If you've been on the Internet this week, you've probably seen the marketing blitz for the new line of toys for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The crown jewel among innumerable action figures and LEGO sets is the miniature BB-8, a customized version of Sphero's ball toy with Star Wars paint and a "head" that bobs around and stays on top of the ball as it rolls along. Though the BB-8 is mechanically identical to a regular Sphero, you'll need a specialized Sphero app on Android or iOS to actually play with the thing. Read More
August was light on new Android apps, but there's one new arrival that might change things in a big way: Amazon Underground. Aside from that, Google's new push towards streaming games and a new translator service from Microsoft make up the more interesting apps from the big publishers. That said, there are a few indie gems in both our primary lineup and the Honorable Mentions sections, so check them out below. Read More
There's good news in store for future Android-running BlackBerry users. The smartphone maker that now figures maybe it likes the taste of Lollipops and Marshmallows after all has announced its acquisition of Good. Good. Read More
WhatsApp has come a long way since its origins as an instant messaging client in 2009. By this time 2013, over 300 million people were running the app, and that was before Facebook decided to pay $19 billion for the service. By the beginning of this year, it had reached 700 million. Read More
Chrome Beta seems to be that sweet spot between reliability and new features - not quite as bleeding edge as the Dev build, but still packed with new stuff earlier than the Stable build. It's generally my personal favorite browser to use as primary, because checking out the new stuff once it's basically no longer buggy is always fun.
Beta 46 was announced for Android yesterday, and it brings a slew of under-the-hood improvements. Even more than that, it brings a ton of features for developers that I'm not even going to pretend to fully understand; if you're the type who likes to dig into code, however, you may want to check out the Chromium blog for more info. Read More
Inbox for Gmail continues to stack on new features and refine its existing capabilities. While it may never fit the needs of many Gmail users, it has earned a strong following of fans that couldn't live without it. The latest release doesn't appear to add anything to the user experience, but a teardown shows a few of the changes that may be on the horizon.
Disclaimer: Teardowns are necessarily speculative and usually based on incomplete evidence. It's possible that the guesses made here are totally and completely wrong. There is always a chance that details may change or plans may be cancelled prior to the launch of a new feature discovered in a teardown.
If you're a long-time Skype user, then you've no doubt seen its many faces and redesigns. Today marks the release of yet another redesign, and this time it actually looks pretty damn good.
First off, Skype took a page from the Android playbook and went with Material Design and a FAB, so it not only looks better, but it functions in a smart and intuitive way. I think that's something we can all get behind.
Aside from that, search has also been enhanced so you can more easily find the people you talk to the most. Along that same line, it's also faster and easier to see how many unread messages you have. Read More
SmartThings users have the luxury of controlling a large number of things from a single spot—their phones. That means the app SmartThings relies on must be pretty good, or the entire experience falls to pieces. To coincide with the formal release of its second generation Hub (which went on pre-order last month), the company is now pushing out an update to its Android app. Read More
So here's the scenario: you're in San Francisco for the first time. You're starving, but have no idea where to go, what's good, or where to even start. What do you do?
Now, you can open Google Maps, hit the Explore link, and get all the recommendations you could ever hope for. But not just "hey, here's some stuff near you" - starting now, Google is offering curated results in San Francisco, New York City, and London. Basically, this will make it easier to find exactly what you're looking for around your location. That's pretty awesome.
If you're not in any of those areas, though, you can still get the "hey, here's some stuff near you" recommendations, and it looks better than ever thanks to the new interface (in the US and UK only, though). Read More