Google apologizes for Gmail delivery issues, explains what happened

Gmail_Icon

Google has apologized for Gmail delivery delays experienced by some users yesterday. Google says that whilst most messages were not affected, 29% of messages were delayed by a couple of seconds, with only 1.5% of messages being critically delayed, by as much as two hours. The issue lasted for about 8 hours, starting at around 5:30 am PST.

Read more

iMessage makes the jump to Android in the form of a shady unofficial app (update: removed)

Update: The app has been removed from the Google Play Store.

Earlier this month, iMessage Chat for Android appeared on the Google Play store. The app is by no means an official Apple-created iMessage solution for Android, but the creation of a third-party developer named Daniel Zweigart. Surprisingly, according to a few users who have tried the app, it actually works. You can send messages from your Android device to your iPhone or iPad, and vice versa.

However, it’s quite possible that the Apple IDs and passwords being entered into the app are being collected by the developer for nefarious purposes.

If you’re really curious about how the app works, software developer Adam Bell has discovered that it connects to Apple’s iMessage server posing as a Mac mini. Cydia creator Jay Freeman (aka saurik) has also noted on Google+ that the app forwards all communication from Apple to a server running in China. That means every message you send or receive using this app is being processed—and possibly stored—on a server run by the creator.

However, Steven Troughton-Smith also points out that the app has the ability to download and install software in the background, meaning it is capable of putting malware on your phone without your knowledge. Given this information, we highly advise staying away from the app.

Should you decide to try downloading the app from the Google Play store, we recommend only testing it with a throwaway Apple ID that has none of your payment or personal information attached. We really can’t stress that point enough.

T-Mobile rolling out update to Moto X that dramatically improves camera performance

verizonmotox-e1377557158140

When the Moto X finally made its way into the hands of consumers, many people were disappointed by the quality of photos taken with the device’s shooter. Specification-wise, the lens was no slouch, so many people were optimistic that the company would improve the sensor with a software update. Today, T-Mobile has begun rolling out an update to its Moto X variant that, according to AnandTech, greatly improves the quality of images.

  • Camera – Improved Photo Quality: Improved capture of natural light (auto-white balance) and color accuracy for more precise exposure in outdoor and backlit scenes
  • Camera – Improved Focus: Faster touch to focus time and reduced unnecessary refocusing in low light conditions and scenes with continuous motion
  • Camera – Faster Switching: Shortened the time it takes to switch between rear and front-facing cameras, as well as transition between the viewfinder and the Gallery app

AnandTech notes that the update dramatically improves the quality of images taken both indoors and outdoors with the Moto X. The update changes the tuning of the camera and improves exposure in  outdoor and backlit scenes, improves the color accuracy, and reduces the noise in low light images.

In addition to the camera improvements, the update also adds several other enhancements to the T-Mobile Moto X and fixes a handful of bugs. Read of the rest of the change log below:  Read more

Android Device Manager quietly adds ability to remotely lock devices, override previous password settings

Screen Shot 2013-09-23 at 5.00.48 PM

Google has just added an incredibly useful feature to its Android Device Manager service. As first noted by Android Police, you can now remotely lock your Android device with a specific password or passcode, should you misplace it or have it stolen.

Most notably, you can override any other pattern or pin set on the device. The Device Manager will simply ask to you to choose a new password when submitting the lock request, and when you find the device, you simply enter in that passcode to regain access. If the device is in Airplane mode, the service will automatically perform the lock request as soon as it’s reconnected to the internet.

With Google, Apple, and others under strong pressure from the government to improve device security, this feature is incredibly useful. Apple recently launched a new Activation Lock feature that requires an Apple ID and password to reactivate a device after it’s reset via Find My iPhone.

To try this functionality out for yourself, head to the Android Device Manager site and select the lock icon and be sure the service is already enabled on your device, as well.  Read more

HTC One dev edition to receive Android 4.3 update this week, Canada models by month’s end

HTC-One-Live-Stage

After making the decision to halt the Android 4.2 rollout to One variants, HTC America president Jason Mackenzie has just announced on Twitter that the company plans to update the One developer edition to Android 4.3 this week. The update will include the latest version of Sense, as well. Mackenzie also notes that One owners in Canada should expect the update by the end of the month.

There’s no word on when the carrier models here in the United States will get the Android 4.3 update. Once HTC finalizes the build for each model, it must send it to every carrier for final improvements and tweaks, and as we all know, carriers certainly don’t expedite the update process at all.

If you own an HTC One developer edition or Canadian variant, be sure to keep an eye out for the update and let us know when you receive it.  Read more

Google launches new “Constitute” online tool for searching the world’s constitutions

ConstituteGoogle today announced that its Ideas think tank is teaming up with the Comparative Constitutions Project to build a new online tool called “Constitute” that aims to digitize all the world’s constitutions and make them searchable to everyone online.

Constitute enables people to browse and search constitutions via curated and tagged topics, as well as by country and year. The Comparative Constitutions Project cataloged and tagged nearly 350 themes, so people can easily find and compare specific constitutional material. This ranges from the fairly general, such as “Citizenship” and “Foreign Policy,” to the very specific, such as “Suffrage and turnouts” and “Judicial Autonomy and Power.”

