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Mylio photo manager shows promise, but it’s still a bit raw (hands on)

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In conjunction with this year’s PhotoPlus Expo in New York, Mylio — a company with an eponymously named subscription service for photo management — launched with a big marketing splash. It claims a pretty broad set of capabilities for a new product, but while the idea is solid the implementation still needs some work. Essentially, […]

The best image editor on the iPad

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Pixelmator for iPad is a pro-level image editor with tons of templates, tools and effects for perfecting your photo projects. It has a full set of artistic tools so you can touch up a photo or paint a picture from scratch. It also supports iCloud Drive and handoff features so you can start working on […]

A fun twist on two storied franchises

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Angry Birds Transformers is the latest release from Rovio, the creators of the successful Angry Birds line. The game is a departure from the slingshot approach of launching birds at blocks in an effort to defeat evil pigs. Instead, you destroy your enemies this time by shooting them down as you run at them. And […]

12 top tricks iOS 11 will bring to your iPhone, iPad

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Sup, iOS 11. Welcome to the iPhone party.

Apple just announced the next version of its software to power your iPhone and iPad on Monday, as part of its annual WWDC conference for developers.

The biggest changes come to Siri, Apple’s voice assistant; interfaces like the lock screen, App Store and Control Center; and AR software that’s going to mesh the virtual world onto your own.

All these updates (and more) will bring a wave of new features to your device, and — even more exciting to tech-watchers — to Apple’s next iPhones. For that reason, iOS 11 is especially important. As the operating system set to power the hotly anticipated 10th-anniversary iPhone, changes to iOS drop some major hints about what the iPhone 8 (or whatever Apple calls it) will be able to do.

The iPhone is Apple’s most popular device, and also its biggest moneymaker by far. But phone sales have dropped. iOS 11 could help lure buyers by reinvigorating the software innards behind the next iPhone’s hardware shell.

What’s new in iOS 11

1. AR is coming to your iPhone and iPad

  • When you look at your iPhone or iPad screen, you’ll be able to interact with virtual items overlaid in your real world
  • E.g. You can place items like lamps in your living room, or see Pokemon monsters on the sidewalk at your feet
  • Apple is just now launching the developer platform (called ARKit), so this isn’t something you’ll be able to use right away. (My guess is September when we expect Apple to launch its next iPhones.)

Why we care: This kind of deep software supports rumors that Apple is going to add a lot more computing power to the iPhone camera.

2. Siri wants to suggest what you want next

  • Siri’s interface gets a refresh. Results look more like Google’s “cards”
  • Siri enhances male and female voice tones
  • It’ll suggest follow-up questions you can ask by tapping on them
  • Multiple results for a search topic will help reduce error
  • Siri can now translate languages (English to Chinese, French, German, Italian, Spanish, for starters)
  • It’ll suggest topics you’ll want to know based on what you’re doing, like a news item, respond to a message with your location, or make a calendar appointment based on a reservation you booked using the Safari browser
  • Siri will learn words from articles you use, and suggest them when you type
  • Private, for you and your devices only (it won’t be web accessible)
  • Siri will be available for more third-party apps, which means you can ask for a ride, pay a bill and start a workout — with a voice command

Why we care: Apple’s Siri assistant has lagged behind Google’s (and even Amazon’s Alexa). Prediction and translation help close the gap a little.

3. Camera app changes mean more pics for you

  • Video will take up a lot less storage space thanks to new compression technology
  • Low-light portraits will take advantage of optical image stabilization and HDR
  • You can loop a live photo to make a movie (like, of a never-ending bubble blow)
  • Live photos can now be trimmed and edited
  • You can grab and save a still frame from a Live Photo
  • New long exposure effect can help you take really great nature shots of moving water and more
  • Movies captured in “Memories” will now play in Portrait mode, not just landscape

Why we care: The most important change is that you’ll be able to save a lot more photos and videos.

4. Control Center shrinks to a single panel

  • One panel instead of three in iOS 10
  • You get sliders and toggles you can tap right away
  • Or dive into more granular controls with 3D Touch (basically, hard press the screen)

Why we care: The three-panel layout was a drag. This should be easier to use by putting the controls we care about in one place, not three.

