1 Year in: Google has Sold “Millions” of Chromecasts, Gives Away Free Google Music to Celebrate

Today, Google is celebrating the birthday of Chromecast by announcing a handful of stats to show how popular their HDMI streaming dongle has become. At $35, the Chromecast is still one of the best values in tech, as it allows you to take all sorts of media and “cast” it directly to almost any screen. It is a fantastic tool.

According to Google, they have sold “millions” of Chromecast devices in this first year, have tracked more than 400 million casts, and are selling the device in 20 countries and 30,000 stores across the globe. I don’t know that any of us saw this dongle becoming such a big seller, but like I just mentioned, there is incredible value there. It was sold out for months on Amazon and Google Play when initially launched before Google could catch up to demand. One year in, I would say that Chromecast has been a surprise success.  (more…)

Hangouts is Now an Option for Making Calls on Google Voice

Google Voice and Hangouts will be merged at some point in the future, at least that is what Google keeps telling us. Google announced back at last year’s I/O conference, again in October, and then again in March that Hangouts is the “future” of Voice, only they forgot to give us another update at this year’s I/O conference. So yes, we are more than a year into this supposed merger of Hangouts and Voice, yet the mystery surrounding the timing of that action is thicker than ever.

Thankfully, we know that at least Google’s Alex Wiesen has not stopped working on Google Voice. He told us back in June that Google is working to improve voicemail transcriptions with your help, and has followed that up with the unveiling of Hangouts calls through the web version of Google Voice. Mentioned on his G+ page last night, Weisen noted that when placing a call through the web version of Voice, you now have the option to call through Hangouts instead of through your phone or “Google Talk.” If you aren’t a G+ user, you can still use the Hangouts option as it doesn’t require a G+ account.  (more…)

Google Maps Introduces Explore Button to Help You Discover New Places

This week, Google is introducing a new “Explore” button through Google Maps that will help all of us discover new places nearby. The button will appear in the bottom right corner of Google Maps, likely next to the location/compass button, “where available.” In other words, it should just show up if you are in an area that is ready to help you explore.  (more…)

Foursquare Migrating Check-ins to Swarm Tomorrow, Reveals New Logo and App

Checking in with Foursquare is about to become a whole lot more personal, for better or worse. Foursquare is finally delivering what it promised in May, migrating check-ins to Swarm and revamping the Foursquare app with recommendation-powered search.

Swarm, if you will recall, is the app that shows you where your Foursquare friends are. It’s meant to facilitate social sharing and meetups, which the company said the Foursquare app was impeding. If you already use Foursquare, there’s no need to sign up for Swarm – accounts are unified. (more…)

OnePlus One Review

The OnePlus One has grabbed more headlines over the past few months than almost any other phone outside of an iPhone. Some of them have been good, many have been, well, not so good. The phone boasts incredibly good specs with an equally good price point, yet the world isn’t able to buy one because OnePlus can’t seem to get their sh*t together. Apologies for the strong words, but this phone had the potential to be a game changer, yet here we are months after it was announced and the general public still cannot buy it.

We were lucky enough to pick one up because this is what we do for a living, but that also made this review quite difficult. You see, we have had our OnePlus for almost two months now and have absolutely enjoyed every minute with it. The problem is, reviewing it seemed silly if none of you could buy one for yourselves after we said our piece. Thankfully, more invites are about to open and a handful of readers have begun asking for this review in case they get the chance to buy one.

So, here you go – this is our OnePlus One review.  (more…)

Reported Photos of Samsung Galaxy Alpha Leaked, Show Off Refined Design (Updated)

A few photos of Samsung’s reportedly upcoming Galaxy Alpha device have surfaced, showing off a quite refined hardware design. From the story the photos tell, the device will feature a metallic band around its outside, minor side bezel (plenty on top and bottom of the display, though), blackened backside with a slight texture added, frontside Home button, a large camera on the back, and it appears that the flash and heart rate monitor have been placed on the side of the camera.  (more…)

Modern Combat 5: Blackout Now Available on Google Play, $7 With No IAPs

Gameloft has published Modern Combat 5: Blackout to Google Play this afternoon, throwing players straight into the middle of warfare. Like console FPS titles, MC5: Blackout features a great campaign mode, as well as the ability to take your skills online with a multiplayer mode.

In campaign, you play as a hero who must save the world from cyber terrorists, using advanced weapons and technology to overcome countless bad guys with machine guns. In multiplayer, you choose between four customizable classes, picking off players with sniper rifles, assault rifles, SMGs, and more. If you play Call of Duty or Battlefield, you will feel right at home.  (more…)