* Viki (Android, iOS) – “Korean dramas, Taiwanese, Chinese and Filipino dramas, Telenovelas, Japanese dramas and anime, American cartoons, NBC Universal, History Channel, A&E, E! TV shows, as well as movies from Indonesia, Hong Kong”
* Plex (Android) – media player, Chromecast support only for videos, the app costs $5 (there’s an iOS app, but it doesn’t support Chromecast yet)
* Avia (Android) – media player, Chromecast support for local videos, music and photos, requires an in-app purchase that costs $3. I tried the app and it works well for local files, but the Google Cast API supports a small number of file formats
We have been hard at work updating our apps for iOS and Android. Today we are proud to announce major redesigns of the iPad and Android Bing apps. In addition to a fresh new design, we decided to do something special with this release. You have told us that one of the things you love most about Bing is the homepage image of the day. With that in mind, in this release we’ve made it simple for you to set the homepage image* as your lockscreen.
Here’s how it works:
In the Android app, just tap the button at the bottom of the screen:
Your background will automatically switch as well.
In the iPad app, you will need to log in with your Microsoft account first.
Once you have logged in, just tap the button at the bottom of the homepage and follow the steps presented in the dialogue boxes. You have the option of backing up the image to your SkyDrive folder in the event that you would like to use the image as wallpaper on another device.
To set it as your lockscreen or wallpaper, go to settings, –> Wallpapers & Brightness –> Choose Wallpaper and set the homepage image from the Camera Roll.
In addition, this update allows users to sync bookmarks and images saved in the app. All you need to do is sign-in, bookmark a page in the app on one of your devices, and this bookmark will sync across your Bing apps on iPad, iPhone, and Android:
Google Cast and Chromecast try to solve fewer problems and are much more limited. Apps live on your phone or tablet, the remote control is your phone or tablet and Chromecast is just a way to play content on your TV.
The number of apps that support Google Cast is still very small, but they’re some of the most popular apps in their category: YouTube, Google Play Music, Google Play Movies, Netflix, Pandora, Hulu Plus, HBO Go. This is about to change when Google releases the official Cast SDK and allows any app or site to integrate with Chromecast.
For now, Google continues to promote Chromecast. “For a limited time we’re giving you an HD movie rental from Google Play with every purchase of a Chromecast device. It’s the perfect treat to add to that special someone’s stocking. At just $35 each, why not pick one up for both of you?” suggests Google Play’s site. The promotion is actually “valid for any movie rental or other content on Google Play valued at $6 or less”.
Sterling Alvarez noticed a Chromecast button in the Google Play Store app (landscape mode). It only lists the apps that support Google Chromecast, but it’s interesting to notice that the link is prominently placed in the default Play Store section for apps.
Green Throttle worked by providing an Arena app in the Play Store and Amazon Appstore for Android, which worked with their Atlas Bluetooth controllers. It had created some games on its own, and partnered with third-party devs to provide an SDK that would let their software work with Arena, too. It’s a slightly different vision than that espoused by consoles like Ouya and GamePop, and Green Throttle had a more concentrated focus on multiplayer interaction, but it’s still not a confidence-inspiring development for anyone watching this space.
The closure involves the end of support and removal of Arena from the digital app stores where it appears. The app will still work with existing games tailored to Arena for those who already own it, and the Atlas controllers will work as normal, too. The controllers are compatible with any titles that support Bluetooth HID as well, and Green Throttle will continue to sell the controllers, too.
Green Throttle still seems like it will exist, as it says to watch for “the evolution” of the company. That could indicate that there’s been an acquisition of some kind, but it’s tough to say at this point. We’ve reached out to Green Throttle for more information, but for now, it’s hard to come up with a very positive spin.
Android gaming is something many are betting on, and Nvidia’s CEO was positively bubbly about the possibilities earlier today on an investor call. So far, though, no one company has managed to come up with the right formula to really get the ball rolling on consumer demand.
Ron Amadeo from Ars Technica noticed last week that Google’s KitKat launcher is actually an extension of the Google Search app. “While developing KitKat, Google made a very interesting decision: rather than graft a few new search UI pieces onto the home screen, Google threw the existing home app in the trash and turned all home screen functionality over to the Google Search app.”