5. Lock screen and notification center become one

  • The lock screen will be able to show all your notifications (if you want)
  • Scroll up to see notifications from the lock screen
  • You can still swipe left and right to get to widgets on the left and the camera on the right

Why we care: This should give you a more convenient glance at alerts.

6. iMessage will sync convos better

  • When you sync to another new device, say your iPhone or iPad, iCloud will automatically sync all your conversations (which also means if you delete it on the iPhone, it’ll delete on your laptop and iPad, etc.)
  • iMessages also has an app drawer, to make it easier to find stickers and the like

Why we care: Less clutter.

7. Use Apple Pay to throw money at friends

  • Peer-to-peer payments are right in iMessage
  • You can make purchases and bank transfers this way
  • Authenticate the payment with your fingerprint
  • Suggestions that you pay your friend pop up from within the keyboard… within the iMessage
  • It’ll work for all iOS devices, and Apple Watch

Why we care: You can pay your buddy back for dinner without having to sign into a new service. Easy.

8. Apple Maps dives indoors

  • Detailed airport and mall floor plans (you can browse by floor)
  • Watch your speed because speed limits are part of Maps
  • There’s also guidance to tell you which lane you’ll need to change into

Why we care: You might not get as lost finding the pretzel stand on your way to the gate.

9. Apple Car Play wants to help keep you from crashing

  • When you install iOS 11, you’ll get an option to turn on Do Not Disturb While Driving mode
  • It’ll chop out notifications and show you…nothing. Because you’re driving. Eyes on the road!
  • If you’re not actually the one driving, you can tap to turn the mode off and text your heart out
  • There’s an auto-response to let people know you’re driving
  • Some special people will be able to get your attention if notices are urgent

Why we care: Distracted driving is bad news for road safety. This is a step in the right direction.

10. Apple Music makes a house party mo’ better

  • Want to play music in multiple rooms through different speakers? You can now (through an AirPlay 2 protocol)
  • Multiroom audio will also work with third-party apps
  • You can make playlists public to your friends
  • Third-party apps, like Shazam, can automatically add songs it identifies to your collection

Why we care: You can set up surround sound music in your home with speakers you already have.

11. Brand-new App Store is… hmm

  • Apple totally redesigned it
  • Separate tabs for Apps, Games and Today’s featured apps
  • In-app purchases will also get a featured spot, like to show off a brand-new level or character you can buy

Why we care: If it helps makes new apps easier to find, that’s fine by us. But the jury’s still out if this redesign showcases more apps or fewer.

12. iOS 11 takes iPad to the next level

  • The new app dock has space for more apps and can open them by pulling them up from the dock
  • A new app-switcher supports drag and drop (text, images, multi-select, you name it)
  • You can flick keys to access punctuation and numbers without having to switch views
  • A new app, Files, houses all files and folders to help you find everything on your iPad (supports Google Drive, Box, etc., too)
  • Apple Pencil has deep support for iPad
  • With Apple Pencil, you can markup pretty much anything
  • The Notes app supports in-line drawings, search and handwriting recognition with Apple Pencil

Why we care: The larger iPad screen means people use it differently than they do their phones. These changes can make the iPad easier to use and far more productive.

When do you get iOS 11?

Developers can start working with the iOS 11 beta today. The finished software will arrive for new and existing devices in the fall. There’s no official word on whether Apple will supply a public beta before the full launch.

We expect Apple to reveal next iPhone with iOS 11 this September, assuming the company sticks to its hardware update cycle. Apple’s new iPads will ship with iOS 10 at first and then upgrade to iOS 11 in a few months.

Follow our WWDC live blog for real-time coverage. WWDC 2017: All the news so far.

CNET senior reporter Shara Tibken contributed to this story.

Article updated June 7 at 9:52am PT to correct the statement that iOS 11 adds a new make voice. It enhances vocal tones for both male and female voices.

