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Thursday, November 3, 2016

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Google Play Store will be able to offer introductory prices for subscription apps

Posted: 03 Nov 2016 03:14 PM PDT

Right now, signing up for a subscription service on an Android device, like Spotify or Sling TV, means paying the full price up front just to get things rolling, but that's going to be changing soon.

Today at its Playtime developer event, Google introduced introductory prices for subscription apps, which will allow customers to pay a bit less to start their subscription with a service. After this initial promo period, the subscriber will be transitioned to normal pricing.

One example would be Marvel Unlimited, which normally costs $9.99 per month. They could offer an introductory price of $4.99 per month for a set period of time. When that time is up, the user would then transition to $9.99 per month or cancel the subscription.

The new option for developers and customers will roll out soon.


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Test on Android 7.1 Developer Preview in Firebase Test Lab

Posted: 03 Nov 2016 03:11 PM PDT

By Ahmed Mounir Gad, Product Manager, Firebase Test Lab

To deliver the best user experience right out of the gate, Firebase Test Lab for Android allows you to test your apps and ensure their compatibility with multiple device configurations, across OS versions, screen orientations, and locales. With a single click, you can run your tests on hundreds of device configurations in Google Cloud and receive your results quickly.

Today, we're excited to announce the availability of the Android 7.1 Developer Preview on Firebase Test Lab virtual devices. In addition to testing the Android 7.1 Developer Preview on your physical Android Device with the Android Beta program, or on your local Android Emulator, you can use the Firebase Test Lab to scale your app testing to hundreds of Android virtual devices.

You can also use Firebase Test Lab to perform your own testing. If you don't have any test scripts, Robo test is ideal for doing your basic compatibility testing on the new platform. It crawls your app in an attempt to find crashes. You can also use the Espresso Test Recorder in Android Studio to record your own instrumentation tests without writing any code.

From now until the end of December (12/31/2016), Firebase Test Lab will be offered at no charge on the Firebase Blaze plan for all virtual devices, to help you ensure the compatibility of your app with the Android 7.1 Developer Preview release, as well as with other Android releases.

Prepare your app for API level 25, then go to the Firebase Test Lab console to run your first test.

Happy testing!

Robo tests uncovering a crash on Android 7.1 Developer Preview for the Flood-It! app.


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RCS is going live for some Google Messenger users, enabling "enhanced features" for SMS

Posted: 03 Nov 2016 02:30 PM PDT

image-4

A little over a week ago, we first detected several less-than-subtle hints of Rich Communication Services, more commonly known as RCS, in Google Messenger 2.0's code. In case you don't know what RCS is, it essentially adds some useful features to SMS that are similar to what you'll find in Apple's iMessage. Now, for a select few, Google has fliped a server-side switch for RCS.

Google's initiative to make RCS more commonplace isn't new, though; last year, the Mountain View-based company purchased Jibe Mobile, a startup with an RCS platform.

Read More

RCS is going live for some Google Messenger users, enabling "enhanced features" for SMS was written by the awesome team at Android Police.


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Google Play services v10 can show a notification with player controls anytime a device on the network is Casting [APK Download]

Posted: 03 Nov 2016 01:55 PM PDT

2016-11-03 20.00.56

If the people in your home get regular use of a Chromecast, you're probably more than aware of just how inconvenient it is when the Casting device isn't handy. Sure, you can always pick up your phone or tablet and track down the Google Home app (formerly named Google Cast), but that takes a lot of taps – and most people don't have it installed or even realize it has player controls.

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Google Play services v10 can show a notification with player controls anytime a device on the network is Casting [APK Download] was written by the awesome team at Android Police.


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Samsung Gear S3 pre-orders start in the U.S. on November 6

Posted: 03 Nov 2016 11:19 AM PDT

Back in August, Samsung made the Gear S3 officially official. Now we finally have a Gear S3 launch date to circle on the calendar.

Samsung has confirmed that it will open pre-orders for the Gear S3 Classic (pictured above left) and the Gear S3 Frontier (pictured above right) on Sunday, November 6. Pre-orders will be available at Amazon, Best Buy, Macy's, and Samsung.

The official launch of the smartwatch will take place on Friday, November 18. Prices will start at $349. The LTE variant of the Gear S3 Frontier will be available at AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless, with each carrier announcing their own pricing and launch plans at a later time.

Both variants share similar hardware features and specs, including a 1.3-inch 360×360 full color, always-on Super AMOLED round display. They boast a Corning Gorilla Glass SR+ panel, which is designed specifically for wearables.

