It has been nearly a year since Google announced Android Auto, and it's still available almost nowhere. No car companies have built the technology into their 2015 vehicles (though some may get a software update with support later), and only a handful of aftermarket head units have the software. So what's the deal? Is it worth getting excited for? I've finally gotten my hands on one of Pioneer's Android Auto units (the 8100NEX), and here's how I'm feeling about it after a few days.
TeamViewer's QuickSupport app is now expanding to a dearth of new Android devices. The latest version to hit the Play Store boasts screen sharing on all phones and tablets running Lollipop. Chances are the people who need remote help from you aren't using a handset running the latest and greatest, but you never know. Maybe they just picked up a Galaxy S6 and have already run into a roadblock. You know, the same folks you helped set up an Android TV for a couple months back.
They will have to install the QuickSupport app on their end, and you run the desktop version on yours.
Samsung has a new activity sharing service for Android, and you can try the beta version right now. Well, actually... you probably can't. Flow Beta requires you to have two newer Samsung devices to send activities between. If you don't the requisite phones or tablets, Flow won't do anything. Even if you do, Flow still doesn't accomplish much in its present form.
Expectations are high for each update to Google's core apps on Android. After all, we know there are going to be a lot of new features announced at I/O in less than 2 weeks. Quite a few apps have recently gone through a Material refresh, and plenty of others have seen smaller changes as they slowly coalesce around the current design guidelines. That appears to be the story with the latest Google App update. The latest version finally enables full screen mode for Google Now on devices using custom launchers.
left: old version, right: new version
Prior to this release, users with the Google Now Launcher set as their default homescreen would see their Now stream with translucent status and navigation bars.
It seems like ages ago that Apple and Samsung finished duking it out in court over Samsung's "borrowing" from Apple's early iPhone designs. However, the $930 million judgement against Samsung was just the beginning of the legal tussle. This whole time the lawyers have still been racking up billable hours, and now a US appeals court has reversed a big chunk of the damages saying Apple's trademarks on the look of the original iPhone aren't valid.
Welcome back to another week of the Android Police Podcast. To catch us live on Hangouts On Air every Thursday at 5:30PM PST (subject to change as per the calendar widget below), just head over to androidpolice.com/podcast. For the unedited video show, click here. As always, we'll take your questions at 530-HELLO-AP and also at our email address: podcast at androidpolice dot com.
This week: Nexus 9 Android 5.1 update, the LG G4 review, a few Google app updates, Nintendo's mobile plans, Galaxy S6 Active, and more.
Microsoft has released the first Android beta of Hyperlapse Mobile, the culmination of a couple of years research. The app captures video from your camera and outputs a smooth, sped-up time lapse, which is far more complicated than you might expect. It can also convert existing videos. Rather than simply give you an end product that is akin to watching your video on fast forward, Hyperlapse intelligently chooses frames that make it far easier to watch.
This makes the most sense for first-person videos, due in large part to the constantly shifting perspectives and camera shake common to that format. If you shot video while walking around the neighborhood, even with OIS, you would likely be shocked at how much shake and how jarred you'd be by the video played at 4x speed.
LG has developed something of a cult following in the smartphone enthusiast world since it introduced the G2 back in 2013. With the G3, it became the first major smartphone OEM to bring a QHD (2.5K) display, among the first to use the Snapdragon 801 processor, introduced a great camera with OIS, and generally built a fast, bleeding-edge phone.
The G4 could be seen as a largely corrective measure - mostly existing to improve on its predecessor's pitfalls. The G3's display was criticized as dull and lacking much in the way of brightness. The G4's has much better contrast, improved viewing angles, output, and uses less power.
There have been a few Kickstarter and Indiegogo campaigns lately that are pushing the idea of a modular phone similar to Google's Project Ara. These are devices designed by small teams of people without the engineering resources of Google, and if you'll forgive my pessimism, they sound like nonsense. Nexpaq is a somewhat more modest take on the modular phone. The modules plug into the Nexpaq case and you simply drop in your existing phone.
Straight Talk offers good deals for mobile service on the big national networks (it's an MVNO), but the deal is getting a little sweeter today for anyone who brings their own phone. The standard plan will now offer 5GB of unthrottled LTE data instead of just 3GB. The price is staying at $45, and the increased data takes effect on your next monthly "refill" date.