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Tuesday, December 6, 2016

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Google aims for organization with latest app update

Posted: 06 Dec 2016 02:50 PM PST

Google has announced that it is now rolling out a new update to its Android app that simplifies and organizes the information on display. Beginning with this update, information is grouped into two sections, one for staying up to date with interests and one for upcoming personal info, such as events and flights.

The feed keeps users in touch with information on topics that they've shown interest in. This section encapsulates all of the suggested articles, movie showtimes, and shopping and sports information that previously floated free.


Upcoming creates an agenda for events in the near future. This includes calendar events, estimated travel times, and relevant information for packages, flights, and more.

Users have often taken issue with Google's all-in-one approach to its stream of cards. With the company taking strides to better group information, the tool should become more useful to those who want relevant information at a glance.

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Samsung Gear S8 Said to Launch With Harman Stereo Speakers

Posted: 06 Dec 2016 02:03 PM PST


Samsung next-gen S flagship is expected to show its face in a few months. After the Note7 fiasco, Samsung has a lot to make up for in 2017, so the Korean tech giant is probably focusing all of its powers in the hopes of creating the perfect Galaxy S8.

The rumors have been abundant while the Galaxy S8 is concerned. The latest comes from Fone Arena, which claims the handset will be the first in its line to sport stereo speakers. The speaker tech is said to be branded, so given that Harman was acquired by Samsung this year, it makes all the sense in the world to assume the Galaxy S8 will feature Harman branded stereo speakers.

Earlier info related to the flagship, reveals that Samsung will be trying to enter the graces of phablet lovers once again, by offering two Galaxy S8 models one with a 6.2-inch display and another with a 5.7-inch screen.

Other rumors indicate the Galaxy S8 will come with an optical fingerprint scanner, virtual assistant dubbed Bixby and a selfie camera with autofocus.

It's all speculation at this point, so you might want to take it with a grain of salt. The Galaxy S8 is expected to make a grand appearance during the World Mobile Congress in Barcelona. Are you excited?

[Fone Arena]

The post Samsung Gear S8 Said to Launch With Harman Stereo Speakers appeared first on Android in Canada Blog.

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Samsung Gear S2 Update Adds Gear S3 Features to Smartwatch

Posted: 06 Dec 2016 02:03 PM PST


If you love your Gear S2 smartwatch a lot, Samsung is just giving owners a reason to love it even more. The Korean tech giant has released a big update for the one year smartwatch which brings it on par with the Gear S3 in terms of functionality.

For starters, Gear S2 owners can now download popular Gear S3 watch faces from the Galaxy App store plus the new Reminders and Alti-Barometer apps.


The rotating bezel gets revamped too. Smartwatch owners can now use it to accept or reject calls, dismiss alarms and notifications. To accept a call you need to turn the bezel clockwise and to reject counter clockwise.

Moving along, the new update bestows handwriting capabilities on the Gear 2. Users can use their fingers to write in Korean, Chinese or English. 180 new emojis have made it on the smartwatch and there's the option to dictate messages (or just text in general) via voice.


S Health has also been overhauled now allowing the older watch to recognize more activities including running, walking, cycling, elliptical and rowing machine. The wearable can now start counting reps for repetitive exercise like squats, lunges, crunches and star jumps.

A new Stretching Guide option has been inserted into the Inactive Time Alert, so from now on the watch will suggest some stretching if it detects users have been inactive for long.


Samsung also added support for third-party widgets for apps like Yelp, Uber and USA Today and is giving access to new games including Stack and Monster Vampire.


Samsung also wants Gear S2 users to be safe, so it has added location tracing support. Now users can send out SOS messages by pressing the device's home button 3 times. Designated contacts will automatically receive the watch owner's exact location via location-sharing app Glympse.


The update started rolling in major markets on December 5, but will spread across the globe in the upcoming weeks. So keep your Gear 2 ready and charged.


The post Samsung Gear S2 Update Adds Gear S3 Features to Smartwatch appeared first on Android in Canada Blog.

