Microsoft Phone Link could let you use your Android phone as a webcam

Windows Phone Link icon

Robert Triggs / Android Authority


  • Code within the Link to Windows app suggests that Microsoft could let you use your Android phone as a video stream for your laptop, possibly acting like a webcam.
  • The video stream has been spotted with features like filters and effects like auto-framing.
  • The feature could potentially compete against Apple’s Continuity Camera features.

Microsoft Phone Link, previously known as Microsoft Your Phone, is a nifty tool, especially if you have a recent Samsung flagship or a OnePlus 11 on Android 14. The tool comprises the Phone Link app on Windows devices and the companion Link to Windows app on Android phones. Together, they let you control your phone from your computer, and it’s the closest we’ve come to emulating Apple’s ecosystem synergy with Android and Windows. Microsoft could soon add one more synergized feature to the list, as the company is working on possibly letting you use your Android phone as a webcam with Windows computers.

An APK teardown helps predict features that may arrive on a service in the future based on work-in-progress code. However, it is possible that such predicted features may not make it to a public release.


<string name="camera_activity_launch_notification_content">Tap this notification to allow your PC to stream your camera video</string>
<string name="camera_activity_button_pause">Pause Video</string>
<string name="camera_activity_button_resume">Resume Video</string>
<string name="camera_activity_launch_notification_title">Tap to start camera stream</string>
<string name="camera_activity_lock_notification_title">Unlock your phone to start your video</string>
<string name="camera_activity_button_dnd">Do not disturb</string>
<string name="camera_activity_button_swap_camera_to_back">Switch to Back</string>
<string name="camera_activity_button_swap_camera_to_front">Switch to Front</string>

These strings indicate that once Microsoft’s Phone Link app is working on both connected devices, users would be able to start a camera stream that lets their phone’s camera be available to their Windows PC. The strings do not explicitly mention “webcam,” but other clues indicate that the feature would be related to video calls

Read More ...

Google Play names best Android, Wear OS, & tablet apps of 2023

With 2023 winding down, Google Play today named the best Android apps and games of the year. This includes Users’ Choice and several “Best for” categories. These lists are localized, and you can browse your country by tapping the banners at the top of the Play Store.

Users’ Choice 2023

The list below reflects US results, with ChatGPT taking the Users’ Choice App award. BeReal won last year, with the two winners before that being streaming services (Paramount+ and Disney+). Meanwhile, MONOPOLY GO! is the Users’ Choice Game.

Best Android apps of 2023

The “Best [overall] App of 2023” is Imprint: Learn Visually:

As our best app of 2023, Imprint: Learn Visually shares bite-sized lessons that use visual storytelling to bring concepts to life. Explore the worlds of psychology, history, health, technology and more in a brand new way.

Meanwhile, Google Play named Spotify as offering the “Best Multi-device App”:

Whether listening to your favorite music in the kitchen, on the commute or out on a hike, Spotify shines when it comes to working smoothly across devices. We love how you can remotely control playback on another device, and download tracks or episodes for offline playback.

There are 12 “Best for” categories by category:

Best for Watches: WhatsApp Messenger

Best for Tablets: Concepts: Sketch, Note, Draw

Best for Chromebooks: FlipaClip: Create 2D Animation

Best for Google TV: Max: Stream HBO, TV, & Movies

Best for Cars: Amazon Prime Video

Best for Fun: Bumble For Friends: Meet IRL

Best for Personal Growth: Voidpet Garden: Mental Health

Best Everyday Essential: Artifact: Feed Your Curiosity

Best Hidden Gem: Aware: Mindfulness & Wellbeing

Best with AI: Character AI: AI-Powered Chat

Best for Families: Paw Patrol Academy

Best App for Good: AWorld in support of ActNow

Best Android games of 2023

The “Best Game

Read More ...

Google Cast control notifications now part of Android media player

Media controls for Cast devices” have long appeared as a standard notification (as shown above), but they are now part of the Android 13+ media player.

For many years, the Cast controller for devices playing media on your home network appeared as a regular Android notification that’s “Silent” at the bottom of the feed.

In the past week or so, Google has updated the experience so it no longer looks like every other app alert. Cast controls now appear in the Android (11+) media player instead of the feed below. As such, it’s part of Quick Settings, like all other audio/video applications for elevated prominence. 

A generic icon appears in the top-left instead of the streaming service’s logo, while the device playing audio/video is noted in the corner (no switcher access) and again at the center of the screen below the streaming app name.

