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printed March 23, 2017
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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.

by:  Google


T-Mobile's LG K20 Plus Packs Better Specs

Today, 2:06 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Today, 2:28 PM

T-Mobile recently rolled out its own variant of the LG K20 and the phone has somewhat better specifications when compared to the Verizon variant of the same handset. The T-Mobile K20 includes the same 5.3-inch 720p display and 1.4 GHz quad-core Snapdragon processor, but improves RAM to 2 GB of RAM and storage to 32 GB. The phone boasts a 13-megapixel main camera with flash and a 5-megapixel front camera with selfie flash. It can record video up to 1080p HD. Other features include a 2,700mAh removable battery, microSD memory card slot, and Android 7 Nougat. The LG K20 Plus is already for sale from T-Mobile for $200. The K20 Plus is also known as the K10 (2017).


LG K20 V Hits Verizon Today for $170

Today, 1:09 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless today added the low-cost LG K20 V to its lineup of Android smartphones. The K20 V features a metal frame and rear-mounted fingerprint reader for security. The phone has a 5.3-inch 720p display and it is powered by a 1.4 GHz quad-core Snapdragon processor with 1 GB of RAM and 16 GB of storage. The phone boasts a 13-megapixel main camera with flash and a 5-megapixel front camera. It can record video up to 720p HD. Other features include a 2,800mAh removable battery, microSD memory card slot, and Android 7 Nougat. The phone is available in stores and online today. The full retail price is $168, but Verizon is asking for just $99 with a two-year activation.


Facebook Messenger Adds Message Reactions and @Replies

Today, 10:54 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Today, 11:06 AM

Facebook today announced several new features for Messenger that should make the messaging application even more interactive. First, the app adds the ability to react to messages in one-on-one or group chats. Pressing and holding any message brings up the love, smile, wow, sad, angry, yes, and no emojis, which can then be applied to the highlighted message. These same reactions are already available for news feed items. Participants in the conversation will be alerted when their messages receive a reaction, such as notifications on the lock screen. Messenger also gains the ability to mention specific people in a group chat by using an @reply construction. Using the @ symbol and then a participant's Facebook name calls them out specifically within a conversation. Like the reactions, @replies added to messages will generate notifications for those mentioned in the thread. The new tools are reaching Facebook Messenger for Android and iOS in the days ahead.


Verizon Wants You To Rattle Along with Its New Hum Devices

Yesterday, 3:02 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon today announced a revamp of its Hum line of connected car devices. Moving forward, consumers can choose one of three new options to keep their car in touch with Verizon's network. The HumX is the top-tier product and includes an OBD-II device as well as a Bluetooth speaker. The ODB-II unit provides WiFi hotspot connectivity for up to 10 devices, and also hooks into the car's diagnostics to monitor support functions. It can deliver roadside assistance and connect people to emergency services when needed. The Bluetooth speaker supports HD voice calls. The existing Hum product is being rebranded as the Hum+ and will continue to be available for monitoring auto health and diagnostics, driving history, speed alerts, location, and more. Last, Verizon is rolling out a free Android and iOS mobile app that provides an introductory level of Hum service. The app includes safety score calculations based on driver behaviors (cornering, braking, accelerating), in addition to voice-guided, turn-by-turn directions. The Hum mobile app is free, but the Hum+ and HumX require hardware and monthly service fees. All three launch March 23.


Google to Do More to Push Security Patches to Android Phones

Yesterday, 2:44 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today said it plans to give phone makers and network operators more options for pushing security updates to smartphones. In an annual report published today, Google says some 735 million devices received at least one security update during 2016. However, some 50% of devices in use haven't received a security update in the past 12 months. "We’re working to increase device security updates by streamlining our security update program to make it easier for manufacturers to deploy security patches and releasing A/B updates to make it easier for users to apply those patches," explained Google in its report. Google continues to work with security firms and researchers to find and fix bugs. The company typically releases security updates once per month. Google didn't say exactly how it plans to address security updates with its partners moving forward, only that it would.


