Google Maps update adds new Latitude button, ability to save maps offline

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Earlier this week Google rolled out an update to its Maps app with a new interface and several new features, but the update also removed a several key things, including the ability to save maps offline and the popular Latitude tracking tool. In a post on Google+ this morning, however, the Maps team announced that an update will begin rolling out to Maps users today that adds those two features back to the app.

We’ve been happy to hear so many of you enjoying the interface and features of the new Google Maps app for Android, but we know some of you are missing an easy way to access maps offline. That’s why our engineering team has been working around the clock to add a “Make this map area available offline” card below the search box for easier access. And, if you still want some #thumbercise, typing “ok maps” will work too!

With this update, we’ve also added a “Where’s Latitude?” link at the bottom of the side menu which provides more information about the future of location sharing.

The update will begin rolling out to users today, so be sure to keep an eye on the Play Store for it to hit your device. Read more

Google offering free ebook on how to take better pictures with Android phones and tablets

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Photographer Colby Brown is offering a free book on the Google Play Store about how to take better photos with Android phones and tablets. The book covers different grips you can use to get the best shot out of your device, as well as third-party apps that can help edit and share your photos.

This invaluable guide on how to better use the camera on your Android phone will make all the difference in the world as you capture and share the world around you with others.

The book is free for a limited time on the Play Store, though you must have a credit card associated with your account in order to send it to your device.  Read more

Moto X would be most heavily-promoted smartphone ever, if Google’s planned $500M spend is true

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The WSJ is reporting (via Techmeme) that Google is planning to allow Motorola to spend up to half a billion dollars to promote its forthcoming flagship smartphone, the Moto X. This would mean Motorola would spend more on promoting one handset than either Samsung or Apple spent in total last year across all their mobile devices.

Google is expected to allow its Motorola hardware unit to spend several hundred million dollars—and possibly upward of $500 million—to market the highly-anticipated device in the U.S. and some overseas markets, including in Europe, said people familiar with the matter.

All four major U.S. wireless carriers—AT&T Inc., Verizon Wireless, Sprint Nextel Corp., and T-Mobile—are expected to make the device available to their customers this fall, in part because of Motorola’s marketing plans …  Read more

Chrome for Android updated with built-in Google Translate, fullscreen support on tablets

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Just a day after Chrome 28 was released to Mac and Windows with rich notifications, the update is now available to Android devices with a its own feature set. With the update, Chrome for Android now offers built-in Google Translate support, meaning that if you visit a site in a different language, a bar will appear at the bottom asking if you wish to translate it. The update also adds fullscreen support for tablets, as well as a new interface for languages that are read right-to-left.

The full change log from Google follows:

  • Fullscreen on tablets – Scroll to hide the toolbar
  • Google Translate – Look for translation bar when reading web pages in other languages
  • New user interface for right-to-left (RTL) languages, including Arabic, Farsi, and Hebrew

The update is available on the Play Store nowRead more

T-Mobile announces Jump, an anytime upgrade club for $10 a month

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Just as several rumors suggested, T-Mobile has announced a new anytime upgrade plan at its press event today. ‘Jump’ will allow for customers to upgrade their phone more often than once every two years for an extra $10 a month every month. The plan will allow customers to trade-in their existing devices for a new one at the same or lower price. After a six month waiting period, customers will be able to upgrade their phone twice every year. The club will kick off on July 14th.

JUMP! from T-Mobile is designed to provide customers with total protection for one of their prized possessions: their smartphones. It offers the freedom to upgrade to a new device more affordably and protects against malfunction, damage, loss or theft — all for just $10 per month, per phone (plus taxes and fees). That’s just $2 more than most customers have been paying for handset protection alone.

“This is one of those things that annoys customers so much,” CEO John Legere said. Read more

Ads for DROID MAXX and ULTRA leak, suggest 48 hour battery life and August 8th release

It looks like Motorola and Verizon are set to team up for yet another lineup of DROID devices this fall, as press images from @evleaks and story boards from Android Central have leaked. First off, the DROID MAXX looks to be the successor the popular DROID RAZR MAXX from last year. Specs are still a mystery for the most part, but seeing how the RAZR MAXX was a flagship last year, it seems likely that its successor will also feature high-end internals. The big selling according to the leaked ad, however, will still be the battery life. The ad teases that the DROID MAXX will have  “48 hours of worry-free battery life.” The RAZR MAXX was advertised with 32 hours of talk time, so two full days of usage is pretty impressive.

