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ZTE partners with Google to preload the Google Experience Launcher on upcoming devices, starting with the Blade Vec 4G

Posted: 18 Jul 2014 05:09 PM PDT

SoshPhone-Blade Vec 4g ZTE 630x540

In an interesting announcement earlier today, Chinese smartphone maker ZTE announced the impending arrival of a still unnamed premium handset and the reintroduction of a mid-range device dubbed the ZTE Blade Vec 4G (already available in China and Europe).

Where you’re probably not too excited to hear about another mid-range handset, here’s where things get really interesting: the Blade Vec 4G (as well as their unnamed premium Android device) will be the first Android smartphones (outside the Google Nexus/Google Play edition devices) to offer the Google Experience Launcher out of the box.

In a new partnership with Google, ZTE will now pre-load the Blade Vec 4G with Google’s launcher for its Hong Kong debut later this year and says it’s the first of many of their new devices to feature a stock Android experience free from the UIs that normally muddying up the user experience. This will help give ZTE’s devices the added benefit of having GEL’s hands-free hotword detection.

Custom manufacturer UIs have long been Android’s greatest strength, as well as its greatest weakness and something many Android enthusiasts have taken issue with since their introduction. With ZTE making a commitment to keeping the UI free from excessive customizations, it just might be the little something they need to help give them the edge over the competition.

No word on when ZTE plans on updating existing ZTE Blade Vec 4Gs with the Google Experience Launcher, but we’re sure to learn more come July 24th when both devices are scheduled to be officially unveiled/re-unveiled.

Netflix tests new ‘incognito mode’ to keep your embarrassing viewing habits private

Posted: 18 Jul 2014 04:09 PM PDT

Netflix DSC06185

If you’ve been dying to experiment with My Little Pony, but were simply too embarrassed everyone on your Netflix account would think less of you, hope may loom on the horizon.

In an interview with GigaOM, a Netflix spokesperson revealed the streaming video service is currently testing a new feature tailored to those who wish to keep their viewing habits private. It’s called “Privacy Mode” and the option will prevent recently watched movies or shows out of their recently viewed list. It’s hard to imagine how Netflix didn’t think of this sooner. Just keep in mind selecting the option also means Netflix will no longer be able to recommend videos based on what you watch, a perk we’re sure many of you wouldn’t mind forfeiting.

Of course, this new feature is only in its testing phase and could be scrapped altogether depending on feedback. In an age where everything we do online is being watched and tracked, having the option for added privacy is always a good thing.

NVIDIA SHIELD Tablet and controller specs, pricing, and release date leaked in full detail

Posted: 18 Jul 2014 02:10 PM PDT


It was only yesterday we got what could have been our first look at the upcoming NVIDIA Shield Tablet thanks to a “leaked” press render. Today, it seems the cat has fully escaped from its bag as the tablet — and official controller — have now been made public.

Leaked in a variety of product slides, the images show everything from specs, to performance benchmarks, even the retail box it will likely come inside. While none of this is official just yet, here’s what we can most likely expect from the Android tab when it hits stores later this month.


NVIDIA Shield Tablet specs

  • 8-inch 1080p IPS display w/ support for NVIDIA Direct Stylus 2
  • NVIDIA Tegra K1 processor (A15 quad-core CPU w/ 192 core Kepler GPU)
  • 2GB RAM
  • 16GB (WiFi) / 32GB internal storage (LTE)
  • 5MP front facing MPIX camera


The tablet — which is scheduled to be announced on July 22nd — is said to go on sale on July 29th in the US and Canada. This will be followed shortly after by a European release on August 14th (additional regions later this fall). The 16GB model (WiFi) will run $300, while the 32GB version with LTE support will be available for $400. The official NVIDIA Shield controller will be sold for a cool $60 (no word if it’ll work with other platforms).

NVIDIA-SHIELD-Tablet-benchmark-2 NVIDIA-SHIELD-Tablet-benchmark-1 NVIDIA-SHIELD-Tablet-specs 1 NVIDIA-SHIELD-Tablet-specs-2 NVIDIA-SHIELD-Tablet-benchmark wireless NVIDIA-SHIELD-Tablet-controller specs


Google Glass US tour swings by Boston, MA on July 26th – RSVP now

Posted: 18 Jul 2014 01:28 PM PDT

Glass Boston logo

After kicking off nearly a year ago, the next stop in the Google Glass’ US road tour has been revealed: Bostonians, come on down. Android fans near Massachusetts’ capital will finally have the opportunity to try out the world’s most controversial new wearable come this July 26th. The event — which takes place at the Boston Center for the Arts — looks to be a good time filled with drinks, conversations with the Glass team, and of course, Google Glass.