It turns out that the launcher is powered by the Google Search app and it doesn’t work if you disable the app. This is not unexpected: two of the standard features of the Nexus home screen are added by the Google Search app: the Google search bar and the swipe up gesture for Google Now. KitKat brings support for the “OK Google” hotword, so you can trigger Google Voice Search without pressing a button, and adds a new gesture for Google Now: swipe right.
I installed the updated Google Search app and the launcher on an old Galaxy S2 using the instructions from Phandroid.com. I must say that the experience is completely different from Jelly Bean: the app launcher no longer includes widgets and it looks more crowded, the entire launcher can be managed from the Google Search app.
The full-screen Now widget can only be removed if you disable Google Now in the settings or if you install a different launcher.
You can no longer disable and customize cards from the settings. Google opted for a simplified customization feature:
You can now add as many shortcuts and widgets as you want because the number of screens is unlimited. The screens are added and removed dynamically, just like in iOS. You add a new one by dropping a shortcut or a widget and you remove it by deleting all the shortcuts and widgets or dragging them to other screens.
The home screen includes a search box, a Voice Search button, hotword support for Voice Search and a Google Now screen. These are the main features of the Google Search app, so you’ll use it without opening it. Removing friction and making the experience more seamless will encourage more people to use Google Now.
Android KitKat is the first new major Android release since Jelly Bean 4.1. There are so many changes and new features that it’s hard to list all of them. It’s a release focused on optimizations, immersive interfaces and support for new hardware. There’s also a new device that showcases the new features: Nexus 5.
RAM is always an important issue when it comes to mobile devices, especially if they run Android. High-end phones and tablets now have 2GB or 3GB of RAM, but many low-end devices only have 512MB of RAM and they still need to provide a decent experience. One of the main KitKat goals is to run well on devices with 512 MB of RAM. “Changes across the system improve memory management and reduce memory footprint. Core system processes are trimmed to use less heap, and they now more aggressively protect system memory from apps consuming large amounts of RAM.”
Most US carriers block Google Wallet and Google wanted to address this. “Android 4.4 introduces new platform support for secure NFC-based transactions through Host Card Emulation (HCE), for payments, loyalty programs, card access, transit passes, and other custom services. With HCE, any app on an Android device can emulate an NFC smart card, letting users tap to initiate transactions with an app of their choice – no provisioned secure element (SE) in the device is needed.” If this works properly, Google Wallet’s adoption problems could be solved.
Android 4.4 introduces native support for printing. “Android apps can now print any type of content over Wi-Fi or cloud-hosted services such as Google Cloud Print. In print-enabled apps, users can discover available printers, change paper sizes, choose specific pages to print, and print almost any kind of document, image, or file.”
There’s also an API that does for file pickers what the sharing buttons do for sending data. When you want to select a file to open it in your favorite app, Android 4.4 can show an interface that lets you pick a file from both local sources and cloud storage services. “A new storage access framework makes it simple for users to browse and open documents, images, and other files across all of their their preferred document storage providers. A standard, easy-to-use UI lets users browse files and access recents in a consistent way across apps and providers.”
Android KitKat focuses a lot on improving battery life. “With sensor batching, Android works with the device hardware to collect and deliver sensor events efficiently in batches, rather than individually as they are detected. This lets the device’s application processor remain in a low-power idle state until batches are delivered.” You can also listen to more music. “Audio tunneling can dramatically improve battery life for use-cases such as listening to music over a headset with the screen off. For example, with audio tunneling, Nexus 5 offers a total off-network audio playback time of up to 60 hours, an increase of over 50% over non-tunneled audio.”
There’s a completely new phone app that shows the people you call often. “You can also search for nearby places and businesses, your contacts, or people in your Google Apps domain. Whenever you get a call from a phone number not in your contacts, your phone will look for matches from businesses with a local listing on Google Maps.”
The features of the Messages app have been added to the Hangouts app, which now allows you to send SMS and MMS, while also displaying the messages you receive. The main goal of Hangouts was to provide a unified communication service and it’s almost there. Google Voice integration will probably have to wait until next year.
