Apple Music for Android Updated With Support for Voice Search, Adding Friends

Alongside today's release iOS 11, Apple updated its Apple Music app for Android devices to introduce feature parity with the new version of Apple Music in the iOS update.

Android users can now create an Apple Music profile to follow friends and see what they've been listening to. The same feature was introduced in Apple Music on iOS devices with iOS 11.

Today's update brings a new Recently Played Widget, designed to let Android users show and play music on the home screen of their device.

There's also support for Voice Search, so Android users can hold down the home button or say "Ok Google" to search for and play Music, and there are new home screen shortcuts built in. A tap and hold on the Apple Music icon will play Beats 1 or start a search.

Apple Music for Android can be downloaded from the Google Play store for free.


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Google Officially Unveils Next-Generation ‘Android Oreo’

Google today announced the next-generation version of its Android operating system, which is named Oreo.

Android Oreo includes dozens of new features, ranging from notification improvements to picture-in-picture support to new emoji.


The update introduces an iOS-like feature called Notification Dots (aka app badges), designed to make it easier to see which apps have new content to display. A long tap on an app icon now displays information like the last notification received and app widgets, much like a 3D Touch does on iOS.

Picture-in-picture support allows users to watch video content while using other apps, while a new autofill feature remembers login information to allow for quicker username and password entry.

Support for new Unicode 10 emoji is included, introducing emoji like exploding head, vampire, zombie, hedgehog, giraffe, fortune cookie, and more. Existing Android emojis have also been redesigned to do away with the iconic Android emoji blobs.

Instant Apps, designed to allow developers to create apps that can run instantly, are now enabled by default, and Google has made improvements to the overall speed of the operating system for faster launch times along as well as introduced security improvements.

A full rundown on the new Android Oreo features is available on Google's site for those interested. The update is available today through Google's Android Open Source Project, with Google planning to roll it out to Pixel and Nexus devices in the near future as soon as carrier testing is complete.

Though Pixel and Nexus owners can expect to get access to Android Oreo in the near future, owners of other Android-based smartphones will need to wait much longer, if they get the update at all. The previous version of Android, Android Nougat, is still only installed on 13.5 percent of devices despite the fact that it was released a year ago.


The majority of Android devices continue to run Android 5.0 Lollipop and Android 6.0 Marshmallow, released in 2014 and 2015, respectively.

Tag: Android

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Apple Debuts Revamped ‘Switch’ Site to Lure Android Users to iPhone [Update: New Videos Added]

Apple today debuted an overhauled webpage aimed at encouraging Android users to switch to the iPhone, introducing a simpler FAQ-style site that highlights iPhone features and makes it clear how simple it is to switch from an Android device to an iPhone.


Apple previously had a webpage dedicated to customers coming to an iPhone from Android devices, but it featured less information on the iPhone itself and focused primarily on the Move to iOS app, a dedicated app that helps Android users transfer contacts, message history, photos, mail accounts, calendars, and more.

The new site, while featuring a section on Move to iOS, also attempts to lure Android users with details on the iPhone's camera and its processor, along with information on Apple Pay, Apple's privacy policy, the Messages app, Apple's commitment to the environment, and Apple Support.


The site, which features clever animations and a simple design that's quick to scroll through, ends with an iPhone comparison chart and direct links to purchase iPhones from Apple's current lineup, including the iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 7, iPhone 6s Plus, iPhone 6s, and iPhone SE.

Apple continues to see a growing number of customers who are switching to the iPhone from an Android device, which Apple CEO Tim Cook covers in nearly every earnings call. During the second quarter earnings call in early May, Cook had this to say: "We saw the largest absolute number of switchers outside of Greater China that we've ever seen in the same period."

Update: To go along with the new site, Apple has uploaded a series of 16 second videos on its YouTube channel. Each video (there are five in total) highlights how easy it is to switch from Android to iPhone with the Move to iOS app or points out iPhone features like speed and privacy.




Tag: Android

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Google Says There’s Now More Than 2 Billion Monthly Active Android Devices

Google today announced that there are now more than two billion monthly active Android devices in use around the world.


By comparison, Apple announced it had surpassed 1 billion active iOS devices in January 2016, but it hasn't provided an updated count since then.

Apple sells tens of millions of iOS devices each quarter, so it's reasonable to assume the total is above 1 billion, but likely well below 2 billion.

Android's milestone was revealed by Google CEO Sundar Pichai during today's Google I/O keynote in Mountain View, California.


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First Course Launches to Develop Apps For Android in Apple’s Swift Language

An Italian school has launched the first Android-specific course in Apple's increasingly popular open source Swift programming language.

The Swift University based in Reggio Emilia claims to be the first, globally, to offer the course for Android, and aims to show students how to use the programming language across both platforms while avoiding the limitations associated with cross-platform middleware such as Xamarin.

