Google Releases Android Auto App

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After unveiling Android Auto in June and distributing developer APIs in November last year, Google on Tuesday has finally launched a consumer version of the Android Auto app on Google Play.The Android Auto app is compatible with Android 5.0 Lollipop and higher devices, and recently launched Pioneer head units/ dashboard products, said Google. At present, Android Auto is only supported for users in the US, UK and Australia, and Google is looking to add more partners soon.

Google’s Android Auto platform essentially brings Google Now and Google Maps to the car’s dashboard. With the app connected to cars’ dashboard/ head units, users get turn-by-turn navigation, traffic information and more via Google Maps. Users can send and make calls, ask for Google Now cards via, and play music using voice commands, notes the Google Play listing.

The company has also hidden a developer mode in the Android Auto app. To get to Android Auto developer mode, users need to tap on the image header in the app 10 times.

Meanwhile, Google’s Wednesday update cycle for apps has brought new features for Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, YouTube, Quickoffice, Maps, Play Music, and Inbox by Gmail.

With the update, Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides apps have got the ability to go full screen during scrolling. Now users can now either double-tap on the current document or once on the Material Design-themed pencil at the bottom-right corner to edit the document.

Alongside, Google has updated the Quickoffice app to limit its functionality before finally taking it away from users. The app now uses individual Google Docs, Sheets, Slides apps to edit documents, and if none of the individual apps is installed Quickoffice notes that it is no longer supported, and has been replaced by Docs, Slides, and Sheets apps, prompting users to download them.

For the YouTube app, the updated version 10.10 brings a new 4K video search filter, some filter options for video uploaders, as well as some changes to the video editing interface.

On the other hand, Google has updated the Maps app to version 9.6, bringing new toggle in the Navigation settings menu that will allow users to choose between turn-by-turn voice navigation through the device’s speakers or via a Bluetooth connection and some design tweaks to the app.

With Google Play Music version 5.8.1836R, Google has brought the YouTube music videos in the app’s search results. Users can also see all albums in My Library without the need to tap on More.

Lastly the Inbox by Gmail app version 1.4 available on Google Play now reportedly allows Google Apps users with invites to access the service. Google hasn’t yet announced anything regarding the same.

Moto X scores the latest build of Lollipop to lead our Android device

It’s better late than never in the world of Android updates. The Verizon and Pure Edition of the latest Moto X have already had their turn at Lollipop, but now it’s finally here for AT&T devices.

It’s one of several updates to catch our eye in this week’s roundup of major software updates for the biggest devices, including phones and tablets on U.S. carriers, as well as unlocked phones and even wearables. Making sure your device installs the latest software is a good housekeeping practice, ensuring you have the latest features, close security holes, and squash those pesky bugs.

AT&T

Moto X (2nd generation): While other models have already scored Lollipop, Motorola says Android 5.0.2 is here now, with all the details in the latest changelog. Motorola sticks pretty close to stock Android, so you’ll be sure to get all that Material Design goodness.

Nvidia

Shield Tablet: Our favorite gaming tablet is getting a minor tweak to fix some color reproduction issues. They popped up after the recent 2.2 update a couple of weeks ago, so kudos to Nvidia for cranking out such a quick fix. The update also brings “improvements to [the] Netflix experience,” so feel free to stream away.

International

Android One: Google’s Android One effort in India isn’t slowing down, as Google announced Android Lollipop is on its way. Unlike the U.S. Google has tighter control over Android updates, so anyone with one of these budget-minded phones for the masses may start seeing Material Design before you do.

HTC One M7: Europe’s version of the first HTC One is getting Lollipop 5.0.2. It’s still running Sense 6.0, but it’s good to see HTC still churning out updates for its older devices.

Mandatory encryption requirement for Android Lollipop devices

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Google has quietly backed away from a pledge that new Android devices running Lollipop would have full-disk encryption enabled by default.

According to an Ars Technica report, multiple devices are shipping without the encryption enabled by default, like the new Moto E. A subtle change has been introduced toAndroid’s documented encryption requirements, stating that it’s “very strongly recommended, as we expect this to change to must in the future versions of Android.” (See section 9.9 of the linked PDF.)

This indicates that Google still intends to make device encryption a requirement at some point, but there is some kind of engineering issue that makes the company feel it can’t force all its hardware partners to get on board.

Testing from AnandTech in November showed that encryption devastated the Nexus 6’s storage performance, with encrypted devices being anywhere from 50.5 to 80.7 percent slower than an unencrypted Nexus 6, depending on what was being measured. That sort of performance drop-off may have spurred Google’s softened stance on device encryption, at least for now.

We’ll keep an eye on all the new phones coming out of Mobile World Congress and elsewhere this year to see how this plays out.

