Posts tagged Google
And now that Christmas in May (at least for us Android geeks) is over, we give you a very special Android Authority On Air show: The Google IO 2013 recap. First of all, Google IO is a developer conference. We’re saw things focused towards developers and a few brag-worthy stats such as 900 Million Android activations (from 400 million last year), 48 billion app installs from the Play Store, and Chrome being the world’s most popular browser with 750 million users.
The Android focus of IO was extremely exciting and amazing. You’re going to say how is this so? Google didn’t unveil a new version of Android? Google showed us that they are in control of Android. They showed us that they are running the show, no matter your carrier or who makes your phone, it’s ultimately Google that has your back, and will give you new services and Android updates in the background. How do they do this? With Google Play Services.
Besides all the new bells and whistles for developers, we discussed some of the heavy hitters of IO this year such as an expanded Google+ Sign-in, Google Cloud Messaging, Play Services, Game Services, a Galaxy S4 Google Edition, Hangouts, Google Play Music All Access, Maps, Google+, Google TV, and more.
Miss the show? Watch or listen below.
A few days ago, Google formally unveiled the Samsung Galaxy S4 Google Edition with pure Android. It’s a modified version of the flagship Samsung handset that we first saw announced back in March, and it stands to offer the standard Nexus user experience. What does this mean for Google’s actual line of Nexus phones? Is the Galaxy S4 with pure Android meant to replace them?
I’m not sure how long Google and Samsung sat through negotiations to try and get a product like this out the door. I think it may have been a long time coming. But it makes so much sense that you have to wonder, why didn’t they do this sooner? In fact, why don’t all Android phone makers release a Nexus-like device of their own? It simply baffles the mind.
What we have with the Samsung Galaxy S4 Google Edition is a device with absolute top-notch hardware paired with the best software that Android has to offer. It is, strictly speaking, one of the best Android phones ever — at least if you’re with T-Mobile and AT&T. The only thing that will keep it out of most people’s hands is its prohibitive price tag. And that’s where real Nexus devices have it beat.
Still, it makes a truly compelling case for an upgrade or a switch. It’s exactly what a lot of people want: a top-of-the-line phone with the latest version of Android. And it will be updated to even later versions of Android when newer ones start coming out. If Google wants to stop making new Nexus phones like the highly rumored Nexus 5, then the Galaxy S4 with pure Android is the perfect excuse. The question is, would Google really go that far?
State of the Nexus
The maker of the current Google Nexus phone, LG Electronics, managed to snag a mere 3% of the global Android market in Q1 2013. This shows that adding high-end hardware and timely Android software updates together doesn’t always result in a killer combination. The Nexus 4 does have a few glaring faults — such as lack of microSD card support and lack of 4G LTE — that might have contributed to its weak sales. But it really should have sold more units and the bottom line is that it didn’t.
Google’s end-game is, as we all know, to get Android into the hands of as many people as possible. So it makes sense for it to partner with the current market leader, Samsung. And as for why it was necessary to inject an already existing phone with Nexus DNA instead of delivering a new one with actual Nexus branding (which they’ve already done in the past)? Well, the Galaxy brand is a much bigger brand than Nexus. It has more clout, and might possibly lead to bigger sales which would then translate to Android getting into the hands of more and more people.
The power of the Galaxy
Google’s Nexus effort, as a whole, doesn’t appear to have been very successful. On the other hand, Samsung’s Galaxy brand has been a huge success. Only last week, an exec at Samsung declared the Galaxy S4 to be the fastest-selling Samsung handset ever. It’s on track to hit the 10 million unit sales point by the end of this month. And now we have this, a pure Android version of the same smartphone. Can you imagine what will happen next?
In all likelihood, the standard Galaxy S4 — with TouchWiz and all — will go on to sell many millions more after the end of May. And all the other people who have been keeping an eye out for a true high-end phone with stock Android can now set their sights on the Galaxy S4 Google Edition, which of course in the end means even more sales for Samsung yet again.