Even if you’ve decided you’re not a fan of Google Glass, the event will be the perfect opportunity to see how much you dislike a product after actually using it. Keep in mind you’ll first need to RSVP if you plan on attending, but rest assured the entire 8 hour event (starts at 10am) is completely free of charge. You can RSVP here.

If you’re curious as what to expect, check out the Glass team’s video highlighting their first stop in Durham, North Carolina down below.

From the Forums: Yellow Screen of Death, ubiquitous wireless charging, and more

Posted: 18 Jul 2014 12:58 PM PDT


If you haven't checked out Android Forums this week, you've really been missing out. Below we give you just a small sampling of threads you absolutely have to take a look at, from more OnePlus One backlash to finding the perfect cheap phone for Android experimentation. Let's get this started

OnePlus One Yellow Screen of Death

OnePlus One yellow band issue

The latest fiasco concerning the elusive OnePlus One revolves around the phone's display. Perhaps you've heard of a nagging issue where those that have managed to get their hands on the device are disappointed to find a slight yellow tinge to certain areas of the phone's screen. OnePlus hasn't exactly handled the issue well, passing blame to the display manufacturer while taking a defensive approach when dealing with customers. As expect, the hot-button issue has become the source of much discussion at Android Forums.

The age-old question: why isn't wireless charging a standard feature?

Nexus 4 wireless charging banner

Wireless charging is a nifty technology with numerous useful applications. It eliminates the fuss of messing with a flimsy microUSB cable and adds a layer of convenience to what is often considered one of the most annoying aspects of owning a smartphone: making sure its battery stays charged. With that in mind, user lkasdorf wonders aloud why the features hasn't become ubiquitous. Sure, a handful of smartphones include it out of the box and most major handset releases offer wireless charging kits as aftermarket accessories, but isn't it about time that this hassle-free method becomes the standard?

Finding a cheap phone to practice advanced Android techniques


One of the best aspects of being an Android user is the large and devout community of modders, hackers, and developers that dedicate their time to producing custom ROMs or otherwise pushing Android hardware to its limits. For unexperienced users, there is some hesitancy in diving into the root and ROM scene out of fear of bricking their daily driver device. It makes sense that a cheap Android phone could be acquired as a sandbox device for learning some of these advanced skills, but which to get? Our money is on an older Nexus device.

Reactions to MH17 tragedy


Following news of a second Malaysia Airlines crash only months after the mysterious disappearance of Flight MH370, Android Forums users reacted in real time and continue to discuss the MH17 tragedy. Reports indicate the plane was shot down by an undetermined source while flying over a disputed region in eastern Ukraine.

And more…

If you haven't already, be sure to sign up for your own account at Android Forums to become a part of the discussion. Who knows, your next thread might even have what it takes to end up in next week's From the Forums. Until then, happy posting!

Google will no longer list games or apps as ‘free’ if they offer in-app purchases

Posted: 18 Jul 2014 12:13 PM PDT

Marvel Run Jump Smash in-app purchases

We’ve all heard the horror stories. Some parent unknowingly allowed their children to rack up hundreds of dollars from a game or app after they discovered the wonderful world of in-app purchases. As most of us have already figured out, just because a game is offered for “free” in the Google Play Store, doesn’t mean you get to have a good time without paying anything. It’s this shaky ground that the European Commission is now issuing some guidelines they’d like app stores to adhere to.

The EC is asking that all games advertised as “free” aren’t misleading consumers about their “true costs.” They also ask that apps or games don’t ask children to make purchases, make it clear how payments are made, and provide an email address to answer questions or complaints. While the EC will continue to monitor adherence, they’ll be leaving its actual enforcement up to national authorities.

In a statement, European Commission vice president Neelie Kroes said:

“In-app purchases are a legitimate business model, but it’s essential for app-makers to understand and respect EU law while they develop these new business models.”

Unsurprisingly, Google is one of the first companies to welcome the changes, announcing that by the end of September, they will no longer advertise games as “free” when in-app purchases are available. What’s more, Google says they’ve already altered the default Google Play Store settings so that a password is required before each and every purchase (but can be altered in the app’s settings). It’s unclear if Google’s new policy change will only apply to Europe or worldwide.

