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. Android phones can run Android apps, available from the Android Market - run by Google - or, optionally, from other sources.
Facebook today made Paper version 1.1 available to the iPhone. Paper re-encapsulates Facebook content and presents it in a more appealing digital magazine. Today's update adds a number of new features including: birthdays and other events, photo commenting, group updates, new story buttons, more article covers, and accessibility options. Paper is only available to the iPhone at the moment, though Facebook said an Android version is in the works. Paper 1.1 for iPhone is free to download from the iTunes App Store.
Facebook today announced a new feature that will let people share their location with their friends. The tool, called Nearby Friends, is opt-in and needs to be turned on by users. It can be turned off at any time. Users will be able to share their location with all their friends, just close friends, or with specific lists of people. In order to see friends who are nearby, other users will need to have it on and share their location, too. The feature lets people share their exact location for a defined period of time, which is then visible on a map in order to make the person easy to find. Facebook suggests Nearby Friends be used by people to meet up when near one another. Nearby Friends will be added to the Android and iOS apps in the coming weeks.
Verizon Wireless today announced the LG Lucid 3, a low-cost Android smartphone. The Lucid 3 includes a 4.7-inch qHD display and a 1.2GHz quad-core processor. It features a 5-megapixel camera with full HD video capture and a VGA user-facing camera for self portraits. The phone runs Android 4.4.2 KitKat and comes with a wide selection of LG apps, such as Knock Code, QSlide and QuickMemo. Other features include Isis Mobile Wallet, Bluetooth 4.0, LTE 4G, and a removable 2,440mAh battery. The LG Lucid 3 is free with a new two-year agreement, $12.50 per month with Verizon Edge, or $300 at full retail. It is available beginning today.
Flickr today introduced completely new versions of its mobile app for Android and iOS devices. The revised photo app places a higher priority on capturing, sharing, and interacting with photos. The photo stream has been redesigned and is easier to navigate. The built-in camera has Instagram-like filters and all photos now have the ability to favorite, share, or comment on them. The app supports video capture and editing, and allows users to upload clips up to 30 seconds in length. It includes more robust editing functions, such as crop, rotate, and tools to fix contrast, exposure, and color. The app makes it a cinch to see metadata so users can examine the details of each photo. Flickr for Android and iOS is free to download from the Google Play Store and iTunes App Store, respectively.
Google updated the YouTube application for Android devices recently and made a number of improvements. YouTube now lets users reply to comments, delete their own comments, and see if comments were shared publicly or privately. The app also improves video quality for devices running Android 4.2 and up, lets users share and like playlists, and moves playlists to the left-hand guide drawer. YouTube for Android is free to download from the Google Play Store.
AT&T is making Android 4.4.2 KitKat available to the LG G Flex starting today. The update includes new status and navigation bars, and improves battery life and processor performance. The update is free to download via Wi-Fi.
Google today announced the availability of Chrome Remote Desktop app for Android, a tool that allows Android devices to remotely access Windows and Mac computers. In order to gain remote PC access, users will need to download and install software on their PC as well as the Chrome Remote Desktop app on their Android device. Once configured, users should be able to access PC-based files from their Android device. The service is free to set up and use. Google said an iOS version of the Chrome Remote Desktop app us due later this year.
Google today released a separate version of the stock camera application that ships with many Android smartphones. The app, which can receive improvements outside of full OS updates, has a slightly revised user interface with larger buttons. Google Camera offers a handful of new features, such as Lens Blur mode, which adds depth-of-field effects to make subjects pop. Google Camera also includes Photo Spheres, panorama mode, and a 100% viewfinder so users see everything that will appear in their photos. Google Camera is available to devices running Android 4.4. KitKat and up.
AT&T today announced the availability of the Android 4.4 KitKat operating system for the Samsung Galaxy S4. The update is being rolled out gradually, but owners can manually download using the system settings. The update is free.
Google today added a feature to the desktop browser-based version of Gmail that simplifies the process of sharing photos stored on Android smartphones. The new Insert Photo button is able to tap into images that have been automatically uploaded and/or backed up to Google+. The photos are listed in reverse chronological order, beginning with the most recent shot. Google believes this will make it even easier to share photos taken with smartphones. In order for the feature to work, users have to use the automatic backup tool that's part of Google+ Photos on their phone. The tool also makes it possible to share entire albums, and even crop or resize images before sending. Once enabled, Gmail users on the web will be able to share their smartphone photos from their computer.
