Google Announces ‘Alphabet’ Restructuring Programme and new CEO

Larry Page, co-founder of Google, has unveiled a number of dramatic changes to Google’s management in a blog post today. The statement announces his departure as Google’s CEO and the formation of a huge holding company entitled ‘Alphabet’. Page will spearhead this new company alongside Sergey Brin and manage a wide range of outfits. Their new role within Google is to oversee the initial-stage investments, dubbed Capital and Ventures. Each department will have a planned style of leadership and individual CEO. This should create better results through a more focused and specific business strategy.

Sundar Pichai has been promoted and is now the new CEO of Google. His main responsibility lies in Google search, AdSense, Maps, YouTube, Android and the Google Play Store. Larry Page spoke rather fondly of Sundar Pichai and said,

“It is clear to us and our board that it is time for Sundar to be CEO of Google,”

 “I feel very fortunate to have someone as talented as he is to run the slightly slimmed down Google and this frees up time for me to continue to scale our aspirations.”

Google has also undergone a financial transformation and its shares will now contribute to the total number in the Alphabet holding company. Page explained the reasoning behind this and why Google is changing its organizational structure:

“We’ve long believed that over time companies tend to get comfortable doing the same thing, just making incremental changes,”

“But in the technology industry, where revolutionary ideas drive the next big growth areas, you need to be a bit uncomfortable to stay relevant.”

This is a fairly surprising revelation and a massive restructuring process. Although, Page and Brin have expressed interest in technologies which are still in a theoretical stage. They now feel comfortable enough to offset Google’s main management to another division and work on inventions that could be mainstream in 5-10 years time.

Image courtesy of Business Insider.

Final Fantasy Tactics Gets Its Turn on Android.

Square Enix finally release their compelling turn-based game, Final Fantasy Tactics: War of the Lions on Android.

The original Final Fantasy Tactics was released in Japan back in 1997, then America in the following year. Even though it never reached the UK, I was lucky enough to have an American PlayStation and after Final Fantasy 8, Tactics was by far my favourite game in the franchise and easily in my top 10 favourite games on the original PlayStation. The Tactics game had an Advanced version for the GameBoy Advanced in 2003, which was the most played game in my collection back when I had a GameBoy Advanced and still when I upgraded to a DS, thank you Nintendo for backwards compatibility.

Way back in 2011, Square Enix released a port of the PSP title; Final Fantasy Tactics: War of the Lions, for iOS. Since I am not an Apple fan and I only ever owned a PSP for about a month, my fix of Tactics action has gone unfulfilled for nearly four years.

Thanks to Square Enix, this lack of Tactics is no longer a problem. They have finally released Final Fantasy Tactics: War of the Lions on Android!

This is all well and good. However, as with many of their titles, Square Enix have put a hefty price tag on the game. $13.99 USD and £10.49 GBP. That is a lot for what is essentially an old game. Even so, the reviews within the Google play store are mostly very positive.

So, is this game worth the high price? Well, that’s for you to decide. I may dig out my old DS instead of forking over the money for this. Let us know what you think in the comments below.

Google Releases New Handwriting Keyboard with 82 Language Support

Google has released a new keyboard meant for handwriting called Google Handwriting Input.

The App works on any Android device running version 4.0.3 (Ice cream Sandwich) and above. The keyboard supports input in a whopping 82 languages. Simplifying the job of having multiple google keyboards for each language.

The keyboard can recognize emojiis by drawing them, is useful for languages that may be challenging to type on a conventional android keyboard and may work even if your handwriting is shocking!

Once you have installed the new keyboard from the play store you can see it looks the same as the old android keyboard. If you wish to write something rather than type it. The app recognizes input from both a finger and a stylus if you have one.

I’ve installed it on my Sony Xperia and used my fat fingers to have a play around and it works pretty well, what seems to me as an illegible scrawl is understandable by the app. Since release the App has been downloaded over 5000 times. You can download the app from here

Google clearly have put a lot of thought and development into this app. It’s going to be interesting to see what they come up with next.

