Google to kill App Maker, the low-code dev environment due to low usage

https://gsuiteupdates.googleblog.com/2020/01/app-maker-update.html

Google App Maker, the low-code development environment will be shut down on January 19, 2021

Due to low usage, Google App Maker will be turned down gradually over the course of 2020 and officially shut down on January 19, 2021.

From April 15th, you can no longer create new App Maker apps. From January 19, 2021, all existing App Maker apps will stop working.

Google Assistant can now read and reply to messages on Whatsapp

While Google Assistant has been able to read SMS texts you’ve received via the native Messages app, it has now added the functionality to read out messages in your notifications from Whatsapp, Telegram, Slack and more.

Here’s how to go about it:

  • Start by saying ‘read my messages‘ to Assistant.
  • It will request access to notifications if you haven’t enabled it already. Turn it on for ‘Google’.
  • It will now read out your messages one-by-one and display them in a card format.
  • After each message is read out, you will have the option to reply. Assistant turns your voice into text and sends the reply before moving on to the next message.
  • Messages that contain images, videos, document or audio files aren’t accessible as of now to Google Assistant. It will only detail that the message contains an audio files or a video file and so on.

The feature appears to be a limited release at the moment and it is quite possible that this may be a precursor to full blown integration with all kinds of messaging apps soon.

‘Ghost Push’ : An Un-Installable Android Virus Impacts 1.3 mn Android Devices Globally

CheetahMobile, a Chinese developer company has identified a new threat on Android devices named Ghost Push.

Distributed through non-Google app stores, this virus has affected 14,846 types of phone and 3,658 brands. It has affected 1.3 million devices globally and in India it has affected 1,44,199 devices.

The virus is mainly spread through Europe, Russia, the Middle East region, and southern China. Cheetah Mobile has so far discovered 39 apps that contains the virus.

The malware installs unwanted applications like ‘Monkey test’ or ‘Times service’ and then these applications cannot be removed easily even by doing a factory reset or using normal antivirus software. The malware slows down the system, drains the battery and consumes large amounts of cellular data. Disguised as legitimate applications, it can spread itself widely via commercial SDKs or browser ads.

List of infected apps include

WiFi Enhancer PinkyGirls WordLock SettingService Sex Cademy
TimeService XVideo Codec Pack Fast Booster boom pig iVideo
Indian Sexy Stories 2 Amazon Talking Tom 3 WhatsWifi Fruit Slots
Assistive Touch Hubii News Photo Clean Hot Video Wifi Speeder
Accurate Compass itouch Super Mario Lemon Browser WiFi FTP
All-star Fruit Slash Light Browser SmartFolder Multifunction Flashlight Ice Browser
Happy Fishing XVideo Simple Flashlight Assistive Touch PronClub
MonkeyTest Memory Booster Daily Racing Hot Girls

 

Apple Launches An Android App; Receives Extremely Poor Ratings

Apple has launched its first Android app, which will enable you to port data from Android to iOS, helping make an easy switch. The app is supported on all phones and tablets running Android 4.0 and later.

move-ios-app

The Move to iOS app (link)  securely transfers all kinds of content for you:

  • Contacts
  • Message history
  • Camera photos and videos
  • Web bookmarks
  • Mail accounts
  • Calendars

When you choose to migrate your data, your new iPhone or iPad will create a private Wi-Fi network and find your nearby Android device running Move to iOS. After you enter a security code, it will begin transferring your content and put it in the right places. Just like that. Once your content has been transferred, you’re ready to get going. iOS will also set up your default mail account.

The app has received extremely poor ratings (1.8) largely because of its poor execution, design and not following the material design principles.

Google Brings (Many Popular) App Pricing Down To Rs. 10

Google earlier reduced the minimum app price in India and the company has now got developers to reprice their apps for Indian users.

Now, you will find many of your favourite apps and games starting from only Rs. 10 – example being  Facetune, or games like Fruit Ninja,  Stick Cricket and Real Cricket, and even Talking Tom.

