WHAT’S THE GAME, ANDROID?

What’s in a game? With more than a billion people using the Android operating system, we wonder what the future holds for gamers on this ubiquitous platform. With a 75% share of the market and a billion users, Android is the MVP player in the mobile game.

The latest iteration of the Android OS continues the list of alphabetical confectionary. Marshmallow was officially released last October and improves the Lollipop experience. A new version – Android N (nougat?) – is due in May. What can we expect?

FE FI FO FUM

On the official Android blog, there is a lot of talk about Project Fi. Project Fi is all about affordable, all-encompassing, wireless connectivity. By partnering with both networks and hardware providers, Project Fi promises an even more connected experience.

For gamers, this means never having to quit that winning streak or pull out of that poker tournament. Described by Google as the ‘network of networks’, there’s a good chance Project Fi will be a ‘promoted option’ on the Android OS of the future. Google will try to consolidate the world’s networks to benefit its users.

ID ME

In a connected world, we can be exactly what and who we want to be. We think the new Android OS will enable gamers to create truly unique online identities that can be used across multiple applications and websites.

Rather than access your favourite online casino or gaming site with a specific user name and password, unique to that particular client, you will use your generic Android Gamer ID.

The advantages of this could be both simple ‘one-stop’ banking and community-based play. It will be easier to find friends and be discovered. You can also develop an online reputation for your avatar and ID. Online casinos and gaming sites would need to sign up to the system.

GAME ON THE MOVE

Mobile gaming follows the hardware. As mobile devices get more complex, and more central to people’s lives, mobile gaming follows suit and gains in sophistication and ease of access.

Android will facilitate online casino gaming and support the shift from land-based to online action. As the hunger for tax revenues increases, more and more territories will give online gaming the green light.

AND FINALLY…

Significant jumps in mobile OS technology are far and few between. What is unrelenting – however – is ‘improvement’. All the recent Android updates have been mainly about enhancing and improving what’s already on offer.

Our prediction is an evolution of all aspects of the mobile gaming experience, from better online IDs, an environment with no disconnects, and more flexible access to the gaming experience you want. That’s what we’re betting on…

Most Popular Tech Creations this Century

In the 21st century the rate of change is faster than ever. When people in the year 2100 look back on our century, who knows what advancements they will celebrate. Although we are only 14 years in and there is still a long way to go, this century has already witnessed technological changes that affect everyone’s lives. Here are just a few:

Smart Phones

The iPhone was introduced in January 2007 and Google’s Android software for smart phones was introduced in 2008. It’s hard to believe that modern smart phones are less than a decade old, and they just keep getting more useful, with millions of apps available for both platforms to add just about any feature imaginable. The multi-touch screens, GPS, and ever faster connectivity mean that you can use your smartphone as everything from a GPS for driving directions, a small television, a game console, or a communications platform for Facebook, messaging, and video calling. The introduction of smart phones means you can truly be connected to the Internet just about any time, anywhere.

Tablet Computers

Tablet computers may not be entirely new, but the introduction of Apple’s iPad in 2010 made them a sought after device that can perform many of the functions of a larger, heavier laptop. Early tablets were mostly devices for consuming media, whether reading books or watching movies. But with the introduction of better and faster chipsets and the creation of new apps, today’s tablets can be used to create business documents, edit videos, or store a doctor’s searchable library of medical texts for diagnosis.

Image Credit:  Sam Churchill

Image Credit: Sam Churchill

Driverless Cars

Google has created a car that can drive itself, a concept that has furthered advances in computer traffic grid systems and other near-future set ups. The goal is to reduce driver accidents by allowing some, or all parts of a journey, to be handled automatically. The Google car is a Toyota Prius outfitted with cameras, radar sensors, and a laser range finder to help it navigate through city streets. The car has been reported to have travelled 140,000 miles in a publicity tour without ever having an accident.

Image Credit:  Intel Free Press

Image Credit: Intel Free Press

Ultra Light Laptops

With more power than a tablet but still incredibly thin and light, ultra thin computers such as the Toshiba Kira Laptop have changed the face of laptop computing. These laptops typically use low-power Intel processors, solid-state drives, and a unibody construction to make the smallest, lightest product possible. The MacBook Air was introduced in 2008 and today there are dozens of ultrabook makers in the market. Click here for more information on adding the speed andportability of an ultrabook to your technology tools.

