Tag: android

‘Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp’ adds gardening to its list of chores

Collect fruit, trade it with villagers, build furniture, rinse, repeat. That's been the experience with Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp thus far, and if it's getting tedious, know that there's an update coming soon that'll add some variety to the mix. Next month, you'll be able to start crafting clothes like shirts, pants and shoes. Players will also gain access to a garden. As you might expect, the garden is where you can plant flowers, and you can even water friends' flower beds for them.

At this point, the flowers could just be another resource type for building stuff (like apples), but there's every chance that gardening could be a full-blown new activity. We won't know until we get our hands dirty. Even with this update, Pocket Camp is a far cry from full-fat Animal Crossing, but it's a step in the right direction. Compared to something like Nintendo's Fire Emblem Heroes, though, it's feeling pretty sparse at the moment.

Source: Animal Crossing (Twitter)

Google pauses crackdown on apps that use accessibility features

Almost a month ago, Google cracked down on developers that used Android's accessibility features for apps that weren't expressly created for people with disabilities. The company told developers that they had to show how their code actually helped those with a disability or face removal from the Play Store within 30 days. Now, however, Google is pausing that final solution for another month to consider "responsible and innovative uses of accessibility services."

Several developers complained about the strict policy enforcement, which could affect apps like Last Pass (which uses accessibility features to help fill in form fields and passwords), Tasker (which uses the features to monitor launched apps) and Greenify (which shuts down apps when they use too much power).

"This is really bad news," Universal Copy's developer wrote on the Android Reddit. "We will have no other choice than unpublishing the app from the Play Store."

In the current email, Google asked recipients to send feedback around their appropriate use of the accessibility features in Android: "If you believe your app uses the Accessibility API for a responsible, innovative purpose that isn't related to accessibility, please respond to this email and tell us more about how your app benefits users. This kind of feedback may be helpful to us as we complete our evaluation of accessibility services."

Via: Ars Technica

Source: Reddit

Plex on Android now works more like a ‘real’ DVR

Plex recently turned your devices into virtual DVRs through its live TV update, but there have been limitations: you couldn't timeshift to replay an important moment, and watching a show while it recorded required a second TV tuner. Not much of a replacement for a real DVR, is it? The situation just got much better, however, as Plex has updated its Android app with support for both timeshifting and, as you might expect, watching a live show while in mid-recording. If you missed a crucial play in the big game or just want to repeat what someone said, you can skip back just like you would with a conventional DVR.

The feature is available right now on Android mobile devices and Android TV, although you'll need a Plex Pass subscription to use it. Amazon-made hardware is coming soon. And while it's still slightly odd to pay for the privilege of controlling free TV, look at it this way: it's still considerably less expensive than a traditional TV subscription or buying a dedicated over-the-air DVR box.

Via: Android Police

Source: Plex

Essential Phone sends 360-degree live video to Facebook and YouTube

Essential has been racing to improve the (frankly lackluster) camera software on its phone ever since launch, and now those upgrades are showering affection on the handset's signature 360 Camera attachment. Andy Rubin's outfit is delivering an update that adds streaming live 360-degree video to both Facebook Live and YouTube Live. In other words, that add-on just became much more useful -- you can broadcast your adventures in a VR-friendly format just by clipping a camera to your phone.

The addition could make this one of the better bargains for 360-degree livestreaming, at least if you're looking for a higher-end phone. Now that the price of the Essential Phone itself has dropped to $499, you're looking at less than $700 for a complete streaming setup. Is there a huge audience for this? Probably not, but it helps the phone stand out in a field where having an all-screen design is no longer a novelty.

Source: Essential (Twitter)

HQ’s live trivia is coming to Android in time for the holidays

Since launching in August the HQ app has been attracting hundreds of thousands of players to its twice-daily live trivia games, but so far they're all playing on iPhones. Now, a tweet indicates that Android users will be able to get in on the action soon, since "HQ has a nice little stocking stuffer coming your way." The game came from two Vine co-founders and has seen as many as 400,000 people logging on at 3 and 9 PM ET to try and win cash prizes of up to a few thousand dollars by answering trivia questions.

We've seen some attempts at this before, including NBC's short-lived Million Second Quiz game show/app and the Xbox Live game 1 vs. 100. There are other games like Trivia Crack and Quiz Up, but they don't have the same live event hook, while Family Feud Live features tournaments for cash prizes but also contains subscription fees and pushes in-app purchases heavily.

