Facebook quietly redesigns site logo with new font

Facebook logoIf you use Facebook often, you might notice some slight changes to the site’s logo over the next few days. The company has (very quietly) announced a redesign of the word “Facebook” on their site, which now uses a slightly more rounded font. Is it a major change? Not at all. But Facebook is almost synonymous with social media at this point, and their previous font has become pretty iconic for the company.

The standard lowercase f you’re used to on the app logo and everywhere else on the web should remain the same, so if you hate change, at least that’ll stay the same.

Any thoughts on the new logo? I’m not a big Facebook user, but I think the new font looks a little more modern and friendly. Combined with the newer tablet interface Facebook is working on, it looks like the company is going to spend 2015 revamping their image.

source: Under Consideration

Christophe Tauziet (Twitter)

via: The Verge

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Google Drive now works with custom maps from My Maps

google_drive_my_maps_integration_web

Google has announced that My Maps, its custom map tool, is accessible for Drive users. Custom maps can be attached to documents, forms, presentations, and spreadsheets that are housed in Google’s cloud storage service. Drive users can use the search functionality to call upon items so they never waste time sifting through files for the right custom map.

The blog post announcing the features appearance in Drive contained the following statement:

Whether you’re planning your next event, mapping out the best route to visit clients, or sharing the location of your food truck with fans, Google My Maps makes it easy to put your world on a custom map. Starting today, you can access My Maps right from Google Drive on your Google Apps account, so it’s even easier to create, find and share your custom maps.

And here are some of the potential uses, according to Google, for My Maps being integrated with Drive:

  • A food truck owner composing a form for people to vote and decide his or her next location. The votes are gathered and the food truck owner can decide where the most popular location is.
  • A businessperson is preparing for an annual conference and forward’s everyone the event and hotel’s locations. Tickets, event information, and a custom map are bundled into a single folder.
  • A delivery coordinator plans efficient routes for deliveries.

My Maps is a feature that Google has not pushed to the forefront; however, this type of integration will make it more accessible and useful.

Source: Google

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Tegra X1 Chromebook might be happening, codenamed “Smaug”

Chromebook_GenericIf you’ve kept up with Chromebooks over the past few years, you’ve probably noticed how different manufacturers have been testing out different processors for their ultra-portable laptops. Most Chromebooks tend to use Intel’s low-power chips, but we’ve seen some experimentation from other companies, such as Samsung using their own ARM Exynos processors and Asus using Nvidia’s Tegra K1 chips. However, ARM processor usage has been pretty limited up to this point, mostly because ARM processors just haven’t completely matched up to Intel’s offerings in the performance category.

The Asus Chromebook that used the K1 processor fared better than any other ARM-based Chromebook, offering fantastic battery life with very little compromise in terms of performance. It looks like we might see Nvidia’s chips make their way into more Chromebooks in the future, too, if some new software commits from Google are any indicator.

Google’s Chromium team engineers have added support for Nvidia’s high-powered Tegra X1 processor into Coreboot, which is what Google uses instead of the BIOS firmware you’ll typically find on Windows laptops. That hints pretty heavily that someone is working on a Chromebook with an X1 processor, which is even more likely since another commit was added for an X1-board for Chrome OS. This board was codenamed Smaug, and it would mark the first ever 64-bit ARM Chromebook. It’s also a pretty good indicator that someone at Google is a Tolkien fan.

Nvidia’s Tegra X1 is currently used in their Shield devices, and it offers some pretty fantastic performance, especially since it’s using Nvidia’s highly efficient and powerful Maxwell architecture, which is the same architecture that you’ll find in their laptop and desktop graphics cards. Hopefully this translates into a beefy Chromebook with fantastic battery life.

source: Tom’s Hardware

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Early adopters of the LG G4 can also receive a free leather back panel

lg_g4_leather_back_battery_promo_june_2015

The launch of the LG G4 was paired with a promotion for device owners that purchased the device early on. The promotion rewarded early adopters with a battery and charging cradle at no cost. Now that promotion has been succeeded by another which includes the same two items in addition to a leather back.

Owners of the G4 will be able to choose among five colors for the leather back — yellow, lavender, light blue, brown, maroon — and swap it out with whatever they currently have. The removable back panel is also what allows the G4 to have its battery replaced at any time.

