No joke — Android 7.1.2 may hit just after April Fools’ Day.
At the end of January, Google released a beta version of Android 7.1.2 for a handful of Nexus devices, along with its new Pixel phones. The company said that it was “an incremental maintenance release focused on refinements,” including “bug fixes and optimizations, along with a small number of enhancements for carriers and users.”
It’s been 6 weeks since that fateful day, and despite two new security updates for those on the regular track, users on 7.1.2 beta haven’t heard much news. That’s likely because, as VP of Android Dave Burke pointed out in the initial blog post, the company is readying a public release for “a couple of months” after its initial unveiling, which works out to be the end of March or beginning of April.
The largest carrier in Canada is set to release a big Pixel update on April 3.
That timeline is now reinforced by the fact that Rogers, the largest carrier in Canada, is calling for its Pixels to receive an update to enable VoLTE, along with the latest requisite security updates, on April 3. On its own, that wouldn’t be a giveaway for a new wider Android release, but Rogers has been testing VoLTE service on its Pixels with the Android 7.1.2 beta; the latest Android 7.1.1 release, with a March 5 security patch, does not enable Voice Over LTE, despite there being a Rogers-only version.
While this is by no means a certainly, it makes sense that Google would release Android 7.1.2 at the beginning of the month, on the day usually reserved for security bulletins and new factory images. And while the new version itself is not particularly exciting, we know that one group of users — Pixel owners on Rogers — will at the very least be able to make crisper-sounding phone calls come April 3.
- Android 7.0 Nougat: Everything you need to know
- Will my phone get Android Nougat?
- Google Pixel + Pixel XL review
- All Android Nougat news
- How to manually update your Nexus or Pixel
- Join the Discussion
Pandora is stepping up to directly compete with Spotify, Google Play, and Apple Music.
Pandora was one of the first big players in the music streaming game, with it’s one-of-a-kind Music Genome Project powering a song recommendation engine that blew our collective minds over 15 years ago, and it continues to impress to this day. But in the time since, the field has become extremely competitive, with Apple, Google, Microsoft, Spotify, and many others all jumping into the premium music streaming service, offering users the freedom to browse and listen to over 40 million tracks.
Now, Pandora is preparing to take everything it’s learned from its internet radio business and transition it over to compete against the big dogs with Pandora Premium.
Pandora first announced Pandora Premium back in December and now, thanks to the folks at The Verge, we now know a whole lot more about what to expect from the service when it starts rolling out later this month.
For starters, if you’re already a Pandora user, the Premium service will take all the songs you’ve ever given a thumbs-up to and intelligently create playlists out of them. Banking on its superior internet radio service is a really smart move and negates the need for the algorithmic or handcrafted playlists that you’ll find with the competing services. You’ll also be able to tap one button and have Pandora intelligently add songs similar to the one you’re listening to to the playlist, so you spend less time building playlists and more time listening to music.
You should expect to get the same expansive library of songs as you’d find with Apple Music and Spotify, except Pandora has smartly gone ahead and culled any karaoke, tributes, and duplicate tracks from its catalogue. That move will help users find the actual songs they’re looking for while clearing out some of the noise from search results.
Entering the premium music streaming segment this late might seem like a tough task, with over 100 million people already subscribed and committed to their streaming service of choice. But Pandora is hoping that its simplified interface, built off of its free internet radio service, which has been used by over 250 million users, will attract those who have yet to subscribe to a premium music service.
Pandora is planning a staggered rollout for its premium service on iOS and Android, with current Pandora users getting the first crack at trying it out. New users and those using Pandora’s free radio service will get to try Pandora Premium free for 2 months, while subscribers to Pandora Plus will get a 6-month trial of the new service. Existing Pandora users will receive their invitations to try out Pandora Premium starting on March 15.
You can sign up to receive your invitation to Pandora Premium here, but keep in mind that the service is still only available to users in the U.S., Australia, and New Zealand.
Will you be planning to check out Pandora Premium? Which music streaming services do you use? Let us know in the comments!
The best camera is the one you have with you, and for most of us that means our go-to gadget for taking pictures is our smartphone.
Choosing a phone with a great camera is only part of the equation, though. The apps you use with it — and after the fact, by enhancing your photos — are equally important.
