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

Another one bites the dust: Google to sunset Latitude on August 9th

google-latitude-logoAs part of the maps update announcement last night, Google noted that it would be retiring Latitude, just the latest in a string of high profile service closures including perhaps the most missed: Google Reader. Unlike Reader, Google seems to have some fallbacks in place:

One important change you should know about is that Latitude and check-ins are no longer part of the new Google Maps app, and will be retired from older versions on August 9. We understand some of you still want to see your friends and family on a map, which is why we’ve added location sharing and check-ins to Google+ for Android (coming soon to iOS). More details about Latitude and check-in changes can be found in our help center.

Google risks alienating early adopters and mainstream users alike with its now common closures of valued services.  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.

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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