A page to complete the form for the promotion is not yet live, but LG has a pre-registration page ready to go.

This promotions runs through July 31 or while supplies last.

Source: LG

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Android top in the US but not Europe; Galaxy S6 sales boost Samsung

We’ve been wondering if the good reviews of Samsung’s new flagship, the Galaxy S6 will translate to sales to help boost the previous smartphone champs. The number (at least from Kantar) are in, and it looks like they have indeed helped the OEM regain top spot in the US, becoming the third best-selling smartphone in the country, just after the iPhone 6 and Samsung’s previous flagship, the Galaxy S5. Android has also continued to regain the top spot in the US when it comes to sales, but in Europe’s big five, it’s still a no go.

The sales data from the past three months ending in May 2015 have shown that Android is still reclaiming its market share in the US, with 64.9% of sales, up 2.8 percentage points from the same period last year. However, in the big five of Europe, Great Britain, Germany, France, Italy, and Spain, Google’s OS actually dropped 2.9% as the demand for the iPhone 6 is still increasing. In the other big market, China now has a “three-horse” race as it’s not just Apple and Huwaei anymore, but Xiaomi has also joined the party. All 3 are “within 0.5 percent share of each other” with Xiaomi and Apple getting the higher end of the market while Huawei gets the budget end.

Samsung Galaxy S6 sales has allowed the Korean OEM to grow its share of Android sales since the first full month of sales for the new flagship started. It grew from 52% three month sales ending in April to 55% in three month sales ending in May. Android’s growth in the US is not just because of Samsung though, as LG nearly doubled its Android share year over year in the US. However, other tier-one brands like HTC and Motorola lost points, which will eventually pave the way for other players like Sony and Huawei to make an impact in the Android US market as well.

While the US and European market are still the most important for a lot of the brands right now, according to Carolina Milanesi, chief of research at Kantar Worldpanel ComTech, China is now the “most interesting market” in terms of mobile. This is not just because you can make a lot of sales in the world’s most populous nation, but it is also an “incubator” for some of the brands who will eventually get more popular globally.

comtech_dataviz_mar_15

VIA: Kantar

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YouTube brings 60fps support to its mobile Android app

Even though mobile devices are of course much more convenient, there are times when you’d rather do something on the desktop version of an app because the quality is so much better. One of those things is watch YouTube videos, spefically, action videos or gaming trailers or walk-throughs, etc. But now, your YouTube mobile app has something to sing (or rather, watch) about as the video sharing giant brings the 60 frames per second support for Android devices. They are also bringing changes and improvements to both desktop and mobile, most of which will be applied in the coming weeks.

Previously, since October of last year, you could only watch high-quality 60fps videos on your desktop, making the experience of watching YouTube on your mobile device a little less prettier than when using your computer or laptop. And you could only watch that quality of video if you were using YouTube’s HTML5 player. It also only applied to clips that were uploaded October 29 onwards and were shot at 60fps. But now, you could also view videos in that higher frame rate if you use the YouTube app on your Android smartphone or tablet. But the 60fps will only apply to videos, and not livestreams yet. You can access the 60fps quality the same way you changed video qualities before, by clicking on that settings button and then choosing either 720p60 or 1080p60, depending on your speed and maybe the size of your screen.

YouTube also said they are also bringing changes to the comment ranking system since comments are apaprently disliked by 30% of users. They will also be coming up with a new way to sign up for email notifications, and also you don’t need to scramble anymore looking for your subscription feeds as they will figure more prominently in the mobile app. Something to eventually complement the 60fps would be the inclusion of 360 degree videos.

You don’t need to update the app to experience 60fps as the changes were made on their servers and will automatically be available for you. But if you view YouTube on your mobile browser or from third-party apps, the 60fps option is not available. The other changes mentioned will be rolling out in the next few weeks, since some of them are still in the perfection stage.

VIA: SlashGear, Venture Beat

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Dubai Emirates lounges now offering Qi charging stations

“Battery anxiety” is a real affliction that most people have nowadays, and while OEMs still haven’t found the solution, we have to resort to battery packs and constant charging of our devices as often as we can. This is particularly for those people who travel often and rely on their mobile gadgets to stay in touch with work or to run businesses remotely. The First Class and Business Class lounges at Emirates in Dubai is probably a charing hub for their customers, and now Qi wireless charging stations will be placed there.

