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Google is going to fix email with Inbox

Google is going to fix email with Inbox

Google announced Inbox on October 22nd. In its essence, Inbox tires to make your life easier by organizing your emails better and lumping them into groups of similar items – very similar to what Gmail does currently with primary, social, promotional and updates categories. The difference is that Inbox manages to make look really good – you can thank the new Material Design for that. Inbox has got plenty of Material Design going for it.

As with a lot of new Google services, Inbox is invite only for now – good luck trying to hunt one down. It is available as an app for Android and iOS and as an extension for the Chrome browser, which means there is no real web version at the moment. The first thing you notice about Inbox is how good it looks. It really looks amazing, thanks to Material Design, and animations are nice and crisp. Functionality is changed, “archive” is now “done”. You just swipe one way to be “done” with the email (which will archive it).

inbox-inside

Emails are bunched into bundles – think of bundles like the current labels, but better and more flexible. Archiving items will still keep them in the bundle and it is said that Inbox will learn and improve its “bundles” the more you use it. There is also a snooze function – you can swipe the email left to “snooze” the email and have it pop up at a later time if you don’t want to deal with it at this very moment. The quick action button is a nice feature to have – it will give you a “compose email” shortcut to your frequent contacts along with a compose email from scratch option.

There is an element of getting used to the flow of things with Inbox, its not perfect, but its a new and exciting direction that Google is trying. I’m sure it will be refined a lot before it hits the masses. You can try your luck and email inbox@google.com to see if you can score yourself an invite.

Good Luck.

Google Play Newstand gets Android L’s Material Design

Google Play Newstand gets Android L’s Material Design

Google has been pushing its new Material Design language to its existing apps over the past few months since Android L was announced in June. Android L is said to be the biggest upgrade to Android since it came out in 2007. Android L brings a whole new design language called Material and the Google Play store was the first Google App to get the updated style followed by Google Plus, Google Docs, Google Sheets and Google Chrome. The newest member of the family to join them is the Google Play Newstand app – the online magazine app now displays bigger images, smoother transitions, allows users to explore deeper into topics and the app should run faster overall as well.

Google states that “Today’s redesign brings a new magazine reading experience on your phone. In the past, print magazines have been hard to read on a small screen, zooming in and out to skim an article. But now you’ll see a list of articles from the magazine that you can toggle through and easily read with big images right on your phone.”

Android L will encrypt your data by default

Android L will encrypt your data by default

Data encryption on Android has been offered for the most part since 2011. It was an option in the settings menu that let you lock down your data so that thieves or law enforcement would not be able to get to any of your files. That option will now become the default setting on all phones running Android L.

Google’s statement read “For over three years Android has offered encryption, and keys are not stored off of the device, so they cannot be shared with law enforcement. As part of our next Android release, encryption will be enabled by default out of the box, so you won’t even have to think about turning it on.”

The announcement comes just one day after Apple revealed that users who are running iOS8 are protected by the users passcodes that Apple themselves cannot bypass. Apple came under heavy criticism recently when several private, nude images of celebrities were phished out of Apple iCloud accounts. Apple CEO, Tim Cook, has since been very vocal about consumer privacy and how Apple handles customers’ data.

This comes as welcome news after all the “hacking” news over the last year, from leaks by Edward Snowden  about how the NSA collected all communications to private photos of celebrites being hacked from personal accounts. The general public will be happy to know that the biggest players in the smartphone arena are taking active measures to protect consumer privacy and data.

Sprint now wants you to pay $5 per month for bloatware

Sprint now wants you to pay $5 per month for bloatware

Sprint has just upped the bloatware game by announcing its own Sprint App Store. While competition is great for a the duopoly that is the app store market. At the moment, if you want an app you either go to the Google Play Store on your Android device, or the AppStore on your iOS device (windows has its own App store too by the way). While its great of Sprint to offer something else to its customers – they execution might be just a bit off.

While the Google Play Store and AppStore are free to install and use – with plenty of free apps – Sprint wants to charge customers $5 per month to use its Sprint App Pass. Sprint says that this App Pass will give its customers unlimited access to a certain number of apps for the duration that they pay the subscription fees. It is rumored that it will be around 200 apps and will include free and paid apps.

The alternative is to stick to the Google Play Store and keep doing business as usual. The numbers do not make sense in the long term since there is no guarantee that you would use or keep any of the paid app options for any given month. Its a great idea to challenge that duopoly that is the Play Store and the AppStore, but having a subscription model through bloatware does not seem to be the likely answer.

Verizon Lets LG G3 users remove bloatware

Verizon Lets LG G3 users remove bloatware

Verizon is trailing a new program that lets you remove bloatware from their devices. The trial is only available for the LG G3 at the moment and there is no official word if it will come to other Verizon devices yet, but we are guessing that if it was well received, it will be made available on other devices as well.

Currently, there are a bunch of apps that cannot be uninstalled from your Verizon device. These apps will be “preloaded” during the setup process and customers can then choose to uninstall any app they do not wish to keep. However, there are some Verizon apps that cannot be uninstalled – only disabled, which is still a step in the right direction toward the goal of being bloatware free.

The full statement from Verizon is below:
Verizon is trialing a new service on the LG G3. Pre-loaded applications will install in the background during the activation and set up process. Once setup is complete, the applications will appear in the applications folder as though they have been traditionally pre-loaded. However, there IS one key difference; the applications can be completely and entirely uninstalled by the customer via the standard uninstall process. Customers will not incur any data usage or charges for the download and installation of these applications.

