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Monday, September 19, 2016

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Google’s Pixel phone rumored to start at $649; gets shown off in new commercial

Posted: 19 Sep 2016 03:41 PM PDT

With expectations that Google will unveil not one, but two new Pixel-branded smartphones in early October, the rumor mill is starting to work overtime in ruining most of the surprise.

This time around, a report has surfaced that suggests the Pixel, the smaller of the upcoming smartphones, could be priced starting at $649. The report states that this would be for the base model, which could start at 32GB of built-in storage. Unfortunately, there's no word on how many other variants there might be or how much those would cost.

On top of that, it's unclear how much the larger Pixel XL will cost. However, it is believed that the Pixel XL will boast a bigger, higher-resolution display, so it's likely that it will cost at least a little bit more.

Google is said to be moving forward with financing for the Pixel as well. The company is apparently planning on offering the option for customers that won't be tied to  Project Fi, which is good news if true. Which markets the financing will be available in remains unknown. Google will also reportedly offer accidental damage coverage as well as a year's worth of warranty coverage, with pricing set at $99 for the Pixel and $119 for the Pixel XL.

For those interested in Google's oft-rumored Daydream VR headset, the report also indicates that device could be priced at $80 when it launches later this year.

Google Pixel Nest ad

And then, to top it all off, a new look at a Pixel may have been revealed in a commercial for Nest products. As noted by Android Police, the model in the commercial is more than likely a dummy unit made to look like the upcoming handset, but there's certainly a similarity there compared to previous leaks we've seen of the Pixel.

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[Update: It's official] Longer tweets on Twitter are coming September 19

Posted: 19 Sep 2016 02:20 PM PDT

  • Just as predicted, Twitter made the official announcement today that media no longer counts towards the character limit. Rejoice!

twitterBack in May, Twitter revealed they were changing the way their tweet character limit worked. Currently everything you can shove in a tweet - text, media, polls, etc - count towards the 140-character limit. Twitter has not revealed the exact date this change is coming, but The Verge believes it will be September 19.

Read More

[Update: It's official] Longer tweets on Twitter are coming September 19 was written by the awesome team at Android Police.

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Create Screencast Videos on Your Android Device

Posted: 19 Sep 2016 02:11 PM PDT


az-screen-recorderI often receive emails from teachers who want to create tutorial videos or have students create screencasts on Android devices. AZ Screen Recorder is a great option for doing that. AZ Screen Recorder is a fantastic free app for creating screencasts on your Android phone or tablet. Unlike a lot of Android screencasting apps AZ Screen Recorder does not require you to have root access to your device nor does it require you to mirror to another device to record.

To create a screencast with AZ Screen Recorder on your Android device simply install it then open it and tap the record icon. You will see a three second countdown timer appear on your screen and then you'll be recording. You can talk over your recording to explain what you're showing on your screen. When you're done just tap the stop button and your recording is saved on your device. You can share your recording directly to Google Drive, YouTube, or any other file storage service that is connected to your Android device.

See my sample AZ Screen Recorder recording in which I demonstrate the Padlet Android app.

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Google Photos adds new automatic creations, faster sharing

Posted: 19 Sep 2016 01:38 PM PDT

Google Photos has been able to put together movies since its launch, gathering photos and videos that you uploaded at an event or during a trip and then showing them off in a new creation all its own.

The movies are put together automatically, but they've been limited in what they could collect. That's finally changing for the better, as Google has announced that Photos will now start to automatically create movies based on "creative concepts." That can include a series of photos of family members, like a child growing up, as Google showcased in a new video:

Sharing your photos and videos to your friends is also getting a lot easier. Google Photos has offered sharing to other apps and social networks, but sharing to a person hasn't been as easy. Now Google Photos' sharing sheet will show the names of contacts, letting you easily share with individuals.

If the contact you share with is using Google Photos, their app will bring up a notification to let them know that you've shared with them. If they don't use Google Photos, they'll get a link either via a text message or an email, which they can click and see view what you've shared.

The new Google Photos features will be rolling out to Android and iOS as well as the web over the next few weeks.

Do you use Google Photos regularly?

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Google Trips travel itinerary app goes live after extensive private beta [APK Download]

Posted: 19 Sep 2016 12:42 PM PDT


Users pay Google not in dollars, but in data. In exchange for handing over all of our private information, we get cool stuff like Google Trips. This travel app culls your Gmail account for hotel reservations, flight bookings, travel times, addresses, and other information you could possibly need for your next trip.

