Are you bored of the endless parade of touchscreen slabs that smartphones have become? Do you want a new idea, a strike of genius, something to foam at the mouth for? Then look no further than the Japanese market. The companies there are just scrubbing every assumption we have and building weird products to appeal to their awesome and quirky market, like this Kyocera DIGNO rafre. Let's pretend that we all know how this name is pronounced and move on to the highlight feature of the phone: it's hot water and soap washable.
Google Play Newsstand's paid content has been forging its way around the world, trying to catch up with the various Play entities that preceded it. Today marks its arrival in three new countries in East Asia: Japan, Malaysia, and Thailand.
The news was mentioned on Google Play's Twitter stream, and indeed, after checking the country availability support page for Play digital content, we can see that Malaysia and Thailand are both now on the Newsstand list (they weren't there on September 8th) but Japan is still missing. It's either a small error or the service is coming to the country but isn't quite live yet.
Gold phones are a thing these days, but you won't be able to get Google's latest flagship in gold unless you happen to be in Japan. Odds are that you aren't, so that's a bummer. The gold version of the Nexus 6P is a special edition, and it will only be sold via the Japanese Google Store.
Hey there, people who live in the Land of the Rising Sun, who end their day when we're about to start ours, and who have brought plenty of appreciated contributions to our modern lives, like sushi and mangas. Now is your time to receive a small export of Western society, in the form of Google Play Music access.
Both support pages for Google Play's paid purchases and country availability for apps and digital content have received a recent update to add Japan to their lists. This means that Android users in Japan should either already or soon have access to Play Music and Play Music All Access so they can individually purchase songs and albums or pay a monthly fee for unlimited access to thousands of tunes. Ongaku tanoshindene!*
Back at MWC, while everyone was waiting for Sony to announce its follow-up flagship, the Xperia Z4, the company decided to keep it under wraps and instead unveiled the mid-range Xperia M4 Aqua and the Xperia Z4 Tablet. Today, the phone has finally been made official in Sony's home turf of Japan during a press conference that made all of the Z4's details public but left out any information regarding its global release or price.
The Xperia Z4 follows the same design as its predecessors, which can be a good or a bad thing depending on how you look at it. The squarish shape, metal frame, and glass back are part of the brand's identity, but at the same time they're iterative and have become boring.
Google has spent years putting its search functionality into as many form factors as it can manage. It all started with desktops and laptops. From there, Search hopped to phones. Now we see it making its way into TVs, watches, and cars.
Today, the tech giant has announced a new product offering that's more adorable than any that has come before. Meet Google Panda.
To use Google Panda, you simply ask the stuffed animal a question. It will then provide answers to the best of its ability. There's no screen, nor any text to read. This is one tech toy you interact with as though it were another person.
VAIO used to be a brand within Sony's electronics empire, but it was sold off last year. Now the new VAIO is going up against its former parent company in the smartphone space. The VAIO Phone is now official and is coming to Japanese carrier b-mobile on March 20th. North America? Probably not.
If you don't use any language with a non-Latin alphabet, you've probably seen at least one of Google's alternative language keyboards and promptly dismissed it. But for a huge portion of Android's userbase, those things are essential tools for daily interaction. Today almost every one of Google's customized input/keyboard apps has been given a major update: Google Hindi Input, Google Japanese Input, Google Korean Input, Google Pinyin Input, and Google Zhuyin Input.
Old on the left, new on the right.
To be honest, none of us at Android Police have need for any of those, so we're not the best to comment on what's been changed or improved.
It seems that Google's apparent decision to make a 6-inch Nexus phone has upset many of you. Don't worry, though. There is a solution, and as with most things in life, it comes courtesy of Japan. It's a giant thumb that attaches to your regular thumb. Seriously, the Japanese must be years ahead of us.
Text-to-speech is one of those little pieces of an operating system that not many people use, but which is indispensable for those who do. Now if your first language is Japanese, you've got the option to play out text on your phone with Google's first-party Text-To-Speech (TTS) engine. The relevant app is on the Play Store and was updated today, so you might not have immediate access to it thanks to Google's rollout system.
To be clear, this is text-to-speech, not speech-to-text - Google's voice input already works in Japanese for the keyboard (voice typing) and Google Now commands. Check the Language Input section of the main settings menu for that.