The DROID ULTA’s storyboard doesn’t really give us any hints as to what to expect from the device, but it does mention that the device will be “Only on Verizon. 8-8-13.” More than likely, the DROID ULTRA will be very similar to the DROID MAXX, but with less impressive battery life and a thinner design. Read more

Google now including Offers in search & website ads, new Google Maps for Android app

Google announced on its Google Commerce blog today that it’s expanding the places you’ll be able to receive and save Google Offers. Previously, Google provided the deal service through its Google Offers website and the Offers and Google Wallet mobile apps, but it’s now also including Offers as ads in search results and on websites, as well as through the just released Google Maps for Android app.

If you find an offer you want, like a free appetizer at your favorite restaurant, you can easily save it to your Google account. The next time you’re at the restaurant, just show the offer on your phone screen to redeem. No need to hassle with clipping paper coupons, purchasing vouchers in advance, or forgetting your coupons at home.

Google will be making Offers available through search results and on websites through ads with a big “Get Offer” button that will allow users to save the Offer to their Google account and redeem later through the Google Offers mobile apps for iOS and Android. Offers will appear in the new Android app when searching for a restaurant or retail store:

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Google has already partnered with Michaels Stores, RadioShack, Red Mango, Red Robin, and Ulta Beauty for Offers, but plans to roll out Toys”R”Us, Sports Authority, BJ’s Restaurant, Macy’s, Disney Store, and Payless Shoesource in the near future.

An image showing what the new Google Offer ads will look like is below: Read more

Samsung overtakes Apple for first time in global smartphone web usage

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Samsung’s share of smartphone-based web-browsing has increased substantially in the last year, reports StatCounter, edging just ahead of Apple for the first time.

The big winner over the year has been Samsung, which, for the first time in June 2013, marginally passed Apple on a worldwide basis to take number one spot in terms of internet usage. Samsung has seen its internet usage rise to 25.47%, just ahead of Apple (25.09%) …  Read more

Redesigned Google Maps for Android begins rolling out to Android 4.0.3+ users

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As previewed at Google I/O 2013 in May, Google has just begun rolling out the latest version of Google Maps for Android to Android 4.0.3+ users. The update, which is available now for download at Google Play, will provide users with a new design (both on tablets and smartphones), live traffic updates, improved navigation, incident reports, and a new Explore function. This Explore feature is a “new way to browse and discover popular local places to eat, drink, shop, play and sleep,” per Google’s release notes. While the update is out today, the new features will arrive gradually for end-users. Phandroid provides a link for side loading on the complete update today.

Read more

Leaked video and images show LG G2 with thin design, rear volume controls

While LG is not officially set to unveil its G2 flagship until August 7th, Engadget has just gotten its hands on clear, detailed images of the device, as well as a video that basically take all the suspense out of LG’s official event next month. According to the leak, the device will feature a 5.2-inch 1080p display with an incredibly small bezel that makes it appear edge-to-edge. Visually the G2 looks a lot more like the Nexus 4 than the original Optimus G. It has a more rounded design, as opposed to the blocky design on its predecessor. On the back is the volume rocker, which we saw in leaked images last month.

Read more

Dropbox lets third-party devs sync app data w/ new API, now at 175M users

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Dropbox kicked off its developer conference in San Francisco today and with it came a few updates including new tools for devs and the announcement that the service now has 175 million users. That’s up about 75 million users from just last November.

The developer conference also included some announcements about new tools coming to let third-party app and website developers easier integrate Dropbox. The company is introducing a platform for developers that includes a new API called Datastores, allowing app devs to store and sync data from their apps across multiple devices and platforms. It’s something developers have been doing on their own for a while (for example 1Password), but now Dropbox is making easy for all:

The Datastore API provides developers a new way to sync data beyond files across a variety of devices and platforms. The Datastore API allows developers to save their app’s structured data (e.g. contacts, to-do items, and game state) on Dropbox and handles all the magic necessary to sync it quickly and reliably. Users of a Datastore-enabled app can be sure their data will be up-to-date across all their devices whether online or offline.

It also showed off new “Drop-ins” that will let devs easily integrate the ability to open and save from Dropbox within their apps: Read more