Text-to-speech engines read text aloud, saving users from having to read it themselves. Google's TTS offering comes pre-installed on numerous Android devices, and like much of the software previously shipped as part of Android, it's now ready to spread its wings in the Play Store. Here it's available to far more users, as it can now be installed on devices that don't come with the software pre-installed (pictured below -left). In contrast, on the Nexus 5, Google TTS is apparently already installed and unremovable (pictured below - right).
Normally we're pretty pleased when we can report that a new country or carrier has enabled the option for carrier billing in the Google Play Store, allowing customers to charge app and media purchases directly to their phone bill. But for some reason, European carrier Vodafone seems to have dropped the option entirely. Vodafone has disappeared from the list of carrier billing partners on Google's Play Store support page, and we've confirmed the loss of capability from individual users in the UK, Germany, Italy, and Spain.
It was understandable when early pre-release specs listed the Nexus 5 as having a fictional 802.11nc (as opposed to 802.11ac) Wi-Fi, which many definitely noticed at the time. After all, the Nexus 5 wasn't official yet, and something like that could have been a typo made by a PR person or an intern.
Users of Google Voice have long called for the company to pay more attention to the seemingly forgotten service for quite some time. Unfortunately, they may be getting more than they were hoping for. While many people are thrilled to hear Voice will finally support MMS and become a part of Hangouts in early 2014, Google is also planning to close up shop for all 3rd-party apps that relied on the service for free texting and VoIP calling.
As you may have noticed, your friendly neighborhood Android Police writers have been more than a little busy in the last couple of days. Google had the odd notion of launching a new flagship device and a major operating system update on a holiday, so it's understandable if you haven't been able to keep up. If you spent most of last night escorting your kids around the neighborhood (or if you don't have kids, and you spent most of this morning nursing a Halloween hangover), here's everything we've got on KitKat, the Nexus 5, and anything else you want to know.
Stop me if you've heard this one before. Reuters reports that the Rockstar consortium, a joint effort between Apple, Microsoft, Sony, and Blackberry, has sued Google and Android manufacturers Samsung, HTC, LG, ASUStek, Huawei, ZTE, and Pantech over patents formerly held by the now-defunct Nortel Networks. Rockstar won the patents in an auction in 2011 that topped out at $4.5 billion - Google lost the same auction with a $4.4 billion bid.
Earlier this week at a Google+ event, the company announced several important additions to Hangouts for Android. The updated version 2.0 comes with SMS support as well as location sharing, the ability to display animated GIF files, as well as the previously discovered in a teardown statuses and moods. AndroidPolice covered the rumor on October 7th following my initial Google+ report on October 4th.
The coveted update may take a while to reach you, considering it hasn't even started officially rolling yet.
About a month ago, we found some enticing goodies in Hangouts' 1.2 update. Specifically, we found evidence of activity statuses - rich status messages that would allow you to set a status with accompanying iconography for things like biking, driving, laptop, tablet, and phone. Some of these, (like biking and driving) we predicted, may be set automatically by Hangouts. The teardown also revealed the possibility of moods, using the bouncy yellow fellow found on Google+.
Just a quick note to anyone waiting for full OS factory images and drivers for existing Nexus devices (outside of the Galaxy Nexus, which bit the dust with KitKat) - as is customary, they will follow over-the-air updates released according to Google's favorite timeline: "in the coming weeks."
The Nexus 5 factory images will be out later today, but don't sit there hitting F5 expecting factory images for the Nexus 4, 7 (new and old), or 10 to pop up any time soon.