knowledge of the Android ecosystem or market to have a horse in this race, simply pick your favorite dessert that starts with an “n” and place your bets. The firm favorite currently is Android 7.0 Nutella, with Nougat coming a close second and a variety of indian desserts also being bandied about. Sundar Pichai even said he’d ask his mother or let fans vote for the official Android N name.

Sundar Pichai said he’d ask his mother or let fans vote for the official Android N name.

Stock stylus support

As we recently reported, Samsung may have hinted at stock stylus support in Android N by planning to retire several of the main S Pen features from its Look API. The Samsung developers page makes the notation that these features “will be deprecated in Android N” – a term used to describe a soon-to-be-obsolete feature. The natural assumption is that these stylus features will appear in stock Android 7.0. The same thing happened with battery saving in Lollipop and fingerprint support in Marshmallow.

nexus 6p vs samsung galaxy note 5 aa (24 of 26)

ChromeOS integration

This one is a peculiar one. Last year The Wall Street Journal “confirmed” that Android and Chrome OS would be merged, only to have Google set the record straight soon after. While the initial report claimed that Chrome OS would be killed off, Google responded by saying it was fully committed to Chrome OS and the platform was “here to stay” but that it is looking at “ways to bring together the best of both operating systems.” It’s highly likely that we’ll see at least some implementation of Chrome OS and Android compatibility in Android N.

New messaging app

There’s a rumor doing the rounds that Google will be introducing an all-new messaging app with Android N to replace the largely unpopular Hangouts SMS/MMs integration. The new app will be based on the Rich Communications Services (RCS) platform, which allows for much more than just talk and text to be shuttled around, including video chat, file sharing and instant messaging. Google has publicly admitted its commitment to the RSC standard, but there’s no telling yet if it’s anywhere near ready for inclusion in Android N.

hangouts message google now 2

Expected Android N features

Return of the Dark Theme

The Dark Theme that appeared temporarily in the Android M preview builds vanished again to widespread dismay and still hasn’t made it back into an official Android Marshmallow update. Considering it’s such a popular feature request and AMOLED displays look set to take over the display market, we can only assume it will sneak back in as an Android N feature much like stock multi-window mode. Stock theme support would also be nice, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves too much.

Improved Smart Lock for Passwords

Android Marshmallow introduced Smart Lock for Passwords, a basic Google password manager that can store your app passwords so that any time you re-install an app you will be automatically logged in. Combined with Android’s revitalised app backup, the idea is that the whole process of setting up a new device is seamless. The only problem is that not that many apps support Smart Lock for passwords yet so its value is still largely underutilized. With any luck, Android N will see a lot more apps supporting the feature.

Google Smart Lock passwords aa

MOAR battery optimization

Battery optimization is and always will be one of the most important aspects of any Android release. Lollipop introduced a stock Battery Saver Mode and Marshmallow introduced Doze Mode and App Standby. Android N will likely refine these features – and hopefully allow Doze to work even when it’s in your pocket, much like Greenify’s new hibernation features do – and tweak Battery Saver in ways that make the default state of your phone a power-conservation mode.

Enhanced security and app stability

With the appearance of granular app permissions in Marshmallow, Google took a major step in the right direction: allowing users to choose the app permissions they were comfortable with on an app-by-app basis and reject those they felt were unreasonable. Because it was such early days, some apps that weren’t updated to allow such user-facing control tended to behave erratically. By the time Android N rolls out, Google should have committed devs to updating their apps to provide the same level of stability with or without certain non-critical permissions allowed.

Did we miss anything? Let us know what Android N features you’re expecting or looking forward to in the comments.

Read next: All the MWC 2016 announcements you can expect!

12
Feb

Smart Emoji Keyboard: Even free is sometimes too much (Review)


With the recent acquisition of SwiftKey by Microsoft, interest in alternative keyboards has sparked. There’s a wealth of alternatives in the Play Store, including household names like Swype, TouchPal, Fleksy and Google Keyboard. In a category where companies rely on licensing or micro-transactions to sustain themselves, Smart Emoji Keyboard (by the appropriately-called Keyboard Apps Developer) offers a completely free alternative, albeit with very heavy advertising, along with features that users have come to expect from a keyboard.

Highlights:

  • Unbelievably high number of ads throughout the app
  • Support for four languages in different variants
  • No micro-transactions: all themes are free
  • Normal options (auto-complete, auto-capitalization, suggestions, etc.) are included
  • New emojis are nowhere to be found

Setup

Smart Emoji Keyboard

Clearly, the design is Holo-inspired.

For those with limited internal storage, you’ll be happy to know that Smart Emoji Keyboard weighs only 8.99 MB. With competitors such as SwiftKey and Google Keyboard clocking at 20+ MB, it’s a big advantage for users that make each MB count.

If you’ve installed a third-party keyboard before, you know what to expect from a keyboard setup. In case you haven’t, the 2-step process involves enabling Smart Emoji Keyboard from a list of installed keyboards, and then setting it as the default one. Unfortunately, upon opening the app for the first time, you’ll begin the ad-riddled journey that this app offers with a full screen ad. After ignoring it, you’ll finally be presented with the app’s setup screen.

Features

The app’s main interface focuses on customizing the keyboard through themes. This is a necessity, given that the default, Holo-inspired theme makes your keyboard look like it was shipped four years ago. There are some bundled themes, with more options available through the Play Store, completely free of charge. There’s a Material Design theme (curiously called Android L) among the downloadable offerings to bring it to our times.

Smart Emoji Keyboard Main Screen

Main screen, showing the available themes.

