Skype passes 100M installs on Android, celebrates by updating app with all-new design

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Skype on Monday announced that its Android app has been installed more than 100 million times, and to celebrate, it is pushing out a major update. The 4.0 update for Skype adds a totally new and redesigned interface that is focused on putting conversations first. In addition to the visual changes, the app has been “rebuilt from the ground up” to be faster and more reliable.

We’ve completely redesigned Skype for Android to be faster and easier – especially when you’re trying to fire off a quick message. Everything is at your fingertips. As soon as you open the app, you’ll notice the clean new look listing your recent conversations – just tap on one to catch up and reply. When you tap or swipe over to the Contacts or Favorites tabs, tapping on a person brings you right into a messaging window so you can start a conversation. And from there video calls, voice calls and everything else are just one tap away.

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Microsoft releases major update for OneNote app on Android

Mircosoft has just announced a major update to its OneNote app on Android. In a post on the official Office blog, the company announced version two of the app that includes a host of new features.

First off, the update adds a much more rich editing experience. Now, files and formatting look the same across all devices. This includes things such as text, graphs, tables, borders, and more. If you draw on a note with a Windows tablet, the markings are then visible on your other devices, as well. All devices now support the ability to sync notebooks with Office 365 and SharePoint, as well as the ability to share files with other Office users. OneNote also now lets multiple people edit a note at the same time, much like Google Drive.

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Android’s European market share breaks 70 percent; Samsung takes half of smartphone sales

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New data from Kantar (via TechCrunch) shows that Android’s share in the five key European markets of Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Spain hit 70.4 percent, climbing 9.1 points in the past year. The figures also showed that Samsung accounted for almost one in two smartphones sold in the same markets.

The latest smartphone sales data from Kantar Worldpanel ComTech, for the three months to May 2013, show that almost half of all smartphones sold in Europe are a Samsung. This uplift has helped Android to a 70.4% share across the five major European markets, up from 61.3% a year ago, and far higher than the 17.8% and 6.8% shares for iOS and Windows respectively …  Read more

HP confirms it’s working on a new smartphone, promises something different

HP's ill-fated Veer WebOS smartphone

HP’s ill-fated Veer WebOS smartphone

HP, the world’s largest PC manufacturer, has confirmed to The Indian Express (via TNW) that it is working on a new smartphone after its ill-fated venture into WebOS devices, promising it will offer something new and different.

When asked if a smartphone is in the offing, HP Senior Director Consumer PC and Media Tablets Asia Pacific Yam Su Yin said: “The answer is yes but I cannot give a timetable. It would be silly if we say no. HP has to be in the game.” […]

“Being late you have to create a different set of proposition. There are still things that can be done. Its not late. When HP has a smartphone, it will give a differentiated experience.” …  Read more

Google’s white space wireless database approved by FCC

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The FCC has approved Google’s “white space” database operation. This will allow for the company to operate a wireless broadband network with unlicensed TV broadcast spectrum. There are currently 10 other companies working on similar networks, but Google is the latest to complete the Federal Communications Commission’s 45-day testing period. The database will keep track of the TV broadcast frequencies in use so that other wireless broadband devices can take advantage of what’s not being used.

“If a government communications system does not require spectrum at specific times, that spectrum can be freed up for commercial purposes during those times. With dynamic sharing, multiple users, including federal, non-federal and commercial entities, can all access available bands of radio spectrum,” Google wrote.

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Microsoft Word and Excel file editing added to newest Chrome OS build

Google has rolled out an update to the developer channel build of Chrome OS that adds the experimental ability to edit Microsoft Word and Excel files. First noticed by Google Chromium evangelist François Beaufort, the feature is in the Chromium code review and simply reads “Improved Quickoffice editing about:flag.”

