Android

Relive the massive Google I/O 2016 keynote in full right here!


Happen to miss all of the awesomeness that was the Google I/O 2016 keynote? Never fear, as you can now watch a replay of all of the announcements in full.Over the course of the two-hour keynote, you can watch Google introduce everything from its Amazon Echo competitor, Google Home, to its new messaging and video platforms, Allo and Duo.
Of course, there's much more to check out, including the introduction of Android Wear version 2.0, so be sure to give the keynote video above a watch. If you'd rather skip the two-hour commitment and get straight to the juicy details, we've got you covered with all of our Google I/O 2016 coverage. And you can continue to follow Android Central throughout the rest of the week as we bring you the latest from the ground.
I had the honor of live streaming this event via Google's IO Extended Sri Lanka thanks to GDG Sri Lanka.It was amazing.It didn't take much to convince me to attend next year's Google's IO Extended.. I hope you can come to conclusion how good the event was......


Android Studio 2.2 to feature test recording, new layout designer and more

Google has detailed some of the changes coming to Android Studio with its 2.2 release. Android Studio, which is used in the creation of 92% of the top 125 Android apps, will be faster at building apps, and will give developers new tools to make going from an idea to a working app easier.
Android Studio 2.2
There are a number of new features coming with Android Studio 2.2. Test recording will allow you to test your app locally or in a cloud test lab, and get an automatically-generated test report. There's a new layout designer, which automatically adds restraints when designing your UI. The designer will also help you design for multiple layouts and screen sizes.
Amongst the other tools coming to Android Studio are the new layout inspectork, expanded Android code analysis, and enhanced C++ support. It will also feature support for new Android Nfeatures.


Android N will support seamless updates similar to Chrome

During today's Google I/O 2016 keynote, the company announced that the upcoming Android N OS will support seamless updates.
Android N seamless updates
This new feature will be similar to how Chrome handles its updates. In this case, the older version of Android N will be able to seamlessly switch into the new version, separate from the rest of the phone's data. That means all those "Android is upgrading" prompts after system updates will be gone.
All of this is due to the new JIT compiler, which speeds up the update process for Android N. It should also lead to 75% faster app installation. Also, the amount of installation storage space for Android N apps will be 50% less than before.
Stay tuned for more news from the Google I/O 2016 keynote event.

Android Instant Apps will soon let you run apps quickly without installing first


In an effort to help people start using apps faster, Google has introduced Android Instant Apps. These apps startup instantly, without the need to actually install themselves onto your device, instead running from the cloud, just like tapping a link to load a webpage.
Android Instant Apps
Apps are split into modules, allowing Google Play to download only the parts that are necessary at a given time. With a couple of taps, you can install the rest of the app while you use the parts you need at the moment. With Instant Apps you can, for example, tap on a link for a product on an online store, which will then take you to that products page in the store's app without installing the app first.
Developers can update existing apps, modularizing them for Google Play to take advantage of this feature, and users will be more readily able to find your apps in more ways, not just through Google Play. Instant Apps will also be backward compatible with devices running Android 4.1 Jelly Bean.
Google notes that Instant Apps won't be prevalent for some time. For the moment, it is working with a small group of developers on the feature, which will roll out to more developers over time. Users should start seeing Instant Apps later this year.


First beta-quality Android N release is now available

Update: The first beta update appears to be rolling out right now. Be sure to enroll your device at the link below, and check for the update.
Google has announced that it will be releasing the first beta-quality Android Nrelease later today. This release is supposed to be good enough to install on the phone and tablet that you use daily. This is a huge step, as the previous releases were called Developer Previews, and had various issues that may have prevented you from using it daily.Android N beta
You can enroll your device at Android.com/beta if you want to be ready for when it releases. Will you be enrolling your Nexus for the program, or will you be sticking to an official release for now? Sound off in the comments and let us know which side you are on.


With Daydream, Google hopes to up the ante for VR on phones

Google took some time to talk about virtual reality at Google I/O 2016. The company announced Daydream, its program for building great experience for mobile VR across phones and headsets. While Daydream will include a reference design for a headset and controller, there will be Daydream-ready phones coming from companies like Samsung, HTC, and Xiaomi.
Daydream
The goal of Daydream is to create high quality VR experiences on Android phones. To that end, there will be heavy support for VR in Android N when it launches later this year. It feature OS-level VR performance enhancements, as well as less than 20ms of latency for super-smooth performance. There will also be a VR system interface, as well as a VR app launcher.
As noted above, Google will launch reference devices for both controllers and VR headsets. The devices will arrive this fall, and have been seeded to partners already to help them create their own Daydream-ready VR devices.
As for apps, Google will have a new Google Play for VR store, which will allow people to easily find virtual reality-oriented applications. There are a number of partners that Google is working with to provide great VR experiences, including The New York Time, The Wall Street Journal, Hulu, andIMAX. A number of game publishers will also be coming on board. Google's own Play Movies and Photos apps will be VR-ready, and YouTube will be rebuilt from the ground up for VR, with voice search and spatial audio taking bigger roles.


Google Play has seen more than 65 billion app downloads to date

During the Google I/O keynote today, Google announced that Google Play has now seen a total of 65 billion app downloads. According to Google's most recently stated numbers from last fall, those installs come from a total of 1.4 billion Android users across the globe.
More than 65 billion apps have been installed from Google Play
That's quite the staggering number of downloads, and it speaks to Android's continued rise. In addition, Google says that more than 600 Android devices have launched in the last year, further expanding the platform for those apps.


Google wants your help in naming the Android N update

Google wants you to submit your awesome naming ideas for the upcomingAndroid N release. The company says that it is having a hard time deciding on a name, and has opened a new site for you to submit your ideas, as long as it isn't "Namey McNameface."
Android N name
There are a number of obvious suggestions, like Nerds, Nutella, Nilla Wafer and more, but dig deep and think of some new and original names. What will your suggestion be? Let us know your best ones in the comments!


Millions of Gmail accounts said to be impacted by data breach

A Russian hacker is apparently claiming to have obtained hundreds of millions of login credentials for various email services. While the single-largest set of data appears to have come from Mail.ru, details from millions of Gmail, Microsoft, and Yahoo accounts are said to be part of the breach.
Google, Microsoft accounts said to be impacted by major data breach
The data breach was uncovered by Hold Security, according to Reuters:
After eliminating duplicates, Holden said, the cache contained nearly 57 million Mail.ruaccounts - a big chunk of the 64 million monthly active email users Mail.ru said it had at the end of last year. It also included tens of millions of credentials for the world's three big email providers, Gmail, Microsoft and Yahoo, plus hundreds of thousands of accounts at German and Chinese email providers.
In total, it appears that 40 million Yahoo Mail credentials were compromised, along with 33 million Microsoft accounts, and almost 24 million from Gmail. Thousands of these accounts are said to belong to employees of major U.S. companies.
Now might be a good time to change your password, and perhaps enable two-step authentication for your accounts.

Machine learning, AI, post-mobile search lead 2016 Google Founders' Letter


Alphabet CEO gives Google's chief a huge megaphone, as he lays the current and future vision of both companies.
The Founders Letter is a powerful statement for Google. Start with the original "Don't be evil" mission of 2004, to last year's opus that formed Alphabet and marked a major restructuring of Google. Today, in a 2016 Founders' Letter, Alphabet CEO Larry Page hands the virtual pen to Google CEO Sundar Pichai for an update.
"I wanted to give him most of the bully-pulpit here to reflect on Google's accomplishments and share his vision," Page writes, noting that we'll see him, Pichai and Sergey Brin share that space in the future.
Sundar Pichai
Search remains key to everything, Pichai writes. That hasn't changed, and it won't change.
It's easy to take Search for granted after so many years, but it's amazing to think just how far it has come and still has to go. I still remember the days when 10 bare blue links on a desktop page helped you navigate to different parts of the Internet. Contrast that to today, where the majority of our searches come from mobile, and an increasing number of them via voice. These queries get harder and harder with each passing year—people want more local, more context-specific information, and they want it at their fingertips.
Having a stockpile of results is just part of the equation, though. To truly make them useful, you have to be able to work with them. That's where things like machine learning and artificial intelligence will play a big role in the future. (And make no mistake, that future is now.) And the line between your mobile device and a desktop computer — and anything and everything else that's connected — will continue to blur.
A key driver behind all of this work has been our long-term investment in machine learning and AI. It's what allows you to use your voice to search for information, to translate the web from one language to another, to filter the spam from your inbox, to search for "hugs" in your photos and actually pull up pictures of people hugging ... to solve many of the problems we encounter in daily life. It's what has allowed us to build products that get better over time, making them increasingly useful and helpful.
He also mentioned Google's efforts to add more and faster ways to access content, such as launching Accelerated Mobile Pages for faster mobile news sites and YouTube Red, its ad-free version of its video service with original content.
Pichai wrote about how Android now has 1.4 billion active devices, but that it is working to change how we access content via AI assistants:
Looking to the future, the next big step will be for the very concept of the "device" to fade away. Over time, the computer itself—whatever its form factor—will be an intelligent assistant helping you through your day. We will move from mobile first to an AI first world.
Pichai says that Google will continue to create services that will help others worldwide:
For us, technology is not about the devices or the products we build. Those aren't the end-goals. Technology is a democratizing force, empowering people through information. Google is an information company. It was when it was founded, and it is today. And it's what people do with that information that amazes and inspires me every day.
Source:http://www.androidcentral.com/sundar-pichai-offers-hints-about-googles-future-plans-new-letter 


What's new in Android N ... so far

Android N — the next major release of the Android operating system — is in its infancy. This is our living document of what's new. There will be updates. Many updates.
The yearly cycle of Android upgrades has started early in 2016, with the first Android N Developer Preview dropping a full month and a half ahead of the annual Google I/O developer conference. That change in and of itself should be an indicator that big things are at work here, even if they're not entirely apparent at first.
And because this is Android we're talking about, it gets a little complicated. There are lots of things that go into a major new release. Open-source code drops. Device factory images. New APIs for developers. Minute features for a small subset of Android devices that, while important, will change once the mass market starts seeing updates many months from now.
There's an awful lot to take in here. This is our living document explaining it all. It will be updated as we get new releases ahead of the "final" (nothing is ever "final") public release of Android N.

What is Android N?

Every major release of Android gets a version number and a nickname. Android 6.x is "Marshmallow." Android 5.x is "Lollipop." Android 4.4 is "KitKat." And so on and so forth. (You can check out the full rundown of Android versions here.)

ANDROID N DEVELOPER PREVIEW

The Android N Developer Preview is just that — a developer preview. It is not intended for daily use. That doesn't mean it's not cool, and that you shouldn't poke around. But know that things will break. Tread carefully. (And have fun!)
Alphabetically, "N" is next. We don't yet know what version number Android N will be — Android 7.x is a pretty good guess, but not certain, as Google is only predictable in its unpredictability.
And we also don't yet know what the nickname will be. Google chief Hiroshi Lockheimer teased that"We're nut tellin' you yet." Maybe that's leaning toward "Nutella" – which pretty much is the most tasty treat ever to be tasted — or maybe it's some other sort of "nut." Or a red herring. Point is, we don't have any idea just yet.
We do, however, have a fairly good idea for when we'll actually see Android N be released. We've been told to expect five preview builds in total, with the final public release (including the code push to the Android Open Source Project) to come in Q3 2016. That lines up with previous releases, between October and the end of the year.
That's all ancillary. What is Android N? It's a whole lot of change, from the looks of it.

Android Developer Beta

Until Android N, Developer Previews were a decidedly nerdy affair. They still are, in many respects, but they've also become much more accessible to a lot of people.
Android developer beta programAndroid developer previews really have one goal: To give app developers (and to a different extent, hardware partners) an early look at upcoming features, and the code that powers them.
Google still keeps these previews relatively close to the vest. You have to have one of Google's "Nexus" devices to run the Developer Preview. Generally those have been limited to a scant handful of devices. This year, with Android N, we've got six. The Nexus 5X, Nexus 6, Nexus 6P phones all can run the N preview, as can the Nexus 9 and Pixel C tablets. The aging Nexus Player — Google's Intel-powered media player from 2015 — also can run the N preview and is important for a few media-specific (TV-specific, actually) reasons.
The Android Developer Beta makes it far easier to play, however. Previously you'd have to manually flash factory restore images to the supported devices. That generally involves some command-line work and SDK-type stuff — not really anything a casual user wants or needs to get involved in. But the Android Developer Program allows anyone with a supported device to opt in and receive over-the-air updates for the Android N Developer Preview. All your app data remains as it was (unless and until you opt out, in which case you'll receive a downgrade over-the-air "update" and end up with a clean device.
That's good and bad. It makes it easier for anyone with a Nexus device (and for these purposes the Pixel C fits that bill) to enter the Android Developer Beta.

Android N could make updates easier on everyone

We've been peeking inside the factory images for the Android N developer preview and have noticed what appears to be a pretty major sea change for Android. The code appears to now be arranged to make it easier for device manufacturers to update their own features and settings without disturbing the core Android parts. (At least not nearly as badly.) We're doing a bit of educated guesswork here, but that means a few things.
It would mean less development overhead for manufacturers. That means less time and money getting updated code to your phone. It also means that regular security updates — an increasingly important part of this whole ecosystem — theoretically will be easier to apply, which means you might actually get them if you're on something other than a Nexus device.