This is interesting given that Apple too brought its minimum app pricing tier down to Rs. 10 in India.

Important to note that Google is also bringing back the focus on Android One, the failed project that never really took off.

Google Launches Website To Showcase Experimental Android Apps

Google has launched Android Experiments, a website to showcase inspirational projects that are at the bleeding edge of technology, aesthetics and interfaces.

The 20 initial experiments listed on the site range from creative work–from camera experiments to innovative Android Wear apps to hardware hacks to cutting edge OpenGL demos.

The company says the current crop of experiments were built using Android SDK and NDK, Android Wear, the IOIO board, Cinder, Processing, OpenFrameworks and Unity.

Android Experiments is the mobile apps equivalent of Chrome Experiments. All the projects listed on the site will be open source so others can see how they’ve been built.

Further, developers can submit their own projects onto Android Experiments and while there will be no special category for these apps on the Play Store they will be searchable.

Govt Slaps Telcos With Rs 10.8cr Penalty For Cell Towers Exceeding Radiation Limits

The Indian government has slapped telecom operators Rs 10.8 crore penalty for exceeding the prescribed limit for radiation from cell towers.

Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad informed the Rajya Sabha on Friday that a fine of Rs. 2.15 crores was imposed on Bharti Airtel, Rs. 1.80 crores on Vodafone, Rs. 1.65 crores on Reliance and Rs. 1.45 crores on Tata Teleservices.

Idea, Aircel, Loop, MTNL, Sistema Shyam, Uninor and Videocon have also been fined, albeit smaller amounts.

His statement added that 6 base towers exceeded radiation limits during FY 15-16 (Up to May 31). The number of towers exceeding the radiation limit stood at 103 in 2012-13, 77 in 2013-14, and no towers were found to exceed the limit in 2014-15.

In 2012, the government had lowered the EMF exposure limit for cell towers and base stations to one-tenth the then existing levels. As off May 31, 2015 there were 9,08,353 base tower stations in India, and 6 of them were exceeding prescribed radiation limits.

Image Source: Flickr

There Are Now Over 24,000 Distinct Android Devices From 1,300 Brands: Report

There are over a billion Android handset in use today, which is great for developers who’re building apps for the platform, however, there are quite a few manufacturers out there vying for a shot to get into the consumer’s pockets.

According to OpenSignal, which collects wireless data giving a wealth of information about devices in use today, there are 24,093 distinct Android smartphone models from 1,294 brands, which is a vastly different picture from just 3 years ago.

Over 1,000 of the Android smartphone brands seen this year didn’t even exist back in 2012. While Samsung devices continue to dominate, the biggest change is from previous years is the growth of these small companies chipping away at its dominance.

OpenSignal notes that Samsung’s market share fell from 47% in 2012 to 37.8% in 2015 despite the overall Android smartphone market registering growth.

Device Fragmentation

The data is collected only from devices that have OpenSignal’s app installed on them, so it might not be a 100% accurate. Moreover, with the Play Store’s lack of availability in China, the data leaves out the world’s largest smartphone market.

Brand Fragmentation

Here the chart shows the smartphone market divide in terms of manufacturer. While Samsung is still in the lead, the more noticeable change is the growth of smaller companies that are chipping away at its dominance.

Operating System Fragmentation

While there are 24,000 distinct Android devices in the market today, that problem doesn’t bug app developers as much as this one. Android version fragmentation is a huge problem, but there has been some stabilisation in the past one year with KitKat growing in dominance.

Comparison With iOS

Wonder why a lot of developers prefer iOS over Android? Here’s a chart that explains it all.

One MMS And Superhack ‘Stagefright’ Could Infect 95% Of Android Devices

Stagefright is an exploit that could let hackers into 95 percent of devices
Stagefright is an exploit that could let hackers into 95% of Android devices

An expert on smartphone security has discovered a crucial flaw in Android’s OS that could see 95 percent of phones hacked into via MMS messaging.

