Google takes on April Fools’ Day early with Google Gnome, Ms. PAC-Maps, and Google Wind

Google always does something fun for April Fools’ Day. This year the company announced an outdoor companion to your Google Home called the Google Gnome. The Gnome lives in your backyard and gives you outdoor related info as well as controlling your gardening tools through the power of magic. Watch the video Google has posted about the Gnome.

Google also announced Ms. PAC-Maps, a Ms. PAC-Man game using Google Maps. You can play it on Android, iOS, and the desktop until April 4. There is an extra button to enable the game and it works pretty well on mobile. Give it a shot!

Lastly, Google showed of Google Wind, which can control weather in the Netherlands using existing windmills to blow bad weather away. It’s a cute video.

Source: Google, (2)



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Verizon to install data collecting app on its Android phones

Verizon plans to install an app called AppFlash on its Android devices in the coming weeks. This app is a sort of search hub taken from Evie Launcher to the left of your screen, like Google Now launcher has Google Now to the side. Unfortunately, it collects a lot of data about you.

To function as an app and media discovery tool, it needs to collect data about you, including contacts, installed apps, device info, location, and more. Of course, Google records all this information too, but it’s unfortunate that Verizon had to copy a Google service and do the same thing.

The data will be shared with “the Verizon family of companies,” though it will be anonymized. It will also be used for advertisements both in AppFlash and outside of it.

The EFF has issued a statement that another data collection app is just another vector for attack, especially since every Android device on the Verizon network will have this app installed. The EFF has retracted much of its harsh statement after Verizon’s explanations, though.

The app is currently being tested on the LG K20 V and is opt-in, but it could roll out to more Android phones from Verizon soon. At best, it’s just more bloatware that will be disabled by power users and ignored by the general public. At its worst, it’s a security risk and a data collection tool. We’re sure most customers won’t be happy about this move. Thankfully, Verizon says it can be disabled. Let us know what you think in the comments!



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Top 10 Android app updates this week: Cortana, IMDb

Welcome back to our weekly Top 10 Android App Updates column, where we take a look at the most frequently upgraded apps for the week. We’ve found that one of the best ways to discover useful apps is to find the ones that are actually being updated by the developers rather than selecting the apps with the most installs. As in the past, we’re going to filter out minor updates for the super-popular apps that have over 10 million installs, but we’ll make exceptions for apps that have had significant updates. We hope you enjoy this weekly feature and that you discover some apps that end up being useful.

Android Auto - Version 2.2.0

Android Auto

What’s new in this version:

  • Android Auto now works with any car! Use it directly on your phone screen
  • Just say “Ok Google” to use voice commands, don’t need to touch the screen first
  • Scroll through song lists more easily with the new letter jump feature

 

Gmail – Version 7.3.13

Gmail

What’s new in this version:

  • You can now easily add animated GIFs to your message using Gboard.
  • (US only) Send & request money instantly, just tap the attachment icon when composing an email.

 

Cortana - Version 2.6.1

Cortana

What’s new in this version:

  • Improved experience for lock screen
  • Solved the reminder triggering issue
  • Stabilized the app

 

Google Translate  - Version 5.8.0

Google Translate

What’s new in this version:

  • Richer dictionary results with definitions, examples, and synonyms for English, French, Russian, and Spanish.
  • Instant camera translation: English to/from Korean

 

Google - Version 6.14.29

Google

What’s new in this version:

  • Improved look and feel of the search page
  • New doodles are designed for in-app experience
  • Offline voice actions (play music, turn on wifi, turn on flashlight) (*Available in US only)
  • Web pages open directly inside the app

 

Telegram – Version 3.18.0

Telegram

What’s new in this version:

  • Telegram Calls are here: secure, crystal-clear, constantly improved by artificial intelligence. We are rolling them out in Europe today, the rest of the world will get calls within a few days.
  • Choose between 5 grades of video compression and preview the quality of your video before you send it.