Image Credit:  Jason Howie

Image Credit: Jason Howie

Social Media

Who could have predicted when Facebook launched back in 2004 that it would have over 600 million users in less than a decade? Or that YouTube, launched in 2005, would soon boast over 4 billion videos viewed every day. Social media has invaded and changed every aspect of Internetculture, from how you connect with friends to how products are marketed.

Android Silver- Perhaps the future of Android

Strange and intriguing news and rumors about Google in the past few weeks. Apparently Google is preparing to come out with it's new Android Silver. This could potentially change the smartphone industry as we know it, not to mention it could just help Androids cause of totally taking over the smartphone market. But just as a disclaimer; there is no guarantee that this is going to be the final product, but I'm pretty confident it will be something like what I'm about to describe, so read along and let’s seen what this lineup would be all about.

Screen Shot 2014-05-08 at 06.49.30.png

About a week and a bit ago Android Police reported that Google is apparently getting ready to launch Android Silver sometime in 2015. It would apparently revolutionize the way we use Android and the way we buy it, so here is what Android Silver would entail: apparently that Android Silver would be a collection of up to 5 Android devices at one time, kind of a " best of the best secret club". I believe that the 5 devices would change when better devices come out and also I believe that OEM devices could also be considered for this club.

Android Silver would be sold in stores and have a special section in the store just for Silver devices. They would all be put on a special table with special branding. The in store employees would require special training on how to sell Silver devices and it would be a very special experience for Silver customers.

In terms of software and hardware, well like I said OEM'S would probably be considered for the club. It would likely be running the latest versions of Android, but apparently they would have little to know comistation. There are even rumors that say that Google will be ditching the Nexus lineup in 2015 in favour of Silver.

Boy oh boy would there be a special loyalty club for Silver users. Not only would they get the special experience in the store but also out of the store. They would have a 24\7 emergency hotline if the device is having issues. Basically think of it as the Amazon maday button but for Google. The user could use Hangouts where a Google representative would be waiting to help them out and fix their issues.

All in all I find this very intriguing, it would make a lot of sense and would be perfect time for Google. It might even reshape the way we think of Google and Android. Even if it is not exactly like what I just described when it comes out, it will still be a fantastic addition to the Android lineup. I hope Google pursues this idea. So what do you think, would you consider buying Silver? As always leave a comment and tell us what you think. Thanks for reading!

Author: Ben Smith - Twitter

The Samsung Galaxy K zoom

Okay so what’s the difference between a camera-phone and a phone that’s a camera? Well Samsung seems to think they found the answer to that question. Yes the Galaxy K zoom, Samsung seems to think that putting an actual camera on a phone is “proactive” I guess you could say. So is it really? Well read along and we’ll find out together.

Announced April 29th 2014 and expected to be released Q2 of 2014, this phone quite literally brand new. Last year’s Galaxy S4 Zoom wasn’t the most popular due to its awkward build and just not needed at the time. But here we find ourselves in 2014 with the likes of the Lumia 1020 and other phones with amazing cameras it comes as no surprise Samsung decided to keep the Zoom lineup. So how do the specs look?
Samsung made this phone to hold its own and it certainly does. An Exynos 5 Hexa system chip is pretty good. Along with a 6-core, 1700 MHz, ARM Cortex-A15 & ARM Cortex-17 processor ( geek talk for pretty fast). Not the fastest phone on the market but again this isn’t meant to be flagship internals. The 8GB built in storage isn’t much; thankfully it does have support for a microSD card slot. The 2430 mAh battery will get you through the day. Plus we have the newest version of Android KitKat 4.4.2 on top of Samsung’s TouchWhiz OS.
 
The display looks to be great. At 4.8 inches it can compete with the best of them. A resolution of 720p and 306ppi isn’t the greatest, but does get the job done. Plus it’s a Super AMOLED which is always looks great on any phone. It feels great in the hand at 7.05 oz (200 g) and it looks like they finally figured put a camera on the back without making it uncomfortable for the user. This brings me to my next point: The camera
At 20.7 megapixels this thing packs a punch. An LED flash does the trick and has all the features in the world, such as; ISO control, face detection, smiles detection, Optical image Stabilization just to name a few. It has a focal length of 24-240mm, now I’m not a camera expert by any means (we’ll leave that for Dave) but I’m thinking that’s pretty good. It also can capture 1080p video recordings and has front facing camera of 2 megapixels, which isn’t that much.
 
