Google changes its hangouts design for android phones and adds some new features. It is now easier to send attachments. The new design also allows to send more than one photo at a time. Composing messages is more intuitive. The changes also include tweaks that will improve battery life, improve speed and fix a few bugs.
Google announces Android Pay at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. The new feature is not a new product but a framework that allows secure payments support from other companies which works in physical stores and also apps. It also supports NFC and biometrics.
We are doing it in a way in which anybody else can build a payments service on top of Android. So, in places like China and Africa we hope that people will use Android Pay to build innovative services.
Motorola Moto 360 smartwatches are set to hit the market. Smartwatches so far have had rectangular faces, a shape that has turned off many consumers. This watch is circular, like other watches. The watches will use Google’s Android Wear operating system, which includes voice control features for basic functions. It has not been confirmed how many apps will be available, but at least thousands of the more than 1 million Google store programs, have been updated to support Wear. The price for the watch starts at $250.
Bluebox Security releases a report that shows that Android’s application ID system does not properly check to make sure application IDs are legitimate. This makes it so that, for instance, a fake Google Wallet application could be created to steal people’s money:
Every Android application has its own unique identity, typically inherited from the corporate developer’s identity. The Bluebox Security research team, Bluebox Labs, recently discovered a new vulnerability in Android, which allows these identities to be copied and used for nefarious purposes.
The European Comission announces that Google agrees to classify games that offer in-app purchases as paid instead of free, even if they do not require any payment upfront. This is done to comply with a European Commission guideline set to prevent children from accidentally making in-app purchases:
Google has decided on a number of changes. Implementation is underway and will be completed by the end of September 2014. These include not using the word “free” at all when games contain in-app purchases, developing targeted guidelines for its app developers to prevent direct exhortation to children as defined under EU law and time-framed measures to help monitor apparent breaches of EU consumer laws.
Google releases a course called Developing Android Apps: Android Fundamentals on the e-learning platform Udacity. The course is aimed at people who are new to developing for Android but have some programming experience. It is taught by three Android developers, Reto Meier, Dan Galpin and Katherine Kuan, and features videos, quizzes, and forums.
A study conducted by security software company Avast shows that Android’s stock factory reset feature does not clear all of the data from the device. The researchers say they are easily able to view users’ personal files using publicly available software even when it seems the factory reset is successful:
Although at first glance the phones appeared thoroughly erased, we quickly retrieved a lot of private data. In most cases, we got to the low-level analysis, which helped us recover SMS and chat messages.
Dave Burke, Google’s engineering chief, responds to speculation that they intend to replace the Nexus line of products with a rumored line of products called Android Silver:
People have been commenting about Nexus because there is something else and they think that means the end of Nexus. That is the totally wrong conclusion to make…Android Silver is not something that we are commenting on right now.
Google announces Android Auto, which is a platform that integrates Android phones into the driving experience. Users can use voice commands to get directions, play music, set reminders, and call contacts while driving. The platform is expected be available at the end of 2014.
Google announces the Android One, a sub-$100 smartphone aimed at India and other developing nations. The phone will have a 4.5 inch display, dual SIM card slots, and an FM radio. Sundar Pichai, head of Google’s Android division, discusses the phone at Google’s I/O conference:
Our goal is to reach the next five billion people in the world. In India and other countries like that, it’s disappointing that less than 10 percent of the population have access to smartphones.
Google announces that they are bringing select Android applications to Chromebooks, starting with Evernote, Vine and Flipboard. Users can nominate their favorite Android applications to be released for Chromebooks.
Google announces that Android has one billion active users each month. They report that these users send 20 billion text messages and 93 million “selfies” each day.
Google introduces Google Auto Link (GAL), an in-car system that will be able to sync with Google Android smartphones. The system will rival Apple’s current Apple Car Play. It is the first product developed under its new partnership with Open Automotive Alliance. The partnership includes Audi, Honda, General Motors, Hyundai and chipmaker NVIDIA Corp . Developers who attend the Google I/O Conference in late June will be able to view the interface and a demonstration.
Google removes the ISIS app ‘Dawn of Glad Tidings’ from the Play store after it is widely reported by media. The app, which posts ISIS-created content including hashtags, links and images over users’ Twitter accounts, has been available for around two months and has been downloaded thousands of times. Google spokesman:
We remove any applications that breach our community guidelines.