Immersive mode, fullscreen apps. You can call them however you like. For those who found Chrome’s fullscreen mode useful, they’re in for a treat: there’s an upgraded version in Android KitKat. “The book you’re reading, the game you’re playing, or the movie you’re watching — now all of these take center stage with the new immersive mode, which automatically hides everything except what you really want to see. Just swipe the edge of the screen to bring back your status bar and navigation buttons.”
Android has a new animation framework for transitions, which was inspired by Apple’s Keynote app. For an almost-immersive experience, apps can use new window styles to request translucent system bars. Android’s icons from the system bars are white, they’re no longer blue.
When you’re playing music, Android shows full-screen album art on the lockscreen. You can also say “ok Google” to use Google Voice Search directly from the lockscreen. Google Now cards are one swipe away from the homescreen: just swipe to the right.
The Chrome engine powers the embedded WebViews used by apps, there’s a screen recording utility and there’s native support for DASH (adaptive streaming).
Android 4.4 brings support for IR blasters and two new Bluetooth profiles. “Bluetooth HID over GATT (HOGP) gives apps a low-latency link with low-power peripheral devices such as mice, joysticks, and keyboards. Bluetooth MAP lets your apps exchange messages with a nearby device, for example an automotive terminal for handsfree use or another mobile device.” There’s also support for composite sensors: step detector and step counter.
The first Android device that runs KitKat is Nexus 5, a 5-inch phone manufactured by LG. It’s lighter and thinner than Nexus 4, even though it has a bigger Full HD display. With a powerful SoC (Snapdragon 800), an improved 8MP camera with optical image stabilization, dual-band WiFI a/b/g/n/ac, LTE and a new look and feel inspired by the new Nexus 7, Google’s new phone is one of the best devices you can buy. “Nexus 5 is available today, unlocked and without a contract, on Google Play in the U.S., Canada, U.K., Australia, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Japan and Korea (and coming soon to India), starting at $349,” informs Google. You can choose between 4 versions: 16GB/32GB, white/black. The 32GB versions cost $399.
Android 4.4 updates for Nexus 4, 7, 10 will be available in the coming weeks. Galaxy Nexus won’t get the update because it “falls outside of the 18-month update window when Google and others traditionally update devices.”
Just in time for Halloween, we have two new treats for Android fans. First, we’re excited to unwrap our latest platform release, KitKat, which delivers a smarter, more immersive Android experience to even more people. And second, we’re introducing Nexus 5—a new Nexus phone developed with LG.
The first thing you’ll notice about KitKat is we’ve made the experience much more engaging: the book you’re reading, the game you’re playing, or the movie you’re watching—now all of these take center stage with the new immersive mode, which automatically hides everything except what you really want to see.
Bringing more Google smarts to Android
Behind the polish on the screen is the power under the hood. Take the Phone app, which for most people hasn’t really changed since the days of flip phones. Now, we’re making calling easier than ever, by helping you search across your contacts, nearby places, or even Google Apps accounts (like your company’s directory), directly from within the app. And with the new Hangouts app, all of your SMS and MMS messages are together in the same place, alongside your other conversations and video calls, so you’ll never miss a message no matter how your friends send it. This is just a small taste of KitKat—learn more on our site.
Google has always focused on helping users get immediate access to the information they need, and we want to bring this same convenience and power to users on Android. With the new Nexus 5 launcher, Google smarts are deeply integrated into the phone you carry around with you, so getting to the information you need is simple, easy and fast. Swipe once from the home screen to get Google Now literally at your fingertips. Put Google to work for you by saying “OK, Google” to launch voice search, send a text, get directions or even play a song you want to hear. And in the coming weeks, we’re enhancing Now with important new card types that bring you information about contextual topics that interest you such as updates from a favorite website or blog.
Reaching the next 1 billion users
Building a platform that makes mobile phones accessible for everyone has always been at the heart of Android. Until now, some lower-end Android phones couldn’t benefit from more recent Android releases due to memory constraints. With KitKat, we’ve slimmed down Android’s memory footprint by doing things like removing unnecessary background services and reducing the memory consumption of features that you use all the time. We did this not only within Android but across Google services like Chrome and YouTube. RAM (or memory) is one of the most expensive parts of a phone, and now Android can run comfortably on the 512MB of RAM devices that are popular in much of the world, bringing the latest goodies in Android 4.4 within reach for the next billion smartphone users.