Verizon Wireless has added two refreshed LG handsets to its lineup of inexpensive phones. The LG Optimus Zone 2 and Extravert 2 are both sequels that improve specs and features. They are limited to Verizon's 3G network, as neither supports LTE 4G.
- Zone 2: This entry-level smartphone (pictured) runs Android 4.4.2 KitKat and includes a 3.5-inch screen with 480 x 320 pixels, 1.2GHz dual-core processor, 3-megapixel camera, 1,700mAh battery, Wi-Fi, GPS, and Bluetooth 4.0. Some of LG's software and apps are aboard, including QuickMemo and Guest Mode. The full retail price is $200, but Verizon is offering the device for just $50.
- Extravert 2: This updated feature phone is a sideways slider that includes a touch screen on the front and a full QWERTY keyboard underneath. It has a 3.2-inch display with 400 x 240 pixels and LG's touch-based user interface for feature phones. Other features include a 2-megapixel camera with video capture, Bluetooth 3.0, media apps, Verizon content, and the Opera Mini web browser. The Extravert 2 costs $200 with no contract, $80 with a two-year agreement, or $8.33 per month with Verizon Edge.
Isis recently issued an update to its Android mobile wallet application and added several new features. Isis now works better with location data and can help the owner find offers and stores near them that accept Isis. The app also works more closely with the credit card issuer, which can notify users of special offers available only to them. The app has a new icon, as well. Isis Mobile Wallet is free to download from the Google Play Store, but requires a major credit card from select issuers to use for tap-and-go payments at participating retailers. Isis is a joint venture backed by AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless.
Google today said it is taking a new measure to protect Android devices and their owners against bad apps. Google already uses a program called Verify Apps to scan them before they are installed on handsets. Beginning today, Google will continually scan devices to make sure all apps are behaving in a safe manner, even after they've been installed. Google said most people will never see a warning or any other indication that this additional layer of protection exists; however, Google noted that it expects warnings to show up on some phones here and there. Owners of Android-based devices do not need to take any steps to receive this protection from Google.
Real Networks today announced a new service it hopes will help revive the market for ringback tones. Listen is an Android application that lets users replace the ring tone their callers hear with either music or status updates. Listen allows users to choose different tracks/messages for everyone in their contact list. Listen offers auto-set functionality for holidays or special occasions, and includes the latest music selections. Real Networks goes so far as to call Listen a productivity took, suggesting it be used by the subscriber to explain to callers why they can't answer the phone and even offer times when it would be good to call back. At launch, Listen is only available to T-Mobile subscribers.
Google Play Music for Android devices can now cast to Sonos devices. This means users of Google's music service can connect to their Sonos music system and play tracks from their Google Music library through Sonos without using the dedicated Sonos app. Further, Sonos is adding support for Play Music to its own app. Either way, Sonos says users can blend their Play Music and Sonos libraries and control them from anywhere in their house through the new apps. Google Play Music lets users store up to 20,000 songs in an online library, as well as stream more than 22 million tracks.
Facebook today confirmed plans to remove Facebook Messenger functionality from within the Android and iOS mobile apps for smartphones. Facebook hopes users will instead use its stand-alone, dedicated Facebook Messenger application. Messaging will remain within the Windows Phone Facebook app, and tablet versions of the Facebook app. Further, Facebook told The Verge that low-end smartphones with memory constraints may still be able to run Facebook with Messaging intact. Facebook said this change will happen across all countries in the near future, but didn't spell out exactly when. Facebook believes the stand-alone app provides a better messaging experience.
Dropbox today revealed a number of new mobile products at an event in San Francisco. First, the company announced that its Mailbox application for iOS devices will be available to Android devices beginning later today. Mailbox, which integrates Dropbox online storage, is being offered to desktop machines, too. Further, the company introduced a new photo-organizing service and app called Carousel. The application automatically uploads, stores, and organizes photos based on time/location to make for easier sharing. Albums can be viewed on mobile devices, but the files are all stored on Dropbox's servers. Carousel supports private messages and makes it possible to share entire albums as well as save photos that others have shared. Carousel is available for Android and iOS starting today.