Here, as part of our series on Android photography, we present some of our top picks for taking great photos on your Android phone, making them even better, and sharing them with the world.
- Google Photos
- VSCO Cam
- Open Camera
Google Photos is probably the best overall photo app on Android. You can automatically backup your photos and videos to Google’s cloud, making them available on every device you own — including the web — and view highlights of each day, so you don’t need to scroll through all your photos to find the best ones. This means that for folks who don’t have a ton of storage on their phone, they can ensure that a photo is never lost or deleted accidentally. And because Photos has unlimited storage, you can feel safe deleting pics from your phone to free up that space.
One of Google Photos’ best features is Auto Awesome. Take a bunch of photos and it’ll periodically “gift” you enhanced versions of them to sit alongside the originals in your collections — think animated GIFs if you’ve taken a burst shot, Instagram-style filters and contrast-boosted versions of washed-out shots. Take a series of images from different perspectives and you might even end up with an auto-generated Panorama based on these pics.
Google Photos is full of great features to make storing and accessing your photos easier than ever
The Auto Awesome feature also lets you create video highlights reels based on a series of images and videos. And if you’re going on vacation, Photos can sort your images and videos into a chronological story book of your trip, ideal for sharing on social networks. Photos even includes some of Snapseed’s photo editing and filtering capabilities through its “edit” button, which is useful if you just want to tweak your shots or add filters without downloading a separate app.
Download: Google Photos
Instagram is the original filtered photo-sharing app, now owned by Facebook and pretty much synonymous with smartphone photography. It’s also come a long, long, long, way since it was first introduced to users. They’ve added some excellent features that make sharing photos, and videos, an easier and more enjoyable process.
Instagram is pretty much synonymous with mobile photography.
New filters are being added all the time, and for the most part they do a good job of giving photos character without stomping all over them. In addition to controlling lux and the level of filtering, you can tweak photos’ color temperatures, adjust highlight and shadow brightness, add a vignette, sharpen and even introduce tilt-shift effects. There is also video integration, so that you can take and share videos with your followers, and if you have a particular photo or video you want all of your followers to see, you can add it to your story as a pinned post of sorts. Of course, there’s also Stories, a Snapchat clone that has proven an extremely popular way to share snippets of your day — if you’re into that.
And from there, share to your timeline, or directly to specific people. Naturally, there’s integration with Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and Foursquare, too.
Popular on iOS before making its way to Android, VSCO Cam aims to be your one-stop shop for photography and image editing on your Android phone. VSCO lets you capture images, tweak and tune them to your liking, sync them across devices and share them with the world. You can even discover the best original photography from other VSCO users through the Grid feature.
Like the rest of VSCO, the built-in camera app is relatively simple, offering basic controls including grid lines and flash toggles. When it comes time to enhance your photo, the app brings an assortment of filters to the table, along with the option to buy even more through in-app purchases. That’s on top of the usual combination of dials to adjust brightness, contrast, saturation and other properties. There is also the ability to copy/paste batch photo editing as well.
VSCO has a fairly minimalist look when scrolling through photos that others have posted, showing you only the photo and the username of the photographer. This minimalism also translated over to the camera and editing functions. This makes it easier to concentrate on what you’re working on without lots of extraneous things getting in your way.
Download: VSCO Cam
Google’s Snapseed is one of the most accessible photo editing apps for Android, with a wide range of features for experienced users and newcomers alike. At its most basic level, Snapseed lets you scroll vertically through image enhancement options, then drag horizontally to control the intensity of the effect.
The range of features is pretty diverse: everything from basic automatic color and contrast enhancement to cropping and sharpening, to selectively adjusting color properties within a particular radius. And of course it wouldn’t be a photo editing app without the obligatory filters and frames, which are controlled by swiping, just like Snapseed’s image tuning features.
If you’re after a photo editing app that’s powerful yet simple to learn, Snapseed strikes a great balance between the two.
Open Camera is a great option for anyone who isn’t really a fan of the camera baked into their phone. This app is completely free, updated somewhat regularly, and absolutely bursting at the seams with features. It’s also completely open source which is something that may perk your ears up.
