Android 4.3 includes major Photo Sphere enhancements, app permission manager & cool easter egg

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Yesterday, Google finally announced Android 4.3, a minor update to 4.2 that included a handful of neat features, including the ability to have more than one user profile. As time has progressed, however, a few other unannounced features have been discovered.

First, Googler Evan Rapoport posted a detailed description on Google+ about the serious enhancements the Photo Sphere team made to the functionality in Android 4.3. Rapoport says that nearly all of stitching and exposure bugs and annoyances present in Android 4.2 have been fixed in the latest update.

First, alignment and stitching are much better, giving you more level horizons and fewer errors throughout the image. While environments with lots of moving things are always challenging, scenes like the one attached here with a long flat horizon are now much better.

Second, we’ve improved exposure compensation for each individual frame, producing a beautifully exposed photo sphere. You can compare this to the previous versions that produced gray areas and inconsistent coloring in areas of high contrast (near the sun, horizons, buildings against blue sky, etc.).

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Amazon Cloud Drive Photos app now does video uploads & streaming on Android

Amazon-Cloud-Photos-Amazon Cloud Drive Photos app for Android, which previously only handled photo uploads to Amazon’s cloud storage service offering users 5GB for free, was just updated with the ability to upload and stream videos. Version 1.7 of the app will allow users to upload and download videos up to 20 minutes in length and 2GB in size, and will also stream video to any of your Android devices supporting the new video features (the iOS app equivalent is yet to be updated).

A blog post by Amazon outlining the technology behind the new video feature says the app supports more than 20 file formats and 40 video codecs:

The team wanted to allow users to upload and view almost any video. The Elastic Transcoder allows them to support more than 20 file formats and 40 video codecs, including videos captured on archaic devices and stored in obsolete formats. Because Cloud Drive already stored uploaded files in Amazon S3 (they also make heavy use of EC2, SQS, SNS, CloudFront and DynamoDB), it was easy for the team to get started. They created an initial set of transcoding pipelines, decided on the set of output formats that they wanted to support, and created Elastic Transcoding presets as needed… In order to provide a great user experience, the team set a goal of having finished videos available 15 minutes or less after they were uploaded. They were able to over-achieve on this goal and report that videos are often ready within a minute or two.

Perhaps Amazon will soon change the app’s name to better reflect its new video capabilities.

The updated app also includes a few other features, including larger preview images in landscape view. Full release notes below: Read more

Google’s Sundar Pichai says new Samsung-made Nexus 10 coming in the ‘near future’

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As expected, Google finally took the wraps off its new Nexus 7 tablet yesterday during its breakfast with Chrome and Android chief Sundar Pichai. While there was no mention of a possible update to its 10-inch Nexus, it appears Pichai has since confirmed in an interview with The Wall Street Journal’s Amir Efrati that a new version of the device would be arriving in the “near future”:

While we haven’t been hearing much about a new Nexus 10, which was first introduced back in October, we did recently hear that Samsung was working on an octa-core Nexus 11 alongside a new 11-inch Galaxy Tab for later this year. Pichai apparently confirmed that next-gen Nexus 10 would again be made by Samsung, and “near future” seems to indicate we’ll likely see the device shipping with the latest version of Android 4.3 sometime later this year.

Influential analyst predicts a hit for Moto X, a miss for new Nexus 7

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KGI’s Mingchi Kuo, an analyst with a good predictive track-record, has forecast that the Moto X will do substantially better than forecast, while the new 1080P Nexus 7 will do significantly worse.

According to our survey, 2013F shipments of Moto X, to be announced August 1, should reach 5.5mn units, up 57% from the previous forecast of 3.5mn units, including 1.5mn units in 3Q13 and 4.0mn units in 4Q13.

