Apple Music Gaining Chromecast Support on Android

The latest beta version of Apple Music for Android includes Chromecast support, allowing users to stream songs and playlists from the service over Wi-Fi to Chromecast-enabled devices like the Google Home.

Image: Android Police

As noted by Android Police via AppleInsider, the cast icon will automatically appear on the now playing screen and elsewhere in the app if there is a compatible Chromecast-enabled speaker or TV connected to the same Wi-Fi network as the Android smartphone. Playback can still be controlled on the phone.

The latest beta of Apple Music for Android also provides access to over 100,000 broadcast radio stations from sources like TuneIn and iHeartRadio. And last month, in an earlier beta, the app gained a dark mode.

Android users can sign up for the beta via Google Play.


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Android 10 Announced as Google Drops Dessert-Inspired Names

Google today announced its next major version of Android will be named Android 10, as the company has decided to move past dessert-inspired names for the operating system like Ice Cream Sandwich, Lollipop, and Marshmallow.

Android's new logo

Android's naming scheme is now consistent with iOS. Android is only on version 10 though, compared to iOS 13, because Ice Cream Sandwich, Jelly Bean, and KitKat were all considered version 4.0 through version 4.4.4 releases between 2011 and 2014. Android also launched over a year after the original iPhone.

Until now, Android 10 was expected to be named Android Q, but there are few well-known desserts that start with that letter, perhaps contributing to Google's decision to switch to a numbered scheme. Google also admitted that the dessert names "weren't always understood by everyone in the global community."

Google has also revamped the Android logo for the first time since 2014 and shared a video to unveil the new branding:


The final beta of Android 10 was seeded earlier this month. The update will be publicly released in the third quarter.


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Bill Gates Regrets Microsoft Losing to Android as Dominant Platform Beyond iPhone

At a recent event hosted by venture capital firm Village Global, highlighted by TechCrunch, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates lamented on losing to Android, calling it "one of the greatest mistakes of all time."

Skip to the 11:40 mark:


Transcript:
In the software world, it's very predictable for platforms. These are winner-take-all markets. The greatest mistake ever is whatever mismanagement I engaged in that caused Microsoft not to be what Android is. Android is the standard phone platform — non-Apple phone platform. That was a natural thing for Microsoft to win. It really is winner take all. If you're there with half as many apps, or 90 percent as many apps, you're on your way to complete doom. There's room for exactly one non-Apple operating system.

It's amazing to me having made one of the greatest mistakes of all time… our other assets, Windows, Office, are still very strong… we are a leading company. If we'd gotten that right, we'd be the leading company.
In fairness, it was Steve Ballmer who served as Microsoft's CEO between 2000 and 2014. Ballmer is infamous for laughing off the iPhone, but Apple and Google had the last laugh, as Windows Phone failed to ever gain any significant market share among mobile operating systems and is ultimately being abandoned.


Gates added that there is room for exactly one non-Apple mobile operating system, which is certainly the case as of today. Together, Android and iOS have an estimated 99.9 percent market share, according to research firm Gartner, having squeezed out former heavyweights like BlackBerry and Nokia.


Simply put, Apple upended the industry when it launched the iPhone in 2007, and Microsoft failed to respond. Windows Phone could have been the commoditized mobile platform, as Windows is to Mac, but Android won the battle.


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Apple Music App for Android Updated With Refreshed Browse Tab and Chromebook Support

Apple has updated its Apple Music app for Android devices, introducing the redesigned Browse tab that debuted on iOS last week and new support for Chromebooks.


The new Browse tab has been tweaked to highlight an assortment of different playlists from various musical genres to make discovery quicker and easier. Android users will now find Apple's "Daily Top 100" playlist featured prominently at the top of the section, just below the traditional carousel of new music.

Apart from that minor refresh, the update brings official Chromebook support to the Android app, which basically means users can access Apple Music from Chrome OS on their Google notebook. According to the release notes, this version of Apple Music for Android also fixes various bugs, so users should also find it runs a bit more stable than previous versions.

Apple Music for Android is available to download for free from Apple's website and on the Google Play Store.


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Google Developing More Secure Face ID-Style Facial Recognition System for Android Devices

Google appears to be working on a facial recognition system that would offer similar security to Face ID, based on code for the next-generation version of Android that was highlighted by XDA Developers.

Code in Android Q, set to be shown off at Google's developer conference in May, points towards an advanced facial recognition system that would be secure enough to be used for authorizing purchases and signing into apps, in addition to unlocking a smartphone.


Furthermore, the code references a built-in hardware based sensor through error messages that are highlighted when the sensor is unable to properly detect a face.

Combined, these two factors suggest that Google is expecting future smartphones to feature an advanced facial recognition system that could perhaps be as secure as Face ID.

