lundi 22 mai 2017

A Summary of Google’s 101 Announcements at I/O 2017

The most anticipated event of the year for Android developers and Google fans is officially over. During the I/O 2017, Google announced many new features and improvements that should make their projects even better. Emily Wood, Google’s Manager of Global Communication and Public Affairs, published a blog post with all 101 announcements that took place in Mountain View, CA.

Google Assistant is the key player

A quick look at the list shows that Google’s main topics were Assistant, virtual reality and augmented reality technologies, and AI. We learned that Google brought its voice-enabled digital companion to iOS. The huge news is that Assistant is available on over 100 million devices around the world. To make it even more popular, Google is also expanding the program to phones that use Brazilian Portuguese, French, German and Japanese as their main language. Finally, Transactions and payments will also make their way to Assistant-compatible devices.

Google Home will also receive major updates. The first improvement worth mentioning is free-calling (landlines and mobile) that will soon be available via Google Home in the USA and Canada. Google Home is expanding and will soon be available in Australia, Canada, France, Germany and Japan. Finally, Bluetooth support will be added to the device, so users can stream their favorite music through the speakers. There are a lot of personal assistants available on the market, but those features certainly make Google Home one of the most appealing now.

Google Assistant and Google Home were discussed many times and had 23 announcements in total. It’s understandable that Google plans to improve those products to find more customers and push the tech world towards artificial intelligence. They can do better, though. According to statistics. Android is an operating system for over 2 billion devices. Those numbers are ruthless and show that Assistant is available on 5 percent of devices with Google’s OS. Google needs to expand availability to announce full success — availability is the biggest problem, as only a few countries can use all features that Google has to offer.

Virtual reality and augmented reality with major updates

Virtual and augmented reality are something that Google works on intensively. To that effect, more Daydream-ready phones are coming soon. Daydream will be compatible with the Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+, for example. LG’s next flagships will also be compatible as well as Motorola and ASUS handsets. Google is also making Daydream phone-free: it will soon support standalone VR headsets that don’t require a phone or PC. An Educational Daydream Elements (VR) application is also available in the Play Store.

The aforementioned standalone VR headsets will include WorldSense, a new technology that precisely tracks the movement without extra sensors. Google talked a bit about their Tango project too:  starting this summer, ASUS will start selling the ZenFone AR. One of the most exciting announcements is a new version of Euphrates, the latest release of Daydream. It will allow users to capture what they’re seeing and cast a virtual world right onto the screen for others to see the VR experience, in a social environment. It will be publicly available later this year.

There are also some improvements for developers., like Instant Preview, that reflects the changes on a headset in just a few seconds.

Other things are also important

Google highlighted the importance of machine learning and cloud services throughout the event. Smart Reply to Gmail on Android and iOS is already using machine learning for seamless responses. To make it even more efficient, Google announced the second generation Clout TPUs, and they will use them in the Google Compute Engine. Another announcement is TensorFlow Research Cloud, that is available for free to top researchers. Finally, the Google for Jobs is also using the machine learning to find the best job candidates.

One of the key products of previous I/O events, Google Photos, has over 500 million monthly users, uploading 1.2 billion photos and videos to Google Photos servers. An important feature that will soon roll-out is an ability to recognize the people on the photos and suggest to share photos with them. It’s indeed an interesting feature that might become quite popular. Users will also have an option to share the libraries with their friends or families. For instance, a husband can share the photos of the kids with his wife. Users can select whether they want to share the full library or just certain photos. Finally, physical photo books from Google are now available for $9.99 and $19.99 for soft or hard cover respectively. Availability is limited to the U.S. for now.

Android with minor improvements

A few years ago, when Lollipop had its announcement, Android was the main part of the conference. This year was a bit different, as Android O will not bring a ton of new features. Android O is more an evolution than revolution. We still don’t know the name or an exact premiere date, but there is a public beta available for supported devices. All changes are detailed here. Graphics drivers should also be updated through Play Store.

Kotlin is an alternative to Java

Of course, there are some interesting aspects worth mentioning. From a developer’s point of view, the most exciting news was the debut of Kotlin as an officially-supported programming language. The JetBrains’ product is already available in the canary channel of Android Studio, which also hits the version 3.0 available as a preview.

As always, Google plans to tackle battery life and performance. We don’t know much about it, but some applications will double their performance, according to Google, in certain usecases as well as improved launch speeds. Background  service restrictions also aim to improve battery life. The other interesting announcements are Google Play Protect, updated Find My Device, and Picture in Picture that will be available in Android O.

Android Go rescuing low-end devices, Android Wear updates

Google announced the Android Go program which seeks to optimize the system to run on low-end devices. Apart from code optimizations, the specially crafted version of the Play Store will suggest lite applications that should run smoothly on devices with limited RAM, and various UI changes (such as a less-resource intensive recents menu) will enable faster operation.

Android Wear has also been discussed. It’s an operating system of almost 50 different watches. Android Wear has the new partners, including the likes of Emporio Armani, Movado or New Balance. Google decided to open-source some libraries for developers to make app development simpler.

