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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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23
Jan
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Unlocking our phones is quite the hassle. Sticking a PIN or password on the lock screen is your most reliable option, but inputting that information every time admittedly gets old. There's face unlock, but that's too easy to circumvent. As for fingerprint scanning? The required hardware isn't exactly widespread. So now Descartes Biometrics is offering users the ability to unlock their smartphones... using their ears.

Once installed, ERGO serves as your phone's lockscreen.

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Jan
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Chalk one up for the bad guys. FOSS Patents reports that Chinese manufacturer Huawei and the Rockstar Consortium (a patent holding company jointly owned by Apple, Microsoft, Blackberry, Sony, and Ericsson) have filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit filed against Huawei in November. Both parties have filed to dismiss with prejudice, and have almost certainly agreed to some kind of licensing settlement, though financial details don't have to be reported.

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Jan
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Sony announced the Xperia Z1s at CES earlier this month, and it quickly showed up on T-Mobile's website. So Americans looking to just own the handset have had a week to order one online from the carrier, while those wanting a deeper relationship with the device - to love it for what's on the inside, rather than the outside - have had to wait a little longer. But now their opportunity has come as well.

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Jan
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We're still a little woozy from the idea of Android ROM family CyanogenMod getting a legitimate hardware release from Oppo, but their second hardware partner appears to be on the fast track as well. According to the latest post from the Google+ account of startup manufacturer OnePlus, the One smartphone will be released internationally in the second quarter of this year. The OnePlus One (yes, really) would be the first phone designed from the ground up with CyanogenMod in mind.

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Jan
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We're all for psychedelic games around here, and if said game also happens to incorporate some sort of logical gameplay and pretty scenery, we're definitely interested. That basically describes Polymous' upcoming game God of Light, which the company recently teased. There's no point in spending countless words trying to explain the look of the game, especially considering that there's a nice video teaser that displays the gameplay perfectly:

According to Polymous' blog post about the game, you play as a little thing called "Shiny," and the goal is to reflect light off of the colorful flower-looking things in order to "save the universe from impending darkness." Sounds like a lot of responsibility for a thing named Shiny.

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Jan
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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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Jan
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Welcome to the latest entry in our Bonus Round series, wherein we tell you all about the new Android games of the day that we couldn't get to during our regular news rounds. Consider this a quick update for the dedicated gamers who can't wait for our bi-weekly roundups, and don't want to wade through a whole day's worth of news just to get their pixelated fix. Today we've got an ambitious MMO in beta, an endless runner that will give you the Tremors, a card-based tower defense game, an old-school space shooter, and an unconventional puzzler.

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Jan
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There was a time not so long ago when entering keywords into a search engine and getting back a list of relevant URLs was convenient enough, but these days, long after the novelty of search engines has worn off, sifting through pages of blue and purple links can feel quite tedious. So Google is continuing to do more to make using its primary service easier. Starting today, when you click on the name next to a website's link in your search results, you will get served a small window providing a little bit more information than what's provided on the page.