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Google acquires Twitter’s mobile app development division Fabric

Twitter is making yet another move away from its side properties and divisions. Fabric, the mobile app development platform that Twitter launched in 2014, has now been acquired by Google.

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How to delete a Twitter account

December 2, 2016

Fabric was developed by Twitter to give app creators some new tools to help grow. They included the Crashlytics toolkit, which was designed to help developers find the reasons why their apps crashed. They also included the MoPub tools so that developers could more easily put advertisements inside apps. Finally, there was the Twitter Kit, which allowed apps to embed Twitter posts, along with a way to post Twitter messages from within third-party applications.

In the blog post announcing its acquisition by Google, the Fabric team said it would be joining that company’s Developer Products Group, and specifically its Firebase team. In a separate blog post, Firebase confirmed that Fabric’s Crashlytics tools will become the main crash analytical program for the team. The specific financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

This is just the latest move by Twitter to get rid of some of their secondary tools and services so it can concentrate its efforts on its main social network. Earlier this week, it officially shut down its Vine six-second online video service, replacing the app with the lower-end Vine Camera.

Is launching an Android One phone in the US a good idea?

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Earlier this week, Android fans in the US got alerted to a rumor that came as a bit of a surprise. An unconfirmed report from The Information claimed that Google wants to expand its budget-focused Android One phone program into the US sometime in mid-2017. The same report claims Google will help promote this launch by funding a big ad campaign for this first US-based Android One Phone.

See also:

Android One is coming to Europe

September 18, 2015

Assuming this report is accurate (and to be fair, Google has not confirmed or denied this story yet), it is a little surprising, at least on the surface, that the company might make this move for at least two big reasons. One is that the Android One program originally launched as a way to provide cheaper smartphones for people in developing countries, and not in the bigger markets like the US. The other reason is that there are already a ton of cheap unlocked Android phones that consumers in the US can choose from, so a budget-priced Android One device would face a lot of competition in this country right off the bat.

Yet there are perhaps other reasons below the surface that might support such a move by Google. Before we get into them, here’s a very quick history of the Android One program.

Android on the cheap

Is launching an Android One phone in the US a good idea?

In June 2014, Google first announced the Android One program as part of its annual I/O developer conference. As explained at the time by Android’s leader (and now CEO of Google) Sundar Pichai, the company’s idea was to work with OEMs to launch high-quality Android phones at affordable prices for developing markets. While these phones would be made and sold by third-parties, they would use a stock version of Android that would be updated directly, and regularly, by Google itself, bypassing the usual carrier updates that could cause long delays between crucial software updates.

Is launching an Android One phone in the US a good idea?

Pichai said at the time the first Android One phones would launch in India later that year, and would be priced at around $100. Indeed, those phones from companies like Karbonn, Micromax, and Spice launched that September at that price point in India. All of them shared the same hardware specs, including a 4.5-inch display, 1GB of RAM, 4GB of storage and ran Android 4.4 KitKat.

At first, the news was good, with predictions that these first Android One phones would sell up to two million units by the end of 2014. The first phones got updated to Android 5.1 Lollipop in early 2015, and more of these kinds of phones started to go on sale in the Philippines, Pakistan and Turkey, with expansions into other parts of Europe.  However, it was revealed later that the actual sales numbers from India came in at well below expectations, with about 800,000 units sold in its first year.

Google thought Android One would do way better in its first year

Google has continued to push the Android One program even with these lower sales numbers. In late 2015, it was reported that the company would allow OEMs that were making Android One phones to get access to more parts suppliers. Previously, Google limited the choices for Android One phone components because it wanted these device to be able to run the most recent version of the Android OS. However, manufacturers didn’t care for that idea, as they wanted to get parts that were cheaper so these devices could more easily reach that important $100 price point.

However, the sales reports for these phones continued to be mixed. In May 2016, it was revealed that the Android One program would be integrated into Google’s overall hardware division, which is led by former Motorola President Rick Osterloh. Since then, there’s been little hardware news on the Android One front until this week’s rumor.

The case for Android One in the US

Is launching an Android One phone in the US a good idea?

The Information claims that Google will work with a currently unnamed OEM on the first Android One phone in the US, and that it will be priced around $200 to $300. While that’s certainly a much higher price than the first phones that launched in India, it’s possible that Google also wants the US phone to have higher-end hardware that can compete with similar unlocked Android phones from other companies. Chinese companies like OnePlus, Huawei, Xiaomi, LeEco and ZTE have been offering unlocked mid-range Android phones at a low price price point for some time in this country already.