Joshua Drake from Zimperium zLabs  said that hackers would only need your mobile number. Once available they remotely execute a set of code via a media file through an MMS. He claims that the attack may actually be able to delete the offending MMS during its execution leading you to only see the notification.

Drake reported these vulnerabilities to Google and also submitted patches for them to use. While he claims that Google has already applied the patch to the code, pushing the updated code to devices worldwide will be ‘lengthy process of update deployment’.

Such updates for Android devices have traditionally taken a long time to reach users. Devices older than 18 months are unlikely to receive an update at all. This is because rolling out fixes to individual phones is dependant on the manufacturer and the service used to update the phones.

The hack is triggered by interacting with a media file sent through an MMS
The hack is triggered by interacting with a media file sent through an MMS

Blackberry Teams Up With Google For An Enterprise Ready Version Of Android OS

Blackberry has teamed up with Google to bring a more secure version of Android to business users. The partnership will create a more enterprise-ready version of Android OS with the security features of BES12 integrated into Android 5.0 Lollipop and Google Play for Work.

Blackberry Android

The move is a big win for both parties as Google might finally be able to break into the enterprise market where Blackberry once ruled and Apple is now dominant. Blackberry, on the other hand can to some extent stop worrying about building its own platform.

Essentially, users will get the same level of security that Blackberry devices are renowned for while also having access to Google’s vast app library and other great functionalities of Android OS.

The announcement also gives wings to the rumoured Blackberry device running Android OS which could just be the device that saves the Canadian company’s ailing hardware unit.

Google Announces Android Pay To Take On Apple In Mobile Payments

Google has clearly outlined its strategy to beat Apple in the mobile payments market and it’s called Android Pay, which is also the replacement for Google Wallet on your smartphone.

Google-Android-Pay

Android Pay will power in-app and tap-to-pay purchases on Android devices, and while Google Wallet will stick around, it’ll be mostly for peer-to-peer payments and Play Store purchases outside of Android.

While Google had been leading the charge in introducing technologies such as NFC and card emulation way ahead of Apple, the company lacked focus on building relationships with partners.

That’s where Apple Pay blew the competition out of the water, and within months became the largest mobile payments service in the US. Google Wallet was nowhere, and with Android Pay, Google is giving it another shot.

As you might expect, Google said it will roll out Android Pay in the US first, then followed by other regions. The company said its service will soon be accepted at over 700,000 store locations across the US and within 1,000 apps.

At a contactless payment terminal, a user just has to place their device near it, and a confirmation will pop up prompting users to pay. In apps, all users have to do is hit the Buy with Android Pay button.

https://youtu.be/OueObu2aA_M

Google is also natively supporting fingerprints with Android M, allowing the use of biometrics to authenticate payments via Android Pay. The company is also working on other security measures which will be detailed prior to the launch of Android Pay later this year.

Here’s Everything Google Announced About Android M At I/O 2015

Google made several major announcements at I/O yesterday and chief among them was introducing all the new and exciting features of the upcoming version of Android OS.

Google-Android-M

Dubbed Android M for now, the new OS looks and feels a lot like Lollipop, the new OS will be launched later this year but is available as a prerelease version right now.

Google’s Sundar Pichai said that the company has gone back to the basics with Android M and has improved the quality of the platform. M will be all about stability and usability.

Let’s take a look at all the major new features announced for Android M:

App Permissions

Google-Android-M-Permissions

There had been a lot of chatter about Google making app permissions more granular on Android M and that’s exactly what has happened. With Android M, users will not be served up a list of app permissions before accepting to install an app, instead Google will ask users to approve individual permissions when an app calls it up. This new feature is very similar to app permissions on iOS and helps users control what data an app has access to.