Trying to find wall sockets in airports is always a race for travelers, even in lounges for preferred customers. But if you belong to the Emirates “elite” and you have a Qi compatible device, then you’re in luck as they now have around 30 charging stations around the lounges. Each of the wireless chargers can accommodate up to two phones, so you can charge two of your devices or you can share a pad with a stranger and win a friend in the process. If your device is Qi compatible, just place it on top of the pad. But if not, then there are also wireless charging dongles available.

Emirates is among some of the first brands to offer wireless charging, as more devices like the Nexus smartphones are Qi enabled. Marriot has offered the same for guests in over 135 properties worldwide while McDonalds has also provided Qi charging stations in London, Hannover and other major European cities. Starbucks also does so, but it uses a different wireless charging standard, the Powermat/PMA.

The wireless charging stations in the Emirates lounges are provided by Aircharge, a member of the Wireless Power Consortium. They plan to add more in 3,000 global locations, but only where Qi charging is already available of course.

SOURCE: Wireless Power

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SwiftKey adds adaptive layouts for nine more Indian languages

The team behind SwiftKey has done it again. The last one went out of beta phase back in May but the developers just announced additional adaptive layouts for nine more Indian languages. This may not matter to most SwiftKey users but those in India will appreciate that they are now allowed easier typing on the Android app for their native languages such as Manipuri, Oriya, Bengali, Kannada, Punjabi, Malayalam, Konkani, Telugu, and Assamese.

SwiftKey 5.3.2 version brings support for all languages using Tamil, Devanagari, and Gujarati scripts. This means a lot to the Indians because the redesigned layouts allow easier and more intuitive typing on the mobile phone. Doing so is much clearer now because the keyboard app learns and adapts to a user.

Any Hindi language speaker will find it more convenient to type on his own language because the layouts now feature “contextually relevant word predictions” plus access to special characters often used in the language which can be found on the secondary layout.

bengali script swifkey

With this app update, prediction and correction quality of SwiftKey are drastically improved. Aside from native Indian words and symbols, SwiftKey also included emoji prediction for the new languages specifically Telugu, Kannada, Assamese, Oriya, Sinhala, Urdu, Bengali, and Punjabi. And as with any other app updates, this release brings more stability enhancements, performance improvements, and several bug fixes. SwiftKey is made more responsive, faster, and with fewer crashes now.

Download SwiftKey from the Google Play Store

SOURCE: SwiftKey

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Micro 4/3 Olympus AIR A01 cam works with compatible Android app

We don’t care much about digital cameras but the Olympus AIR A01 got our attention because it’s a micro four-thirds style camera that comes with a 16 megapixel sensor, silent shutter, and its own smartphone app. The last item means the camera can be controlled from any smartphone or tablet running the said app. Reaching Canada and America simultaneously, the Olympus AIR A01 is another compact camera that brings great image quality every time.

The DSLR-like quality camera also boasts of built-in WiFi, Bluetooth, 10 fps Consecutive Shooting, USB charging, and Full HD Video capabilities. The camera also features Amazon Cloud Drive integration so you can easily store photos and videos on the cloud to free up your cam’s memory space. This micro 4/3′s camera makes use of M.ZUIKO digital lenses most Olympus products are known for. Add that to the TruePic VII image processor, you can expect to capture high quality photos even in low light conditions.

Olympus AIR A01

You can use any professional lens with the Olympus AIR A01 for all your photography needs. Shoot in any style with those wide-angle landscape lenses or high-powered zoom lenses. And since a dedicated app is ready, the ‘OA.Central for Olympus Air’ lets you easily transfer and upload photos from the camera to your email, cloud drive, or social networks. App is integrated with Amazon Cloud Drive to allow direct-to-cloud storage. This also means quick access to images from anywhere.

Olympus Air A01 b

There’s also the Olympus Air A0 Software Development Kit for developers who want to improve on the app. If you’re interested, ask for the SDK from Olympus. The Olympus Air A01 camera (body only) is $299.99 (CAD$399.99) while a unit with 14-42mm EZ lens is $499.99 (CAD$599.99). Camera will be available in the United States and Canada this coming August.