Sony today announced the availability of its Lifelog application, which runs on its Android smartphones and interacts with Sony's wearable devices, such as the SmartBand. Together, Lifelog and the SmartBand can track the wearer's daily activity and over time be used to spot trends and patterns to behavior and sleep. Lifelog and the SmartBand are optimized for the Xperia Z2, which has yet to launch in the U.S., but they also work with the Xperia Z Ultra, Xperia Z1, and Xperia Z1 Compact handsets from Sony. Sony said though the initial feature list of the app is rather short, it will be updating Lifelog over the next few weeks with more functionality.
Cover today announced that it has been acquired by Twitter. Cover released a lock screen replacement app last year for Android devices. Cover believes in helping users get more out of their smartphones through contextual awareness and its app provided dynamic content that changed depending on the user's whereabouts, schedule, and so on. Cover said though it is joining Twitter, the Cover Android app will continue to be available from the Google Play Store. Details of the transaction were not provided.
Verizon Wireless recently made the previously unannounced Samsung ATIV SE available for preorders on its web site. The SE is a high-end Windows Phone that features a 5-inch full HD display protected by Gorilla Glass and offers three columns for Live Tiles on the home screen. The phone clearly draws its design inspiration from Samsung's Galaxy-branded Android devices. The SE is powered by a quad-core 2.3GHz Snapdragon 800 processor with 2GB of RAM and 16GB of internal storage. The device supports microSD cards up to 64GB for additional storage. The SE includes a 13-megapixel camera with 1080p HD video capture and a 2-megapixel user-facing camera. The phone supports Verizon's LTE network in the U.S., but can also roam onto HSPA networks in more than 200 countries around the world. Other radios include Wi-Fi (with support for mobile hotspot), Bluetooth 3.0, GPS, and NFC. The SE includes several Samsung apps and services, such as its WatchOn television remote control, Samsung Link for sharing content across devices, a photo editing app, and ATIV Beam, which can be used to send files to other smartphones via NFC pairing. The ATIV SE runs Windows Phone 8 and includes the usual set of apps from Microsoft, such as Office and XBox Live. Verizon is selling the Samsung ATIV SE for $199.99 with a contract or $599.99 without a contract. Verizon is accepting preorders, and currently says the phone will ship by April 12.
Vine today announced a significant update to its service for both Android and iOS devices. Users of Vine can now record and send messages directly to other users privately. According to Vine, messages can be sent to one or several people both in your network and out. Users can choose to receive messages only from those they follow, or from anyone. The Vine inbox separates in-network and out-of-network messages to make them easier to tell apart. The app now also lets users customize their profile with different colors. Vine for Android and iOS is free to download from the Play Store and iTunes App Store, respectively.
Samsung recently updated its ChatOn messaging application for Android devices and added several new features. One of the most prominent new powers is the ability to recall sent messages, even if the message has already been read. The app now supports file transfers up to 1GB (limited to 5 transfers per day); lets users attach location data to messages via Glympse; and includes SMS support for one-on-one message threads. The app also has an improved user interface for both single and group conversations. ChatOn for Android is free to download from the Google Play Store.
Facebook recently updated Messenger for Android devices and carried over features recently given to the iPhone. Messenger for Android now supports groups. Users can create groups, name them, tag them with photos, and save them. Second, users can now forward messages from one user/conversation to another. Third, Facebook Messenger for Android allows users to place shortcuts to group conversations directly on the home screen panels. Facebook also said the app contains several bug fixes and performance improvements. Facebook Messenger for Android is free to download from the Google Play Store.
Microsoft today announced new tools that will make it easier for developers to create web apps that work on Windows, Windows Phone, Android, and Apple devices. The tools rely on a wide range of new functions that are part of Internet Explorer 11. Microsoft believes developers should be able to create web apps that work across all platforms, and this will benefit users of the Windows Phone 8.1 platform once it becomes available.
