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
India is big. Really big, and really complicated. I don't think it's possible for an American white guy like me to wrap his head around a place where every region has languages, dialects, and cultures that are found nowhere else on the planet, yet are still ostensibly united into a single country. That being the case, having a single keyboard to support India as a whole, where many of its residents rely on their regional language and actually speak English better than (or instead of) Hindi, seems a little odd. Read More
The Google Wallet app just received a version bump, bringing it up to v11.0-R234-v13. (Seriously, what is up with this version number?) Like some of the other updates this week, there aren't any big changes, but the changes that are there will tighten up some of the oversights and issues that were left in the wake of Google splitting Wallet into two separate apps. The new version has a handful of minor visual tweaks and bug fixes, but more importantly it adds support for multiple bank accounts and a new button to quickly lock the app for security.
Multiple Bank Accounts
The Wallet app has always supported multiple credit and debit cards, but it strangely limited users to just one single bank account. Read More
Google has updated the developer dashboard with new platform numbers and there's big news. There are now officially more Marshmallow devices in the world than Froyo ones. Maybe one day Froyo will die, but today is not that day. In other news, there was a big uptick in 5.1 usage and everything else declined. Read More
The first few Android Wear watches from mid-2014 were watches in name only. They were really more like tiny screens strapped to your wrist that told the time. The design of Android Wear devices has evolved significantly since then, and now there are some that look like honest-to-goodness watches. The second gen Moto 360 and Huawei Watch are the most watch-like so far, but they aren't cheap. Let's see how they compare so you can (maybe) pick up the right one for you. Read More