Collectively, the userbases for Android M and Android Auto have to represent only a tiny fraction of the total users of Android. But those people are also the most dedicated Android fans, so any developer hoping to get attention from power users would do well to consider them. Case in point: BeyondPod, the go-to podcast manager. This weekend the developers posted new betas with support for Android M and Android Auto on their official forums.
Samsung makes some really cool monitors. Aside from looking nicer than your usual plastic-wrapped panels, they have versions with 4K resolution, curved screens, and advanced gaming sync tech. And now they've got one with a built in wireless charging port for your Samsung phone. Well, it'll work with any phone with Qi-compatible wireless charging. But I'm sure they'd prefer you to use it with a Samsung phone, preferably a new flagship model bought at full price.
The SE370 comes in 23.6-inch and 27-inch versions, and includes a little circular pad on the base that can charge a Qi-enabled phone or tablet.
Underwood Apps, developer of the widely-praised Today Calendar, has a new entry on the Play Store. You probably won't be interested if you're looking for another replacement to a core Google app, but writers, developers, and editors would do well to check it out. Say hello to Monospace, a super-simple text editor that's making its Play Store debut in beta form. It's a free download for Android 4.0.3 or later.
Monospace is another entry in the minimal group of text editors - it doesn't support any of the more complex formatting you might be familiar with from a word processor, like templates or spell checking.
The Sparkle series of games use a 2D layout and a "zen" approach, putting players in the role of a tiny plankton-like creature as it eats, grows, and evolves. The third game steps up the design of both the sea life and the background until it looks like you're playing in a catastrophic oil spill comprised entirely of tie-dye. Eat, grow, and try not to be eaten in return as you swim through the levels.
There's a dedicated "amoeba" sub-genre out there (it works pretty well on touchscreens) but Sparkle 3 Genesis adds some much-needed complexity. Different food sources will make your creature grow in different ways, introducing a crafting element, and twelve different levels and intermittent screen-filling bosses lend structure to an other wise nebulous experience.
Fingerprint scanners are finally coming into their own - near-instant touch readers are replacing tired, old, swipe scanners, and they're more accurate, much faster, and a hell of a lot easier to operate. But do you actually want one?
There have been precious few phones with touch-style scanners released to date. The iPhone 6, Samsung Galaxy S6, and HTC One M9+ are the most notable, but they aren't the only ones, and increasing numbers of high-end phones will likely integrate them in the coming months and years.
Personally, I love them - I hate entering a PIN or pattern to unlock my phone, and I don't always wear my smart lock-enabled smartwatch when I'm carrying my phone.
Google is certainly no stranger to testing new features slowly. Most recently, it released an update to YouTube's UI that's been in testing for at least four months. And for Google, this is a good thing. Testing new features with limited samples of users helps get data not only on their usefulness, but also on how they augment user experience and engagement.
That brings us to the Play Store, an app where nothing is more important than engagement. Google appears to be testing a new feature called "Related Interests," which lists off various categories with round chips similar to the chips used for artists on Google Play Music's web interface.
Back in April, Square Enix released the original Tomb Raider game on Android for just $0.99. The title that began Lara Croft's long-lasting career as a polygonal heroine came to Android with all the levels (and dinosaurs) players remember, along with the "unfinished business" levels. The controls aren't ideal but the game brought controller support and an undeniable nostalgic vibe.
Today, the classic title has dropped to just $0.10 on the Play Store. Compared to the already low price of just under a dollar this might not seem like a huge drop, but honestly at a dime it's even harder not to grab Tomb Raider if you haven't already.
In line with their recent trend of developing for all platforms, Microsoft has quietly released a semi-private beta of a launcher app called Arrow. The early release sports an interface reminiscent of Aviate, but appears less devoted to contextual recommendations. While the current version is fairly basic, the big ideas may still be on the horizon.
The first thing I noticed is that Arrow replaced the stock icons for system apps like Phone and Messages, which isn't in and of itself a bad thing but an unexpected behavior.
The main screen is divided into three sections. There is a row on top for recent apps, a larger area in the middle for frequently used apps, and the bottom row for user-selected quick access apps.
It's not in VR or anything, but if you want to see our best look yet at the upcoming OnePlus 2, a five-minute video of the phone has leaked onto YouTube. Well, it's apparently the OnePlus 2 - we can't confirm it, of course, but the low-quality video seems to match the leaked images from a Chinese regulator that we saw earlier this week. Look closely and you can see what appears to be a fingerprint sensor beneath the screen.
The video is mostly silent and the text is in Chinese, but it's pretty easy to follow along as the operator takes in the About page and runs a benchmark.