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May 15, 2013 - 1:45 PM - by dgstorm
For weeks now we have been hearing rumors about a new Hangouts unified messaging service from Google. Today at Google I/O they made it official and shared the details,
- Hangouts combines all Google messaging services including Google Talk, Google+ Hangouts and Google Messenger
- It will be available starting Wednesday on Google Chrome OS, Android and iOS
- It can also be accessed through desktop versions of Google+ and Gmail
- Hangouts will also allow users to save text, images and videos from any of their chats conducted across all platforms
- It will also allow you to access them through Google’s cloud storage service
- Hangouts will also let users start video calls with up to 10 people at the same time
Even though Google hasn't really announced any cool new gadgets (other than the unlocked pure Android SGS4), it is obvious they have been focusing hardcore on developing better software experiences. It's sometimes easy to forget that not all major technological advances are physical objects. Software is what drives our devices to do so much, and it's developers that make this amazing stuff possible.
Source: Google I/O
Be sure to request an invite to experience the new Google Maps folks! You will receive the invite first thing in the morning according to Google.
May 15, 2013 - 12:49 PM - by dgstorm
One of the most exciting things shared at Google I/O this year is some major improvements to their Google Now voice search functionality. In fact, they made it clear their intention is to eventually eliminate "search as we know it." The keynote speaker for the Google Now service made it clear that his dream since childhood was to create a computer experience in which the user communicated via voice with the device, just like in "Star Trek the Next Generation" TV series. The Google Now team has evolved the product to a whole new level, and although we aren't quite to the Star Trek level of things, the new functionality is dramatically closer than before.
For folks who have had the pleasure of using Google Now, it is an amazing and truly useful tool, but it's new functionality takes that much further. The demonstration shared several new focuses and features for the service.
First, they updated the intelligent search feature “knowledge graph,” and it now attempt to anticipate future searches based on past and current queries and your location. It now offers a much more personal experience as well. One of the examples in the demo found our user asking Google Now in plain conversational English a number of useful questions, including flight times, geographic locations and features, and much more. It can even interpret your intent and offer information without you sharing very many details in your query.
Google also added a hands-free conversational search to the Chrome browser, and users can start the voice recognition software with a simple, "okay Google." Google responds with a search result and an audio answer. It can even display cards in your browser after a search to allow you to categorize better.
Ultimately, describing this functionality is much less impressive than seeing it demonstrated. Eventually Google will likely make the keynote video available and when they do, be sure to start watching at about the 2 minute mark to see the new Google Now functions demonstrated in real-time. It's amazing how far we have come toward fulfilling that dream of voice communicated control of our devices.
Source: Google I/O
May 15, 2013 - 11:55 AM - by dgstorm
Those crafty Googlers at Google I/O this year shared a ton of new info regarding the direction of Android, the Google Play Store and the services and software for developers and consumers. We wanted to share a quick breakdown of what they said.
First, Android activations are already up to 900 Million total. This means we will easily hit the 1 Billion mark before the end of the year. As far as app installs go, 48 Billion apps have been installed from the Google Play Store, with 2.5 Billion last month alone. This has had a huge positive effect for devlopers, as revenue payed out to developers has risen by 2.5x per user in just one month.
They also announced several new services for both developers and consumers. Here's a breakdown of new Google Play Services,
There are three new Google Maps APIs
- Fused Location Provide which is a new location API - it is faster & more accurate and uses far less power than before
- Geofencing - creates virtual fences
- Activity Recognition - helps the Google Maps recognize whether you are driving, walking, riding a bike and more
Google Created a new Google IM cross platform sign-on which got the press and developers pretty excited.
They also improved GCM (Google Cloud Messaging)
- Now supports persistent communication with servers
- Now supports upstream messaging
- Synchronizes notifications across multiple devices
Google also announced their new Google Play Gaming Services and Gaming APIs
- Cloud Safe - saves user data across multiple devices (you can finish level one of a game on your phone and start where you left off on your tablet for example.)
