Google Is Bringing ARCore To China, Partners With Xiaomi App Store

The search giant is bringing ARCore apps for augmented reality (AR) experiences to the Red Dragon.

There’re really no stopping Google in their quest to expand their market in China. The search giant is making its ARCore apps for AR available in the country through Xiaomi’s App Store. The announcement was made through it’s official Twitter account.

Xiaomi’s Mi Mix 2S smartphones are the first to have this feature. Google will soon add more partners.

Most of Google’s core services such as Google Play are blocked or restricted in China. However, the apps based on ARCore will be able to function because it can work on devices even without cloud support. Once the apps are downloaded, China’s internet censors won’t be able to stop them anymore.

Google is also amping up its presence in the country by partnering with its local handset makers such as Xiaomi and Huawei. Both operate their own app stores which are already preloaded on their devices.

This is not the only effort that Google is doing to penetrate the Chinese market further.In recent months, the company has struck a partnership with Tencent and invested in a few tech startups. Additionally, it also announced a Artificial Intelligence (AI)-based lab in Beijing.

In September, Google is also hosting its s first Demo Day programme for startups in Asia in Shanghai.

 

Valve’s Steam Link Launches In Beta On Android

Avid players who have Steam accounts could now play their collection of Steam titles using their smartphone. If you are a player, you could now download Steam Link beta via Google Play. This is possible after Valve announced earlier this month that its streaming game service would be available both for iOS and Android.

 

Steam Link is now on Android

 

 

To use Steam Link, what you need is a a 5GHz Wi-Fi router. Based on Valve’s recommendation, you need to connect your computer to a router through an ethernet cable. After this, you need to connect your Android-powered phone using the 5GHz channel of your Wi-Fi network.

Apart from this, you also need to sit close to the router, according to Valve, so that you can maximize the 5GHz networks. By doing so, this means you can use a much higher frequencies, as opposed to the standard 2.4GHz networks.

 

Regarding the controller options, you can actually use any type of Bluetooth controller that’s compatible with Android or the Steam Controller. Aside from mobile devices, the Steam Link is also available on Android TV. With this, Valve is recommending that you connect your compatible device over the Ethernet as well.

 

Valve added that the app should also support 4K at 60fps. However, the company stressed that the quality bar is full-HD (1080p) at 60fps for most environments, and this depends on PC, router and mobile hardware, and how your network is set up.

 

The company also revealed its plan to rollout Steam Link on Apple’s App Store. Valve said that the such rollout is still pending as Apple is currently reviewing the process for approval.

 

Launched in 2015, Steam Link is actually a standalone device designed to bring Steam titles from PC to the living room.

Amazon’s Android Browser Won’t Take Up Much Space On Your Phone

Amazon released a “lite” version of a web browser for Android and called it Internet.

Amazon quietly released a web browser designed to consume less space on Android devices. Installing it will only take up 2MB of your storage space.

The browser, simply called Internet, was actually already available in the Google Play app store since March. It is not known why the retail giant has not publicly announced the launch.

According to the app’s description, the browser offers a private user experience as it does not collect any private data. This could be an attempt to take on other browsers like Firefox who also offer private browsing.

Additionally, the browser supports Private Tabs allowing users to surf the internet without having to worry about their browsing history.

Other features include tab previews, automatic full-screen mode and integrated news reader.

TechCrunch first spotted the app on Google Play and its feedback email points to Amazon India hinting that it could be meant for Indian users only. The listing shows that the app works with Android 5.0 and above. However, folks from Gadgets360 (India) were not able to download it on their devices running on Android 7.0.

Amazon is not the only company who has built “lite” versions of apps to cater to limited storage space and connectivity. Facebook has Facebook Lite and Messenger Light, while Google has their “Go” versions of the browser, YouTube, Files, etc. All these offer the same feature of the full apps but takes up less space.

 

Fortnite Is Earning $25 million On Mobile, says Sensor Tower

Sensor Tower, a market analyst, based in the US, reported that Epic Game’s Fortnite: Battle Royale mobile is earning millions. The popular game has reportedly earned $25 million, an income earned in its first month.

 

Fortnite is raking millions on mobile

 

The research company said that Epic Games’ income was only from iOS devices. They projected that such income could reach over $500 million for this year. The game has just recently launched on Android.

