Android gets a Jetpack

At its I/O developer conference, Google today announced Jetpack, a major update to how developers write applications for Android . Jetpack represents the next generation of the Android Support Library, which virtually every Android App in the Play Store uses because it provides a lot of the basic functionality that you would expect from a mobile app. It’s also the next step in the work that the company has been doing with architecture components, a feature it launched at last year’s I/O. Jetpack combines the existing Android support libraries and components and wraps them into a new set of components (including a couple of new ones) for managing things like background tasks, navigation, paging, and life-cycle management, as well as UI features like emoji and layout controls for various platforms like Android Wear, Auto and TV, as well as some more foundation features like AppCompact and Test. It’s important to
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Watch Google I/O developer keynote live right here

Google I/O is nowhere near done. While the mainstream keynote just ended, the company is about to unveil the next big things when it comes to APIs, SDKs, frameworks and more. The developer keynote starts at 12:45 PM Pacific Time (3:45 PM on the East Cost, 8:45 PM in London, 9:45 PM in Paris) and you can watch the live stream right here on this page. If you’re an Android developer, this is where you’ll get the juicy details about the next version of Android. You can expect new possibilities and developer tools for you and your company. We’ll have a team on the ground to cover the best bits right here on TechCrunch.

Android blatantly copies the iPhone X navigation gestures

Google unveiled some of the new features in the next version of Android at its developer conference. One feature looked particularly familiar. Android P will get new navigation gestures to switch between apps. And it works just like the iPhone X. “As part of Android P, we’re introducing a new system navigation that we’ve been working on for more than a year now,” VP of Android Engineering Dave Burke said. “And the new design makes Android multitasking more approachable and easier to understand.” While Google has probably been working on a new multitasking screen for a year, it’s hard to believe that the company didn’t copy Apple. The iPhone X was unveiled in September 2017. On Android P, the traditional home, back and multitasking buttons are gone. There’s a single pill-shaped button at the center of the screen. If you swipe up from this button, you get a new
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Google rolls out app time management controls

Google today announced at its I/O developer conference a new suite tools for its new Android P operating system that will help users better manage their screen time, including a more robust do not disturb mode and ways to track your app usage. The biggest change is introducing a dashboard to Android P that tracks all of your Android usage, labeled under the “digital wellbeing” banner. Users can see how many times they’ve unlocked their phones, how many notifications they get, and how long they’ve spent on apps, for example. Developers can also add in ways to get more information on that app usage. YouTube, for example, will show total watch time across all devices in addition to just Android devices. Google says it has designed all of this to promote what developers call “meaningful engagement,” trying to reduce the kind of idle screen time that might not necessarily be
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Google I/O kicks off tomorrow — here’s what to expect

Google has been rolling out news at a steady rate since last week, in what feels like a bit of a last-minute clearinghouse ahead of tomorrow. The company’s already taken the wraps off of news about Android TV, Google Home, Wear OS Assistant, you name it. If this were practically any other company, we’d be concerned that there’s nothing left to discuss. But this is Google. The next few days are going to be jam-packed with developer news and a whole lot of information around the company’s consumer-facing offerings over the next year and beyond. Android, Assistant, Wear OS, search and the like are going to take center stage when the company kicks off the festivities tomorrow at the Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View. You’d better believe we’ll be on-hand bringing you all of the relevant information as it breaks. In the meantime, here’s some of what you can expect
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Without its own phone OS, Microsoft now focuses on its Android Launcher and new ‘Your Phone’ experience

Microsoft may have retreated from the smartphone operating system wars but that doesn’t mean it has given up on trying to get a foothold on other platforms. Today, at its Build developer conference, the company announced three new services that bring its overall cross-platform strategy into focus. On Android, the company’s Trojan Horse has long been the Microsoft Launcher, which is getting support for the Windows Timeline feature. In addition to that, Microsoft also today announced the new “Your Phone” experience that lets Windows Users answer text messages right from their desktops, share photos from their phones and see and respond to notifications (though that name, we understand, is not final and may still change). The other cornerstone of this approach is the Edge browser, which will soon become the home of Timeline on iOS, where Microsoft can’t offer a launcher-like experience. There are a couple of things
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The Skagen Falster is a high fashion Android wearable

Skagen is a well-know maker of thin and uniquely Danish watches. Founded in 1989, the company is now part of the Fossil group and, as such, has begin dabbling in both the analog with the Hagen and now Android Wear with the Falster. The Falster is unique in that it stuffs all of the power of a standard Android Wear device into a watch that mimics the chromed aesthetic of Skagen’s austere design while offering just enough features to make you a fashionable smartwatch wearer. The Falster, which costs $275 and is available now, has a fully round digital OLED face which means you can read the time at all times. When the watch wakes up you can see an ultra bright white on black time-telling color scheme and then tap the crown to jump into the various features including Android Fit and the always clever Translate feature that
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Android Auto now works without wires if you have the right hardware

