sundar pichai google android event (5)

If a new report from Re/Code proves correct, Google is making a pretty significant leadership change by placing Sundar Pichai as the head of nearly all of Google’s core products. The news of this change comes from “sources close to the situation” and cites a new staff memo that says Larry Page will be stepping of the way to focus on the “bigger picture”, as he feels that it’s too hard to do so with all the “many reports and a myriad of duties related to each product unit.”

With this change Sundar Pichai will be taking on considerably more responsibility by not only continuing to lead the efforts for Android, Chrome and Google Apps but also adding search, maps, research, G+, commerce and infrastructure to the plate. The executives in charge of the above mentioned areas previously reported directly to Page but will now instead report to Pichai. While Re/Code’s sources say the move doesn’t necessarily make him “heir apparent” to page, it’s obvious that Sundar is a star on the rise, and this latest move shows just how much faith the company puts in him.

Of course the re-positioning doesn’t take all the burden away from Page, who will still be responsible for business and operations, access and energy, Nest, Calico,corporate development, legal, finance and business, and even Google X. Youtube will also remain under the control of CEO Susan Wojcicki, who will still report to Page.

What do you think of the change, have you been happy with Android and Chrome’s direction since he assumed leadership in both positions? When the day comes for Larry Page to retire, do you think Pichai would make a good candidate for replacement?

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gta-san-andreas

It’s Friday and if you’re looking for a fun distraction this weekend, Rockstar has your back. Today the company placed GTA 3, GTA Vice City and GTA San Andreas on sale for just $2.99 for the first two and $3.99 for the latter of the three.

The reason for the sale (which slashes about 40% off all three titles) is simple: GTA San Andreas has turned ten years old (hard to believe!) and so they are running this promo until November 9th as a way of celebrating. While I still personally prefer playing them on an actual PS2 in their original form, these ports are actually very solid and worth the money if you’re at all into these kinds of games.

Here’s the Play Store links for those interested:

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What is Castle Master 2?

Castle Master 2 is an MMO hack’n’slash title where you can do battle with other clans or go on various quests. The game’s main catch is that you can have online battles with up to 600 people (300 vs 300). It’s free to play in the Google Play Store and has in app purchases.

Here’s how you play the game. You create a character, join a clan, and then you do pretty much what you want. There are quests and dungeons to conquer which you can do solo or with your clan mates which allows you to level up and gain more powerful items and equipment. You can also battle other clans in gigantic battles to see who can win. There is a trophy system to see which clans are the best.

The game play is your classic hack’n’slash. You run around and slash at things until they die. You have special abilities and the like to help you but generally you’ll be button mashing the attack button. The graphics are pretty decent even if they are a little cutesy. Everything seems to be straightforward in terms of mechanics and game play.

Castle Master 2 screenshot

300 vs 300 is reason enough to try this one.

PROS
  • You can play with people or solo if you prefer.
  • 300 vs 300 online battles are pretty awesome.
  • Above average graphics paired with simple mechanics make this game pleasant for just about anyone.
  • There are also some Sim elements like town management which adds to the depth of the game.
CONS
  • The game has some occasional server issues.
  • It’s kind of hard being new at the game. You have to try pretty hard to progress for the first little bit.
7.5

Overall, this is a fun little game. It’s free to play and there are in app purchases but it won’t cost you anything to download it to see if you like it. The promise of gigantic clan battles is more than enough to give this a shot. There are a few pitfalls here and there, but nothing major.

google play

Check out the last indie app of the day: Potential Beta
Join us in the Apps and Games section of the Android Authority forums! Just don’t forget to read the rules first!

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Inbox by Gmail 1

When Google first announced Inbox by Gmail, it was revealed that new users of the currently subscription-only service would be able to invite other users as well. Now Google has followed through by allowing current Inbox users to send out invites to three other people.

To invite three of your friends all you need to do is open the app, tap the compose button and click on the “golden ticket” to send it to a friend through their email address. It’s unclear if Google plans to eventually give users the power to invite more than three users, but for now we’d choose carefully. The good news for those that haven’t received the invite, and aren’t able to successfully bribe their friends, is that Google seems committed to sending out official invites in mass, so just be patient and your turn will come soon enough!

In the meantime, check out Joe Hindy’s hands-on first look at Invite to get a better idea of what to expect:

Have you tried Inbox yet, if so, what do you think so far?

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amazon fire phone press (3)

Amazon has just released its financial results for Q3, which ended September 30, 2014. While net sales increased 20% to $20.58 billion, the company reported an operating loss of $544 million for the quarter. This is a massive change of fortune even when compared to the operating loss of $25 million from the same quarter in the previous year.

