Category: Android

Google+ Quietly Removes Menu Link to Google Spaces

In the latest update to the Google+ app for Android, Google has quietly removed the menu link to Google Spaces.  It could be the first indicator that the carcass of yet another social networking attempt by Google is about to be thrown on the pile.  And frankly, it wouldn’t be all that shocking.  The change can be found in the 9.6.0 build of Google+ for Android and if you open up the menu using the hamburger menu or a swipe from the left side of your screen, you’ll see that there is no link to Spaces.

The idea behind Spaces was never fully articulated.  It was somewhat like Circles in the original Google+ but it was also aimed to allow you to create a “space”, invite friends so that you could discuss the space’s defined topic.  You could also share videos, images, texts and other media.  In theory, a pretty cool idea but Spaces never really took off.

Today’s Deal – Sony Xperia X Compact Down to $364 on Amazon

Today’s Deal is on a great phone that I reviewed a few months ago.  The Sony Xperia X Compact has a lot of punch in a little package and right now, it is on sale for $364 at Amazon.  Normally this 4.6″ phone is $499, so this is a healthy amount of savings.  It is powered by the Snapdragon 650 hexa-core processor.  It has four 1.4 GHz Cortex-A53 cores &  two 1.8 GHz Cortex-A72 cores.  The processor is coupled with the Adreno 510 GPU which provides good graphics performance.  The X Compact has 3GB of RAM onboard and has 32GB of built-in storage.  That storage can be expanded up to an additional 256GB thanks to the Micro SD slot that is built into the SIM tray of the phone.

Display wise, the Xperia X Compact has a 4.6″ IPS LCD display that renders at 720 x 1280.  That gives you 319 ppi which is low compared to other devices out there.  I caution readers to consider that this device has a much smaller display so 319 ppi is actually very comfortable on this screen size.  Indeed for comparison, the iPhone 6 had 329 ppi so we aren’t talking about a massive difference from even larger devices.  The display is protected by Gorilla Glass 3.

Google Sheets Update Brings Formatting Improvements and Mouse Support to Android

Big changes are coming in the latest update to Google Sheets for Android, web and iOS.  There are some nice formatting options that are coming to the app but probably the bigger news is that the Android app will have mouse support for the new breed of Chromebooks that run Android apps.

From a formatting perspective, Sheets will now have the ability to rotate text (this is found under Format>Text rotation) to make your spreadsheet cleaner and more visually appealing.  For example, you could rotate column headers 90-degrees so that they are vertical instead of wide across the column top.  This means you can make those columns more narrow.  Add to that, finally, the ability to format numbers in Accounting style.  This is one of those “why wasn’t it there before?” features but hey, it’s here now.  Under Format>Number>Accounting, you can change your numbers into this format for easier and more consistent reports on budgets and other financial spreadsheets.

 

 

Rounding out the formatting updates are new border styles.  There are several new border styles in the app that have various thicknesses and double borders.  These are all found under Toolbar>Borders>Border styles.

The big changes though and probably the more exciting ones for most are the changes to the Android (and iOS app) app for Sheets.

Google Play Music Brings Back Recents to The Menu

A small dot release of Google Play Music is hitting the Play Store that brings back a menu option and other small improvements.  The updated build is version 7.4 for those keeping score and with it you will find that the Recents option has returned to the main menu or navigation drawer of the app.  This feature disappeared late last year when Google started injecting machine learning into the app so it could better learn your listening preferences.  Since then, your Recents appeared as a button on the main display of the app (but it only shows your downloaded music if you are in offline mode)

The return of Recent to the menu should clean things up a bit whether you are online or offline and make it easier to find the music you have recently listened to in chronological order.

Instagram Update Allows Multiple Photos in A Single Post

Instagram has rolled out an update to their Android app that brings a long wanted feature to the social sharing app.  Now you can select multiple photos or videos from your phone and have them in a single post.  Up to this point, you were limited to one photo or video per post.  Most people got around this by creating collages but that doesn’t always have the desired effect as it shrinks the photos down considerably.

To use the new feature, you have to have version 10.9 of the Instagram app for Android.  That build is rolling out in the Play Store now so it may be a day or two before everyone sees it hit their phones.  Once you have it and you start a new post, you will see a new “select multiple” feature.  Tap it and then tap all the photos you want to add to your post.  You can have up to 10 and you can mix pictures and video.  After you have selected your photos, you can apply filters to one or all of the photos and the post it as normal.  Once your post is done, those who see it can swipe through your photos to see all of them.

Honor V9 has Powerhouse Specs for a Sub-$500 Phone

Huawei’s junior brand, Honor, has pretty much always had a solid lineup of mid-market phones at a good price.  Then comes along the Honor V9 and it is nothing short of a powerhouse.  The 5.7″ QHD is powered by the Kirin 960 SoC quad-core process running at 2.4GHz, has up to 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage and will start roughly $435.  The V9 is perhaps the most complete, high-end spec phone that Honor has released and hopefully, hopefully we will see it here in the United States at some point.

