- Google wants next version of Android (M) to come pre-installed in your car
- Sony’s leaked emails may have revealed upcoming Xperia Z4 design, launch date too
- Android TV Launcher slides into the Google Play Store for compatible devices
- Secret is no longer a Whisper copycat, relaunches as Yik Yak copycat instead
- 20 Most Debated and Popular Phandroid Articles of 2014
- Mojang and Telltale team up for Minecraft: Story Mode, a narrative game set in the Minecraft universe
- Google Cardboard owners can now check out Street View in virtual reality
- Trello update brings Material Design goodness
- How to watch 3D movies on the Samsung Gear VR
- 3 great new games in Google Play: Exiles, Tales from the Borderlands and GTA: China Town Wars
- Amazon Prime Now looks to get your items to you within the hour
- Gift idea: 2 years later, the Mountek nGroove CD slot car dock is still our top pick [CONTEST]
- CyanogenMod and Yu announce their first Android phone, and yes — it’s a blatant CoolPad F2 clone
- Sony built their own Google Glass competitor and it’s flippin’ huge
- Pick up a custom Moto X (2nd Gen) for only $50 on Verizon [DEALS]
With Android Auto coming soon to vehicles next year, the world will finally know what it is to have the power of Android (and Google Now) inside their car. The problem? First, you'll need a compatible vehicle and after that, a device running Lollipop in order to enjoy Android's latest innovation. While this will soon be more common place as more devices find themselves upgraded to Lollipop and more Android Auto-ready vehicles begin rolling off the lot next year, the ideal solution would be to have Android Auto come pre-installed in your car. Seems that could be Google's next course of action for Android M, the next major Android release out of Mountain View. While a dessert name can't be attached to it just yet, the folks at _Reuters_ have gotten wind from 2 sources close to the matter that Android Auto will soon be built _directly_ into your car's dash -- not simply mirror information on the vehicle's infotainment system. This may not sound like much of a benefit on the surface, but keep in mind that this would allow the Android OS to be truly tapped into a vehicle, possibly pulling up diagnostics and other data, in addition to media and navigation. Of course, Google would still need to convince automakers of the value Android Auto integration would bring, with sources saying more work needs to be done in terms of performance (and stability) before Google can expect any sort of adoption. Because cars are constantly being powered on and off, Android M would need to boot up near instantly before it could be practical as a car's main OS. Also -- as we've seen with smartphone OEMs -- auto makers too like to differentiate their product line from competitors. Having Android Auto inside a Honda and KIA could make additional manufacturers like Toyota hesitant about integrating it inside their vehicles, opting instead for Apple's solution over Google's.
By now you no doubt heard about Sony Picture's recent troubles with North Korean hackers . While it's fun to gawk at movies that could have been, no one could have guessed that buried deep inside Sony's leaked emails was a sales pitch for still unannounced Sony Xperia Z4. As part of a product placement pitch from Sony Electronics for the new James Bond flick (Spectre) -- in which Sony Pictures is charges upwards of 5 million as part of a "Daniel Craig fee" -- we get some pretty clear renders of what the email clearly labels as the new "Z4 phones." The design, while familiar, showcases 2 very different designs, so it's tough to know how early of a look this might be. Or which will eventually be the model we see at launch. One model (pictured below) is closer to the current Xperia Z3, featuring glass on the front and back, although a much more chiseled "resin" frame. The other (pictured above) shows a phone with rounded corners and a soft, cushiony leather like material on the back. The best part? We're even given an expected launch date for the device: May and November with the 2 dates mostly likely referring to the full-sized and Compact versions of the Z4, respectively. This pretty lines up with the launch timing we typically see from Sony Mobile, so no real surprises there. Additional products being pitched for inclusion in the new 007 movie is some sort of new wearable, although its design doesn't reveal if it's a smartwatch or some sort of fitness tracker. We're sure we'll see more of what Sony has planned during this year's CES 2015 in a few short weeks. It's there Sony always announces the next iteration of their flagship smartphone line (yes, only 6 months after the previous version). Stay tuned. [Gizmodo]
To say Google's first attempt at an Android-powered television OS was a monumental failure would be putting it lightly. Thankfully, they went back to the drawing board and are took another stab at it with their all new vision for the platform: Android TV. Only commercially available on the Nexus Player at the moment, Google is now making available the Android TV Launcher in the Google Play Store. While you wont be able to install it on just any Android device (not even a Google TV-powered television), the app exists on Google Play as a quick and easy way for Google to update the app without the need for a full system update, addressing bugs and/or add new features as they come. Anyone with a compatible device -- ADT-1 or Nexus Player owners -- will find the app already installed on their devices, so really there's not much to see here until an update is available. Our question is whether or not this apk can be sideloaded onto other devices (like a dusty old tablet), allowing them to act as Android TV devices?