Welcome to Apple’s new MacOS: High Sierra

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On Monday, Apple announced the next version of its MacOS : High Sierra. The update adds many behind-the-scenes improvements to last year’s MacOS Sierra and brings support for virtual reality (VR) content creation on a Mac for the first time.

To a mix of laughs and applause from the audience at WWDC, Apple’s annual developer conference, Craig Federighi, head of Apple’s software, revealed the name High Sierra. “This name is fully baked,” he said.

Federighi emphasized that High Sierra is geared toward refinements and deep technology improvements that drive the Mac and its apps. Obviously, we still need to get our hands on MacOS High Sierra to test, but here’s an overview of new features and capabilities it brings.

Live photos become GIF-like

Live photos still won’t be GIFs, but you’ll be able to make them act like one with new tools.


Some of the biggest improvements will come to Photos:

  • Expanded sidebar view with all of your imports in chronological order
  • Face tagging synchronized across all your Apple devices
  • Selective Color lets you select a color to modify during an edit
  • Easier way to use Curves to control highlights, midtones and shadows in your photos
  • Photo edits synchronize across all your Apple devices
  • Improved organization filters for photo collections
  • New Live photos effects like Loop to make Live photos have a GIF-like repetition, Long Exposure to add DSLR-like motion blur and Bounce to play Live photos forward and backwards
  • New Memories categories: pets, babies, outdoor activities, performances, weddings, birthdays and sporting events
  • Direct support for third-party apps like Adobe Photoshop and Pixelmator that saves your edits as you go back-and-forth between apps
  • Improved People view and layout

Safari gets Usain Bolt-fast

Safari, Apple’s default web browser, will get a noticeable speed increase. Federighi claimed that it will be 80 percent faster than Chrome when running on High Sierra. New Safari features include:

  • Faster browsing speeds than Safari running MacOS Sierra
  • Autoplay blocking on videos and per-site settings to enable autoplay on the websites you choose
  • Intelligent tracking prevention to stop advertisers and others from tracking your online behaviors and history
  • Specific website personalization that remembers things like your preferred page zoom percentage and whether content blockers and location tracking are enabled

Siri sounds more human

Siri will be more expressive and sound more natural. Siri can also DJ for you using your listening preferences as a guide. These features will be welcome on the Mac, but will also come in handy for Apple’s new HomePod that was teased during WWDC.

Heavy Metal graphics

Apple expects High Sierra to be the best MacOS for gaming with the addition of Metal 2. Developers can use the tool access more graphics horsepower and machine learning processing for their apps. For example, Apple uses Metal 2 to power photo identification in its Photos app. Metal 2 also points to more powerful Mac hardware capable of handling the demands of AR and VR software development.

Your files are safer and faster to copy

Copying files will be even faster on High Sierra.


High Sierra introduces Apple File System a more modern take on the Mac’s 30 year old file construction. These updates will mainly affect the performance when you interact, copy and protect files:

  • Built-in crash protection
  • 64-bit processing (instead of 32-bit)
  • Native encryption
  • Instant file and directory cloning

Big video in a small package

MacOS High Sierra will take advantage of what Apple calls high-efficiency video coding (HEVC) aka H.265 for videos, which promises 40 percent more compression than the current H.264 codec widely used on videos today. All this means that as more devices are able to capture HD, 4K and 4K HDR video, the quality of the video will be preserved better without taking as much room on your device.

MacOS Potpourri

Other updates that deserve a mention:

  • New split view in Mail for composing messages
  • Your iMessage history is saved to iCloud so a new device will have all your old messages
  • Share your iCloud storage plane with your family
  • Expanded Spotlight search for flights and improved Wikipedia integration

MacOS High Sierra is available to developers starting today.

Android Wear 2.0, tested: How Google is building a better watch through software

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The watch on my wrist is big. Too big for my hand, maybe. But I’m more interested in what I can see when I lift my wrist. I peek at my step count, and then tap an album icon to hop into Google Music. I hop back out and scroll up quickly to peek at messages.

Android Wear has gotten a lot more polished since I last used it. And faster. But it’s still not fully there yet.