The mere existence of the Galaxy S4 Google Edition solves a number of problems all at once. It takes care of the Galaxy S4 storage problem because removing TouchWiz and all the extra software features that come along with it means less storage space is taken up by “system apps.” It also ensures that Android users have a chance to really enjoy the best of the Android software, because the hardware in the Galaxy S4 is more than capable of supporting pretty much everything (except worldwide carrier support, of course, at least for now). Developers will also benefit because now they can treat this phone like a special developer version of the Galaxy S4 (it comes with an unlocked bootloader).
Is this the end for the Nexus?
The Galaxy S4 Google Edition shows that Google is starting to finally get it. Google took a phone from Samsung and made it go from great to greater. Now, ongoing software support can help ensure that it sells fairly well despite the high price tag. But where does this leave Google’s Nexus line of smartphones?
If Google has plans of retiring the Nexus phone, now is the right time to do it. It just put the word out on a Nexus-ified version of one of the most advanced handsets ever, plus as we all know, it is supposed to be working on other high profile projects, such as its first smartwatch as well as the upcoming (still rumored) Motorola X Phone (not to mention Google Glass). Android phone makers are doing a good enough job of producing great models, and the world certainly doesn’t need more Nexus phones. If anything, there needs to be less phones with Android to cut out the issue of fragmentation.
The decision to release the Galaxy S4 Google Edition may be part of an experiment to see how the market reacts. If successful, we may never see another Nexus branded smartphone from Google ever again.
Google’s Nexus Q media streamer was short-lived, and canceled shortly after being revealed at last years Google I/O event. With no word on a replacement at this years show, we’re now seeing its successor hit the FCC. A new Google device branded as H840 DEVICE has cleared the FCC this week (product code H2G2-42, an apparent play on The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) and it has our interest piqued.
The listing doesn’t reveal tons of details, but mentions that this new device “functions as a media player” among other things. The FCC listing is being backed and protected by a confidentiality report, so we’re stuck with very little details, for now.
Unlike many device that clear the FCC, this wasn’t sent through with any test photos, or they are being withheld from our site, so all we have is the picture you see above. It certainly has Google all over it, mentions media player, and us currently under testing by the FCC. As you all know a new Nexus Q wasn’t announced this year at Google I/O, but neither was a new Nexus phone or a new version of Android. It still could be coming though.
Google could be preparing to announce a new Nexus Q type media device, as well as the rumored Android 4.3 and white Nexus 4 on June 10th. At least according to multiple tips, leaks, and reports. Details from Droid-Life state this device could be codenamed “Wolfie” and be Google’s answer to the Nexus Q and the OUYA game-console in one. This new H840 could be tied into Google Games, and double as a media streamer, among other things.
Personally, we feel Google needs a device that does Google TV, Games, and streaming all in one. Now that would make more sense. Google announced a new music-streaming service at I/O this year, Google Music All Access, now we just need this new media streamer to go along with it to rock out our living rooms. Stay tuned for more details.
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Google H840 media streamer hits the FCC to replace the Nexus Q
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Google released the Hangouts app shortly after the I/O keynote on May 15th and while the device support was listed as being for Android 2.3 or later, there were some limitations to that. One of which was in regards to tablets. Google had put a note in the Play Store description saying that said tablet support would be available soon and it looks like that update has since arrived in the Google Play Store.
The what’s new section in the Play Store listing still reflects the earlier update, however we can confirm the Hangouts app now works on tablets. Specifically, we have tested the app on a Nexus 7. Otherwise, as we saw with the initial smartphone release, the Hangouts app is replacing the previously existing Talk app. Simply put, if you are rocking an Android tablet and want to get in on the fun of Hangouts, proceed to update.
Aside from the quietly added support for tablets, Hangouts users also have SMS integration to look forward to. There hasn’t been any date or timeframe as to when that will arrive, however the confirmation did come by way of a Google employee. Dori Storbeck, Community Manager for Hangouts and Chat has said the SMS integration will be “coming soon.”
In addition to the confirmation, there is also a bit of SMS integration evidence sitting in the Google Accounts settings page. Perhaps a bit more fun, Google seems to have also included some Easter Eggs. These however, are available for those using the desktop. The list of Easter Eggs includes everything from ponies to pitchforks.
