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I've seen enough complaints about Allo and for a first release, I don't think the complaints are necessary. We all know Google has entered a mature market that is filled with competition, but if you look at the competition—Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Telegram, iMessage etc.— did they become instant successes on their first release? Of course not. These companies took users' feedback and improved with every update. That's exactly what we should expect from Allo: improvement with every update. It's unfair to compare products that have been improved upon, with products that were just newly released.

Now, if you're trying to understand Google's strategy for messaging, then you have a problem because there is no clear-cut strategy. At this point in time, not one company has solved the messaging issue. Sure we have some solid messaging clients, but the problem is they all use different technologies. For example, if you want to use Facebook Messenger and your friend wants to use WhatsApp, there's no way that both of you can use the app you desire to communicate with each other. Google is trying many strategies because there is no interoperability when it comes to messaging on multiple platforms. SMS is a ubiquitous platform, but the issue is that it's severely limited when compared to modern messaging apps.

The solution? RCS¹, a next-generation SMS standard. However, Rich Communication Services (RCS) requires carrier implementation. As The Verge² points out, even if there is wide adoption of RCS, there's no assurance that carriers won't mess it up with "—high prices or competing, incompatible features". This is why Google acquired Jibe. According to Google³, "Jibe is a leading provider of RCS services and they’ll continue helping carriers easily deploy RCS to their users." Google's end goal is to make sure that there is no fragmentation with RCS across carriers and platforms. However, Google understands that deploying RCS will take time and collaboration with the wireless industry.

Here's where Allo, Hangouts, Google Messenger and all other messaging apps come into play. For now, we'll just focus on Google. All three of Google's messaging apps are "fillers" until RCS is fully deployed. Each one targets a different kind of user⁴. Allo is consumer driven and targets emerging markets and Google's current market of users looking for an instant messaging app⁴. Hangouts is being repositioned towards enterprise, with Google hoping that existing non-business users will switch over to Allo and Duo. Finally, Google Messenger is Google's gateway to SMS and (in the future) RCS.

Since there is no clear-cut messaging solution available (yet), users should use the messaging apps that work for them. Notice how I said messaging apps with an "s". That's because you may just have to use multiple apps to communicate with friends, family, and co-workers who, individually, use their own set of distinct messaging apps.

¹http://www.gsma.com/network2020/technology/rcs/ ²http://www.theverge.com/2016/6/1/11833566/google-messaging-app-allo-rcs-android-code-conference ³https://android.googleblog.com/2015/09/committing-to-rcs-latest-standard-in.html
http://www.theverge.com/2016/8/16/12494408/googles-hangouts-enterprise-communications-app

#Android #Allo #RCS
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Google announces Google Podcasts app

Podcasts are a great storytelling medium, with great voices showcasing their thoughts and opinions on some of your favorite topics. From sports to tech to space, chances are there is a podcast that suits your interest. On Android, there are many apps that can deliver your favorite podcasts to you, with Google opting to integrate podcasts within the company's Google Play Music app. Podcast integration in Google Play Music has been a bit clunky and Google seems to have recognized that. Today, Google has announced Google Podcasts — a new podcast app for Android.

With Google Podcasts, you'll be able to listen and subscribe to any podcast, including popular shows like The Daily, Cyrus Says, Modern Love, Lage der Nation, The Bill Simmons Podcast, and much more. Google Podcasts also uses "artificial intelligence" (AI) to offer recommendations based on your listing habits. Google Podcasts will sync across other Google products and services, including the Google Assistant. That means, you'll be able to start listening to a podcast on your phone while commuting home from work and then resume listening on your Google Home when you arrive!

Google says they plan on improving Google Podcasts in the future. The company says that they will eventually be able to use their speech-to-text technology to provide automatic subtitling — which can be great for the hearing impaired or those who are in a noisy area without headphones. In a future update, the company could also use Google Translate to then make these subtitles available to many more people in a week variety of languages.

#Android #GooglePodcasts
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Android Messages for web now available

After months of showing up in APK Teardowns, Google has officially launched the new web interface for Android Messages, as well as a couple of other new features coming to the Android Messages app.

Android Messages for web

You can now use Android Messages on your favorite web browsers, including Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Safari, or Microsoft Edge. With Android Messages for web, you'll be able to view, send, and receive text messages, as well as send stickers, emojis, and attach images. Setting up Android Messages for web is very similar to seting up Google Allo for web. Simply head to messages.android.com, unlock your phone and open Android Messages, choose the Scan QR code option, and your phone will vibrate when connected.

Once setup, your latest conversation threads, contacts, and other settings will be encrypted and cached on your browser. If you don't use Android Messages for web for 14 days, you'll automatically be signed out. There's even a dark mode and high contrast mode that you can activate by heading to the settings page.

