For years there's been this growing sentiment among smartphone users who have to drive on a regular basis, and that sentiment usually involved being able to just dock your phone in the car and use the larger screen in the dash to use the things your phone already does very well. As cool as it would be for the infotainment center in the car to just be the receptacle for our phones, many of these in-dash systems do a lot more than what we've seen from Android Auto so far. As a result, at CES this year, we saw several systems where the smartphone bits are treated like an app on a larger system.
A perfect example of this is the new Pioneer systems, much like the one we have a hands on with, which have their own UI and features independent of a connected smartphone. Who knows, maybe in future versions of Android Auto we'll see separate apps that control all of the car functions and there is no underlying system to speak of.
You may have noticed an app popping up in a lot of throwback posts of late called Timehop. Timehop is an app with a very specific purpose: it digs up your social media posts from years ago and presents them to you on their anniversaries. While the primary use for Timehop is to rediscover old posts and content and then reshare it, Timehop can also serve as a daily dose of nostalgia — or embarrassment, as is often the case for my own social history. Timehop is a quick, no-frills trip down down memory lane and a cheat-sheet for #throwbackthursday.
Everyone knows what Wikipedia is, because it's the world's biggest free resource for information that is largely supported and built by users. The folks at the Wikimedia Foundation have worked hard to make the world's information available to as many people on the planet as possible, and that means making sure the mobile apps are easy to use and highly functional. While Wikipedia has existed in app form on Android for a couple of years now, the experience hasn't really been any better than using the mobile version of the site.
Today the Wikipedia app for Android has updated to meet that promise, bringing along with it a native feel and lots of Material Design style. If you're the type to grab your phone before your laptop when looking something up, this might be the last time you see the Wikipedia website for a while.
The folks at BMW showed up at CES in a big way this year, and that has a lot to do with all the extra tech the company has been shoving under the hood. Demos during the week long convention included dares from BMW to try and crash their cars while the new 360° crash detection system was in place, as well as future-focused discussions on self-driving systems that will be able to drop you off at the curb of your favorite mall and then go park itself. The future of car tech is a big deal, and you can bet your smartphone is going to be a big part of it.
Check out the demo of BMW's i3 control panel app, which keeps an eye on your remaining battery life and travel schedule to make sure you can get through the day without issue.
New Simply Prepaid plans feel like a strategy to upsell to postpaid, not offer the best value to customers
I've always been a fan of the way T-Mobile has done prepaid, but with today's announcement of its new Simply Prepaid plans I'm worried that the Un-carrier is going in the wrong direction. On the surface, the plans look pretty good — all you can eat talk and text with three choices (1GB, 3GB or 5GB) of data buckets, all of which undercut its previous prepaid plans by $10 at each data allotment. $40 is now the entry point for these plans, which grabs headlines, but not everything here is an improvement.
To someone walking into a T-Mobile store or checking out their website on Jan. 25 when these plans go into effect that seems like a pretty good deal, and it is, unless you've looked at the plans as they stand now. T-Mobile's Simple Starter plans come in at $40 and $45 currently, with 500MB or 2GB of data, and the higher plans at $50 (1GB), $60 (3GB) and $70 (5GB) offer unlimited Music Freedom music streaming, as well as tethering up to the data allotment and international texting. Something's not adding up here.
Wrestling fans are in for a pretty cool treat today. NetherRealm Studios, the developers behind Injustice: Gods Among Us, just announced that WWE Immortals has been released for Android. The game allows you to play supernatural, supercharged versions of your favorite WWE stars such as John Cena, Roman Reigns, and Big Show.
PBS Kids has released Odd Squad: Blob Chase, a new educational game geared towards children ages 5-8, on Google Play and the Amazon Appstore. Meant for tablets, this is the first app based on the Odd Squad brand. Blob Chase tries to teach basic math concepts by making them fun and engaging.
Ingress, the GPS-based adventure game from Google's Niantic Labs, wants its current players to encourage their family and friends to join in. It will do so with a new Recruiter Medal that will reward the "agents" of Ingress for their efforts in this area.