There is also the KONAMO cheat available. That one will likely be a favorite by many and as a refresher, you will need to hit the arrow keys for up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, and then B A Enter. Anyway, while you are waiting for your tablet to finish updating the Hangouts app, check the above image for the full list of Easter Eggs and have some fun with friends.
SOURCE: Google Play Store
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Google+ Hangouts app update adds tablet support
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We are all mobile geeks, here at Android Authority. We love everything with a power button. We like to comment the latest news and endlessly argue over which phone is better. On the Friday Debate, we pick a hot issue and proceed to discuss it. Join us!
This week was Google I/O week, and naturally, in this Friday Debate we will discuss the new stuff that Google shown us at I/O, but also the stuff we didn’t get to see. Among the highlights: the Samsung Galaxy S4 Google Edition, a boatload of news about Glass, new Google Maps, some good stuff for developers, and a redesigned Google Plus (it was a big commotion out there). On the MIA list: the Nexus 7 2, the X Phone, Android 4.3.
So, what do you make of this year’s Google I/O? We’ve asked ourselves this question, and came up with some answers. Join us in the comments.
The highlight for me was probably the announcement of the Samsung Galaxy S4 “Google Edition”. Not because of the handset particularly, but because of what it could mean for the future of Nexus type devices.
Although not carrying a “Nexus” title, for all intensive purposes this Galaxy S4 is a Nexus device, as it will be receiving Android updates as promptly as possible. Which started me wondering, has this opened up the door for other manufactures to offer pure Android versions of their handsets, and if so, what does this mean for the fragmentation problem?
Whilst I don’t expect to see a ton of “Nexus” devices appearing any time soon, if this Galaxy S4 version manages to sell well, it poses an interesting conundrum for manufacturers; what will make them more money, Nexus devices with free updates or spending money trying to update their proprietary software?
Of course, no-one knows for certain what this new Galaxy S4 version means for Android yet, but there’s lots of interesting potential ahead.
We may have not seen a new Nexus 7 or a new Android version, but all in all, users of Google products (not only Android) will feel that they have received a lot during Google I/O 2013.
My highlights start with Google Play Music All Access, which should be a success, provided Google rolls it out to many countries, in a timely manner.
Then, the new Hangouts provides a very good messaging experience and I’m also a big fan of the new Google+ interface. I don’t need to mention how eager I am to get my hands on the pure Android Samsung Galaxy S4, because that goes without saying…
All in all, even if we haven’t seen some of the things we expected, I think Google I/O 2013 has laid the groundwork for some great user experiences.
I was lying in bed at 3 in the morning watching the keynote when Larry Page walked out. I layed there in utter awe at this amazing man. He was a real person, he wasn’t scared to state his opinion openly bashing Oracle and Microsoft.
He took random questions from anyone. He inspired me with his vision and belief in our future. In a world run by crooks it is comforting to know that at least there is this man helping to run basically the Internet. Larry Page inspired me and let me know that there are good people still in power.
Google I/O is primarily a developers conference, so it goes without saying that the majority of the audience are developers.
The first hour of the conference meant nothing to a consumer, but to developers it’s big news. The new Android Studio, Cloud Messaging, improvements to Google Maps, these are great additions and will help attract more and more developers to Android, meaning better apps for us.
The big news was Android 4.3 Jelly Bean, or rather the lack of Android 4.3. Now I won’t lie and pretend I wasn’t expecting the new version of Android to be announced (In all honesty, I was baying for some Key Lime Pie action), but when we push away our greedy need for more sweets, we realise maybe it is too early for a new Android version.
Think about it, the only devices running Android 4.2 are the Nexus family, a handful of Asus tablets and the Galaxy S4. Even smartphones released this year, aren’t running the latest version of Android. So by delaying the release of Android 4.3, we can get a heap of devices (like the HTC One, GS3, Galaxy Note 2 etc) onto Android 4.2. Whether Android 4.3 comes out in July or later in the year (hopefully in the form of Key Lime Pie), we will be mind blown, so we need to go back to our seats and enjoy what we have already.