It offers photo stabilization, taking photos remotely by using a command word or signal, GPS tagging, and so much more. Open Camera has just about any feature you can think of, and aims to be your one stop shop for taking photographs. You can also use it to record in HD, although users with some phones may find issues with audio not syncing up properly. Best of all you have access to manual settings for focus, ISO and exposure time. If you like having all the features, then this may be the app for you.
Download: Open Camera
PicsArt Photo Studio and Collage
PicsArt is its own tiny social media network that includes a robust photo editor. Of course it includes the usual tools, allowing you to adjust white balance, tone, cropping, and more. PicsArt goes a big step further though. You can purchase sticker packs to adorn your photos, add adjustable lens flares, access to filters, and even use what it calls ‘magic’ to apply Prisma-like features to transform your photos.
While some of the cooler features do require in-app purchases in order to use them, you still get tons of fun stuff to edit and share your photos with friends. When you’re done editing your app you can save the photo privately, or share it on PicsArt. You can also make the photo free to edit, if you want to let strangers tweak your photos into something strange and new.
Lightroom is the photo editing software from Adobe Creative Cloud, and now it’s available on Android. If you don’t already have a Creative Cloud account, you can try out the trial version of Lightroom for free, but if you already pay for the service, all you need to do is sign into your account and you’ll be good to go. Using Lightroom Mobile can take a few minutes to get used to, but after you figure out where everything is, it’s a breeze to edit your photos wherever you are.
Lightroom Mobile also lets you take photos using the app
You’re able to add photos to Lightroom so long as it’s a photo saved on your phone. Once you’ve imported the photo that needs adjusting, just tap on it an the editing menu will open up. At the bottom of the screen you’ll see a bar that has settings that can be applied with a tap. You just need to select the catergory of tool that you want to use from adjusting the look of the photo itself, to cropping it, or adding a gradient. This includes white balance, autotone, and black and white mode. You can also easily adjust the temperature, tint, contrast and exposure.
Lightroom Mobile also lets you take photos using the app. You can shoot in Auto, Professional, or HDR modes. Select phones can also capture and edit in RAW. There are a ton of features packed into Lightroom’s shooting mode from adjusting the ratio, to including a grid when shooting, to geotagging your photos, and plenty more to boot.
When you’re done adjusting your photo, it’s also easy to save your edits and share it, You can save to your gallery if it’s a personal photo, or share to your social media network of choice without any further hassle.
Download Lightroom Mobile
What are your favorite apps for Android photography?
There are tons of great apps on Android that can help you take and tweak photos of the people, places, and things that you love. Did we miss an amazing app that deserves to be here? What is your favorite photography app? Be sure to let us know in the comments below!
You could soon play PlayStation 4 exclusives like Uncharted 4 and The Last of Us Remastered on your PC. Sony is bringing the PS4 catalog to its streaming game service PlayStation Now, the company said today in a blog post. The announcement is light on details, but we know that every game in the service, including PS4 games, will be part of a single PS Now subscription. Sony is holding a private test in the next few weeks, and said it will share more information closer to launch.
Last month, Sony said it’s dropping PS Now support on every platform except PC and PS4, so it can focus on building a better user experience. That axe list includes the PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita, PlayStation TV, Sony Bravia TVs, Samsung smart TVs and Sony Blu-ray players. The service will stop functioning on those platforms on August 15th.
The move comes less than a month after Microsoft unveiled its own “Netflix-for-games” service called Xbox Game Pass, which offers about 100 titles from the Xbox 360 and Xbox One libraries for $10 a month. Unlike PS Now, which uses cloud streaming technology, it lets you download and install games onto your hard drive. It will launch sometime this spring.
Source: PlayStation Blog
Mazda is planning to add CarPlay and Android Auto support to its lineup of cars and SUVs according to an announcement made at a launch for its upcoming 2017 CX-5 (via Cars.com).
There’s no word on when CarPlay will be added to Mazda vehicles, nor is there info on which vehicles will be the first to support CarPlay, but Mazda spokesperson Jacob Brown said the feature “should be retroactively upgradeable onto all Mazda Connect systems with a potentially minimal hardware addition needed.”
Mazda Connect has been available in Mazda vehicles since 2014, which, coincidentally, is the year that Mazda first pledged support for CarPlay. Mazda has been listed as a CarPlay partner since shortly after CarPlay first debuted, but it has yet to release a CarPlay-compatible vehicle.
