Project Ara lures module developers with dev boards

As detailed in their plans, Project Ara is kicking up their development process by bringing in contributions from the outside. The project is now opening up its doors to interested module developers to try their luck in getting a development board. There is a catch, however. You have to convince them that you are indeed capable of creating such a module.

The application form says that requests will be prioritized "based on technical experience", meaning that those who have had experience in embedded hardware and electronics have an advantage. It also says, however, that the "strength of the module concept" is also taken into consideration, but unless you have a really convincing grand vision that will make anyone's jaw drop, it's best to back up that idea with some industry creds.

This stage of Project Ara development is focused on populating the the ecosystem with modules. After all, a modular smartphone like it would only be half useful unless it has more than a dozen interesting swappable modules available. It is somewhat too early to expect the smartphone software to get the same treatment, which will probably come a lot later. To be clear, these are development boards and not the same beta device promised to the 100 winners of Project Ara's scout program.

Those interested in putting in their application should do so before July 17 to get included in the first review batch, but in case you don't make the cut, the second review will be open until August 17. Project Ara will be shipping first batch of dev boards, based on version 0.10 of the Module Development Kit (MDK) in late July but are also planning to ship a second generation of dev boards, this time based on MDK 0.20, sometime in Fall.

SOURCE: Project Ara (1), (2)
VIA: SlashGear

Minuum shows how it’s done on Android Wear smartwatches

The idea of a virtual keyboard on a smartwatch seems very laughable for some, but Minuum has been at the forefront of revolutionising how we use keyboards, and they believe it will work on devices as small as wearables. They are now officially the first keyboard that will work on the Android Wear platform, specifically for the Samsung Gear Live, the LG G Watch and the soon to arrive Moto 360.

Since Android Wear is still a relatively new platform for smartwatches, there are not that many apps yet available that would require text fields. But Minuum believes that making a virtual keyboard available for the wearables is a first step towards developers making apps that would need it. They posted a short demo video on their website, showing how it would look on an LG G Watch. You’ll see that it doesn’t use the standard QWERTY keyboard (thank goodness because that would have occupied 2/3 of the screen) but instead uses a horizontal type keyboard, one that they’ve been using for the other smartwatch platforms, smartphones and tablets.

The creators of Minuum believe that the keyboard is something that can adapt to natural language patterns, just like how voice recognition adapts to our tones. But they can only do it as long as the intuitive design accepts the concept of “sloppy typing”, which is fairly common on small gadgets. They are trying to change the paradigm by which we use virtual keyboards and being on Android Wear will be a step towards that since the new smartwatch platform is expected to get bigger in the wearable market.

They will also be coming out with a circular keyboard design in preparation for the Moto 360, the first roundwatch face smartwatch that will be coming out later this year. If you’d like to try out Minuum on your Android Wear device, sign up on their website so you can get installation instructions. For other gadgets, you can download Minuum at the Google Play Store.

SOURCE: Minuum

Google Music All Access in 6 new countries, Chromecast in 1

It's not exactly Update Wednesday, but Google is indeed updating its membership list for its digital services and devices. In this round, Google is bringing its music cloud storage and streaming service to 6 more territories, while its Chromecast streaming dongle is now available in just one more country.

The lucky list of new initiates to Google's musical party includes Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Peru and Ukraine. All six of these will have access to both the free Play Music streaming service as well as the subscription-based All Access. This puts the total roster of countries to 34.

In terms of hardware, Google is making the Chromecast available to yet another European country, this time in Ireland. Chromecast's expansion has been going on rather slowly after brief growth spurts in March and May. Now there are 19 places where one can buy Chromecast directly from Google Play Store, though there are always other options available for those outside these regions.

For those lucky to have a Chromecast in their hands, or actually on their TVs, they will be able to enjoy some of the new abilities that the tiny HDMI device has been given. In particular, Android users will be able to cast the contents of their screen to Chromecast, as long as they have a device officially supported by Google, or from any Android device, with a bit of help from MirrorEnabler.

