Thurrott Daily: April 15

Thurrott Daily: April 15

Tech tidbits from around the web.

4/15/2016 12:58:39 PM

Kangaroo releases Mobile Desktop Pro

As many of you must know, I’m a huge fan of Kangaroo’s mini-PC. ButAmazon is now selling a new $200 version of the device, the Kangaroo Mobile Desktop Pro, which is perhaps not as “pro” as its name suggests. It’s about twice as thick as the previous models, but it lacks some of the functionality of [the Kangaroo Plus, which lacks an OS](Kangaroo Plus).

That is, the $200 Kangaroo Mobile Desktop Pro is still foiled by a low-end Atom processor 2 GB of RAM, and 32 GB of slow eMMC storage. So what’s the selling point, you ask? According to the description, it features a combination HDD bay and additional ports (VGA, HDMI, audio, Ethernet, 2 x USB 2.0, and 1 x USB 3.0).

I like the idea—heck, I love the Intel NUC—but Kangaroo needs to start using slightly higher-end components, or least offer them as options.

Microsoft Groove app is now “truly universal”

Not sure why this one struck me as funny, but Microsoft’s Ellen Kilbourne revealed in the Microsoft Community forums this week that the recent updates to the Groove apps on Windows 10 for PCs and Mobile are now “truly universal.” So what does that means? And were the previous versions … demiversal?

Groove is now truly universal on Windows 10 across mobile and PC. The build you’ve been using on mobile is now the same build you’ll get on PC going forward. For those of you who’ve asked if the PC version of Groove would ever get features like gapless playback, today’s the day! We are very proud of this milestone and look forward to the increased velocity this change will bring as we work down our backlog.

There’s a laundry list of new features, so check out her new post.

The Minecraft generation

The New York Times has an interesting special report, called The Minecraft Generation, which helps explain Microsoft’s need to buy this game and its maker.

Since its release seven years ago, Minecraft has become a global sensation, captivating a generation of children. There are over 100 million registered players, and it’s now the third best selling video game in history, after Tetris and Wii Sports. In 2014, Microsoft bought Minecraft — and Mojang, the Swedish game studio behind it — for $2.5 billion.

There have been blockbuster games before, of course. But Minecraft is a different sort of phenomenon.

For one thing, it doesn’t really feel like a game. It’s more like a destination, a technical tool, a cultural scene, or all three put together: a place where kids engineer complex machines, shoot videos of their escapades that they post on YouTube, make art and set up servers, online versions of the game where they can hang out with friends. It’s a world of trial and error and constant discovery, stuffed with byzantine secrets, obscure text commands and hidden recipes. And it runs completely counter to most modern computing trends. Where companies like Apple and Microsoft and Google want our computers to be easy to manipulate — designing point and click interfaces under the assumption that it’s best to conceal from the average user how the computer works — Minecraft encourages kids to get under the hood, break things, fix them and turn mooshrooms into random number generators. It invites them to tinker.

Worth reading.

“DOOM’s Fate Rests in its Single Player Campaign”

Pfft. Please. That was important in 1995, but here in the present day, it’s all about multiplayer. As you can see from any modern shooter.

It looks like Google Play Podcasts is finally happening

It’s weird to me that Android has never had a built-in podcast app, though of course I do use and recommend Pocket Casts across platforms. But that’s about to change, as Android Police reports.

NPR has sent out an email to members announcing when the public radio network’s podcasts would be available on Google Play. A reader then forwarded that information to us. Here is a quote from that email:

Google will launch podcasts on Android and other platforms next Monday, April 18, inside of Google Play Music, a streaming service similar to Apple Music. Please note: this information is embargoed and should not be shared or promoted externally until Monday. NPR has worked with Google to ensure that public radio is represented in the Google Play environment. Learn more about adding your station’s podcasts to this new platform.

Google has been testing the podcasts interface for months now, as some users have already seen it go live inside the Android app at one point or another. But many people have been waiting to see access expand to everyone.

So Monday it is.

Google launches Live Cases for Nexus 5X and 6P

If you are a Google Nexus owner—as I recently recommended to Windows phone expatriates—you may be interested in the new Live cases that Google announced this week.

Starting today, we’re giving you a new way to make your phone even more you. My Live Case lets people create their own snap case for Nexus 5X and 6P phones, by customizing it with a favorite photo or map.

Our design studio on the Google Store allows you to personalize your phone case with either your favorite photo or a special place on Google Maps. Then, with dozens of filters, you can make your design fit your style – be it vibrant and bright or polished and chic. Along with your signature case, you get a live wallpaper to bring your design to life on your home screen.


I just bought a Paris map case to see how this works, but I’ll probably make a photo case too. But these things are smarter than they look: They have a programmable shortcut button built into the case so you can immediately launch any app with one press.

Mac OS X will be renamed as macOS

Which makes sense since we’re on something like Mac OS X (“Ten”) version 117 now. Anyway, AppleInsider has what appears to be proof of the long-rumored name change.

The macOS term can be found on a FAQ page within Apple’s Environment subsite, specifically in a section about greenhouse gases and product lifecycles. The text is the only direct reference to either Macs or OS X in the FAQ — notably, the rest of Apple’s website still appears to insist on using “OS X.”

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