Sunday, August 18, 2013

Android Releases New Find My Phone Device Manager

If you have updated your Google apps recently, you may have noticed that there is a new feature on the settings called Android Device Manager. This allows your phone to be remotely accessed via the internet to locate your phone if you have lost it or had it stolen. It is a long awaited feature for Android users and the service available at the moment is pretty primitive.

For example, I tried it just now and the device manager could not find my phone. The feature to ring your phone is also quite handy. If you dropped your phone in your house somewhere but you left the phone on silent, usually this would be the end of your treasure hunt. However, with this feature, it turns your ringer to loud and rings your phone until you press any key on your mobile to stop it.

To access your control panel, go to

Phone Clock wrong, Lagging Behind Lockscreen Clock

I know it sounds crazy but it has happened quite a few times to me already. I wake up at about 8am realising my alarm clock did not go off. It turns out that my phone clock is reading 6:24am! What is weird is that the lockscreen time is correct but the phone clock is wrong. I tried to look up google to see who else has this problem and I can't really seem too many reports of this. Leave a comment if you found this happens to your Galaxy Nexus as well. If you have a solution, I'm all ears.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Heaps You Aren't Doing with Google Now

I came across this reddit recently which shows all the commands you can use with Google Now. To access Google now, swipe up from the middle of the bottom of the phone, then say GOOGLE.