Android Q code referencing a secure face unlock system. Click to enlarge.

Right now, there are Android devices that are using 2D facial recognition techniques to replace a passcode, but none of those systems are based on 3D face scans like Face ID. Facial recognition used by Android right now is more rudimentary and easily fooled, which is why Android devices continue to use fingerprint sensors for operations that need more security like payments.

The Android Q code indicates Google is building a native secure facial recognition option into the next version of Android, which would allow smartphone manufacturers to create systems that rival Face ID.

Android Q code referencing a secure face unlock system. Click to enlarge.

Face ID was first introduced in 2017 in the iPhone X, and has since expanded to the iPhone XR, XS, XS Max, and the 2018 iPad Pro models. At the time Face ID was introduced, respected Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo suggested the sophistication of the 3D camera system Apple uses would be unable to be matched by Android smartphone makers for 2.5 years.

One and a half years later, there are still no Android smartphone manufacturers that have created a front-facing camera system similar to the TrueDepth camera system able to be used for all secure system functions like payments.

Google's work on adding secure facial recognition code to Android does, however, suggest that Android devices with Face ID-like systems are in the works and coming soon.


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Do AirPods Work Well on Android Devices?

Though designed for the iPhone, Apple's AirPods are also compatible with Android smartphones and tablets, so you can take advantage of Apple's wire-free tech even if you're an Android user or have both Android and Apple devices.

You do, of course, lose some bells and whistles like Apple's unique AirPods pairing features. AirPods do, however, work like any other Bluetooth headphones on an Android device, and there are ways to restore at least some of their functionality through Android apps.

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Features That Don't Work on Android Out of the Box


When paired with an iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, or Mac, the AirPods offer a rich set of features thanks to the W1 wireless chip, the accelerometer, and deep integration with Apple's devices.

Here's a list of AirPods features you lose out on when using the AirPods with Android:

  • Siri. On iPhone, you can tap to access Siri for doing things like changing songs, adjusting volume, or just asking simple questions.

  • Customizing Double Tap. In the Settings app on an iOS device, you can change what the double tap gesture does. Options include accessing Siri, Play/Pause, Next Track, and Previous Track.

  • Automatic switching. AirPods are linked to an iCloud account for Apple users, which allows them to easily switch between using the AirPods with an iPad, iPhone, Apple Watch, and Mac.

  • Simple setup. Pairing with an iOS device only requires opening the case near said device and following the quick setup steps.

  • Checking AirPods battery. On the iPhone and Apple Watch, you can ask Siri about the AirPods battery life or check it from the Today center on iPhone or the Control Center on Apple Watch. Luckily, there is a way to replace this functionality on Android with the AirBattery app or Assistant Trigger.

  • Automatic ear detection. On iPhone, when you remove an AirPod from your ear, it pauses whatever you're listening to until you put the AirPod back into your ear.

  • Single AirPod listening. Listening to music with a single AirPod is limited to iOS devices because it uses ear detection functionality. On Android, you need to have both AirPods out of the case for them to connect.


Features That Work on Android


Out of the box, AirPods functionality on Android is quite limited, but the double tap feature works. When you double tap on one of the AirPods, it will play or pause the music. If you've customized your AirPods using an iOS device, next track and previous track gestures will also work, but Siri won't.

One additional benefit to AirPods on Android - Bluetooth connectivity distance. AirPods generally have a much longer Bluetooth range than other Bluetooth-enabled headphones, and this is true on both Android and iOS.

AirPods lose the rest of their unique functionality on Android, but there are a few Android apps that are designed to restore some of it, adding to what you can do with AirPods on Android.

Adding Back Lost Functionality


AirBattery - AirBattery adds a feature that lets you see the charge level of your AirPods. It includes battery levels for the left AirPod, right AirPod, and charging case, much like the battery interface on iOS devices. It also has an experimental ear detection feature when used with Spotify, which can pause music when you remove an AirPod.

AssistantTrigger - AssistantTrigger also lets you see the battery level of your AirPods, and it also says it adds ear detection features. Most notably, it can be used to change the tap gestures, letting you set up Google Assistant to be triggered with a double tap.

Pairing AirPods to an Android Smartphone


AirPods pair to an Android smartphone like any other Bluetooth device, but you there are some specific steps to follow.

  1. Open up the AirPods case.

  2. Go to the Bluetooth settings on your Android device.

  3. On the AirPods case, hold the pairing button at the back.

  4. Look for AirPods in the list of Bluetooth accessories and then tap the "Pair" button.

After tapping "Pair," the AirPods should successfully connect to your Android device.

Is it worth buying AirPods as an Android owner?


