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Tuesday, January 17, 2017

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Allo v5.0 prepares to give personalized sticker packs based on selfies and adds support for Chrome Custom Tabs [APK Teardown + Download]

Posted: 17 Jan 2017 04:23 PM PST


The Allo v5.0 update is rolling out to chatters around the world. In terms of features you can touch and play with today, the only addition appears to be support for Chrome Custom Tabs. Taking a look at a teardown shows there's a new, personalized, custom-generated sticker pack in the works. As usual, we've got a download link at the bottom for those of you that aren't willing to wait for this to roll out normally.

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Allo v5.0 prepares to give personalized sticker packs based on selfies and adds support for Chrome Custom Tabs [APK Teardown + Download] was written by the awesome team at Android Police.

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Verizon going even further to prevent Galaxy Note 7 use

Posted: 17 Jan 2017 03:44 PM PST

We can't say Verizon hasn't tried. The carrier has recalled the Galaxy Note 7, offered incentives for people to switch to a different device, and even updated the device so it wouldn't be able to charge. Yet people are still using it.

Verizon says that thousands of people are still using the Note 7 after avoiding the update that would permanently kill it. Since it's still considered a dangerous device, Verizon is going to be taking a step that can't be avoided by customers.

Verizon will redirect all non-911 calls coming from Note 7s to customer service. This is a carrier-side change, so users of the device won't be able to avoid it. Verizon may also bill them for the device, since customers were reimbursed for it already.

If you're still using a Note 7, remember that Verizon is still offering a waived upgrade fee and up to $100 in bill credit for turning it in and getting another device.

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Google TalkBack update prevents screen from locking during text reading, interruption while using voice search, and more

Posted: 17 Jan 2017 03:43 PM PST

It is easy to take the use of our full senses for granted — some of our fellow Android users are not so fortunate. Luckily, Google has implemented the TalkBack service into the OS, which allows those who are blind or otherwise visually-impaired to use their devices more effectively. Now the v5.1 update notes have been posted to the Play Store, showing that the update brings some nice improvements.

Here's the official changelog:

  • Features and changes in 5.1
  • Webpage load progress is announced (Chrome 52 and up)
  • Screen stays unlocked while reading text
  • TalkBack doesn't interrupt voice search or dictation
  • New keyboard shortcut opens custom actions
  • "Read from top" and "Read from next" work better
  • Scrolling list navigation is improved
  • TalkBack volume adjusts to phone volume during calls

Some time ago, I did an experiment with my OnePlus One to see how it was using my phone via TalkBack.

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Google TalkBack update prevents screen from locking during text reading, interruption while using voice search, and more was written by the awesome team at Android Police.

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Silence speaks louder than words when finding malware

Posted: 17 Jan 2017 03:05 PM PST

Posted by Megan Ruthven, Software Engineer

In Android Security, we're constantly working to better understand how to make Android devices operate more smoothly and securely. One security solution included on all devices with Google Play is Verify apps. Verify apps checks if there are Potentially Harmful Apps (PHAs) on your device. If a PHA is found, Verify apps warns the user and enables them to uninstall the app.

But, sometimes devices stop checking up with Verify apps. This may happen for a non-security related reason, like buying a new phone, or, it could mean something more concerning is going on. When a device stops checking up with Verify apps, it is considered Dead or Insecure (DOI). An app with a high enough percentage of DOI devices downloading it, is considered a DOI app. We use the DOI metric, along with the other security systems to help determine if an app is a PHA to protect Android users. Additionally, when we discover vulnerabilities, we patch Android devices with our security update system.

This blog post explores the Android Security team's research to identify the security-related reasons that devices stop working and prevent it from happening in the future.
Flagging DOI Apps

To understand this problem more deeply, the Android Security team correlates app install attempts and DOI devices to find apps that harm the device in order to protect our users.
With these factors in mind, we then focus on 'retention'. A device is considered retained if it continues to perform periodic Verify apps security check ups after an app download. If it doesn't, it's considered potentially dead or insecure (DOI). An app's retention rate is the percentage of all retained devices that downloaded the app in one day. Because retention is a strong indicator of device health, we work to maximize the ecosystem's retention rate.

Therefore, we use an app DOI scorer, which assumes that all apps should have a similar device retention rate. If an app's retention rate is a couple of standard deviations lower than average, the DOI scorer flags it. A common way to calculate the number of standard deviations from the average is called a Z-score. The equation for the Z-score is below.

