The Google Cast app doesn't get much attention these days. It's the type of software that remains installed on our phones, but rarely opened since it is rarely needed any time other than to set up Wi-Fi on a Chromecast. Otherwise, it stays out of the way and doesn't need a lot of updates. Still, a seemingly minor version bump occurred last week and it might be giving away a couple of pretty interesting details about future plans for our favorite streaming dongles.
Disclaimer: Teardowns are based on evidence found inside of apks (application packages) and are necessarily speculative and usually based on incomplete information.
As most of our readers know, an update to the Play Store rolled out a couple of days ago with a feature many of us have been requesting for nearly three years: the ability to join and leave beta test groups from within the Play Store. For reasons we can only speculate about, the join/leave capability was disabled about 24 hours later. While the headlining feature was covered in our original post, there are still a couple of interesting tidbits waiting for the teardown treatment. Read More
Many YouTube Red subscribers aren't making use of the dedicated YouTube Music app yet, but it remains one of the somewhat unique perks of the program. Since launch, the app hasn't seen all that many changes, but updates have been coming out pretty regularly with little tweaks and adjustments. Last week, an unexpected jump from v1.20 to v1.25 suggested some big changes were afoot. A teardown didn't reveal anything of substance – just some minor visual tweaks – but a new changelog has come out since the release of v1.26 this week, and gives us something a little more meaningful.
- New: Listen to your YouTube playlists in the YouTube Music app!
Google's Camera app isn't the most advanced tool for taking photos. It completely avoids manual controls and generally lags behind OEMs for most major features. Where it's lacking in advanced features, the Camera app tries to make up for with a simple interface and clever techniques to intelligently deliver better photos without putting the burden on users. This means it works pretty well for simple point-and-shoot purposes, but skilled and professional photographers aren't likely to give it a second look. A teardown of a recent Camera update shows that Google is testing an option to save both RAW and JPEG files with each picture, a popular feature on many dedicated cameras and high-end smartphones. Read More
The idea of contactless payments has turned out to be an unusually divisive topic. Some people are certain that we're only a couple of years away from abandoning physical credit cards in favor of using smartphones at the checkout line, while others see it as an obnoxious novelty that slows down everything and should be ignored. Whatever the case, it's interesting to watch the progress of mobile payment methods as they grow and evolve in an effort to capture consumer interest. The latest update to Android Pay v1.3 doesn't appear to bring any immediately available new features, but a teardown reveals that we will soon have the option to use certain types of cards without unlocking our phones. Read More
While Google has been pushing out a ton of OS and app updates, the Drive team got out one of its own. This is a perfectly good update on its own, but it also includes clues to some upcoming features, too. In this update, you'll find a newly revised look and operation for uploading files, and there's even a color picker for folders. (Yey!) On the teardown side, we can look forward to recommendations for files, a shortcut to "Team Drives," and possibly even another form of device backup. Oh yeah, and the FAB changes color. Read More
An update to the Google Photos app just rolled out, bringing the current version number up to v1.17. This release is pretty straightforward with just one notable change: photos can now be edited in a non-destructive fashion. In other words, you can make changes to a picture and still return to the original version if you like. That feature alone is certainly enough to make this a worthy upgrade, but a teardown provides some good clues about features that are probably coming in the next couple of releases, assuming they're not already here. Read More
The first signs of the Google Wallet Card were discovered during an APK Teardown, so it only seems fitting that its death should also be foretold the same way. That's right, the real life Wallet Card is not long for this world. Text found in the Google Wallet v14 update reveals plans to terminate the versatile little card on June 30th.
Google's story with a physical card has always been pretty tumultuous. In mid-2013, AllThingsD posted a report about a clunky demo of the project in front of an already unsatisfied Larry Page. This led to the removal of Wallet's then current Vice President, Osama Bedier, and all but confirmed the project was probably doomed. Read More