So what's new in Android N?

If you had to boil what a major release of Android (or any operating system) means to just a single acronym, it'd be this: APIs. That's short for Application Program Interface, and it's what allows apps to do, well, anything. There are a ton of new ones coming in Android N, and we've only gotten a small taste thus far. More should be announced as we get new preview builds.
Some, however, are more anticipated than others.
Multi-Window in Android N

Multi-window

This is the big one we've been waiting for. Multi-window support — that is, two apps running side by side on the same display — was hidden deep within the first Android M preview in 2015, before being unceremoniously removed in a subsequent build. It was never really meant for public consumption, nor was it ever really publicly mentioned.
That is, until Google released the Pixel C tablet in late 2015. It's a bit of an odd product with an odd 1√2 aspect ratio — the same as a standard sheet of paper. That lets you fold it in half and have the same aspect ratio — perfect for running apps side by side.
Only, the Pixel C launched without that feature. So it was pretty clear then that we'd probably see multi-window with the N release in 2016. And we now have it. And not just on tablets — it works on phones as well. This is going to be one feature that developers need to take a look at very quickly.

Direct reply notifications and bundled notifications

Stacked notifications in Android NWe've been able to interact with notifications for a good long while now. Not every app supports this, but look at Gmail as an early example. Pull down the notification, and archive an email without actually having to open it. Brilliant.
Google Hangouts took this a step further, allowing you to reply to messages right from the notification try, without having to open the app, or the message itself. It's slick.
You'll now be able to have bundled notifications. Or, rather, better bundled notifications. Think off it as more information in one place. Have a half-dozen emails come in through Gmail? You'll be able to see more subject lines at one time in the notification area.

Projects Doze and Svelte

Two major features from the past year are Doze and Svelte. The former has to do with all but shutting down your phone when it's not in use, allowing minimal communications to come through and maximizing battery life when the phone was at rest and not plugged. In Android N, it gets smarter, saving even more battery when the screen is merely off. That's a big deal.
Also a big deal is even better memory management and power consumption as part of Project Svelte. The short version here is that apps shouldn't wake up as often when a change in network connectivity occurs. If you've got a lot of apps that use the particular broadcast receiver in question (and you almost certainly do), then this will help a lot. The catch here is that the app has to be updated for these Android N features for them to work.
More widespread is that Google is reining in how apps interact with the camera. Instead of every app that hooks into the camera waking up any time the camera fires off for a picture or video, they'll stay dormant. That's a good fix, and it applies to any application, not just one that targets Android N.
Android N display size

New accessibility features

Android N includes a new screen zoom feature as part of the accessibility suite. It appears to be pretty straightforward, making everything on the screen larger and easier to see. There are some behind the scenes things added in N to help with this.
Equally important is that you'll see accessibility features — specifically magnification gesture, font size, display size and TalkBack — available during the initial setup process. That's a really good change.

Android For Work

There are a lot of changes coming to Android For Work in Android N. This is Google's system for allowing a company to have some control over your work phone.
One big change is that companies will be able to provision phones for Android for Work by simply scanning a QR code. Here's a quick rundown of other new Android for Work features that may be coming to a work device near you:
  • You might see a security challenge when trying to open a work-controlled application.
  • New rules for password policies — different required password lengths, for example.
  • Apps can be temporarily suspended. (We warned you that you were spending too much time on Facebook.)
  • A work profile could force a VPN connection, which would fire up when the device boots.
  • Better integration of work and personal contacts, if permitted.
  • Devices can be remotely rebooted — useful if you have, say, a tablet tucked in some sort of kiosk housing where the power button isn't accessible.
  • Better device activity logging to keep an eye out for nefarious actors. Like Stephen Dorff.
  • Disabling of location functions for work apps while still allowing them for personal apps.
  • Custom lock screen messages. "Think different." Or something like that.
  • And other little things like locking down the wallpaper and user icon.
So, a lot of stuff that you might or might not ever see. But it's still cool to have available for businesses.

Data saver

Data Saver in Android NNot everybody wants to churn through their data plan just as fast as possible. Android N adds a new tool in settings to help with this. When you turn the Data Saver feature on in settings, "the system blocks background data usage and signals apps to use less data in the foreground wherever possible." You'll be able to whitelist any apps you want to ignore the Data Saver setting.
But Data Saver only kicks in when you're on a "metered" connection, and your Android device generally is smart enough to tell when this is. A mobile network is the obvious example here, but there can be metered Wi-Fi networks as well (as set by the DHCP lease).
In addition to living the in settings, Data Saver gets a notification icon and can be toggled in quick-settings.

Direct boot

This splits things into two groups when you first power up your phone. One group is able to do things before you unlock the device. Apps like SMS messages and alarm clocks and accessibility features may need to use this.
Anything else gets siloed off in a separate storage area until the device is unlocked. That's a very cool preview feature.

Language and locale

This one gets to be a little confusing for those of use who only do English, but Android N is making languages and locations a good bit smarter, particularly for app developers. Say your device is set to the Swiss version of French, but an app only contains a different regionalization of French. Previously it would fail over to, say, an English default — without actually knowing (or caring) if the user understands English.
Now it'll be smarter about things and look for similar regionalization before running back to the default language.

Scoped directories tighten access to storage

This is pretty cool. Previously if an application needed access to a storage folder beyond its own data folder, you'd have to grant it a pretty sweeping permission — reading or writing to all of external storage.
Scoped directories tightens things up both from a security standpoint as well as a matter of organization. If an app always (and only) needs access to your pictures, this new API makes it so the app only gets access to the Pictures folder and not the whole smash. It's neater, and it's safer.

Picture-in-picture and TV recording

Android N picture-in-pictureAndroid TV is getting smarter. If you've got a Nexus Player (or eventually something like a NVIDIA Shield TV) you'll be able to watch video picture-in-picture as you use other applications. So you can watch Hungry Shark Evolution videos while you're playing Hungry Shark Evolution, for example. (That's pretty hard-core.)
The PIP window opens at 240x135 in a corner of the screen determined by the system. (It'll be smart about what else is drawn on the screen.) Users will have access to a menu (via holding down the Home button) that allows the PIP video to be expanded to full screen, or closed. If another video starts playing on the main display, the PIP window will close.
Android TV also is gaining some proper TV recording features. (This will be good if you have a television with Android TV baked in.) You already can pause and rewind channel playback. But in N you'll be able to save more than one session. That allows you to schedule recordings or hit record as you start watching — basic DVR functionality, really.

Edging toward Java 8

With Android N, Google is bringing support for new Java 8 features to Android. Using the open-source Java Android Compiler Kit — JACK for short — Google allows developers to use native Java features while building applications.
This means developers won't need to write as much support code — known as "boilerplate" code — when they want to do things like create events that listen for input. Some of the features will be supported back to Gingerbread when using JACK, while others are going to be strictly Android N and above.
Maybe the best news is that Google says they are going to monitor the evolution of Java more closely and support new features while doing everything they can to maintain backwards-compatibility. These are things that the folks building the apps that make Android great love to hear.

Keeping a Developer Preview in context

We're going through a lot of features as we see them on Nexus devices running the Android N Developer Preview. And while this is important (and fun!) if you're dabbling in the Developer Preview, it's also important to keep things in context.
We can't say this enough: Developer previews are for developers, and not for use as daily drivers.
The first thing to know is that things are going to change. Developer Previews are like that. None of this is final yet.
Second is that we need to remember that the public release of Android N is still a long ways off. Months. August at the earliest, most likely.
Third is that just because Android N code becomes public doesn't meant that you're going to see an update any time soon. Unless you're on a Nexus device, that is. For everyone else, the usual rules still apply. Manufacturers do their thing to the code, carriers sign off on it, and updates eventually trickle out. As we pointed out, Android N very much appears to be laying the foundation to streamline this process. But that's still a good ways off in the future, and your device will still have to be updated to N first.
And we still have absolutely no idea what Android N features the manufacturers will be required to use. Some — Motorola, for example, and HTC more recently — keep their user interface more in line with Google's vision and what you'll find on Nexus devices. Others — Samsung, LG, Sony, etc. — do more custom work on their own, for better or worse.
The point is that any examples of Android N features that you see on Nexus devices might well not look or behave the same on your device when it eventually gets Android N.
In other words, we all need patience here. It's exciting, but this is not end-user stuff. The Android N Developer Preview is for developers.

Here's the new Android N Wallpaper

Android N Wallpaper
If you're anything like us, when new wallpapers hit from Google you like to share the love across your devices that don't have the update yet. The Android N Developer Preview is no exception, and so while we're busy taking a peek at all of the new features Google is playing with we figured you'd like to look through the wallpapers in the preview image. The bad news is there's only one new wallpaper in the stack we found in this image. The good news is you can grab it for yourself right here.
Download the Android Wallpaper zip from the link below, and you'll find all of the options made available in the Android N Developer Preview. From there you can grab yourself a look at stunning purple sunset, and enjoy it as your new wallpaper for a while. Of course, if you want to go all out and check out the whole N Developer Preview for yourself, you can flash the images yourself. Either way, there's something fun in it for you.

How to download the Android N Developer Preview

So you want to run the Android N Developer Preview? Cool. Here's how.
Google is making it easier than ever for anyone with a (relatively) current-generation Nexus device have a test of the Android N Developer Preview, as part of the new Android Beta Program. The short version is that you'll no longer have to manually flash a factory image to use the beta software. You can enroll a Nexus device online, receive an over-the-air update, and go about your business.
Here's what you need to know:
The following devices can take part in the Android Beta Program:
  • Nexus 6
  • Nexus 9
  • Nexus 5X
  • Nexus 6P
  • Nexus Player
  • Pixel C
To enroll a phone or tablet in the Android Beta Program, go to google.com/android/beta. You'll see a list of your eligible devices.
Once you're in the beta program you'll get an update every 4 to 6 weeks, Google says, until the public launch of N, sometime in the third quarter of this year.
To un-enroll a device from the beta program, just go to that same site — google.com/android/beta and chose "UNENROLL DEVICE." Warning: The device will receive another over-the-air update that puts it back on the latest stable public version of Android. It also will factory reset itself and wipe any data. Repeat: You will lose whatever data is on the phone (and not backed up) when you exit the beta program.

And know that there will be bugs. Things will break. This is a Developer Preview.
Otherwise, that's it. Google's made it easier than ever to take part in a developer preview program. The question now is whether you should.

ANDROID N DEVELOPER PREVIEW

The Android N Developer Preview is just that — a developer preview. It is not intended for daily use. That doesn't mean it's not cool, and that you shouldn't poke around. But know that things will break. Tread carefully. (And have fun!)



Inside the different Android Versions

The basic building blocks of Android come in many flavors, with each major release receiving a tasty nickname. This is your guide to the different Android versions over the years.
Android versions
If you've heard of Android, chances are you've heard all about its various versions. Some call it fragmentation, some say it's the nature of open-source, but in reality it's both a curse and a blessing. Regardless, it's good to have a little context about what all these version numbers and names mean when you see them posted on the Internet.
Each major version of Android has a dessert-based nickname, and they are all in alphabetical order. We like to think it's because of the delicious things they each have offered, but the folks at Google are pretty tight-lipped about why they used the internal code names they did. They certainly have a good sense of humor, and seem to like tasty deserts.
This is your quick primer on the the different versions of Android that are still alive and kicking, from newest to oldest.

1. ANDROID N

Android N
In March 2016 (March!!!), Google surprised pretty much everyone by releasing the N Developer Preview a full month and a half ahead of the yearly Google I/O developer conference. This gives app developers (and hard-core nerds) the opportunity to taste the next major flavor of Android before it's actually released.
New in this iteration — so far — is the long-awaited native support for multi-window, so apps can live side by side. Google's also adding in direct-reply notifications and bundled notifications. That's just the start, of course. There will be more additions as we get closer to release.
Google also is giving developers (and, yes, civilians) the opportunity to get in on the preview action with over-the-air updates for the first time. So if you don't know how to update manually by flashing factory images, you're not left out in the cold.
Things are broken. Things are unfinished. This is very bleeding edge. It's also very, very cool.

2. ANDROID 6.0 MARSHMALLOW (LATE 2015)

Marshmallow
The next version of Android will be the "M" release. And on Aug. 17, 2015, we learned that it'll beAndroid 6.0 Marshmallow.
Along with the new version number and tasty dessert treat we of course will be getting a suite of new features. Android 6.0 gets better control over permissions, allowing you to control what parts of your data apps can access, rather than approve it by simply installing the app in the first place. That's just the beginning, and features like app linking and the new Assist API will allow developers to build better and more powerful apps. We all love better and more powerful apps.
Google also implemented a developer preview program for Marshmallow, so we expect big things from the big names in Android apps when Marshmallow is released with new nexus phone(s) in the fall of 2015.

