Amazon Kids Original ‘Creative Galaxy’ Now Available


Amazon’s second original kids series is now up on Prime Instant Video and available to stream.

Creative Galaxy, from the creator of Blue’s Clues, was one of three original kids series greenlit during Amazon’s first round of original pilots. The show, described as a “make-along, create-along art adventure series for children ages three to five,” features some high-profile guest voice actors like Samantha Bee, Jason Jones, Cloris Leachman, Jason Priestley, and Brooke Shields.

“The premiere of Creative Galaxy could not have come soon enough. I’m ecstatic that Prime members now have the opportunity to explore the world of art and creativity with Arty and Epiphany,” said creator Angela Santomero. “Working with Amazon has been an inspiring experience since we both believe children’s programming should support key educational goals by teaching the importance of learning through play.”

Android Auto announced


Google has taken the wraps off of Android Auto, which is their answer to how you use Android in your car. Android Auto is almost like Google Now for your car. Your phone will know when you get in your car and present a simplified UI that is much more usable and safe in a car. It will mirror itself to a compatible touchscreen in your car for easy use with touch and voice control.

The interface should look pretty familiar to you, as it resembles the traditional card-based Google Now look, and gives you the right information at the right time. Once Google Now is familiar with your driving habits, like driving to work at 7am and leaving at 5pm, it will provide you with the quickest directions automatically.

You can see that it is pretty easy to switch between main functions of Android Auto, like music, phone, maps, and others.

For music listening, you can simply tell Google to play a certain artist right from your Play Music library. Music from Pandora, Spotify, and iHeart Radio are also compatible with voice commands if that is what you prefer, with more services to be compatible in the future. Text messaging will also be handled in Auto with simple voice commands to read the text aloud and to reply to them.

Android Auto is to come with the Android L update this fall, and Google has stated that the first cars to support Android Auto built-in will arrive by the end of the year, which appears to be almost every major car manufacturer in the world if you take a look at the list on Android Auto’s official page right here. 40 to be exact.

The Android Auto SDK will be available to developers “soon” to integrate their apps into an easier driving experience.

Google Search update rolls out, “OK Google” hotword now works from any screen


With Google I/O in full swing and a mass of exciting new products and features being announced, the company are not letting this get in the way of getting updates pushed out to its current Android OS.

One of the latest updates see Google Search 3.5.14 arrive which brings two very major enhancements, the first of which giving the ability to use the “Ok Google” hotword from not only any screen on your device but also running apps and the lock screen.This is nothing new for users of the Moto X as this has been a key feature of that phone since it launched but it should come as a welcome addition for the rest of us.

Along with the new hotword detection, the update also gives Google Search an Audio History feature which will learn the sound of your voice and the pronunciation of words to help make searches more accurate, although this feature could raise some privacy concerns, Google will let you opt out if you like.

Both implementations can turned on by diving into the settings in Google Now once you get the update but if you can not wait, the folks over at Droid-Life have a download link for the apk.

Android TV announced by Google


As you no doubt know by now, Google’s developer conference I/O kicked off yesterday with the keynote address. While I was unable to attend the conference in person I did watch the live stream on my computer. And, as many of you understand, one of the numerous announcements that Google made was Android TV – an evolution of the less than popular Google TV. Here is a quick run down of things that you may find important in the next-gen attempt at Google play for TV.

Android TV is in an attempt to unify Smart TVs under one OS and use the same API so that it is easier to get apps onto your TV. Another important point is that there is one SDK to write apps for all Android forms factors. With Android TV, you can search through your TV shows and movies easily using your phone or smart watch. You can also control your TV using a physical controller.

Controlling a smart TV with a smart phone might not be such new news to you; you might be wondering “Is that all they got?” Well no. Google has really worked hard putting together this Android TV experience for you. In addition to standard things that are becoming the standard with smart TVs, Android TV is backed with Google’s own Play Store. With the Play Store, you get the Play Games. In the keynote, they demonstrated how you can also use your Android TV to play games with your friends. They show one guy playing with a controller hooked up to the TV against another guy playing on his tablet.

Another feature of the Android TV is that it comes with Chromecasting built in. This means that you can use your Android TV the same you would use a TV with a Chromecast plugged into it. It also has Screen Mirroring which means that whatever you see on your device screen will display on your TV! You can cast anything and everything with the push of a button.

You can learn more about the Android TV from the keynote video itself here. They start discussion about the Android TV at 1:45:10

iFixit tears down OnePlus One, not the simplest to repair


You’ve got to love iFixit who always takes a new device whenever it’s released and tears it down part by part, giving a score on its repairability.

The new OnePlus One, currently only available by invite, was just given the iFixit teardown treatment and was given a score of 5 out of 10, with 10 being the easiest to repair.

