The President's Day Weekend is seriously catching up with me — what, it's not a major party holiday where you live? — so I'll keep things short this week. Here are a few thoughts on the week that was, and the weeks ahead.
The series premieres for two of the most-talked-about shows right now are currently free on Google Play. Those shows would be Better Call Saul, which premiered just this month on AMC, and Game of Thrones, whose fifth season premiere is due out in April. The first episodes of each — Uno for Saul and Winter is Coming for Thrones — are free to watch for a limited time on Google Play.
You might have mixed feelings about constantly checking your phone or tablet while watching a TV show or enjoying a movie, but gamers the world over keep their devices nearby no matter what. It doesn't matter if you are Team Xbox, PlayStation all the way, faithful to the Miiverse, or a member of the PC Gaming Master Race — Android has a place in your gaming setup. Second Screen apps for gaming have become a huge deal over the last year, especially when Microsoft and Sony went as far as releasing fantastic mobile apps for controlling their consoles.
Since most games require a constant focus and usually put a premium on occupying both hands, the purpose of Second Screen apps for gaming varies wildly by game. The one thing they all have in common, however, is the desire to keep you connected to your game even when you aren't playing.
One of our favorite features of late 2014 has got to be Rapid Charging. Or Turbo Charging. Or Fast Charging. The oversimplified version is that Qualcomm has a new standard — officially called Quick Charge 2.0, but phone manufacturers like to give it their own names — by which it can feed more juice more quickly into your phone, for a quick burst of energy. It then slows down the charging to finish the job. That initial burst comes with the byproduct of heat — and that's also something you want less of when it comes to smartphone performance and longevity of the battery itself.
But for us end users it really means getting our Android smartphones back into the game quicker than ever. And once you use it, you'll never want to use anything else.
There is one other downside, however. Chargers that use this technology need a little something extra that plugs into the wall, and that little something extra has turned out to not be as little as we're used to.
The wishlist is a great place to stash things for later, but that's about it
Google Play'swishlist is something of an oddity. You can't share your wishlist. People cannot buy you things off your wishlist. Because of this, most users seem to think the wishlist in Google Play is useless, but they are wrong! Oh, yes, it does have a purpose!
Come in from the cold and spend an hour with us as we wrap up the week that was in Android, including more Samsung devices getting Lollipop (for better or worse, judging by our inbox), Xiaomi's San Francisco meetup, Google "only" selling 750,000 Android Wear devices in the first six months, and we'll answer more of your questions live.
If you're still hanging onto the Google Talk app on your Windows PC, you might want to consider moving to Hangouts. Google's Product Manager for Google Voice and Hangouts, Mayur Kamat, took to Google Plus today to announce that, as of Feb. 23, the Google Talk app for Windows will be deprecated.
The Android 5.0 Lollipop update for the global Samsung Galaxy Note 4 (SM-N910F) dropped in parts of Europe today, opening the doors for Note 4 owners in these parts to get a taste of Google's latest Android version. Much like Lollipop on the Galaxy S5, the Note 4's Android 5.0 update brings a splash of Material Design, new features and improved performance to Samsung's pen-toting 5.7-incher.
We've talked a little already about Second Screen apps in the living room, and how they can make watching some of your favorite television shows even more entertaining. It's cool to have access to that extra information if you are a big fan, and as that experience grows and continues to take shape it'll be interesting to see just how much information we get from those experiences. While this setup is fun for TV shows, it's incredible for movies. Additional content for a TV show is nice, but all of our movies today come with hours and hours of additional content for viewers to enjoy. The advent of Blu-Ray has only made bonus content even more popular, and to take that experience one step further we've now got Second Screen apps to offer full immersion.
Google's Helpouts service is shutting down on April 20. The move comes nearly a year-and-a-half after Helpouts launched, aiming to bring together experts and people needing, well, help via Google Hangouts.
Google has been busy marketing Android with a series of TV ads, including some very entertaining ones with cute animals doing naturally cute things with each other. The latest Android commercial takes a different tack, with lots of handshakes, high-fives, fist bumps and more between two or more people
What do we want to see from the next HTC flagship?
We're reaching the time of year when new phones start to become available, and the first wave of 2015 flagships looks set to arrive at Mobile World Congress in just a few weeks time. Among the many announcements in Barcelona will be the next flagship phone from HTC, which we're assuming will be the HTC One M9.
This will be the third year of the HTC One series (or the fourth, if you include the One Xanditscontemporaries). Sure, the latest in HTC's line of flagship phones will be faster and more feature-filled than before, that goes without saying. But moving beyond the basic specs, there are a few things we'd like to see from the HTC One M9, based on our time with last year's M8.
Facebook has decided to have its app make all sorts of exciting sounds like "bleep" and "bloop" and "blop" when you do things. Like when you like a post. Or when you refresh the feed. Or when you leave a comment. It's annoying at best. (And heaven help you — and especially those around you — if you're on an already-bleep-bloop-blop-happy phone.)
The good news is it's easy to turn off — and you don't have to mute your entire phone to do it.
For developers that have utilized the in-app WebView component to display HTML content in their Android apps, we have good news: Google just launched a beta channel for said WebView. This means developers can now try out upcoming versions of the WebView and make adjustments to their apps and offer feedback to Google before it goes public — a welcome change from the olden days of having a new WebView behavior dumped on you with a new public release.
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