For a couple of years after CarPlay was announced, availability was highly limited as it required the cooperation of both automobile makers and third-party hardware companies, but as of late 2015, CarPlay availability has expanded rapidly.
Apple’s CarPlay platform is now available in more than 200 2016 and 2017 vehicles from a range of manufacturers including Audi, BMW, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Ford, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen, and more.
Related Roundup: CarPlay
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Tag Heuer previously confirmed plans to unveil a new watch in its Connected family and taking to Twitter, it has teased the new announcement on 14 March, as well as confirming that it will be livestreaming the event on YouTube.
It’s expected that the new Tag Heuer device will be modular, with previous leaks suggesting that you’ll be able to switch out the body and replace the digital model with a traditional mechanical unit, giving you the best of both worlds.
The new Tag Heuer modular watch is also expected to run Android Wear 2.0, the new platform unveiled by Google in February 2017. Confirming some of the details in an interview, company CEO Jean-Claude Biver has said that the new watch will bring mobile payments, a feature of the new software platform.
The live launch of the new module Tag Heuer Connected is tomorrow at 12:00CET, 11:00GMT. You’ll be able to watch the launch live on the video below.
Google has given us a way to have YouTube parties – from an app.
Google’s startup incubator, Area 120, allows employees to work on approved projects during their “20 per cent time”. The latest project from that incubator is Uptime, a mobile app that lets you meet up with people, share YouTube videos with them, engage using stickers, and more. It is described as a “place to share and watch videos together with friends… watch, chat, and have fun”.
You can search for videos using the app, and it’ll help you find friends with common connections. You can also engage with friends while watching videos through comments, stickers, “sparkles”, hearts – and all your activity is accessible from the profile page. In other words, Uptime is making the experience of watching YouTube videos a more group-centric thing – even for people who aren’t in the same room.
- What is YouTube TV, which channels does it offer, and how does it work?
It is only available on iOS, and not Google’s Android, at least at launch. Also, Uptime does not allow you to watch and share paid and premium content, such as movies and YouTube Red. You can learn more about how the app works from its FAQ page.
We could see Google testing the waters with this app before integrating the core features into the actual YouTube experience. Otherwise, we’d personally think it would be cool if the app considered adding the ability to record or stream your own videos.
TPVision, which releases televisions under the Philips brand, has unveiled its 2017 range of sets and it has a healthy range of 4K HDR options coming to the UK.
They will hit British stores from April/May, with some coming in June, mainly because TPVision is awaiting Freeview Play certification for all smart and Android models. Yep, all major Philips TVs this year and beyond will be Freeview Play compatible, meaning you can catch up with shows from the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5 and UKTV channels simply by scrolling backwards through the EPG.
They also come with a new remote control, at least at the top end, with the company’s trademark QWERTY keyboard on the rear.
There are plenty of variants too, as part of the 6000 Series, 7000 Series and a brand new OLED. So here are the 2017 4K HDR models from Philips to look out for and some of the key differences between them.
Philips 9002 OLED
- Screen sizes: 55
- OLED, 3840 x 2160 pixels
- HDR10 & HLG
- Price: £TBC
The flagship TV from Philips this year is a new OLED set that will sit alongside rather than replace last year’s 901F. That’s because it comes with rear-firing integrated speakers rather than a “visible sound” strip that runs at the bottom of the existing version.
The OLED panel is the same, but the picture processing is different. The 9002 utilises the all-new P5 picture processing chip that TPVision claims is 50 per cent more effective than last year’s three-chip system. That results in better all round picture performance.
It is HDR and HLG compatible from the box and comes with Android Marshmallow for smart TV and app support. It also has three-sided Ambilight, which casts colour behind the set left, top and right. It is capable of peak brightness of 750nit and comes with Ultra HD Premium certification.
- Screen sizes: 49, 55, 65
- LCD IPS with edge LED backlight, 3840 x 2160 pixels
- HDR10 & HLG
- Price: £TBC
We suspect the new OLED TV will be pricey so if you’re looking for something that still offers a premium experience but at lower cost, the Philips 7000 Series has a few sets that could turn your head. Of those, the 7502 is the flagship model.