Other features coming to Android Messages

Google has added a few other features to the Android Messages app. First, there is a new "+" button on the left hand side of the compose bar that will allow you to easily search for GIFs. Second, Google has added their infamous "Smart reply" feature to Android Messages, allowing you to select and use quick text or emoji responses in your messages. This will initially be available for English language users, but will expand to support more languages over time. Third, Google has added support for inline link previews in conversation threads, giving you a good idea about the link you're about to click on. Finally, Google has made it easier to copy one-time passwords or codes from secure sites. Whenever you receive a one-time password or code (e.g. two-facor authentication), you'll be able to immediately copy the verification code from the notification and paste it into the app or website.

These new features will be rolling out to the Android Messages app over the next week.

#Android #AndroidMessages
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Xiaomi announces Redmi 6/6A

Today, Xiaomi has announced Redmi 6/6A — the latest additions to the company's budget lineup.

The Xiaomi Redmi 6/6A, which sport polycarbonate bodies, feature 5.45-inch displays at a resolution of 1440x720 (18:9 aspect ratio), a MediaTek Helio A22 (Redmj 6A) or P22 (Redmi 6) processor, 2GB (Redmi 6A) or 3GB (Redmi 6) or 4GB (Redmi 6) of RAM, 16GB (Redmi 6A) or 32GB (Redmi 6) or 64GB (Redmi 6) of internal storage, a 5MP front-facing camera, a 13MP (Redmi 6A) or 12MP+5MP (Redmi 6,) camera, a rear fingerprint scanner, a microUSB port, a 3,000mAh battery, and Android 8.1 Oreo.

Pricing and availability: The Xiaomi Redmi 6A with 2GB of RAM/16GB of storage will cost just RMB599 (~$94 USD). The Redmi 6 with 3GB of RAM/32GB of storage will cost RMB799 (~$125 USD), and the model with 4GB of RAM/64GB of internal storage will cost RMB999 (~$156 USD). All devices will be available from Xiaomi on June 15th.

#Android #Xiaomi
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Vivo announces Nex — with a true edge-to-edge display

Earlier this year at Mobile World Congress 2018, Vivo showed off a concept phone — called Apex — that featured a notchless edge-to-edge display. Now, the company has made the phone a reality with the introduction of Vivo Nex.

The Vivo Nex features a 6.59-inch Super AMOLED notch-free edge-to-edge display at a resolution of 2316x1080 (19:9 aspect ratio) and a 91.24% screen-to-body ratio. The display also sports "Screen SoundCasting Technology" that allows you to make phone calls. The Nex has a Qualcomm Snapdragon 710 or 845 (Premium model) processor, 6GB or 8GB of RAM (Premium model), 128GB or 256GB (Premium model) of internal storage, an 8MP elevating front-facing camera that pops up from inside the body of the phone, a dual rear camera setup (12MP+5MP), an in-display fingerprint scanner, a USB Type-C port, a 4,000mAh battery with fast charging support, and Android 8.1 Oreo with Funtouch OS 4.

The Vivo Nex will only be available in China and will cost 4,998 RMB (about $780) for the premium model.

#Android #Vivo
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Motorola announces Moto Z3 Play

After a few leaks, Motorola has officially taken the wraps off the company's latest mid-range to high-end smartphone — Moto Z3 Play.

Although virtually identical to last year's Moto Z2 Play, Motorola has slimmed the bezels and willcontinue to support Moto Mods with the Z3 Play. The Moto Z3 Play, which has a glass back, sports a 6-inch Super AMOLED edge-to-edge display at a resolution of 2160x1080 (18:9 aspect ratio), a Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 processor, 4GB of RAM, 32GB or 64GB of internal storage, an 8MP f/2.0 wide-angle lens front-facing camera, a dual rear camera setup (12MP f/1.7 with PDAF+5MP depth sensor), NFC, Bluetooth 5.0, a fingerprint scanner on the right side (similar to what is found on Sony phones except with a separate power button on the left side), a USB Type-C port, and a 3,000mAh battery with TurboPower charge included.

The Moto Z3 Play also has a gesture-based one button navigation bar, similar to that found on Android P and on iPhone X.

Colors: Deep Indigo

Pricing and availability: The Moto Z3 Play will come bundled with a Moto Power Pack mod. The Z3 Play will start at $499,p and will be available from retailers such as Best Buy, Walmart, Target, Fry’s, B&H Photo, and Amazon (Prime Exclusive). In Canada, the Z3 Play will be available from Videotron, Bell Mobility, Virgin Mobile, MTS, and SaskTel.

#Android #Motorola #Lenovo
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LG announces Q Stylus, Q Stylus+, and Q Stylus α

With the Samsung's Note series, the company probably has the most popular smartphone with a stylus. However, LG has been building smartphones with styli for a while now and they have typically come in at prices lower than what Samsung charges. Today, LG has announced the company's latest stylus-equipped phone — Q Stylus.

