Friday, February 24, 2017

Preview Microsoft password-protected files in Google Drive.

No matter if you use Google Docs or Microsoft productivity suite, starting today, you will be able to preview Microsoft documents whether they're password protected or not. Going forward, when you open one of these files, you will be prompted for password and Google Drive will kindly oblige and upon entering the right password, Google Drive will open a read-only preview of the document. Not exactly what you're expecting, but i's a beginning. After all, Google is still playing catch up with Microsoft. This update does not apply to Android yet, but if you use Sheets on the web, then you're good to go.

Check out this update and preview password protected files on any Android devices. The update is available on Google Play Store.

Flipboard on Android won't play videos with sound unless you explicitly want it to.

Flipboard published a big update a few weeks ago and today, they're issuing a fix to a problem related to how videos are played in the app. Based on users feedback, Flipboard now will not auto-play videos with sound unless users actually tap to open and view the video. The videos in your feed will remain silent otherwise. So Flipboard users will enjoy the same experience as in apps like Twitter or Facebook where the videos will play without sound until you tap on them again.

A very welcome feature that has started rolling out in Google Play Store for you to download.

Google Play Developer Console now gives information about apps install base.

Google Play Developer Console is an app made for Android developers to get statistics about their apps install, uninstall and crash data. The app also provides detailed data about devices that have your apps installed. All in all, Google Play Developer Console is a very useful app for devs in their strategy to get their app on more devices. Today,  Google has updated the app with the "Devices" tab giving more information about the app's install base. Interestingly, I see that my Mauritius Holidays app has only one install on Android Nougat 7.1. While my app is certainly not a must-have app, that piece of statistic also means that Nougat has a long way to go before being the most popular Android version on current devices and for that to happen, manufacturers have to provide the update. Looking at you Samsung, my Galaxy Edge 7 still isn't on Nougat yet. 

If you're a developer, check out Google Play Developer Console in Google Play Store.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Google Sheets now supports rotated text, accounting number formats, thicknesses and double borders.

Not all can afford Microsoft Office or Office 365. Google, thankfully, offers a free option that works on the web, a Android phone and Apple's iPhone. While Google productivity apps do not match Microsoft's offer yet and is even far from it, it is still an alternative to consider with Google constantly adding new features to its productivity app. Today Google has updated Google sheets app with new features based on users feedback. 

Users will be able to rotate text in Google Sheets cells to fit long header names into thin columns. This feature only works on the web, meaning you cannot rotate text on an Android device. The rotated text will show on any Android device though.

Google also made it easy to add currency symbols within the same monetary cells amounts. Again, this feature is available only on the web version of Google Sheets. Additionally, users will get to choose several border styles, including thicknesses and double borders. This feature is available in Toolbar > Borders > Borders Style.  

Google also added the following features:
  • Support for using a mouse with the Sheets Android app
  • Ability to view and select existing custom colors in the Sheets Android app
  • Ability to drag and drop rows and columns in the Sheets Android and iOS apps
  • Formatting suggestions in Explore in the Sheets iOS app
Google Sheets is available free for download on Google Play Store.

Slowly but surely, Google is catching up with Microsoft offerings.

Source: Google

CNN redesigned its Android app and it's terrible.

CNN has redesigned its Android app yesterday and I dare say, it is terrible for a news app. For this update, they went with a list of card-like views for each news category that require a lot of scrolling and patience for the big sized pictures to load; really, the new app does require a lot of scrolling vertically to read the news in each category and horizontally when you move between the ten tabs at the top. CNN says "the entire app has been rebuilt for speed, simplicity, in-depth story telling and a focused, first-in-class video experience". It's all but that. Now, this is my opinion and I suggest you make your own by updating or downloading the new CNN app for Android in Google Play Store. Do you like it?

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Opera browser supports Facebook and Google sign in for syncing bookmarks, tabs and history.