Remember Secret? It was that app that was all the rage when it launched earlier this year on Android. Riding the wave of anonymous social networks, Secret eventually caved in on itself as posts -- that were once about juicy gossip -- quickly became nothing more than a way for its users to brag about sexual exploits. Soon after that, engagement dropped and with their backs against the wall, Secret was forced to reinvent themselves. _The old Secret_ The newly relaunched
Secret can be found right now in the Google Play Store, dropping the the postcard UI they arguably copied from Whisper, opting instead for something that looks more akin to Yik Yak. Gone are the oversized images with overlaying text, replaced now with a message board of simple text and small thumbnails for photos (which aren't required to post, mind you).
_The new Secret_
Secret still touts anonymity for all its users, connecting them with people from their community, be it friends, co-workers, or others on campus. The big draw here is Secret's all new way of allowing users to initiate a private conversations with anyone, a feature Secret says is a great way to meet new friends.
Of course, as we saw when Secret first launched, there's not much you can do about the content posted when users essentially have a big sandbox to play in. It's been said countless times before that anonymity on the internet brings out the worst in people, and we can't help but see the new Secret suffering the same fate as the previous version. We doubt even the new chat features will help much that, but who knows.
You can give the new Secret a shot by downloading it free from the Google Play Store down below.
2014 was a very busy year for us here at Phandroid. In typical Android fashion there were tons of new devices, new device categories, software updates, and much more. On top of all that we increased our focus on unique original content, which resulted in some really fun stuff. Earlier this week we recapped the top stories in Android this year, but now we're looking back at all the most debated and popular Phandroid posts from 2014. Enjoy! MOST DEBATED First we'll talk about the posts that received the most comments. We love hearing your opinions, and in these posts you did it _a lot_. Phandroid is nothing without its readers. In 2015 we hope you leave even more comments! 1. 8 THINGS I HATE ABOUT THE SAMSUNG GALAXY S5 In this editorial from April Chris shares the 8 things he hates about the Samsung Galaxy S5. He wrote this piece during the height of GS5 hype. It was an unpopular opinion at the time, which led to a lot of comments.
Like my mother used to tell me, you’ll never find the perfect woman, only the perfect woman for you. Because, Android is a wonderful mess right now, manufacturers put a lot of time and effort into offering their unique versions of Android, that simply put — aren’t for everyone. Having owned the Samsung Galaxy S5 for a full week now, I think it’s time to stop beating around the bush: this phone simply isn’t for me. [Read More]2. FBI SNATCHES GOOGLE GLASS OFF THE FACE OF INNOCENT AMC MOVIE-GOER Rob wrote this post way back in January, and it all turned out to be a misunderstanding. The original story that we reported on stated a man went to a movie theater with Google Glass, and halfway through the film a FBI agent snatched it off his face. Eventually an official statement was released which stated the man was not recording. It was dropped at that. This story received tons of comments because it was during a time when Google Glass was very controversial. There were other stories at the time about businesses not allowing customers who wear Google Glass, and people getting pulled over for wearing Glass while driving. The idea of someone getting Glass confiscated at a movie theater was just another case of people not understanding the technology. [Read More] 3. SAMSUNG OFFICIALLY ANNOUNCES THE GALAXY S5 Surprise! People were excited about the Samsung Galaxy S5. Obviously Samsung news is always a big deal in the Android world. They didn't become the largest Android manufacturer without gaining a few fans in the process. Back in February Samsung officially announced the Galaxy S5, and you guys left over 300 comments about it. We're sure the Galaxy S6 will get the same reception in 2015. [Read More] 4. WHY YOU SHOULD NEVER SIGN ANOTHER CARRIER CONTRACT Joe doesn't like carrier contracts, and in this editorial he urged everyone to never sign another one. His arguments include freedom to upgrade or leave whenever you want, a cheaper monthly bill, and more control over your device and services. The comments on this post were great, especially from our non-US readers.