Inside the case is a 1GHz dual-core processor, 768MB of RAM, 4GB of built-in storage, and a 380mAh battery. According to Samsung, that means the Gear S3 will last up to four days on a single charge.

There's also a heart rate monitor on board and plenty of other sensors. The Gear S3 boasts LTE connectivity, Bluetooth 4.2, Wi-Fi, GPS/Glonass, a built-in speaker, and NFC and MST support so that Samsung Pay can be used as well for mobile payments. The Gear S3 is also IP68-rated, so it's resistant to water and dust. Each watch is compatible with Android 4.4 and later, as long as the device has 1.5GB of RAM or more.

What do you think of the Gear S3? Do you plan on picking up either variant?


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Welcome to Playtime!

Posted: 03 Nov 2016 11:09 AM PDT

Posted by Larissa Fontaine, Director, Global Head of Apps Business Development, Google Play

Almost three years ago, we started the first of an ongoing series of developer events, called Playtime, dedicated to educating partners on best practices and tools available to improve their apps and games and grow successful businesses on Google Play. It was originally a modest gathering that was held on our campus in Mountain View, CA, but it has quickly grown to become one our premier developer events of the year (outside of Google I/O) with a huge global footprint. We've already been in London, Paris, Berlin, San Paulo, New Delhi, Moscow, Tel Aviv, Tokyo, Seoul and more, just to meet directly with developers.

Today, Playtime is back in San Francisco after a long international run! On stage, we'll recap some of our recent efforts to invest in new areas that go beyond the smartphone, as well as announce new tools and highlight the major progress of recently launched features that help developers increase user engagement and make more money.

Extending beyond mobile devices

We live in a multiscreen world and people want to enjoy Android apps on the their phones, and many other devices. That's why we have been extending Google Play to go beyond the smartphone, enabling new app and gaming experiences while on the go, on a chromebook, in the living room and immersed in virtual reality.

The new Daydream device platform is going to be available soon and will come with a Google Play Store filled with high quality VR apps. Android Apps are now available in beta on a few Chromebook devices (same Android apps that currently run on phones and tablets). And we recently announced a developer preview of Android Wear 2.0 which introduced Google Play for Wear. This makes it easier for users to discover and install great apps that work directly on the watch.

Enhanced developer tools and programs

We continue to deliver the best tools for developers in the Play Developer Console to drive user engagement and increase revenue.

Offer new subscription promos

We know how important subscriptions are in helping you monetize and we're continuing to invest in features to support your subscription business. Subscriptions are the fastest growing business model on Play, with consumer spending in subscription apps increasing 10x over the last 3 years. Coming soon, you'll be able to create an introductory price for new subscribers for a set period of time. For example, you can offer a subscription for $1 per month for the first three months before the normal subscription price kicks in. Along with local/custom pricing and free trials already offered, introductory pricing will help you acquire more subscribers and grow your subscription business.

Build anticipation with pre-registration

Earlier this year, we started working with select developer to let users pre-register for major upcoming Android titles, such as Clash Royale (Supercell), and Candy Crush Jelly Saga (King), which has driven more than 30 million installs so far. With pre-registration, users simply tap the 'pre-register' icon to show their interest. The process automatically sets up an alert that prompts a user once the app is available. The program is limited at this time.

Get feedback early with Early Access

In only a few short months, more developers have been leveraging the "Early Access" open beta program to build a user base, interact with early-adopter users and get invaluable feedback before an official launch. It has been an immediate hit! Since the collection became available to all users, open beta titles have been installed over 4 million times (up from 1 million in September) and demand is growing. If you are a developer getting ready to launch on Google Play, you can nominate your app or game to be part of Early Access. Learn more here.

Recognizing art and innovation from Indies

To build awareness of the awesome innovation and art that indie game developers are bringing to users on Google Play, we have invested heavily over the past year in programs like Indie Corner, as well as industry events like the Google Play Indie Games Festival in North America. The new Indie Corner collection, in particular, has already helped million of gamers discover the latest and most innovative releases on Google Play. Developer can nominate indie game for inclusion at http://ift.tt/1ppO8sr. We'll pick the best games to showcase based on the quality of the experience and exemplary use of Google Play game services.

Ensuring fair play for everyone

Our goal is always to do the right thing for both users and developers. As game economies have become more complex, developers are looking for more tools to ensure that all users play fairly to make gameplay fun for everyone. Today, we are announcing a new API (in beta) that helps developers identify users who have requested refunds so they can better manage their economies. This program is currently in early beta and interested developers can sign up to learn more here.

It has been another great year for Google Play thanks to the continued feedback and support from the developer community.


