More than a year after NVIDIA revealed its SHIELD hardware, the company has maintained its commitment to keeping the platform updated and supported. The company has added huge chunks of new features to its Android gaming machine at long intervals, and the upcoming KitKat release will be no exception. In addition to Android 4.4, the software package will take GameStream out of beta, expand console mode, add support for streaming from any network, and a whole lot more.
While some would call it an inevitable eventuality, others were taken a bit aback when Google teased a wearable SDK at SXSW a couple weeks back, and later announced Android Wear. For those of you playing at home, Google has created no fewer than five variants of the Android OS tuned to a specific piece or style of hardware to date - Google TV, Chromecast (which does indeed run Android), Google Glass, Nexus Q, and now Android Wear.
Good grief, AT&T, you're not usually so far behind the pack. I imagine your Moto X customers, who've had to wait behind their counterparts at Verizon, Sprint, US Cellular, and T-Mobile/unlocked carriers for the update to the slightly newer version of KitKat, aren't pleased. But if an updated Motorola support page is any indication, it looks like the Android 4.4.2 over-the-air update may be coming very soon.
Sony has been doing an admirable job keeping its Android hardware on the latest releases, and today they're bringing KitKat to three of the newest phones in their lineup. The flagship Xperia Z1, the slightly smaller Xperia Z1 Compact, and the super-sized Xperia Z Ultra all get an Android 4.4 upgrade starting now, according to this Sony Mobile blog post.
We haven't actually seen any updated devices from tipsters, and Sony makes the usual disclaimer that the rollout may vary by location and carrier.
As I'm sure you've seen by now, earlier today Google exploded a bombshell by unveiling the Android Wear smart watch initiative along with a number of partners that will be making the hardware later this year. Last but not least, the Android Wear Preview SDK was announced so that developers could start playing with the Android Wear watch emulator hooked up live to their devices and get the feel for how everything will work.
There are three major functions of Wear: a Google Now-style "homescreen" with a a scrollable list of cards, a notification system that alerts you to information from your smartphone, and a series of contextual tools that pop up during certain activities.
Google this morning unveiled Android Wear, the project that will bring Android – and more importantly, Google Now – to smartwatches. Really, it's the project that will make smartwatches relevant. As part of the announcement, El Goog announced that it has already partnered with the likes of Motorola, LG, HTC, and Fossil for upcoming watches. Now, LG has made available information about its watch, which is dubbed the G Watch (as if it would be called anything else).
Google has just announced its plans for Android wearables, and this could make all those other smart watches look like they're standing still. Android Wear is an open Android-powered platform that lets developers plug into existing apps and take advantage of Google services like Now and voice search. There is a preview SDK available right now, and Google says wearables based on this platform are coming in 2014.
Google has updated its support pages and started sending out emails to alert users of Google Wallet to an upcoming change in the way NFC payments work. As of April 14th, tap and pay will require KitKat or higher. Older devices will no longer be supported after that date.
The reason for the change is Google's desire to only use Host Card Emulation (HCE) to make NFC payments work. That feature was introduced in Android 4.4, so it's the end of the line for Jelly Bean and earlier devices.
Update: It's come to our attention that, according to the LinkedIn profiles of two of GreenThrottle's founders, the company was almost definitely bought by Google last November, when GreenThrottle announced its impending shutdown. Both Matt Crowley and Karl Townsend list Google as their sole employer since November of 2013:
This almost definitely means the company was purchased last November, not more recently. Granted, there was still very little news coming out of Green Throttle at that time, so who knows what kind of situation they were facing when Google swooped in, though I can only guess it probably ended up being a good deal for Google more than it did GT.