So all in all what do I think of this phone? Intriguing is the word I would use. I like the idea; especially in the age of social media cameras are important. It will be interesting to see how this phone sells. I think that even without the best specs, this phone seems to be a viable companion in your pocket for the next two years. Stay tuned to our full review coming soon and as always, be sure to leave a comment and tell us what you think.
 
By: Ben Smith - Twitter

Google releases standalone Camera App

You may have noticed that Google has been slowly moving many of the core apps and features from Android into separate apps available in the PlayStore. A good example of this was the Google Keyboard which was made available for anyone to download. Today Google has released the Android Camera app to the PlayStore as a standalone app simply titled 'Google Camera'.

There are a number of improvements and refinements in the Google Camera app from that found in Android KitKat firmwares. The new app introduces a much cleaner interface with a more prominent shutter button.  Also present is a brand new Lens Blur mode which promises to produce SLR quality photos and a shallow depth of field. A detailed list of features are listed below:

• Photo Spheres for immersive 360º views

• Lens Blur mode for SLR-like photos with shallow depth of field

• Panorama mode with high resolution

• 100% viewfinder for getting the maximum resolution from the sensor (no dropped pixels)

• Updated UI that gets out of your way and is centered on an extra large capture button

• Works on phones and tablets running Android 4.4+ KitKat

The new Google Camera app is available to download now from the Google PlayStore to anyone running Android 4.4 or above (KitKat). Whilst the camera apps found in flagship devices such as the new HTC One (M8) or the Samsung Galaxy S5 are pretty decent anyway it never hurts to have more options available.

 

Happy Birthday Gmail! Google's email service turns 10.

Today is April 1st and is most notably associated with pranks and in practice on the web this normally means fake news stories or spoofs. Some of the best pranks in the past have been from Google such as Google TiSP (short for Toilet Internet Service Provider) from 2007 or making every YouTube video do a RickRoll in 2008.

It’s not all been about pranks though as on April 1st 2004 Google launched Gmail BETA. In the beginning the only way to get a Gmail account was through an invitation which in the early days was not easy to come by. Thankfully obtaining an invite to Google’s Gmail became much easier though it remained the only way to get an account until 2007.

Google took a very different approach for email than it’s competitors and this was clear right from the beginning. With a whopping 1GB of storage that eclipsed what Microsoft and Yahoo! offered at the time, people could stop deleting emails and instead archive them without fear of running out of space. Another key aspect to the Gmail experience was the search experience that Google were able to integrate into their email service allowing users to quickly find the email they were looking for.

Over the years Google has made many design changes to Gmail and although they may not have been welcomed with open arms to begin with people soon got used to them and even found them to be better in the long run. Looking back at how Gmail looked in 2004 it’s clear to see there have been quite a few cosmetic changes to Gmail over the years however it still feels very much like the Gmail that was launched in 2004 which is a solid email solution that just works.

 

Google Drive Pricing Reduced

With more and more data moving into the cloud we are seeing a bigger demand for affordable cloud storage. Google launched Drive just over two years ago with a competitive pricing model and has been a popular choice for storage ever since. One aspect of Google Drive that appeals to many is the deep integration with Google docs allowing you to easily create a document, spreadsheet or presentation, store it in Google’s cloud and easily share it with others using Google Drive.

Recently Google announced that it was slashing the prices of Google Drive to make it more affordable to everyone. Now you can get 100GB of storage for just $1.99 a month instead of $4.99. For those with much bigger requirements such as myself you can get a whopping 1TB of storage for just $9.99 which is insanely good value at just 1 cent per GB. When compared to competitor Dropbox which gives you 2GB free and a maximum of 100GB for $9.99 this is an extremely generous offer.

It’s likely in the coming weeks that we will see a retaliation from some of the other cloud storage providers who will likely reduce pricing in order to compete with Google’s new pricing structure. Whilst we are unlikely to see anything like the pricing offered by Google we should expect to see some action from other providers such as Dropbox, OneDrive, Amazon and Box.