Download OA.Central for Olympus Air from the Google Play Store

SOURCE: Olympus

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Confirmed: Samsung trademarks the name “S6 EDGE+”



For the past few weeks, we’ve been wondering whether rumours of a certain Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge Plus device have been true. As you can probably guess from the name, this would be a larger version of the Galaxy S6 Edge, with very few differences internally.  Today, we’ve gotten what we can assume is pretty concrete evidence: it was revealed that Samsung just had the trademark for the name “S6 EDGE+” approved this past week by the USPTO.

Now, there are some key differences here: the trademark for the Galaxy S6 Edge used the lower case “edge” as opposed to “EDGE”, though we’re not sure that’s going to make much of a difference in the long run, and we’re surprised that Samsung would go with the “+” sign instead of the word “Plus” – then again, the name is long enough as it is. Either way, it’s irrefutable proof that Samsung has this device in its pipeline, and now it’s just a matter of time to wait till it’s released.


What do you think about the name “S6 EDGE+”? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Source: USPTO via Phone Arena

The post Confirmed: Samsung trademarks the name “S6 EDGE+” appeared first on AndroidSPIN.

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Facebook sharing more ad dollars with video creators

Facebook’s shiny logo isn’t all that’s new for the social network today: The outfit’s also announced how it plans to split video ad revenue with publishers. Like YouTube, Facebook will give content creators 55 percent of ad revenue and keep the rest, according to Fortune. Early publishing partners include Funny or Die, Fox Sports, Hearst and the NBA. And if you’re curious about how ads will work with video, it doesn’t seem like you’ll have to worry about them auto-playing loud and proud while you’re scrolling through your news feed on mobile. On the handheld platform, when you tap a clip you’ll go to a different screen with “Suggested Videos” and once your selected video finishes, an ad will play before the next one’s served up.

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Source: Fortune

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Pocket Casts’ web player snags its first big update, adds episode starring and Chromecast support

The web version of one of our favorite podcast apps, Pocket Casts, just got its first big update since launching. Coming in this update is the ability to star individual episodes, Chromecast support, and more.

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Show LG your #BestShotEver and win a trip to New York and two G4s

If you’re a budding smartphone photographer, you may be interested in LG’s latest contest. The company has announced a new contest to search for the #BestShotEver on Instagram, offering up a trip to New York City and two LG G4s for the lucky winner.

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[Deal Alert] Buy This 10-Port USB Charger For $25 And Get Six Micro-USB Cables Free (A $10 Savings)

charge all the thingsDo you have as many gadgets as you have fingers and struggle to charge them all at once?  Well then, this is the deal you have been waiting for. Amazon has a pretty sweet promotion going on for the Sabrent 10-Port USB Charger.

If you purchase one today for $25 you will also get a six pack of highly rated Micro-USB cables thrown in for free. That’s a savings of about 10 bucks.

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[Deal Alert] Buy This 10-Port USB Charger For $25 And Get Six Micro-USB Cables Free (A $10 Savings) was written by the awesome team at Android Police.

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[Another One Bites The Dust] Cyanogen’s Next Would-Be Phone, The Alcatel Hero 2+, Has Been Canceled – But Why?

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Announced back in March at Mobile World Congress, the Alcatel Hero 2+ was to be the next powerful Cyanogen OS phone, following up on the OnePlus One after that partnership basically died. While Cyanogen OS has been announced for some budget phones, the Google-killers had yet to show off new mid-range or high-end hardware powered by their mostly-Google-anyway software at the time, and the Hero 2+ looked like it might add some legitimacy to the Cyanogen Inc.

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[Another One Bites The Dust] Cyanogen’s Next Would-Be Phone, The Alcatel Hero 2+, Has Been Canceled – But Why? was written by the awesome team at Android Police.

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[Bonus Round] Missing Translation, Socioball, Ding Dong, House Of Grudge, And Ramboat

nexusae0_bonusicon_thumbWelcome to the latest entry in our Bonus Round series, wherein we tell you all about the new Android games of the day that we couldn’t get to during our regular news rounds. Consider this a quick update for the dedicated gamers who can’t wait for our bi-weekly roundups, and don’t want to wade through a whole day’s worth of news just to get their pixelated fix. Today we’ve got a black-and white puzzle/adventure game, a directional puzzler with community levels, a twitchy minimal game, a horror title with “escape the room” elements, and a shooter with lots of boats.