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Google figures out how to reduce app update size by 65%

Posted: 06 Dec 2016 01:23 PM PST

nexus2cee_Play-Store-small.pngWay back in the day, app updates in Google Play would be the whole new APK. That changed back in 2012, and Google has been working to reduce the size of updates ever since. In its most recent triumph, the Google Play team has devised a system to reduce app update sizes by an average of 65%, but it won't be used all the time.

Android APKs are essentially ZIP archives with a number of special conventions.

Read More

Google figures out how to reduce app update size by 65% was written by the awesome team at Android Police.

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Saving Data: Reducing the size of App Updates by 65%

Posted: 06 Dec 2016 12:13 PM PST

Posted by Andrew Hayden, Software Engineer on Google Play

Android users are downloading tens of billions of apps and games on Google Play. We're also seeing developers update their apps frequently in order to provide users with great content, improve security, and enhance the overall user experience. It takes a lot of data to download these updates and we know users care about how much data their devices are using. Earlier this year, we announced that we started using the bsdiff algorithm (by Colin Percival). Using bsdiff, we were able to reduce the size of app updates on average by 47% compared to the full APK size.

Today, we're excited to share a new approach that goes further — File-by-File patching.App Updates using File-by-File patching are, on average, 65% smaller than the full app, and in some cases more than 90% smaller.

The savings, compared to our previous approach, add up to 6 petabytes of user data saved per day!

In order to get the new version of the app, Google Play sends your device a patch that describes the differences between the old and new versions of the app.

Imagine you are an author of a book about to be published, and wish to change a single sentence - it's much easier to tell the editor which sentence to change and what to change, rather than send an entirely new book. In the same way, patches are much smaller and much faster to download than the entire APK.

Techniques used in File-by-File patching

Android apps are packaged as APKs, which are ZIP files with special conventions. Most of the content within the ZIP files (and APKs) is compressed using a technology called Deflate. Deflate is really good at compressing data but it has a drawback: it makes identifying changes in the original (uncompressed) content really hard. Even a tiny change to the original content (like changing one word in a book) can make the compressed output of deflate look completely different. Describing the differences between the original content is easy, but describing the differences between the compressed content is so hard that it leads to inefficient patches.

Watch how much the compressed text on the right side changes from a one-letter change in the uncompressed text on the left:

File-by-File therefore is based on detecting changes in the uncompressed data. To generate a patch, we first decompress both old and new files before computing the delta (we still use bsdiff here). Then to apply the patch, we decompress the old file, apply the delta to the uncompressed content and then recompress the new file. In doing so, we need to make sure that the APK on your device is a perfect match, byte for byte, to the one on the Play Store (see APK Signature Schema v2 for why).

When recompressing the new file, we hit two complications. First, Deflate has a number of settings that affect output; and we don't know which settings were used in the first place. Second, many versions of deflate exist and we need to know whether the version on your device is suitable.

Fortunately, after analysis of the apps on the Play Store, we've discovered that recent and compatible versions of deflate based on zlib (the most popular deflate library) account for almost all deflated content in the Play Store. In addition, the default settings (level=6) and maximum compression settings (level=9) are the only settings we encountered in practice.

Knowing this, we can detect and reproduce the original deflate settings. This makes it possible to uncompress the data, apply a patch, and then recompress the data back to exactly the same bytes as originally uploaded.

However, there is one trade off; extra processing power is needed on the device. On modern devices (e.g. from 2015), recompression can take a little over a second per megabyte and on older or less powerful devices it can be longer. Analysis so far shows that, on average, if the patch size is halved then the time spent applying the patch (which for File-by-File includes recompression) is doubled.

For now, we are limiting the use of this new patching technology to auto-updates only, i.e. the updates that take place in the background, usually at night when your phone is plugged into power and you're not likely to be using it. This ensures that users won't have to wait any longer than usual for an update to finish when manually updating an app.

How effective is File-by-File Patching?

Here are examples of app updates already using File-by-File Patching:

Disclaimer: if you see different patch sizes when you press "update" manually, that is because we are not currently using File-by-file for interactive updates, only those done in the background.

Saving data and making our users (& developers!) happy

These changes are designed to ensure our community of over a billion Android users use as little data as possible for regular app updates. The best thing is that as a developer you don't need to do anything. You get these reductions to your update size for free!

