There was a time, a few months ago, when I would check Kickstarter and Indiegogo every couple of days for new projects. I was fascinated by the ingenuity of entrepreneurs and creators and I wanted to keep an eye on all the new ideas that were just ripe for production. I haven't lost that interest, but after investing in dozens of crowd-funded projects — most of which resulted in really great products that I use and love, thankfully — I'm a bit less obsessed and more selective in my choices.
At long last, Chromecast has a functional guest mode. While it presumably has something to do with the update to the Chromecast app that rolled out earlier Wednesday, the change did not appear immediately afterwards. Google apparently flipped a switch on the server side, and suddenly anyone with an up-to-date app can cast to a TV without being on the same Wi-Fi network. We've been waiting for this feature to roll out since it was announced way back in June at Google I/O.
It's Update Wednesday again, and Google is firing on all cylinders. We've seen updates for both Android Wear and the companion app, Chromecast, Cardboard (who saw that coming?), and many more. Google Wallet also found its way onto the list with a few changes to its organization and styling. It started rolling out today, but we've got the latest version ready to download right now.
A post on Google+ earlier today calls out the most significant change for this version, which brings together gift cards, loyalty programs, and offers into a single link on the navigation drawer.
There's a new 2D fighter available for Android, and it stars iconic Marvel characters! Now settle down, it's not Marvel Versus Capcom. Nope, this is a new property licensed by Marvel and developed by Kabam, which specializes in that sort of thing. Formerly a browser game, Contest of Champions has an impressive setup for a mobile fighter, with tap and swipe-based gameplay replacing the somewhat impractical on-screen buttons. But once you master the innovative controls, you'll find yourself in familiar freemium territory.
If you fire up a game on Android with Play Games integration, you may notice something new. The level cap for those at the top of the XP heap has been raised to 25, and the icon border is blue. It used to be 20 with a pink border around the icon. That means you may be a whole five imaginary points better than your friends now.
Welcome to Google Update Wednesday, everyone, where you never know quite what you're going to get. The Wheel of Fate has given us a Chromecast update this week, and it's a doozy. A brand new user interface matches the rest of Google's various Material Design apps, more or less. But even more interesting is that the Chromecast app now allows screen casting (where your phone or tablet's screen output appears on your television) for all devices.
The foldable cardboard VR kits Google gave away at I/O 2014 weren't just a one-off stunt. Today, in its developers blog, Google had some big announcements for the home-brewed virtual reality viewer.
First up, Google has grouped a handful of Cardboard-compatible apps into their own collection on the Play Store. The Cardboard app itself has also received an update, with the ability to discover cardboard apps on the Play Store, and launch them directly from the viewer.
Roman Nurik's Muzei, the live wallpaper that puts art (or any other collection of images) front and center on your home screen, got a big update to version 2.0 today.
The most noticeable changes are in the app's interface, which has been updated for Lollipop. The design stays true to the experience many users are already familiar with, but adds some new touches, including a revised launcher icon, and a FAB for adding images to the "my photos" category.
Android Wear is receiving one of its major updates in the next days to 5.0 with a lot of goodies in tow, like official support for custom watch faces, undoing for notification dismissal, and more. The app counterpart on Android devices is getting updated too to keep up with these new features, and that new version is starting to roll out now.
The update bumps Android Wear (the app, not the software running on your watch) to 1.0.5 and doesn't seem to bring much beside a spiffy interface update to a more Material look.
Among the feature additions in the latest Hangouts update is the ability to switch between Google Voice and carrier SMS without diving into the app settings. All you have to do is tap on the "spinner," the toggle in the conversation window that already allowed you to alternate between Hangouts and SMS. Now, provided you have a Voice and carrier number, you'll have two SMS options.