  • N = Number of devices that downloaded the app.
  • x = Number of retained devices that downloaded the app.
  • p = Probability of a device downloading any app will be retained.

In this context, we call the Z-score of an app's retention rate a DOI score. The DOI score indicates an app has a statistically significant lower retention rate if the Z-score is much less than -3.7. This means that if the null hypothesis is true, there is much less than a 0.01% chance the magnitude of the Z-score being as high. In this case, the null hypothesis means the app accidentally correlated with lower retention rate independent of what the app does.
This allows for percolation of extreme apps (with low retention rate and high number of downloads) to the top of the DOI list. From there, we combine the DOI score with other information to determine whether to classify the app as a PHA. We then use Verify apps to remove existing installs of the app and prevent future installs of the app.

Difference between a regular and DOI app download on the same device.

Results in the wild
Among others, the DOI score flagged many apps in three well known malware families— Hummingbad, Ghost Push, and Gooligan. Although they behave differently, the DOI scorer flagged over 25,000 apps in these three families of malware because they can degrade the Android experience to such an extent that a non-negligible amount of users factory reset or abandon their devices. This approach provides us with another perspective to discover PHAs and block them before they gain popularity. Without the DOI scorer, many of these apps would have escaped the extra scrutiny of a manual review.
The DOI scorer and all of Android's anti-malware work is one of multiple layers protecting users and developers on Android. For an overview of Android's security and transparency efforts, check out our page.

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Vine is now Vine Camera, can upload looping six-second videos to Twitter

Posted: 17 Jan 2017 02:53 PM PST

Twitter ruffled some feathers when they announced that Vine would be discontinued, likely due to Twitter's native support for video and the lack of a revenue stream from Vine. At the same time, they announced that the Vine mobile app would be re-branded into 'Vine Camera,' which went live today.


Available for iOS and Android, the app still allows you to record six-second videos. You can record from your device's cameras, or import an existing local video.

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Vine is now Vine Camera, can upload looping six-second videos to Twitter was written by the awesome team at Android Police.

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AT&T shut down its 2G network on January 1

Posted: 17 Jan 2017 02:44 PM PST

AT&T's 2G network has officially shut down. The company announced that it took down the 2G network on New Year's Day, January 1. This move has been in the making for four years, and now it's finally done.

If you're still on a 2G-only phone, it's time to upgrade. 3G and 4G LTE cover 99% of Americans, so most people won't be affected by this change. The spectrum will be used for further LTE expansion as well as future 5G network plans. Spectrum is valuable, so it's no surprise AT&T shut it down.

Hopefully we'll start seeing improvements and a bigger push towards 5G with this move. And we dearly hope none of you are still on 2G.

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Google+ updated with new features like photo zooming, ability to hide low-quality comments

Posted: 17 Jan 2017 02:44 PM PST

Google+ is getting a few new features in the next couple of weeks. First up, Google will now hide low-quality comments, like spam. You'll still be able to see them, but you'll have to click "See all comments" to do so. It should be a good way to clean up spam.

Google is also introducing better zoom functionality to photos. This allows you to zoom in further on high-quality photographs uploaded to the site.

Lastly, Google is bringing Events to the new version of the site. It's still in the process of being improved, but it'll be available to use starting January 24.

Unfortunately, this does mean that the classic Google+ page will be shutting down. You'll be forced to use the new page, which is quite good now. You'll have to make the switch on January 24.

How many of you are still using the older site? Let us know why in the comments!

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NVIDIA SHIELD TV 2015 getting Nougat and many new features in the next week

Posted: 17 Jan 2017 01:44 PM PST

NVIDIA has announced that the original 2015 model of the SHIELD TV is soon getting an update to the latest version of Android Nougat. But the upgraded version of Android isn't the highlight of the update.

Also included is the addition of Amazon Video. You'll be able to watch your favorite Amazon shows without a Fire Stick in 4K with HDR support.

NVIDIA is also including a new NVIDIA Games app, better performance for GeForce NOW, the ability watch Nest cams, the ability to use GameStream in 4K, casting HBO GO, better Plex speaker support, a recent apps page, picture-in-picture support, a bunch of new games, and a lot more.

The update should roll out in the next week, though there's no set date. The update was mistakenly listed as already out but this was a mistake. Let us know when you get it!