3. ANDROID 5.0 LOLLIPOP (LATE 2014)

Lollipop statue
Google released Android 5.0 Lollipop with the Nexus 6 and Nexus 9, and it ushered in a new design language and support for 64-bit devices. It's also the first time Google has provided developer beta previews of the software, so that the apps we all love can be ready when the new version drops.
There were big changes under the hood as well, and a plethora of new API changes in addition to forward-facing features like a new interface. Google has updated its own Nexus 5, Nexus 4 and Nexus 7 to Lollipop, and other companies like Motorola, Samsung, HTC and LG have been relatively quick to follow.
But the Lollipop update hasn't sat well with many folks out there, and even Google was plagued by performance issues both with the update and with the initial releases of Lollipop.

4. ANDROID 4.4 KITKAT (LATE 2013)

KitKat Statue
Google in September 2013 announced that that fall's new version of Android would be named for their favorite confectioneries — Kit Kat bars. A couple months later we saw its release with the LG Nexus 5.
KitKat brought a lighter, flatter and far more colorful look to Android, but many more changes were under the hood. These were the foundation for things like the Google Now launcher, SMS integration with Hangouts, and easier and faster use all around. 
Of course, Google's U.S. partner in the deal, Hershey, wasn't quiet. They promised an update that really does taste as good as it looks, and offers adjustable orientation that works perfectly in portrait or landscape. If you enjoy a little tongue-in-cheek humor, have a look here and reminisce.

5. ANDROID 4.1-4.3 JELLY BEAN (MID-2012)

Android Jelly Bean
Jelly Bean arrived at Google IO 2012 with the release of the ASUS Nexus 7, followed by a quick update for unlocked Galaxy Nexus phones. Later in the year, the release of the Nexus 10 and Nexus 4 updated things from 4.1 to 4.2 and on to 4.3, but the version remained Jelly Bean. The releasepolished the UI design started in Ice Cream Sandwich, and brought several great new features to the table. 
Besides the new focus on responsiveness with Project Butter, Jelly Bean brings multi-user accounts, actionable notifications, lock screen widgets, quick-settings in the notification bar, Photosphere to the "stock" Android camera and Google Now. 
Jelly Bean is hailed by many as the turning point for Android, where all the great services and customization options finally meet great design guidelines. It's certainly was very visually pleasing, and we'd argue that it was one of the nicest looking mobile operating systems available at the time.

6. ANDROID 4.0 ICE CREAM SANDWICH (LATE 2011)

Ice Cream Sandwich
The follow-up to Honeycomb was announced at Google IO in May 2011 and released in December 2011. Dubbed Ice Cream Sandwich and finally designated Android 4.0, ICS brought many of the design elements of Honeycomb to smartphones, while refining the Honeycomb experience.
The first device to launch with ICS was the Samsung Galaxy Nexus. The Motorola Xoom and the ASUS Transformer Prime were the first tablets to receive updates, while the Samsung Nexus S was the first smartphone to make the jump to Android 4.0.

7. ANDROID 3.X HONEYCOMB (EARLY 2011)

Honeycomb
Android 3.0 Honeycomb came out in February 2011 with the Motorola Xoom. It's the first (and only) version of Android specifically made for tablets, and it brought a lot of new UI elements to the table. Things like a new System bar at the bottom of the screen to replace the Status bar we see on phones, and a new recent applications button are a great addition for the screen real estate offered by Android tablets.
Some of the standard Google applications have also were updated for use with Honeycomb, including the Gmail app and the Talk app.  Both made great use of fragments, and the Talk app added video chat and calling support built in.  Under the hood, 3D rendering and hardware acceleration have been greatly improved.
We can't talk about Honeycomb without mentioning that it also shows Google's new distribution method, where manufacturers are given the source code and license to use it only after their hardware choices have been approved by Google. This dampens third party development, as the source code is no longer available for all to download and build. And, in fact, Google never released the Honeycomb source.
Improvements to Honeycomb were announced at Google IO in May 2011 as Android 3.1, and Android 3.2 followed thereafter. But Honeycomb basically is regarded as a forgotten version.

8. ANDROID 2.3 GINGERBREAD (LATE 2010)

Gingerbread
Android 2.3 Gingerbread came out of the oven in December 2010, and like Eclair had a new "Googlephone" to go along with — the Nexus S.  Gingerbread brings a few UI enhancements to Android, things like a more consistent feel across menus and dialogs, and a new black notification bar, but still looks and feels like the Android we're used to, with the addition of a slew of new language support.
Gingerbread brings support for new technology as well.  NFC (Near Field Communication) is now supported, and SIP (Internet calling) support is now native on Android. Further optimizations for better battery life round out a nice upgrade.
Behind the scenes, the fellows at Mountain View spent time with more JIT (the Just-In-Time compiler) optimizations, and made great improvements to Androids garbage collection, which should stop any stuttering and improve UI smoothness.  Round that out with new a multi-media framework for better support of sound and video files.

9. FROYO, ECLAIR & CUPCAKE

Versions of Android older than 2.3, while still used on very a small number of devices, are considered "legacy" versions and are generally unsupported by Google, manufacturers and app developers.

Android 2.2 Froyo (mid-2010)

Android 2.2 Froyo was announced in May 2010 at the Google IO conference in San Francisco. The single largest change was the introduction of the Just-In-Time Compiler — or JIT — which significantly speeds up the phone's processing power.
Along with the JIT, Android 2.2 also brings support for Adobe Flash 10.1. That means you can play your favorite Flash-based games in Android's web browser. Take that, iPhone!
Froyo also brought native support for tethering, meaning you could use your Android smartphone's data connection to provide Internet (wirelessly or with a USB cable) to just about any device you want. Sadly, most carriers will strip this native support in exchange for some sort of feature they can charge for. (Can't really blame them, can you?)

Android 2.0-2.1 Eclair (late 2009)

Eclair was a pretty major step up over its predecessors. Introduced in late 2009, Android 2.0 first appeared on the Motorola Droid, bringing improvements in the browser, Google Maps, and a new user interface. Google Maps Navigation also was born in Android 2.0, quickly bringing the platform on par with other stand-along GPS navigation systems.
Android 2.0 quickly gave way to 2.0.1, which the Droid received in December 2009, mainly bringing bugfixes. And to date, the Droid remains the phone phone to have explicitly received Android 2.0.1.
The now-defunct Google Nexus One was the first device to receive Android 2.1 when it launched in January 2010, bringing a souped-up UI with cool 3D-style graphics. From there, the rollout of Android 2.1 has been relatively slow and painful. Manufacturers skipped Android 2.0 in favor of the latest version but needed time to tweak their customizations, such as Motorola's Motoblur.
HTC's Desire and Legend phones launched with Android 2.1 later in the year, touting a new and improved Sense user interface.

Android 1.6 Donut (late 2009)

Donut, released in September 2009, expanded on the features that came with Android 1.5. While not very rich in the eye-candy department, Android 1.6 made some major improvements behind the scenes, and provided the framework base for the amazing features to come.  To the end user, the two biggest changes would have to be the improvements to the Android Market, and universal search.
Behind the screen, Donut brought support for higher-resolution touchscreens, much improved camera and gallery support, and perhaps most importantly, native support for Verizon and Sprint phones. Without the technology in Android 1.6, there would be no Motorola Droid X or HTC EVO 4G — two major phones for those carriers.
The devices released with Android 1.6 cover a wide range of taste and features, including theMotorola Devour, the Garminphone, and the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10.

Android 1.5 Cupcake (mid-2009)

Cupcake was the first major overhaul of the Android OS.  The Android 1.5 SDK was released in April 2009 and brought along plenty of UI changes, the biggest probably being support for widgets and folders on the home screens. 
There were plenty of changes behind the scenes, too.  Cupcake brought features like improved Bluetooth support, camcorder functions, and new upload services like YouTube and Picasa.
Android 1.5 ushered in the era of the modern Android phone, and the explosion of devices included favorites like the HTC Hero and Eris, the Samsung Moment, and the Motorola Cliq.

First Android N Developer Preview factory images are now available

The first Android N factory images are now available for select Nexus devices. While the Developer Preview is not meant to be run on daily driver phones, that won't stop people from trying it out on personal devices. Right now, you can download the factory images for some of the latest Nexus phones and tablets. Google has posted links for:
  • Nexus 5X
  • Nexus 6
  • Nexus 6P
  • Nexus 9
  • Nexus 9G
  • Nexus Player
  • Pixel C
If you own one of these, and are looking to install the Developer Preview, you can grab the files here. Google will also offer a way to install these over-the-air, but that is not yet available. Not sure how to update yourself? Be sure to check out our guide on how to manually update your Nexus device for more information.

Android N is now available as a Developer Preview

There's no waiting for Google I/O this year, the Android N Developer Preview is available right now.
Google's Developer Preview program has been a great way to get the important parts of the next version of Android out into the world early, so developers can prepare their apps for whatever Android does next. In the past, this new version of Android is announced — and early code released — at Google I/O alongside some sessions that make it easier for developers to hit the ground running. This year Google has decided to release the next Developer Preview before I/O, so developers are able to get familiar with the system before the conference.
You know what that means. Android N is here in Developer Preview form. It's time to flash partially broken images to Nexus phones and tablets to see what we can expect when it is officially available to everyone.
There are a handful of interesting visual changes in this Developer Preview, but it's important to remember that nothing is ever set in stone with these images. Google has added and removed features during this Developer Preview period in the past, and there's no reason to think they won't do so again. That having been said, it looks like a big focus in Android N is going to be further tweaking the notification system in Android. Bundled notifications will stop any one app from filling your tray with icons, and the tray itself has been adjusted so quick settings are available on the first swipe down instead of the second. This means faster access to things like Wifi and Do not disturb toggles, and a cleaner overall interface.
Android N Multiwindow
Anyone who was paying attention to the folks poking around the in Marshmallow Developer Preview last year shouldn't be surprised to see one of the big features Google is rolling out in N will be multi-window support. Developers will have tools available to support this feature in their apps, and in doing so make it so you can run two apps side by side. The notes for this Developer Preview also mention a Picture-in-Picture mode where apps can live in smaller floating boxes, which also requires individual developer support in order to function.
Visual changes are fun, but it looks like Google's pushing forward with improvements to performance and power management as well. Project Svelte enhancements ensure more low-end phones can update to Android N with no problem, and it looks like Doze is going to work a little differently throughout this new version of Android. Where currently Doze drops the phone into a low power mode when the phone is not connected to power and entirely stationary, it looks like some of the Doze features will now work when the display is off anywhere. This increases the control Google has on how certain apps behave in your pocket, which means better battery life overall for just about everything.
Pixel C
Eager to get your hands on Android N? You can find the Developer Preview images on Google's Developer site as usual, there is also an Over-The-Air update mechanism that you can sign up for, which will install the Developer Preview without having to jump through any hoops. If you're not sure you want to jump into this with your existing hardware, Google is offering a $150 discount on the Pixel C to anyone looking to jump onboard and help test. Google is clear in pointing out that these images are far from ready for use on daily driver machines, and should only be installed on developer equipment for now. Judging from our experiences with early versions of the Marshmallow Developer Preview, you probably don't want to put this on a phone you're actually relying on for important things. This Developer Preview is expected to have five updates before the final release to AOSP in Q3 this year, which means monthly updates will be happening while the software is being tested.
We'll be diving into this to see what other goodies Google has tucked into Android N, so keep an eye out for all of our coverage. In the mean time, drop a comment below for what you think the tasty treat that starts with the letter N Google will choose this year!

Android fingerprint sensors, ranked

When it comes to using your finger for security, these are the best phone choices.
It's pretty easy to see that 2015 was the year that Android phones started getting some really great fingerprint sensors, with several different manufacturers either getting into the game for the first time with great offerings or iterating on old designs to get something that's more consistent and easier to use.
Huawei, Samsung, LG, OnePlus and HTC — just to name a few — have all gotten into simple one-touch fingerprint sensors on at least one of their phones, and now that you have several options we figured it's a great time to rank them all.
Implementation, feel, reliability, software and security all factor into making a good fingerprint scanner on a phone, and we're going to tell you which do it best, and which may need a little more work for the next generation.

1. NEXUS 6P AND NEXUS 5X

Nexus 5X and 6P
These are the first Nexus phones with fingerprint sensors, and Google absolutely hit it out of the park on the first try. Though the Nexus 6P and Nexus 5X are manufactured by different companies (Huawei and LG, respectively) they both have the same fingerprint sensor, mounted on the back of the phone. It sounds weird at first, but that's exactly where your index finger lands when you pick up the phone, and when it does your phone will instantly turn on and unlock. The sensors are super accurate, and as you use them the phone's software gets better at recognizing each finger you have registered.
Beyond just having a great sensor and software for recognizing your finger, the latest Nexuses are top of our list for their integration with Android's new fingerprint APIs in Marshmallow. As developers integrate these standard hooks into their apps for higher security, the Nexuses will be ready to go to let you authenticate payments, log into secure areas and fill in passwords with just a touch of your finger. That means developers don't have to target each phone individually, and the future for fingerprint-secured apps looks bright.

