08
Oct
Teardown-Chromecast

Back at Google I/O 2014, we learned about a pretty neat feature called Backdrop that gives your Chromecast a little more pizazz with localized weather, news, and photos. It turned out to be a bit of a tease, because Google waited until earlier today to actually enable it through an update to the Chromecast app for our phones. During the same presentation, another feature called "Guest Mode" was announced promising to allow visitors to cast from their devices to a Chromecast in the same room without being on the same Wi-Fi network.

08
Oct
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There's a new Chromecast update (v1.8.22) making its way out to users today that finally enables custom backdrops. You should get the option to enable this feature upon opening the updated app. If you don't feel like waiting, we've got the APK below.

Screenshot_2014-10-08-09-10-13 Screenshot_2014-10-08-09-11-20 Screenshot_2014-10-08-09-11-09

07
Oct
PlayGamesMatrix

Excitement over products like the Ouya, nVidia's Shield line, and even numerous gamepads proves that gaming on Android has entered the mainstream. Developers have been jumping at the opportunity to build games that work across many of the different operating systems; and thanks to the Cross-Platform SDK, they're able to integrate most of the Play Games services into their products on Windows, Mac, and Linux. Until now, this SDK has lagged behind the SDKs for Android and iOS on one specific feature: real-time multiplayer support.

07
Oct
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One of Samsung's claims to fame is a feature meant to improve productivity on mobile devices. One that users of stock Android and manufacturer skins alike have been yearning for for a while. That feature is multi-window, which allows users to run two apps on the screen at once, dragging and dropping between the two.

The problem is no one has been able to get it right yet. A company in the mobile space - in this writer's opinion - has yet to perfect the balance between utility and intuition when it comes to multi-window functionality on tablets (or phones, though I haven't used the Note 4 yet), but a post to Android Internals in March confirmed that Google had been working on the programmatic side of multi-window in stock Android.

07
Oct
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Update: As pointed out by several commenters, this option has been there for a while, but appeared new to many of us, including me (my screenshot of the old Google+ app's Folders section that I posted in the original article shows that the cloud icon wasn't visible to me). I reinstalled the old Google+ app to make sure I wasn't missing anything and upon further investigation, figured out the problem. If, like me, you had the "Backup local folders" option unticked, your folder list didn't offer any cloud on/off icon and you would not have known that selective backup was a possibility.

07
Oct
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About a week ago we told you about a Hulu Plus promotion that gives new Chromecast owners two months of access to the premium portion of the streaming library for free. As it turns out, anyone in the US can get that sweet, sweet streaming video, no matter when they bought their Chromecast. AP reader Matthew discovered that he could follow the instructions for redeeming the offer on his older Chromecast without any kind of issues.

06
Oct
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As cool as Google Voice's free text message service is, it has always been a bit barebones. Big features like MMS have been missing for a lot of users, with some notable exceptions. Multimedia Message Service, usually used to simply attach a photo to a text message, is handled by completely different servers at most carriers, causing some problems with Google's forwarding system. It looks like Google has addressed these issues, at least for most people in the US and Canada, finally enabling the sending and receiving of MMS via Google Voice. 

Google employee Alex Wiesen announced the new feature on his personal Google+ account.

06
Oct
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A couple of weeks back the Slingplayer app for phones was updated to include the long-overdue Chromecast streaming feature. And because Sling Media still seems loathe to make a single app that works across both phones and tablets (hang on a second... yup, it's still 2014), the tablet app is getting that feature today. Slingbox owners with compatible hardware can download it now for the hefty additional price of $15.

05
Oct
Teardown-GooglePlus

Material Design was the driving force behind a Google+ update that began rolling out on Friday. But while there may be a newer look, there's very little to speak of in the department of functional changes. Naturally, I had to poke around to see if there were any surprises buried underneath the fresh coat of paint. As it turns out, there are a few things worth talking about. It's time for a Teardown!

04
Oct
v

Nexus season is in full swing, and as rumors and leaks continue to pile up around Motorola's Nexus 6 (Shamu), we've been wondering when more news might emerge about Volantis (or Flounder, or T1, take your pick) - HTC's 9" Nexus tablet that we first learned of back in spring.

As Blog of Mobile reports, it looks like the Nexus 9 has passed through the FCC for certification, with the relevant documents becoming available just yesterday.

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