Now that smartphones have been around for a while, and the technology is starting to plateau, it’s interesting to see how people are using them. In my observation (no research to back this up,) smartphones have really become a distraction, time killing, entertainment device, occasionally used for communication. Think about it. When smartphones first came onto the scene, it was all about productivity paired with connectivity. Now, we’re primarily using our phones to browse through Twitter, scroll through Facebook, get sucked into a Reddit rabbit hole, play games, etc. This is something I haven’t paid attention to until I downloaded the Food.com app for Android and realized, “Hey, this magic device along with this app can actually make my life easier.”
Given that my first weekly app review was of Opera for Android, a suitable replacement for Chrome, I thought I would look at something even a little more different when it comes to web browsing. We as consumers are always looking for quicker, more efficient means of consuming information, and we don’t want to sacrifice quality. When it comes to web browsing on Android devices, Flynx from InfiKen Labs tailors to that need.
It appears I’ve been blinded by ignorance when it comes to web browsers for my Android phone. Somehow last week, can’t really remember how, I stumbled upon an app called Opera. Upon first glance, I almost scrolled right past it thinking the “O” stood for Oprah, or that the non-stylized red character represented the Overstock shopping app – that’s just the vibe I got from the icon. But, as it turns out, this is actually a popular (50 million downloads popular) alternate browser that I’ve come to realize may likely become my new daily driver. Here’s why.
If you use Google Now, you know that by enabling location services, you can automatically receive updates on weather, traffic and more based off of your home, work and frequently visited locations. But, what happens if you move or get a new job? Google Now won’t be as accurate in its information, continuing to give info based on the old address. Don’t worry – you can easily change your ‘Home’ or ‘Work’ location in Google by following these steps. See below for screenshots.
Last night while indulging in the latest episode of my favorite NBC television series, The Blacklist, a new TV spot from Google aired and caught my eye. The one-minute spot circled around the idea of “A question is the most powerful force in the world.” Overtaking the TV screen, the commercial demonstrates in full animation the search possibilities of the Google App, highlighting such features as song identification, maps integration, audio feedback, speech translation and reminders.
Is it just me, or does it seem like Google always has something up their sleeve?
This week (April 22nd) a press release from Google announced “A new way to say hello” with Project Fi. What is Project Fi, you ask? Project Fi is a new “service plan” in which Google is combining the best of both worlds when it comes to WiFi and cellular data. Starting as an exclusive to Nexus 6 owners, Project Fi will allow users to seamlessly transition between WiFi and cellular data while on the go, no user interaction required.
I’m going to be honest. Since using Android devices, I haven’t come across a single OEM SMS app that I’ve actually enjoyed. A pure generalization from my personal experience is that they are bloated, slow and just plain unattractive. As a matter of fact, I am currently trying to use the LG G3 messaging app and I can’t manage to get the keyboard to display for me to compose a message.
The good news is, as Android users, we have plenty of messaging app options out there. My favorite by far has been Google Hangouts. Hangouts works especially well for me because my full-time job uses Gmail as our primary email client, and Google Chat as a primary means of inter-office communication, so messages from co-workers filter through the same app as my SMS.
YOU MAY ALSO LIKE: “10 Free, but Awesome Android Icon Packs (Part 1)“
Recently I came across the lesser popular Google Messenger App, and with its recent updates, I decided to give it a try and compare it to Hangouts. I’ve been using Messenger as my daily driver on my LG G3 for about a week now, and here are the unique features, similarities and downfalls I’ve come across.
Anyone who follows tech news knows all about the new Apple MacBook by now, and likely has an opinion about it. Since you know what the new MacBook is all about already, I think it’s important now to take a look at who would potentially benefit from this device. No matter what your opinion is on the new MacBook, Apple is a Trillion dollar company (literally) filled with tons of brilliant minds, and they wouldn’t put out a product if they didn’t think people would be interested in it, and spend money on it. Period.
If you weren’t able to catch the live stream or follow the hype online Wednesday, here’s a quick recap of the major things you may have missed at Google I/O.
Android “L” Developer Preview
Google announced the newest iteration of the Android operating system yesterday – hopefully temporarily labeled Android L. Developers at the conference were given a preview of L’s ‘Material Design,’ which allows for elevated elements of an app’s UI, and consistent, fluid animations throughout the app and the device’s OS. The illusion of elevation is created with shadows and perspective. Check out the video for a quick demo.
The conference highlight for me personally, Google showcased it’s smart watch operating system, Android Wear. The new operating system offers a clean interface that matches the look and feel of Android L, providing a consistent experience across devices. Google Now and Android Wear are a match made in heaven. The Android Wear operating system is a perfect extension for users who are used to Google Now on their current device. In addition to the expected notifications such as weather updates, emails, travel times, and other info such as flight schedules, Google integrated voice control, “OK, Google” into the watch. Perhaps more exciting than Android Wear itself, is the announcement of the first 3 hardware offerings, the LG G Watch, Samsung Gear Live, and the circular-faced Moto 360. All of which attendees of the event will receive for free by the way.
Just like we all expected, Google announced their in-car operating system. The operating system, again, mirrors that of Android L and offers a familiar experience for users when they are on the road. Android Auto allows drivers to control the system easily with voice controls, and even offers the added functionality of steering wheel controls. The biggest benefit to using Android Auto as opposed to other in-dash operating systems is that users can expect updates to the system just as often as their phone receives them. Updates don’t come so often, or easy, with some of the others.
Chromecast has been quite a success for Google, and it was announced during I/O that with Android L, users will be able to cast anything from their device’s screen to their TV, instead of just the Chrome browser. Exciting news, but Google had something a little bigger to talk about for users looking for an extension of their Android experience in their living room – Android TV. With Google’s TV operating system, users will find apps similar to that offered from Apple TV and other set top box and game console systems. The new Android operating system hopes win over consumers with an easier to use platform that adapts to the voice requests of it’s users.
While there is tons more to talk about from Google I/O, these were the major highlights. To dive deeper into the event, scroll down a little further to find the full keynote. Want to stay up on the latest tech and advertising news? Subscribe to this blog and get #HOOKD. Thanks for reading!
Subscribe to hear more about Google I/O 2014 after the event!