Introducing Nexus 5
Along with our sweet naming tradition, we also introduce a new device with each platform release to showcase the latest Android innovations. For KitKat, we partnered with LG to develop Nexus 5 — the slimmest and fastest Nexus phone ever made. Its design is simple and refined to showcase the 5” Full HD display. Nexus 5 also keeps you connected at blazing speeds with 4G/LTE and ultra fast wifi. The advanced new lens on Nexus 5 captures more light for brighter night and sharper action shots. And with optical image stabilization, you no longer have to worry about shaky hands and blurry pictures. A new HDR+ mode automatically snaps a rapid burst of photos and combines them to give you the best possible single shot. Learn more on our site.
Nexus 5 is available today, unlocked and without a contract, on Google Play in the U.S., Canada, U.K., Australia, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Japan and Korea (and coming soon to India), starting at $349. Just in the time for the holidays, Nexus 5 will be available soon at the following retailers: Sprint, T-Mobile, Amazon, Best Buy and RadioShack.
Android 4.4, KitKat, which comes on Nexus 5, will also soon be available on Nexus 4, 7, 10, the Samsung Galaxy S4 and HTC One Google Play edition devices in the coming weeks.
How’s that for a treat?
Posted by Sundar Pichai, SVP, Android, Chrome & Apps
Mobile apps for social services are strange. Until now, the Google+ mobile app didn’t allow you to copy the text of a post. You had to get the URL of the post, open the browser and copy the text there. I thought this must be a bug until I checked the Facebook app and noticed that you can’t copy text.
The latest version of the Google+ app for Android lets you copy the text of a post, copy comments, quickly reply to comments, translate posts and comments.
While the new features are useful, I don’t see why you can’t select some of the text and copy it. The Google+ app still doesn’t support sharing intents. I assume that apps like Google+ and Facebook want to force users to stick to their own sharing features.
The Google+ app actually supports sharing intents, but only for your photos. The sharing interface looks different and it includes Google+ options. Google+ Photos has a new icon, it’s now called “Photos”, it includes photos and videos stored on your device, an Auto-Awesome section and is poised to replace the standard Android Gallery.
There’s also an updated notification sidebar that shows the notifications you’ve read in a new section: “previously read”. The interface is cleaner, but it’s more difficult to hide the sidebar.
Google Play Music has a new feature called “I’m Feeling Lucky” that creates a radio based on your listening history. If you subscribe to All Access, Google includes a lot of songs that aren’t in your library, otherwise the feature is a fancy name for “shuffle”.
There’s a “dice” animation while the playlist is generated:
You can reorder the songs, remove some of them or add all the songs to a playlist by tapping “save queue”.
You can find a similar feature in the desktop interface: go to “Listen Now” and click “I’m Feeling Lucky Radio”.
You get a different “Feeling Lucky” playlist every time you roll the dice and the songs from the playlist are usually related. Here’s an example of Eurovision-related playlist:
Click “Refresh station” and you’ll get a completely new playlist:
For the old-fashioned shuffle feature restricted to your library, go to “My Library” and click “Shuffle My Library”. In the Android app, go to the “Songs” tab from the “My Library” section and tap “shuffle all”.
Apple's iPhone and iPad captured 44 percent of mobile impressions and 50 percent of mobile revenue in third-quarter ad buys via Opera Mediaworks' platform—impressive results considering all the smartphones and tablets on the market.
Not including the iPad, the iPhone (31 percent) edged out the various Android phones (30 percent) in terms of total impressions, per San Mateo, Calif.-based Opera Mediaworks, a mobile division of tech giant Opera Group.
The iPad and Android tablets accounted for 10 percent of mobile ad impressions in Q3, versus 5 percent last year, according to Opera. In the last 12 months, tablet devices doubled their market share on Opera's platform, which reaches 400 million consumers with 60 billion impressions every month.
Music accounted for 20 cents for every dollar spent via Opera in Q3, leading all categories.
In addition, Opera Mediaworks CEO Mahi de Silva told Adweek that Apple's iOS 7 operating system, unveiled in late September, was downloaded as often in its first 13 days as Android's average downloads across 16 months. That's a good thing for iPhone marketers, he said. "When Apple pushes out [a new] iOS, almost all the iPhone apps rev, and with Android the pickup isn't nearly as fast."