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Partnering with the mobile industry to connect people and businesses with RCS

We’ve been partnering with the mobile industry to improve the messaging experience on Android with RCS (Rich Communication Services), bringing more enhanced features to the standard messaging experience on mobile devices. As of today, we are working with 43 carriers and device manufacturers to bring better native messaging to every Android user.

Rich messaging for brands

Last year we created an Early Access Program to make it easier for brands to start participating in RCS business messaging (the mobile industry’s term for rich business-to-consumer messages). Today companies across food, travel, retail and delivery services in the U.S. and Mexico are starting to have better conversations with their customers using RCS as part of our Early Access Program.

With RCS, businesses can send more useful and interactive messages to their customers. This means, for example, that a retailer can send beautiful images of their products, rather than a text message, and even let the customer select and buy something, all without leaving the messaging app. Best of all, customers who have already opted in to SMS messages from a business get this upgraded experience automatically in Android Messages.

In the U.S., we’ve collaborated with Sprint to enable campaigns with 1-800 Contacts, 1-800-Flowers.com, Booking.com, SnapTravel and Subway, among others, along with messaging partners 3C, CM.com, Mobivity, OpenMarket, Smooch and Twilio. We’re also working with Telcel to bring campaigns to Mexico soon with 5 Piso, Broxel, DHL Mexico and Secretaria de Salud along with messaging partners Airmovil, Auronix, Aldeamo and Tiaxa.

In the coming months alongside our partners, we’ll bring RCS messaging to businesses in more regions. And next week at Mobile World Congress, our partners will demonstrate how businesses can change the way they engage mobile customers using RCS.

RCS messaging growth in 2017 across Europe and Latin America

To help make RCS truly universal and give Android users a consistent and familiar experience with access to all that RCS messaging offers, we’ve been working closely with carriers and device makers around the world.

Over the past year, carriers across Europe, North America and Latin America including America Movil, AT&T in Mexico, Celcom Axiata Berhad, Freedom Mobile, Oi, Telia Company and Telefonica joined Deutsche Telekom, Globe Telecom, Orange, Rogers Communications, Sprint and Telenor Group in their commitment to launch RCS messaging, powered by the Jibe RCS cloud from Google.They will also preload Android Messages as the default messaging app for their subscribers. Vodafone Group RCS service also supports Android Messages and has already launched across 10 of its 14 RCS markets globally. All carriers are committed to interconnecting through the Jibe RCS Hub to bring RCS messaging to users across networks. Collectively, they represent more than 1.8 billion mobile subscribers worldwide.

To bring better default messaging to hundreds of millions of users, device manufacturers including TCL/Alcatel/Blackberry, Transsion, BLU, Positivo, Multilaser, Mobiwire, Azumi, and Essential are joining Huawei, LG, Archos, BQ, Cherry Mobile, Condor, Fly, General Mobile, HMD Global – Home of Nokia Phones, HTC, Kyocera, Lanix, Lava, Micromax, Motorola, MyPhone, QMobile, Sony Mobile, Symphony, Vodafone, Wiko, ZTE, along with Pixel and Android One devices in preloading Android Messages as the the default messaging app on their new devices.

We’re excited to see Android Messages and RCS connect more people and businesses, and look forward to expanding our collaboration with the industry to bring better messaging to every Android user.

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Posted by amiller in Android, Blog, RCS
The best of Android and Google with Android Oreo (Go edition) and Android One

The best of Android and Google with Android Oreo (Go edition) and Android One

Monday kicks off Mobile World Congress in Barcelona—the mobile industry’s largest trade show. Our partners will be announcing amazing new Android devices, you’ll be able to see the growing industry momentum around RCS, and we’ll be showcasing the latest from Google including Google Assistant and Lens. Before the show gets underway, I want to take a moment to reflect on where Android is today and where it’s going.

Android

This fall marks 10 years since the release of the first Android device. Back in 2008, building software for mobile devices was pretty hard. Development was highly fragmented and resource intensive, and there was very limited compatibility across phones. Android began with a bold idea: to solve this problem with a new, open platform that would give mobile developers access to uniform tools and give customers a customized experience with the best mobile technology available.

