Google Decouples Play Games From Google+, Lets Gamers Choose Their Own Names And Avatars

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GPlay_AvatarsLaunch_v01_r13 Until today, you needed a Google+ account to use Google Play Games, Google’s online gaming service for bringing online multiplayer gaming, video recordings and social features like profiles and leaderboards to Android games. Today, Google is launching an update to Play Games, however, that removes this requirement. All you need to sign up now is a regular Google account and instead of… Read More

February 19th 2016 Android, Google


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Gmail’s app for Android is more than a mobile app for Gmail, it’s also a general-purpose mail client. You can add IMAP, POP3 or Exchange accounts and use the Gmail app to read, compose and organize your mail. Now Google added the option to Gmailify your email accounts, which means bringing Gmail features without having to switch to a Gmail account.

“Gmailify links your existing account to Gmail so that you get all the bells and whistles — spam protection, inbox organization and even Google Now cards based on your mail — without having to leave your current address behind. All you need to do is open the Gmail app, sign in to your email account(s), and enable Gmailify,” informs Google.

Which features are available? Spam protection, automatic categorization, labels, better search with support for advanced search operators, travel and hotel reservations appearing automatically in Google Now, better mobile notifications and all the other Gmail features.

How does it work? You can link your non-Gmail address (Yahoo Mail,, AOL Mail, etc.) to an existing Gmail account or to a new Gmail account. “When you sign in to the linked Gmail address, you’ll see your messages from the other email provider in your mailbox. You’ll be able to read, reply, and organize them just like you do in Gmail.” The Gmail app keeps everything in sync, so a read email will be marked as read in the original account, archived messages will be added to a new Archive folder, while Gmail labels will be treated like folders.

February 18th 2016 Android

Reddit Announces Android App Beta, New iOS App to Follow

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Reddit CEO Steve Huffman announced on the site today that the company is putting out an Android app (in beta) today with a new iOS app to follow.

The announcement is just casually noted in a longer post about Reddit in 2016. It talks about issues the site has faced and continues to face. From the post (via TechCrunch):

Spam and abuse threaten Reddit’s communities. We created a Trust and Safety team to focus on abuse at scale, which has the added benefit of freeing up our Community team to focus on the positive aspects of our communities. We are still in transition, but you should feel the impact of the change more as we progress. We know we have a lot to do here.

I believe we have positioned ourselves to have a strong 2016. A phrase we will be using a lot around here is “Look Forward.” Reddit has a long history, and it’s important to focus on the future to ensure we live up to our potential. Whether you access it from your desktop, a mobile browser, or a native app, we will work to make the Reddit product more engaging. Mobile in particular continues to be a priority for us. Our new Android app is going into beta today, and our new iOS app should follow it out soon.

This isn’t great news for all of the unofficial Reddit-reading apps out there that have been filling the void, but for many users, it is long overdue.

The app doesn’t appear to be in the Google Play store yet, but presumably it will be soon.

Image via reddit (Facebook)

January 29th 2016 Android, Mobile, Social Media

Yahoo Mail Mobile Apps Get New Features

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Yahoo just made a couple of Yahoo Mail announcements. The iOS app is getting new customizable swipes and a recent attachments feature. The Android app is getting the swipes and new actionable notifications.

Here’s what Yahoo says about new swipes for iOS (you can see the explanation for Android here):

Swipes are one of the fastest ways people clean up their inbox. However, everyone uses email and actions differently. Now you can personalize your swipes with your favorite actions, including “star,” “move to folder” and “archive” (if you have multiple mailboxes) to help you save time. Just open your “Settings” and choose “Swipe actions.”

On iOS, when you compose an email, you can now see all recently received photos and file attachments with a search bar to find what you’re looking for. Also, new is the ability to create, delete and rename folders and subfolders, which was only available on desktop before.

You can also now star and mark emails as spam when you multi-select emails. This is also available on Android.

Also on Android, you can now take action on incoming emails from the notification.

Images via Yahoo

January 29th 2016 Android, Mobile, Technology, yahoo

New UI for Google’s Weather Card

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Google redesigned the weather card to include more information and images. The new weather card is only available in the Google Search app for Android, at least for now. “When you search for ‘weather’ or ask Google, ‘will it rain today?’ in the Google app on your Android phone, you’ll get a wealth of new information, including: hourly sky conditions and chance of rain, severe weather alerts, a detailed 10-day forecast, air quality, UV index, sunrise and sunset times, and more,” informs Google.