There are some minor updates to Google Play as the Play Console or the subscriptions dashboard.

While Android is extremely popular, Google has decided to focus on other products. We hope that O will be the most optimized version of the system as unfortunately, we have to wait at least a few months to see the official builds on first devices.

The list of announcements is really long, as there was no shortage of conferences this year. You can watch all of them on YouTube, and a full list of the announcements is available here.

What do you thing about this year’s I/O? Was it exciting? What do you look forward to the most? Let us know in the comments!

Source: Google

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Carl Pei Comments on OnePlus 5 Headphone Jack: Confirmed or Confused?

Carl Pei, co-founder of OnePlus, loves Twitter and uses it regularly. One of his recent cryptic tweets suggests that the headphone jack on the OnePlus 5 is safe, giving us a hint of its potential. Or maybe not.

The riddle joke might be a cryptic answer to the reports suggesting that OnePlus 5 will not feature the headphone jack at all. Leaked pictures suggested that this would be the case, as the bottom of an alleged prototype showed no headphone jack. We can’t verify if said photos are valid, and have no actual reason to take them seriously. That didn’t stop Carl from replying to a user curious about the location of the OnePlus 5’s headphone jack, though:

Carl Pei’s tweet obviously references the popular “why did the chicken cross the road” joke, and depending on your interpretation of Carl’s use of the joke, this can either mean that it’s on the other side of the device or… “on the other side”, as in “dead”.

Carl Pei noticed that some news portals used his tweet as a source and replied to that as well.

What do you think? Is this a hint of something to come, or just Carl Pei being Carl Pei on twitter?

Source: @getpaid

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Guide Walks You Through Starting Android Development in Visual Studio

We often talk about Android Studio here at XDA because it’s a powerful IDE made with Android application development in mind. Google is the company behind Android Studio and they’re constantly adding new features that make developing Android applications easier with it. The company also just announced support for Kotlin in Android Studio, and you can download the first canary build of Android Studio 3.0 that now includes this.

Android Studio isn’t the only way that you can develop Android applications though. There are a lot of Android application developers who opt for C++ for various reasons, using tools like the Native Development Kit. If your application or game is computationally intensive, or even has a lot of physics simulations, then there is a performance benefit to using C++ due to the amount of performance that you can squeeze out of it. Others may opt for C++ because so many other platforms support it, or to use specific libraries.

There’s even a number of C and C++ libraries that can help to make your application or game easier to develop. So because there are many reasons to use C++, Microsoft is doing what they can to ease you into the process of using Visual Studio for your mobile application development needs. The company recently had their Visual C++ team publish a blog post of a guide that walks you through how to get started with your Android or iOS development.

This guide starts from the beginning and shows you how to install it, and get the right components setup. It then continues from there by suggesting project templates to get you started, shows how to leverage OpenGLES, and then building the application so you can run it. They remind you that Visual Studio can build your application or game for all mobile platforms, that it has tools to debug your code, and even suggests using Xamarin if you want to build native Android applications.

Source: Microsoft

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dimanche 21 mai 2017

Fujifilm instax SHARE SP-2 (Mobile Printer) Review: The Inescapable Allure of Physical Media

AU’s set of square prints.


As an avid photographer, I’ve long enjoyed the experience of having prints made of photos I’ve taken. I’ve experimented with a number of different services, usually looking to produce some thoughtful gifts or mementos for my own personal enjoyment. My current favorite is undoubtedly Artifact Uprising, a print company that began independently but almost immediately joined together with VSCO. As you may remember, VSCO is my preferred lossy image editor on Android, and also has some of my favorite subtle photo filters, with a vast majority modeled after different types of once-popular films. Artifact Uprising conveniently integrates with VSCO, allowing you to instantly select which photos to print from those you’ve uploaded to VSCO. Their smaller prints pair perfectly with smartphone photography and provide an impressive amount of detail at an easily palatable price.

However, there exists one glaring weakness in these online print services: they take a considerable amount of time to both print and then ship to your location, and expedited shipping costs are unreasonably excessive for most budgets. Instant cameras have long been popular for this very reason. Polaroid, while now a distant shell of its former self, is almost timelessly famous for its Polaroid instant cameras, and the act of shaking a print to quickly develop it has been recorded ad infinitum in many a mediocre pop song throughout the past several decades. There is simply something deeply and intrinsically satisfying about taking a photo and immediately having access to a physical print of that photo. It can almost instantly make photography a deeply enjoyable and social activity for almost anyone, and particularly those who tend to get overwhelmed by the apparent complexity of more manual photography and print-making.