There’s a big play/pause button that morphs between states, while you get a timeline scrubber flanked by next and last. Your two actions are mute/unmute and end (to stop the entire Cast session). Tapping simply opens the Google Home app.

As of earlier this week, the previous design was still live. We’re seeing the update with version 23.44.14 of Google Play services, which powers the experience, today.

More on Google Cast:

FTC: We use income earning auto affiliate links. More.

link … Read More ...

Samsung Galaxy A34’s Android 14 (One UI 6.0) stable update expands to Asia

Last week, Galaxy A34 users in Europe started getting the stable Android 14 update. Now, the update is expanding to Asia, starting with the Philippines. The rollout of the stable Android 14 update originally started with beta testers who were testing the One UI 6.0 beta update on their Galaxy A34 in the UK.

Galaxy A34 5G gets stable Android 14-based One UI 6.0 update in Asia

The stable Android 14-based One UI 6.0 update for the Galaxy A34 5G is now available in the Philippines. The update comes with firmware version A346EXXU4BWK2 and includes the November 2023 security patch. It is a major software update that brings several new features, design changes, and performance improvements, so make sure that you download the update via a Wi-Fi network. The update should be available shortly in more countries worldwide.

If you have a Galaxy A34 5G in the Philippines, you can now check for the Android 14 update. You can do that by navigating to Settings » Software update and tapping Download and install. You can also download the new firmware file from our firmware database and flash it manually. You need a PC running Windows OS and the Odin tool.

One UI 6.0 features

One UI 6.0 brings several new features, including a new Quick Panel layout, a simplified camera app, a new design for emojis, a new media player widget in the notifications area, and slightly tweaked notifications. The built-in image editor has received better controls, while the built-in video editor has more editing options and the option to save drafts. You can see other features in the video below.

link … Read More ...

Android Users’ Favorite App of 2023 Will Annoy Google

It’s almost December, which means all the major apps and tech companies are wrapping up the year with an attempt at reflection. As tradition calls, the annual Google Play Best of App Awards have been announced for 2023. Sure, there are a few notable new titles on the list, and I’ll point them out in a bit. But first, let’s take a closer look at the Play Store’s vastly underplayed hit of the year, which comes from its competition.

ChatGPT is Android’s users’ choice app. It also appears as the runner-up “Best with AI” app of the year, and it makes sense if you think about where we were with AI at the beginning of the year. The buzz around it made everyone want to try out the thing that would be replacing us all. It made companies that didn’t have a consumer-facing AI in the pipeline quiver, fearing they’d be left behind the trend. Google then refocused its plan around bulking up its competitor in the AI realm, Bard, a month after OpenAI released ChatGPT. You can now interact with it through Google Search and other parts of the Google empire.

The Play Store’s annual app roundup also clarified that Android users are still the bonafide nerds of the mobile world. As an Android user, I can attest to this firsthand, though I haven’t played this year’s favorite game, Honkai: Star Rail. It’s billed as a Genshin Impact-like game that’s more forgiving for adults with busy lives, and it’s mentioned several times in this year’s Play Store awards. Also, the Android Users’ favorite book of the year is a manga series called That Time I Got Reincarnated By Slime, specifically volume 21. Compare that to Apple’s list of

Read More ...

Google app gets a slightly more compact homepage on Android

Frankly, Google Search sticks out compared to all other Material You apps on Android, but it’s now testing a more compact homepage.

Back in March, the Google app introduced what I would consider to be a comically large Search bar. The element doesn’t need to be more prominent given that it’s already at the top of the screen and the reason people open the app.

This change was first introduced on iOS and the trend is only now starting to make its way to other Android apps, though the field in Gmail is still much shorter.

The large search bar is here to stay, but Google has added a magnifying glass icon to the left (like before) next to “Search.” In dark mode, the microphone and Google Lens icon are now white instead of multicolored.

Earlier this year, Google also introduced a carousel of various Search and Lens suggestions: Shop for products, Translate text, Search photo, Solve homework, and Identify song. It was also comically large, but Google is now prepping something much smaller that allows you to see three, instead of two, per screen. This is a good idea and helps emphasize the search bar, as well as the second carousel for weather, air quality, sports, and finance just below it.

The final thing we spotted with the Google app 14.47 beta is a subtle blue gradient that helps make the app feel less stark. The Google app currently lacks Dynamic Color, while the Material You bottom bar appears to have been pulled in recent months. 

These trio of changes are not yet widely rolled out, and we’re only seeing it on one device so far.

More on Google app:

Dylan Roussel contributed to this article.

FTC: We use income earning auto affiliate links. More.

link … Read More ...