Google’s delayed software update to its Android Wear watches has finally arrived, in the form of two new LG watches co-designed with Google. The upgrade is also coming to most (but not all) earlier Android Wear models over the next few weeks.

LG Watch Style and LG Watch Sport are for different crowds — one’s slimmer and feature-limited, one’s super-thick and packed with everything from GPS and Android Pay to an LTE connection for phone calls.

  • Read: LG Watch Style first impressions
  • Read: LG Watch Sport first impressions

But it’s not the LG watches that are most interesting, it’s the software inside. Android Wear 2 promises big changes to a troubled smartwatch platform that’s been losing out to what Apple Watch brings to the table. Can Google’s watches get better thanks to software?

I’ve been wearing both watches for about a week, and the answer so far is definitely yes. The biggest improvements you can look forward to:

  • Android Pay comes to Android Wear watches with NFC.
  • Android Wear apps run better when away from a phone, or even independently with an LTE phone-connected watch or via Wi-Fi.
  • A lot more info can be packed onto watch faces, and it’s easier to swap faces and customize them.
  • Google Fit updates add more tracking modes and better workout interfaces.
  • Google Assistant comes to Android Wear as a voice-activated upgrade to Google Now.

Do these make Android Wear, finally, a must-have? Not exactly. Or, not yet. But these software updates go a long way towards improving the whole Google watch experience. My testing was done via with beta software provided by Google in advance of release, so the experience could get better.

Watch-face improvements

“Complications” are a watch industry term for little bits of info on your watch face, such as the date, your fitness progress or the weather.

Android Wear 2.0 is a lot better at accessing information quickly on the fly, thanks mostly to these added watch-face customizations. Apple’s had this already via its Apple Watch complications, but Android Wear 2 now offers them too, and more so than Samsung’s Gear S2 and S3. I studded one watch face with up to eight bits of info, all showing me quick-access info at a glance. Each bit of info can also act as an app shortcut, saving time. In general, it’s great news. But the problem is, few third-party apps currently support complications on the beta-access early software I used prelaunch.

There’s a shortcut for Google Music called “Now Playing” that jumps to music controls, and lots of fitness stats from Google Fit (steps, calories, fitness goal status). Calendar appointments and watch mode extras are there, too (time zones, sunrise/sunset, moon phases). I want sports scores, though, and weather or email. Those aren’t here yet. LG’s Sport and Style watches have a set of preinstalled watch faces that allow up to eight complications at once. That’s lots of customization, but not enough apps yet to take advantage.

Android Pay: Watch as wallet

Much like Apple Watch and Samsung’s Gear S2/S3, Android Wear watches with NFC can now make payments. Setup feels just like those other options: a credit card is added via your phone, and authorized to become a virtualized number. The LG Watch Sport I tried Android Pay on has three side buttons, and the bottom one brings up Android Pay. I tap it and I can make payments wherever Android Pay is supported with a swipe of my wrist. But other, older watches which can receive Wear 2 and Android Pay updates don’t necessarily have extra dedicated buttons — in that case, there’s an Android Pay shortcut that can be added to watch faces. I bought some Goldenberg Peanut Chews out of our office vending machine and all was fine.



Google Fit: Better, but messy

Google’s attempt to make a better on-wrist fitness app has made strides, mainly in how many workout types Fit recognizes and how the workout stats appear on-wrist. Tapping the top button on the LG Watch Sport lets me start a workout (like walking, jogging and more) and while the activity is going, I can look at stats on my wrist. Those three stats can be customized: I can add heart rate, distance or elapsed time, for instance. I can’t seem to add more than that, though. And I found the interface a little sluggish and chunky-looking. Bringing up daily Google Fit stats resulted in a slow “updating” message that felt less responsive than Apple Watch or Samsung Gear S3.

And Samsung’s watch has far more dynamic graphs, charts and ways to peek at your fitness info. Google Fit’s dashboard only has basic stats, and no clever fitness-goal graphics like Apple’s three-ring concept. I couldn’t easily log coffee or water, like on Samsung S-Health. And Google Fit doesn’t track sleep.