Enter, Mobile Printers


Sitting somewhere in between the quality and price of online print services and the instant gratification and pleasurable experience of using an instant camera, one finds a relatively recent creation – the instant printer. Over the last 5 or so years, Fujifilm, Kodak, and Polaroid (as well as several others) have all made efforts to make the nostalgia and convenience of instant cameras accessible and relevant in the age of smartphones. Here we arrive at the title’s namesake, Fujifilm’s latest mobile instant printer, the instax SHARE SP-2. While a little thick, it is undoubtedly pocketable and is approximately the size of your average 5-inch smartphone in terms of length and width. The build quality can be easily summarized as “plastic”, and while you wont want to carelessly toss it about or sit on it, the benefit of the plastic construction is that it is extremely lightweight for a mobile printer. At around 300 grams, the SP-2 is just a bit less than twice the weight of my OnePlus 3T.

The Mobile Printer Experience

Regarding the print quality, the SP-2 does a great job at rapidly producing prints. While the resultant prints are size-capped at about 2.5″ by 1.5″, they are printed at 320 dots per inch. The small size and relatively high resolution of the prints produces a very film-like effect where you cannot see any pixels with the naked eye, and the 800×600 resolution is capably dealt with by partially smoothing out edges. It is very much reminiscent of the aesthetically pleasing imperfections found in film prints. The process of printing is quite simple as well, with the user installing an app on their iOS or Android device and then connecting to the printer’s WLAN link over WiFi. The app is simple and has a handful of options, allowing users to make small edits to the photos they wish to print or add small snippets including the date, time, weather, or certain social media features (as if the print were a small Facebook post, for example). You can choose a photo from your phone’s gallery, and the option to take a photo simply opens your default camera app. This last feature is a boon for the process, as apps that are designed to control external hardware often include half-baked efforts at reinventing things that don’t need reinvention, particularly the camera interface. That is the extent of the instax SHARE Android application, with the iOS app being effectively identical. The battery life of the SP-2 is another positive aspect, I saw no signs of the battery being drained at all even after 20 prints. Fujifilm gives a vague description that seems to imply a battery life of 100 prints in the user manual, so a given user is far more likely to run out of the money needed to buy more film before they run out of the battery life needed to use that film.

The main downside to present day instant printers is their consistently subpar build quality, a subsequent lack of durability, and finally the ever-present price and chore of buying more proprietary film packs from the printer’s given brand. Fujifilm’s SP-2 is no different. The build quality leads one to assume that it is not going to last much longer than its 1 year warranty, if that. While the prints are beautiful and quite satisfying, each pack (enough to print 20 photos) costs around $15, or a bit less than $1 per print. If one chooses to buy 5 packs at once, this improves to approximately $0.60 per print ($65 for 100). It is unfortunate that modern instant printers have yet to agree upon a standard for the film they use, as this would significantly simplify the process for consumers and likely make the prints themselves a more affordable and interesting proposition to consumers. The printer itself also currently sits around $150 and those interested have a choice between the white version in this review or a pale gold alternative.

An Heir (semi) Apparent

Altogether, for the build quality (and the price of the film packs it requires) to have any purpose, the SP-2 seems far more expensive than it ought to be with a suggested price of $199, though you’ll probably find it sold at a discount. Nevertheless, for those looking for a simple instant printer as an enjoyable novelty, I can certainly recommend Fujifilm’s SP-2. There is a certain joy to be had while taking photos and printing them, and the act of having quick access to physical prints may offer a unique and social experience to differentiate certain moments from the forgettable act of relegating potentially enjoyable photos to the dark corners of one’s smartphone gallery. For this purpose, the inherent downsides of modern mobile printers are rather unimportant when compared with the joy they may bestow upon select moments, and in this sense Fujifilm’s SP-2 most certainly succeeds.

Had a personal experience with mobile printers like the SP-2 or simply have some general thoughts about them? Feel free to share in the comments below!

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StreamlineWatch Combines Multiple Video Streaming Services into One Application

As more and more consumers continue to cut the cord and move to digital subscription services, we often find that our favorite television shows are spread out across multiple different providers. If you are watching their content on your mobile device, then you may find it annoying to switch from application to application to application to keep up with all your shows.

To help streamline your video watching experience, XDA Junior Member StreamlineWatch has put together an application called … wait for it … StreamlineWatch that combines multiple paid subscription streaming services such as Netflix, HBO, and Hulu as well as other free providers from the likes of ABC, FOX, CBS and many more – all into a single application.

Find new TV series and movies, watch the latest episodes as they release, and share recommendations with your friends. The app is free, without ads, and works on Android 4.0.3+ on both phones and tablets.

Check out StreamlineWatch in our Apps and Games forum.

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LG G6 Camera App Ported to the LG G5

The LG G6 comes with a much enhanced camera application over the previous iteration. Thanks to XDA Recognized Developer and Contributor xpirt, you can use it today on the LG G5.

The developer managed to port the camera app and fix some major bugs. All features known from the LG G5 camera should work as well. As of now, however, the application will work only with Fulmics ROM. The installation is pretty seamless and requires just a few steps. If you have an LG G5 and use Fulmics ROM as your daily driver, give the new camera app a try and enjoy some sweet shots!

Get the LG G6 camera app

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