The moral of the story is very clear. If you want control of your device and service don’t sign a contract. Look at the big picture and don’t let them hook you in with the cheap initial cost. They want your money more than anything. [Read More]5. THE 5 TYPES OF ANDROID USERS YOU MEET This hilariously true post about the types of Android users was written by Joe back in April. He argues that all Android users can be sorted into five types based solely on homescreen personalization. You're either a Stock Jock, Themer, Minimalist, Hot Chick, or Ugly Duckling. Here's the description for Minimalist:
WHO: _The Minimalist_ has been through the Themer phase. They’ve seen it all, and now it’s time to take things slow. Keep it simple. They have a keen eye for design, or at least that’s what they will tell you. The Minimalist is also a tad OCD about how things are set up. Every app and widget is meticulously themed and organized. Man, I would love to download this new app, but I just can’t make that icon work. ITEM THEY ORDER AT MCDONALD’S: Hamburger FAVORITE BEVERAGE: Water [Read More]6. DID GOOGLE CREATE A BETTER SMARTWATCH INTERFACE THAN APPLE? One of the biggest stories in tech from 2014 was the announcement of the Apple Watch. Of course by the time the Apple Watch was announced there were already several Android Wear devices available. In this post Joe compared the UI's of the Apple Watch and Android Wear. The crazy thing about this comparison is how much better Android Wear looks compared to Apple's weird watch software. It's one of the rare, but happening more frequently, times that Google has bested Apple in software design. Most of you agreed whole-heartedly in the comments. [Read More] 7. IF APPLE MADE AN ANDROID-BASED IPHONE, WOULD YOU BUY IT? [POLL] When Steve Wozniak talks the tech world listens. His comments about Apple "diversifying their options" inspired Quentyn to create this poll. The question was simple: if Apple made an Android device would you buy it? The reason this poll got so many comments is the real underlying question. Do you dislike the iPhone because you prefer Android over iOS, or do you just plain hate all things Apple? The comments were very split on this topic. Many of you praised Apple's hardware design, but just as many of you said you refuse to own an Apple product. The war wages on. [Read More] 8. HTC ONE M8 VS SAMSUNG GALAXY S5 VS LG G PRO 2 VS SONY XPERIA Z2 [CAMERA FACE OFF] A big thing to consider when deciding on an Android phone is the camera performance. The easiest way to compare cameras is to get a bunch of phones and take the same photos with all of them. Chris reported on a comparison between the HTC One M8, Samsung Galaxy S5, LG G Pro 2, and Sony Xperia Z2 (can you believe the Z3 came out in 2014 too?). The funny thing about comparing photos is different people see different things. Rarely is it easy to pick a unanimous winner. That was certainly the case with this post, which is why so many of you left comments. [Read More] 9. IPHONE 6 VS GALAXY S5 (AND ANDROID) When it comes to smartphones there were two obvious top dogs in 2014: the iPhone 6 and Samsung Galaxy S5. For many people these were the only two phones to consider, so naturally a lot of people wanted to compare them. As you might expect, the comparison between an Apple product and top Android phones resulted in a lot of comments. Some people think the iPhone 6 is better. Some people think the Galaxy S5 is better. Others didn't even think the GS5 should have been included in the comparison. Posts like these are a great place to see a wide variety of opinions. [Read More] 10. MOTOROLA’S SHAMU, THE FIRST NEXUS PHONE I DO NOT WANT [OPINION] The last post on our most debated list comes from one of Phandroid's newest members. Derek Ross wrote an opinion piece about the rumored "Motorola Shamu" device, which we now know as the Nexus 6. At this time it was the first we heard about the next Nexus having a 6-inch display. Derek had this to say about the size:
That’s just insane. I might be a self-proclaimed Android fanboy, but holy hell. I do not want something that big. I might live and breathe Nexus and Android, however I’m saddened to say that this might be the first Nexus phone that I won’t salivate over or end up buying. It’s just too damn big to comfortably use.The best part about this story is the twist ending. Derek is now using the Nexus 6 as his daily phone. A lot can change when you actually get a device in your hands. [Read More] _Continue to 10 Most Popular Articles_