How to convert your GSM HTC One M8 into a Google Play Edition

How to convert your GSM HTC One M8 into a Google Play Edition

The HTC One M8 is a great phone, even with HTC’s Sense 6 – some would even argue that it is better and, offers more than Vanilla Android that comes with a Nexus device, but, there is also a vast majority of people who will disagree and would love a pure Android experience with the M8. However, at nearly $700 a piece, not everyone can justify spending that amount on a phone. Not when you can upgrade to the same phone for $99 down with your regular carrier.

For those of you who want the Nexus experience on your GSM M8, the guys over at XDA have put together a tutorial to make it as seamless as possible. Head over to the original thread to see how you can have the GPE experience on your HTC One M8.

 

Google’s Android One Program Will Rid Phones of Bloatware

Google’s Android One Program Will Rid Phones of Bloatware

We recent wrote about the rumored Android Silver program for flagship Android devices. In a welcome move, Google has now announced a similar program for low-mid tier Android phones at its annual Google I/O event in San Francisco. It will follow a model much like the Nexus devices where the software updates will come directly from the Mountain View company.

Android One allows Google to set cost-effective hardware standards for OEM’s to manufacture. The software will come directly from Google and this, combined with the hardware standards, will benefit the consumer. The main benefits being that you will no longer have bloatware on your phone from OEM’s and that Android will be able to keep a uniform look and feel among a host of different devices. These devices would probably be in similar ilk to the Moto G and the Moto E.

android-one-1

The Android One program is aimed mainly at emerging markets and Google is initially teaming with Indian manufactures Karbonn, Spice and Micromax. Its not launching in the US just yet, with carriers proving to be a major barrier to direct software updates. Are you a fan of this new vision of the Android OS? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section!

Samsung Galaxy S5 – Google Play Edition – Where is it?

Samsung Galaxy S5 – Google Play Edition – Where is it?

Its fair to say that Google Play Editions are a popular device choice, not just for Android purists, but for a lot of user who do not want to deal with manufacture skins and carrier bloatware, AND still want a premium device with the best specs on the market. Hence all the more puzzling when you consider that the Galaxy S5 has been out for a few months now, with no sign of a Google Play Edition model. It was Samsung that kicked off the whole Google Play Edition (GPE) trend with the Galaxy S4 and was swiftly followed by the HTC One. HTC continued its GPE trend support when it announced the HTC One M8 GPE (which is available in the Google Play Store).

Screen Shot 2014-06-26 at 2.46.13 PM

 

It may be a sign of things to come from Samsung – who have already moved to Tizen OS on their smartwatches (although they did release their Gear Live watch running the new Android Wear OS). Samsung’s focus has always been on its own services, from its TouchWiz Android skin, to its S-services (most of which are not as good as what comes on stock Android AND take up resources on your devices). Perhaps its cockiness on Samsung’s part, being the biggest Android manufacture, or might just be waiting for Android L to be finalized before it does a big reveal.

Whatever the case – I know of a good few people that would love to get their hands on a GPE Galaxy S5.

Nokia Launches a New Predictive Android Launcher

Nokia Launches a New Predictive Android Launcher

Predecting your next moves seem to be where a lot of new Android launchers are heading. Nokia has just joined that foray and launched its own Android launcher called Z Launcher. This is all very interesting since Microsoft, who have their own mobile OS, just bought Nokia.

The Z Launcher has a very minimalist feel to it and does not support widgets for now. Its in limited beta for now and you can sign up here to test it out (it only supports a handful of devices at the moment). It “predicts” what you will use at a particular time/situation and will have the apps float on the home screen. Nokia have released a short intro video that you can watch below.

 

Android Silver: Google’s Answer To Manufacturer Bloatware

Android Silver: Google’s Answer To Manufacturer Bloatware

Google’s Nexus program has been very successful over the past few years, to say the least. The Nexus program gives you a flagship phone at a decent price, but most of all, it comes with Vanilla Android, without any manufacture or carrier add-on software. They are also the first devices to get updates directly from Google. A lot of manufacturers have their own version of Android running on their phones, which results in delayed updates since they have to re-skin and test every new updated released from the Mountain View company.

It has recently been reported that Google will replace its Nexus program with a new one called “Android Silver”. However, unlike the Nexus program, which had Google working directly with a single manufacture for a Nexus device, Android Silver is more along the lines of a set of hardware and software standards set by Google. Any manufacturer can take part in the program, as long as their devices meet the standards set by Google, it will be considered and sold as an Android Silver device.

Why Android Silver

Unlike the rigidly-controlled iOS, Android is highly fragmented since its hardware ranges from low-end, cheap devices, to high powered flagship devices with excellent build quality. Top this off with manufactures adding their own UI over the stock Google version, and you have a myriad of devices running several different versions of Android. Google’s answer to this fragmentation is Android Silver – which is essentially a “seal of quality” that signifies premium build quality, hardware and a unified Android experience (and hopefully fewer bloatware apps). It is Google’s way of telling a consumer that by buying a Silver device, they are getting an excellent premium device with an uncluttered Android experience.

This is all good news for the consumer, as it means a wide range of reasonably priced high end devices that are updated year after year. According to a recent leak by @evleaks, LG will be the first manufacturer to release a Android Silver device later this year. It will reportedly run an all new 64-bit Snapdragon 810 processer and will be on the Sprint network, though there is no word about exclusivity at the moment.

What are your thoughts on the new Android Silver program? Do you believe it is Google taking too much control over the Android experience?

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