There are many ways to pay for apps, games, and other digital goods on Google Play, but one of the most convenient ones is direct carrier billing. It doesn't require you to have a credit or debit card, to set up a Paypal account, or to go hunt for gift cards around your country's stores. All you have to do is just buy and you'll be billed with your operator — sure, some of them like to take a big fat percentage to their pockets, but there's the matter of added convenience.
Google has updated its support pages for direct carrier billing availability to include 4 new operators in 4 different countries: DNA in Finland, Smartone in Hong Kong, and Maxis in Malaysia. Read More
We've known since last October that Google Play Music was getting ready to welcome podcasts into its fold of audio entertainment, but yesterday Sportscaster Bill Simmons broke the news that the feature was going live this month. It turns out that the option is already active for a few Android users through the weird magic of server-side A/B testing.
Our own Cody had already gone through a mini teardown of version 6.3 of Google Play Music that was released last week, and found lots of hints that podcast support was being thoroughly implemented. It seems that the feature was almost ready by then and the switch has been flipped for a few users who have started seeing a Podcasts icon in their app's side menu. Read More
Late yesterday, the Financial Times reported that SwiftKey was in talks with Microsoft about a potential acquisition that could be officially announced during the week. The report was right and this morning both Microsoft and SwiftKey have made the news official on their respective blogs.
The financial details of the acquisition weren't disclosed, but yesterday's report mentioned a $250 Million figure — or about a quarter Instagram if you want. The rest of the deal's terms aren't perfectly transparent either, but SwiftKey's co-founders Jon and Ben made it clear that the keyboard will continue to be developed for Android and iOS.
Our number one focus has always been to build the best possible products for our users.
Now that app updates are back to business as usual (more or less), Play Books is showing some activity again with a couple of small-ish changes that add a bit of polish. There are now shortcuts with links to different sections of the Play Store and an updated welcome card for the so-called Night Light feature. But the more interesting change is actually buried where it can't be seen in the live interface: some real signs that the Family Library is moving forward in Play Books. If you're looking for the APK, we have the link at the bottom. Read More
Microsoft has been releasing its own apps on Android lately, but it's apparently looking to buy one now. Financial Times reports Microsoft is swooping in to snap up keyboard maker SwiftKey for $250 million. SwiftKey is running on millions of Android devices, plus the ones from OEMs that license and re-skin SwiftKey. Now Microsoft could extend its reach to all those devices very soon. Read More
Not all USB Type C cables are created equal. Some charge better than others. A number ignore USB spec so much that they run the risk of actually damaging your hardware. This could happen gradually, or in the worst-case scenario, it could be instant. Read More
It looks like Alcatel's MWC launch plans have been spoiled a bit, based on a couple of leaked support pages on the company's website just tipped to us. The Idol 4 and 4S follow up the rather nice Alcatel Idol 3 with beefed-up specifications all around. Though we don't have much in the way of visuals, we do have a lot of information.
The Idol 4 and 4S will have 5.2 and 5.5" screens, respectively, with the 4S clearly being the up-market device of the two. It has a brand-new Snapdragon 652 octacore processor, Quad HD Super AMOLED display, 3000mAh battery, and 16MP camera with dual-tone flash and something called an "8MP slow motion sub-camera" - whatever that means (maybe it's referring to front-facing). Read More
Google has released new platform distribution numbers, and if you're anything like me, you immediately want to know if Froyo is dead yet. Well, it's not dead, but usage has ticked downward for the first time in ages. Lollipop and Marshmallow saw some nice upward movement too, while everything else was down. Read More
The v2.8 update to Greenify has been in testing for a few months, but the final version is rolling out at long last. This app began life as a root utility to forcibly hibernate apps, but it has slowly gained more non-root features. In v2.8, it can supposedly accelerate Marshmallow's Doze mode so it kicks on in just a few minutes. That's just the start; there's plenty more, especially if you're rooted. Read More
Amazon has been rolling out Amazon Prime Now, its local service for delivering goods from nearby retailers in hours instead of days, in a few cities in the US. In India there is no Amazon Prime, so the same service is simply referred to as Amazon Now. (Not to be confused with Google Now, which doesn't have anything to do with shopping.) There was already a dedicated app for the American version, but now the Indian model gets one too.
Unfortunately Amazon Now suffers from the same drawback as all local delivery services: a limited services area. It's currently only available in Bangalore, and even there, only in specific PIN codes (the Indian equivalent of zip codes). Read More