Originality comes in many forms. One of them is to create a game world or control scheme that catches all who play it by surprise. Another approach is to take a familiar genre and offer an engaging twist on it. Then there's taking an existing game (Frogger), mixing it with the art style from another one (Minecraft), while naming it similar to a big hit everyone can recall (Flappy Bird). That last one appears to be the formula behind Crossy Road, and—okay, maybe it's not so original after all.
Google's developers took a couple of weeks off for the holidays – or from my perspective, they gave me a couple of weeks to rest – but now they're back and it's time for the app updates to resume. Naturally, it's time to breathe life back into the teardowns, and we're back with a big one. Google Search v4.1 began rolling out to users yesterday, and we've already seen quite a few little adjustments and improvements.
If you haven't heard of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, usually shortened to EFF, it's sort of like the American Civil Liberties Union for the Internet and other digital issues. The non-profit organization's mission statement says that it "champions user privacy, free expression, and innovation through impact litigation, policy analysis, grassroots activism, and technology development." You'll rarely see a headline-grabbing story where tech intersects public policy that the EFF hasn't at least commented on, if not actively campaigned for or against.
The totally awesome Play Store review process strikes again. The developer of popular (and /r/AndroidCircleJerk approved) app Reddit Sync has gotten the dreaded automated support email indicating the app is on track to be pulled. The reason? Impersonating or leveraging another product or service. No, you're not having déjà vu—this has, in fact, happened before.
There are only so many ways you can make a game that features side-scrolling and shooting, but developer Nitrome seems to have found another one. In Gunbrick, you play a duck (or a chicken, or possibly just a blonde guy with jaundice, it's never really made clear) who buys and operates a Gunbrick. It's a brick with a gun in it, in case that wasn't obvious.
There are just two controls in Gunbrick: swipe to rotate one Gunbrick-length left or right, or tap to fire the gun mounted on the bottom.
Towards the end of March, Fitbit announced the Charge HR and Surge, new additions to its activity-tracking family. The Charge HR is an enhanced version of the Charge, just with a heart rate monitor added on (clever). The Surge is the Cadillac version that comes with a giant, black and white touch screen. The former goes for $149.99, while the latter goes for a hundred bucks more. Both are now shipping in North America, which a global release soon to follow.
Folks editing their WordPress blogs from an Android device running Lollipop are in for a treat. The latest version of the app applies a fresh taste of material design. At the end of the day, the experience doesn't look fundamentally different, but you get a full hamburger menu, a floating action button, and a sidebar that slides out on top of everything else.
Android's system-level sharing menu has always been a great asset, making it easy to get content into different apps quickly. Fliktu is a new app created by the lead Android developer of Pocket that adds some more features to sharing and opening links. All you need to do is give your device a little flick.
Seven hundred million is a big number. 700 million of almost anything is a lot, but when you're talking about users, it's the kind of number that makes investors and analysts start to drool. It's also the amount of monthly users that popular alternative messaging app WhatsApp now has, at least according to an announcement by CEO Jan Koum. For context, Facebook initialized a purchase of WhatsApp last February (finalized in October) for approximately 22 billion dollars, when the service reportedly had "only" 450 million users.
A messaging service is only useful so long as a certain amount of your contacts use it along with you. So we'll refrain from making jokes at BlackBerry's expense (not a small effort, mind you) or pointing you towards alternatives like Hangouts or WhatsApp. If you use BlackBerry Messenger, and your friends and/or associates do too, pointing out other options isn't going to do much for you. But here's something that will: BBM is getting Android Wear support!