Created by Google, Android is a smartphone OS and platform that is open-source and open for any manufacturer to use to make a smartphone. Most Android phones use a version that is mostly provided by Google and requires Google services. Android phones can run Android apps, available from the Google Play Store, or, optionally, from other sources.
Twitter today announced a new tool meant to make it easier to find new people and accounts to follow. The "connect" tab will appear on Twitter for the web, and in the Android and iOS mobile apps beginning today, where Twitter will curate a list of accounts it believe users might like to follow. Twitter says it makes recommendations based on who users already follow, which tweets they like, global events, and what's popular nearby. Twitter says it will refine its recommendations over time. The connect tab also integrates with the user's address book, making it simple to follow contacts en masse. Twitter says the connect tab is rolling out for all users. Twitter is free to download from the Google Play Store and iTunes App Store.
BlackBerry Priv smartphone owners can now swipe across the keyboard to input text, rather than press individual letters. BlackBerry says Priv owners have to turn on Type By Swipe manually, and can choose to swipe either on the software keyboard or the physical keyboard. Turning on swipe, however, disables the existing swiping gestures (for accessing symbols, deleting entire words, etc.) that are part of the Priv's physical keyboard. BlackBerry said it is looking at ways to allow Type By Swipe and its other swiping gestures to work at the same time. The Type By Swipe input tool was added to the Priv with the Android 6.0 Marshmallow update. Privs still running Android 5.1 can access these features by installing a new version of the BlackBerry keyboard app, available in the Google Play Store.
Google is rolling out an update to the Google Keyboard application with a handful of new functions. To start, Android users can now adjust the height of the keyboard between short and tall, with five different heights available in between. This feature reflects what one seen on LG phones for several years. The keyboard can be set to left- or right-handed mode, allows full-word deletion, and adds a dedicated phone-like number pad for faster number entry. The Google Keyboard 5.0 is free to download from the Google Play Store.
Google today highlighted its May security patch, which is first being delivered to Nexus smartphones and tablets. The patch resolves 25 issues, of which six are considered critical. The most severe could enable remote code execution via certain media files, as well as through a Qualcomm WiFi driver and an Nvidia video driver. Google says it discovered the vulnerabilities earlier this year and alerted its parters to the risks on April 4. Google has already made the patch available in factory image form via the Google Developer Site. It will release the associated new builds to the Android Open Source Project within the next 48 hours, and will push the update over the air to Nexus handsets in the next few days. Google said, as far it is aware, none of the vulnerabilities were exploited. Google provides monthly security updates to Nexus-branded Android handsets.
Sprint today said the HTC 10 will reach its stores on May 13. Sprint is not offering a lease option for the HTC 10, as it does for Apple's iPhone or Samsung's Galaxy S phones. Instead, Sprint will finance the phone for 24 months with payments of $26. An unlocked version of the HTC 10 is already available for sale directly from HTC.com for $699. The phone includes a 5.2-inch quad HD display, Snapdragon 820 processor, 12-megapixel camera, fingerprint sensor, and high-quality sound. It runs Android 6 Marshmallow.
Apple recently updated its Apple Music application for the Android platform and added access to music videos. Apple says thousands of music videos are now available to Android users, allowing subscribers to browse through new videos or search for specific songs or artists. The updated app also makes it possible to sign-up for or upgrade to a Family Membership, which supports up to six family members. Apple Music costs $10 per month for a single user or $15 for families. The app itself is free to download from the Google Play Store.
Rick Osterloh, former CEO of Motorola, is returning to Google in order to run the company's new hardware division, which includes Nexus and Chromecast. Osterloh left Lenovo last month. Lenovo bought Motorola from Google in 2014. Osterloh will be responsible for working with Google's handset partners in designing Nexus phones and tablets, as well as Chromecast dongles and compatible products. Osterloh's role will also include oversight of Google Glass, ATAP, OnHub routers, Chrome-based PCs and the Android-based Pixel tablet line. Osterloh will serve as a senior vice president and report to Google CEO Sundar Pichai.
BlackBerry today said it is expanding BBM video calling to Android devices. The feature is rolling out in the U.S. and Canada first in beta. BlackBerry says Android users should be able to make video calls to other BBM users on Android and BlackBerry devices. The company plans to monitor how BBM video calling functions within the beta. Most Android users should be able to take advantage of the feature right away, and aren't required to sign up. Video calling in BBM will be expanded to the iPhone and other regions over time, with a global launch scheduled for July.
