Netflix update makes Android app UI more tablet-like for smartphones [Video]

Netflix just announced a new user-interface experience for Android smartphones.

“Compared to the previous version, the new Netflix experience on Android phones is much more immersive,” explained Netflix on its official blog. “It is much closer to the Netflix experience on tablets, which got a major upgrade late last year.”

The updated app now shows more titles and galleries, bringing it up to par with the tablet version, and it features a new browse row at the top of the screen that lets users continue watching content previously started. Just tap the browse menu to access genre lists.

The Instant Queue, which is available in select regions, is now on the Home screen under the Top 10 list, and a new experience area further below displays several rows filled with personalized recommendations. Tap on any title to view more information or double-tap to start instant playback.

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Samsung rolling out Galaxy S III Jelly Bean updates, plans update for 15 other devices

Samsung will begin rolling out Android 4.1 Jelly Bean updates to the Galaxy S III today, according to a report from The Verge that cited an email directly from the company. The report said Poland would be the first market with access as the update gradually rolls out across other markets. When exactly you will be able to get your hands on it is unclear, but the report noted schedules for the roll out will “vary by market and wireless carriers’ requirements.”

Samsung also apparently provided a list of 15 additional devices that will receive updates to Jelly Bean in the future. The devices listed by The Verge include 10 phones and four tablets, such as: Galaxy S II,Galaxy Note, Galaxy S Advance, Galaxy S II LTE, Galaxy Chat, Galaxy Ace 2, Galaxy Beam, Galaxy Ace Plus, Galaxy Mini 2, Galaxy S Duos, Galaxy Tab 2 7.0, Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus, Galaxy Tab 2 10.1, Galaxy Note 10.1. The final device is listed as simply the “Galaxy Music,” which neither The Verge or us have any information on. We will update this post if Samsung provides any more details.
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Google VP says Nik Software expertise going to Google+, will continue to develop software

Google bought the makers of popular iOS app Snapseed earlier this week, Nik Software; and as 9to5Google predicted, Google Senior Vice President of Engineering Vic Gundotra just confirmed the technology is going toward Google+.

According to the executive’s announcement on his Google+ profile:

Earlier this week I proudly welcomed +Nik Software to Google. They’ve been making pictures more awesome for 17 years, and we’re excited to bring Nik’s expertise to the entire Google+ community!

Gundotra further said Google would continue to offer and strengthen Nik tools and plug-ins. The company’s most notable product, Snapseed for iOS, is similar to Facebook’s Instagram. It is a photography app that launched on Apple’s iPad in June 2011. Snapseed won “iPad App of the Year” soon after it landed in the App Store, and then it arrived on the iPhone in August 2011 and Mac OS just four months later.

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YouTube launches interactive quiz feature with ‘Video Questions Editor Beta’

YouTube recently launched a beta feature, called “Video Questions Editor Beta,” which Dutch tech website WebSonic.nl first discovered, that allows publishers to add an interactive quiz to their videos.

According to YouTube:

This is an opt-in beta for a simple Video Questions Editor on YouTube. Through this editor you can setup multiple questions to be displayed on top of your video during playback that a viewer can answer.

Users can go the edit page of a video and select the “Questions” tab atop to input questions. A summary of viewer interactions will appear on the analytics page under the Annotations section.

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Facebook Android apps updated with redesigned messaging

Facebook is releasing updates to its Android apps that make major improvements to messaging in both the main Facebook app and the Messenger companion app. Facebook highlighted features of the new Facebook Messenger app on its website today to note the more conventional SMS-style conversation view and the ability to text contacts directly from Messenger on certain Android phones. As noted by TechCrunch, the texting feature is currently available on the HTC EVO 3D, HTC One X, LG Optimus Black, LG Optimus Hub, Samsung Galaxy Ace, Samsung Galaxy Nexus, Samsung Galaxy S3, and Samsung Galaxy Y.

Another new feature is the ability to swipe to the left “anywhere in the app to see who’s available and send a message” and add friends to your Favorites for quick access. The main Facebook Android app will receive a refresh and similarly redesigned messaging UI, quick access to online contacts, and various security and performance enhancements. A full list of what is new is below:

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A quarter of all of YouTube’s traffic is now Mobile

That’s a lot of mobile packets. I wonder if anything is bigger in terms of mobile packets delivered.