Google Brings Audio Calls to Duo, Attachments to Allo, Smoother Uploads to Photos

Yesterday, 11:42 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google updated a handful of its apps and services today, including Duo, Allo, and Photos. Moving forward, Duo users on Android and iOS will be able to make voice-only calls when they wish. Google says Duo's voice calls work well on most connection speeds and won't consume much data. Audio calls via Duo are being made available in Brazil today, with other regions to follow in the next few days. Google updated its Allo messaging app with support for attachments in group chats. Users will be able to share several file types (.pdf, .docs, .apk, .zip, and mp3) with groups through the messaging app. Last, Google says Photos is now better at backing up photos. Photos will first send low-resolution backups to Photos when the network connection is slow or spotty. Photos will then replace the low-resolution shots with high-quality images once good connectivity is available. Moreover, people will be able to share the low-resolution previews with others immediately. These new features are rolling out to Duo, Allo, and Photos over the next few days.


Google Maps Improves Location-Sharing Tools

Yesterday, 9:19 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today made it possible for Maps users to share their exact location with friends and family. In Maps, users need only tap the blue dot (signifying their location) and select those with whom they'd like to share. People can share through their Google contacts as well as send links through most messaging apps. The tool permits people to select how long they share their location, which ranges between 15 minutes and 3 days. Alternately, location sharing can be left on indefinitely and/or turned off at any time. Indicators in the app let people know when and with whom they are sharing their location for as long as the tool is active. Recipients of location data will see the shared location as a blue dot on Maps in addition to their own blue dot. The tool also lets people share their real-time location and trip progress while navigating between points. Google says the location-sharing feature works on Android, iPhone, the mobile web, and desktops. Google plans to roll the tool out worldwide over the next few days. Google also recently made it easier for people to remember where they parked their car. A tool in Maps lets users pinpoint their parking spot when they park.


Wells Fargo to Bring Smartphone Sign-Ins to 13,000 ATMs

Tuesday, 4:33 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Wells Fargo customers will soon be able to access their accounts at ATMs via their smartphones. Wells Fargo plans to update all 13,000 of its ATMs in the U.S. next week, completing a pilot that's been in the testing phase for more than a year. The ATMs will grant access to accounts and cash through the Wells Fargo mobile app. The smartphone-based app will generate an 8-digit code, which the customer will then need to enter into the ATM. The ATMs will continue to support traditional bank cards. Wells Fargo plans to add support for NFC, negating the need for the 8-digit code, later this year. NFC-enabled ATMs will allow people to access their account by holding their phone against a reader on the ATM, similar to Apple Pay or Android Pay. JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America have similar pilots in testing, but they have yet to announce deployment plans.


Google News & Weather to Show More News & Weather

Tuesday, 1:20 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today said it has added more stores to the home screen of its News & Weather app for mobile devices. Specifically, the home screen will list an additional 200 stories in a section called More Headlines. Google says the More Headlines section is easy to scroll through on smartphone screens and offers a deeper look at business, tech, entertainment, sports, and other topics. The section loads on demand so the more you scroll down, the more stories it will load. Google News & Weather incorporates Google's AMP articles, which load faster over mobile connections. The More Headlines section will reach the Android and iOS versions of News & Weather over the come days. The app is free to download from the Google App Store and iTunes App Store.


Google Gives Developers An Early Look at Android O

Tuesday, 12:24 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today announced the first preview of Android O, the unnamed next version of its core mobile operating system. This early version of Android O brings with it a handful of new features that clearly target developers and device makers more so than end users. The primary consumer-facing function is a picture-in-picture viewer for Android phones (this feature is already available to Android tablets). Developers will be able to take advantage of a new background limiter, which can control how much power apps are allowed to consume when running in the background. Android O takes a new stab a notifications with what it calls notification channels. These will let users manage which types of notifications are allowed from individual apps, including new visual groupings that make it easier to see what's going on. The new Autofill API will let developers of apps such as password managers choose autofill defaults across keyboards. Adaptive icons for the home screen will automatically change based on system preferences so they can adapt to different phones and user interfaces. Android O adds new support for Bluetooth audio codecs, such as Sony's LDAC codec. Other features include: in-app pinning of shortcuts and widgets; support for Wi-Fi Aware; XML fonts; wide-gamut color apps; new WebView APIs; expanded accessibility options; improved support for multiple displays; and changes to the MediaPlayer, including new support for the MPEG2_TS codec for media streaming. Developers can install this first Android O preview on their Pixel, Pixel XL, Nexus 6P, Nexus 5X, Pixel C, and Nexus Player, but will have to do so manually via their computer. Google says Android O will see at least one more developer preview before the company releases a consumer beta of the operating system. Google didn't suggest when the final version of Android O might be ready, but it typically releases new Android operating systems in the fall.


