The Nexus Q has had a tough life so far – that goes without saying. Things just got a little worse for the handful of us that use (and enjoy) the Q though – Google has seemingly sliced streaming support from the latest Play Music update, further reducing the impact of the Q's admittedly very limited use case.
At the start of this review, I was simultaneously excited and frustrated. Now I'm just plain excited. For a bit of context, I have been bouncing between cloud music services since Lala was still a thing. I had one simple desire: I wanted to pay a monthly fee for unfettered access to a large library of content, but still wanted to be able to bring my own. I know that $10/month is not going to get me every song in existence, but if I can pay for most music, and then supply the rest, I'll be happy.
Those of you who like your games served fresh while you peruse the day's social updates might want to sit down. Google+ Games will shut down on June 30, taking users' game data with it. But social gamers aren't aren't entirely without hope. Some developers will designate new destination sites for their games, and a few games already have alternative links set up.
In-game payments inside any of the games that are set to disappear will have to be used up before June 30 arrives.
The new Google Messenger is real! It's not called Babel, or Google Talk, but "Hangouts." It also isn't the unified messenger we've all wanted - maybe it will be someday, but Hangouts is strictly a Google Talk replacement - there's no SMS or Google Voice integration.
What Hangouts does have going for it is that it is really pretty. It supports group messaging, pictures, video chat, and even has read receipts!
Today, Google announced a new look for the Google+ stream. Gone is the weird, bubbly look that we've had for forever. The cards-centric UI that we've seen on phones and tablets is now coming to the desktop as well. You can select a one, two, or three-column layout and each individual card can flip over with a slick animation and provide more information and options.
Google's also improving its search and tagging functionality.
Today, Google brought it's A-game with a subscription service for Play Music. Now, you can pay a $9.99 monthly fee to get unlimited access to a library of music. It also comes with a new, updated Play Music app that doesn't look like complete garbage. There's also a host of features including the ability to turn any track into a radio station.
The one key way that this service distinguishes itself from other subscription services is that this includes all of your own personal music.
Speaking at Google I/O, Android and Chrome chief Sundar Punchai just let on that there has now been over 900 million device activations. However, Google can't rest on its laurels. In the same breath as the announcement that Google has reached nearly a billion users in just a few years, the company showed off a map of countries where Android has less than 10% penetration. Those countries are green in the map below:
The message to the rest of the world is clear: Google's on its way to your town, too.
Google Maps has been performing solid, mostly thankless service for more than eight years now, and last week its most significant update yet was leaked. It's that time of year, so we naturally assumed that we'd be hearing more about it at today's Google I/O keynote, but someone in Mountain View must have been a little quick on the trigger. Droid Life spotted a signup page for the revamped web interface and managed to grab a few screenshots before it was hastily shoved back in the digital closet.
Even if you're not physically attending Google I/O, the official convention app might serve you well. It allows attendees to scan badges, view schedules, and just guide themselves around with vector-based maps. If you're not going to be in Moscone Center tomorrow, you can stream sessions with the app. Waiting just about as long as possible, Google has pushed an update to the I/O app, and it adds some cool stuff.
Listen up, Android users. If you're using Google Now, don't go to its Settings -> My Stuff and try to modify sports teams or stocks right now, as doing so completely borks the whole app. As soon as you go back to the main screen or click into Search, you will experience a force close. Repeated attempts to restart it will result in a crash as well:
The only thing that works is clearing out Google Search's data in Settings -> Applications, after which you need to re-enroll into Google Now.