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[Bonus Round] Missing Translation, Socioball, Ding Dong, House Of Grudge, And Ramboat was written by the awesome team at Android Police.

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[Update: More Details And Video] CyanogenMod Team Teases Gello, A New Chromium-Based Browser With Tons Of Customizations

cyanogen thumbThere is no shortage of third-party browsers available on Android. While most of us use Chrome, there are plenty of worthy alternatives and valid reasons to choose them. The CyanogenMod team (notably distinct from, but connected to, the Cyanogen Inc.

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[Update: More Details And Video] CyanogenMod Team Teases Gello, A New Chromium-Based Browser With Tons Of Customizations was written by the awesome team at Android Police.

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Awesome New Google Voice Actions Feature Remembers Which Apps You Want To Launch For Particular Commands

Screenshot_20150701-152231

Earlier this week we spotted a new Google Voice Actions / “OK Google” feature – it’s called preferred apps. The idea behind it is wonderful: if you use a particular voice action that maps to multiple apps on your phone, you can pick one, and from then on, Google will launch the activity in that app by default. It’s simple and brilliant and I love it. Well, I would if Google’s implementation was a bit more…

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Awesome New Google Voice Actions Feature Remembers Which Apps You Want To Launch For Particular Commands was written by the awesome team at Android Police.

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Are Your Hangouts / SMS / Google Voices Messages Coming Unmerged? Google Is Working On Fixing That

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On around June 18th, a number of Hangouts users began reporting that merged SMS/GVoice/Hangouts messages in Hangouts conversations were, well, unmerging. This obviously annoyed people, because this is an annoying thing to have happen.

About a week after that, a Google community manager responded to that Google Product Forums thread to let everyone know the team responsible had identified the issue and would be rolling out a fix “shortly.” Well, we all know what that means in Google time (read: when it’s done), but it looks this week that fix did begin to propagate.

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Are Your Hangouts / SMS / Google Voices Messages Coming Unmerged? Google Is Working On Fixing That was written by the awesome team at Android Police.

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New LG G4 promo offers free leather back and bonus battery with cradle for a limited time

LG G4 promo July

If you were bummed that you missed out on LG’s initial LG G4 promo back when the phone first launched — which officially ended June 21st– you could have a second chance. LG is now offering up a new deal for the month of July to anyone still on the fence about picking up a G4 and it’s not too unlike their previous deal.

In fact, it’s almost identical. The only difference is they’ve swapped out that free 32GB SD card for your choice of leather battery cover (available in yellow, pink, blue, orange, and red). Making a return is the free 3,000mAh spare battery and charging cradle to keep you juiced up on-the-go.

To get in on the deal, you’ll need to purchase an LG G4 before July 31st and submit your receipt before August 15th. That should be more than enough time. For anyone else that recently bought an LG G4 between June 21st and July 1st, it appears you’re out of luck. Oh, and for the record, this is US-only.

[LG]

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Leaked Samsung Galaxy Note 5 and S6 Edge Plus cases confirm upcoming design

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge Plus

Samsung is gearing up to launch XL versions of the Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge. Better known as the Samsung Galaxy Note 5, it’s now being rumored that the Edge version could go by the name Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+ (Plus) according to a recent trademark filing. We know, it’s a tad confusing and if there was any doubt that these devices would essentially look like bigger versions of the regular S6/Edge, freshly leaked case photos — and even a CAD render — are giving us a look at that now familiar S6 design.

Samsung Galaxy Note 5 S6 Edge Plus

Both cases look almost identical to the regular-sized S6 and S6 Edge, only you’ll notice small cutouts on the Note 5 case (bottom 2 images) for the included S Pen. The images come from MobileDirect, a Romanian accessory maker who’s accurately leaked devices in the past.

