Cortana adds floating launch button in latest update [APK Download]

Even though Cortana can’t match most of Google Assistant’s functionality, it’s still very handy if you have a Windows 10 PC. The app can mirror notifications to your PC, sync reminders, and provide contextual information based on your email and calendar. About a year ago, the Cortana app added an optional launcher to the lock screen, and now there’s another way to open the assistant.

  

The latest update adds a new option, called “Cortana on Home Screen.” It adds a floating Cortana button to your device, similar to a Facebook Messsenger chat head. Tapping on it opens the app instantly. Despite the name, it actually appears on the home screen and all your apps, unless you give Cortana permission to see which app is currently open (so it can tell if you’re on the home screen or not).

The button is also customizable – you can choose between the Cortana logo, a circle showing your next calendar appointment, or a small rectangle. The update has already rolled out on the Play Store, but you also download it from APKMirror.

Microsoft Cortana – Digital assistant
Microsoft Cortana – Digital assistant
Price: Free

Google I/O 2018 schedule is up: New things for Wear, Chrome OS, Assistant, but no sign of TV or Auto yet

The Google I/O 2018 ticket sign up registration is now closed, but there’s something else on the I/O website that should grab your interest: the event schedule is now up and you can see that there might be two main keynotes on May 8, one from 10am to 11:30pm and one from 12:45pm to 1:45pm. I don’t think this format was used in the previous years: it used to be one long main keynote.

Aside from the main event, the schedule has a long list of sessions to look through just to try to gauge a bit what the next focus points for Google will be over the next year. There’s never anything super juicy there or any large slip, as Google often tends to leave a few sessions out from the schedule because their name is reliant on something being announced in the main keynote. But still, I took a quick look and found a few interesting/telling sessions:

And there are many sessions for developers about Kotlin, Firebase, Flutter, Instant apps, AR/VR, developing for the web, Google Pay, Assistant, and some sessions about understanding memory usage and battery drain in apps. All in all, it’s the usual except for two main missing topics: no Android TV, no Android Auto. Google sometimes adds more sessions as we approach I/O and even adds more sessions after the main keynote event, so there’s hope for them still, but this is where things are at for now.

Galaxy S9: Everything To Know (without the BS)

Whenever new flagship smartphones are announced, tech media converge on the digital masses, flooding the interverse with more infos than anyone cares to know. What YOU want to know is the TL;DR, am i right? Only what’s important without the fluff? Allow me.

This is the no frills, sans BS edition of your typical “Everything to know about the Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus”. Straight up fax!

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Above is the Official Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+ introduction video which actually does a great job at setting the stage in under 4 minutes. Here are the most important things worth taking away.

Galaxy S9 vs Galaxy S9 Plus (see spec comparison):

  • 5.8-inches vs 6.2-inches
  • 4GB vs 6GB RAM
  • 3000 mAh vs 3500 mAh Battery
  • S9+ has an additional wide angle lens on rear camera

Both the S9 and S9+ come in 4 colors:

  • Coral Blue
  • Titanium Grey
  • Lilac Purple
  • Midnight Black

The only visual difference being the additional rear camera on the S9+:

Best Galaxy S9/S9+ Specs:

  • Fingerprint sensor location improved (fixed from S8)
  • Iris scanner and Face unlock, too
  • MicroSD Card Slot (400GB extra storage)
  • Stereo speakers (front-facing and LOUD!)
  • 3.5mm Headset Jack
  • IP68 water resistant (praise the lord)
  • Best screen of any smartphone
  • USB Type-C charging
  • Qi wireless charging and related accessories

Galaxy S9/S9+ Camera improvements:

The S9 now takes 12 photos with each camera snap, using info from each frame to produce the best possible final product (Multi-frame image processing with DRAM)

  • 12MP Rear Camera, 8MP Front Camera (same as Note 8)
  • Takes better low light photos with new mechanical aperture that switches between f/2.4 and f/1.5
  • Super slow motion video at 960fps
  • Galaxy S9 Plus has dual rear cameras
  • Create Animated GIFs, Add Music behind slow-mo video, Loop/Reverse, and set as your lock-screen wallpaper
  • Samsung Personalized AR Emoji let you send cartoon emojis that look like you (better than iPhone animoji?)

Galaxy S9/S9+ Price:

  • Galaxy S9: $720
  • Galaxy S9 Plus: $840

Galaxy S9/S9+ Release Date:

  • February 25th: reservations open
  • March 2nd: pre-orders begin
  • March 16th: phone launches
  • March 17th: bank account depleted

Is it worth buying?