We provided a look at Google Trips back in April, and the service has been in testing in the months since.

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Google Trips travel itinerary app goes live after extensive private beta [APK Download] was written by the awesome team at Android Police.

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Twitter no longer counts photos, videos, GIFs, and more against 140-character limit

Posted: 19 Sep 2016 12:41 PM PDT

Over the years, the one defining element of Twitter has been its 140-character limit for tweets. That feature has held strong, even as other changes have been implemented, but now Twitter is trying to make it easier for users to include more content in their tweets without having to worry about the limit.

Twitter has confirmed today that photos, videos, GIFs, polls, and Quote Tweets will no longer count against the 140-character limit of a standard tweet. However, it's worth noting that links still count against the limit, so keep that in mind.

The change means an obvious difference: You can add more context to a video, photo, poll or quoted tweet when you need to. Twitter wants to make it easier for new users to jump onto the platform and start tweeting, so it will be interesting to see how these changes make that future happen.

The new feature is now rolling out, so users should see availability soon.

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Google Photos rolling out faster photo sharing and 'Movie Concepts'

Posted: 19 Sep 2016 12:08 PM PDT


Google Photos remains one of my favorite Google products. Unlimited free photo uploads (at a capped resolution), easy organization, automatic tagging, the list of features goes on and on. Google Photos is rolling out two new features today that improve sharing and automatic video creation.

Faster Sharing

There are two ways to currently share images in Google Photos. The first option is to create a link to the image(s) on Google Photos, which can then be shared through other applications or copied to the clipboard.

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Google Photos rolling out faster photo sharing and 'Movie Concepts' was written by the awesome team at Android Police.

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Google Play Books adds Discover mode with customized book news, reviews, and suggestions [APK Download]

Posted: 19 Sep 2016 11:52 AM PDT


Google is rolling out an update to the Google Play Books app today, and for the first time in ages there's a notable new feature. It's called Discovery, and it helps you discover new stuff to read. As is the case with a great many Google features, this one is available in the US only at first.

The Discover section of the app is accessible from the navigation panel. The content it shows you is based on your reading history.

Read More

Google Play Books adds Discover mode with customized book news, reviews, and suggestions [APK Download] was written by the awesome team at Android Police.

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Google Play Books Invites You to “Discover” a World of Reading

Posted: 19 Sep 2016 11:45 AM PDT

With more than 5 million books to read on the go, what will you discover next? Google Play Books is introducing Discover, a new way to find books by browsing the latest reviews, news, lists, videos and more.

Available in 75 countries on both iOS and Android and the web, Google Play Books is the world's largest ebookstore and offers readers like you smart technology that caters to your lifestyle — where you can start reading a book on your tablet at night and pick up where you left off the next day from your smartphone, as well as easily browse, skim, highlight and make notes.

Discover launches today in the U.S. in the Google Play Books Android app, and is coming soon to iOS. The feature is designed to enhance your reading experience even further by helping you discover new books and find what's right for you with:

  • The best stories from around the web — Is a book being made into a movie? Which novels does NPR recommend this fall? Discover identifies news, reviews, lists, and videos about books from trusted sources around the web, and brings them to readers in an easy to browse way.
  • A smart experience with personalized stories for you — Google's algorithms will surface just the right stories based on the books you read on Play Books. When you're reading an article or watching a video, Discover automatically pulls out the books that are mentioned, so you can start reading a free sample or buy the book in just a few taps.
  • Weekly Highlights delivers a roundup of the best stories each week — Short on time? Weekly Highlights is a digest delivered each week, showcasing a roundup of the most important news, reviews and videos of the week, so you are always up to date with the stories that everyone is talking about.
  • Google Play Editorial showcases today's biggest authors and books — With the launch of Discover we are introducing Google Play Editorial, where readers can find original articles, including author interviews, essays by favorite writers and book selections from some of the literary world's leading voices. 

Whether you're looking for a mystery, something funny, or the latest George R.R. Martin novel, come explore Google Play Books and discover new stories.

Posted by Eric Stromberg, Product Manager, Google Play 
Books Recently read Seveneves by Neal Stephenson

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Samsung will reportedly begin selling the Galaxy Note 7 in the U.S. again on October 21

Posted: 19 Sep 2016 11:23 AM PDT

Samsung has been faced with faulty battery issues with the Galaxy Note 7, which ultimately led the company to announce a recall of its flagship phablet and stop sales across the globe. But for folks who still want a Note 7, VentureBeat reports the wait will continue well into October.