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Google, LG teaming up to launch Watch Sport and Watch Style with Android Wear 2.0

Posted: 17 Jan 2017 11:39 AM PST

Google has confirmed that it's planning to launch a pair of flagship smartwatches with Android Wear 2.0 on board in the early part of 2017. Now, thanks to a report from VentureBeat, several key details regarding the upcoming devices has been revealed.

There will indeed be two smartwatches, and while Google is considering both flagship watches, there's clearly one that will stand out with higher-end features. (The image at the top of this post contains renders from a previous leak that show what the smartwatches may look like.)

The two wearables are reportedly be called the LG Watch Sport and LG Watch Style. They will be officially announced on February 9, along with another unveiling of Android Wear 2.0, and they will go on sale the following day. LG will be promoting the wearables at its booth at Mobile World Congress when that event kicks off at the end of February.

As far as specifications go, the Watch Sport is believed to be the high-end flagship of the pair. It will reportedly feature a 1.38-inch round plastic OLED display with a resolution of 480×480 with 768MB of RAM and 4GB of built-in storage. It will also offer 3G and 4G connectivity, NFC, and GPS. The NFC support means the Watch Sport will offer Android Pay compatibility. It will also offer IP68 water and dust resistance, and the battery will be measured in at 430mAh. It will offer a heart rate monitor, too.

Meanwhile, the Watch Style will measure in at 10.8 millimeters thick, with a round 1.2-inch plastic OLED display with a resolution of 360×360. It will apparently not have NFC support, nor will it offer any cellular connectivity. It will have 512MB of RAM and 4GB of built-in storage, though, and the battery is said to be measured in at 240mAh. It will be IP67-rated for water and dust resistance.

The report also states that both smartwatches will feature a Digital Crown, much in the same way that the Apple Watch does, which will be used for navigation. The plastic OLED touch screens will support handwriting recognition as well.

If February 9 is the big reveal date, we don't have long to wait. What do you think of the rumored specs for Google's upcoming smartwatches?

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Android Wear 2.0 may launch on February 9

Posted: 17 Jan 2017 11:39 AM PST

For fans of Android Wear who have been eagerly anticipating the arrival of Android Wear 2.0, there may finally be a date to circle on the calendar.

According to new information recently leaked by Evan Blass (@evleaks), the public launch for Android Wear 2.0 may happen on February 9, which would line up with earlier reports. If the date is true, that means we can expect to find Android Wear 2.0 in the real world in less than a month.

With the new software, users will find access to standalone apps, support for Android Pay on watches that offer NFC connectivity, and much more.

Are you looking forward to Android Wear 2.0′s arrival?

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Google Daydream View VR headset $30 off for a limited time

Posted: 17 Jan 2017 10:40 AM PST

Google debuted the Daydream View virtual reality headset alongside the new Pixel smartphones, and with a $80 price tag at launch, it was a noteworthy accessory to pick up with the new flagship smartphones.

For anyone who has been waiting to pick up a Daydream View, though, Google may have the perfect incentive. The company has dropped the price of the Daydream View VR headset by $30 for a limited time, dropping the price to only $49. That price is available in the Google Store and from Verizon Wireless.

The deal is available for all three colors — Crimson, Slate, and Snow — and it starts today, January 17. It runs until February 25, so the deal will stick around for quite awhile.

These are the phones that support the Daydream View VR headset for now:

  • Google Pixel
  • Google Pixel XL
  • ASUS ZenFone AR
  • Huawei Mate 9 Pro
  • Porsche Design Huawei Mate 9 Pro
  • Motorola Moto Z
  • Motorola Moto Z Force
  • ZTE Axon 7

Do you plan on picking up a Daydream View VR headset at the discounted price?

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Roku app gets a big update with bottom nav bar, easier channel selection, and more

Posted: 17 Jan 2017 09:04 AM PST

Roku players come with remotes, but the remote isn't always within reach when you need it. Or perhaps it's gone missing someplace in the black hole that is your couch. No matter, there's an app that can control your Roku, and it just got a big update. It's now quicker to navigate and makes it easier to find stuff to watch.

Here's the changelog first.

  • Start streaming your favorite channels with just a tap of your phone screen
  • A new navigation bar helps you access popular features with a single tap
  • Never wonder what to watch next.
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Roku app gets a big update with bottom nav bar, easier channel selection, and more was written by the awesome team at Android Police.

