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Google & Apple want to add racial diversity to emoji characters

By Eric McBride

emoji 1

The Unicode Consortium (the organization that coordinates development of the Unicode standard) recently introduced a proposal that would entail adding more racial diversity to the emoji characters (i.e the little yellow smiley faces you insert into text messages) used for mobile devices. Google and Apple have already both viewed and edited the proposal, which looks to bring skin tones and racial variety to emoji faces.

The history of the emoji

While this may seem like a rather minute development at first glance, the topic actually has quite a history. Emoji, which were originally based on images of Japanese carriers, were officially encoded into the Unicode standard back in 2010. As emojis were grown out of a smaller geographic region, the images were kept very standard, and used little variety to reflect diversity.

Apple added a lesbian and homosexual couple to to their emoji collection in 2012, but many (including singer Miley Cyrus and actor Tahj Mowry) continued to ask why there weren’t any black emoji. Apple then made it known (when asked by an MTV blogger) that their character set of emojis was based on the Unicode standard, and that they were working with them in an effort to update it.

Fast-forward to today, and although not confirmed, it would appear that the update to the standard will happen sooner than later.

Updating the standard

The Unicode Consortium has now published a draft proposal for the changes, with Mark Davis of Google and Peter Edberb of Apple having already edited it. The way it would work (in summary) is a little something like this:

  1. User selects which emoji they want to add to their message
  2. An option to select tone would appear, allowing you to choose the color (on compatible phones)
  3. For phones that aren’t compatible with the new font, users will most likely see a color swatch that indicates the skin tone next to it.

The Fitzpatrick scale will be used to determine the actual skin tone colors, which will scale from a cream colored tone up to dark brown & black variations:

The draft also states that the modifiers would not only effect single character emojis, but also those in groups (i.e pairs, family).

emoji 2While there is no confirmed date for when these changes will happen, we do know that the new Unicode update will arrive in the middle of 2015. It’s also worth noting that this is still a work in progress, with no indicator that it has been officially confirmed to happen.

Conclusion

While there certainly is nothing wrong with having different colored emojis, I must admit that as a black person myself, I never really wondered (or cared) what skin color emojis have. In my eyes, they are pretty neutral the way they are now, which is fine by me. That being said, I can certainly understand if others feel differently, and I for one would certainly have nothing against getting new smileys to play with! I imagine that their use would also depend on how quickly users could create them, as most people normally don’t put too much thought into emojis when using them (which is quite often for me).

Anything involving race nowadays can be a very delicate topic, and as emoji skin color was never a big deal in the past, I personally hope that having the option to use them doesn’t actually create a problem. What do you guys think about this update to the Unicode Standard? Let me hear your thoughts about it in the comments below.

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Source:: android authority

    

Motorola Moto Maxx announced with 5.2-inch QHD display, 21MP camera and more

By Evan Selleck

Motorola may have just announced the DROID Turbo with Verizon not too long ago, but that hasn’t stopped their international plans at all. On Wednesday, November 5, the Lenovo-owned company officially announced the Moto Maxx for Brazil, Mexico and other Latin American countries.

The Moto Maxx is similar to the DROID Turbo in several aspects, and mainly in all of the right ways. The Moto Maxx boasts the same 5.2-inch QHD display, which features a pixel per inch count of 565. Under the hood is a Qualcomm Snapdragon processor which Motorola calls “the most powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon processor,” which probably makes it the Snapdragon 805 (which is also found in the DROID Turbo). The same 21-megapixel camera is on the back, which can record 4K video. Inside, there’s the same 3900mAh battery.

The Moto Maxx also comes with 64GB of built-in storage, a ballistic nylon outer shell with a layer of Kevlar beneath that for good measure and 4G LTE connectivity.

Motorola has confirmed that the Moto Maxx will be available for purchase through its online store in Brazil beginning November 5, and it will launch in Mexico come mid-November. It will be launching in other Latin American countries “soon.”

What do you think of Motorola’s newest high-end handsets?

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Source:: androidandme

    

Google Play Movies expands to 8 additional countries

By Eric McBride

google play store 5

Google is certainly working hard to extend their services to as many users around the world as possible, and the past 24 hours has certainly been big for Google in terms of reaching new markets. Not only did Google manage to seal the deal on a partnership with Disney movies on Google Play and expand Play Music to over a dozen new territories, but has also now expanded Play Movies services into a wide variety of new markets as well.