Thank you to Android Central for this information

Image courtesy of agbeat.com

Google Launches Family Friendly Store

Worried about your child getting a copy of Call Of Duty: Black Ops Zombies for their Android device? Our Advice, don’t be.

The reason we say this is because Google are launching their family friendly version of the Play Store in a few weeks. To fill the freshly available section, Google are inviting current application developers to join the program and create apps to meet Google’s idea of Child safe experiences.

Google have released a list of requirements and advert policies that you need to comply to as a developer before they will allow you to publish the app in the new store.

These rules include:

  • Apps must be rated ESRB for everyone over 10 years of age
  • Apps must comply with laws concerning advertising to children
  • No violent content for children under 13

Sounds like Google are getting pretty serious about making the Play store and phones a safe place for children. You can see all their rules and guidelines here

The launch of the new store will go well with the new user profiles feature in Android Lollipop. You’ll be able to create a profile for your child so you can stop them seeing your information, yet allow them to have a child safe experience with Apps and adverts whilst using the device.

Thanks to Engadget for this information

Images Courtesy of whereverwriter

PayPal Offering £3 to Spend on Google Play Store in the UK

PayPal seems to be offering £3 as a Coupon Code for customers to spend on Google Play Store. All you have to do is open the promo offer page here, save the offer and have it added to your PayPal account, then go to the Google Play Store and make a purchase using PayPal as the payment method at check out.

“When a participating Eligible Customer pays with PayPal for a purchase on the UK Google Play store during the Promotional Period (“Qualifying Payment”), PayPal shall credit the Eligible Customer’s PayPal account with the amount of the Qualifying Payment up to a maximum of GBP 3.00 per Eligible Customer in total.”

PayPal isn’t known to offer free money out, but this might be your chance to spend some on that application you were so eager to buy for a long time. So if you are an Android user, this might be your chance to get it for free.

Thank you Android Police for providing us with this information

$1,500 Google Glass Explorer Edition Now Available through Google Play

After a long run of invite-only availability for Google’s Glass – earlier this year Google started selling its Glass “Explorer Edition” to anyone who was willing to fork out $1,500 back in May. But now it now looks like the company is expanding availability for the wearable – as it’s now popped the Glass “Explorer Edition” onto its Google Play storefront. Buyers waiting for a potentially cheaper price-point are going to be a little disappointed – with Glass still only being available at $1,500. For those wondering, the terminology “Explorer Edition” still refers to the product being in beta – so if you’re looking for a fully realized and finished product, you’d probably be best to hold off. For developers wanting to get things up and running across the wearable or just to have a little fun to see its capabilities – this is the place to be.

Ready to jump in and see what it’s all about? Glass is on sale in the Play store now and is available alongside stylish prescription frames, sunglasses, and its own custom earpiece.

Google to Stop Labelling Apps “Free” If They Have in-App Purchases.

Google have made the very welcome decision to remove the “free” tag from apps which off in-app purchases. By the end of September, all apps on the Play Store in Europe will be affected by the change and it’s likely that a global roll out of this feature will soon follow.

This is a great change for the mobile community, who are often duped into downloading a game or app on the promise of free features, only to then be asked to hand over a little extra to unlock all the features, more levels, content packages and more. Some “free” titles, especially free-to-play games such as Real Racing 3 use this model and while some may think of it as a cost-effective solution to paying £40 for a retail game, like you would on a console, it would actually cost you hundreds of pounds to unlock all the content that particular game has to offer. It is this kind of free that I want to see removed, because this is a paid game with some free content, something we used to refer to as a demo.

These changes are in response to an agreement with the European Commission (EC), as part of their plans to help better protect families with children who have been known to rack up huge bills via in-app purchases. Now both Google and Apple have been asked by the European Consumer Protection Cooperation Network (CPC Network) to assure the following:

  • Games advertised as “free” should not mislead consumers about the true costs involved;
  • Games should not directly encourage children to buy items in a game or to persuade an adult to buy items for them;
  • Consumers should be adequately informed about the payment arrangements for purchases and should not be debited through default settings without consumers’ explicit consent;
  • Traders should provide an email address so that consumers can contact them in case of queries or complaints.

