Google Earth celebrates its 10th birthday with new Voyager feature Threads


Happy birthday, Google Earth! It was 10 years ago today, way back in 2005, when Google Earth was first released. In that time, it has become a powerful tool that aids in the way we view the Earth and its many beautiful landscapes, right from our very browser. Today, to celebrate Google Earth’s birthday, the team behind the project is announcing a new feature called Voyager.

Available only in the desktop version of Google Earth for now, Voyager is a new way to explore the most interesting places on Earth. Voyager works something like a virtual tour of select, interesting regions of the globe, letting you see everything from the ground to the sky. Available as a layer, Voyager uses five tools that work together to bring you a new way to see the world. The tools include:

  • Street View: highlights from Street View, including the Taj Mahal and the Grand Canyon
  • Earth View: striking landscapes around the globe as seen from space
  • 3D cities: a showcase of cities and towns available in photorealistic 3D (don’t forget to tilt!)
  • Satellite imagery updates: a map of our most recently published satellite imagery
  • Highlight tour: with thousands of Voyager locations to choose from, take a quick tour of a few to whet your appetite

Along with Voyager, the Google Earth team also announced they’re, “expanding the Earth View collection to 1,500 landscapes from every continent and ocean and making it accessible to even more people.”

Here’s to ten more years of Google Earth. We can’t wait to see what’s next.

LG has started shipping new hexagonal battery aimed at smartwatches Threads

LG hexagonal battery

Battery life in smartwatches is a hot topic, as they tend to last only one day, maybe two. There are exceptions, like the Pebble with its e-ink display and week-long battery life, but most fully functional smartwatches can’t compete. LG is intent on increasing that life, even if only a little.

The newest battery technology from LG Chem involves hexagonal batteries, which more efficiently use the space inside of a round smartwatch. The company says it should improve battery life in round watches by 25 percent, which could give you the extra few hours to make it to a charger. It’s no revolution in battery tech, but it’s a good improvement nonetheless.

Are the Google app splash screens a good idea? Threads

Google_Android_Lawn_Statues (26)

Maybe you’ve noticed that some of your favorite Google apps now have splash screens. The screens are simply the app icon with Google written under it. It seems backwards, reducing app loading speeds just to show us the same icon we clicked on, but Google might have a method to its madness.

With Microsoft releasing apps on Android, like the just released Office for Android, Google is facing some competition when it comes to apps and cloud services. The splash screens are a push for brand recognition, reminding people that the services they’re using are Google services. In fact, the material design guidelines specify the use of branded splash screens for improving brand recognition.

The downside is, of course, app loading times get longer. You have to wait for the splash screen to disappear before using the app. And even if it’s under a second, that’s a significant delay that many users will not appreciate. We bought high-end devices for quick app loading, didn’t we? What is your opinion on these new splash screens? Leave a comment!

The OnePlus 2 will feature a fingerprint sensor for added security Threads

OnePlus 2 fingerprint security

The crew behind the OnePlus 2 are busy unveiling plenty of the smartphone’s features. For instance, they recently unveiling that the device will feature a USB Type-C port. OnePlus also unveiled just when the new flagship will be announced, telling interested folks to circle July 27 on their calendars and to get their virtual reality goggles ready, too.

Now the company has taken to its forums yet again to announce another new feature headed to the OnePlus 2: a fingerprint sensor. According to the blog post, this sensor is the “most advanced fingerprint sensor out there,” and suggests that “one quick tap” will take the user right to their home screen. OnePlus also says that the new fingerprint sensor will unlock the OnePlus 2 faster than Touch ID unlocks Apple’s iOS-based devices (equipped with the necessary hardware, of course).

Interestingly enough, OnePlus says they didn’t want to jump onto any bandwagons with fingerprint sensors before now. They could have introduced a sensor with the OnePlus, but decided to wait to get it right. As a result, the OnePlus 2 will have another level of security.

What do you think of the inclusion of a fingerprint sensor? Is the OnePlus 2 a device you’re looking forward to?

LG Tribute 2 and Volt 2 available now from Boost Mobile Threads


Boost Mobile is announcing the arrival of two new LG phones to its lineup today, the Tribute 2 and Volt 2, for the modest price of $99 and $149, respectively.