Today, Android powers more than 2 billion active devices from 1,300 brands across 24,000 unique products. The platform has thrived because of our commitment to openness and the vibrant ecosystem of manufacturers, developers, mobile operators and component suppliers. And together with our partners, many of which you’ll see next week at MWC, we want to continue to push the boundaries of hardware and software to bring you new amazing experiences and capabilities.

Android has achieved unprecedented scale in just 10 years, but there are new markets emerging where consistency in experience is becoming even more important. With that in mind, we want to share an update on Android Oreo (Go edition) and Android One, two programs that help people know exactly what they can expect when they pick up an Android device.

Android Oreo (Go edition): Delivering on our core values of access and experience

We’re inspired by the success of Android across a wide range of devices, including entry-level phones which in many cases are the first and only way people get access to the internet. These devices need to be affordable, and the experience needs to be great. We don’t just want to provide people with access—we also want to provide a useful, high-quality experience.

Last year we introduced Android Oreo (Go edition), an optimized version of Android Oreo tailored for smartphones with 1GB of RAM or less. With a smaller amount of storage and processing power, these phones are less expensive for manufacturers to produce and can be sold at affordable prices, in some cases less than $50. With Android Oreo (Go edition), these phones are able to provide a high-quality experience, with the latest version of Android, Google Play Protect, and dedicated areas in Google Play highlighting apps optimized for Go edition. Android Oreo (Go edition) phones also include a set of apps from Google that are designed to use less memory and storage space, but still offer excellent experiences. For example, Google Go is built specifically to help new smartphone users find the information they want, YouTube Go is optimized for limited connectivity, and the Google Assistant for Android (Go edition) lets people quickly send messages, make calls, set alarms, and more with their voice and a single touch of the screen.

Starting next week, you’ll see the first set of Android Oreo (Go edition) phones, and soon after they’ll be available for you to purchase.

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Android One: Smart, secure, and simply amazing

While the openness of Android means manufacturers have the flexibility to offer unique experiences, we know people want some reassurance about what they can expect when they buy a device. That’s why we introduced Android One, a program aimed at providing people with three key things: faster access to the latest Android OS updates and Google innovations, regular security updates, and an easy-to-use software design that’s intuitive and streamlined.

Android One combines Google’s latest software and services with beautifully designed hardware from top partners. With an Android One phones, you can expect:

  • Faster access to Android OS updates for two years, including the latest AI innovations from Google;
  • Amongst the most secure devices in the ecosystem with regular security updates for three years and Google Play Protect built in;
  • A simple, streamlined interface that includes the best of Google services including YouTube, the Google Assistant, Google Maps, Google Photos and more; 
  • Performance-tested hardware so you can pick the right device for your needs and know that it will deliver a best-in-class experience for years to come.

We’re excited about the progress we’ve made with Android One in recent months, and at MWC you’ll see news from our partners about some great new Android One devices.

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Android wouldn’t be what it is today without our partners. With Android Oreo (Go edition) providing a high-quality Google and Android experience at lower prices and Android One delivering the latest from Android and Google, we’re excited to see what amazing things the next 10 years of Android will bring.

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Posted by amiller in Android, Blog
Say hello to a better way to pay, by Google

Say hello to a better way to pay, by Google

Fast, simple checkout. Easy access to rewards and offers. One spot for purchases, passes, and payment methods. All of these are ways we’ve been working to make paying safer and easier for everyone, everywhere. And you can make the most of these features with the new Google Pay app for Android.

The app, which begins rolling out today, is just one part of everything we’ve got planned. We’re currently working on bringing Google Pay to all Google products, so whether you’re shopping on Chrome or with your Assistant, you’ll have a consistent checkout experience using the cards saved to your Google Account. We’re also working with partners online and in stores, so you’ll see Google Pay on sites, in apps, and at your favorite places around the world.

