Google adds location sharing, animated GIFs to Hangouts, integrates SMS

Today during its “A Morning with Google+” event, Google announced some updates for its Google+ service on top of sharing some improvements to Hangouts. Perhaps the biggest new feature that was announced during the event this morning is the integration of SMS into the Hangouts app, something that many user have speculated would arrive in Android 4.4 KitKat, the next version of Android expected in the near future.

Another new feature that Google announced today was location sharing, which allows users to click a small icon before posting to Google+ to add their location. Finally, Google’s Vic Gundotra announced that Google+ will now support animated GIFs.

Google also announced some new features for Hangouts on Air today, including the ability to plan a future Hangout. That will give users a dedicated landing page for the upcoming Hangout in order easier promote it, and Google has new tools that allow users to manage users in an active Hangout. It also announced that it is flipping the switch on HD full screen video calls across all devices and new auto-awesome tools. Those tools will provide auto-correction features, but also creative features that allow users to flip on different filters during a live video chat.

In addition, Google noted today that it has added 1000 new terms into its deep learning algorithms that allow users to search for visual content on Google+ even when the photos or videos aren’t tagged with your specific search query. Google has a roundup of all today’s announcements on its blog here.

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Google launching ‘Helpouts’ Hangout-based tutoring service to the public on Nov. 5



Back in August Google announced a new closed beta service called Helpouts that would allow users to offer free and paid tutoring and learning services over Google+ Hangout video chats. Google would allow users to sign up as experts, and others could use the service to get help from experts in real-time over video chat. Google had been inviting experts slowing to prepare for when the service goes live, and today we’ve received a tip that the service will officially be launching on Nov. 5.

Android Police says a trusted source tipped them – we got the same tip – see anon screenshot below. As you can see in the email, Google has been preparing experts by giving them private access to the service and plans on officially launching the service next week on Nov. 5. Google is already accepting signs ups through its Helpouts page and allowing users to access the still close beta through invitation codes.  Read more

Facebook announces it will revamp Messenger apps with new design, phone number integration

In line with my report from earlier this month, Facebook has announced that it will be revamping its Android and iOS Messenger apps. As we previously noted, the new apps have an entirely new design that is flatter and distinct from the standard Facebook application on Android and iOS. The Verge was given a preview of the Android version has some new features besides the new design:

In terms of functionality, there are a host of under-the-hood improvements to make sending and receiving messages faster, says product manager Peter Martinazzi. There are also some front-end tweaks that makes the app faster — especially on Android, where the SMS texting feature, which let you text friends who don’t have Facebook, has been removed.

The highlight feature, however, of the new apps is phone number integration. The repot summarizes the functionality as a WhatsApp competitor:

While Facebook won’t let you text a phone number from Messenger, the company plans to use phone numbers in a new way: to identify its users, just like in WhatsApp. Upon opening Messenger for the first time, it will ask you to provide your phone number. Then, the app can match you with people whose numbers you have, but whom you aren’t Facebook friends with. Facebook guarantees your messages will reach somebody’s inbox if you have their phone number.

The Android version is available as a test with a limited number of users beginning today and on iOS in the future. Also incoming, we previously reported, are updates to the main Facebook app that integrate Graph Search, but Facebook has not confirmed this as of yet.

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Motorola’s ATAP team plans to make modular phones as well as cartoons – we’re just not sure why


We’re not quite sure which of  Motorola’s Advanced Technology And Products (ATAP) team projects seems less likely: a cartoon mouse and sombrero, or teaming up with PhoneBloks to explore the possibility of a modular smartphone. Motorola’s version of the concept is called Ara.

Project Ara is developing a free, open hardware platform for creating highly modular smartphones. We want to do for hardware what the Android platform has done for software [...]

To give you the power to decide what your phone does, how it looks, where and what it’s made of, how much it costs, and how long you’ll keep it …  Read more

Report: Samsung ships 120m mobile phones in Q3, more than Apple, Nokia, & LG combined

Strategy Analytics is out today with its latest report covering mobile phone shipments globally during Q3 2013. According to the report, Samsung continues its lead as among mobile phone shipments as total shipments grew 7 percent to approximately 418 million units during the quarter. With Apple reporting 33.8m iPhone units during its earning call yesterday, the report estimates that Samsung was able to ship a record 120.1 million units, up around 17% since last year. That would mean it shipped more units than Nokia, Apple, and LG combined for a record 29 percent of the market during the quarter:

Solid demand for the new Note 3 phablet and for mass-market devices like the Galaxy Y helped to lift Samsung’s volumes. Nokia shipped a slightly better-than-expected 64.6 million mobile phones worldwide in Q3 2013. Nokia’s 15 percent global mobile phone marketshare is showing signs of stabilizing sequentially as demand for the Microsoft Lumia smartphone range is improving. However, Nokia’s feature phone unit remains a problem-child as global volumes dipped -27% year-over-year.”

Keep in mind that these estimates include feature phones, which currently make up around 40% of all shipments. Compare Samsung’s 120.1 million units with 64.6 million mobile phones shipped by Nokia, 33.8m by Apple, and 18.3 million by LG, which of course includes feature phones in addition to smartphones for every company except Apple.