Google Ideas Product Manager Sara Sinclair Brody says the company hopes the new tool will help citizens learn more about their own constitutions, but also “arm drafters with a better tool for constitution design and writing.”  Read more

Apple’s new iPhones score below Moto X in durability tests, but beat out Galaxy S4

We’ve enjoyed seeing the new iPhones get smashed to pieces in the inevitable drop tests that followed the launch of Apple’s two new smartphones this month, but what we really want to know is how it holds up against some of its Android competition. SquareTrade has just completed a durability test (via AllThingsD), and found that not only are the new iPhones not performing as well as last year’s models, the new 5s and plastic-backed 5c were both beat by Motorola’s new flagship Moto X:

“We were expecting that at least one of the new iPhone models would up its game but surprisingly, it was the Moto X that proved most forgiving of accidents,” SquareTrade marketing chief Ty Shay said in a statement. “This is the first time we’ve tested the breakability on a Motorola phone, the only phone we’ve ever tested that’s made in the USA. We were pleased to find that it withstood our drop, slide and dunk test with only the slightest dent. It looks like Google is giving Apple and Samsung a run for their money.”

The new iPhones did, however, beat out Samsung’s Galaxy S4, which was also included in the durability test. Read more

New York regulators crack down on fake online reviews, is Google Play next?

Google-Play-reviews

The New York Times reports that New York regulators will today announce a new initiative that aims to crackdown on fake reviews online. They’ve already reached settlement agreements with a number of companies and issued fines of around $350,000 to companies purchasing and providing fake reviews, many of which are submitted to services such as Google, Yahoo, and Yelp. Fake reviews have always been an issue for Google Play and just about every mobile app marketplace, so perhaps regulators will soon extend their investigation to mobile app stores as well.

“What we’ve found is even worse than old-fashioned false advertising,” said Eric T. Schneiderman, the New York attorney general. “When you look at a billboard, you can tell it’s a paid advertisement — but on Yelp or Citysearch, you assume you’re reading authentic consumer opinions, making this practice even more deceiving.”

Regulators found that US Coachways, one of the companies included in the investigation, had hired freelance writers to write fake reviews on Yelp and other services: Read more

New leaked shots show redesigned Android 4.4 KitKat phone & messaging apps?

Update: Two more shots after the break.

The images above might be our first look at redesigned stock apps in Google’s upcoming Android 4.4 “KitKat” update. We’ve been reporting on a lot of Nexus 5 and Android 4.4 leaks since we first discovered an unannounced Nexus device in Google’s promotional video for the upcoming OS update. While images of the Nexus 5 have leaked several times– we posted exclusive photos and video of the device earlier this week– we have yet to get a good look at Android 4.4 KitKat. Today another reader reached out with the photos above claiming to show redesigns of the phone dialer and messaging apps on KitKat.

The images show new lighter color, grey icons on the status bar, which lines up with our leaked video of the Nexus 5 and a screenshot for a Google Keyboard update spotted by AndroidPolice yesterday.

The images also appear to show a colored status bar that changes depending on the color scheme of the app.

We can’t see any new functionality, but the shots do show extremely streamlined redesigns for the phone app and messaging app on Android 4.4. Controls in the messaging app get bumped up to the top right hand corner, and the phone dialer gets a much cleaner, and flatter look with a new light blue color scheme. Read more

More details emerge on YouTube’s upcoming offline video functionality

youtube-logo

Yesterday we reported that Google-owned YouTube was finally planning to offer a way to watch videos offline, but at the time, very few details of the service were available. AllThingsD has now, however, obtained a copy of an e-mail sent out by YouTube to its content “partners”.

Essentially, you will be able to save YouTube videos to your mobile device using the YouTube app for up to 48 hours. Should your device be offline for more than 48 hours, the videos will be unavailable until you reconnect to a network. The videos will still contain ads and you must use the app to watch them, not YouTube.com or any other platform.

YouTube also notes that this feature will not apply to the TV shows and movies it has available for rental. Also worth noting is that YouTube does not make any mention of music videos being supported. Given its tense relationship with most music labels, I’d be very surprised if music/lyric videos were made available to save offline.

If you are a video producer and do not want want your content being saved offline, you do have the ability to disable the functionality, though it will be enabled by default.

The offline functionality is set to launch in November. Read the full memo after the break.  Read more

HP announces four new Android-powered tablets coming in November

HP is officially announcing four new Android tablets today that will join its low-cost Slate 7 and fill out the company’s Android lineup with tablets in several categories. Most of the new tablets will launch this November, although HP isn’t releasing specific availability and pricing for most models.

The new tablets include the 8-inch Slate 8 Pro, the Slate 7 HD and Slate 10 HD, and finally the Slate 7 Extreme. Although the new lineup includes two 7-inch models, HP is hinting that the new tablets won’t be outright replacing its current Slate 7.  Read more

Republic Wireless launching Moto X for $299 off contract in November

Moto-X-Republic-Wireless

Normally available for around $600 unsubsidized, Republic Wireless announced today that it will soon begin offering the Moto for just $299. That’s the carrier’s no contract price and just $100 more than most carriers are charging for the device on the usual two-year contract:

The Moto X will retail at $299 (plus taxes and surcharges) from the Republic Wireless store. That’s right – we took the hot, new Moto X, added Republic’s great Hybrid service and priced it at $299 with no contract required. That’s a price that’s, like, impossible to match anywhere in the industry. How did we do it? The phone is $299 because we are footing the bill.  Period.  This is NOT a $299 phone.   Take a quick look around the web and look at “no contract” pricing for the Moto X.

The device will be available on two of the carrier unlimited plans that start at just $5 a month, but customers will have the following plans to choose from: Read more