Why this matters: Device encryption is an important security matter, especially in the post-Snowden era, and it’s disappointing to see Google backtrack on this. At the very least the Android documentation indicates the company is still committed to making this happen, as full-disk encryption protects your data from unauthorized entry by hacking or other government agencies. It also makes it unreadable when it’s time to sell off your phone for the latest and greatest device.

Microsoft's Excel-friendly Android virtual keyboard packs a 10 digit number pad

excel android keyboardTablets aren’t typically great at data entry, as you have to hunt and peck for the numbers on the virtual keyboard.

Microsoft is trying to ease the pain, releasing its own Keyboard for Excel to the Play Store. It includes the traditional 10-digit keypad that still graces the right side of hardware keyboards, something number crunchers swear by for rapid data entry.

It only works in landscape mode, as it would put too tight of a squeeze on the rest of the keyboard on a vertical orientation. Because it’s designed for this single purpose the keyboard doesn’t have many other features like autocorrect or gesture typing, so don’t count on it as a full-blown keyboard replacement. Also, because Excel is built only for tablets, those are the only devices on which you can install it.

The keyboard still works for entering text and symbols, so it should handle all your needs when using it with Microsoft Excel for Android.

Why this matters: Microsoft’s strategy is to get you using Office, no matter the device.Office for Android puts the big three on your tablet: Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. This Excel-focused keyboard is a solid add-on for those who want to dabble with spreadsheet entry.

[source : pcworld.com]

Panasonic Eluga U2 With 4G LTE, 64-Bit SoC and Android 5.0 Lollipop Launched

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Panasonic has silently launched the successor of the Eluga U, the Eluga U2, in Taiwan at TWD 7,990 (approximately Rs. 15,700). As yet, there is no information of its global release.The smartphone can be grabbed from Yahoo online store in Taiwan. The Panasonic Eluga U2 is a single-SIM device unlike the dual-SIM Eluga U. The smartphone runsAndroid 5.0 Lollipop with the company’s Fit Home UI out-of-the-box, making it the first device to run Lollipop by Panasonic.

Upfront, the Panasonic Eluga U2 features a 5-inch full-HD (720×1280 pixels) IPS display and is powered by a 64-bit quad-core 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 processor coupled with 2GB of RAM.

The Panasonic Eluga U2 sports a 13-megapixel rear camera with LED flash, and a 5-megapixel front facing camera. Inbuilt storage on the Eluga U2 is 16GB, which is further expandable via microSD card (up to 32GB).

Connectivity options on the Eluga U2 include 4G LTE, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and GPS/ A-GPS. The handset measures 141.5x71x7.95mm, weighs 131 grams, and comes with a 2500mAh battery.

Last year in July, Panasonic had launched the Eluga U smartphone in India, priced at Rs. 18,990. The dual-SIM (Micro-SIM) Panasonic Eluga U features a 5-inch (720×1280 pixels) IPS OGS display, and is powered by a 1.2GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor coupled with 2GB of RAM. Other specifications include, a 13-megapixel autofocus rear camera; a 2-megapixel front-facing camera; 16GB of built-in storage expandable via microSD card (up to 32GB), and a 2500mAh battery.

[source : gadgets.ndtv.com]

PhotoMath Updated to High-School Level, Android App Coming Soon

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Damir Sabol, Croatian computer expert and entrepreneur, was helping his son with his maths homework when he had an idea.”I found it a bit tedious, all those additions and multiplications, so I reckoned, ‘We already have intelligent software, why not make it deal with maths?'” Sabol said.

The result was PhotoMath, a free app that scans and solves equations, providing a step-by-step explanation. It has been downloaded more than 11 million times since its introduction in October, and it was just updated on Thursday to take it to high school level. An Android version is due in days.

The app is based on the same technology as an earlier app called PhotoPay that was introduced in 2012 by Sabol’s company, which is also called Photo Pay. That app facilitates mobile banking, by scanning household bills and paying them instantly.

“Basically, what we do is teach mobile phones to read things from the real world,” Sabol told Reuters in his sparsely decorated office in Zagreb, where a dozen young software engineers jot down ideas and algorithms.

He said the PhotoMath averages about 1.5 million users every month and he had received scores of emails from grateful students, parents and even teachers.

“Will I allow my pupils to use the app? Absolutely,” a British maths teacher wrote on www.amathsteacherwrites.co.uk, after a pupil proudly presented the app in class.

“As a means for them to check their work it’s unrivalled … They are far more likely to ‘listen’ to an electronic device, rather than teacher, telling them that they are right or wrong,” the teacher wrote.

Sabol says he has never regretted making the app available for free.

“Now, of course, we are looking for ways to be commercial,” he said. “Without that, we cannot continue developing the app.

