Posts Tagged ‘google’
Wednesday, August 13th, 2014
After nearly a year of radio silence, it now seems likely that Google will release a new Nexus smartphone in the coming months. That smartphone will be called the Google Nexus 6, and it may be the last of its kind.
Before we get into the rumour roundup proper, let’s take a step back and see why the Nexus program was started in the first place – and how it’s evolved since its inception.
A potted history of the Nexus program
The Nexus program began in 2010, with the Nexus One smartphone. It was designed to allow Google to present an pure example of their Android operating system, unmarred by modifications by third-party manufacturers, allowing these partners to better make the next generation of Android devices.
With the release of the Nexus 4 in 2012, Google offered another benefit: leading-edge hardware at a near-cost price. That made the Nexus 4 a firm favourite with Android enthusiasts, who recommended the handset to their friends and family as a good way to get into Android. The Nexus 7 tablet and Nexus 5 smartphone continued this trend, offering an excellent hardware package at a very reasonable price. Both devices sold well, even while supplies remained tight and advertising minimal.
The success of Google’s Nexus program paved the way for two things: low cost smartphones running pure un-skinned Android, like the Motorola Moto G, and Google Play Edition devices, which were conversions of existing flagship phones to run Google’s stock OS.
While these new additions were appreciated by enthusiasts (and their audience of more mainstream users), no new Nexus devices were released after the Nexus 5 in 2013. Rumours began to appear about a new program, Android Silver, in which Google would run considerable ad campaigns in exchange for greater control of Android running on their partners’ flagship devices. It sounded like the days of good value Nexus devices was at an end, to be replaced only by high-end examples.
For the first half of 2014, this was our reality – it didn’t look like any new Nexus devices were coming. But as July has turned into August, a new series of leaks and clues has emerged, suggesting the release of at least one more Nexus device is on the horizon.
Nexus 6 rumour roundup
Here’s what we know so far. The next Nexus will be made by Motorola, and is known under the Shamu codename – an aquatic theme reflected by the entire Nexus series (e.g. Grouper, Hammerhead, Mako).
If the information leaked so far is accurate, the phone is set to be the largest Nexus device yet made, with a 5.2-inch screen at a industry-leading 2560 x 1440 resolution. The phone looks impressive internally as well, with a next-generation Snapdragon 805 quad-processor at its heart backed with an Adreno 420 GPU and 3 GB of RAM. A 13-megapixel camera sits on the rear of the device, while a 2.1-megapixel front-facer completes the imaging arrangements.
Of course, a Nexus phone wouldn’t be complete without a new, pure version of Android, and that’s exactly what we find here. The phone has been recorded as running Android L, which is currently available as a developer preview for the latest released Nexus phone, the Nexus 5.
The Nexus 6 is likely to be released this autumn alongside Android L. September seems the earliest potential date, but a release in October or even November is also possible. The Nexus 5 was released in November 2013, so releasing before a year has elapsed would seem an obvious target… not to mention a release in time for the Christmas rush.
The Nexus 6 looks like an exciting return for the Nexus program, particularly if Google are able to keep the price down to their usual Nexus levels. If the Nexus program is dying, best that it goes out with a bang.
We’ll continue to bring you more Nexus 6 news as it becomes available, and of course we’ll have a full range of cases and accessories for the phone once it is announced or leaked more fully.
Thanks for checking out the article, and be sure to let us know if you’re planning to pick up the Nexus 6.
Friday, July 11th, 2014
Google concluded their I/O conference this year with something unexpected: Google Cardboard. At first glance, Cardboard looks decidedly low-tech for Google – it’s just a small kit of cardboard and plastic; the most advanced thing included is an NFC tag. But when you follow the directions and assemble the finished product, you get something quite special: a virtual reality headset like the Oculus Rift.
You slide your phone into Cardboard, and run a special Cardboard app that shows different images for each eye. Then it’s just a case of putting Google Cardboard on your face, and you’re away on a virtual reality voyage – whether that’s flying over Google Earth, watching YouTube videos or handling virtual objects.
