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.
We told you last night about the possibility of this happening, and today at the I/O keynote, Google made it official that they will be releasing an unlocked Samsung Galaxy S 4 running stock Android. The LTE compatible, completely unlocked phone will come with an unlocked bootloader and will work on AT&T and T-Mobile. Storage will be 16GB and the device will arrive on June 26 for $649. The crowd at I/O went silent, with a few boos audible when they heard about the high price tag.
This is the first non-Nexus device to get this kind of Google treatment. It’s a little surprising Samsung is on board with this, considering how much they market their TouchWiz UI’s additions to the Android experience.
There’s no doubt that Google Play has seen some extensive improvements, but Google I/O is highlighting some of the cool functionality that users will see using the service moving forward. One of the great things that Google does for its users is learn about its users, so the Play Store can now give personalized recommendations of games, music, movies and whatever else may be good for users. Additionally, Google has implemented a new strategy for its ever-growing tablet users by showcasing a brand-spanking new “Designed for Tablets” section— ensuring the various tablet apps out there will operate at a smooth level. Oh and for you music lovers out there— Google Play Music All Access is Google’s first subscription-based music service, which allows listeners to enjoy the huge library of songs Google has— complete with the ability to customize your music as you choose— all for $9.99/month. “Radio without rules” is the motto of the All Access service, which means that we may have yet another means to enjoy our awesome music.
Look for the new improvements to start rolling out over the coming weeks.
Google is planning to introduce a new subscription-based streaming music service to compete with Spotify and other similar services. The feature will be integrated into Google Play and could be introduced as early as this morning at Google I/O, Google’s annual developer-centric conference.
The service has been in development for some time now, and when launched will put Google at an advantage over competitors like Apple and Amazon, who have yet to launch an integrated streaming music service to their platform. And with the lackluster sales the Play Music Store has accrued, this could be the jump-start to help them catch up with iTunes, the largest retailer of music in the United States.
If the Nexus program is any indication, there is a group of people out there that prefer vanilla (stock, AOSP, whatever you feel like calling the pure Google Experience) Android over those skinned versions that manufacturers bloat their devices with. Some have even gone on to wish and hope that there was an ability to turn these user interfaces off and just run pure Google software. Well if current rumors ring true, we’ll see that very thing tomorrow.
The newest rumor is that Google will be showing off a Galaxy S 4 with vanilla Android. You’ve read that right. The newest flagship from Samsung could very well run a pure version of Google’s OS. It’s rumored to be released on T-Mobile’s network in June with no love for any other carrier at the moment. Either way it brings up the question of whether or not this will be a Google Play Store exclusive or be sold in stores.
I love rumors as much as the next person and sincerely hope that this one becomes a reality. This wouldn’t be the first time that Google and Samsung have debuted a product variant running pure Android. Remember the special edition Galaxy Tab 10.1 given out to folks at I/O? Although it would be the first time that such a product would make its way to the general public. We’ll know soon enough.
Yesterday, only a couple days before Google I/O is scheduled to open, a new photo of a white Google Nexus 4 device surfaced. Today, things ratchet up a bit with the discovery of a white Nexus 4 at a Qualcomm booth at The Mobile Show in Dubai. The folks at TechView even took the time to video the device which was presented to them as a demo unit. One thing that is apparent now is that only the back is white with the face still sporting black panels surrounding the screen. Since there is no information on a timeframe for a retail release, or if that will even happen, there is always the possibility the whole thing could end up being white, not just the back. Hit the break to check out the video.
Another shot of the white Nexus 4 has surfaced, which seems to backup earlier photos of a white Nexus 4 we reported to you back in January. But as we near Google I/O 2013, we’re expecting an official announcement (or maybe even a release) of the device, hopefully with some bumped up specs.
This time, the device ended up in the hands of Google+ user Ervin Sue, who obtained the phone on a buy and sell website. Although the outer hardware looks to be the same (aside from color), we’re hopeful that Google at least adds a modern Snapdragon 600 processor and 4G LTE.
When Google I/O starts in a couple of days we’ll be sure to have some more information— but until then, you’ll just have to be patient!
Source: Ervin Sue
Security and privacy are two huge issues with smartphones, and anything connected to the internet, really. So it shouldn’t surprise anyone that Google unveiled a five-year plan towards increased device security on Wednesday. This roadmap has Google breaking away from its traditional user sign-in process on devices, and instead replaces with an extremely secure, once-per-device-log-in. By replacing traditional passwords with complex authentication codes, a device can register itself with Google and keep the owner of an account from having to repeatedly sign in to their Google account multiple times.
All Things D is reporting that Google has decided not to move forward with their own physical credit card. According to their sources, Google had planned to update Google Wallet with a physical card next week at Google I/O, but now sources are saying that those plans have changed a little and even though they do plan to update Google Wallet with new features, there are no plans for the debut of a Google credit card along with it.
Sources close to the matter said Google’s CEO Larry Page put an end to the project last week after a lackluster demo performance didn’t show any innovation.Those who had seen the card described it as a usual credit card, with the Google Wallet “W” in rainbow colors on top of a black background. Google had hoped to use the credit card to gain more information about its customers spending habits, which would improve their ability to push ads to their customers.
This isn’t the first time Google has lost faith in a card. Back in October of last year they put the kibosh on the prepaid Google Wallet program. So this is just one more thing to delete from Google I/O expectations.
Source: All Things D
Perhaps we shouldn’t think that the mysterious “X” phone by Motorola we’ve been hearing more and more about lately is just limited to one model after all. If you recall, we casually mentioned the possibility of Google introducing the “X” phone as potentially a new line of smartphones– not just one smartphone. Well, it appears that particular rumor may hold up more weight than we thought before. According to an anonymous tipster, at least two versions of the Motorola X are being developed behind closed doors: a main “X” phone and an “M” model— similar to the DROID RAZR M variant from the DROID RAZR line of smartphones. Specs-wise, the main phone will feature a 4.8-inch HD display, 2 GB of RAM and feature Android 4.2.2 (as of now).