[source : gadgets.ndtv.com]

Google to Launch Android Pay at I/O Conference in May: Report

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Google is reportedly planning to announce a new payment API called Android Pay during Google I/O conference in May.According to Ars Technica, a source close to the matter revealed Wednesday that Android Pay doesn’t mean the end of ‘Google Wallet,’ it will continue to exist as a separate entity, and in fact it will be supported by Android Pay.

The unnamed source reportedly said that Android Pay is “built from the ground up” forAndroid developers using Host Card Emulation (HCE), and it will power in-store and in-app payments directly. Android Pay will reportedly allow firms to add mobile payments features to their apps. Users can associate their credit card or debit card information, allowing for “single-tap transactions within the app.”

Additionally, the companies/ merchants/ developers are said to be allowed to offer tap-to-pay transactions in brick-and-mortar stores if they opt for Android Pay API, which will rely on Google’s HCE and Near Field Communications (NFC) chips in smart devices to make the payments.

At present, Google’s “Instant Buy API” for Wallet allows Android developers to integrate a “Buy with Google” button in their app, but it is unclear whether existing Google Wallet APIs will remain after Android Pay or not, adds the report. Google Wallet lets users utilise their cards to buy a prepaid “virtual card” with which payment is done to merchant, and this entails small fees per transaction for Google, something it would be looking to do away with.

[source : gadgets.ndtv.com]

How to Backup Your Android Smartphone

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If your phone crashes unexpectedly, or worse gets lost or stolen, then you’ll not just be down the cost of a phone, but also a huge amount of data. To get around that, you need to enable cloud backups for as many things as possible, so that logging your account into a new handset transfers most of your data automatically. But not everything can be backed up that way, and that’s why it’s still important to take regular backups of your phone.

While some third-party apps like Titanium Backup and Helium will let you take a full backup your Android smartphone, they are not for everyone. Most users don’t know about rooting their phones, or want to mess around with installing ADB drivers. No worry, it may take a few more steps, but you’ll get there (almost).

Here’s how to backup almost any Android smartphone.

Backing up to the cloud

  1. On your phone, go to Settings > Accounts & sync.
  2. Under ACCOUNTS, and tick mark “Auto-sync data”. Next, tap on Google. Now, tap on the Gmail ID you used to sign onto the phone.
  3. Here, you can turn on all the options so that all your Google related information gets synced to the cloud. This includes your contacts, photos (uploaded to Google+, privately if you want), app data, calendar events, Chrome tabs, your Google Fit data and more.
  4. Now go to Settings > Backup & Reset.
  5. Check Back up my data.

This will save app data and all of your phone’s settings including Wi-Fi passwords to your Google account. When you sign in using this Google account on another phone, all of your preferences, photos (via Google+), and contacts will be imported automatically. This data is synced regularly and you just need to log into another device with the same account to recover it. This does not cover your text messages and various other types of data – you’ll have to back them up yourself.

Locally back up media, messages and apps
Next, you’ll want to save the music, movies and other media you’ve saved on your phone’s memory card. This process is easy – just connect your phone to a PC and copy everything that’s in the microSD card. This is a manual process so you’ll need to make a routine of doing this.

Media

  1. Connect your phone to the computer with a USB cable. If you are on a Mac, make sure you have the Android File Transfer application installed before you do this.
  2. Open My Computer on your PC, or Finder on your Mac.
  3. Navigate to the SD card and copy all the files you want to save to your computer.
  4. After the copying is done, you can unplug your phone.

Text Messages

sms_backup_plus_google_play.pngYou can easily save all your text messages and call logs to your Gmail account by using an app called SMS Backup+. Try these steps:

  1. Download SMS Backup+.
  2. Open the app and tap Connect.
  3. Pick your Gmail account from the pop-up.
  4. Now grant SMS Backup+ permission to access your Google account.
  5. Now go back to the app and tap Backup. This will save all your text messages to your Gmail account.
  6. Log in to Gmail from any Web browser and on the left side you’ll see a new label –SMS. Click it to view all the text messages that have been backed up.
  7. To restore these messages, just tap Restore in SMS Backup+.
  8. Tap OK in the pop-up.
  9. You’ll be asked to set SMS Backup+ as your default SMS app. Tap Yes. This is needed to restore messages.
  10. Now the app will automatically restore all your messages and call logs. Once the process is complete, the app will show a pop-up that restores your default SMS app. Tap Yes.

Apps
The next step is to backup and restore installed apps. You can re-download apps easily if you’re using the same Google account on the new device – just open Google Play, tap the hamburger icon (three horizontal lines) on the top-left > My apps. You can install all previously purchased apps from there.

(Also see: How to Quickly Install Apps on Android)

On the other hand, a local backup could be faster to restore, and wouldn’t waste bandwidth either. And it’s also pretty easy to do.