• Text <contact name> <message> — Sends a text message to the person in your contact list.
• Email <contact name> <message> — Sends an email to the person in your contact list. Can be natural language, “Email John and tell him I’m heading home.”
• Note to self <a note> — Will email a recording and the text of your note to your Gmail account.
• Remind me to <task name> at <time> — Will add an alarm with the task name at the time requested. Only works with time, not dates.
• Set alarm for <time> — Will add an alarm via the stock clock app or give you option of using 3rd party app if one is installed.
• When was <name> born? — Searches for the birthdate of a famous person and reads it back.
• When did <name> die? — Searches for the date that a famous person died and reads it back.
• What is <object>? — Searches and reads back information about the item.
• Define <word> — Searches and reads back a definition.
• Show pictures of <item> — Shows pictures of requested item
• Stock <company> — Shows and reads the stock details for a company.
• What is the stock price of <company>? — Shows and reads the stock details for a company.
• Who is the CEO of <company>? — Reads the name and shows his/her picture.
• Tell me show times for the <movie> — Pulls up movie listings for your local theater.
• Play <name of song> or <name of artist> — Shows a list of installed music players and plays either your song or a song from the artist. Asking for both the song and artist does not work.
• Who directed <movie name>? — Reads back the name of the director and shows his/her picture..
• What movie was <actor/actress name> in? — Reads back a short list of movies and shows his/her picture.
• When was <movie name> released? — Reads back the date a movie was released with a picture of the movie.
• Browse to <website> — Shows a screenshot of the website and then opens it in Chrome. Needs the tldr like .com or .net.
• Open <website> — Shows a screenshot of the website and then opens it in Chrome. Needs the tldr like .com or .net.
• Where is the closest <storename>? — Shows location on a map with an option to get directions via Google Maps.
• Directions to <place name> –Shows location on a map with an option to get directions via Google Maps.
• Navigate to <place name> –Shows location on a map with an option to get turn-by-turn directions via Google Maps.
• Nearest <place> — Shows location on a map with an option to get directions via Google Maps.
• What time is it in <city/state/country>? – Reads back the local time in the location.
• What is the date in <city/state/country>? – Reads back the date in the location.
• What language is spoken in ? – Reads back the language in the location.
• What is the currency of <country>? – Reads back the currency with the conversion to USD.
• What is the National Anthem of <country>? — Reads back the National Anthem in the location.
• What is the capital of ? — Reads back the capital’s name in the location.
• What is the state bird of <state>? — Reads back the bird name in the location.
• What is the population of <city/state/country> ? — Shows the population statistics of a location.
• What does <country>’s flag look like? – Shows an image of the flag.
• Does the <team name> play today? — Reads back the game time and opponent.
• How tall is <sports star>? — Reads back his/her height and shows picture.
• How much does weigh?– Reads back his/her weight and shows picture.
• When is the <sporting event>? — Reads back the event date and time, if applicable.
• When is the next baseball game? — Will show search results with the MLB schedule for the day at the top. May work for other sports when they are in season.
• Baseball schedule — Will show search results with the MLB schedule for the day at the top. May work for other sports when they are in season. • When is daylight savings? — Reads back the local date and time when daylight savings begins and ends. .
• When does <season> start? — Reads back the local time that the season (spring, summer, fall, winter) will start.
• When is <sundown>? — Reads back the local time that the sun will set.
• When is <sunrise>? — Reads back the local time that the sun will rise.
• When is <holiday>? — Reads back the local date and time of the holiday.
• What time zone is <state/country> in? – Reads back the time zone of the state/country.
• What is the weather <today/ tomorrow/ specific day>? — Reads back and displays local weather information for specified day.
• What is the weather <today/ tomorrow/ specific day> in <location>? — Reads back and displays local weather information for that location on the specified day.
• Do I need an umbrella <today/ tomorrow/ specific day>? – Responds yes or no about rain and displays local weather information for the specified day.
• Do I need an umbrella <today/ tomorrow/ specific day>in <location>? – Responds yes or no about rain and displays weather information for that location on the specified day.
• Do I need a jacket <today/ tomorrow/ specific day>? – Reads back the temperature and displays local weather information for the specified day.
• Do I need a jacket <today/ tomorrow/ specific day>in <location>? — Reads back the temperature and displays weather information for that location on the specified day.
• What is <math problem>? — Shows the answer with a calculator. You can ask “What is 1500 + 279?” or “What is the square root of 925?”
• What is <conversion>? — Shows the answer with an option to open the online converter. You can ask “What is 5 inches in centimeters?” or “What is 87 degrees Fahrenheit in Celsius?”
• What is <currency conversion>? –Reads back and shows the answer with an option to open the online converter at the bottom of the screen. You can say “What is 10 Euros in US Dollars?” • What is <phenomenon/law/principle/theorem eg- Brownian motion/Kepler's third law/Archimedes principle/Pythagoras theorem > • What is the atomic number/atomic mass/atomic radius/boling point/melting point of <element>?
• What is the molar mass of <compound>?
• What are the coordinates of <place eg- Marianas trench>?
• Who is the author of <book/document eg- LOTR/constitution>?
• Cast of <movie/TV show>?
• Birth place of <famous person>?
• Who is the architect of <monument eg-eiffel tower>?
• Who invented <invention eg-diesel engine/periodic table/alternating current>?
• <company/institute/organization eg - IBM/MIT/UN> founded? (shows foundation date and place(if applicable)) / when was <> founded? (only date) / where was <> founded (only place)
• Who founded <company/institute eg - BMW/Stanford U>? • How long is < River/Bridge>?
• What is the value of <constant eg- pi/e/gravitational constant/planck's constant>?
• What is the diameter/radius/mass of <planet/sun/earth/moon>? • What is the circumference/density of <planet>?
• What is the gravity of <planet/moon>?
• What is the temperature of the sun?
• What is the atmosphere of <planet>?
• Escape velocity of <planet>?
• How far is the nearest star?/How far is Alpha Centauri?
• How far/large is the milky way galaxy? Number of stars in milky way galaxy?
• Do I need my raincoat <today/tomorrow/this week>?
• How far is <place> from <place>? (not a card but driving directions and distance)
• Independence day of <country eg - Brazil/India>
• When will <movie name> release?/ What is the release date of <movie name> ?

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Galaxy Nexus 4.2.1 on the way to Australia

Vodafone has yesterday announced that the Galaxy Nexus will be receiving a software update in the near future. The firmware version 4.2.1 brings speed increases to the phone, Gesture Typing, New Cards for Google Now, Talkback Screen reader and HDR mode for the camera.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

5 Reasons Why We Love Whatsapp

It was one of the biggest reasons why I switched to android  when Nokia did not have one little app called Whatsapp. Things have changed since then with Nokia even coming out with a phone which has a dedicated hard key for Whatsapp. And here are some reasons why we love whatsapp.

