It's nice to stop every once in a while and realize just how much Google search has improved over the years. For quite a while, Google didn't really prioritize time-sensitive content versus regular content when it crawled the web. This meant breaking news stories were cached about as frequently as Wikipedia entries on the history of the Roman Empire. That didn't really change until the events of September 11, when Google realized people who were searching for news on the attacks were instead being greeted with tourist information for the World Trade Center.
All these small improvements are hard to notice individually, but they really add up over time. Read More
A late-night update to the Play Store slipped out just before midnight. A close examination doesn't turn up any big visual changes or new features, but this version is begging for a teardown. I'm not going to beat around the bush, if you've read the title, you know why you're here. Yes, it's true, family sharing and gifting are on the way. No doubt about it. There's even a neat way to add credit cards if they have NFC. There's no point in teasing it out, just get to reading. If you want to jump straight to downloading the latest version, there's a link at the bottom of the post. Read More
AT&T is offering two new phones today in hopes of locking you down for the next few years. On the premium end of the spectrum is the BlackBerry Priv, and then there's the more budget-friendly LG G Vista 2. They both have a niche feature that's something of a blast from the past. The Priv has its keyboard and the G Vista 2 has a stylus. Read More
When I was in high school, BlackBerry was still an up-and-comer in the US cell phone market. The sleepy suburb I grew up in really had no widespread knowledge of them until after I had left for college. And when you start college in 2006, a year before the first iPhone (released at the end of my freshman year), it’s probably not surprising to learn that shiny-new-MacBook toting shiny-new-adults at a big state school turned up their noses at something as staid and “establishment” as a BlackBerry. Everyone who was into “cell-phone-as-status-symbol” knew it was the iPhone that was changing everything. Read More
Google began rolling out v8.3 of the Play services framework a few weeks ago, and it looks like it's in a wide release. While this version didn't present with any direct user-facing features and only a few cryptic hints for a teardown, it did bring some definite improvements to the Play services SDK. There are some changes to streamline the sign-in experience for app developers and users alike, along with some additional enhancements that should make it easier for developers to set up new user accounts. New APIs have also been added to make data delivery more efficient between a phone and an Android Wear watch. Read More
ASUS in the recent past has been pushing harder into Western markets and into smartphones in general with the ZenFone product line and its associated ZenUI software layer. Those who remember the Transformer tablets of yesteryear may be surprised at the non-geeky, colorful, feature-filled approach of these devices. Now well into the second generation of ZenFones, ASUS has announced the ZenFone 2 Laser for wide release, including the USA.
It is a slight refinement on the ZenFone 2, which we reviewed back in June. David felt that its base model was one of the best values around for just $199. Read More
We've pointed out before that Android has a lot of somewhat questionable birthdays, but November 5th is arguably the birth of the platform. On this day in 2007 the Open Handset Alliance was formally announced, uniting Google, HTC, Samsung, LG, Sony, Motorola, and dozens of software companies, chip manufactures, and mobile carriers, in the cause of promoting Android. It was presented as an open-source alternative to then-dominant mobile operating systems like Microsoft's Windows Mobile, RIM's BlackBerry, Nokia's Symbian, and - at least at the time - the looming specter of the iPhone.
The mobile market changes fast, and in "just" eight years it's been radically altered. Read More
YouTube started offering 360-degree videos earlier this year, but now the app has been updated with full support for Cardboard-compatible VR viewers. Didn't that already happen? Yes, it did. Apparently it's better now? In addition, you can watch any video in Cardboard, even if it wasn't filmed for full VR.
There's an app on your phone with maps of what's going on at ground level, but what about in the air? If you're going to fly a drone around, as people are increasingly doing, it might be nice to know how close you are to obstacles and where you're not supposed to fly. That's what Hivemapper does, and it's available on Android now. Read More
Love it, like it, or hate it, the HTC One M9 is the current pinnacle of the HTC One series, and as such, commands a pretty heft price when purchased new. The refurbished/open box price, however, has been steadily dropping. Back in September it was available on eBay daily deals for $379, which we thought was a great price. Today, the price has fallen even lower to just under the three Benjamin mark to $299. That's a pretty awesome price for a current-gen flagship.
Of course, being an open box item, there is a chance the phone may have some slight blemishes. Read More