Google is rolling out an update to its Google Photos app for Android with a new search bar. The app places the search bar at the top, replacing the floating action button that previously adorned the lower corner of the app. Photos users can now search with a single tap and drop-down options make it easy to find faces, places, or photo types from the library. Google Photos also added the ability to customize the movies Photos automatically creates from events with additional photos, videos, and music. Last, the revised app makes it possible to rename or delete devices folders, and to manage photos stored on SD cards with moving and copying actions, and creating new folders. Google Photos for Android version 1.19 is free to download from the Google Play Store. Google say these changes will reach the iOS Google Photos app soon.
Google today announced a new feature for its Calendar application for Android that makes it easier for groups to schedule meetings. This tool is being made available to Google Apps for Work and Edu users, who more commonly need to schedule group events. The "find a time" button can scan all the group members' calendars to find a time that works for everyone. If a common time cannot be found, the "find a time" tool looks to see if conflicting events can be rescheduled. Google says the feature works across time zones and allows the event scheduler to see all invitees' calendar at a glance. The app makes suggestions. Users are still in charge of actually setting meetings. Google Calendar for Android is free to download from the Google Play Store. Google plans to bring this feature to the iPhone soon.
Nextbit said its planned system update for the Robin smartphone will begin going out over the air today. The update pushes the operating system to Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow and includes the April security update, and tweaks to the camera, processor, and sound drivers. Nextbit says the processor refinements should lead to better battery life, while the camera is now much faster, and the stereo speakers provide clearer sound. Nextbit says partnered with AIAIAI to create a custom set of TMA-2 headphones to go with the Robin. The new audio adjustments for the Robin apply to the phone's headset jack as well, and the TMA-2s are able to take advantage of those adjustments for better bass and treble response. The headphones are colored to match the Robin smartphone. They cost $225. Beyond the headphones, AIAIAI and Nextbit worked together to create several exclusive ringtones for the Robin. They reached out to select musical artists and asked them to "make tones that soothe the otherwise occasionally disturbing world of smartphone notifications." The initial musical artists and DJs tapped by Nextbit include Griffage and Lauren Lo Sung. Nextbit plans to add more curated ringtones to its community site over time. Last, the Robin smartphone is now available online from Amazon.com.
Google recently made a remote control app for Android TV available to the iPhone. The app allows iPhone owners to access and control their Android TV device. It includes a d-pad and touchpad for navigation, as well as text and voice search. Google says the app lets people connect multiple remotes to Android TV for multiplayer gaming. The app, which works via WiFi, is compatible with all Android TV products and is free to download from the iTunes App Store.
Google today introduced what it calls MODE watch bands for Android Wear devices created with help from b&nd by Hadley Roma. The bands feature a snap-and-swap switch where they connect to the watch so they can easily be removed and changed. Google is making a wide variety of leather and silicon bands available for Android Wear devices in four different sizes to ensure compatibility with most smartwatches. Google plans to make the MODE mechanism design available to other brands to expand the number of snap-and-swap bands beyond today's launch collection. A tool on Google's web site helps Android Wear owners select a band that fits their specific watch. The MODE bands are available to purchase online from Google, Amazon, and Best Buy.
YouTube is pushing out a new version of its mobile app to Android and iOS devices with changes to the home screen. The home section of the app offers more relevant personalized recommendations, says Google, that are generated by neural network technology. The computer-assisted curation can detect patterns in users' watching behaviors to learn and improve as it goes. Google says it focused on how its system recommends recently-posted videos from users' favorite content creators. In tests, Google claims people who've taken the new recommendation system for a spin have spent more time watching the latest videos. YouTube is also preparing to roll 6-second ads that cannot be skipped ahead of all videos, particularly those viewed from mobile devices. The refreshed YouTube app is free to download from the Google Play Store and iTunes App Store.
BlackBerry today said Priv owners can expect to see the Android 6.0 Marshmallow system update hit their devices in the days ahead. BlackBerry has been testing Marshmallow on the Priv for a couple of weeks. In addition to all the usual Marshmallow trappings, the update brings with it 200 new emoji, more keyboard gestures, and enhanced word prediction. BlackBerry took steps to improve the launcher, which now offers more control over the home screen, and increase the number of apps compatible with BlackBerry Hub. The update includes the latest security patches from BlackBerry, allowing Priv owners to set custom personal data permissions, better manage notifications for privacy purposes, and make use of S/MIME for adding digital signatures and encryption to emails. Last, BlackBerry added several new options to the camera, including a wider range of video frame rates, such as slow-motion. BlackBerry said unlocked, non-carrier devices will see the update first, but all Priv's should receive Marshmallow shortly.
