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.
Owners of the Galaxy S4 on T-Mobile can now get their itchy trigger fingers ready to hit that "check now" button. We've received a few tips today alerting us to the fact that the carrier is rolling out an Android 4.4.2/KitKat OTA to handsets now. According to the software update screen, the feature set doesn't appear to include much of anything that Google didn't add into the stock version of KitKat:
OS upgrade - [KitKat OS 4.4.2]
Music Album art will be displayed on the lock screen while playing music.
It's no mystery that Google has been poking around wearable gadgets for quite some time. The list of projects seems to keep growing as we hear about rumors of an LG-made smartwatch, another prototype watch designed by Motorola, and of course, Google's own Glass. Earlier today at SXSW, Sundar Pichai took to the stage to announce plans to release a brand new SDK for Android-based wearable devices in about two weeks.
One of the fundamental differences between Android and every other mobile operating system is the practically unrestricted capability to run services. Without this freedom we could not enjoy something as powerful as a homescreen widget or as straight-forward as a Twitter client with background updates. Aside from games and very simple utilities, it’s becoming increasingly rare to find an app that doesn’t run a service, at least for a short span of time.
The Android 4.4.2 update is hitting yet another version of the Samsung Galaxy Note 3, this time on T-Mobile. The update clocks in at 495.74MB and will be the first significant update to T-Mobile's Note 3 since release late last year.
Intel's progress into the Android ecosystem hasn't exactly been earth-shattering. The number of high-end and mid-range smartphones equipped with an ATOM CPU still number in the single digits, making the x86 architecture a fairly low priority for app developers. In addition, Intel's emulator images have always lacked support for the Google APIs, leaving developers without the ability to test common staples like Google Maps or push messaging. Fortunately, that issue was recently rectified with KitKat as Google and Intel have finally shipped an x86 system image with Google API support.
Google has posted its monthly snapshot of the Android Platform Versions distribution, and things are, unsurprisingly, inching forward for KitKat and Jelly Bean. KitKat is up from a share of 1.9% last month to 2.5% this go around, likely owed to the widening rollout of Android 4.4 to the Galaxy S4 and a number of other devices.
Jelly Bean continued to gain ground, too, up slightly this month at 62% as compared to 60.7% in February, with the individual breakdown still heavily favoring Android 4.1 as opposed to 4.2 or 4.3.