Google+ got a somewhat unexpected bump to version 4.6 today, an update that brought with it plenty of Material touches. Since we first reported on Material Design (at the time known as Quantum Paper), we've expected that Google's own apps would be undergoing their own gradual transformations in updates leading up to the launch of Android L. The Google+ app got its first round of material changes earlier this summer, but today's update starts its journey through the last mile.
In a story that makes flabbergastingly (yes, I'm making that a word now) little sense to me, Google is allegedly building a competitor to WhatsApp for emerging markets. That is, a mobile messaging application that combines SMS and internet-based communication in a unified, merged, and seamless platform. This does not sound like any kind of Google product I am aware of... said somebody who has literally never heard of Hangouts.
Apparently, the big difference will be that this new service won't require a Google account, which must be a nagging issue for consumers in emerging markets for some reason or another I frankly do not understand.
Fire OS is a solid operating system if all you need is the ability to consume Amazon content in various forms, but it just doesn't cut it for the nerdier stuff we pickier types get off on. In some ways, it's a shame, because Amazon puts out solid hardware at affordable prices. On the other hand, there's the option to wipe the slate clean, so to speak, and flash something more exciting onto the tablet.
Motorola fans in the UK can start getting their Moto Maker orders fulfilled today, as Moto's site is now allowing consumers to place orders. The phone starts at £419.99 for the basic 16GB model in plastic trims, and fully optioned up will set you back £479.99 with leather or wood and 32GB of storage.
Only the Pure Edition is currently available, though that's probably the one you want anyway, free of bloatware and with no network restrictions.
Tesco isn't a big name in the US, but the UK-based chain is the second most profitable retailer in the world after Walmart. The company began as a supermarket, but has since expanded into general goods and even technology. Hence, the new Hudl2 tablet, a follow-up to the popular 2013 Hudl tablet aimed at families. Hudl2 is bigger, faster, and prettier than the first Hudl, and it's available soon for just £129 (about $200).
Most of Google's apps offer ways for us to enhance the quality of our own lives, whether it's through improved communication, managing documents, or just browsing the web through Chrome. One Today, an Android app the company launched over a year ago, turns this around by empowering us to actively help others instead. The core idea here is to donate a dollar a day to a different charity (today's is an adopt an afternoon lesson program through Develop Africa), but there's no reason to stop there.
Warren County, Mississippi, May 19th, 1863. Battalions of Union soldiers march through the marshy ground of the delta, the wet slop already clinging to their boots. The morning chill is already passing, promising to leave a parting gift of southern humidity as the summer sun climbs over the grassland to the east. The soldiers, low on spirit but not resolve, check their rifles and equipment as they advance to the siege lines of Vicksburg.
Normally the kind of customer who buys a "rugged" phone like the Hydro VIBE isn't all that concerned with having the latest and greatest in software - or at least that seems to be the attitude of the carriers and manufacturers, who don't seem very concerned themselves. Perhaps that's why Sprint and Kyocera launched the phone with Android 4.3 back in May, despite the fact that 4.4 had already been available for seven months.
Update 10/2/14: The initial beta APK (1.0-124) started showing an expiration message and stopped working, but a newer beta APK (1.0-172) has popped up. We've validated its legitimacy, and it indeed no longer shows the expiration message. Download it here (thanks, Branko Kostic!).
Last month Nokia announced that it would release a version of its highly-regarded HERE mapping and navigation app for Android, but only to licensed partners, starting with Samsung.