Update Wednesday came and went this week, leaving us with about a dozen new and updated apps. Project Fi and Google Connectivity Services were added to the Play Store in preparation for Google's first MVNO customers, and new versions were rolled out to bring Quick Reply to Messenger and prepare Google+ for the wide release of Collections. A small bump to Google Play Music also made the list, but there wasn't much in the way of visible changes.
Before we go any further: Google's local delivery service Shopping Express is still limited to portions of the San Francisco bay area, Los Angeles, northern California, Chicago, Boston, Washington DC, and New York City. If you live outside of those areas, go ahead and skip this story, because Google Shopping Express (and similar competing services) aren't expanding outside of the densest US urban zones anytime soon. But for those who do qualify for the service, version 3.0 includes a new user interface.
Most of the standard (non-game) Android apps we use today are created with Java. Alternatives are available, like Apache Cordova and Mono for Android, but there's no doubt that Java is the only true first-class citizen. However, a team at Google is now working on a new cross-platform alternative called Sky, and it's able to deliver 120 FPS out of the box.
Sky is based on Dart, a custom web scripting language that emerged from Chrome's V8 development team.
Sony has recently been among the friendlier companies for custom ROM developers, but their devices still had a major hitch. They could not be booted from recovery, which meant third-party software had to modify the build system and if things went wrong, it was a lot more difficult to fix. To address this issue, Sony will begin releasing new bootloaders to allow booting from recovery.
This was first reported at FXP, home to developers who work exclusively with Sony devices to bring custom ROMs like CyanogenMod to end users.
While it was once a pretty popular service both for their web interface and Android app, Grooveshark is calling it quits. This isn't a big surprise since their claim to fame was basically just disregarding the legal need to get the rights to music that users streamed and uploaded. Most recently in the news for having their app's Chromecast support revoked, Grooveshark hasn't been in the Play Store since 2012. Those were about that whole failure to license problem too, which was Grooveshark's ultimate undoing.
The announcement of Samsung's new Galaxy Tab A didn't generate much excitement because of its not-so-low-end price. However, you can now grab it more cheaply at Best Buy. You will receive $100 for trading in a working tablet so long as you also purchase the Tab A, which starts at $230. There are a few caveats to look out for, though.
Tower defense games have existed on Android since the very beginning. Remember Robo Defense? Yeah, me too. The genre has evolved over the years, and Kingdom Rush is one of the finest examples of it. Developer Ironhide Games has apparently decided to do Android gamers a solid and has made the original Kingdom Rush free. It was previously only a buck, but still. Yay, free stuff!
Crowdfunding is one of the "new" tech economy's sharpest double-edged blades. While it has served as a legitimate platform for fans to support products and content they genuinely believe in and want to see become a reality, it is also ripe for scamming and incompetence.
There are a lot of Android users out there, and many of them probably use the same apps you do. AppChat is a clever app that lets you talk to them in a series of live chat rooms. This app was just released as an alpha on XDA, but it has tons of potential.