 

Obviously, the game is consistently gaining popularity among players. Aside from popularity, the game was continuously attracting the pockets of players too. Fortnite had launched its Battle Royale game mid-March of this year. The company’s revenue has tripled since Fortnite opened the game publicly to players.

 

 

Although Fortnite: Battle Royale is free to play, it earned income through in-app purchases. Fortnite players could buy cosmetic items for the game’s new characters, emotes, and skins. Also, you can also buy Battle Passes for you to level up faster and collect more items.

 

Apart from mobile, the developer’s battle royale game is performing well on various consoles. In fact, under the free-to-play game category, Epic’s battle royale game reached 359 percent year-over-year growth back in February.

 

Fortnite’s battle royale beat out other rival games like PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, according to market analyst Newzoo.

 

Meanwhile, Sensor Tower also learned that in the first half of April, Fortnite’s battle royale game was the second highest-earning app on the Apple App Store. What’s good with the game is its cross-platform play features.

 

 

This means that if a player bought an item, it would be available on PS4, iOS, PC and Xbox One. The game’s matchmaking is also great because players can play across platforms too.

Facebook-owned Onavo Launches Bolt App Lock, A Data-tracking App

Social media giant Facebook has reportedly launched a new app mean to siphon data from users’ cellphones. The app is called the Bolt App Lock of which it claims that it would lock down any app simply using a pin code.

 

Security analysts claim that Bolt App Lock appears to protect the users’ but in reality it sends the gathered data to Facebook without the users’ approval.

 

Sensor Tower has discovered the recent Facebook app.  Techcruch reported that Bolt App Lock does not offer a VPN. Instead, it simply uses either a PIN code, a pattern, or your fingerprint to lock down any app.

 

Apart from this, Bolt App Lock also locks down other essential information used by any apps. This includes personal information, payment details, private photos, among others.

 

 

“The problem is that, while Bolt App Lock may do exactly what it claims, its true purpose appears to be collecting data on its users to further satiate Facebook’s creepy desire to know what everyone is doing at all times,” Dell Cameron of Gizmodo wrote.

 

 

In case you don’t know, the app is a product of data-security app Onavo. The company was acquired by Facebook back in 2013 to gain possible insights in mobile users. The app was developed for Android users, according to the app’s listing on Google Play.

 

Below is the app’s listing at Google Play:

 

“We collect info about your mobile device and the apps installed on it. This includes info about when those apps are used, and device and network information. We use and analyze this info to help us operate Bolt App Lock, an Onavo app, and improve the service. Because we’re part of Facebook, we also use this info to improve Facebook products and services, gain insights into the products and services people value, and build better experiences.”

 

With this, security experts claim that Facebook is doing a sort of “surveillance” to mobile users.

Audiobooks now available on Google Play Store

Audiobooks in Google Play Store: No need of monthly subscription

Google Play Store is the one-stop-shop of Android smartphones for apps, games,music, movies and e-books. Well, here’s a good news for you bookworms! You may now download audiobooks without any monthly subscription. Rumors have been spreading around since November 2017 that they’re already working on it. But now, you may head directly to Play Store and get your favorite audiobooks and start listening to it.

Audiobooks will be offered together with e-books in the Google Play Books. And you may access it using your Android, web and even iOS! Isn’t it great right? Also, a good thing about it, if you have a Google Home or any smart speaker powered by Google Assistant, you can just say “Ok Google, read my book” to start listening right away.

Though it took too long for Google to offer this, it seems like a new progress. Google Play Book’s head of product management Greg Hartrell said, “We know people want to read more and audiobooks are becoming an increasingly popular way to incorporate books into our lives. Play Books has also been around for a long time, offering over 5 million ebooks in 75 countries, and interest in audiobooks is on the rise, along with audio content generally. But most importantly our users are asking for them.”

In celebration of this, Google is offering a lot of titles for $10 or less. And not just that, they’re giving you a 50% discount on your very first purchase. Here are some of the discounted books: Fire & Fury, The Girl on the Train, 1984, and Ready Player One.

Unlike the Audible, Google Play doesn’t require you to have a monthly subscription in order to buy and listen to audiobooks. This is a great opportunity to people who are on a tight budget but wanted to try it out.

Audiobooks are now available to 45 countries and nine languages on the Play Store.

