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4
Feb

Cube Knight: An entertaining mashup of different genres (review)






In a marketplace as big as the Play Store, it is really hard to get your app noticed. Numerous studies done throughout the years show that, unfortunately, there are a lot of apps that nobody knows about and that have never been downloaded (or have measly download numbers). This is good for the consumer since it means that developers have to innovate in order to get downloads.

However, in this app craze, it is easy to miss games that stay true to a proven formula but still manage to be of great quality. This is definitely the case of Cube Knight, by Bluehole, a game that could seem generic at first glance. However, after playing for some minutes, you will quickly realize that it packs an enjoyable and long-lasting game with several different elements that provides more depth than a big bunch of apps in the Play Store.

Developer: Bluehole
Price: Free

Setup

Controls are pretty straightforward.Controls are pretty straightforward.

As usual with games these days, Cube Knight connects immediately to Google Play Games in order to sync achievement and leaderboard information. The game doesn’t request any invasive permissions, which is always a good thing. After this, the game shows a small backstory and you dive right into your first fight.

Overview

The game will overlay a view with instructions of how you can control a character. Controls are pretty straightforward. To the left, you have a virtual joystick to move a character. To the right, you actually have another joystick, kind of. It is used to attack, and you can control the direction of it by pressing on different parts of the circle. If you want to perform your charge attack, then you can hold down the stick. Finally, there’s an Auto button, which shoots and focuses for you automatically.

Now, on to the action itself. Monsters come at you in waves. In order to clear a level, you have to kill all monsters in all waves. Some levels throw a boss at you at the end, making it a bit more complicated to finish. These monsters attack you in a variety of ways, from short range to long range to attacks similar to your charge attack, so there’s always a bit of strategy involved in order to avoid being killed.

The cards that appear in the middle of the fight add depth to the gameplay.The cards that appear in the middle of the fight add depth to the gameplay.

There is also a deck of cards that is shown to you after clearing a wave. These cards will let you improve different aspects of your character for the remainder of the level, such as attack power, maximum HP, barrier durability, etc. They’re a cool addition to the game and, in many levels, you have to think your choices through.

For example, if your HP is full, then you may want to increase attack power instead, but if you are at the beginning of a stage and your barrier HP is low, then improving your barrier would be wiser to prepare for the boss fight ahead.

After finishing any level, you are thrown to the top of a castle or something similar. This is the home of two shops, one for buying weapons and the other to buy defensive items. As you progress in the game, you will unlock new slots in order to construct new buildings.

These additions will have different effects on your gameplay, such as increasing the amount of coins you get at the end of a level, kingdom points, etc. When you upgrade buildings, their effects will also increase. In the case of shops, they will sell items of a higher level.

Speaking of coins, they’re the main currency of this game (as with so many games). You get them by clearing a level, by picking them after being dropped by monsters in the battlefield, or you can buy them with real money (through gems). With coins, you can buy new armor for your character.

The other type of currency in the game is gems. These are harder to get, but are very useful because they allow you to buy new characters, stronger weapons, more energy, and coins. This is the way the game gently asks you to spend stuff on it, but you can definitely progress without the need of gems, if that concerns you.

There are eight characters to choose from.There are eight characters to choose from.

There are eight characters available in the game; four are possible to get with coins and the other four through gems only. The game lets you test the characters in a real-world simulation in order for you to decide if your hard-earned coins/gems are worth it. These characters offer a variety of attacks, from short to long range, blades to arrows, and one hit to multi-hit.

Also, charge attacks are different for each character, making them even more varied. There’s something for everyone here, and, when you get a new character, it almost feels like a completely new game.

There’s a energy bar that depletes when you play on a stage. If you empty this bar, you won’t be able to play until it replenishes by itself after a few hours, or you can pay with gems for the privilege of having it refilled immediately.

Also, there’s something you collect at the end of each level which is called Kingdom Points. This is how your “kingdom” levels up, which means that you will unlock new levels of buildings. There’s no other way of collecting Kingdom Points than fighting.

