Back in January, Google announced initial support for forty third-party apps (including Runtastic, Zillow, Waze, and more) hooking into Google Now. Even if Google limited participation to hand-picked partners, the news was exciting - it marked Google's first publicly visible steps toward opening Now to users' favorite apps in ways that developers could control.
Google is still keeping details about developer participation close, but today 70 new apps have been added to the Google Now roster.
LG's flagship smartphones have quickly increased in quality over the years, and the G4 marks yet another clear evolution for the other large Korean electronics firm.
We have a review unit (with gray plastic cover - these photos are of other devices) in hand now, and I can say that the G4 is categorically an improvement over the G3 in some clear ways, but others we'll just have to wait and see on.
The first thing that struck me about the G4 (aside from the leather-backed variants) was the brightness and vividness of the display. It's clear this new "quantum" IPS panel is a very significant upgrade over the 2K IPS in the G3 in terms of brightness and contrast.
Last fall, Microsoft released an activity tracker of its own, creatively named the Microsoft Band, and hit the Play Store with the requisite companion app. Now the company has updated its little piece of Android software to track steps and calories without needing the Band itself. The app does this using your phone's motion sensors instead, as long as it's running KitKat or Lollipop.
But you already bought Microsoft's fitness tracker? There's something here for you too. You can now share your bike data with MapMyRide and Strava. Playing along nicely with these two established apps gives Microsoft a chance to appeal to the cyclists among you who have already stored years of data on someone else's servers.
Point-and-click adventure games are experiencing a renaissance at the moment, spurred on in no small part by the ride of touch-based mobile platforms that make a natural fit with the games' simple interfaces. Surely no single adventure game has created more buzz in the last few years than Broken Age, the crowdfunded return to form for Tim Schafer and his team at Double Fine Productions. Today Act 1 of Broken Age is available on the Play Store for ten bucks.
Frequent travelers know Google Maps all too well. It's one of the most widely used apps on Android for a reason. A brand new update to version 9.8 just turned up, and there are a few notable changes to take a look at. This release appears to be dedicated to fine-tuning different parts of the interface, so there aren't any big changes here. Maps now gives users the option to upload multiple photos simultaneously, hide reservations from location cards, and more. As usual, we've got a download link at the bottom of the page if you'd rather jump straight to the apk.
Samsung's first aluminum clad smartphone, the Galaxy Alpha, launched last fall on AT&T ushering in a new, more premium design language for Samsung. The phone was well liked by Ryan Whitwam in his review, but the big sticking point was the asking price, which initially was over $600 on AT&T. A few months have passed since the launch of the device, and the cost has fallen substantially. The price is now low enough to perhaps justify another look for those who can't bring themselves to shell out a $7-800 for the Galaxy S6 or S6 Edge. And it's getting even lower thanks to an eBay deal on the unlocked AT&T Galaxy Alpha for $250.
It was just over a year ago that we first caught wind of Android Wear. At the same time, we were introduced to the G Watch, which would be the first Wear device—released alongside the Samsung Gear Live—to be sold to the general public. Now, with the addition of the G Watch Urbane and a permanent price drop for the G Watch R, the original G Watch is headed out of the Google Store.
There was no telling exactly when this would happen, but it is no surprise that it comes now. First of all, there is just a lot of LG in the Android Wear section of the Google Store right now.
If you're not familiar with Disney Infinity, it's basically the media giant's answer to digital toys like Skylanders, Angry Birds Telepods, and Nintendo Amiibo. The gist is that you buy your kids RFID-enabled collectible statues, they stick 'em on a base station, and then they can use digital versions of those characters inside the Disney Infinity game. Is there a technical reason that a completely digital character needs a $15 hunk of physical plastic to unlock? Why certainly, so long as "technical reason" includes "making Disney a boatload of money."
The Infinity games are available on all major consoles and the PC.
Google is often accused of having a heavy focus on the United States. That's certainly true, but come on - it's a US company. Nobody seems to mind that Samsung sells a ton of phones in South Korea, or that Japan gets the newest and hottest Canon cameras before anyone else. Can you really blame a company with limited hardware resources for prioritizing a new product launch in certain markets?
On the heels of the LG G Watch Urbane's arrival to the Google Store, the G Watch R gets a nice discount. Originally sold at $299, you can now get it for $249. This is a good deal; just several weeks ago we told you about an offer where you could get the G Watch R for $269. The price puts it at a fair distance from the newer Urbane, which is starting at $349.
This is definitely a deal to look into, since we once crowned the G Watch R as perhaps the best first-generation Android Wear device. Of course, it's still a first-generation device, which is now reflected in its price.