My opinion: absolutely 100% worth upgrading if you’ve been ready to upgrade from a phone that’s either underpowered or a 2+ year old flagship. If you’ve got the Galaxy S8 though? Definitely not… hold off until you either need to upgrade or there is a must-have improvement that renders your phone into old fogery.

Is there more to know?

Do you think there are other pertinent facts and details potential Galaxy S9 purchasers should know before taking the plunge? Let us know in the comments or start your own discussions on the Galaxy S9 Forum and/or the Galaxy S9 Plus Forum on AndroidForums.com!

OnePlus Seizes Almost 50% Of India’s Flagship Market In Q417

OnePlus seized almost half of India’s flagship market in the fourth quarter of the last year, according to the latest Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker published by the International Data Corporation. IDC found the Chinese phone maker accounted for 48-percent of high-end smartphone shipments in the South Asian country over the observed period, having grown its business by 1,116-percent year-on-year. In that respect, OnePlus is presently the fastest-growing smartphone brand in India, though Xiaomi is still understood to be holding that title in terms the entire market in the country seeing how OnePlus only competes in the flagship segment.

OnePlus India General Manager Vikas Agarwal called the development a “truly remarkable” achievement, noting how the Shenzhen, Guangdong-based company only officially entered India three years ago. The firm largely attributed its success to its online-focused business model, though recent reports suggest it’s now also seeking to pursue offline opportunities in India, at least as far as marketing is concerned. India is widely believed to be the most competitive smartphone market on the planet by virtue of the fact it’s the last remaining bastion of growth opportunities for original equipment manufacturers, with its consumers still showing no signs of upgrade fatigue and many of them being yet to buy their first smartphone. That state of the market is a natural fit for OnePlus’s strategy of delivering aggressively priced products seeking to undercut their competitors, especially as that approach is rarely employed in the premium smartphone market, some industry watchers believe.

OnePlus as a whole continues to grow, with every one of its new smartphones breaking the sales record of its predecessor since the company’s inception in late 2013 and the release of the original OnePlus One in the spring of 2014. Last year, the company recorded approximately $1.4 billion in revenue with “healthy profits,” according to a recent statement from its founder and Chief Executive Officer Pete Lau. The OnePlus 6 is expected to be announced this spring, presumably around May, and should be available for online purchase on a global level, much like the devices that preceded it. The OnePlus 6 is expected to retain the bezel-less design of the OnePlus 5T but feature the newer Snapdragon 845 chip and additional hardware improvements.

Dropbox looking to raise $500 million as company goes public

For over a decade, Dropbox has been a staple of the cloud storage industry, despite hard competition from larger players like Google and Microsoft. All that time, the company has remained private, but that’s about to change. Dropbox filed to raise $500 million in an initial public offering (IPO) yesterday, revealing previously-secret details about the company.

The filing revealed Dropbox had $1.11 billion of revenue in 2017, up 31% from 2016. There are over 500 million registered users, with 100 million just from 2017 alone. More than 11 million of those users pay for a premium plan. The filing also shows Dropbox has been bleeding money for years, but it’s getting closer to becoming profitable. The company lost $210.2 million in 2016, but only $111.7 million in 2017.

Another interesting part of the filing is that normal users buying subscriptions, not enterprise sales, make up for over 90% of the company’s revenue. Dropbox plans to use proceeds from the IPO to upgrade more users to subscription plans and improve integration of third party software (like how Dropbox is closely integrated with Office 365).

SwiftKey Beta update includes ‘Toolbar’ for quick access to features, customizable stickers

The latest SwiftKey Beta fixed an annoying bug that made typing in comment forms like Disqus in Chrome a headache. Well, it turns out that the update brought a few new features, including an expandable toolbar that sits atop the prediction bar and stickers. If you’re the creative type, you’ll be happy to know that you can even make your own stickers within the keyboard.

The main attraction here is what SwiftKey is calling “Toolbar.” Tap the “+” sign sitting on the left side of the prediction bar to expand Toolbar, where you can access GIFs, downloadable sticker packs, settings, themes, the clipboard, and your “Collection” (more on that below).

By my count there are currently 13 sticker packs to choose from. Once you download a pack, you can choose to either send a sticker as is, or add a text overlay to a sticker before sending it. Whether you add text to them or not, you can save stickers to your Collection for quicker access. Some stickers have blank spaces specifically for text to be added, while others are fine without text.