Google is pushing an updated version of its camera application to Nexus handsets. The new Google Camera app makes changes to the user interface to improve usability. For example, the Nexus 5X and 6P gain a dedicated slow-motion video mode, which is available from the slide-out camera menu. Nexus 6P owners can switch recording speeds at a whim. The app changes the shading of the shutter button, and the camera switcher adopts a circular design that's more in line with Google's Material Design. The Google Camera is only available to Nexus smartphones running Android 6.0 Marshmallow, including the Nexus 6, 5X, and 6P. It is free to download from the Google Play Store.
Google today said the global Android Gmail app is set to add support for Microsoft Exchange. "Whether you're on Google Apps or Exchange, you can use the Gmail app on any Android device to send and receive mail," said Google in a blog post. Gmail will also be able to support Exchange-based calendars. Gmail has long supported the IMAP and POP email protocols, including Microsoft's Outlook and Hotmail services. Google added Exchange to Gmail back in November 2014, but only Nexus handsets running Lollipop had access to the feature. Providing Exchange support to all Android users is a big win for businesses that rely on Microsoft's email management product. Google says the updated app will be made available from the Google Play Store over the next few days.
Microsoft has begun inviting people who registered to test its Word Flow keyboard to download the app from the iTunes App Store. Microsoft had been testing the alternate keyboard in a closed beta, but started accepting signups earlier this month. One the iPhone, Word Flow will support custom backgrounds, one-handed typing, and swiping gestures to spell words. The keyboard was developed by Microsoft's Garage unit, which heads up projects for Android and iOS. Word Flow for the iPhone only supports English at launch. It is free to download and use.
BlackBerry said AT&T has lowered the price of the the Priv smartphone by $100. The phone now costs $640 at full retail, instead of $740, or $199 with a two-year contract, instead of $250. The lowered monthly installment plan prices are $26.67 with AT&T Next 18, $31 with AT&T Next 12, or $16 with AT&T Next 12 with a downpayment of $192. The Priv has been available since late last year. It is a slider with a full QWERTY keyboard. The Priv runs Android rather than BlackBerry's own operating system.
Sprint is rolling out Android 6.0 Marshmallow to the Samsung Galaxy S5 Sport and Galaxy Note Edge. The update is being pushed in phases, which Sprint expects to complete by May 11 for the S5 Sport and May 2 for the Note Edge. In addition to the operating system update, Sprint says the Galaxy Note Edge is also receiving the latest security patches from Samsung and Google. Sprint did not say if the Note Edge update includes the improved Edge Panel behaviors that have been made available to the S6 Edge and S6 Edge+.
DeWalt recently announced the MD501, a fully rugged Android smartphone aimed at those who work outdoors. DeWalt is not making the device itself; instead, it partnered with Global Mobile Communications to make the device. Global Mobile is licensing the DeWalt name. Cat uses a similar strategy for its rugged smartphones. The MD501 meets mil-spec 810g and IP68 for protection against drops to concrete, dust, water, dirt, fog, humidity, and extreme temperatures. The 5-inch HD screen is extra bright for outdoor visibility and it can be used with gloves. The phone is powered by a MediaTek processor with 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB of storage. It accepts micro SD cards up to 64 GB. The main camera features a 13-megapixel sensor and the user-facing camera features a 5-megapixel sensor. The MD501 includes a 3950mAh battery with Qi wireless charging. The phone does not support U.S. LTE bands, but does support quad-band HSPA that is compatible with AT&T and T-Mobile. It runs Android 5.1 Lollipop. DeWalt hasn't said when the device will go on sale. It is expected to cost about $544.
Google today added the Sony Xperia Z3 to the list of devices able to download and test the Android N Preview. Z3 owners can obtain the Android N Developer Preview 2 code directly from Sony, but will have to manually flash it to their device. Once this preview is flashed, the Z3 will be able to install future Android N updates over the air. The Nexus 5X, 6, 6P, 9, and Player are already compatible with the Android N Preview.
Acer today provided a preview of the Liquid Zest Plus, an Android phone that features a 5,000mAh battery with Quick Charge support that provides "days" of uptime. Other than the battery, the Liquid Zest Plus includes an average feature set, including a 5.5-inch HD screen, MediaTek processor, 2 GB of RAM, and 16 GB of storage. The phone's main camera has a 13-megapixel sensor with laser-assisted and phase detection autofocus. The 5-megapixel selfie camera has a wide angle of view. The phone ships with Android 6.0 Marshmallow. Acer could not confirm pricing details, nor could it say if the phone will be sold in the U.S.
