From the Runway to the Pixel: The Jeremy Scott Live Case

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Today, we’re excited to announce that celebrated American fashion designer Jeremy Scott has teamed up with Google to create a line of limited edition Jeremy Scott Live Cases for our new Pixel phones.

Phones and cases have become an extension of our personal style. Scott, the creative mind behind fashion labels like Moschino and his own collection, has brought his distinctive vision to this new line, turning your Pixel into the ultimate accessory. And we didn’t stop there. Why not add a bit more style to the other ways you express yourself?

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Jeremy Scott Live Case by Google — Game Over

Introducing the Jeremy Scott Live Case

It’s no secret that we Heart - Android 7.1.png emojis. Scott does too, but always felt like a few were missing. So together, we worked to create and bring his emojis to Pixel through a new customized Live Case and its companion live wallpapers.

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Designs to make your own

Scott created nine different canvases for Live Case that feature his cast of emoji characters. Fans can make the case their own by zooming and rotating the designs, creating the perfect layout for their phone case.

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The GIFs that keep on giving

Each Jeremy Scott Live Case comes with a companion wallpaper that updates daily with new characters. And with a shake of your Pixel, the characters come to life.

Lastly, to liven up your conversations in Allo, Messenger, or Hangouts, the Jeremy Scott Live Case comes with its own GIF keyboard that features the full line-up of 24 characters. Best friend scores free tickets to tonight’s concert? Nothing says “that’s amazing” like a GIF of a rabbit pulling itself out of a top hat.

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See the emojis #IRL

To celebrate the collaboration, we created real-life versions of Scott’s emojis that are currently popping up around the country. If you see one, snap a photo and use the hashtag #JeremyScottxGoogle. You never know where they might show up next.

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Exclusively on the Google Store

To make your Jeremy Scott Live Case now, head to the Google Store. Available in the US, UK, Australia, Canada and Germany, for the Pixel, Pixel XL, Nexus 6P and Nexus 5X phones.

November 11th 2016 Android

Android: Choice at every turn

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In 2007, we launched Android, a free and open-source operating system. Smartphones back then were an expensive rarity. We wanted to change that — to stimulate innovation and increase choice for consumers — and it worked.

Android means manufacturers don’t have to buy or build expensive mobile operating systems. As a result, smartphones are now available at dramatically lower prices — as little as 45 euros — and have become much more accessible to many more people. Today, more than 24,000 devices from over 1,300 brands run on Android. And European developers are able to distribute their apps to over a billion people around the world. Android is not a ‘one way street’; it’s a multi-lane highway of choice.

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Last April, the European Commission issued a Statement of Objections raising concerns over how we manage Android compatibility and distribute our own apps. The response we filed today shows how the Android ecosystem carefully balances the interests of users, developers, hardware makers, and mobile network operators. Android hasn’t hurt competition, it’s expanded it.

First, the Commission’s case is based on the idea that Android doesn’t compete with Apple’s iOS. We don’t see it that way.  We don’t think Apple does either. Or phone makers. Or developers. Or users. In fact, 89% of respondents to the Commission’s own market survey confirmed that Android and Apple compete. To ignore competition with Apple is to miss the defining feature of today’s competitive smartphone landscape.  

Second, we are concerned that the Commission’s preliminary findings underestimate the importance of developers and the dangers of fragmentation in a mobile ecosystem.  Developers — and there were at least 1.3 million of them in Europe in 2015 — depend on a stable and consistent framework to do their work. Any phone maker can download Android and modify it in any way they choose. But that flexibility makes Android vulnerable to fragmentation, a problem that plagued previous operating systems like Unix and Symbian. When anyone can modify your code, how do you ensure there’s a common, consistent version of the operating system, so that developers don’t have to go through the hassle and expense of building multiple versions of their apps?

To manage this challenge, we work with hardware makers to establish a minimum level of compatibility among Android devices.  Critically, we give phone makers wide latitude to build devices that go above that baseline, which is why you see such a varied universe of Android devices. That’s the key: our voluntary compatibility agreements enable variety while giving developers confidence to create apps that run seamlessly across thousands of different phones and tablets. This balance stimulates competition between Android devices as well as between Android and Apple’s iPhone.

Compatibility

Android’s compatibility rules help minimize fragmentation and sustain a healthy ecosystem for developers. Ninety-four percent of respondents who answered questions on fragmentation in a Commission market survey said that it harms the Android platform. Developers worry about it, and our competitors with proprietary platforms (who don’t face the same risk) regularly criticize us for it. The Commission’s proposal risks making fragmentation worse, hurting the Android platform and mobile phone competition.

Third, the Commission argues that we shouldn’t offer some Google apps as part of a suite. No manufacturer is obliged to preload any Google apps on an Android phone. But we do offer manufacturers a suite of apps so that when you buy a new phone you can access a familiar set of basic services. Android’s competitors, including Apple’s iPhone and Microsoft’s Windows phone, not only do the same, but they allow much less choice in the apps that come with their phones. On Android, Google’s apps typically account for less than one-third of the preloaded apps on the device (and only a small fraction of device memory). A consumer can swipe away any of our apps at any time. And, uniquely, hardware makers and carriers can pre-install rival apps right next to ours. In competition-speak, that means there’s no “foreclosure”.