 

Once you download a pack, you have the options of adding text to a sticker and saving it to your Collection before sending it.

If you want to create a custom sticker from scratch, expand Toolbar, tap the pin symbol all the way on the right, and tap the blue “Create sticker” button. Once you give SwiftKey Beta the appropriate permission, you can select a photo from your phone to use as the basis for a sticker. As with the downloadable sticker packs, you have the options of adding a text overlay to the image and saving it to your Collection.

You can also use an image on your device to create a custom sticker.

You can delete a downloaded sticker pack or custom sticker saved to your Collection by long-pressing it and confirming your decision. All in all, it’s neat that you can do all this within the keyboard, but I don’t know how often I’d use any of this.

The latest beta update also includes a new layout for Japanese and nine new languages, in addition to the bug fix we mentioned at the top. Here’s the full changelog:

WHAT’S NEW
* Introducing Toolbar, a new way to get faster and easier access to your favorite SwiftKey features. Just tap the “+” on the left of the prediction bar to give it a try.
* Use & make your own stickers directly within SwiftKey
* Type in Hiragana layout for Japanese
* You can now type in 9 new languages: Afar, Banjarese, Fulani, Gayo, Guarani, Madurese, Minangkabau, Nias & Bengkulu
Fixed
* Jumbled words in Chrome should not be happening

If you’ve got a hankering to use Toolbar or the new sticker features, download the latest SwiftKey Beta using the widget below or via APKMirror.

SwiftKey Beta
SwiftKey Beta
Price: Free

Google Drive File Stream update adds bandwidth limit settings, sync pause, and more

The Google Drive desktop client isn’t very great (at least on Windows), and if you want to access a file, it has to be stored on your computer at all times. Google announced a new client called ‘Drive File Stream’ last year, which adds all your files to your computer, but only downloads the data when you want to open something (similar to OneDrive on Windows 8). Unfortunately, Drive File Stream is only available to G Suite users, so us normal people can’t try it out.

If you do happen to have a G Suite account, File Stream just became much more useful. A new update, which started rolling out on February 23 (yesterday), adds the ability to move the file cache to any directory (on drives using NTFS, APFS, or HFS+). So if you are running out of space, you can easily move the cache folder to an external or network drive.

Other new features include upload/download speed limits, performance improvements, and the ability to pause file syncing. Now, who do I have to bribe at Google to let Gmail accounts access this?

Giveaway: Win one of 3 brand new AT&T Samsung Galaxy S8 Actives [US]

AT&T and Android Police have partnered up to give three of our readers a brand new Samsung Galaxy S8 Active, which is a $849 value.

The Active series has been a fixture for some time now for Samsung. For the uninitiated, the basic concept with the Galaxy S8 Active is that you’re getting the flagship S8 inside of a durable, rugged package.

The S8 Active features a shatterproof screen (for drops of 5 feet or less onto flat surfaces), IP68-rated water and dust resistance, and what Samsung calls a “military grade” metal frame for everything else you throw at it. If that isn’t enough for you, it packs a mammoth 4000mAh battery. You can read our review as well to get the full picture.

You should also check out AT&T’s current deals, which include several buy one get one deals on flagships. Right now if you buy a Galaxy S8 Active (or S8, S8+, Note8), you can get a Galaxy S8 thrown in for free on a second line. Not a bad consolation prize if you don’t win this giveaway if you ask me.

To enter the giveaway, use the Gleam widget below. To win, you’ll need a US mailing address and you should probably be living in the US as well to make the most of this AT&T-branded phone. The giveaway ends on Friday, March 2nd at 11:59pm Pacific Time. Be sure to stop by every day to pick up a daily bonus entry.

AT&T S8 Active Giveaway

Wacom Bamboo Tip review: A pricey fine-tip stylus that works on all touchscreens

Article Contents

A couple of weeks ago, Wacom announced the Bamboo Tip, a fine-tip stylus that had us interested. We’ve seen several of these “active capacitive” pens before, but they still occupy a rather forgotten category – one that’s neither fully active neither as cheap as regular capacitive pens. So to get a better idea of how these pens work and whether or not they’re worth the rather hefty price tag, I decided to take the Bamboo Tip for a test drive. I think it works well, but the $49.95 asking price is tough to justify.

Hardware tour

The Bamboo Tip looks like a regular pen. It’s 142mm (5.5″) in length but slender at only 10mm (0.4in) in diameter, and weighs 16g (0.6oz). It’s well-balanced, made of an anodized aluminum that feels great to the touch, and comes in only one color: dark blue with some black accents. The design is very minimalistic with a small logo at the top and a clip to attach it to your tablet’s cover.