As we continue to expand to even more devices and services, the new app offers an exciting glimpse of what’s to come. Here’s a closer look.

Helpful info while you shop

Google Pay’s new Home tab gives you the info you need, right when you need it. See your recent purchases, find nearby stores, enjoy easy access to rewards, and get helpful tips.

gpay_launch_1

A new spot for your stuff

The Cards tab is an easy way to keep everything you need at checkout organized and at the ready. It’s where you’ll store your credit and debit cards, loyalty programs, offers, and even that stack of gift cards from last year’s birthday.

Gpay_launch_2

A faster way to pay your fare

Use Google Pay on transit in cities such as Kiev, London, and Portland (with more coming soon), and stop worrying about your pass once and for all. Now all you need at the turnstile is the device that’s already in your hand. 

Gpay_launch_gif


Google security and encryption

Like all Google products, Google Pay comes with strong security protections to safeguard your account and personal data from security threats. In other words, it’s got your back.

All your favorite features

Longtime Android Pay fans, fear not: the features you love aren’t going away. You’ll still get all your bank’s perks and protections, plus an extra layer of security, since Google Pay doesn’t share your actual card number when you pay in stores. And those online payment forms that take forever to fill out? Just choose Google Pay at checkout and pay with a few quick clicks instead.

And more features are coming. If you live in the U.S. or the UK, you’ll be able to use it to send and request money within the next few months. In the meantime, the Wallet app is now called Google Pay Send, and we’re giving it a fresh coat of paint to go with the Google Pay brand.

Want to accept Google Pay for your app, site or business? If you’re a developer, you can work with our processor partners and find all the tools you need on our developer site. And if you’re a business owner building a site for yourself, we’ve partnered with Shopify to make integration even easier.

Ready to try the Google Pay app? Get it on Google Play today.

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Posted by amiller in Android, Blog, Shopping & Payments
We've Reached Peak Smartphone

We've Reached Peak Smartphone

You don’t really need a new smartphone. From a column on the Washington Post (may be paywalled): Sure, some of them squeeze more screen into a smaller form. The cameras keep getting better, if you look very close. And you had to live under a rock to miss the hoopla for Apple’s 10th-anniversary iPhone X or the Samsung Galaxy S8. Many in the smartphone business were sure this latest crop would bring a “super cycle” of upgrades. But here’s the reality: More and more of Americans have decided we don’t need to upgrade every year. Or every other year. We’re no longer locked into two-year contracts and phones are way sturdier than they used to be. And the new stuff just isn’t that tantalizing even to me, a professional gadget guy. Holding onto our phones is better for our budgets, not to mention the environment. This just means we — and phone makers — need to start thinking of them more like cars. We may have reached peak smartphone. Global shipments slipped 0.1 percent in 2017 — the first ever decline, according to research firm IDC. In the United States, smartphone shipments grew just 1.6 percent, the smallest increase ever. Back in 2015, Americans replaced their phones after 23.6 months, on average, according to research firm Kantar Worldpanel. By the end of 2017, we were holding onto them for 25.3 months.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Posted by amiller in Android, Blog
Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 Benchmarks Show An Incredible GPU, Faster CPU

Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 Benchmarks Show An Incredible GPU, Faster CPU

MojoKid writes: Though the company has been evangelizing its new Snapdragon 845 Mobile Platform for a while now, Qualcomm is lifting the veil today on the new chip’s benchmark performance profile. At the heart of the Snapdragon 845 is the new Kyro 385 CPU, which features four high-performance cores operating at 2.8GHz and four efficiency cores that are dialed back to 1.7GHz, all of which should culminate in a claimed 25 percent uplift over the previous generation Snapdragon 835, along with improved power efficiency. In addition, the Snapdragon 845’s new Adreno 630 integrated GPU core should deliver a boost in performance over its predecessor as well, with up to a 30 percent increase in graphics throughput, allowing it to become the first mobile platform to enable room-scale VR/AR experiences. Armed with prototype reference devices, members of the press put the Snapdragon 845 through its paces and the chip proved to be anywhere from 15 to 35 percent faster, depending on workloads and benchmarks, with graphics showing especially strong. Next-generation Android smartphones and other devices based on the Snapdragon 845 are expected to be unveiled at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona at the end of this month.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Posted by amiller in Android, Blog
Chinese Phone Maker Xiaomi Deletes a Public MIUI vs Android One Twitter Poll After Voting Didn't Go Its Way

