Good news, European readers: physical gift cards for the Google Play Store are coming to more of you soon. Google updated its list of supported countries for gift cards today, marking Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden as "coming soon." We can't say exactly when - a few other countries like Greece, Poland, and Portugal got the same treatment earlier this month, and they're still marked as coming soon instead of linking to the relevant page.
Update: It looks like FreedomPop ran out of stock on its refurbished tablets almost immediately, and at the moment the links below default to various hotspot gadgets. Given the limitations of Sprint service, it's not a surprise that the company's secondhand hardware stockpile wouldn't be huge.
Also, several prospective customers have told us that they've been given the run-around when trying to sign up for the free plan, instead being placed on the free trial for paid service and almost immediately charged.
Sprint has announced that an over-the-air software update is due out for its version of the Galaxy S4 going by the name of version number L720VPUFNG2. The changelog for this one is pretty minor, so there's little reason to start abusing that update button. Galaxy S4 owners should be on the lookout for an HD Voice icon (which they might be able to notice), and a number of security patches (which they won't).
The IDC has released a snapshot of the state of the industry following the end of the second quarter, and as always, some players are doing better than others. In this case, Chinese manufacturers are the biggest winners, benefiting both from growth at home and increasing success abroad.
Despite offering a bajillion different types of devices, Samsung saw its market share drop seven full percentage points down to 25.2% of the market.
Not everything in the Android world is super-high-end, and if your carrier is building a brand on being cheaper than the other guys, perhaps having a few cheap phones around isn't a bad idea. Say hello to the Samsung Galaxy Avant, the latest addition to T-Mobile's hardware lineup. The internal specs won't blow anyone away, but with an off-contract price of just $216 (or $9 a month for two years on Jump), they don't need to.
As far as we can tell, today's over-the-air update for Fuhu's top-of-the-line DreamTab HD8 is the first time the company has published an Android 4.4 device build. Not that the kid-friendly target demographic is likely to care that their tablets are running the latest and greatest KitKat build, but heck, newer is better, right? According to Nabi's support website, the update is going out to tablets today, and can be initiated with the usual manual check in "Mommy or Daddy mode."
In addition to the extras in Android 4.4., the update adds a basic calendar app designed to let children start learning their Gregorian.
I'm planning a trip to India and Ireland next month, and since it'll be only the second time I've left North America, I could use a few directions. Google's various services are fine for that as they are, but the latest addition to Search is a handy one for anyone on the road. If you've booked your hotel online and received a receipt or confirmation in your Gmail inbox, Google will make a note of it.
Samsung's finally getting into the premium personal audio market with its Level line of products, but can they just walk into this increasingly crowded space, one that is, frankly, dominated by the oft-maligned Beats Audio? Two pairs of headphones, one pair of earbuds, and a portable Bluetooth speaker comprise Samsung's first real effort to break into this lucrative space - are any of them worth your attention? Perhaps surprisingly, the answer could be yes.
It's no big secret that I'm a huge fan of NVIDIA's SHIELD. In fact, I believe I called it my favorite device from last year on a recent podcast, a claim that I readily stand behind. To me, it shows how versatile Android can be, despite the fact that the unit itself is essentially a one trick pony (it's damn good at that one trick, though).
Then there's NVIDIA's second foray into device design, the Tegra Note 7.
Thanks to its "just right" size and low price tag (at least relative to the other members of the Tab Pro family), the Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4 is my pick of the litter. And if you'd like to pick one up for even less, Best Buy is offering a new one for a whopping $120 off of retail. You can get a white or black Tab Pro from the big box retailer in its base 16GB configuration for $279.99.