12
Dec
Lync-Thumb

Microsoft Lync is instant messaging for people wearing suits and ties. The service, which you generally won't see outside of corporate environments, supports typing, talking, or staring at each other's faces through an Android device. Now Microsoft has rolled out an update that adds new features and brings more feature parity with the Windows Phone and iOS versions of the software.

For starters, the Lync Android app can now handle Anonymous Join, which lets users join a Lync meeting without an account.

12
Dec
plex-icon

If you have a lot of media files on your computer or server and you like the freedom of streaming them to your mobile phones, tablets, TVs, and other screens, chances are you're either using XBMC or Plex. For fans of the latter, there's some good news waiting for you in the form of a major update to the Android app.

plex-update-1 plex-update-2

Playlist support has been added to Plex on both the mobile layout and Android TV.

11
Dec
547f44dddb949

From a recent teardown of Google+ 4.8, it seemed like Google was preparing to offer bandwidth optimizations in the app, with the option to switch on a data conservation option. It looks like that feature has cropped up (thanks David) now, along with a new gender identity setting brought over from the web.

A few days ago, the Google+ team announced that the service would now accommodate those of any gender, not just male or female, by opening up a "custom" option, as well as a method of indicating one's preferred pronoun (the selection includes male, female, and other).

11
Dec
GoogleTranslateThumb

Before Chromebooks and Android, Google blew peoples' minds with its web services alone. Translate was one of them. Here was a website that took in whatever you typed and spat out something that at least kind of resembled the same words in a different language. Even now, translations aren't spot on, but it usually gets close enough to convey the message.

Google is still expanding the service, and now the company is ready to introduce support for ten additional languages.

11
Dec
Hulu-Thumb

Using Hulu on an Android device usually requires a Hulu Plus account, but in the spirit of the season, the company has apparently decided to offer people the ability to stream shows to their devices for free. The exclusive deal was announced on the Android Google+ page in a post that welcomed folks to come watch the latest episodes of their favorite shows.

11
Dec
PlayMovies-Thumb

Version 3.6 of Google Play Movies and TV has hit the Play Store, and it shakes a few things up a bit. I'm not going to waste your time with introductions here. Let's just jump right in.

What's New

Out of the box, a new set of slides are there to introduce you to the app.

Intro1 Intro2 Intro3

The Managed Downloads screen has received a refresh, and it's not just about looks. Content is now separated into My Movies and My Episodes.

11
Dec
ic_launcher

Most of the AOSP-based custom launchers operate in roughly the same way, but Action Launcher has always been different. Right from the beginning it offered cool ways to manage your apps and widgets, and it only got better over time. That app was based on the Jelly Bean-era Android launcher, and it was time for an update, according to developer Chris Lacy. Action Launcher 3 is a complete rewrite of Action Launcher that brings with it new features, but also drops a few (at least for now).

11
Dec
a

Amazon's main shopping app has between 50 and 100 million downloads, but it's not showing up in the Play Store anymore. The listing remains if you have the direct link, but you won't see it in search results. Oddly, there's a new Amazon app called Amazon Shopping. It's the same exact app but guess what it doesn't have—the Appstore. It looks like Google may have laid down the law. [See updates at the bottom]

2014-12-11 11.20.14 2014-12-11 11.20.30

Left: old with Appstore, Right: new with no Appstore

11
Dec
unnamed (11)

Hey, Minecraft fans! Did you know that Mojang, the developer of the uber-popular creation game, has been working on another game for years? It's called "Scrolls," and... well, it's nothing like Minecraft. Nope, it's more like a mix between Plants vs Zombies and Blizzard's Hearthstone card game, all set up on a hexadecimal tower defense structure. That's confusing. Watch the promotional video below to try and get a handle on the unique cross-platform title.

11
Dec
SXPD-Thumb

One of the most visually striking and gratuitously violent games of the previous console generation came out, perhaps surprisingly, for the Nintendo Wii. Sega's MadWorld took place predominately in black and white, but blood continued to spurt out in bright red. The story was told through comic book panels, with comparisons to Sin City basically writing themselves.

That game never received a sequel, but while the freshly ported SXPD belongs to a different genre entirely, it comes with a similar flavor.

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