Chinese Phone Maker Xiaomi Deletes a Public MIUI vs Android One Twitter Poll After Voting Didn't Go Its Way

Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi, which sells handsets at razor thin margins, is increasingly dominating in its home market and emerging places such as India and Indonesia. To make money, the company relies on a range of homegrown software features in its Android-based MIUI operating system. In a surprising move earlier this week, the company asked its Twitter followers to choose between MIUI and Android One (which runs pure Android OS). Things didn’t go as it had planned. From a report: Presumably the company was rather hoping that Twitter users would vote for its own MIUI which it could then rub in Google’s face — but the poll actually went against Xiaomi. Rather than leave the results of the vote up for anyone to see, the company decided to simply delete it and pretend it never happened. Take a look at the Xiaomi account on Twitter, and you’ll see no hint that any such poll has ever taken place. But over on Reddit, there’s a thread which was started by someone posting a link to the poll. In the comments, one Redditor noticed after a period of voting that: “So far it’s 53-47 for android one.”

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Posted by amiller in Android, Blog
Android Wear Is Getting Killed, and It's All Qualcomm's Fault

Android Wear Is Getting Killed, and It's All Qualcomm's Fault

The death of Android Wear is all Qualcomm’s fault, largely due to the fact that the company “has a monopoly on smartwatch chips and doesn’t seem interested in making any smartwatch chips,” writes Ars Technica’s Ron Amadeo. This weekend marks the second birthday of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Wear 2100 SoC, which was announced in February 2016 and is the “least awful smartwatch SoC you can use in an Android Wear device.” Since Qualcomm skipped out on an upgrade last year, and it doesn’t seem like we’ll get a new smartwatch chip any time soon, the entire Android Wear market will continue to suffer. From the report: In a healthy SoC market, this would be fine. Qualcomm would ignore the smartwatch SoC market, make very little money, and all the Android Wear OEMs would buy their SoCs from a chip vendor that was addressing smartwatch demand with a quality chip. The problem is, the SoC market isn’t healthy at all. Qualcomm has a monopoly on smartwatch chips and doesn’t seem interested in making any smartwatch chips. For companies like Google, LG, Huawei, Motorola, and Asus, it is absolutely crippling. There are literally zero other options in a reasonable price range (although we’d like to give a shoutout to the $1,600 Intel Atom-equipped Tag Heuer Connected Modular 45), so companies either keep shipping two-year-old Qualcomm chips or stop building smartwatches. Android Wear is not a perfect smartwatch operating system, but the primary problem with Android Wear watches is the hardware, like size, design (which is closely related to size), speed, and battery life. All of these are primarily influenced by the SoC, and there hasn’t been a new option for OEMs since 2016. There are only so many ways you can wrap a screen, battery, and body around an SoC, so Android smartwatch hardware has totally stagnated. To make matters worse, the Wear 2100 wasn’t even a good chip when it was new.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Posted by amiller in Android, Blog
Rejoice: Samsung's Next Flagship Smartphone Looks To Keep the Headphone Jack Alive

Rejoice: Samsung's Next Flagship Smartphone Looks To Keep the Headphone Jack Alive