  1. FREE sms - you can message people for free! And you don't even need to have a mobile phone number when you are in another country to access whatsapp. You can just use any internet source or a data sim card. 
  2. Easy to share pics From within Whatsapp you can immediately take a photo and have it uploaded to your friends in a Whatsapp conversation. This also goes for screenshots and photos that you have already taken 
  3. Easy to share location  It's so easy to send to someone your location just by pressing on the ATTACH and then choosing LOCATION. Within seconds, whoever you are talking to will be able to find you and even use Google Maps to navigate to your location. 
  4. Easy to access from Home screen You can hold down on a conversation and within two seconds, you are given the option of adding the conversation as a shortcut on your home screen. This saves the effort of going into Whatsapp and then selecting the conversation that you would like to start. In fact, you could have a screen full of Whatsapp conversations that you would like to resume. 
  5. Easy to email conversations and images Let's say a group of you went to a wedding. A whatsapp group is created for the wedding and the conversation is hillarious and the photos shared were great. After the event, you can just hold down on the conversation and then select Email Conversation. Everything in the conversation including the photos etc will be emailled to whoever you choose to be archived for future reference in your email.
Have you noticed Google Talk which has now changed to Hangouts is slowly becoming more like Whatsapp? 

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Yes You Can Plug Your Thumb Drive into the Galaxy Nexus

Get yourself Micro USB Male to Female OTG Data Charging Adapter Cable and download a program called Nexus Media Importer which will cost around $5 and you will be able to plug your USB thumb drive into your phone and view images / videos / music off it and copy files across.

Projecting your Nexus onto any HDMI TV Screen

If you are like me, a mobile phone that calls is just not enough. Here's a device that only costs $7 from DealExtreme or Ebay to display your Galaxy Nexus onto any TV or monitor that has a HDMI port. The Micro USB To HDMI MHL Adapter needs a power source to be plugged into it on the side and as soon as you plug your TV in, you will see your phone's screen on your TV! 

So what is the result? Here's one of the many YouTube videos showing a Galaxy Nexus connected to a TV

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

What's New in Jelly Bean 4.1

Faster, Smoother, More Responsive

Android 4.1 is optimized to deliver Android's best performance and lowest touch latency, in an effortless, intuitive UI.
To ensure a consistent framerate, Android 4.1 extends vsync timing across all drawing and animation done by the Android framework. Everything runs in lockstep against a 16 millisecond vsync heartbeat — application rendering, touch events, screen composition, and display refresh — so frames don’t get ahead or behind.
Android 4.1 also adds triple buffering in the graphics pipeline, for more consistent rendering that makes everything feel smoother, from scrolling to paging and animations.
Android 4.1 reduces touch latency not only by synchronizing touch to vsync timing, but also by actually anticipatingwhere your finger will be at the time of the screen refresh. This results in a more reactive and uniform touch response. In addition, after periods of inactivity, Android applies a CPU input boost at the next touch event, to make sure there’s no latency.
Tooling can help you get the absolute best performance out of your apps. Android 4.1 is designed to work with a new tool called systrace, which collects data directly from the Linux kernel to produce an overall picture of system activities. The data is represented as a group of vertically stacked time series graphs, to help isolate rendering interruptions and other issues. The tool is available now in the Android SDK (Tools R20 or higher)

Support for International Users

Bi-Directional Text and Other Language Support

Android 4.1 helps you to reach more users through support for bi-directional text in TextView and EditText elements. Apps can display text or handle text editing in left-to-right or right-to-left scripts. Apps can make use of new Arabic and Hebrew locales and associated fonts.
Other types of new language support include:
  • Additional Indic languages: Kannada, Telugu, and Malayalam
  • The new Emoji characters from Unicode version 6.0
  • Better glyph support for Japanese users (renders Japanese-specific versions of glyphs when system language is set to Japanese)
  • Arabic glyphs optimized for WebViews in addition to the Arabic glyphs for TextViews
  • Vertical Text support in WebViews, including Ruby Text and additional Vertical Text glyphs
  • Synthetic Bold is now available for all fonts that don't have dedicated bold glyphs