Google Search App Gains Tappable Shortcuts

Tuesday, 8:46 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today said an update to its mobile search app should make it quicker and easier to find basic information via tappable shortcuts that are positioned underneath the search box. The shortcuts let people perform instant searches for a variety of items, including entertainment, sports, weather, food, news, and more. The shortcuts appear on the home screen of the Google search app on Android and iOS devices, as well as Google.com in mobile browsers. Google says Android users will have access to more shortcuts, such as flights, currency converters, attractions, hotels, and others. People will be able to customize the shortcuts and results based on their preferences. Google says it will automatically add tappable search shortcuts for big and current events as they come and go. Google Search is free to download from the Google Play Store and the iTunes App Store.


Google Pushes Second Beta of Android 7.1.2

Tuesday, 7:11 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google has released a second beta update for Android 7.1.2. Build NPG47I is rolling out to the Google Pixel, Pixel XL, Pixel C, Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P, and Nexus Player devices, as long as those devices are enrolled in the public beta program. Google says Android 7.1.2 focuses on refinements, bug fixes, and other unspecified optimizations for both end users and carriers. Google has been testing the platform with developer betas since January. Build NPG47I will reach beta testers in the days ahead.


Sony Xperia L1 to Hit North America in April

Monday, 1:15 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sony today announced the Xperia L1, an Android smartphone that will reach American shores as soon as next month. The phone features a 5.5-inch 720p HD display and is powered by a 1.4 GHz quad-core MediaTek processor with 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB of storage. The main camera has a 13-megapixel sensor and the front camera has a 5-megapixel sensor; both have an aperture of f/2.2. Other specs include support for memory cards, dual SIM cards, 2,620mAh battery with Qnovo adaptive charging, USB-C, Bluetooth, WiFi, and Cat 4 LTE. The Xperia L1 runs Android 7 Nougat. Sony said the phone will go on sale in North America in April of this year.


Instagram Now Lets You Save Live Videos to Camera Roll

Monday, 11:12 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Instagram today made it possible to save live video broadcasts to your phone's local gallery. Live videos that are broadcast to Instagram eventually disappear from the app, but now users can elect to store videos on their phone for safekeeping. The option is made available after users end their live broadcast. Instagram says only the raw video is saved; extras such as comments, likes, and number of viewers are not added to the saved product. The video-saving feature is available to the Android and iOS versions of Instagram, which are free to download from the Google Play Store and iTunes App Store, respectively.


T-Mobile to Sell LG G6 Starting April 7 for $650

Mar 16, 2017, 8:11 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Mar 16, 2017, 9:02 AM

T-Mobile today said customers can buy the LG G6 online and in stores beginning April 7. T-Mobile is asking for $26 down and $26 per month for 24 months to cover the phone's $650 retail cost. Further, T-Mobile customers who order the G6 before April 30 will receive a Google Home from LG for free. The Google Home normally costs $129. The LG G6 has a 5.7-inch screen with an 18:9, or 2:1, aspect ratio. Other features include a Snapdragon 821 processor, dual 13-megapixel cameras, and a rear-mounted fingerprint reader. The phone is made from metal and glass and is waterproof. It runs Android 7 Nougat and includes the Google Assistant.


ZTE's Axon 7 Scores Android 7.1.1

Mar 16, 2017, 7:11 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

ZTE today began pushing Android 7.1.1 to its Axon 7 flagship smartphone. The Axon 7 is one of the first devices other than Google's own Pixel handsets to receive this update. Some of the features added in the system upgrade include support for T-Mobile WiFi Calling; a wider selection of gender-balanced emoji and GIFs; performance improvements to Google's Daydream VR; and the latest security patches. ZTE says it also fixes bugs and tweaked behaviors throughout the operating system. People who own the Axon 7 can download the update manually via the system settings tools on their phone or wait for it to arrive over the air.


