Chrome OS gets a flat Material Design makeover

Chrome OS gets a flat Material Design makeover

With Google tying Android ever more closely with Chrome OS, it was inevitable that Material Design would bleed into Chromebooks and now a designer has revealed all with screenshots no less.

Google designer Sebastien Gabriel wrote a blog post on Dribble detailing how the next version of Chrome OS will include a complete revamp of the core interface. The overall look of the browser and menus is flatter, shaper and follows a much lighter tone as well. Some more minute changes include sharper corners on windows and reshaped tabs.

Just like Material Design on Android, users will see more lively animations such as rippling and morphing buttons states. In the most dramatic shift windows will transition into a new dark when they activate Incognito browsing.

Chrome OS Material Design

Chrome OS Material Design

Alternatively, Google has also added a new "hybrid mode" made specially for touchscreen enabled Chromebooks. When activated, the interface becomes more touch friendly by enlarging virtual buttons on the screen.

The new design will rollout to Chromebooks as part of the latest update, coincidentally celebrating the big version 50 milestone.

The Material Design makeover is also coming to Chrome OS on Windows and Mac. And if you want to start using it now, simply download Chrome Canary and turn on "Material design in about:flags – though Gabriel warns that it's still a work in progress.

Via The Verge

Image Credit: Sebastien Gabriel

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Windows Ink and Cortana upgrades come to the latest Windows 10 beta

Windows Ink and Cortana upgrades come to the latest Windows 10 beta

Windows 10 power users will be happy with the latest Insider Preview build of the operating system. Build 14328 features a ton of small tweaks that come together to make Windows 10 more powerful than ever.

The biggest addition to Windows 10 is the new Windows Ink feature, which is a sketch and notepad to help you quickly jot down your thoughts. Windows 10 will automatically detect if you have a compatible stylus like the Surface Pen, allowing you to quickly access plethora of options by press the pen button.

Currently, most pens can only activate an eraser mode, and OneNote if there are two buttons. Ink is a quicker, less intrusive way to jot down notes quickly and access many more options like a digital ruler and other bite sized options.

Windows 10 Ink app preview

The Start menu is getting an overhaul as well, getting you to your apps with fewer clicks and scrolling. The most used apps and All apps list have been merged into one, and important shortcuts for File Explorer, Settings, and Power are now located to the left side.

The full-screen All Apps list makes its return on Windows tablets, letting users quickly find apps, though the icons are still frustratingly small.

Windows 10 Start menu redesign preview

And since artificial intelligence is the next big thing, Microsoft is making it easier to use its Cortana virtual assistant. Cortana can now be summoned from the lock screen, but she'll ask you for your password to access sensitive data. New users also won't have to set up Cortana before getting to use it.

Beyond these updates, there are ton of smaller tweaks in the Taskbar like a redesigned clock, which integrates your calendar events and the ability to switch audio devices quickly. Be sure to read Microsoft's entire change log to see just how many tweaks the company made to Windows 10.

Windows 10 clock and calendar menu

The Windows 10 Preview build is available today for both PC and Windows Phone for those who have opted into Insider Preview builds. Head over to your Settings app and click on "Advanced options" under the Windows Update section. Scroll down and you'll see an option to "Get Insider Preview builds."

Be warned, as these preview builds have their fair share of bugs so use a virtual machine or a spare computer to try out the updates to be safe.

All of these changes are expected to come out late this summer in the Windows 10 Anniversary Update.

  • What does Apple have cooking up for OS X Fuji?
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Siri gets chatty about Apple’s recycling robot for Earth Day

Siri gets chatty about Apple's recycling robot for Earth Day

In celebration of Earth Day, Apple's digital assistant Siri is opening up about Liam – the company's automated system for taking apart and reusing iPhones.

All it takes to learn more about Apple's recycling initiative is a voice command. A quick, "Hey Siri, tell me about Liam," yields one of several quips Siri has on the brain regarding the robo-recycler.

Siri's many, many thoughts on the its new recycling buddy

Siri then follows up with a link to Apple's Renew program, where old iPhones, iPads, and Macs are taken apart to be reborn, shiny and chrome.