Many app developers have been exploiting that free tag for a while now and personally I’ll be glad to see the market place updated to reflect which apps really are available to download completely free of charge. Unfortunately Google are the only ones addressing the matter at this time, Apple are yet to take action.

“Regrettably, no concrete and immediate solutions have been made by Apple to date to address the concerns linked in particular to payment authorization, Apple has proposed to address those concerns. However, no firm commitment and no timing have been provided for the implementation of such possible future changes.” said the EC in regards to Apple.

It is interesting to see Apple behind Google on this one, especially after being hit with a minimum of $32.5 million in settlements for billing in-app purchases to children without their parents’ consent.

Thank you Forbes for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of WonderHowTo.

Google Engineer: Android Users Do Not Need Anti-Virus Software

Is antivirus needed on mobile devices? It is a question that will get you conflicting answers depending on who you ask. Adrian Ludwig, who is the chief engineer for Android security at Google, has stated that antivirus serves no purpose for Android mobile users:

“I think … paying for a product that you will probably never actually receive protection from is not a rational reduction of risk – but people buy things for lots of reasons.”

Furthermore he claims the bulk of the security is done at Google’s end by scanning and verifying apps before they are allowed to hit the Google App Store. As a result he claims Android is one of the safest platforms out there and risks are overstated:

“And in practice most people will never see a potentially harmful application from our data … [in fact] most people won’t even know someone who has ever installed a potentially harmful application. So … I believe it is an overstated risk.”

Check out more details from the interesting interview at the source link. What do you think? Do you use antivirus for Android?

Source: Sydney Morning Herald

Image courtesy of eTeknix

Classic Colin McRae Rally Action Now On Android

Thumbstar Games and Codemasters have just told us that one of the greatest racing games of all time is now available on Android devices. If you’ve got nothing to do on your next lunch break, or you’re just looking to kill some time at home, then you get download and enjoy the classic that is Colin McRae Rally.

Colin McRae Rally is one of the world’s most iconic brands in video gaming, having sold over 10m units on console platforms before a successful move to mobile last year. At launch, it was the #1 Racing Game in 85 countries and placed Top 5 in All Games in 62 countries on the iOS store. The game features 30 classic rally stages, with a combined distance of over 130km of gravel, dust and tarmac and four legendary cars: the Ford Focus, Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VI, Lancia Stratos and Subaru Impreza.

“Players can go flat out through the dirt and the dust of the Australian outback, take on dramatic climbs through the mountains of Greece and get sideways on the tight and twisty tarmac of Corsica with every crest and corner fully voiced by Colin McRae’s co-driver – Nicky Grist.” Said Codemasters in their recent press release.

Featuring the critically acclaimed Colin McRae handling and Physics model, great graphics and pick up and play gameplay, I can’t wait to get my hands on this title and relive some of my all time favourite racing game memories.

Thank you Codemasters for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Codemasters.

Flappy Bird Becomes Overnight Sensation, Despite Being Infuriating

Sometimes it is the simplest games that are the most fun, and they don’t get much more simple that Flappy Bird, a game that nods back to the era of 8-bit gaming, features a simple control scheme and it’s one of the hardest games that has ever been created.

There is a small bird that requires you to keep tapping the screen to flap its wings, it will then fly forward and you have to change the frequency of the tapping/flapping to make it through the gaps in some pipes. I set a score of 9 after about an hours practice, one day I hope to break into double figures and when I do, I’ll do a victory lap around the office. The highest score I know of is 25, which is inhuman or lucky to say the least.

What’s so interesting about all this then? Well the developer has come out of nowhere, has created three games that are free, simple and frustrating, in many ways they’re not even that great, but he’s managed to score three top then hits simultaneously in the Google Play and the Apple App Store! And it’s done it almost entirely from word of mouth promotion.

With the only options for the game being play or rate, the game has become an internet sensation with people trying to score something before they throw their phone at the wall in frustration, and trust me that after a few minutes, you’ll be tempted to do just that.