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ZTE Hawkeye will feature two rear cameras, Snapdragon 625

Posted: 17 Jan 2017 08:35 AM PST

A couple of weeks ago, ZTE officially launched a Kickstarter project for a phone it wanted to crowdsource into existence. Now ZTE is revealing a few more details regarding the handset.

ZTE has revealed that the handset, known as Hawkeye, will boast a few key features when it launches later this year. Specifically, it'll have a Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 processor and Android 7.0 Nougat. It will also feature a 5.5-inch 1080p HD display, and have 3GB of RAM under the hood with 32GB of built-in storage. There will be microSD card support and a battery that measures in at 3000mAh, too.

The Hawkeye will feature an 8MP front-facing camera and a dual-camera setup on the back, with one rear camera being 13MP and the other at 12MP. Also included will be a fingerprint reader, NFC, USB Type-C, and QuickCharge 2.0.

ZTE plans on launching the device in September at a price of $199 for backers. At the time of publication, the Kickstarter project has 159 backers and has earned $30,472. There are 32 days remaining in the project.

What do you think of the Hawkeye's specs?

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Google Maps starts showing parking availability for some users

Posted: 17 Jan 2017 05:33 AM PST

Back in August, Cody found strings in his teardown of Google Maps v9.34 beta that hinted at an upcoming display of parking difficulty. The option may have crept up for some users since then, but now we have our first glance into how the feature will work since it has started showing up for more users on Maps v9.44 beta.

Parking availability will be shown as a small rounded P icon next to your route duration estimate when you search for driving directions, followed by more descriptive text.

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Google Maps starts showing parking availability for some users was written by the awesome team at Android Police.

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iHeartRadio launches in Australia and New Zealand, gets round launcher icon for Android 7.1

Posted: 17 Jan 2017 04:33 AM PST

iHeartRadio has been on a roll with new features over the past few weeks. It introduced paid Plus and All Access plans and promised support for Google Home, and now the service is ready for more novelty.

First, iHeartRadio is now officially available in Australia and New Zealand, so users in the lands down under can listen to some radio stations and tunes for free while summer is still in full swing. Second, there's a new round launcher icon that will show up if you have a supported launcher and device.

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iHeartRadio launches in Australia and New Zealand, gets round launcher icon for Android 7.1 was written by the awesome team at Android Police.

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[Deal Alert] Wild Blood and Unified Remote Full are 0.10 in multiple countries (not US)

Posted: 17 Jan 2017 03:43 AM PST

As many will know, Google Play has certain apps on sale every week for 0.10 in the UK, Spain, Germany, Italy, France, Russia, and Australia. This week is no different, with both Wild Blood and Unified Remote Full on offer.

Wild Blood is set in the time on King Arthur, Queen Guinevere, and Lancelot. King Arthur, fuelled by jealousy for Lancelot for seducing Guinevere, gets tricked by his sister, Morgana, and opens Hellgate, letting all manner of demons lose.

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[Deal Alert] Wild Blood and Unified Remote Full are 0.10 in multiple countries (not US) was written by the awesome team at Android Police.

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CBS Sports app available on Android TV, for real this time

Posted: 17 Jan 2017 02:23 AM PST

Back in April of 2015 — yes, 2015, which is now 2 years ago if you've lost track of time — the CBS Sports app got updated with the changelog showing "Android TV Support." We cheered for the news like we do when apps that make sense to view on a big screen jump over to Android TV, but our joy was very short-lived. Despite the changelog, neither the ADT-1 nor the Nexus Player showed as compatible with the app so we could not install it and try it out.

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CBS Sports app available on Android TV, for real this time was written by the awesome team at Android Police.

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10 new and notable Android apps from the last 3 weeks (12/28/16 - 1/16/17)

Posted: 16 Jan 2017 05:33 PM PST

apps-01Welcome to the roundup of the best new Android applications and live wallpapers that went live in the Play Store or were spotted by us in the previous 2 weeks or so.

Please wait for this page to load in full in order to see the widgets, which include ratings and pricing info.

Looking for the previous roundup editions? Find them here.

Featured App


Today's roundup is presented by AccuBattery from Digibites.

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10 new and notable Android apps from the last 3 weeks (12/28/16 - 1/16/17) was written by the awesome team at Android Police.

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