Ryan Whitwam
Ryan is a tech/science writer, skeptic, lover of all things electronic, and Android fan. In his spare time he reads golden-age sci-fi and sleeps, but rarely at the same time. His wife tolerates him as few would.

He's the author of a sci-fi novel called The Crooked City, which is available on Amazon and Google Play. http://goo.gl/WQIXBM

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Last Updated: January 24th, 2014

Google makes the open source parts of Android freely available, but those aren't the parts everyone wants. The Google apps and services are what make Android devices desirable, and Google keeps those firmly under its control. A new report from The Guardian alleges that Google's device certification process for OEMs to get Gapps isn't free – the OEM has to pay a small per-device license fee for Google's services.

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A nice update for the VoIP app Viber has just been dropped into Google Play with some highly desired features, so get ready to call everyone you know to deliver the good news. Presumably you will call them with Viber.

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We heard rumors a number of months ago that Samsung was mulling a plan to begin restricting the functionality of uncertified accessories like cases and chargers on its devices. It seems that the company has started doing just that with the Android 4.4.2 update for the Note 3. Users who have updated are reporting that third-party S-View cases, like the one sold by Spigen, are no longer working.

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Samsung includes a small identification chip in the official S-View case that allows it to work properly with the phone.

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There are oh so many options for a nice pair of headphones, but how many of them can survive being trampled by an adult hippopotamus? Only one that that I'm aware of. The Philips O'Neill CRASH headphones are on sale through Amazon and they claim to be able to survive almost anything and continue rocking out.

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These cans have 40mm neodymium drivers and a durable TR90 frame that can be twisted and torqued 100,000 times without failing.

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When you hear about a patent case in the Eastern District of Texas, you can bet there will be shenanigans. This time a jury in the capital of software patent lawsuits has found that Google infringed on a patent held by a company called SimpleAir that reportedly covers push messaging systems used in Android.

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You can't spend all day sitting at the computer, but sometimes remote access is almost as good. VNC Viewer from Real VNC is a way for you to connect to a computer through any number of VNC clients, and it's pretty popular. However, it used to be a $10 app. Put your wallet away – it's free now.

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The app dropped to $0.99 early today, then to free. As we all know, when an app is made free in Google Play, it cannot be made into a paid app again.

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Candy Crush Saga has three words in the title, but game developer King only got a trademark approved for the first one. That doesn't mean, however, that the second two are fair game. It turns out a few weeks ago King filed a Notice of Opposition with the USPTO regarding someone else's trademark request. The application in question was for The Banner Saga, a turn-based PC RPG. King objects because it includes the word 'saga.' Yes, seriously.

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Mobile Money by T-Mobile

T-Mobile is doing a lot of unconventional things for the mobile industry, and now it's branching out to banking as well. The carrier has announced a new service called Mobile Money that works like any number of other online banks. You set up the account, deposit your checks through an app, and use a Visa debit card to spend. As for the fees, most of them are waived for T-Mobile customers.

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The Sony Xperia Z Ultra has a 6.4-inch screen, which is dangerously close to the the tablet side of things. Apparently Sony agrees – a new version of the Xperia Z Ultra has been announced in Japan that does away with the cellular connectivity. Now it's just a tiny tablet instead of a monstrously huge phone.

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Samsung tends to introduce phones with two or three color options, then slowly branch out to all parts of the visible spectrum in time. It's time for the Note 3 to start shifting colors, and you can experience it on Verizon Wireless. The new Rose Gold version of the Note 3 is coming to Big Red as an exclusive device.

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The Rose Gold color scheme is basically a white Note 3 with gold trim – it actually looks a bit like the gold iPhone.

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