The 8 new countries that can now access Play Movies include:

  • Bosnia-Herzegovina
  • Cyprus
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • Macedonia
  • Malta
  • Slovenia
  • Taiwan

With 14 new markets for Google Play Music, and 8 additional countries for Google Play Movies in the past 24 hours, it would seem that Google is more determined than ever to extend their Play Services around the world. With Play Music, Movies, Books, Games, and Newsstand, Google certainly seems to have their bases covered, and the addition of new Material designs for Play apps is certainly demonstrating Google’s resolve in becoming a key player when it comes to accessing media.

If you happen to live in any of the countries above, comment and let us know if these services are now showing up for you.

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Source:: android authority

    

RoughAnimator – Indie app of the day

By Joe Hindy

RoughAnimator review

What is RoughAnimator?

RoughAnimator is an animation application that lets you draw things and then play them back to create animations. It has advanced drawing tools as well as some basic video tools to help you create those animations. It’s currently $1.99 in the Google Play Store.

Here’s how it works. You start with a blank palate and a bunch of controls. You can select your brush size, color, and type and start drawing. Then you hit the button to go to the next frame. You’ll see an outline of your previous drawing so you can draw over the parts that need to be the same and add new parts where necessary. Once done you can play back the entire animation. It’s quite of bit of fun to play with. Especially if you’re already into animation.

There are some more advanced controls. Like you can go frame by frame without the outline if all you need to do is color in your creations. The various brush types, colors, and sizes allow you to do charming pencil drawings or something more modern if you prefer. You can also import audio into RoughAnimator if you want your animation to have sound. It’s not totally full featured but it definitely has enough features to have fun with and there really aren’t many apps like this available.

More powerful than it looks, very fun to use!

PROS
  • Allows you to create video animations.
  • Tools like various brushes, sizes, and colors give you a lot of control and options.
  • Extra stuff like audio support is a nice touch.
  • Has enough advanced features to be interesting and fun.
CONS
  • If you don’t have a stylus, this app is orders of magnitude less fun.
  • If you don’t have a tablet, this app is orders of magnitude less fun.
  • It’s very new so there are probably bugs and issues that haven’t been found yet.
8.5

The difficult part of this app is that it’s impossible to test out all of its functionality inside of the refund time. Thankfully it’s only $1.99USD which isn’t that much so you shouldn’t feel overly bad if you try it and don’t like it. During testing, we didn’t see any major problems and it really was a lot of fun. If you’re interested, then click the button below to check it out.

Check out the last indie app of the day: Logging Quest 2
Join us in the Apps and Games section of the Android Authority forums! Just don’t forget to read the rules first!

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Source:: android authority

    

HTC says that it’s got more tablets coming in 2015

By Alex Wagner

The Nexus 9 has garnered quite a bit of attention since its debut in October, not only because it’s a new Nexus device, but also because it’s HTC first new tablet in a couple of years. Thankfully, it doesn’t sound like HTC will keep us waiting that long before it launches another tablet.

During a recent earnings call, HTC CFO Chang Chia-lin said that HTC will launch new tablets in 2015. While no details of the tablet hardware were revealed, HTC North Asia President Jack Tong said yesterday that HTC won’t be creating any low-cost tablets that cost less than NT$5,000 ($163 USD) because that’s “not a profitable market.”

Tong’s statement suggests that HTC’s new tablet hardware will be more premium in their design, which is exciting news for anyone that likes other recent premium HTC hardware like the One (M8) and Nexus 9. What will be interesting is seeing what kind of tablet hardware HTC crafts when left to its own rather than teaming up with Google like it did on the Nexus 9.

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Source:: androidandme

    

56% off the MIGHTY Bluetooth Speaker

By AA Deals

MIGHTY Speaker

Designed to play the soundtrack to your outdoor adventures, the MIGHTY speaker is ready for anything. The compact, waterproof, sand proof and dust proof body houses a powerful Bluetooth speaker that plays your favorite tunes and lets you answer calls with its built-in speakerphone.

That’s not all: the MIGHTY speaker also floats and includes a suction cup so you can use it in the shower or attach it to your kayak or other vehicle. Get it now at the Android Authority Deals Store, for over half off, at just $35!

Top features

  • Easily pairs with any bluetooth enabled device
  • Durable build that is waterproof, sand proof and dust proof, perfect for outdoor activities
  • Can be submerged for up to 30 minutes at 1 meter
  • Added floatation for worry free aquatic activities and listening
  • Suction cup for flat surface application (showers, kayaks and just about any other flat surface)
  • Small and portable design that provides the powerful sound you desire
  • Speakerphone capabilities for answering and making calls
  • 6 hour audio runtime

Get this deal now

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Source:: android authority

    

Google Wallet transactions jump following Apple Pay launch

By Rob Triggs

google wallet

Apple may be masters of marketing but it appears that the noisy launch of Apple Pay has resulted in an unintended boost for Google Wallet. Sources are stating that Google Wallet has seen a big increase in user numbers and transactions over the past couple of months.