 “The only reason why I have not yet deleted this horrid game is the overwhelming sense of relief and accomplishment I feel when I finally beat a high score.” reads one of the games reviews.

29 year old Nguyen Ha Dong and his Vietnam based indie game studio .GEARS which he operates by himself has been making games for four years, but despite his sudden success and popularity he remains in obscurity, avoiding interviews and publicity that is surrounding his titles, simply replying to requests with “I’m not comfortable with being exposed.” However if his game continues to go as Viral, he’s going to have to accept a lot of attention and will no doubt be offered a few jobs despite the level of flappy-torture he has imparted on the gaming community.

Thank you Tech Crunch for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Tech Crunch.

BlackBerry Bringing BBM Voice And BBM Channels To iOS And Android Users This Year

People all over the world were overly excited with the launch of BBM services on iOS and Android. Millions were waiting in line for a spot to get connection through BlackBerry’s IM service, where you had to wait for an e-mail to confirm your account. BlackBerry literally got flooded with subscription requests on BBM’s the launch day.

However, it seems that BlackBerry has something new coming for the popular IM service. Since BBM on iOS and Android only support text messages, BlackBerry decided that iOS and Android users should benefit from BBM Voice and BBM Channels, currently available to BlackBerry smartphone users. The features are nothing new compared to other apps used daily, but since the BBM service received such a big response from iOS and Android users, it would be a strategic move for BlackBerry to add some more features to its growing service.

BBM Voice is a voice call feature, such as Skype or Viber. It basically lets the user call another account as a normal phone call, only it will use the internet to connect instead of using up your subscription minutes or filling up your bill. Those with unlimited mobile internet subscriptions will probably be thrilled about this.

BBM Channels is a sort of social network, ‘more like Tumblr’ as a BlackBerry representative describes it, where users can find a topic they are interested in, such as a brand, an interest, a hobby etc. and join in on the conversations of the given topic. It is an interesting and ‘robust’ idea as they have put it, however we will just have to see if the service will get the desired attention and user appreciation.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Re-TWQt8W8[/youtube]

We see that users will also be able to share photos and voice memos, as well as their location for a limited amount of time. How they will implement it, that is a good question indeed. The updated version of BBM has not been given an official release date, but it is said to hit the appstores somewhere in February, if not sooner.

Thank you Endgadget for providing us with this information
Image and video courtesy of Endgadget

Instagram To Get “Instagram Direct” For iOS and Android

Instagram has just launched its own private messaging service. With the latest update to version 5 of the app, you can now send images and videos directly to individuals and groups rather than have all your stalkers from the followers group see what you are doing.

You now have the option select where your image will be uploaded and sent, whether to “Followers” or “Direct”, after you’ve taken and edited your picture or video, and if you select Direct you’ll have a choice of sending to just one or several people of your liking. Once you have sent your picture, you’ll see an indication underneath the picture of who has seen and liked the photo, along with a standard Instagram comment thread underneath. It’s the same Instagram experience you know, but with a smaller audience of your choice.

You can go straight into the Direct feature of the app with a new inbox button in the top left of the home screen, where you’ll see both read and unread messages, along with “Direct Requests” from people who you don’t follow. The latest update is live in the Google Play Store and Apple AppStore, ready for you to download or update.

Thank you Android Central for providing us with this information

Office 365 Admin App Available On Android and iOS

The new Microsoft Office 365 gives small companies and even corporation the ability to use the cloud in their advantage when it comes to office work and productivity. But there still needs to be someone there to manage it all. Thankfully, now you can manage the office software remotely with the help of the Office 365 Admin App, which recently rolled out for Android and iOS devices as well.

The Office 365 Admin app enables administrators to view the service health of their Office 365 environment on-the-go. Since it first launched on November 21st on Windows Phone 8, thousands of Office 365 administrators have downloaded the app. As of today, the app is now available for Android and iOS 7 as promised in the original Microsoft blog post, helping administrators to check the service health of your Office 365 service on the go.