 

IMDb – Version 7.0.0

IMDb

What’s new in this version:

  • Browse the updated Movies, TV, and Celebrity tabs, which replace the nav drawer
  • Watch latest trailers, clips, and interviews
  • Swipe through our Popular and Top Rated Movie and TV Show lists
  • Tap the profile icon at top of page to access your Watchlist, Ratings, Favorite Theaters, and more

 

Nova Launcher Beta - Version 5.1.0

Nova Launcher Beta

What’s new in this version:

  • Improve handling of dynamic badges with persistent notifications
  • Handled missed call dynamic badges on more devices
  • Fixes for LeEco devices

 

Evernote – Version 7.9.9

Evernote

What’s new in this version:

  • Many enhancements to the editing experience
  • Support for strikethrough, subscript, and superscript text styles
  • Camera now automatically detects and captures business cards, documents, whiteboards, Post-it ® Notes and receipts
  • Ability to mark up images and PDFs
  • Select multiple notes at once
  • ‘Trash’ can now be emptied

 

Samsung Gear – Version 2.2.170

Samsung Gear

What’s new in this version:

  • Tip cards added
  • Gear lock function improved
  • Other improvements
    - Auto switch device function improved.
    - App rating pop-up added.
    - Available watch faces will now be shown when watch faces deleted.

 



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T-Mobile ONEsie launches for $40

Wearables are still a big focus for companies, from smartwatches to fitness accessories. And now T-Mobile has really gone all-in with the idea.

It’s the T-Mobile ONEsie, and, yes, it’s real. This is one part April Fool’s Day joke and one part an actual thing you can buy and put on your body. As you can see from the image, it’s a giant onesie, it’s magenta in color (to match the Uncarrier’s signature shade), and T-Mobile says it is designed “for a relaxed fit and runs slightly large.” And you can have it for $40.

The commercial that T-Mobile put together has the ONEsie doing a lot of things, like working as a mobile hotspot and monitoring all your exercises. However, none of those things are actually part of the ONEsie. You do get two front pockets and a sleeve pocket for your smartphone, though,

T-Mobile also notes that orders for the ONEsie placed between March 31 and April 6 will begin shipping on April 7.

So, welcome to the April Fool’s Day weekend celebration, apparently. Who’s buying a $40 T-Mobile ONEsie?



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The new Samsung Gear 360 records 4K and works with iPhones

The Samsung Gear 360 was an interesting addition to Samsung’s accessory lineup. It was a 360-degree camera that worked with Samsung flagships and could take both photos and videos of everything around you.

This year the Gear 360 gets an upgrade. The new generation now offers 4K video recording at 24 FPS, 15MP photos, live streaming support, and an upgraded design with a grip.

Shockingly, the device is also getting iPhone compatibility. On top of compatibility with the Galaxy S8Galaxy S8+, Galaxy S7, Galaxy S7 edge, Galaxy Note 5, Galaxy S6, Galaxy S6 edge, and Galaxy S6 edge+, it will work with the iPhone 7, 7 Plus, 6S, 6S Plus, and SE if they’re running iOS 10. Even stranger is that it Samsung hasn’t said if it will work with any Android devices outside the Samsung ecosystem.

If you own a compatible device, this could be a neat accessory to go along with it. Unfortunately, we don’t yet know how much it will cost. Hopefully it will be less than the previous generation device, which retailed for $350.



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Samsung announces DeX dock pre-orders for $150

The Samsung DeX dock is an intriguing accessory for the new Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+. The phone inserts into the dock via USB Type-C and is transformed into a PC of sorts.

The dock features two USB ports, an HDMI port, a USB Type-C port for power, and an Ethernet port to give you the full PC setup with keyboard and mouse. There’s also a fan behind the phone to keep it cool. With the DeX interface open, you can open multiple apps in different windows as well as access a virtual desktop of your main computer.

The dock is now up for pre-order for $149.99 and will launch late April, probably around the same time as the S8 itself. Samsung isn’t the first to try something like this (the Motorola Atrix comes to mind), but it might be the first to make a successful product. What do you think of the DeX? Will you be picking one up? Leave a comment!