In a later statement, Apple too agreed to make similar changes, although they didn’t commit to an exact time frame or reveal exactly how they plan on going about it, only that they are already doing a better a job at protecting consumers from unwanted charges than some of the competition. They also talked about iOS 8′s upcoming “Ask to Buy” feature that pings parents on their device for permission when a child wants to buy something.

[European Commission | via Engadget]

Mobile Roar 54: Hypebeast Troubles

Posted: 18 Jul 2014 11:02 AM PDT

Chris is back from the land of Technical Difficulties to join us this week. We talk about his brief time as an owner of the OnePlus One, and all the recent drama involving the device. We also discuss the current landscape of Android Wear apps and why they could be better. Other topics include Microsoft lay-offs, Nokia being done with Android, the Galaxy Alpha, and much more!

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Could this be what HTC’s first Android Wear smartwatch looks like?

Posted: 18 Jul 2014 10:49 AM PDT

htc watch

HTC was originally named as one of the OEMs committed to bringing an Android Wear smartwatch, but we obviously have yet to see anything spawn from their camp. We might have gotten our first taste, though, as @evleaks has posted what is said to be an accurate artistic reproduction of a leak he has seen.

The display was obviously customized for the purposes of filling in that particular area of the photo, but @evleaks claims the rest of the hardware is akin to what he’s seen or heard. The image presented to us doesn’t make us peel our eyes too much. It’s a smart watch. It has a face and a band and all that jazz. Metal bands, mind you, if you’re into that sort of thing.

That said, it’s important to remember that these leaks are to be taken with a grain of salt — after all, the origin of this particular one has been wrong before. Let us know what you think about what you see in the comments below!


The Best Samsung Galaxy S5 accessories

Posted: 18 Jul 2014 10:16 AM PDT

Samsung Galaxy S5 DSC05766

When it comes to Android smartphones, Samsung's Galaxy S line is about as ubiquitous as it gets. With the launch of the Galaxy S5 earlier this year, the market has become swamped with accessories and add-ons. It's enough to make your head spin. We've waded through the mire to track down the best Galaxy S5 accessories out there — the ones that will help you get the most out of your smartphone. Let's jump in.

Best Galaxy S5 smartwatch


Samsung Gear Live

Samsung's Gear family of smartwatches were designed as companion devices for the popular Galaxy line of Android smartphones, so they are a no-brainer for our list of best accessories for the GS5. We're particularly fond of the Gear Live, which runs on Google's recently released Android Wear platform. A highlight of the device is its deft handling of voice commands. Also worth consideration are the Android Wear-powered LG G Watch and upcoming Moto 360. [Samsung Gear Live ($199.00), LG G Watch ($229.00) Motorola Moto 360 (coming soon)]

Other options:

Best Galaxy S5 expandable memory


64GB SanDisk MicroSDXC Class 10 memory card with SD adapter

You can't got wrong with a bit of extra storage. We're recommending a 64GB microSD card for its combination of storage space and pricing, but the Galaxy S5 can support cards with up to 128GB of storage. Use the extra space to store music and other media, apps and games, or whatever else you can think of. The bonus? Because the card is removable and includes a standard SD adapter your data is even more portable. [SanDisk 64GB Mobile Ultra MicroSDXC Class 10 Memory Card with SD Adapter ($39.99)]

Other options:

Best Galaxy S5 replacement battery


Galaxy S5 Spare Battery Charging System

The Samsung Galaxy S5 already boasts some impressive battery life, but it never hurts to have a little bit of extra juice. A replaceable power cell makes an extra battery pack a must-have accessory for those times when getting a charge just isn't convenient. You can snag the spare 2800mAh battery alone for $29.99. [Galaxy S5 Spare Battery Charging System ($49.99)]

Other options:

Best Galaxy S5 charging system


Galaxy S5 Wireless Charging Cover and Charging Pad

You can buy an extended battery to delay the need for connecting your Galaxy S5 to a charger, but you can't avoid the issue forever. When it does come time to re-up on power, what's more convenient than wireless charging? With Samsung's wireless charging accessories you get everything you need to make powering up as simple as placing your phone on the provided charging matt. [Wireless Charging Cover ($29.99), Wireless Charging Pad mini ($49.99)]

Other options: 

Best Galaxy S5 case


Galaxy S5 S-View Flip Cover case

The S-View Flip Cover is the rare combination of  protective case with added functionality, namely the S-View window that highlights a small portion of the Galaxy S5's display to give users quick access to the date and time, notifications, as well as the ability to accept or reject incoming calls. Also available in a wireless charging-compatible version. [Galaxy S5 S-View Flip Cover ($49.99)]

