Category Archives: Apps

Google Earth just got a Lot Better!

Google Earth is one of the purest, most beautiful gifts the company has ever given us. Today, the globe-trotting software received a major overhaul that will delight hardcore fans and remind others that it’s still a great way to throw away hours of your life.
It’s been two years since the search giant last gave Google Earth a major update and it seems as if the virtual globe has become a new priority for the company. Last October, a new virtual reality version was introduced and now several additions have made the application extra sticky.

One of the biggest changes is that it no longer has to be a separate app that you download. On a desktop, you can just  go to the URL in Chrome and start exploring. This may seem minor but you’ll now be seeing a lot more of Google Earth because there’s no need to open a separate app and sharing is an emphasized feature. With the Android app, you can quickly share a digital postcard with your contacts. The ability to use the service in browser is also a big deal for Chromebook users who were previously locked out. An iOS app is will be out soon as well as support for other browsers. (Google Earth Pro is still an app and it’s still outdated.)

Above all of the other updates, the most significant overall is the new “Voyager” feature, which is available by clicking the ship’s wheel icon. Google has partnered with organizations like BBC Earth and DigitalGlobe to create little informative experiences. Clicking on “Endangered Species Around the World” will show you the locations of various endangered species, give you photos and a “knowledge card” gives some background about them. It’s kind of like Wikipedia mixed with Google Earth. Other Voyager stories feature regular and 3D videos. “Itineraries” offer guided tours of cities and a lot more information has been added to major destinations. So far, there are a little over 50 stories but Google plans to add more every week. There are also 20,000 destinations with knowledge cards. It seems all but inevitable that a crowdsourcing model will be implemented eventually to flesh this tool out.


If you want to go off the beaten trail, there’s an “I’m feeling lucky” button. The first time I clicked it, I got to Osaka Castle. Cool. It was also a great destination for trying out the new 3D features that allow you to explore renderings of major cities and landmarks from any angle. We’re still not close to photorealism yet but it has a lovely Simcity-esque quality.

Source: Google

Facebook gets like Snapchat now somehow…

Facebook’s quest to mimic Snapchat is undeniable at this point. In just the last few months, Instagram, Whatsapp and Messenger have all integrated some form of Stories — a disappearing slideshow format that Snapchat is famous for — while Facebook Live dabbled in Snapchat-esque selfie filters. Now, after months of experiments and tests, it’s time for the main Facebook app to get in on the action too. Today, the company is officially rolling out three new Snapchat-inspired features to its core app: a brand new in-app camera that’s chockful of filters, effects and masks; Facebook’s very own Stories; and Direct, which lets you share photos and videos with specific people for a set period of time.

As soon as you launch the updated Facebook app, you’ll see the new Stories navigation bar prominently featured at the top. On the far left is a shortcut for Direct sharing, the second bubble is for Your Story (you can tap it to add to it), while the rest are Stories of your closest friends. Each Story interface is almost identical to that of Instagram’s version — you can move back and forth through the slideshow by tapping left or right, and if it’s your own Story, you’ll be able to see the number of views as well as the names of the people who saw it. Additionally, you’ll be able to leave direct replies on other people’s Stories, which then appear on top of the content. The replies only live as long as the content, however, so once the photo is gone, the comment’s gone too.

 

“We’ve been very text-centric in the past,” says Connor Hayes, a Facebook product manager. “But what we’ve been seeing is that the way people create content is changing, from text to photos and videos. […] We’re trying to upgrade the app to be more centered around the way people are behaving and creating the content in social apps. And that starts with the camera.”

Which explains why the new camera is much easier to access. Before, the fastest way to launch the camera in the Facebook app was to tap “Photos” and then select the camera icon. Now, that camera icon is located to the left of the search field, and is visible the moment you launch the app. Alternately, you can swipe right from the home screen, and that’ll bring up the camera function as well.