Both handsets share a 1.2GHz quad-core processor, access to enhanced LTE data and a handful of software features:

  • Knock CodeTM for a personalized knock sequence to wake and unlock your phone
  • QuickMemo+ to write or draw on nearly any screen and schedule memos to appear at certain times using calendar inputs
  • Ability to adjust height to adapt to your typing style and patterns
  • Fun selfie features, including Gesture Shot, which lets you snap a picture by holding up a simple hand gesture, Gesture Interval Shot that takes a sequence of four selfies, and a Selfie Light to improve photo quality in low lighting

The phones differ in that the Tribute 2 comes with a 4.5-inch 854×480 display and 1900mAh battery, while the Volt 2 comes with a 5-inch 1280×720 display and 2540mAh battery. Both phones come running Android 5.1.

To pick up either the LG Tribute 2 or LG Volt 2, hit up the links below.

LG Tribute 2, LG Volt 2

LG G4 design and hardware: simple elegance Gallery Threads


For a flagship phone, a lot rides on its design and hardware. When someone sees it or holds it for the first time, they make a snap judgement of the device. Every thought about the phone after that is colored by that initial impression, so it’s important that it delivers a quality build. With the LG G4, one of 2015′s biggest flagships, it’s time to take a look at the design and see if it lives up to its flagship status.

Starting at the front, the G4 features an expanse of Corning Gorilla Glass 3 that covers a 5.5-inch display with black glass bezels that have an ever-so-subtle dot pattern to them. The bottom bezel plays host to a reflective LG logo, while the top bezel holds a simple metal speaker for calls, the front-facing camera and an array of sensors.

The sides of the phone are a dark gray plastic with a reflective finish that catches the light quite attractively. Because of the G4′s rear button setup, its sides are completely free of buttons. The top edge holds a microphone and IR blaster, while the right edge simply has a small cut-out to indicate where to pull the back cover off. The bottom edge is the only one with ports, sporting a headphone jack and microUSB charging port as well as a second microphone.


Flipping around to the back, we can find a curved piece of plastic with a dark gray metallic finish and a diamond pattern that’s just barely noticeable to the touch. (Editor’s note: the review unit we were provided with came with a plastic back rather than the leather option that’s also available. We can’t speak to the design of that as we haven’t had a chance to actually try it out.) The materials and curve feel pleasant to the touch and the phone’s design fits well into your hand, much like last year’s G3.

A single speaker rests on the bottom left of the rear, with a G4 logo centered next to it. The back also sports a Verizon logo and, unsurprisingly, a 4G LTE logo, as Verizon can’t help but overly-brand any phone it touches. In the top center area is the camera and button array. The square camera rests above a rectangular button setup that features a central power button and a volume rocker above and below. Flanking the camera are an LED flash and a sensor for the laser auto focus.

The rear button setup may take a little getting used to, but it’s actually quite comfortable once you remember where it is. Your finger generally rests directly on the power button while holding the phone, making it easy to control. If you’re still not a fan of a rear power button, the G4 does come with the ability to turn the screen on and off by simply double tapping.


Once you do turn on the screen, you’re in for a treat, as LG knows how to make a great phone display. The G4 features a 5.5-inch QHD (2560×1440) IPS Quantum Display with a PPI of 538 that places it up there with the cream of the crop. Brightness is extremely high, even in sunlight. Due to the use of LG’s Quantum Display, the G4 gives you a rich color experience that contains 98 percent of the DCI (Digital Cinema Initiatives) color gamut. Pair that with well-improved contrast and you have a winning display on your hands.

One final aspect to touch on is the speaker. With only one speaker, the G4 isn’t quite up to par with some of its competitors that offer dual speakers. The positioning isn’t great, with the speaker sitting in the bottom rear corner, making it quite easy to cover up with your hand. Nonetheless, it can get surprisingly loud and actually has less distortion than some other phones, such as the Nexus 6. In any case, this is a phone speaker, and hopefully you won’t be doing too much listening through it to begin with.

