Google Plasters Its Name on a New Hardware Collection

2016-10-10-02

Google on Tuesday unveiled a new smartphone and home hub that squarely aim at products from market leaders Apple and Amazon.

The company’s new branded smartphone, called “Pixel,” marks a departure from past efforts. Up to now, Google’s Nexus phones were made by a variety of manufacturers that sold them under their brands.

The Pixel has a 2,770 mAh battery, while the Pixel XL’s is 3,450 mAh. Both batteries have a quick-charge feature that gives the phone seven hours of runtime on a 15-minute charge.

Pixel users who want to dabble in virtual reality will be able to do so with another new product introduced at the Google event. Daydream is a fabric headset that allows Pixel to be used as a VR screen. It will sell for $79 starting in November.

Google also rolled out a competitor to Amazon’s Echo home hub. Called “Google Home,” the unit is voice-controlled and can play music, communicate with other devices in the home, provide anticipated information, and assist in everyday tasks like creating shopping lists, making dinner reservations and buying concert tickets.

“The search on Echo is no way near as effective as plugging into Google search,” he told TechNewsWorld. “When it comes to search, there is really no one better than Google at it.”

Google Plasters Its Name on a New Hardware Collection

A Screenshot Tour of Allo, Google’s New Smart Messaging App

2016-09-21-10

Google just launched Allo, a new smart messaging app that comes with stickers, emoji, and a powerful assistant who can answer all your questions. Let’s take a look at its biggest features, and see if it’s worth moving all your conversations over to it.

A Screenshot Tour of Allo, Google’s New Smart Messaging App

5 genius ways to repurpose your old iPhone

2016-09-21-03

If you’re swooning over the latest iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, it doesn’t mean you have to ditch your old iPhone. It’s been your trusty companion — you can’t just toss it out with yesterday’s leftover lunch.

It’s also bad for the environment, our wallets, and our junk drawers.

Here are five easy DIY transformations to turn your old smartphone into something awesome.

  1. A truly universal remote
  2. Cool new alarm clock
  3. Make it an action cam
  4. Keep an eye on the place
  5. A dedicated digital camera

5 genius ways to repurpose your old iPhone

Google fixes two serious Android security flaws

2016-09-21-02

Google’s mobile security team has definitely been busy cleaning house this week. The company has released an Android update that closes two security holes that could pose a major threat if intruders found a way to exploit them. The first was only designed for “research purposes” and would only have been malicious if modified, Google tells Ars Technica, but it wouldn’t have been hard to detect or weaponize.

The other flaw behaved similarly to the well-known Stagefright exploit, letting an attacker send an altered JPEG image through Gmail or Google Talk to hijack your phone. The issue, as SentinelOne researcher Tim Strazzere explains to Threatpost, is that it’s both easy to find and capitalize on this vulnerability.

There’s more. Security company Check Point also revealed that Google Play had been hosting apps containing two forms of malware (CallJam and DressCode). CallJam both steered phones to websites that made bogus ad revenue and, if you granted permission, would call paid phone numbers. DressCode would also visit shady ad sources, but it could also compromise local networks. Google has since removed the offending apps, but the infection rate may have been high when users downloaded the software hundreds of thousands (or in a few cases, millions) of times.

Google fixes two serious Android security flaws

Miyamoto on why Mario is finally coming to smartphones

2016-09-09-08

Miyamoto said that the iPhone version of Mario’s latest gaming adventure, called Super Mario Run, has been a year in the making. The delay in bringing the jumping character – originally called Jumpman – to a smartphone was “because up until recently we found that mobile devices weren’t best suited to gaming. But that’s changing.”

VR not quite the right fit for Mario

Asked if he was bringing Mario to the newest gaming platform, virtual reality, Miyamoto said that VR wasn’t quite the right fit.

“I would agree that adapting Mario to new platforms is a key to keeping him relevant,” he said. “But we want families to play together, and virtual reality (which requires players to be closed off from the real world) doesn’t really fit well there. We also like people playing for a long time, and it’s hard to do that in VR.”

Miyamoto on why Mario is finally coming to smartphones

Improving the deduplication flow when uploading to Google Drive

2016-09-07-07

A common use case for Google Drive users is to download a file from their Drive to modify it locally, and then to re-upload the new version. In the past, this would result in duplicate files (the original and the new one), and users would have trouble finding the latest version. That’s why we’re introducing a change in Drive to deduplicate files which were uploaded in this way.

Once launched, when users upload files that have the same filename as an existing file, they’ll be deduplicated, and the old file will be in revision history. This is so that if any mistakes are made, users can get back to the previous version. Similarly, uploaded folders will be merged with folders of the same name.

Improving the deduplication flow when uploading to Google Drive

How to improve your wireless signal

2016-09-07-05

Is anyone actually happy with their Wi-Fi?

Whether it’s dead spots, or access that just won’t reach the den or backyard, as we rely on more internet connected devices and services, there are plenty of ways that wireless signals come up a little bit short.

The big problem is that most of us treat Wi-Fi as a “set and forget it” technology — until there’s a problem. And let’s be real: the main solution for most of us is to simply unplug the device, hoping that a reset will fix the issue.

Unlike other technologies where we are on the hunt for an upgrade, most of us also don’t really look for ways to improve it.

I was recently confounded by weird wireless issues that required me to do a deep dive in my home situation.

Here are a few tips that might help improve your wireless:

How to improve your wireless signal

Opera’s free unlimited VPN service is coming to Android

2016.08.29 06

Opera previously launched an unlimited VPN service for iOS earlier this year as a result of its 2015 acquisition of SurfEasy, and now it’s doing the same for Android users.

Opera VPN will let you appear as if you’re in a different country such as the US, Canada, Singapore, Germany and the Netherlands in addition to allowing you to block ad trackers. You can effectively bypass content restricted by location with the VPN, and without a data limit you can use it as much as you want.

If you’re not well-versed in VPNs, the app automatically handles setting Android VPN settings for you and will also check the security and integrity of your current Wi-Fi connection. This feature may slow down your internet speed while you’re using it, as TechCrunch attests, but not so much that it’s too problematic to use while surfing.

If you’re interested in trying out the app, you can pick it up via the Google Play Store now.

Opera’s free unlimited VPN service is coming to Android

YouTube’s app for the big screen is being updated today

2016.08.29 05

YouTube may have originated on the desktop (more than a decade ago!), but now mobile and the living room are two of its most important platforms. The latter is receiving an update today: Game consoles, streaming devices like Roku, smart TVs and of course the Chromecast will all get a small but important change. Now, when you load up YouTube, you’ll be presented with a variety of different content tabs right at the top of the interface. It’s now much easier to flip through topics like sports, news, comedy, music, entertainment and so forth.

Google previously had similar categories hidden in the left-side menu bar, but the company thinks that moving them front and center will help users find content faster and keep them watching longer. The categories themselves have also been refined a bit, with some new additions and subtractions getting to the 14 total you’ll find now. It’s something YouTube has been working on ever since it started designing its own consistent interface across the big screen in 2013. Previously, YouTube had an open API that device makers could tap into and make their apps, but that led to inconsistent experiences and new features being left behind.

YouTube’s app for the big screen is being updated today