Besides a bevy of new features, Android's update to 4.4 brought forth a ton of tweaks to the interface through GEL launcher and a fresh round of updated stock apps. There's little doubt Android's user experience and overall design paradigms are continuing to evolve, becoming more refined, usable, and useful. We covered most of the changes to the interface in Getting to Know Android but, as with any major update, new changes come with new opportunities for error.
Update: Google has announced via Google+ that the update is rolling out today, and that in addition to speeding up focusing, it will add faster white balancing, less shutter lag, and the ability to pinch-zoom the viewfinder in HDR+ mode. The company also shared a handful of photos showing the difference between normal mode and HDR+ following the update.
Android 4.4.1 is scheduled to roll out to the Nexus 5 over the next couple of days, and when it arrives, expect an improved picture-taking experience.
There's a sequel to 2004's Anchorman about to hit theaters in a matter of weeks, and on the off chance you have yet to see a commercial for it, Paramount Digital Entertainment has dropped a movie-themed game into the Play Store to get you pumped. As anchorman Ron Burgundy puts it, Scotchy Scotch Toss "combines the skill of tossing ice cubes into a glass with the art of not moving." If that sounds exciting, then you fit precisely into the demographic Paramount is trying to target.
Sony has been surprisingly quiet on the smartwatch front since launching its SmartWatch 2. But now that the Galaxy Gear is gaining steam (or at the very least, getting a hell of a lot of advertising airtime) they've set out to put a little extra oomph in their Xperia-styled digital watch. A quick update to the Android app on the Google Play Store has given the device a few expanded capabilities.
At this point in my life, a solid 70% of everything I've ever said resides on Google's servers somewhere. If the company were to ever close its doors, those words would be lost to history. But that's about to change. Google's rolling out the ability to easily download a copy of your Gmail and Calendar data, so you can migrate it to another service when the unthinkable - or the inevitable - happens.
If you've ever looked at your Android keyboard and though, "Man, that thing is just too opaque," then this is a big day for you. Fleksy keyboard has left beta and is available for download in Google Play. This alternative input method uses aggressive autocorrect and gestures to do away with much of the keyboard UI – even making it completely transparent.
Fleksy seems to be one of those things that either works for you, or doesn't – Not a lot of middle ground.
Traditionally word processors have tasked themselves with producing nice, printable documents. Mobile versions have followed up with the unenviable task of replicating this functionality on much smaller screens. Quip throws this entire concept out of the window, instead creating a writing experience built for the ground up for mobile devices. The team released an alpha version over the summer, but it was little more than a demo of the iOS version of the app.
The PlayStation Network has become a surprisingly rich source of ports for the Google Play Store. Take Dokuro: it's a beautiful 2D platformer that turned more than a few heads when it premiered as a downloadable title for the PS Vita last year. Now it's available on Android for a single buck, and if you're a fan of platformers with both creative gameplay and gorgeous visuals, you should definitely check it out.
Google's rolling out an AdSense update for its Android app that should provide a better experience for monitoring your revenue stream on the go. Version 2.0 introduces an enhanced interface, one that presents new information in a more visual manner. And don't worry, the widget introduced in the last release is still intact.
One of the problems with the pricing structure of American carriers is that people who buy their phones outright don't get any kind of break on the service plans themselves, giving people fewer incentives to get away from subsidies. T-Mobile has addressed this (by essentially throwing out subsidies all together), but today AT&T fires back with the new Mobile Share Value Plan. Basically it's a $15 discount if you buy a phone unsubsidized, including the new AT&T Next plans, or if you've already paid off your on-contract device.