The Q Stylus comes in three different variants with pretty ridiculous superscripts in their names. Regardless, let's take a look at what LG has to offer. The LG Q Stylus (all variants), which features a a metallic body, sports a 6.2-inch IPS display at a resolution of 2160x1080 (18:9 aspect ratio), an unspecified 1.8GHz or 1.5GHz octa-core processor, 3GB (Q, Qα) or 4GB (Q+) of RAM, 32GB (Q, Qα) or 64GB (Q+) of internal storage (expandable), an 5MP (Q, Qα, Q+) or 8MP (Q, Q+) super wide-angle front-facing camera, a 13MP (Qα) or 16MP (Q, Q+) rear camera with PDAF, IP68 dust and water resistance, MIL-STD 810G compliance, NFC, a fingerprint scanner on the back, a USB Type-C port, a 3,330mAh battery with fast charging support, and Android 8.1 Oreo.

The stylus (unclear if it is pressure sensitive) features Palm rejection and will allow you to create handwritten notes, personalize pictures, and turn videos into GIFs.

Colors: Aurora Black (Q, Q+), Moroccan Blue (Q, Q+, Qα), and Lavender Violet (Q+).

Pricing and availability: The Q Stylus will be available in North America and Asia later this month. Although, the the availability of each of the three modles will depend on the region. Pricing was not announced.

#Android #LG
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Google releases Android P Beta 2/Developer Preview 3

Four weeks ago at Google I/O, Google released the first Beta release of Android P, with a new navigation model, revamped notifications, and more. Now, Google has announced that they are releasing Android P Beta 2/Developer Preview 3.

Google has posted Android P Beta 2/Developer Preview 3 factory images and OTA.zip files for Pixel, Pixel XL, Pixel 2, and Pixel 2 XL. In addition, there are multiple reports indicating that users with devices enrolled in the Android Beta Program are starting to receive the over-the-air update. As part of this release, Google is also providing the final APIs (API level 28) so that developers can get their apps ready for the final
release.

Check out the full details on the Android Developer Blog: https://android-developers.googleblog.com/2018/06/android-p-beta-2-and-final-apis.html

#Android
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Lenovo announces Z5

After teasing a smartphone with a notch-less display, Lenovo has officially taken the wraps off of the device, and to everyone's surprise the phone still sports a notched display.

Yes, Lenovo deceived consumers with their notch-less phone teasers. They are also continuing to deceive consumers with the official render since the actual Z5 has larger bezels than the bezels that are portrayed on the render. Nonetheless, the phone is still an amazing value. Although, it will only be available in China. Let's check out the specifications. The Lenovo Z5, which has a a glass back, sports a 6.2-inch "edge-to-edge" IPS display at a resolution of 2236x1080 (19:9 aspect ratio), a Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 processor, 6GB of RAM, 64GB or 128GB of internal storage (expandable), an 8MP f/2.0 front-facing camera, a dual rear camera setup (16MP+8MP), a fingerprint scanner on the back, a USB Type-C port, a 3,300mAh battery, and Android 8.1 Oreo with ZUI 4.0.

Colors: Black, Blue, and Aurora.

Pricing and availability: The Black Lenovo Z5 is available today in China at a starting of $203 (¥ 1299). The Blue and Aurora models will cost a bit more at around $220.

#Android #Lenovo
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The month of June has begun so you know what time it is — time for this month's Android Security Update. Today, Google has released Android's June Security Update for both Pixel and Nexus devices that are currently being maintained. As usual those who don't wish to wait for the update to hit their devices, will be able to install the update by flashing the factory images or OTA.zip files.

So far, there are Android 8.1.0 Oreo files with the latest security patches for for Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL (OPM2.171026.006.C1, OPM4.171019.021.E1), Pixel and Pixel XL (OPM4.171019.021.D1), Nexus 6P (OPM6.171019.030.B1), Nexus 5X (OPM6.171019.030.B1), and Pixel C (OPM4.171019.021.D1)

Google also notes that build OPM4.171019.021.E1 for Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL are specific to T-Mobile.

There are also functional updates that include:

• Improved BLE for all devices
• Improved antenna-switching behavior in areas of weak coverage for Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL
• Improved Wi-Fi connectivity with certain Wi-Fi access points for Pixel, Pixel XL, Pixel 2, and Pixel 2 XL
• IMEI SV format correctly displays as numeric for Pixel, Pixel XL, Pixel 2, Pixel 2 XL
• Improved consistency of Always On Display for Pixel 2 XL
• Improved proximity sensor behavior for Pixel 2 XL

#Android #Pixel #Nexus
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