Microsoft may have its own smartphone platform, but when so many Xbox gamers walk around with Android phones in their pockets, it would be a shame to ignore them (or their wallets). So the company has rolled out another update to its Xbox One SmartGlass beta app, and this one introduces the ability to purchase games and add-ons for the console remotely. It's a nice feature for people who have run out to buy an Xbox One with or without Kinect.
Recently, we posted about a new feature Google was testing to help users better "explore" their surroundings, offering more fine-tuned exploration options for a user's immediate vicinity or their destination, with suggestions of what to do in the area based on time of day or conditions. The interface would apparently get its own button in Google Maps' primary view, but the button only appeared for a few users at the time.
When George Mallory was asked why he wanted to climb Mount Everest, he famously replied, "Because it's there." I imagine a similar disposition possessed the developer of Wear Browser (better known for AIDE) when he shrugged his shoulders and said, "Well, I guess I'll put a browser on that watch." I say this because I can't think of a good reason anyone would do this. Still, it exists.
Account security is a tough issue for a lot of people. It's a constant balancing act between having a stronger system to keep out would-be invaders while also making it convenient enough that users won't reject it. After Google began offering its own 2-step verification system, several other services adopted the same mechanism and opt-in model for people that wanted more than a single password protecting their personal data. This generally left users with Google's Authenticator app, which got the job done, but it lacked features and languished on an early Holo dark design.
Skype just rolled out an update to its Android app, bumping it up to v5.0. The app isn't going to look much different, but it is gaining the ability to automatically find and add your phone contacts to your Skype contact list. It even happens automagically in the background.
The problem with sharing files over the internet is that everything is permanent. Digify doesn't fix this issue, but it sure attempts to by taking the Snapchat approach to privacy and applying it to files. Rather than giving someone permanent access to a document, it gets a time limit from the sender and initiates a self-destruct at said time. It even goes so far as to provide information on who has opened the file and how long they've interacted with it.
Let's get this out of the way first: SecondScreen is not an external extended monitor app for Android. (Though that would be extremely cool.) I think the developer does a bit of a disservice with that name. What it does is force your phone or tablet to use a different resolution in order to make it display correctly - or at least more correctly - when casting the screen to a television via Chromecast or simply using an HDMI cable.
It looks like Google has surreptitiously started a little summer promo in the Play Store with discounts on apps and games, with some going below the usual $0.99 barrier. There's no official landing page yet, so we don't know everything that's included, but more could still be on the way.
Amazon's Prime Music service, a free add-on for anyone who's already a Prime subscriber, launched to a resounding "meh." The app and service functions well enough, but with plenty of alternatives both free and paid, Amazon's boast of "over one million songs" rang somewhat hollow. As a Prime subscriber myself, I saw it as a nice perk, but it's no reason to stop paying for Google Play Music All Access as well.
Update, 7-25-14: A Carnegie Mellon representative informed us that in fact the Duolingo Test Center results will not factor into determining an applicant's English skills, it will merely be used in research to test the exam's effectiveness, at least at the moment.
Carnegie Mellon, a global research university that attracts student applicants from around the world, is the first academic partner of Duolingo for the English language certification exam.
In this role, the university in the coming year will encourage applicants and newly admitted students to take the online exam as part of a research study.