The program has also proven to be a massive financial success for Apple, with Liam taking back tens of millions of dollars in reusable materials just this year alone.

YouTube : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=99Rc4hAulSg&feature=youtu.be

Apple has been no slouch in the past few weeks leading up to Earth Day, cross-promoting several products in the App Store with the World Wildlife Fund, literally going green in several Apple Stores, and promoting renewable energy in the data centers that handle your iMessages:

YouTube : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7U7Eu8u_tBw&feature=youtu.be
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10 tips on finding the best app for you

10 tips on finding the best app for you

10 tips on finding the best app for you

Apps

Whether you're on Android or iOS you have a mind boggling number of apps at your fingertips. So many in fact that actually finding the ones you'll want can be something of a challenge.

For every tricked out tool or clever keyboard there are a dozen clunky counterparts, so separating the wheat from the chaff isn't always easy.

That's assuming you even know what you're looking for, but with such a large variety of apps around there's every chance that your next favourite could be something you've not even thought of.

With that in mind we've brought you ten top tips to address all those problems and make finding the best apps for you as easy as possible. So you can spend less time searching and more time using.

1. Check out what's recommended for you

Recommended apps

If you're on Android and have already built up a library of apps your first stop should be Google's recommendations. On the 'Apps & Games' homepage you'll find a selection of apps that have been recommended for you, across various categories.

These recommendations are based on apps that are popular with people whose own app collection is similar to yours, as well as apps that your Google+ friends have liked. As such the more apps you download and the closer your friend's tastes are to your own the better the recommendations will get.

On iOS the closest equivalent to this is a 'Games You Might Like' section at the bottom of the 'Featured' screen. This too is based on your purchase history, so the more games you've downloaded the better its suggestions get.

2. Look at what others have downloaded

What others download

If there's an app you like a lot, or like the idea of and want to find something similar to, a good approach is to see what other apps those who've downloaded it have got.

On Google Play you can do this by scrolling to the bottom of the app's listing on the store, where you'll find a 'users also installed' section. Far from just having a random selection of apps though all the suggestions tend to be things of a similar category to the app you're viewing, so you'll only be shown relevant things.

A similar system exists on iOS. Just tap on the 'Related' tab for an app you're viewing and you'll be presented with a list of things that customers also bought. By using this you're essentially letting other people do the searching for you.

3. Find apps that are similar to your favourites

Similar apps

As well as letting you see what other apps people have bought, both Google Play and the App Store highlight what they believe to be similar apps to whatever you're looking at.

So if there's an app you like you can scroll down to the 'Similar apps' section on its page on Google Play, or check out the top apps in the same category by hitting the 'Related' button on the App Store.

The results are often similar to what you'll find when looking at what other people have downloaded, but there will inevitably be some differences, so it's worth checking both lists.

4. Pay attention to reviews and scores

Reviews

A stranger's opinion might not mean much, but when thousands of strangers have all reviewed and rated an app it can start to build up a more convincing picture of whether that app is any good.

A quick glance at the average score of an app on either Google Play or the App Store can usually tell you whether it's worth any more of your attention- less than three stars and the answer is probably no.

Having said that, you should also look at how many people have reviewed an app. If it's a new one there may only be a small number of ratings, in which case the average score could be less accurate.

If you want to dive deeper it's also worth reading some of the reviews. Take a look at both positive and negative ones to see what people do and don't like about the app, so you can make a more informed judgement as to whether it's likely to be for you.

5. See what else a developer has made

Same developer

If you like one app by a developer there's a good chance you'll like some of their other apps. Plus, in some cases multiple apps will feed into one another. For example to get the most out of the Facebook app you'll also need the Messenger app.

So whether you're finding completely new apps or just improving an old favourite, a quick look at a developer's other offerings is always useful.

On both Android and iOS you can do this by scrolling down to near the bottom of an app listing and tapping 'Developer Apps' on iOS or 'More by…' on Android.

6. Make sure it's being supported

Updates

You want an app you can rely on, which means you want one that's still being supported and updated.