Even without many of the bells and whistles available on iOS devices, AirPods have some attractive features that may appeal to Android users.

Many AirPods users find them to be quite comfortable and stable in the ears, with little risk of them falling out, and the battery life is absolutely appealing. AirPods have a charging case that provides 24 hours of battery life in a portable, compact form factor. The case is also easy to charge, so long as you have a Lightning cable.

There's one major reason that you might want to avoid AirPods on Android, and that's audio quality. The Sound Guys outline the poor performance of AAC on Android compared to an iPhone, suggesting you might get degraded streaming on Android because of the way Android handles Bluetooth codecs.

Bottom line? Even if you use Android devices exclusively, the AirPods are a great wire-free earbud option that outperform many other Bluetooth earbuds available for Android devices. If you have both Android and iOS devices, AirPods are a no brainer because you'll be able to use them on both devices with few tradeoffs if you download the appropriate Android apps.

Related Roundup: AirPods
Tag: Android
Buyer's Guide: AirPods (Caution)

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3D Printed Head Fools Android Face Recognition, iPhone X ‘Impenetrable’

Forbes recently challenged a variety of smartphone face-recognition systems with a 3d printed head modeled after the author's head.
The head was printed at Backface in Birmingham, U.K., where I was ushered into a dome-like studio containing 50 cameras. Together, they combine to take a single shot that makes up a full 3D image.

The final model took a few days to generate at the cost of just over £300. With it, the author tested it out against four Android smartphones and the iPhone X. All Android phones tested were able to be unlocked with the fake 3d printed head.
If you're an Android customer, though, look away from your screen now. We tested four of the hottest handsets running Google's operating systems and Apple's iPhone to see how easy it'd be to break into them. We did it with a 3D-printed head. All of the Androids opened with the fake. Apple's phone, however, was impenetrable.
The Android phones tested included the LG G7 ThinQ, Samsung S9, Samsung Note 8 and OnePlus 6.

It's been long known that many implementations of facial recognition amongst Android phones have been less secure than Apple's Face ID system. Some of those face recognition systems have been fooled with simple photographs. Apple's Face ID, however, also includes IR depth mapping and attention awareness technology. The attention awareness alone may be enough to explain the inability for a static 3d printed head to unlock the iPhone X. That said, the iPhone X's Face ID has been fooled in the past with more sophisticated printed 3d heads.


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Apple Music on Android Testing Support for Android Tablets

Apple is now beta testing a version of the Apple Music app for Android smartphones that works with larger-screen Android tablets (via Pixel Spot). Found in the 2.7.0 update of Apple Music on Android, when opened on an Android tablet the app now adapts to the increased display area. With the added room, it shows additional playlists, albums, featured artists, songs, and more of what is presented in the selected tab, similar to Apple Music on iPad.

Image via Pixel Spot

In regards to the tabs, Apple Music on Android also now features a bottom bar navigation menu that's close to the one found on the iOS app, with Library, For You, Browse, and Radio all listed at the bottom of the app. On Android, search is still located in the top right corner. Previously, the Android app used a left-hand collapsable hamburger menu for navigation. The full 2.7.0 beta changelog is below:
- Tablet Support: Enjoy Apple Music with an experience designed for a wider range of Android devices.
- Performance improvements for images and audio playback.
- Various bug fixes.
In August, Apple Music updated on Android with support for Android Auto, letting Android smartphone owners control playback of Apple Music songs directly from the infotainment center in their vehicle. Android Auto support was part of Apple Music's 2.6.0 beta on Android, which also included numerous other features already found on Apple Music on iOS: lyric searches, updated artist pages, and the new weekly playlist called "Friends Mix."


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Apple Music App for Android Gains Android Auto Support, Search by Lyrics and More

Following the release of iOS 12, which brought a few new Apple Music features, Apple has updated its Apple Music app for Android to introduce feature parity.

Today's update brings support for searching by lyrics, an iOS 12 feature that's designed to let you locate songs and artists using song lyrics rather than a song name.

To use the feature, all you need to do is type in a sentence from the lyrics of a particular song and Apple Music will try to find it. This doesn't work with all songs, but it does work with those that offer lyrics in the Apple Music app.

Apple Music for Android is also gaining the new Artist Pages that were introduced in iOS 12, allowing an artist's music to be played with a single tap, and there's support for the Friends Mix.

Friends Mix is a playlist of songs gathered from the people that you're following on Apple Music. Android users can also discover new music through the inclusion of a new Top 100 list that offers up the daily top 100 songs from countries around the world.

After installing the 2.6.0 update, Android users will also be able to use Apple Music with Android Auto for the first time thanks to new Android Auto support.

Android users can download the Apple Music app from the Google Play store.


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