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Amazon Rapids is a $2.99 subscription for short kid stories written as chat conversations

Posted: 03 Nov 2016 09:38 AM PDT

amazon-rapids

 

By now, you need a $100 monthly Amazon budget if you want to subscribe to all of the company's paid plans and features. But if you still have a couple of dollars left in your pocket by the end of the month and you have kids that would enjoy an innovative reading experience, then you might be interested in adding another subscription to your payments.

Amazon Rapids is a quick reading and storytelling experience built around instant messaging.

Read More

Amazon Rapids is a $2.99 subscription for short kid stories written as chat conversations was written by the awesome team at Android Police.


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Huawei announces Mate 9 with dual camera setup, 5.9-inch display, and more

Posted: 03 Nov 2016 09:13 AM PDT

Huawei's latest event introduced a new wearable, but it also managed to take some time in the busy schedule to announce a brand new flagship smartphone.

The Huawei Mate 9 features a 5.9-inch 1080p HD display, 64GB of built-in storage, a microSD card slot, 4GB of RAM, support for two SIM cards, and a fingerprint reader on the back. There is a 4000mAh battery tucked inside, and Android underneath Huawei's proprietary EMUI 5.0 user interface.

One of the major key features for the Mate 9 is the dual camera setup on the back, which Huawei is once again promoting in partnership with camera company Leica. One of the rear cameras is a 12-megapixel RGB sensor, while the other is a 20-megapixel monochrome sensor. Huawei is promoting a 4-in-1 Hybrid Auto Focus feature that combines phase detection, laser, depth, and contrast focus into one captured image.

Powering the whole show is a Kirin 960 processor. Huawei says it's an octa-core CPU and an octa-core GPU that offers the best multi-core performance score of any smartphone processor. At the same time, it manages to cut power consumption by up to 15 percent.

huaweimate9porschedesignlarge

On top of that, Huawei also introduced a Porsche Design variant of the Mate 9, which will feature a 5.5-inch 2560×1440 curved AMOLED display, 256GB of built-in storage, 6GB of RAM, and the Porsche Design branding on the back for everyone to see. It will be available in Porsche Design stores in Europe later this year, and will retail for €1395 ($1544 USD). It will arrive in other PD stores in the world, except for in the United States, beginning in January. It'll launch in Huawei stores in Asia, Europe, and the Middle East soon as well. It'll be available in Graphite Black.

The standard Mate 9 goes on sale first in China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Kuwait, Malaysia, Poland, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Thailand, and United Arab Emirates for €699 ($774 USD). It will arrive in the United States at some point in the near future. It will be available in a variety of colors, including Space Gray, Black, Mocha Brown, Ceramic White, Champagne Gold, and Moonlight Silver.

What do you think of the new Mate 9 and its Porsche Design variant?


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Top 10 New Android Games This Week: DC Legends, PinOut

Posted: 03 Nov 2016 08:09 AM PDT

Welcome back to Android Gaming Weekly, our weekly recap of new game releases. We still plan to cover upcoming releases and games we're playing, but this column is dedicated to new games that you can start playing right now. Check out our top picks and let us know in the comments section if you have any suggestions for next week's post.

Paper Wings

DescriptionPaper Wings is a fast-paced arcade game about catching falling balls mid-air to keep your bird alive. As you gain points, you advance through the stages in the game. In each stage, new challenges are introduced to make the game harder and more fun.

 

Asphalt Xtreme

DescriptionBreak through to uncharted territory with Asphalt Xtreme! Rip around dunes, charge through canyons, drift across the mud and fly past your opponents to reach the finish line!

 

The Trail

Description Join our pioneers on a vast journey across country unknown. Set forth to reach the town of Eden Falls – explore, craft, collect, trade, discover, and eventually settle and build.

 

Pettson's Inventions 3

Description: Enjoy 36 brand new inventions divided into 6 different areas, each with it's own unique theme. Construct a ferris wheel in the woodshed, create an egg-painting machine in the henhouse or build a wake-up invention by combining an apple, a dog and some paint! Look for the missing bike parts and see if you can complete the final mission, to fix Pettson's bike!

 


 Roofbot

DescriptionGuide Roofie through gorgeous, meditative rooftops and try to get the right color energy balls into the proper slots. But beware, the architecture changes as you interact with it so think ahead — every step you take may lead you closer to the goal, or trap you on the roof forever.

 

Villagers & Heroes 3D MMO

Description: Welcome to the Best 3D MMORPG on Android! Join hundreds of thousands of players worldwide in an epic MMO in a massive 3D world filled with swords, sorcery, dungeons, dragons, wizards, warriors, quests galore, countless beasties, and people from all over the globe.