The difficulty of the game ramps up in a progressive manner. It never feels cheap or provoked. When you die, you can revive after viewing a 30-second ad. If you don’t want to see it, then you can restart the level. Even though it is a free game and there are a million places where the developer could have put ads, it decided not to overdo them, for the benefit of customers (and itself).

However, I feel like some aspects of the game are not presented correctly. For example, the cards that appear in the middle of the game say that they will increase your attack power, but it took a while for me to realize that it was only a temporary boost. The aspect of the energy bar seems tiny and irrelevant until you realize that your bar is depleted and you can’t play anymore. Otherwise, the variety of characters, enemies and boss fights is really enjoyable, provides a lot of replay value and keeps you from getting bored.

Graphics

Graphics are nice and all of the sprites follow the same design language.Graphics are nice and all of the sprites follow the same design language.

The game features voxel graphics throughout all of its sprites. Unlike other games, this style is consistent throughout the game artwork-wise. However, the font it uses is normal-styled, which creates a bit of a conflict with the rest of the graphics

Anyways, the sprites all look good and have lots of colors. This make the whole battlefield very colorful and animated. Monsters sometimes are difficult to identify (as in “What the hell is that?”) but, once you get the hang of the game, you’ll start calling them “thing that throws arrows.” Sure, we would love to see a style other than voxel, which has been done by hundreds of games, but at least the graphics serve their function in a good way.

Sound

I love the music in this game. Many levels have nice background music, and it changes depending on the field you are fighting in. The boss background song is very dramatic and easily my favorite part of the soundtrack.

Sound effects are, in my opinion, best when you barely notice them, since that means they’re an addition to the game and not a distraction. That is the case in Cube Knight, where sound effects are to the point and effective.

Ads

There are four stages to choose from.There are four stages to choose from.

There are some ads present in the game, but most of them, if not all, are voluntary. There’s almost no instances of ads being shown without your consent. There are no full-screen video ads after finishing a level, which is absurdly common in games these days.

You can even use them to your advantage to revive when you get killed. Other than that, it is fairly uncommon to encounter ads, which, in my opinion, enhances the chance of me spending money in a game. Props to the developer for that.

Options

There are several options you can manage in the game. These include showing or hiding the tutorial, toggling the sound/FX, push notifications (which, if turned on, will nag you periodically about coming back to the game), and size of the controllers.

There’s also an option to change the display language, in case you don’t speak the Common Tongue. There’s no High Valyrian available, though.

Conclusion

Cube Knight manages to surprise with its fun, relaxed gameplay, while providing some depth that increases replay value. Some very minor flaws can be found, such as the font not corresponding to the graphics and some lack of information regarding some elements of the game, but overall, it manages to keep you entertained for long periods of time (or until you run out of energy). It also has the advantage of not requiring internet connection all the time in order to be played. If you fancy a shoot-’em-up game with medieval tone and RPG elements, then definitely go for Cube Knight.

Download and install Cube Knight from the Google Play Store.

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4
Feb

How to play Steam games on PlayStation VR


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Can I play PC games on my PSVR?

Sony’s entry into the virtual reality world has so far been a hit — their head-mounted display is as comfortable as they get, and the library of quality games continues to grow. For some of you, however, PlayStation VR games might not be enough. Besides, you have that enormous Steam library sitting there just begging to be played.

Thanks to the developers of Odd Sheep Games and their software, Trinus PSVR, you can now enjoy both VR and non-VR games from your Steam library on PSVR. If this is something you’ve always wanted to do, we’re here to show you how to get it all set up.

Read more at VR Heads!

4
Feb

Microsoft’s Surface Ergonomic Keyboard makes typing a pleasure


If you spend most of your days typing at a desk, it’s worth looking into an ergonomic keyboard. The traditional flat QWERTY keyboard design wasn’t designed with comfort in mind, and really, why should you be forced to live with an input interface originally designed for typewriters in the 1870s? Microsoft has been at the forefront of the ergonomic arena for the past few decades with its “Natural” keyboards, which split the QWERTY layout into two halves to make typing easier on your hands and wrists. And with its new wireless Surface Ergonomic Keyboard, Microsoft has delivered its best model yet.