A major disappointment (at least for me), was the lack of an updated Nexus 7. Nexus 7 II, new Nexus 7, or (my personal favourite) Nexus 7 HD, whatever you want to call it, I was expecting an updated Nexus 7, especially since I broke my Nexus 7 two weeks ago (curse my buttery hands) and was looking to pick up the updated version. Maybe it just wasn’t ready, it’s obvious Google is going to make a new Nexus 7, so this is another example of patience my friends.
All in all, I think it’s been a brilliant I/O, possibly the best ever. The new Maps is gorgeous, Hangouts is brilliant, Play Games is awesome, Play Music got an update (FINALLY!) and the new Google Plus app is incredible. That’s without mentioning the stock Galaxy S4, which is big, big news for the Android community. Android is no longer in a development stage, it’s passed that, it’s in its refinement stage, and at Google I/O, Google is laying it’s cards facing up. So relax guys and gals, sit down, enjoy you’re popcorn (it’s got lots of butter), we’re in for a great ride.
As Derek said, the most impressive moment of the keynote was Larry Page’s speech and Q&A. For some reason, it resonated with me deeply. At the end of it, I went to G+ to proclaim my love for Google, with all the risk of ridicule. Larry’s presence and the entire keynote made me realize again how much I admire this company. As someone said yesterday (it was an article headline, I forgot by whom, sorry), Google’s products are just byproducts of its quest for tomorrow.
Watching the keynote, I felt that the people on stage are building the future. Amit Singhal teased the Star Trek Enterprise computer, and I have a strong feeling that Google is taking us in that direction. In my lifetime, I will interact with my computing device, regardless of what shape it will have, through natural conversation.
As for the lack of consumer products or Android 4.3, I wasn’t really disappointed. Google brought so much new stuff, it doesn’t matter that we don’t formally have a new Android version. Why are version numbers so important anyway? The new Nexus 7 will come, so Adam, don’t be disappointed. I think we’ll see it a couple of months, if the rumors are correct.
Overall, Google wanted to give I/O back to developers, and I think that was the right thing to do.
What did you like at Google I/O this year? What impressed you the most and what disappointed you?
Today, Google announced a two major updates to their Wallet platform. Google Wallet now allows you to send money to your friends quickly and securely from Google Wallet or directly from Gmail. Whoever you’re sending money too doesn’t even need to have a Gmail account to receive money and it’s completely free if you’re sending money from your Wallet balance or if you’ve linked a bank account to Wallet.
Sending money is currently only available on the desktop, however you can visit wallet.google.com on your favorite mobile device to send payments from mobile. At this time, these features are only available to US residents over the age of 18. If you don’t have access to Wallet yet, all you need is a friend to send you money as an invitation.
While you wait for a kind soul to send you money (an invite), I’ve taken some screenshots to tide you over.
As you can see above, you can now add a bank account to Wallet. It takes approximately 4 days for your bank account to get verified by Google.
When sending money, you can choose you Wallet Balance, a credit card on file, or your bank account. It’s also good to mention that at this time Google is waiving normal credit card fees during the promotional period. Remember, sending money from your Wallet Balance or bank account is always free.
If this doesn’t make you switch from PayPal to Google Wallet, Google’s second update today should sweeten the deal. Google has made shopping much easier and more secure on your Android phone. Google has added a one click checkout button. It’s just as easy as tapping the checkout button, reviewing your billing and shipping information, and tapping on submit. Of course, this all relies on the fact that the eCommerce site your using supports Wallet.
Google wants to break away the chains that separate us on different devices, making a more seamless experience regardless of whether we are using an Android device, a PC or the browser.
The same idea applies to Google search. Google Now is continuing to spread its way onto different devices (at least in limited form), including iOS, Android devices, Google Glasses and now even the desktop.
The desktop has had voice search for a while now, so what makes this change so special? It a word, conversational language support.
Let’s say you are planning a trip to Las Vegas from San Francisco. You have already used Chrome voice search to research things to do on your trip, now you need to figure out how long it will take to get there. You don’t need to say something complicated like “How long will it take to get from [current city] to Las Vegas”. Instead, you can simply say, “How far is it from here?”