A big chunk of that operating loss comes from a $170 million charge related to the write-down costs associated with the Amazon Fire smartphone. The extent to which the smartphone has flopped was revealed by Amazon’s Chief Financial Officer Tom Szkutak during a conference call with investors.

We even took the bold step to publish a piece called ‘why the Amazon Fire phone will fail.’

Rumors that Amazon was working on a smartphone were rampant for several years and in June of this year the company finally revealed the device. However the handset failed to impress. It had solid specs, with a 2.2GHz Snapdragon CPU, 2GB RAM, an Adreno 330 GPU and an impressive sounding f/2.0 13MP rear shooter with OIS. It also had some interesting features with its Dynamic Perspective 3D system, Firefly technology, and the Mayday help service.

However, you could only download apps from Amazon’s Appstore. Amazon does the same thing with its Kindle Fire tablets, but for a tablet such a restriction is less of an annoyance, as long as the major apps are there, it isn’t a problem. But your phone is your “go to” device and Amazon was really asking you to invest in yet another eco-system, and consumers didn’t respond favorably.

Here at Android Authority we even took the bold step to publish a piece called “why the Amazon Fire phone will fail.” We don’t really like to blow our own trumpet around here, but we told you so.

The company has lots of cash and because of its diversity, Amazon is doing a lot of interesting (and hopefully profitable) things.

But it isn’t all bad news for Amazon. The company has lots of cash and because of its diversity, Amazon is doing a lot of interesting (and hopefully profitable) things. It just recently announced the new Kindle Voyage, Amazon’s thinnest e-book reader with the highest screen resolution in a Kindle reader to date. Amazon Fire TV is now the best-selling streaming box on Amazon for the U.S., U.K., and Germany. Away from hardware, Amazon Studios is commissioning new TV series which will be shown exclusively on Amazon Prime Instant Video. Then there is Amazon Web Services (AWS), AmazonFresh, Amazon Game Studios, and so on.

In other words, Amazon took a bet on the Fire phone, it failed, it cost a lot of money, but Amazon will keep on rolling forward.

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Google Calendar Material Design Backgrounds

It used to be that some of the worst looking backgrounds you could put on your device were the default images provided by app developers, your phone manufacturer or the operating system itself. When turning to third party sources for great looking imagery, Google Calendar may not have been high on your list, but that might change right now.

Not only has Google managed some great looking seasonal backdrops in Calendar, a dozen to be precise, but the folks at AmongTech have stripped them from the new Material Design enhanced Google Calendar app, and made them available for all of us to enjoy at any time.

As you might imagine, the twelve images each represent a month of the year, meaning that you would otherwise only have the pleasure of viewing them for a short while before they tuck away again for next year. To be honest, they are very attractive images, in the same style as recent Google Now imagery, it would be a shame to hide them for eleven months out of the year.

Google Calendar twelve seasonal backgrounds

If you like what you are seeing, head on over to the AmongTech website to grab them all.

If these Calendar backgrounds represent what we can come to expect from Google and others as the transition to Android 5.0 Lollipop and Material Design progresses, I think we are in for some great experiences and some beautiful app environments.

Do you like the new style of imagery coming out of Google these days? Do you have a cool source for backgrounds that you are willing to share?

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Ingress Year Two event aa

Google’s Niantic Labs launched their popular real-world adventure game Ingress two years ago in November. In celebration, players will be rewarded with special in-game perks through and around a new monthly event series called “First Saturdays.”

As is normal for an Ingress event, it will be split into smaller local events, 120 in total this time, in locations all around the globe.

Ingress is an awesomely unique and somewhat unusual approach to gaming. Instead of users getting comfy on their couch at home, the game is held entirely out in the real world. The mural at your local library, that statue over by city hall and those history plaques in the local park are your playing field. As you might imagine, this requires a GPS enabled device to play and relies heavily on Google Maps, or more specifically, Field Trip, which was Niantic Labs’ first major release for Android.

ingress Year Two

First Saturdays begins November 1st, and is designed to see players level up to at least level 3, but preferably level 9 by November 15th to earn an in-game badge. Grab more details about this event and others on the Ingress Google+ page.

To help pave the way, players can enjoy a little Ingress surge starting right now. Running for the next two weeks you will receive double AP for your actions and triple the gear for all your Portal hacks.

Get it on Google Play ButtonJoin the fun, meet new people in your community and get out to enjoy a new experience by downloading Ingress in the Google Play Store. You will then have to head back here for info on an external power packs and a good case for your phone, just in case.