Microsoft today revealed what's in store for the next-generation of its Windows Phone platform, called Windows Phone 8.1. Windows Phone 8.1 adds a number of features that are meant to bring the platform in line with Android and iOS. The first feature revealed by Microsoft is an action center, which mimics the behavior of the notification tray in Android. It provides access to radios, actionable notifications, and other tools. Windows Phone 8.1 adds the ability to personalize the lock screen, which can be interactive and appear in a wide range of styles. Microsoft plans to offer APIs to developers so they can create their own lock screen customization tools. The third new feature is an evolved Start Screen experience. With WP8.1, users can choose a high-density layout that includes three columns for tiles, as well as use custom background images that appear behind all the tiles. Windows Phone also introduces Cortana, a voice-activated search assistant that responds to users' voice commands and questions. Cortana is built on Microsoft's Bing search engine, and can perform searches, schedule appointments, set reminders, and more. Cortana can learn users' most-frequently contacted people, places they prefer to go, and even what music they typically search for. Cortana can be used to set "do not disturb" time, which Microsoft calls Quiet Hours. Like Google Now, Cortana will scan the user's email for things such as flight details, and automatically provide details such as travel times to the airport, flight delays, and more. Microsoft says that Windows Phone 8.1 is also a better choice for business users thanks to new support for secure VPNs, and the ability to read encrypted emails. Devices can be activated by businesses and turned into secure work machines, but can also be stripped of enterprise apps and data if an employee were to leave a company and keep their phone. Windows Phone 8.1 includes significant changes to the Windows Phone Store, such as more personalized recommendations, easier-to-use categories, and quick links. There's a new calendar in WP8.1, which allows users to swipe from day-to-day as well as see "week" views. A feature called Wi-Fi Sense suggests known, good, free Wi-Fi networks that may be available in public spaces - and will automatically connect to them. Microsoft has also added a new keyboard to Windows Phone that allows users to swipe their finger across the keyboard rather than type. Last, Microsoft said Windows Phone includes IE 11 and new synchronization tools that will better share information between the mobile phone and Windows desktops.
BlackBerry today followed through on its promise to deliver a new version of BBM with support for larger files and stickers. BBM now allows users to share photos to multiple people within chats. BBM increased the size of files it allows to be sent between users from 6MB to 16MB, as well as increased the size of the emoticons so they are easier to see within conversation threads. Last, BBM integrates stickers, which had previously only been available in beta. The new version of BBM is available to devices running Android, BlackBerry, and iOS. It is free to download from the platforms' respective app stores.
Microsoft today confirmed plans to release a version of its Outlook Web App for Android handsets. Outlook Web App is an email application that offers all the features and functionality of Microsoft's Exchange ActiveSync technology. Microsoft released a version of OWA for iOS devices last year. This forthcoming OWA for Android is different from the Outlook.com web mail client that Microsoft already offers to Android devices. Instead, it is a business-class piece of software that will allow mobile professionals to choose an Android device and still benefit from Microsoft's email service. Microsoft didn't say when the app will be released.
Republic Wireless today announced that Moto Maker will be available to its customers beginning April 1. Moto Maker is an online tool that allows people to customize the appearance of the Moto X Android smartphone. In addition to offering Moto Maker, Republic is running a promotion that will give the first 2,000 people to use Moto Maker a free upgrade to a wooden back panel. The wooden backs are normally a $25 upgrade. The 16GB model costs $349.99 and the 32GB model costs $399.99.
Sprint's variant of the LG G2 should begin receiving the Android 4.4 KitKat update beginning today. In addition to KitKat, the update adds cloud printing. The system update is being distributed in waves and may take several days to reach all users.
BlackBerry today indicated that it plans to focus on catering to C-level executives who want high-end smartphones with full, physical keyboards. The company has three such devices in prototype stages being tested and will introduce them over the next 18 months. Speaking to Reuters, BlackBerry John Chen said the company wants to win back the executives who were once its core customers. Chen also indicated that BlackBerry is weighing whether or not to create of version of Blackberry Messenger - known as BBM - for desktop computers. The idea is to allow business and government customers to carry secure conversations from their PCs to their smartphones and vice versa. BlackBerry has already made BBM available to Android and iOS devices, and is working on a version for Windows Phone, as well.
AT&T today made Android 4.4 KitKat available to its variant of the Samsung Galaxy Note 3. In addition to the operating system upgrade, the update makes tweaks to the user interface, lets users set the default messaging app, improves GPS performance, adds wireless printing, and makes it easier to access the camera from the lock screen. The update is free to download and install.
