Google is once again showering developers with cool swag at this year's Game Developers Conference. Just as some of last year's attendees found themselves with a free Nexus One or Motorola Droid, this year Google has been dishing out shiny new laptops, phones and tablets in an effort to get more studios on-board with Android game development.
According to reports on Engadget, devs at Google's web developer day yesterday found themselves with a free Chrome OS-powered CR-48 laptop. Today, lucky Android technical session attendees were gifted with a free Nexus S or Motorola Xoom.
While I don't think there's anyone reading this who would turn down a free Xoom or Nexus S, it's important to remember that free gadgets are a pretty small part of the GDC experience for attendees, who pay hundreds of dollars for passes. They're meant to be an added bonus for developers rather than a reason for attending, so you might want to think twice before making any plans for next year. [Engadget]
Good news, bad news and a good news again: Google Body briefly made an appearance in the Android Market on the Motorola Xoom today. Bad news is that it's been pulled (though the market listing still lives here). Good news is that while you wait for it to show again, you can check out our hands-on video after the break. We'll be back when the app is. Thanks to everyone who sent this in.
Symantec has uncovered yet another trojan horse in a pirated Android app. This time around it's the "Android.Pjapps" trojan, and you can find it in modified versions of the Steamy Window app that have been cracked and placed on Android warez sites. The official version of Steamy Window that's on the Android Market is not infected. And it's a fun little time waster that you should probably have a look at.
What's happening from the trojan in the pirated app is a bit scary. Without your knowledge, it signs you up for premium text message services, sends off texts to them without your knowledge, and blocks incoming texts from the service so that you have no idea what is going on -- until your monthly bill from your service provider arrives. It's sneaky, and someone needs a good old-fashioned ass kicking for doing it. As we saw with other instances of malware hidden inside legitimate applications, this one originates in China, and is written by people probably a lot smarter than most of us. You're not going to be able to outwit them. Be smart -- only download apps from trustworthy sources, and read the permissions an app asks for when installing it. Or you can go a step further and install an anti-virus application.
Now that the news portion is done, I want to say that anyone stealing Android applications will eventually get what they deserve. These unofficial, unsanctioned, pirate websites hawking paid apps for free don't care about you. They just want the traffic to view their ads, or your "$10 per year for all apps for FREE ZOMG." If you visit them, and get a little more than you bargained for in the application you have stolen, make sure you only blame yourself. There are legitimate sources to download applications if you're unable to access the Android Market, and they help developers get paid what they are owed. Use them.
I'm a huge fan of games that I can hop into and hop right out of if my attention is needed elsewhere. A new game in the Android Market fits that criteria rather nicely for me. No, it doesn't have any insane graphics. No, you don't need a Tegra 2 equipped device to run it. But it's fun damnit -- and that's what games should be.
The Baviux are small the blue creatures that were removed from their planet and taken as slaves. You must help them escape by getting them to their spaceships. In other words, you control bursts of air that push them up where they need to go. You have to get them, and not the other bad dudes into the ships so that they may fly away to safety.
Baviux has 3 Worlds, and 30 levels that you can play in for free. The developer also notes that more are on the way, so we can expect some updates to the game eventually. With multi-touch and accelerometer use built in as well as support for older devices Baviux is worth taking a look at for some random fun or a throw back to the water games you used to play as a kid. Video of Baviux in action as well as the download link can be found after the break.
The Atrix 4G is the hot new dual-core smartphone from Motorola and AT&T, you know, that one with the cool docks. Both the phone itself and the technology behind the Webtop docking stations are something we're all interested in, and we're going to give it a thorough look over and try to tell you as much as we can about the Atrix 4G "ecosystem" (see what I did there) after we have used it for a week or so.
We're expecting big things from the Atrix. It has the hardware to put it at the top of the Android heap (for now) with it's dual-core Tegra 2 chipset and 1 GB of RAM. But first impressions are telling, always good to share, and after the break.
As more and more tablets get closer to launch we can only expect prices of the Samsung Galaxy Tab to continue dropping from here on out. Rogers is the latest carrier to go ahead and slash the price, reducing their version to only $299.99 on a new 3-year contract. Although it looks as though the deal only runs until March 31, that really shouldn't be a problem for most users especially if you've been holding out for the drop. Just keep in mind, the Motorola XOOM has yet to appear in Canada and Samsung does have more tablets already officially lined up and soon ready to roll out. Given the 3-year contract requirement, you just might want to hold out. [MobileSyrup]
The concept of running Android in automobiles is far from being a new one, for better or worse. Saab however outlined today in a press release how they're hoping to change the landscape with their Android powered IQon infotainment system. So how exactly is Saab going to change it up? As noted in the press release:
An 8-inch touchscreen provides access to services, including audio and entertainment streaming, online navigation and on-board music storage. Saab’s ‘open innovation’ strategy offers the global developer community access to the full bandwidth of car communications – infotainment, telematics, systems monitoring and diagnostics. In this way, it opens up new dimensions in customer choice for the personalization of in-car services. Even applications specific to particular countries can be included.