That’s because it also comes with the P5 picture processing chip, Android TV and HDR10 and HLG picture tech. It doesn’t quite match the high brightness levels of the 9002, with maximum brightness of 400nit, but it has a similar design aesthetic, with a brushed aluminium open desktop stand and bezel.
It also comes with a visible sound soundbar that runs along the bottom of the screen, which combines with “triple ring” speakers on the rear of the set to provide a wide soundstage and up to 45W of overall output. Like the OLED it has a quad-core processor and 16GB of internal storage for the Android M smart functionality.
There is three-sided Ambilight on board too.
- Screen sizes: 49, 55
- LCD IPS with direct LED backlight, 3840 x 2160 pixels
- HDR10 & HLG
- Price: £TBC
The 6000 Series represents a more entry-level point for Philips’ 2017 4K Ultra HD and HDR TVs, with the 6482 sitting at the top of a trio of choices.
It has 400nit brightness, HDR10 and HLG support and a Micro Dimming Pro backlight, which dims areas to match the on-screen action in order to provide better contrast. It also comes with the visible sound speaker strip along the bottom of the screen for front-firing audio, and a metallic bezel much like the 7502. However, it doesn’t have the P5 picture processing, sticking with last year’s PixelPlus Ultra HD processing instead,
It is an Android TV set, with Android M ensuring that Netflix plays in HDR as with the TVs above. And it comes with a new premium remote control, like the higher-end models in this year’s line-up. It also has three-sided Ambilight, something TPVision is keen to use on all 4K TVs this year to make them different to competitors.
- Screen sizes: 43, 49, 55, 65
- LCD IPS with direct LED backlight, 3840 x 2160 pixels
- HDR10 & HLG
- Price: £TBC
Almost everything you find on the 6482 is also on the 6412 although its brightness is lower, being rated at 350nit, so bright areas will look visibly dimmer than on any of the sets above. It doesn’t come with the new remote control either.
It still has support for HDR10 and HLG though, plus the Micro Dimming Pro backlight. The three-chip PixelPlus Ultra HD processing works its magic on images.
Like all the TVs featured, it has a metallic design aesthetic. It will also be fully Freeview Play compatible by the time it is released in the coming months. It has a 20W rear speaker system.
Like countless others, former Vice President Joe Biden has experienced the horrors of cancer up close. In 2015, his son Beau died at the age of 46 after a battle with brain cancer, a tragedy that inspired the vice president to spend much of his last year in office working on a “cancer moonshot” — an initiative that helped pass a $6.3 billion research bill at the end of last year. At SXSW 2017 yesterday, Biden told a packed audience how his son’s death kept him from running for president but spurred him into intense action that will continue in his private life. And he also implored the audience to use their talents to help make “gigantic progress” in the ongoing battle to detect, treat and prevent cancer.
“I had one regret in making the decision not to run,” Biden said, “and that was I would have loved to have been the president who presided over the end of cancer as we know it.” Biden made that “offhand” remark when he made the decision after his son’s death not to run in 2016, and President Obama picked it up and ran with it. “Shortly after I made that comment, the president approached me and said, ‘we ought to be doing more’… and to my surprise, at the State of the Union he announced to the world that I was going to be ‘mission control’ in his cancer moonshot.”
Biden then spent the better part of an hour recounting his learnings from the last year or so, much of which focused on the need for better collaboration and communication between researchers, hospitals, doctors, drug companies and patients — basically, everyone involved in combating cancer, and many who might not be. When talking about including unexpected partners like the department of energy and NASA in his work last year, he noted that “I don’t know any outfit that knows more about radiation than NASA.” Radiation therapy is one of the main ways to fight cancer. “It kills the bad guys, but kills a lot of good cells too, even when it’s really precise,” he said.
At this point, however, Biden is hardly satisfied with the collaborations we’re seeing, even though he recounted lots of progress made. One success story he recounted was the National Cancer Institute’s “Genomic Data Commons” — a repository of cancer sequencing data and related patient info. Biden said it had 14,000 records last year, but the data wasn’t available to anyone. Biden worked to make it accessible by anyone, for any reason, and he said that since June the number of records has more than doubled to about 30,000.
