There's no limit to what you can build in Minecraft. From a one-to-one scale model of the Starship Enterprise to a working CPU, the block-based video game has seen practically everything. Fans of the game like to spend time on large-scale constructions, and the engineers at Verizon seem to be some of the biggest fans around. Staying true to what the company is known for, they've taken it upon themselves to extend the network's wireless coverage into the virtual world and build a working smartphone in Minecraft. The result is admittedly very cool.
The phone may not have all the conveniences of a modern smartphone: the roughly 2000-inch display has a screen resolution of about 40 by 30 pixels, which gives it a rather lowish pixel density of around 0.0254 ppi.
Browsers are a core part of the mobile phone experience, but I don't find them particularly exciting. I do with my browser largely what I did ten years ago: open it up, go to a URL, and scroll through the page that appears. I don't really use bookmarks or search predictions, though combining the search and location bars together was pretty nice. Custom search engines are fun too.
The thing about Marshmallow is that it added a lot of granular control over your apps, but it did so in such a confusing and redundant way that it kind of made things worse in my opinon. Apps now have their individual propertiespage where you can control their notifications (despite that being also available in Sound & notification), permissions (despite that being accessible in one list under Settings -> Apps -> cog icon -> App permissions), and defaults and supported links (despite that also being accessible in that same cog setting). It's this last part that we'll talk a little bit about today, but brace yourself, this will be baffling, inconsistent, and unnecessarily convoluted.
What's more annoying than a slow webpage? A slow webpage on your phone. Ain't nobody got time for that when a connection is bouncing back and forth between 3G and LTE. And that means a publisher somewhere is missing out on traffic. It's a lose-lose situation.
Unfortunately this is the hole we find ourselves in. Webpages aren't the simple creations they used to be. Sites plug in to other sites, meaning you have to wait for third-party ads, widgets, and comment sections to load up before you can start browsing the way you'd like.
In short, version 32 is eager to sprinkle shortcuts to your favorite sites all over your homescreen. No having to open the browser first and type in URLs. No searching through a list of bookmarks. Just tap on a website's icon as though it were an app, like you would when clicking on a bookmark widget from Chrome or your phone's default browser.
There is no shortage of third-party browsers available on Android. While most of us use Chrome, there are plenty of worthy alternatives and valid reasons to choose them. The CyanogenMod team (notably distinct from, but connected to, the Cyanogen Inc. company) is throwing its hat into this crowded ring. The new project is called Gello, it's based on Chromium's open-source code... and that's about all we know for sure at this point.
About three weeks ago the beta version of Opera for Android added a handful of new features. Today most of them graduate to the standard version, marked as v30.0.1856 on my phone. The biggest change (at least according to Opera's official blog) is that the sites saved to the "speed dial" homepage will sync across Android and desktop versions of Opera. That's provided, of course, that you're logged into your Opera account on all devices. If you prefer different Speed Dial options for mobile and desktop, that's an option too.
Perhaps more notable from a technical standpoint is an upgrade to the Chromium 43 rendering engine.
Google keeps patiently improving the ecosystem surrounding the Chromecast and its various software tie-ins. But the latest trick is casting not to a gadget or screen, but to a conversation. At least some users are now able to cast tabs to a video Hangouts session, allowing the recipient to watch the video (or whatever else you've got in that tab) without a cumbersome link. It doesn't seem to be live for everyone, but check out your Chromecast extension if you'd like to try it out.
The system seems to prefer an active conversation. It won't let you cast to a Hangouts conversation that only includes you, for example, and it won't go for a Hangout which someone has opened but not yet joined.