Microsoft’s Cortana is headed to the Android lock screen

Cortana for Android and iOS is looking better than ever after a facelift in December. Now with the overhaul finished, Microsoft has another plan for the Android edition of Cortana.cortana android quick actions

MSPowerUser recently spotted the ability to add Cortana to an Android phone’s lock screen in the testing version of Cortana (beta) on Android—that’s right, there’s a beta for the beta.

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Cortana for Android.

Users in the testing program are seeing a pop-up window inside the Cortana app that asks them if they want to enable Cortana on the lock screen.

Once approved, users see a Cortana icon on the lock screen and are able to swipe it to get access to Microsoft’s voice assistant without unlocking the phone. It’s not clear if Cortana replaces the Google Now microphone in the lower left corner of the lock screen or adds another icon to it.

MSPowerUser says Cortana’s lock screen setting is a complementary feature that will not turn off or try to replace your current lock screen set-up. For most users that won’t really matter, but for anyone who uses a custom lock screen app this will be an important part of the new feature.

It’s also worth noting that Cortana on the lock screen doesn’t ask for your PIN before opening up, according to MSPowerUser. That means anyone with physcial access to your device will be able to access Cortana, which could be a problem if your calendar is connected to the digital assistant.

Why this matters: Personal digital assistants work best when they’re accessible from anywhere. That’s why Microsoft put a lock screen option for Cortana in the Windows 10 Anniversary Update, and why Google Now offers voice activation from the lock screen on modern Android phones. Making Cortana on Android more functional also plays into Microsoft’s wider goal of keeping users in the company’s ecosystem even when they’re not using a Windows-powered device.

Google’s low-cost Android One program may expand to the U.S.

When Google launched its Android One program in 2014 it was designed for one main reason: to create a system of standards for phones in developing countries. Targeting emerging markets in Pakistan, India, the Philippines, Indonesia, and others, the program dictated minimum hardware standards and limited software tweaks to insure people everywhere had access to low-cost phones that still provided regular security updates and the latest Android features.google io sundar pinchai android one

Now it looks like the program is on its way to the U.S.

According to a report in The Information, Google is looking to launch its first Android One phone in the States “before the middle of the year,” and is eyeing LG as a potential manufacturer. Yesterday, VentureBeat divulged that Google would be partnering with LG on the release of its first Android Wear watch, but The Information’s report doesn’t say whether the two companies would be collaborating on the development of the Android One handset.

As Amir Efrati explains, the U.S. launch of Android One is backed by “major new promotional dollars” for phone makers that play by Google’s rules. The first handset is expected to be priced between $200 and $300, and all subsequent models will need to adhere to Google’s strict guidelines “to ensure that they’re fast and responsive—and that they stay that way over time.”

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The Lava Pixel V1 phone is part of the Android One program.

While Google hasn’t divulged the terms of its specifications, the phones highlighted on Google’s Android One site all feature a minimum of a Cortex A7 1.3 GHz quad-core processor, 1GB of RAM, 4GB of internal storage, and a 1,700 mAh battery. It’s unclear whether the requirements of the U.S. phones would need to adhere to different standards than those made for overseas markets.

One of the biggest problems facing low-cost Android phones in the U.S. is that they are often bogged down by carrier and manufacturer bloatware, as well as a lack of timely security and OS updates. A push by Google into the U.S. with Android One would be an interesting move, especially if it’s backed by a strong advertising campaign.

With the Pixel, Google introduced a mainstream phone that enjoys timely updates. Bringing that kind of attention to budget phones in the U.S. could begin to shake up the low-end of the market. The truth is, many people don’t know that they won’t be getting the latest version of Android after they purchase their phone, so anything Google can do to stress the importance of regular updates will be an important step.

This story, “Google’s low-cost Android One program may expand to the U.S.” was originally published by Greenbot.

Google’s close by for Android indicates Apps, websites relevant in your vicinity

Google has delivered a brand new characteristic referred to as nearby to suggests apps and websites to customers based totally on their area. those apps and services offer extra statistics about that region.

