Hands on with the Map Diving simulator at Google I/O


We told you about Map Diving last week. It’s a skydiving simulator created by Instrument, a Portland tech startup. We finally got to see it action at Google I/O, and yours truly even gave it a shot. They created this simulator using Google Maps and it’s pretty darn cool. Don’t worry, everyone will get a chance to try it out because it will land on Chrome Experiments soon. When that happens, you won’t use your body, but you will be able to use your tablet’s accelerometer to control the skydiver that’s on your desktop. Hit the break for the video and to find out why I never took up skydiving.

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Gmail and Google Wallet can now help you get money to the people in your life


This day full of Google goodness, keeps on rolling, and Google just made it easier to send money to our friends and family with the help of  Gmail and Google Wallet. The two have been integrated to allow you to send money. In Gmail there will be an option next to the attachments, in the form of a dollar sign $. By clicking on this button you can now send money to the people you care most about. There are limitations to the service however, which are covered after the break:
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Google Hangouts requires permissions to receive, read, and send SMS messages, could support be added soon?


Very early reviews of Google Hangouts seem to be mixed. Many people love the new service, but many are also unhappy with the fact that SMS messaging is not integrated. These users have quickly dominated the app’s reviews in the Play Store, pleading for the feature to be added to what is supposed to be a unified messaging system.

However, a quick look at the permissions Google Hangouts requires reveals that SMS support could be coming soon. Among the permissions the app has access to - receiving text messages (SMS), reading text messages (SMS or MMS), and sending SMS messages – none of which the app currently seems to actually be using.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed that this means SMS support will be added sooner than later (maybe with Android 4.3?), making it even more of a truly unified messaging system. After the break you can read the message permissions Google Hangouts requires.
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Samsung Galaxy S 4 Mini leaks once again, release set for end of May


The Samsung Galaxy S 4 Mini has once again appeared online in photos, and some valuable news has also been leaked. The phone will apparently be almost as fast as the Galaxy S 4, as it will be powered by a 1.6GHz Exynos 5210 SoC, backed up by either 1GB or 2GB of RAM.

Rumors also reveal that the phone will feature a built-in IR blaster, meaning it will have remote control capabilities, allowing one to control a TV, set-top box, or a home theater system straight from the smartphone. The Galaxy S 4 Mini is also said to have a 4.3-inch super AMOLED screen with a resolution of 540 by 960 pixels.

The main camera will have 8MP of resolution, and a 2100mAh battery should keep the phone up and running throughout the course of the day. The phone is set for an official announcement on or around May 30th, which is when we should be hearing about the rumored Samsung Galaxy S 4 Activ and Samsung Galaxy S 4 Zoom as well.

Source: Phone Arena

Google Hangouts officially announced at Google I/O, now live in the Google Play Store


The long-anticipated Google Hangouts application was announced this afternoon at Google I/O 2013 and is now available in the Google Play Store for download.

The app allows for one-to-one chat, group chat, picture/video sharing, emojis, as well as video calling. It’s multi-platform integrated, meaning you can use it on your computer, your Android, or your iOS device— everything will remain perfectly synced. Conversation threads will remain on the Hangouts application until you delete them, so you can always look back and see a timeline of old photos and videos you shared with others through the app.

One pretty big disappointment is the lack of SMS support in the application. However, some have said otherwise. Google knows that apps like “Hangouts” are the future of smartphone communication, so they may just be paving the way for the abandonment of SMS-use. We’ll just have to wait and see how users react to this new technology! Check out a photo gallery and the link to the Google Play Store after the break!
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New Google Maps makes the Map the UI just a little better and easier for all


Google’s new Maps feature that we told about earlier today is officially a reality. So many things to list and such little brain power to remember them all. Let’s try and cover the stuff that got the most reaction from the crowd. There have been some major improvements to the 3D rendering. Getting to see St. Peter’s Basilica in 3D at I/O on Google Maps is excellent, but what really took the cake was the integration of user photos of the Basilica. By clicking on a user submitted Geo-tagged photo, Google Maps now helps to bring the interior of the Basilica on other wonders of the world right into your house through the browser.

And of course like all of the other neat services, Google Maps can now become more personalized as you use it more and more. Picture this: you see a restaurant that may be of interest to you in a particular area, so Google Maps will showcase only the important items like specific roads or landmarks it is for you to get to the restaurant, so Maps will only show the information to you that matters most. Oh and you have friends that may +1 a restaurant or locale, so Google Maps will begin offering you recommendations based off of your friends’ interests. Pretty cool indeed. So the more you interact with the map, the better it gets. When you set your Home and Work locations, star favorite places, write reviews and share with friends, Google Maps will build even more useful maps with recommendations for places you might enjoy.

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ZTE reveals Grand X2 In with Intel CloverTrail+ processor capable of taking 24 photos per second


ZTE is no stranger to Intel’s up-and-coming CloverTrail+ project, including one of Intel’s chips in the ZTE Geek we reported on about a month ago. Today we bring you Intel and ZTE’s newest collaboration, dubbed the ZTE Grand X2 In. The Grand X2 In is a sleek purple device with a 4.5-inch, 720p display. It runs Android Jellybean and is powered by Intel’s 2GHz Atom Z2580 chip. Also under the hood is 1GB of RAM, 8GB of expandable storage, an 8-megapixel rear camera and a 1-megapixel front-facing camera. While this phone is not going to compete with today’s flagships, it does have some features that set it apart, most notably the aforementioned camera. Capable of 24 frames-per-second, zero shutter lag and image stabilization, the camera alone puts this mid-range offering ahead of many other comparable devices. Hit the break for the full press release. 
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Google announces Google Play for Education at Google I/O 2013

If schools decide to give out tablets to each student, Google has now built a service with them in mind. Each student would be given a Google account which the teacher would have access to. Probably the coolest feature of the new service is taht the teacher can load an education related app onto the students tablet for the student to use. Schools will still be responsible for the cost of integrating tablets into their school, but Google is providing a framework for them to work with. Google has also add the option for schools to pay with a pay order instead of a credit card. Here is a pic of schools that already use Google apps in some way or another:

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