The ugly Christmas sweater phenomenon seems to be yet another case of public trends where the fundamentally undesirable is somehow turned into a nouveau fashion statement, like Uggs or Hummers. While an intense examination of the psychology behind their resurgence would be an interesting application of our time, I'm not paid to write about wooly jumpers. If all you want for Christmas is an Android avatar with a tasteless sweater, then check your Androidify app for the latest update.
Christmas is coming. You can sit around next to a paper calendar, crossing out the days, or you can put on a seasonal album and start moving.
Don't have any Christmas albums? I know, it's not exactly what comes to mind for many of us during the rest of the year (hey, not everyone has the urge to play Jingle Bells in July). Fortunately Google is looking out for you. You can currently download two merry albums for free on Google Play.
Sometimes I wonder if Google has an official Department of Whimsy where things like the never-ending doodles, Android mascots, and Santa Tracker are studiously maintained (and the inbox still overflows from bitter Google Reader fans). If so, then the DoW's biggest yearly project has just begun with the timely update to the Google Santa Tracker app. The latest version is now available for Android phones, tablets, and Android TV devices, complete with all kinds of kid-friendly goodies.
It's nice to stop every once in a while and realize just how much Google search has improved over the years. For quite a while, Google didn't really prioritize time-sensitive content versus regular content when it crawled the web. This meant breaking news stories were cached about as frequently as Wikipedia entries on the history of the Roman Empire. That didn't really change until the events of September 11, when Google realized people who were searching for news on the attacks were instead being greeted with tourist information for the World Trade Center.
All these small improvements are hard to notice individually, but they really add up over time.
There may or may not be creatures stirring at Amazon's house this day before Christmas, but the people are busy offering up their usual selection of deals preceding most holidays. The Appstore's free paid app of the day has been extended to no less than 40 apps and games today. Here's the full list, which may or may not be limited to users of the United States version of Amazon's app portal (and a couple are exclusive to the Kindle Fire or Fire Phone):
♫ Oh the weather outside is frightful, but the fire is so delightful, and since we've no place to go, Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! ♫
Whether you're listening to Christmas carols, other holiday or non-holiday songs, or simply feeling grim and replaying some mellow tunes through Spotify, the service sneaked in some winter joy in its Android app to cheer you up. Consider it an easter egg in the form of Christmas snowfall. That's confusing. Even more so if you live in the Southern hemisphere and you're suntanning on a beach.
Nevertheless, if you open your Spotify app and start playing some music, you'll get an animation of white snow glowing and falling on your screen.
A pair of hop-along boots and a pistol that shoots might be good for Barney and Ben, but they're small comfort if you've been trying to get your hands on the OnePlus One for half a year. Well, now's your chance: just like they did for Black Friday, OnePlus is selling an uncertain number of One phones directly today, no invite, pre-order, or inadvisably dangerous or sexist actions necessary. Just go to the website and buy one.
Both the standard white 16GB model and the 64GB black model with its rather nice textured back are available, at $299 and $349, respectively.
Last year, we put out a gift guide with all of our recommendations for the holiday season, but we made one mistake: we released it on December 20th, just five days before Christmas. What were we thinking? I honestly have no idea. This year, we decided to try to be a bit more helpful and put something out at least a couple of weeks ahead of time. You're welcome.
Without further ado, here is the Android Police Holiday Gift Guide for two-thousand fourteen. This is the stuff you (and/or someone on your list) want. Let's go.
Yesterday we reported on the appearance of several redesigned emoji in the keyboard Google's rolling out with Android 5.0. In the piece, I concentrated on the improved consistency brought in by the tweaks. As it turns out, there was one more change hidden in plain sight among the others, and its importance shadows all others. Google has quietly addressed a bug report that has lingered for years.
Let's take a look at the issue at hand here. These are two of the images included in yesterday's post. On the left, we have the old set of emoji. On the right, we have the new ones included with Lollipop's version of Google Keyboard.