SOURCE: Google (1), (2)

InkCase Plus serves as 2nd screen for Android phones

They’ve seen the future, and they believe the age of the multi-screens is coming. At least, that’s what the creators of the InkCase Plus believes, and they’ve gone ahead and given us a product that will be a portent of this future. The device serves as a modular second screen to your Android smartphones, is always on but doesn’t consume much battery because it uses E Ink technology.

Why would you want a second screen to your smartphone when it should be enough to do everything you want it to do? Well, first of all, we all know one flaw of the new smartphones: they’re all battery hogs. Using the InkCase Plus will reduce your battery usage since your texts, including SMS, emails, news, will be in black and white, thus no need to turn on your LCD display. If you’re traveling and you need to conserve your battery, all you need to do is either print screen or copy to your InkCase the maps, to do lists, boarding passes, shopping vouchers so you don’t need to turn on your smartphone’s screen every once in a while.

You can also receive notifications and messages from your social network and messaging apps like Twitter, Viber, Whats App, etc, as well as your phone’s normal SMS. You can also pick up the calls from your phone through your InkCase Plus and then turn on the speaker function while you’re at it. Your phone’s notifications, like low battery, missed calls, etc also reflects on your second screen. If you’ve always wanted to turn your phone into an ebook reader but couldn’t stand the glare from the screen, InkCase can make that easier for you because of it’s E Ink technology.

InkCase Plus, unlike its predecessor the InkCase, can also now install apps as well, so you can play music, get a multi-language ebook reader, use it as a stopwatch and other functions and features. It’s still currently in the development phase, but has already reached its Kickstarter goal of $100,000 with 29 days to go. They are targeting to ship the devices to their backers by October of this year.

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SOURCE: Kickstarter

Google Glass XE19.1 improves connectivity and interface

Google just announced a new firmware update for Glass, jumping from XE18.3 directly to XE19.1. This is seemingly a very minor maintenance update, but still brings in substantial improvements that all Glass owners will want to install it as soon as it is available.

The most important fix is something you won't be able to see but will definitely feel. Google is improving Glass' network connectivity so that it is now more reliable and gracefully handles network issues. So no more problems whenever you try telling Google Glass to do something for you, like send a message or fetch some info from your smartphone.

The more visible change is seen in the new interface for voice actions options. Compared to previous iterations, this visual style now sports higher contrast, putting white text on a black background in place of the previous gray-ish tint. A subtle difference that can mean worlds for an interface that is meant to be easily and quickly readable at a glance.

google-glass-xe19.1

As always, Glass updates will take a few days before they arrive for each and every Explorer, so some patience and waiting is in order. As Glass updates are delivered via OTA only, make sure that you are connected to a WiFi network to be able to automatically download and install the update.

SOURCE: Google

How to set up the LG G3 for the first time

The LG G3 has finally been released to stores in the US, and is available online with most American and British carriers. Many new Android users, and even those who have had a smartphone before, might be a bit dazed and confused when setting up the LG flagship which is heavily laden with features, functions, bells and whistles. Don’t worry, here is a quick tutorial on how to set up your LG G3 for the first time.

androidpit lg g3 teaser
© ANDROIDPIT

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Posted in Uncategorized

Popcorn Time’s Android app now has Chromecast support

Did you ever wish that you could watch the torrents you’ve been “acquiring” on a larger screen but were too lazy to burn it onto a disk or they were too big to save in a flash drive. Well, the folks over at the Popcorn Time team have heard your coach potato prayers and have announced that their Android app has been updated and now includes Chromecast support!

Yes, you heard that right, they’re probably making sure that no one who owns an Android device and a Chromecast dongle will ever get up from their couch right? Popcorn Time is a beloved app and service by users and a sworn enemy of TV and film studios. In simple words, Popcorn Time streams videos from torrents in real time. Think of it as a Netflix for your torrents, with no need to download the videos anymore. And we all know that there is a huge issue regarding the legality (or lack thereof) of videos that are uploaded to torrent sites, so this latest update from Popcorn Time should be scary for media producers.