Two of the industry's best up-and-coming developers are coming together to make a game that'll make everyone take notice. They're calling it Minecraft: Story Mode, and it'll bring the narrative Minecraft never had to the forefront. Minecraft, a game where you "mine" resources and materials and "craft" items and buildings, has always left it up to players to tell their own stories and set their own goals and objectives, but this is the first time the series will introduce a plot that is filled with decision making and characters you'll be able to identify with. Telltale has developed a knack for these sorts of things with the company creating the wildly popular The Walking Dead series of games, as well as the newly-launched Game of Thrones series. Telltale is also responsible for Tales from the Borderlands, a game which was launched just this morning over at Google Play. Mojang and Telltale have already confirmed that mobile devices will be included in the game's release plans, and we imagine Android sits near the top of their list of platforms to support next to iOS. The company made it a note to mention that this will be a new standalone game instead of an add-on just in case you were curious about how all this would work. That's about the length of our knowledge, but we're promised more info will be along shortly. You are officially permitted to get excited. [via Telltale]
Google Cardboard, the inexpensive virtual reality kit that you can drop a phone into, has gotten another cool use today for those lucky enough to own one. You can now check out select locations in Street View as if you are really there. Google considers it more of an easter egg than a feature, likely because the amount of folks who can take advantage of it is very limited. For that reason, the only way to access the view is by double tapping the "look around" button while you're in Street View. You can try it out with the Burj Khalifa, a beautiful skyscraper over in Dubai. It should already be available in the latest version of Google Maps so take it for a spin whenever you're feeling bored, adventurous or just need something new to do with your Cardboard. [via Google+]
Everyone's favorite collaboration and organization app has received a big upgrade over at Google Play. Trello is the name of said app, and its big redesign has come with some great sweeping changes that should make the experience more of a pleasure to use for anyone who wasn't exactly in love with the previous app (which would be surprising considering it wasn't bad to begin with). Alongside the Material Design look and feel you see above, Trello says they've completely redesigned the sidebar to make it easier to navigate between boards and cards. They've also improved the image view for cards which have images attached to them. Most of these changes will be in the upgrade for everyone on a modern version of Android, though the team states they had to cut a few things for folks not on Lollipop as they used several new APIs and elements from the latest version of Android. Regardless, the changes should be more than enough no matter which platform you're on so be sure to grab the update as soon as you can over at Google Play. [via Trello]
The Samsung Gear VR has plenty of potential, but it is limited by a sparse content store out of the box. The positive is that Samsung and Oculus have made it easy to import and watch your own movies (even 3D) in virtual cinema mode. So how do we accomplish this? The short answer is to import your movie files (the Gear VR by default supports most common file formats including MP4, AVI, and FLV) into the “My Videos” folder on your SD card. To watch your 3D videos, however, there is an additional step, and it’s not entirely straightforward. The following will allow for perfect 3D playback of videos set up in a side-by-side (SBS) format (the left and right video channels are contained within the same file and appear as a near-mirror image when played back using a standard media player). To view your SBS 3D video files on your Gear VR, follow these steps: * On your MicroSD card file directory, navigate to Oculus > Movies > Your Movies * Create a new folder within “Your Movies” and label it “3D" * Import or move your side-by-side 3D videos into your newly created “3D” folder Once you have created your 3D content folder and imported compatible video files, insert your MicroSD card into your Galaxy Note 4 (if it isn’t already), dock the phone in your Gear VR, and don the virtual reality headset. Then: * Navigate to Oculus Cinema from the main menu * Navigate to “My Videos” from the Oculus Cinema content library menu * Select the 3D video you wish to view (if you followed the above steps it should have a “3D” label in the upper righthand corner) * Choose the cinema mode to begin playback The software is coded to automatically convert any video in the “3D” folder for 3D playback. While the included documentation and tutorials don't make the process completely obvious, the answer is buried in the literature accompanying the Gear VR’s Oculus Mobile SDK along with plenty of other tips on importing your own content for viewing on Samsung’s virtual reality headset. We’ll be sharing more of these helpful tips and tricks in the coming days.
