Google made a big deal out of its improvements to the Play Store in the massive keynote that kicked off I/O, and at least some of them are live right now. Probably the most important for tablet owners is the ability to highlight apps specifically designed for tablets, or at least, the ones that have given some thought to layout and interface on larger screens. The updated tablet view is being rolled out right now, and on at least some devices (read:mine) it includes the option to filter out the smartphone chaff from the tablet wheat.
Google officially announced the not-so-secretly-kept Play Games this morning, which brings game sync, leaderboards, achievements, and more to Android. Naturally, the first question on many users' minds is do any games already support it? In fact, several developers have already updated their games to add this new feature. Here's a look at what we've found so far:
- World of Goo by 2D BOY
- Osmos HD from Hemisphere Games
- Eufloria HD from Omni Systems
- Riptide GP from Vector Unit
- Beach Buggy Blitz from Vector Unit
- Shine Runner from Vector Unit
- Modern Combat 4 from Gameloft
- Dungeon Hunter 4 from Gameloft (update coming soon)
- Asphalt 7 from Gameloft (update coming soon)
- Eternity Warriors 2 by Glu
- PBA Bowling Challenge from Concrete Software
- Townsmen from HandyGames
- Save the Puppies from HandyGames
- Farm Invasion USA from HandyGames
- Rocket Island from HandyGames
- Triple Town by Spry Fox LLC (temporarily pulled due to crashes)
- Chip Chain by AppAbove Games LLC
- Super Stickman Golf 2 by Noodlecake
- Wind-up Knight by Robot Invader
- Plague Inc.
Between Hangouts, the gorgeous new Maps, Play Music All Access, and everything else discussed in I/O's opening keynote this morning, several revisions to the Play Store developer's console were announced.
Perhaps the most interesting addition to the console will be an organized method for alpha and beta testing, and staged rollouts. Basically, developers can select alpha and beta testers, receiving all feedback directly (instead of through reviews) and, when the time comes, roll out the app to certain percentages of the user base.
Heads up, Google, Glass is about to get some serious competition. Recon Instruments, a Canadian technology company known for athlete-focused heads-up display products, is looking to expand into general-purpose HUD technology. The company's prototype device - dubbed Jet - was officially unveiled today, and Recon Instruments hopes to release a retail product by the end of this year.
At first glance, the Jet looks like little more than a pair of sunglasses with an attached LCD screen; you won't be mistaking Recon Instrument's HUD for Google's anytime soon.
Google TV is the project no one in Mountain View likes to talk about. It was announced with much fanfare, but the platform has languished on an ancient version of Android 3.2 Honeycomb for far too long. Well, Google didn't see fit to mention it at the keynote, but Google TV is getting a fresh coat of paint with an Android 4.2.2 update.
The update should appear on compatible Google TV devices in the next few months and bring new core functionality and support for newer builds of Google Chrome.
For Android fans with children, it can be a bit disheartening to learn that your kids are using iPads and iPods for learning every day. While this is becoming more and more standard across the country, Google is looking to change that with its newly announced "Google Play for Education." This is exactly what it sounds like: a specially curated version of the Play Store made for educational environments. It offers curriculum-based discovery for grades K-12, which will make it easy for teachers to find apps appropriate for his or her students.
Google asserts that over 97% of mobile shoppers abandon their shopping carts because the process simply makes them jump through too many hoops. To free Android users from this heavy burden, Google has launched a new Google Wallet Instant Buy API that will allow mobile shoppers in Android apps to check out in as little as two clicks. No more poking out lengthy street address and re-looking up credit card information.
It's probably not the water-cooled superphone you've been looking for, but Japanese smartphone maker NEC announced the succinctly named Medias X 06E for the NTT DoCoMo network today, the world's first smartphone with a CPU cooled by H2O. Unfortunately, the specs are decidedly middling, and NEC intends to market the device as a "lady's" phone in essentially the same vein as HTC with the Rhyme.
The Medias X 06E packs a quad-core Qualcomm processor clocked at 1.7 Ghz, a 4.7-inch 720p OLED display, and a 13.1 megapixel camera.
Google's Play Books service launched last year as a competent reading app, and a necessary pillar for Google Play. But one feature readers have since been asking for is the ability to incorporate their own files into the library, and now Google is adding that option to the service.
Play Books supports PDF and EPUB files, which can be uploaded through the online library on your desktop. The feature appears to still be rolling out, so don't worry if you get a 404 right now.
Let it be not be said that Google neglected the Google TV platform today at I/O. Though it wasn't mentioned during this morning's 3 hour-plus keynote, the company rolled out a new version of the YouTube app for TV during the presentation.
Specifically, the updated application brings a simplified UI, enhanced video playback controls, and support for paid channels. The video discovery and subscription tabs now show playlists with blown-up video thumbnails and bolded titles for easier browsing.