October is the perfect storm for American sports fans: Baseball fans have the World Series, basketball fans have the opening games of the season, and football fans are just getting a good look at the playoff scenario. Against this triple threat, hockey fans (especially those in the United States) tend to get the short end of the stick, so to speak. ESPN is bucking that trend: today they posted the very first build of the network's official Fantasy Hockey app to the Play Store.
Earlier today at a livestreamed event in San Francisco, Google's SVP of Engineering Vic Gundotra announced a slew of new features slated for Google+ and Hangouts.
While we're still waiting for the Hangouts update that will enable SMS support, animated GIFs, and location sharing to hit the Play Store, which should happen in a few days, the Google+ update 4.2 is already live.
G+ Photos is now Photos
After playing around with this version for a bit, I'm glad to report that the annoying and superfluous G+ Photos shortcut is now gone.
We have a second screen problem. The TV may have the largest display in the house, but it fails to consistently hold our attention even during engaging content, let alone commercial breaks. Cable and satellite companies have tried to respond to this phenomenon by releasing companion apps that place their content on both screens at once. Unfortunately, these apps typically aren't that good. The DIRECTV Android app was completely revamped not too long ago, but already a new update is available that changes things around a bit.
Facebook's Messenger app for Android and iOS is about to receive an extensive reworking, and will drop SMS support in the process. According to a Facebook product manager, the SMS feature "just didn't take off" in the way the company had originally expected, and as such, the feature is being given the axe.
The Messenger app, though, is about to look a whole lot different. Here a couple shots of the Android version, which I must say is impressively clean.
Vic Gundotra just announced what we've all hoped for (and kind of already anticipated): SMS is coming to Hangouts. Yes.
Aside from that, you'll also be able to share your location with a simple tap. Oh, and GIFs. Prepare for all sorts of animated crap in Hangouts. It's happening. Unfortunately, we're not exactly sure when it will be happening – there's no word right now as to when the updated APK will hit Google Play.
Today's the day that Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag launches for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, so you know what that means - it's time to hit up the Play Store to download the companion app. Ubisoft's offering turns your Android tablet into a virtual quartermaster. It provides quick access to the world map, tracks your progress, keeps tabs on communications, and more.
With the companion app, gamers will have less reason to ever pause the action, as many of the secondary tasks have been delegated to the touch screen.
Every time I try a new non-AOSP Android device, I lament the lack of Google's News & Weather app and its excellent widget. But the latest app from Falcon Pro developer Joaquim Verges might just get me to let go of that standby. Flyne is a news reader in the vein of Press and Flipboard, but it's powered by curated Twitter lists and your own Twitter and Feedly content.
Setup is simple, at least for the free version: select your topics of interest from a wide list, and Flyne will populate your personal news list with authoritative sources for that particular niche.
So you've lost your Motorola phone - whether it's the Moto X or the latest DROID handset - and you need to find it in a hurry. You could fire up the Android Device Manager on a computer and get a precise, GPS-pinpointed picture of where your phone is on a map, but if you already know the phone is still at home, this is overkill. Instead, you could now just shout Ok, Google Now, find my phone!
Android is now the undisputed champion of mobile marketshare, but certain companies are still releasing exclusive iOS apps, like the JARVIS-themed Iron Man 3 companion. It's a bummer, but iOS users can't make sweet custom boot animations like the one that Redditor hypd09 posted to /r/Android yesterday. It won't turn your phone into a suit of weaponized armor, but it will look pretty sweet with your elaborate Halloween costume.