Last week, the Play Store rolled up some beta testing features in its version 6.7 update, but they quickly disappeared as Google reverted them back in a server-side change. The company later announced these features at I/O as part of a series of improvements to Google Play that also include lots of developer console changes.
Now it seems that the beta testing options have started showing up again for users on version 6.7.12 of the Play Store. To be clear, neither Artem nor Cody nor I am seeing it on our devices, even after clearing the Play Store's data. So it looks to be a staggered server switch with very few devices let in on the action. The screenshots here were provided by other users who are seeing a new Beta tab under the My apps & games section of the Play Store. Read More
These days advertising seems to be looking for an edge, a unique and original approach that will engage potential customers and hold their attention better than the bombastic and simple ads of days gone by. And then again, sometimes it doesn't... sometimes subtelty goes out the window, right before you apply a sign the size of a 25-story building to the other side of it. Such is the case with a Samsung advertisement in the Sokol district of Moscow, which uses a 262-foot tall building as a backdrop for the world's largest Galaxy S7 Edge. Read More
It's alright if you've already forgotten about Project Soli - with all of the crazy futuristic stuff that the Google Advanced Technology and Projects (ATAP) team works on, it's easy to get confused. Essentially, Soli is a system that adapts radar-style techniques into tiny hardware in order to enable the tracking of hands and fingers (or anything else, really) which in turn allows software to recognize hand gestures with precision and accuracy that beats anything on the consumer market today. It's pretty cool - watch this video from last year's Google I/O for a crash course. Read More
Fans of the burgeoning art of 360-degree short-form storytelling have probably been enamored by Google's Spotlight Stories, a series of videos designed to highlight the narrative potential of the VR format. The latest one is Pearl, a sort of extended animated music video about a man, his daughter, and the beat-up hatchback car that they share over about 20 years. The short is directed by Patrick Osbourne, and the original song "No Wrong Way Home" was written by Alexis Harte and JJ Weisler and performed by Nicki Bluhm and Kelley Stoltz. Read More
In addition to making phones, TVs, and refrigerators, Samsung builds some pretty decent audio devices. David reviewed the bulk of the Level series (Samsung's name for their audio line) and came away pretty impressed with their build quality and sound performance.
One of the members of the Level family, the Samsung Level Box Mini, is part of a special BOGO promotion today on Samsung's own website. It's simple, buy one Level Box Mini for $80, get another free. Admittedly, the price is higher on Samsung's site than on Amazon (where it is $50), but with the BOGO promotion the speakers come out to $40 a pop. Read More
Project Ara was supposed to go into public testing last year, but that didn't happen. Google has been quiet about the state of its modular smartphone since then, but now there's a new demo video. It shows off some weird modules, but what about a release date? Well, there's nothing for regular people, but a developer edition will be available this fall. Read More
It would definitely seem like Google is making Android N the 'polish' release: things which haven't seen any changes for years, like the System UI icon, are getting refreshed, while features are not being included in the final release because of a lack of polish (like the dark theme and night mode). Even the update procedure is getting updated.
As well as the aforementioned System UI icon, another long standing Android fan-favorite is getting a revamp: the OS update animation. Gone is the little Android figure with his front open, a prism turning, and his antenna going. It feels like it's been in Android forever, but it might be gone soon: instead, the new animation is a swirling circle of light, which looks great but maybe has lost some of its inherent Android-y-ness. Read More
Google's Daydream Virtual Reality platform was announced a couple of days ago at I/O. In it, Google detailed its plan to release specifications for OEMs to make Daydream-certified phones, as well as a reference design for a Daydream VR headset and controller that OEMs can use to build their own offerings.
What wasn't announced though is whether Google would release its own Google-branded Daydream VR headset. According to Recode and a talk it had with Google's VR head Clay Bavor, the answer is yes. The company won't just be a Daydream partner who provides reference designs, it'll also build a headset (and controller?) itself. Read More
Remember that debacle over the LG G5 and HTC 10's support for Qualcomm's Quick Charge 3.0 and how it meant that those phones weren't exactly compliant with the USB Type-C spec? Google engineer Benson Leung actually opened our eyes to the issue and explained that by its mere mode of operation, QC 3.0 raises Vbus above the 5V spec limit to 9V and 12V to get faster charging rates.
Well, it looks like LG has done something interesting in its G5. It doesn't just support Quick Charge 3.0, but it also supports the official USB Power Delivery 2.0 protocol. Gtrusted's engineers did the test and showed the analyzer traces in the image above: the G5 can charge with Google's Universal Type-C 60W Charger at 15 Watts (5V @ 3A) and 18 Watts (9V @ 2A). Read More