If you look closely, however, you’ll notice a little button toward the middle that turns it on or off. It has a tiny colored LED light that notifies you when the pen has been turned on (the light doesn’t stay on all the time) or is charging. If you don’t use the Tip for a few minutes, it automatically turns off to save battery life.

The top houses the MicroUSB port for charging, which I would have wanted to be a USB-C port at $50. And there’s a small switch to flick to optimize the performance for different devices. Wacom says it should be in the down position for some iPad Pros. On my various Android devices, I didn’t notice any difference between the up and down positions: both worked well.

Active capacitive vs Capacitive

The Bamboo Tip counts as an “active capacitive” pen. Basically, it works like your finger and like every other cheap $1 stylus you have seen. The difference, however, is in the size of its tip. Normally, capacitive pens have a wide foam tip (6mm on average, 4.5mm for the finer ones) and need that contact surface to work on your touchscreen. The Bamboo Tip and other “active capacitive” pens emulate that larger surface with a small tip and a bit of electricity magic (hence the battery and charging). Technically speaking, the technology is called Reflective Electro Static, but all you need to know is that it gives you the accuracy of a finer tip stylus without requiring a digitizer in the display or Bluetooth connectivity.

In the case of the Bamboo Tip, the tip itself is 1.9mm in diameter, which is the same as some calligraphy pens. It’s not as fine as a regular ballpoint or a pencil, but it gets much closer to them than the 6mm foam of a cheap capacitive pen.

Bamboo Tip (1.9mm tip) vs PenGo passive capacitive pen (6mm tip).

The benefit of the narrower tip becomes clear when you try to use it. With the large 6mm nib of my PenGo, I can’t see where the pen is touching the screen so any accuracy or precision goes out the window. I can guess that the middle part will probably be the point of contact and aim that way, but I’m really working blind. By comparison, the finer nib of the Bamboo Tip lets me see almost exactly where the pen will hit the display. In the screenshot below, I tried to hit the dots in the paper with the Bamboo Tip (blue and green) and the PenGo (red and yellow). You can tell that I was struggling to find the dot with the PenGo but I nearly hit it every time with the Tip. The results may not seem as drastic, but they only tell half the story. The frustration of trying to hit the dot when using the PenGo wasn’t there with the Tip.

Active capacitive vs Active

The other distinction to explain is between active capacitive pens and proper active pens. The latter usually require a digitizer in the display, a la Note series and S Pen, or connect over Bluetooth with your phone or tablet. They bring a couple of benefits like palm rejection and pressure sensitivity that don’t exist with something like the Bamboo Tip. However, you’ll always have to check for compatibility to make sure they work on your other devices and remember to unpair/pair when switching between devices. For proper drawing and sketching, they are by far better candidates, but if convenience is your biggest concern, then you’ll prefer the ease of switching and compatibility of an active capacitive stylus like the Bamboo Tip.

Writing and sketching with the Bamboo Tip

I tried the Bamboo Tip on my Pixel 2 XL (no screen protector), my Galaxy Tab S2 8″ (glass screen protector), and a few random devices like an S8, an iPhone X, and an iPad Mini. It worked as intended on all of them: tap the button to turn it on, start tapping, swiping, writing, or sketching. If I leave it unused for a few minutes, it turns back off. Battery life has been great and I haven’t had to recharge it since I took it out of the box and started using it a few days ago. The only inconvenience in daily usage is the sound it makes when the firm nib hits the display, which could be annoying if you’re in a classroom and there are students nearby.

I mostly tested the Bamboo Tip with Wacom’s free Bamboo Paper application, which has some paper types and pens as in-app purchases. The app works with any stylus and even your finger, so it’s understandable that not all features are free, but a coupon code inside the box of the Tip to unlock all paid options would have been more than welcome. If you’ve paid $50 for the stylus, that’s the least you can get.

Bamboo Paper
Bamboo Paper
Price: Free+

My handwriting now is nowhere near as clean as it used to be back when I was a student. It’s a Déformation professionnelle and I blame the fact that I read illegible doctor prescriptions all day long, which makes me more prone to write with illegible handwriting. Anyway, writing with the Bamboo Tip on my Tab S2 8″ was almost as convenient as using pen and paper. If palm rejection was supported, it would have been even better, but there are times when I had to lift my hand a little to avoid mistaken touches.