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Android Wear 2.0 rollout delayed to fix bugs

Back in early February, Google announced the upcoming rollout of Android Wear 2.0 to a number of available smartwatches. However, not many devices actually received that update.

The reason for that delay has finally been revealed. Google has confirmed to Wareable that it discovered a bug in the final stages of testing the Android Wear 2.0 update. As a result, Google is delaying the final rollout to address and fix the issue. However, it’s worth noting that the Fossil Q Founder, TAG Heuer Connected, and the Casio Smart Outdoor Watch WSD-F10 are now getting the Android Wear 2.0 update, despite the delay.

Here is Google’s statement on the matter:

“We have started rolling out the Android Wear 2.0 update to Fossil Q Founder, Casio Smart Outdoor Watch WSD-F10 and Tag Heuer Connected. For other devices, the update is currently being delayed due to a bug found in final testing. We will push the update to the remaining devices as soon as the issue is resolved.”

There are plenty of new additions to Android Wear 2.0, many of which make the update a worthwhile one for those who are running a compatible smartwatch. While the delay isn’t the best news, hopefully it doesn’t last too long.



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Samsung Galaxy S8 Microsoft Edition comes with extra apps

Yesterday, Samsung officially announced its newest pair of flagship smartphones, the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+.

To capitalize on the new devices, Microsoft is going to sell its own variant of the GS8 called, appropriately, the Galaxy S8 Microsoft Edition. As far as specifications go, the Galaxy S8 Microsoft Edition is the same as the regular version being sold by Samsung.

There are some new additions to the GS8 Microsoft Edition. That includes the Microsoft Office suite of apps, like Word, Excel, OneDrive, OneNote, Skype, Groove Music, MSN News, Outlook, Bing, and more. Microsoft is also throwing in Cortana in the mix as well, which means owners will be able to select Microsoft’s digital personal assistant right out of the box.

The customization options will be available on the devices after they are taken out of the box and first connected to WiFi. From there, the custom software and extra apps will be downloaded and installed. Microsoft will put most of these apps on the home screen after installation, and apparently will also include “additional accessibility” to apps like Wunderlist, LinkedIn, and other apps.

Pre-orders for the Galaxy S8 Microsoft Edition are already open at Microsoft retail stores in the United States, and the device will launch on April 21, just like the standard Galaxy S8.

Do you plan on picking up the Microsoft Edition of the Galaxy S8 or Galaxy S8+, or do they have too many pre-installed Microsoft apps?



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Facebook introduces personal fundraisers for medical, education, and other needs

Raising awareness for a cause, and also raising money to help that cause, is something Facebook wants to be a part of. The social network has unveiled personal fundraisers to help with that initiative.

Facebook says that personal fundraisers will initially be available in beta form, rolling out to users that are 18 years old and older in the United States over the next several weeks. With this new feature, Facebook users will be able to raise money for themselves, friends, family members, or others that might not be on Facebook at all.

Personal Fundraisers are available in several specific categories, and require a 24-hour review process. Here are the covered categories for now:

  • Education: such as tuition, books or classroom supplies
  • Medical: such as medical procedures, treatments or injuries
  • Pet Medical: such as veterinary procedures, treatments or injuries
  • Crisis Relief: such as public crises or natural disasters
  • Personal Emergency: such as a house fire, theft or car accident
  • Funeral and Loss: such as burial expenses or living costs after losing a loved one

Facebook says it is aiming to automate “more of the review process” and that it plans on expanding to more categories in the future. On top of that, Facebook is also adding a “Donate” button to verified Facebook pages, so that users can donate immediately to a cause while watching a Facebook Live video.



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Twitter usernames no longer count against character limit

Twitter has been steadfast in keeping its 140-character limit in place, but at the same time making changes to to help prevent users from going over that limit.

In September of last year, the social network rolled out changes that saw the 140-character limit no longer impacted by photos, videos, GIFs, and more, which meant more content for users to share. And now Twitter is making another change.

