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Posts tagged ‘Android 4.4’


Bang & Olufsen embraces Google Cast, you can now Cast music to your B&O systems

Over the years, high-end audio brand Bang & Olufsen has been making strides to standardise its systems, with many of them now able to stream music through Apple Airplay, DLNA, Bluetooth and its own Beolink Multiroom technology.

Now you can add Google Cast to the list. The Danish company has partnered with Google to add support for its wireless streaming technology to the BeoSound 35 soundbar and BeoSound Essence one-touch music controller.

Google Cast offers the ability to stream tracks through allied music services, such as Spotify, Deezer and TuneIn, by just tapping the dedicated icon from within their mobile apps. It works on Android, naturally, but also iPhone and iPad.

READ: Bang & Olufsen BeoSound 35 preview: Pentagonal powerhouse

Google Cast is different from many other streaming features because it streams the audio (or video, for supported devices and TVs) directly, rather than through your phone or tablet. That way you can continue to use your mobile device independently while music still plays.

While the BeoSound 35 has built-in wireless connectivity, the BeoSound Essence turns all audio devices into Wi-Fi music players. It comprises a wall-mounted controller and separate hub that you can use to feed non-wireless audio kit.

READ: Bang & Olufsen BeoSound Essence: Hands-on with the one-touch, wall-mounted control music system

It means that you can stream music tracks through Google Cast and the other streaming technologies available to any speaker system, no matter how old.

Google Cast will arrive as part of a software upgrade for your systems later this month.


What is Google Allo, how does it work, and why would you use it?

Whether you like to admit it or not, communication apps are important.

You might use your default SMS app to text your husband or wife about whether you should pick up more milk at the store after work. You might use Facebook Messenger chat with your daughter who is away at university. You might start a group chat in WhatsApp to keep in touch with your team at a work event. There are several communication apps available and many reasons why we use them.

But that in itself creates a problem. We’re using so many apps to talk to so many people in a single day, and in between all that talk, we’re opening up other apps to maybe search the web, find interesting GIFs to share, order stuff online, and book reservations. It can get a bit messy and stressful. Wouldn’t it be great if one communications app could do it all?

Well, that’s what Google had in mind when it created its new communications app called Allo. Here’s everything you need to know about it, including how it works and why you would use it over anything else.

What is Google Allo?


Google actually described Allo as a messaging up for Android and iPhone users. But it does a lot more than just allow you to send messages to other people. It’s a smart messaging app in that it has the power of Google built-in and can apparently learn over time.

How does Google Allo work?

Similar to WhatsApp, Allo is based on your phone number, so you can use it to send text messages to anyone in your phonebook – not just other Allo users. Apart from that, Google highlighted three aspects of Allo that make it unique: Expression, Google Assistant, and Security.


During a demo at Google I/O, Google showed how you can use Allo to keep in touch with people. It looked like any other messaging app; chats appeared as bubbles, with one person’s chat bubbles appearing on one side in a certain colour, and another person’s chat bubbles appearing on the opposite side, and you could scroll up and down to see the entire threaded conversation.

We also saw that – like Facebook Messenger – you could send stickers, which Google said were sourced from artists around the world. You could also send emoji. But one of the hottest features is something called Whisper or shout. This will let you slide up or down on the send button to change the size of your reply, meaning there’s no need to write in caps all the time when you’re angry.

Continuing with this theme of giving you more ways to express yourself, Allo offers a feature called Ink that lets you get creative with photos. You can doodle on them, for instance. Allo also took the Smart Reply feature from Google’s Inbox app, so now you can quickly respond while on the go. If someone asks if you want to grab dinner, Allo might serve up responses like “I’m in” or “I’m busy”.

Allo uses machine-learning and natural language processing in order to suggest replies on the fly, meaning it can anticipate what you want to say next and how you might say it. The more you use Allo, the better your suggestions become. And they will always be unique to you. However, because messaging isn’t just about texts, replies also contain stickers and emoji.

You’ll even see smart reply options when someone send you a photo. Allo can understand the content and context of photos, thanks to Google’s computer vision capabilities. If someone sends you a photo of pasta, you will see smart replies that include mentions of pasta, yummy, or whatever. The idea here is that assistive technology can help you communicate with little to no effort.

Google Assistant

Speaking of assistive technology, Google Allo has Assistant.