Other options:

Best Galaxy S5 Bluetooth wireless speaker


Braven BRV-X Wireless Bluetooth Speaker

When it comes to pumping up the jams, the Braven BRV-X is one of the best on the market. Pair it with your Galaxy S5 and you have a portable party in your pocket. The BRV-X has great sound performance both indoors and out and features a ruggedized construction that is resistant to water, dust and dirt, and shock. Check out our full review for the lowdown. [Braven BRV-X Bluetooth Speaker ($189.00)]

Other options: 

Best Galaxy S5 headphones


Audio Technica AX5iS SonicFuel over-ear headphones

If you're looking for a killer set of headphones you might consider the over-ear AX5iS from Audio Technica. From their SonicFuel line, you'll get great sound reproduction from these headphones designed specifically for smartphones. Bonus features include playback controls as well as an in-line mic for taking calls [Audio Technica AX5iS SonicFuel headphones ($89.95)]

Other options:

Best Galaxy S5 vehicle dock


Universal Car Mount for Galaxy Devices

Samsung's universal car mount for Galaxy devices makes it easy to go hands-free while driving or to use your GS5 as a powerful navigation device. The dock can be positioned both horizontally and vertically and will fit all Android devices with screen sizes ranging from 4 to 6.3 inches. [Galaxy Universal Vehicle Navigation Mount ($49.99)]

Other option:

Want to get even more out of your Galaxy S5? Become the master of your own Galaxy with our extensive list of tips and tricks. If that's still not enough, join the countless others debating and dissecting the GS5 over at Android Forums now.

7 cool tricks every Android phone user should know [VIDEO]

Posted: 18 Jul 2014 09:59 AM PDT

Android is pretty cool. There are things you can do with an Android phone that iOS and Windows Phone users can only dream about. With a little imagination the possibilities are nearly infinite. Since there are so many different things you can do with an Android phone it’s inevitable to be unaware of some basic tricks. We’ve compiled a list of seven cool tricks that every Android user should know.

1. Do a Google search from anywhere

google any

One of the best things about having an Android device is the tight integration of Google services. In the latest versions of the Google Search app for Android they have enabled users to do searches from anywhere. All you have to do is turn on your phone and say “Ok, Google.” It’s fast and super handy when you want to quickly find something. Here’s how to do it.

  1. Open the Google Search app
  2. Go to Settings > Voice
  3. Go to “Ok Google Detection”
  4. Enable “From any screen”
  5. Train the app to recognize your voice

2. Make your phone snappy with faster animations

One of the most common complaints about Android is “lagginess.” For whatever reason Google has never been able to get Android on the same buttery smooth level as iOS or even Windows Phone. In the last few versions they have made some serious improvements, but if you still feel like your phone is a little laggy there is a trick for speeding things up. Google has hidden some secret developer options inside the Settings. Inside the secret developer options is settings for animation and transition speed. Here’s how to speed things up.

  1. Open Settings > About phone
  2. Scroll down and tap on “Build number” 7 times
  3. Now go back to Settings and you should see new “Developer options”
  4. Adjust the window and transition animation scales to .5x or turn them off completely

3. Locate and wipe your lost phone

Losing your phone is one of the worst things that can happen. These devices contain sensitive information and private data. If your phone falls into the wrong hands it could put you in a world of trouble. There are apps you can download to help in the event of a lost phone, but in order for them to work you need to have them installed before something bad happens. Luckily there is a built-in way to find your lost phone and even wipe all of your personal data.

  1. Double-check to make sure Android Device Manager is installed
  2. Go to google.com/android/devicemanager
  3. Select your phone from the menu
  4. Now you can see the location, ring it, lock it, or erase it

Check out our in-depth guide on how to find lost or stolen phones.

4. Scrub through songs on lockscreen

scrub lock

When you’re playing music on your phone the lockscreen gets taken over with beautiful album art and media controls. These controls allow you to go back, play/pause, or skip to the next song without having to fully unlock the device. However, that’s not all you can do with those buttons. A little known feature is the ability to scrub through a song from the lockscreen. It’s stupidly easy to do, but not an obvious feature.

