You can't do as much with a smartwatch as you can with a phone, but these little wrist computers are surprisingly capable. You just need the right apps. Well, and watch faces too. Google highlights a few Wear apps from time to time, but we're always watching in order to spot the best things for your watch, and here they are.
At this point, there is no real shortage of "smart" launchers in the Android ecosystem. Of course, we have to put "smart" in quotation marks, because there still is a void in terms of truly good products trying to do that. So when I tell you that Bento is a new entrant in this bustling market of context-aware launchers, you shouldn't ask, "do we need another one?" You should ask, "is this the one that will really do a great job?"
Bento is a venture capital-backed project that is in a semi-private beta at the moment.
Android Auto is finally here! Sort of. It's available in exactly one (incredibly expensive) car stereo at the moment, meaning that there are probably more active users of the Nexus Q right now. But that isn't stopping some responsible developers from adding the support for the new hardware into their apps, and today popular podcast manager BeyondPod joins them. The latest beta version, available as a direct download or via the Play Store beta system, works with Google's automotive electronics push.
App developers of the world, take note: this is how you do a Material Design update. After quietly hammering away this major update in a private beta, the Pocket Casts team has made it public on their stable channel. Already one of the most popular and well-regarded podcast clients on Android, Pocket Casts has paired their new design with a variety of new features and refinements that make the update more than merely cosmetic.
It's been about a year since Android Wear was announced, and here we are with a few watches and a ton of apps and faces. I hear there's some other company that announced a smartwatch recently. I think they usually sell fruit or something. Whatever, we're here to talk about all the cool new stuff you can do with your Android Wear watch. So here are the best new apps and watch faces that have come to Wear in the last few weeks.
Hangouts video chats are pretty good in terms of handling multiple up and down streams, but the invitation and verification system leaves a lot to be desired - there's something of a traffic jam when we start the Android Police podcast video, for example. Today Google is making that a little easier by allowing mobile users to join a Hangouts video session with a simple invitation link, instead of needing an explicit, personal invitation via the Hangouts/Google+ system.
The BeyondPod team has recently rolled out its largest update since the big 4.0 transition, introducing a number of features to please longtime fans and Lollipop users alike.
For the former, a dark theme has arrived, and while it isn't default like the old version of the podcast manager, it's available for folks who find the new standard look too bright. There's also the option to reduce card size, allowing you to fit more information on-screen at once.
Amazon gives out a free app or game everyday, but sometimes it likes to go all out with enticing people towards its Google-free marketplace. Today the retailer is offering dozens of paid apps for free.
At CES this year, Blu announced a handful of new devices that should all show up in the first half of 2015. We've already taken a look at the sleek and slim Vivo Air, which really surprised me in almost every possible way. So much, in fact, that I've been using it as my daily driver for the last few weeks. I really like it.
As much as I enjoy using the Air, however, I had to put it off to the side to spend some time with the newest Blu handset, the power-packed Studio Energy.
Sling TV, a new hardware-free, online-only television service from the people behind Dish Network, is the most exciting thing to happen to IPTV in years. It's a $20-per-month alternative to cable and satellite that you access via the web, or more probably, apps on your mobile device or set-top I box. Sling TV is live today, offering a handful of notable cable channels with more available as paid extras.
The service is launching with an Android app, which is a refreshing change from some other online services we could mention.