To access service health data with the Office 365 Admin app, you must have an active Office 365 subscription with administrator user rights. Also, this app does not currently support Windows Azure Active Directory Multi-Factor Authentication unfortunately. The app can be downloaded for iOS 7 device from the Apple App Store and for Android 4.2.1+ devices from the Google Play Store.

Thank you Microsoft for providing us with this information

Cover Lock Screen App Hits The Play Store

Cover is bringing its situation-aware lock-screen to more Android users today after its beta test launch six weeks ago. It’s now available in the Google Play store to Android 4.1 or above firmwares in the US, Canada, and Europe. Cover’s 100 new improvements include cutting down battery drain and being better at detecting if you’re in your car, at home or at work so it puts the right apps on your lock-screen.

“The big question I had personally was whether users would understand the concept of the lock-screen” Cover founder Todd Jackson tells me about what he’s learned from its thousands of beta testers since October. “Turns out they do. We were specifically focused on building a lock-screen rather than a launcher. They like the flexibility of being able to use Cover with other launchers.”

Steamrolling over a user’s existing customization was sticking point that hurt Facebook Home’s early adoption. By acting as an interaction layer that floats on top of a user’s Android homescreen, Cover has found people more willing to adapt to how it radically alters their lock-screen.

Cover can recognize when you’re at home, work, or in you car, and shows you the apps that fit that situation. The suggestions are based on crowdsourced data at first, like that people often use Dropbox at work and Netflix at home, but Cover learns what you use in these situations too and adapts its lock-screen shortcuts. Cover’s Peek feature lets you quickly look inside your apps, and its fast-app switching drop-down menu makes it a breeze to bounce back and forth between maps, messaging, or what have you.

It’s quite nice to have a clever little app like this working in your advantage every time you unlock your smartphone’s screen. But whether all people will cope with it or if it would have the ability to provide accurate needs based on the location you are, this remains to be seen.

Thank you TechCrunch for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of TechCrunch

Homeless Man Being Taught Coding Since August Launches His First App, Trees For Cars

You have probably heard about the homeless guy named Leo Grand and programmer Patrick McConlogue offering him a choice between $100 and 16 free coding lessons. Grand, homeless since 2011 after losing his job at insurance provider MetLife and being priced out of his home when a high-rise apartment block was built nearby, didn’t have to think for long and a coding life for him began.

Grand received a refurbished Chromebook and three books on coding, having McConlogue meet with him every weekday morning for some coding sessions. We are pleased to hear that Grand has released his very first app named Trees for Cars, available for iOS and Android. The idea behind the app, Grand said, is to decrease the number of cars on the roads with an eye toward reducing CO2 emissions. Users have to sign up and specify whether they want to catch a ride or offer one, and the app will connect them with fellow carpoolers nearby. The app will then track how much CO2 was saved by all the passengers. To be noted here is that Grand wrote every line of code, and all app purchases from both stores will go directly to him.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vJ2INl29sfc#t=0[/youtube]

McConlogue’s tutoring was based on the course found here and you can also read the story of Grand’s remarkable journey here. And don’t forget to check out the app on iTunes and Google Play and maybe even buy it for $0.99 / £0.67.

Thank you Cnet for providing us with this information
Image and video courtesy of Cnet

Nokia Rumored To Be Working On An Android-Powered Lumia Version

The well-known @evleaks posted a red colored odd-looking Nokia handset a few weeks back. We all thought it would be an upcoming Lumia device from its shape, as Nokia tends to keep the basic Lumia design looking as similar as possible. Surprisingly, according to The Verge, it’s not just any Lumia Phone. It is said to be Nokia’s long-rumored entry to the Android market.

Tom Warren from The Verge states several unnamed sources who claim that the handset is what’s being called internally “Project Normandy”. The report claims that the phone will run Android apps—but not in the way that you’d expect. Like Amazon’s Kindle Fire devices, it’s Normandy will supposedly run a forked version of Android that won’t deal directly with Google Play.

