Google Navigation Comes To Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Qatar And Other Countries

Google and Apple have a history of launching their new services only in the United States first, and then slowly expanding it to other regions of the world. Sadly, some of the most brilliant services from these companies like the free turn-by-turn map navigation from Google and iTunes Match from Apple are not available in most of the third world countries.

Google, thankfully, has showed some love to third world countries, and recently enabled free turn-by-turn navigation and live traffic information in India. Today, Google has shown some of its navigation love to Android users in Lebanon, Egypt, Qatar, Algeria, Kuwait, Bahrain, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.

The bad news? The free service will only be available to Android devices running Android 4.0 ICS or higher.

Hopefully, Google will expand its free navigation services to more countries in the world, and will also work on bringing Play Books, Play Music and Play Movies to some third world countries.

500 Million Android Devices Activated Globally With 1.3 Million Being Activated Daily

Google’s answer to iPhone and BlackBerry, Android, may have started on a rocky note but has emerged as one of the most successful products from the company’s stable.

While the original Motorola Droid and Nexus One helped people notice Android, Galaxy S and the EVO 4G made people buy Android handsets. Then came the Galaxy S II which made people drool for Android devices like they do for the iPhone and iPad.

Thanks to numerous Android devices, our favorite little Andy has been growing very fast. Today, when a few hours from now, Apple will be announcing the next-generation iPhone, Google’s Director of Product Management announced via his Google+ page that there are now more than 500 million Android devices out there, with 1.3 million being added every day.

This is nothing short of amazing considering that the 1.3 Million figure was at 700,000 back in July this year. The launch of the Galaxy S3 has clearly helped Android’s growth in the 2nd half of 2012. Things might slow-down after today, when the next-generation iPhone is unveiled by Apple, but even then, we should be easily seeing nearly 2 million Android devices activated daily at the end of 2012.

Oh! and the Jelly Bean statue is back in Googleplex!

Google Launches Native YouTube App for iPhone

Earlier this year, we reported that the YouTube app from iOS 6 had been removed due to the end of licensing terms. At that time, Google promised that a native iOS apps was in the works. Today, Google has released a new native YouTube app for iPhone. YouTube had previously been one of the built-in iOS apps since the original iPhone launch.

The app is available via the App Store and is a free download. However, the app does have ads in order to support the “tens of thousands” of new videos. Currently, the app does not support the iPad, but the NY Times reports that a native iPad app is in the works.

For the first time in a native iOS experience, YouTube will show pre-roll adds ahead of its mobile videos. That’s the bad news.

The good news is that with more monetization comes more content. Thanks to mobile ad capabilities baked into its own app, YouTube will unlock tens of thousands of music videos from VEVO and others that were not viewable on the old app.

I have been using the app since last night and really like it. The app’s icon needs a lot of work though.

Google Starts Notifying Users About Birthdays

Birthday reminders are nothing new to social networking sites and we already know how useful and popular it is on Facebook. Now, Google is adding a similar feature on Google Plus and its others services reminding you about someone in your circles is celebrating his/her birthday.

Irene Chung, Staff Software Engineer at Google, updated her Google Plus profile with the following post:

Everyone deserves a little love on their birthday, so we’re making it easier for you and your friends to celebrate on Google. Starting today, you’ll see a reminder on Google.com when someone in your circles has a birthday! From there it’s easy to share a fun message, photo, or video with the birthday gal or guy.

With this new birthday reminders feature, Google is trying to push notifications into search page results, which perhaps is part of their marketing strategy for its social networking site Google+ along with its other online services and products.

To allow people in your circles to be reminded of your birthday, you first need to update your birth day and grant Google the permission to show the notification. To do so, go to https://plus.google.com/up/birthday and set you date of birth. You can also set the visibility of your birthday as to who can view you it. You can either make it visible to public or only to your circles (or a specific circle only).

Please note, by default, your date of birth (day and month only) will be visible to people in Your Circles. You can change it by using the above mentioned link.

Irene added that birthday reminder notifications are currently available only if you’re searching in English on Google.com. It will be rolled out all users in the next few days. We also expect that this feature will be available to all other languages as well.

Google Navigation Now Available In India

Google Navigation is undoubtedly one of the best navigation (and free!) services available out there for Android. However, like most of the Google services out there, Google Navigation is only available in the United States, Canada and a few other regions of the world.

Today, Google has silently rolled out its Navigation feature to Android users in India. Rumors of the service coming to India started floating around since yesterday, when Google India uploaded a video that demonstrated the Navigation feature working in India.

In a country with more than a billion people, and millions of Android handset owners, this move from Google will definitely be appreciated by a lot of people. The Navigation service, itself, still remains in beta though.

This move from Google has also effectively killed the local sat-nav. GPS providers in India including MapMyIndia. While the maps from MapMyIndia and other such services might be more detailed and accurate, the free price tag of Google Maps and its Navigation service is too good to be ignored.

comScore: Android, Apple Continue to Rule U.S. Smartphone Market in July

It’s that time of the year when comScore releases its report on the U.S. mobile phone market. It has revealed numbers for the quarter ending July 2012, and the numbers aren’t really surprising.