Google today updated its Keep and Sheets applications for Android devices. The latest version of Keep improves thanks to a new sharing tool that, when tapped, includes an option to create a new note in Keep. When using Chrome, the note will automatically include the URL for the current web page. A similar change is being made available to Keep in the Chrome desktop browser. Google is also addressing a highly-requested feature with the addition of labels for categorizing notes. Google says this should make notes easier to manage and search. As for Sheets, the Android app now makes it possible to add or change titles to charts, as well as the titles of their X and Y axes. Sheets users can now change the color of a series in a chart, and specify where the chart's legend should be located. Keep and Sheets are free to download from the Google Play Store.
Google today updated its Inbox service with features that should help people keep track of events, newsletters, and web links with less fuss. Google says Inbox will now cluster emails regarding a single event together and always display the most up-to-date information in an easy-to-glance format. Inbox has improved how it handles newsletters by prioritizing those most often read by the user. It will minimize newsletters once they're read to save space. The new "save to Inbox" tool is meant to help people save web links for later. The most recent version of Inbox for Android and iOS includes the link saving tool in the sharing menu and should negate the need for people to send themselves emails with web links. Inbox will group saved links together to make them easier to find. Inbox, an alternate email app for Gmail, is free to download from the Google Play Store and iTunes App Store.
YouTube today made it possible to stream 360-degree video live online and on Android devices. YouTube has supported 360-degree video for about a year, but today's change will let content producers push immersive video to people in real time. Google said it has partnered with select brands to get live 360-degree video off the ground. YouTube itself will stream a limited set of performances from the Coachella music festival. At the same time, YouTube is adding support for spatial audio. People can watch 360-degree videos and listen to spatially-tuned audio that changes as users move about the virtual 360-degree space. The new features arrive as companies such as Samsung, LG, GoPro and others offer 360-degree cameras as smartphone accessories.
Google today added podcasts to the online and Android versions of its Google Music service. Similar to how Google Music suggests playlists for certain moods or activities, so too will the service recommend podcasts based on interests and activities. Google Music users will also be able to find and subscribe to their favorite podcasts. The tool allows people to automatically download several episodes for each podcast they subscribe to, or receive alerts when new episodes are available. Along with the new service for consumers, Google has made available a portal for podcast creators so they can share their podcasts through Google Music. Podcasts are coming to Google Music in the U.S. and Canada first, with other regions to follow.
T-Mobile has begun delivering the Marshmallow system update to the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 and Galaxy S6 Edge+. The update brings the devices from Android 5.1.1 to Android 6.0.1. Marshmallow includes a handful of new features, such as Google Now On Tap, Doze, and advanced app permissions. The S6 Edge+, in particular, is also receiving the improved Edge Panel behaviors from Samsung, which offer more content and a broader set of tools for personalizing the panels. The update clocks in at about 1 GB and must be downloaded over WiFi. T-Mobile recently provided the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge with the same update.
The HTC 10 may be the first Android smartphone to ship with support for Apple's AirPlay protocol, but HTC is adding the feature to its older handsets, too. HTC has updated its HTC Connect application for devices such as the One A9, M9, and M8. With the updated app aboard, these older phones are now able to stream audio content to AirPlay connected speakers. HTC is licensing AirPlay from Apple. HTC Connect supports a wide range of streaming protocols, including Chromecast, DLNA, and Miracast. Consumers who own HTC phones can update HTC Connect for free from the Google Play Store.
Microsoft is one step closer to releasing its Word Flow keyboard to the iPhone. The company is testing the keyboard in a closed beta, but is now allowing consumers to request invitations. Microsoft first announced plans to release the keyboard back in January. One the iPhone, it will support custom backgrounds, one-handed typing, and swiping gestures to spell words. The keyboard is being developed by Microsoft's Garage than, which heads up projects for Android and iOS. Microsoft didn't say when invitations for the keyboard will go out.
Verizon Wireless today said customers who set up and use Android Pay from their device will be able to collect up to 2 GB of free data. Verizon will reward customers 1 GB the first time they use the app to make a payment and another 1 GB the third time they use the app to make a payment. The data will be available to customers through two billing cycles after it is rewarded. The offer is good through June 14, and the extra data must be claimed by July 13.
Instagram today said it plans to roll out a new way for people to discover video. Its Android and iOS mobile apps will soon feature a personalized channel called Videos You Might Like. The channel, located in the Explore section of the app, contains a series of videos from around the world that Instagram believes will match user interests. Instagram will also package together featured channels that center on specific topics or subjects. Instagram says the Videos You Might Like tool will improve with use, as the app's algorithms learn what the user likes and doesn't like. People will be able to signal which types of posts they'd prefer to see less of. Instagram says the explorational video channels are launching in the U.S. first, with other regions to follow. Instagram for Android and iOS is free to download from the Google Play Store and the iTunes App Store. Instagram recently increased the length of videos people are allowed to share from 15 seconds to 60 seconds. The social network says video accounts for a growing percentage of shared content.