2. SAMSUNG GALAXY NOTE 5 AND S6 EDGE+

Galaxy Note 5 and S6 edge+
After using clunky swipe-style fingerprint scanners on the Galaxy S5 and Note 4, Samsung stepped up its game to a new one-touch fingerprint sensor on the Galaxy S6 and subsequently Galaxy Note 5and S6 edge+. The new sensor is still embedded in the home button, and it works fantastically with either your thumb when holding the phone in your hand, or with an index finger when it's laying flat on a table. Success rate seems to be good for most people, and you can train up multiple fingers to be recognized.
Samsung's implementation requires the phone's screen to be on for the sensor to be active, so you have to take the extra step of pressing the power or home button before scanning. Unfortunately the implementation is a tad clunky on the lock screen if you need to fail back to a non-fingerprint authentication, as your only backup option is a long password, not a PIN or pattern like on other phones.
Unlike the new Nexuses, Samsung (out of necessity, having started this back in the KitKat era) has its own fingerprint APIs for developers to integrate with to specifically target its phones — from the Galaxy S5 up to the Galaxy Note 5 and S6 edge+. Because these APIs have been available for some time and Samsung has sold hundreds of millions of phones with these sensors in place there are a good number of developers who have specifically integrated with Samsung's fingerprint API, but it also means that new apps being built with the new Marshmallow fingerprint APIs just won't work with these Samsung phones — and we don't even know if they'll work once Samsung rolls out its Marshmallow updates.

3. HUAWEI MATE S

Huawei Mate S
It's no surprise that Huawei, which made the Nexus 6P, managed to have a great one-touch fingerprint sensor on a previous device, the Mate S. Just like the 6P the sensor is on the back of the phone, right where your finger rests, and much in the same way it can turn on and unlock your phone all with one tap and no further interaction with the screen or buttons. As we noted before, that's the best way to get it done.
Though the sensor itself is right on par with the Nexus 6P in quality and finger recognition, the Mate S is a step below the Note 5 and S6 edge+ because it lacks lots of apps that support it. Right now you can basically just use the Mate S fingerprint sensor to unlock the phone, and there's really not much prospect of app developers targeting it specifically. We don't yet know if Huawei's implementation of Marshmallow will incorporate the standard fingerprint APIs, but given the lessons learned from the Nexus 6P we wouldn't be surprised if it did.

4. ONEPLUS 2

OnePlus 2
The OnePlus 2 sort of splits the difference on our previous picks, going with a one-touch fingerprint sensor that can turn on and unlock the phone, but putting it below the screen as Samsung does. The sensor is a bit smaller than the others but seems just as accurate, and if you choose to set it up it can also be used as a capacitive home button if you'd like.
The software story backing up the OnePlus 2 is much the same as the other non-Nexus phones here — right now the fingerprint sensor is basically just used to unlock the phone, and until Marshmallow hits we won't see it integrate with the operating system-level fingerprint APIs. OnePlus has its Marshmallow update set to come out in the first quarter of 2016, and we'll know for sure then — but based on how it handles OxygenOS we'd expect full compliance with Marshmallow's new APIs.

5. LG V10

LG V10 fingerprint sensor
LG has also gone with a fingerprint sensor on the back of its phone, but unlike the Mate S and new Nexuses, it's integrated into the back-mounted power button on the phone. Because of this, the V10 requires you to first press the physical button to turn the screen on, and then keep your finger placed on the button to activate your fingerprint. It's that extra step that makes things a little more difficult — even before you factor in some issues with the secondary screen messing things up — and that's why it's further down the list.
Just like Samsung, LG uses a proprietary fingerprint API for developers to hook into if they want to use the V10's scanner for authentication in their apps. Unfortunately LG hasn't been at this as long as Samsung, so far fewer developers are on board with the new API — at this point all you can really use it for is unlocking the phone itself and protecting some content on the phone in LG's built-in apps. We aren't sure at this point if LG includes the new standard fingerprint APIs in its Marshmallow update, but that'd be the best choice for LG if it can get it done.

6. YOUR FAVORITE?

Which one of the fingerprint sensors out there is your favorite? Clearly there are several different great options, and we can't list every phone with a fingerprint sensor in one article. Fingerprint sensor quality may vary depending on how you use your phone and just how your fingers end up working with it as well, so we want to know which you prefer — whether it's on this list or not. Let us know in the comments below!


Google's Accelerated Mobile Pages project picks up steam


Google has released an update post on how the Accelerated Mobile Pages project is progressing. It's stated that numerous publishers, technology providers and developers have pledged support for the project by expressing interest and/or implementing support. Googlemade the project official back in October, which aims to make the web faster and more responsive for those on mobile hardware.
Publishers who have expressed interest in AMP include BBC, Sankei, New York Times, News Corp, AOL, International Business Time/Newsweek, and Washington Post. The Local Media Consortium, composing of more than 70 media companies and representing 1,600 local newspapers and TV stations has also voiced support. Since AMP is an open source initiative, it's fully unlocked for partners to adopt. Many in the advertising market have already done so, including the likes of Outbrain, AOL, OpenX, DoubleClick, and AdSense.
Google has also won the support of various analytics services, with comScore, Adobe Analytics,Parse.ly, Google's own Analytics and Chartbeat all stating intentions to provide analytics support for AMP pages within available tools. As for developers, more than 4,500 have signed up to follow the projects ongoing discussions on GitHub. It's expected AMP will hit search next year. Should you be interested to learn more about AMP, head to the official blog, website and check out the GitHub.


Android Studio 2.0 Preview brings faster build and deploy times for developers


Google is previewing a big update to Android Studio, bumping it up to version 2.0 with some big speed improvements. The key feature of this update is its speed, and how much faster developers will be able to build and deploy their apps. A new instant run feature allows you to quickly see the changes running either on your device or an emulator.
In addition, it has added a GPU Profiler, which is in early preview. With this, you'll be able to see details about the GL State and Commands, and record the entire sessions and walk through the GL Framebuffer and Texures as your app is running. These changes are just the beginning, and over the course of the next few weeks Google will be adding more. If you're a developer who is interested in more information, be sure to hit the link below for full details on Android Studio 2.0.


Android 6.0 Marshmallow factory images now available from Google


Google has just posted the first batch of Marshmallow factory images. The first release is available for a variety of smartphones, tablets and Android TV devices. Links have been posted for the following:
  • Nexus 6
  • Nexus Player
  • Nexus 9 (Wi-Fi)
  • Nexus 5
  • Nexus 7 (2013)
Be sure to check out our complete guide to updating your Nexus here. If you take the plunge and update today, be sure to let us know in the comments below how the experience is for you.

Google's September 29 event is official


Mark your calendars, boys and girls, because Google's September 29 event is now official. It will take place at 9 a.m. PT, and we're expected to finally get a good look at the hardware offerings Google has up its sleeve for the final half of the year and more.
Nothing is confirmed until Google announces it, but we're expecting to get a good look at Google's next Nexus smartphones, rumored to come in two flavors, along with a new Chromecast and more.
In any case, keep it locked to Android Central on September 29, where we'll be bringing you all of the latest Google news right from the event.

Google App update enables Now on Tap on Marshmallow, brings new app drawer to earlier versions


Things are a little wonky still, but Now on Tap is finally ready for M Preview testers to tinker with — as part of an app update that also re-vamps the app drawer for those on Lollipop and earlier.
Now on Tap, Google's "in the moment" contextual assistant feature, has been conspicuous in its absence fromAndroid 6.0 Marshmallow preview builds up until now. But now Nexus owners with the latest Marshmallow preview build can start tinkering with one of the new OS's most notable features, as an update to the Google App finally enables Now on Tap.
Now on Tap Tomorrowland
Now on Tap uses Google's predictive magic to conjure up Now cards about the app you're currently using, for example a movie mentioned in an email or instant message, or a location associated with a calendar appointment. On the current Marshmallow preview build, it's activated by long-pressing the home key, and this pops up helpful context-sensitive cards, similar to what you might see on the main Google Now screen.
Only there's a bit of wonkiness right now, and Now on Tap doesn't seem to be 100 percent reliable just yet. While it is working for some, we've had difficulties getting it to do anything besides show an error message, and others have reported app crashes. That's to be expected, of course, as Marshmallow isn't quite ready for prime time itself just yet. If you're lucky and it does work, you'll be able to explore functionality similar to what was demoed at Google I/O back in May.
The new update also brings the updated Google Now experience, launched for Lollipop and earlier devices a couple of weeks ago, to M Preview testers.
For those running Lollipop, the new Google app update adds the Marshmallow-style vertical scrolling app drawer, complete with suggested apps at the top of the screen. There's also a bit of a bonus for Moto X Playowners, as we've noticed a significant performance improvement in the Google Now Launcher on that phone compared to the previous version.
If you've updated to the new Google App — on a Marshmallow device or otherwise — let us know how you're getting on down in the comments!

Samsung packs Microsoft Office apps with the latest update for Galaxy S6 devices

Samsung Wireless Charging Monitor
Samsung recently released a new update for its Galaxy S6 devices. The latest update weighs in around 220MB, and it brings some Microsoft Office apps such as Office, Word and PowerPoint with it. Previously, Samsung only packed OneDrive and OneNote with its S6 devices, however, with the latest update the company is adding more Microsoft apps for its S6 devices.
For those wondering, the latest build number seems to be LMY47X.G925FXXU2COH2. It’s worth noting that the update may not be available for you based on your region and carrier.
Personally, I won’t be surprised if Samsung packs Cortana for Android on its flagship devices sometime soon. That said, if you own a Galaxy device, do you like the pre-installed Microsoft apps? Discuss in the comment section below.
Thanks Core and Myce for the tips!

Following Windows Phone, Skype Room Remote comes to Android

skype
Last week, our friends over at WMPU reported about the arrival of the Skype Room Remote app for Windows Phone. Alongside the Windows Phone Store, Microsoft released the app to the Google Play Store as well. For those unfamiliar, the Skype Room Remote app lets you control the Room sessions from your Android (or Windows Phone) smartphone. With the app, users can adjust the volume, and add new members to a sessions, etc.
Skype Room Remote app for Polycom RoundTable 100 for Skype for Business. Use this app to control online meetings on the Polycom RoundTable 100 for Skype for Business meeting device. Sign in with your Office 365 credentials, join the Skype Meeting, and start collaborating with remote participants in seconds.
Keep in mind that you’ll need a Polycom RoundTable 100 device, as well as a Skype Rooms account to be able to use the app. The app is available on the Google Play Store for free, and you can grab it here.

Microsoft Expands Availability Of Send App For iOS Devices, Announces Android App Preview

send
Microsoft today announced the expanded availability of Send app for iOS devices. Microsoft is also announcing an preview version of Send app for Android. In addition to U.S. and Canada,Send for iPhone and Android will be available in app stores in the UK, Brazil and Denmark.
Recently, Microsoft added the ability to delete conversations, add people to conversations, send direct messages to people from a group conversation, share your location, make a phone call and more. Also, they have added support for GIF sharing.
Another important thing is that Windows Phone version of Send app is also in the works. Headover to this link to get the app.
Send

Skype for Android gets the ability to quickly share photos with the latest update

skype-android
Microsoft today released a new update for the official Skype app for Android. With the latest update, Microsoft is adding a few new features. The first one is the ability to quickly share photos in a conversation. Additionally, Microsoft is also adding support for Skype Mojis with the latest update.  Microsoft states:
We’ve added a couple of new ways to express yourself. You may have heard that we’re rolling out Skype Mojis  to everyone on the latest Skype app on Android, iOS, Mac, and Windows. You can send a Moji by tapping on the emoticon icon in a chat. We’re also excited to announce that we’re bringing location sharing to Skype for Android. Seeing friends or family and want to tell them where to meet you? From any conversation, just tap the location icon on the media bar to send a map that shows them where you are.
As usual, the latest update also packs a couple of bug fixes and perofmrance improvements. The latest update, version 6.2 is already live on the Google Play Store and you can grab it from here.
Skype
Developer: Skype
Price: Free

Examining how good Microsoft apps actually are on Android


Cortana on Android
Today's Microsoft is one that is everywhere. Its most popular apps and services, even some of the less so ones, are available across platforms.
Whether you're using OS X, iOS or Android, you can fill your phone, tablet or computer with Microsoft without having to use Windows. Sure, Microsoft would prefer everyone used Windows, but it also recognizes that however hard it tries, that's just not going to happen.
Case in point; Android. Our pal Russell Holly over on Android Central has examined how good an experience you can get by using Microsoft apps and Microsoft services instead of Google. And the results are pretty surprising.
A snippet:
"Between Arrow Launcher and Next Lockscreen for personalized access to apps and features, and half a dozen clever extras like Word Lens and On{X}, Microsoft as the default on an Android phone starts to look not only feature complete, but downright enjoyable."
The piece examines whether or not a Microsoft loaded Android phone would be a good experience. We've had past efforts which included a tie-up with Verizon to pre-load Bing as default search in place of Google, and of course, the Nokia X. Neither were particularly well received.
But as Microsoft readies its latest iteration of its own mobile OS, it has been working hard to produce compelling applications for other platforms. Comments frequent on Windows Central like to begrudge Microsoft's 'priorities' with launching everything on Android and iOS, but the truth is, it's necessary. It's necessary, important, and Microsoft is really good at it. Microsoft is, after all, a software and services company first and foremost.
I've been trying a similar thing these past couple of weeks on an Android phone. Partly because I've moved as much as I can away from Google apps out of personal preference, and partly to see what it's like. Android still needs Google. Amazon proved that forking it just doesn't work that well, but Microsoft has done the next best thing. Outlook can replace Gmail while still pulling in those accounts, Cortana can replace Google Now, Office, Groove, Xbox One Smartglass, the MSN apps, they're all there. And they're fantastic.
We all want a better life for and with Windows 10 Mobile. But as it turns out, Microsoft is making a serious play at not just having its stuff everywhere, but being the best at it, too.
You'll find the full post from Android Central at the link below.
Source:http://www.windowscentral.com/examining-how-good-microsoft-actually-android