User-installable keymaps

The platform now supports user-installable keyboard maps, such as for additional international keyboards and special layout types. By default, Android 4.1 includes 27 international keymaps for keyboards, including Dvorak. When users connect a keyboard, they can go to the Settings app and select one or more keymaps that they want to use for that keyboard. When typing, users can switch between keymaps using a shortcut (ctrl-space).
You can create an app to publish additional keymaps to the system. The APK would include the keyboard layout resources in it, based on standard Android keymap format. The application can offer additional keyboard layouts to the user by declaring a suitable broadcast receiver for ACTION_QUERY_KEYBOARD_LAYOUTS in its manifest.

Enhanced Accessibility
New APIs for accessibility services let you handle gestures and manage accessibility focus as the user moves through the on-screen elements and navigation buttons using accessibility gestures, accessories, and other input. The Talkback system and explore-by-touch are redesigned to use accessibility focus for easier use and offer a complete set of APIs for developers.

Accessibility services can link their own tutorials into the Accessibility settings, to help users configure and use their services.

Apps that use standard View components inherit support for the new accessibility features automatically, without any changes in their code. Apps that use custom Views can use new accessibility node APIs to indicate the parts of the View that are of interest to accessibility services.

New Ways to Create Beautiful UI

Developers can create custom notification styles like those shown in the examples above to display rich content and actions.

Expandable notifications

Notifications have long been a unique and popular feature on Android. Developers can use them to place important or time-based information in front of users in the notification bar, outside of the app’s normal UI.
Android 4.1 brings a major update to the Android notifications framework. Apps can now display larger, richer notifications to users that can be expanded and collapsed with a pinch or swipe. Notifications support new types of content, including photos, have configurable priority, and can even include multiple actions.
Through an improved notification builder, apps can create notifications that use a larger area, up to 256 dp in height. Three templated notification styles are available:
  • BigTextStyle — a notification that includes a multiline TextView object.
  • BigInboxStyle — a notification that shows any kind of list such as messages, headlines, and so on.
  • BigPictureStyle — a notification that showcases visual content such as a bitmap.
In addition to the templated styles, you can create your own notification styles using any remote View.
Apps can add up to three actions to a notification, which are displayed below the notification content. The actions let the users respond directly to the information in the notification in alternative ways. such as by email or by phone call, without visiting the app.
With expandable notifications, apps can give more information to the user, effortlessly and on demand. Users remain in control and can long-press any notification to get information about the sender and optionally disable further notifications from the app.
App Widgets can resize automatically to fit the home screen and load different content as their sizes change.

Resizable app widgets

Android 4.1 introduces improved App Widgets that can automatically resize, based on where the user drops them on the home screen, the size to which the user expands them, and the amount of room available on the home screen. New App Widget APIs let you take advantage of this tooptimize your app widget content as the size of widgets changes.
When a widget changes size, the system notifies the host app’s widget provider, which can reload the content in the widget as needed. For example, a widget could display larger, richer graphics or additional functionality or options. Developers can still maintain control over maximum and minimum sizes and can update other widget options whenever needed.
You can also supply separate landscape and portrait layouts for your widgets, which the system inflates as appropriate when the screen orientation changes.
App widgets can now be displayed in third party launchers and other host apps through a new bind Intent (AppWidgetManager.ACTION_APPWIDGET_BIND).

