Android updates are in the spotlight again, thanks to Motorola's questionable dedication to its own recent products. And while you can (usually) count on at least one or two software updates for most flagship phones, sometimes a low-end device comes back and surprises you. Such is the case with the Galaxy Core Prime, a Verizon exclusive in the US which launched with Android 4.4 back in February. At the time the relatively small and underpowered budget phone was promised an update to Lollipop. Quoting David earlier this year: "Oh, and it actually comes with a promise of a Lollipop upgrade, so that's good, though how long it'll take is anyone's guess."
You can stop guessing: it took a little less than eight months.
Asus' ZenWatch series has gained a small but dedicated following since the original version was released thanks to the gadget's understated style and low price. The second watch in the series is now available on the US version of the Google Store, and unless we're mistaken, it's the first time the Android Wear device has been available for purchase in the country. The price is $149.99, quite low compared to competing Wear devices, and it's shipping now. Before today it was marked as "coming soon."
The ZenWatch 2 uses the ubiquitous Snapdragon 400 chipset with 4GB of storage and half a gig of RAM.
Welcome to the latest entry in our Bonus Round series, wherein we tell you all about the new Android games of the day that we couldn't get to during our regular news rounds. Consider this a quick update for the dedicated gamers who can't wait for our bi-weekly roundups, and don't want to wade through a whole day's worth of news just to get their pixelated fix. Today we've got a sprawling pirate-themed RPG, a high-end first-person shooter, an impressive runner game, an innovative top-down horror title, a sequel to a puzzle favorite, and a couple of interesting casual games. Without further ado:
Swords & Crossbones
Swords & Crossbones is a humerus RPG that incorporates elements of turn-based tactical games and base-builders (without the freemium baggage that usually carries).
Cosmic Watch is not a watch face, or even a conventional clock app. It's an app that models the Earth, the solar system, and most of the familiar constellations in 3D specifically as they relate to both real time and any point in the past. It's also stunningly beautiful - you don't often see educational apps with such a focus on aesthetic beauty. The screenshots really don't do it justice; check out the video below:
The app is equally concerned with current astronomy and time-keeping and the more classical astrology, at least as it relates to the real model of the universe - there aren't any horoscopes telling you that you'll meet tall, dark strangers.
If you're looking to add a little old-school convergence to your mobile accessories, you might want to check out Best Buy's deal portal this weekend. The JBL Charge 2, a high-quality portable Bluetooth speaker that can also charge your phone or tablet, is on sale for a significant discount. The speaker costs $149.99 at retail, but you can grab it for just $79.99 today with free shipping.
This is a new unit, not refurbished, and it's available in black, white/grey, blue, red, and purple. The all-in-one unit includes features 15 watts of combined sound with a 1.625-inch woofer and bass port for clearly-defined lows.
HBO Now is the premium cable service's olive branch to cable-cutters, an attempt to reach out to the IPTV crowd before competition from Netflix an the like starts to seriously impact their bottom line. So why they chose to limit HBO Now to Apple devices in the first place is a bit of a puzzle - surely you'd want to make a paid service available to as wide an audience as possible?
Welcome back to another week of the Android Police Podcast. To catch us live on Hangouts On Air every Thursday at 5:30PM PST (subject to change as per the calendar widget below), just head over to androidpolice.com/podcast. For the unedited video show, click here (warning: this video is uncut). As always, we'll take your questions at 530-HELLO-AP and also at our email address: podcast at androidpolice dot com.
On this week's episode, it's the Nexus (and Pixel... and Chromecast) super show! We cover all of Google's major hardware announcements this week and answer some of your questions about them.
Are you excited to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens? Have you taken out a second mortgage to pay for all the new action figures, LEGO sets, Millennium Falcon quadcopters, and a tiny army of BB-8 Sphero droids? And do you still have about twenty-five bucks left over? Then you might want to check out the latest licensed phone decals from Slickwraps, starring none other than Darth Vader and Stormtrooper #5. According to the official Empire Strikes Back Annotated Companion, his name was Martoona Chumscrubly and he once served Obi-Wan a Coke in the Mos Eisley Cantina before being press-ganged onto a Star Destroyer, getting a mild burn from a stray laser blast delivered by Han Solo, and retiring with disability pay to another galaxy with less obsessive lore.
There's no nice way to say this: interesting and new apps were a bit thin on the ground in September. Maybe it was the double-threat of new announcements from both Google and Apple that scared off developers, or maybe they're all hung up on ancient Green Day lyrics. Either way, things were looking pretty sparse, but we still managed to find a few interesting tidbits for you. Here are our top seven and a few honorable mentions.