Source: HQ (Twitter)

Android 8.1 starts rolling out to Nexus and Pixel devices

As promised, Android 8.1 is ready to reach the masses. Google has started pushing the new mobile operating system to Nexus and Pixel devices, and expects to complete the rollout over the next week. Naturally, it's also posting the source code. The biggest tangible improvement should be for low-cost Android Go phones aimed at developing markets, but there are plenty of important improvements -- particularly if you have a Pixel 2.

If you have one of Google's latest handsets, 8.1 unlocks the Pixel Visual Core chip so that third-party apps can take advantage of the Pixel 2's AI-powered photography. In theory, any app that uses the standard Android camera platform can take richer photos and spare you from having to switch apps.

You don't need one of the newer phones to see the other benefits. Android 8.1 includes a neural network toolkit that lets apps run TensorFlow Lite and other AI frameworks on-device, instead of leaning on a distant server. Apps can make better use of autofill forms, and there's an obligatory round of bug fixes.

When other devices get Android 8.1 is up in the air. Many major Android phone makers are only just testing 8.0 updates, and they might not want to delay things further by evaluating 8.1. In some cases, you may stand a better chance of getting 8.1 through a brand new device.

Source: Android Developers Blog

Honor squeezed more screen into its budget View 10 flagship

When Huawei sub-brand Honor revealed its new Honor 7X a few weeks ago, we weren't exactly thrilled. You can only squeeze so many thrills out of a big screen and a mid-range chipset, after all. Thankfully, that wasn't the only device Honor has been working on. Honor's deal has always been about delivering solid performance on a budget, but it's getting a bit more ambitious with the new View 10 (known as the V10 in China). Huawei and Honor are seemingly intent on building a OnePlus-style flagship that won't break the bank, and if a little hands-on time is anything to go on, the View 10 is already shaping up to be a serious contender.

As you might've heard already, the View 10 uses a 5.99-inch LCD screen that takes up almost all of the room on the phone's face. In keeping with devices like the OnePlus 5T — which the View 10 is set to directly compete with — the 18:9 "FullView" screen is taller and narrower than ones seen in earlier Honor devices. The company hasn't rid the phone of bezels entirely, but they're slim enough that the phone still feels easy to use with just one hand. The View 10's all-metal body feels surprisingly light, too, considering there's a 3,750mAh battery wedged inside. In typical Honor fashion, though, the View 10's design is pretty bland. There's nothing wrong with it, per se, as long as you weren't hoping for some Honor Magic-esque flair.

What little extra space remains was put to good use, though: unlike the recently announced Honor 7X, there's a front-mounted fingerprint sensor sitting right beneath the display, and there was enough room left over to squeeze in a standard headphone jack. And while other Android OEMs have been happy to ditch expandable memory options, the View 10 takes microSD cards as large as 256GB — not too shabby, especially when you consider the device will be available with up to 128GB of onboard storage.

That's all fine, but let's talk power. Like the Mate 10 and Mate 10 Pro before it, Honor's View 10 uses one of Huawei's Kirin 970 chipsets — you know, the one with the neural processing unit. Huawei is still bullish on the idea of weaving AI throughout the smartphone experience, and even though we weren't amazed by the chip's machine-learning chops in the Mate 10, getting that kind of power and potential in a more affordable body is something to celebrate. Now we just need developers building software that really takes advantage of that NPU. The 970 is a remarkably snappy chipset in its own right, though, especially if you spring for the model with 6GB of RAM (subject to availability, naturally).

Meanwhile, the dual camera around back should seem familiar to long-time Huawei fans. The lack of Leica branding is pretty conspicuous here, but no matter: the View 10 once again pairs a standard 16-megapixel color camera with a 20-megapixel monochrome camera. The few test shots we took looked pleasant enough (especially those captured with the monochrome sensor), but we're a little concerned by the way both cameras jut out of the View 10's back. If you didn't mind the iPhone's camera humps, this won't be too much to worry about, but don't forget: the Honor 9's dual camera sat flush with the phone's body.

Unfortunately, the unit we played with was running some seriously non-final software, so not everything worked the way we had hoped. The View 10 runs a version of Android Oreo that has been painted over with Huawei's EMUI interface, and while it was generally quite snappy during our play session, we did notice a few occasional hiccups. Also, you won't find Huawei's cheeky TrueDepth Camera clone here; the View 10 will only come with a more conventional face unlock feature, but that won't arrive until a future OTA update. There weren't any games loaded onto our demo unit, either, so the included Gaming mode — which blocks notifications and allows for screen recording while in the midst of the action — was also off-limits.