Biden also arranged agreements with 10 countries to have them share similar data. “The hope is there will be tens of thousands more patients, increasing the commons and hopefully exponentially we’ll have more data to be able to be examined to unlock some of the secrets this dreaded disease hides,” he said.
Jill and I were honored to take the stage today at #SxSW. Join us in seizing the urgency of now to end cancer as we know it. pic.twitter.com/TemXB9baJQ
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) March 12, 2017
As he talked about gathering more data and running supercomputing tests on it, Biden noted that Amazon stepped up and donated free cloud storage space to hold the work and make it more easily accessible. “Before this you might say, ‘What does Amazon have to do with curing cancer?’,” he said before adding that the data from this project has been accessed 80 million times since last year. “That’s hope,” he said. Indeed, much of Biden’s work seems to have focused on breaking down the many logistical, technological and bureaucratic barriers. He said lots of things that were stopping progress weren’t “cancer problems” — challenges coming from the disease itself.
We’re hardly out of the woods, though, and Biden spent the last part of his speech imploring the SXSW audience to contribute how they can. “South by Southwest has brought together some of the most creative minds in the world, creators in entertainment, music, science, technology,” he said. “You all might think that the patient medical data, research data, clinical trial data is really shared in this high tech world of instant communication, but it’s not.”
That was just the first in a series of hard truths about how fragmented the battle against cancer can be. “You might think that when companies or researchers and universities have a trial that fails, they would let the research community immediately know it by posting the data to avoid other people going down the same rabbit hole,” he said. “They don’t.” After spending two minutes going down a list of similar problems, he implored the crowd to use their talents to help.
“You’re the future. Many of you are developing technologies and innovations for purposes large and small, fun and serious, entertaining and life saving. They have nothing to do with cancer, but you can make a gigantic impact,” Biden said. He grew more animated, impassioned and almost angry as we he went on. “We need you to help us reach people who need to change their behavior and avoid cancers. You’ll do it for helping people figure out how to buy a product,” he said, with a note of disdain in his voice. He didn’t go so far as to say that people are using their talents on frivolous or unimportant pursuits, but there was definitely an undertone of disbelief at the things companies focus on — at one point he even noted how crazy it was that he could look up movie times for any theater in the country but not make more progress against cancer.
Today at #SxSW, we’re laying out how we’ll harness the momentum of the past year to make real progress. https://t.co/9nWDw27hhm
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) March 12, 2017
Biden did end on a positive note, saying that he was talking to “some of the most innovative minds in the world” and hoping that “your generation can be the first to go through life with a different understanding of cancer as a preventable and controllable disease.” And even if you’re not a scientist or cancer researcher, Biden wants you contributing and helping break down the barriers that have been built up around the disease.
“If we did nothing more than break down the silos preventing greater collaboration because of the way the system has been built up — not intentionally — over the last 50 years, we can extend the life of a lot of people with cancer,” he said. It was a sobering speech at an event known as much for its parties as its panels, but it was inspirational as well. Here’s hoping the audience took his words to heart. If the post-panel mob scene of attendees trying to shake Biden’s hand and take his photo for a good 20 minutes was any indication, he got through to at least some of those in attendance.
Click here to catch up on the latest news from SXSW 2017.
The future of robotics is decidedly squishy. We’ve already seen gel-based ‘bots that can catch fish, mimic octopi and even ones that can keep your heart pumping. And, if the researchers from Switzerland’s EPFL are successful, they could soon be crawling around in our intestines as well.
Specifically, the EPFL team has developed a gelatinous actuator, the component of robots that make them move. And rather than rely on a mechanical motor or external power source, these actuators use liquids and air that react to chemicals. Each segmented actuator is roughly 4 cm in length and, as you can see in the image above, curl to one side when activated. This allows a single actuator to crawl — inchworm-style — through the digestive tract or, working in tandem, create a crude gripper. These actuators can also be paired with small digestible batteries, cameras and sensor equipment, all of which is already available, to create a truly edible robot.
The gelatin actuator is still in the early stages of its development and won’t be getting swallowed anytime soon. However, the EPFL team is working with chefs from the École hôtelière de Lausanne, one of the world’s top culinary schools, to develop different edible substances which can be roboticized.