Unfortunately, testing new appearances is a chore because every time you change a theme, a full screen ad shows up. I’m aware that the keyboard and its themes are provided for free, but seeing so many full screen ads in such a short span of time left a bad taste in my mouth. If it wasn’t enough, there’s a screen dedicated to promoting other keyboards, and each time you swipe to it, another full screen ad shows its ugly face.

Using the keyboard itself, I found an acceptable performance throughout different apps. It’s not as snappy as Google Keyboard, and it definitely doesn’t have beautiful animations like Fleksy, but it gets the job done. However, the key press pop-up tends to lag and display erratic behavior, especially when pressing the space bar. To change between languages, you can swipe the space bar.


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It’s worth noting that auto-correct tends to be more effective in English than in Spanish, and that there’s no next word suggestion whatsoever. There’s English-only voice input, though, which uses Google’s voice recognition.

Emojis are undoubtedly one of the main features of the app (it’s even named after them). Even though it certainly has emojis (which are easily accessible through a button at the left of the space bar), the keyboard doesn’t feature the newest ones introduced by Google and Apple at the end of 2015.

Smart Emoji Keyboard Options

The options screen.

The keyboard options can be accessed by pressing the gear icon at the bottom of the app, or by long-pressing the emoji key. After enduring the now-predictable full screen ad, you are shown settings such as auto-capitalization, suggestions, auto-complete and input languages.

Dictionaries are available for different variants of English, Spanish, French and Portuguese only. There’s also options to add a number row, a hugely requested, but rarely acknowledged feature. However, contact suggestions, dictionary improvements through social media analysis or different layouts are nowhere to be found.

Conclusion

If Smart Emoji Keyboard sounds like a run-of-the-mill keyboard, it’s because it is. There’s no feature that makes it stand out, and you know things aren’t good when one of the biggest talking points about it is the unrestrained amount of ads.

In a hypothetical world where Google Keyboard, Fleksy and Swiftkey are sold for a hefty fee, customers may put up with pesky monetization methods in exchange for a free experience. However, that’s not our world, so Smart Emoji Keyboard must find an alternative way of making money and a killer feature in order to stay relevant.

Download (or not) from the Play Store.

The post Smart Emoji Keyboard: Even free is sometimes too much (Review) appeared first on AndroidGuys.

12
Feb

[TA Deals] Score a Codeanywhere 3-year subscription for $59


codeanywhere_hero

Developing across different platforms with other people is pretty tricky, but Codeanywhere takes everything to the cloud to enable simultaneous editing and collaboration for web development. On Talk Android Deals, you can pick up a 3-year subscription to Codeanywhere’s Freelancer plan for a steep discount. It allows you to connect to multiple servers and utilize clients like FTP, Dropbox, and GitHub to get work done.

  • Code anywhere, anytime: from a browser, any iOS or Android phone or tablet, etc.
  • Collaborate on your code in real time: pair program, get help from a friend, etc.
  • Connect to your code via FTP, SFTP, Dropbox, Google Drive, etc.
  • Run any command on your container or remote servers (using SSH)
  • View different versions of your code to pinpoint disparities between each of your saves
  • Choose from a large number of predefined dev stacks
  • Easily connect to your existing Git repositories

Although the value of this 3-year subscription is $259, you’re going to be paying much less after enjoying a 76% discount. We’re offering the Codeanywhere Freelancer plan, which is yours for three years, for just $59.

[Talk Android Deals]

Come comment on this article: [TA Deals] Score a Codeanywhere 3-year subscription for $59

12
Feb

Shortcut Launcher review


shortcut-launcher-logo

Customization is a big part of Android, and much of that customization comes from a variety of different launchers. It’s not often that we see a whole lot of good launchers come to the Play Store, as things like Nova Launcher and Action Launcher 3 has established themselves as pillars within the community. However, a new launcher called Shortcut might just be able to become one of those top dogs.

Setup

Getting Shortcut setup is just as simple as any other launcher. All you have to do is download it and set it as your default launcher when prompted. It’s a very easy and quick process.

Shortcut specializes in Information

Shortcut is a lightweight launcher with “lightning fast search” in tow. The design is hardly that of stock Android, and it seems to do a lot of things similarly to the Microsoft Arrow launcher.

You can swipe right to access your app tray, which is alphabetized for quick access. This is also where you can access all of your widgets as well as the Settings menu.

shortcut-overview

One of the unique things about Shortcut is that it keeps things simple and elegant, but makes Search a big priority. In our age of wanting information on-demand, having a powerful search tool is a must. That’s where things like Google Now have come from. Shortcut does things similarly, but in a way, it makes things more convenient and functional than Google Now.

You can search anything in Shortcut; it’s your access to contacts, information on restaurants, movies, TV shows, and much more. Search results will give you Action Cards, which are basically quick ways to perform actions, such as booking an Uber ride, reserving a spot at a restaurant, and getting quick access to movie information, and other relevant actions.

It’s all very snappy, quick, and efficient. My only other complaint is that there’s not many features available inside the application. Nova Launcher and Action Launcher 3 are packed full of different features, but it seems the Search is Shortcut’s only strength. But then again, that might not be a bad thing.

Closing

I’ll be using Shortcut for the foreseeable future, and I’d highly recommend you give it a try as well. Nova Launcher and Action Launcher 3 have a lot of great features, but if you’re looking for convenience and a powerful search tool, Shortcut is the tool for the job.

If you’re interested in taking it for a spin, be sure to hit the download link below.

Play Store Download Link

Come comment on this article: Shortcut Launcher review

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