Samsung is said to be planning on restarting sales of the Galaxy Note 7 in the U.S. on Friday, October 21. Galaxy Note 7 sales are said to be restarting in South Korea before the end of September.

In the United States, the return of the Galaxy Note 7 is tied to carrier launches, so it's possible that other regions across the globe will have staggered relaunch dates as well. Some places will have to wait longer than others as Samsung confirms batteries are safe as the new models are sent out.

Samsung is also offering ways for Galaxy Note 7 owners to tell if their new phone has the new, safe battery inside. That includes a green battery indicator, a special mark on the packaging, and a dedicated website to check IMEI numbers.

Do you plan on buying a new Galaxy Note 7 next month?

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Google Trips app launches with day plans, reservations and more

Posted: 19 Sep 2016 11:23 AM PDT

In April, select Google Maps Local Guides began receiving invitations and surveys to see if they were candidates for testing a new travel app from Google. Leaks revealed that the app was Google Trips, which assists users in planning, scheduling and working out the logistics of travel plans. With today's wide launch, Google is taking another step into becoming the premier virtual assistant company.

Google Trips plays host to a slew of features, but the short of the app is that it functions as an itinerary and guide for your trip. Stepping beyond the usual suggestions, Google has assembled sample Day Plans for the 200 top cities in the world, outlining what you can and should see in every destination. For those with specific sites in mind, users can customize and pin their own destinations, and Google will plan the rest of the day's itinerary for them.

Travel reservations have become a breeze with Google Trips. Due to its deep integration with Gmail, travel reservations and information are automatically collected and bundled within Trips. The service then converts it into simple itineraries that contain all the necessary information in an easy-to-read format.

Google Trips is a godsend for those who love to travel, and Google is leveraging the appeal of the app to draw users further into its web of services. In order to effectively utilize trips, users will need to primarily use Gmail and Maps, which offers Google additional users and a tighter integration of its web of services. While some may be concerned about the amount of personal data needed for Trips, the convenience offers a powerful pull to draw customers.

Google Trips is now available on Android and iOS. Google's official announcement can be found at the source link below.

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Android Studio 2.2

Posted: 19 Sep 2016 10:44 AM PDT

By Jamal Eason, Product Manager, Android

Android Studio 2.2 is available to download today. Previewed at Google I/O 2016, Android Studio 2.2 is the latest release of our IDE used by millions of Android developers around the world.

Packed with enhancements, this release has three major themes: speed, smarts, and Android platform support. Develop faster with features such as the new Layout Editor, which makes creating an app user interface quick and intuitive. Develop smarter with our new APK analyzer, enhanced Layout Inspector, expanded code analysis, IntelliJ's 2016.1.3 features and much more. Lastly, as the official IDE for Android app development, Android Studio 2.2 includes support for all the latest developer features in Android 7.0 Nougat, like code completion to help you add Android platform features like Multi-Window support, Quick Settings API, or the redesigned Notifications, and of course, the built-in Android Emulator to test them all out.

In this release, we evolved the Android Frameworks and the IDE together to create the Constraint Layout. This powerful new layout manager helps you design large and complex layouts in a flat and streamlined hierarchy. The ConstraintLayout integrates into your app like a standard Android support library, and was built in parallel with the new Layout Editor.

Android Studio 2.2 includes 20+ new features across every major phase of the development process: design, develop, build, & test. From designing UIs with the new ConstraintLayout, to developing C++ code with the Android NDK, to building with the latest Jack compliers, to creating Espresso test cases for your app, Android Studio 2.2 is the update you do not want to miss. Here's more detail on some of the top highlights:


  • Layout Editor: Creating Android app user interfaces is now easier with the new user interface designer. Quickly construct the structure of your app UI with the new blueprint mode and adjust the visual attributes of each widget with new properties panel. Learn more.

Layout Editor

  • Constraint Layout: This new layout is a flexible layout manager for your app that allows you to create dynamic user interfaces without nesting multiple layouts. It is backwards compatible all the way back to Android API level 9 (Gingerbread). ConstraintLayout works best with the new Layout Editor in Android Studio 2.2. Learn more.



  • Improved C++ Support: You can now use CMake or ndk-build to compile your C++ projects from Gradle. Migrating projects from CMake build systems to Android Studio is now seamless. You will also find C++ support in the new project wizard in Android Studio, plus a number of bug fixes to the C++ edit and debug experience. Learn more.