A trifecta of awesome games have arrived to Google Play today that you should check out if you're getting a bit bored of the current selection. Two of the games are ports of older games that have gotten a new layer of polish specially for Android. Tales of the Borderlands, for starters, is a Telltale-made (makers of The Walking Dead games) game based in the Borderlands universe. It's classic Telltale, with a unique art style and engaging story being the backbones of the experience. It follows the stories of Rhys and Fiona, who find themselves coming together to reclaim a fortune of cash they believe is rightfully theirs. The game (Google Play link) costs $4.99 for per episode, with a total of 5 episodes slated to be available over the next few months. Next up is Grand Theft Auto: China Town Wars, a spin-off game from the Grand Theft Auto universe that goes back to the series' top-down roots. You're in control of Huang Lee, a rich heir to the throne of the top of the Triad gangs. His father's untimely death threatens his family's control over the Triads, and it's up to Huang to put the right events into motion to prevent that from happening. That's another quick $4.99 if you want to partake (though note that price tag is for the full game). Finally, the newcomer: Exiles. This RPG found its way into a Humble Bundle a couple of weeks back, but now it's in Google Play for all to enjoy. This sci-fi RPG features nice 3D graphics, an open world environment and three different character classes to choose from. The plot? A colonized planet is threatened by Alien slavery and all that jazz. You know, your typical alien outer-spacey story present in almost every game in the genre. That's not a bad thing, though -- the plot is tried and true, and it shines through as good as it ever has in Exiles. This one will run you $6.99, but we hear it delivers far more hours of fun than you could probably hope for on a mobile game. Be sure to check out all three of the downloads in Google Play using the links above.
Yesterday we gave you guys several good reasons why it'd be a good idea to be hooked up with Amazon Prime, and now -- not even just a day later -- Amazon has added another. The online retailer has announced Amazon Prime Now, a new shipping option that could get you the items you order within the hour. The service, which is only available in Manhattan to start, allows you to pay $8 shipping on tens of thousands of goods to get them within the hour. If that $8 extra shipping isn't ideal for you then there's the next best thing: shipment within 2 hours for absolutely no cost. Shipments can go out between 6am and midnight, 7 days a week, so you won't have to shuffle your schedule around just to wait for a quick package. Unfortunately that "tens of thousands" of good are only a tiny fraction of the more than 20 million items eligible for regular Prime shipping, but Amazon says it's a great service for getting essential items in a pinch without having to venture off to a crowded, cold store. Speaking of tiny fractions, Manhattan is only one small part of a big state and country, but Amazon says they'll be working to bring Amazon Prime Now shipping to more cities through 2015. Items can be ordered from within Amazon's app made especially for Prime Now. Alongside placing the order and selecting the time you would like the items delivered, the app will allow you to see where, exactly, the driver of your shipment is so you can make sure you're home before they arrive. If the service isn't in your area, downloading the app and inputting your zip code will hook you up with a notification letting you know when the service finally arrives. Amazon Prime Now launches today so if you're lucky enough to be in the Manhattan area and don't have time to go to the store for something you need give it a go. [via Amazon]
We’re back with yet another day of Phandroid’s _Gift-a-Day Giveaway_, giving you guys not only another great new gift idea, but a chance at winning some pretty awesome prizes. Today we’re showing you a Phan-favorite, a product we covered 2 years ago here on this very site and have used nearly every day since then. The Mountek nGroove is car dock unlike most others. Instead of suction cupping to your dash, window, or fitting into your car's cigarette lighter, the nGroove is outfitted with an adjustable fin that fits snugly inside your car's now obsolete CD slot. The places the your smartphone in an optimal position for quick viewing and interaction -- the same spot as your car's existing controls. The model we're showing you above is the "Grip" model and the one we actually recommend, but there's also the "SNAP" version which requires placing a magnetic sticker on the back of your phone and is really only ideal for flat backed devices. Now, it's important to survey the car where this will be installed. The nGroove isn't a perfect fit for all cars and can block certain controls and/or navigation displays. The beauty of the nGroove is its simplicity which doesn't require any sort of glues, screws, or clips. Should the CD slot not be the most optimal place for the nGroove, keep in mind it can also fit in any of your cars other grooves and spaces. You can buy the Mountek nGroove from Amazon for less than $20 via the link below. [Buy on Amazon: Mountek nGroove $18.69] *******