Chrome Custom Tabs

Google has announced Chrome Custom Tabs which is sort of an in-app Chrome browser that lets you load web links from within apps much faster. Right now, opening web links in apps opens up the browser or gives users a stripped down web view. In order to make Chrome Custom Tabs load faster Google says it will preload certain elements including passwords and autofill information.

Doze

Google has made new headway in figuring out how to make Android even more efficient and will introduce a new feature called Doze with Android M. The feature uses motion detection to go into a deeper sleep if it detects a device is inactive for longer periods of time. Google says the tradeoff to save battery life is app freshness, however, a device can still respond to high-priority messages and use alarms while Dozing.

USB Type-C

Google announced that the newer, more versatile, USB Type-C connector will be supported by Android, meaning it’s very plausible that we get to see the new connector on this year’s flagship smartphones.

Now On Tap

Google-Android-M-Now-On-Tap

Google will introduce a new feature in Android M called Now On Tap that is an extension of its contextually aware Google Now digital assistant. Now On Tap allows users to hold down the home button to throw up a bunch of relevant Google Now cards that are relevant to the information on screen, whether they’re in an app, email or in a web browser.

Google Photos

Here’s one thing you don’t have to wait to check out until Google rolls out Android M. The company has rolled out the new Google Photos tool which as expected is a standalone service and offers unlimited storage of photos (up to 16MP) and videos (up to 1080p) online. Further, the tool features some pretty advanced auto-tagging capabilities, that help you search for photos a lot faster by segregating them into ‘Things > Cars’ for example.

Offline Chrome And Maps

Google already lets users watch YouTube videos offline in certain countries including India, and is now looking to bring similar functionality for web pages and maps. Chrome will let users save web pages for offline use while Google maps will let us use certain features while offline. Both of these new features are designed to help make products work better in developing countries where connections are spotty at best.

Android Pay & Fingerprint

The kitty is finally out of the bag. Google announced that Android M will come with native fingerprint support for Android Pay. The service, like its name suggests, will allow users to pay for things using their Android phones at stores and across thousands of websites and apps. Moreover, fingerprint on Android M will also be able to unlock the device and to authenticate Google Play purchases, and with new API’s Google is making it possible for developers to add fingerprint authorization to their apps.

The Android M developer preview is already out, and can be installed on a Nexus 6, Nexus 5, Nexus 9 and Nexus Player.

Now Seamlessly Send Notes & Directions From Your PC To Your Android Phone

Google is the master of integration, but seamless connectivity between PCs and mobile devices has been never been one of its strengths.
Google PC Mobile Integration
Keeping in mind that people still use search on PCs, the company has rolled out a new feature that lets users send notes, reminders and directions right from their browsers to their phones.
In order to turn on the functionality, users will need to update the Google app on their Android smartphone, and enable notifications through Google Now. Here’s a guide on how to do that.
Once this is done, users can simply type, “send a note to my phone” or “send directions to my phone” into the search bar, which will open up a small card that lets you type in the note, or specify directions.
This data is then sent to the users’ smartphone as a notification. The functionality isn’t just limited to notes and directions, with users being able to set reminders, alarms and find the location of their phone directly from the search bar on their PC.
Google has already been able to sync data across its chrome browser and Android smartphones, but the new feature is the first time actionable content can be moved from PC to smartphone.
While Google may still control a miniscule percentage of the PC market, it’s Chrome browser is widely used and is the perfect site for integration of desktops and mobile devices. Further, it is to be seen if Google can bring similar functionality for its iPhone app, and add more complex integrations.

Bangalore Based Zoomdeck Takes Interactive Images to the Next Level

Zoomdeck-logoEvery photograph has something interesting to say. Haven’t you always had questions when you came across a photo like What furniture is this? Who is that person? What t-shirt is he wearing? How much does it cost, where can I buy one?

Zoomdeck, an iPhone app launched by a Bangalore based startup wants to help you answer these questions. It is a fresh take on adding interactivity to images. The service will also extend to the web in the coming days.

