Spotify is great. Despite that fact that many of us abandoned it for Google Music All Access when that was announced, Spotify is still one of the best streaming music services available today. And it just got a lot better (and cheaper).
At a press conference today, Spotify founder Daniel Ek announced that service would basically start offering free streaming to mobile phones and tablets. The model will be different for each device category, but the general gist is the same – stream music, and pay nothing for it.
A few days ago we reported on a less-than-ideal situation over in India, where users who won Nexus 7s in Google's/Nestle's KitKat contest were receiving the 2012 model instead of the "new Nexus 7" as advertised. Naturally, users were outraged and insulted by this gesture and spoke out against both companies. Today, Nestle has taken to its KitKat India Facebook page to let users know that it plans on righting this wrong.
With any luck, Android users may soon have more consistent system bar icons regardless of whether they buy their devices from HTC, LG, or Samsung. The latest version of the Android Compatibility Definition Document states that OEMs must use white status icons so that app developers taking advantage of Android 4.4's new translucent system bars can provide a consistent user experience. Here is the clause in full:
From version 4.4, Android now supports a new variant theme with translucent system bars, allowing application developers to fill the area behind the status and navigation bar with their app content.
I've been lusting after ASUS' ambitious Padfone devices ever since they were announced way back in 2012. But since ASUS is a company that focuses on its home market first, we haven't seen hide nor hair of the docking smartphone-tablet hybrids over here in the United States. According to an Engadget interview with ASUS CEO Jerry Shen, that could change as soon as the second quarter of next year.
The interview is a lengthy one, but the juicy bit is near the end: Shen says that ASUS is partnering with a "big operator" in the United States to launch the next iteration of the Padfone on our shores.
There are plenty of people who already have everything, or more likely, have everything that they want. What do you get them? Why, a gift card, of course! So Google is making life easier for Android fans across the world by releasing Google Play gift cards in more countries. The latest one to make the list is the land of the rising sun.
Just as Google Play gift cards are available in the US carrying $10, $25, and $50, Japanese versions are available in ¥1500, ¥5000, and ¥15000 increments.
As we saw late last week, ASUS is looking to bring its unique Padfone concept to different form factors and price points. Enter the Padfone Mini, a new entry in the series that retains the dockable phone-tablet hybrid idea but shrinks it down to make it more affordable. The phone itself isn't much smaller at 4.3", but the tablet dock now has a 7-inch screen instead of 10, not to mention a vertical orientation.
The Qualcomm Toq is a limited run device, but it seems there are enough floating around that Qualcomm isn't handling all the sales itself. The Toq debuted on the Qualcomm site last week, but now you can buy the device from Amazon with free Prime shipping for the same $349.99 price.
The Toq is a little more expensive than the recently released Galaxy Gear, but it uses a color Mirasol screen for profoundly long battery life.
Androidify was a neat distraction when it came out a few years back, but it quickly fell by the wayside. Forgotten, it waited in the Play Store for its chance to shine again, and here we are. Google has updated Androidify with a new UI and some spiffy holiday duds.
Rovio's newest game is about what the Finnish developer knows best – birds. Though, they seem decidedly less angry this time in their little downhill race carts. Like it or not, this game is going to be huge.
Angry Birds Go is Rovio's first major free-to-play game on Android, so expect to be hit up for cash on occasion (maybe a lot of it). This is a casual racing game built around a variety of quirky downhill tracks.
We've seen at least one device that could be called a "smart ring" already: the wildly successful NFC Ring. But the Smarty Ring, currently accepting funding on Indiegogo, takes the idea about five steps further. It's a smartwatch, more or less, that's made into a ring form factor. Though it's not quite as capable as something like the Pebble, and nowhere near as powerful as the watches from Sony or Samsung, the idea is surprisingly attractive.