Google creates the Open Automative Alliance to bring the Android system to cars. The companies in the alliance include Google, GM, Honda, Audi, Hyundai and Nvidia. The group’s focus is to integrate Android into the entertainment system. They will develop new features that will allow developers to add car modes to the apps. The alliance plans to launch the first cars in late 2014.
Cook criticizes Google for not encouraging users to upgrade to a new version of Android. He says that nine out of ten iDevice users have upgraded to the latest version of iOS, but fewer than one out of ten Android users have the latest version, which introduces security risks:
This [upgrading] is particularly important for Android, which dominates the mobile malware market.
HP announces the Slatebook 14, its first laptop to run on Android. The device features a touchscreen, 64 gigabytes of internal storage, 2 gigabytes of RAM, and a Nvidia Tegra 4 processor. It also has two USB ports and a HDMI port.
Gmail for Android becomes the first individual smartphone application to surpass one billion installations. This figure does not include updates, only fresh installations of the application.
Google updates its Verify Apps virus scanner to include post-installation scans, which ensure that applications do not become malicious after installation:
Building on Verify apps, which already protects people when they’re installing apps outside of Google Play at the time of installation, we’re rolling out a new enhancement which will now continually check devices to make sure that all apps are behaving in a safe manner, even after installation.
Bas Bosschert, a Dutch security expert, exposes an exploit in the Android version of the chatting application WhatsApp that allows other applications to steal users’ conversations:
We can conclude that every application can read the WhatsApp database and it is also possible to read the chats from the encrypted databases. Facebook didn’t need to buy WhatsApp to read your chats.
HTC starts a program called Power to Give, which allows Android users to “donate” their phone’s processing power when it is idle. When the phone is not in use, it will automatically connect to UC Berkley via the cloud and process data for a variety of projects including AIDS research and the search for extra-terrestrial life. Chairwoman Cher Wang says:
We’ve often used innovation to bring about change in the mobile industry, but this programme takes our vision one step further. With HTC Power To Give, we want to make it possible for anyone to dedicate their unused smartphone processing power to contribute to projects that have the potential to change the world.
The S4 is launched in the US. It features includes a 13 megapixel camera, hover preview, smart pause, and dual camera.
Andy Rubin, co-founder of Android Inc., decides to leave Android and work on other projects at Google. He is replaced by Sundar Pichar, one of the lead managers of Google Chrome’s development:
Having exceeded even the crazy ambitious goals we dreamed of for Android—and with a really strong leadership team in place—Andy’s decided it’s time to hand over the reins and start a new chapter at Google.
The Samsung Galaxy S3 is launched in the US. It has a dual-core processor and an 8-megapixel camera. The phone also allows users to monitor your data usage, share files with just a tap, and be woken with the sound of their own voice.
Google announces [email protected], a set of protocols that enables users to control household items like light switches, alarm clocks, and kitchen appliances through an Android device. They intend to partner with the Lighting Science Group to create compatible appliances and hope developers will build applications to utilize these features.
The Nexus One, the first phone in Google’s line of Nexus Android devices, is released at a cost of $529. The device has 512 MB RAM, a 5 megapixel camera, and a 4GB removable SD card. All devices in the Nexus line of products are not tied to any specific carrier:
Through the web store found at www.google.com/phone, consumers can buy the Nexus One without service (meaning any GSM network SIM card can be inserted into the device), or purchase the phone with service from one of Google’s operator partners. As new phones come to market through this channel, consumers will benefit from the ability to match a phone of their choice with the service plan that best meets their needs.
The Open Handset Alliance, a collection of 34 firms including T-Mobile, HTC, Qualcomm and Motorola, announces they plan to collaborate with Google to develop Android. They hope it will be the first open platform for mobile phones. Google CEO Eric Schmidt says:
Today’s announcement is more ambitious than any single ‘Google Phone’ that the press has been speculating about over the past few weeks. Our vision is that the powerful platform we’re unveiling will power thousands of different phone models.
InformationWeek publishes a report by Evalueserve, a consulting and research firm, which shows that Google holds a number of patents related to mobile phones, such as patent application number US20060004627, “Advertisements for Devices with Call Functionality Such as Mobile Phones” and patent application number US20050185060, “Image Base Inquiry System for Search Engines for Mobile Telephones with Integrated Cameras.”
Eric Schmidt, chief executive at Google, expresses that mobile advertising is twice as lucrative as traditional online advertising:
What’s interesting about the ads in the mobile phone is that they are twice as profitable or more than the nonmobile phone ads because they’re more personal.
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