 

DC Legends

Description: It's up to you to lead a team of DC's greatest champions to victory, but know this: peace can only be restored with a strategic mind. Experience the ultimate role-playing game packed with all of your favorite DC Super Heroes and Super-Villains. Join Superman, Batman, The Joker and more in a battle against Nekron. How will your choices affect the fate of the DC Universe?

 

Undergrave

Description Undergrave is a pixel art platformer game with roguelike elements about alchemy and demons, in which every playthrough is unique. In the game you control a character, which can attack enemies with a chain and throw potions or drink them.

 

PinOut

DescriptionPinball reinvented by the award-winning developers of Smash Hit and Does not Commute! Race against time in a continuous journey through this mysterious canyon of pulsating lights and throbbing retro wave beats. The classic pinball mechanic remodeled into a breathtaking arcade experience.

 

Spirit Run: Multiplayer Battle

DescriptionFight and Win epic realtime duels, acquire souls of your friends and enemies. Help your brood to defend the Aztec Temple from Apocalypse. Be careful, dodge killing snakes, jump out dangerous traps, evade fireballs – show us your skills! Use cool power-ups and funny spells to compete with other players.

 


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Huawei announces new Fit wearable

Posted: 03 Nov 2016 07:09 AM PDT

Huawei has announced a new wearable that's not based on Android Wear. It's called the Huawei Fit and it's aimed at the budget-conscious crowd, though it still has a lot of the smartwatch features you're used to.

The device features a 208×208 round black and white backlit reflective touchscreen display with no flat tire, an ambient light sensor in the bezel, an aluminum body, a six-day battery life, Bluetooth 4.2, wearing detection, heart rate sensor, and an IP68 water resistance up to 5 ATM.

The software has been used on previous wearables but has been fleshed out. It functions similarly to Android Wear in that you swipe up and down for different screens, swipe left to dismiss stuff, and swipe right for more info. It'll show health info and show notifications for the apps you select.

It's a pretty simple approach to smartwatches but has a lot of health features with more to come with future updates.

The wearable is launching today for $129.99 on Amazon, Best Buy, and Newegg. The black model will be exclusive to Best Buy for 60 days while orange and blue will be available everywhere else.

How many of you are interested in this device? Leave a comment!

Show Press Release
PLANO, Texas — November 3, 2016 – Huawei Device USA, a division of Huawei Consumer Business Group, today announced the availability of Huawei Fit, a new wearable device designed to fit every body's fitness needs.

Featuring multi-sport tracking, automatic step count, heart rate and sleep monitoring, as well as smartphone alerts, Huawei Fit will retail for a suggested price of $129.99 USD at Best Buy, Amazon and Newegg.

"Huawei Fit is the next evolution of Huawei wearables, combining learnings from products including the Huawei Watch," said Zhengdong Zhu, president of Huawei Device USA. "We designed Huawei Fit to be the perfect fitness companion, with accurate tracking technology for fitness, heart and sleep. With a long-lasting battery, Huawei Fit is ready for anything and suitable for every body."

A new style of fitness

Huawei Fit is the perfect companion for every body – regardless of fitness level. It bridges the gap between a smartwatch and a fitness tracker, with a stylish design and standard band sizes so you can easily swap for a customized look. The rugged, always-on LCD touch screen delivers important information at a glance, such as time, steps, and heart rate. Switch between preset dial styles—the time is always visible, even in strong light, thanks to the reflective and backlit display, controlled by an ambient light sensor.

The Huawei Fit's body is molded from a single aluminum component, in two finishes: Moonlight Silver and Titanium Grey. Quality manufacturing processes and design enable the Fit to meet 5ATM water resistance standards.

Daily Status Recording

Huawei Fit automatically senses when the wearer is walking, running and sleeping, and monitors these activities, recording the number of steps, distance, calories burned and duration of sleep every day. Through the Huawei Wear app, users can set their goal, and the Huawei Fit will track progress throughout the day.

Advanced automatic heart rate monitoring

Huawei Fit delivers accurate heart rate measurements, thanks to an innovative design and high signal strength, as well as unique skin color detection algorithms to account for different skin tones. Heart rate can be measured manually by accessing the heart rate screen, automatically throughout an exercise session, or continuous all-day monitoring for a detailed view of heart rate over four hours.

During exercise and training modes, five heart rate zones are displayed on the watch in real time. These zones are divided according to the activity: warm up, fat burning, aerobic endurance, anaerobic endurance and maximum effort. When the heart rate approaches the maximum effort zone, the watch will vibrate to alert the user.

Paired with the Huawei Wear app, users can review a daily heart rate curve, including minimum and maximum rates and resting heart rate. It can also provide a health assessment based on heart rate statistics over time.