Google Assistant is Google’s latest iteration of a virtual assistant. It’s considered an upgrade or an extension of Google Now. During the main keynote at Google I/O 2016, Google’s CEO, Sundar Pichai, demoed Google Assistant and said he wanted people to experience “an ongoing two-way dialog” with the virtual assistant. Keep in mind this virtual assistant trend kicked off in 2011, when Apple introduced Siri.

You can read all about how Google Assistant works from here, but we’ll still discuss for a bit how it lives inside Google Allo to help you keep your conversations going without interruption. For instance, let’s say you are chatting with a friend who wants to eat French food for dinner. Google Assistant will then proactively suggest French restaurants nearby at the bottom of the app’s messaging window.

You can tap that suggestion to bring up restaurant cards that everyone in the chat can see. If you choose a place, you’ll see options to contact the restaurant, see Yelp reviews, find it on a map, etc. You can even make an OpenTable reservation in Allo. Google Assistant will prompt in at this point to confirm number of diners, what time you want to eat, and book the table.

That means you no longer have to leave your messaging app to do a Google search for restaurants, copy and paste results, switch back again to share the options, go out again to call the restaurant and book a table, and so on. In Allo, and with Google Assistant’s help, you can get everything done in one app. OpenTable is just one partner, too (more are signed up and coming).

Google Assistant also has access to Google’s Knowledge Graph, so it can help you with all sorts of situations. You can call on Google Assistant at any time just by typing “@google” in Allo. You can chat directly with it and ask anything your heart desires, including “funny cat pics”, to which Google Assistant will respond with a lineup of cat pics pulled from Google Image Search. 

Google Assistant can remember things too, including your name, address, and favourite sports team. Remember — it uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to determine stuff, such as the context of your questions. For instance, when you ask “What’s playing tonight?”, Google Assistant can show films at your local cinema. If you then follow up with “We’re planning on bringing the kids”, Google Assistant will know to serve up showtimes for kid-friendly films. You can even say “Let’s seeJungle Book” to purchase tickets.

You could also ask “Is Jungle Book any good”, and then the assistant will display reviews, ratings, and even trailer on YouTube. Notice Google Assistant is able to string your questions together to determine context and serve up the right information. It can also do basic stuff like retrieve your travel itinerary, commute time to work, package delivery information, and more.

You can therefore now use Google in your chats with friends, or you can use it to get things done, and it’s all made possible with just one app.


All messages in Allo are encrypted. Also, Allo offers an Incognito Mode, just like Chrome browser does, meaning you get access to not only end-to-end encrypted messages but features like expiring chats and private notifications. You can therefore keep message safe from prying eyes, control how long they stick around, and permanently delete them from your device.

You basically have additional controls over the privacy of your chats.

When will Google Allo be available?

Although Google introduced Allo in May at its annual Google I/O developer conference, the free app won’t officially launch for Android and iPhone users until this summer. An exact release date is not yet known.

Why would you use Google Allo?

You might want to use Allo as your main messaging app for all  the reasons we described above. Allo is tied to your phone number so you can text anyone in your phonebook. You can doodle on photos, book reservations, ask Google Assistant questions, search for information, and enter an Incognito Mode, etc. And the best part is… all of that can get done within this one, free app.

Allo also works with Google Duo.

What is Google Duo?

Alongside Allo, Google introduced a a simple video calling app for iOS and Android. It’s called Duo and is designed to take on Apple’s FaceTime and Microsoft’s Skype by making the system as easy as possible.

As well as featuring end-to-end encryption, Duo will work on even slow, low bandwidth internet connections. It also sports an innovative new feature Google is calling Knock Knock. This enables Duo to show live previews before a call has even been answered. That way users can see what the caller is up to before they pick up. Google has ensured that the technology is super quick.

Like Allo, Google Duo will be available on Android and iOS “this summer”.


Google’s Deepmind AI will play Go against the world number one

After it beat Korean grandmaster Lee Sedol by four games to one earlier this year, Google’s AlphaGo has become the Go player to beat. Even while the series was still being played, 18-year-old Chinese Go champion Ke Jie remarked that he could beat Google’s Deepmind computer. Now he has his chance. At the 37th World Amateur Go Championship in Chinese city of Wuxi this weekend, a spokesman for the Chinese Go Association revealed that representatives have been in contact with the team behind AlphaGo and will set up a match before the end of the year.