There are three configurations of the Honor V9 but regardless of which one you get, they both come with the Kirin 960 processor and Mali G71 GPU.  You can get a 4GB model with 64GB of Storage , a 6GB model with 64GB of Storage, or you can pick up the 6GB and 128GB model.  Both come with a MicroSD slot so you can expand the storage up to an additional 128GB.  So if you picked up the top-of-the-line model and added a 128GB card for roughly $40, you would have a 256GB phone for around $550.  That is a steal.

Today’s Deal: Anker PowerCore 10400 – $20 on Amazon Today

Today’s Deal over at Amazon is a great one if you are needing to pick up an external power pack for your devices.  Today you can pick up the Anker PowerCore 10400 for $19.99, a savings of 60% off the regular $49 price tag.  As the name suggests, this power pack has a 10,400 mAh battery in it so you can easily charge most devices three times before having to recharge it.  It has two USB-A connectors so you can use it with really anything out there:  MicroUSB, USB-C (A to C cable) and an Apple Lightening cable.  It is designed to work with any device and get you powered up and going again.  It also is in a small package.  This pack is slightly larger than a deck of playing cards so you won’t have a big, bulky battery to carry around with you.

Google Camera Update Allows For Shutter Sound Disabling

If you are a Google Pixel or Nexus 5X/6P user, there is a minor update to the Google Camera app rolling out for you.  The update, version 4.3 for those keeping score at home, fundamentally brings one feature to the table:  The ability to silence the shutter sound.  This may not seem like a big deal but it is something many other camera apps have offered for a long time and when you are in a museum or other quiet place, having the shutter sound fire off each time you take a photo can be a bit annoying.

This new setting is found in Settings>General in the app under “camera sounds”.  Toggle this off and there will be no more sounds from the app.  Keep in mind, this also means that the self timer feature will also go silent too.  It completely shuts the sounds off in the app.

MLB at Bat Gets Updated for Spring Training

The 2017 Major League Baseball season starts in just 40 days and all thirty teams have already reported for Spring Training.  To get you ready for the season and Spring Training, the MLB at Bat app has been updated to keep you in-the-know.  The update is rolling out now so if you already have the app installed, expect the OTA update over the course of the next day or so.  Once you have it, At Bat will give you news, information and the Spring Training schedule for your favorite MLB team.

As is the case every Spring Training, the highlights for your team may be limited as not every game is televised.  But you will be able to keep up with stats and the rosters which always change this time of the year.

Today’s Deal – Lexar 64GB MicroSD Card for $19.99

Today’s Deal is on the Lexar 64GB UHS-I/U1 MicroSD card.  Today on Amazon you can pick one up for $19.99 including the SD Card adaptor.  This is over a 50% discount off the regular price and given it’s specs, should work in just about any Android phone or tablet.  It features a 45MB/s Read speed and 20MB/s Write speed which is fast enough for it to capture full 1080p HD and even 4K video.  You can store 8 hours of HD video on the card so it will be great for video cameras too.

Like other MicroSD cards, this one is pretty much resistant to the elements.  It is resistant to magnets, cold, heat and of course water (or snow) so if you drop it, you won’t ruin it under normal circumstances.

For the $19.99 price, you will also get the SD card adaptor so you can slide the card into your Macbook or other devices for reading of the card and pulling off of videos and photos directly to your computer.  As always, be sure to check the specifications of your phone, tablet or camera to assure that this card will work for you.  If your device is from 2015 or newer, chances are you’ll be just fine but double-check.

For more details and information on Today’s Deal, head over to Amazon.

Sprint Has Released Android Nougat for The Galaxy S7 Lineup

Good news Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge users on Sprint, Android Nougat is rolling your way.  Joining AT&T and T-Mobile, Sprint has released their stable Nougat 7.0 build for the two Samsung flagship devices, starting with those who were in their beta program first.  Those in the program will get a small update (sub-200MB) to update to the stable version while those of you who get it outright, you are looking at a 1.2GB update from Marshmallow.  The update will take a few days to get to everyone of course as these things tend to be phased when the carriers roll out these big updates.

For those curious, a couple of key things to keep in mind on this update.  First, it is Android Nougat 7.0, just like the updates from the other carriers.  It does appear to have the February 2017 Android Security Update but that’s yet to be confirmed by Sprint (they haven’t updated their support page entirely with details).  If that is true, it would be the same as the other carriers.  Further, it is not 100% clear if Sprint has added any additional apps or services to the S7 or S7 Edge but that should become a bit more clear once the support page is updated.

LineageOS Passes Half-A-Million Installs Already

After rising from the ashes of CyanogenMod, the LineageOS team has been making huge strides with their custom ROMs for Android devices.  And, based on their stats, it would appear that there are a lot of people interested.  The latest Marshmallow-based build of the ROM has now been downloaded and is active on over 560,000 devices.  That is significant given that it was around Christmas last year that the company started.  Sure they had a bit of a head start with some of the scraps from CyanogenMod but for them to get a build out to over 100 devices in two months is everything including impressive.

Leading the way, according to the statistics page, is the OnePlus One.  The original phone from the Chinese manufacture has hit some 43,000 installs.  Remember that the OnePlus One came with a Cyanogen build on it by default.  It wasn’t until later that the company began working on their OxygenOS builds.  So for OPO owners, having an alternative is a big deal.