Sorry, I just wanted to say "arrr" out of nowhere today.
I had mentioned in my friendly notice yesterday you might not get this post today, but some "yes yes oh god yes" news dropped yesterday that matters a great deal to people like myself and thus that meant today you all get some news that may or may not set your hearts racing.
So let's just jump right to it, shall we?
Google IO dates announced!
IO has been announced as happening on May 28th and 29th!
Registration begins on March 17th at 9 AM PDT and will continue until March 19th 5 PM PDT. Per what happened last year, it's going to be a lottery again. Basically you register and they'll choose who gets tickets at random. I like that approach, mostly because I have enough luck for a few thousand people and that means if I have the funds to try for a ticket then I'll likely be one of those lucky bastards selected. If that happens I promise I will not rub it in everyone's faces too much. : P
The registration page can be found here.
Looking around you can definitely see that the site is Materialized and currently there's nothing really on the schedule/agenda page.
Oh yeah, there are some lovely animations throughout the site. Something myself and numerous others on here fawned over last year when they unveiled Material Design. If you aren't running Lollipop, and I know most people aren't, then you might not be aware of just how amazing Material Design is when it comes to animations. Even now I randomly find myself opening apps or tapping things just to see some of those animations. I'm a child, I know.
As par for the course, IO will be streamed in full online. The best part is always the keynote, although as of last year it's moved away from being consumer oriented to developer focused. If you aren't a serious Android enthusiast you won't see much, if anything, that really gets your motor going. This isn't a bad thing, IO was always something that was supposed to be developer oriented.
If you'd like a glimpse of the kind of things that might be discussed then check out my post on it from last year (which happened near the end of June and explains why I thought this one seemed to be happening earlier than normal). You can see a bunch of us geeking out in the comments over Android L (we didn't know it was going to be called Lollipop at that point in time) and Material Design.
Moving on though.
rovo89 has teased the hell out of us.
Xposed for Lollipop is likely happening and it sure as hell looks llike it's happening soon!
I won't get into what Xposed is, not yet at least, although I've touched on it a handful of times before (and if it happens for Lollipop then I will definitely be all over it, more on why shortly). As has Lifehacker.
Basically though, this is some really amazing and kickass news! We weren't sure Xposed for Lollipop was going to happen (thanks to the new ART run time that replaced Dalvik, which having now said and read over made me realize I've likely lost some of you) but it looks like it is and yes!
As for my little "more on why shortly", today I am receiving a Nexus 6 to work on when I get home from work. So expect a review of it to go up tomorrow. Also, as payment for working on it I'm receiving an official Google Cardboard kit from my friend (apparently he received it free a few days after buying his Nexus 6). So you'll get a review on that as well, although that one will likely go up the day after the Nexus 6 one. But yeah, if Xposed happens soon then it'll likely be something I throw on that Nexus 6 so my friend can tweak it to suit his needs.
Onward and upward with the news though.
Security, security, security!
Per my friendly notice yesterday, Google's giving away 2 gigs of additional Google Drive storage for everyone who updates their account security settings.
Seriously, folks, this is something all of you should do. Assuming you haven't already that is.
On that note, Authy 2-Factor Authenticator (free) has been updated with a Material Design look, as well as some slick looking viewing options. For those unfamiliar with the app it basically allows you to import your various accounts that are set up for 2 factor authentication and it'll create one time use pins for each and every one of them on an as needed basis. Basically, it provides extra security for your accounts and everyone really should be using it or something like it.
I've written before about why 2 factor authentication is important, as well as provided links to sites that allow you to enable it and which ones don't (and how you can reach them to tell them to get on that).
There are of course other options to that app, I personally am using Authenticator Plus ($2.99). Why am I using that one over the other? Android Wear support. It has it, Authy doesn't it. Not necessarily something I needed but having it has proved useful and that's what really sold me on the app. Better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it I say.
To each their own though, both apps are great and I'll likely do a write-up on them relatively soon.
Oh Apple, you so silly
Apple announced their Apple Watch yesterday. Naturally, they did it in a manner that rubs me the wrong way and which I feel numerous people would say is par for the course with Apple and was filled with so many falsehoods that it kind of boggles the mind that more tech sites and news organizations don't call them on it. (Ignoring of course that people who have called them on it have been blacklisted from attending such press events/conferences in the future. Cause nothing says "we appreciate honest feedback and being called out on bullshit" like banning people from things for speaking the truth. Amirite? Stay classy, Apple.)
It has to be read to be believed.