Android Auto — Google’s system for powering your car’s dash display from your phone, and the company’s answer to Apple’s CarPlay — is going wireless. You can leave your phone in your bag, and it’ll still be able to push your apps and content to your in-dash screen. Alas, there’s a catch: To get it all working wirelessly at this point, you’ll need to have some pretty specific gear. You’ll need the right phone (Pixel or Pixel XL, Pixel 2 or Pixel 2 XL, Nexus 5X or Nexus 6P) and the right head unit — and for now, that means one of just a handful of units announced by JVC/Kenwood earlier this year. The list of compatible devices will grow in time (Google says to expect more “this year”) — but if you want wireless right this second, the options are quite limited.

Is Android Popsicle next?

Barring any sort of major shakeup at Google’s mobile division, there are two things we know for sure about the next Android’s name: it will start with the letter “P” and it will be a dessert food. That already narrows things down quite a bit — you’ve got pudding, pecan pie, peanut brittle…

Then, of course, there’s Popsicle — a fact the company might well be alluding to in its new Spring Wallpaper Collection. 9to5Google noted a colorful array of frozen confections in amongst the selections. Granted, it’s not thematically too far from the rest of the outdoor, sunshine-themed offerings.

Google’s never shied away from such cheeky suggestions — and it’s certainly teased us before, including in the lead up to Oreo. Though that could just as easily mean it’s a bit of a red herring — remember Android Pocky?

It’s worth noting that Popsicle is, in fact, still a

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Are hardware makers doing enough to keep Android phones secure?

For all the good of Android’s open-source approach, one of the clear and consistent downsides is that the onus to issue software updates falls on the manufacturer. That can mean frustration for those waiting for the latest and greatest feature updates — and in some cases, it can put your phone at risk with delayed or missed security updates.

A pair of researchers at Security Research Labs recently shared a study with Wired highlighting some of these risks. The team’s findings are the result of testing 1,200 Android handsets from all the major manufacturers over the course of two years, examining whether manufacturers had offered the security patches as advertised.

According to SRL, missed security patches were discovered on a wide range of different handsets across manufacturers. Sony and Samsung were both flagged as having missed some security patches — in some cases in spite of reporting that they were

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LG promises to speed up bringing Android updates to its smartphones

LG is making efforts to improve the user experience on its devices after it opened a “Software Upgrade Center” in its native Korea. The new lab will be focused on “providing customers worldwide with faster, timelier, smartphone operating system and software updates,” the company explained in a brief statement. The idea is to help get the latest versions of Android out to more users at a faster pace than it does right now. That’s a genuine problem for Android OEM who are tasked with bringing the latest flavor of Android to devices that already in the market. Issues they have to deal with include different chipsets, Android customization and carriers. The issue has been pretty problematic for LG. Android Oreo, for example, announced by Google last September only began rolling out to the first handful of LG devices last month. The Korean firm said that one of the first priorities
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Our digital future will be shaped by increasingly mobile technologies coming from China

Since the dawn of the internet, the titans of this industry have fought to win the “starting point” — the place that users start their online experiences. In other words, the place where they begin “browsing.” The advent of the dial-up era had America Online mailing a CD to every home in America, which passed the baton to Yahoo’s categorical listings, which was swallowed by Google’s indexing of the world’s information — winning the “starting point” was everything.

As the mobile revolution continues to explode across the world – the battle for the starting point has intensified.  For a period of time, people believed it would be the hardware, then it became clear that the software mattered most.  Then conversation shifted to a debate between operating systems (Android or iOS) and moved on to social properties and messaging apps where people were spending most of their

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Motiv’s neat little fitness ring gets Android and Alexa support

I was pleasantly surprised by Motiv . Sure, my expectations were low for a fitness tracking ring, but pleasantly surprised is pleasantly surprised is still pleasantly surprised. The $200 Fitbit alternative gets a couple of key software upgrades this week, including, most notably, the addition of Android compatibility, along with some Alexa integration.

Initially launched as iOS-only, the Ring is taking baby steps toward working with the world’s most popular mobile operating system. It’s launching first as part of an open beta with, “a more comprehensive feature set” coming by middle of the year. But adventurous users can download the app from the Google Play Store right now.