When it comes down to it, the LG G4 has a great design that’s paired with hardware that matches it in quality. The G4 looks great and more importantly, feels great, allowing you to have an experience that makes it a pleasure to use.

Check out the gallery below for more pictures.


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HTC One M9 for Sprint will receive Android 5.1 beginning July 1 Threads


For owners of HTC’s One M9 that happen to be under Sprint’s network umbrella, some good news has just surfaced.

According to HTC’s Mo Versi, the Sprint variant of the One M9 will begin getting its update to Android 5.1 Lollipop on Wednesday, July 1. That’s because the update recently received technical approval from the carrier. As for what’s included in the update, Versi adds that the new software will include “camera improvements,” but doesn’t go any further into detail.

With Sprint’s update right around the corner, it would stand to hope that the other carriers are following in the Now Network’s footsteps.

New Moto G 2015 renders leak Threads

Motorola Moto G 2015 render leak

The Moto G has long been praised as the ideal budget smartphone, sacrificing far less than others to achieve a low price point. Both generations of the device have been great, and a third is coming. And with any upcoming device, the rumors and leaks are starting to speed up. This time, full renders of the device have been leaked.

While the front looks like previous generations of the device, the rear has been given a seemingly classier appearance. Of course, we’ll have to see if that translates to real life. Leaked photos of the device have already surfaced, and it’s looking good! As far as rumored specs, it’ll probably have a 5-inch display with 720p resolution, a Snapdragon 410, 1GB of RAM, a 13MP camera, 8GB of storage, and LTE support.

If you’re looking for a budget shot, you might want to wait for the 2015 model of the Moto G to launch. The announcement will likely be soon, as last year’s model launched in September. Is anyone looking forward to this device?

T-Mobile Jump On Demand available now in a store near you Threads


After announcing its new Jump On Demand phone leasing program late last week, T-Mobile is officially ready to start signing customers up for the program in retail stores.

Jump On Demand is essentially a retooling of T-Mobile’s original Jump program that allows Magenta users to lease phones for a monthly fee, and swap them out for a little variety. Jump On Demand allows T-Mo users to switch phones up to three times per year, and does away with any extra fees, or insurance charges, like the original Jump plan.

Under the new Jump On Demand program, a full Jump On Demand period lasts 18 months, after which users must decide to either put their 18 months of payments towards the final retail price of a phone or switch it out and keep paying a monthly fee. So there is a rent-to-own option that won’t have you paying more than what the phone’s worth, but T-Mobile really wants to see users trying and returning as many phones as possible.

For those who wants to always get their hands on the latest and greatest Android phones T-Mobile has to offer, Jump On Demand is a great, safe way to do that. Just think, in one year, you could own a Galaxy S6, LG G4, and Note 5. Head to your local T-Mobile store if Jump On Demand interests you.

Lollipop updates announced for VZW DROID Turbo and Moto X (2nd Gen.), AT&T Desire EYE Threads


Earlier today we learned that the Sprint version of the HTC One M9 will soon be getting Android 5.1, but it turns out that that’s not the only handset that’ll be getting a Lollipop update in the near future.

Motorola took to Twitter today to tease that the DROID Turbo’s Lollipop update is finally — finally — almost here. The company’s tweet reads “Thank you for your patience. We hope you’re as excited as we are about #Lollipop – coming to a #DROIDTurbo near you.” It sounds like the soak test for the update is underway, so if everything goes smoothly, we could see a public rollout in the next week or so.

Sticking with Verizon and Motorola, VZW has confirmed the Android 5.1 update for its Moto X (2nd Gen.). Besides bumping the phone to 5.1, the update includes the ability to switch Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connections from Quick Settings, new interruption controls, and notification volume control. Now that Verizon has confirmed this update, you Moto X (2nd Gen.) owners ought to start seeing it any day now.

Finally, HTC’s Mo Versi has announced that the Lollipop update for AT&T’s Desire Eye will start rolling out tomorrow, June 30.

Whew. That’s a lot of updates, but we can’t exactly be mad about that, especially when it means that the DROID Turbo will finally be getting its Lollipop update. If you’ve got one of the three aforementioned handsets, keep an eye out for your Lollipop treat in the coming days.

Sources: @Motorola, Verizon, @moversi