Google's Nearby for Android Shows Apps, Websites Relevant to Your Location

this selection will roll out as a part of the upcoming Google Play offerings release, and will work for Android four.4 KitKat users and above, Google stated in a weblog post. so as for this feature to work, the person can have to turn on Bluetooth and location on their cellphone. nearby will then do its component, and recommend apps and websites.

as an example, if an Android user is at Disney global, the close by feature will display the relevant app/website as a notification. If the consumer needs to download the app, or view the internet site, tapping at the notification will at once lead him to the app in Google Play, or the website on Chrome. instead, the user also can chose to simply avoid and swipe the notification away to remedy the display screen.

websites will ought to get guide for Google Beacons for his or her web sites to surface depending on the customers area – more info for site owners can be discovered at the developer weblog publish. assist for beacons got here to Chrome with version 49.

this can be a beneficial function for all folks that would love additional records approximately a place they’re journeying. users are not necessarily always knowledgeable about those apps and offerings supplied through sure groups, and close by seems to fill that gap. additionally Google Play houses thousands and thousands of apps, and this selection will assist relevant apps get observed, inadvertently assisting developers. earlier this yr, Google had finished a similar test in Chrome, in which it showed applicable web sites relying on the consumer’s location.

Oracle to Google: Pay us $9.3bn for using Java in Android

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Oracle thinks it is due $9.3bn in damages from Google, mostly from profits the search company is claimed to have made from using Java in Android.

The tech giants are scheduled to duel again in May at a federal district court in San Francisco to settle a long-running feud over whether or not Google was covered by “fair use” when it copied 37 Java application programming interfaces to build Android, now the most widely-used mobile OS in the world.

In June last year, the Supreme Court denied Google’s appealagainst an Appeals Court decision that overturned an earlier ruling that APIs aren’t covered by copyright law.

But while Oracle had previously sought damages of $1bn, a new court submission from Oracle shows the company is now seeking almost 10 times that amount.

The documents, obtained by PC World, reflect an opinion by James Malackowski, a damages expert hired by Oracle, who values the firm’s losses at $9.3bn.

The figure comprises $475m in “actual damages”, such as licensing revenues Oracle could have earned in the absence of Android, and $8.8bn in “profits apportioned to infringed Java copyrights”, which include Google’s revenues from mobile search, app sales through Google Play, and Nexus device sales.

Oracle filed its original case in 2010 when Android was not the dominant mobile platform. The new figure reflects Android’s growth in the intervening years.

The expert’s opinion factors in the proposition that Google’s alleged infringement on Java copyrights were critical to the launch of Android, and in ensuring search revenue from mobile advertising. Additionally, had Google not infringed Java copyrights, there may have been more licensing revenue from Java.

Google hit back at the huge damages estimate in a filing last week, claiming that Oracle and Malackowski improperly equated the value of the 37 APIs with the total value of Android. Google has argued Malackowski’s analysis should be inadmissible.

Apple iPhone SE: Can it really be luring in more Android switchers?

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The new four-inch-screen iPhone SE might not have thrilled smartphone fans, but data on Apple’s online sales suggests it is reaching a new group of consumers.

Online sales of the iPhone SE on the first weekend of availability were muted compared with those following the iPhone 6’s launch, and to a lesser extent with those of the iPhone 6s, according to market research firm Slice Intelligence.

The firm produces figures for Apple’s online sales based on electronic receipts in the inboxes of its panel of four million online shoppers in the US. According to its opening weekend data on the new iPhone, sales amounted to about three percent of the iPhone 6’s figures in the equivalent period.

But as Slice Intelligence points out, iPhone SE buyers look different to the typical Apple fanboy — and are more likely to be switching from Android devices than iPhone 6 buyers were.

About half of iPhone 6s buyers had bought an earlier iPhone online in the past two years, while 10 percent bought an Android handset in the period. The equivalent figures for iPhone SE buyers are 35 percent and 16 percent respectively, which means more Android switchers for that device.

Also, 48 percent of iPhone SE buyers hadn’t bought a phone in the past two years, compared with 40 percent for iPhone 6s buyers. In other words, the new four-inch phone from Apple appears to be attracting more consumers who don’t conform to the usual two-year upgrade cycle.