Do you have a good Ingress story to share?

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Inbox by Gmail has been on a lot of mind’s these last couple of days. Thanks to invite system and its claim to re-invent email, it’s a hot commodity that a lot of people want to try for themselves. In this short video (linked above), we’ll take a quick look at Inbox by Gmail to see what it’s really like.

Click to expand this image.

Click to expand this image.

The first thing you’ll likely notice when you open this application is that it’s very busy. There is a lot of information to digest all at once and it’ll probably take a little bit of time before you figure out everything that you’re seeing. To keep it simple, this is essentially a feed of all of your emails and reminders with a toggle at the top to show only your reminders or your reminders plus your email.

Depending on how organized you are, your Inbox will either be a clean, easy to understand thing or a total confusing mess that you couldn’t navigate with a map. It splits up emails based on when they were received along with their labels so you’ll see stuff from today, yesterday, last month as well as different icons and colors for their individual labels. It’s a little overwhelming at first but once you get used to it, it’s not so bad.

In the menu, you’ll see your inbox which is your main feed, your snoozed reminders which are things you told the app you’d do later, and Done which shows you everything. Below that is your standard Gmail stuff like Drafts, Sent, and Trash along with the Reminders option to show you all of those. Below that are all of your bundled labels followed by your Unbundled labels, and finally the create new label option along with the settings and help.

Click to expand this image.

Click to expand this image.

Now you may be asking what bundled and unbundled means. When you get an email, it gets sorted into a label. If it shows up in a label that is bundled, then it will show up in your inbox and will show up on your main feed. Email that ends up in an unbundled label will not and you’ll have to check those manually. You can control what is and isn’t bundled and it’s actually a really good way to clear out all of the useless nonsense. You can also set notifications for each individual label which is also useful.

Reminders play a pretty big roll here and they’re integrated almost everywhere. Any reminder you make in Google Now or using Android Wear or even just using Inbox will end up here in Inbox. Here you can deal with them as needed. You can also assign reminders to emails which kind of gives you the ability to make a quick note as to what you wanted to do with that email.
Here’s the thing folks, that’s really it. There are some really cool Material Design elements and most of the rest of the stuff are things we’ve already seen in Gmail and Google Now’s Reminders. It’s a little simpler than people give it credit for. It’s just so different from what we’re normally used to seeing that it is a little disorienting. Really, once you start recognizing the familiar stuff, it helps put the unfamiliar stuff in perspective.

Inbox by Gmail

Click to expand this image.

Whether or not you’re going to like this application depends on a number of factors. If your inbox is clean and you’re generally organized then this isn’t so dramatic of a transition. However, if you’re a little sloppy or you don’t really pay attention to or care about your Gmail, then you’re probably going to have a much more difficult time migrating. Based on what I’ve seen, that applies to both the tech savvy and non-tech savvy alike.

There are many more things to talk about but what you’ve seen is basically the entire application. It’s important to note that this is a thing that people started using like 2 days ago at the time of this video so there’s a big chance that Google is going to fix and change some things based on all of our feedback. That means that we may something totally different by the time this rolls out to the public which means it’s far too early to make a final determination on whether or not this app will be good.

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D-VASIVE by John McAfee is an app that sits in the background of your phone and alerts you whenever another app tries to access your mic or camera, as well as tells you which apps are tracking you. Read more…

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PaintBucketRadiation EMFADR

The Telegraph has quite the interesting article about a grandmother who has spent over $6000 “Wi-Fi-proofing” her house for supposed health reasons.

According to the grandmother, she hired specialists to apply anti-radiation paint on her house which blocks out Wi-Fi and mobile phone signals. She claims that that signals were causing her headaches and nausea.

“I’ve not been diagnosed by a doctor but my GP surgery is aware of my condition. Every time I am near Wi-Fi or mobile phone signals I feel ill,” she told the Brighton Argus. “It makes it difficult for me to get around and see people. I don’t touch the internet or email – it’s not safe.” - Telegraph

The hired specialists put four layers of “anti-radiation paint” which apparently minimize the signals.

“The painting inside and outside my house is nearly complete. I feel much better now I’m more protected. I have a device which helps me to detect how many wireless signals are near, and I’m reassured that I will not have unwanted WiFi guests coming into my home.” - Telegraph

To this day, there remains no clear evidence of serious health issues from wireless devices and “electromagnetically sensitive.” Although some have equated Wi-Fi to “second hand smoke,” there is no solid scientific evidence showing a significant health hazard.

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