C++ Code Editing & CMake Support

  • Samples Browser: Referencing Android sample code is now even easier with Android Studio 2.2. Within the code editor window, find occurrences of your app code in Google Android sample code to help jump start your app development.

Sample Code Menu


  • Instant Run Improvements: Introduced in Android Studio 2.0, Instant Run is our major, long-term investment to make Android development as fast and lightweight. Since launch, it has significantly improved the edit, build, run iteration cycles for many developers. In this release, we have made many stability and reliability improvements to Instant Run. If you have previously disabled Instant Run, we encourage you to re-enable it and let us know if you come across further issues. (Settings → Build, Execution, Deployment → Instant Run [Windows/Linux] , Preferences → Build, Execution, Deployment → Instant Run [OS X]). For details on the fixes that we have made, see the Android Studio 2.2 release notes.

Enable Instant Run

  • APK Analyzer: Easily inspect the contents of your APKs to understand the size contribution of each component. This feature can be helpful when debugging multi-dex issues. Plus, with the APK Analyzer you can compare two versions of an APK. Learn more.

APK Analyzer

  • Build cache (Experimental): We are continuing our investments to improve build speeds with the introduction of a new experimental build cache that will help reduce both full and incremental build times. Just add android.enableBuildCache=true to your gradle.properties file. Learn more.

Build Cache Setting


  • Virtual Sensors in the Android Emulator: The Android Emulator now includes a new set of virtual sensors controls. With the new UI controls, you can now test Android Sensors such as Accelerometer, Ambient Temperature, Magnetometer and more. Learn more.

Android Emulator Virtual Sensors

  • Espresso Test Recorder (Beta): The Espresso Test Recorder lets you easily create UI tests by recording interactions with your app; it then outputs the UI test code for you. You record your interactions with a device and add assertions to verify UI elements in particular snapshots of your app. Espresso Test Recorder then takes the saved recording and automatically generates a corresponding UI test. You can run the test locally, on your continuous integration server, or using Firebase Test Lab for Android. Learn more.
Espresso Test Recorder
  • GPU Debugger (Beta): The GPU Debugger is now in Beta. You can now capture a stream of OpenGL ES commands on your Android device and then replay it from inside Android Studio for analysis. You can also fully inspect the GPU state of any given OpenGL ES command to better understand and debug your graphical output. Lean more.
GPU Debugger

To recap, Android Studio 2.2 includes these major features and more:





Learn more about Android Studio 2.2 by reviewing the release notes and the preview blog post.

Getting Started


If you are using a previous version of Android Studio, you can check for updates on the Stable channel from the navigation menu (Help → Check for Update [Windows/Linux] , Android Studio → Check for Updates [OS X]). You can also download Android Studio 2.2 from the official download page. To take advantage of all the new features and improvements in Android Studio, you should also update to the Android Gradle plugin version to 2.2.0 in your current app project.

Next Release

We would like to thank all of you in the Android Developer community for your work on this release. We are grateful for your contributions, your ongoing feedback which inspired the new features in this release, and your highly active use on canary and beta builds filing bugs. We all wanted to make Android Studio 2.2 our best release yet, with many stability and performance fixes in addition to the many new features. For our next release, look for even more; we want to work hard to address feedback and keep driving up quality and stability on existing features to make you productive.

We appreciate any feedback on things you like, issues or features you would like to see. Connect with us -- the Android Studio development team -- on our Google+ page or on Twitter.

What's new in Android development tools - Google I/O 2016

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Top 5 most popular Android apps from last week: makenines, Action Launcher 3

Posted: 19 Sep 2016 10:33 AM PDT

Every week we cover new Android apps with Fresh Meat on Wednesday, followed by Android Gaming on Thursday and Top 10 App Updates on Friday. When Monday rolls around, we look back to see which apps were the most appealing to our audience. Read on for the five most popular Android apps from last week. These apps are ones that are most likely new and haven't appeared in the top five list more than three times.

1 . SwiftKey Keyboard

SwiftKey Keyboard

App info: Join over 250 million people worldwide who use SwiftKey Keyboard for hassle-free typing. SwiftKey Keyboard uses Artificial Intelligence to automatically learn your writing style, including the emoji you love to use (if you use emoji), the words that matter to you and how you like to type.


2. ISS Live

ISS Live

App info: ISS Live allows you to watch live video feed of the Earth from International Space Station directly on your android phone or tablet.