Google's Family Link App to Help Manage Kid Phones

Mar 15, 2017, 11:47 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today announced Family Link, an app and service parents can use to set up and monitor Android smartphones for their children. Parents can use the app to create Google accounts for kids younger than age 13, which is linked to the parent account. The app lets parents approve and block apps from the Google Play Store, control screen time with daily limits, and remotely lock or prevent devices from being used at night. Google is offering Family Link through an early access program. Parents interested in testing it can request an invitation. Family Link requires handsets running Android 7 Nougat and up.


Gmail for Android Gains Send-Money Feature

Mar 14, 2017, 11:22 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today made it possible to send or request money within Gmail on Android devices. The sender will need a Google Wallet account, but the recipient does not need Google Wallet, nor even Gmail. The service is free for both the sender and receiver. The recipient can transfer the funds from Gmail to the bank account of their choice. The tool is available via the attachment button, which allows people to send/request specific dollar amounts. The send-money feature will be available in an update to the Gmail app, which is rolling out over the next few days. The service competes with similar offerings from Venmo and PayPal. It is only available in the U.S.


Tag Heuer, Intel Partner On Second Android Watch

Mar 14, 2017, 9:33 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Tag Heuer and Intel today announced the Modular 45, an Android-powered smartwatch run by an Intel processor. As the name implies, the wearable is highly configurable thanks to easy-to-swap modules, horns, bracelets, buckles, and dials. Tag Heuer and Intel claim more than 500 unique combinations are possible. The device uses an Intel Atom Z34XX processor and relies on Android Wear 2.0 with Google Assistant. Some of the specs include a 1.39-inch AMOLED display covered by sapphire, a titanium case, all-day battery life, 4 GB of memory, and water resistance to 5 atmospheres (~100 feet). The Modular 45 includes Bluetooth, GPS, and WiFi, but not LTE nor a heart rate monitor. The Modular 45 costs $1,600. It goes on sale today.


Samsung to More Consistently Update Unlocked Galaxy Phones

Mar 14, 2017, 9:10 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung said it plans to update unlocked devices as often as monthly, according to ZDNet. "Due to various circumstances, we have been releasing security updates for unlocked (open) Galaxy devices in the U.S. on a quarterly basis," said the company in an emailed statement. "However, we have now resolved the challenges; and we are committed to releasing security updates for those devices on a monthly basis." Unlocked models of the Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 edge were last updated in December, but Samsung said it will push the March update to those devices soon. Samsung didn't say whether or not the update will include Android 7 Nougat. Carrier variants of the S7 and S7 edge have already begun to receive Nougat.


Cricket Wireless Adds LG Fortune to Roster

Mar 13, 2017, 11:45 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Cricket Wireless today announced the LG Fortune, a low-cost Android handset for its prepaid service. The phone features a 5-inch FWVGA display and a 1.1 GHz quad-core processor. The Fortune include 5-megapixel cameras on front and back, and can capture full HD video. Other specs include a 2,500mAh battery, Bluetooth, WiFi, GPS, LTE, and support for memory cards up to 32 GB. The phone runs Android 6 Marshmallow. The LG Fortune is available via Cricket's web site for $90.


U.S. Cellular Debuts LG K8 and Unlimited Plan

Mar 13, 2017, 8:42 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

U.S. Cellular recently added the LG K8 (2017) to its roster of inexpensive Android smartphones. The K8 features a 5-inch 720p HD screen and it is powered by a 1.9 GHz quad-core Snapdragon 425 processor. The main camera has an 8-megapixel sensor with flash and the user-facing camera has a 5-megapixel sensor. Both cameras include LG's gesture controls. Other specs include 16 GB of storage with support for memory cards, 2,500mAh battery, Bluetooth, WiFi, LTE, and Android 7 Nougat. The LG K8 costs $50. The K8 is also sold by MetroPCS. In other U.S. Cellular news, the company recently added an unlimited plan to its service offerings. The plan costs $60 per month and includes unlimited talk, text, and data with all taxes and fees included. U.S. Cellular doesn't charge overages, but will slow the speeds of customers who use excessive amounts of data (>22GB). Other options include 6 GB for $50 per month or 2 GB for $40 per month. Monthly discounts are available for additional lines. Autopay and paperless billing are required to qualify for these prices.