Modern browsers allow users to sync their data to the cloud and easily restore them after reinstalling the browser. For that to work, Opera required users to create a Opera account in the settings of the browser. In the update published today, Opera no longer requires a Opera account to take advantage of that feature. Users will be able to sign in with their Facebook or Google account to sync their bookmarks, tabs and history. Opera states that "Facebook and Google is only used for authentication and simplifying the sign in process. No actual sync data is shared with the social accounts."  If that is not clear enough, say you're accessing your Gmail inbox within Opera, you will still be required to enter your Google password.

Support for Facebook and Google sign in is more widespread than a Opera account and that also means one less password for users to remember.

Check out Opera Browser for free in Google Play Store.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Telegram for Android updated with theme editor.

Telegram, the encrypted messaging platform for Android, has been updated today with support for themes. This update adds new default Dark and Blue themes which are accessible in Settings > Themes. If that is not enough, Telegram will also let users create their own themes using the new built-in editor. To do so, tap "Create New Theme" and give it a name. A color palette will appear after clicking OK; Pick one of the proposed themes to reveal the editor and customize it to your liking before sharing with the rest of the Telegram community. Users can also follow the @themes channel on Telegram for more ideas.

Get the update in Google Play Store.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Google Maps let users create Lists of favorite places to share with families and friends in new update.

Google Maps is getting more social thanks to an update that is yet to be published to Google Play Store. Google announced in a blog post that their maps app will soon let users save and share places they have been to with families and friends. All that is needed is for users to tap on the place name and "Save" to add the place to built-in lists like "Want to Go" or "Favorites. Users can also create their own. Once done, Google says that "to recall the lists you've created, go to Your Places (in the side menu) and then open the saved tabs."  Google made it easy to share these locations via text, email, social networks and messaging apps. On clicking the link, your families and friends can tap "follow" to see your list. 

Additionally, they made the lists viewable on desktop, mobile - Android and iOS - and offline. The latter feature will work after users download offline maps and the saved places will show on top of the maps.

This sounds like a nice update. Unfortunately, at the time I'm posting this, it is not available yet. Here's the link to Google Maps in the store so you can check.

Source: Google

Friday, February 10, 2017

Cloud storage service Box now supports unlocking via fingerprint on Android devices.

Box is one of many cloud storage service on offer for users to store their data and today, the app for Android was updated with support for finger unlocking, provided you have Passcode enabled. Box uses a 4 digits numeric passcode and when enabled, users have to type in that passcode every-time they open Box on their phones or tablets. As from today, users that have phones with fingerprint scanners will be able to unlock the app that way, making it faster to access the data they store on Box. The new feature is not enabled by default and can be activated in the settings of the app, under Security Settings.

Waze for Android now supports Google Smart Lock for faster login.

Waze has been updated today with support for Google Smart Lock, a feature that lets you sign back into the app without having to remember your Waze login details. I use Google Smart Lock for some of the apps on my phones; I call them the lesser-apps, meaning I do not care if a hacker cracks my password as I do not share sensitive data about myself with these apps and their developer. While Smart Lock is very useful when switching phones or after a factory reset, I prefer to keep sensitive passwords in my head. Just to be clear, I do not use any password manager app on any of my devices.  So what is Google Smart Lock?

Google Smart Lock is an app that will store your passwords on Google's secure servers. Say you have to reinstall Waze on your device, you won't have to remember your password, Google Smart Lock will handle that for you and restore your data.

This update also includes a new way to see if you have new messages and Waze friends online. Those will show up in the "Waze menu navigation list."

Check out the full changelog below and head over to Google Play Store to download or upgrade Waze.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Insert videos in Google Slides from Google drive and YouTube.

Today, Google made it possible to insert videos in presentations from Google Drive and YouTube. After inserting the videos in Google Slides, users will have the option to choose when to start or end the video; whether the video should auto-play when presenting. Additionally, users will also have the option to mute or play the video with audio by doing right-click on the video and choosing Video options

Inserted videos can be played both on the web or a mobile device. However, inserting videos to Google Slides is only supported on the web. For those viewing the presentation and do not have permission to view the embedded video, can always request request access.

Flipboard 4.0 is out, introduces Smart Magazine.