Yet, an Android One phone in that price range would, in theory, have one really big advantage over those other competitors. Google would directly update the Android One device with the latest versions of the OS, as well as provide timely security updates for the next two years, according to the article. The stock Android experience, plus regular updates, is something that can sometimes be a problem for other hardware competitors to provide. Having more Android One phones on the market might also help with the operating system’s fragmentation issue, where only a small fraction of smartphones currently run the latest version, Android Nougat.

Launching Android One in the US would also help with brand awareness

The other big reason Google might want to move Android One into the US is branding. When you pick up an iPhone, you know it runs iOS. Yet, when many people buy a Galaxy phone from Samsung, or phones from Motorola, LG or HTC, the average consumer may not be aware of the Android OS that they use. Google wants people to be more aware that Android is being used by the vast majority of smartphones on the market, and launching an Android One phone in the US would allow it to push that brand to a new segment of smartphone buyers that cannot afford the more expensive, and higher-end, Pixel devices from the company.

Can Google make it work?

Is launching an Android One phone in the US a good idea?

Even though there are good enough reasons for Google to launch its Android One program in the US, there are still a lot of questions that need to be answered. The biggest one is what kind of hardware will be in this phone. And if Google is indeed thinking about launching such a phone for up to $300, it should also be able to view VR apps via a Daydream View headset. Google might also want to consider putting in features like Google Assistant or unlimited cloud storage for Google Photos on the Android One phone.

If the US-bound Android One device will be sold for $300, it better be ready to compete

One thing Google does have going for itself is experience. It’s been over two years since the launch of Android One in India, so hopefully the company has learned quite a lot about what works and what doesn’t with offering cheaper phones in developing countries. It can surely bring those lessons to a US launch.

We think that Google should really push the fact that Android One phones would get the latest and greatest software updates directly from the company as part of its marketing campaign. Again, most phones have to wait months or years to get these kinds of updates. An Android One phone would, again in theory, not have to wait to get security and other useful software updates.

What do you think?

Google’s Android One program has offered mixed results, at best, so far, but again it could learn some lessons and apply them to a more successful launch in the US. Do you think Google should make this move and would you buy a cheaper Android One phone that would still get the latest software updates on a regular basis? Let us know what you think in the comments!

This is how Google finds Android malware

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Google has outlined its process for finding malware via the Android Developers blog. In the post, Google Software Engineer Megan Ruthven discusses Android’s Verify Apps safety protocol — used to determine potentially harmful apps installed on a device — and what happens when a device stop communicating with it.

Verify Apps is a security function that routinely scans apps downloaded from the Play Store to ensure that they are safe but Ms Ruthven notes that sometimes phones cease interacting with it, perhaps through something as innocuous as buying a new handset.

When a device stops communicating with Verify Apps, it is considered Dead or Insecure (DOI). An app which has a “high enough percentage of DOI devices downloading it,” is then said to be a DOI app. Conversely, if a device continues to check in with Verify Apps following an app download, it becomes known as “retained.”

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2 weeks ago

Android gives apps a DOI score based on the number of number of devices that downloaded the app, the number of retained devices that downloaded the app and the probability of a device downloading any app that will be retained, to determine whether or not an app could pose a threat. Here’s the formula for how the Android security team calculates this:

N = Number of devices that downloaded the app.
x = Number of retained devices that downloaded the app.
p = Probability of a device downloading any app will be retained.
Z = DOI score

This is how Google finds Android malware

If the DOI score falls below “-3.7,” it indicates that a significant number of phones and/or tablets stopped checking with Verify Apps after installing the app in question. Google then combines the score with “other information” to ascertain whether it is indeed harmful, before taking action such as removing existing or preventing future installs.

Ms Ruthven notes that the implementation of this security process has contributed to the discovery of apps containing malware such as Hummingbad, Ghost Push, and Gooligan.

Best Google Pixel Accessories

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Although the Pixel and Pixel XL have been out on the market for a little while now, Google’s flagship family remains one of the best smartphone choices on the market right now. Unlike the Nexus family before it, the Pixel line not only appeals to techies but also to more casual users as well, as evidenced by the continued struggle to keep up with demand over at Verizon. There’s a lot to like about the Pixel and Pixel XL, including beautiful (though clearly iPhone-inspired) designs, fast internals, and stock Android with a few extras including the super powerful Google Assistant.