It’s an interesting turn of events, particularly after Ke once said he didn’t want to play Google’s Deepmind computer because it would learn his playing style. “I don’t want to play against AlphaGo because I can tell from its performance that it is weaker than me,” he told Chinese media. “I don’t want it to copy my patterns and learn from me.”

Those emotions changed when 33-year-old 9th dan professional Lee Sedol was finally defeated by AlphaGo. The win is considered a huge milestone for artificial intelligence given the complexity of the Chinese board game.

Although Ke is also a 9th dan player and currently the world’s number one (beating Sedol on his way to a championship win earlier this year), the Korean is considered the Roger Federer of Go and was chosen for the Deepmind showdown based on his experience. Ke now has the chance to prove he’s not all talk and cement his reputation as the game’s best player.

Source: GB Times


StreetView VR brings Google Street View with Wikipedia overlays to the Gear VR

Street View VR

By far one of the coolest and most useful features of the modern age is Google Street View. It has taken mapping to the next level and nothing else comes close. However, StreetView VR plans to take things to an even higher level of amazing.

Google Street View can already be viewed in VR using the Google Cardboard, which is really cool, but not super useful. StreetView VR for the Samsung Gear VR and PC takes the normal Google Street View experience, but overlaps it with Wikipedia integration.

StreetView VR overlay

All of this is in VR remember, which makes it much more realistic than just seeing a flat image on a screen. However, since it is using the basic Google Street View as its source, the images technically aren’t in 3D, but still give a 360-degree view.

What makes it really cool is you can stay in the Gear VR and browse anywhere in the world while seeing it all in 360-degrees. Plus, the added bonus of actual information about landmarks around the world. You do all this by activating voice commands to say the location you want to travel to next. If a location is too difficult to pronounce or voice control just isn’t working right, you can always use the on-screen keyboard too.

What I find really cool is you can “travel with others” by sharing things with your friends or leading a group. You can even speak to other people with voice chat and more. This is definitely something you are going to want to try out for yourself if you own a Gear VR.

Source: StreetviewVR

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Google’s self-driving simulator helps it refine its cars

Google’s self-driving simulator apparently plays a big role in the development of the company’s autonomous vehicle technology despite its cadre of cars being tested on actual roads. In its latest project report, the tech leviathan has revealed that it travels 3 million virtual miles every single day — enough to circle the equator five times every hour — to refine the features of its self-driving software. That simulator requires loads of computing power, but if there’s any company with the data centers capable of keeping it running, it’s Google.

The Big G uses it to extensively test any changes to its software before rolling updated versions out. For instance, the simulator runs Google’s latest software to drive the routes the company’s actual cars had previously driven to see if there’s a change in their behavior.

Here’s one example:

…to make left turns at an intersection more comfortable for our passengers, we modified our software to adjust the angle at which our cars would travel. To test this change, we then rerun our entire driving history of 2+ million miles with the new turning pattern to ensure that it doesn’t just make our car better at left turns, but that the changes creates a better driving experience overall.

Besides recalling old routes, Google also regularly creates scenarios with the simulator to fine-tune certain features. In the past, the company tapped into that ability to conjure up thousands of situations wherein its vehicle has to do a three-car merge to make sure its technology has truly mastered the skill. If the simulator proves that the self-driving software still needs more tweaking, though, then Google’s engineers can make changes before it makes its way to the current crop of vehicles under testing.

Source: Google


Google Hangouts version 7.0 rolling out, quick replies and conversation shortcuts on board

best messenger apps for Android

Things don’t change often in the world of Google Hangouts, so every time we see a cool new feature arrive it’s worthy of celebration. It is the IM service all Android users have by default, after all (whether you use it or not).

Reports of Hangouts version 7.0 rolling out have started hitting the web. But there’s more than just a lucky number to this upgrade. Google has graced us with a couple features that many of us have actually been hoping for.

best messenger apps for AndroidSee also: 10 best messenger apps for Android84

The first one (and the coolest, in my opinion) is the implementation of quick replies. What this does is allow you to reply to a Hangouts message without having to go into the app. When you receive an instant message notification, simply hit the reply button and a floating screen will show up. Type in your message and send away without having to go away from what you were doing.

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There’s also a new option that allows you to create conversation shortcuts on your home screen. Simply open a Hangouts conversation, hit the 3-dot menu button in the top-right corner and select “Save to Home Screen”.  An icon with your contact’s profile picture will show up in your home screen so you can message away quicker than ever.

