Happy birthday, Chromecast. From your interesting but utilitarian beginnings you've turned into a streaming powerhouse, giving Android and Chrome users a ton of options for streaming music, video, and what have you. Just lately that also includes the super-cool capacity for transmitting mirrored audio and video from your phone or tablet right to your TV. It's been a good year, and to celebrate, Google is giving each and every Chromecast owner a free three-month subscription to Play Music All Access.
Recently, we posted about a new feature Google was testing to help users better "explore" their surroundings, offering more fine-tuned exploration options for a user's immediate vicinity or their destination, with suggestions of what to do in the area based on time of day or conditions. The interface would apparently get its own button in Google Maps' primary view, but the button only appeared for a few users at the time.
Like other Google I/O attendees, I picked up an Android Wear device at the conference. I went with the LG G Watch. What follows is not really a review so much as my experiences and thoughts about Wear thus far, having lived with it literally every day since picking it up. I'll include some of my opinions on the platform (ignoring for now the hardware), and what I think might be relevant insights and comparisons to Google's other efforts (like Glass).
When certain things finally happen, they make us want to search for that hidden ladder that takes people up to the rooftop and scream "Hallelujah," religious or no. This is one of those things. Google apparently no longer requires people with two-factor authentication enabled to sign in twice when setting up a new Android device or adding another account. Better yet, this change doesn't require Android L or anything fancy. Here's a video of the magic taking place on an HTC One M8.
English is one of the most prominent languages spoken in India, but that doesn't mean everyone speaks it, nor do all the people that do necessarily prefer to use it. So Google has rolled out Hindi support in both the mobile app and the browser-based version of Maps. Have a look.
Support is available in the latest release of the mobile app for people running Android version 4.3 and above. To take advantage of it, users must select Hindi under the "Language & input" area of phone settings.
You've probably seen the name "JW Player" around the internets, but you may not be aware it's one of the largest providers of embedded streaming video. Yeah, it's no YouTube, but the Flash and HTML5-based JW Player powers sites like Kickstarter, ESPN, and a few million more. It's going to be a lot easier to watch those videos on your TV now that JW Player v6.9 has been released with the promised Chromecast integration (and some other things).
Update: After we reached out to a Google representative, the company gave us the following statement:
We’ve been working closely with the European Commission and consumer protection agencies for the last few months to make improvements to Google Play that will be good for our users and provide better protections for children.
The representative was unable to comment on potential changes for the Play Store in the US or other non-European locations.
A minor OTA update is now rolling out to the small population of people who happen to own Google Glass. This release, XE19.1, brings improved network connectivity, so Glass should now do a better job of handling spotty network issues when issuing voice commands. This is good considering how much Google's voice search relies on the web.
XE19.1 also brings in a slight visual revamp, as Glass now has a cleaner look for voice actions.
While we can't exactly call it Cards Against Humanity (they're a bit picky about that), there's a new game out for Android that works with your Chromecast to let you play basically-Cards-Against-Humanity with your friends, and it's called Cardcast. Cardcast allows you to create decks, download decks (including most of the official CAH decks), and all you need to play it are some friends, a Chromecast, and an Android device for each player.