Snapchat updated its Android and iOS apps today with animated emoji stickers. The stickers can be used on videos and will remain attached to whatever subject they are pinned to. That means the stickers will move if the subject moves. Snapchat is free to download from the Google Play Store and iTunes App Store.
Vine today provided an update to its Android and iOS apps, making it easier to view videos. The app has added a Watch button that, when pressed, will play all the videos in a given channel without stopping. Previously, users had to scroll through the videos manually. People can press and hold any given Vine to watch it loop before resuming the feed. The revised app also lets people sort through likes and comments, and makes speed and performance improvements throughout. Vine is free to download from the Google Play Store and the iTunes App Store.
Google today made Android N Preview 2 available to developers and early alpha testers. Google says the refreshed code tackles some bugs, but also adds a handful of new features. For example, Preview 2 builds in support for more emoji with Unicode 9, such as human reactions and activities. Using the new preview developers can assign launcher shortcuts for their apps, and make use of the updated Vulkan 3D API to reduce power requirements while still offering good graphics performance. The updated platform makes changes to some core APIs, too, such as that controlling the multi-window view. Google offers a reminder that this is not a finished build and not meant to be a daily driver. It is available to the Nexus 6, 5X, 6P, 9, and Pixel C devices. Google suggests developers interested in working with Android N Preview 2 also download the Android Studio 2.0 developer suite, which the company released last week. Google is expected to reveal more details about Android N during its I/O developer conference, scheduled for mid May.
Sprint's prepaid brands, Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile, plan to sell three low-cost smartphones in the weeks ahead, including the Kyocera Hydro Reach. The Reach (pictured) is an update to the Hydro Edge. It is water and dust proof, and the 5-inch qHD display supports wet finger tracking. The Hydro Reach is powered by a 1.1 GHz quad-core Snapdragon processor and comes with 1 GB of RAM and 8 GB of storage. The main camera has a 5-megapixel sensor and the user-facing camera has a 2-megapixel sensor. The device has a 2,160mAh battery and runs Android 5.1 Lollipop. The Hydro Reach will go on sale April 15 from Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile USA. It will cost $99. Boost and Virgin also plan to add the LG Stylo 2 and Samsung Galaxy J7, both announced earlier this year, to their rosters. The Stylo 2 will reach Boost stores April 15 and Virgin stores May 9. It will cost $179.99. The Galaxy J7 hits Boost stores on April 15 for $229.99, and Virgin on April 19.
Samsung has published details about the Galaxy E5, a low-cost Android handset intended for Tracfone. The E5 has a 5-inch, Super AMOLED 720p HD screen and is powered by a quad-core 1.2 GHz processor with 1.5 GB of RAM. The phone includes an 8-megapixel main camera with flash and full HD video capture, and a 5-megapixel front camera for selfies. The phone ships with 16 GB of storage and supports memory cards up to 64 GB. Connectivity options include Bluetooth 4.1, WiFi, and LTE. It runs Android 5.0.2 Lollipop. Tracfone has not yet listed the Samsung Galaxy E5 for sale, so pricing and availability are unknown.
Google Photos for Android is receiving a small update today with a new feature: it allows people to manually push backups from the phone to the cloud. The idea is to give users more control over which photos are backed up and which aren't. Google Photos automatically backs up all photos on the phone, but the manual option makes it possible to select certain images for safekeeping. Google Photos is free to download from the Google Play Store.
Google has updated its Calendar app for Android and iOS devices with the ability to schedule time for personal goals. Goals are activity based, such as working out or playing an instrument. Google Calendar users can choose an activity, answer several questions about it, and Calendar will find time for it in the user's schedule. Calendar can automatically reschedule goals when something more important comes up, and will learn over time as users defer goals and complete them. Google Calendar is free to download from the Google Play Store and the iTunes App Store.
Facebook today announced the Facebook Live API, a tool developers can use to enable Facebook Live videos from cameras beyond those within smartphones. Facebook users are already able to stream video live directly from their device. Facebook wants to expand live video to more devices. During its F8 developer conference, Facebook demonstrated the power of the Live API by streaming video from a hovering DJI drone. It will be up to camera and app developers to expand live video through use of the Live API, which is available beginning today. Live video is now showcased in a new version of the Facebook mobile app for Android and iOS devices, which places the live content in a separate tab.