A larger proportion of iPhone SE launch buyers are also older and male, compared with the average for all iPhone buyers.

“More than one fifth [21 percent] of SE buyers are in the 45-to-54 age demographic, versus 18 percent for all iPhone buyers; and 77 percent of SE buyers are men, versus 69 percent,” Slice Intelligence said.

Additionally, 15 percent of iPhone SE buyers were aged 65 and over compared with 12.8 percent in that age group for all iPhone buyers.

Slice Intelligence argues that this statistic shows the iPhone SE is attracting new consumers to the iPhone. It also highlights that 38 percent of iPhone SE buyers have a college degree, compared with 46 percent who pre-ordered an iPhone 6 or 6s.

The iPhone SE’s lower starting price may also be appealing to Chinese consumers. According to a report from CNBC on Tuesday, iPhone SE pre-orders at Chinese retailers have reached 3.4 million.

A JP Morgan analyst last week estimated iPhone SE sales would reach 17 million in 2016, giving Apple an additional $6.9bn in revenue.

Google to Oracle: Your $9.3bn Android Java damages claim is mad

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Google has filed a rebuttal to Oracle’s claim that it’s due $9.3bn in damages for unlicensed use of Java code in Android.

Google says its own damages expert “strongly disagrees” with the financial relief Oracle has demanded, ahead of the companies’ May district court retrial over claims that 37 Java SE application protocol interfaces in Android infringed Oracle’s copyright.

Oracle has argued that the Java APIs were necessary to get app developers on board with Android early, which helped Google net billions in profits through app sales and mobile advertising.

Oracle’s damages expert estimated that Google has made $8.8bn in “profits apportioned to infringed Java copyrights” and that those profits should be recovered from Google. Together with actual damages of $475m, the expert thinks Google should pay Oracle a total of $9.3bn.

Just a few months after Apple released Swift for iOS, the language has become one of the most popular for developers.

Unsurprisingly, Google’s own damages expert thinks Oracle isn’t entitled to the enormous sum because most of Android’s code base is Google’s own.

The company points out in a filing obtained by Business Insider that the 37 Java SE APIs amount to 0.8 percent of over 15 million lines of non-infringing code in Android.

The search firm has asked the court to strike from the record portions of an assessment by Dr James R Kearl, who was appointed by the court to respond to the damages experts put forward by Oracle and Google and assess the appropriate sum for “disgorgement of profits”.

Google objected to three methods that Kearl offered to calculate the disgorgement sums and wants them struck from the record because the jury might consider them plausible.

First, Google says Kearl wrongly bought Oracle’s argument that Java allowed Google to attract developers, which then brought users and profits to Android.

Second, Google says it was wrong to assume that companies such as Facebook and Uber would have avoided developing Android apps if Google had not copied the Java APIs.

The final idea that Google wants expunged is that there would be no Android were it not for the Java APIs, an idea Kearl entertained in one “alternate reality” scenario that could give a basis for the jury to award the whole $8.8bn to Oracle.

Separate filings by Oracle suggest Google is angling to limit damages to $100m.

Oracle originally filed its claim against Google in 2010. In 2014, the US Court of Appeals overturned a 2012 district court ruling that the Java APIs were not copyrightable, but that Google may be covered by “fair use”.

The Supreme Court last year knocked back Google’s request for it to review the decision, so the matter is headed back to the district court to decide on Google’s fair use defense.

5 Android shortcuts you’ll wish you knew all along

Whether you’re just getting started with Android, or a seasoned user, these are the five shortcuts you should be using right now.

Bypass unlocking your phone (when it’s safe)

This feature in the Lock screen and Security menu will let your device know when it’s safe to stay conveniently unlocked. Once you add trusted places, devices, or voices you can skip the PIN, pattern or password every time you want to check an alert. For more info on how to set this up.

Reject calls with a text

Make your phone work like a personal secretary by letting callers know why you can’t answer, and (hopefully) avoiding follow-up calls. On most phones, this option is available in the Phone app >Settings, and labeled Call blocking, Quick responses, or something similar. You’ll see the call-reject messages that you can edit with your own writing style.