If you've been following the misadventures of OnePlus and Micromax over in India, you know that there's been a bit of a disagreement over who gets to use Cyanogen OS (as opposed to the totally open-source CyanogenMod) due to an exclusivity agreement that was created alongside the launch of the Micromax Yu brand. It's been a pretty big mess that has resulted in some unfortunately vague language regarding software support for the OnePlus One in India, and even got the OnePlus One banned from being sold in the country for a bit. While Micromax and OnePlus have clearly drawn their battle lines and are prepared to let the Indian courts settle things, the folks over at Cyanogen, Inc. have been deafeningly silent on the entire matter. Until now. In India yesterday, a statement has been provided to the courts from Cyanogen Inc. that better explains the company's position as the creator of the software for both devices.
Since this whole mess started, there's been general unrest regarding what this will mean for devices running Cyanogen OS in the future. The court documents and public statements from both OnePlus and Micromax have painted a grim picture regarding the deals being struck with Cyanogen. We've seen what looks like an agreement terminated with all the respect of a text message break up, references to a great deal of money being involved in securing exclusivity, and then there's the strange way the company addressed whether or not they would be continuing to update the OnePlus One.
Out of context, none of this looks good on a open source software company whose mission statement has been to get as much Cyanogen out there as possible. Fortunately, for those who care, the company has decided to talk with Android Central about what has been happening behind closed doors.
The Google Glass wearable headset computer has a new lead, and it's none other than Nest founder and CEO Tony Fadell. The Glass project is also moving out of the Google X experimental unit nearly 2 years after its initial release. Current Glass chief Ivy Ross will still be running day-to-day operations of the Glass organization, and Fadell also is not leaving Google's home automation subsidiary Nest, nor is Glass becoming part of Nest. Additionally, sales of the first-generation Google Glass headset are ending on January 19th, with no word of what comes next.
Tylt gear has a hard-earned reputation for being well designed, colorful, and a little on the pricey side. The folks at Tylt target hardcore mobile users with their gear, and every year there's something fun to check out. While the Tylt lineup includes some classics like the Energi backpack and the Vu charger, there are new options available to Moto 360 owners being announced at CES. Tylt has worked with Motorola to release a silicone strap for the 360, and it's going to be available in several different colors. While it may feel like a step down from the leather or metal options that Motorola offers out of the box, the Tylt Band is for folks who want an everyday strap.
Check out the video for details, but beware that it's still listed as coming soon on their website.
Everything wants to be smarter at CES this year, including sprinkler systems. If you have a sprinkler system connected to your home, you know that managing the included system takes a strangely significant chunk of time, unless you just leave everything on timers and let whatever happens next happen. Smarter sprinkler systems offer the ability to automate a lot of the scheduling and planning from maintaining a sprinkler system, and Blossom's system for accomplishing this goal is one of the better examples out there today. The hardware installs easily for most people, but it's the app that really makes this worth checking out. Blossom keeps an eye on weather patterns to adjust your sprinkler schedule, and allows you to manage individual zones in your lawn with user-managed focus areas, and photos of those zones can be added to make things easier to modify as you go along.
You've always been able to share a specific location, or even your own location, on Google Maps — but as of version 9.3 of the app you can now share point to point directions, just like the good ol' days (remember MapQuest?), to any app you want. The process is extremely simple, and though most folks with smartphones sharing location to another smartphone user will be better off sharing a Maps location, this is how you share complete directions.
Samsung Galaxy Note 4 and Galaxy Note Edge owners can now remotely access their Windows or Mac files with Parallels Access 2.5. The new version of the popular software even lets users edit remote PC files with Samsung's S Pen.
Update: Clarified the post to indicate that speeds are throttled back to 128kbps (about 2G speeds) when you hit your data allotment, not 3G. Also added additional information on plan restrictions.
Original story: T-Mobile today announced a new wave of prepaid plans under the Simple Choice branding. Unlimited data, calls, SMS and limited 4G LTE will be offered on T-Mobile's network from $40 a month. Opting for higher LTE allowances will increase the price depending on how much data you believe you'll chew through.
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