3. Action Launcher 3

Action Launcher 3

App info: Action Launcher 3 replaces your homescreen with a colorful, customizable and speedy app you'll quickly learn to love. Try it out for free!


4. makenines


App info: makenines' requires careful thought and is solved using process of elimination similar to world-renowned puzzle game Sudoku.


5. Parallel Windows for Nougat

Parallel Windows for Nougat

App info:  If you happen to be a fan of split-window mode in Android Nougat, there is a good chance that may find this nifty tools App that I have been working on.


Note:  To ensure that all apps receive a fair chance to make the list, we will retire any app that has made the list for three consecutive weeks.

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Google Slides now supports using Android Wear to control presentations

Posted: 19 Sep 2016 10:09 AM PDT


It's a bit difficult to get excited over updates to presentation software. But the latest Google Slides update brings a new feature that should have been implemented ages ago - remote control with Android Wear devices. Google Slides has supported streaming presentations to Chromecasts for a while now, but you have always had to control the show from your phone (or your laptop, if using the web version).


The latest Google Slides update installs a companion app on your Android Wear device.

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Google Slides now supports using Android Wear to control presentations was written by the awesome team at Android Police.

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Samsung describes how to identify new Galaxy Note 7 with safe battery

Posted: 19 Sep 2016 09:37 AM PDT

Samsung isn't giving up on the Galaxy Note 7, even with a huge setback due to a recall. New units are needed for the folks out there who want to stick with the Note 7, and now Samsung has recently announced how owners will be able to tell if their Galaxy Note 7 is equipped with a new, safe battery.

It starts with a green battery indicator. Previously that battery indicator was white, so this is a noticeable change. That indicator will be present in the status bar, the Power Off prompt screen, and on the Always On Display screen.

Samsung will release a software update that will tweak the battery indicator and show the new green icon on the new Galaxy Note 7 units.

Samsung will also make a change to the Galaxy Note 7′s box. There will be a square printed on the label of the packaging to indicate that it's part the new batch with a safe battery inside.

If those changes aren't enough, Samsung has a dedicated webpage to check your Galaxy Note 7′s IMEI and let you know you've got a safe Galaxy Note 7 or not.

Samsung says that there have been nearly 100 reports of overheating Galaxy Note 7 units in the United States, which includes 26 reports of the Note 7s burning their owners. The recall was certainly impactful for Samsung, but at least the company is moving forward and trying to make changes that will benefit customers, whether they go back to the Galaxy Note 7 or not.

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Taskbar updated to version 1.2, can now completely replace your home screen

Posted: 19 Sep 2016 08:14 AM PDT


I think we all long for a real, proper tablet interface for Android and not just a blown-up phone UI, like on the Pixel C. We reported on Taskbar, an app that adds a Windows-like taskbar to your device and enables freeform windows mode, a few weeks ago. Developer Braden Farmer has updated Taskbar to version 1.2, adding in a new way to launch the app as the default homescreen, plus a few other improvements.

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Taskbar updated to version 1.2, can now completely replace your home screen was written by the awesome team at Android Police.

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Lifeline: Whiteout (USA) and Ultimate Guitar Tabs & Chords (not USA) are down to $0.10 in many countries

Posted: 19 Sep 2016 08:09 AM PDT


The Lifeline franchise of games is often found on sale on the Play Store. From the original price of $1.99, the games usually drop to $0.99, but sometimes they also go as low as $0.10, like that one time when Lifeline, Lifeline 2, and Lifeline: Silent Night all cost 10 cents. But there's a new entrant in the Lifeline series that you may have not picked up yet and that hasn't seen a price drop.

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Lifeline: Whiteout (USA) and Ultimate Guitar Tabs & Chords (not USA) are down to $0.10 in many countries was written by the awesome team at Android Police.

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AutoMagisk allows root users to play Pokémon GO or use Android Pay without constantly toggling root on and off

Posted: 18 Sep 2016 06:36 PM PDT


If you've got a rooted Android device and you're a Pokémon master, chances are that you've heard that the 0.37 update to Pokémon GO completely disabled the game for devices with root access and/or custom software. We made a guide on how to circumvent the SafetyNet check that Pokémon GO and Android Pay use with Magisk, but it might get bothersome to constantly toggle root on and off. Now, there's an app that lets you launch those apps without the slightly annoying root toggle.

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AutoMagisk allows root users to play Pokémon GO or use Android Pay without constantly toggling root on and off was written by the awesome team at Android Police.

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