04
Jan
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In an odd bit of M&A news, the developers at Bitspin announced that the small company will be joining forces with Google. Whether Google has purchased the company outright or merely hired its Zurich-based development team isn't clear, but in either case, the big G will be benefitting from their impressive user interface experience soon. Google has not commented on the situation, and there is no dollar amount posted on the Bitspin website.

30
Dec
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Earlier this month an update to the Play Store began rolling out with a brand new ratings widget appearing on the main landing page and within landing pages for each major section (Apps, Movies, Books, etc.) The simple card encouraged users to give a score of 1 to 5 stars on a previously downloaded (or claimed) item in exchange for some suggestions about similar items they might be interested in. While this seemed like a relatively innocuous addition, obviously intended to drive additional downloads, it seems to have had a unexpected negative effect: Several developers are reporting a drastic rise in 1-star ratings on otherwise successful apps.

29
Dec
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Whether it's a "moonshot" or not, Google seems to be dedicating considerable resources to its new robotics initiative, both financial and human. Almost three months ago Romain Guy, a highly-visible part of Google's internal Android software engineering team (and a pretty spiffy photographer to boot), announced that he was leaving Android for another internal Google position. He has since confirmed that he's moved to the new Google robotics team, currently headed by ex-Android head honcho Andy Rubin.

20
Dec
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Just a few days ago, Google Glass got a hefty update to XE12 with new Glassware, a new (official) wink gesture for taking photos, a lock screen, and other tweaks.

As expected, the Glass team has made the update's system image available for download from the Glass developers website.

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The download table has also been given a fresh coat of paint with a new column dedicated to checksums. The update, which weighs in at 344MB can be downloaded by hitting the link below.

17
Dec
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Glass has just gotten a nice update to XE12, which besides foretelling the long-awaited iOS app, brings with it new Glassware, gestures, and questions.

Perhaps most important, the update introduces new glassware for Hangouts. Not being able to interact with the service by sending and receiving messages has been an elephant in the room for Glass from the beginning, so it's great to see that compatibility has finally arrived. The glassware will also take over Glass' video call capabilities, and allow users to send photos too.

17
Dec
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Yesterday, The Information reported that Google is rumored to be working on smart thermostats, in a renewed bid to help users manage their home energy (and interior climate). Information on the project is sparse so far, but Google hopes it will be a successful follow-up to the unsuccessful PowerMeter, a service that was killed off due to apparent scaling difficulties.

Thanks to a tipster who is - we know you've heard this before - familiar with the matter, we've got an early glimpse into Google's upcoming thermostat foray - we've got a few new details and a look at the service's Android app.

15
Dec
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If you missed out on November's Chromecast deals but still want to pick up the mighty-yet-inexpensive streaming accessory, good news - Best Buy is once again offering the Chromecast for just $29.99, about five dollars (and one cent) off its normal super-affordable price of $35. What's more, BB will give you free shipping, available for delivery by the 24th.

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It doesn't appear that the previous deal's Google Play credit offer applies this time around, but saving five bucks is always nice.

13
Dec
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For many of us, it's getting cold outside. While there's always the option to invest in a thicker coat, bundle up in more blankets, or crank up the thermostat, none of these options particularly involve Android (with some exceptions). So here's another approach. Fire up YouTube on your Android device of choice and load up this YouTube channel. Send it out to the nearest Chromecast and you have yourself a warm fire that will burn for the next hour or so.

12
Dec
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Google has really been on a roll this week with exciting news for developers, such as a pair of new game-related libraries and enhancements to Google+ Sign-in. This time around, Chromecast is getting its turn with a brand new User Experience Guide. Coming just 2 days after some new apps were added to the whitelist, this 4000-word document details the recommended design patterns developers should follow while implementing their own Android, iOS, and web applications.

12
Dec
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Last night, Google started a slow rollout of the new Maps with version 7.5. Since the previous version was 7.4, we knew there had to be some key features that prompted the update - it couldn't just be a bug fixer. After thoroughly examining the UI, I was unable to find anything new.

As it turns out, that's because the new feature Google stuffed into the app only shows up upon very specific conditions.

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