What You Don’t Know About iRescue, the Inside Scoop

So we’ve been talking to the team at iRescue and let me just say that they are definitely excited about this idea-turned-smartphone-app. And rightfully so, it can save someone’s life! When we first contacted them, we were one of the first 6 news media outlets covering their story. That number has now increased to 27 and is still growing.

But what is it that makes iRescue tick? How does this app stand out? Lucky for you, we have an exclusive interview that can answer all those questions and more!

What’s the best feature of iRescue?

Honestly the boys like the Hide and Seek feature best. It was implemented as a way for people to practice using iRescue without sending messages to their Safety Circle that they need help, but the boys think it is a lot of fun.

Fun and games aside, the Amber Alert function is the most amazing feature. Imagine a kid is abducted but they have their phone on them. Their parents or Police can remotely activate iRescue to find them. Upon activation the speaker and vibrate function will be disabled so it does not draw the attention of the abductor. Once the beacon phone and search phone are in contact via Bluetooth – then the speaker emits a loud buzzer. iRescue will simultaneously send out GPS coordinates to everyone in the kid’s Safety Circle. A second message is then sent to the kid from someone in the Safety Circle along with any changes in the GPS coordinates, making it easy to locate them.

Will iRescue work in other countries outside the US? If so, is the process the same or different depending on the country?

The main function will still function anywhere in the world – the beacon and searching function looking for the beacon. But obviously, when the FEMA – IPAWS functionality is employed that will only work in the USA.

Why did you want to make iRescue a smartphone app as opposed to a small, affordable device that people could carry with them?

We originally talked about building a device which would be a standalone device, or something that attached to a cell phone, but when we started talking about what it would take to produce a device – engineered drawings, tooling, finding a factory, shipping and storing the pieces, and delivering them to customers, it quickly got beyond the scope of anything we thought we could do. But most people already have a cell phone in their pocket, and an app at $0.99 is less than any standalone device would cost. Plus being a ‘virtual product’ there is no inventory, tooling or logistics concerns.

What’s been the hardest bug for the dev team to squash and how did they overcome it?

The biggest issue we’ve had is the different restrictions on access to phone functionality when it comes to the various platforms. iOS and Windows limit to varying degrees what we can do with scanning and sending text messages. Android, however, provides the most functionality so we can do just about anything we need to do without limitations. Currently we cannot (without user intervention) send a text message from these platforms. Not a problem in most situations, but if someone is unconscious it does limit our ability to send location information.

We’ve overcome it by making iRescue as feature rich as possible under the limitations imposed by the platforms. We are also speaking with both Microsoft and Apple to attempt to gain access to scan and send text messages without user intervention.

What are the thoughts from the team surrounding its Kickstarter campaign and release?

The boys are really excited. They’ve had a lot of fun watching the pledge count go up. If we can get to $20k we can start developing a Natural Disaster curriculum for all the school kids in the US, and provide each of them with a free download of iRescue. 

What could we see in future app updates?

The boys are calling for it to locate the nearest Ice Cream store, but I think the first feature we will be adding after launch is the FEMA-IPAWS function (Integrated Public Alert and Warning System). We have been vetted by FEMA and entered an agreement which allows us to publically disseminate emergency warnings. We don’t have time before launch to have it up and tested, but we would like to add the feature very soon.

What do you think will be the most effective way to get the word out?

We plan on using several different methods:

  • Word of mouth – Sharing on social media is built into iRescue. With a few touches of a screen users can send a link to their friends and family via text message, email, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, asking them to get iRescue.
  • First Responders – We are in discussions with local Fire Chiefs and the State Police to provide a copy of iRescue to all of their personnel. We’d like to expand that program across the US. (or the World)
  • Safety Classes – We would like to create a curriculum which Fire and Police could use during their school visits to help teach kids about how to be save in emergency situations. We’d also provide all the students and staff with free versions of iRescue.

With that being said, let’s see what we can do to get the word out regarding iRescue and making sure the kids of the world are prepared for an emergency. Who knows, you may indirectly have an impact on saving someone’s life!

If we missed a question you had, or you want to leave your thoughts on this app, let us know in the comment section. Keep Being Awesome!

Your Smartphone as a Search and Rescue Beacon?