If you're using Android Pay, don't plan on using a third-party lock screen

If you're a fan of third-party lock screens on your Android phone, don't count on using one if you're also a fan of Android Pay.
I've been using a Samsung Galaxy S6 for a while now, and while I love the phone itself (or 98 percent of it at least) I don't particularly care for the lock screen. Coming off a Moto X 2014 and Nexus 5, I was used to having a simple lock screen with simple, one-tap notifications. On the S6 and its Samsunged lock screen however, I've been turning to third-party options like Hi Locker or CM Locker to get the job done. The only issue is that if you now use Android Pay, third-party lock screens are no longer an option.
If you've used the Galaxy S6 (or any recent Samsung device) you know that the lock screen works a bit differently than on stock Android devices. It's a bit clunkier, requires a few extra taps, and still requires you to swipe to open a notification — even if you aren't using any security like a pin or pattern. For that reason I turned to simpler, cleaner options over the months I've been using the Galaxy S6.
Enter Android Pay. Anyone with who has an Android phone with NFC, running 4.4 or higher, will be able to get in on the fun — but only if you're not using a third-party lock screen. The reason being is that Android payrequires that you use some level of system security — pattern, pin, password, or fingerprint. Third-party lock screens aren't supported, thus you'll have to choose between either using Android Pay, using a third-party lock screen, or using both and having to unlock your device twice each time. If you choose to disable the system security, a rather angry message pops up telling you a "secure screen lock is needed" and threatening that you'll have to "set it now or your cards will be removed".
While I don't really like the fact that I can't stick with a more favorable lock screen, I do respect the fact that Google is protecting their assets — your assets — by requiring security measures to be in place while you have cards added to Android Pay. Technically you can still use another app for your lock screen, but then you'll actually be unlocking your device twice every time, which isn't an ideal solution.

Microsoft is surprisingly close to making a decent Android phone


A Microsoft-based Android phone may not be for everyone, but it seems more than likely we'll see one soon.
Anytime you see the words Microsoft and Android in the same sentence suggesting a new products, fans will come out of the woodwork to remind everyone of that dark time four years ago when Verizon forced Bing on a bunch of phones. In the minds of these users, the event was followed by a grand angry rebellion that banished Bing to the Netherspire and restored Google to its rightful place at the top of our phones and tablets. The people had spoken, Microsoft had been defeated, and there's no need to consider ever going down that dark road again.
The truth is a little less exciting, with Google inviting manufacturers to participate in legally binding agreements that ensured Google search sat atop everything in exchange for access to the Play Store, but the end result isn't all that different. Microsoft could make its own phone without access to the Google Play Store, but that usually ends poorly for everyone involved. In order to have their apps and services installed on something running Google-powered Android, Microsoft needed to go the long way and offer compelling apps that users would want to install and use instead of the pre-loaded Google counterparts.
You may not be aware of it, but Microsoft is surprisingly close to making this a reality.
Microsoft Next Lockscreen
The key to making an app people will actually consider using in replacement of Google's defaults these days, in many cases, is to go all out and try to replace all of Google's apps at once. Google's integration and cross-app functionality makes it hard to replace a single app with something that doesn't play nice with the rest, even if that one app has features you prefer. Going all in and replacing the whole suite of Google apps isn't easy, but Microsoft has been slowly moving in that direction for years now.
Microsoft as the default on an Android phone starts to look not only feature complete, but downright enjoyable.
Mobile versions of Office apps to replace Drive, Outlook to replace Gmail, OneNote to handle Keep, Skype for messaging and video chat, Groove Music instead of Google Play Music, Nokia Here to replace Maps, and of course OneDrive to connect them all together an offer cloud storage. This handles your basics, and even two years ago might have been enough to help people make the switch, but Google's integration goes a lot deeper than cross-app chatter nowadays.
Microsoft needed Cortana to replace voice search and act as a virtual assistant now that Google Now was baked in to all of the search functions. Between Arrow Launcher and Next Lockscreen for personalized access to apps and features, and half a dozen clever extras like Word Lens and On{X}, Microsoft as the default on an Android phone starts to look not only feature complete, but downright enjoyable.
Microsoft Arrow Launcher
The one big gap in Microsoft's plan for total Google Service replacement at the moment is a browser. While there are dozens of alternatives to Google's Chrome in the Play Store, it'd be nice to eventually see Edge come to Android with some of the features that make it interesting on Windows 10.
Looking at all of these apps installed and used in place of the current Google Apps demonstrates just how close the company is to a complete thought.
Perhaps more important than drawing on a web page in screenshot form and better overall performance is the continued integration efforts. Things like in-app searches like Chrome has, or the ability to quickly export a line from a website to OneNote, or even the ability to save something you're downloading from the web directly to OneDrive. There's a lot of potential there, and Microsoft has clearly demonstrated the potential to make this happen.
If the long-term goal for Microsoft's adoption of Android is to make a phone with this software deeply embedded in the system, either through continued cooperation withCyanogen or a full on Microsoft-made Android phone with all of this software onboard, looking at all of these apps installed and used in place of the current Google apps demonstrates just how close the company is to a complete thought. It may not be what many Google fans are looking for in a smartphone, but it could absolutely be what Windows 10 users who aren't interested in the current crop of Windows-based phones are looking for, and that group isn't nearly as small as many Android enthusiasts would like to think it is.
Microsoft Arrow Launcher
Microsoft and Verizon messed up a couple of years ago by trying to force something on everyone, and as it stands right now trying to assemble all of Microsoft's apps into a cohesive thought out of the box is a lot of work, but there's a place somewhere in the middle that could have genuine appeal if done in a way that offers this complete alternative way of doing things in a compelling package. If nothing else, it'd be interesting to see that middle ground come to life.

Mobile Nations Weekly: Applestravaganza

You might have noticed that Apple announced some new stuff last week...
Whenever Apple announces their latest wares, the tech world tends to pause for a bit to see what's happening. When they announce a new iPhone 6s, people outside the tech space take notice. And when Apple unveils a new iPhone, an Apple TV that's actually pretty cool, and a pen-equipped 12.9-inch iPad Pro,everything everywhere stops to see what Apple's up to.
So… that's what happened this week. Well, there were some other things too — Google got their Android Pay launch out before Apple started dominating all the headlines, BlackBerry lost Dand Dodge, the CEO of their QNX platform division, and Windows 10 exceeded the installation rate of both preceding Windows releases by hitting 81 million PCs in just 45 days.
There's plenty more from all across the mobile community to catch up on, so let's dive right in!

1. ANDROID CENTRAL — ANDROID PAY DEBUTS, ROBINS EMERGE

Google Wallet
It was a big of a recuperation week for us as we returned (triumphantly!) from the IFA conference in Berlin. But that doesn't mean the news stops. Google rolled out Android Pay for the first time, bringing its contactless payment system in line with the versions from Samsung (which is just in beta form) and Apple. Plus, we took a look at the Nextbit Robin "cloud-first" phone, and we reviewed the latest version of the Android Wear operating system.

2. CRACKBERRY — THE QUIET PERIOD BEFORE THE STORM

Dan Dodge
Although BlackBerry is gearing up for their Q2 fiscal 2016 earnings call on September 25th and are pretty much in their quiet period, there was still plenty happening this week to report on.

3. IMORE — IPHONE 6S IS HERE!

iMore was live at Apple's 2015 fall event and it was big. Forget that, it was huge. The company unleashed almost everything, from a new iPhone to a huge new iPad, an expanded Apple Watch line to a completely overhauled Apple TV. And we brought you back all the action! Now the fun part begins—buying and reviewing it all! Keep it locked to iMore!

4. WINDOWS CENTRAL — REFLECTIONS ON THE FUTURE

Windows Phone
Amidst the domineering Apple news of the week, Microsoft is trudging on like a trooper. Windows 10 is now on more than 81 million PCs after just 45 days. That number puts the OS at 400,000 installs a day and eclipses Windows 7 and Windows 8 by miles. Microsoft still has a few years left though before it hits its internal goal of 1 billion Windows 10 devices.
Some new universal apps hitting Windows include NFL for WindowsAdidas miCoach, and an improvingofficial Twitter app.
In response to Apple's new releases, Windows Central puts things into perspective for Microsoft by laying out its continuing challenges. Speaking of trials, are Windows Phone fans being pushed to the brink with too many disappointments? Maybe.

5. KICKED

This week on Kicked we look at a noise machine to help you sleep, a dodgeball microphone, a webcam for your pet, and more! Plus, Dan returns from vacation and enjoys saying the word 'humbucker.'
We're also giving away some great prizes! For your chance to win a Pebble Time smart watch, an Ilumi smart bulb 10-pack, or the Coolest Cooler, watch this video and subscribe to our YouTube channel. You've only got until the end of September so subscribe today!

CONNECTEDLY

This week on Connectedly, we saw some big product announcements including an insane 250 megapixel Canon camera, GoPro's 16-camera VR Odyssey machine, AT&T's ZTE Mobely car Wi-Fi add-on, as well as the new DJI Inspire 1 4K camera add-on. We also of course took a look at the new iPhone 6s, iPad Pro and Apple TV announced at the Apple 'Hey Siri' event. In crowdfunding we saw Snooze, a little device to help you sleep better. Plus a whole bunch more — check it all out!
Main Source:http://www.androidcentral.com/mobile-nations-weekly-applestravaganza

Google introduces a new space for Hangouts on the web

Google gives Hangouts its own space on the web
Google has introduced a new central location for Hangouts on the web. The new site presents you with all of your Google contacts, and options for getting in contact with them. You can easily initiate a video or phone call, as well as a new message thread by clicking one of the three big new buttons for that purpose.
From Hangouts engineer Jordanna Chord:
We are launching another way to use Hangouts today. From our new site you'll be able to take advantage of the best of Hangouts in the browser, along with an inspiring image to get you through the day. Check it out and let us know what you think.
You can also quickly access your contact, text conversations, and stored phone numbers by choosing from the readily-available side menu. Opening up the expanded menu will offer links to the Hangouts apps for both Android and iOS, as well as the Chrome app and Hangouts Dialer app for Android.
The new Hangouts experience is rolling out right now.

Grab the new Android Marshmallow wallpapers


Want to get a little of that Android Marshmallow look, but don't want to flash beta preview software or don't have a phone to install it on? The nine new wallpapers from Android 6.0 are a good start.
Included are several new geometric Material Design inspired wallpapers, as well as several great new nature-themed walls. They all look really nice, and are worth checking out.

You can find the full sized images in the forums.


Developers can now submit apps to Google Play that use Android Marshmallow's API 23


Alongside revealing Android M's actual name, and releasing the new Android 6.0 SDK, Google has announced that developers can now submit apps that use Marshmallow's API 23. This means developers can now build their apps against the official SDK, and submit them for testing on Developer Preview devices.
Google Play is now ready to accept your API 23 apps via the Google Play Developer Console on all release channels (Alpha, Beta & Production). At the consumer launch this fall, the Google Play store will also be updated so that the app install and update process supports the new permissions model for apps using API 23.
With this, app developers can begin adding official support for the new features like auto-backup and app permissions, though those features won't start working until we see official Android 6.0 Marshmallow hardware — AKA the next Nexus — in the wild. If you are a developer and plan to submit your app with API 23 features soon, be sure to let us know all about it!

Android 'M' is for Marshmallow


As is tradition, Google has revealed the version name for the upcoming sixth version of Android with a new statue in front of its Mountain View, CA HQ. Android M will stand for Marshmallow, and while it's still not available for public consumption (check out ourpreview from June), the company is encouraging developers to get their apps ready now, with a new SDK and "near-final" preview versions to use. The name shouldn't be much of a surprise however, since it's the one most of you guessed in our poll, where it nabbed 37 percent of the votes.


Google ramps up the Android M mystery hype



We may soon find out what the M in Android M stands for, as a new video which showcases all of the previous releases, and then teases about the new one has surfaced. Each year, there are tons and tons of guesses about what Google decided to call the upcoming Android release, and this year is no different. With this year being the M release, names like Marshmallow, Milkshake, Moon Pie and others have already been tossed around plenty of times, though no one really knows yet.
So, what are your thoughts on what Android M may be called? Be sure to drop them in the comments below!

OnePlus rolls out OxygenOS 1.0.2 update to address 'Stagefright' vulnerability


OnePlus One
OxygenOS version 1.0.2 has just been released to the public. OnePlus has provided the means to flash the update, which is set to address the "Stagefright" vulnerability that could lead to your phone becoming compromised.
OnePlus One owners are advised to back up data before flashing, and those already using OxygenOS will not be required to reset their smartphone. It's positive to see more manufacturers working to get said security vulnerability holes plugged.
Rocking OxygenOS? We highly recommend you take the time to update. More details about installation and flashing can be found over on the OnePlus website.