Strangely enough, this new entry actually looks like a step backward from Microsoft’s last model, the Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard. Whereas that version had a futuristic look, with a large gap between its two sets of keys, the Surface Ergonomic Keyboard is fairly plain. Its light gray styling makes it fit in right alongside the Surface laptops and the Surface Studio desktop (hence the name). But while it looks a tad more traditional, it’s also the most refined Microsoft keyboard I’ve used when it actually comes to typing.

All of its keys are easy to reach, and there’s a nice amount of depth and resistive feedback with every button press. It’s also worth pointing out that the keys feel inviting as you lay your fingers on them, almost as if they’re asking you to start mashing on them. The Surface Ergonomic is also a surprisingly quiet keyboard, even for heavy typists like me, so it won’t annoy your office mates. And even though it’s made entirely out of plastic, it feels sturdier than its predecessor. (I attribute that to the fact that it doesn’t have a big, gaping hole right down the middle.)

Whenever I showed off the keyboard to my fellow Engadget editors, they couldn’t help but start fondling its palm rest. It’s made out of a soft material that feels smooth and comforting. There’s also plenty of cushioning on the palm rest, which should soothe your tired wrists.

The keyboard gets its ergonomic badge from its split key design, which cuts the traditional QWERTY layout down the middle. By having your hands rest at a more natural angle (hence the name of Microsoft’s early keyboards), the idea is that they’ll be less fatigued than if you have to contort them to fit a rectangular set of keys. The Surface Ergonomic also has a slight slope to it, which raises the keys slightly. I’ve used the keyboard to write several reviews and news posts, and I found that my wrists felt less stressed after lengthy typing sessions. For work, I mostly rely on my MacBook Air’s keyboard, which is among the better ones on a laptop, but I still noticed an appreciable difference.

I’ve been using these sorts of keyboards for years, so I had no problem getting started with the Surface Ergonomic. But if you’ve only ever used standard keyboards, it might take some getting used to. Your hands will have to retrain themselves, especially if you’re a dedicated touch typist. If you’re testing out an ergonomic keyboard for the first time, just give it some time instead of throwing up your hands in frustration. It’s worth the work, trust me.

My biggest issue with the Surface Ergonomic Keyboard is its high $130 price. I’m used to spending a bit of a premium for a high-end keyboard, but that’s still tough to swallow. You could snag Microsoft’s Sculpt Ergonomic, which also comes with a mouse, for around $80 today. And for most people, that will feel almost as good as this new model (plus its black design might blend more easily into your hardware).

If you’re a typing nerd like me who hasn’t yet fallen for the siren call of mechanical keyboards, and you don’t mind the high price, the Surface Ergonomic is worth a look. And if you do get one, just be sure to keep it safe from jealous desk neighbors.

4
Feb

Recommended Reading: Yves Béhar on design in age of AI


10 Principles For
Design In The
Age Of AI

Katharine Schwab,
Fast Company

In an age when artificial intelligence is becoming a bigger part of our lives, it’s important to have some guidelines to keep innovation focused. Designer Yves Béhar sat down with Fast Company to discuss just that, laying out 10 design principles that AI product makers should keep in mind.

This Disturbing Theory Explains Pixar’s ‘Cars’
Jason Torchinsky, Jalopnik

Have you ever wondered about the guiding principles behind the Pixar animated classic Cars? No? Well, you should read this anyway.

When Discs Die
Ernie Smith, Tedium

CDs were once thought to be a virtually indestructible medium, but as archivists and collectors are finding out, they don’t hold up as well as advertised.

4
Feb

Snapchat universal search is gateway to the best content, here’s how to use it


Snap recently introduced a major change to its visual messaging app, Snapchat. Universal search, the feature at the center of its latest update, is a marked improvement in terms of both layout and usability.

The complaint you hear the most in regards to Snapchat is that it makes life hard for new users due to its lack of guidance. The app has always lacked discovery options in the vein of a Twitter or Instagram’s Explore tab, not to mention Facebook’s apt-titled News Feed. With the introduction of universal search, however, navigation issues are a thing of the past — it’s just a shame the app remains restricted when it comes to other departments.