The second thing I do everything morning after reading emails is to check on the news using apps like Feedly and Flipboard. The latter used to be my favorite. I used Feedly for it's simplicity. Flipboard on the other hand came to fame thanks to its unique magazine page like flipping. While that was nice a feature, I distanced myself from it as it became complicated to setup, find new topics and with new features being more cumbersome than anything else. Enter Flipboard 4.0.

The company has announced Flipboard 4.0 "in response to our ever-growing ecosystem of publishers, Fliboard magazines, topics and more." The new version will supposedly make users get to their stuff effortlessly. Flipboard says "Smart Magazine" is a the heart of this new version, which the company explains as "a new way to organize the world's stories, curated by experts and enthusiasts, into continually updating collections that can be personalized by you. Your Smart Magazines have a sleek new 'shelf space' - the Home carousel - for quick access to important and inspiring content about your passions."

Flipboard has posted a how-to on their blog which you should read both as an existing or new user. The app is available for download in Google Play Store.

Google announces Android Wear 2.0 and two LG watches. No Pixel watches.

As promised, Google has announced Android Wear 2.0, it's new operating system for watches and in order to showcase the OS capabilities, Google partnered with LG to release two new watches: the LG Watch Sport and the LG Watch Style. So no Pixels watch as initially rumored. David Singleton, VP of engineering for Android Wear, announced in a blog post that the two watches will be available in the U.S. starting February 10 and through retailers across some countries in coming weeks. 

With Android Wear 2.0, Google wants to make the watch on the wrist the first go-to place for you to find the information that matters to you at some point in time. The new OS includes some helpful watch faces which show users their next appointment, stock performance, fitness goals progress etc.

On the work out front, Google Fit "now lets you track your pace, distance, calories burned and heart rate* as you’re walking, running or cycling." The heart rate feature works if your watch has the required sensor. And if your watch cellular connection, Android Wear will let you stream tunes from Google Music and stay in touch with your calls and messages.

Speaking of messages, Android Wear 2.0 brings new ways to respond to messages in apps like Facebook Messenger, Google Messenger, Hangouts, WhatsApp, Telegram. When you want to respond to a message, expand the notification and choose whichever ways to reply by dictating, typing, handwriting or drawing an emoji. Google also added smart reply, which will suggest a response based on the content of the message you received.

Google Assistant is front and center in every Google products and it naturally finds its place in Android Wear for a hands-free experience. Just as would on your phone or Google Home, just ask about anything and Google Assistant will gladly oblige and display the info on your wrist. In addition, Google Assistant will handle restaurant reservation, take your reminders and more. Currently Google assistant is available in English and German with more languages coming.

These are the big features coming to our watches. The blog post does not say when Android Wear 2.0 will reach current devices; we'll have to wait for watch manufacturers to work on their build and hopefully we'll see OTA upgrades being pushed out next month. 

The entire blog post about Android Wear 2.0 can be read on the Keyword blog.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Double-tap YouTube videos to rewind or skip forward 10 seconds.

YouTube app for Android just made it easier for users to skip forward and backward 10 seconds by double-tapping on the left and right sides of the video player. A most welcome feature. Currently, tapping a video will allow it to either pause or to literally skip to the previous or next video in the queue. Of course, this feature is still there in the app, hence the need to double tap on the sides of the video player to skip 10 seconds.

Check out the update in Google Play Store and upgrade to enjoy this new feature.

CNN for Samsung gets support for Android Nougat.

CNN has updated there app for Samsung devices today that adds support for Android Nougat, Android latest iteration. As you probably know, Samsung has been late in pushing Nougat to the S7 series of Galaxy devices, namely the S7 and S7 Edge, with deployment limited to a few countries so far. I am still waiting for my Galaxy S7 Edge to get the update to enjoy the new stuff in Nougat. In addition, the phone is also missing out on some security patches, the last ones were the November 2016 patches. That's how life is outside the Nexus realm.

Do you own a Galaxy S7 device? Did you get the Nougat update yet?

CNN for Samsung can be downloaded or upgraded in Google Play Store.