Multi-sport mode support

Huawei Fit supports multiple forms of exercise, including walking, running, cycling, treadmill workouts and swimming, with different modes monitoring different data. Huawei Fit will automatically identify walking/running status and record data, including goals such as distance, calories, times, fat burning, and aerobic endurance.

At the completion of a session, the watch can display statistics such as distant, duration, average pace, calories, heart rate range, exercise result score, new records, VO2 max and recovery time.

Running training

For users looking to improve their fitness performance, Huawei Fit offers comprehensive running training guidance based on stamina and training goals. Leveraging technology from FirstBeat®, a leading provider of physiological analytics for sports and well-being, Huawei Fit can design running plans, give real time guidance during a session, and export reports upon session completion.

Huawei Fit's training supports five km, 10 km, half marathon and marathon modes. Each plan can be designed according to the user's exercise habits, available time and physical fitness.

Smartwatch Functionality

Keep in touch, even during the toughest workout. Simply sync Huawei Fit to a smartphone to receive smart alerts for incoming call and messages. The watch will vibrate when a call is incoming, identify when a call is missed, and even allow you to end a call by swiping up on the watch screen.

Sleep Monitoring

Good sleep is important for optimum health, so Huawei Fit also provides detailed sleep analysis, tracking sleeping and waking times, including evaluation sleep stages, such as light sleep and deep sleep. Huawei Fit leverages the Pittsburgh sleep quality index and polysomnography to provide a detailed sleep analysis report.

Battery Life

Huawei Fit can keep up with user's workout schedules, with a powerful battery that lasts for six days with normal use and up to 30 days in standby mode. Charging time for a full battery is less than two hours.

Availability

Huawei Fit will be available starting November 3 at participating retailers including Best Buy, Amazon and Newegg. The Black version will be available exclusively at Best Buy stores for the first 60 days, while the other colors – Orange and Blue—will be broadly available online.

Huawei Fit Specifications

Item

Description

Watch face

l Material: aluminum

l Dimensions: φ39.5 mm x 9.9 mm (including heart rate monitor 11.2 mm)

Watch strap

Material: Thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU)

l Width of wide watch strap: 20 mm

l Width of narrow watch strap: 18 mm

Watch size

Dimensions (H x W x D) (Unit: mm):

l Lengthened: 246.5 x 39.5 x 9.9 (including heart rate monitor 11.2 mm)

o Long wrist coverage: 140 mm–210 mm

l Shortened: 226.5 x 39.5 x 9.9 (including heart rate monitor 11.2 mm)

o Short wrist coverage: 130 mm–200 mm

Screen

l Memory LCD, black and white touchscreen

l Resolution: 208 x 208 pixels

l Dimensions: 1.04′ (active area: φ 26.3 mm)

Weight

< 35 g

Microprocessor

l RAM: 256 KB

l ROM: 1 MB

l Flash memory: 16 MB

Usage time

Periodic heart rate checks ≥ 6 days

Charging time ≤ 2 hours

Battery capacity

80 mAh

Bluetooth

l Bluetooth frequency: 2.4 GHz

l Bluetooth connection distance > 10 m (in an open environment)

l Bluetooth 4.2 protocol

Sensor

l 6-Axis motion sensor (Accelerometer + Gyrometer)

l Heart rate sensor (PPG)

l Capacitive Sensor (Wearing detection)

l Ambient light sensor

Charging method

Four pin charging port, magnetically connected to the charging port

Physical buttons

Reset button on the charging port

External ports

Micro USB 2.0

Water-resistant

level

5 ATM water-resistant

IP68 standard

Environment

Operating temperature: 0°C to 35°C

Operating humidity: 5% to 95% RH

Storage temperature: –20°C to +35°C

Storage humidity: 5% to 95%


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ZTE announces budget Android flip phone

Posted: 02 Nov 2016 05:15 PM PDT

ZTE has announcd the Cymbal-T, a  cheap Android-powered flip phone. Flip phones are rare these days so it's pretty cool to see a new one released with Android and a touchscreen, though most of us are not going to be buying such a device.

The Cymbal-T features a 3.5-inch display, a 1.1GHz Snapdragon 210 processor, 1GB of RAM, 8GB of storage with support for microSD cards up to 32GB, a 5MP rear camera, a 2MP fixed focus front camera, Android 5.1 Lollipop, and 4G LTE support.

The specs aren't going to blow anyone away, but the price is reasonably low (though you can buy better phones at the price). It costs $99.95 and comes with a case, car charger, and 1200 each of minutes, text, and data through TracFone. Hit the source link if you want to learn more.


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