Top 10 things to know about the OnePlus 2


We've had the OnePlus 2 for a couple of days now, with retail software onboard and everything. While many of the conclusions drawn about the hardware in our initial hands on remain true, a closer look at this device has revealed some interesting stuff. In some ways our positive opinions of the device were cemented, but there are a few peculiarities that stand out and make you wonder what went wrong when this phone was being created.
We're not quite ready for a full review yet, but in the mean time we've assembled a list of things about the OnePlus 2 for you to chew on.

1. THE PHONE NEVER STOPS FEELING HEAVY

OnePlus 2
In a world where Samsung is boasting 4.8oz phones while LG and HTC are rocking 5.5oz rectangles to slide into your pocket, the 6.2oz OnePlus 2 is noticeably heavier than the current competition.
The aluminum frame and sandstone back for this model come together to form a solid, grippy feel in the hand, which is great. Some folks will absolutely appreciate the heft this phone offers, but when combined with the 5.5-inch display and extra bezel on the bottom to make room for the fingerprint sensor this phone could easily be considered unwieldy for others.

2. THE FINGERPRINT SENSOR IS ALMOST PERFECT

Fingerprint sensor
Having used the fingerprint sensors on just about every smartphone to have been released in the last couple of years, I can say with some certainty the sensor included in the OnePlus 2 is well done. It's fast, the failure rate is lower than the Galaxy S6, and the setup process is solid.
The only complaint to voice about this sensor currently is the occasional failure to wake the phone on first press. Unlike the Galaxy S6 fingerprint sensor, this isn't a physical button. That means the capacitive sensor is supposed to be always on, and when it detects a finger the screen wakes. Every once in a while, especially when the phone has been asleep for a while, you have to take your thumb off and place it back on the sensor to wake the screen up.

3. THERE'S ALMOST NO POINT IN USING THE SOFTWARE BUTTONS

Software buttons
Like the OnePlus One, there's an option in setting that lets you activate on-screen buttons and disable the capacitive buttons under the display. Unlike the OnePlus One, there isn't a compelling desire to use them. The fingerprint sensor is good enough that most folks are going to want to use it, and having the back and multitask buttons to the left and right of that key feels natural.
While there's bound to be a few folks who want to do things the other way, the original key layout OnePlus set up on this phone is solid.

4. THE USB-C PORT IS STRANGELY SATISFYING

USB-C
Despite the USB-C port in the OnePlus 2 lacking several key features that make this new cable standard special, using the port itself is strangely satisfying. Not needing to flip the cord around isn't as life-altering as many have sworn it would be, but the port itself is genuinely enjoyable to use. There's a noticeable click when the cable is seated in the socket, and zero wiggle once its in there.
It's probably not time to rush out and buy everything USB-C that becomes available, and this transition is going to suck for those of us who have many microUSB cables already, but in the long term it seems like this port is going to be a good thing.

5. WIFI ISN'T QUITE FULLY BAKED

Wifi
It may sound strange, but a great way to test the quality of Wifi firmware is to throw something unusual at it. In this case, a 5ghz network with an SSID of (╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻ and a 2.4ghz network with an SSID of ┬─┬ ノ( ゜-゜ノ) lets you know whether ASCII can be read by your firmware. Not only can the OnePlus 2 not read these SSIDs, but trying to do so breaks the English translation of the OxygenOS ROM being used on the phone.
Ordinarily, this wouldn't be a big deal. In fact, it wouldn't be a bug at all to just display non-ASCII characters. Where the issue comes in is the OnePlus 2's inability to remain connected to these networks. As soon as the phone falls asleep, it disconnects and doesn't reconnect until you either manually select the network again or restart Wifi on the phone.

6. THE CAMERA IS GREAT, BUT NOT QUITE THE BEST

OnePlus 2 Camera
There's a lot of mixed feelings about the camera on the OnePlus 2 right now. The camera UI is plain and clunky, but the results so far have been great. It's clearly one of the better smartphone cameras on the market today, but not quite good enough to be considered the best.
We're going to have a much more comprehensive look at the capabilities of this camera compared directly to the LG G4 and Samsung Galaxy S6 soon. In the mean time, check out some of our initial camera samples to get a feel for what this camera can do.

7. OXYGENOS PERMISSION CONTROLS ARE NICE

OnePlus 2 Permissions
OxygenOS does a great job delivering a Nexus-style UI with a handful of subtle tweaks for users to take advantage of if they know where to look. One of the more technical features available is direct access to permissions for each app. You can go through and disable each permission individually, and create exactly the kind of experience you want.
There isn't much stopping you from breaking things here if you turn off the wrong permission, save for a warning as you enter the permissions section of Settings telling you almost exactly that. It's the kind of thing that could get folks in trouble if they are poking around without being sure, but if you know what you are doing — and lets face it, most OnePlus 2 owners will fall into this category — it's a feature worth exploring.

8. THE SPEAKER IS MOSTLY GARBAGE, AND MAXXAUDIO DOESN'T HELP

OnePlus 2
There's not much to say about the speaker on this phone. It's really not great, no matter what you're doing. As a speakerphone it's tolerable, but if you're doing more than having a conversation the audio quality is tinny and low.
OnePlus includes their heavily skinned version of MaxxAudio with this phone, and in no way does this software improve the audio coming from the speaker. It's by far the weakest part of the phone.

9. AUDIO THROUGH HEADPHONES, ON THE OTHER HAND, IS EXCEPTIONAL

OnePlus 2 headphones
As useless as the speaker on the OnePlus 2 is for music, the reverse is true of everything that comes out of the headphone jack. Testing with our Audio Technica M50 headphones, the sound coming out of the OnePlus 2 is fantastic. Just the right amount of bass, with decent highs and smooth mids.
Like the speakers, Maxx Audio does little to improve the audio quality. In fact, in most cases it seemed like MaxxAudio introduced distortion in an attempt to improve the audio. Your best bet is to leave the software disabled, and you'll be happy with the results.

10. EVERY PHONE SHOULD HAVE AN ALERT SLIDER

Alert Slider
The decision to include a three-position slider on the OnePlus 2 and use that switch to control notifications is a stroke of genius. Not only is the button satisfying to use as it click into place and doesn't wiggle around, but the instant flip to priority or mute with alarms is the best implementation of Google's new notification system.
Smartphones seem to be moving towards fewer and fewer buttons, but this Alert Slider deserves to be a standard feature in Android, especially if you're using it with Android Wear.

Source:http://www.androidcentral.com/top-10-things-know-about-oneplus-2


Google offers more details on the closure of Google+ Photos

Google Photos
Following Google's announcement earlier this week that it would shut down Google+ Photos in favor of the new Google Photos service, head of Google Photos Anil Sabharwal clarified the changes taking place.
Sabharwal mentioned that users will still be able to share, comment and +1 photos and videos from within Google+, with all shared content unaffected by the switch. The backup, editing and creation tools will be transferring to the new Photos service:
  1. The great photo and video sharing service that's part of Google+ is unaffected. You can continue to post photos and videos, and your followers will be able to comment and +1 as before. No change.
  2. All of the photos, videos, and albums you have already shared on Google+, including their posts, comments, and +1s are also unaffected. An easy way to find these is to visit the Photos tab of your Profile page.
  3. The private photo management component of Google+, which includes backup, editing, creations, private album management (album management for shared content is still available on Google+), and sharing to other apps, is being replaced by Google Photos.
Sabharwal went on to add that the similarities between the two services was a factor in the closure of Google+ Photos:
I sincerely appreciate for many of you #3 is still a hard pill to swallow. And I promise we don't take decisions like this one lightly. The reality is that maintaining both Google+ Photos (the private photo management component of Google+) and Google Photos poses several challenges. Most notably, it is confusing to users why we have two offerings that virtually do the same thing, and it means our team needs to divide its focus rather than working on building a single, great user experience.
We are working very hard to bring all the best features of Google+ Photos to Google Photos, and this focus will allow us to deliver even more features at a much faster pace.

Galaxy S6 edge+ dummy images give a first look at Samsung's larger GS6

Galaxy S6 edge+ next to Note 4
Samsung is reportedly launching a larger version of the Galaxy S6 edge, dubbed the Galaxy S6 edge+. The first leaked images of a dummy model of the phone next to a Galaxy Note 4 give us an indication as to the size of Samsung's upcoming GS6 model.
The images further reinforce the rumors that we'll see a 5.7-inch display on the S6 edge+.The design similarities with the standard S6 edge are also highlighted, with a dual curve display at the front and identical camera placement at the back of the phone. Samsung is allegedly launching the S6 edge+ alongside theGalaxy Note 5 in New York on August 12, so stay tuned for more.
Until then, what are your thoughts on a larger Galaxy S6 edge?

Google makes setting Inbox snooze timers a tad more convenient

Snoozing emails in Inbox by Gmail is getting a bit more convenient for things like hotel reservations, package tracking, and more. Google has announced a new one-tap option when snoozing that will allow users to set emails with dates and times to pop back up at just the right time.
Now, when you swipe left to snooze an email, the popup box that allows you to set the snooze duration will have an extra option for emails with dates and times included. For example, if you're snoozing a restaurant reservation, you'll have the option to set the reminder for an hour before your reservation time. Here's a list of the types of emails that the option will cover:
  • Package tracking updates
  • Restaurant and event reservations
  • Calendar invites
  • Flight confirmations
  • Hotel reservations
  • Rental car reservations
It's not a huge change, but it should be welcome as a nice improvement over fumbling around with setting the exact date and time manually. If you want to try the feature out, Google notes that it should be available starting today.

EU launches two antitrust investigations against Qualcomm


Qualcomm
The European Commission has launched two formal investigations against Qualcomm to determine whether or not the chip maker engaged in antitrust practices. It's alleged the company has abused its market position by undercutting rival parties to force them out of the industry.
The first investigation will examine whether Qualcomm offered financial incentives to customers if they purchased baseband chipsets exclusively (or almost exclusively) from the company. The second investigation will look into whether Qualcomm sold its products below cost in order to drive rivals out of the market.
Both investigations will cover chips used for 3G and 4G technology, working off probing that has been underway since 2010. This isn't the first time the European Commission has investigated Qualcomm, with a 4-year long enquiry that ended in 2009. The company also had to fork out $975 million in China after settling with the country's National Development and Reform Commission in an antitrust dispute.
Update: Qualcomm released a statement commenting on the new European Commission investigation:
"We were informed that the European Commission has taken the procedural step of "initiating proceedings" against Qualcomm with regard to the two ongoing investigations into Qualcomm's sale of chipsets for mobile devices. This step allows investigators to gather additional facts, but it represents neither an expression by the Commission on the merits of the case nor an accusation against the Company. While we were disappointed to hear this, we have been cooperating and will continue to cooperate with the Commission, and we continue to believe that any concerns are without merit."

Lollipop is now installed on 12.4 percent of active Android devices


Google has just released its June 2015 report on Android platform versions, showing that Lollipop has jumped over the 10 percent milestone.
Google's monthly report on how many active Android devices are running on each version of the software, has been released for June 2015, and it shows shows that Lollipop has exceeded the 10 percent park, with 5.0 and 5.1 combining for an 12.4 percent share. Those numbers compare to 9.7 percent for Lollipop installs for May and 5.4 percent in AprilKitKat dropped slightly from 39.8 percent in May to 39.2 percent in June, while Jelly Bean moved down even more, from 39.2 percent in May to 37.4 percent in June.
Android version numbers
Android 2.2 Froyo remains at just 0.3 percent in June, the same install share it had in May, while Android 2.3 Gingerbread went down slightly from 5.7 percent in May to 5.6 percent in June. Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich also went down from 5.3 percent in May to 5.1 percent in June.

Android 5.1.1 update for the Galaxy S6 gets detailed on video

Quite a lot has already been said about the upcoming update to Android 5.1.1 Lollipop for the Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 edge. Its rollout should happen in June or July, according to past mumblings, and it's going to bring a few new features to the two devices.
All the stuff that Samsung will unleash alongside the bump in OS version to Android 5.1.1 is neatly detailed in the video below by the folks from SamMobile.
They've used some test builds to get the news out, which means certain things may still change before the update starts rolling out. Speaking of which, it's likely that the S6 models will be the first Samsung handsets to get Android 5.1.1. After them, the Galaxy Note 4 should follow, with older flagships receiving the goods even later.
Samsung will add iPhone-like exposure controls to its camera app, RAW support, and there will also be a Guest Mode baked in. More subtle things are going to be in too, such as the ability to disable the S Finder and Quick Connect buttons from the notification dropdown. The home screen wallpaper can take on a motion effect, while the Themes menu gets a Themes Store button at the bottom of the installed themes list.

The Android Central Google I/O 2015 Preview


It's that time of year again, and by the looks of things Google has plenty of awesome to show us.
Google's annual developer conference is right around the corner, and there's a lot to talk about this year. A lot has happened in the last 12 months that position Google to make some big announcements this year, continuing the bold new direction the company has taken Android, Chrome, and just about everything else the company does.
While San Francisco prepares for thousands of developers — as well as a couple of Android Central's finest — to descend once again upon the Moscone West convention center, it seemed like a good time to take a look at what we're expecting from this year's Google Nerd Christmas.