According to a source with knowledge of the matter, Google Wallet weekly transactions have increased 50 percent since Apple’s announcement. The number of new users has almost doubled compared with last month, signifying a big growth in consumer awareness of Google Wallet. This may not be so surprising through, as Google did not put a lot of marketing resources behind its electronic payment system when it was launched back in 2011.

The success of the two platforms seems rather intertwined, as retailers are unlikely to make investments into remote pay points until consumers are prepared to make use of them. The release and growth of Apple Pay has made it more appealing for retailers to accept transactions through mobile, which is in turn a boost to Google Wallet users, which cycles back to boost availability for Apple customers.

The mobile payments market is already heating up. You have probably read about the controversies caused by CurrentC and its temporary exclusivity deals that have locked out both Apple Pay and Google Wallet users from some locations. In the end though, several of these payment methods are likely to co-exist side by side. If user growth keeps up this trend, mobile NFC payment options are likely to become much more widespread in the future.

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Source:: android authority

    

Samsung is falling, but who is rising?

By Simon Hill

xiaomi mi4 review aa (13 of 19)

The news that Samsung’s profits are in decline as mobile sales slump has caused a bit of a stir. Samsung is still the world’s biggest smartphone manufacturer. When you hear that the last quarterly profit was $4 billion you’d be forgiven for wondering how big the problem is, but that represents a 49% drop on the same quarter last year.

We’ve already discussed what’s happening to Samsung, and looked at where Samsung might be going wrong, but what are other OEMs doing right? Samsung was the only top five handset manufacturer to experience a decline in sales. How are the other four outperforming it, and can Samsung reverse the trend? Let’s take a look at the rising stars.

Life’s good at LG

LG G3 Vs HTC One M8-88

While Samsung recorded its worst quarter for mobile in years, LG reported record sales. A very respectable 16.8 million Android phones helped generate a $450 million profit. In 2011 the LG chairman shook things up and pulled divisions together to focus on the smartphone market. LG has been on the rise since then, producing the Nexus 4 and 5 for Google, and launching the extremely successful G series.

Why is LG doing so well? It seems to be innovating and pushing advances like the quad HD display in the LG G3, but without letting prices get out of control. If you look at the flagship line-ups LG is significantly undercutting Samsung and closing the quality gap. It’s a dangerous combo for the market leader and LG is competing in all the same markets as Samsung, so it cannot be ignored.

Continued investment in research and development ensures that LG will be a real threat for years to come and it could beat Samsung to the punch on the next big thing.

Xiaomi squeezes margins

xiaomi mi4 review aa (1 of 19)

The race to the bottom as average selling prices for smartphones fall is an undeniable trend and Xiaomi has a low-cost hardware business model that is delivering great success. By outselling competitors in China and other fast-growing markets Xiaomi has claimed third spot in the smartphone vendor league for the third quarter.

Xiaomi has successfully managed a trick that Samsung has failed to pull off – it has a profitable app store of its own. Hugo Barra recently talked about Xiaomi’s business model and highlighted the importance of a simplified product line-up, a dedicated e-commerce platform, and a fast and responsive attitude to loyal customers. Other profit sources can be used to subsidize handset sales and that’s going to be very tough to compete with.

How much further Xiaomi can go is hard to say, but the ambition is clearly huge. The company is about to spend $1 billion on online video content to boost its smart TV ecosystem and get a slice of China’s TV pie. Clearly Xiaomi would have a lot of work on its hands to replicate its Chinese success in the west, not least because it will run into patent challenges, and that’s good news for Samsung, but losing ground to Xiaomi in the biggest market in the world doesn’t bode well for the future.

Lenovo keeps growing

lenovo vibe x2 first look aa (4 of 13)

IDC has Lenovo slightly ahead, but essentially tied for fourth place with LG in the third quarter smartphone market. That’s based on strong sales in China and in multiple markets throughout Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. If that wasn’t reason enough to worry consider that Lenovo just completed the purchase of Motorola from Google. If you factor in those sales Lenovo jumps into third place behind Apple and Samsung.