Real Estate

There’s also plenty of evidence that consumers can easily choose which apps they want — something the Commission has recognized in other investigations. The average Android user in Europe downloads an additional 50 apps over the lifetime of their device. Downloading and replacing an app or widget is simple — you can do it in thirty seconds. Users downloaded 65 billion apps from Google Play in 2015 — an average of more than 175 million apps a day. Since 2011, apps offering similar functionality to those in our suite have been downloaded almost 15 billion times. Again, there’s no evidence of foreclosure.

Many pre-installed apps don’t succeed, and many have been extremely successful through user downloads — think of Spotify or Snapchat. Our apps suite approach explicitly preserves users’ freedom to choose the apps they want on their phones.

App Competition

Finally, distributing products like Google Search together with Google Play permits us to offer our entire suite for free — as opposed to, for example, charging upfront licensing fees. This free distribution is an efficient solution for everyone — it lowers prices for phone makers and consumers, while still letting us sustain our substantial investment in Android and Play.

Today’s mobile devices show all the signs of fierce competition with a wide range of business models: from vertically integrated ones like Apple’s iOS to open-source systems like Android. The rapid innovation, wide choice, and falling prices we see in smartphones represent the hallmarks of robust competition.

Android has unleashed a new generation of innovation and inter-platform competition. By any measure, it is the most open, flexible, and differentiated of the mobile computing platforms.

But open-source platforms are fragile. They survive and grow by balancing the needs of all participants, including users and developers. The Commission’s approach would upset this balance, and send an unintended signal favouring closed over open platforms.  It would mean less innovation, less choice, less competition, and higher prices. That wouldn’t be just a bad outcome for us. It would be a bad outcome for developers, for phone makers and carriers, and, most critically, for consumers.  

That’s the case we are making to the Commission in our filing today. We look forward to continuing the dialogue.

For more Android facts, visit android.com/everyone

November 11th 2016 Android

Android Auto: now available in every car

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We launched Android Auto two years ago with the goal to better integrate phones and cars, and give drivers an easier way to access the information they need. There are now over 200 new car models supporting Android Auto offered from more than 50 brands, and many more launching every day.

But we know there are millions of older cars on the road that are not compatible with Android Auto, and many don’t have a screen at all. We wanted to bring the same connected experience to these drivers too.

So today we’re excited to introduce a whole new way to use Android Auto: right on your phone screen! This update allows anyone with an Android phone (running 5.0 or later) to use a driver friendly interface to access the key stuff you need on the road ― directions, music, communications ― without the distraction of things that aren’t essential while driving.

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Whether your phone is connected to a compatible car display, or placed in a car mount on the dashboard, Android Auto brings your favorite apps and services into one place, making them accessible in safer and seamless ways. You can bring your music with you with apps like Spotify, Pandora or Google Play Music, and make calls or send messages with hands-free voice commands. And of course, get turn-by-turn directions to your next destination with Google Maps.

This update also brings the ability to automatically start the app when the phone is paired with Bluetooth. While you can put your phone in any car mount, please keep an eye out for Bluetooth-supported car mounts such as Logitech’s SmartCar mount, which is coming soon to the Google Store and select retail locations.

We’re also enhancing the support for hands-free voice commands in the coming weeks. You will soon be able to easily access existing features like maps, music and messaging by just saying “Ok Google” so you can stay focused on the road.

The latest version (2.0) with the phone screen experience will be rolling out in the coming days to more than 30 countries where Android Auto is currently available. Sign up on the Android Auto website to receive an email when the update is available for your phone.

November 8th 2016 Android

Partnering with global carriers to upgrade SMS

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SMS is one of the most ubiquitous forms of communication today, used by billions of people worldwide. Over the course of this year, we’ve worked with the mobile industry on an initiative to upgrade SMS for users, to provide a better, more enhanced messaging experience through RCS (Rich Communications Services). And now more than 58 carriers and manufacturers, collectively covering a subscriber base of 4.7 billion people globally, have committed to supporting a single, standard implementation of RCS.

Today, we’re excited to announce the next step in this initiative with our first carrier launch supporting the new universal RCS profile. Together with Sprint, we’re launching RCS messaging to their customers using Android devices, starting today. This will bring enhanced features including group chat, high-res photo sharing, read receipts, and more to the standard messaging experience on Android. Sprint subscribers will have their standard SMS experience upgraded through the Messenger app for Android devices, developed by Google. The service will be powered by the Jibe RCS cloud from Google.

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Next year, all new Android devices from Sprint will come with Messenger for Android preloaded as the default SMS and RCS messaging experience. Subscribers currently using select LG and Nexus phones from Sprint will have the messaging experience upgraded automatically through an app update, and subscribers using other Android devices can download Messenger from the Play store.

We’re excited to see this first launch of RCS come to life, providing a better carrier messaging experience for millions of people in the U.S. We look forward to launching RCS with more partners in the coming months.

