We've known since last October that Google Play Music was getting ready to welcome podcasts into its fold of audio entertainment, but yesterday Sportscaster Bill Simmons broke the news that the feature was going live this month. It turns out that the option is already active for a few Android users through the weird magic of server-side A/B testing.
Our own Cody had already gone through a mini teardown of version 6.3 of Google Play Music that was released last week, and found lots of hints that podcast support was being thoroughly implemented. It seems that the feature was almost ready by then and the switch has been flipped for a few users who have started seeing a Podcasts icon in their app's side menu. Read More
Late yesterday, the Financial Times reported that SwiftKey was in talks with Microsoft about a potential acquisition that could be officially announced during the week. The report was right and this morning both Microsoft and SwiftKey have made the news official on their respective blogs.
The financial details of the acquisition weren't disclosed, but yesterday's report mentioned a $250 Million figure — or about a quarter Instagram if you want. The rest of the deal's terms aren't perfectly transparent either, but SwiftKey's co-founders Jon and Ben made it clear that the keyboard will continue to be developed for Android and iOS.
Our number one focus has always been to build the best possible products for our users.
Now that app updates are back to business as usual (more or less), Play Books is showing some activity again with a couple of small-ish changes that add a bit of polish. There are now shortcuts with links to different sections of the Play Store and an updated welcome card for the so-called Night Light feature. But the more interesting change is actually buried where it can't be seen in the live interface: some real signs that the Family Library is moving forward in Play Books. If you're looking for the APK, we have the link at the bottom. Read More
Microsoft has been releasing its own apps on Android lately, but it's apparently looking to buy one now. Financial Times reports Microsoft is swooping in to snap up keyboard maker SwiftKey for $250 million. SwiftKey is running on millions of Android devices, plus the ones from OEMs that license and re-skin SwiftKey. Now Microsoft could extend its reach to all those devices very soon. Read More
The v2.8 update to Greenify has been in testing for a few months, but the final version is rolling out at long last. This app began life as a root utility to forcibly hibernate apps, but it has slowly gained more non-root features. In v2.8, it can supposedly accelerate Marshmallow's Doze mode so it kicks on in just a few minutes. That's just the start; there's plenty more, especially if you're rooted. Read More
Amazon has been rolling out Amazon Prime Now, its local service for delivering goods from nearby retailers in hours instead of days, in a few cities in the US. In India there is no Amazon Prime, so the same service is simply referred to as Amazon Now. (Not to be confused with Google Now, which doesn't have anything to do with shopping.) There was already a dedicated app for the American version, but now the Indian model gets one too.
Unfortunately Amazon Now suffers from the same drawback as all local delivery services: a limited services area. It's currently only available in Bangalore, and even there, only in specific PIN codes (the Indian equivalent of zip codes). Read More
When Ryan reviewed the Google OnHub back in September of last year, one of his major complaints about the router's usage was the inability to rename devices, which created a messed up soup of unnamed and/or vaguely named devices in your list of connected hardware. That's about to change with the new update to Google On, the OnHub's companion Android app, which adds the ability to give custom names to all of your devices so you can tell which Samsung phone is which and what that no-name computer is. Read More
SoundCloud, the free music service particularly favored by independent and grassroots musicians, has finally added 'stations,' a sort of never-ending playlist of related tracks and songs. The feature has been in beta for about a week, and is now hitting the release version of the Android app. While new for SoundCloud, this is something that's been available on most other music streaming services for quite a while. Spotify and Apple Music call it 'radio,' and Play Music has 'instant mixes,' but they are all different names for the same thing.
Creating a station is a simple matter of picking one of your favorite songs and selecting the "Start track station" from the three-dot menu. Read More
Microsoft Health is the companion app to Microsoft's activity tracker, which is now on its second iteration, the Microsoft Band 2. An update is rolling out via Google Play that adds quite a few new features for folks who own the device. Read More
If you want to stream electronic music, Digitally Imported (di.fm) is one of the best sources you can turn to. The service's Android app, Digitally Imported Radio also does it justice on mobile thanks to wide channel support, a great and updated interface, and frequent changes to implement new features like casting support. The app, however, lacked one option when it was redesigned in June of last year: landscape support. That's finally being implemented along with interface optimizations for tablets.
Version 3.1 of the app adds "first class support for Android tablets," and restores support for landscape orientation on phones. Read More