When you go around flashing ROMs, you have to expect that things might occasionally go wrong. The previous milestone build of CyanogenMod 11 seemed fine at first, but then Google released the 4.4.3 update. Devices that were eligible (Nexus phones, for example) started producing update notifications, which shouldn't happen on a custom ROM. This was more troublesome than a notification that wouldn't go away, though.
Google's really been on a roll lately when it comes to Google Now... or at least our readers have been especially good at spotting features that we hadn't before. As the 2014 World Cup draws ever nearer, Google has added the various competing national soccer (all non-Americans, read: football) teams to the integrated sports updates already seen for most of the major league sports in the US. Now you don't need a separate app for score updates and news, unless you're the picky type who likes things like content or videos.
Get your clicking fingers ready, because Motorola has thrown the switch on its Try Then Buy deal. For 24 hours, you can design a Moto X and have it shipped to you for a two week trial run. You can even get one of those brand spanking new 64GB devices with the trial. Update: The promo codes allotted for the Try Then Buy program are all gone. Apparently people really like paying $0.01 to try a phone for two weeks.
If you used to play around with CyanogenMod Nightlies, but switched to the more stable M-series releases, it has probably felt like forever since M6 hit the scene. Well, M7 is hot off the compilers, just in time to fill that insatiable need to flash your phone or tablet. Don't forget, the M-series has officially taken the place of Release Candidates and Stable builds, so this is considered the most reliable version of CyanogenMod available.
Aside from Windows Media Player, there is probably no single video player more widely installed on computers than VLC. It may not have the prettiest interface (or icon), but everybody eventually turns to that huge orange traffic cone, especially for file types that simply can't play in anything else. While VLC provides a mostly full compliment of features, there is one request that has gone unanswered for a while: Chromecast support.
The 2014 FIFA World Cup is almost upon us, and the fever is starting to catch up with every football (or soccer, for y'all Americans) fan. Where I grew up, we take these competitions very seriously and passionately, to a point where it's a normal occurrence to see Italian flags attached to car windows, Brazilian flags draped over buildings, or German flags raised across the street. But we're not alone. For the next month, all around the world, this will be the number one topic in every conversation between adults, children, friends, coworkers, and even strangers.
Google Now is seemingly getting smarter almost every week, at least that's how often we seem to run into subtle (but clever) changes. By now you probably know that with Google Now, you can set reminders for just about anything. "OK Google, remind me to call the doctor tomorrow at noon" will let you set that reminder with a single tap.
But did you know that Google Now will parse your queries for known associations with phone numbers and add a Call button automatically?
Android 4.4.3 isn't a huge bump up from the previous incremental release - the biggest change is a new dialer, though there are thousands of adjustments behind the scenes. Even so, the most popular families of custom Android ROMs are quickly adopting the open source code into their bleeding-edge releases. CyanogenMod has already begun the transfer to 4.4.3 with its latest nightly builds.
The newer OmniROM has also started publishing 4.4.3 nightly builds for its supported devices, available on the download page.
Yahoo property Flickr doesn't have the most advanced Android app around, but it's slowly adding features from the popular website into its mobile interface. The recent upgrade from 3.0.3 to 3.1 brings a handful of changes, most notably the ability to share full albums directly from the app. You can now send initiations over Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr (of course), or old-fashioned email and text messages.
If you're an administrator on one of Flickr's photo groups, you can now invite other people to add their photos to the pool from within the app.
At this point, we've got some really amazing technology in our smartphones, and not just on the inside. Corning's continued work on their Gorilla Glass has made phone screens amazingly resistant to scratches, and as soon as someone manages to figure out how to make synthetic sapphire faster and cheaper, they'll be even better. But no matter how tough your screen is, it's still glass, and dropping it on the pavement is an almost inevitable recipe for a broken screen.