Google Fit does track activities automatically, but those sessions are recorded to Google Fit automatically and don’t show up on-watch. The Samsung Gear S3, comparatively, offers more heads-up data on your exercise and trends. Google Fit doesn’t give stand reminders, or any other sort of regular reminder. It feels quiet and sometimes too low-key for my tastes.


A better stand-alone watch

Theoretically, Android Wear is now a lot more independent of your phone than before. With Wi-Fi or LTE, the watch can connect to what it needs to function. Even offline, Wear 2.0 is designed to run apps on its own and minimize the “Check your phone” messages that used to be everywhere.

Android Wear 2 now has Google Play directly on-wrist, meaning I was able to download apps to the watch without messing around with my phone (I reviewed this while using a Google Pixel XL). But the app store experience on-wrist is pared down, and hard to browse. I’d prefer finding apps on my phone and cross-loading.

While Android Wear 2 apps are made to work on-wrist away from a paired phone, so far there aren’t a lot of updated apps to test out. On the LTE-connected, fully independent phone/watch LG Watch Sport, Google Maps handled navigation nicely, I could check messages, and I used Google Assistant to search for things as needed. The Google Play Store will also work even when paired with an iPhone, but the updated iOS app wasn’t available to review prelaunch. Stay tuned for that.

Better navigation, support for a digital crown-like wheel

Android Wear now supports a new type of input: a spinning-wheel crown design, much like the Apple Watch’s digital crown. The LG Watch Sport and Style both have spinning crown-buttons, and can be pressed to launch apps or use Assistant, or spun to scroll through messages or choose apps. Clicking in on the button brings up the app tray, and I then scroll to find what I’m looking for. On my watch face, flicking up on the wheel brings up notifications and messages. It makes peeking at info and navigating the small screen easier. Yes, it feels like the Apple Watch.

But it makes finding apps easier, and the scrollable app tray in Android Wear 2.0 is a better solution than the Apple Watch’s messy grid of apps. It’s also better than Samsung’s spinning wheel-of-apps design, and I got to what I needed faster (with 20 apps or so installed, at least).

Talking to Google Assistant: Better, and more of the same

Using Google Assistant, as it’s been renamed, on my wrist feels useful but all too familiar. Android Wear’s best feature was always its on-wrist access to Google Now and quick-access voice requests. I could get directions, or do a quick calculation.

Assistant doesn’t feel all that different in Wear 2.0, but it is tucked away more; you’ll need to press and hold the watch’s side button, instead of tapping Android Wear’s screen.

Unlike Assistant on the Pixel or Google Home, Android Wear’s version only uses text. It won’t talk back, even on the speaker-enabled LG Watch Sport. I can look for restaurants, check the weather, find appointments, call my wife, set alarms, and could even control Google smart home devices if I hook them in (which I haven’t). Assistant can be paired with a Chromecast or Google Home, too, which is a welcome plus — but I haven’t gone through tests with that yet.

Assistant is better than Samsung’s S-Voice assistant on the Gear S3, and it’s often better than Siri because it can be told to remember things. But it’s not perfect. It is, however, the one reason I’d probably recommend a new Android Wear watch to an Android phone owner over a Samsung Gear S3.

Then again, Google Now was always the best part of Android Wear in the past. It remains a strong part of Android Wear, but with superior voice assistants in devices with far-reaching microphones, like Google Home and Amazon Echo, it feels a little less essential. It could be a key part of knitting together smart home devices, and I think it might get there. But also I kept pressing the Assistant button accidentally with my wrist on occasion, particularly when doing sit-ups or activities (in which case it ended up pausing my progress).

Getting better… slowly

Android Wear 2.0 will be available for a wide range of watches, not just the LG Watch Sport and Style — it’s rolling out as an update, but it depends on your hardware model, much like Android updates on phones. If you already have an Android Wear watch that’s update-ready, it’s nothing but great news! Wear 2.0 feels more like a watch and less like a wrist-gadget with annoying Google pop-ups and few useful customizations. This is what Android Wear should have been originally.