Original Size
Previous (BSDiff) Patch Size
(% vs original)
File-by-File Patch Size (% vs original)
71.1 MB
13.4 MB (-81%)
8.0 MB (-89%)
32.7 MB
17.5 MB (-46%)
9.6 MB (-71%)
17.8 MB
7.6 MB (-57%)
7.3 MB (-59%)
18.9 MB
17.2 MB (-9%)
13.1 MB (-31%)
52.4 MB
19.1 MB (-64%)
8.4 MB (-84%)
16.2 MB
7.7 MB (-52%)
1.2 MB (-92%)

If you'd like to know more about File-by-File patching, including the technical details, head over to the Archive Patcher GitHub project where you can find information, including the source code. Yes, File-by-File patching is completely open-source!

As a developer if you're interested in reducing your APK size still further, here are some general tips on reducing APK size.

Android Match

Supreme Court rules in favor of Samsung in patent dispute with Apple

Posted: 06 Dec 2016 10:50 AM PST

Apple and Samsung have been in a constant back-and-forth for years in the court systems, disputing patent infringements and damages owed. Last year, Samsung filed an official appeal with the United States Supreme Court to dispute the damages it owed Apple over a previous ruling, and now the Supreme Court has delivered its decision on the matter.

It's a unanimous one at that, with the court ruling 8-0 in Samsung's favor. The court agreed with Samsung's argument that the damages should not be based on the entire device, but rather only on specific parts of it, which could reduce damages owed.

As a result, Samsung's case with Apple will find its way to a lower federal circuit court, and there the damages will be recalculated based on the new decision. That means Samsung has a chance to get back the $339 million it agreed to pay Apple previously, or that the damages could simply be lowered by some measurable number.

It's a big win for Samsung, because they will more than likely not have to hand over as much money as previously decided.

Android Match

Samsung Galaxy S8 said to drop the headphone jack

Posted: 06 Dec 2016 09:45 AM PST

Throughout the year, we've seen the likes of Motorola, HTC, and other companies decide that getting rid of the 3.5mm headphone jack is the right way to go.

While there are holdouts, like the Google Pixel phones and Samsung's now-unavailable Galaxy Note 7, it looks like Samsung wants to join the rest of the pack in 2017. According to a report from SamMobile, Samsung is planning on dropping the 3.5mm headphone jack altogether in the Galaxy S8, in favor of a wireless — and USB Type-C — future.

The other big reveal from the report is probably the least surprising. Samsung is said to be switching to the USB Type-C standard in the Galaxy S8, which will be used for charging the device and listening to music.

On top of that, today's report also states Samsung will drop the physical home button this time around and integrate a fingerprint reader into its 2K resolution display. Samsung will keep its AMOLED display around, but the report also says the company will switch from the PenTile layout, which should improve the overall sharpness in next year's flagship.

Based on the rumors, what do you think of Samsung's upcoming Galaxy S8? Are you holding out for one?

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Google Opinion Rewards is now available in Switzerland

Posted: 06 Dec 2016 08:08 AM PST


Hé, les Swisses, vous étiez jaloux des Français et de leur accès à Google Opinion Rewards? Bah maintenant, il n'y a plus aucune raison de rester envieux: Opinion Rewards est disponible en Swisse!

Of the national languages in Switzerland, I only speak French, so excuse me if I can't write that sentence above in German, Italian, or Romansh. But I'll translate the general sentiment to English for those of you who are still reading me: Google Opinion Rewards is now available in Switzerland.

Read More

Google Opinion Rewards is now available in Switzerland was written by the awesome team at Android Police.

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Top 5 most popular Android apps from last week: Knight Slingers, Samorost 3

Posted: 05 Dec 2016 08:50 PM PST

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. Trusted Contacts

Trusted Contacts

App info: Trusted Contacts is a personal safety app that opens a direct line of sharing between you and your loved ones.


2. Google Santa Tracker

Google Santa Tracker

App info: Play games with elves in jetpacks, rolling gumballs, sleighs powered by rockets and Google Cardboard. Once the 24th arrives, follow Santa in his journey around the world.