Right now, rumors point to the Galaxy Note 5 as coming equipped with a 5.98-inch 4K Quad HD display, Exynos 7422 processor, USB Type-C port, and a beefy 4,100mAh battery. Meanwhile, the Galaxy S6 Edge+ will be much smaller with a 5.5-inch screen, Snapdragon 808 processor, and 16MP rear/5MP front facing cameras. We’re still not sure when Samsung plans on making the devices official, but if history has taught us anything, we expect both of them to be revealed during IFA in September.

[USPTO | @OnLeaks | PhoneArena]

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Google Photos developer apologizes for incorrectly identifying black couple as ‘gorillas’

Picard-Facepalm

In what can only be described as one hell of an awkward experience, Google Photos could be accidentally racist. Well, as much as a computer algorithm can be. In what appears to be a pretty big oversight by its developers, Google Photos — which recently added a new feature that can identify faces, objects, or even animals from stored photos — seems to have incorrectly tagged a black couple as gorillas. Yikes.

The person who made the discovery was quickly contacted by a Google developer on Twitter who sincerely apologized for the mix up, removing the “gorillas” tag from the service entirely until they can sort things out. As far as avoiding this mess in the future, Google developer Yonatan Zunger had this to say:

“We’re also working on longer-term fixes around both linguistics (words to be careful about in photos of people [lang-dependent] and image recognition itself. (e.g., better recognition of dark-skinned faces). Lots of work being done, and lots still to be done. But we’re very much on it.”

This isn’t the first time computers have been accused of semi “racist” mistakes. Not too long ago HP came under fire after their computer webcams couldn’t identify black people, and there was even a camera that asked if Asians were blinking.

It’s clear Google’s recognition software still needs some fine tuning. It’s only in the situation above that things get weird. Nobody really gets offended when Google Photos incorrectly tags your cat as a dog. Well, not unless you’re a cat.

[Twitter | via Ars Technica]

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Wednesday Poll: Sound, Vibrate, or Silent?

You can tell a lot about a person by the volume status of their phone. OK, I just made that up, but I am curious as to how everyone typically keeps there phone when it comes to volume settings. An internal polling of the DL crew showed varying results, with some going sound-on all of the time, while the rest were split between full silence and vibrate-only.

So today’s poll is simple – sound, vibrate, or silent?

Note: There is a poll embedded within this post, please visit the site to participate in this post’s poll.

Wednesday Poll: Sound, Vibrate, or Silent? is a post from: Droid Life

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For Those About to Rock: AC/DC Streaming Hits Google Play Music

Fans of AC/DC will be happy to learn that the band’s complete discography has hit Google’s servers, available for streaming via Google Play Music right now. The classics are all there, including Highway to Hell, Back in Black, and High Voltage. 

As listed in Google Play, if you’d like to do more than stream, but you want to own them on Google’s servers, most of the albums are priced at just $7 a pop. Steals on steals!

Let there be rock!

Google Music Link

Cheers Alex!

For Those About to Rock: AC/DC Streaming Hits Google Play Music is a post from: Droid Life

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The YouTube App Now Supports 60fps Playback

YouTube 60fps

YouTube on the web has supported 60fps content since October of 2014, and now it is finally coming to mobile. Google has updated the apps server-side, so no download is required. It seemed that Google was going to switch this on back in May of 2015, but that disappeared shortly after.

This update arrives both for the iOS and Android versions of the app, so you will be good no matter which platform you use. Only select videos are supported, since they need to be shot with this frame-rate in mind. Most video games are 60fps, so that is where you’ll most likely find that content.

Keep in mind that this will no doubt use more bandwidth than before, due to the amount of additional frames. If you have a low amount of data, try sticking to 720p instead of 1080p or higher. If you’re on Wifi, you won’t have to worry about your data. Here is a 60fps video to get you started:

Via: Droid-Life

The post The YouTube App Now Supports 60fps Playback appeared first on The Droid Guy.

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Android emulator BlueStacks now available for Mac

bluestacks_full_android_os

If you are a Mac owner who feels left out when your friends and people on the internet go gaga over all those wonderful Android games and apps, we have a great news for you. Android emulator BlueStacks is now available for Mac.

Until today, the Android app player was only available to Windows users who could play android games and app on their computers after downloading the software for free. Back in 2012, Bluestacks had briefly released an alpha version of the app for Mac users.