But Android Wear hasn’t eclipsed Apple Watch and WatchOS 3, either. It’s a work in progress. If you’re an Android phone owner, you might even be better off with a Samsung Gear S2 or S3 for some of its features. But once Wear 2.0 settles in, adds more apps and runs on more watches, this could be the answer to better devices. I’m not fully sold, yet. But Wear 2.0 is a lot better than Wear 1.0.


Apple Clips is a great free video app, once you learn its tricks

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Apple has made an iMovie for phone videos, and a way to edit your Instagram posts. Call it whatever you want, but Clips — a surprising new app from Apple for iPads, iPhones and the iPod Touch — is pretty great, especially considering that it’s completely free. Just don’t call it a social media app — it works with video sites like YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and Vimeo, but it absolutely is not designed to replace them.

Clips will be hitting the iOS App Store later today. I was able to use it for the past few days, fiddling around with making my own videos and trying its features. It’s deeper than I expected, and versatile. And, really, it’s an offline video-editing tool that can post your creations afterward. It’s easier to use than iMovie, too.

What’s really great about it is a) it’s free and b) it brings several things to the table that weren’t easy to do before. It’s a quick little kit for making Facebook or social-friendly videos with surprisingly effective captions, and that alone could earn it a spot in my most-used tools when I’m heading to events.

This is a far more capable tool than whatever’s built into most social apps. But it has its quirks and definitely has limitations, too. Working with audio tracks and effects may frustrate those who want even more control, but it enables a lot of fun, fast ideas that can be used to turn your random video clips and still photos into an entertaining little video.

I’ve learned a few key tricks so far — Clips takes a little getting used to. Finding where all the extras are buried also takes time. For instance, you’ll need to tap up and down on navigational arrows to flip between the videos you’ve already made and the one you’re currently editing. The same goes when accessing tools like filters, live title captions, extra effects and cards (or, soundtracks).

Here’s what you need to know to get started with Clips.

It’s square videos only, so prepare accordingly

Like Instagram, Clips only does square videos. It formats your existing photos and videos and crops them (or, you can zoom and crop yourself, by pinching and dragging). The videos look good on a phone or tablet — regardless of viewing in portrait or landscape orientation — but on a TV they look weird. And there’s no way to pick another aspect ratio.

Record things first, import later

Clips can record video on the fly like Snapchat or Instagram, or import from your photo/video library. Recording directly has its downsides: videos stay square, and can sometimes be accidentally deleted (I ended up swiping up and losing one of mine).

If you keep things in your library, clips just get copied in as needed, while the originals are kept safe.

You can keep adding clips to a video, and drag around or edit as you wish

Once a video is started, clips can be added to it by browsing your video/photo library or recording something new. Pressing and holding the record button will set how long any clip is. The Clips app can scrub through existing videos to start at a certain point. New clips can be added, and then tapping and holding can drag them around into any order. You can edit them. Or delete them. Or add titles and effects later.

Live Titles is the best feature, by far (but requires an internet connection)

Auto-captioning can be added to any video segment, but it’s done by transcribing what you speak while recording a clip. It may sound confusing, but it works brilliantly. A secondary audio track is added, which is separate from the original video’s audio. Selecting Live Titles (a text-bubble-type icon on the top of the screen) turns what you’ve spoken into on-screen text that pops up to time perfectly with when you’ve said it. Then, that new audio track can be muted by tapping the speaker icon and “muting recorded audio.” Now, the titles appear without my voice. But the transcription doesn’t happen without cellular or Wi-Fi.

Editing captions requires tapping on them

It took a while for me to understand this: play a clip, and when the caption you made pops up, tap and hold. Now, a keyboard lets you change or rewrite as needed, or add emoji.

Soundtracks are there, but choose wisely

Tapping the music icon brings up dozens of soundtracks that Apple offers for your Clips videos. Any of those options auto-adjust for your video length. They sound like the tracks Apple has in iMovie: good enough in a pinch, and sometimes inspired. Or, your own music can be added. But adding a music track can get strange over recorded audio. Clips can be muted to allow the soundtrack to come through, but Clips lacks the more advanced audio level adjustments of iMovie.

Yes, it’s fun!

