Android Wear 2.8 Update Rolling Out with System-Wide Black Theme

Android Wear devices have small batteries, and software optimization makes all the difference when it comes to power conservation. AMOLED screens are one way some Android Wear OEMs boost battery life: Because AMOLED displays display black by switching off individual pixels, black backgrounds and watch faces save power. That’s one of the reasons why Android Wear’s screensaver-like ambient mode displays a black and white watch face, but strangely enough, most of Android Wear’s menus and options screens are grey instead of black. That might change in Android Wear 2.8, though.

As can be seen in screenshots provided by /u/Yozakgg on Reddit, Android Wear 2.8 brings a new system-wide black theme. In a support page announcing the change, Google says that it’s meant to improve visibility, which is a somewhat common complaint of Android Wear devices — some watch screens don’t get bright enough to overcome sunlight and direct light. The official changelog also mentions a new compact notification design that shows “more of […] messages at a glance”.

Android Wear 2.8 Changelog

  • This new update has improved notification glanceability with a new layout which shows more of your message at a glance.
  • We have also made the background darker for better readability.

The update is rolling out via the Android Wear companion app for Android (version 2.7.0.180439970), but some users are reporting that they aren’t seeing the new black theme. There’s a chance it might be an A/B test that Google’s only rolling out to some users — the only smartwatch known to have received it so far is the Huawei Watch 2 (pictured above).

Once the new Android Wear app installs on a smartphone that’s paired with your Android Wear smartwatch, you should see the black theme as soon as your watch updates to Android Wear version 2.8.0.181612071. You won’t find a toggle for the old gray-colored theme, unfortunately — once you get the update, there’s no going back.

Android Wear - Smartwatch (Free, Google Play) →


Source: Google Via: /r/AndroidWear

Matrix Voice is a Raspberry Pi-like Board with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa Support

The Raspberry Pi launched in February 2012 for $35, and it went on to become an incredible success. An entire ecosystem of Raspberry Pi-based products has sprung up around it, and now, there’s another to add to the list. Matrix Labs, a company that raised over $130,000 on Indiegogo, announced Friday that it’s begun shipping Matrix Voice, a Raspberry Pi-based standalone development board that allows developers to create voice-control apps quickly and easily.

Matrix Voice measures 3.14 inches in diameter and features voice recognition integration with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa. It has a radial array of 7 MEMS microphones that connected to a Xilinx Spartan6 FPGA + 64 Mbit SDRAM, and 64 GPIO pins for device-to-device pairing– 40 pins for Raspberry Pi, 16 GPIOs, 2i2c, and power pins. Other features include far-field voice capture, beamforming, acoustic source localization, noise suppression, de-reverberation and acoustic echo cancellation, and more.

Don’t have a Raspberry Pi? No problem. There’s a standalone variant of Matrix Voice, Matrix Voice WiFi/BT/MC, that has a 2.4GHz Wi-Fi and Bluetooth-enabled 32-bit microcontroller.

Source: Matrix Labs

The goal is to provide developers a platform with a platform for custom voice recognition and hardware-accelerated machine learning (ML) algorithms, Matrix Labs co-founder and CEO Rodolfo Saccoman said. “Matrix Voice is our latest addition to Matrix Labs toolbox and, like our Matrix Creator dev board, Matrix OS, and Matrix App Store,” he said in a press release. “[I]t’s accelerating the creation of next-generation voice-control apps faster and more cost-effectively than ever before.

Matrix Voice is part of Matrix ecosystem, which includes Matrix Creator, a Raspberry Pi-based developer board; the Matrix App Store, an IoT app marketplace; and Matrix OS, a platform for Matrix Creator apps.

“The Matrix Voice crowdfunding campaign proved an incredible demand for sophisticated, yet easy-to-install and affordable voice control functionality,” Mr. Saccoman said. “[T]he market wants to incorporate voice into their IoT projects, and now they can do so with MATRIX Voice.”

Matrix Voice and standalone Matrix Voice are available from Matrix’s website for $55 and $65, respectively, and will come to Newark element14 later this year. It’s manufactured by Premier Farnell, which made the company’s first product, the Matrix Creator, and also manufacturers Raspberry Pi boards.

Amazon Updates the Alexa App for Android with Voice Controls

Amazon has been killing it with its Amazon Echo smart speaker lineup, and the company’s latest moves show it isn’t slowing down anytime soon. On Friday, Amazon announced an update to the Alexa companion application for Android that adds new voice functionality.

The new Alexa app, which will come to Android devices via the Google Play Store and Amazon’s Appstore in the coming days, adds voice controls. It’s much like Amazon’s Echo speakers — you can use your voice to play music, trigger Alexa skills, and more.

Until now, the companion application for Alexa was essentially just a way to manage an Echo speaker’s settings, but the latest update makes it much more useful. We’ve seen Android smartphones such as the Huawei Mate 10 and HTC U11 offer Amazon Alexa voice capabilities, as well as smartphone accessories like Motorola’s Alexa-enabled Moto Mod, but the new app expands the feature to all Android tablets and phones.