Now, the company that boasts of 90 million downloads to its kitty, says that the official Mac version would be as smooth an experience for its users as it is for those using Windows.

“We worked hard to take advantage of everything Mac has to offer. From pinch to zoom on the trackpad to its retina display we optimized for everything,” said BlueStacks Principal Software Architect David Reese.

The app player supports MacBooks with Retina displays and trackpads. Basically, any Mac device with Intel-based or ARM-based processors will be able to support the BlueStacks player.

Source: BlueStacks

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UKarbon skin review

UKarbon LGG3 (10)

When it comes to protecting our smartphones and tablets from scratches, many of us choose to put them in cases that all too often both hide the design of the device and add a fair amount of heft to them. There are other options though, one of them being from UKarbon, a company based in the United Kingdom that offers a protective skin made of carbon fibre textured vinyl. UKarbon offer skins designed to protect your smartphone, tablet, laptop, gaming console or even your Beats headphones from scratches as well as enhancing the item’s appearance.

I was lucky enough to receive a skin to review on my LG G3 from Harry Hextall, who along with Tom Summerfield, runs UKarbon whilst completing university.

U-Karbon LG G3 (24)

Like many, I’ve shied away from protective skins before because of the difficulties experienced when installing screen protectors on my devices. I’ve always believed that if I found it difficult installing one piece of plastic to a flat screen; how would I manage the task of applying a skin? As you can see from the images though, I managed to install the UKarbon skin on my G3, and if I do say so myself, I think I did a pretty good job.

The skin material is premium grade textured PVC vinyl and is just 0.2mm thick, so you can barely tell anything is on the device at all. The advanced adhesive enables a bubble-free finish, unlike when I install a screen protector. Another feature to be appreciated is that if you choose to remove the UKarbon skin, there will be no residue left behind on your device. The skin also has a weave pattern to it that is quite comforting to the touch.

To begin the process, I made sure the G3 was clean, using a wet wipe first to remove the dirt before using a lint-free cloth to dry it off. With the handset now clear from dust and fingerprints, I sorted out my tools for applying the skin – a pair of flat tweezers and a hairdryer. Yes, a hairdryer. That comes in useful at the end of the process.

UKarbon LGG3 (4)

The UKarbon skin for the G3 came with multiple parts to cover the battery panel, the top and bottom bezels on the front of the device, as well as bits to protect the volume button and the ring around the camera lens on the rear.

I started off with the pieces to protect the top and bottom bezels on the front, which I thought would be easiest to begin with. It turned out it was fairly easy to remove the protective coverings from the wax paper, and the trickiest bit was aligning the top piece with the sensors. It turned out pretty well on the first attempt, and so I progressed to the volume and camera pieces. Again, whilst being attentive to detail, the process went as planned. If I was being picky, I guess I could do with reapplying the protective ring around the camera, it is just ever-so-slightly off-center. But then, with my clumsiness, I could just as easily make it worse so I’m happy with it as is. To be honest, I’ve only just seen it at the time of writing, so it’s been like that for a few weeks without my noticing.

UKarbon LGG3 (9)
UKarbon LGG3 (8)
UKarbon LGG3 (1)

Now for the tricky part – the rear panel. Because the G3 has rounded edges, the skin is perhaps a little trickier to apply than on say a Sony Xperia Z3 with its flat surfaces. After lining things up nicely with the LED flash and the Laser Auto Focus sensor, I laid the skin down and smoothed it over. This is where I needed the hairdryer, because of the before mentioned round edges of the G3; some gentle heat is required to help the skin fit snugly instead of flapping in the wind. Enter the hairdryer, and after a few seconds on its lowest heat setting, I could smooth the edges down with my fingertips. The result speaks for itself.

U-Karbon LG G3 (28)
U-Karbon LG G3 (26)
U-Karbon LG G3 (25)

I should point out that UKarbon have some very handy installation videos to watch for tips on how to achieve a great result. I should also point out that I decided to ignore the video guides until after I installed the skin, just to see how difficult it was. As a result, I would say that while you do need to concentrate while applying the skin, it isn’t unduly difficult. I would actually go so far as to say it was an easier process than applying a screen protector.