November 5th 2016 Android

Google gets better at flagging apps trying to fake their way into the Play Store’s top charts

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google-play Google today announced it’s rolling out a new detection and filtering system on the Play Store to crack down on those developers who use illegitimate means to boost their apps’ rankings in the store’s top charts. This will affect apps that use methods like fraudulent installs, fake reviews, and incentivized ratings, the company noted. While Google already had technology it… Read More

November 1st 2016 Android, Google, Mobile, spam

Add Home Screen Shortcuts to Google Maps Directions

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I’m not sure if this is a new feature, but it must be pretty recent. Google Maps for Android lets you add home screen shortcuts to directions directly from the app. Just search for directions, tap the menu icon and pick “add route to Home screen”. This works best when you select the current location, but it’s not a requirement.

You may also see this message: “Go here often? Add this route. Tap here to add a Home screen shortcut to this route.”

Another option is to add the directions widget, which lets you pick the shortcut name, whether to start turn-by-turn navigation and more.

October 15th 2016 Android

Introducing Sprayscape: a perfectly imperfect VR-ish camera app for Android

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Last year, we launched Android Experiments, a celebration of the creative, ingenious, and surprising things developers are making with Android. With so many great projects being sent in each month, we were inspired to make and share an experiment of our own. We love virtual reality (VR). And we love taking pictures. So why not try smashing the two together?

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Sprayscape - a perfectly imperfect VR-ish camera

Sprayscape is a quick hack using the phone’s gyroscope to take pictures on the inside of a 360-degree sphere. Just point your phone and tap the screen to spray faces, places, or anything else onto your canvas.

Like what you’ve captured? You can easily share your creations via a link in a text message or on social media with friends. They can jump into your scapes and have a look around using their phones or even Google Cardboard for a more immersive experience.

Download Sprayscape on Google Play to get started or, if you’re feeling curious, take a look at the open-source code to see how Sprayscape works.

October 13th 2016 Android

Android 7.1: Pixel-Only, For Now

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Pixel phones will ship with a new Android version: 7.1. It looks like many of the important Nougat features have been left out from the 7.0 release.

Android 7.1′s unofficial changelog published by Android Police has many Pixel-specific features, including a new launcher, a new camera app, Google Assistant, a support tab in the settings, solid navbar icons, Smart Storage that removes old backed up photos and videos when storage is full.

There are also some features that aren’t restricted to Pixel devices: night light (filters blue light), fingerprint swipe down gesture, seamless A/B system updates, Daydream VR mode, support for app shortcuts and circular app icons, keyboard image insertion, manual storage manager and more. Unfortunately, Nexus devices and Pixel C will only get a dev preview by the end of 2016, so the stable release will be available in 2017. So much for buying Nexus devices to be the first to get the latest Android updates.

Google Assistant won’t be a Pixel exclusive for long, since it’s a core Google feature that needs wide adoption. I assume that the launcher and camera app will be also available in the Play Store at some point.

October 7th 2016 Android

Why Google Can’t Sell Expensive Products

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Google announced its first phone and many people wondered why it’s as expensive as an iPhone. Nexus phones were sometimes inexpensive (Nexus 4: $299, Nexus 5: $349, Nexus 5X: $379) and sometimes more expensive (Nexus One: $530, Nexus 6: $649, Nexus 6P: $599). Now the 5-inch Pixel costs $649 in the US, while the 5.5-inch Pixel XL costs $769, which is more than any other Nexus phone.

Obviously, Google’s pricing was more aggressive when it wanted to sell more products and less aggressive when sales numbers mattered less. The truth is that Google only managed to sell products in high volumes if the price was low enough to make them good value. Chromecast was successful because it offered a lot of value for the money. Nexus 5 was a flagship phone at half the price, so millions of people bought it. Nexus 7 was good enough for $199, but Google’s bigger tablets were more expensive and their flaws were more striking.

Google is a “value” brand. Most people associate Google with free ad-supported online services that offer great features. There’s no paid Google software for consumers, as Google only sells digital content and subscription services (storage, music). Google is not a lifestyle or luxury brand, so people don’t expect to pay much for Google products.

There’s a lot of risk associated with Google products, since Google doesn’t stand behind them all the time. Some of them are experiments, others are quickly discontinued and forgotten. I still remember that Google stopped selling Nexus One only 6 months after the launch or when Logitech’s CEO said back in 2011 that Google TV was a huge and costly mistake. Android One was a flop, Google Play Edition failed, Motorola was acquired by Google and later sold to Lenovo.

Google’s commitment issues, its high appetite for releasing beta products, its lack of planning and foresight – all of these problems alienate consumers and make them think twice before buying a Google product. Premium brands are all about image, trust, credibility, heritage.

October 7th 2016 Android

Pixel’s best features aren’t coming to the new version of Android

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pixel7 At Google’s hardware event this week, the new version of the Android operating system, Android 7.1 (Nougat 7.1), was barely mentioned. As it turns out, there was a reason for that: some of the new Pixel smartphones‘ best features won’t be arriving in the new OS. This includes features like Google Assistant, the built-in customer support service, unlimited and free backup… Read More

October 6th 2016 Android, Mobile