Both Google Play and the App Store tell you when an app was last updated and in general the more recent an update was the better. If it's been a few months that's not necessarily a big deal, especially if it's an app that's not likely to change much.

But if an app's not been updated in years that suggests the developer has abandoned it, meaning it's unlikely to get any better and if you run into bugs or problems you could be on your own. So save yourself the headache and opt for an app that's being shown some love.

7. Highlighted apps

Highlighted apps

Both Apple and Google do their best to highlight new and interesting apps. On Android that mostly takes the form of an 'Editors' Choice' section, which is a curated list of apps and games that the Google Play team particularly recommend.

iOS also has an 'Editors' Choice' section, along with a variety of ever changing and updated collections and lists in different categories, such as apps for your commute or for fashion lovers.

As none of these suggestions are personalised to you they might not all appeal, but one thing you can be sure of is that they'll be of high quality, so you don't have to worry about downloading a duff app.

8. Filter and browse

Filter and browse

You might not know what app you want but chances are you at least know what type of apps you're interested in, in which case you can filter apps by category on both app stores.

Then you can dive even deeper, with subcategories, recommendations and collections of apps, or just head to the top charts to see what's most popular.

It can take longer to find things this way, but you'll turn up apps that none of the tips above will find for you. Apps that haven't been highlighted by the store or downloaded by friends. In many cases that will be because they're rubbish, but there are lots of diamonds in the rough and sometimes the only way to find them is to dig deep.

9. Get creative with search terms

Search terms

Still not found an app that hits the spot? Then it could be worth doing some linguistic gymnastics and getting creative with search terms.

If you know you want to find a new social media app you've probably already tried searching 'social media', but 'social', 'social network' and 'messaging' will all turn up slightly different results. Better yet, think outside the box a bit and search for 'friends', 'groups' or 'community'.

The more creative you get in your thinking the more leftfield the app suggestions are likely to be, but sometimes that's what you need.

10. Check our app guides

App guides

Of course you don't need to do any of that, because we've already done the hard work for you. Whether you're interested in the best iPhone apps, best free iPhone apps, best Android apps, best free Android apps or something more specific like the best Android Wear apps or even the best apps to use in your car, we've got a carefully curated and regularly updated list for you.

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Updated: Android 6 Marshmallow update: when can I get it?

Updated: Android 6 Marshmallow update: when can I get it?

Google, Samsung, HTC, Sony and LG

Update: The LG V10 is now getting the update to Marshmallow for those on AT&T as well as athose on Verizon and T-Mobile. While the Honor 5X is also in for the update soon, according to the company.

Android Marshmallow is here (for some). There are battery life improvements, greater app permission controls, standardized support for fingerprint scanners, more granular volume controls, USB-C support and new Google Now features, all part of a mix that makes this an exciting upgrade for users. But is your phone actually going to get it?

The release process for Android updates is more complicated than Apple's iOS updates, and just because an update has been launched that doesn't necessarily mean you'll have access to it.

In fact, you probably won't. It's down to device manufacturers, and in some countries the carriers too, who spend quite a bit of time with the new software before releasing it to their devices.

Android

If you own a Nexus device you're in luck, as not surprisingly Google's new software has landed on those first – and manufacturers like Motorola are generally better at getting updates out quickly. But other manufacturers are a little less predictable.

While most phones are still waiting on Marshmallow, we are already seeing the gentle roll out of the Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow update, with new emojis and a few little bug fixes bundled in for good measure.

To make the latest Android update less of a mystery, here's our constantly updated information on when it's likely to land on your phone.

Disclaimer: This article includes information for the rollout of Android Marshmallow software, but depending on region, mobile operator and carrier it can take longer than expected.

Google and Nexus

Nexus 6

Google has updated its Nexus range of products to Android Marshmallow. It includes the Nexus 5, Nexus 6, Nexus 7 (2013), Nexus 9, Nexus Player, Pixel C and the whole range of Android One devices. The Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P both launched with Android 6 on board.

The developers preview for Android 7 N is already out and you can download it on all the previously mentioned devices - apart from the Nexus 5.