If you are the proud owner of the Pixel or Pixel XL, congratulations! Now it’s time to make a great thing even better by pairing it with the right accessories. Some of these add-ons are no brainers, like the new Daydream View VR headset and a quality case. What other accessories do we recommend? Keep reading to find out.

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Google Pixel XL review: a Pixel’s perspective

October 27, 2016

Official cases

Best Google Pixel Accessories

One of the most obvious Pixel and Pixel XL accessories would be an official case, and Google has quite a few options here. First up is the clear case. As the name suggests, the transparent case lets you show off the design of your phone, and the ultra thin case barely adds any bulk or thickness to the device. There are precise cutouts for power button, volume rocker, speaker, charging port, camera, and fingerprint scanner. The clear case is priced at $30.

Get the Clear case for the Pixel
Buy the Clear case for the Pixel XL

The next case offers a little more protection, and is built with three protective materials, including a silicon exterior that offers grip and shock absorption, a polycarbonate core that adds support, and finally, a premium microfiber interior. The buttons are covered, and the case is available in a slew of color options, including pink, blue, green, and black. This case is priced at $35.

Buy the Pixel phone case
Buy the Pixel XL phone case

Finally, you have the Live case, that lets you create your own case design, from a slew of choices ranging from artwork, your own photos or others, or even maps of places of your choice. Every case will get a downloadable live wallpaper that complements it. As far as the protection goes, this case is at the same level as the clear case above. The Live cases are priced at $40.

Get a Live case for the Pixel or Pixel XL

Interested in more case options? Check out our official Pixel and Pixel XL case roundup.


Daydream View

Best Google Pixel Accessories

Daydream represents a big leap forward for Google’s VR vision, which first began humbly with Google Cardboard. The Google Daydream View is an official Google-made VR headset that is built with the Pixel and Pixel XL in mind. The headset is made of a fabric material that is super comfortable to wear and once connected you are immersed in a special UI that includes its own versions of Google Play, YouTube and more. The Daydream View also includes a special motion controller allowing you to become more deeply immersed in your VR world.

For more details on the Daydream View be sure to check out our full review.

Buy now from Google Store

Google Pixel Desktop Charging Dock

Best Google Pixel Accessories

Looking for an attractive and easy to use cradle for your Pixel or Pixel XL? The Encased Google Pixel desktop charging dock could be exactly what you’re looking for. With a built-in Type-C compatible port for charging, this nice dock keeps your phone charging while you are at your desk or at your beside table while you’re asleep. The design also makes it easy to still use your phone for things like video chatting, using Google Assistant, navigating through your music apps, and more. The dock not only charges your phone but includes a cable that works with syncing to your computer as well, which is a nice little extra.

At a hair over $26, this accessory is a bit more than the cost of a charger, but it could be perfect for those that are looking for a better way to prop up and display their phone instead of laying it on its back or display.

Get it on Amazon

Chromecast

Best Google Pixel Accessories

If you’re looking for a simple streaming device that works flawless with your Pixel or Pixel XL, there are no better options than the Chromecast. With support for all your favorite apps from Spotify to Netflix and even a growing selection of games, the Chromecast is a great buy that starts at only $35. With the Chromecast, your phone acts as the remote, with Google’s casting technology quickly passing things over from your phone to your TV.

If you are looking for full 4K support there’s also the new Chromecast Ultra. At $70, the Ultra is a great bit more expensive, but the added benefit of 4K could make it worth it for some buyers.

Buy the Chromecast
Buy the Chromecast Ultra

Dual Port USB Type-C Rapid Wall Charger

Best Google Pixel Accessories

While your Pixel or Pixel XL obviously came with a charger in the box, the reality is that many of us have multiple mobile devices these days so having extra ports comes in handy. Google’s official Type-C rapid charger might not be the cheapest option on the market, but it’s designed to quick charge the Pixel (as well as earlier Nexus devices) with support for up to 15W on a single port. There’s also a 1.8-meter long cable that gives you plenty of flexibility when it comes to ensuring you can reach the cable to plug in your phone.