Today Twitter announced that it will no longer count usernames against a tweet’s 140-character limit. Replying to an individual, or including multiple usernames in a group tweet, will no longer see the usernames take up space for your message.

Twitter username restrictions

Twitter is also simplifying conversations, making it so that the usernames now appear above the text in a tweet rather than part of the tweet’s text. There will be a new “Replying to…” that users can select, which will make it easier to control who is part of the conversation at hand. Reading tweets should be easier in general as well, as they won’t include a ton of “@usernames” in the mix.

Twitter says the new changes are rolling out beginning today on Twitter’s website, as well as the official Android and iOS apps.

What do you think of this latest change?



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Top 10 New Android Games This Week: Crash of Cars, Temple Jump

Welcome back to Android Gaming Weekly, our weekly recap of new game releases. We still plan to cover upcoming releases and games we’re playing, but this column is dedicated to new games that you can start playing right now. Check out our top picks and let us know in the comments section if you have any suggestions for next week’s post.

Crash of Cars

DescriptionWelcome to Crash of Cars, a REAL-TIME MULTIPLAYER game where your goal is to collect as many crowns as possible before getting destroyed. Collect power-ups, destroy other players, steal their crowns, and climb the leaderboards!

 

Erin: The Last Aos Sí

DescriptionErin: The Last Aos Sí [e:s 'ʃi:] is a challenging experience that combines tactical turn-based combat with RPG elements. Set in mythical Scotland, the game follows Erin on her quest to defeat Balor, The God of Blight and save the world from ultimate destruction.

 

Temple Jump

DescriptionJump for your life in a lava filled temple of doom as you collect precious gems.Hold down your thumb to make your jump bigger and let go to start falling down. Jump from pillar to pillar, while avoiding classic dangers like shooting fireballs and spikes.Find the golden wings and tap to flap your way through deadly obstacles.

 

YO-KAI WATCH Wibble Wobble

Description: YO-KAI WATCH has “wobbled” its way into an exciting puzzle game available on mobile devices! Jibanyan, Komasan, and all your favorite Yo-kai have turned into adorable little Yo-kai Wib Wob! Connect them! Tap them! Pop them! Befriend them! Once you catch the fever, you’ll feel wibbly wobbly, too!

 

Hyper White Blood Cell Dash

DescriptionJohnny is sick and the only thing you can do is heal him! Where the rest of the immunologic system have failed, the amazing Hyper White Blood Cell have a real chance of success.Immerse yourself in a microscopic adventure inside the human body, dive across Johnny’s bloodstream and defend him from the evil GERMS!

 

Power Rangers: Legacy Wars

Description:  Strategize, dodge and fight against real players in real-time PvP and unlock different arenas from famous locations in the movie and TV Show! Unlock new Rangers and collect 40+ warriors ranging from the new movie Power Rangers to classic Rangers to villains from across the Power Rangers multiverse!

 

N.O.V.A. Legacy

DescriptionN.O.V.A. Legacy brings you the best sci-fi FPS experience from the epic first episode of the critically acclaimed N.O.V.A. saga — all in a compact 20 MB version. Kal Wardin, our hero, is a retired N.O.V.A. veteran summoned once again to don his Mobile Armor Suit in defense of the Colonial Administration forces.

 

ArcheAge BEGINS

Description: ArcheAge Begins. World-wide renowned PC MORPG enjoyed by 1.6 million players is now on mobile! Experience epic siege battles in the massive open world of ArcheAge. Immerse yourself in Auroria to reveal the mystery that led to the era of ArcheAge.

 

One Finger Death Punch 3D

DescriptionOne Finger Death Punch’s Authentic Sequel, Re-Innovated in 3D Style! Do you want to experience the many martial arts that exist in the world? Let’s defeat many villains by manipulating martial arts! With your finger, you can become the best martial artist in the world!

 

Gangstar New Orleans

DescriptionThe gold standard for open-world action-adventure series is back, in the fascinating city of New Orleans. With hundreds of vehicles, an outrageous arsenal, and complete freedom to roam this vast city, you have all the tools to become a criminal legend.

 



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