Google is always looking at ways to expand upon the functionality in Android Wear, which explains why the company has recently launched a new feature that will help you locate your phone in the event that it goes missing.
The functionality is provided through the Android Device Manager, which helps users secure and also locate their smartphones. Previously, users would have to use a computer or another smartphone to access the find my phone feature, but an update to Android Wear is making the whole process much easier.
By saying “Ok, Google. Start. Find my phone” to your Android Wear device, or by tapping on the Find My Phone option in the launcher, your phone will begin ringing at full volume. As it will begin ringing even if your phone is set to silent mode, you’ll be able to locate it if you’re reasonably close by.
Google says that the feature will be rolling out to all Android Wear devices over the next few weeks, and it won’t require you to download an app or enable anything in the settings menu.
Unfortunately Google hasn’t been able to harness Bluetooth signal strength to pinpoint the location of your phone without ringing it. Having a virtual radar on your wrist would be cool, but for now we’ll have to make do with Google’s audio-based find my phone solution.
Type without lifting a finger. It’s perfect for times when you’re clinging onto the bus for dear life in one hand and texting with the other.
The app also learns how you type and makes creepily accurate autocorrect suggestions based off of that information. An optional feature called SwiftKey Cloud analyzes your writing style from social media accounts like Facebook and Evernote.
The app uses your phone’s accelerometer to detect movement while you sleep. Sleep Cycle can then determine when you’re in a deep or light sleep state. It’ll ring in the “lightest” part of your sleep phase, so you feel awake and refreshed in the morning.
Not a morning person? Need something more intense? Try Spin Me ($2, iOS and Android), an app that will continue to ring until you get up and spin your phone around twice.
This app is a must if you cohabitate. Wunderlist is available as a mobile app, desktop app, and extension. Lists are synced across all of your devices, and if you share a list with say, a significant other, your collaborative list updates in real time too.
If you want something simpler, try the very beautiful and gesture-friendly Clear ($5, iOS).
Sync your Google Calendar, iCloud, or Exchange info with the most beautiful calendar experience around. The desktop version of Sunrise is just as nifty. Being able to set multiple reminders for one event is great for forgetful folk. I personally like the built-in weather forecasts.
For driving, opt for Google-owned Waze, which uses data from other drivers to make sure you avoid heavy traffic areas. User-reported police alerts help drivers slow down in speed trap areas.
Google Maps, duh! (free, iOS and Android) — The best biking and public transit directions around.
Bike Maps by Maplets ($1, iOS) — If you’re a cycling urban warrior, this app has high-resolution elevation maps for most metropolitan areas. Color-coded streets help bikers avoid those steep hills! Maps can also be downloaded and navigated offline.
Fuel your Serial addiction with this clutter-free podcast manager. The free version gives listeners everything they need — playlists, podcast search, seek controls — but the premium version unlocks a treasure trove of interesting features like a sleep timer and Smart Speed, which dynamically shortens silences in talk shows.
Even professional photographers love this app because photos come out looking art gallery-ready every time. Carefully crafted filters that can be adjusted with precision and VSCO’s robust editing tools will score you those double taps.
Humin is a more intelligent address book. Search contacts by when you met them, by where they work, who they’re friends with, or where you met them. It also merges duplicates and can ask contacts to update their info on your behalf.
Apple has made a small, but helpful, change in the way that iOS 8.3 can make phone calls via Siri. With the launch of iOS 8.0 last fall, Apple added a feature to Siri that allows users to activate the service hands-free by saying the phrase “Hey Siri” if the phone is plugged into power. However, if a user asked Siri to make a phone call via the “Hey Siri” hands-free command, the call would strangely not automatically transfer to speakerphone. Based on our tests, this will change in iOS 8.3. As can be seen in the screenshots above, if a user asks Siri to make a phone call through speakerphone, the call will actually be made on speaker phone…
In addition to this enhancement, iOS 8.3 will bring support for several new Siri languages, a new set of more diverse Emojis, improved login for Google accounts, and support for wireless CarPlay. Apple is also working on an iOS 8.4 update that include the company’s upcoming new streaming music service and iOS 9, which will include a focus on bug fixes and performance improvements. Apple has not announced when iOS 8.3 will ship, but it has recently gone into Public Beta.