  1. With music playing, long-press on the media control buttons
  2. Scrub through the song with the newly present bar

5. Put widgets on the lockscreen

Widgets have long been a selling point of Android, and remain to be a unique feature of the OS. Most people love to deck out their homescreen with widgets, but you don’t have to stop there. Ever since Android 4.—— the lockscreen can also be a place for widgets. This gives users quick access to pertinent information without even unlocking the device. Lockscreen widgets are not turned on by default. Here’s how to do it.

  1. Go to Settings > Security
  2. Tap “Enable widgets”
  3. Go to the lockscreen and swipe to the left screen
  4. Tap the [+] button and choose a widget

6. Save battery in the GPS settings

If you don’t rely on location data a lot you could be saving some precious battery life. Android has a built-in setting that allows you to determine how you want your phone to find your location. There are three different modes: high accuracy, battery saving, and device only. This trick isn’t for everyone, but if you don’t care about location it’s a nice way to save some juice.

  1. Go to Settings > Location
  2. Tap on “Mode”
  3. Select your desired location mode

7. Change what app launches with the home button shortcut


On devices with software buttons you can launch Google Search by swiping up on the home button. Some devices with hardware buttons allow you to do this with a long-press on the home button. An app called Home Button Launcher allows you to use this gesture to launch any app you would like. This gives you quick access to your favorite apps from anywhere on the phone. Here’s how to do it.

  1. Download Home Button Launcher from Google Play
  2. Swipe up or long press the home button
  3. Tap Home Button Launcher and make it default
  4. Tap the menu icon and select “Add”
  5. Choose all the app you wish to appear in the shortcut

What are your tricks?

We’re sure some of you veteran Android users are aware of all these tricks. Be sure to show them to all your Android-toting friends. Which tricks do you use that are not well-known? Have you discovered any tricks of your own? Share your favorites with us in the comments below!

Report: Google, Samsung at crossroads over smart watches

Posted: 18 Jul 2014 09:19 AM PDT

Samsung Galaxy Gear Tizen update

As much as Google and Samsung like to pretend that they have a happy relationship in the public eye, we’re always hearing about some closed doors feelings of theirs. This time, the two sides are said to be butting heads over Samsung’s focus on their Tizen-based smartwatch products in the wake of Android Wear.

Samsung Vice Chairman Jay Y. Lee and Google’s Larry Page reportedly had a heated meeting over the matter earlier this month. Samsung has long had plans to migrate over to Tizen after launching the original Samsung Galaxy Gear with Android, though the operating system wasn’t quite ready for prime time at that point. They didn’t hesitate to take Android out of the original, however, and the new lineup launched with Tizen pre-installed.

We would have thought Google would be alright with it considering Samsung was one of two OEMs to offer the first Android Wear smart watches, but it appears even that isn’t enough to satisfy their wishes. It’s an interesting stance by Google who has largely let OEMs do what they will with Android and doesn’t often have much to say about the other interests of the companies they work with.

One could wonder if Google’s supposed hostile stance against Samsung’s actions is because they’re afraid of seeing Tizen catch steam and threaten Android. While the smart watch market might not be big enough to sweat over right now, they still have to worry about Samsung’s desire to get Tizen up and running on commercial smartphones (the first of which has already been made official).

We wouldn’t worry about top lines like the Note and Galaxy S series getting infused with Tizen instead of Android in the near future. Samsung won’t want to make such drastic changes while they don’t yet have an applications and content ecosystem that can rival the likes of Google Play. But they’re obviously building toward that future, and if these reports are anything to go by it’s something Google certainly doesn’t want to see happen (no matter how much they claim they don’t want Samsung to have a stranglehold on the smartphone market).

Kyocera to push the bar in smartphone durability with sapphire displays [VIDEO]

Posted: 18 Jul 2014 07:51 AM PDT

If Apple was planning on making people believe they were the first to use sapphire in smartphone displays for a more durable screen, Kyocera has made it a point to spoil those plans. The Japanese company has put out a video directly targeted at all the iPhone 6 rumors tipping the tech world off to Apple’s plans to use the displays.

They counter the rumors by saying that they have been doing this a lot longer than Apple has, with 41 years of experience using sapphire in everything from computer components to watch faces. And now they’re planning to beat Apple to the punch in smartphone displays.