But if you’re just a consumer who’s not that particular with the legalities of the videos that you’re watching, then this is a dream come true. Aside from the Chromecast support, the Android Beta 2.0 also now has automatic updates and faster streaming for movies and TV shows (but also depending on your Internet connection). It also now has a native UI, several bug fixes, and even more devices supported.

So if you have Chromecast dongle, better download the Popcorn Time Beta 2.0 app now. Just don’ blame us if you never go out of the house anymore and you lose all social contact in the next few days.

SOURCE: Popcorn Time

Synchronize Ultimate syncs files thru cloud, free unlock in XDA

The Synchronize Ultimate app does exactly what it says it does – that is, sync your folders across devices and cloud storage accounts. It’s not a new idea, but when you realize the app’s versatility of being able to sync to and between devices and a range of 35 different cloud storage services, the possibilities begin to open up for this app.

Say that you want to make sure that you have a copy of everything you download from your handheld or tablet device. This is easily done manually, or with any number or combination of apps. But Synchronize Ultimate allows you to do this within one app – like synchronizing your Android download folder with a folder in your Google Drive or DropBox account. And when you delete files off your phone, you can set the app to make sure it leaves a copy in one or any separate folder in the cloud. Nifty, huh?

The app also supports syncing from service to service, so that you can make sure that a folder in your Livedrive account is synced with your DigitalBucket account. The app is robust enough that you can set up a wide range of inclusions and exclusions to the syncing process, triggers on when to allow or disallow syncing, and set what file types to sync, among a host of other options. Included with the app is a robust file manager feature that not only works along with the app, but is also a pretty great app in itself. Unlike other file manager apps, you can open a number of different sessions with the app (much like windows in, err, Windows).

sync_ult_hero sync2 sync1 sync3 sync4

The caveat is that all these features are available through the paid version of Synchronize Ultimate. But we got you covered. The app developer has made an unlock code available over at a thread XDA until July 17, so go on ahead and click here (the in-app unlock code is in the post). Please be warned though, that an email address is associated with every unlocked version of the app, and the rule is one email per device. If you want to use the app in another device, provide another email address. The unlock code for this (if you don’t get to the XDA post in time), can be purchased for USD$3.49.

Download here: Google Play Store

Top alternatives to Facebook app for Android

Why would anybody need an alternative app for Facebook when there is already an official Facebook app? Because it’s terrible. Okay maybe not terrible, but it is dull. So, I'm investigating five other options, all of which are free (with ads), to see which is best.

facebook teaser
© ANDROIDPIT

(This is a preview - click here to read the entire entry.)

Posted in Uncategorized

Fantasy Soccer helps you get over your World Cup withdrawal

With the World Cup officially over and Europe’s domestic league seasons still a month away, football fans (and the newly-converted fans too) are experiencing a bit of football withdrawal. Good thing you still have mobile games and apps to tide you over until then and help you get over this “separation anxiety” from anything football-related. Yahoo Sports is offering up Fantasy Soccer, to give you the chance to manage the best football team in the world.

Well, you actually don’t need to actually know how to play football or a football game on your smartphone to be able to use this app. But all that new football knowledge you gained while watching the world’s biggest sporting event will come in handy as you build the world’s best soccer team. It works just like other fantasy sports games. You choose the best players that you want for your dream team, as long as they fit within the set budget. You can compete in any of the world’s best leagues, including the English Premier League, Spain’s La Liga, Germany’s Bundesliga, Italy’s Serie A or France’s Ligue 1.

Once the leagues actually start by August, you’ll receive points based on their performances on their respective teams. You will also be able to compete with your friends (or even complete strangers/fellow football lovers you meet online). You and your friends can also create a private league and compete with one another (up to you what you’re betting on). And don’t worry, even if the only players you remembered from the World Cup were Lionel Messi or Mario Goetze, the app will help you get to know other players by giving you their profiles and stats from last season.

You can manage your team roster across all your devices and even the web version. Download Yahoo Sports’ Fantasy Soccer app from the Google Play Store for free.

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VIA: Android Central