Google’s new UI has 3 tabs for “today”, “tomorrow” and “10 days”. There’s also a “humidity, wind, sunrise, and more details” link at the bottom of the card which allows you to expand it. You can also tap anywhere inside the card.

Google added an option to add a location to the weather list. This way, you can search for “weather” and see a list of all the locations you’ve added and the corresponding weather information. The search bar is now optimized for finding locations, so it’s easier and faster to switch to a different city.

The “today” tab now includes information about sunrise, sunset, solar noon, length of the day, remaining daylight, dawn, dusk, dew point, pressure, UV index and visibility.

For some cities in the US, Japan, South Korea, India and other countries, you can find air quality information and health messages like “it’s a great today to be active outside” or “avoid prolonged or heavy exertion”. The source is EPA AirNow.

The “10 day” shows weather forecast for today and the following 9 days. Tap a day to find more details, including hourly weather forecast, wind, humidity, UV index, sunrise and sunset.

January 24th 2016 Android

Solving a Verizon issue (Nexus 5X)

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I solved a problem today and figured that I’d document it for the rest of the world. Every time someone left me a voicemail on Verizon, I would get a cryptic text from Verizon at 900080006202 that looked like “//VZWVVM:SYNC:ev=NM;id=1;c=1;t=v;s=1XXXXXXXXXX;dt=18/01/2016 13:40-0900;l=13;dev_t=5” or “//VZWVVM:SYNC:ev=MBU;dev_t=5”.

Here’s what happened. It turns out that Verizon has three kinds of voicemail: basic voicemail (free), basic visual voicemail (also free), and premium visual voicemail ($2.99/month). I have a Nexus 5X and I recently switched from an unlimited Verizon data plan to a different plan (long story).

As part of that shift, it looks like Verizon switched me to visual voicemail. I suspect a lot of phones that you get at a Verizon store have some sort of visual voicemail app pre-installed. That app probably intercepts those cryptic texts and uses them to show a voicemail indicator. Ever wondered how the voicemail indicator disappears so fast after you call voicemail? I suspect that’s also because of a Verizon text that is interpreted by your phone.

But a Nexus 5X doesn’t have Verizon’s voicemail app, so it just presents texts from Verizon. To fix this issue, I stopped by a Verizon store and had a rep change me from “basic visual voicemail” to “basic voicemail,” and that fixed the issue. I don’t think you can toggle that setting yourself on Verizon’s website.

Nexus 5X rocks!

By the way, I love my Nexus 5X. It fits well in my hand, the camera is superb, and the fingerprint reader is blazingly fast. Also, the speed and accuracy of voice recognition on the Nexus 5X is amazing.

A final nice feature is that you can insert a Nano SIM card from any of the major carriers in the US. I often switch my Nexus 5X over to Google Fi in various situations; for example, Fi is great if you’re traveling outside the US.

HD Voice

One last tip if you’re still on Verizon: you can get HD Voice for free, but you have to enable it. HD Voice works via Voice over LTE, or VoLTE. HD Voice should have much better audio than a regular cell phone as long as both phones support it. On Verizon’s site, go to My Verizon->My Plan & Services->My Plan->Products & Apps->Manage Products & Apps and then click Free Products. Enable HD Voice on all your compatible lines on the website.

Then you need to enable HD Voice on each of your phones. On recent Android phones, look for Settings->More->Cellular networks->Enhanced 4G LTE Mode. On iPhones, look for Settings->Cellular->Enable LTE and select Voice & Data. More info on HD Voice and Advanced Calling on Verizon is in these FAQs.

What phone are you rocking right now, and how do you like it?

January 19th 2016 Android

Here’s a Month-by-Month Look at the Most Engaging Brand Posts of 2015

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Social media analytics company Unmetric has compiled a list called "Awesome Things Brands Did in 2015," which looks at social campaigns throughout the year that performed especially well in terms of engagement.

Looking at the year’s biggest social successes shows “a continued trend for brands embracing content marketing—i.e., content that is meant to tell a story, convey an idea, project a brand's values or simply entertain without any overt sales/product message,” Unmetric CEO and co-founder Lux Narayan told Adweek. He cited Thai Life Insurance’s “Garbage Man” from January (see below) and Android’s “Friends Furever” (one of Adweek’s 10 best ads of 2015) from February as examples.

Unmetric looks at data from Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to determine an engagement score of zero to 1,000. The engagement score is a weighted measurement based on the company’s belief that certain metrics have more value for brands than others—a share is more valuable than a like, for instance, a retweet more valuable than a favorite.

