Amazon recently released a new line of Kindle products, featuring two new tablets and readers respectively. With the release came an update to the retailer's version of Android, known as Fire OS. It's a highly customized take on Google's mobile platform -- almost unrecognizable, in fact.
Now Amazon is rolling out an update to it, bringing the system to version 4.1.1. The update doesn't seem to have hit the 2013 models yet, but those with the latest tablet should be seeing it now, or at least very soon.
Microsoft app launches are usually predictable. Most are offerings which aim to get us hooked on the software giant's most-prominent products, like Office, OneDrive, Outlook.com and Xbox. But, every once in a while, Microsoft does something out of the ordinary, like it wants to tell the world that, much like startups, it too is capable of intriguing and exciting things.
After launching a lovely keyboard for Android Wear, Microsoft just released a whole bunch of apps for Android, iOS and Windows Phone, made by an in-house team of "hackers, makers, artists, tinkerers, musicians, inventors" called Microsoft Garage. The most interesting offerings are Torque, which my colleague Brian Fagioli just covered, and two lockscreen apps, for Android and Windows Phone.
With Android 5.0 Lollipop yet to be released, some manufacturers have already revealed their upgrade plans for the latest version of the mobile operating system, effectively setting a high bar for the rest of the pack. You can thank HTC, Motorola and Sony for doing so last week. In fact, HTC and Motorola consistently rank among the first in this regard, and when it comes to rolling out those software updates to their customers' devices as well.
Not to be outdone by its far-distant competition, top maker Samsung wants us to know that it too has some upgrade plans for Android 5.0 Lollipop. But, instead of actually showing them, it has posted a rather lame teaser on Twitter, regarding Galaxy Note 4. Pundits have fallen for it, writing that the much-awaited software update is fast-approaching. Really?
Google has long been unhappy with traditional passwords. And rightly so, they are a headache. If they are easy to remember, they can become easy to guess. There are problems with reuse, attackers are getting them through compromised third party applications, and there are more problems than I care to list. It is hard enough to follow good practice as an informed and security conscious individual -- imagine the struggle for the "non-techy".
Google has long been looking into proximity based credentials as alternatives, and placing them in objects like rings. Last Google I/O, the company released an upcoming feature in Chrome OS that uses your authorized, unlocked phone to unlock your computer simply by having them near to each other (unlocking your phone indicates you are near your computer).
Firebase, a company helping developers to produce apps and services that store and sync data in realtime, is the latest Google acquisition. With a user base of 110,000 developers three-year-old Firebase announced that it is joining Google and plans to continue the work it already does, but pointing out it will be possible to "do much more, much faster" with Google's resources and backing.
With Firebase's focus on the cloud and mobile, it is little surprise that Google's own announcement about the acquisition came on the Google Cloud Platform Blog. The two companies appear to be a good match, with Firebase's aim to "continue to be platform agnostic and provide clients for iOS, Android, the web, and more" being very much in keeping with Google's own ethos.
HERE's upcoming availability for Samsung Galaxy smartphones was announced in late-August, and, at first, it appeared to be an exclusive launch. But, shortly after, Nokia's arm revealed that the app would actually be made available for every compatible Android smartphone "later this year".
HERE launched in beta for Samsung Galaxy smartphones only two weeks ago. For a first public release, the amount of features available is rather impressive, even for someone like me who is used to the fully-featured HERE suite on Windows Phone. And, now, everyone with an Android smartphone running any of the three Jelly Bean iterations or newer can also test what HERE has to offer (as long as the device has 1 GB of RAM or more), as the app's availability is extending beyond Galaxy smartphones.
With Android 5.0 Lollipop, Nexus 6 and Nexus 9 on the horizon, as well as some great Android devices already on the market, some of you may be thinking about ditching iOS for Android. It is unquestionably a big decision, so you may want to ensure that the switch from an iPhone or iPad will be as painless as possible.