Chances are the following situations could happen at any given moment. A friend of yours is stuck in the middle of a hurricane in Florida, a boy scout troop is lost in the woods, a twelve-year-old child is kidnapped but has a phone in their backpack with them, or your wheelchair-bound great-grandmother is in the path of a tornado evacuation. I’m sure you’d appreciate a positive news story that so-and-so made it out at the last moment and survived or that a kidnapped child was found.

What you didn’t probably didn’t know is the life-changing app working behind the scenes that saved them. Now I know what you’re going to say, “Well that’s great and all, but a smartphone needs a signal and cell towers to work.” This app works without them, an achievement the developers are proud to announce.

Credit: irescue-you.com

Introducing iRescue, a rescue beacon or a search and rescue device smartphone app, coming to Google Play, Apple App Store and Windows Marketplace in October 2014 for $0.99.

iRescue has an arrangement with FEMA to broadcast Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) through the IPAWS system. This will allow automated activation of the iRescue beacon if you are in a danger zone. Included in the app is an Amber Alert tracking system that will not only find the location but also the direction of travel when someone has been abducted, allowing for emergency response. Additionally, the Oregon Fire Chiefs Association we will be working to promote it this fall.

The part I like about this whole story is that the idea for the iRescue app came out of a FIRST® Lego League competition held in the fall of 2013. Each year has a different theme for the competition, in 2013 it was Nature’s Fury. The Rockin’ Robots, who are developing the app with the help of several outside contractors, are a group of 6 boys, a mascot, and a Lego® robot from Eccles Elementary School in Canby, Oregon. The team was tasked with coming up with an idea to help people before, during or after a natural disaster and this app was the result. They thought it was good enough that they put together a Kickstarter campaign for it. Apparently other people thought so too and they surpassed their goal in less than 24 hours! iRescue is planned to launch on Android and Apple iOS shortly after the campaign ends.

This is one app we’ll be keeping an eye on. Fingers crossed that we can get a behind the scenes look from the developers.

Beware the Popular Health Apps!

Summer is in full swing for us here in America, and with it comes the plethora of apps we now have time to fool around with in the iTunes App Store.

But be warned, not all health apps are telling you the truth and some are sneaky enough to hide their disclaimers at the bottom of the description!

I’ve been reading some articles about a doctor by the name of Iltifat Husain. He and other doctors have been expressing concerns over some of these apps that you can find on the iTunes App Store or Google Play.

In particular, I want to point your attention to an app by the name of Instant Blood Pressure. This health app explains that it can very simply and accurately get your blood pressure if you follow their easy steps. They also claim that their “patent pending technology” was developed by a team at John Hopkins University. Once John Hopkins University heard about this app, they immediately sent a cease and desist letter to the company for making false claims as such a team didn’t exist and they never approved their name to be used.

Screenshot: WIRED

Here’s what has the doctors so upset. Not only are they lying about who created the app, which was definitely not a team at John Hopkins University, they may also land someone in the E.R.—and maybe even get them killed.

After a little more research, a couple more troubling health apps showed up. Instant Blood Pressure Pro is another app that claims the same thing but support is inactive and the only review on it is “You could kill somebody”. Pulse Oximeter claims to be able to measure heart rate and blood oxygen saturation levels, but at the bottom of the description says that it is not for clinical use along with the fact that it’s only rated 2 and a half stars with no written reviews.

Husain also wrote a blog post on his growing concern over such apps.

All that to say a very simple message. Please do your research on health apps before you get them and don’t be using them as a replacement for important medical care and doctors.

 

Google to release Google Play gift cards

Gift cards are considered as one of the most convenient gifts that anyone could give to someone. Instead of thinking what to buy, they serve as a practical way to remove that problem.

Google knows this and that is why the company is making gift cards available in their Google Play store.

Android Police discovered this after they were able to get their hands on the latest version of the Google Play store.

Android Police released images showing Google Play gift cards amounting to $10 and $25. These GCs can be used to purchase music, movies, books and many more including apps.

The Google Play gift cards should increase the sales of the Android marketplace.

Currently, only credit cards are allowed to purchase stuff in the Google Play store.

Making gift cards available makes it more convenient for teens to purchase from the Android marketplace and this could eventually lead to increased total sales for the company.

The roll out of the new version of the Google Play store is just around the corner so expect to see these Google Play gift cards plastered in your favorite stores sometime soon.

Do you think this could improve sales in the Google Play store?

Image source: androidcentral.com