More: Everything you need to know about Snapchat Spectacles

The good news is that universal search is as self-explanatory as it gets. The feature amounts to a single search bar that runs the top of the app, allowing you to find great content in seconds. The bad news is that it doesn’t recommend any users to follow outside of your contacts, nor will it let you search through your chats or your media library in Memories. Hopefully, these features will be introduced in later updates.

With that in mind, here’s a detailed guide to all the things universal search can do. From finding Discover content from top publishers to adding friends, the new tool houses it all in a single — if not convenient — location.

Accessing Snapchat universal search

If you launch Snapchat as you would normally, you should see “search” in the upper-left corner. It will be positioned next to either a ghost (the iconic Snapchat logo) or your personal Bitmoji, if you’ve created one. The feature can also be accessed from the “chat” and “stories” sections of the app. Tap “search” and you’re good to go. Simple, right? Now, let’s get to the good stuff.

how to use snapchat universal search

how to use snapchat universal search

how to use snapchat universal search

4
Feb

Don’t wing it: Here’s the best way to make chicken wings, according to science


Why it matters to you

Chances are good you’ll be making chicken wings this weekend, and getting a little science know-how can only make them taste better.

It’s Super Bowl weekend, and that means Americans will be making a staggering amount of chicken wings. There are lots of methods and endless recipes, but if you want to really make the ultimate, crispy wings, taking some science into account might help.

Spend some time around a chicken coop, and you’ll notice they’re not big on the flying. They can, but that limited wing use means their breasts and wings have lower levels of myoglobin compared to their thighs and legs. That myoglobin — a protein that helps deliver oxygen to muscles that are used for endurance — is what makes dark meat appear dark. Dark meat’s increased amount of fat and connective tissue means it needs more cooking time and higher heat. Breasts and wings — which are both white meat, according to the College of Agriculture at the University of Kentucky — should be treated a little differently when you’re cooking it.

The skin-ny

In Cook’s Science from Cook’s Illustrated, America’s Test Kitchen does a thorough look at what makes wings unique. They have a different ratio of meat to skin and bone than any other cut of meat on the bird, including the amount of collagen in the skin. “The amount — and nature — of this collagen greatly affects how chicken wings cook,” according to the book. At 135 degrees Fahrenheit, the collagen starts to turn gooey, keeping the meat juicy.

The perfect chicken wing, says the Test Kitchen team, has crispy skin and juicy insides: “When cooking them on their own — grilling, frying, or roasting — it’s important to dehydrate the skin and render the fat so that the skin can become crispy, not soggy.” Brining will make them moist but also add too much moisture to the skin. Salting is better, according to Cook’s. Some other tips include skipping the sauce coating and using a cornstarch-and-skim milk mix: The cornstarch “crisped up faster than bare skin” and the milk’s “protein and lactose quickly undergo the Maillard reaction, producing deep browning in record time.” The recipe also calls for letting the chicken air-dry in the fridge for up to 24 hours before cooking, to help the batter stick to the wings.

Double fry

That’s not the only way to do it, though. After a lot of experimenting, J. Kenji López-Alt, over at Serious Eats, decided double-frying his wings was the way to go. Either on the stovetop or in the oven, you cook the chicken in oil but don’t brown it. You can freeze the chicken until game day, then toss it in 400-degree oil until golden brown and crispy. López-Alt admits it’s extra work, but you can do the first fry the day before.

You can find his recipe over at Serious Eats, while the Cook’s recipe is below.

Crispy Fried Chicken Wings

Serves 6 to 8

After step 1, the wings can be frozen for up to one month; thaw at room temperature for 30 minutes before proceeding. Use a Dutch oven that holds 6 quarts or more for this recipe.