I'll save you all some time and we can discuss this in the comments for those who would like to, you know how some people (myself among them) say that Apple is generally full of shit? You know what I am talking about, when people say "but Apple didn't do this first, so and so did" and then people say "nuh uh!". Yeah, they've done it again. The various Android Wear devices I've had on my wrist for half a year now, those apparently don't exist in the mind of Tim Cook or others at Apple. The Apple Watch is "the first such device". (That's me paraphrasing by the way.)
The highlight of the Droid Life piece by Kellex was this one.
In all seriousness – if we can even get back there at this point – every single thing Cook mentioned in his description of what the Apple Watch can do, is already happening on today's smartwatches and wearables. That's right, Tim, you can get notifications/sports scores/financial info on your screen, talk to your watch to get things done, flip your wrist up to activate the screen only when needed, and even get a nudge if you have been sitting for too long. There are also third party app integrations, interchangeable bands, and all sorts of different shapes, sizes and styles.
We are almost there with the new devices
I've been receiving more and more emails, calls and text messages lately asking if anything new is coming out soon and I keep telling people the same thing, yes.
March is right around the corner, people. HTC and Samsung both have events planned for March 1st. (HTC planned their's first though.)
Rumor even has it that the Samsung Galaxy S6 will come in two models, one of which will be the S6 version of the Note Edge (aka the Galaxy S6 Edge). On a very related note, Samsung is not putting a Qualcomm chip into the phone this year and is instead opting for using their own Exynos chip across the board for any and all S6 variants. (Those who haunt the XDA forums and other sites know how much of a pain in the ass those Exynos chips can be when it comes to creating custom ROMs for the community. So this should affect us in that regard pretty significantly. No, I'm not saying we won't see ROMs. We see them now for Exynos variants, they just take longer to put out and occasionally have bugs that can range from making them unsuitable for daily driver use to more annoying than harmful.)
We've already seen a leak of the next Moto E pop up, with all tech sites pointing to the source as Best Buy's website.
NVIDIA is rumored to be updating (although not necessarily just yet releasing) their SHIELD Tablet soon. Said refresh will likely feature the new Tegra X1 chipset, which is supposed to be a beast of a chip. They've even sent out press invitations to an event on March 3rd.
Unlocking phones is now completely legal and there be plenty of catches!
Previously, unlocking your phone (SIM unlocking that is) was legal then not legal and blah blah blah. Some seriously misinformed people, I can think of one idiot on Techdirt a few years ago, flat out said it was illegal full stop and anyone who did it was breaking the law. Meh.
That is no longer the case. Now it is perfectly legal and there are rules that carriers must follow in order to comply with things as they officially stand as of today.
The long and short of it is, for consumers at least, people can request to have their phones unlocked. Carriers have to do this, assuming you are in good standing with them, you've paid off your phone in full and are out of contract. Beyond that they have to actually inform people of their unlock policies and respond promptly (two business days to be exact) to any unlock requests.
This is seriously important and great news overall and stories like what happened to Lee Hutchinson (a writer for Ars Technica) are exactly why.
As for what the carriers have to do to comply with things, borrowing this directly from Droid Life.
Nothing more beyond that.
And that is all the news there is for you all today. Be sure to check out the reviews once they go up tomorrow or Friday for the Nexus 6 and Google Cardboard. Honestly, I'm more excited to try out Google Cardboard than I am to tinker with a Nexus 6. My bestie asked me last week about Samsung's take on it (that requires a Note 4 to use) and I explained to him its origin and all that and then I showed him Cardboard and he started cracking up. "It's fucking made out of cardboard! Ha. That's a very 'suck it, Samsung' move. We don't need your fancy headset, we got cardboard. And now I want one!" Pretty well said I think.
Thoughts, questions, comments? You all know what to do with them.
Limbo is in the Play Store!
Limbo ($4.99) has come to the Play Store and damn I love this game! I've got $5 left of Google Play credit, so I'll be picking it up and playing it this evening.
And here is the trailer for the game. (Thanks hawkingdo for pointing out that the screenshot doesn't play. "Apologies, apologies all around," to quote George Bluth.)
Karioskopion, a weather app (even for non-cool U.S. users)
I say non-cool because this app (which is free in the Play Store) and the developer behind it are just hilarious about pointing out that normal people think in Celsius.
Don't believe me? Just see for yourself.
As for the app itself. Look at it!
If I could give the developer some cash just for the fact that they made me chuckle with that "repent" remark I would.
Lollipop only though, keep that in mind. This Fahrenheit using American is rocking it. A number of you Celsius people might not be though. So ha!