It has been a while since Android Wear got any substantial updates, but today Google is announcing a big one. A new version of Wear will be rolling out over the coming weeks that includes a number of previously rumored features (like WiFi support) and some all new stuff (like always-on apps).
A little less than one year ago, I called the OnePlus One "the best flagship phone you can't buy" in my initial review. The phone had some impressive hardware at an amazing price, and in many ways it still does, but the system of invitations and qualifications built around actually buying the One made obtaining the device an exercise in frustration. It's taken them eleven months (and what seems like dozens of separate promotions and half-measures), but you can finally order a OnePlus One without an invitation of any kind starting today. Read More
Amazon's Fire HD line of tablets aren't geared for hardcore Android enthusiasts. They don't come with the Play Store. They don't offer Google apps. And they don't come with the Google Now Launcher or any of that relatively new material design. But they are pretty good at letting you consume media.
The Fire HD 7 is a low to mid-range offering with a rather mediocre 1280 by 800 display. But today you can get it for $60 off, which isn't all that much dough to cough up for the hardware. Read More
Back at MWC, while everyone was waiting for Sony to announce its follow-up flagship, the Xperia Z4, the company decided to keep it under wraps and instead unveiled the mid-range Xperia M4 Aqua and the Xperia Z4 Tablet. Today, the phone has finally been made official in Sony's home turf of Japan during a press conference that made all of the Z4's details public but left out any information regarding its global release or price.
The Xperia Z4 follows the same design as its predecessors, which can be a good or a bad thing depending on how you look at it. The squarish shape, metal frame, and glass back are part of the brand's identity, but at the same time they're iterative and have become boring. Read More
When we buy gadgets, it's usually with the expectation that their useful lifetime will carry us at least until we're ready to replace them, and hopefully well beyond. Most people assume their smartphones should last at least two years, in part because contract customers in the US are accustomed to unreasonably high upgrade prices for mid-term upgrades, and also because most manufacturers have adopted yearly release cycles that fit well with this pace. The expectations for tablets aren't as well defined, but most customers seem to want about 3 years or so. Even when we're done with a device, we want to be the ones to end the relationship, rather than wake up and find our hardware dead beyond hope. Read More
Roman Nurik, a Design Advocate at Google, launched the DashClock Widget back in early 2013. It's an extremely versatile, modular widget that - by default - supports things like time, weather, unread Gmail messages, and alarms. But its modular nature is the real selling point. Users can add extensions for apps they're already using, allowing a lot of information from disparate and unrelated apps to be displayed in one handy widget.
After an update in December 2013, though, it seemed that DashClock had gone on a break. Happily, version 1.7 is currently in beta mode and its refreshed (materialized) interface is ready to try out now. Read More
Does your home have a lot of mobile devices? I mean a lot of them? Maybe you're a modern-day Brady Bunch, and every adult and kid has a phone, tablet, smartwatch, and external battery? Or alternately, do you run a bar or work for a gadget blog? Then you'll probably be able to find a use for the Yubi Universal USB Family Charging Tower Station With Surge And Overload Protection For... you know what, I'm running out of words here. They're big hunks of plastic with a ton of USB charging ports, and today they're cheap at Amazon.
You can grab the 24-port version of the tower for $31.99, a discount of about $8 off the regular price (don't believe the $99 "retail price," it's the typical Amazon vendor baloney). Read More
New smartphones are rolling off the line pretty regularly, and that means the tools we use to work with them have to update, too. Last month, Sunshine v3.0 emerged with support for an extensive collection of HTC and Motorola handsets, and now an update to v3.1 is about to build on that list. With the latest release, Justin Case and Beaups have added support for almost every variant of the HTC One M9, except Verizon's. Expanded compatibility isn't the only new treat for users, Sunshine has also added the capability to automatically SIM unlock most of the GSM-based phones manufactured by HTC. Read More
According to a Yahoo Finance exclusive, Google Wallet is now a little bit safer. Yahoo Finance reports that Google Wallet balances are now FDIC-insured, and that Google is accomplishing this by storing Wallet balances in FDIC-insured banking institutions. For reference, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation insures a depositor's funds for banking institutions up to $250,000.
As Yahoo Finance points out, services like Wallet, Paypal, or Venmo are considered "non-banking institutions," meaning that they aren't legally required to be federally insured, and indeed Paypal and Venmo currently aren't (though Paypal does offer its own account protection measures).
The report also notes that Google Wallet's current user agreement says balances are not FDIC-insured, but that "a Google spokesperson confirmed in a statement to Yahoo Finance that its current policy has changed."
Ultimately it seems as though Wallet's FDIC insurance will be of little consequence to users, except that it provides peace of mind in case the worst should happen. Read More