Motorola has been killing it at the budget end of the market and the world’s best selling PC maker is no stranger to reasonably priced hardware. Now that it has the Motorola brand, newly revived by Google, it has also inherited carrier relations in the west that the other Chinese OEMs can only dream about. Lenovo can also take the Motorola brand back to the fastest-growing markets. It can essentially pick the strongest brand in each market and run with it.

Now it can compete with Samsung everywhere and it will. Lenovo could emerge as a real global threat to Samsung’s dominance.

The elephant in the room is Apple

The idea that falling prices are behind …read more

Source:: android authority

    

Google and LG sign a 10 year cross-license patent agreement

By Rob Triggs

LG logo

Patent disputes have been a constant cause of headaches in the smartphone industry, but at least we know that Google and LG Electronics won’t be hauling each other down to the local courthouse anytime soon. The two technology giants have just announced a long-term global patent cross-licensing agreement.

The agreement doesn’t only cover smartphone patents, it includes a whole range of products and technologies. Given that Google now has its home automation and TV products and that LG has a long history in consumer electronics and is an influential Android partner, it seems like a rather fair deal.

By working together on cross-licenses like this, companies can focus on bringing great products and services to consumers around the world.

The deal includes all existing patents held by each company and extends to cover all patents filed within the next 10 years as well. Google and Samsung signed a similar decade long deal back at the start of 2014, with the aim of proving that cooperation is more beneficial than squabbling.

The two companies have seemingly been on quite good terms since hashing out a deal for LG’s well received Nexus smartphones. This patent agreement indicates that the two giants are happy to continue a mutually beneficial arrangement over the coming years.

Show Press Release

SEOUL and MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif., Nov. 5, 2014 — LG Electronics Inc. (LG) and Google Inc. have entered into a long-term patent cross-licensing agreement covering a broad range of products and technologies. The agreement covers the two companies’ existing patents as well as those filed over the next 10 years.

“We’re pleased to enter into this agreement with a leading global technology company like LG,” said Allen Lo, deputy general counsel for patents at Google. “By working together on cross-licenses like this, companies can focus on bringing great products and services to consumers around the world.”

This agreement builds on the long-standing strong alliance between Google and LG Electronics, the companies said.

“LG values its relationship with Google, and this agreement underscores both companies’ commitment to developing new products and technologies that enhance consumers’ lives,” said J.H. Lee, executive vice president and head of the LG Electronics Intellectual Property Center.

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Source:: android authority

    

Chainfire successfully roots the Nexus 9

By Eric McBride

Nexus 9-2

Well that certainly didn’t take long. Rooters and modders that have expressed interest in the extremely new Nexus 9 will be pleased to know that superuser guru Chainfire has already successfully managed to root Android Lollipop running on the Nexus 9.

Considering that the factory images for Android 5.0 were only just released a few hours ago, it’s pretty fair to say that Chainfire works pretty darn efficiently. After all, in that amount of time he not only managed to root Lollipop on the Nexus 9, but he also managed to create a 64bit version of the superuser binary as well.

Now for those who can’t wait to get this device rooted (that would be me), there are a couple of things to keep in mind. Right now there is no custom recovery for the Nexus 9. Also, as this is a brand new device running a brand new version of Android, the typical CF Auto-root method is also not yet possible, as the CF Auto-Root framework hasn’t been updated to patch live kernels (which is an Android 5.0 requirement) or to work with 64 bit devices. That means that if you don’t have experience with ADB and Fastboot commands, you might want to hold off just a bit.

That being said, anyone familiar with ADB will be able to root the device in most likely under 5 minutes, as the process really is pretty simple. Chainfire has provided the 3 files you will need to complete the process, which basically consists of:

  1. Enabling fastboot oem unlock via developer options and executing it
  2. Performing fastboot boot inject.img
  3. Performing fastboot flash boot patched.img.

As mentioned before, anyone with a bit of ADB/Fastboot time under their belt will find this process extremely easy to do. Chainfire went on to say that he will get started updating Auto-root with all of the new 5.0 components, but that it would require a bit of time.

Android L brought forward an insane amount of changes, and considering that 64 bit support came with it, it’s no wonder that it took Chainfire “a few hours more than I had hoped for” to get everything working. Rooters should also keep in mind that lots of root apps will probably be very buggy, or may not work at all on Android L until they are updated.

For those looking for the CFAR method to root their device, simply check out the Chainfire thread regularly to see when the update arrives.

With all the great things we’ve seen and heard about the Nexus 9, will you be rooting yours? Let us know why or why not in the comments below.

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Source:: android authority