  • 3 pounds chicken wings, cut at joints, wingtips discarded
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 quarts vegetable oil
  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¾ cup skim milk

Toss wings with 2 teaspoons salt and spread into even layer on wire rack set in rimmed baking sheet. Refrigerate wings, uncovered, for at least 8 hours or up to 24 hours.
Add oil to large Dutch oven until it measures about 1 ½ inches deep and heat over medium-high heat to 375 degrees. In large bowl, whisk together cornstarch and baking powder; whisk in milk until smooth. Working with up to 8 wings at a time, dip wings into batter and carefully add to oil. Fry wings, adjusting burner as necessary to maintain oil temperature between 325 and 330 degrees, stirring occasionally until wings turn deep brown and crispy, 7 to 10 minutes. Drain wings on paper towel-lined plate, transfer to serving platter, and serve immediately with dip. Return oil to 375 degrees and repeat with remaining wings in batches of up to 8.

For the buffalo dip, Cook’s recommends using 4 tablespoons of unsalted butter, ½ cup hot sauce, 2 tablespoons Tabasco sauce, 2 teaspoons of cider vinegar, and 1 teaspoon cornstarch. Melt the butter over low heat, whisk the remaining ingredients together in small bowl, then whisk the mixture into the butter and bring it to a rapid simmer.

4
Feb

The best computer monitor you can buy


Best Computer MonitorsOver the past few years we’ve seen a wide variety of niche-market monitors hit store shelves, but prohibitively high prices and sub-par performance have really limited their appeal to a wider audience. Who wants a 4K monitor if it’s just two panels stuck together, and can’t run faster than 30Hz?

Luckily, 2016 has changed all of that. This year we have seen the monitor market really come into its own. Previously exotic solutions like curved 4K and ultra-wide monitors have matured into affordable and increasingly high-performance options for gaming, media, and even your home office.

Our pick


Samsung CF791 monitor review

Why you should buy this: You want a sensible but impressive curved ultra-wide monitor.

Our Score

The Best

Samsung CF791

The CF791 is an astonishing piece of technology, and sits comfortably in the Goldilocks zone when it comes to price, performance, and pictur…

$949.99 from Amazon

$949.99 from Samsung

Who it’s for: Anyone looking upgrade their desktop experience

How much will it cost: $950 – $1000

Why we picked the Samsung CF791

Most ultra-wide monitors offer a spectacular viewing experience — that’s what they’re for. But Samsung has somehow managed to outdo the competition with the CF791, delivering a stellar viewing experience, a deep curve, and a display that is almost otherworldly.

Before you even turn it on, the Samsung CF791 cuts an elegant figure. A broad aluminum-colored disc supports a glossy white armature that seems to effortlessly hold the display aloft. And once you hit the power button the CF791 just springs to life.

Right out of the box, the colors and contrast are nearly pitch-perfect. Hitting a 940:1 contrast ratio without any calibration, and delivering nearly perfect color accuracy after calibration, the CF791 was full of surprises during our review. It consistently outperformed the competition and our expectations. Games look great, movies look great, and even day-to-day productivity is enhanced.

That said, it’s not a 4K monitor, so that might be a downside if you’re looking for the highest resolution you can possibly get. But the CF791 delivers impressive display quality on a 21:9 1440p display panel that somehow manages to prevent any and all light-leakage.

This monitor routinely sells for $950 online. That’s not cheap, but given the fact that this CF791 is easily the best-in-class ultra-wide monitor, it’s an investment that will easily outlast your desktop itself.

Our full review

4
Feb

This non-contact baby monitor gives new parents some peace of mind


Why it matters to you

Extraneous objects in your baby’s crib have long been warned against, but this non-contact baby monitor can help you keep tabs on your newborn in a safe way.

Wearables may be great for human adults when it comes to health tracking, but when we’re in our nascent form, less is really more in terms of contact. Luckily, there’s a new baby monitor on the market that wants to help you keep in touch with your newborn without actually touching him or her. Meet the Raybaby, branded as the world’s only non-contact health and sleep monitor. The device promises to constantly monitor your child’s breathing and sleeping, and keep you informed via a companion app.

A Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign for the device has already raised nearly $50,000 from parents anxious to know everything they can about their bundle of joy without adding any potentially hazardous hardware to the crib. By using Ultra-wideband (UWB) radar technology, the Raybaby measures even the slightest most seemingly imperceptible movements in your baby’s chest. That way, you can always tell what your child’s respiratory rate is.

More: Experts warn wearable baby monitors could cause unnecessary doctor visits

This is a critical measure of health, doctors say, as breathing irregularities could be linked to illnesses like asthma and bronchitis. If Raybaby notices that something seems out of the ordinary, it’ll send parents a notification via its associated app so necessary action can be taken.

“Using a non-contact method of tracking respiratory rates means doing away with batteries and wearables on the baby’s body,” said Ray cofounder Ranjana Nair, in a statement. “This is of vital importance with children, as comfort, hygiene, and accuracy of recorded rates become top priority,” she added.

While the Raybaby is truly tiny (it fits in the palm of your hand), don’t let its small size fool you — it packs a punch in terms of accuracy, claiming 98 percent dependability. In fact, the device has been clinically tested and features FDA approved components, resulting in measurements that are comparable to what you might find from a medical-grade sleep study conducted in a hospital.

“Parenthood is tough. It’s wonderful, exhausting, and yet somehow, richly rewarding to bring up tiny versions of ourselves,” said Ray cofounder Aardra Kannan. “But in all the madness, sometimes new parents tend to forget just how much technology can ease up their lives.”

4
Feb

Why would Google pull the Google Now Launcher from the Play Store?


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War. War never changes — but Google’s mind does.

There is some indication that Google is pulling the Google Now Launcher from the Play Store sometime before the end of March 2017 (Q1). Besides trying to find out more details about this one, we’re also left wondering why?

Let’s start at the beginning. The Google Now Launcher is a home screen manager that Google made using the Android launcher code as a base. Originally only for the Nexus 5, it later expanded to include all Nexus and Google Play edition phones. Eventually, every phone that has Android 4.1 or later could go to Google Play and install it like any other launcher. It is also the launcher that comes with recent Nexus phones, including the Nexus 6P and Nexus 5X.

The Google Now part of the Google Now Launcher is still here and can be used by the people who made your phone.

It’s not an open source Android thing — it’s an app made by Google that might come with your phone but isn’t part of Android the same way Google Keep is. It’s exactly like ASUS’ Zen Launcher in this respect — built using the Android code as a base, part of the out-of-the-box software on some phones and available for everybody in the Play Store.

It’s a two-piece system

But there is a big difference in how it works because the Google Now Launcher is made of two parts. The “launcher” part — the screen where you can put icons and folders or widgets — and the Google Now part, where you can swipe to the right and see all your Google Now cards.

The launcher portion was pretty basic as far as Android launchers go. You could have more than one screen and fill them with widgets and shortcuts to your apps, but the only additional feature was access to Google Now. The basic look is what appealed to some of us and what turned some of us off because other launchers can do so much more. Having access to Google Now cards was also a reason folks installed it, along with the hot word detection so you could activate the voice assistant without pushing or tapping any buttons. If you never tried it, it’s worth having a look before it goes the way of Google Reader and flies off into the sunset.

Only half is going away

Without getting too technical, let’s try to sort out what’s happening. If the app is pulled from Google Play you’ll not be able to go install it unless you installed it previously (so go install it right now). In that sense, the app is gone. But the best part of the app — the Google Now cards and voice integration — hasn’t been killed off, it’s been given away.

Download: Google Now Launcher (free)

Google Now is already on your phone; the launcher was just a shortcut to get there.

That part of the Google Now Launcher is also part of the Google app. Every Android phone that has Play Store access has the Google app installed, and what you see when you slide right to look at your cards is part of what the Google app does. It’s also the reason why people who root their phone can add the cards to Action Launcher — they are already there on every phone. The Google Now Launcher just gave a way to trigger it.

Alongside removing the launcher app, Google is now allowing access to those bits of the Google app through a new Search Launcher Services API. What that means is any company that’s an official Android partner can include the Google Now panel on their own launcher. They can take the base Android code and the new API and have a basic home screen launcher that does the same things the Google Now Launcher did without changing anything. They also can change the base code to do a lot more things and still include the Google now bits and pieces. This makes for an easy fix for companies like Motorola who ship their phones using the Google Now Launcher.