- Achievements and Leaderboards - encourages friendly competition with friends - check out your rankings compared to others - allows for cross platform comparisons
- Comprehensive Player Matching Service for Multiplayer - Easy to invite & quickly find and join friends or new people for multiplayer gaming
Android Studio - based upon IntelliJ
- Allows developers to be faster & more productive
- Includes multi-configuration editor - can make easy alterations for apps across multiple sized and multi-language devices & more
Google Play Developer Console has been improved with 5 exciting new features
- Optimization Tips
- App Translation Service
- Referral Tracking
- Revenue Graphs
- Beta Testing & Staged Rollouts
Finally, they also shared their new Google Play improvements including a UI that scales across multiple devices and a similar design for the web based version.
After this they showed off their new Google Music Subscription service called "All Access" which is a pretty big deal for the industry and will shake things up a bit. You can read more about that at our separate story from "CK." They topped things off by announced the Samsung Galaxy S4 Google Edition Pure Android Unlocked device.
Of course, the keynote is still going on, and they are diving into Chrome, Google+ and much much more. For the most part the big announcements have happened, but we will share any other juicy details as we find them.
Source: Google I/O
Google has announced their new music streaming service today at Google I/O. The music service will come as part of Google Play Music, and gets a subscription tag called 'All Access.' Some of the great features you get with All Access:
- Immediate and instant access to millions of tracks and Albums
- Recommended Playlists
- Featured lists and genre's
- Can be accessed via Browser, PC, Tablet, and Smartphone
- Turn your listening/artist preference into your own 'radio station'
- Ability to skip, move and delete tracks from your 'radio station'
The service is launching today in the US with a FREE 30-day trial. Following the trial, the service will cost just $9.99 per month, but if you try out the service before June 30th, Google will give you full access for only $7.99/month.
May 15, 2013 - 11:04 AM - by dgstorm
In a little bit we will be sharing a compilation of new software and app features shared about Android and the Google Play Store today, but first we want to share the top hardware news that Google announced. They will be offering a special Google Edition of the Samsung Galaxy S4 which will be a pure Android experience, just alike a Nexus device. The pic above is of the regular version of the SGS4, but imagine the new flagship from Samsung with only a pure Android 4.2 experience at its core and gracing its home screen. Not only that but it will also be bootloader unlocked and will be locked into the prompt full Android update cycle.
The 16GB version of the phone will be available on AT&T and T-Mobile and will include LTE for $649 beginning June 26th.
This isn't an X Phone or Nexus 4 device, but it is a surprise from out of left field, and is an exciting new announcement! Share your thoughts.
Source: Google I/O
May is skin cancer awareness month. I thought this would be a good place to share a bit about skin cancer, and what we can do about it. This isn’t going to be your typical “let’s raise money for this cause” article. This is about knowledge and prevention. First I’d like to share with you a little information about skin cancer. It is much more prevalent than you might think. In America alone, 1 in 5 people will develop skin cancer in the course of a lifetime. Over the last 30 years, more people have had skin cancer than all other cancers combined. The good news is that in most cases, skin cancer can be prevented by taking precautions to protect yourself.
(Continue Reading @ Android Dissected)
Share your thoughts, feelings, excitement, disapointments, family pictures...wait..what?...Enjoy Google I/O folks!!
May 15, 2013 - 9:48 AM - by dgstorm
Apparently, Verizon's master plan to move all of their customer's to the Share Everything Data Plans is ahead of schedule. According to Fran Shammo, while speaking at the J.P. Morgan Global Technology, Media and Telecom Conference, fully one third of all Verizon customers are already on VZW Share Everything Plans. Here's a quote with some of the details,
Basically, in less than a years time Verizon has already moved or added new customers to their Share Everything Data Pricing model. During the conference, Shammo also shared his perspective on T-Mobile's new Uncarrier Pricing Model. Here's another quote,
As of the end of the first quarter of the year, Verizon had 30% of its 93.2 million retail post paid subscribers signed up for Share Everything. Shammo pointed out that as more customers sign up for the Verizon Share Everything Plan, they are adding more devices like tablets and mobile hotspots to their account. More devices means more data consumed, which means more revenue for Verizon.
Based upon this info, it looks like the Share Everything Plan is a huge success for the company (at least from their business perspective). They will likely push forward with it and are unlikely to follow T-Mobile's lead with any type of alternative data plans.
