Google is pretty well known for building a fast and (usually) reliable infrastructure that can stand up to just about anything short a certain Nexus launch. This is why it came as no surprise when the tech giant announced its own cloud hosting service during I/O 2012, giving developers a path to tap into some of that power. Since the launch, Google has attempted to make its Cloud Platform product as appealing as possible, but the response has been fairly tepid.
Barnes & Noble and Samsung appear to be getting along pretty well, for the two companies have now unveiled their second joint tablet: the Galaxy Tab 4 Nook 10.1. Just like the previous Nook tablet, this is a Galaxy Tab 4 10.1 with some added software tweaks that place emphasis on reading and consuming content from Barnes & Noble. The tablet is available for a launch price of $299 (following a $50 instant rebate), which puts it right in line with the price of the non-Nook version of the slate.
Google has promised standalone music playback over Bluetooth as part of Android Wear for some time, and it appears with Wear version 4.4W2 we're finally getting it, at least if you use Play Music (you're also getting new playback controls). If you're using the latest Play Music APK on your Android phone and have the Android 4.4W2 update on your smartwatch, you can now download your pinned music from your smartphone to your watch.
We spotted it in a teardown of the new material Play Music app this morning, but it looks like a new set of media controls in Android Wear are live - and here's exactly what they look like.
The new controls get a red-themed makeover and volume +/- buttons, plus a nifty kind of physical remote key animation. It's nice. For Play Music, these new controls require two things: the material version of Play Music (which contains an updated mini APK for Wear with these controls) and the 4.4W2 update to Wear, which is rolling out to some devices now, like the LG G Watch.
Google has slowly been adding replacement charging docks for the Android Wear devices to the Play Store. That's important in the case of watches like the Gear Live, which uses a special clip to charge the watch. It's less of an issue for the Qi-equipped Moto 360, but the official stand is in stock now anyway.
The listing for the dock appeared recently, but it wasn't available for purchase. That's changed now, and you can order it for $39.99.
Android 4.4W.2 is slowly rolling out to various Wear devices this week, and my G Watch R review unit just received it earlier this afternoon. A couple of commenters have pointed out a new feature in W2 that we hadn't yet noticed - you can now hide notifications, as opposed to dismissing them, directly from the watchface.
We've already seen about a half-dozen Google apps leaked in a Nexus 6 system dump, but we haven't taken a look at Google Drive yet. The app does have some material design in store though - as with the others - it's still in testing, so anything could change. That said, it's worth taking a look. Google Drive has implemented many of the new material design paradigms that make the app cleaner, leaner, and easier to use.
I know there are more than a few American readers who took a chance on this post, clicking on the headline even though they know the presence of Huawei's name likely means that everything they're about to read won't apply to them. The Ascend Mate 2 is one device that runs counter to this expectation. Huawei sells the phone directly to consumers online, including folks who live in the US.