Kuo cited a combination of supply chain sources, the positive response from U.S. operators and Google’s planned megaspend of half a billion dollars on marketing the handset as key factors for the boost in expected numbers … Read more

Android 4.3: Restricted multi-user profiles, Bluetooth LE, Open GL|ES 3, DRM APIs

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At Google’s event this morning, the company confirmed Android Jelly Bean 4.3. The new update ships with the redesigned Nexus 7, and includes various new features:

  • Multi-user restricted profiles: Limit access to certain content. Good for point of sale systems and kiosks. Also works for parental controls.
  • Bluetooth Low-Energy support. Can easily pair Android 4.3 with a fitness sensor.
  • Open GL-ES 3.0. Much improved graphics for games, for example. Complex 3D objects rendering well. Renders natively in 1080p. On stage demos will be available in the Play Store.
  • New DRM APIs: Hardware-based encryption.
  • New Netflix app with 1080P streaming. Nexus 7 is first to support.
  • Notification access — “Your apps can now access and interact with the stream of status bar notifications as they are posted. You can display them in any way you want, including routing them to nearby Bluetooth devices, and you can update and dismiss notifications as needed.” (From the Android Blogspot)
  • Easier text input
  • New languages

Available today for Nexus devices. Google Play Edition HTC One and GS4 updates coming “very soon.” Gallery of announcement images below:

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Google hits 70M tablet activations, 1M apps in the Play Store

Live from Google’s Android and Chrome event this morning, Google’s Sundar Pichai just provided an update on some of the company’s stats for tablet activations and Google Play content downloads. While noting that revenue per user on Google Play has increased 2.5X over the last year, Google announced that it now has 70 million tablet activations, up from around 10 million last year. It also announced it is now at 1 million apps on Google Play with over 50 billion app downloads.

A run-down of the announced statistics:

-70M tablet activations

-1 in 2 tablets is android

-now 50B+ app downloads, up from 20B last year

-Revenue per user up 2.5x over last year

-1 million apps in Google Play

-revenue increased by 2.5X for devs in last 12 months

-Nexus 7 is over 10% of Android tablets

-in Japan during holidays 45% of Android tablets in Japan were Nexus 7

Huge improvements to battery-life expected in Android 4.3?

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Image: malaysiaitfair.com.my

A preview of Android 4.3 by Pocketnow suggests huge improvements to battery-life, with the site reporting 25 hours of heavy usage.

On Android 4.2 I can typically expect 4-6 hours of use before I need to recharge. As a reminder, I use my phones quite a bit more than the average user, so my battery life is expectedly lower than what most should expect to get. On Android 4.3, without changing my usage habits, I was surprised to see the phone last all day, all evening, and still had charge enough to get me to work the next morning. I was able to eek out 25+ hours and still had 1% battery life remaining. That’s impressive! …  Read more

Live stream of Google’s breakfast event [Video]

Later this morning, Google is holding a breakfast event with Chrome/Google head Sundar Pichai where it is expected to announce the new Nexus 7 and maybe even a new “Chromecast” device. Ahead of the event, Google has just published a live stream of the press conference for those of us not able to attend.

You can watch the stream right up above, but be sure to stay tuned, as we will be bringing you everything you need to know from the event, which is set to kick off at 9:00AM PT / 12:00 PM ET.  Read more

Pre-order your 1080P Nexus 7 at Best Buy (or PC Connection, Sam’s Club) now, before it is announced

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Sadly, there are no more secrets left to reveal here. We’d already seen the Best Buy circular and inventory system and we knew the specs which include Android 4.3 and $230-$270 price tag for 16GB and 32GB. But now you can, well, buy them. People should start getting them before the end of the month. Unless they come sooner.

16GB: $229 | 32GB: $259

Here’s Best buy’s spec list:

Enjoy your media on the go with this Google Nexus 7 tablet, which features a 7″ 10-finger capacitive touch screen with IPS technology that simplifies navigation and delivers vibrant images. Wi-Fi makes it easy to surf the Web.