Google Debuts #myAndroid Homescreen Picker

Mar 13, 2017, 7:10 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google recently launched a new web site that lets people configure and design their home screen experience. The tool is meant to help those who might not be fully versed in all the different options available within Android to create a home space that works for them. Using #myAndroid, people answer a series of questions concerning the preferences for design usability, and likes/dislikes. At the end of the test, Google recommends wallpaper packs, alternative launchers, icon packs, and even some applications to help people achieve the look they created. Anyone can use #myAndroid online.


Google Bakes Instant Translation Into Gboard App

Mar 9, 2017, 12:43 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today updated its Gboard keyboard application for Android devices and made it possible to translate text in real time. Clicking the new translate icon loads Google Translate, which can instantly translate words as you type. Gboard also made it easier to find emojis and GIFs as the app will suggest them as users type. Further, GIFs can now be shared with other messaging apps, including Facebook Messenger, Snapchat, Hangouts, and Allo. Other new features include an expanded set of scenic views for backdrops and support for search in right-to-left languages. Gboard for Android is free to download from the Google Play Store.


Facebook Messenger Takes a Shot at Snapchat with 'Days'

Mar 9, 2017, 12:04 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Facebook is updating its Messenger application with disappearing stories that behave similar to those of Snapchat and Instagram. The feature, called Messenger Day, lets people create short stories made up of photos and videos and then share them with their Facebook friends. The content for each day automatically disappears after 24 hours. Messenger Day plays on the in-app camera that Facebook added to Messenger last year. Like many modern messaging tools, Messenger Day includes effects, emoji, and art for dressing up shared photos and videos. It also supports text for adding comments directly to images and videos. Messenger Day lets users share their story with a single person, groups, or everyone. People can import conversation threads from Messenger if they wish, and Messenger will provide alerts when people share new content in their Day. Photos and video captured via Messenger Day will be saved to the device's local camera roll for safekeeping. Facebook has been testing this feature overseas for several months, but is now rolling it out globally to Android and iOS devices. Facebook Messenger is free to download from the Google Play Store and iTunes App Store.


Google's Allo Messaging App Finds Its Way to Android Auto

Mar 9, 2017, 8:13 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Users of Google's Allo mobile messaging application can now use the service from the comfort of their car. The latest update, available in the Google Play Store, brings support for Android Auto to Allo, which joins several other messaging services that are already accessible when in drive mode. Google says the latest update also adds animated emoji. Allo, which integrates the Google Assistant and yet doesn't support SMS, is free to download from Google's app store.


HTC U Ultra to Ship March 10

Mar 8, 2017, 12:25 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

HTC has indicated via its web site that the U Ultra, the company's flagship handset for 2017, will begin shipping on March 10. The $750 smartphone comes in black, white, or blue, and features a 5.7-inch screen, Snapdragon 821 processor, 16-megapixel camera, and personalized sound profiles. Software features include Android 7 Nougat with HTC Sense and HTC's new Sense Companion personal assistant. The phone is sold unlocked with support for AT&T and T-Mobile.


Instagram Adds Geostickers to Stories

Mar 8, 2017, 8:53 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Instagram has taken a page from Snapchat and given users in New York City and Jakarta access to geostickers for their stories. Instagram says more than a dozen location-specific stickers are available for the two cities, allowing people to add context to their stories. Instagram users will see a sticker icon appear when taking photos or video. Each geosticker is meant to "match the vibe of the location it represents" — such as major landmarks and neighborhoods. The tool supports multiple stickers, each of which can be adjusted for size. Moreover, geostickers are interactive: people who watch a story can tap the sticker to see the location page. Geostickers have been added to the latest version of Instagram for both Android and iOS. Instagram didn't say when it might add more locations.