Today is yet another chance to enter our massive giveaway for a chance to win Nexus devices and smartwatches. Be sure to enter every single day to improve your chances of winning. Entries for this day will remain open until 11:59 PM (Eastern) on December 21st. Good luck!a Rafflecopter giveaway
It's finally happened, folks -- Micromax's Yu brand has launched its first smartphone. It's called Yureka, and it's based on CyanogenMod. The duo have an exclusive agreement for Indian distribution, meaning this will be the only smartphone loaded with CyanogenMod that you can get in those parts of the world (OnePlus has even had to halt sales of their Cyanogen-based smartphone in that region due to a regulatory ban). So what's this awesome, exciting new phone? Well, it's not new at all -- it's a CoolPad F2 with Yu's logo and a CyanogenMod ROM loaded up. The device is literally a carbon copy, with everything from the look and feel right down to its spec sheet being identical in every way imaginable. Here's what's inside: * 5.5-inch 720p display * 1.5GHz octa-core Snapdragon 615 64-bit * 2GB of RAM * 16GB of internal storage, microSD slot up to 32GB * 13 megapixel Sony Exmor sensor * 2,500mAh battery * CyanogenMod 11 w/ Android 4.4.4 KitKat (5.0 promised down the line) That said, it's still a phone that has to capture your attention if you're living in India and in the market for a new phone. The cost of admission for that bit of kit is Rs. 8,999 (or about $142), so it definitely is one of the better values Indian consumers will see. More importantly than hardware specs, though, you have to put a lot of weight behind CyanogenMod's backing and the unmatched software support sure to come with that. Cyanogen did do something a little extra for Yureka's ROM, including a nice set of themes to choose from and support for Nextbit Baton, a software sync platform that allows you to backup your apps and app settings, and even seamlessly transfer the state of an app from one device to another. That means you could be in Facebook on your tablet looking at a photo, and have the option of opening Facebook and being jumped straight to that same photo. Folks interested in the Yureka can get their order in exclusively from Amazon starting December 19th, though there's no word when the actual launch date is. Stay tuned for all those details and more in the days and weeks to come.
Sony is no stranger when it comes to the wearable tech, often times jumping in head first without really testing the waters. They were one of the first out of the gate with a smartwatch, and more recently, we saw their take on the virtual reality headset with Project Morpheus. Back when Google Glass was just getting off the ground -- and people were still excited about the idea of strapping a computer to their faces -- we heard rumors that other manufacturers would soon try their hand at an augmented reality headset. Sony is now putting these rumors to rest with the announcement of their "Single-Lens Display Module," a wearable computing device that attaches to existing eye wear, giving it "smart" capabilities. Like Google Glass, Sony's headset uses a tiny "High-Resolution Color OLED Microdisplay" that brings varying types of visual information front and center to its wearer. Applications are very much the same as Google Glass, with Sony saying they're more or less targeting entertainment and/or sports enthusiasts, the latter making more sense given physical activity like biking tends to keep your hands tied. They're already busy preparing an SDK that developers can use to build apps with Sony saying they're planning for mass production sometime next year. We can't help but notice that, while admittedly more versatile than Google's implementation, Sony's headset actually makes the already clunky Google Glass look like a svelte piece of science fiction. What do you guys think? Even if they could drop 10 strokes from your golf game, would _you_ wear these things outdoors? Sony says they'll be showing these off during CES 2015 in just a few short weeks time and we'll be sure to bring you a heads-on.
Without question, the Moto X (2nd Gen) is one of the best Android devices on the market (see our full review) and today, Verizon is making it hard to resist picking up one of these for the holidays. Previously $100, you can now pick up a brand new, custom Moto X 2014 straight from Motorola's site for only $50 with a 2-year contract. When purchasing from Motorola, you can actually custom design your own Moto X with a variety of colors, even down to the trim around the logo and speaker grills. All in all, the deal isn't a bad one, but keep in mind this is the bare bones 16GB model. If you're looking for something a little more premium, a wood-backed model with 32GB will take you right back up to $125 with a 2-year agreement. Still not bad if you're holing onto an upgrade. The deal ends December 31st, so make haste if you're interested. [Buy from Motorola: Custom Moto X (2nd Gen) on Verizon]