Sometimes you have to assume that there are entire teams at Google whose sole job is to think up fodder for nostalgic technology bloggers. Case in point: for the 37th anniversary of the classic arcade game Breakout, Google has thrown together another one of its elaborate Easter eggs. Do a Google Image Search for "atari breakout", and the results will turn into the smashable blocks, with your mouse working as a control for the paddle.
Say The Same Thing is a game backed by the band OK Go in some way that isn't entirely clear. It's a social turn-based experience where you try to get your brain to sync up with another person's as you both call out random words. It's actually more fun than it sounds.
Each round starts with both parties entering a random word. They probably aren't the same one, so you have to pick another word that's related to what you both said.
I like to cook, and sometimes I bring my tablet into the kitchen with me to look up a recipe. For some of you, this might not be dedicated enough. You demand a dedicated kitchen tablet, and Archos is ready to deliver. Their new ChefPad is "a tablet for the cooking enthusiast." It comes with a selection of cooking oriented apps and a silicone case that makes it a dream come true for the four of you who could not settle for anything less.
Welcome back! Google Play Services 3.1 is such a ridiculously huge update; I had to stretch it out over two articles - that's a first for APK Teardown. If you somehow missed the Google Play Games extravaganza, part one is right here.
Part two is all about the non-games discoveries, which there are a lot of. Before we get into that though, there is one detail I left out of the games article that I really should mention:
The Play Games Codename
Google always comes up with the coolest code names for projects, and the Play Services games client is no exception.
Had enough of noisy hotels infested with bed bugs and slathered in unidentifiable fluids? Why not rent short term accommodations from a regular human being? That's the service Airbnb provides, and the startup has been making headway in recent years. In an attempt to make the process of finding appropriate lodging more convenient on mobile devices, the company has completely redesigned its Android app and added a few new features.
The new app is more attractive an Android-y than the old version, which made heavy use of gradients and iOS-style buttons.
Google has finally integrated storage between its three most data-intensive consumer platforms: Gmail, Google Drive, and Google+. The result? 5 extra GB of total Gmail storage, and 15GB of shared space among the three. This means you're no longer limited to 5GB of Google+ / Drive space, but all three services will now share the same "bucket."
For hardcore Gmail addicts, this comes with an added bonus: all Google Drive storage tiers now apply to your Gmail storage cap.
If you've spent as much time on the Google Play Store as I have, you begin to recognize a pattern: developers asking (and sometimes begging) users to email them directly with complaints or bugs, because they can't reply to that snarky review left in lieu of a bug report. After years and years of frustration for devs who just want to make their apps better, Google has finally rolled out a direct reply feature.
Newly appointed head of Google's Android division Sundar Pichai - who perhaps not-so-incidentally also leads the Chrome OS team - recently sat down with Wired for his first interview since Andy Rubin's departure. Though he didn't speak to specifics about any mysterious Motorola smartphone or Chromebook Pixel follow-up, Pichai did shed some light on the state of Android, Google's open-source philosophy, and future projects.
When asked if separate operating systems - Chrome OS and Android, for instance - confuse users, Pichai said the OS is less important than the apps, ecosystem, and backend people rely on.
A 14-page XDA thread, thorough analysis by an audio engineer, and a 100+ comment Reddit thread have revealed that some of Samsung's Galaxy S4 handsets are experiencing serious sonic problems with certain headphones.
Headphone audio on smartphones is something we rarely think too much about, because, well, most people don't really care. As long a smartphone produces sound that is listenable and loud enough, your average Joe isn't particular concerned about the quality.
Earlier this year, Amazon announced that it was preparing a proprietary virtual currency specifically for its Appstore. Then the incorrigible Eric Ravenscraft spent a few thousand words explaining exactly why Amazon Coins, and any system that substitutes real money for meaningless points, is just a pretense for sucking money out of people's wallets. If you can't wait to pay Amazon's tax on those without common sense, you can now hand over your real dollars for fake ones to spend on apps and in-app purchases.