Simplified task navigation

Android 4.1 makes it easy for you to manage the “Up” navigation that’s available to users from inside of your apps and helps ensure a consistent experience for users.
You can define the intended Up navigation for individual Activity components of your UI by adding a new XML attribute in the app’s manifest file. At run time, as Activities are launched, the system extracts the Up navigation tree from the manifest file and automatically creates the Up affordance navigation in the action bar. Developers who declare Up navigation in the manifest no longer need to manage navigation by callback at run time, although they can also do so if needed.
Also available is a new TaskStackBuilder class that lets you quickly put together a synthetic task stack to start immediately or to use when an Activity is launched from a PendingIntent. Creating a synthetic task stack is especially useful when users launch Activities from remote views, such as from Home screen widgets and notifications, because it lets the developer provide a managed, consistent experience on Back navigation.

Easy animations for Activity launch

You can use a new helper class, ActivityOptions, to create and control the animation displayed when you launch your Activities. Through the helper class, you can specify custom animation resources to be used when the activity is launched, or request new zoom animations that start from any rectangle you specify on screen and that optionally include a thumbnail bitmap.

Transitions to Lights Out and Full Screen Modes

New system UI flags in View let you to cleanly transition from a normal application UI (with action bar, navigation bar, and system bar visible), to "lights out mode" (with status bar and action bar hidden and navigation bar dimmed) or "full screen mode" (with status bar, action bar, and navigation bar all hidden).

New types of remoteable Views

Developers can now use GridLayout and ViewStub views in Home screen widgets and notifications. GridLayout lets you structure the content of your remote views and manage child views alignments with a shallower UI hierarchy. ViewStub is an invisible, zero-sized View that can be used to lazily inflate layout resources at runtime.

Live wallpaper preview

Android 4.1 makes it easier for users to find and install Live Wallpapers from apps that include them. If your app includes Live Wallpapers, you can now start an Activity (ACTION_CHANGE_LIVE_WALLPAPER) that shows the user a preview of the Live Wallpaper from your own app. From the preview, users can directly load the Live Wallpaper.

Higher-resolution contact photos

With Android 4.1, you can store contact photos that are as large as 720 x 720, making contacts even richer and more personal. Apps can store and retrieve contact photos at that size or use any other size needed. The maximum photo size supported on specific devices may vary, so apps should query the built-in contacts provider at run time to obtain the max size for the current device.

New Input Types and Capabilities

Find out about devices being added and removed

Apps can register to be notified when any new input devices are attached, by USB, Bluetooth, or any other connection type. They can use this information to change state or capabilities as needed. For example, a game could receive notification that a new keyboard or joystick is attached, indicating the presence of a new player.

Query the capabilities of input devices

Android 4.1 includes APIs that let apps and games take full advantage of all input devices that are connected and available.
Apps can query the device manager to enumerate all of the input devices currently attached and learn about the capabilities of each.

Control vibrator on input devices

Among other capabilities, apps can now make use of any vibrator service associated with an attached input device, such as for Rumble Pak controllers.

Animation and Graphics

Vsync for apps

Extending vsync across the Android framework leads to a more consistent framerate and a smooth, steady UI. So that apps also benefit, Android 4.1 extends vsync timing to all drawing and animations initiated by apps. This lets them optimize operations on the UI thread and provides a stable timebase for synchronization.
Apps can take advantage of vsync timing for free, through Android’s animation framework. The animation framework now uses vsync timing to automatically handle synchronization across animators.
For specialized uses, apps can access vsync timing through APIs exposed by a new Choreographer class. Apps can request invalidation on the next vsync frame — a good way to schedule animation when the app is not using the animation framework. For more advanced uses, apps can post a callback that the Choreographer class will run on the next frame.

New animation actions and transition types

The animation framework now lets you define start and end actions to take when running ViewPropertyAnimator animations, to help synchronize them with other animations or actions in the application. The action can run any runnable object. For example, the runnable might specify another animation to start when the previous one finishes.
You can also now specify that a ViewPropertyAnimator use a layer during the course of its animation. Previously, it was a best practice to animate complicated views by setting up a layer prior to starting an animation and then handling an onAnimationEnd() event to remove the layer when the animation finishes. Now, the withLayer() method on ViewPropertyAnimator simplifies this process with a single method call.
A new transition type in LayoutTransition enables you to automate animations in response to all layout changes in a ViewGroup.

