The Android ecosystem –as most of us think of it– is built on more than just an operating system and a marketplace for independent apps. It's largely shaped by dozens of services that have been built by Google, allowing developers to add rich features to their apps without building out expensive infrastructures. The Google Play services package is the core element in this equation, and it's getting a pretty major update to version 7.0 over the next couple of weeks.
Like the Pebble Steel before it, the Pebble Time Steel doesn't change the internals found in its plastic sibling, except for a larger battery, which will apparently provide this model with up to 10 days of use.
Inbox hasn't been around for that all that long, and Google is carefully improving and adding features to make it useful for the app's intended audience. With a fresh update to version 1.3, Inbox is receiving some improvements to its graphics and visual styling, and the ability to configure notification sounds by account. After a quick teardown, it also appears that there will soon be launcher shortcuts to launch immediately into creating a new task (i.e.
It's only been a month since Lollipop made its debut on the platform distribution chart, and it's making decent headway. Android 5.0 more than doubled its standing, bringing the total from 1.6% to 3.3%. Most of this bump can be attributed to firmware updates that have been rolling out to 2014's flagship phones and tablets. Surprisingly, KitKat also increased its hold by 1.2%, totaling 40.9% of all Android devices.
Since Lollipop and KitKat only account for a combined 2.9% shift, most of the remaining versions of Android lost ground pretty evenly.
Google Maps lets you take a look at cities and landmarks from all over the world, but its Street View feature primarily allows you to take a virtual walk along roads and sidewalks. Yet that hasn't stopped Google from using it to show off the world's natural beauties and majestic man-made monuments alike. Without leaving your seat, you can view the Pyramids of Giza, and the beautifully cold parts of Greenland. Now Google will let you experience what it's like to ride a zip line through the Amazon rainforest.
Google+ Vice President of Product Bradley Horowitz has received a promotion and will now step up to take the place of David Besbris. This change comes less than a year after Vic Gundotra left the company and the social network that he had led since its inception. This makes Horowitz the third person to head up Google+.
Mortal Kombat fans have been looking forward to Mortal Kombat X, the newest next-gen entry to the long-running fighter series, for quite a while. Now, as they've already done with properties like Injustice: Gods Among Us and WWE: Immortals, Warner Bros. is preparing a mobile companion app to go along with the much more complex console game. It will be available sometime in April, probably around the same time that the full game is released.
Sony's recent Xperia phones and tablets have included themable skins for the proprietary Sony UI that runs on top of Android. Now Sony wants you (yes, you!) to make themes for its devices using a custom Java desktop program. The company has released a beta version of the application for aspiring theme makers, available from the Sony Developer site.
The program allows you to apply different colors and graphical elements to the various bits and pieces of Sony's themes.
Google made news earlier this year when it announced that Android 5.0 Lollipop devices would ship encrypted by default. And indeed, the first few Lollipop devices (all Nexus) were encrypted out of the box. However, OEM Lollipop phones are not shipping with encryption enabled. It looks like Google is backing off on this requirement, pushing it to a future version.