13
May
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Welcome back! Google Play Services 3.1 is such a ridiculously huge update; I had to stretch it out over two articles - that's a first for APK Teardown. If you somehow missed the Google Play Games extravaganza, part one is right here.

Part two is all about the non-games discoveries, which there are a lot of.  Before we get into that though, there is one detail I left out of the games article that I really should mention:

The Play Games Codename

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Google always comes up with the coolest code names for projects, and the Play Services games client is no exception.

13
May
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Had enough of noisy hotels infested with bed bugs and slathered in unidentifiable fluids? Why not rent short term accommodations from a regular human being? That's the service Airbnb provides, and the startup has been making headway in recent years. In an attempt to make the process of finding appropriate lodging more convenient on mobile devices, the company has completely redesigned its Android app and added a few new features.

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The new app is more attractive an Android-y than the old version, which made heavy use of gradients and iOS-style buttons.

13
May
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Google has finally integrated storage between its three most data-intensive consumer platforms: Gmail, Google Drive, and Google+. The result? 5 extra GB of total Gmail storage, and 15GB of shared space among the three. This means you're no longer limited to 5GB of Google+ / Drive space, but all three services will now share the same "bucket."

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For hardcore Gmail addicts, this comes with an added bonus: all Google Drive storage tiers now apply to your Gmail storage cap.

13
May
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If you've spent as much time on the Google Play Store as I have, you begin to recognize a pattern: developers asking (and sometimes begging) users to email them directly with complaints or bugs, because they can't reply to that snarky review left in lieu of a bug report. After years and years of frustration for devs who just want to make their apps better, Google has finally rolled out a direct reply feature.

13
May
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Newly appointed head of Google's Android division Sundar Pichai - who perhaps not-so-incidentally also leads the Chrome OS team - recently sat down with Wired for his first interview since Andy Rubin's departure. Though he didn't speak to specifics about any mysterious Motorola smartphone or Chromebook Pixel follow-up, Pichai did shed some light on the state of Android, Google's open-source philosophy, and future projects.

When asked if separate operating systems - Chrome OS and Android, for instance - confuse users, Pichai said the OS is less important than the apps, ecosystem, and backend people rely on.

13
May
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A 14-page XDA thread, thorough analysis by an audio engineer, and a 100+ comment Reddit thread have revealed that some of Samsung's Galaxy S4 handsets are experiencing serious sonic problems with certain headphones.

Headphone audio on smartphones is something we rarely think too much about, because, well, most people don't really care. As long a smartphone produces sound that is listenable and loud enough, your average Joe isn't particular concerned about the quality.

13
May
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Earlier this year, Amazon announced that it was preparing a proprietary virtual currency specifically for its Appstore. Then the incorrigible Eric Ravenscraft spent a few thousand words explaining exactly why Amazon Coins, and any system that substitutes real money for meaningless points, is just a pretense for sucking money out of people's wallets. If you can't wait to pay Amazon's tax on those without common sense, you can now hand over your real dollars for fake ones to spend on apps and in-app purchases.

13
May
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Unveiled in December of 2010, Notion Ink's original Adam was intended to be an innovative, disruptive Android tablet that could compete with the iPad. Its primary selling point - besides a relatively high-end (at the time) dual-core Tegra 250 processor and 1GB of RAM - was a UI overlay known as Eden, which promised to make underlying the Android 2.2 more tablet-friendly. Launched to much fanfare in January 2011, the Adam never quite caught on the way Notion Ink had hoped; shipping delays, software issues, and poor build quality led the company to sell fewer units than anticipated.

13
May
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T-Mobile is currently in the process of pushing a fairly major update to its version of the Galaxy S III, which brings Android 4.1.2 and a slew of new don't-call-it-Touchwiz features.

New Features:

  • Multi-Window
  • Auto-pairing via NFC
  • enhanced Camera options
  • Sound Balance
  • Paper Artist
  • Samsung Gallery
  • Blocking Mode
  • Easy Mode

13
May
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Most mobile users these days are happy to get LTE service (and a few of us just wish we could get 3G reliably) but there is already a surprising push towards the next big thing in wireless speeds. Samsung thinks it has the solution, or at least what might become one: expanding existing LTE networks into the super-high 28GHz range, the lower part of what's known as the millimeter wave bands.

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