AT&T Says LG Phoenix 3 to Reach GoPhone March 10

Mar 8, 2017, 8:32 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Mar 8, 2017, 9:02 AM

AT&T recently announced the LG Phoenix 3, a low-cost Android handset intended for its GoPhone prepaid service. The device includes a 5-inch FWVGA display, and it is powered by a quad-core processor with 16 GB of storage. Both the front and rear cameras have 5-megapixel sensors, and the user-facing cam includes a selfie light. Other features include a slim design, 2,500mAh battery, and Android 6 Marshmallow. The LG Phoenix 3 goes on sale online and in stores March 10 for $80.


BlackBerry Sending March Security Patch to Its Android Phones

Mar 8, 2017, 8:21 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

BlackBerry is pushing the March security patches from Google to its BlackBerry Priv, DTEK60, and DTEK50 smartphones. Google made the security patches available to its own Nexus and Pixel devices earlier this week. The combined March 1 and March 5 patch plugs a significant number of vulnerabilities, including at least 10 classified as critical. Critical holes can lead to remote code execution, which means hackers can take control over devices from afar. BlackBerry says Priv, DTEK60, and DTEK50 owners should see the update appear over the next few days. Alternately, users can seek the update manually via their phone's system settings.


AT&T Bundling HBO for Free with Some DirecTV Now Plans

Mar 8, 2017, 8:14 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T is rewarding what it calls "loyal" customers of its DirecTV Now service with free HBO. People who subscribe to the Go Big and Gotta Have It packages will receive HBO for free for 12 months. People who subscribe to the less expensive Live a Little and Just Right packages will receive a $5 discount on HBO for up to six months. Those who've already added HBO to their DirecTV Now service will see their bills adjusted accordingly. AT&T says subscribers will be able to use their DirecTV Now login credentials to access HBOGo, as well.The loyalty reward is available to any DirecTV Now customer with an account active as of March 6. AT&T launched DirecTV Now in November 2016. The service offers four packages that range from $35 to $70 per month with up to 120 channels. It is available to Android and iOS devices, as well as the web.


Verizon Pushing Nougat to Moto Z Droid Play

Mar 8, 2017, 8:06 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless is distributing the Android 7 Nougat system update to the Moto Z Droid Play handset. Nougat includes several marquee features, such as native split-screen multitasking and more granular control over the home screen experience. The Moto Z Droid Play smartphone scores a number of new features with the improved OS. Some include fast app switching, bundled notifications, expanded emoji selection, data saver, and improved doze mode. Nougat users will also enjoy greater control over notifications, the Quick Settings panel, and the main settings tools. Android 7 Nougat is free to download over WiFi. The update is being rolled out over the next few days.


Google Extends Neural Machine Translation to More Tongues

Mar 7, 2017, 8:24 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google has updated its Google Translate service and made it possible to generate higher-quality translations for a handful of new languages. Specifically, Google has applied its neural machine translation technique to Hindi, Russian, and Vietnamese. This methodology translates entire sentences at a time, rather than individual words or smaller phrases. The results create more accurate translations that sound more natural and are better at conveying the intended meaning of the original content. Google has already applied neural machine translation to a number of other languages, such as Portuguese and Turkish. Google says it will apply neural machine translations to more languages over time. The improved Hindi, Russian, and Vietnamese is available thanks to an update on the web, as well as to the mobile Google Translate app for Android and iOS devices.


Google Details March Security Update for Android

Mar 6, 2017, 1:34 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today provided some information about its March 2017 security patches for Android devices. The patches plug a significant number of security holes that threaten all Android devices. Google found dozens of vulnerabilities, of which it classified 10 as critical, or able to remotely execute code. Google is pushing two separate patches to cover these vulnerabilities, one dated March 1 and the second dated March 5. As always, Google is pushing the patches directly to Nexus- and Pixel-branded devices first, and has already provided factory images for download. Google's handsets will receive both patches in a single download. Google said that, as far as it is aware, none of these security holes have been exploited for nefarious purposes. Google has already given the patches to its OEM partners. It will be up to individual hardware makers to offer the patches to their own devices.