Clips isn’t rocket science, but it is a pretty nice tool. Most importantly, its live-transcribing captions could be a huge help for social videos. I do wish that Clips allowed for other than square videos. Or, alternatively, I’d love to see some of Clips’ features make it into iMovie. There are already a lot of options for video-making on the App Store, but Clips will probably earn some fans for its features… and its pretty straightforward design.

Android O wants to make your phone twice as fast

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Ready for Android O? Google kicked off its annual developer conference, Google I/O 2017, with a first taste of its forthcoming software for phones, tablets, watches and Android TV.

If you’re hoping for a ton of crazy features that make the OS look and feel completely different, it’s time to temper your expectations. Like Android 7.0 Nougat, Android O focuses mostly on the nuts and bolts of making the software work better, faster and save battery.

This is all good, though. It means your battery should last longer and your device should speed up everything from navigating around to processing really complex photo tasks.

But don’t worry, there are still some goodies in here, like a cool picture-in-picture feature that will make multitasking much more convenient; a much easier copy/paste that actually seems way cooler than it has any right to be; and password autofill in Chrome for Android that’s going to save you time and typing.

One day, O will have a sweet dessert name (Oatmeal cookie? Orange sherbet!?). But it’s early days, and this is an early look at the benefits that Android O will bring.

If you want to see it for yourself, you can check out Google’s Android O public beta.

Here we go, starting with the flashiest stuff first.


Let’s say you’re watching a YouTube video and suddenly remember something you need to do. Normally, you’d have to exit out of the video and open Google Keep or your notes app to jot the reminder.

In Android O, you’ll just press the home button and the video shrinks into a movable window. The clip keeps playing while you open up Keep to write your note, or do anything else on the phone. You can reopen the YouTube video, or swipe the thumbnail away when you’re done.

It’s picture-in-picture (PIP), and if you’ve ever used a recent Samsung Galaxy phone, you may already know about the feature.

You’ll be able to play around with the PIP a little, like adjust the size or park it on the side of the screen to get it out of the way. You’ll also be able to opt out if you don’t like it. One PIP will work at a time. If you have a PIP window already running and press Home again, you won’t get a second PIP window, you’ll go to the Home screen.

Picture-in-picture will work with the likes of Google’s Duo calling app and Netflix at first; support for Maps will come later. I’m really excited about a Maps PIP because it means you can navigate in a tiny thumbnail while you do other things, like check your email, browse Facebook or text.

New app notifications

You already get alerts in the pull-down notifications shade at the top of the screen, but with Android O, you’ll see a dot appear next to an app icon that tells you you have an unread item.

Here’s the best part. You can press and hold the app icon to expand the message and take a peek at the alert content inside.

Sound familiar? Both the notification badges and peeking take a page from Apple iOS on the iPhone and iPad; specifically, they’ve both had badges for years. Nevertheless, these are two features I welcome on Android.

Notifications are synced between the dot and the notifications shade, so tapping one will clear the other. Eagle-eyed users may notice that the color of the dot matches the app icon.

Auto-fill (like on Chrome)

Typing your name and password over and over again into the same device is annoying. So Google is carrying over autofill from Chrome on the desktop to Chrome on mobile. Yesss!

You’ll see a prompt to add fill fields like your username, password, address, credit card number — you get it. Simply click to fill. Two clicks and you’re in.

Android O’s autofill feature will support third-party providers, too. So if you launch Twitter, O will suggest your username and password. The grand hope is that autofill will take the pain out of moving between devices.

Better copy and paste

If you’re like me, you quietly put up with copy and paste on mobile because there’s no other choice. Selecting a phone number, email address or phrase doesn’t always work perfectly, and you spend time fidgeting with the selection bars in the right place.

With Android O, you just long press or double-tap anywhere on the phrase to select a phone number, address, business, name or place. It all links into Google’s database and your contact list.

In addition to asking if you want to copy the selection, the system will suggest opening the dialer if you tap a number, Gmail if you tap a email handle and Maps if you select a street address.