Testing writing with highlights (left) and sketching/math (right).

The app also supports sketching on top of images, and you can import/export notebooks as PDF files or in the WILL format, or share any page as an image.

 

Testing image annotation (left) and continuous lines without skips (right).

Drawing and coloring with precision wasn’t tough with the Bamboo Tip. I tried to copy the Android Police logo (it turned out narrower) and it was easy to see where the pen was hitting the display, color inside the line with precision, and then zoom into the page to fill in whatever gaps had remained. I am not very artistic so this is as far as my drawing skills would go, but it should give you an idea of the level of accuracy you can expect.

Of course if you prefer to use another app for your drawing, note-taking, or sketching, there’s nothing stopping you. As a matter of fact, you should give other apps a go, because I found Bamboo Paper to be a little basic, even with all of its additional paid pens and papers. The Bamboo Tip worked well with Google Keep, but if you’re serious about using a stylus I will recommend a couple of more powerful apps below.

Quick notes in Google Keep.

The first app that I tested is Inkredible (free and paid), which has a software-based palm rejection mode that works well enough most times and solves one of the issues of using an active capacitive pen. It also has a super awesome writing mode that gives you a larger zoomed in window to scribble your notes that advances automatically throughout the line and also auto-jumps to the next line. You have to try it to believe it, but it makes writing on an 8″ display as simple as jotting down notes with a pen and paper.

The second is MyScript Nebo. I haven’t tested it since I have no use for it, but it looks very powerful with handwriting to digital conversion, calculation and diagram support, and much, much more. If I was still a student or I took notes more often, this is the one I’d turn to.

Value and conclusion

The Bamboo Tip leaves me a little perplexed. I like that it’s more precise than a regular large-nib capacitive pen and lets me see where I’m writing/sketching. I also find it convenient to turn on and use on any phone or tablet I own now or might get later, without worrying about compatibility or pairing. However, the lack of palm rejection and pressure sensitivity plus the sound it makes when it hits the display might deter hardcore users who are looking for a proper stylus for sketching, drawing, or note-taking at school or college.

My indecision isn’t helped by the price. At $49.95, it’s approaching the proper active stylus pricing territory without their benefits, and it’s almost double the price of many similar active capacitive pens on Amazon with no additional perk beside the Wacom name. If it had USB-C, came with a couple of additional replacement tips in the box (they cost $4.95 for a pair), or gave full access to the Bamboo Paper app, it would have sweetened the deal a little, but there’s none of that. No matter how you slice it, the Bamboo Tip is good but expensive. A $35 price tag would have made it an easier recommendation.

Buy: Amazon, Wacom, Best Buy

Intel Vows To Launch 5G-Ready 2-In-1 Laptops In 2019

High-speed 5G wireless technology is set to start its deployment in the United States this year, and Intel is already announcing ambitious plans for 5G-enabled computers in 2019. Ahead of this year’s Mobile World Congress, Intel has announced partnerships with HP, Dell, Microsoft, and Lenovo to launch 5G-capable Windows PCs powered by its XMM 8000-series 5G modems. The 5G Windows PCs should become available sometime in the second half of the next year, according to Intel. The move will mark Intel’s first foray into the commercial 5G market and should herald a new era of PCs that can achieve ultra-fast internet speeds.

Intel did not offer many details on the initiative but said it will show off its first 5G-enabled concept PC, a 2-in-1 hybrid, at MWC in Barcelona, Spain. The concept PC packs an early 5G modem and an eight-generation Intel Core i5 processor. The company further added that the 5G modems it’s working on will support 2G, 3G, and LTE as well. Ultimately, Intel wants to deliver gigabit internet speeds to consumers, though 5G deployment will take a while. At MWC, Intel will also demo video streaming over a 5G network, as well as other innovations such as its eSIM technology and a new “thin PC” with support for the 802.11ax Wi-Fi standard.

The company further touts that 5G will enable PC owners to enjoy new experiences such as untethered VR, high-quality video streaming, or large file downloads that take just a few seconds to complete. 5G would allow people to engage in a number of online activities on the go without worrying about speed or reliability. Intel believes 5G will reimagine many digital experiences and claims it’s paramount that PCs are able to keep up with the incoming networking revolution. Despite notable efforts toward 5G deployment, it remains to be seen when 5G networks will actually be functional and offer widespread coverage in the near future. In the U.S., Verizon and AT&T plan to roll out their first 5G networks by the end of 2018, while T-Mobile said it will start its 5G rollout next year, much like Sprint.

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