Google Cardboard was only given out to Google I/O attendees, but don’t worry – you can get your own! Google made the designs freely available, and DODOcase have stepped in to produce a complete kit that’ll let you make a set of Google Cardboard for yourself. It’s made to the same specifications as what Google provided, and works perfectly with the Cardboard app.
It only takes about five minutes to create Google Cardboard, so why not order a set for yourself? Whether you haven’t tried Virtual Reality yet or you just want a portable demo unit to show your grandma, Google Cardboard by DODOcase is the perfect choice.
To see more information or place your order, visit the product page linked below:
Thanks for checking out the article! Be sure to let us know what you think of the whole thing in the comments, or speak to us on Twitter @mobilefun. Thanks again and have a great weekend!
Wednesday, July 9th, 2014
Google’s Android Wear debuted this week in the LG G Watch and Samsung Gear Live smartwatches. We’ve gotten to grips with the new OS, and we’ve found some cool tips and tricks that’ll help you get the most out of your device – including ways to extend battery life, take screenshots, find apps and even install custom ROMs. Read on to see what we’ve discovered!
10. Switch watch faces quickly
When I first started using the Gear Live, I was disappointed with how long it took to change watch faces… You have to tap the watch, scroll all the way down to settings, and then find ‘Change watch face’… it just takes forever! Later, I learned I was an idiot – you can just tap and hold the screen when the time is shown, and you’ll go immediately to that same setting.
9. Clean up your watch face
By default, your dimmed watch face will include a card at the bottom of the screen, below the time. That’s convenient for glancing at the weather or how many steps you’ve walked without turning on the watch, but it can block you from seeing the bottom of some watch faces and makes for a more visually complex look. You can turn off this card from the Android Wear app on your phone – just change the ‘Hide cards on dimmed screen’ option to ‘always hide’.
8. Check your pulse
The Samsung Gear Live includes a heart rate sensor on its backside. To check your pulse, just say “OK Google… Show me my heart rate.” You’ll be asked to ensure that the watch strapped fairly tightly around your wrist, with the face on the front or back of your arm. Hold still, and your pulse will be measured. The result is a bit variable in my trials, but it’s certainly a fun party trick.
7. Turn on silent mode
Sometimes it’s nice to take a break for a while. Thankfully Android Wear includes an easy-to-toggle silent mode. Just pull down and hold from the main watch screen and the watch will vibrate, showing that you’ve entered silent mode. When you’re ready to be notified again, just repeat the procedure.
6. Find Wear-compatible apps
Google have made it quite easy to find apps that are compatible with Wear on the app store, with the creation of an Apps for Android Wear category on the Play Store. We’ve also recommended a few apps that haven’t yet appeared on the list in our blog of top 5 Android Wear apps.
5. Extend your battery life
Want to easily extend your battery life on Android Wear? One easy way to do it is to completely turn off the display when the watch is idle, rather than just dimming it. You can do this through the Android Wear app; just untick the ‘Screen always on’ option. You can also change this setting in the watch’s own setting menu. There are other ways to extend your battery life too; we’ll cover one of the most effective options in our final tip (#1).
4. Take screenshots
Taking a screenshot is quite useful for bragging about your new smartwatch on Twitter and writing articles about smartwatches… and probably there are other uses as well! However, taking a screenshot is a bit tricky.
You’ll need to enable developer mode on the watch by tapping repeatedly on the build number in Settings -> About. Next, go into the Developer Options and enable ‘ADB debugging’. Then connect the watch to its charging box, and a USB cable from the charger to your PC. Download the Android SDK and run the commands shown here in the command line to take the screenshot and then transfer it back to your PC. A slightly more convenient method is to use the Nexus Root Toolkit, then use the ‘screen capture’ option in the Advanced window.
You may find you need to install Android Composite ADB drivers, find the ‘Gear Live’ or ‘G Watch’ option in Device Manager, then manually select the drivers you installed.
3. Control stuff with IFTTT
IFTTT (If That, Then That) is a cool service that links triggers (you did something) with actions (it does something). The IFTTT team has added Android Wear as a channel on the site, letting you make your own recipes or use other people’s. So far I’ve found the ‘share a map of my location on Facebook‘ recipe quite useful, as well as the ‘preview photos taken on your phone on your watch‘ one.