Honor hasn't locked down global pricing and availability yet, and for once, we're eagerly awaiting the details. We do have some of the broad strokes, though: the View 10 will land in the US in the first half of 2018, and it should cost around $500 when it does. That's pretty pricey for an Honor device, but it's also safe to say the View 10 is a pretty unusual — and powerful — proposition for a brand that has mostly played in safe in the States.

Android Oreo for low-powered phones launches today

Google is finally releasing the bare bones version of Android it showed off at I/O 2017 back in May. The tech titan is making Android Oreo Go available to manufacturers with Android 8.1, which is scheduled to drop anytime within the next 24 hours. This optimized version of Google's mobile OS was created specifically for devices with only 512MB to 1GB of memory. It was built to be lighter and to run faster on phones that don't come with big ROMs and the most advanced components money can buy, with core apps that are 50 percent smaller and 15 percent faster than their full-sized counterparts.

The suite of pre-installed apps you'll find on a Go phone include Google Assistant Go, Files Go, Google Go, Google Maps Go, Gmail Go, YouTube Go, Gboard, Chrome and the Play Store. Most of these apps are stripped-down variants with simpler interfaces and, in YouTube's case, the ability to load the lowest resolution of videos possible.

Files Go can help make phones with smaller storage spaces more usable and manageable by suggesting unused files and apps to delete, as well as making it easy to back up files to the cloud and to make them available offline. Google Go, which used to be known as "Search Lite," makes it faster to find info. The other apps like the Play Store and Chrome for Go aren't exactly a separate entity -- in Chrome's case, its Data Saver function is switched on by default to help users save data.

At an event in India, Google has revealed that its partners' first Go phones will hit shelves in early 2018. It's unclear if they'll also make it to the US and other developed nations, but they won't make a huge dent in your wallet if ever they do.

Source: Google (1), (2)

Google releases its Android file storage manager to all

Google has filled a big hole in its Android system by releasing Files Go!, its mobile file organization and sharing app. Launched in beta last month, the app makes it easier for Android users to free up space, find files, back them up to the cloud, and share them with other smartphones, even offline. It's one of the linchpin apps of Google's Oreo 8.1 (Go edition), a slimmed down version of Android meant for the less-powerful devices in developing nations.

Files Go! will also be handy for power users who currently lean on third-party file organization apps, which are often paid or ad-supported. On top of giving you direct access to your downloads, received files, apps, images, video, audio and documents, it will offer suggestions for freeing up space. For instance, it can tell you how much you can free from your app cache, unused apps, large files and downloaded files. It'll also offer to move files to an SD card, if you have one.

Another long overdue feature is the ability to share files offline, Airdrop-style. When you enable the feature, it lets you create a "hotspot" to connect and transfer files via Bluetooth. If a friend also has Files Go and file sharing enabled, it's simply a matter of hitting send or receive. "The file transfers are encrypted, fast (up to 125 Mbps) and free," says Google.

The app can also remind you when you're low on storage and let you backup files to Drive, OneDrive, Dropbox and other apps. Google says it has been testing the app for a month and has saved users an average of 1GB space. It's now available for all on the Google Play Store, assuming you have Android 5.0 or higher.


Source: Google

Starbucks offers AR tours of its lavish Shanghai coffee shop

Starbucks has a long, long tradition of using tech to bring you into its coffee shops, and that will be truer than ever with the latest supersized Reserve Roastery location in Shanghai. The beverage behemoth will use a mobile app to offer guided augmented reality tours of the coffee-making process when the restaurant opens on December 6th. Point your phone at equipment like the roaster or cask and you'll get an explanation of what happens as beans eventually turn into your venti latte.

The chain is offering virtual badges for participating in the tour, and you'll get a "unique Roastery filter" to mark your trip. We're not sure who's excited to show that they've visited a Starbucks (even if it's a very elaborate one), but it at least means you'll have a virtual record of your trip.

There's no mention of whether or not you'll see this AR experience in other Reserve Roasteries (we've asked about future plans), but it's reasonable to expect that this won't be available at your corner Starbucks any time soon. This is more about turning your visit into a mini event and encouraging you to linger a while longer. As it is, we could see other restaurants following suit if this catches on.

Source: Starbucks