Samsung

Galaxy S6

Samsung did a pretty good job of getting Android Lollipop on to its phones rapidly, but it has slowed things down considerably for the Marshmallow launch.

The Samsung Galaxy S6, Galaxy S6 Edge, Galaxy S5 and Galaxy Note 4 are in the process of getting the update, while the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge launched with Marshmallow pre-installed.

The latest phone to start getting the update is the Samsung Galaxy Note 5. The phone didn't launch in the UK and the update is just for those on T-Mobile in the US right now.

The Galaxy S6 Edge+ is the next phone expected to get the update. There's still no word from Samsung whether the Galaxy S4, Samsung Galaxy Alpha and Galaxy Note 3 will get the update.

As for tablets, we expect the Galaxy Tab S2, Galaxy Tab S and Galaxy Note Pro 12.2 will get the Marshmallow software, but there's no official word yet.

HTC

HTC One M9

The update is in the process of rolling out for those who have the HTC One M9 and HTC One M8.

HTC has confirmed the One A9, Desire Eye and One E9 will also get the Android Marshmallow update but there's no word on timing yet.

HTC also confirmed back in September 2015 that it will be updating the HTC One M9+, HTC One E9, HTC One ME, HTC One E8, HTC One M8 EYE, HTC Butterfly 3, HTC Desire 826, HTC Desire 820 and HTC Desire 816. It has taken a long time so far and HTC hasn't commented on when it'll be coming either.

Sony

Sony

Sony is faring much better, with the Xperia Z5, Xperia Z5 Compact, Xperia Z5 Premium, Xperia Z4 Tablet, Xperia Z3+, Xperia Z3, Xperia Z3 Compact, Xperia Z2 Tablet, Xperia Z2 all seeing the Android 6 Marshmallow update rolling out.

Sony has confirmed it is still working on bringing the update to the Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact, Xperia M5, Xperia C5 Ultra, Xperia M4 Aqua and Xperia C4.

Both the Xperia Z1 and Xperia Z1 Compact will be missing out this time though.

LG

LG G4

LG hasn't shared any official details for the rollout yet, but the LG G4 is already getting the update and the LG G5 launched with Android 6 software already installed. LG has also started rolling out the update for the LG V10 on T-Mobile, Verizon and AT&T.

Other phones that may get the Android 6 Marshmallow upgrade included the LG G3, LG G Flex 2 and LG G4c - but there's no official word yet.

Motorola, OnePlus, Huawei, Asus and ZTE.

Motorola

Moto X

Motorola is updating the Moto X Style, Moto X Play, Moto X Force, Moto G 2015, Moto G 2014, Moto E (2nd gen), Moto X 2014 and Moto X Pure Edition (2015).

It'll also come to the 2014 version of the Moto X Pure Edition, the 2014 Moto G and Moto G with 4G LTE, the Moto MAXX, Moto Turbo, Droid Turbo and the Nexus 6.

Huawei

Huawei Mate 8

The company has confirmed that in China the Huawei P8, Huawei P8 Max, Mate S, Ascend Mate 7, P8 Youth Edition, G7, G7 Plus, X2, 4X and Play 4C will be getting Android 6.0 at some point, though it's uncertain whether they'll all get updated to it elsewhere in the world. Huawei also hasn't stated exactly when the Android 6 Marshmallow updates will arrive.

OnePlus

OnePlus One

The OnePlus One is currently receiving its own version of Android 6 Marshmallow in the form of Cyanogen OS 13.

The OnePlus 2 is currently getting the Android M public beta and OnePlus is busy implementing the feedback ready for the over the air update, which is expected soon. The OnePlus X will also be receiving the Android 6 update, but there's no word from the company on when it'll be ready to go.

BlackBerry

BlackBerry Priv

The BlackBerry Priv was the first phone from the Canadian manufacturer to feature Android software. BlackBerry told techradar, "We are working on Marshmallow but have no dates to share yet. We are working hard to get there quickly".

The BlackBerry Priv beta has just begun, but to be a part of it you'll need to have already signed up before the end of the first week in April.