  1. Download ES File Explorer.
  2. Swipe the screen to the right to reveal the Homepage of ES File Explorer.
  3. Tap APP which is under a blue Android robot icon on the top-right.
  4. Tap and hold any app until you see a checkmark on its icon.
  5. Now tap the tick-mark icon on the top-right, the one inside a box with a dotted frame. This will select all apps.
  6. Tap Backup that’s on the bottom row. This will save a copy of the apk files of all your apps.
  7. To view which apk files have been saved, tap User apps at the top. From the pop-up, select Backed-up Apps.
  8. Tap any app’s apk file here to install that app without Internet.
  9. To save a copy of these files to your computer, connect your Android phone to a PC via USB.
  10. The phone will appear in My Computer like a pendrive. Open it.
  11. Go to Internal Storage > backups > apps.
  12. Copy all the apk files here. In case you format your device, or change handsets, you can quickly copy these apk files to it and install the apps again by placing them in the same folder on your phone, and then following steps 7 and 8.

By following these steps, you’re able to save a copy of all your contacts, text messages, media, apps, Wi-Fi passwords, and your app data. Of course, doing everything one by one is a little cumbersome, and the best way to back up your phone is to use a third party backup tool. We’ve used Titanium Backup and it is excellent but it requires root access on your Android phone, which is something typically expected from more advanced users. Even its interface is too clunky for most average people.

Helium is a great app for those who haven’t rooted their phones. It has a nice interface too, but it only works with select Android phones from some international manufacturers. If you bought a phone from Micromax, Karbonn, Lava or countless other brands, you won’t be able to use Helium. Further, using Helium requires you to install drivers for the phone on your computer as well.

How do you backup your Android phone? Let us know via the comments. For more tutorials, visit our How To section.

[source : gadgets.ndtv.com]

Android, iOS control 96.3 percent of global smartphone market

Android and iOS have long been regarded as the top two mobile platforms worldwide, but the latest numbers from the IDC are even more disheartening for would-be competitors.

Google and Apple‘s respective mobile operating systems together accounted for approximately 96.3 percent all smartphone shipments worldwide by the fourth quarter of 2014, according to the market research firm on Tuesday.

That’s up slightly from a combined total of 95.6 percent at the end of the fourth quarter of 2013.

Individually, the Android ecosystem continues to dominate with 81.5 percent of the market, up from 78.7 percent the same time last year.

Despite the releases of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, iOS slid from 15.1 percent at the end of 2013 to 14.8 percent by the end of 2014.

Ramon Llamas, a research manager with IDC’s mobile phone team, suggested in the report, “Now that Apple has entered the phablet market, there are few new opportunities for the company to address.”

On the other hand, Llamas observed Samsung — the undisputed leader in the Android space — experienced flat growth in 2014, forcing the Android ecosystem overall “to rely more heavily on smaller vendors to drive volumes higher.”

Of those smaller vendors, most of the ones highlighted in the IDC report hailed from Asia, including Huawei, Xiaomi, ZTE, and Lenovo, which picked up Motorola Mobility assets from Google in a multi-billion dollar deal at the beginning of 2014.

As for the rest of the smartphone market, IDC senior research manager Melissa Chau reflected that the race for third place behind Android and iOS resembled “skirmishes” more than an actual battle.

However, Chau hinted at brewing battles on the fringes — namely involving low-cost smartphones in emerging markets.

“With Microsoft bringing ever-cheaper Lumia into play and Tizen finally getting launched to India early this year, there is still a hunger to chip away at Android’s dominance,” Chau wrote.

Microsoft’s Windows Phone experienced the smallest year-over-year increase at just 4.2 percent, while BlackBerry posted the only year-over-year decline among the top four operating systems, falling -69.8 percent from 2013.

source – zdnet.com

Twitter Brings 'While You Were Away' Recap Feature to Android

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Twitter debuted its ‘While you were away’ or recap function last month on iOS and promised an Android version ‘soon’, followed by a Web version. Keeping that promise, the microblogging site on Tuesday revealed that the recap feature is live on Android as well.Twitter announced that it would be keeping its promise with the rollout to Android devices with a tweet.

The Twitter feature began to roll out to limited users early in January, while a full-fledged iOS launch took place towards the end of January. The recap feature aggregates tweets posted while you were away that its algorithm found were important to you, letting you catch up with the latest from all over the world in a single go, rather than scrolling through hundreds and thousands of tweets over a period of time.Just like Facebook, the ‘While you were away’ feature makes use of a complex algorithm that calculates exactly whose tweets you want to read, what trends and topics you’ve been following and what you want to know, based on user engagement and other factors. It puts together a list of the top tweets that you’ve missed between logins from various accounts you follow. But, just like the work of any algorithm, results are not always satisfactory.

According to reports, the feature cannot be turned off, but if you dismiss it enough times, it shows you recaps less frequently than before.

[source : gadgets.ndtv.com]