Coming in fifth was Huawei with 14.6 million units, but the report doesn’t take into account shipped vs sold or share any break down of feature phones vs smartphone sales.  In comparison, IDC put out its report today of smartphone market share globally with Samsung on top at 80.2 million units in Q3, Apple with its 33.8M, Huawei in third with 12.5M units, Lenovo with 12.3M, and LG with 12M: Read more

Watch the full Samsung Developer Conference keynote (Video)

Yesterday the first day of Samsung’s first annual developer conference was held in San Francisco and now the full video of the company’s opening keynote is available to stream. The company showed off a number of new products and tools for developers, including an enhanced mobile SDK, new features for its Smart TV SDK 5.0 beta, a new Enterprise SDK beta, as well as a new Multiscreen SDK and Multiscreen Gaming SDK. The full keynote presentation is embedded above, but you can also check out Samsung’s YouTube channel and the playlist embedded below for a number of videos from the various developer sessions held during day one yesterday.  Read more

Motorola hires Pixar moviemakers to allow Moto X owners to peek into virtual world

After teasing something called Windy Day for a few days, Motorola launched it this morning exclusively on Moto X handsets, under a red sombrero icon.

A mouse, a red hat, a windy day and a smile. This is a new kind of story. Made by Motorola and [Oscar-winning Pixar movie director] Jan Pinkava. Brought to life only on the Moto X.

Described as the ability to tell interactive stories in real-time, Windy Day effectively turns the phone’s display into a pair of binoculars, peering into a cartoon world. To follow the action in the cartoon, you move your phone left, right, up and down …  Read more

WSJ repeats Google Watch: Now integration, focus on battery life, coming soon

Two weeks ago, we ran a report titled: ‘Google Watch is happening soon, heavy into Kit Kat/Google Now functionality

Google is focusing on longer battery life and Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity.

The WSJ is now “hearing the same things” (video below)

  •  Google Inc.’s smartwatch is in late-stage development and the company is in talks with Asian suppliers to begin mass production of the device
  • The smartwatch will be able to communicate with other devices such as a smartphone, and draw information such as travel schedules from a user’s email through Google Now
  • With its wristwatch, Google is aiming to address two criticisms of smartwatches that skeptics have long made: usefulness and battery life.

Uncanny. Read more

Nexus 5 boxes filling up LG Canada’s warehouse [images]


Nexus 5 shipments arrive in LG’s Canada warehouse according to this forum via Reddit via phandroid. According to the poster, there will be over 30,000 devices available at launch.

Could this thing possibly leak any harder? The saga, below:

WIND Mobile launches Facebook sign-up page with specs for the unannounced Nexus 5

Screen Shot 2013-10-28 at 6.17.32 PM

Canadian carrier WIND Mobile has just posted a pre-registration form on its Facebook page for the still unannounced Nexus 5 (via MobileSyrup). The carrier touts the device as the “smart, new phone made to capture the moments that matter.” The registration page is lacking any concrete availability information, though it does list detailed specifications.

The carrier says that the Nexus 5 will feature a 4.95-inch 1080p display with Corning Gorilla Glass 3. It will pack a 1.3MP front-facing camera, as well as an 8MP rear-shooter. The device will be powered by a Snapdragon 800 processor paired with 2GB of RAM. As you would expect, it will also run the latest 4.4 KitKat version of Android and be available in 8GB and 16GB variants.

  • Screen: 4.95-inch 1920×1080 display (445 ppi) Corning Gorilla Glass 3
  • Cameras: 1.3MP front facing 8MP rear facing OIS
  • Weight: 130 grams
  • Dimensions: 69.17 x 137.84 x 8.59 mm
  • Operating System: OS Android 4.4, KitKat
  • Processor: 2.3GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor
  • Wi-Fi (2.4G/5G) 802.11 a/b/g/n/ncNFC (Android Beam) / Bluetooth 4.0
  • Storage / Memory / Ram: 16GB or 32GB internal storage 2GB RAM
  • Ports & Connectors: microUSB, SlimPort enabled, 3.5mm stereo audio jack, Dual microphones, Ceramic power and volume buttons

Yesterday, an image of the Nexus 5 in white was leaked, along with a supposed launch date of November 1st. Earlier this month, the device even appeared on Google Play in a 16GB variant, priced at $349. Read more

Google announces hardware revision of Glass, available later this year to all Explorers


In a post on Google+,  Google has just announced a new revision of Glass that will be available to all current Explorers later this year. The company says that the hardware update will be designed to work with future lines of shades and prescription frames. The new version of Glass will also include a mono earbud.

Anyone who purchased Glass before October 28th will have the opportunity to exchange their original unit for a new, revised model. You will be able to switch colors at this time, as well. Google says it plans to notify Glass Explorers with the next steps to upgrade sometime in November. Once the program opens, users will have 60 days to register for an exchange. It’s unclear if the trade-in will be entirely free, or if a fee will apply.

In addition to the new revision of Glass, Google reiterated the fact that it is further expanding the Explorer program. As we noted earlier this month, current Explorers now have the ability to invite up to three friends to the program, who can then purchase Glass and have it shipped to their home.

Glass is expected to be available to the public sometime in 2014.  Read more