Huge Android Wear update brings wrist gestures, WiFi support, always-on apps, more (Updated)

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Update: Various reports have confirmed that certain Android Wear devices, including the LG G Watch and G Watch R as well as the Asus ZenWatch, will not be getting WiFi support.

Android Wear is getting a pretty big update. Over at the official Android blog, Google this morning showed off the latest version of its mobile OS, packing several useful new features including wrist gestures for flicking through cards hands-free, WiFi support to free your watch from needing to be directly connected to your phone, support for quickly drawing emoji replies to messages, always-on screen support in apps, and a lot more… Read more

Non-functional ‘Google VPN’ spotted in Android 5.1 to ‘protect you on open WiFi networks’

A new app has been discovered in the recently released Android 5.1 update called Google Connectivity Services (via Pocketables), and within—if you do a bit of digging and launch the “WifiAssistantOptInActivity” activity—you can find the above pop-up labeled as “Google VPN”. It looks like the Mountain View company could be preparing to launch its own VPN to increase security when joining an open WiFi network, and this might be the dialogue box that users will be presented with when doing so… Read more

Google Fiber hookup gives Kansas City Starbucks WiFi 100x faster than normal – and community Chromebooks

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Google promised back in July that its deal to provide free WiFi at 7,000 U.S. Starbucks locations would include connections up to 100x faster than usual in cities with Google Fiber – and it has now started to deliver on that. The company announced in its Google Fiber blog that a Kansas City branch is now home to the fastest Starbucks WiFi in the U.S.

At the corner of 41st and Main Street, a Kansas City Starbucks is teeming with people writing emails, streaming music, sharing videos, and more. Now that same Starbucks—one of the busiest in Kansas City—is the first to be connected directly to Google Fiber, so anyone visiting the store can get super-fast Internet with their Pumpkin Spice Latte.

The technofest doesn’t end there, either …  Read more

Samsung planning to sell blistering fast next-gen WiFi devices in 2015

Students walk out of a showroom at the headquarters of Samsung Electronics in Seoul

Samsung recently revealed plans to sell mobile devices equipped with 60GHz WiFi tech capable of data transfers of up to 575MB per second. The company didn’t provide an exact release date for products supporting this type of technology, however it did say that it would also be applied to medical equipment and home automation systems.

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AT&T says it will roll out WiFi Calling for Android in 2015

 

526px-AT&T_logo_(horizontal).svgTelecommunications site LightRead reports that AT&T is committing to supporting WiFi Calling for its subscribers beginning sometime in 2015. The feature allows subscribers to carry voice calls over their home or office WiFi connection, for instance, when the cellular network may be poor in strength.

Speaking Friday at the Goldman Sachs Communacopia Conference, he said the carrier would use WiFi calling in 2015, but only as a complement to voice-over-LTE and 3G voice. […]

“We’re very focused on making sure it’s a great experience for customers, but we see it as a complement, not a replacement,” he said. “We feel good about a great nationwide network with unlimited talk and text.”

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Google is providing free Wi-Fi in Uber vehicles this summer in Philadelphia

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Uber, the app-based car service that Google recently sunk $250M into via its Google Ventures investment arm, today announced that its cars in Philadelphia this summer will have free WiFi courtesy of Google. Google also made an announcement on its own blog noting that the initiative is sponsored by Google Apps for Businesses, the online suite of productivity tools that Google hopes users in the back of the new WiFi-equipped Uber vehicles will take advantage of.  Read more

Samsung, Nest, ARM and others say Smart homes need more than WiFi and Bluetooth, propose Thread IP6 mesh network

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Wifi and Bluetooth may work fine for today’s limited number of smart home devices, but neither is ideal for future homes in which every switch, socket and lightbulb may be a connected device – that’s the claim of a consortium of companies that includes Samsung, Nest and ARM.

GigaOM reports that the companies have jointly created a new radio system which they believe is more suited to smart home networks than existing systems.

Dubbed Thread, it is a low-power, mesh network protocol that also supports IPv6. The standard is built on the existing radio hardware used by ZigBee devices (802.15.4), which means that a company could update their ZigBee devices to support Thread with software if they chose …

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Quick Control Panel gives you iOS Control Center functionality on Android

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Android is all about options, and that means the freedom to completely rip off an iOS feature (albeit an iOS feature that was inspired by various other sources, including Android itself). Quick Control Panel presents your most-used apps, along with toggles for data, WiFi, Bluetooth, Speaker, and Orientation Lock. You can adjust the brightness of your device’s screen, and the volume of both calls and media. It even displays your music when playing, allowing you to skip or pause. Read more

New Nexus 7 now available in Canada through Google Play

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Google announced today that its recently launched Nexus 7 is now available to purchase in Canada through Google Play. The availability comes as the device launches in Staples, Best Buy, Future Shop and other retailers today in both the US and Canada, while the device has already been available to customers in the US through Google Play.

The refreshed Nexus 7 is available for $229 for the 16GB WiFi model and $269 for the 32GB model with both models listed as shipping in 1-2 business days. An LTE version of the new Nexus 7 is expected in the weeks to come but Google hasn’t provided an official launch date.

Google also started selling a new Nexus 7 sleeve on the Google Play today for $29.99 in both the US and Canada.

Google gives AT&T the boot, will supply 7000 US Starbucks locations with WiFi starting next month

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After a brief announcement back in June that it had partnered with Starbucks to offer free, unlimited music through its new Google Play All Access streaming service, Google today announced that it will soon be supplying WiFi to all Starbucks locations in the US. That also includes its new gigabit Google Fiber internet service where available:

When your local Starbucks WiFi network goes Google, you’ll be able to surf the web at speeds up to 10x faster than before. If you’re in a Google Fiber city, we’re hoping to get you a connection that’s up to 100x faster.

Up until now, AT&T provided free Wifi access to Starbucks customers in the US (and T-Mobile before that), but it appears that will no longer be the case following the roll out of Google’s networks in the coming weeks.

Google plans to start rolling out its new Starbucks networks next month and hopes to have all 7,000 US locations up and running on its networks within 18 months. Google noted, “You’ll know your new network is ready to go when you can log in to the “Google Starbucks” SSID.” Read more