In preparation for the release of Episode VII in just a few weeks' time, Google has partnered with Lucasfilm and Disney to bring the Star Wars experience into just about every Google app and service around. Fans can pick between the light side and the dark side on google.com/starwars and apps like Maps, Search, and Gmail will begin to transform to reflect their chosen path.
Listen up kids, I'm going to tell you something and it will hurt. But sooner or later, you'll have to face the harsh realities of life and I'd rather you hear it from me than some stranger or inconsiderate relative.
Apps and games are not here forever. They come to your phone or tablet or computer for a period of time, they bring joy into your life and you spend hours and days with them. You love them and they love you back (sometimes just your money). Then there comes a time, when they've done their deed and their line codes start decaying and no one wants to take care of them anymore, to let them go.
Ten or twenty years ago, creating your own world and sending Disney characters on journeys consisted of opening up your toy chest and using your imagination. Now the company is ready to sell you a digital world and $15 hunks of plastic that will do three-quarters of the work for you.
Disneyland is one of those places that everyone should get to experience at least once - there really is something magical about it. The enchanted castles, famous Disney characters all around, and over-the-top attractions really do make this The Happiest Place on Earth.
But there's a dark side to all that happiness and magic: lots of waiting. Whether it's an absurdly long line to ride Space Mountain or a ridiculous wait in the car just to get into the parking lot, you better go expecting to do a lot of standing around.
If you're not familiar with Disney Infinity, it's basically the media giant's answer to digital toys like Skylanders, Angry Birds Telepods, and Nintendo Amiibo. The gist is that you buy your kids RFID-enabled collectible statues, they stick 'em on a base station, and then they can use digital versions of those characters inside the Disney Infinity game. Is there a technical reason that a completely digital character needs a $15 hunk of physical plastic to unlock? Why certainly, so long as "technical reason" includes "making Disney a boatload of money."
The Infinity games are available on all major consoles and the PC.
Saturday mornings during my childhood were all about three things: a couple hours of freedom from parents, sugary cereal, and awesome cartoons. One of the best cartoons was DuckTales, the story of a cranky old duck, Scrooge, who liked to swim in a pool of gold coins and yell at his nephews as they tried to solve a mystery or rewrite history. There were a lot of race cars, lasers, and aeroplanes, along with villains and exotic locales. If reading about DuckTales is filling you with yearnings for your younger years, then this news is going to make your day. Disney has added Ducktales: Remastered to its ever-growing Android game library.
When the Nabi 2 received an update to Nabi OS 3.0 last month, this bumped it up to KitKat a year and a half after Google unveiled that particular version of Android to the world. Now the Disney and Nickelodeon editions of the tablets have stumbled in to receive 4.4 even later.
Fortunately the youngsters these tablets are geared towards aren't likely to follow Android blogs religiously, foaming at the mouth for the latest mobile goodness. So this is probably no harm, no foul. Nevertheless, it's hard for those of us who do keep up with these things to lay eyes on a tablet so woefully out of date without feeling some sort of paint in our guts.
As of Christmas Eve, the soundtrack to the hit Disney movie Frozen sold more albums than any other in the year 2014. Yep, even more than Taylor Swift. In what is likely just one of several post-Christmas deals and freebies to come, Google is giving it away for free.
I'll confess that the Club Penguin phenomenon is somewhat indecipherable to me. As someone who is neither a kid nor has kids, that's probably OK. But if you have children of a certain age, you might be familiar with the online site, a Disney property filled with simple browser games and penguin-themed customization portals. Now there's an Android version, for better or worse, aimed at taking the experience on the go.
I suppose that Club Penguin is technically a massively multiplayer online game, though "game" seems to be stretching the definition a bit. Kids create a penguin avatar, engage in some extremely basic winter-themed games, and decorate their personal homes ("igloos.") There are also portions of the 2D world reserved solely for interacting with other players, though given the kid-focused nature of the game, these interactions are highly limited to prevent any vulgarity or the revealing of personal information.
Everyone wants a piece of the digital streaming pie these days, and some companies seem to be a little too quick on the proprietary trigger. But Disney's solution, which often lets consumers pick between iTunes, Google Play, and their own Disney Movies Anywhere platform when redeeming digital copies, seems to be a pretty good one. Now the official Android app has arrived for easy integration on phones and tablets.
Disney Movies Anywhere is a separate app and system from the Google Play Store, but it has a few connections to the service. You'll have to create a Disney account to open the app itself, after which you can log in to Google Play, when all of your purchases of Disney movies (including Marvel and Pixar) will appear, and you can buy new Google Play movies directly from the app.