They’re calling it the “Sapphire Shield,” and if you know anything about sapphire you’d know that it’s supposed to be virtually indestructible. Coins and keys wouldn’t be able to make scratches and dents, and it would come out looking like a champ if it were dropped flat on its face onto a slab of concrete. Sapphire is said to be used as transparent armor for many military vehicles, and if it’s good enough for a soldier it should be more than good enough for your smartphone.

kyocera sapphire shield

The problem with sapphire is that it’s expensive — a lot more expensive than tempered glass like Corning’s Gorilla Glass being used in so many smartphones. It was only last year that sapphire displays were going for $20 to $30 a pop, whereas Gorilla Glass can be had for under $3 per unit. Kyocera says they have found a way to make sapphire-based displays affordable, though, and that we’ll be hearing something very soon from their camp.

As much as we make fun of Kyocera’s phones for being underwhelming and uninspiring, one thing we can say they’ve always done well is durable smartphones. This is a natural step forward for them, and hopefully it can be used as a barometer for other OEMs to get in line and compete — we sure wouldn’t mind a future with fully indestructible displays.

Verizon Moto X soak test participants receiving invites to test new firmware

Posted: 18 Jul 2014 06:55 AM PDT

Motorola Moto X DSC00695

Verizon and Motorola appear to be testing out new firmware for their version of the Moto X as soak test invites are going out to the adventurous folks not afraid to sign up for these things. As usual we don’t get any idea what to expect, though we wouldn’t expect them to roll out new firmware without also jumping to a new version of Android.

You obviously won’t be expecting Android L, but Android 4.4.3 or 4.4.4 are still on the table for this phone. The latter is already confirmed to be headed to Verizon’s DROID phones so we wouldn’t be surprised if the Moto X is in line for a similar upgrade.

In either case we wouldn’t expect many sweeping changes as this is likely a bug fixing and stability improvement upgrade. As unexciting as it may be, though, we’ll be keeping an eye on it. Be sure to check your email to see if you’ve been invited (and if you aren’t signed up to test Motorola firmware, head here to figure out how you can get in on all the fun).

[Thanks to everyone who sent this in!]

Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited eBooks subscription service is now officially live

Posted: 18 Jul 2014 06:06 AM PDT

Earlier this week Amazon was found to be testing a service called Kindle Unlimited that would grant all-you-can-eat access to hundreds of thousands of eBooks for a low monthly fee of $10. We weren’t sure how long this “testing” would take, but apparently it wasn’t going to take Amazon very long to dole it out to everyone.

There aren’t any surprises here: the service is exactly what Amazon is advertising it to be. They’ll offer up suggestions on books from featured authors, spotlighted genres and the like, but otherwise that massive library is yours to dig into should you find yourself hankering for some pages on a rainy night.

We should note that — in a very non-Amazon-like way — there is no trial period. You’re paying $10 the moment you sign up, so think long and hard about whether this service is right for you before you do that. That said, there’s never an obligation to continue should you find yourself dissatisfied. And you’re always free to check out the roster of books they’re offering before signing up.

kindle unlimited

Digging through their terms of use didn’t unravel anything unusual. As with any subscription service of this sort, access to books may be removed without a moment’s notice, and the list will always change as licensing agreements are added or expire. Unfortunately, the one thing the terms did confirm that many of you might not like is that this is only available for folks in the United States right now, but that might change in the months and years to come. Let us know if you’ll be turning in your library card to give this a shot.

[Amazon Kindle Unlimited]

Google Maps update brings enhanced voice controls and elevation information for bicycling

Posted: 17 Jul 2014 07:37 PM PDT

Google Maps 8.2 update

Google Maps users (that should be just about everyone) will find a nice update rolling out now in the Google Play Store. Version 8.2 brings a host of new features, the biggest being the ability to execute voice commands from inside the app. This can be done by clicking on the new microphone icon in the search bar, used to execute commands like “navigate to” or “show traffic.” What’s more is you’ll find another microphone while in navigation mode (towards the bottom left).

While that sounds extremely useful, the number of voice actions are pretty limited at the moment and require users to experiment with what works. Basic commands like asking Maps to show routes or give a route overview works fine. Even display traffic or show the time left until you reach your destination. The main problem we found is that, unlike Google Search hotword detection, you’ll need to physically touch the microphone icon to engage voice controls — they’re not done purely by voice.

There’s also elevation info for bicyclists to help avoid unnecessary uphill climbs when necessary. Routes will not only show elevations but the distance of the elevation changes as well. This makes it easy for cyclists to pick the easiest route based on their current elevation (see above image).

As usual, you can either wait for the new Maps to become available on your device in the coming days, or download our 3rd party link down below. Safe travels!

Download Google Maps 8.2: MediaFire