Warren also claims that the phone will be a cheap, Asha-level Nokia phone. It is to be expected, since Nokia has yet to test the Android related market with its products, so spending a lot of money on a high-end handset and watching it sit on shelves months onwards, mainly due to its production costs and prices it would have in stores, it would make sense to just test the waters first and afterwards make big plans.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves just listening to rumors, because even if the Normandy project is real, it might never see daylight. Microsoft’s acquisition of Nokia’s handset decision is all but a sure thing at this point, and making hardware for a rival operating system sounds like the kind of plan that might get dropped instantly.

Thank you Gizmodo for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of Gizmodo

Nokia Music To Be Released For iOS, Android And Mac OS X

Nokia Music app appears to begin expanding its reach into other platforms than Windows Phone and Windows PC. According to CTechcn.com, Nokia is about to release a web app version of Nokia Music for iOS and Android devices. There is however mention of Mac OS X support available as well.

Nokia Music provides subscription-based music to Lumia and Asha users across the globe. For a nominal fee every month, users will be able to download and save music on their device, which can then be accessed later even when there is no Internet connection. We had earlier reported Nokia would bring Nokia Music store to its all-touch Asha devices for a nominal fee of Rs 50 for one week, Rs 100 for one month or Rs 250 for three months.

There is currently no official news and no word on when the service will arrive on iOS or Android. The timing of the report is quite interesting, considering that it was widely believed that the service would shut down once Microsoft took over Nokia. Many believe that the app’s features would be merged with the existing Xbox Music platform.

Third-party music streaming apps along with Apple’s iTunes and Google’s Music Store will be competing against Nokia when the app reaches the AppStore and Play Store. But lots of competition also comes with a lot of offers nonetheless.

Thank you BGR and CTechcn.com for providing us with this information
Images courtesy of and Nokia Innovation and CTechcn.com

Moto G Notification LED Fix Released

Android Central reported that the newly launched Motorola Moto G’ notification LED doesn’t seem to work at all, and there’s no software switch for it anywhere in the Settings app. Emails, texts and missed calls all failed to trigger the flashing white LED.

Motorola responded with the following statement to the issue at hand:

“On some devices (such as Motorola Droid RAZR HD), a small number of users found that the notification light was disabled after logging into their google account if it was disabled previously on other devices with the same google account. This widget restores the ability to control the light on devices without an exposed setting.”

Motorola released a widget called “Notification Light Widget” which will enable the notification LED once again. It can be downloaded from here. After downloading it, simply put it on the Home Screen and tap on it, then the LED functionality will be restored. Afterwards the app can be deleted.

The glitch is a side effect of restoring from your Google account to the Moto G, which is part of the setup process for the phone. The feature downloads apps and settings from the cloud, which is usually a good thing. But in some instances it can tell the Moto G to restore the notification LED setting from another phone, leaving the light disabled with no way to re-enable it.

Thank you Android Central for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of TruestedReviews

Google Announces New Wireless Charging Pad With Support For Nexus 5 and Nexus 7

Google announced a new charging pad which is supposed to go on sale in the Play Store today. I was previously seen with the Nexus 4 and Nexus 10 last year, but it appears to have been delayed up until now.

Google’s new wireless charging pad is officially compatible with the Nexus 5 and Nexus 7, though as a Qi charger it should also be compatible with devices like the Nexus 4 and even some Nokia devices.
But the new Google wireless charger also features magnets that help devices stick to it, a feature that only works with devices that also have magnets in them. Currently, that’s only the Nexus 5 and Nexus 7.

The new Google Nexus wireless charging pad features a redesigned look and feel that better matches the aesthetic of the Nexus 5. The pad is an upside-down trapezoid, a square that’s wider on top, with a glossy black finish that looks like it might be slippery for devices without magnets in them. Compare it to the Nexus 4’s wireless charger, which resembles a hockey puck with sticky rubber on top.

No pricing has been revealed for Google’s wireless charging pad up until now, but will shortly come on display in the Play Store later on, and those who are interested can keep scouting the Play Store for the wireless charging pad to get full details and pricing.

Thank you Endgadget for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of Endgadget

Nexus 5 To Launch November 1st In Black And White

According to EVLeaks Google’s Nexus 4 successor, the Nexus 5, will be launching on November 1st. The smartphone will be launched in both white (pictured above) and black (pictured below).