New Types of Connectivity

Android Beam

Android Beam is a popular NFC-based technology that lets users instantly share, just by touching two NFC-enabled phones together.
In Android 4.1, Android Beam makes it easier to share images, videos, or other payloads by leveraging Bluetooth for the data transfer. When the user triggers a transfer, Android Beam hands over from NFC to Bluetooth, making it really easy to manage the transfer of a file from one device to another.

Wi-Fi Network Service Discovery

Android 4.1 introduces support for multicast DNS-based service discovery, which lets applications find and connect to services offered by peer devices over Wi-Fi networks — including mobile devices, printers, cameras, media players, and others. Developers can take advantage of Wi-Fi network service discovery to build cross-platform or multiplayer games and application experiences.
Using the service discovery API, apps can create and register any kind of service, for any other NSD-enabled device to discover. The service is advertised by multicast across the network using a human-readable string identifier, which lets user more easily identify the type of service.
Consumer devices can use the API to scan and discover services available from devices connected to the local Wi-Fi network. After discovery, apps can use the API to resolve the service to an IP address and port through which it can establish a socket connection.
You can take advantage of this API to build new features into your apps. For example, you could let users connect to a webcam, a printer, or an app on another mobile device that supports Wi-Fi peer-to-peer connections.

Wi-Fi Direct Service Discovery

Ice Cream Sandwich introduced support for Wi-Fi Direct, a technology that lets apps discover and pair directly, over a high-bandwidth peer-to-peer connection. Wi-Fi Direct is an ideal way to share media, photos, files and other types of data and sessions, even where there is no cell network or Wi-Fi available.
Android 4.1 takes Wi-Fi Direct further, adding API support for pre-associated service discovery. Pre-associated service discovery lets your apps get more useful information from nearby devices about the services they support, before they attempt to connect. Apps can initiate discovery for a specific service and filter the list of discovered devices to those that actually support the target service or application.
For example, this means that your app could discover only devices that are “printers” or that have a specific game available, instead of discovering all nearby Wi-Fi Direct devices. On the other hand, your app can advertise the service it provides to other devices, which can discover it and then negotiate a connection. This greatly simplifies discovery and pairing for users and lets apps take advantage of Wi-Fi Direct more effectively.
With Wi-Fi Direct service discovery, you can create apps and multiplayer games that can share photos, videos, gameplay, scores, or almost anything else — all without requiring any Internet or mobile network. Your users can connect using only a direct p2p connection, which avoids using mobile bandwidth.

Network Bandwidth Management

Android 4.1 helps apps manage data usage appropriately when the device is connected to a metered network, including tethering to a mobile hotspot. Apps can query whether the current network is metered before beginning a large download that might otherwise be relatively expensive to the user. Through the API, you can now get a clear picture of which networks are sensitive to data usage and manage your network activity accordingly.

New Media Capabilities

Media codec access

Android 4.1 provides low-level access to platform hardware and software codecs. Apps can query the system to discover what low-level media codecs are available on the device and then and use them in the ways they need. For example, you can now create multiple instances of a media codec, queue input buffers, and receive output buffers in return. In addition, the media codec framework supports protected content. Apps can query for an available codec that is able to play protected content with a DRM solution available on the the device.

USB Audio

USB audio output support allows hardware vendors to build hardware such as audio docks that interface with Android devices. This functionality is also exposed with the Android Open Accessory Development Kit (ADK) to give all developers the chance to create their own hardware.

Audio record triggering

Android now lets you trigger audio recording based on the completion of an audio playback track. This is useful for situations such as playing back a tone to cue your users to begin speaking to record their voices. This feature helps you sync up recording so you don’t record audio that is currently being played back and prevents recordings from beginning too late.

Multichannel audio

Android 4.1 supports multichannel audio on devices that have hardware multichannel audio out through the HDMI port. Multichannel audio lets you deliver rich media experiences to users for applications such as games, music apps, and video players. For devices that do not have the supported hardware, Android automatically downmixes the audio to the number of channels that are supported by the device (usually stereo).
Android 4.1 also adds built-in support for encoding/decoding AAC 5.1 audio.

