It has been a busy month for Google. Marshmallow was officially released, YouTube finally has the subscription service we've been asking for, and some new Nexus phones are shipping. Also on the docket for this month was a new version of the Play services apk. A couple of weeks ago, v8.2.98 began rolling out to a short list of handsets. It was followed a few days later by a .99 release, and then another minor bug fix pushed it up to v8.3.00. There hasn't been a blog post to discuss new features or APIs, which is a bit unusual, but there are a few interesting bits in the apk waiting to be seen. Read More
You might recall almost two years ago when AT&T started working on a sponsored data program. The idea was companies could pay AT&T to exempt certain services from your data cap. AT&T has now rolled out a different take on sponsored data as an app called Data Perks. By completing offers, you earn teeny tiny buckets of data that can be applied to your monthly plan. If you sign up now, you get a whopping 25MB of data to start. Twenty-five whole megabytes!
Remember Samsung's Smart View app? It's OK if you don't - it's basically a mix of a remote control and some Chromecast-style functionality, exclusively for use with both Samsung phones/tablets and Samsung smart televisions. It's the kind of cross-platform"synergy" that gets a lot of play in press releases and on-stage product reveals, but is rarely used by actual customers. The app listing in the Play Store is plagued with negative reviews complaining of frequent bugs and infrequent updates.
Samsung is apparently ready to start over, and I mean that literally: the new version of Smart View gets a completely separate listing from the older app (which is still available to download at the time of writing). Read More
Google Keep received a seemingly minor update this week, bringing the version number up from v3.2.354 to v3.2.415. There aren't any visible new features or even any particularly notable changes, but that doesn't mean the only changes are bug fixes. A teardown shows that Keep is due to receive its own built-in drawing mode so users can easily record their own doodles, scribbles, and sketches. Additionally, users will be able to annotate imported images like photos and screenshots. Read More
We already knew that Apple is working on an Android app for its new Apple Music service (the descendant of Beats Music, which Apple acquired along with the headphone maker last year). We've also heard that it's due sometime this fall. If screenshots posted by German site MobileGeeks can be believed, work on the Android version of the Apple Music app is progressing nicely. We can't verify the shots, but they seem to line up with Apple Music on iOS.
According to the screenshots, Apple Music on Android will feature the same dynamic radio stations as the current Beats app, plus individual music downloads and curated playlists. Read More
Right now there are three Android phones and four Android tablets within arm's reach of my desk, and another half dozen or so in my closet. (It's OK, I don't have a problem. This is my job.) If you're in a similar situation, you can put some of those gadgets to use: they work great as remotes for set-top boxes like Android TV or Roku, or you can cobble them together into a sort of poor man's Sonos multi-room speaker system. Here's one more option: turn it into a home security camera. Read More
Starting on October 28th, YouTube Red will let folks in the US start watching all the movie trailers, phone reviews, music videos, epic fails, adorable babies, cat clips, and rants they've been consuming for years, sans ads. In exchange, viewers hand over $9.99 a month instead, or $15 if they have a Play Music family plan.
Unless, it turns out, you're one of the early Play Music subscribers. Google is sending out emails to folks who hopped on board in the early summer of 2013 to inform them that when they are transferred to YouTube Red, they will get to keep their discounted $7.99 rate. Read More
One tool that I personally have always wanted on Android but have never actually seen is a live color picker. A floating tool that could grab pixel-specific color values from your screen without the need for screenshots or any other complication. Today it looks like my wish has been granted by embermitre with the release of Pixolor to the Play Store.
Pixolor is basically a floating eyedropper controlled by a persistent notification. You can hide or show the picker, zoom with it, and drag it around to get the hex value for the exact color you see on screen. It will also provide the nearest color from the material design palette and - inside the app - an entire palette based on that color. Read More
As you should already know, paying for things usually guarantees better things than you can get for free. That doesn't mean you have to pay a lot, though. There are some great deals on apps and games in the Play Store, so get your wallet ready. Read More
Browsers are a core part of the mobile phone experience, but I don't find them particularly exciting. I do with my browser largely what I did ten years ago: open it up, go to a URL, and scroll through the page that appears. I don't really use bookmarks or search predictions, though combining the search and location bars together was pretty nice. Custom search engines are fun too.
I say this to convey my general apathy towards covering the updates that come to web browsers. But the latest beta version of Chrome comes with changes that even folks like me will have a hard time ignoring—things we've already highlighted before when they appeared in Chrome Dev, such as a snackbar that now appears at the bottom of the screen when you complete a download. Read More