1. ANDROID M — ALL ABOUT POLISH

Google IO
Lets get the big, obvious one out of the way first. Google's going to talk about the state of Android right now, which usually means a fun graphic with activation numbers and developer payouts from app purchases, and then they are going to dive into their plans for the next version of Android. While our trusty alphabet and some common sense told us the codename for the next version of Android following Lollipop would start with an M, an accidental mention on the schedule for this year's events removed any lingering doubt. Google's going to talk Android M, and our guess is it's going to be way more about platform unification and polish than anything else.
And there's a good chance we'll walk away from Google I/O this year with an M preview build for the Nexus 6and Nexus 9, but it's unlikely we'll hear much (if anything) about new Nexus devices. Google has worked out a healthy niche for themselves in Fall releases, and since Lollipop is still very much a new thing for most folks it seems likely we'll see a repeat of last year in terms of release cycle. 
Google is probably going to use this event to focus on platform unification, which means more about Android Auto, Android TV/Google Cast, home integration, and some new things about Enterprise, Education, and Health.With just about 10 percent of Android devices running Lollipop, it's unlikely we'll see any massive shift in design language or developer guidelines. Google's Material Designefforts are still rolling out to everything. And we're likely to see a move toward refinement, with smoother animations and more defined guidelines for material behaviors. We'll also see a lot more about how Material Design is going to continue to weave itself into the rest of Google's products — particularly with Chrome — as we see Google's mobile and web platforms grow even closer together. Developers will hear a lot about how to write for both platforms, including how to better handle permissions. Whether the need to have well-defined permissions on the web turns into a new permission system on Android has yet to be seen, but there aren't many folks out there who'd say no if it happens.

2. A MORE SECURE ANDROID

Android Fingerprint API

This is also a perfect time for Google to unveil the fingerprint APIs that didn't make it into Android 5.0. We know there was
 originally supposed to be a fingerprint sensor in the Nexus 6, but the forced delay likely gave Google time to sort out ways to wrap the security measure into things like Android Pay and individual app access or login. While it's true there's no current Nexus hardware around to take advantage of this new feature, it's something you can expect to see on a lot more devices after Samsung delivered fingerprint security so successfully in the Galaxy S6 and S6 edge.Google has been big on adding simple security features and demonstrating how effecting their Play Store monitoring tools have been this year, and you canBET Android M is going to include more of the same. Smart Lock options will continue to grow, and whispers of a more granular permission system helps paint a clearer picture of where this next version of Android is going to be focused. These are useful features for consumers and Enterprise customers, which ties in nicely with Google's Android for Work deployment.

3. ANDROID @ HOME — OR THEREABOUTS

Nest IOT

Nest has already made some impressive strides in acting as the central accessory for a smarter home, with your smartphone acting as the unifying mechanism, but Google is likely thinking a lot larger than this. Rather than an extension of the
 "Works with Nest" program, Google will most likely talk about an entirely separate mechanism forCOMMUNICATING with all of the smart devices in your local network. In order for this to work, Google's going to need some impressive partnerships and a platform that any company can work with. 
That mechanism might well be a new Nest thermostat, or it could be something low-power and inexpensive you attach to your network via Ethernet, but there's most likely going to be some kind of hardware involved.While it may not have the same name or function in exactly the same way, there are a lot of puzzle pieces pointing to the return of Google's efforts to do more in your home. A couple of years ago this was called Android @ Home and included things like smart lighting and the aborted Nexus Q. In 2015, however, smart lighting is already growing at a rapid pace and the Internet of Things isCONNECTING a lot of other home appliances to the network. The one big thing missing from the jumbled mess that is the Internet of Things is a unifying effortthat actually works. Fortunately for Google, they already own a company that has proven to be better than most at doing exactly this. Nest.

4. GOOGLE CAST AND ANDROID TV

Nvidia Shield TV
Google is far from done pushing into the living room, and with Chromecast continuing to gain momentum andAndroid TV finally having a compelling hardware option in the NVIDIA Shield Console — whenever they get around to actually selling it, that is — we're going to see a huge push towards gaming and watching television through Android TV and Google Cast. A quick look at theSCHEDULE for I/O this year shows a ton of sessions focused on exactly these things, and a couple of curious sessions on building "channels" for Android TV that will get a better explanation during the event.

You can expect Google to talk at least a little about Cast for Audio as well.
 LG's relatively quiet rollout of their multi-room speakers and the Sonos
CONNECTION with Google Cast for Audio are the only things out right now that play nice with this protocol, but as Google moves further into living room invasion this is going to be a significant piece of the puzzle.Google wants this to be a thing so badly that many of these sessions are repeated to make sure everyone who wants to learn at the event can do so, which means it's not exactly a leap to suggest there's going to be some hardware discussed during the keynote. Maybe that means an update to the Chromecast hardware, maybe it means we'll see some Android TV boxes that offer HDMI passthrough. We don't know just yet. Whatever happens, it's going to have a lot to do with Google and gaming and your living room.

5. CHROME AND ANDROID TOGETHER AT LAST?

Chrome Android
You don't have to bePAYING particularly close attention to see Google has been making big steps toward bringing Chrome and Android together. While it's unlikely we'll see the two products merge together into a single operating system anytime soon — if ever — we're going to see more cross-platform behaviors and design languages that play nice across all of the different potential screen sizes.

This creates a lot of questions, like what will become of the Chrome Web Store and how will non-Chrome OS devices handle this experience, but we're just going to have to wait and let Google walk us through it.
We've already seen Google encouraging developers to test these waters with ARC Welder for Chrome, where Android apps can be uploaded and tested in touch and non-touch environments and then repackaged for Chrome. But the next step is a little trickier. Google can't expect users to upload their own APKs or treat apps different across platforms just because they should know better. Instead, we're going to get web containers for these apps to take advantage of the lightweight windowed nature of Chrome OS. This is going to mean Android developers will need to figure out how to better request permissions for account and hardware access, which usually happens individually in HTML5.

6. GROWING ANDROID WEAR AND ANDROID AUTO

Android Wear
Now that Google's wearable efforts have shifted from face computers to wrist computers and from awkward Car Mode features to full in-vehicle solutions, we're going to hear a little more about how those platforms are growing. Android Wear will have completely updated to version 5.1.1w by the time the main event begins, so we'll most likely be hearing more about how developers can take advantage of the platform than anything else.

The same could be said of
 Android Auto, which due to the costs and general lack of availability has an especially low adoption rate at the moment. Google has a pair of sessions focused on delivering apps to the car, which will hopefully include some new information about availability for some of the hardware we've seen announced over the last year.Google's going to push hard about the things Android Wear does that the competition doesn't. The always-on wrist-mounted screen is going to have developers seeking the best way to offer a great experience, and Google's session lineup looks ready to deliver. It wouldn't be surprising to see Google announce support for Android Wear on iOS, and maybe even some additional info about the Intel/Tag Heuer smartwatch.
As for Google's other wearable technology, we're probably not going to see a repeat of Sergey Brin landing on the roof of Moscone West, and not just because Tony Fadell is in charge of the project now. There have been several statements about being less public about the next version of Glass and waiting until it's a complete thought, and it's only been five months since Fadell took over the project.

7. EVERYTHING ELSE WE THINK WILL BE AT I/O 2015

Google IO
Google's got a lot of little things happening as well, and hopefully we'll see those things become a lot bigger this year.
  • Android Pay will most likely be announced. Here's hoping it's everything we want it to be.
  • Hangouts will probably get an update amidst the Chrome/Android love fest
  • Google Now will get smarter
  • We're going to hear more about voice commands, maybe even an API for developers to play along like Google had with Glass
  • Jerry is going to have an HTC Re on a stick, and it's going to be glorious.
  • Kid-focused Android Apps are coming, with a ton of rules about how ads will work inside them
  • Google Cardboard will get an honorable mention of some kind, but probably not much more

Hands on with Microsoft's unannounced OneClip sharing app


This morning, an unannounced app by Microsoft for Android, iOS, Windows Phone and Windows 10 was revealed. OneClip leverages OneDrive to easily copy and paste documents, photos, text, phone numbers and more to share between your devices. We go hands-on with the apps on Android, Windows 10, and Windows Phone. Watch our video.


Setup is easy. You synchronize devices by using temporary pairing codes. There is no limit to the number of devices you can pair. You can copy photos, screenshots, phone numbers, addresses, or other text from any of the devices and OneClip makes them available on all your paired devices.
OneClip
We've installed OneClip on Android, Windows, and Windows Phone. The apps work surprisingly well. Items show up within seconds, but that may vary depending on your internetCONNECTION. iOS is also supported, be we didn't get a chance to install it yet.




T-Mobile approves Wi-Fi calling update for the Nexus 6, rolling out to small number of devices this weekend


T-Mobile has finally approved an update for the Nexus 6 which enables Wi-Fi calling, a small group of people will receive the update hitting their devices this weekend.
Customers have been waiting for Wi-Fi calling to hit their Nexus 6 on T-Mobile, and now the update has finally received approval. T-Mobile Product Evangelist, Des, has confirmed that a small number of customers will begin seeing the update hit their devices as soon as this weekend. If all goes well they hope to roll it out to everyone over the next few weeks.
THIS JUST IN!!! @TMobile has approved the WiFi Calling Software Update! Happy Memorial Day weekend! pic.twitter.com/4dcS4ATEKt byDes @askdes

The update was rumored to hit the devices early in 2015, but unfortunately some issues have pushed the release back. T-Mobile has also just updated its support page with information about the Android 5.1.1 build LYZ28E update that is pushing out, which also includes Device Anti-Theft, as well as bug fixes and other improvements


How to use Samsung Smart Switch


Samsung makes it mostly effortless to switch away from just about anything to something with Galaxy in the name.
Galaxy S6 Smart Switch
Migrating from one Android device to another got marginally easier with Android 5.0 — especially if your old device is NFC-enabled and most of your data lives in Google's clouds — but it's not perfect. More important is that if you're moving from an iOS device, it's still kind of a hassle. Samsung's solution for this is Smart Switch, and it is now baked into the Galaxy S6 and S6 edge at startup. If you're planning on moving to a shiny new Galaxy in the not-so-distant future, you probably want to familiarize yourself with this software. With that in mind, lets take a quick tour through Samsung Smart Switch.
Smart Switch exists exclusively for when you've decided to move from one phone to another. You can use it to move from one Android or iOS device to a Galaxy device, but you can also use it to move from one Samsung device to something else. The software is designed to be installed on the host device first, so the app can grab all of the relevant information and give you pairing instructions for your new device. If you're using an Android phone, this is as simple as installing an app and tapping "next." If you're on iOS, it means connecting the device to your computer and using the desktop version of Smart Switch to pull data from either iTunes or iCloud and prepare it for your new Samsung. Assuming you're migrating to a Galaxy S6 or S6 edge, your next step is just turning the phone on and tapping "yes" when prompted to use Smart Switch to grab data from another phone.
Smart Switch
Once the two devices have communicated with one another, you'll be able to choose what content you want moved to the new device. Samsung Smart Switch is surprisingly thorough when moving from Android to Android, allowing you to move contact and photos as well as Wifi connection data and even alarm clock preferences. The backup and restore process will vary significantly based on how much local data you have, and since the restore process is wireless it could easily take upwards of an hour if you're restoring a lot of content. You'll want to be connected to power when restoring data to your new phone, but once the process is complete you'll have everything you wanted from the previous device.
Samsung Smart Switch is your best option for moving to a Galaxy S6 or S6 edge from just about anything else, and is a fantastic argument against the Google method of "cloud everything" backup. It's a simple, powerful system transfer solution, and absolutely worth taking a look at if you decide to pick up a Samsung device this year.

RAW images and Android - everything you need to know


RAW image capture brings new possibilities to Android photography, but not everyone will need or want to use it. Or can.
You've probably seen (or heard) a bit of talk about RAW images and Android lately. Some of us are pretty excited about what this brings to our smartphones, and the very cool stuff we can do with RAW images transferred to our computers. And some of us are a little confused about what a RAW image is, and why all these Android camera nerds are excited about it.
Simply put, having a camera on your Android that takes RAW images means you have a better set of image data to use when editing the picture than you would with a standard jpeg image. While the small sensor and fixed focal length on a smartphone means it won't measure up to a "real" camera, you can now capture shots with your Android that simply weren't possible before. HDR can only do so much ...
Let's get our hands dirty and look at what a RAW image is, and what you can do with one once you've captured it.