While the One was praised for having no proprietary screws and only one screw head type, which decreases the cost of tools for repairs, and fairly modular components that will allow for less expensive replacement parts, there were a few issues that lower its score:

  • Slight adhesive used on the battery and several cables.
  • With its connector trapped under a plastic panel and several screws, the battery is more of a chore to replace than necessary.
  • The LCD and digitizer glass are fused together and must be replaced as a single part, and they require heat to remove from the midframe.

OnePlus may have made a “flagship killer” with a killer price and specs, but it certainly doesn’t seem to be the easiest to repair on your own if anything should happen to it when you get your hands on one.

Fuelband app is finally available on Android


Nike said that it won’t make an Android application for Fuelband, that was February last year. More recently they announced they’ll focus on software rather than hardware, in other words won’t make any more Fuelbands. Well, be it as it may, they’ve released an Android app for Fuelband. There’s a catch though, this application will… Read more »

The post Fuelband app is finally available on Android appeared first on SmarterWatching.

Parallels Access now available on the Android OS


Parallels Access is a very popular app on iOS that allows you to run Windows and Mac apps on your iOS device. Using your PC or Mac as a server, your iOS device would be able to run desktop apps with Parallels Access, and with control your PC or Mac using your iOS device, as long as your PC or Mac was running as a server. Finally, after a long wait and many come-close and ever some better knock-off apps, Parralells Access is available on the Android OS.

The app is free to download, but it does require a ($19.99/year) membership to actually use, after a 2-week trial. Considering all of the other apps on the Play Store, along with some basic root features, the fact that the app comes with an annual price tag might be a huge turn-off for many Android users. Yet Parallels is a very reputable remote desktop developer and it’s probably one of the best remote desktop services available at the moment.

The remote desktop options are far from perfect, but many do require this service, and if you do Parallels should be a huge must-try on your list.

Google Fiber approved in Portland


Google Fiber, the Internet giant’s super fast Internet offering, has been given authorization to spread its wings, receiving unanimous approval from the Portland City Council. This approves the preliminary agreement that was struck back in April.

Approval has been given, but that doesn’t, of course, guarantee that Google Fiber will be arriving in the city of hipsters. Google has until the end of this year to make its decision, something that will depend on things like regulations to determine whether it is possible.

According to the city of Portland, estimates put Google’s investment at $300 million or more. Should the company proceed with its plans, it will be required to provide free service to some non-profit organizations, as well as free WiFi services outdoors in certain areas.

In addition, Google would have to give free 5Mbps service to those who pay a $300 installation fee, among other requirements. On the plus side, it won’t be forced to service all of the city, and it won’t have to shell out a 3% PEG fee (though competitor Comcast does).

Open Web Apps now run as Native Apps on Android, courtesy Firefox of Android


Firefox OS was targeted at the lower end smartphone segment, but it hasn’t really made an impact yet as no phones running on Firefox OS has been launched in India. As Mozilla mentioned, the Firefox OS is based on Open Web Standards and any web app can be wrapped into a Firefox App with just a few lines of code.

Now, Firefox OS allows users to do the same with web apps like adding it to the home screen, app drawer and so on. Another significant update is that the latest Firefox for Android(version 29) now runs Web apps like native apps. It also allows the users to install, uninstall and update the application. In addition to that, it behaves very much like an Android app by giving up the flexibility of adding the application to the app drawer screen or the recently used apps list.

What this means for developers is that, just by creating a web app with Open Web Standards, they reach millions of Firefox for Android users and provide them an Android application like experience without changing a single line of their application code.

Action Launcher 2.1 beta adds double tap to lock and “OK, Google” functionality


Action Launcher has long been one of our favorite 3rd party launchers for Android, and as long as you’re a beta tester, it just got much better. The app has gone for some time without any new features being added to it, most likely due to Mr. Lacy’s other great endeavors. We’re happy to see some of the great new features in the newly published beta version 2.1.

LG and HTC have adopted a nice feature that allows you to double tap your screen to lock your device. It’s proven very handy and extremely popular among consumers. Action Launcher users can now take advantage of this feature, as well. A few other great features added to the lineup are “OK, Google” hotword detection (as long as you’re on 4.4 KitKat), Roboto Condensed font, and icon resizing in the dock.

This is one of the biggest updates we’ve seen to Action Launcher in quite awhile, and it’s definitely welcome. Check out the full changelog below, and join the Google+ community if you’d like to take advantage of these awesome new features.

2.1 beta changelog

  • “Ok, Google” voice activation. Requires Android 4.4 or later.
  • Double taping empty space on a Home screen powers the screen off.
  • Option to enable Roboto Condensed.
  • More fine-grained control over where icon text labels display.
  • Option to disable drawing of Cover/Shutter indicators.
  • Icon scale can be configured for items on Home screens, Dock, Quickpage and Folders (previously was only applied on Home screens).
  • Misc. stability improvements.