The camera interface is completely different from before too. On the left side of the screen are little navigation dots, which correspond to different filters that the app has pre-selected for you. Simply swipe up or down to scroll through them, and you’ll see the filter take effect on the main screen. These pre-selected filters are chosen based on an algorithm that susses out whether you’ll like them, and also on your location. So if you’re in London, you probably won’t see a San Francisco themed filter, for example.

But if none of those filters strike your fancy, no worries, because you can tap an option that will reveal as many as 70 other options (that number will change depending on your region). You can choose anything from selfie masks to Prisma-esque style effects to simple frames. In a brief demo, I saw filters that showed animated pizza slices flying out of my mouth, round glasses superimposed on my face and a “I Miss You” message scrawled in front of me. Other options include a mirroring effect, one that shows a lazy sloth on top of your head, a mustache, a pride rainbow, a glitter beard and even an effect that makes you look like a minion from Despicable Me.

Indeed, Facebook not only partnered with different film studios for licensed content, it also commissioned two artists — Hattie Stewart from the UK and Doug Coupland from Canada — to come up with special artistic filter effects. One of Coupland’s filters, for example, shows concentric colors radiating from your head. Open your mouth, and the circles now form in your mouth and on your forehead.

Kristen Spilman, the director for Art and Animation in charge of the camera effects, says that she hopes these filters help people express themselves. “Our new camera puts visual content at the heart of the Facebook experience,” she says. “While we want our effects to be fun to use, it’s more important that they’re thoughtful and relevant in enhancing relationships.”

 

After you’ve chosen your filter, you can write text on top of it or doodle on it with your choice of brush. Then, you can save it to your camera roll and do nothing with your creation, or you can choose to share it. You can post it to Newsfeed if you want your photo to live on forever, or you can post it to Your Story if you just want it up for the next 24 hours, or you can share it directly with your friends via the new Direct feature. If you do send your photo or video directly, note that your friends will only be able to view it once and replay it once. Once it’s over, it’s gone.

“Stories has become the format for people to create photos and videos and share them with one another immersively across social apps,” says Hayes. “This is something that Snapchat’s really pioneered. Our take is that Stories has become a format for people to share and consume photos and videos across all social apps.” When asked why someone would use Facebook Stories over Instagram Stories or vice versa, Hayes says that different people use the apps differently. “It depends on how they use each app, and who their network is on each app,” he says, pointing out that oftentimes the two have different audiences.

“Over the coming months, we plan to introduce new ways for the Facebook community to create their own frames and effects that can be used on any photo or video created with the new Facebook camera,” said Facebook in a statement. “Our goal is for the camera to be a home to hundreds of dynamic and fun effects that give you new ways to connect with friends, family, and your community.”

Facebook’s new camera, Stories and Direct sharing will be rolling out to all users on both Android and iOS throughout this week.

Source: Facebook

Google Play now gives you a paid app every week for free!

Android has millions of free titles, but some paid titles need to be shared. There are millions of free apps available on the Play Store, and many of them are pretty great. But there are also millions of paid apps that don’t always get the attention they deserve.

Now, Google wants to highlight a few of those paid titles by offering a free app or game of the week. The first one is Card Wars — Adventure Time, a lighthearted card trading and battle game that usually runs for $2.99, but this week is going gratis.

Like Apple’s version of the same, it appears Google will highlight a single title each week, and chances are it will be a paid game that also has in-app purchases. That benefits both Google and the developer, since it gets a chance to add millions of new users and ramp up revenue.

This isn’t the first time Google has given away paid apps for free. It started the practice in its then-nascent Family section back in 2015, but that particular enterprise seems to have faded away for this more broad version.

Source: Android Central

Super Mario Run is now available on Android!

Apparently, Nintendo couldn’t wait to launch Super Mario Run for Android and decided to go ahead and surprise all those waiting for March 23, the previously announced launch date on Android, by rolling out the game a day early.

While most folks know Super Mario Run debuted on iOS three months ago, Android users will be pleased to know that the Android release has the benefit of coming in at v2.0, meaning that a lot of the launch bugs have been addressed. The details that are keeping in line with the iOS version, however, are how the game works and well, how much it costs.