Notorious smartphone leaker Evan Blass has leaked a couple press images of the Galaxy S9, giving us the first indication that it will still have a headphone jack. “The full information spill today is actually focused on a new Samsung DeX Pad, which appears to be an evolution of last year’s DeX dock for the Galaxy S8,” reports The Verge. From the report: Samsung, LG, and a couple of other companies like OnePlus have remained resolute in their inclusion of a headphone jack, but that was far from a certainty for the next Galaxy S iteration. This is a phone that will compete against the iPhone X, Huawei Mate 10 Pro, and more niche rivals like Google’s Pixel 2: all of them surviving sans a headphone jack. So Samsung could have dumped the analog audio output, but it seems to have opted against it, and that’s worthy of commendation. USB-C earphones are all still either bad or expensive — or both — and phones that retain compatibility with 3.5mm connectors remain profoundly useful to consumers that aren’t yet convinced by Bluetooth.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Posted by amiller in Android, Blog
Android Messages May Soon Let You Text From the Web

Android Messages May Soon Let You Text From the Web

Android Police dug into the code for the latest version of Android Messages and found two very intriguing features: Rich Communication Services (RCS) support and support for all the popular web browsers. From the report: Google is developing a web interface to run on a desktop or laptop, and it will pair with your phone for sending messages. Internally, the codename for this feature is “Ditto,” but it looks like it will be labeled “Messages for web” when it launches. You’ll be guided to visit a website on the computer you want to pair with your phone, then simply scan a QR code. Once that’s done, you’ll be able to send and receive messages in the web interface and it will link with the phone to do the actual communication through your carrier. I can’t say with any certainty that all mainstream browsers will be supported right away, but all of them are named, so most users should be covered.

Another major move appears to be happening with RCS, and it looks like Google may be tired of letting it progress slowly. A lot of new promotional text has been added to encourage people to “text over Wi-Fi” and suggesting that they “upgrade” immediately. There’s a lot of text in that block, but most of it is purely promotional. It describes features that are already largely familiar as capabilities of RCS, including texting through a data connection, seeing messaging status (if somebody is typing) and read receipts, and sending photos. Google does put a lot of emphasis that if it’s handling the photos, that they are high-quality. Android Police also notes the ability to make purchases via Messages.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Posted by amiller in Android, Blog
Android Pay says Cześć to Poland

Android Pay says Cześć to Poland

Whether you’re doing your daily shop or heading for a night out, your Android phone is all you need as you walk out the door — thanks to Android Pay. Starting today, Android Pay is available in Poland, helping you pay for everything simply and securely with your Android phone.

Android Pay arrives in Poland

You will be able to use Android Pay at more than 400 thousand retail locations throughout Poland that accept contactless payments. This includes your favourite shops like Carrefour and Rossmann, cafes like Costa Coffee and much more – take a look here for more places where you can use Android Pay.

Polish Featured Stores

How does Android Pay work?

Using Android Pay is simple. Just wake up your phone (you don’t even have to open an app or unlock it), hold it to the payment terminal, and voilà! Your payment is done. After you check out, you’ll get helpful information on your phone about your recent transactions.

Using Android Pay in Poland

Android Pay will also let you breeze through checkout when you shop in your favorite mobile apps. There’s no need to enter your payment or address details every time. Look for the Android Pay purchase button when the feature launches soon in apps like Allegro, Ceneo, Fancy, iTaxi.pl and Uber, with many more to come.

Polish Featured Apps

To get started, download Android Pay from the Play Store and add an eligible Mastercard or Visa card (credit or debit) from Alior Bank, Bank Zachodni WBK or T-Mobile Banking Services.  mBank will be supported soon, along with more banks in the coming months. Android Pay is available on all Android devices that are NFC-enabled and running on KitKat 4.4 or higher.

Polish Featured Banks

Because Android Pay doesn’t share your actual credit or debit card number with stores when you pay, it’s even safer than using a plastic card. If your phone is ever lost or stolen, you can simply use Android Device Manager to instantly lock your device from anywhere, secure it with a new password, or wipe it clean of your personal information.

We’ve teamed up with many leading payment platforms, processors, and technology providers such as Braintree and First Data to make it even easier to accept Android Pay in stores and apps. Visit the Android Pay API developer site to learn more.

Polish Feautured Processors

Get started with Android Pay in Poland today: download the app on Google Play, add your card and start shopping. It’s as easy as Tap. Pay. Done.

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Posted by amiller in Android, Blog, Shopping & Payments