The company analyzes brand content using a combination of algorithms for quantitative data, and human insights for qualitative data. Because algorithms can’t always identify a brand campaign or track one across social channels, Unmetric has a team dedicated to tagging and verifying whether something is indeed a campaign.

“Each year, the team uses this data and insights to spotlight several campaigns every month that stood out in terms of audience engagement and overall media buzz,” Narayan said. “This year, we saw a marked increase in brand videos, and marketers should be looking closely at the elements of successful videos as the format continues to rise in popularity."

Unmetric uses a slightly different method for measuring a campaign’s success on YouTube. There is no engagement score. Instead, likes and how quickly a video accumulates them are important factors—if a video ramps up unusually fast, the company’s outlier-detecting algorithm picks that up. For top channels, Unmetric primarily looks at views.

Here’s a month-by-month breakdown of brand posts Unmetric tracked that achieved engagement scores of 1,000 or otherwise met its standards for awesomeness in 2015:

December 31st 2015 Android, Technology

Android Pay Hits Apps

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Google unveiled Android Pay at Google I/O in May as its answer to Apple Pay. It exists separate from Google’s previous payments offering Google Wallet, which got its own overhaul in September.

Also in September, Android Pay was actually launched, giving users the ability to pay with their Android phones at locations throughout the U.S.

We knew it was coming, but Google has now launched the ability to pay with Android Pay in apps as well.

“No more pulling out your credit card while on-the-go,” says Android pay director of product management Pali Bhat. “No more errors thanks to clumsy thumbs. Just tap the Android Pay button in the app, confirm your information, and you’re done! And just like your purchases in stores, Android Pay never shares your card details with merchants.”

“In the next few months, you’ll see more and more of your favorite apps adding Android Pay to help you speed through mobile checkout,” Bhat adds. “For a limited time, you’ll also get special savings by using Android Pay in select apps—from $20 off on OpenTable* dining, $10 off your Lyft ride*, $10 off DoorDash* to 30% off Vinted*—there’s something for everyone.”

There’s a collection of offers available here.

Developers who want to add Android Pay to their apps can find the API developer site here.

The company says it will roll out Android Pay in Australia in the first half of 2016. Additional countries will follow throughout the year.

So far, there are over a million locations across the United States that accept Android Pay.

Image via Google

December 16th 2015 Android, Google, Mobile

Here Are the 10 Brands With the Most-Shared Videos of 2015

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Android, Red Bull and Samsung topped the list of brands with the buzziest social videos this year, according to Unruly Media, which analyzed 5,000 brand videos over the past year.

Droga5's "Friends Furever" work for Android made the Google-owned brand the most-shared video marketer of the year, with 6,587,498 total video shares. The "Friends Furever" spot alone racked up 6.4 million shares, also making it Unruly's top ad of the year.

Red Bull's focus on extreme sports stunts generated 6,189,087 video shares, making it the No. 2 most-shared brand this year. On YouTube, the brand pushes out a constant stream of footage—it's uploaded roughly 40 videos in the past two weeks.

Other top marketers include Samsung Mobile (4,704,471 shares), Disney (4,102,304 shares) and Edeka (4,000,821 shares).

Check out more of Unruly's data in the infographic below and the brands' top videos below:


Red Bull:






Cristiano Ronaldo's Roc headphones:


Ad Council:

December 16th 2015 Android, Technology, video, YouTube

Google Announces Updates to Now on Tap

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This year at Google I/O, Google introduced Now On Tap as part of Marshmallow, the latest Android release. It let users utilize Google Now from third-party apps rather than just Google itself.

On Tuesday, Google announced some updates to the feature, which it says will be useful to people throughout the holiday season as well as the rest of the year. In a post on the company’s Inside Search blog, product manager Aneto Okonkwo writes:

On airport pick-up duty? If your cousin sends you a text with his flight number, simply tap and hold your phone’s home button to get info on flight status without a separate search. Your text message is still right there, so you can respond easily after a quick peek.

If you need make sure all the last-minute gifts you ordered online will make it under the tree on time, tapping and holding on your confirmation email will display tracking info and the status of your package.

With news articles on Google, you you can now tap and hold to get links to related articles. You’ll see an icon when you can use Now on Tap to share what’s on your screen without having to leave what you’re doing.

The new features are rolling out over the coming days. Additionally, Google is expanding Now on Tap to more languages including: French, German, Spanish, Italian, Russian and Korean. More languages are coming soon.

Read this for thoughts about how businesses may benefit from Now on Tap.

Images via Google

December 16th 2015 Android, Google, Mobile, Technology