Google already knows what you are talking about. Chrome understands the “it” is Vegas and the “here” is San Francisco.
The Chrome browser voice functionality also makes it possible to quickly send emails, make calendar entries and even pull up flight information. This isn’t the full “Google Now” experience found on Jelly Bean, but it is a major leap forward nonetheless. Expect these new search features to roll out within the coming weeks.
In addition to the changes to Chrome browser search, Google Knowledge Graph is also expanding, allowing it to try to predict your next question and add related statistics to graphs. Google Graph is also adding support for Polish, Turkish, Simplified Chinese and Traditional Chinese.
Google Now gets new cards
It’s not just the Chrome browser that is seeing changes to the way we search.
Google Now is getting a new recommended content alert card, displaying suggestions for upcoming books, music, games and TV shows. The better Google Now knows you, the more accurate the card suggestions for this multimedia content will be.
Google is also adding real-time public transportation updates for select cities, and Japan is even getting a “last train home” card.
Last but not least, a new Google Now card adds the ability to set reminders based on time, location and even specific contacts. For example, you could remind Google Now to tell you to call a business contact on a specific date, after you arrive in town from your flight — all using natural language.
With Google’s latest efforts, search is about to become a heck of a lot more personal. What do you think of the new changes to Google Now and to Chrome for the desktop? Excited?
We are hosting the livestream of the Google I/O 2013 opening keynote, and Nate Swanner and Joshua Vergara will pitch in with their impressions from Moscone West in a live blog.
The opening keynote of the Google I/O 2013 conference is scheduled to begin soon, with thousands of developers, enthusiasts, and journalists already heading towards the San Francisco venue where Google is set to unveil its new projects. Among them, our Nate Swanner and Joshua Vergara, who are as excited as they can be to see what Google is up to.
This year, Google has opted to have one big (it’s three hours long!) keynote, instead of the two smaller events it held last year. That means that much of the exciting stuff that Googlers have been working on in the last months will be shown today.
You can watch the Google I/O 2013 keynote livestream right here.
Google I/O keynote livestream
We know that some of you can’t watch the streaming video for one reason or the other. Don’t worry, you can still keep up with the keynote in real time by following our live blog. Nate will offer his impressions, while our master videographer Josh will fix you up with photos from the event. You can pitch in with questions and comments!
Google I/O keynote live blog
During and after the event, we’ll post on all the new developments and update this post with links. Bottom line, when something noteworthy happens, you will find out about it here, so stay tuned.
Google readying launch of new music streaming service after signing deals with Sony and Universal Music0
Earlier this year, it was reported that Google was readying its very own music streaming service to take on the likes of Spotify and Internet radio service Pandora. A later report added just a bit more info, but we still haven’t really been able to get official confirmation from Google on the subject. Fortunately, it looks like we will soon, as a new report on The Verge has it that the big G plans to launch a new music streaming service tomorrow, at this year’s Google I/O developer’s conference.
The Verge‘s report is based on information coming from music industry sources, who also say that Google has already secured separate music licensing deals with both Sony and Universal Music. The licensing deals reportedly apply for both Google Play and YouTube, which are slated to let users sign up for separate music subscription services. What this means is that Google actually plans on launching multiple music subscription services, and not just for Google Play, but for YouTube, the popular online video streaming site, as well.
It’s worth noting that as of this time’s writing, Google has already signed music licensing deals with the three biggest music labels in the world, which are Sony, Universal Music, and Warner Music. The keys are now in place, basically, and all that’s left is for Google to turn the ignition and get the whole thing started. It’s like a party that’s just waiting to happen now. And as the report from The Verge — as well as a number of other sources including Bloomberg and the WSJ — now states, that party will happen tomorrow at Google I/O.
There’s one important bit of information missing from all of today’s reports on the upcoming Google music streaming service, and that is information on pricing. But we’re sure that if Google does officially announce it at Google I/O, then we will get the info soon enough. And we’ll be sure to let you know about it right away. For now, keep following our Google I/O coverage for more.