Both great additions, right? I am a huge Hangouts user, so these are definitely welcomed improvements by my book. Are you as excited about them? Be patient, as these updates roll out periodically. If you just can’t wait, though, here is a link to download your APK file. Enjoy!

Download the Google Hangoute 7.0 APK
Visit the Google Hangouts Play Store page


Google is testing a new login feature

google new logo

Google is testing a new feature allowing users to login to their Google account on a PC, Mac or Chromebook without the need of their password. Google believes people have too many passwords these days to remember and wants to help solve that problem. Here’s how it works.

When logging in, users will be prompted for just their email address. Once entered, Google will send a notification to your connected smartphone (must be connected to the Google account in which you’re trying to login). When you see the notification on your smartphone you’ll have to confirm that it’s you and then Google will automatically authorize you the entry on your computer. No password needed.

Users will most likely have to set up the device in which they want to authorize prior to trying out the feature. There’s also a rumor floating around that the feature may only work with Nexus devices.

Although this requires more steps and is a bit more time-consuming than just entering your passcode, it saves people from having to memorize another code. It’s great to see that Google is working on this and it may come in handy if you forget that passcode you recently changed. Let’s just wait and see if we actually get it.

Via: Reddit

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Google CEO speaks up against ‘intolerant discourse’

Following a slew of tech CEOs coming out against anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim rhetoric, Sundar Pichai published his first essay on Medium tonight. Like Mark Zuckerberg and others his words stand in contrast to those of Donald Trump and others who suggest the country close its doors to immigrants from certain places or religions. According to Pichai, “Let’s not let fear defeat our values. We must support Muslim and other minority communities in the US and around the world.”

Let’s not let fear defeat our values

The exec did not mention Google by name in the post (or say why he posted it on Medium, with only a link to it from Google+), but did try to explain why he’s saying this now, and why he waited.

I debated whether to post this, because lately it seems that criticism of intolerance just gives more oxygen to this debate. But I feel we must speak out — particularly those of us who are not under attack. Everyone has the right to their views, but it’s also important that those who are less represented know that those are not the views of all.

Noting his own story of moving to the US from India, he called for America to remain a land that provides opportunities to and gains strengths from immigrants. While saying that Google is “urgently working to become more diverse,” (oh?) he pushed for a mix of backgrounds that he says will lead to a better outcome for everyone.

Any series of essays and internet videos are unlikely to extinguish Presidential campaigns that rely on fear mongering, bombastic statements and dog-whistle racism to garner attention, but it’s good to have an idea of where everyone stands on these issues.

[Image credit: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images]

Source: Sundar Pichai (Medium)


Google Chrome becomes safer for Android users

After the latest update, Google Chrome for Android has received Safe Browsing – something that has been available for the company’s desktop software for years. The new security feature will protect mobile devices against malware, unwanted software and social engineering websites.

You don’t need to update your Chrome browser to get this Safe Browsing client, as it comes bundled up with Google Play Services version 8.1 by default. If you have Chrome version 46 and up, you can relax because now you will see a red warning page if you stumble upon a page that is a privacy scare or consumes data and eats your battery.


“Social engineering—and phishing in particular—requires different protection; we need to keep an up-to-date list of bad sites on the device to make sure we can warn people before they browse into a trap. Providing this protection on a mobile device is much more difficult than on a desktop system, in no small part because we have to make sure that list doesn’t get stale.”

Google Blog

To double check that you are protected against phishing attempts and online scares, all you need to do is, go to Chrome’s Settings > Privacy menu and ensure that Safe Browsing is enabled.

Source: Google

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Google Safe Browsing comes to Android and Google Chrome in latest Play Services update

Google_ChromeGoogle Safe Browsing currently protects over a billion users on the web by blocking tons of malware, social engineering, and bloated software. It’s been available on desktop platforms for years, but now Google is bringing that extra layer of security to mobile devices, too.

Google Play Services 8.1 brings support for Safe Browsing, and the first app to support it is, of course, Google Chrome. It’s on by default, and just like on the desktop version of Chrome, if you try to visit a malware-infected site with Safe Browsing on, Chrome will block the website and prompt for your permission before going any further.

While Chrome is the first official browser to support this, I’d imagine we’ll see other third-party apps and OEMs start to bake it into their own web browsers, too.

source: Google Security Blog

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