1. WHAT EXACTLY IS A RAW IMAGE?

RAW on Android
If you grab an Android fresh out of the box and take a picture with the camera, you'll probably get a rather nice looking picture placed into your gallery. The image you get was built from the data the sensor collected from all the tiny points of different colored light (the pixels) and optimised for things like balanced whites, sharp edges, and noise reduction (among other things) and then given a last pass optimization so it looks great on your screen. When this is done, the extra image data is discarded. The final result is a jpeg image that has a much smaller file size, and is built using special software to look as good as an algorithm thinks it can look. If you have a modern Android, you're probably going to be pleased with the outcome most of the time.
When you have an Android that is capable of shooting in RAW + jpg, you get the same output as above, plus a file that contains a minimally processed version of all the image data collected by the sensor. The sensor collects data from areas that are very dark, or very light, or that appear to be the wrong color to our eyes and more, but usually discards a good portion of this after jpeg optimization. In a RAW image, this data is kept so that special software can manipulate it.
You probably don't need to use the RAW format for most of the pictures you take with your Android. On a phone like the LG G4, the jpeg output is well optimized and is likely as good as your result would be if you used all the image data and built your own jpeg from it with an image editor. Sometimes, though, you can use the RAW data to fix an image that the automatic algorithms can't seem to get right. And some of us just like to toy with things — RAW files are perfect for that.

2. WHAT RAW FILE FORMAT DOES ANDROID USE, AND WHY DOES IT MATTER?

DNG files
Android (as of Lollipop 5.0) has a method where the camera can capture RAW images in the DNG format. DNG (Digital Negative) is an open lossless RAW image format written by Adobe in 2004. It's based on the TIFF format, and the files contain the image data, at least one .jpg preview, and metadata that allows programs to read and edit the file. This is why they are such big files — there is a lot of information in there.
For the folks writing Android software and building Android devices, having an open standards-based file format is pretty important. They can easily and freely distribute the software as well as update for newer versions as well as ensure backwards-compatibility. And there are less royalties to pay — every penny counts.
To users like you and me, this only matters when finding software that can view or edit the files. DNG is a widely adopted format, and you'll find it's well supported in many image editors on WindowsMac and Linux (and even lesser-known Unix variants). Chances are you already have software on your computer that can view DNG files and make small edits. We'll look at dedicated programs to edit DNG files in the next section, but know that RAW for Android uses a well-supported and popular format for anyone who wants to dive in and do some serious editing.
We also have to remember than while RAW support is really cool and allows for some amazing edits to the photos we take with our Androids, it does nothing to increase the limitations of a small fixed focal length camera. We're not going to be able to capture as much data as a larger sensor camera, and your smartphone isn't going to replace a DSLR any time soon. Go into things with the right expectations so you're not disappointed.

3. HOW DO I EDIT MY RAW FILES?

Lightroom
For starters, you'll need to understand that a computer is necessary for the best results here. I'm sure someone, somewhere, is busy building a really good DNG editor for Android. But to make the most out of your RAW images you need a big screen and fairly complicated software. So plug your phone in (or use another method to transfer the .DNG files from your phone to your computer) and save a copy on your computer.
There are plenty of options for RAW file editing on the computer. Windows and Mac users can use Photoshop or Lightroom (as well as less-expensive or even free alternatives like GIMP or Photoshop Express) and most Linux distributions will have a package for DarkTable, ImageMagick or digiKam as well as GIMP. I do most of my RAW image editing in Lightroom, but the alternatives work well and there is no one best choice.
Once you have the file and the software to edit things, you can begin to adjust things. You should have complete control over exposure, white balance, sharpening and the like, and you can make non-destructive adjustments to the image data. It might take some practice to make the images look as good or better than the camera's jpeg output, but it can also be pretty darn fun.
Tiny waterfall
What all this allows you to do is shoot your pictures to get good focus and framing, then adjust the exposure and do any sharpening or noise reduction by hand afterwards. You can take some spectacular photos this way if you want to take the time to play with things. The image you see above was shot in manual mode with the shutter open for .5 seconds to make the water look the way it does. I then transferred the RAW file into Lightroom and made the exposure a bit "darker" (a slow shutter makes everything too bright) to get the finished picture. Something like this can't be done with automatic modes or jpeg images.
If you don't feel like taking the time to play with things, always remember that your camera probably takes great photos with everything on automatic, too. Not every picture needs to be shot in RAW and edited, and not everyone wants to go through all this to get a good picture.

4. DOES MY ANDROID TAKE RAW PHOTOS?

RAW camera on Android
Maybe. A pre-requisite is Lollipop, but not every Lollipop phone uses the camera2 API that allows RAW images to be taken, and not every camera app uses them on phones that do support it.
  • The LG G4 takes RAW photos with the stock camera app
  • The Nexus 6 takes RAW photos with a third party camera app
  • The Samsung Galaxy S6 is expected to get RAW camera support with a coming update
  • The HTC One M9 takes RAW photos with the stock camera app
Other phones may also support RAW capture, and updates may bring support to phones like the Note 4 or theMoto X which do not currently support the whole of the camera2 API. The best bet if you have questions about RAW support is to check the forums. They know everything in there. Use them.
If you're looking for an app to take RAW photos, there are plenty. The popular ones are Manual Camera,Camera FV-5 and L Camera. I've used all three on the Nexus 6 with good results, but again hit those forums for more recommendations.

How to bring your iTunes music library onto the Samsung Galaxy S6



Here's how to load up your Samsung Galaxy S6 with your whole iTunes library without a fuss.
Chances are you have a carefully curated music collection with iTunes, but struggle with the idea of moving it all onto your Samsung Galaxy S6. We're going to outline the options available so it can be as painless as possible. If you want to do it manually, you can plug in your S6 over USB, but usually working with a cloud service or a third-party Wifi sync application can be more useful in the long run.

1. DRAG AND DROP

iTunes music library directory
You can work with your music library outside of iTunes through Finder or My Computer. You just have to know where to look.
  1. Click the menu button in the top-left of the iTunes window.
  2. Click Preferences, then the Advanced tab at the top.
  3. The top of the window will indicate where your iTunes music is stored.
  4. Open Finder or My Computer from the desktop. Navigate to the file path we found in the iTunes setting.
  5. Plug your Samsung Galaxy S6 into your computer with a USB cable and navigate to it in a new Finder or My Computer window. You may need to swipe down from the top of the screen of the S6 and tap USB options in the notification tray to turn on Media Transfer Protocol (MTP).
  6. Navigate to the Samsung Galaxy S6 Music folder on your computer. Arrange your iTunes library window and your S6 music window side-by-side so both are visible.
  7. Click, move and release folders and individual tracks from the iTunes library window into the Galaxy S6 Music folder. If you're on a Mac, you may need to install Android File Transfer for this to work.
For a first-time import, this is straightforward, and potentially all you need if your music library doesn't change too often. If you're particularly active in acquiring tunes, you may need something that keeps both devices synced and up-to-date.

2. GOOGLE PLAY MUSIC

Google Play Music iTunes import
Android's official music app has a web client that shunts your music collection up into cloud storage so it can trickle down to your Samsung Galaxy S6. You can store around 50,000 songs in Play Music, which should be enough for most collections.
  1. Visit Google Play Music on the web.
  2. Click the gear icon in the top-right, and click Settings.
  3. Scroll down to Music From This Computer, and click the Add Your Music button below.
  4. iTunes will be shown as a source option on the next screen. Check the box below to make sure cloud-stored music stays in sync with your growing collection, then click the Add My Music button below.
  5. Leave your browser open to allow your music to upload. Progress can be seen in the bottom-left corner of the Play Music window.
  6. Open the Google Play Music app on your Galaxy S6. Once finished uploading, songs in the cloud will show up in the app.
  7. In the Play Music app, tap the menu in the top-left, then Settings. Scroll down and check Automatically cache so your music collection will download once your S6 is connected to a Wifi network and plugged into a power source. Alternatively, you can download or stream individual tracks and albums.
Play Music remains a highly attractive solution, though there are similar premium music locker services available that have a similar set-up. Here are a few options.

3. WIFI

doubleTwist AirSync
If you're not comfortable sending all of your files up to Google and would rather keep everything local, you can wirelessly sync your S6's music library with your computer over the same network using something like doubleTwist AirSync.
  1. Buy AirSync from the Play Store and install the doubleTwist music player.
  2. Download and install AirSync for your computer.
  3. Open doubleTwist on your S6, tap the menu icon in the top-left, then Settings at the bottom.
  4. Tap the AirSync menu, and make sure Enable AirSync is toggled on and that your phone is connected to the same Wifi network as your computer.
  5. Open AirSync on your computer. It should detect your S6 and offer a configuration button to click.
  6. Check the AirSync passcode shown on your Galaxy S6 in the doubleTwist settings menu and enter it on the configuration window on your computer.
  7. Once paired, click the Music tab at the top of AirSync on your computer, click the Sync music box, and the Sync now button at the bottom. Automatic syncing can be enabled from the Device tab.
By and large these kinds of apps require a desktop client and one on the phone. The one area where this method has a particular advantage is that these apps will often sync up playlists as well.

THAT'S IT!

The best text messaging apps for the Samsung Galaxy S6

There are plenty of great text messaging apps to choose from, and these are some of our favorites.
Text messaging is a big part of phone use for many people, and while the Samsung Galaxy S6 comes native messaging client, it doesn't quite fit the bill for some users. Thankfully we have the option to use one of many third-party SMS clients — some of which are minimal messaging apps, and others that offer features above and beyond the rest.
From Google's own Messenger app to fan favorites like Textra and Go SMS, let's take a look at some of the best text messaging apps for the Galaxy S6.

1. TEXTRA

Textra
A long-time favorite, Textra is a clean-looking SMS app with plenty of features for hardcore users. Sporting a Material Design look, Textra offers a slew of customization options with various theme colors, notifications, and per-contact settings. There's built-in SMS scheduling, quick replies, improved group messaging, SMS blocker and more.
Textra is free to download with some IAPs thrown in for good measure.

2. GOOGLE MESSENGER

Messenger
Google's own Messenger app is a great solution for those just looking for a clean SMS app, without the frills or extra features of other offerings on our list. Messenger throws out the extra options in favor of simplified SMS app with just the basics.
There are customization options for contacts (chat colors and notifications) and support for attachments, group texts, and even audio messages. You won't find extras like themes here however — just the few tools you need to get the job done.

3. HELLO

Hello SMS
Hello, like Messenger, offers a bare-bones SMS experience for those simply looking to send text messages and not much else. There are no deep customizations here — just a super simple, easy to navigate app that works.
Hello offers tabbed chats for easy access, quick access for sending photos, and both a light and dark theme depending on your preference. Hello also offers free SMS to friends who use the app as well.

4. GO SMS

GO SMS
GO SMS is an extremely robust SMS app for text messaging pros. It starts with hundred of customizable themes, and brings along things like message encryption, pop-ups notifications, SMS blocker, delayed send, cloud backup and much more. All of the basics are there as well — group messaging, attachments, MMS and more.
If you're looking to go all-in with your SMS app, GO SMS is a great place to start.

5. CHOMP SMS

Chomp SMS
Chomp SMS takes the simplicity of the more basic SMS apps, and adds in features like app lock, SMS scheduler, blacklisting and more. Compatible with Android Wear, Chomp SMS provides a full-features SMS experience with plenty of frills for the more hardcore users. You can tweak things up to look how you want, change up message colors, notifications, fonts and even the vibrate pattern.
If you're looking for an SMS to customize and make your own, Chomp SMS might be worth a second look.

6. YOUR FAVORITE?

These are just a few of our favorite text message apps for the Galaxy S6 — but the list doesn't stop there. Apps like Handcent, Evolve, and even Google Hangouts are all viable options as well.


Android Wear can now help you find your lost phone

Running around the house trying to find your phone is basically a thing of the past, at least if you have some battery life left. The same tools from Apple, Google, and Microsoft designed to curb theft can also make your phone ring, even if it's silenced. The only rub is having to make your way to a computer, or using someone else's phone to do it. Google's taken that extra step out of the equation as long as you have an Android Wear device. A new update introduced to Google's Android Device Manager app lets you say "Ok, Google. Start. Find my phone," into your Android Wear device and your Android phone will start ringing at full volume. You can also enable the tracker by tapping a new "Find my phone" option that shows up in the Start menu after the update.

Yes, this is the 2015 edition of the Sharper Image key finder. But there are no extra apps to install, or extra things to buy. Now, just try not to lose your watch too.

Samsung Galaxy Smartphone Android 5.0 Lollipop Release Roundup: Galaxy S5, S4, and More

Here's the latest roundup on the Android 5.0 Lollipop release for Samsung's most popular smartphones, the S series, plus other variants including the Galaxy Alpha, Galaxy S5 Mini, S5 Active and S5 Sport versions.

In the weeks since our last Galaxy S Series Android 5.0 Lollipop release update, some fresh news has developed to excite anxious Samsung smartphone owners, especially in the U.S. A major U.S. carrier has confirmed and announced their Galaxy S5 update, and international progress was made as well with the Galaxy S4 and Galaxy S5 Active, which indirectly bodes well for U.S. release of the updates. Here's a breakdown of what has occurred.

Galaxy S5: The big news here is that AT&T has announced officially via its twitter account that it is actively working on the Galaxy S5 Android  5.0 Lollipop update for its customers, though an exact release date has not been given. Speculation is that the update will roll out this month. While Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile all rolled out their Galaxy S5 Android Lollipop 5.0 updates back in February, anxious AT&T customers are still holding their breath, along with subscribers to U.S. Cellular, the country's fifth largest carrier. On the international front, an update was just released in Korea today to owners of the Galaxy S5 LTE-A, a limited international variant that sports a Quad HD display.

Galaxy S4:  Just last week, one international variant had a software leak posted on the web allowing owners of