Buy from Google Store

Anker PowerCore+ 20100 mAh

Best Google Pixel Accessories

While the Pixel and Pixel XL have pretty solid battery life, a power bank can always come in handy and Anker is one of the best bets when it comes to power bank brands. The Anker PowerCore+ packs 20100 mAh and is comes in at $50.99 on Amazon. Along with the 10 LED capacity indicator, the PowerCore+ has 2 USB ports outputting power at 2.4A each, and a USB Type-C port. Included in the box is the power bank, a USB to USB Type-C cable which is used to quickly charge the power bank, a travel pouch, and a micro USB cable. Keep in mind that you don’t just charge the power bank using type-C, there’s also Type-C output, meaning you can charge your Nexus 6P (or whatever have you) from the battery charger as well.

The Anker PowerCore+ also utilizes a number of special technologies to help ensure the best experience possible, such as PowerIQ, a proprietary technology used to replicate the charging protocol of each device to ensure safe and efficient charging. VoltageBoost is another proprietary technology that detects cable resistance in order to provide a steady charge.

Buy on Amazon

CHARGED Quick Charge 3.0/2.0 & USB C

Best Google Pixel Accessories

If fast charging is what you want then the CHARGED 3.0 has you covered with 4 ports including a Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0 port which is the latest tech and also a USB Type C along with 2 smart USB ports that will give your devices the proper power they need to charge as quick as possible. The QC 3.0 port also quick charges Quick Charge 2.0 devices. This charger has all the latest technology and will serve you for some time. While the Pixel doesn’t use these standards officially, it should still charge at faster speeds through this charger, and any existing mobile devices you have will also play nicely here.

The CHARGED Quick Charge 3.0 is currently priced at $14.99.

10% OFF Coupon Code: QC3CAR10 (Enter this code at checkout to receive 10% off)

Buy at Amazon

iOttie Universal car mount

Best Google Pixel Accessories

While car docks aren’t an absolute must, I think you’ll find that pairing your Pixel or Pixel XL with a solid car dock will make life in your car that extra bit sweeter. The iOttie Universal car holder features a one touch mount system that lets you lock the device in place and release with just a press of a single button. Sticky gel pads allows for the holder to be stuck to most surfaces, and comes with a telescopic arm to allow for closer viewing of the screen. The holder can accommodate almost every smartphone, with the allowed width going up to 3.5-inches. The iOttie car holder is priced at $24.95.

Get it on Amazon

Any other Pixel or Pixel XL accessories you feel are worth picking up that we didn’t list? Let us know about them down in the comments.

Google app now saves offline searches and delivers results when connection is reestablished

I think we can all agree that losing internet connection during a Google search is quite annoying. Especially in this day and age when people don’t have a lot of patience and want to get the information they need as soon as possible.

While Google can’t help you with your spotty connection (, it can make your life a bit easier if you lose internet access during a search. The company unveiled that the Google app for Android has a new feature, which really does come in handy from time to time.

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This year’s biggest Google search trends pretty much sum up 2016

December 14, 2016

When you lose internet access while doing a search, the app will save your query and deliver the search results to you right after the connection is reestablished. You don’t have to lift a finger, as the app will do it all for you in the background. It will send you a notification letting you know that the connection is back and that your search results can now be viewed. Google states that the new feature won’t drain your device’s battery and will have a minimal impact on data usage.

This a very useful feature to have, as we all lose internet connection from time to time. If you want to try it out, make sure you have the latest version of the app installed on your device.

Project Fi $20 referral program is now extended indefinitely

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Last month, Google launched a referral program for Project Fi to attract more customers. Simply by referring someone to Google’s service, you and the person who was referred could get a $20 credit. The referral program was supposed to run through the 11th of January, but due to the huge response Google saw, it has now been extended indefinitely according to the company.

See also:

Google Project Fi review – can Google make it as a carrier?

September 17, 2015

Project Fi is Google’s experimental wireless service. The search giant has partnered with Sprint, T-Mobile, and U.S. Cellular to provide data and phone service. It also lets you access secure and stable public Wi-Fi networks with Google’s own layer of encryption. The idea is simple: you pay a flat fee each month for data, and Project Fi will seamlessly switch between the three aforementioned carriers’ networks to give you the best coverage possible.

The catch is that even though you can get a data-only Fi SIM card for your laptop or your tablet, in order to have phone service as well, you need to have one of the following devices: Google Pixel, Nexus 5X, or Nexus 6P. Perhaps because of this restriction, Project Fi never really gave enough of an incentive for users to switch from their more conventional networks. And that’s where the $20 referral comes in.