At the heart of the course is the use of a bespoke integrated development environment (IDE), rather than a converter, that allows coders to program in Swift instead of Java while using the normal classes of the Android SDK. The course summary, through Google Translate, is as follows:


By attending this course you will learn how to program apps for Android devices via the Android SDK but written in the Swift language. Thanks to this innovative course, students can easily port iOS projects to Android and/or develop a multi-platform app without using a middleware. This course is suitable for those who are already programmers in Swift, Java, C #, Objective-C and other programming languages. Topics are updated to the latest version of Android SDK.
Swift was introduced by Apple in 2014, with the aim of replacing Objective-C as an easier-to-learn language, and garnered major support from IBM and a variety of apps like Lyft, Pixelmator, and Vimeo. Since then it has steadily risen to prominence among both emerging and established developers, and last month broke into the top 10 in the TIOBE Index, which ranks programming languages by popularity.

Apple has actively promoted Swift as ideal for children who are keen to code, demonstrating its gentle learning curve in Swift Playgrounds, an app that teaches children how to use the language. Apple has been updating and refining Swift since its debut, and unveiled Swift 3.1 on March 27.

(Thanks, Marcello!)

Tags: Swift, Android

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Apple Music for Android Gets Major iOS-Style Design Revamp

Apple today updated its Apple Music for Android app with a new design that mimics the look of the Music app on iOS devices. Version 2.0 of the app includes the redesigned Apple Music experience that was introduced on iOS devices with the release of iOS 10.

Like the iOS version, Apple Music for Android features a bolder, cleaner look with reorganized sections: "Library," "For You," "Browse," and "Radio." Also included are iOS 10 features like song lyrics and a revamped For You recommendation section, plus with the redesign, there's more of a focus on album art.

An all-new design brings greater clarity and simplicity to Apple Music:

Now Playing. Read lyrics for songs as you listen.
Library. Navigate your music easily and see the Downloaded Music you can play offline.
For You. Get recommendations for playlists, albums, and more--based on music you love.
Browse. Listen to new music first, plus playlists for any mood or activity.
Radio. Tune in to Beats 1 shows or listen to stations for any genre.
With the redesign, Apple Music customers who subscribe to and use the service on both Android and iOS devices will have a streamlined listening experience. Apple Music has been available for Android devices since November of 2015, and it continues to be one of the sole Android apps Apple has developed.

Apple Music for Android can be downloaded from the Google Play store for free.


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Google Drive Update Makes It Easier to Transfer iPhone Content to Android

Google Drive was updated today to make it easier for users to transfer their content from iOS devices to Android devices, Google announced. The company also published a new web page on the Android website detailing how it works.

googledriveswitch
Once a user downloads Google Drive from the App Store, they can navigate toward the backup wizard by going to Menu > Settings > Backup in the app. From there, users can choose to sync select contacts, calendar events and photos or everything. Google recommends that users backup when their iPhone is connected to power and is on Wi-Fi, as backing up can take several hours. Additionally, the Google Drive app must stay open and the screen must stay on.

When users sign into their Google account on their new Android device their content will automatically sync.

Google has tried to make it easier for iPhone users to switch to Android in recent months, packing in a "Quick Switch Adapter" with the Pixel, which quickly transfers data directly from an iPhone to a Pixel phone. While the Quick Switch Adapter only works with the Pixel phone, the Google Drive method will also work with non-Pixel Android phones.

iPhone users who want to switch to Android must turn off iMessage before they officially switch devices.

Google Drive is available in the App Store for free. [Direct Link]


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Android app updates will get drastically smaller, again

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Updating apps on your mobile device isn’t just a matter of a few seconds anymore; with apps (games, especially) steadily rising in size, a larger set of updates can easily grow into gigabytes of data and many minutes of downloading. 

Google addressed the issue earlier this year by switching to a new compression algorithm, which the company says reduced the size of app updates by 47 percent on average. 

Now, the company has made even bigger progress by using an app updating technique called File-by-File patching which makes app updates 65 percent smaller on average compared with the full app.

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7 practical gifts for people who always break their phones

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Most of today’s flagship smartphones can be described as beautiful, but fragile. Materials like glass and metal also make smartphones more prone to slipping out of our hands than the plastic models of previous generations. Not to mention big phablets are nearly impossible to use with one hand, making them even more likely to accidentally take a tumble.

Nobody likes a cracked a screen, a dented bezel, a destroyed charging port or a crushed headphone jack. And nobody likes paying to have their broken phones replaced.

Whether you’re shopping for a clumsy friend or family member (heck, or maybe yourself), here are seven practical gifts for the person’s who’s always breaking their phone. Read more…

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Plenty of GIF and emoji fun with Android’s latest update

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Google’s latest Android update has arrived and it comes with a new set of emoji.

The company is now starting to roll out the Android 7.1 update, which includes its new gender-diverse emoji. It also includes new home screen shortcuts for apps and support for GIF keyboards.

The new emoji include 11 new characters portraying professional women — as doctors, welders, scientists, chefs, coders and more — as well as the dozens of new male and female versions of existing emoji. All of the new characters are available in different skin tones. Read more…

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