Now we come to the business end of the review. I’ve had the UKarbon skin on my G3 for almost a month now, and colour me impressed. The skin is in just as good a condition as it was when it was first applied. Dare I say that my G3 looks somewhat cooler than it did before, and it definitely feels better, more tactile. The skin has added much need grip to the G3, I wish I had bought one for my old G2 that had all the characteristics of a wet bar of soap. Do I recommend it? That’s a tough question, but I would say yes, with one caveat. If your job entails you doing physical work out and about, then while the UKarbon skin will protect your phone from scratches, it won’t protect it from the shock of being dropped on the floor. That being said, I have found that the case I have for the G3 slips comfortably on and off the handset with the UKarbon skin applied with no discernible impact.

 

UKarbon LGG3 (6)

So, how much will a UKarbon skin cost for your device? Well, it varies depending on which device you are ordering for. If you were to choose the full set of skins for your LG G3, it will set you back £14.99. You can choose to order only the front protection for £6.99 or the rear for £10.99. My skin was the standard carbon fibre design, but you can choose between Champagne Carbon, Dark Wood, Dark Leather, Orange Peel, Polar White or Signature Red. You can even send your custom designs for UKarbon to produce so your device can be even more personalised.

Handily enough, UKarbon is currently having a promotion where, if you enter the code UK25 into the relevant box while checking out, you will receive a 25% discount. International orders are more than welcome, with free shipping if your order comes to £14.99 or more, if you are in the States it roughly translates to $23.50.

[UKarbon]

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Moto 360 price drops permanently to $149 through Motorola and the Google Store

moto_360_its_time

Moving forward, the Moto 360 will cost less from two of its sellers. Both Motorola and the Google Store have knocked the starting price of the smartwatch down to $149, a drop of $100 compared to the launch price. This, however, is not just a sale or temporary discount. The price of the Moto 360 through Motorola and the Google Store is permanently $149 to start.

This price drop could indicate that a successor to last year’s model is one the way. Based on Motorola’s current release cycle, the new Moto 360 should arrive in late August or early September. Until then, an Android Wear device at this price is quite the steal.

[Google Store] [Motorola]

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YouTube mobile app now supports 60fps video

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Mobile device users looking for the smooth video performance of high frame rate videos will be glad to know that Google is bringing support for 60fps video to the YouTube app on both Android and iOS. Support for HFR video has slowly been added to the YouTube ecosystem, starting with the addition on the desktop last fall. This May YouTube added support for HFR to their live streaming service. The next step in the expansion of HFR support was announced yesterday by the YouTube Creators team as support will now be included in the YouTube app on mobile devices.

source: YouTube Creators (Google+)
via: Engadget

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Sony launches “First Flight” to encourage employee innovation and invention

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Sony has announced a new phase in their Seed Acceleration Program, “First Flight” which merges crowdfunding and e-commerce site features to help promote ideas and products generated internally by Sony employees. The Seed Acceleration Program is Sony’s means for encouraging new business ideas by employees and if good enough, eventually transforming them into a full-fledged business. The new First Flight initiative is meant to help “move people emotionally through innovation” by connecting creators with possible customers.

Sony CEO Kazuo Hirai says,

“Sony’s innovation is ingrained in the company’s founding spirit of `doing what has never been done before.’ Nothing embodies this spirit more than passionate entrepreneurs who give shape to their ground-breaking ideas and introduce them to the world, without fear of failure. The First Flight platform and other Seed Acceleration Program initiatives accelerate and optimize this process. Sony itself originated as a start-up, and through the Seed Acceleration Program we are challenging ourselves to return to our entrepreneurial roots. At Sony we will continue to explore ways of delivering new, emotionally compelling experiences and enhanced customer value.”

To help mark the public launch of First Flight, albeit only in Japan for now, two projects are in the e-commerce stage and one project has launched a crowdfunding effort to see whether there is enough interest. The first product available is MESH, which is described as a “smart DIY kit” to help users become inventors of their own gadgets. Through First Flight, interested consumers can also place an order for the FES Watch, an e-paper based smartwatch. Finally, crowdfunding has commenced for the e-paper based HUIS Remote Controller that will change based on what a user wants to control.

sony_first_flight_mesh
sony_first_flight_fes_watch
sony_first_flight_huis

source: Sony First Flight (site), Sony First Flight (press release)

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