The Nexus 5 is expected to have a 441 PPI 1920 x 1080 5 inch display powered by the Snapdragon 800 SoC. This SoC includes the MSM8974 CPU which is a 2.3GHz quad core and there are also Adreno 330 graphics. Storage is provided by either 16 or 32GB of internal memory and 3GB of RAM is also provided.

Pricing reportedly starts from $349 on the Google Play Store which according to my crude exchange rate and tax calculations means the UK should see it from £269.99.

To see more preliminary specifications, check here.

Images courtesy of EVLeaks

Google Newsstand Rumored To Be Introduced In Android 4.4

The Play Store is set to undergo a few changes, and news this afternoon suggests some new media content. While Play Magazines has long been a middle-of-the-road option when compared to similar services on other platforms, Android Police is reporting that it could be changing for the better.

In their ongoing teardown of Play Store APKs, the team over at AP found mention of Google Play News a few months back. While nothing came of it, this recent teardown of Play Store 4.4 reveals several mentions of Google Play Newsstand. This hints at a long-rumored digital news service, much like Play Magazines. If the code is unchanged, we may also get the same service we saw with Play Music All Access.

With All Access, we were treated to a free trial before deciding whether or not to take the plunge and subscribe. It seems that Google Play Newsstand may offer the same kind of free trial. What lefts to be known is whether or not it’s a one-price unlimited news aggregate like All Access is for music.

If it is, news that they could couple a news service with Play Magazines is their saving grace. Of course, which partners they have on-board for any service is what will drive it. As great as All Access is, it can leave users wanting compared to competing services. With the proliferation of information sharing across the web, we’re left to wonder just how Google plans to make this worth while to consumers.

Of course, this doesn’t mean it’s ready for prime time, either. We would like to see it come to light with Android 4.4, but we’re not holding out hope just yet. It’s in the code, and obviously ready to launch, but we saw this with Play News months ago, so we’ll wait to hear something official before speculating much more.

Thank you Android Community and Android Police for providing us with this information.

 

 

Nexus 5 16GB Listing Appears On Play Store For $349, Removed Quickly

The Verge reports that Google’s Nexus 5 handset popped up on the Google Play Store yesterday for a short period of time. The store listing showed only one model, a 16GB Nexus 5, costing $349. This means it has the same entry pricing as the 16GB Nexus 4 did when it launched for $349 but there was also a $299 8GB Nexus 4 to bring that entry price down a bit for those who didn’t need all that storage.

That said compared to the current offerings $349 is still a very attractive price for a 5 inch 1080p display smartphone with a quad core Snapdragon 800 CPU, Adreno 330 graphics, 16GB of storage and a whole bunch of other high end features (see detailed specifications here).

Google’s marketing tag line for the Nexus 5 on its Google Play Store was “Capture the everyday and the epic in fresh new ways”.

Images courtesy of The Verge

Microsoft Updates Its Outlook.com Android App

Today Microsoft announced that they will be updating their Android Outlook.com application with improvements to features like server-side search, improved offline mail storage, colors, vacation replies, and aliases.

Outlook.com, a key project for Microsoft and the successor of Hotmail, has over 400 million users and  is Microsoft’s mail vision for all mobile platforms. According to Microsoft, 68% of Outlook.com users hit up their digital missives from their mobile device, so having a strong application set matters.

If you are an Outlook,com and Android user, this update will contain at least a few things that you like. You can now sync all your mail to your device, if you want to burn the storage capacity. If you want to be able to find any message you want, but not download the lot, Microsoft has added server-side search to the Android app (we all wonder why that feature was not implemented in the first place).

Microsoft has also added a new color set to the app, and introduced support for aliases, along with vacation replies. Taken altogether, the Android now appears to be a fully functional mail experience. I can’t imagine what using it previously was like. Before, over more than 10,000 ratings, Microsoft accrued a rating on the Play store of under three stars.

For those who think that the color is a minor update, you are picking an argument with Yahoo, who recently rolled out color changes to its Mail experience. Apparently it matters. So for those who would like to download the new Outlook.com app on their device here is a link to the Play Store.