3. Mini Golf Buddies

Mini Golf Buddies

App info: Mini Golf Buddies is a 3D mini golf simulator for all ages. Swing your way through a huge collection of challenging levels.


4. Samorost 3


App info: Samorost 3 follows a curious space gnome who uses the powers of a magic flute to travel across the cosmos in search of its mysterious origins.


5. Knight Slinger

Knight Slinger

App info: Goddess Odelia declares a war to vanquish the blessed land–Oratoria. To put an end to the mayhem, Goddess Moira assembles a legion of knights and makes her way to the front line.


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.

Android Match

Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 issues may have been caused by a tight design

Posted: 05 Dec 2016 07:10 PM PST

A new report proposes that Samsung's Galaxy Note 7 may have faced fire issues due to an overly aggressive design. After watching the story unfold, the hardware engineers at Instrumental decided to investigate the issue further. Their curiosity was primarily driven by Samsung's varying responses to the issues, which seemed to vary by the day and even contradict the company's steps to manage the situation.

Samsung's explanations all dealt with the battery itself, leading consumers to believe that the issue was a manufacturing issue with the battery, not the phone. However, Instrumental noted that if the issue was with a flaw in the battery, then only the battery should have needed to be reworked, rather than the entire device line requiring a shutdown and recall.

With that in mind, Instrumental acquired a Galaxy Note 7 and carefully began to take apart the phone and look for clues. The findings are interesting, as the group came to the conclusion that the problem wasn't a problem with a flawed battery, but was instead an issue with the design of the entire phone. In its pursuit of a more compressed, yet powerful, device, Samsung became too aggressive. Over time or in certain circumstances, the battery could compress to the point that the positive and negative layers would come into contact, leading to an explosion.

Instrumental goes into more detail in its full report (follow the source link), but the takeaway is that Samsung's drive to innovate led to a device that was ultimately unsafe. Though Samsung has yet to confirm the findings, this situation could lead to a change in the industry. If the tight design was indeed the cause, it may lead manufacturers to take more time to consider the effects of their rush to make devices thinner and more powerful than before.

We'll keep you updated as Samsung continues to deal with the Galaxy Note 7 situation.

Android Match

Unlocked HTC One M9 now being updated to Android 7.0 Nougat

Posted: 05 Dec 2016 07:10 PM PST

HTC has announced that the unlocked HTC One M9 is now receiving its update to Android 7.0 Nougat. The company's 2015 flagship has been slated for an update, with the newer HTC 10 coming first in the roster. To begin, HTC is updating the unlocked version of the HTC One M9, with the update rolling out over the upcoming days and weeks.

Carrier variants of the One M9 will begin receiving their updates in early 2017, allowing time for carrier testing and tweaking.

This update aids in upholding HTC's promises of timely software updates for flagship devices. The company hasn't always met time-specific goals for updates, but continues to work hard to deliver updates to customers as soon as possible. Though the initiative hasn't single-handedly turned the company around, it's helped to ensure a great experience for current customers.

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Android Nougat and Marshmallow rise in Google’s December distribution numbers

Posted: 05 Dec 2016 04:55 PM PST

Google has released its Android distribution numbers for December 2016, and the company's latest OS versions have continued to rise this month. The latest release, Android 7.0 Nougat, has grown from 0.3 percent to 0.4 percent. Android 6.0 Marshmallow has grown at a larger rate, increasing from 24 percent to 26.3 percent.

Android Lollipop (5.0 and 5.1) still holds the largest share at 34 percent, just 0.1 percent lower than November's count. KitKat, Jelly Bean, Ice Cream Sandwich, and Gingerbread all fell, as the versions age further. At the very bottom, Android 2.2 Froyo continues to hang on with just 0.1 percent.

Android Distribution December 2016

Google continues to struggle with the issue of fragmentation. Though the company has worked to streamline and expedite the update process, the industry continues to struggle with updating product lines in a timely manner. The problem hasn't significantly hindered Android's growth as a whole, but it does lead to issues with customer satisfaction, as customers wait long periods of time for major software updates.

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