Super Mario Run can be downloaded for free and after you purchase the game ($9.99), you will be able to play all the modes with no additional payment required. You can try out all three modes before purchase: World Tour, Toad Rally, and Kingdom Builder.

  • World Tour – Run and jump with style to rescue Princess Peach from Bowser’s clutches! Travel through plains, caverns, ghost houses, airships, castles, and more. To reach Bowser’s Castle, clear the 24 courses located across 6 worlds. There are many ways to enjoy the courses, such as collecting the 3 different types of colored coins or by competing for the highest score against your friends. You can try courses 1-1 to 1-4 for free.
  • Toad Rally – Show off Mario’s stylish moves, compete against your friends, and challenge people from all over the world. A challenge mode where the competition differs each time you play. Compete against the stylish moves of other players for the highest score as you gather coins and get cheered on by a crowd of Toads. Fill the gauge with stylish moves to enter Coin Rush Mode to get more coins. If you win the rally, the cheering Toads will come live in your kingdom, and your kingdom will grow.
  • Kingdom Builder – Gather coins and Toads to build your very own kingdom. Combine different buildings and decorations to create your own unique kingdom. There are over 100 kinds of items in the Kingdom Builder mode. If you get more Toads in Toad Rally, the number of buildings and decorations available will increase. With the help of the friendly Toads you can gradually build up your kingdom.

WhatsApp now offers two-step verification for everyone

This feature was already available in beta, but now recame available to everyone. WhatsApp is rolling out two-step verification, an additional layer of security, to all of its users on iOS, Android and Windows. It’s an optional feature which you can set up by heading to Settings, followed by Account and Two-step Verification inside the app. You’ll need to create a six-digit passcode, which will then be required every time you try to register your phone number with WhatsApp (for instance, when setting up your account on a new smartphone).

You can also designate an email address which, in an emergency, can be sent a link to disable the feature. WhatsApp highly recommends this as a fallback, just in case you forget the code. It’s a different approach to most technology services, which typically send a randomized string to your phone over SMS. To help you remember, WhatsApp says it will ask for your code “periodically.” An inconvenience, sure, but a trade-off we would argue is worthwhile for greater security. If the app is your primary mode of communications, you owe it to yourself to turn this feature on.

One Important Note on this: If you receive an email to disable two-step verification, but did not request this, do not click on the link. Someone could be attempting to verify your phone number on WhatsApp.

Source: Whats App

WhatsApp finally has launched a video calling feature!

WhatsApp has released quite a number of new features in recent months but perhaps the most anticipated one has been video calling. Some users briefly flirted with video calls back in May but it took until October before a wider set of Android device owners could get involved. Now, the Facebook-owned company is ready to unleash video calls on everybody and in the coming days will roll out the feature to iOS, Android and Windows devices. I got it already this morning.

When the feature is activated, open a chat and select the phone icon. You’ll then be given an option to place a voice or video call. When we tested the feature, we found that voice and video quality was excellent over strong WiFi, but your mileage may vary if you’re connecting via a mobile or slower broadband connection.

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While Facebook Messenger users have enjoyed voice calls for over a year and a half, and BBM Users since ages, many other popular messaging apps till date still do not offer this feature. With over one billion users, WhatsApp’s video calls can connect people all over the world, regardless of their choice of mobile operating system, allowing it to stay ahead of apps like Google’s Allo for now.

Adobe’s Photoshop Fix app finally makes it to Android!

Adobe isn’t always quick to bring new creative apps and features to Android based systems. It took the company over a year to deliver a version of Photoshop Fix for those devices. Which is basically a year after its debut for iOS in October 2015, the mobile software brings some powerful desktop editing tools to phones and tablets that run Google’s OS. Tools like the face-aware Liquify tool to adjust facial expressions are here alongside Heal, Smooth and other adjustments that can make precise changes to images from a mobile device.