WHAT’S INCLUDED

  • Google Nexus 7 7 inch Tablet with 16GB Memory
  • 1-cell lithium-polymer battery
  • Adapter, power plug
  • Owner’s manual

PRODUCT FEATURES

  • Android 4.3 Jelly Bean operating system Along with a Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro 8064 processor with a 2MB L2 cache and 1.5GHz processor speed allows you to stay connected and productive on the go.
  • Built-in 802.11a/b/g/n wireless LAN Connect to the Internet without wires.
  • 2GB DDR3LM memory For multitasking power.
  • 7″ LCD high-definition 10-finger capacitive touch screen With IPS technology, 300 cd/m² brightness, 178° viewing angles and 1920 x 1200 resolution offers easy operation and provides crystal-clear visuals.
  • Scratch-resistant glass helps guard the display against damage. Antifingerprint technology minimizes smudging for enhanced clarity.
  • 16GB on-board flash memory Offers plenty of space for your music, movies, photos, apps and more.
  • Adreno 320 graphics For lush images with precise detail.
  • 5.0MP rear-facing and 1.2MP front-facing webcams Make it easy to video chat with loved ones.
  • Micro USB 2.0 port with SlimPort For fast digital video, audio and data transfer.
  • Bluetooth 4.0 Easily link with other Bluetooth-enabled devices, such as a mobile phone or MP3 player.
  • Weighs only 11.2 oz. and measures just 0.3″ thin For lightweight portability. Sensors include G-sensor, ambient light, Ecompass, gyroscope and proximity.
  • Preloaded apps Include Google Search by Voice 2.1, Gmail, Google Talk, Google Maps, Google Street View, YouTube, Android Market and more.

Here’s the gallery from Best Buy:

Best Buy

It is showing up also at PC connection

Also, Droid-Life notes that it’s at Sam’s Club too. Read more

Reddit user purchases a Nexus 7 2 ahead of official announcement from Google

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Update: Android Police has also just tweeted an image of the device, with the retail box in the background.

The second generation Nexus 7 has not been Google’s best kept secret by any means, with multiple leaks basically sharing everything there is to know about the device. Now, one lucky Reddit user has supposedly gotten their hands on the device ahead of Google’s expected July 24th unveil. Details are unfortunately very scarce, however, so there’s no way to know where the Reddit user got the tablet from. More than likely, it’s from some sort of brick and mortar store that got shipments in early.

The images show the exact device we saw last week from Android Central. The box design is nearly the same as the original model, with a portion of the tablet being shown to make a “7.”

We’ll be sure to keep an eye on the Reddit thread and update with any additional information…

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Verizon releases video teasing new DROID devices, says that “When it matters, DROID DOES”

Verizon has just released a new video teasing its new Droid MAXX, Droid Ultra, and Droid Mini devices announced this morning. The video, in typical Verizon/Motorola fashion, is very robot-like. The video teases that “WHEN IT MATTERS, DROID DOES.”

The moments that matter offer no time to pause or stop, no room for bulk or bloat, and no chance to refuel. In those moments, the new lineup of DROID phones delivers.

The DROID Ultra and MAXX will be available on August 20 and the Droid Mini on August 29, with pre-orders starting today.  Read more

Google/Motorola now have their own X8 ARM processor, to debut in new Droids

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Something we didn’t see coming! Google subsidy Motorola announced at today’s Droid event that the new Droid Ultra, Droid Maxx, and Droid Mini smartphones would be powered by an in-house System-on-a-Chip (SoC). The new “X8″ 8-core processor has a dual core CPU, a quad core GPU and a separate processor for “natural language processing” and it rounds out with computing core to control them all.

Brian Klug from Anandtech says that the CPU is a Qualcomm Snapdragon.

Motorola says this processor will double graphics speed and boost CPU by about 25%.

More importantly, it will allow these new phones to “always be listening” without draining the battery. Speaking of battery, did you hear that the new Droid Maxx has 48-hour battery life? Head over to the event roundup for all of the details.  Image via Verge Read more