Apple was the only OEM which gained in terms of mobile phone market share last quarter. It managed to increase its market share by 1.9% to 16.3%, while both Samsung and LG lost less than 1% each, ending up with 25.6% and 18.4% of the market respectively. Motorola shed some market share to end up with 11.2% of the market, while HTC, surprisingly, gained 0.4% share to end up with 6.4%. The overall mobile phone market expanded to around 234 million.

Smartphone users increased to more than 114 million in the U.S., and the market was dominated by Google’s Android and Apple’s iPhone. Google increased its share of the smartphone market by 1.4% to 52.2%, while Apple increased its share by 2% to 33.4%.

RIM, Microsoft and Symbian all lost market share. While I wouldn’t bet on the same for RIM and Symbian, Microsoft could reverse the trend in the next quarter with the holiday season coming up, and Windows Phone 8 coming next month.

With the iPhone 5 launching in the next week, expect Apple’s share of the market to shoot up again when comScore reports the numbers in November.

via comScore

End Of Summer Sale On Play Store – Max Payne, Swiftkey 3, And Other Popular Apps Go On Sale

It looks like Google has silently started another sale on the Play Store. While not quite the 5 cent deal that Google did last year, this year’s ‘End of Summer Sale’ has some of the popular games and apps available at dirt cheap rates.

The highlight of the sale is probably Rockstar’s Max Payne mobile for Android. The game is available for purchase on the Play Store for only $0.99 instead of its usual price of $2.99. In addition to Max Payne, quite a few other popular Android apps and games have gone on sale. This includes the best keyboard available for Android, Swiftkey, for a mere $0.99. Other apps include Vignette, Super Dynamite Fishing Premium, Crystal Defenders from the makers of Final Fantasy, The Lorax and more.

The whole list of games and apps along with their reduced prices can be found on Slick Deals website. Expect Google to add more awesome games and apps to the sale so keep checking the Play Store for some awesome deals.

Via – Reddit

Google Starts Selling The Nexus 7 In France, Germany And Spain

When Google and ASUS unveiled the Nexus 7 at I/O earlier this year, both the companies were mum on the global availability of the tablet. With demand and supply somewhat stabilizing in the United States, Google and ASUS have finally turned their attention to other regions of the world.

Starting from today, ASUS and Google will start selling the Nexus 7 in France, Germany and Spain. The price point of the tablet remains the same at €199 Euros for the 8GB variant of the tablet, and €249 for the 16GB variant of the tablet. The tablet will be available for purchase directly from Google’s Play Store.

Google has been showing France and Germany quite a lot of love recently, first with the availability of Movies, then Books and now, the Nexus 7 itself.

Via – TheVerge

 

Swiftkey, Instagram, Google Maps and Google+ For Android Updated!

Over the last few days, quite a lot of Android apps have got major updates. First in the list is the best keyboard available for Android, Swiftkey. The latest update to the keyboard introduces a couple of sub-par themes, support for new languages like Malay and Urdu, and finally brings dictation support for devices running Ice Cream Sandwich or higher. There are also some bug-fixes, Jelly Bean compatibility fixes and UI enhancements. The updated version of the app is already live in the Play Store and can be downloaded from here.

Second in the list is Instagram. The v3.0 update of the app brings with it a new feature — Photo Maps! — along with a new UI for user profiles and other parts of the app. Photo Maps! allows users to browse all the photos clicked from their followers on a map which is being cited by Instagram as “a fun, new way of browsing photos”. The updated version can be downloaded from the Play Store.

Third in the list is Google maps. The latest update of the app brings some pretty major changes including improved transit information layer, a much more useful Location History feature that shows your visited places on a day-by-day basis and finally, a new icon.

Last but not the least, Google also updated the official Google+ app for Android. The latest version allows users to join Hangouts on air right from their mobile device. Other changes include shortcuts to creating new posts, events and sharing your location right on top. The updated Google+ app can be downloaded from here.

Google Enables Smart App Updates On Play Store

Google seems to be hard on improving the Android ecosystem. The company is silently working on bringing Gift Cards to the Play Store. Today, the big G has brought another new feature to the Play Store – Smart App Updates. The company had announced about Smart App updates during the Jelly Bean keynote at Google I/O this year.

Smart App Updates are like OTA software updates that your phone gets, except that it is for the apps installed on your phone. So, if you have a 30MB app installed on your phone and an update is available for it, you will not have to download the whole 30MB APK again. Instead, only the updated part of the APK will be downloaded and installed, thus saving bandwith.

The feature is already available to all Android users running Ice Cream Sandwich or higher. If not, wait for a few days and the feature should go live in your region soon. Keep in mind that the Play Store download progress bar will show the full size of the APK, but only download the updated part of the APK.