More from GigOM’s Mobilize conference. Read more

Google Wallet presents FUN with a chance to win concert and VIP after-party ticets

Google Wallet is sponsoring a concert sweepstakes at Irving Plaza in Manhattan for American indie rock band FUN.

The mobile payment service is offering potential concertgoers a chance to win tickets to the show with VIP after-party access. The sweepstakes will give three grand prizewinners two VIP tickets for Oct. 30.

The experience includes a private area upstairs during the concert, complimentary food and beverages, entrance to the official after party, and a meet-and-greet with FUN. But, that’s not all: 40 runner-ups will also win two general admission tickets.

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Walmart memo reveals retailer will no longer sell Amazon’s Kindle line

Walmart apparently sent a memo to store managers on Sept. 19. announcing plans to stop selling Amazon’s line of Kindle products.

“We have recently made the business decision to not carry Amazon tablets and eReaders beyond our existing inventory and purchase commitments,” said Walmart in the memo. “This includes all Amazon Kindle models current and recently announced.”

Reuters, which cited the memo and an unidentified source “familiar with situation,” first reported the news:

In the memo, Wal-Mart said the decision was consistent with its overall merchandising strategy. While Wal-Mart dwarfs other retailers in overall sales, it trails Amazon and others online and has been stepping up efforts to increase its presence there. Consumers who buy Kindle tablets such as the new Kindle Fire HD can shop on the devices for more than just digital books, pushing Amazon into further competition with stores.

The publication did not provide additional details, but Walmart.com currently reflects the reported change. When searching for “Kindle” on the national retailer’s website, no Kindle-related products appear in the queue. It is unclear if Walmart’s website ever offered the tablets, however.

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Google Maps improves live traffic information, launches live road traffic in three new countries

Google announced on the Google Maps blog today that it is expanding Google Maps live traffic information with the addition of live road traffic in three new cities, including: Jeddah, Saudi Arabia; Kuwait City, Kuwait and Guayaquil, Ecuador.

In addition, Google is improving its live traffic information around the world in areas where Google Maps live traffic information is already available. According to Google, more highways and roads are included in the update for the following locations:
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Google Exec comments on iOS 6 Maps [Video]

Google UK Marketing Director Dan Cobley briefly spoke with Bloomberg TV today on Apple’s decision to remove Google Maps from iOS 6, but the most intriguing part about his statement concerned how people could continue to use Google Maps after updating.

Cobley noted folks on iOS 6 can still “use Google Maps by downloading them or going to the Google Maps website.” This is an interesting comment, however, as there is no Google Maps-related app from Google available in the App Store aside from the Google Earth app. It features 3D layers, including roads, borders, places, photos and more, but it is not an adequate Google Maps replacement. There is also no existing option to download a map from Google Maps in mobile Safari.

Therefore, it is currently unclear what Cobley meant by “downloading them.” SearchEngineLand asked Google today when iOS would get a new Google Maps app, though, and if it would feature turn-by-turn navigation. Google replied:

We believe Google Maps are the most comprehensive, accurate and easy-to-use maps in the world. Our goal is to make Google Maps available to everyone who wants to use it, regardless of device, browser, or operating system.

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Report: Google to take lead from Facebook in U.S. display ads this year

The New York Times reported on a new forecast from research firm eMarketer that predicts Google will soon overtake Facebook as the leader in display ads by revenue. The research, which includes image and video on search, mobile, and display, predicted Google will take 15.4-precent of ad dollars this year, or roughly $2.31 billion, in comparison to 14.4-percent for Facebook. As noted by the New York Times, eMarketer predicted earlier in the year that Facebook would remain the leader in 2012; but if its new predictions come true, it means Google would be up 38.5-percent in its share of display ad dollars from 2011.

According to eMarketer, Google’s growth is coming from strong performance of mobile ads, YouTube display ads, and DoubleClick:

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Facebook testing new photo syncing feature for Android, rolling out to some users

Some Android users reported Facebook is testing a new feature that allows photos from their device to automatically upload to a private album in their Facebook account. It appears the feature started to roll out over the past couple of weeks, but more users reported noticing the feature, which is similar to the instant photo upload feature on Google+, yesterday and today. The Verge received confirmation from Facebook that it is indeed testing the new feature with a “really small” group of users. You will know if you have access to the feature if a “Sync” button is available from the Photos section in the Facebook for Android app. Facebook also already posted a help center document with information about photo syncing.

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