Twitter today updated its mobile applications with several new features. First, Twitter now lets users attach up to four photos to a single tweet. Second, Twitter now lets users tag up to 10 friends in any given photo. The tags don't count against Twitter's 140-character limit. Users will be notified if they are tagged in a photo, and can adjust the notifications if they so wish. The updated app for iOS devices can be downloaded today. The updated app for Android will be available soon.
Microsoft and Dell have inked a patent-licensing agreement in which Dell has agreed to pay Microsoft royalties for sales of devices based on Google's Android and Chrome operating systems. Android uses some patents that are owned by Microsoft, and most major handset makers have already signed similar licensing agreements with Microsoft. Motorola is the last major hold out because it believes its thousands of mobile patents negate the need to license Microsoft's. Terms of the agreement between Dell and Microsoft were not disclosed.
AT&T today said the Android 4.4 KitKat update is now available for the HTC One mini. The update can be downloaded and installed via Wi-Fi. In addition to the system update, the revised operating system adds Sense 5.5. Some of the improvements include: new user interface for the email app; lock screen access to the camera application; immersive viewing mode for media such as books, videos, and games; new clock interface; and more options for BlinkFeed. Android 4.4 KitKat with Sense 5.5 is free to download an install.
HTC plans to release versions of its BlinkFeed and Zoe Camera applications that are compatible with Android devices made by other manufacturers. The news about BlinkFeed appeared in a footnote from the company's press release about the One. BlinkFeed is HTC's social reader app. It pulls content from social networks and news sources to create an ever-updating feed. According to HTC, BlinkFeed is fairly popular, and that's why it plans to extend its availability to other Android handsets. The company will release an API for BlinkFeed to developers shortly. HTC also confirmed to the Verge that it plans to make a stand-alone version of its Zoe Camera application available to other phones. Zoes are a combination of still images and short video clips. It is a feature built into the camera app of the One, One max, One mini, etc. HTC plans to release a Zoe app that lets multiple people collaborate and create lengthy Zoes that share the same time, subject, or event. The Zoe app will launch later this year.
Sony Mobile's U.S. chief, Ravi Nookala, said the company will not use Google's Android Wear platform for wearables such as smartwatches and will instead use its own platform. Speaking to CNET, Nookala said the company has invested time and money into developing its own Android-based wearable operating system "and we will continue in that direction." Sony released its second-generation smartwatch last year and recently unveiled the SmartBand fitness wearable.
LG today announced it is prepared to extend the availability of its Knock Code feature beginning next month. Knock Code lets LG device owners use a pattern of knocks to wake up and unlock their smartphone. It was first shown off on the LG G Pro 2 at Mobile World Congress. According to LG, the G2 and G Flex will be first to receive a firmware update in April that enables the feature. LG didn't say if the update will be made available to all markets. LG eventually plans to extend Knock Code to the bulk of its Android smartphones.
Google today revealed a new collaborative tool for its Chromecast product called Photowall. Photowall lets people share images on the TV using their Android or iOS smartphone or tablet. Anyone can take a picture and send it to a Photowall to instantly see it on the screen. In order for Photowall to work, Chromecast owners need to download and install a plug-in for their Chromecast, as well as download the associated mobile app. Further, Google says when the Photowall is complete, Chromecast will automatically generate a YouTube video of the Photowall so it can be shared with everyone who took part. Photowall and its app are free to use.
Boost Mobile announced the LG Optimus F3 is available beginning today for $129.99. The F3 runs Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean and has a 4-inch IPS LCD screen with Gorilla Glass; a 1.2GHz dual-core processor; Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and LTE 4G; and a 5-megapixel camera with 1080p HD video capture. It comes with LG apps such as VuTalk, QSlide, QuickMemo, and Q Translator. Sprint and Virgin Mobile have been selling the F3 since last summer. Boost Mobile says LTE plans compatible with the F3 start at $55 per month. Boost does not require contracts.
A Texas jury fined Google heavily in a patent case against SimpleAir. Google was found guilty of infringing a SimpleAir patent in January. The patent in question pertains to push notification technology found in the Google Cloud Messaging and Android Cloud to Device Messaging services, which are encompassed within Android smartphones and tablets. The notifications cover apps such as Gmail, Facebook, and Twitter. Google was found guilty on all five claims made by SimpleAir. The penalty phase of the trial concluded this week. Google hoped to pay only $6 million, while SimpleAir sought $125 million. A jury awarded SimpleAir $85 million.