Not all app updates are created equal and while most usually fix bugs, add features, and make things better, faster, smoother, more stable, and more enjoyable, it is not the case of the latest Android Wear app update. Google giveth and Google taketh away.
Version 1.4, which was released about 10 days ago, did some UI cleaning, but it dumped a couple of features: the battery stats (for everyone) and the disconnect toggle (for some users). Battery stats weren't the most useful feature all the time, but I liked peeking at them every now and then to check the stamina of my watch. Read More
Though no reasonable person would have suspected that Android Pay would get early support from every vendor, bank, and finance company, Chase has loomed large as among the most conspicuous absences. It doesn't help that the banking giant announced Chase Pay last month, which is like Android Pay except worse in almost every way.
After a post on Reddit claimed to have been told by a Chase rep that they were adding support for Android Pay in 2015, Chase customers began to look forward to being first-class Android Pay citizens. It is worth noting, though, that in other public venues and in private communications with users, Chase was very vague about timelines. Read More
With the number of online music streaming services floating around, there's seemingly an option out there for any type of music listener. Inevitably some of these services will be similar. Pandora provides Internet radio stations that mold to your tastes. Spotify provides an online library that lets you play what you want on demand.
Rdio lets you listen to radio stations that adapt to your taste. Sound familiar? Pandora apparently thinks so, because the company is now buying Rdio. Read More
The Sony Z5 currently reigns as the king of smartphone camera quality according to DxOMark. I've had the opportunity to use a review unit as my daily driver for the past week, and I have been pretty impressed with the image quality thus far.
One thing that I hadn't liked, at all, was that Sony was still using the same clunky camera app that debuted with the original Sony Z. Seriously, five generations of devices all using the same cumbersome UI?
That changes today. The Japanese phone manufacturer has begun the roll-out of the major camera app update that they previewed back at IFA. Read More
You never needed to phrase a search as a question in order for Google to provide an answer, but that didn't stop many of us from doing so anyway. And this was before smartphones and tablets started prompting us to ask questions using our voice. Fortunately, the habit hasn't stopped Google from telling us what we want to know, and now the search engine is becoming smart enough to understand some of our more complicated questions. Read More
Google Play Music. Spotify. Rdio. Tidal. There is no shortage of music streaming services that not only provide an extensive music selection, but also have good if not great Android applications so you can benefit from their catalogue everywhere you go.
The problem with most of these services is their availability. If you live in the USA, you can have your pick among any of them and there's little argument over the value of a $10 combined Google Play Music Unlimited and YouTube Red / Youtube Music subscription. But stray farther and things become less clear. American (Northern, Central, and Southern), European, and Southeast Asian countries are usually among the first supported by many services, but African, Middle Eastern, and plenty of other Asian nations often have limited options and even fewer good ones. Read More
Maps are symbolic by their nature, but that doesn't mean that those symbols can't be user friendly. Ride-sharing company Lyft seems to have applied that principle to the custom maps in its Android application. The latest app update adds new features to the map you use when searching for a ride - now the little car markers on the map will be colored the same as the real-world car that picks you up, and the direction the car is facing as it travels is reflected on the map. Read More
Xposed Framework is a modification for root-level users that allows them to apply a wide series of mods and tweaks to a variety of Android releases and skins. It's become a popular alternative to full custom ROMs, especially for users who only want one or two tweaks to their devices instead of a full transformation. The creator of Xposed, who goes by "rovo89" on XDA-Developers, posted a new version for Android 6.0 Marshmallow this afternoon after a brief tease earlier this week. Read More
After a series of shootings and explosions occurred in Paris Friday evening, Google has made calls to France via its Hangouts service temporarily free. Callers can use the Hangouts app on Android, iOS, and the web to place calls to the country without incurring the normal international charges. The Google+ post making the announcement did not specify any particular countries, so presumably free calls are available from any location where Hangouts can be used. It's not clear if Google Voice users are also being given free calls. Read More
Google announced yesterday on their Lat Long Blog that the Local Guides program would be receiving one of the largest updates since its inception. Local Guides is a global community of people who love to contribute to Google Maps. These contributions come in the form of writing reviews, uploading photos, adding new places, answering questions, and fixing data about businesses. Millions of people around the world rely on information in Google Maps every day to navigate to their destination or choose where they want to eat dinner, so having more information at their disposal can only be a good thing. Becoming a Local Guide is as easy as visiting this sign-up page. Read More