Asus

Zenfone 2

Asus is another company which often isn't particularly speedy with its updates. Asus has confirmed to techradar the PadFone S, ZenFone 2, ZenFone 2 Deluxe, ZenFone 2 Deluxe Special Edition, ZenFone 2 Laser, ZenFone Selfie, ZenFone Max and ZenFone Zoom are all set to get the update to Android 6.

As for timing, it won't be until Q2 2016 so expect it somewhere in between April and the end of June this year.

Honor

Honor 6

Honor has revealed its update schedule for Marshmallow and it's not going to be long now. The Honor 7 is already getting the update while Honor has released a teaser suggesting the Honor 5X will be up next.

It's expected the Honor 6, Honor 6 Plus and Honor 4X will get the update in April, but right now it's not certain.

ZTE

Blade S6

ZTE doesn't always bother to update its phones, so if you have one you may have to make do without Android Marshmallow. The ZTE Axon Pro is getting the Marshmallow update, but that seems to be it.

Nvidia

Nvidia Shield

The Nvidia Shield Tablet ATV is already receiving the Android 6 Marshmallow update. It will then come to the Shield Tablet K1 and the original Shield tablet, but so far it's unclear when.

Other manufacturers

Nextbit currently has one phone, the Nextbit Robin, and it will soon see the update to Android 6 Marshmallow. The Robin was released at the end of February running Android Lollipop, but Nextbit has now confirmed it will start rolling out the update in the second half of April.

What do you get with Android 6.0 Marshmallow?

While you're waiting to get Android 6.0 Marshmallow, you'd probably like to know more about the new features it incorporates. We've been playing around with the new OS, and here are some of our favorite features.

It's not a big design-based update like Lollipop was. Material Design is still intact here, and most of the focus is on new features and bug fixes.

Android Pay

Android Pay

Technically you can use Android Pay without the Marshmallow software, but having the latest OS is certainly a big help.

The update to Marshmallow brings with it fingerprint sensor functionality for the first time, so you don't even need to open up an app – you can just unlock your phone with your finger and place it on the contactless payment terminal.

Android Pay

Third-party apps are also supported within Marshmallow, making it much easier to buy stuff directly in your Android phone.

However, Android Pay is only available in the US right now, and there are no clear plans for when it'll be rolling out around the world.

Android Marshmallow fingerprint support

We've seen some smartphone manufacturers already include fingerprint scanners in their devices, but with Android Marshmallow Google is standardizing support across the platform.

You can use a fingerprint scanner to unlock your device and pay for media from the Google Play Store, and the fingerprint scanning tech is also open to developers. That means devs can build it into their own applications, enabling you to sign into them without a password and pay for goods using Android Pay.

Android Marshmallow voice controls

Android 6.0 opens the way for improved voice control features thanks to the new Voice Interaction API, which will enable app developers to build voice control directly into their apps.

This means owners of Android Marshmallow devices will soon be able to speak to their apps – and the apps will even talk back.

One of the examples Google has detailed is the TuneIn app. A user can say "OK Google, listen to music on TuneIn", and the TuneIn app will not only load, but will then ask "What genre of music would you like to listen to?".

The user can then reply with their favourite genre. This natural way of speaking to our smartphone and the apps installed on it could revolutionise the way we interact with our devices.

Google has released a video to demonstrate the potential of Voice Interaction API, which you can view below.

YouTube : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OW1A4XFRuyc&feature=youtu.be

Android Marshmallow battery life

Google has done a lot of work in the areas of battery life and power in Android Marshmallow, which will be music to many users' ears.

First up Google has developed the Doze feature. Your device will use motion sensors to detect when it hasn't been moved for an extended period of time, and will switch to a deeper sleep mode that consumes much less power.

Android Doze

Your device won't be completely useless in this mode, however, as Doze still allows for alarms to go off and key notifications to come through.

Google says it took two Nexus 9 tablets, one running Lollipop and the other Android Marshmallow, loaded the same apps and settings on both, and then tested the standby power drain on the two.

Apparently, the Nexus 9 running Android Marshmallow lasted up to two times longer than its Lollipop counterpart. It sounds impressive, and we're hoping it translates to noticeably better battery life for our devices.

