If you're on the Google Maps beta channel, you probably received an update to v9.55 in the last day or so. After hunting for a while, we haven't seen any notable changes on most devices; except if you're running Android O, in which case the latest version enables a full array of notification channels. The hunt for features also brought out a teardown with a hint that users may finally have the option to download offline maps for whole countries. Read More
Today is the 30th anniversary of the first GIF, and it looks like SwiftKey knows it. The Swiftkey Beta on Google Play was updated today with GIF support. Other new features include hashtag predictions and transliteration support for some new languages, as well as a few bug fixes. So if you need to insert a GIF in your transliterated Punjabi or Bangla messages, well, now you can. Read More
The first Developer Preview for Android Things OS was released at the end of 2016, as a lightweight version of Android intended for Internet of Things devices. Since then, it has been updated multiple times to support more hardware and fix bugs, and today Google has released Developer Preview 4.1. Read More
Alright, even as a self-professed coffee snob, I go to Starbucks sometimes. OK, like once a week - it's convenient, consistent, and I really like the cold brew iced coffee. Anyway, for as long as I've been going to Starbucks, I've lamented what I assumed was a lack of NFC payment support. Starbucks does not advertise that any of its stores support NFC payments in the US, and the card readers at most of its stores in the US, like the one pictured above, don't feature any iconography to suggest NFC is accepted. The terminal in the hero image of this post does show an Apple Pay icon on the screen, and maybe that is shown at Starbucks locations, but I can't say I've ever noticed it. Read More
Earlier in the year, Google released the impressive Toontastic 3D. The digital storytelling app was a follow up to the original Toontastic game by educational developer LaunchPad Toys, which was acquired by Google in 2015. The app allows kids to draw and animate their own stories to create a 3D video. The budding directors can even narrate their creations and add built-in songs to the soundtrack before sharing. In the latest update, Google adds new characters and settings as part of two additional themes. Read More
Sphero got itself recognized for making neat little toys that roll around. However, its next product doesn't move. It's an app-enabled Spider-Man toy with LCD eyes, speech recognition, and games in the companion app. We don't have all the details on this device yet, but retailer John Lewis accidentally pushed the product page live too soon, and Sphero published its app. That's good enough for a basic overview. Read More
The Google Drive client for Windows and Mac is.. decent. It's a bit buggy, and at least on Windows, seems to disconnect every once in a while for no apparent reason. Back in March, we learned that Google was working on a new version called 'Backup and Sync,' because the company accidentally pushed an unfinished version to users which didn't work at all.
Now it seems like Backup and Sync is nearly ready for release. Read More