In order to use this feature, your Chrome OS device must be on the developer channel. If it is, then type “chrome://flags” into the address bar, find the “Enable document editing” entry, and click enable. Your machine will then be restarted and when it turns back on, you’ll have the ability to edit Word and Excel documents.  Read more

Google adds sports scores, weather, and more editors’ picks to Google News

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Google-News-Sports-ScoresGoogle announced today on the official Google News blog that it’s rolling out new features for Google News users including an expanded 4-day weather section built into the right side of the homepage, more Editors’ Picks throughout various News sections, and sports scores:

For avid sports fans, a newly introduced “Sports Scores” section on the News homepage and the Sports page will give a snapshot of live, recently concluded and imminent sporting activity. From this summary, it’s easy to dive in further and do things like click on a score for details of the match or on a specific team to get recent news about it. The section is customizable; for example, if you prefer not to see hockey scores, you can turn hockey ‘off’ while keeping the other sports ‘on’. You can also remove the entire section if you prefer. At the outset, we’re launching in the US, with the big four sporting organizations covering basketball, football, baseball and hockey. Over time, this section will expand to other countries and sports. Stay tuned.

Google notes that the new weather section will automatically adjust to your current location and it is now including more Editors’ Picks sections across Technology and Business pages instead of just on the News homepage.  Read more

New, redesigned Google+ plugins now available for websites

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Even though they are celebrating a birthday, the Google+ team is still hard at work improving the social network. On the official Google+ blog, the company has announced several new, redesigned plugins available for websites to use.

  • A new follow button – a standalone plugin that allows visitors to easily follow a site without navigating away.
  • A new badge for Communities – a plugin that offers a link to directly preview a Google+ community. The community will open in a new tab and from there the visitors are able to join and view recent posts.
  • Updated badges for Pages and Profiles – new, more customizable plugins that make it easy for people to circle Pages and People. Users now have the ability to change the color theme, chose whether it should be in landscape or portrait, and add or remove the cover photo and tagline. The old badges will be live for 90 more days, after which they will automatically be updated to the new ones.

With these changes, Google says it is trying to keep the visual style consistent with the recent changes it has made on Google+. View them all below… Read more

Android still top smartphone platform in US with 52.4% market share in May

Research firm comScore is out today with its usual report covering U.S. smartphone subscriber market share for the three month period ending in May. Over the last three months Apple has gained in both categories including ‘top smartphone OEMs’ and ‘OS usage’, continuing its lead as the top smartphone manufacturer and growing its share of the market by platform.

The previous three month period had Apple at 38.9% of the market, making it the number #1 smartphone vendor in the US over second place Samsung. In May, Apple continues that lead by increasing its share 0.3 percentage points to 39.2% of the market. That’s significantly higher than the 23% Samsung grabbed despite growing 1.7 percentage points during the quarter. In a close race for third place is HTC with 8.7%, Motorola with 7.8%, and LG with 6.7%, all of which dropped less than a percentage point since last quarter.

When it comes to the market by OS usage, Android is still on top, growing 0.7 percentage points to 52.4% this quarter. Apple experienced slightly less growth at 0.3 percentage points to capture 39.2% of the market up from its 38.9% share last quarter. That means the majority of the growth, once again, comes at the expense of BlackBerry and Microsoft. Read more

BlueStacks announces the GamePop Mini, a free subscription-based Android gaming console

Earlier this month, our sister site 9to5Mac reported on a new technology from BlueStacks called “Looking Glass” that brought iOS games to your big screen via a subscription-based console. On Friday, however, the company announced another new console with that technology, but the big selling point here is that it is free and incredibly small. In fact, the company says it is about the size of a pack of gum. Just like with the company’s other Cube console (which isn’t yet released), the BlueStacks Mini does require a subscription commitment, which will run you $7 a month for a year.

It’s worth noting that the BlueStacks Cube is also free with a subscription, but that offer expires on July 1st. The company says that its goal is to always offer a gaming console for free.

“We have always planned on having a free console option,” said BlueStacks CEO, Rosen Sharma. “The biggest value of the GamePop service is its content – not the box. Hardware costs have come down so fast that we’re able to undercut the rest of the market. With the free promotion we’ve been doing in June we’re already seeing a ton of adoption. That volume then attracts more developers and therefore more and better content. It’s building momentum.”

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Google adds Gmail contacts to Search Field Trial, Google+ profiles coming soon

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Those currently singed up for Google’s Search Field Trial, a program that lets users test out new, yet-to-be-released features of search, will now have the ability to search for Gmail contacts. Google announced on its Google+ page that the feature is available now and will also work with its new Voice Search functionality. Asking for a person’s address or phone number will display any relevant Gmail contact results directly within Google’s search results.

The Contact results will include maps with built-in turn-by-turn directions, as well as links to phone numbers allowing users to place calls with a single tap: Read more