Faster Android behind the scenes

Google wants to make Android faster. In fact, the company says that Android O is more than twice as fast as Android Nougat. That goes for boot times (those apparently dropped from 35 to 13 seconds on the Pixel) to apps like Google Sheets running a hell of a lot faster.

So it’s created a way to process complex tasks — like the camera recognizing an object, or interacting with Google Assistant — on the device instead of in the cloud.

Another look at Android O’s picture-in-picture mode.


(The technical name for this is TensorFlow Lite, which puts machine learning tasks on the phone, so the device can instantly take care of the job in real-time, rather than ping the cloud and wait for a response.)

Big ole battery boost

There’s already Doze, which saves battery by silencing background activity while you’re idle. This is different. Android O introduces restrictions on background apps. It won’t stop syncing your mail, but it will keep certain apps from running down your battery and hogging all your memory. The system will also flash a badge that lets you know something’s running in the background, like a tracker.

Keep tabs on app security in Google Play Store

Android already scans every app you install on your phone and wipes out the bad ones. That’s built into the Google Play Store. Android O makes it more obvious, giving you a heads-up that scans are happening and that your apps are safe.

Called Google Play Protect, it’s meant to give you extra peace of mind that your apps aren’t compromised.

No Need for Phone Books in Information Age

Studies show that phone books are heading for museums; a poll of 2,000 individuals in New Hampshire and Maine conducted recently showed that people are using the books at shockingly low numbers. Of the people polled, the heaviest users of phone books were individuals aged 45 to 75, in which almost 100% had used a phone book in the past month to look up a business or individual’s phone number. But as the age of those polled decreased, so did their use of phone books. Ages 45 to 35 used phone books on average less than once a month. Ages 35 to 25 used phone books only twice in the past year, and only 8% of individuals aged 25 to 18 had used a phone book in the past year. The study correlates with research that shows people are increasingly using the Internet to find information that phone books have traditionally been used for.

Get Your Business Online or it’s Invisible

The primary way that consumers now search for local businesses – even ones that don’t sell a single item online – is through a web search via the Internet. Consumers in the 18 to 25-year-old bracket use a web search on average once a week to find goods and services that people used to look up in the phone book or through classified ads in newspapers and trade journals. The key for a business is to get their business registered as a top-level domain. Say if they’re a bird pet store in Portland, they could have Getting a domain name and then having a website located there is essential, since web search engines use the words in a domain name as a key means of satisfying a user’s search with a correct answer. So even though unused phone book directories are heading for extinction and museum archiving, people are using the Internet to get live, dynamic information about business. Domain name services and web hosting are a competitive means for business to get online, and stay relevant to younger consumers.

Who Does the Shopping On the Internet?

Marketing researchers keep tabs on who’s buying what on the Internet in order to help retailers optimize sales. Since the inception of online shopping in the mid-90s, the online shopping market has adjusted from mostly college-educated males to one that correlates with traditional shopping trends; 57% of the purchases on the Internet are conducted by women, and most of those woman are between 24 and 36 years old. Almost all online shoppers are middle class and upper class, as online shopping requires steady Internet access, a computer and a secure bank account or credit card. To sum up, the majority of online shopping is conducted by middle-to-upper class women with money for luxury items. This presents a market eager for goods and services for online businesses and entrepreneurs.

How to Access the Online Market

If you represent a business that has goods to sell online, it’s easy to get on the Internet and start selling, because your presence online is scalable; you can start out small to test the waters with a minimum of expenditures, and then grow if you find your products do well. Most retailers these days have at least a web presence, since the Internet is now such an important tool for customer to find businesses. If you don’t yet have a website, then you need to secure a domain name (a web address, like, for example), and then get a website. To have a website, you need web hosting – you have to rent space on an Internet server (a computer that’s on at all times and connected to the Internet). This part is called web hosting. Getting a domain name, a website, and web hosting are the first three steps to getting online and getting eyes to your products.

Once You’re Online

You can start taking orders for products over the Internet even just by email, but if you want to setup a shopping experience you’ll have to invest in making a shoppable website, or buying pre-packaged software. There are also consultants who can guide you through the whole process.


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