News and notes from Android team
Google Play Books introduces Bubble Zoom
Thursday, July 21, 2016
Whether it’s reading up on the origins of
or enjoying a reboot like
Invincible Iron Man
, we all love our heroes and villains and there’s nothing more thrilling than flipping through your favorite comic when the battle is on — THWACK!
Last year, Google Play made it easier to find and read your favorite comics on your phone or tablet, including a new
vertical scrolling experience
. We wanted to use our superpowers, like machine learning, to improve the digital comics experience even further. Machine learning is the technology that makes the digital things in your life more useful, like finding the right image in Google Photos by searching for “hugs” to “dogs.” So what happens when we bring our machine learning capabilities to the world of comics?
At San Diego Comic-Con 2016, we just announced
: a new way to read digital comics on phones and tablets. Using the same technology to recognize objects in photos, we trained our system to identify speech bubbles in comics. Bubble zoom expands the speech bubbles of a comic one-tap-at-a-time, making them super easy to read on your mobile device. It’s much easier to read digital comics one-handed as Bubble Zoom automatically identifies and expands each speech bubble for readability. No more compromising the full-page experience or getting lost while panning around.
“Justice League (2011) Origin - Vol 1.” and “Invincible Iron Man Vol 1.” read using Bubble Zoom
Bubble Zoom will be available on the latest version of
Google Play Books app
for Android as a technical preview with all Marvel and DC collected volumes supported
We’re also celebrating this preview with a 50% off sale on select DC Comics and Marvel comics in the Google Play Store — just use the code
by July 24th, 2016.
Rolling out today, you can upgrade Play Books and provide feedback on supported comic volumes in the app as this exclusive experience is only the first step. As we continue to teach our machines to read more comic book styles, our goal is to eventually bring
to all the comics and manga ever made.
So stay on the lookout for Bubble Zoom and by Odin’s beard…go read some comics!
Posted by Greg Hartrell, Head of Product, Google Play Books
Stay connected abroad with high speed data from Project Fi
Tuesday, July 12, 2016
When you’re traveling abroad, your phone is an essential tool – for finding a great restaurant, posting pics of your trip online, or translating a sign. But the data we have access to when traveling abroad often isn’t fast or affordable enough to let us do the tasks that matter most. Which could be why only 20% of Americans opt to use their cellular data when traveling internationally,
instead choosing to jump between Wi-Fi hotspots or scramble for a local SIM card.
Starting today, all Project Fi subscribers have access to high speed data in 135+ destinations. With the addition of
to the Project Fi network, we’re now able to deliver speeds 10-20X faster than before. And, just as before, there are no extra fees for using data internationally – you pay the same $10/GB that you do at home.
We’re also now offering more coverage internationally, with service in more than a dozen additional countries totaling
135+ destinations worldwide
. Fi customers now have access to high speed data in over 97% of the places Americans travel internationally.
Leaving home shouldn’t mean leaving connectivity behind. With the addition of faster speeds and more countries for the same fair price, we’re one step closer to making your phone as easy to use abroad as it is at home.
P.S. To help make your first trip abroad with Project Fi a little easier we’ll be offering $150 off the Nexus 6P for the next week when you buy and activate with
. The promotion will go live on our website at 10:00 am PT today.
Posted by Tyler Kugler, Product Manager, Project Fi
1) Google Consumer Survey, U.S., 6/29/16, n=403
2) U.S. Department of Commerce, International Trade Administration, United States Resident Travel Abroad Report, 2012
Introducing Nearby: A new way to discover the things around you
Thursday, June 9, 2016
The Play Store offers over one million apps - many of which are created to be used in specific locations or situations. The right app at the right moment lets you get more done. For example, at a store, you may want a barcode scanner to check prices and reviews for an item. Or when you're at a museum, an audio tour would enhance the experience as you make your way around the exhibits.
But, getting the right apps at the right time can be tough if you don’t already know about them. So, we're introducing a new Android feature called Nearby, which notifies you of of things that can be helpful near you.
Print photos directly from your phone at
Explore historical landmarks at the
University of Notre Dame
Download the audio tour when you're at
Skip the customs line at select airports with
app for free in-flight entertainment while you wait at the gate, before you board your flight.
Select Google devices, including Google Cast and Android Wear watches, will also let you set them up simply by tapping a notification when you're near them.
Earlier this year, we started experimenting with surfacing websites relevant to a place in Chrome through the
Physical Web project
. In addition to displaying relevant apps, Nearby will surface these websites directly from Android. To deploy your own beacons that work with Nearby, check out our
developer blog post
To use Nearby, just turn on Bluetooth and Location, and we'll show you a notification if a nearby app or website is available. Once you’ve opted-in, tapping on a notification takes you straight into the intended experience. If you're not interested, just swipe it away to give us a clear signal.
Nearby has started rolling out to users as part of the upcoming Google Play Services release and will work on Android 4.4 (KitKat) and above.
Posted by Akshay Kannan, Product Manager, Nearby
More speed and coverage with U.S. Cellular — now part of Project Fi
Wednesday, June 8, 2016
Mobile connectivity is central to everything we do. The speed and consistency of our network determines whether we can share a photo with a loved one or get that split-second answer when we need it most. With Project Fi, you can get the highest quality connection at all times - whether on Wi-Fi or one of our partner cellular networks. Today, we’re excited to introduce
as our newest partner network.
U.S. Cellular, one of the top mobile networks in the U.S., offers service in 23 states with 4G LTE coverage for more than 99% of their subscribers, both urban and rural. With the addition of a third network, Project Fi now gives you more coverage and speed, helping you stay connected wherever you are.
How does this work?