Photoshop Fix for Android also offers tools to tweak more general characteristics like focus, color and paint as well as the ability to adjust exposure, saturation, contrast and more. When you get back to your desktop machine, Adobe’s CreativeSync tech takes the work you’ve started on mobile and packages it in a layered PSD file so you can easily continue the task. Of course, you’ll need a Creative Cloud subscription to employ that workflow.

If you aren’t paying for Adobe’s suite of creative apps, you can still use Photoshop Fix on an Android device, but you won’t have access to the handy sync features that allow the company’s mobile and desktop offerings to work together. If you’re looking to give it a go, Photoshop Fix is available for free at Google Play.

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How to find out how many WhatsApp messages you send!

How many messages have you already sent via Whatsapp? And how many have you received? You can easily check this.We explain how it works.

Whatsapp counts every single message that is received and sent via the messenger. Each user can see in his settings how active he was at Whatsapp. What is your statistic? Do you write more messages than you get? And how many messages have your friends sent so far? The figures are usually very different, as we have noted in our editorial team, so the comparison with friends and acquaintances is often very interesting – and often funny.

How to find the statistics:

For Android users: Open the Whatsapp app on your smartphone and tap the menu (the three dots) in the upper-right corner. Select Settings, click Data Usage, and then click Network Usage. There you can read how many Whatsapp messages you have ever sent or received.

For iPhone users: In Whatsapp, tap “Preferences” in the bottom bar. Now select “Data Usage”. At the bottom you will find the option “Network Usage”, where you will find your personal usage data.

At the top of the statistics are the sent and received messages. In addition to the message statistics, Whatsapp also displays details of the data sent and received. If you are a very active user of Whatsapp and have never reset the smartphone to factory settings or deleted the statistics, then here are quite high numbers.

Here is mine, but I am using a phone never very long, hence the low figures…

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How many messages did you send to your friends?

Google Photos got 4 new improvements

The machine learning-powered features can turn your photos right side up, or find memories and highlights from now on Google has published in a Blog Post.

 The latest AI-powered upgrade for Google Photos brings four tricks. The first and simplest one, which autodetects sideways pictures and prompts you to correct them. Two others dig into its talent for facial recognition, as it will detect people in your new photos, and offer to “rediscover old memories” of those same people in older pics, or, it can pop up a highlight reel showcasing the best pictures of a frequent subject.

First, Google Photos will now help you rediscover old memories of the people in your most recent photos. As your photo library continues to grow, they hope that features like this one make it easier to look back at your fondest memories.

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Second, they are making it easier to look over the most recent highlights from your photos. If you take a lot of photos of your child, for example, you may occasionally get a card showing the best ones from the last month.

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Third, there had always been animations made from photos, but now they make animations from your videos, too. And not just any videos. They look for segments that capture activity — a jump into the pool, or even just an adorable smile — and create short animations that are easy to share.

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Finally, when  pictures are found sideways in your collection, you’ll get a card that helps you easily put them right side up.

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You should see the new features available on Android, iOS and the web, and if it’s just a little too creepy, you can go into settings to disable face grouping or its assistant prompts.

WhatsApp adds Snapchat-style tool: Lets you write, draw, and add emojis to photos and videos

WhatsApp on Tuesday has introduced new ways to customise and enhance the photos and videos you share with friends and family around the world.

With WhatsApp’s new camera features, people can now write or draw on photos and videos as well as add emojis to express themselves.

“Now, when you capture a new photo or video or share one which is already on your phone, you will automatically see the new editing tools,” WhatsApp said in a post.

WhatsApp has also added a convenient zooming feature for recording videos. Just slide your finger up and down to zoom in and out and supports the front-facing flash.

The new camera features will roll out on Android phones starting Tuesday and on Apple iPhones soon. If you are a WhatsApp Beta User you can already use it.

How to use the new WhatsApp Tool:

To use the new features, you can take a new photo or video within WhatsApp, or choose one already on your phone.

Instead of just seeing the option to send the message, new editing tools will be displayed over the photo.

These new functions are rolling out on Android phones from today, but it is unclear when they will become available for iPhone users.

Source: WhatsApp Blog