What about my Nexus?

gnl-changelog.png?itok=_pX-MLWh

Your Nexus will still use the Google Now launcher, and there is no reason to think it will be any different. The launcher part — your home screens and widgets — is mostly made of a few visual changes put on top of the launcher code that’s part of Android, and any changes to Android that affects it will be included in any updates.

The Google Now part is updated and maintained through the Google app. We haven’t seen any update in the Play Store for Google Now Launcher since November 2015, because there’s nothing to update on the home screen side. It’s literally just the Android code with some tweaks to “beautify” the look.

There’s zero indication that this means the next Nexus update will include the Pixel launcher. Until someone says differently, expect to see zero changes to what you have now and have had since you bought your Nexus.

I can’t wait for Google Now integration with Nova Launcher!

That’s not going to happen. At least not right now.

Only the people who are building Android phones and are official partners can build the Search Launcher Services into their home screen launchers. That means people like Samsung or LG can do it, but not the folks from TeslaCoil Software who build and distribute Nova Launcher. Or any other developer who doesn’t work for an official Google partner.

The integration is done at the system level. That means apps and services that have elevated permissions and access to things apps from Google Play do not have. Only the people making the Android software that runs on your phone can install a system-level application. This is a good thing. You don’t want an app you downloaded to be able to do anything outside of itself.

Not allowing apps you install to have more access to the system software is a good thing in general. Not having a program for trusted developers to submit an exception is not.

What’s not such a good thing is that there is no path for trusted developers to join the ranks of Android manufacturers. The folks who make Nova Launcher, or Action Launcher or any of the very professional system tools need a way to integrate Google Now without asking their users to root their phones. These are some of the best Android apps available and can be a reason someone chooses an Android phone over an iPhone.

What happens with Android O?

Nobody knows anything except that the home screen launcher won’t be called Google Now Launcher. There has to be a launcher app because that’s how you get to every other app. Nobody knows what the next version of Android will have for its launcher, but it will have one.

I use Google Now Launcher on my phone, so what should I do?

Nothing. If you like Google Now Launcher, keep using it. Nobody is taking it away from your phone and it’s still going to keep working the same way it always has. Remember, the actual launcher part hasn’t been touched or updated in well over a year. Any improvements to Google Now, they way the shortcuts or hot word detection works or how it integrates with your phone will come from the Google app like they always have.

Everything will work the same way it always has if you use Google Now Launcher.

Google has taken things we love and killed them off before. It’s understandable if your initial reaction to this is thinking that Google is just dropping all support for everything but the Pixel. But that’s not really the case. It’s more like spring cleaning, where things you don’t use any longer are either taken to the curb or given to someone else who can use them. Google has given the Google Now part to all of its partners and doesn’t use the rest, so it’s tossing it.

The people who were told this information (it wasn’t for the public to see) understand what’s happening and why this is great news for them. What we need to know is that nothing’s changing except that an icon and link in the Play Store are going to disappear, and the next phone we buy is going to be using a new way to do the same thing.

4
Feb

Android Central Offers is giving away a Google hardware package, and it could be yours


Interested in all of the new stuff from Google this year but don’t have the cash to purchase it all for yourself? Wouldn’t it be sweet if there was some way you could try and win a bunch of it that didn’t cost you any money? Well, there is, and your chance to do it is here now!

Enter now to win! Learn More

That’s right, you can enter now to win a sweet Google hardware giveaway from Android Central Offers. The process is super simple, and should only take a few seconds to complete, so there is no excuse to not enter to win now!

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Entering now will score you a chance to win:

  • Google Pixel
  • Google Daydream View
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Don’t miss your chance to win this giveaway! Learn More

The prize pack is worth over $850, but entering it is completely free! All you have to do is hit this link, sign up to enter, and wait for the drawing. There isn’t much time left before the winner is announced, so be sure to get your entry in sooner than later so you don’t miss out!

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