Odds are pretty good that everyone in the US who really wants a Chromecast has been able to find one by now. But with a rock-bottom starting price and compatibility with a ton of third-party Android apps, not to mention the Chrome desktop browser and at least some iOS apps, it makes a great stocking stuffer for people who might not follow every facet of the technology world. If you agree, Amazon has a nice discount on Google's streaming stick at the moment.
We're generally happy to report when Google expands Play Store availability to a new region, whether it's access to books, movies, or apps. In this particular case, the news tastes a little bitter. Google has opened up the Play Store to Cuba, offering residents a chance to download free apps. It's just too bad most won't be able to step inside and shop.
The thing is, the Internet is heavily censored through the island.
Since Google I/O we've been waiting anxiously to see which apps would be among the first to gain compatibility with Chrome OS. As Sundar Pichai explained at this summer's conference, Google plans to get Android apps running natively on the company's desktop OS, using App Runtime for Chrome.
Google is carefully curating the experience, however, working with select developers to make apps available through Chrome's web store. In September, Duolingo, Evernote, Vine, and Sight Words came to Chrome, and today Google announced a lineup of seven new apps, including Cookpad, Couchsurfing, Overdrive, and four others.
Google Now is never short on surprises. The personal assistant/wizard living in Google's Search app (technically it's Google's "Google" app now) can do some amazing tricks, and no matter how long you've used the app, there are always new features being discovered, added, or improved.
One such feature that's come to our attention is Google's ability to show you a countdown to important events based on your reminders. Basically, if you have a reminder related to an event Google knows about (like Christmas, for instance), Google will pick up on that and - on your reminder card - serve you a countdown.
At this year's Google I/O, the search giant got to announce that 300 million people were using Chrome on a mobile device. Less than half a year later, that number has grown to 400 million. Googler Darin Fisher made the announcement at this year's Chrome Dev Summit held just before the weekend.
During the talk, Fisher touched on a number of topics, some of which we're already aware of. In Android Lollipop, WebView is unbundled from Android, allowing for easier updates and better security (along with generally making life easier for developers).
Update: As it turns out, this offer applies to recently-purchased Chromebook purchases too. If you have not yet claimed your free Google Drive storage, you might want to head over to the goodies page to redeem your 1TB right away.
If you're like me, you keep quite a bit of the files you interact with on your mobile devices saved on Google Drive. The service has gotten spiffier over the years, and Google has done its best to make interacting with the storage feel as though you're tinkering with something saved locally.
Google Play Services version 6.5 began rolling out to users a few days ago, and as we work on an APK teardown to see what's under the hood, it looks like there's at least one more user-facing change in the update. Specifically, Android's system update screen is prettier.
The screen which, until now, consisted of the same drab title, horizontal break, "last checked" text, and "check now" button, has been granted a better design treatment.
It's been almost exactly 18 months since it was announced at I/O 2013, but Android Studio has finally hit version 1.0. Well, almost. This is a release candidate, so it's pretty close to what will become the first official stable release. For this release, the Android Tools team has been focusing on getting the bugs fixed and improving stability, but there are a couple of notable changes, as well.
Left: old splash screen, Right: new splash screen.
Over the last few weeks, we've heard of a feature popping up for Google Play Music All Access users here and there (thanks for the tips!), whereby the app or web interface would link users to relevant music videos inside the app. When listening to or browsing music, the app would show a YouTube icon, sometimes in the center of the screen, sometimes weirdly positioned in the "now playing" bar. It was clear Google was still testing the feature but it looks like now, with the publication of an official change log for Play Music's latest update, Google may be flipping the switch on a wider basis.