To help with the switch, Google has prepared a nifty guide that explains how you can migrate your data from iOS to Android, tackling key areas such as multimedia content, contacts, email, messaging and, of course, apps. You may recall that Apple posted a similar guide last month, detailing to would-be customers the steps they need to take to move from Android handsets to iPhones. Google now looks to simply be returning the favor.
Samsung today announces that flagship Galaxy smartphones and tablets are now approved by the US government for complete classified use within its agencies. The handsets have received the stamp of approval in no small part due to the security features made available by the built-in KNOX suite.
The announcement comes less than six months after Samsung revealed that a smaller number of its other KNOX-toting Galaxy devices have received the green light from the US Department of Defense, to be used on unclassified defense networks.
Whatever your mobile platform of choice, there are some apps which are all but impossible to avoid. Some -- like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube -- have reasonably dull histories; we all know the corporations behind their creation. But there are plenty of other big names with less well known histories. A new infographic from IrishApps.org reveals the stories behind some famous titles, and reveal the fortunes they have generated.
For example, did you know that Flappy Bird was originally going to be called Flap Flap, and was put together in just two days? Or that the founder of Summly was just 17 years old when he sold his app to Yahoo? How about the fact that the Ukrainian developer of WhatsApp is estimated to be worth $7 billion?
On Android, setting up email services other than Gmail involves using the built-in Email app or heading over to Google Play to install dedicated clients. But it looks like users may soon get another option, as Google will likely offer support for more email providers, like Outlook.com and Yahoo Mail, in its upcoming Gmail 5.0 app.
This appears to be Google's way of ensuring that Android users will finally be able to enjoy a consistent email experience no matter what device they may use or what customizations and apps the operating system features. It is a welcome change, and one that is long overdue.
Google has officially announced Android 5.0 Lollipop alongside a brand spanking new range of Nexus devices including a phablet, tablet and set top box geared towards gaming.
Over the coming weeks the new OS will roll out to the Nexus 6 and 9 before landing on a raft of Android devices across various manufacturers including HTC, Sony, Samsung and many more. In order to be prepared for its arrival, here is a step-by-step guide to make sure it hits your device without a hitch.
XBMC, which is now transferring to a new name of Kodi, to leave its old life being Xbox Media Center, has morphed into a top-notch option for HTPC and media buffs. But setting the service up has never been the simplest process, and it's been relegated to the more advanced users out there.
Now TV Addons has released TVMC for Android to simplify the setup process. Yes, XBMC runs on mobile devices as well as every computer platform.
Following all of the NSA revelations, mass surveillance has increased the general level of paranoia to be found online -- although it could be argued that not all surveillance is bad. With everyone on such high alert it's little wonder that an app that described itself as "an anonymous social network that allows people to express themselves" should be so popular. Whisper encourages users to embrace the supposed anonymity it offers and reveal secrets they would not otherwise feel comfortable sharing.
Remember those predictions about tablets taking over the world and putting good-old PCs out to pasture? Well, scratch that, as it is not happening, at least not in the foreseeable future. Sales are slowing this year, dramatically. The slate market is estimated to only grow by 11 percent, year-over-year, in 2014, falling short of the 55 percent increase that was registered in 2013. So why is this happening?
Well, if you ask Kantar Worldpanel ComTech, it is because "tablets are not smartphones". Giving the US market as example, Kantar Worldpanel ComTech highlights the fundamental differences between the two categories, pointing to long replacement cycles, impersonal nature, resilience and low perceived value of tablets as the main reasons for the sales slowdown.
We have known for quite some time that the next incarnation of Android will pack a kill switch. This feature has long been requested, as it would prevent unauthorized reuse and, therefore, make a serious dent in smartphone and tablet theft. It is even imposed under Californian law, going into effect next year. But even though Google has not mentioned it yet, the kill switch is indeed baked into Android 5.0 Lollipop.
The kill switch in Android 5.0 Lollipop is officially known as "Factory reset protection", and is offered as an opt-in feature which only works in conjunction with a passcode. After it is enabled, the user's credentials (Google account and password) are required in order to reset the device, to allow a person other than the original user to use the device as intended.