As a holiday gift, Google ran a promotion where an existing customer could provide a referral code to up to ten new customers. If a new customer signs up using the code and stays in good standing for 30 days, both the referrer and the referred would get a $20 credit. And apparently, it served its purpose well. Due to “huge response from the customers,” the search giant has decided to extend the promotion date indefinitely. Google does warn that the referral program may end at any time, however, so you might want to get on it sooner than later if Project Fi sounds like something that might suit you.

Due to “huge response from the customers,” the search giant has decided to extend the promotion date indefinitely.

As 9to5Google advises, both the referring user and the referred can see each other’s names and referral status, so that’s something to keep in mind. And again, if you want data as well as phone service, you will need to have a Google Pixel, Nexus 5X, or Nexus 6P.

Have you switched to Project Fi? How does it compare to your regular carrier? Let us know in the comments below!

Google Maps could soon help you find a parking space

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Google Maps may be about to roll out a feature which helps people find a place to park. Some users of the Google Maps app v9.44 beta have discovered a parking availability system which displays the likelihood of finding a parking space at specific destinations.

Reportedly, the system shows three tiers of availability — Limited, Medium, and Easy — which reflect the current parking situation at a location. The information appears with a “P” symbol next to the estimated time of arrival when searching for directions using the Maps app.

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5 days ago

How Google gathers this information isn’t clear, though presumably it integrates with pre-existing systems designed to identify parking availability in major locations — like airports or train stations — meaning it’s unlikely to reveal the available spaces on every street in a city.

When the feature will go live in the main app (if it even will) and the regions in which it will be available, isn’t yet known, though I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s limited to the US in the initial stages of its rollout. We’ll keep our eyes peeled from an announcement from Google.

Have you seen this feature in the beta app yet? Let us know in the comments.

Google Assistant may soon help you make online purchases

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Google Assistant may soon be able to help you carry out transactions, a teardown of a recent Google App APK file has revealed. XDA inspected the Google App beta version 6.11.13 and discovered it contained a number of strings relating to Assistant payment settings, including content regarding billing and delivery addresses.

The virtual assistant software is what powers Google’s voice-activated speaker Google Home, which already helps users with some transactions — like ordering an Uber or booking movie tickets through Fandango. It’s speculated that the proposed Google Assistant payment functionality, however, would allow Google Home and other compatible devices to be used for online shopping.

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Google Assistant update adds ability to take screenshots

6 days ago

XDA indicates that you’ll be able to “Specify which Assistant-connected devices will be able to participate in making payments,” and notes an app string that says: “You’ll soon be able to pay for things,” suggesting that Google may tease the service soon.

Meanwhile, Amazon’s Echo devices, powered by its Alexa software, already support voice payments, though it’s not a perfect system.

Deal: Google Daydream View $49 at Google Store (down from $79)

 

The Google Daydream View VR headset has been reduced to $49 at the Google Store, down from the regular $79 price. The fabric-clad headset is available in all three color variants with free shipping in a sale which ends on February 25.

The Google Daydream View launched last November to take advantage of Google’s VR software platform Daydream. The device is similar to its lightweight predecessor Google Cardboard, though it arrives with a dedicated controller, head strap and other tweaks.

The Daydream View is currently compatible with the following handsets, though more will be added to Google’s list of Daydream-ready devices in future:

  • Google Pixel / Pixel XL
  • Moto Z / Moto Z Force / Moto Z Force Droid
  • ASUS ZenFone AR
  • Huawei Mate 9 Pro / Porsche Design Mate 9
  • ZTE Axon 7

If you’re yet to check out VR, the Daydream View’s price-point and ease of use make it a good introduction. You can read our full Daydream View review at the link, and head over to the Google’s online store if you want to pick one up.

Here are the 20 finalists of Google’s European Indie Games Contest

Google has outlined the finalists of its Google Play Indie Games contest via the Android Developers blog. The competition, launched in November last year, called for indie developers from 15 European nations to submit games for the chance to win a number of rewards, including priority Play Store placements and invitations to industry events.

After receiving almost 1,000 submissions, Google has selected 20 finalists, all of whom receive the opportunity to exhibit and showcase their game at a final event at the Saatchi Gallery in London on February 16. There, attendees will have a chance to vote for 10 games to go forward to a panel of experts who will decide on the overall winners of the top prizes.

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Here are the 20 finalists:

You can register to attend the London event via the form at the link. Google says attendees can: “Meet the developers, check out their great games, vote for [their] favorites, and have fun with various industry experts and indie developers.”

Have you played any of finalists? Which is your favorite? Let us know in the comments.