Audio preprocessing

Developers can apply preprocessing effects to audio being recorded, such as to apply noise suppression for improving speech recording quality, echo cancellation for acoustic echo, and auto gain control for audio with inconsistent volume levels. Apps that require high quality and clean audio recording will benefit from these preprocessors.

Audio chaining

MediaPlayer supports chaining audio streams together to play audio files without pauses. This is useful for apps that require seamless transitions between audio files such as music players to play albums with continuous tracks or games.

Media Router

The new APIs MediaRouter, MediaRouteActionProvider, and MediaRouteButton provide standard mechanisms and UI forchoosing where to play media. Support is built-in for wired headsets and a2dp bluetooth headsets and speakers, and you can add your own routing options within your own app.

Renderscript Computation

Android 4.1 extends Renderscript computation to give you more flexibility. You can now sample textures in your Renderscript compute scripts, and new pragmas are available to define the floating point precision required by your scripts. This lets you enable NEON instructions such as fast vector math operations on the CPU path, that wouldn’t otherwise be possible with the full IEEE 754-2008 standard.
You can now debug your Renderscript compute scripts on x86-based emulator and hardware devices. You can also define multiple root-style kernels in a single Renderscript source file.

Android Browser and WebView

In Android 4.1, the Android Browser and WebViews include these enhancements:
  • Better HTML5 video user experience, including touch-to-play/pause and smooth transition from inline to full screen mode.
  • Improved rendering speed and reduced memory usage for better scrolling and zooming performance.
  • Improved HTML5/CSS3/Canvas animation performance.
  • Improved text input.
  • Updated JavaScript Engine (V8) for better JavaScript performance.
  • Support for the updated HTML5 Media Capture specification (the "capture" attribute on input type=file elements).

Google APIs and services

To extend the capabilities of Android even further, several new services for Android are available.

Google Cloud Messaging for Android

Google Cloud Messaging (GCM) is a service that lets developers send short message data to their users on Android devices, without needing a proprietary sync solution.
GCM handles all the details of queuing messages and delivering them efficiently to the targeted Android devices. It supports message multicasting and can reach up to 1000 connected devices simultaneously with a single request. It also supports message payloads, which means that in addition to sending tickle messages to an app on the device, developers can send up to 4K of data.
Google Cloud Messaging is completely free for all developers and sign-up is easy. See the Google Cloud Messaging page for registration, downloads, and documentation.

App Encryption

Starting with Android 4.1, Google Play will help protect application assets by encrypting all paid apps with a device-specific key before they are delivered and stored on a device.

Smart App Updates

Smart app updates is a new feature of Google Play that introduces a better way of delivering app updates to devices. When developers publish an update, Google Play now delivers only the bits that have changed to devices, rather than the entire APK. This makes the updates much lighter-weight in most cases, so they are faster to download, save the device’s battery, and conserve bandwidth usage on users’ mobile data plan. On average, a smart app update is about 1/3 the sizeof a full APK update.

Google Play services

Google Play services helps developers to integrate Google services such as authentication and Google+ into their apps delivered through Google Play.
Google Play services is automatically provisioned to end user devices by Google Play, so all you need is a thin client library in your apps.
Because your app only contains the small client library, you can take advantage of these services without a big increase in download size and storage footprint. Also, Google Play will deliver regular updates to the services, without developers needing to publish app updates to take advantage of them.
For more information about the APIs included in Google Play Services, see the Google Play services developer page. (Source:

SwiftKey Word Prediction disappears

Am I the only one that experiences a loss of word prediction when using Swiftkey? When I am typing for example in Gmail and I switch to another application and switch back to gmail, the word prediction seems to be lost. The only way of getting it back is to hold down the 123 key and go into Settings, then exit. The word prediction is back on again. This could be a bug that the new version of Swiftkey will deal with.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Galaxy Nexus v Galaxy S3 - The Gap Widens

Most of us want to know whether a new phone is worth upgrading to. Samsung Galaxy S3 already has some superior features over the Galaxy Nexus but with the release of their Premium Suite, the gap has widened even more. Check out the following two videos of what is now available to Galaxy S3 users. Are they enough to get you to buy a new phone? 