Features of the iOS App

At present, the app allows users to highlight an interesting element in a photo using rich tags or interactive spots. These spots can be used to link to video, audio, photo, products, maps or pretty much anything on the web. These spots are unobtrusive so has to not spoil the image.

zoom-deck-screen-shots

While there are other similar apps like PixDub or Candidly which allows you to choose a particular spot on a photo and add a comment, what makes Zoomdeck different is that it allows users to have a conversation on a particular element in the photo. This will definitely lead to increased engagement in pictures. So there could be multiple conversations on a single photo. Also all these comments will also be searchable.

When we tried the app, we found it to be very nicely designed. There is also a Discover tab in the app which allows you to see photos, which are categorized, posted by other users. There are also a very limited set of filters to apply on the pictures.

Web Version & Embeddable Version Coming Soon

Apart from releasing a web version in the coming days, Zoomdeck will also introduce a feature which will allow you to embed these interactive images across any publishing platform/ website next month. Web developers will only need to add a single line of JavaScript to use this feature.

While there are a few companies that already offer this service online like Classmint,  Annotorious and Pixtick, Zoomdeck hopes to stand out by bringing its iOS app feature with multiple spots and comments to the web also.

Amarnath Vannarath, the co-founder of Zoomdeck says he finds that online stores, blogs and media outlets will find this feature really useful as they could add interactivity and point out interesting elements in a picture.

The app which was in closed beta for a few weeks has got more than 10,000 photos and 30,000 spots already.

Zoomdeck is backed by GSF, an accelerator program started by former Reliance Entertainment CEO Rajesh Sawhney. The team consists of Bangalore based developers Deepak E Prakash, Sumit Kumar Gupta and Amarnath Vannarath.

Looking to do what hyperlinks did to the web, Zoomdeck is an interesting take on increasing interactivity and engagement on images and hopes to become a platform that both consumers and publishers use.

You can download the iOS app here .

App Roundup: TomTom Brings Offline Navigation App to India for Rs 2,050; Truecaller Android app gets Premium Features

tomtom-indiaDutch navigation systems manufacturer TomTom has launched an Android app which is priced at Rs 2,050. The app offers offline navigation support and free quarterly updates to users for lifetime.

TomTom says that at present it has over 100% coverage of more than 7,200 cities and towns across India.

The app is compatible with Android versions 2.2 and upwards and will need a minimum screen resolution of 800×400. The app also requires 960 MB of free space.

The app also has various other features like turn-by-turn voice navigation, integration with phone book contacts, lane guidance and landmark search.

The key selling point of TomTom over other free apps like Google Maps is that it offers offline navigation. The Mapmyindia (Sygic) app which also offers offline navigation is available on the Play Store for Rs 1,400 (Currently Rs 300 for a limited time). Though one can store portions of a Google Map for offline viewing you will not get any navigation instructions if offline. TomTom offers similar apps for other parts of the world.

You can download the TomTom app here.

Truecaller adds premium features to Android app

truecallerTruecaller, the world’s largest crowdsourced mobile phone, has announced that it will let users of its Android app subscribe to premium features. The subscription is Rs 55 per month or Rs 318 for 6 months. This is an in app subscription.

Users that subscribe to premium services will be able to see who’s viewed their profile along with the time. The subscription will also remove ads and will also give users 30 contact requests at the start of every month. These requests allow users to contact other Truecaller users by looking for their name in the Truecaller directory. To maintain privacy, Truecaller sends a text message to them requesting for permission to allow the user to see their contact details.

Truecaller says that the premium features will soon be introduced in its iPhone app also.

These services are being introduced as Truecaller goes about looking to monetize the data it has collected over the years. In July, the Syrian Electronic Army had claimed to have hacked Truecaller, raising concerns about the privacy of user’s data. The Truecaller app is very popular in India.

Truecaller had also partnered with Innoz a few months back to offer users the ability to find a person by a phone number worldwide via a SMS for free.

You can download the Truecaller Android app here.