Sometimes you can't stomach the idea of paying a big yearly subscription price upfront, either because it feels like a big expense or because you're not ready to commit for a full year to a service that you're not sure you'll enjoy in a couple of months. That's why, despite having to pay a little bit more, companies offer a monthly subscription to make it easier for users to pay in small increments and feel like they are free to walk away anytime they want.
Amazon's Prime subscription used to be a yearly affair: pay $99 and get all the services for 12 months straight. Read More
Ever since Amazon announced the Echo, the platform and Alexa's voice commands have been expanding and adding more partners and features. They haven't, however, gained the magical ability to control your house's manual window blinds. It has though become possible to connect Alexa to an Arduino board, which increases the potential uses for the platform.
An enterprising guy has used that to his advantage, MacGyvering his way into smart window blinds with an Arduino (he uses a SmartThings shield for his Arduino to connect it to the rest of his smart home system), a servo, and some lasercut gears. He details the whole process, which I'll be honest in saying I don't understand the first thing about, in an Imgur post that I'll link below. Read More
We're starting our week with music and song — cheerful stuff. Shazam was updated a couple of days ago to add a feature that I can't believe wasn't available before. I use the app intermittently, mainly because of the Android Wear component ("OK Google, Open Shazam") and Google Now command integration ("OK Google, Shazam this song"), but I rarely venture to the My Shazams tab so I never noticed that those songs never synced across devices. Lolwut?! What was the point of signing up for an account in the first place?! Apparently, it just worked to keep your followed artists in sync, but not your Shazams. Read More
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 unique indie shooter, a surprising "rolling" platformer, a new book-game, a new take on Q*Bert, an old-school RTS, and a cute block puzzler. Without further ado: Read More
College students: don't sign up for LinkedIn. Please. It's easily the worst social network on the block, career-focused structure notwithstanding. LinkedIn is the 21st century version of the Columbia House Record Club... not that any of you are old enough to remember it. However, at some point you might find that you're forced to create a profile and start playing the most boring MMO on the planet. If you've resigned yourself to such a fate, then I suppose LinkedIn Students isn't such a terrible place to start. Read More
US carriers offering free service to disaster-stricken areas of the world has become something of a grim but inspiring tradition at this point. After a devastating earthquake struck the area off the coast of Esmeraldas, Ecuador last night, all of Sprint, AT&T, and T-Mobile have announced that they are offering free calls and texts to the country for the time being. This allows US residents to contact family members and friends in the affected areas. The offer extends to any calls or texts made from yesterday through Sunday, April 24th on Sprint, Saturday the 23rd on T-Mobile, and Friday the 22nd on AT&T. Read More
Virtual reality is the tech topic du jour, with nearly every major hardware and software company (or one of their partners) looking into it in some capacity. Time will tell if this is just a fad or something that will truly change the way we interact with technology, but Google is hedging its bets. In addition to the growing Cardboard VR platform, a few user-facing changes in the second developer preview of Android N point to more robust support for virtual reality in the future. Read More
For a long, long time, emoji support on Android has been playing catch-up with iOS — sometimes lagging behind by as much as several years. In many cases, characters sent from another device (such as an iPhone) wouldn't display at all on Android, leaving a lot of information lost in translation. Even the few characters that did render were often depicted differently: if you've been on Android since the days of Jelly Bean, you probably remember those peculiar little monochrome Bugdroids that Google used in lieu of smiley faces.
A lot has changed since then: emoji on Android have gained some color, they more closely match the samples from the Unicode Standard, and they've grown to include several hundred different characters. Read More