The fitness tracking ring now works with Alexa, as well. Users can ask Amazon’s smart assistant to sync data and check their heart rate. More metrics are on the way by year’s end, in an attempt to save having to look at a

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Here are the five things I learned installing a smart mirror

I recently received a review unit of the Embrace Smart Mirror. It’s essentially a 24-inch Android tablet mounted behind a roughly 40-inch mirror. It works well when third-party software is installed. Here’s what I learned. It’s impossible to get a good photo of the smart mirror I tried a tripod, a selfie stick and every possible angle and I couldn’t get a picture that does this mirror justice. It looks better in person than these photos show. When the light in the bathroom is on, the text on the mirror appears to float on the surface. It looks great. The time is nice and large, and the data below it is accessible when standing a few feet away. When the room is dark, the Android device’s screen’s revealed because it can’t reach real black. The screen behind the mirror glows gray. This isn’t a big deal. The Android device turns
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Google Play audiobooks get Smart Resume, bookmarks and Assistant routines support

Google Play Audiobooks is getting a major update today that adds a number of new features to the service that were sorely missing when it launched earlier this year. None of these are groundbreaking, but they’ll help Google reach feature parity with some of its competitors while injecting a bit of its proprietary smarts into the process, too. Maybe the most useful new feature in today’s release is Smart Resume. Instead of picking up in the middle of a sentence or even word when your audiobook playback gets interrupted (maybe by Google Maps giving you directions or a friendly passerby who is asking for directions while you are clearly listening to an audiobook). Depending on the length of the interruption, this new feature will smartly rewind to the beginning of the word or sentence to help you stay in the flow. Also new in this update are the ability to
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Review: 2018 Lincoln Navigator

Michigan saw a historic amount of snowfall in 2018. And it’s not done. It’s snowing as I write this and it snowed nearly every day since I took delivery of this burgundy 2018 Lincoln Navigator. Excuse the dirty car shown in the photos. That’s life in the Midwest: half the year it’s impossible to keep cars clean of salt and grime and, to me, that’s the best time to review a vehicle. I’m happy to report the new Navigator is a comfortable refuge from the snowy winter. I spent a week in the 2018 Navigator running from Flint, Michigan to Ann Arbor to Detroit. I filled up the 23 gallon tank enough to know take it easy on the lively 3.5L EcoBoost V6. The 2018 Lincoln Navigator is luxurious, confident but thirsty. This is a luxury SUV. It’s not a sport truck and it’s not high-tech paradise though can
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Hide 3D paintings anywhere with AR app Artopia

Public places may soon be filled with secret pieces of art unlocked by looking through the lens of AR, if Artopia’s cheerily creative app catches on. It essentially lets you geocache your 3D scribbles so anyone else can find, appreciate and share them. Artopia, currently in beta for Android and iOS, is a straightforward combination of AR painting and real-world discovery. You make your art by selecting brushes, colors and so on and moving your phone as you would the brush. Grab objects and move them around, attach them, etc. When you’re done, save it and its precise location is saved to Artopia’s service. Now anyone passing by will be able to see it (a map shows nearby creations) and who made it, give it a like and maybe draw some complementary work nearby. It’s simple (in concept, not in execution), but also a thoroughly pleasant and natural combo.
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Facebook denies it collects call and SMS data from phones without permission

After an Ars Technica report that Facebook surreptitiously scrapes call and text message data from Android phones and has done so for years, the scandal-burdened company has responded that it only collects that information from users who have given permission. Facebook’s public statement, posted on its press site, comes a couple of days after it took out full page newspaper ads to apologize for the misuse of data by third-party apps as it copes with fallout from the Cambridge Analytica scandal (follow the story as it develops here). In the ad, founder and chief executive officer Mark Zuckerberg wrote “We have a responsibility to protect your information. If we can’t, we don’t deserve it.” The company’s response to the Ars Technica story, however, struck a different tone, with Facebook titling the post “Fact Check: Your Call and SMS History.” It said “You may have seen some recent
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Mobile gaming is having a moment, and Apple has the reins

It’s moved beyond tradition and into the realm of meme that Apple manages to dominate the news cycle around major industry events all while not actually participating in said events. CES rolls around and every story is about HomeKit or its competitors, another tech giant has a conference and the news is that Apple updated some random subsystem of its ever-larger ecosystem of devices and software .

This is, undoubtedly planned by Apple in many instances. And why not? Why shouldn’t it own the cycle when it can, it’s only strategically sound.

This week, the 2018 Game Developer’s Conference is going on and there’s a bunch of news coverage about various aspects of the show. There are all of the pre-written embargo bits about big titles and high-profile indies, there are the trend pieces and, of course, there’s the traditional ennui-laden ‘who is this event even for’ post that accompanies any

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