Saab is going to be using open API's and is taking the lead by letting Android developers in the community create applications that interface with well over 500 signals from different sensors in the vehicle. Be it vehicle speed, location and direction of travel, driver workload, yaw rate, steering wheel angle, engine speed and torque, inside and outside temperature and more. While it's not available yet, the IQon system is being put to the grind on a test fleet of Saab vehicles and will be demoed using the Saab PhoeniX concept car at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show. Full press release and video can be found after the break for you all. [PRNewswire]
Beluga has quickly become one of our favorite group messaging/chat/IM clients on Android, so much so that we gave it the old college try during CES in January -- not exactly a time to be testing anything for the first time. But the secret's out, Belga's a hit -- and it just got purchased by Facebook.
The good news is that nothing's changed yet -- Beluga's "Pods" remain, and the service is a cool as it ever was. Here's the official word from Beluga's blog:
Since launching Beluga, we've appreciated all the enthusiasm and positive feedback from our users. We're excited to continue to build our vision for mobile group messaging as part of the Facebook team. Beluga and Facebook are committed to create new and better ways to communicate and share group experiences.
For now, Beluga will continue to function as it does today. Your Beluga account and data will not be lost. We'll be providing more details on future plans for Beluga in the coming weeks. Stay tuned!
It's not too big a leap to imagine Beluga being integrated into Facebook chat. Question is will we still be able to use it outside of the Facebook ecosystem. We'll know when we know. [Beluga]
Mobile games developer and publisher Gameloft has announced that it's partnering with Epic Games to bring four new Unreal Engine 3-powered titles to market on a number of platforms including Android. The first two of these titles will launch sometime this year, with two more following up in 2012.
Epic Games is most famous as developer of Gears of War and Infinity Blade, but its Unreal Engine 3 technology has powered a variety of titles on several platforms over the past five years. Recently Epic's engine has been shown running on next-generation Android hardware like the LG Optimus 2X with impressive results. In addition to Android, Gameloft plans to bring its four new Unreal Engine titles to iOS, PlayStation Network and "set-top boxes". [Gameloft]
When it comes to getting Cut the Rope on Android, we only have one thing to say: Not soon enough! That's right, Cut the Rope has been rumored to be on its way for months, and now we've got an official teaser, straight from developer ZeptoLab.
Gameplay for Cut the Rope on Android looks to be exactly the same, which is a good thing. For those who haven't been indoctrinated, the idea is to get the shiny ball thingy into the mouth of the green monster guy. And it gets pretty darn tough.
Still no release actual date, but we're we're definitely getting closer to Cut the Rope. [via Facebook] Thanks, ilyaamex!
UK retailer PC World opened its Motorola Xoom promotional page today, which for a brief time showed the Wi-Fi version of the tablet priced at a shockingly reasonable £449.99 (~$720). The price has since been removed, but not before Eurodroid managed to grab some photographic evidence (see above).
If accurate, this is a very competitive price for a high-end tablet in the UK market -- though still a good $120 more expensive than Wi-Fi Xooms sold across the pond. The £449.99 price point would place the Xoom within £20 of the cheapest iPad model, and see it more or less matching the current RRP of the Samsung Galaxy Tab.
The Motorola Xoom is due to launch in the UK sometime in the second quarter of the year, with the Wi-Fi version being sold exclusively by PC World's parent company Dixons Retail, and the 3G version being exclusive to the Carphone Warehouse. [PC World, Eurodroid]
I fly a lot. And I have to work on the plane a lot. But one thing I don't do because it's a hassle is connect my phone to the in-flight Wifi. It's just not easy to do on a mobile browser. But it's going to get better. Gogo Inflight has just released apps for iOS and BlackBerry for "one-step sign-in on your mobile device" -- and and Android application is in the works.
Definitely going to look forward to this one, as I'd much rather just whip out my phone for a few quick e-mails than drag the ol' lappy out from under the seat. And soon it's going to be much easier to do so. [Gogo Inflight]
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