Native Chromecast support comes to Play Movies and Play Music from the web


Folks who have Chromecast devices know well that there are two types of casting from the desktop. First there are those applications or sites that support Chromecast directly. This includes services like YouTube or Netflix where the cast button can be found in the video player area and allow you to use the Chromecast as intended, with the content delivered directly to the Chromecast. The other type are those sites that require the user to just cast the entire web page from their browser tab. This is rather slow and requires the content to be delivered from the computer to the Chromecast. Surprisingly, Google did not include the first type of casting for Play Movies and Play Music from the web when using a laptop or desktop. That oversight has now changed.

According to Google, if the Google Cast extension is installed for your browser, you can look for the cast button in the video player area when you fire up your favorite title. This will then cause the movie, TV show, or song to be streamed directly to the Chromecast, just as it would if you had launched the title using a smartphone or tablet.

source: +Google Play

Google adds blue theme option into Google Keyboard update


Remember theĀ theme engine that’s baked in (but hidden away) in Google’s stock keyboard? Looks like Google might be taking advantage of it in their latest keyboard update.

The new version of the stock Android keyboard gives you two options for themes; the new white theme that matches with the color palette that’s been introduced in KitKat, or a theme that matches the more traditional Holo blue we’ve gotten used to ever since Ice Cream Sandwich was released. They aren’t exactly the most varied themes that we’ve ever seen, but it’s a good start. You never know, Google may start regularly rolling out new themes, or they might even open up that theme engine for third-party developers on the Play Store to take advantage of, similar to how Cyanogenmod does things. Read more

FCC and U.S. Carriers reach a deal to allow consumers to unlock their mobile phones and tablets


It was back in January when it became illegal to unlock your mobile phone or tablet, which ticked a lot of people off. In most situations, the carrier would unlock it for you, but they didn’t have to. Well fast forward nearly 11 months, and things have changed. The FCC and CTIA have reached an agreement allowing you to unlock your mobile phone or tablet. This deal was reached with AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, and Verizon Wireless.

Each carrier will need to post their policy for unlocking on their respective websites. The way the rule works is that carriers will have to unlock devices requested by customers if their contract has been fully satisfied by either the term or termination fee is paid. If you own a prepaid phone, your carrier has to unlock it within a year of the original activation.

source: CTIA

Latest Google+ update allows you to shake your device like a snow globe to add snow to your photos


Last week, Google gave us Auto Awesome Snow, but wouldn’t it be cool to add the effect to any photo? The most recent Google+ update lets you do just that by shaking your device like a snow globe. Snow will start falling, and if you like what you see, just shake again to save it.

Now that is not the only addition that you will get with this update. You can now search for posts, people, photos, and communities all from one place. There is also a new “Who can notify me” setting that allows you to control who can buzz your phone. If you frequently check out the What’s Hot stream, you can now explore content by a number of categories such as music, science, sports, and photography. Last but not least, Google promises that you will see something “lovely” when you +1 posts in the stream.

The update is rolling out gradually so it might take a couple of days to hit your device. Hit the break for a short video on the new shake and snow effect.

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Nexus 5 gets slight revision with improved buttons and larger speakers

nexus 5 revision 1

Google is now selling a “new” version of the Nexus 5 with a few tweaks. No, it doesn’t mean it’s an entirely new Nexus device, unfortunately. Google and LG have slightly tweaked a few things about the Nexus 5 to make a better device. This happens to many devices, it’s just rare that they get much press about it. When we’re talking about a device aimed at Android enthusiasts, though, you can expect those “slight” adjustments to be noticed pretty quickly.

The most major things you’ll notice are larger holes for the speaker at the bottom of the device and some adjusted buttons. Many users reported loose or rattling buttons on the Nexus 5, but the new ones appear to be a bit more stiff and more sturdy, which is definitely a good thing. You can see the small changes in the pictures below. Read more

Alliance for Wireless Power picks out Rezence brand name for wireless charging products

A4WP Rezence

The Alliance for Wireless Power, one of the groups of tech makers that’s pushing for wireless charging standards, has announced that they’ve picked out a brand name for their products that support their specific type of wireless charging. The brand? Rezence, complete with that fancy logo you see above.

Unfortunately, there are no actual A4WP products on the market yet. The Wireless Power Consortium (which back the Qi wireless charging standard) and the Power Matters Alliance all have at least a few things available on the market. However, we should see the first Rezence-capable products shown off at CES in January with plans to get those devices into market by the middle of 2014.

What do you guys think? Will adopting a brand name to promote help wireless charging become mainstream?

source: AllThingsD

Moto X Camera update rolling out with manual focus and exposure control


The next version of Moto X’s camera, version, is rolling out in the Play Store as we post. The update includes the ability to manually control focus and exposure, support for additional languages, and other bug fixes. To manually control focus and exposure, you need to swipe from the left and access the camera’s minimal settings menu, and tap the icon that looks like a finger pointing to a square. From there you can drag the box anywhere to set focus and exposure.

You can find a download link after the break for the updated camera.

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Google+ study reveals IT workers are most active user group


A new study looking at the demographics of Google+ users didn’t offer much of a surprise in terms of their most active user group. People who work in IT are the most active Google+ users, accounting for more than a third of usage on the social network. Full time parents, support level employees, financial services employees and people with ages between 55 years and 64 years are the people least likely to use the Google+, according to the same study.

The network clearly isn’t being used as much as Google would have hoped. While the social network has 540 million registered users, engagement and sharing data is still unimpressive. A different study revealed that Google’s social network accounts for only 2% of all social shares, behind LinkedIn, Pinterest, and of course Facebook and Twitter.

Source: BGR


Gmail to automatically display email images in Android app next year


If you use Gmail for your primary email address, I’m sure you’ve seen the button at the top of all of your emails that you have to tap to display images in messages. The reasoning behind it is sound; it’s a security measure that keeps your inbox safe. Even if it’s just a safety thing, though, it can still be pretty annoying to have to tap that every time you get email from a new sender.

Thanks to some improvements in Gmail, the “Display images below” button is soon going to be a thing of the past. Google is planning on routing all email messages through their own proxy server, then displaying them in your inbox which helps them to make sure the images are secure and removes that button in one move. This will make your inbox faster, more secure, and more importantly, it’ll look better thanks to filled in images.

If you’re not okay with the change, Google says you can still keep the old method of having to approve images before they’ll display. This can help people that are trying to manage extremely small data caps, or someone that just doesn’t like the extra fluff of images in their emails. The change should be rolling out to Android apps in early 2014.

source: Gmail Blog

Samsung to merge divisions in hopes of improving smartphone cameras


A report out of Korea indicates Samsung has merged their Digital Imaging Business Division with their Wireless Division. The Digital Imaging Business Division is responsible for cameras produced by the company, while the Wireless Business Division is essentially their smartphone division. According to a statement released by Samsung, the company “will transplant the brand, sales networks, software competency and manufacturing competitiveness of the Wireless Business Division into the Camera Business Division, and integrate the technical know-how of the two business divisions into competency for differentiating our smartphones.” The reorganization was effective on December 11th.

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