Shammo did comment on T-Mobile's new plan that removes subsidized pricing from the purchase of new handsets. He noted that Verizon looked at an installment plan and in fact, did offer an installment plans for tablets in the fourth quarter of 2012. He also added that even if Verizon went to an unsubsidized plan for phone purchases, it would not change the price of the Share Everything service.
May 15, 2013 - 9:30 AM - by dgstorm
It's interesting how polarizing Google Glass can be (and I am not referring to a sunglass mounted version, although that will likely come in the future). Some folks are thrilled by all the possibilities presented by the device, while some are appalled at the concept and think it will flop. Of course, there are the folks in the middle who will happily sit on the fence until all of this actually shakes out with the retail launch of the device. In the mean-time, a clever videographer at Playground Labs decided to create a small movie showcasing a ton of creative and practical uses for the device, just to show the possibilities for the future.
Will this video get some of the folks in the middle to jump off the fence, or even sway some who think it will flop? Share your thoughts.
Here's our Google Glass discussion forum: Google Glass Forum
May 15, 2013 - 9:17 AM - by dgstorm
According to Samsung's latest shipping sales figures, their new Galaxy S4 is not only their hottest selling device ever, but is also the hottest selling Android ever. Samsung shipped 4 Million SGS4 units in just 5 days, and has already shipped a total of 6 Million in just two weeks. At this pace they are on track to sell 10 Million units to channel partners by the end of the month. To put that in perspective, the first Galaxy S line took 85 days for shipments to reach 4 million handsets, the Galaxy S II took 55 days and the Galaxy S III took 21 days.
Hmmm... apparently, folks out there really love the new handset from the Korean tech giant. Whodathunkit?
May 15, 2013 - 8:48 AM - by dgstorm
We have a couple of smokin' hot Google I/O rumors for you guys this morning ahead of the event. Both of these showed up late last night. First, there is a huge amount of industry buzz from several big players suggesting that Google has beat Apple to the punch and will be offering a paid subscription based music streaming service with full licensing from Universal Music Group and Sony Music Entertainment and more. This new streaming service, designed to compete directly with Spotify, will supposedly roll out on YouTube and the Google Play Store. Here's a quote from The Verge with some more of the details,
If this is true, it would be a remarkable coup d'état considering how long Apple has been trying to negotiate the same thing with these music companies. The scuttlebutt is that the service will likely be subscription based for approximately $10 bucks a month or so.
Google plans to add separate music subscription services to YouTube and Google Play, the entertainment hub for the Android operating system. Earlier this year, Fortune magazine reported that Google had already struck similar licensing agreements with Warner Music Group, the smallest of the top three record labels. But landing Universal Music and Sony gives Google access to the two largest record companies, home to such acts as Bob Dylan, Alicia Keys, Lil Wayne, Rihanna, and Jay-Z. Spokespeople from Sony and Universal declined to comment.
When Google rolls out the new services tomorrow at I/O, it will mean that it gets the jump on Apple, which is also trying to launch a new streaming-music service. According to reports, Google's subscription services would resemble Spotify, and offer on-demand songs that would be streamed to their PCs and mobile devices. In contrast, Apple is working on an online radio service that is said to be more akin to Pandora, a service that plays songs at random similar to traditional radio.
Google comes to these negotiations as a powerful player in music. While Google Play is still a relatively new service, insiders say YouTube is a juggernaut. The user-generated video site sees more than 800 million unique visitors a month and music videos are among the most popular fare.
Our second hot rumor is that Samsung and Google have been working on (and will announce at Google I/O) a pure Android version of the Galaxy S4 which will be called the Samsung Galaxy S4 GE (Google Edition). We aren't sure what to make of this rumor. Obviously the prospect has us pretty excited, but it also seems a bit far-fetched because a Google Edition SGS4 would compete directly with Google's own Nexus devices. Of course, this was probably Google's plan all along, as the Nexus devices were simply a way to get manufacturers interested in doing a pure Android version of their devices. If the Nexus devices were simply meant to be "an example to follow" from the beginning, then it is pretty exciting to see Samsung take up the challenge.
Of course, these are just rumors, and may not amount to anything. One thing is for sure, Google I/O will start in just over an hour and we are anxious to see what crazy stuff Google pulls out of its hat.
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