Quickly open the camera

Launching the camera at a moment’s notice means that you won’t miss great photo opportunities. How you access this camera shortcut will vary between manufacturers, but here’s a few examples of popular devices that have it enabled:

  • Nexus 5X or Nexus 6P: double-tap power button.
  • Samsung devices 2015-2016: double-tap the physical Home button.
  • LG V10: double-tap the volume down button.
  • Moto G 2015: twist your wrist with the device in hand.

Add contact widgets

Want to reach out to your favorite people with just a tap? Press and hold on your Home screen, choose Widgets, and then look for the Contacts 1×1 widget. Tapping this shortcut loads a contact’s details, letting you call, text, or email without scrolling through your address book.

Enable ‘OK, Google’ everywhere

Ask your burning questions right now by enabling “OK, Google” everywhere — meaning from any screen. To get set up, open the Google (search) app and head to Settings > Voice > “Ok Google” Detection > toggle the From any screen option on. Say the magic words three times and you’re set. As a bonus, this little exercise will let you use the trusted voice option in Smart Lock.

iOS 9.3 most stable release from Apple, more stable than Android 6.0

According to a new report by app analytics firm Apteligent, Apple’s latest iOS 9.3 build is the most stable new release by the Cupertino-based company in years. The report revealed a 2.2% crash rate for iOS 9.3 in the past eight days.

Other major releases, including iOS 8, 9, and 9.2, had their crash rate cross the 3.2% mark in the same time-period. In addition, the report revealed that iOS 9.3’s rate of crash was also better than that of Android 6.0 Marshmallow, which saw a crash rate of 2.6%.

It’s worth mentioning that iOS 9.3 has also had its own share of problems – it’s roll-out wastemporarily put on hold for some older models due to an issue with the update procedure.

Samsung Galaxy Amp Prime with 5-inch display and Android 6.0 launched on Cricket for $150

US carrier Cricket Wireless has launched a new Samsung smartphone. Dubbed Galaxy Amp Prime, the device – the carrier says – offers “premium features” and is aimed at “social media power users and value seekers.”

Specs-wise, the 4G LTE handset sports a 5-inch super AMOLED display, features a 5 MP main camera, and runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow. Other features include Ultra Power Savings Mode to extend the standby time, Easy Mode for beginners and elderly, as well as support for one-handed operation.

The device carries a price tag of $149.99, and is available both online and in stores.

In addition, Cricket will also be launching the Samsung Galaxy Amp 2, an entry-level 4G LTE smartphone with a 4.5-inch Super AMOLED display. Aside from signature Samsung features like Quick Launch camera and Ultra Power Savings Mode, the phone comes with an outdoor mode, which the carrier says lets users increase the screen brightness for 15 minutes for better visibility in sunlight.

The Galaxy Amp 2 will carry a price tag of $99.99, and will be launched on April 15. Like the Amp Prime, it’ll also be available both online and in stores.

Suppliers say iPhone SE sales probably won’t be enough to offset expected Q2 revenue drop

Apple’s new reboot of the 4-inch iPhone factor is doing pretty well. The pocket-friendly device has reportedly received 3.4 million registrations in China and is expected to sell between four and five million units in the second fiscal quarter. Its more affordable price point is also serving great in attracting Android converts, so, in a nutshell, the little handset can be considered an overall success.

However, industry supply chain sources have warned that the iPhone SE won’t manage to overcome the already expected 11% or so decrease in Apple’s revenue in Q2 this year. To quote the source itself:

Shipments for the new iPhone SE will be unable to offset the fall in shipments for the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus devices in the second quarter … The shipment target for the SE in the second quarter is four to five million units

So why is this happening? Well, one possible reason has to do with the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. Back in 2014, Apple had some trouble in keeping up with demands after their release and a lot of sales were inadvertently put off for January. This has resulted in an inflated year-over-year figure to beat. Also, an endlessly increasing market value isn’t really possible and Apple has already over-exceeded market predictions in this respect.

In any case, we won’t know any market figures for certain before the official report becomes available on April 25.