After several weeks of rumors, Google has announced their partnership with Softcard. The purpose of this venture is to combine forces with Google Wallet, which has been around since 2011 but never enjoyed wide usage. With Apple Pay having recently entered the fray, Google apparently felt the time is now to get their service back on the map. Buying their competitor Softcard's technology, though, is just the beginning.
In addition to gaining Softcard's back end, Google Wallet will soon be preloaded on all phones sold by AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon in the United States.
Wallet has to be pretty frustrating for Google. They beat Apple to the punch by quite a long time, but the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus basically introduced the lay public to mobile payments. How did this happen? Insert the tired cliches about Apple's control over hardware and software here. More interesting is what Google will do, considering how much they still have to gain by getting more adoption of their Apple Pay competitor.
A report by The Wall Street Journal indicates that Google is not going to stand pat while this burgeoning market passes them by. While it seems much is still in the air, Google is apparently planning several interesting things to remake Wallet, which they will re-introduce at this coming May's I/O conference.
According to the latest rumors circulating in Silicon Valley, Google is mulling a possible acquisition of NFC payment provider Softcard. Perhaps that name doesn't sound familiar—it used to be Isis until that unpleasantness in the Middle East forced a name change. Apparently those mega-creepy ads didn't do the trick because the rumors point to a very low sale price.
Yale makes a lot of fancy door locks, and it has announced a new one at CES—the first NFC-enabled residential door lock in the US. The Yale Real Living NFC Deadbolt doesn't even have a regular keyhole. You can unlock with either your phone or a code entered on the capacitive keypad.
Droid Zap began as an exclusive feature that Verizon and Motorola hyped up together, but since then, the feature has spread out to all Android phones and iOS as well. Now the app is getting a visual refresh that should make it look at home on modern devices. The colors are bolder, cards are all over the place, and cute imagery ties everything together. There's also a floating action button hovering in the corner.
This is the first update since 2.1 hit back in February, so Motorola has packed quite a few features inside the app. Now users can automatically receive Zaps—photos, videos, etc.—upon launch.
Believe it or not, a lot of Android fans were happy to see Apple announce its new Apple Pay system with the iPhone 6. Thanks to its reliance on NFC technology (welcome to 2011, Cupertino!) and Apple's famous marketing muscle, it meant that NFC payments might finally start taking off, particularly in the US. The same NFC-equipped registers that work with Apple Pay generally work with Google Wallet as well.
Late yesterday, Google began rolling out an update to the Android Wear companion app. Despite a sudden growth of over 2 MB in size, the app only seemed to change the text of a warning, and there were no visible changes on our watches. We knew there had to be something great hidden under the covers, and we were right. The companion app certainly has some interesting changes of its own, but it also acts as the delivery mechanism for a Wear-customized version of Google Play services, and there's a bit to talk about in there, too.
Disclaimer: No matter the confidence level, there's always a chance product updates, features, and some or all details will be changed or cancelled altogether.
Nexus season is in full swing, and as rumors and leaks continue to pile up around Motorola's Nexus 6 (Shamu), we've been wondering when more news might emerge about Volantis (or Flounder, or T1, take your pick) - HTC's 9" Nexus tablet that we first learned of back in spring.
As Blog of Mobile reports, it looks like the Nexus 9 has passed through the FCC for certification, with the relevant documents becoming available just yesterday. The relevant model number for the tablet that passed through the FCC is 0P82100, widely reported to belong to HTC's 9" Nexus.
Indeed, the confidential letter attached to the FCC documents in question is from HTC Corporation (dated June 23, 2014), and the product is classified as a tablet.
Update: We've checked out the Play Store page on various AP writers' accounts, and apparently the game is now marked as incompatible with everything, including the hardware listed in the description. At this point I'm guessing that the Android app was published prematurely, and this will change on the multi-platform release date for Trap Team, which is October 5th in the United States.
There have been three Skylanders-branded games published on the Play Store so far, Battlegrounds, Cloud Patrol, and Lost Islands. All of them count as Skylanders games, in that they make use of the ubiquitous plastic toys as digital characters.
As far as we can tell, today's over-the-air update for Fuhu's top-of-the-line DreamTab HD8 is the first time the company has published an Android 4.4 device build. Not that the kid-friendly target demographic is likely to care that their tablets are running the latest and greatest KitKat build, but heck, newer is better, right? According to Nabi's support website, the update is going out to tablets today, and can be initiated with the usual manual check in "Mommy or Daddy mode."
In addition to the extras in Android 4.4., the update adds a basic calendar app designed to let children start learning their Gregorian.