Every year toward December, Google releases a list of the best apps it recommends from the Play Store. It's a great way for Android newcomers to discover interesting apps they might want to install on their devices and for platform veterans to find apps that might have flown under their radar. This year's list is out, divided in 8 categories of 5 apps each, with a few added at the top, but the choices are if anything, a little weird.
You'll likely see different lists according to where you live. Some apps seem to be globally recommended like Skype, Google Photos, Twitch, and djay, while others will differ based on where you're consulting the list from. Read More
There's a surprisingly wide variety of content available for Google's dirt-cheap Cardboard VR system, but not many ways for end users to make use of it for their personal media. Enter Cardboard Camera, a new Google app that allows you to take a series of photos and automatically format them for the stereoscopic, 360-degree headset. (You don't need the headset to take the photos, but you'll need one to view the results in VR.) The app even records a little of the ambient sound in the area while you're taking all the necessary photos, so you can create a complete scene. Read More
Google acquired the streaming music service Songza more than a year ago, and it has operated in parallel with Google Play Music all this time. But no more. Songza is being shuttered on January 31st, so existing users have about two months to migrate over to Play Music. The good news, most of Songza's features are already in Play Music. Read More
Google has steadfastly refused to add a reboot option to the power menu in stock Android over the years. In fact, it removed everything other than "power off" from that menu in Lollipop. Users have been asking for a reboot option forever, and now Sony is asking for it too. Sony has opened a bug tracker issue and submitted a patch to add it, but Google does not appear to be biting. Read More
A hockey puck is made of about six ounces of hardened rubber. It's hard to put a dent in one, and it has to be, because after a few games anything weaker would look like the "after" images at the NHTSA testing facility. A smartphone is made of plastic, metal, glass, and various bits of circuit board and other electronics, none of which is designed to be smacked repeatedly by sticks and ice. Unless you have a "ruggedized" model like Samsung's various Active phones, of course.
As part of YouTube's "Awesome Stuff Week," the Unbox Therapy channel decided to see if a Galaxy S6 Active could stand up to the punishing job of being a hockey puck stand-in. Read More
When you need to find an image, you probably head straight to Google image search. And if you need to find that image again... you probably do the search again. Well, maybe not anymore. Google has added the ability to "star" images and organize them for easy access later. Read More
There's a new Google app that will help you get some culture, and you don't even have to stand up. The aptly named Arts & Culture app contains images and data on works of art and relics of the past from more than 850 museums and organizations around the world. And it's free—not even a "suggested" donation.
The Google+ redesign from last week may look pretty, but it's also missing a lot of features that were available in the classic layout. This is true of every product revamp or relaunch: there will always be a tradeoff between getting all the bells and whistles of the new version and keeping the things you're used to on the old one. There's a whole help page that lays out most of the changes and features that the redesign still lacks, ranging from the simplification of profile pages to the (temporary) removal of polls from the web version. Fortunately, upgrading is still entirely optional, so for now you can stick with the classic version of Google+ if that suits you better. Read More
I'm already a fan (and subscriber) of Project Fi, Google's experiment in being a wireless carrier, but photos popping up across Google+ suggest that the service just got a little more awesome.
Evidently, some Fi subscribers are receiving a holiday gift from Fi - a Lego kit that, when assembled, forms a charging stand for your phone.
A number of Google+ users have posted images of the Lego kit, showing the kit and its packaging - Fi's signature white box with bright Fi-colored materials inside. A green label on the outside wishes recipients "Happy Holidays," while an instructional booklet thanks subscribers for their support so far. Read More
Google updated its support pages with an interesting item recently. Down at the bottom of the gift card page, is a US-only option called "Google Play credit gifts." And sure enough, a new option to send a gift has popped up in the web Play Store. So, just in time for the holidays, you can give the gift of Google Play via email. Read More