Google Now Doesn't Understand Aussie Accent

You're on the computer reading about all these amazing features that comes with the Jelly Bean update. Then you go to your phone, you swipe up from the bottom to start Google Now and then you say "Google"... and nothing happens. "Google"... "Goo-gle"... nothing. 

Apparently, the ability to trigger a search or action by saying "Google" is called hotword detection. To turn it off or on, start from the Google Now screen and touch Menu > Settings > Voice > Hotword detection. 

If hotword detection is already on, the problem then is that English (Aus) is selected.. because Google apparently doesn't respond to Aussie. When you are in Google Now, scroll all the way to the bottom where you will find the three dots on the bottom right corner. Press Settings, Voice, then change the Language to English, US. 

In Google Now, when you swipe up from the bottom of your phone, you should be able to search for things by first saying Google, presumably now in a US accent. 

Why Jelly Bean isn't coming through to your phone?

Vodafone Australia has announced five days ago that the new Jelly Bean update to 4.1.2 firmware is now being rolled out to Galaxy Nexus users. However, you may not have received it yet and If you are sitting there like I was waiting for the Vodafone update, it may be as simple as clearing the phone's cache. Once I did the following, the update was sitting there ready to be downloaded! I just wonder how many days ago I could have received the update if I just cleared the cache.

1. Go to Settings -> Apps -> All
2. Find Google Services Framework.
3. Tap on Force Stop.
4. Select Clear Data.
5. Head back to the Nexus 7′s Settings, go to About, and check for a System Update.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Swiftkey - how did I ever live without it

Many of us have typical phrases that we always use and whether we admit it or not, we are pretty predictable when it comes to our emails and test messages. One of the most amazing apps to recognise this is Swiftkey which many people have mentioned before but I only recently started using it. The app has the ability to scan your email account and your text messages to understand what phrases you like to use and then use that information to tailor its word predictions as you type on your phone. 

As a result of using Swiftkey, I've managed to take notes almost as fast as people are talking. It used to be that it was faster for me to take notes with a pen but now it seems that the fastest way to get things down is actually not even a keyboard on the computer but using swiftkey on my phone. Boy, is technology changing us or what? You can download a trial of the Swiftkey app on Google Play and see what you think of it. I held out for quite a while and eventually when I bought it, it was the most well spent $2.99 in a long time. 

Telstra Pre-Paid for 50% off Google Play apps

Telstra has recently set up an arrangement for Telstra customers to charge back all purchases from Google Play back to their Telstra account. This may not seem like much of an advantage but the benefit comes from the fact that you can use Telstra prepaid credit to buy apps from the Google Play or Apple stores. Still not getting it? Every week, either Coles, Dick Smith, Australia Post, Big W or Woolworths will offer Telstra $30 prepaid sims for $10 each. The only limitation is that you can only use $20 at a time. This means that you can get apps / movies / music from Apple or Google stores for 50% off whatever their price is in the store.

1. Buy a $30 sim card for $10 that will fit in your phone.
2. Call up Telstra to activate it or activate it online. If you want to use some of the credit for data use, the best way is to call up to activate the sim card for an IPad data plan which gives you 3GB which expires in 30 days.
3. Insert the sim card to your phone and go to the Google Play store.
4. Buy an app and when it comes to the payment screen, there should be a feature for you to buy the app using your Telstra credit. If you are using the prepaid credit, make sure you do charge it back to the prepaid sim and not your home phone bill for example.
5. If you have remaining credit, you will still be able to use the remainder of the balance for data etc.

Vodafone Australia is rolling out 4.1.2

Good news! Just two hours ago, one of the community managers on Vodafone's forums announced that the Galaxy Nexus firmware update has just been finalised by google after what seems to be an eternity. The rollout should start appearing on your phones later this week if this update is to be believed.