Android Marshmallow Now on Tap

Android Marshmallow

With Android Marshmallow comes an intelligent new assistant feature called Now on Tap. An enhancement to Google Now, Now on Tap enables users to access information anywhere on their Android Marshmallow device, no matter what they're doing.

Users can simply tap and hold the home button to pull up a query without leaving the app or website they're in. If a friend emails you about seeing a movie, for example, Now on Tap could pull up info such as ratings or the trailer, or even enable you to buy tickets.

Android Marshmallow

You can also look at other apps on your phone, like Yelp or OpenTable, to book a dinner reservation or read reviews about a restaurant a friend has suggested.

And Now on Tap isn't just for basic info – you can also use voice searches for more specific queries, such as finding out who sings a particular song.

Android Marshmallow permissions

Android Marshmallow release date

App permissions are more intuitive in Marshmallow, giving users the option to allow or deny specific permissions within an app, rather than having to accept all permissions at once.

Currently you have to accept permissions when you download an app, but with Android Marshmallow you won't be asked to grant access to features until you come to use them for the first time in the app.

Android Marshmallow

That means, for example, that you can give WhatsApp access to your camera, but not to your microphone if you wish. You can even revoke access for a particular permission by diving into the settings if you've accidentally allowed it.

More new features on Android 6.0 Marshmallow

Android Marshmallow

Google has simplified volume controls once again with the Android Marshmallow update, with more granular control over the various audio settings on your device, from ringtones and alarms to music playback and voice calls.

Word selection has been made easier too, with Android Marshmallow highlighting text more intuitively, and a floating menu offers controls such as cut, copy and paste at your fingertips, rather than in the toolbar at the top of the display.

Fire up the Chrome web browser on Android Marshmallow and you'll benefit from Chrome Custom Tabs, which enables websites to customize the toolbar and menu of the Chrome tab to provide dedicated buttons and options.

An example shown on stage at Google IO was Pinterest, which was able to add a 'Pin' button to the toolbar on certain pages.

App linking has been vastly improved in Android Marshmallow, with Google's software now more adept at working out whether a link should be opened in a browser or a compatible app. That means fewer 'Open with' pop up boxes flashing up on screen and generally getting in the way.

Now it's just a case of sitting back and waiting for your device to get the Android Marshmallow update.

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Amazon now makes you buy Prime to get some of its best games

Amazon now makes you buy Prime to get some of its best games

Some customers have found video games on Amazon are now "exclusively for Prime Members".

Customers are clicking through to buy items in both the UK and US and finding certain titles to only be available for those who pay for Amazon's Prime service.

The PlayStation 4 version of Grand Theft Auto 5 in the US is affected while FIFA 16 in the UK is also put behind an exclusive message.

Paying extra

Customers around the world are also reporting other titles being restricted, including Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Seige, Assassin's Creed Syndicate, Far Cry Primal, Battlefield Hardline, Dishonored: Definitive Edition, Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes and Farming Simulator.

Amazon hasn't announced the initiative, but the "exclusively for Prime Members" logo has been around since at least April last year. Previously items as diverse as movies and even nappies have been affected.

The exclusivity does not appear to apply worldwide. While the US version of GTA 5 is locked, the UK listing for GTA 5 on PS4 appears to be available for purchase by anyone. Meanwhile the Xbox one version of the game is unlocked across both US and UK.

It's not yet clear whether this initiative is meant as a means of dealing with low stock levels or whether it's simply meant as an extra reason to sign up for Prime.

However, the seemingly random exclusivity of titles across platforms and regions suggests that these titles have not been specifically chosen, indicating it may be an automatic measure to ensure stock is available for Prime customers.

Thankfully you'll still be able to buy affected titles if you are on one of Prime's free 30-day trials.

When asked for comment an Amazon spokesperson said "From time to time, Amazon offers exclusive selection and pricing on select items, including select video games, for Prime members. Customers who are not Prime members can sign-up for a 30-day free trial of Amazon Prime to benefit from these exclusive prices and 30-minutes early access to select Lightning Deals, or they can purchase these items or similar products from third party sellers often fulfilled and delivered by Amazon."

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