YouTube Red is a damn good idea, and I'm not even going to qualify that statement. You know why it's a damn good idea? Because YouTube needs to grow up, and step one is getting rid of those garbage advertisements we all love to hate so much. Step two is convincing average, rational human beings that maybe, possibly, they could see themselves in a world in which they might actually pay to more conveniently watch the things and people they really, really, really like to watch.
At the moment, and probably for a while yet, basically all of YouTube's revenue comes from advertisements.
Until now, the best way to know if an app had support for Android Wear was to install it and see if it showed up on the watch. There's a much better way now—just look for the watch icon. Google is rolling out a small tweak to the Play Store on Android that displays a small watch icon and notice in the details when an app supports Wear.
Spotify finally capitulated and added support for Chromecast streaming recently, but there were a number of caveats. Streaming to the Chromecast Audio required a premium subscription and the first-gen Chromecast wasn't supported. That second issue won't be a problem anymore. Reboot your first-gen Chromecast, and Spotify should work just fine.
Sonos has become the de facto standard for multi-room audio systems, despite the fact that there are now several cheaper (if not better) alternatives. Today it becomes a little better still: those who use Amazon's Prime Music (which is included as a freebie if you've subscribed to Amazon Prime for the free shipping or other benefits) can now stream music directly from the Sonos system. The feature is currently in beta, according to the official Sonos company blog.
Oddly, this isn't the first time that Amazon Music and Sonos have crossed paths, just the first time it's been available specifically for the Prime section of the service.
Bugs happen. As a result, bugfix updates also happen. Kodi 15.2 is the second such release since version 15.0 of the app formerly known as XBMC went stable, and it tackles quite a list of issues. Head's up—all of them are very specific.
On several Android devices that used an Amlogic chipset, Kodi 15 only showed a zoomed in display or only used part of the screen. 15.2 addresses this.
Some users lost video after fast-forwarding. This, too, has been squared away.
15.2 also fixes refresh-rate switching on Android devices like the Nexus Player and NVIDIA SHIELD TV.
Other fixes address non-DVB and MicroDVD subtitles, incompatible MySQL queries, PulseAudo on Linux, default sorting for songs over UPnP, volume adjustment for Xbox controllers, and the time format when setting regions.
If you use any of Garmin's activity tracking devices — be it Edge, Forerunner, Approach, or any of the others — then you've likely used the Garmin Connect app. For as long as I can remember, this has been a buggy, ugly, and almost useless app that didn't work correctly most of the time. In fact, about half the time when I fired it up to enable Live Tracking on my Edge 510, I was faced with a blank white screen. Sometimes a phone reboot would remedy the issue, other times it wouldn't. When the app did work, it was somewhat useful, but it always lacked info that I wanted to see, leaving me with no other option but to hit up the Garmin Connect website (which isn't that great, either).
Google Photos' decoupling from Google+ dates back to May, which means five months have now passed since. In this time, Google Photos has received several updates and gained essential features like Chromecast support and albums for adding and reordering images. Now the Photos team is ready to reflect on these five months and share with us a few stats about the app and service's use.
Photos now counts 100 Million active monthly users, but how that number is tallied I couldn't tell you. Does a single search or view count, or did they require uploads for users to be marked as active? I'm not sure. 15 Million animations and collages have been created, either manually or through Assistant.
Google started testing a new way to display star ratings in the Play Store client a few weeks ago, and now it looks like the change is rolling out to everyone. Open your Play Store app, and you might notice app rating stars are displayed numerically throughout the store.
Okay, MapQuest still exists. I know, now that I've completely blown your mind, I can also tell you the MapQuest Android app has been updated to v3.0, and there are some substantial improvements. Will wonders never cease?
The Microsoft Garage team has graced the Play Store with more than a few interesting apps recently, some of which are actually useful. The latest project from the Garage is a note taking app called Parchi. It's designed to be quick and easily searchable, but odds are it's not available in your country yet.