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.

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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.

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Google brings voice back to Gmail w/ new group chat features, free calls to US & Canada from other countries

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When Google rolled out its new unified Hangouts messaging service, some users were disappointed that the new experience within Gmail removed the ability to place free calls within the US and Canada. Google previously confirmed that the feature would be returning and today it announced on its Gmail blog that it is rolling out the free calling feature to Gmail Hangouts and also adding some new features.

In addition to improvements to desktop calling, such as the ability to “add multiple phone numbers and video participants to the same call” and play sound effects, it is also making calls to the US and Canada free from any country with access to Hangouts. 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

Samsung concept video shows its vision for future display tech and wearables

There’s been a lot of interest surrounding the wearable computing market recently, with Apple going on an iWatch trademarking binge and the Pebble being released to Best Buy locations around the country. Samsung, who you have to figure is interested in the wearable market, showed off its vision for the future of wearables at the MobileBeat conference in San Francisco (via AllThingsD).

Samsung chief strategy officer Young Sohn showed a video full of concepts for wearable devices. Specifically, the video focused on the health benefits of wearable computing. It shows a women using her device to quickly send health test results to her doctor. “We think the health area is a really key area of innovation,” Sohn later said. Samsung things that, though the market for wearable devices is small at the moment, it will rise quickly when the technology is further integrated into watches, glasses, and more. The video also shows Samsung’s vision for  displays and how you could be able to easily expand and compress your device to get a larger or smaller form factor.

We haven’t heard too much about a Samsung wearable device, but we have to imagine that it is in the forecast, as both Google and Apple are reportedly eying the market. Read more

Chrome 28 now rolling out with rich notifications on Windows

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Google on Tuesday began rolling out Chrome 28 to Windows and Mac users, though the main selling point of the update is only available to the former of those operating systems. With this update, Windows users will begin to see richer notifications than in previous builds. The rich notifications have been available in the beta build of Chrome for Windows for over a month, but only now is it rolling out to all users.

The new notifications offer a way to easily and quickly reply to emails, see calendar alerts, control music, and more. If you miss a handful of alerts, you can open up the new “notification center” to view them all at once.

We’ve designed these notifications to be beautiful, useful and engaging. They can display formatted text and images, and can include actions directly inside the pop-up (so you can respond to that email right away). Missed a bunch of notifications while you were taking a coffee break? No problem — you can open up the notification center to see them all in one place.

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Rumored Galaxy Note III confirmed by User Agent Profile on Samsung’s website

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Rumors of a Galaxy Note III, dating back to March, appear to have been confirmed by a User Agent Profile on Samsung’s website, reports SamMobile.

Samsung’s own UAPROF confirms the Galaxy Note III, model number SM-N900T and SM-N900A showed up. The model corresponds to Galaxy Note III and confirms the rumoured screen resolution of 1080×1920 …  Read more

Android distribution numbers updated for July, Jelly Bean now the most used version

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As it does every month, Google has just updated the Android distribution data to reflect the month of July. Jelly Bean is now running on 37.9 percent of devices, with 32.3 percent of those running Android 4.1.x. That’s up from 33 percent this time last month. Gingerbread fell from 36.5 percent to 34.1 percent, which makes Jelly Bean the most used Android operating system. Ice Cream Sandwich is now at 23.3 percent, down from 25.6 percent last month.

Froyo is now at 3.1 percent (was at 3.2 percent), Eclair has fallen to 1.4 percent (was at 1.5 percent), Honeycomb and Donut are both now at just 0.1 percent.

Google collects this data during the first week of each month by logging the devices that access the Play Store. It use to be that the data was collected when the device simply checked-in to Google servers. Read more

Twitter for Android updated with direct message syncing, more

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Alongside the iOS and Mac update that rolled out earlier this afternoon, Twitter for Android has also been updated with several new features. Most notably, direct messages now sync across all of Twitter’s official apps (Mac, iPad, Web, Tweetdeck, mobile web, Android). Before today, if you read a direct message on your desktop, it would still be marked as unread on your phone.

  • Now when you read a Direct message it will be marked as read in all of your official Twitter apps (including twitter.com, mobile.twitter.com, Twitter for Mac, Twitter for iPad and TweetDeck) and vice versa.
  • As you search you can now see user avatars and clear past searches from the dropdown menu
  • Richer search results indicate when there are new Tweets for your query and show account results with bios and social context

Missing from this update is the new reply field that iOS devices got, but hopefully that feature comes sooner rather than later.  Read more

Google celebrates 100th Tour De France with interactive game

In honor of the 100th Tour De France, Google has published an interactive game that takes you through each stage of the event. The game, called Your Tour, takes you through the entire 3,000km route with a combination of Google Maps and Streetview data. You start off on June 29th at the “Grand Depart” and move through each stage, though some are still locked until the event actually happens in real life.

The game is centered around using your mouse to scroll along each stage of the event. You can choose between a realistic view from the eye of the bike rider, or a simple Google Maps interface.

You can play the game hereRead more

Company selling makeshift plastic iPhone hardware running Android [video]

Over the weekend, Techdy released high quality video of a makeshift budget iPhone with glued together parts, and now the same company has released a video showing the device running Android. The company is selling the device, dubbed the Basic Bear, for just $199. It features a 1.7GHz quad-core Snapdragon 600 processor and the same 4-inch 1136×640 Retina display as the iPhone 5. The device is made from a polycarbonate material and feels much sturdier than the Galaxy S line of devices, according to the company.

Based on the design of Apple’s budget iPhone, we have made an Android
version called the Basic Bear. It rocks a 4 inch display (1136 x 640),
1.7GHz quad-core Snapdragon 600 CPU, 2GB of RAM, 16GB storage, 8
megapixel rear camera with LED flash, 2 megapixel camera w/ 1080p HD
video recording, Qi-wireless charging expansion slot, 2300 mAh
battery, Android 4.2 Jelly Bean, and much more. The best part? It
costs just $199, and comes in 5 vibrant colors.
For more information, visit our Techdy store: http://techdy.com

For what it’s worth, the company also sells a Bear Pro, with a design similar to the HTC One for $249. Read more

LG releases video teasing G2 flagship ahead of August press event

Update: LG has sent out another invite to the same event, this time with an image the same as the one in the video.

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Last month, LG sent out a press invite to an event on August 7th and given all the leaks and rumors, almost everyone assumed the event would be for the LG G2, a successor to the Optimus G flagship. LG has now released a video teaser for the event that essentially confirms that it will be for the G2.

Throughout the entire video, a man walking through New York City sees “To me, you are perfect. From G…” posted everywhere, from benches to taxis to graffitied walls. The video ends with a slide reading “Great 2 have you” with the date and time for the event listed below.

We’re still about a month away from the August 7th event, but we’ll be sure to bring you everything you need to know regarding LG’s next flagship. Read more