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Google is about to push out a new update to Hangouts, bringing it up to version 2.1, which will bring forth some major changes for Google's messaging application. It will finally merge conversations, making it easier to keep track of your conversations between SMS, and the usual Hangouts chats.
This means if you were talking with a friend through SMS, but had a simultaneous chat with them through Hangouts, those two world's will collide. The messages will be visually distinct, so you'll be able to tell the difference between SMS and the instant messaging chat. The contact lists has been simplified, split into two sections: People you Hangout With, and Phone Contacts.
Video call quality has been improved, as well as SMS and MMS reliability. One of the surprise new features is a new homescreen widget, making it much easier to access your conversations. The updated Hangouts app should be made available later in the week.
Google I/O isn't far away, but now the Mountain View-based giant is warning its developers to work more on the design of their apps. The warning fires have been shot, so we should see some big changes at the event in June.
Google's Staff Designer and Evangelist, Nadya Direkova, took to a blog post saying: "When Google launched, it was a crisp white page with a simple search box. You might not have thought there was much in the way of design, but its appearance underscored two of our most important principles: simplicity and usefulness".
The company wants its developers to emphasize design as they consider the best way to develop and distribute their apps and services. Google's Director of Developer Relations, Billy Rutledge, said in a blog post that the goal Google has it to help developers "build and prove your app from start to finish".
Facebook has just rolled out a new "Nearby Friends" feature which joins a bunch of other location-broadcasting apps that are already available. Nearby Friends will allow you to see which of your Facebook friends are close to you.
The new feature is an opt-in option, where you'll have to enable it on your account. The service will let you see which of your friends are nearby, but you can turn the location tracking off whenever you want. Both you and your friends will need to have it enabled in order to see each other on the map, but once it is activated on both sides, you'll receive a push notification telling you that your friend is nearby.
Samsung has announced that a new app is available globally for Samsung device users. The new app is called Kindle for Samsung and it will deliver millions of best selling digital books from the Amazon Kindle platform. Samsung says that 500,000 of those titles will be exclusive to Samsung users.
The application is available for download on any Samsung smartphone or tablet that runs Android 4.0 or higher. The app is a free download. Most of the books will be titles that you have to purchase. However, Samsung will offer Samsung Book Deals that will deliver up to 12 free eBooks each year.
YouTube for Android been updated, with version 5.5.27 of the app adding in some new features. The latest version of YouTube for Android now supports the ability to cast live videos to Chromecast.
The Preloading menu on the app has also been removed, but there's a new Captions menu that has been added to the latest version of YouTube for Android. You can get the latest YouTube for Android from the Google Play store.
Google has just pushed out its Chrome Remote Desktop app for Android, something that has been floating around in the beta world, but it is now an official thing you can download today.
Android-based users can use their devices to remotely access their Windows or Mac machines, with the Remote Desktop app available on the desktop for a while now, but now the mobile world can enjoy it. An iOS version of Chrome Remote Desktop will be made available in the near future. You can download Chrome Remote Desktop from the Google Play store now.
Amazon has just rolled out an update to its Cloud Drive service for iOS, and the app has been given a completely new look. In addition, the redesigned user interface is said to improve navigation of the service and make sharing images even easier. Amazon Cloud Drive Photos version 3.0 now includes 5GB of free storage space, and also allows videos up to 20-minutes in length to be uploaded.
The new look ushers in a much more refined look for the app, and now users can set a filter to only see photos or videos, which makes navigating through the thousands of files you upload much easier and faster than before. Additionally, users can sort images by name and date as well, making fining that image you took five months ago quick and easy. Finally, Amazon has improved the back-end and now your images and videos will upload faster than ever before.
Today Google announced the launch of a new app for Android called Google Camera, confirming recent rumors that the company was working on developing a new camera app with some unique features. The new standalone app branches away from the current Android 4.4 camera app, and features a more refined UI and is overall, easier to use. The camera app brings several new features to Android devices as well including Spherical images, software-based lens blur, and even a more intuitive panorama mode.
"Achieving this optical effect has traditionally required a big lens and aperture, and therefore hasn't been possible using the camera on your mobile phone or tablet. That all changes with Lens Blur, a new mode in the Google Camera app," Google said in a blog post. "Lens Blur replaces the need for a large optical system with computer vision algorithms and optimization techniques that are run entirely on the mobile device, simulating a larger lens and aperture in order to creating a 3D model of the world."
I was one of those 50 million users who installed "Brightest Flashlight" onto my Android smartphones, but location data from each user - which is a number that climbs over 50 million - was transmitting users' real-time locations to ad networks and other third parties.
Last Wednesday, the FTC confirmed that GoldenShores' owner, Erik Geidl, are not to collect users' geolocation data without clearly outlining how and why they're doing it, and they have to confirm who is receiving the location data. Geidl is forced to inform the FTC about any new businesses he decides to start in the next ten years, and just a few days left to delete all of the data he had collected. The problem here is, that the FTC does not even touch down on the money that Geidl made selling 50 million users' geolocation data. There would have to be a very large sum of money there, but for now it seems like the FTC gave him a simple slap on the wrist.
Google has just pushed out an updated Chrome for Android beta, which includes some new features. One of the new features is the ability to "undo" the accidental closure of a tab.
The video player has been updated, which will let your phone or tablet use HTML5-based full-screen video with subtitles and on-screen playback controls. The latest Chrome for Android beta also includes support for the multi-window features on select devices, as well as support for sending some videos from the browser, over to Google's cheap Chromecast, direct.
You can get the latest Chrome for Android beta right here at the Google Play store.