Adobe's Lightroom App Adds RAW HDR Shooting for Android and iOS Phones

Mar 6, 2017, 11:46 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Adobe today updated its Lightroom Mobile application and added the ability for Android and iOS devices to shoot in RAW HDR mode. Adobe says the new HDR mode automatically scans each scene to measure the best-possible exposure range and then takes three photos that are merged to deliver the widest exposure and contrast range. The result is a 16-bit floating point DNG image that Adobe claims can rival the quality of images captured by today's dSLR cameras. The new HDR RAW capture mode is available to the Apple iPhone 6s, 6s Plus, 7, 7 Plus, iPhone SE, and iPad Pro 9.7. The iOS version of Lightroom also gains the ability to export original files and RAW images, as well as a gesture-to-rate tool, Force Touch actions, and sleep prevention. As for Android devices, the new tool works with the Samsung S7, S7 edge, Google Pixel, and Pixel XL. Adobe says this is because these are the only devices capable of capturing DNG images on their own. More devices will be given access to the HDR RAW capture feature over time. Adobe Lightroom Mobile is free to download from the iTunes App Store and Google Play Store.


Verizon's Galaxy S7 and S7 edge Earn Android 7 Nougat

Mar 6, 2017, 10:02 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless today made Android 7 Nougat available to its variants of the Samsung Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 edge smartphones. Android 7 brings native split-screen multitasking, and myriad other features to the year-old Galaxy devices. Some of the new tools include: better battery management software; photo effects previews; more ways to customize the always-on display; Samsung Pass for additional fingerprint-based security; performance mode for adjusting processor output; a revised keyboard with more language options; and more control over mobile hotspot connections. Notably, the update also removes Verizon's go90 mobile video application. Verizon recommends users download the operating system update via WiFi. Android 7 Nougat is rolling out the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge over the next few days.


LG Says G4 and V10 To Receive Nougat Eventually

Mar 6, 2017, 8:16 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

LG today said it plans to provide the Android 7 Nougat system update to its mid-2015 flagship phone, the G4, and its late-2015 high-end camera handset, the V10. The company said in a blog post that these phones were designed with Android 5 and Android 6 in mind, but customer feedback has forced LG to rethink its position on the phones' software. The company expects to have Android 7 ready for the V10 by the second quarter of this year, with the G4 to follow during the third quarter. LG says this upgrade schedule applies only to the G4 and V10 in Korea. The company will announce Android 7 Nougat update plans for the G4 and V10 in other markets at a later time.


Google Photos Update Adds Auto White Balance Correction

Mar 3, 2017, 9:38 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google says a new version of its Google Photos app introduces several new editing tools for improving photographs. The Google Photos editor already automatically corrects exposure and saturation, but will now also automatically correct white balance. It can sense whether photos are too yellow or too blue and balance them out. Further, the editor makes it possible to manually control white balance with a slider tool. Google says this feature is rolling out to Google Photos on the web and for Android devices this week, with iOS to follow later.


OnePlus Offering Android 7.1.1 Beta to OnePlus 3 and 3T

Mar 3, 2017, 8:47 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

OnePlus has made a new test build of its OxygenOS platform available to its premiere smartphones. The open beta for the OnePlus 3 and OnePlus 3T primarily boost the core platform from Android 7.1 to Android 7.1.1, though other improvements are afoot. The photo gallery earns a significant number of new options. For example, the photo editor allows people to add a watermark and now provides a photo straightening tool. The gallery also makes it easier to see the latest photos and videos, which are highlighted, as well as more clearly sort by location. Photos and videos may also be grouped by month or by year, and users can hide individual folders, photos, and videos if they so wish. OxygenOS Open Beta 12 is available to side load for free. It is posted on OnePlus' web site.


Gmail Bolstered with Exchange Tasks

Mar 2, 2017, 6:10 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today made its Gmail application for Android devices more useful to those who use Microsoft Exchange services. The latest version of Gmail adds support for Exchange tasks. Gmail can automatically synchronize tasks to/from Exchange, allowing Gmail users to stay on top of their task list. People can create, edit, and flag tasks, as well as set or alter task priorities from within Gmail. The unified task list across Exchange and Gmail means people will be able to check things off their task list from their phone or PC and see things marked as complete on their other devices. Gmail for Android is free to download from the Google Play Store.


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