All of the pieces are falling into place for an overhauled Apple TV, and we may just see one come June. According to BuzzFeed News, Apple is planning to debut a revamped Apple TV at its World Wide Developers Conference. The new box will reportedly support third-party apps, voice control with Siri, and presumably the internet-TV service that TheWall Street Journal described earlier this week. BuzzFeed says that the new device will likely include more storage and a version of Apple’s latest mobile chip, the A8.
Apple’s more serious entrance into the living room has been long awaited. And, really, it’s about time. The Apple TV has been a nice but overly simple box for most of its lifespan. The addition of an App Store, which BuzzFeed says will be included, would make it dramatically more capable and interesting, allowing apps and games to take over an entire TV. If Apple’s long-rumored internet-TV service makes an appearance as well, the Apple TV would quickly become a major play for the living room. BuzzFeed reports that the Apple TV will include basic home automation features, too, however some are already built into the model that’s shipping today. Apple recently reduced the price of that model to $69.
In an apparent effort to boost in-store iPhone sales, Apple CEO Tim Cook is spearheading a trade-in program that’ll reward shoppers with gift cards to put towards the purchase of a new smartphone.
Sources familiar with the matter tell 9to5Mac that the unannounced recycling and trade-in program will notably accept both Android and BlackBerry devices. Trade-in value will reportedly be determined on the spot by Apple retail store employees based on the device, its condition and functional status.
The program is expected to get under way in the coming weeks which will give Apple enough time to train its retail employees. Said training programs will begin later this week, we’re told. The only other detail we’re privy to is that Apple employees will be able to transfer address book contacts from other phones to a new iPhone. Everything else, however, will have to be moved manually by the customer.
The upcoming program is not to be confused with Apple’s iPhone Reuse and Recycle program. That one kicked off in mid-2013 in an effort to encourage existing iPhone users to trade in their older model handsets for something newer which, at the time, consisted of the iPhone 5, iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c.
Although convenient for shoppers, such trade-in programs are rarely the best way to go if you’re after top dollar for a used phone. Amazon, for example, offers instant quotes online and even covers the cost of shipping. But above all else, you’re likely to get the greatest return by either selling locally to someone you know, using Craigslist (be careful) or trying eBay.
Android users can download Android Auto on Google Play starting today. To celebrate the occasion, Pioneer has introduced a long-awaited new line of receivers called Network Entertainment eXperience (NEX) that are compatible with Google’s new software.
Previewed last January at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, the NEX receivers are designed to work with all smartphones that run Android’s 5.0 (Lollipop) operating system or one of the newer software released since. After downloading a handful of Android Auto-specific applications, the driver is able to control nearly every function of his or her smartphone without touching the screen by using a microphone built into the receiver.
A 7.0-inch high-resolution touch screen displays relevant information on cards, a look inspired by the popular Google Now application. A purpose-designed version of Google Maps provides live traffic information, navigation and alternate route suggestions, while the driver can liven up his or her commute by switching to the AppRadio mode and launching a number of applications including Pandora and Google Play Music
Overall, Pioneer believes that its NEX receivers can make driving a lot safer by greatly reducing distractions.
Want Google in your dashboard? The Pioneer NEX starts at $700 for a more basic AVH-4100NEX model and tops out at $1,400 for the range-topping AVH-8100NEX unit. All models regardless of price come standard with a long list of features including advanced Bluetooth connectivity, FLAC audio playback and SiriusXM-Ready.
Pioneer is not the only company interested in integrating Android Auto into its products. General Motors, Volvo, Honda, Hyundai and Audi are among the 28 automakers that have voiced an interest in incorporating the technology in future models, so we suspect you’ll be hearing a lot more about Android Auto in the coming months.