Thank you Tech Church for providing us with this information.

Google’s Nexus 4 Becoming Sold Out, Will Not Be Restocked

It has been less than a month since Google chopped the price of its Nexus 4 8GB and 16GB handsets down by $100 and already the Google Play Stores in most countries are reporting that the Nexus 4 is sold out. The Verge reports that these Nexus 4 handsets will not be restocked. In the USA both the 8GB and 16GB models of the Nexus have been sold out in a frenzied manner – largely influenced by the price cuts.

It would now seem that these price cuts were part of Google’s plan to clear current inventory of the Nexus 4 handsets in preparation for the launch of the Nexus 5…and what better way to prepare for the launch of the Nexus 5 than by dumping cheap Nexus 4 handsets into the market.

Google is apparently deciding to end production of the Nexus 4 so any remaining stock will no doubt be snapped up at current prices and not replaced. The message is clear – if you want a Nexus 4 then buy now if you can still find stock because that stock won’t last much longer.

Image courtesy of Google

Google Nexus 4 Gets Price Cut Over At Play Store

Google’s flagship smartphone the Google LG Nexus 4 has just had a price cut over at Google’s Play Store. The flagship handset from Google has had price cuts in the USA, Australia, Canada, Germany, Spain, Korea, and the UK. The price cut was quite hefty, in the USA the 8GB model can be had for $199 (down from $299) and the 16GB model for $249 (down from $349). In the UK the price is £159 for the 8GB model (down from £239) and the 16GB model is £199 (down from £279). Discounts vary by nation and by currency but they seem to be around 25-35% which is pretty darn nice given the phone was already very aggressively priced.

As anyone might guess the hefty price cut on the Google Nexus 4 is a signal of one thing – that the Google Nexus 5 is nearing its launch. Google’s Nexus 5 is supposed to launch soon and it will also be made by LG, probably based on their flagship LG Optimus G2 design.

Image courtesy of Google and LG

Moto X Will Be Made Available On Play Store, No Google Edition

Motorola’s new Moto X smartphone will be made available through Google’s official Play Store according to Twit.tv. Unlike the Samsung Galaxy S4 and the HTC One X there will not be a special “Google Edition handset” variant of the Moto X. That said, with Motorola already being owned by Google the Moto X is more or less a native Google product coming with totally stock Android and all the relevant Google programs and apps such as Gmail, Maps, YouTube, Chrome and the Play Store.

Users of the Moto X will thus still be able to enjoy the software enhancements that the smartphone launched with such as active Display notifications UI, Moto Assist, and Moto Connect. The Moto X will cost $199.99 on a two year contract from major carriers like AT&T, Verizon and Sprint while the non-carrier/non-contract version will cost $699.99. The Moto X will be available only in North America and Latin America starting from late August and Early September. As of current there are no plans to sell the device anywhere else.

Image courtesy of Motorola

Google Paying Adblock Plus To White-list Unobtrusive Adverts

After Google recently cheesed a lot of people off by removing Ad-blocking Apps from the Google Play Store, it turns out they are now resorting to paying Adblocking App companies to white-list Google adverts. According to Horizont.at Google is funding the developers of the AdBlock Plus App to create a special white-list where Google adverts will not be blocked on Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox Adblock Plus extensions.

We don’t know how much the deal is worth to ABP but apparently numerous other companies are doing a similar thing with adblocking app and extension developers. Neither Google nor ABP decided to comment on the speculation but some Adblocking companies are known for their “Acceptable Ads Initiative” which basically states that unobstrusive advertising should remain viewable because it is vital to internet revenue generation.

I myself agree with the acceptable advertising concept but I think it should be optional. Some people may be happy to block no ads, some to block only obstrusive ads and some to block all ads. I myself am more inclined to blocking only obstrusive adverts but it is nice to be able to block all adverts. In some situations it can be critical to block all ads, such as if you are very bandwidth constrained or loading flash-based adverts detriments your PC performance.

Image courtesy of Adblock Plus