You may be wondering what you would do with 1TB of storage from Google Drive? personally I use it as an extension of the memory on my iPhone. Sadly you can’t add any external storage on iPhone via SD card so I take advantage of Google’s generous 1TB offer and use it to expand the storage on my ageing 8GB iPhone 4 allowing me to store more photo’s, videos and documents than would normally be possible.

Have you taken advantage of the new pricing model for Google Drive? What do you primarily use cloud storage for? As usual we’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below.

 

Google Chromecast to support more apps ahead of UK release

 

The Chromecast, Google’s media streaming dongle device, is expected to launch in the UK next month. It could be hitting our shelves as early as 1stMarch, with major electronics retailer Currys noting the date for provisional release.

Users can access apps and internet videos on their TVs by plugging the dongle into the HDMI port on DVD players or cable boxes. The device then connects to a WiFi network to allow the users to interact with their TV by using their Android smartphone like a TV remote control.

When the user presses the ‘Cast’ button on a compatible app, it will be reformatted and sent to the TV. Not only will this mean the content can be viewed on a larger screen, but all the clutter that comes with an internet app will be removed.

The dongle was made available in the US market last summer and now, ahead of the UK launch, Google are planning to offer a wider selection of apps.

The company placed the main focus of the Chromecast on streaming apps;working with popular video titles such as Netflix and music apps such as Rdio and Beats Music. Google also aims to use the dongle to present its video siteYoutube as a platform for viewing mainstream TV and film releases, in addition to short user uploaded content.

However, Google has recently opened up the Chromecast to third-party developers, launching an official Google Cast SDK to app makers and broadening its potential. In a blog post, the company stated: “That means even more of our favourite movies, TV shows and music will become available on the Chromecast as developers work with the SDK”. The device wasautomatically updated for users in the US market to take advantage of the Google Cast SDK.

As well as encouraging a wider range of audio and visual content from various sources, the new open platform could result in a new gaming experience. With the mobile gaming market booming, resulting in game apps outselling handheld consoles for the first time,  developers are likely to show an interest in this new form of interaction.

Devices are already available that allow mobile game play on TV screens, but Google’s extensive app store could easily give them the edge on the market.With casual and casino games now becoming as popular as PC and console games, many major gaming brands like butlersbingo.com could soon make their titles compatible with the Chromecast.

With a whole host of compatible apps expected to launch over the coming months, the Chromecast could prove very popular come its UK launch. Details on the UK price have yet to be released but retail estimates value the device at between £30-£40.

Build with Chrome - LEGO

When I was much younger LEGO was one of the basic staples of growing up as a child. I remember my brothers were entertained for hours putting together the bricks and creating a wide range of things with Lego from houses and cars to a complete fortress. As the years went by and my brothers grew up I had all but forgotten about how much of a part Lego had played in aiding development in our young lives. So as you can imagine I was delighted to discover Lego has been reimagined for the digital age.

Now you can experience all the fun of Lego without having to invest in any bricks. In the latest in a series of experiments Google have created a fantastic interactive version of Lego that runs in your browser and takes advantage of WebGL technology. To try it out for yourselves you simply need to download the Chrome web browser if you don't already have it and head to buildwithchrome.com. You can see my efforts at the top of this post to give you an idea of what its like but I'm sure you will be more creative than my attempt. 

If you need some inspiration there are some great tutorials from Lego's master builder which is accessible by clicking the build academy button. Once you have finished your masterpiece you can share it on Google+ and even place it on google maps. You can also run this on a mobile or tablet device with the chrome app installed once you have enabled WebGL. To enable WebGL simply launch the chrome app and type chrome://flags/ into the browser bar and swipe to enable. 

Android 4.4.2 removes hidden App Ops privacy feature, EFF grills Google about it

When Google released Android 4.4.2 a few days ago, it removed a hidden privacy feature called App Ops – many of you may know about it, while others may read about it for the first time – which was available on Android since Android 4.3, and now the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) wants it back.

The app allowed users to better control what kind of data Android apps can have access to and/or collect, assuming that users knew about it and how to activate it. Despite being discovered for quite a while, App Ops was never an app that was immediately available to Android users – in other words, if you didn’t know about it, chances are you wouldn’t have discovered it and used in the first place...

Read the full story here... Source: Android Authority