What sort of smartphone can you buy for just $70? Well you’re about to find out, as Microsoft just launched the Lumia 430, their latest budget handset that features surprisingly okay specifications for a very low price tag.
Of course the Lumia 430 isn’t going to be a performance powerhouse at its price tag, but it does feature hardware that has been reserved for more pricey entry-level smartphones in the past. You get 1 GB of RAM and 8 GB of internal storage to complement the Snapdragon 200 SoC, as well as cameras on both the front and back.
The cameras aren’t going to be the greatest – the rear sensor is 2-megapixels and fixed focus, while the front camera is merely VGA – but you will be able to send the occasional selfie. There’s also a 4.0-inch 800 x 480 LCD display, a 1,500 mAh removable battery, a microSD card slot, and support for HSPA networks on the 900 and 2100 MHz bands.
Microsoft also says that the Lumia 430 will be updated to Windows 10 (from Windows Phone 8.1) when the OS is released this summer, which is great to see. Many budget Android devices in this price bracket never see updates, so Microsoft is certainly beating its rivals in this regard.
The dual-SIM Lumia 430 launches in several emerging markets, including India, Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus, the Middle East, Africa, and parts of Asia Pacific, this April.
Microsoft is planning to bring its Cortana digital assistant to iOS and Android as a standalone app. While the software maker has previously confirmed Cortana would come to additional operating systems, Reuters reports that the standalone app will be available on phones and tablets running iOS and Android. Microsoft is currently building Cortana into Windows 10, which is set to debut later this year, and it’s likely that the digital assistant will make its way on to Android and iOS alongside its PC expansion.
Microsoft is working on a new version of Cortana for later this year
In an interview with Reuters, Microsoft’s Eric Horvitz, managing director of Microsoft Research, reveals that the company is planning a bigger roll out of Cortana later this year. “This kind of technology, which can read and understand email, will play a central role in the next roll out of Cortana, which we are working on now for the fall time frame,” says Horvitz. Microsoft is currently developing a more advanced version of Cortana, codenamed project Einstein, that pulls data from artificial intelligence. While there’s not many details on Einstein from Reuters’ report, it appears to be an effort to improve the awareness of Cortana and its ability to automate even more tasks.
Microsoft’s move to bring Cortana to iOS and Android won’t surprise many. The software maker has consistently shown that it’s willing to bring its best Windows features to rival platforms in an overall effort to improve its services and apps. While Cortana is a standout feature for Windows Phone, and soon Windows 10, the small amount of consumers using it won’t help Microsoft’s goal of improving its digital assistant with machine learning techniques and bringing its services and apps to all smartphone and tablet owners. It’s a natural part of Microsoft’s continued transformation to return to its software roots with its apps and services running on every device.
If your rent is too darn high, you’re unlikely to be shelling out $350 for the Apple Watch before you get a chance to test it out. But if you’re on the fence, a new service is letting you rent the Sport version of the wearable for $45 a day to help you decide. The pricier Watch model is also available as a $55-a-day rental.
The service comes from Lumoid, a startup that offers try-before-you-buy device rentals, including cameras and wearables. You can already sign up to try the Apple Watch when it’s available. If you eventually decide to buy the product, Lumoid will count $20 from your daily rental fee for the Apple Watch Sport toward your purchase (and $30 if you’re buying the Watch model you’ve rented).
According to Mashable, Lumoid will not offer the Apple Watch Edition, which starts at $10,000, for rent.
Lumoid’s service lets people take new products to test in real life, giving shoppers a more personal experience than they can get in a store demo. The startup said it has already shipped thousands of devices for people to test out, and wearables such as the Pebble and the Basis Peak are already available to loan out right now. The company said it is adding the Motorola Moto 360 smartwatch to its site later this week.
Typically with Lumoid, you specify when the rental period begins and ends when you sign up for a device. The service said it lets you extend your rental, provided the device you’re trying out hasn’t been reserved by another tire-kicker.
You can pre-order the Apple Watch starting April 10, and the wearable will hit store shelves on April 24.