2. Run Wear apps
The G Watch and Gear Live don’t just show notifications – they can also run full-blown apps like Tinder, a Flappy Bird clone, a compass and many others. To run these apps, you’ll need to tap on the main screen that shows the time, scroll all the way to the bottom of the list and select ‘Start…’ Then you’ll find a list of all apps that can run on Android Wear. Don’t fret if an app you just installed doesn’t appear immediately – it sometimes takes a few minutes for the new app to make its way to the list.
1. Install a custom ROM
Want to go off the deep end? You can become the ultimate Android Wear fan by installing a custom ROM. The first such ROM is called Gohma, and boasts improved battery life, reduced lag and other beneficial tweaks. You’ll need to download the ROM, unlock your watch’s bootloader and root… but at the end of it you’ll have a custom ROM installed. If you’re willing to take the risk, check out the full thread on Rootz Wiki to get started.
I hope you’ve found these tips useful! Feel free to share your own pro tips in the comments below or on Twitter @mobilefun. Thanks for checking out the article and have a great week!
Tuesday, July 8th, 2014
The LG G Watch and Samsung Gear Live are the first smartwatches to be released running the Android Wear OS, and already they’ve proven quite popular with enthusiasts. In this article, we’ll highlight five cool apps that you can run on the smartwatch itself.
5. Wear Calc - free
Wear Calc is just what it sounds like: a calculator for your wrist. It’s good to know that forty years after they first debuted, it’s still possible to get a tiny, hard-to-use calculator on your wrist! Only basic functions are supported, but it’s still a cool proof of concept that’ll amaze your friends if they’re sufficiently nerdy. Actually using the watch is a bit fiddly thanks to the tiny touch targets – how about voice controls in the next version?
4. Compass – free
This app is built into Android Wear, but you might not have known it was there if you hadn’t read this article. The compass app is simple but effective, showing you a compass (of course) that’ll let you know which way is north. Great for hiking and other situations where you’re off the beaten track.
3. Tinder - free
There are few Android apps that are simple enough to run on a watch, but Tinder is one of them. Swipe left, swipe right. Maybe you’ll start an interesting conversation with a cool guy or girl, maybe you’ll just look a bit crazy frantically swiping on your watch. The possibilities are endless!
2. Flopsy Droid - free
Of course… the very first game for Android Wear is a Flappy Bird clone. Called Flopsy Droid, the game is just as you remember it; avoid pipes by tapping on the screen. Beat your high score. Mine is three.
1. Binary Watch - free
Smartwatches are capable of a lot, but sometimes you just want to look at the time. This binary watch face makes that slightly more difficult, but does look quite cool. You can modify the watch face’s appearance in the phone app, changing the colour of the dots and so on. Remember you’ll need to go to Settings to change your watch face!
I’m sure we’ll see many more Android Wear apps in the near future, but for now these are the best of the best. I hope you found these app recommendations helpful! Be sure to let us know what you think and make your own recommendations in the comments below.
Monday, June 23rd, 2014
After a lengthy trial period in the US, Google is now extending its Glass Explorer program to the UK. That means you can be one of the first in the world to trial a set of Google’s smart eyewear.
If you haven’t seen much of Google Glass before, here’s the skinny. When worn, Glass provides a small display in the corner of your vision, which you can control using voice commands or the touchpad. You can use Glass to take first-person photos or videos, find answers, get directions and run a range of other interesting apps.
You can buy a set of Google Glass from the Play Store for immediate despatch. There are five different coloured units available: charcoal, tangerine, cotton, shale and sky.
The cost is £1000, but you do get the small bonus of a free frame or shade out of the many options available near the bottom of the page. Google have recently introduced their Titanium Collection of lightweight designer frames, so you have more options than ever before.
Google Glass is not yet entirely practical (especially at this price point), but it is quite amazing. If you want to attract attention wherever you go, take unique photos or just see what the future of wearable technology is going to be like, then this is your opportunity.
What do you think of Google Glass? Are you going to buy one for yourself? Let us know in the comments below, or speak to us on Twitter @mobilefun.