In most areas, multiple cellular networks are available — in fact, the majority of Project Fi usage occurs in areas where more than one of our partners offers LTE coverage. But factors like obstructions from nearby buildings can meaningfully impact the speed and coverage available from each LTE connection. By analyzing speeds from each network, Project Fi is able to predict the fastest network at your location — down to the city block — and automatically connect you. We’re constantly adapting to consider how factors like new cell towers and newly-available radio frequencies are impacting real-world speeds.
Part of Project Fi’s promise is to ensure you have connection when you need it, even in areas with poor speeds or limited coverage. Your Fi device recognizes when your connection is weak and adjusts in real time. By accessing multiple cellular networks, Fi users have a connection nearly 99% of the time, and spend about 95% of cellular time on LTE — which will improve even further with the addition of U.S. Cellular.
U.S. Cellular coverage will be automatically rolling out to all users over the coming weeks. We’re excited to add our third partner and hope
you’ll join us, too
Posted by Evan Jacobs, Product Manager, Project Fi
The soundtrack of your next trip is on TripAdvisor with Google Play Music
Wednesday, May 25, 2016
It’s almost summer. Want to get away? Whether you’re in search of gold at the Olympics in Rio or enjoying the good life in the South of France, we want you to have everything you need, including music for the right moment. That’s why Google Play Music teamed up with TripAdvisor to offer Android users a new music experience on the
TripAdvisor Android app
with locally-themed music stations based on the destination of your choice.
Starting today, with the TripAdvisor Android app you can access a wide array of well-known and hidden-gem soundtracks for popular cities to listen to whether you’re in travel planning mode or on a road trip exploring the globe. This new app feature is in more than
around the world where Google Play Music is available.
Wherever you go, or whenever you start planning your next vacation, TripAdvisor and Google Play Music have your ultimate holiday soundtrack sorted. Travelers can listen to
while sipping an espresso in Rome, rave to the
Underground Club Sounds of Berlin
and dance to
Sao Paulo Funk
Not a Google Play Music subscriber? No problem. If you don’t have it already, download the TripAdvisor Android app today and get a 2-month trial of Google Play Music. So go plan your next vacation…now with music that’s just right for you.
Posted by Brandon Bilinski, Product Manager, Google Play Music
New additions to the Android TV and Google Cast family
Wednesday, May 18, 2016
More Android TV devices and features on the way with Android N release
delivers thousands of your favorite movies, shows, games and apps to your living room. We’ve extended Android TV to millions of users globally with support from hardware partners and TV service providers. Today, we’re excited to welcome even more TVs and set-top boxes to the lineup.
Sony and Sharp are adding to their Android TV product lines with Sony’s 2016 BRAVIA and Sharp’s Net Player. New devices are also on the way with RCA’s first Android TV, and Xiaomi’s sleek 4K set-top box. And in Europe, Android TV will be available from Beko, Grundig and Vestel starting in June.
Hardware is only half of the picture. In addition to the hundreds of apps currently available, many new apps are coming to Android TV such as CNN, Comedy Central, MTV, Freeform, Nickelodeon, Spotify, STARZ, WATCH ABC, WATCH Disney Channel, WATCH Disney Junior, ESPN and many more. Plus, new features available in Android N will make it easier to watch your favorite programs. Here’s a look at what’s coming:
lets users play video while browsing other content.
brings recording functionality to live TV.
High Dynamic Range:
supports the next frontier in 4K UHD video.
Google Cast scales to more TVs and displays
, which is built into all Android TV devices, is also expanding. In March, we
the first displays with Google Cast from Vizio. Those are now joined by a lineup of TVs from Magnavox, Philips, Polaroid, Toshiba, Westinghouse and more. All Google Cast devices–TVs, displays, speakers, Chromecast, and Chromecast Audio–will be supported by the Google Cast app. You can use the app to discover 1000+ Cast-enabled apps, set up almost any Cast device, and receive the latest content recommendations.
Posted by Sascha Prueter, Program Manager, Android TV
Android Pay now in the UK, new countries on the way
Wednesday, May 18, 2016
Starting today, Android Pay is now available in the UK, one of the most advanced contactless nations in the world. Android Pay helps people pay for things simply and securely with their Android smartphones. This builds on the launch of Android Pay in the
last year, with new countries coming soon.
So, where does Android Pay work in the UK?
You will be able to use Android Pay everywhere contactless payments are accepted including your favourite high street stores like Boots, Starbucks and Waitrose and pay for the Tube, bus and train with
Transport for London
. Just tap with your phone as you would with your card. It’s that simple. And businesses across the country with contactless terminals won’t need to do anything else to be able to accept Android Pay in store.
Android Pay will also speed up checkout in your favourite apps including JD Sports, Deliveroo, YPlan, and
Also, we will be launching Android Pay Day, bringing special offers each month to brighten the last week before pay day. Starbucks UK and Deliveroo will be among the first to reward Android Pay users in the UK. Stay tuned for more offers which will roll out in the months to come.
To start using Android Pay you’ll need to
download the Android Pay app on Google Play
and have an eligible MasterCard or Visa credit or debit card from one of our supported banks, such as Bank of Scotland, First Direct, Halifax, HSBC, Lloyds Bank, M&S Bank, MBNA and Nationwide Building Society, with new banks being added all the time.
Security is at the centre of Android Pay. With industry standard tokenisation, Android Pay doesn’t send merchants your real card number when you purchase. Android Pay also makes it convenient to keep track of payments and to lock your device if it becomes lost or stolen.
Android Pay will soon be available in Singapore and Australia. And we will continue to add more countries, features, banks and stores in the coming months—making it even easier to pay with your Android phone around the globe.
Get started with Android Pay in the UK today:
download the app on Google Play
, add your card and start shopping. It’s as easy as Tap. Pay. Done.
Posted by Pali Bhat, Senior Director, Product Management
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