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2 weeks ago

Google publishes Android 5.0.2 factory images for Nexus 10, Nexus 7 (2013) Wi-Fi

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Google has just posted the factory image of Android 5.0.2 Lollipop for the Nexus 10 and Nexus 7 (2013) Wi-Fi. Now that the factory images have been pushed, an OTA update is sure to be around the corner.

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2 weeks ago

Orbotix gets kids into robots with Ollie and SPRK

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We've jokingly referred to the robotic toys made by Orbotix as the world's best cat toys, but the truth is there's a ton that can be done with these little rolling robots. Sphero has a huge third party following with dozens of apps that let you do everything from roll your ball in an augmented reality maze through the camera on your phone to picking the ball up and using it as a controller for games on your phone. Ollie, their brand new robot, is a little more focused on fun by offering more speed and some fun optimizations. If driving these robots around and chasing your cat aren't enough to get your attention, the Orbotix SPRK (that's Schools Parents Robots Kids) program should be all the push you need. It's a program Orbotix started to help kids learn the basics of robotics and programming, and so far it has been a huge success in the classroom.

Allen Richardson from Orbotic gives Cali and Rene the breakdown on what SPRK has been up to so far, as well as repeatedly shooting the robots off the desk during the video. Either way, it's worth a watch.

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2 weeks ago

Nexus 6 currently on sale from Expansys for $605... and sold out

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Update: Expansys informs us that they've encountered high demand for the reduced-price Nexus 6 and have exhausted their stock. Sorry, folks, they're back to regular price now!

If you still have yet to get your hands on a Nexus 6, you can currently snag one at a discount from Expansys — so long as you're only interested in the Cloud White option. The reseller is currently offering that particular flavor of the device for $605 unlocked.

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2 weeks ago

Pioneer's NEX stereos are much more than just Android Auto

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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.

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2 weeks ago

Timehop for Android: Throwback Thursday made simple

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Let's go back. Back again.

The ghosts of social media past return

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.

So, when are we off to?

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2 weeks ago

Wikipedia app grabs a ton of features in their material design update

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More like a native app, less like a web app

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.

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2 weeks ago

BMW's new tech lets your phone check in on your car

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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.

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2 weeks ago

T-Mobile's new prepaid plans are simpler, but take a step in the wrong direction

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T-Mobile Prepaid SIMs

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.

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2 weeks ago

WWE Immortals fights its way onto Google Play

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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.

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2 weeks ago

Odd Squad: Blob Chase wants to make learning math fun

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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.

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2 weeks ago

Google wants to reward you with medals for bringing new players to Ingress

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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.

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2 weeks ago

Steve Kondik on India, Micromax, and OnePlus

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Cyanogen

Cyanogen's Founder clears the air

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.

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2 weeks ago

Nest's Tony Fadell takes leadership of Google Glass, sales ending Jan. 19

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A Google Glass leadership means it's no longer an experiment

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.

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2 weeks ago

Tylt shows off their new gear, including a silicone Moto 360 strap

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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.

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2 weeks ago

Blossom wants to make your sprinkler system smarter

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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.

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