Voice controls seem to be something the retailer’s focusing on a lot, right now — it brought voice controls to the Amazon shopping app on iOS and Android in March 2017, and to the Amazon Music app in September 2017.

There’s a reason: The competition’s fierce. The smart speaker market is booming, these days — both Google and Amazon sold millions of units during Q3 2017. And Google’s made an outsized push to bring the Google Assistant to more devices. At the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show, the search giant announced smart displays for the Assistant, third-party speakers from Sony, LG, and Lenovo with touchscreen-enabled displays that play videos, show pictures from Google Photos, and make video calls through Google Duo. They’re Google’s answer to Amazon’s Echo Spot and Echo Show.

The updated Alexa app for Android starts rolling out today. Amazon says an update to the iOS app will come a little bit later.

Amazon Alexa (Free, Google Play) →


Source: TechCrunch

LG Might Announce an Upgraded V30 at MWC Instead of the G7

LG’s mobile division has been struggling for a while now, posting ten straight quarters of operating losses and recording a $331 million loss in the third quarter of 2017. Phones like the LG G6 didn’t bolster the company’s bottom line, and there are signs that a change in strategy is underway.

LG Electronics CEO Jo Seong-Jin said at the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show last week that the company would no longer launch smartphones on a yearly basis, and would instead unveil them “as needed” and consider rebranding its G series smartphone lineup. A subsequent report suggested that LG had ordered its mobile team to can development of the upcoming LG G7 and start from scratch, pushing back the smartphone’s launch date.

Now, a report in The Korea Herald states LG might introduce an upgraded LG V30 with improved artificial intelligence (AI) features at Mobile World Congress 2018. Instead of unveiling a new model in its flagship G series, LG will reportedly announce an improved LG V30, which debuted on August 31, 2017.

The upgraded LG V30 will be called the “V30+‘α’”, according to the report, and it’s “likely” to feature Google Assistant-based AI functions.

Announcing a beefed-up V30 instead of the G7 appears to be part of LG’s new strategy to keep around high-end smartphones for a longer period of time. Mr. Seong-Jin at CES said at CES 2018 that the company needed a way to “[maintain] the existing platforms” longer.

If a new version of the V30 is announced at MWC 2018 next month, the launch of the G7 could come months after, the report noted.

A PR official at LG confirmed to The Korea Herald that some the company had announcements planned for MWC 2018, said didn’t elaborate. We expect to learn more about LG’s strategy in the coming weeks.


Source: The Korea Herald

Overstock is Now Available as a Store Option in the Google Express

Google Express (formerly Google Shopping Express) launched back in 2013, and offered same-day and overnight delivery on all sorts of products. Since then, it’s evolved into an Amazon-like marketplace with dozens of third-party stores. Recently, Google teamed up with Walmart and brought Target on board, and this week announced a new partner: Overstock. Overstock.com items are now available through the Google Express application and website.

Google Express started as something of a delivery middleman, offering same-day and overnight shipping from retailers that didn’t have store-to-home services of their own. It charged a subscription and tacked on a service fee between $4 and $10 per item, which wasn’t as appealing to online shoppers as the company hoped it’d be. Google pivoted as a result, partnering with a number of grocery and retail outlets in the United States to offer exclusive online discounts and products. I don’t have a Costco where I live, but I’m able to order some items from Google Express from Costco that aren’t listed on the Costco website.

Google recently started integrating Express with the Google Assistant and its Google Home speaker lineup, which makes a lot of sense — the search giant’s positioning it to compete with Amazon on Alexa devices, which make placing two-day deliver orders as easy as giving a voice command. Separately, Google’s doubled down on partnerships — the addition of Overstock to Google Express’s roster brings the total number of stores to 56.

Google Express Stores

  • 1 800 Flowers
  • 99 Ranch Market
  • Adorama
  • Bed Bath and Beyond
  • Brickman’s Ace Hardware
  • buybuy Baby
  • Cole Hardware
  • Costco
  • Factory Direct Craft
  • Fairway Market
  • Fry’s Electronics
  • Giant Food
  • Google Store
  • Gordon’s Ace Hardware
  • Guitar Center
  • Gymboree
  • Hassett Hardware
  • Hayneedle
  • HearthSong
  • Jo-Ann Fabric
  • JustBats
  • JustBallGloves
  • Kohl’s
  • L’Occitane
  • Logan Hardware
  • Lowes’s
  • Moosejaw
  • Orchard Supply Hardware
  • Overstock.com
  • Paragon Sports
  • Payless ShoeSource
  • Peninsula Beauty
  • PetSmart
  • Pier 1 Imports
  • Plow & Hearth
  • Road Runner
  • Smart & Final
  • Staples
  • Stop & Shop
  • Sur La Table
  • SwimOutlet
  • Target
  • The Home Depot
  • The Mine
  • The Vitamin Shoppe
  • Toys”R”Us / Babies”R”Us
  • Treasure Island Foods
  • Ulta Beauty
  • Vicente Foods
  • VMInnovations
  • Walgreens
  • Walmart
  • Wayfair
  • Western Kosher
  • Whole Foods
  • Woodland Direct


Source: Google Express Support Via: Android Police